Tuesday, November 12, 2013


The stories about migration in the Mediterranean may have dropped out of the international headlines but that does not mean that the boats have stopped setting sail for the European "promised land" and, in particular, the shores of Malta and Sicily.

Following the tragedy of 3rd October, the Letta government launched Operazione Mare Nostrum on 18th October: this is a military humanitarian operation to try to stop similar tragedies occurring and to control the influx of migrants. Not everyone is happy about it, partly because of the costs and partly because of a fear that the availability of more immediate help for boats that get into trouble might actually encourage the people traffickers. [If they are caught at sea and helped to reach Italy, any penalty may be reduced.]

On Sunday, however, Defence Minister Mario Maura congratulated the Italian Navy upon a mission it carried out as part of the operation on Saturday: Having patrolled the Capo Passero area by submarine, naval officers were able to intercept a fishing vessel acting as a migrant  "mother ship" and arrest the 16 people traffickers on board. Of these, three were minors. All have declared themselves to be  Egyptian. The Navy also brought 176 Syrian migrants - 146 men, eleven women, three of whom are pregnant, and 19 children - to safety during the mission. The 13 adult scafisti are now in prison awaiting trial while the three minors are being housed in a migrant reception centre. Mr Mauro said the interception was timely as conditions at sea were rough and the migrant boat, which was already taking in water, would have capsized.

It is estimated that 3,374 migrants have been helped in 16 separate Operazione Mare Nostrum missions carried out between 18th October and yesterday.

Update:  Sicilian online newspapers are reporting tonight that 55 of the 176 rescued migrants have escaped during a transfer and that there are 61 unaccompanied minors among those who remain. Voluntary organisations immediately brought food and clothing for the young migrants and further transfers are now being effected.


Whispering Walls said...

Where have they escaped to?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Posssibly into the surrounding countryside, WW. Most of them want to travel on to Northern Europe. Three were found wandering in the city a few hours later.


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