Monday, May 12, 2014


Yet another tragedy is unfolding in the Mediterranean as I write this evening and it comes only a day after 40 migrants were drowned off the Libyan coast. The facts about today's sad events are not yet clear but this is what we know so far:

At about 1pm Italian time today, the Italian Coast Guard picked up an SOS call from a migrant boat in trouble.  The boat was 100 miles south of Lampedusa and actually nearer the Libyan coast than that of Italy. Italian Coast Guard boats, merchant and naval ships and a Guardia di Finanza vessel were scrambled to the scene and saved 200 migrants. Seventeen bodies have also been recovered but it is feared that there may be many more, as it is possible that there were up to 400 people on the boat.

Once again Italian politicians have spoken to EU officials in the strongest terms and this time, it seems, they are listening: Cecilia Malmström has said she is shocked and has called upon all member states to consider how they can help. Prime Minister Renzi is to visit Sicily on Wednesday and he, too, is expected to reiterate calls for urgent EU help.

Libya's Interior Minister has told the EU that his country will help migrants to leave it illegally if the organisation does not help Libya to patrol its borders and today a Libyan naval spokesman said that the nation does not have the means to help in this latest rescue operation. Meanwhile Giovanni Pinto, Italy's Director of Immigration, has asserted that more and more inadequate boats are leaving Libya carrying migrants because the people traffickers know that Italian vessels will go as near as they legally can to the Libyan coast to save their passengers.

Italian newspapers are today carrying a video shot by a Syrian migrant on his sea crossing. He had sailed with 232 others and spent 11 days at sea without food or water. Now in Pozzallo, the man handed the video over to the Italian authorities who used it to help them identify and arrest two alleged people traffickers.

Poor Italy - whatever she does in this situation she seems to be doing it alone and whatever she does she is criticised.

Tonight's online edition of La Repubblica has a list of migrant tragedies in the Sicilian Channel from 1996 - 2013.


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I really feel for these people and I feel for Italy too. I am not sure what more they can do.

Whispering Walls said...

And so it continues...

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Anne. I don't know either. It does, sadly, WW.


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