Greek CG Nabs 1.3 tonnes of Cannabis
Greece's coast guard seized about 1.3 tonnes of processed cannabis, hidden aboard a foreign flagged fishing vessel intercepted off the southern island of Crete, it said on Sunday. The drug bust was the result of a three-day operation. Greek authorities had been informed by French customs that a suspect ship was sailing to the southeast of the island, possibly carrying illegal cargo. The operation involved four coast guard patrol vessels and two planes, one belonging to Frontex - the European border and coast guard agency.
Migrant Crisis: New EU Sea Mission Launched
The European Union’s border agency Frontex launched a new Mediterranean operation called Themis on Thursday, removing the obligation of the previous mission to bring rescued migrants only to Italy. Italy has repeatedly lamented a lack of EU solidarity in managing immigration. The previous Frontex operation, called Triton, required all those rescued at sea to be brought to Italy even if another EU country, such as Malta, was closer. “Triton said that whomever rescued would be taken to Italy,” said Izabella Cooper, a spokeswoman for Frontex. Triton was a Greek god and the messenger of the sea, while Themis was the goddess of divine law and order.
Dozens of Migrants Rescued from Burning Rubber Dinghy
Dozens of migrants were rescued at the weekend after jumping from a rubber dinghy that had burst into flames as they tried to get to Spain across the Mediterranean Sea. A Portuguese Air Force plane spotted the boat and managed to save all 34 migrants with the help of the sea rescue service from the Spanish city of Almeria. Video taken from the plane on Sunday and released on Monday by the European border agency, Frontex, shows flames spreading from the dinghy's outboard motor. Thousands of migrants fleeing conflict and economic hardship in the Middle East and Africa have died in recent years trying to get to Europe by sea in overcrowded, unsafe boats. European authorities are still struggling to formulate an effective response. (Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London)
Ferry Service or Humanitarian Rescue Boats?
Some EU officials say NGOs inadvertently encourage people smuggling; NGOs say they are only trying to save lives. A "ferry service" that encourages people smugglers or an essential humanitarian rescue service that saves thousands of African migrants making a dangerous sea crossing to Europe? This debate among EU officials about the role of aid groups in the Mediterranean highlights their dilemma between the moral and legal obligation of helping those in need, and growing pressure from voters to keep them away. Escaping wars and poverty, more than 360,000 refugees and migrants made it to European shores across the Mediterranean last year. Most of them arrived on EU rescue vessels.
Nearly 9,000 Med Migrants Rescued over Weekend
Nearly 9,000 mainly African migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean this past long weekend after being put by smugglers in Libya onto unseaworthy boats heading toward Italy, U.N. aid agencies said on Tuesday. The migrants, many from Nigeria and Senegal with some from Bangladesh, are among an estimated 20,000 held by criminal gangs in irregular detention centres in Libya, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said. On release, they pay to board the overcrowded boats, often just inflated rubber vessels that could not cross the Mediterranean, in the hope of starting a new life in Europe. "It is obvious that better spring weather has encouraged smugglers to take people from their detention centres," IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle told a news briefing in Geneva.
Italy Rescues 4,500 Migrants in Mediterranean in one day
ROME, July 5 (Reuters) - Some 4,500 migrants were rescued from rubber dinghies and a wooden boat in the Mediterranean on Tuesday, Italy's coast guard said, as the sea calmed after a rough weekend. More than 67,000 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea so far this year, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said before the coast guard reported the latest rescues. Arrivals are down from the same period of 2015, but the number of deaths on the perilous route has jumped. Ten women were found dead in the bottom of a rubber boat last week .
More than 2,000 Migrants Rescued at Sea -Italy Coastguard
Ship crews pulled more than 2,000 migrants from overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean on Friday, Italy's coastguard said, as people smugglers stepped up operations during two consecutive days of good weather. More than 7,100 people have now been plucked from international waters since Thursday, many of them on the dangerous journey from Libya. Europe's worst immigration crisis since World War Two is in its third year, and there has been little sign of any let up of the flow of people coming from North African to Italy since last year.
NATO to Boost Effort to Stop Mediterranean Smugglers
NATO agreed on Thursday to broaden its operations in the Mediterranean to help the European Union stop criminals trafficking refugees from North Africa but will not act until the fate of rescued migrants is cleared up. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a meeting of NATO foreign ministers supported the wider role as Europe struggles with failing states on its fringes and said NATO should link up with the EU's "Sophia" naval mission in the area. This could be a step towards NATO helping stabilise Libya by patrolling coastal waters to uphold a U.N. arms embargo and counter the growing presence of Islamic State, a step that would likely need U.N. Security Council support, diplomats said.
