Four Dead, 16 Missing after Failed Med Crossing
Four migrants have died and up to 16 more are missing after trying to cross into Europe from North Africa on a small raft, Spain's coastguard said on Wednesday.Rescuers saved 58 people from the raft, which was found drifting around 37 miles off the coast of Morocco on Tuesday night. Three bodies were recovered from the water and another migrant died after being taken to shore, a spokeswoman for the coastguard said.Sea-borne migration to Europe has dropped sharply since peaking in 2015 but thousands still attempt the dangerous Mediterranean crossing every year, looking to escape poverty and conflict in their home countries.The latest group was brought to Spain's North African enclave of Melilla…
Migrant Rescue Ship Seaks EU Help
An NGO which runs the Mediterranean rescue ship Ocean Viking, with 104 migrants onboard, called on European authorities on Monday to designate a safe disembarkation spot.French association SOS Mediterranean, along with Doctors without Borders (MSF), said among those aboard the ship are two pregnant women and 41 children younger than 18."Their anxiety is growing", said Jay Berger, MSF’s project coordinator aboard the Ocean Viking. "They're unsure of what's going to happen to them next."On Oct. 18, the Ocean Viking picked up 104 people aboard an inflatable boat in distress 50 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. Libyan authorities say they assigned the port of Tripoli as a safe disembarkation site for the refugees…
Migrants on Ship Center of Political Fight
A charity rescue ship carrying 134 migrants, mostly Africans, was stranded off the coast of Italy on Friday as a political battle in Rome stopped it from docking and even the medical conditions of those on board were disputed.The migrants, picked up off Libya over the last two weeks, are waiting to disembark on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, but far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has ordered his officials not to let them do so.Salvini, who has built his popularity on a vigorous campaign against illegal immigration, is acting in defiance of his own prime minister and despite six European Union nations agreeing to take…
115 Feared Dead after Med Shipwreck
About 115 people are missing and feared to have drowned and another 134 were rescued by Libyan coast guards and local fishermen after a wooden boat carrying migrants capsized off Libya, a Libyan navy official said on Thursday.Earlier, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said that up to 150 people were feared dead."The worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year has just occurred," UNHCR head Filippo Grandi said in a tweet.There were about 250 people on board, mainly from Eritrea and other sub-Saharan Africa and Arab countries, when the boat capsized off the coast near Komas, east of the capital Tripoli, Libyan navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem said.Libya is a hub for migrants and refugees…
116 Migrants Missing, 132 Rescued Off Libyan Coast - Navy
At least 116 migrants are missing and another 132 were rescued by Libyan coast guards and local fishermen after a wooden boat capsized off the coast of Komas, a town east of the capital Tripoli, Libyan navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem said on Thursday.Qassem cited survivors as saying there had been more than 200 migrants on board the boat.Earlier, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said that up to 150 people were feared dead in the shipwreck while another 150 were rescued. (Reuters, Reporting by Ahmed Elumami Writing by Lisa Barrington Editing by Frances Kerry)
EU Deal has Germany Taking in Some Sea-Watch Migrants
Germany has agreed to take in about a dozen of the 41 migrants who arrived in Italy last month on board German charity rescue ship Sea-Watch, an Italian government source said on Tuesday.The compromise to diffuse tensions with the Italian government, which had ordered the ship not to enter Italian waters, also includes France, Portugal, Finland, and Luxemburg, which have agreed to share the burden of hosting the migrants.There was no immediate official reaction from Germany or Italy about the accord which was first reported by Spiegel magazine.The German captain of the ship, Carola Rackete, appeared before a court in Sicily on Monday…
EU may Extend Med Mission for Air Patrols
The European Union is considering a six-month extension to its Mediterranean mission, which is aimed at cracking down on smugglers and migration from Africa, but only for air patrols and training Libya's coast guard, according to a draft statement.The current mandate of the so-called Sophia mission expires this week and Italy wants to change it so that its ships are no longer patrolling and picking up people in the sea. Other states such as Germany want to prolong Sophia.A potential compromise discussed by national diplomats in Brussels on Tuesday…
At Least 10 Dead in Migrant Boat Casualty
At least 10 migrants died when their boat sank off the Libyan coast near the western town of Sabratha on Tuesday, a Libyan security official said.About 17 others were rescued, Aiman Dabbashi, Sabratha's security operations spokesman, said.Libya's western coast is a main departure point for migrants fleeing poverty and wars to reach Europe, though numbers have dropped since Italy and the European Union stepped up efforts to support the Libyan coast guard."According to a survivor from Sudan, the boat was carrying about 27 illegal migrants who set off from (the western town of) Zuwarah but we are still finding out more," Dabbashi told Reuters."We rescued about 17 illegal migrants including a woman who all were taken to the hospital.
