There’s only one “Camp of the Saints” story today, but it’s an intriguing one: a boat carrying 760 culture enrichers was rescued by the Italian Coast Guard and brought to the island of Lampedusa. As far as I can recall, this is the greatest number of migrants to arrive in a single boat since the crisis began three months ago.
The Coast Guard must have been aware that the boat was overloaded — the refugee boats always are — and had assumed at first that there were about 300 passengers on board. It turned out to be more than twice as many — can you imagine what that boat must have looked like? I scoured the news for a photo of the thing, but couldn’t find one (the boat at the top of this post is just one of many file photos).
Here’s a brief account from AGI:
Boat Carrying 760 Migrants Docks in Lampedusa
Palermo — A boat carrying 760 migrants has docked in Lampedusa after being rescued 40 miles south of the island by Italian Coast Guard patrol boats and escorted to the port where it arrived a little after 2:30 p.m. Among the migrants there are dozens of women and children. It had previously been thought there were about 300 people on board, but once it had docked officials discovered that the old fishing boat was carrying more than double the number.
ANSA has a more detailed story, including the fact that pregnant women and children are among the arrivals, demonstrating that a full-scale cultural invasion really is underway:
Over 750 Refugees Land on Lampedusa, Italy Suspects Gaddafi
Pregnant women, children among migrants from Libya
Rome, April 19 — Italy said besieged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may be to blame for the arrival on a fishing boat of some 760 African refugees on the tiny southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Tuesday.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told a House committee that he suspects Gaddafi may have decided to use people trafficking to hit back at international support for rebels trying to end his 40-year rule in Libya.
As regular readers know, this is exactly what has been discussed here for the last two months: Col. Moammer Ghadafi first threatened, then promised that he would unleash a flood of sub-Saharan Africans on Europe in revenge for NATO interference in the civil war.
The Italian government is finally acknowledging that this is exactly what is happening. Up until now Italy has been doing its best to contribute as little as possible to the war in Libya, trying to appease Col. Crocodile in hopes that he will eat Italy last.
All to no avail; the boats are coming, and Italy is their proximate destination.
In the past Gaddafi has said Africans will move “en masse” to Europe and the Mediterranean will become a “sea of chaos” if he is toppled. Frattini said the boat came from the western port of Zuwarah and that the anti-Gaddafi Libyan National Council will provide Italy with evidence about whether “the Gaddafi regime was starting to organise the trafficking of human beings, as it had threatened to do, from that port”.
All right, suppose the LNC does provide Italy with “evidence” of the Colonel’s responsibility. Then what?
What are the Italians going to do, serve him with a summons and have him arraigned at the International Criminal Court in the Hague?
The entire boatload of enrichment must now be shipped to the mainland where the passengers will be housed at the expense of the Italian taxpayer, with maybe a little bit of help from the EU:
The fishing boat made the hazardous crossing of the Channel of Sicily, where some 800 migrants are estimated to have been lost at sea this year. Its passengers included 17 children and 62 women, several of whom were pregnant.
The refugees are expected to be transferred later on Tuesday to the mainland from Lampedusa, the main stop-off point for many of the over 28,000 migrants to have landed on Italy’s shores this year following unrest in North Africa.
As I pointed out last weekend, despite the optimism of the Italian government, the crisis is unlikely to be over just yet. If the Tunisian authorities can’t spot and detain a boat with 760 many people on it, what can they do?
But Roberto Maroni is continuing to whistle past the graveyard:
Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said last week that he was hopeful the worst of the migrant crisis was over thanks to an agreement with Tunisia to boost efforts to stem the flow and repatriate new arrivals in exchange for aid and assistance.
Maroni, however, said he is worried people traffickers will take advantage of the rebellion against Gaddafi’s rule in Libya to bring over migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the continent.
No, really? D’you think?
And concerning the recent friction with France over the migrants, hope springs eternal:
The Italian government has expressed confidence everything will be smoothed over at next week’s summit in Rome between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi.
There’s one more thing worth pointing out: today’s new arrivals at Lampedusa, packed into a single boat, comprised 2.53 times as many refugees than the EU has so far agreed to take off Italy’s hands.
The Italian ship of state is sinking in a sea of cultural enrichment, and the Ever-Closer Union is doing nothing to save it.
“Hang on, Roberto! I’ll help you bail — just let me get my thimble!”
Hat tip: Cantoni.