Italy Rescues Nearly 1,800 Migrants in Mediterranean
Italian vessels have helped rescue nearly 1,800 migrants from boats trying to reach Italy from north Africa in the last 24 hours, the navy said on Friday, indicating that numbers are rising as the weather warms up. The navy said 1,759 migrants were rescued in 10 operations involving the Italian navy, coastguard and finance police, the European Union's external borders agency Frontex and the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres. The Italian frigate Grecale was taking the migrants to the Sicilian port of Augusta, where they were expected to arrive on Saturday morning, a navy statement said. It gave no details of their nationalities.
Maritime Surveillance Drone Testing to Begin this Summer
The AR5 Life Ray UAS, developed by TEKEVER, has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to demonstrate the first European maritime surveillance system where drones are integral to operations. The first demonstration will be performed this summer over the Maltese waters of the Mediterranean sea, said Pedro Sinogas, TEKEVER CEO, at the AUVSI Xponential show in New Orleans, La. Maritime operations have been brought into focus in Europe by the unprecedented migrant crisis.
Hundreds of Migrants Arrive in Italy from Egypt
Italy's coast guard said on Thursday it had rescued more than 300 migrants from a packed boat in which they had travelled hundreds of kilometres (miles) from Egypt to the Strait of Sicily. People fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East have been arriving in southern Italian waters for years, usually from Libya, where they pay smugglers for the passage. A spokeswoman for the Italian coast guard said migrants had arrived from Egypt in the past, but much less frequently than from Libya, which is about half as far away by boat. Italy's coast guard and a Spanish aircraft working for European Union border agency Frontex went on Wednesday to the aid of the boat, rescuing 156 men, 51 women and 107 minors.
Migrants Returned from Greece arrive in Turkey
Three passenger boats return migrants from Lesbos, Chios; desperate migrants continue to cross despite deal. The first migrants deported from Greek islands under a disputed EU-Turkey deal were shipped back to Turkey on Monday in a drive to shut down the main route by which a million people fleeing war and poverty crossed the Aegean Sea in the last year. Under the pact criticised by refugee agencies and human rights campaigners, Ankara will take back all migrants and refugees who enter Greece illegally, including Syrians. In return, the European Union will take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and reward it with more money, early visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.
Italy Rescues 910 Boat Migrants, Finds One Body
More than 900 migrants were rescued in four separate operations in the Strait of Sicily on Saturday and emergency services recovered one corpse, Italy's coast guard said. Now into the second year of its worst migration crisis since World War Two, Europe has seen more than 1.2 million people arrive since the beginning of 2015, most of them from Africa and the Middle East. Italy's coast guard has continued to pick up migrants in trouble in the stretch of water between its southern coast and North Africa, although most people seeking a better life in Europe have taken less dangerous routes to Greece. On Saturday, the Italian coast guard said it had rescued 378 migrants in two separate operations and found one body.
SNMG2 Expands into Waters of Greece and Turkey
The German flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) FGS BONN is the first NATO ship to enter the area of activity for a first patrol around the Greek island of Lesbos. Over the weekend, NATO had expanded the area of activity into the territorial waters of Turkey and Greece, in close coordination with both Allies. NATO also expanded its cooperation with the EU’s border agency Frontex. “We are able to support the local authorities with our sensors, amplifying their capabilities.
NATO Mission Moving into Greek, Turkish Waters
NATO sent its ships into Greek and Turkish waters in the Aegean Sea on Monday to counter the criminal networks smuggling migrants into Europe, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, overcoming territorial sensitivities in Greece and Turkey. "NATO is starting activities in territorial waters today," Stoltenberg told a news conference in Brussels, flanked by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. "We are expanding our cooperation with the EU's border agency Frontex and we are expanding the number of ships in our deployment," he said, saying that France and Britain had agreed to send ships to the Aegean. Germany is leading the NATO mission that was agreed on Feb. 11, which also includes ships from Canada, Turkey and Greece. Until now, ships had been in international waters.
Euroseas Vessel Rescues 105 Migrants
Euroseas Ltd. announced today that on February 18, 2016, the crew of its container carrier, Vento di Grecale, rescued 105 Somalian, Sudanese and Egyptian migrants/refugees, including three pregnant women and a number of children from an endangered wooden boat that sank in choppy waters a few minutes after rescue. The M/V Vento di Grecale received a distress call from Malta's Marine Response Coordination Center ("MRCC Malta"), while sailing South West of Crete en route to Salerno, Italy.