Stranded Migrants to Leave Rescue Ship - Italian PM
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said 47 migrants who have been blocked at sea off Sicily for 11 days on a rescue ship will be allowed to come ashore on Wednesday, ending the latest migrant standoff."In a few hours, they will begin to disembark," Conte told reporters in Milan. The migrants have been on the vessel since they were rescued off the Libyan coast.Italy's populist government, which took office last year, has closed its ports to humanitarian vessels in a bid to force European Union partners to take a share of those rescued in the Mediterranean.The Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch 3, which is run by a German humanitarian group, has been moored off the coast of Sicily as it waits for a safe port.
Migrants die in boat off Libya, Egyptian survivor says
MISRATA, Libya, Dec 4 - Fifteen migrants have died in a boat off the Libyan coast after spending 12 days at sea without food or water, an Egyptian survivor said on Tuesday.Only 10 migrants from the capsized boat survived, all of whom were suffering from severe dehydration, Othman Belbeisi, head of the U.N. migration agency IOM in Libya, said on Twitter.The owner of a beach chalet found the migrants washing up on the shore near the city of Misrata and called authorities, who brought them to the Red Crescent relief service and hospitals, residents said."We were 25 migrants on a boat ... We set off from (the western Libyan town of) Sabratah and we were at sea for 12 days without food and water," the survivor said.
Migrants Rescued by Cargo Ship Refuse to Disembark at Libyan Port
Some 95 migrants picked up by a cargo ship off the Libyan coast have refused to disembark in the western city of Misrata, officials from the United Nations and Libyan coast guard said on Monday.The Libyan coast guard, supported by Italy, has stepped up patrols to stop boats with mainly African migrants from leaving Libyan shores for Europe.A cargo ship bound for Misrata rescued on Thursday around 95 migrants whose boat was about to sink, Rida Essa, a Misrata-based coast guard commander, told Reuters.He said coast guard vessels had been unable to reach the site of the accident so the cargo ship brought them to Misrata, Libya's biggest port."They (migrants) did not want to leave the ship...We tried to negotiate with them and this has lasted for three days…
More than 100 Died in Boat Wreck off Libya
More than 100 migrants died in early September when their crowded rubber boats were wrecked off the coast of Libya, the MSF aid agency on Monday quoted survivors as saying.The two vessels had set out from the Libyan coast early on Sept. 1, each carrying scores of people, mostly African, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a statement on its website.One boat's engine failed later that day and the other began to deflate, it quoted a survivor as saying. Some survived by clinging to floating wreckage.A survivor told MSF that “European rescuers" had come by aircraft and thrown life rafts, but migrants remained in the water for hours."On our boat, only 55 people survived. Many people died, including families and children.
Migrant Boat Sinks Off Tunisia, at Least Five Dead
Tunisia’s coast guard said it recovered the bodies of five migrants on Thursday whose boat sank as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to the Italian island of Lampedusa.Crews were now searching for another five Tunisians that relatives had said were also on the boat that set off this week from the southern coastal community of Zarzis, the coast guard added.Human traffickers are increasingly using Tunisia as a launch pad for migrants heading to Europe as the Libyan coast guard, aided by armed groups, has tightened controls.Many Tunisian migrants say they are fleeing high unemployment and inflation - part of an economic crisis that hit after the toppling of autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.At least 80 migrants died when their boat sank off the Tunisian coast in June, one of the wo
Migrant Rescue Ship Won't Take People Back to Libya
Rescue ship Aquarius, which has picked up almost 3,000 migrants from the Mediterranean this year, will carry out rescue missions without waiting for orders from coastguards and will not return people to Libya, its search and rescue head said."When we see there is a vessel in distress, with a high likelihood of people dying, we will go and rescue them immediately as per international maritime law," Nick Romaniuk told Reuters on board the Aquarius.Over the last year coordination…
Migrants Rescued by Boxship Land in Sicily
More than 100 rescued migrants from private cargo ship Alexander Maersk, picked up off the coast of southern Italy on Friday, arrived in the southern port of Pozzallo in Sicily on Tuesday. The new Italian government has closed its ports to ships operated by charities in the Mediterranean, saying the European Union must share the burden of disembarking migrants rescued at sea, mostly off the Libyan coast. The Alexander Maersk is a container ship owned by Maersk Line, part of Danish transport and logistics A. P. Moller-Maersk Group, and is not operated by a non-governmental organisation.
UN says Migrants' Return to Libya by Italian Boat Could be Illegal
A rescue operation in which an Italian towboat rescued more than 100 migrants and returned them to Libya earlier this week may have been in breach of international law, the United Nations said on Tuesday.A spokesman for the U.N. migration agency said it could not establish the location of the rescue, which is key to establishing migrants' rights, although some other parties involved in the case have made contradictory assertions about the incident including where it took place.The rescue coincides with a growing perception among human rights groups that some European countries are taking an increasingly hard line in their efforts to cut the number of migrants arriving on their shores…
US Navy Recovered 12 Bodies, 41 Survivors from Migrant Boat off Libya
An American naval vessel went to the aid of a rubber boat that was sinking off the coast of Libya, rescuing 41 people and collecting 12 bodies, a humanitarian group said on Tuesday after its ship was contacted by radio to help out.The U.S. navy vessel Trenton called the German charity Sea Watch, which operates the only charity rescue ship currently on patrol off the Libyan coast, to alert them to the shipwreck and ask for assistance, a spokesman for Sea Watch said.The Dutch-flagged Sea Watch 3 ship was en route to rendezvous with the Trenton, said spokesman Ruben Neugebauer.
Libyan Coastguard Picks Up 301 Migrants Headed for Europe
Libya's coastguard picked up 301 African migrants on Thursday from two inflatable boats after their engines failed near its western coast, a spokesman said.Libya is a main departure point for migrants fleeing wars and poverty trying to reach European countries, though crossings have dropped sharply since last July due to a more active coastguard supported by the European Union."The coastguard rescued 301 migrants early this morning, including three women and 46 children from 12 different sub-Saharan countries," its spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters."The illegal migrants were on board two big rubber boats," Qassem said. "The engines of the two boats stopped working in the middle of sea."On Wednesday…
Italy, Malta Turn Away Migrant Rescue Boat
A Spanish aid group operating in the Mediterranean said on Tuesday one of its boats had been barred by Italy and Malta from disembarking migrants rescued two days ago. Humanitarian groups have played a growing role in rescuing migrants who pay criminal gangs for passage from Libya, prompting accusations in Italy that they are facilitating people smuggling and encouraging migration. The groups deny this. It was not clear why the Golfo Azzurro, run by Barcelona-based Proactiva Open Arms, was not allowed to dock in Lampedusa. It is now in international waters. The Italian coastguard could not be reached for comment. "Golfo Azzurro rescued three people 100 miles from the Libyan coast in an (Italian) coastguard operation 48 hours ago and we are still without authorisation to disembark…
Libyan Navy Seizes Tanker over Suspected Smuggling
Libyan naval forces on Sunday seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker and detained its mainly Filipino crew on suspicion of smuggling oil off the Abu Kammash area west of the capital Tripoli, a naval spokesman said. Libyan coast guards often seize tankers suspected of smuggling oil and gasoline off the coast that has become a haven for migrants and smugglers taking advantage of chaos that followed the 2011 fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. In the latest case, the Levane tanker with its crew of 20 members from the Philippines was seized on Monday afternoon by a patrol, naval spokesman Ayoub Qassem said. "The capacity of the tanker Levane is six million litres and it is a Greek-owned company tanker," Qassim said, adding that members of the crew were being questioned.
Italy Rescues More Than 250 Migrants in Mediterranean
More than 250 migrants were rescued in the central Mediterranean during the night between Monday and Tuesday, Italy’s Coast Guard said. A statement said the migrants, in one large rubber dinghy and two small boats, were rescued in three missions by two ships, one from a non-governmental organization. Migrant arrivals to Italy have fallen by two-thirds year on year since July after officials working for the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli put pressure on people smugglers in the Libyan city of Sabratha to stop boats leaving.
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.
Nigerian Migrants Sue Italy for Aiding Libyan Coast Guard
Nigerian migrants who survived a deadly sea crossing last year filed a lawsuit against Italy for violating their rights by supporting Libya’s efforts to return them to North Africa, their lawyers said on Tuesday.Seventeen plaintiffs petitioned the European Court of Human Rights last week, Violeta Moreno-Lax, a legal advisor for the Global Legal Action Network, told reporters. She was among four lawyers and several humanitarian groups involved in the case.The migrants say Italy violated multiple articles of the European Convention on Human Rights…