1,200+ Migrants Rescued off Libya
Italy's coast guard said on Tuesday it had coordinated the rescue of 1,271 migrants from rubber and wooden boats in several operations off the coast of Libya. Italy was long at the frontier of seaborne migration from North Africa, but most of the hundreds of thousands of people arriving in Europe on rickety boats last year took a less risky route to Greece. Vessels from the Italian navy and coast guard and a Slovenian military ship working as part of the European Union naval operation Eunavfor Med conducted the rescues. Italy used to run its own search and rescue mission for the boat migrants, but the Mare Nostrum or "Our Sea" project was stopped and replaced with the European Union's Frontex scheme, which had to be expanded as Europe faced its worst migration crisis since World War Two.
Greeks at Frontline of Migrant Crisis Angry at EU Critics
ABOARD THE AGIOS EFSTRATIOS, Aegean Sea, Feb 11: Greek Captain Argyris Frangoulis lifts his binoculars and with eyes fixed on the Aegean Sea horizon, steers his patrol boat out near the Turkish border to a dinghy full of stranded refugees. He zeroes in on the target and gasps - "My God!" - another grey rubber motor boat packed with about four times as many people as it can hold, many of them young children and babies. "Everybody safe, OK?" he yells at the passengers, mainly Syrians and Afghans, approaching the coast guard vessel bewildered and in near-silence. About 50 people are pulled aboard one by one, smiling but too exhausted to speak. By the time they stagger wearily to the boat's rear, a dinghy is spotted in the distance.
NATO Launches Sea Mission Against People-Smugglers
NATO, EU mission to help target traffickers in Aegean Sea. NATO ships are on their way to the Aegean Sea to help Turkey and Greece crack down on criminal networks smuggling refugees into Europe, the alliance's top commander said on Thursday. Hours after NATO defence ministers agreed to use their maritime force in the eastern Mediterranean to help combat traffickers, Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove said he was working quickly to design the mission. "We are sailing the ships in the appropriate direction," Breedlove told a news conference, and the mission plan would be refined during the time they were en route. "That's about 24 hours," he said.
NATO Sea Mission Launched against Migrant Traffickers
NATO ships are on their way to the Aegean Sea to help Turkey and Greece crack down on criminal networks smuggling refugees into Europe, the alliance's top commander said on Thursday. Hours after NATO defence ministers agreed to use their maritime force in the eastern Mediterranean to help combat traffickers, Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove said he was working quickly to design the mission. "We are sailing the ships in the appropriate direction," Breedlove told a news conference, and the mission plan would be refined during the time they were en route. "That's about 24 hours," he said. The plan, which was first raised only on Monday by Germany and Turkey, took NATO by surprise and is aimed at helping the continent tackle its worst migration crisis since World War Two.
Refugees Give Greek Tour Operators an Extended Season
Placards in hand, travel agent Iakovos Bouchoris and his team scout for customers at Greece's busy Piraeus port, near Athens, where some 5,000 people arrived on Tuesday in a single day on ships from outlying islands close to Turkey. Instead of the usual groups of German, Italian and Korean tourists, the tour operators were waiting for Syrian refugees; and rather than touring the ancient ruins of the Greek capital, they were heading north to the Greek-Macedonian border. Greece's peak holiday season may have ended in August, but for many travel agents, business is booming in October. "We've been filling 20 to 25 buses a day, about 1,250 people a day," Bouchoris said, recalling a peak in early September.
Greece Recovers Bodies of Migrants off Lesbos
A baby, two children and a woman drowned on Thursday after their wooden boat and a coast guard vessel crashed during a migrant rescue operation off the island of Lesbos, the Greek coast guard said. The boat, which the coast guard said was old, sank after the crash and 31 persons were rescued. The coast guard did not provide further details on the incident or the nationality of the victims. Thousands of refugees - mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq - attempt on a daily basis to cross the Aegean Sea from nearby Turkey, a short but perilous trip by boat, often in rough seas due to poor weather. Almost 400,000 people have arrived in Greece this year, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, overwhelming the crisis-stricken government's ability to cope.
ECSA Leads Holistic Approach to Maritime Security
European shipowners have widened the scope of the former European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) Piracy Working Group, now renamed ECSA Maritime Security Working Group in a move aiming to keep the European shipping industry abreast of maritime developments. According to ECSA, topics under the remit of the new working group range from piracy and armed robbery at sea to cyber security, as well as the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean, where European shipowners have taken center stage in the efforts to rescue migrants at sea.