The United Nations Human Rights Council has weighed in on the European treatment of Mediterranean migrants, and, needless to say, it finds that treatment wanting.
We’ll get to that story later on in tonight’s update. But first, let’s look at the latest cultural enrichment news from the Mediterranean.
235 refugees landed in Sicily today, and an additional 159 landed on the island of Pantelleria. which increased the year-to-date total to just over 45,000 and nudged the Cultural Enrichment Thermometer up another pixel.
Note that the arrivals in Sicily were escorted by a Maltese patrol boat. Malta wants to make sure that the refugees land safely, but not in Malta:
More Refugees Arrive in Sicily, Escorted by a Maltese Patrol Boat
A boat carrying 235 migrants, all from sub-Saharan Africa and fleeing the conflict in Libya, arrived in southern Sicily today, authorities said.
Six of the migrants, who suffered from hypothermia and malnutrition, were taken to a hospital.
The group which included 19 women and five children arrived in Italian waters under Maltese escort after they were spotted yesterday.
(Malta insists all boats have right of transit through Maltese waters and the Maltese authorities do not need to interfere unless the boats are in distress.)
Italian customs, police and coastguard boats had earlier assisted another 159 migrants, also from sub-Saharan Africa, as they neared the Italian island of Pantelleria.
A couple of days ago the Algerian coast guard prevented two boats of migrants from crossing over to Spain:
Algerian Coast Guard Stops Illegal Immigrants
(ANSAmed) — Algiers, June 15 — In two separate operations, Algerian Coast Guard units stationed in Ghazaouet have stopped 22 people who had been trying to reach the Spanish coastline in a clandestine manner. In the first operation, a Zodiac rubber dinghy was stopped carrying 12 people from El Koudia, not far from Tlemcen. The boat was stopped off Rechgoun. The second seacraft, stopped off Sidi Youcha, was a tiny polyester boat on which ten people from the Ghazaouet region were planning on braving the sea. In line with Algerian law, all 22 illegal immigrants were arrested and will be appearing before the state prosecutor of the Ghazaouet court.
During the past week, Italy managed to deport 78 migrants to various countries:
Italy: Interior Ministry Reports 78 Migrants Deported This Week
(AGI) Rome — The interior ministry reports that 78 migrants, mainly Tunisians, Egyptians and Algerians, have been deported this week.
As you can see, this leaves the enrichers in Italy with a net gain of at least 316.
To cope with the overload of refugees, Italy has issued a decree permitting an extended period of detention for illegal immigrants:
Italy: Immigrants to be Held in Centres for Up to 18 Months
(AGI) Rome — Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has said illegal immigrants arriving in Italy and awaiting deportation will be held in special centre for up to 18 months, as established by the decree approved today by the cabinet. Maroni explained that the holding period has been increased from six to 18 months, and will be implemented through guarantee procedures applied by Justices of Peace.
Before the Arab Spring arrived in Libya, the Italians had had a deal with Col. Muammar Qaddafi: they (and the rest of the EU)
paid him protection money reimbursed him for his expenses, and in return he kept the would-be refugees from migrating to Italy. The deal fell apart after the rebellion started, and the Mad Colonel deliberately released a flood of refugees on Italy after the NATO bombs began to fall.
Now Italy is counting on the rebels to take up where Col. Ghedaffi left off, and staunch the flow of immigrants. Presumably the new regime is promising to keep the enrichers onshore in return for the same stipend the old regime received:
Italy Signs Migration Accord With Libya Rebels
Naples, June 17 (Reuters) — Italy signed an accord with the head of Libya’s interim rebel government on Friday to jointly tackle a migration crisis triggered by the violence.
Thousands of people have fled Libya since an uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year rule began in February. Many have attempted to cross the Mediterranean and reach Italy on unsafe boats and hundreds have died in the attempt.
Italy’s Franco Frattini and Mahmoud Jebril, leader of National Transitional Council (NTC), agreed to exchange information on illegal migration and the organised criminal networks that encourage it, as well as cooperate on repatriating migrants.
“This accord shows how close the collaboration is between Italy and the NTC …. and how serious the NTC considers cooperation with countries that have recognised it,” Frattini said at a news conference in Naples.
If that strategy fails, Italy plans to fall back on help from NATO:
Libya: Italy to Ask NATO to ‘Stop Migrant Boats’
Varese, 17 June (AKI) — Italy will ask Nato ships to stop boats carrying migrants from North Africa to Italy.
“I think you can intervene immediately by asking Nato vessels already along the Libyan coast to block goods from entering, to also be used to block people from leaving,” Italian interior minister Roberto Maroni told reporters on Friday at a security conference in the northern Italian city of Varese.
“This can be done right away if Nato decides agrees. It would be a solution to the problem.
Italy on Friday was due to sign an accord with Libyan rebel leaders aiming to keep migrant boats from leaving for Italy. An agreement to jointly patrol coastal waters with Libya was scrapped in March when Italy joined Nato in its mission to defend civilians against Muammar Gaddafi.
If you want to read another heartstring-tugging story about a poor refugees arriving on Lampedusa, check out this story about a young immigrant from Sierra Leone. It has some interesting details, including the low price for passage across the strait ($800, down from an earlier going rate of $2,000, presumably due to widespread competition), and the fact that refugee artifacts have been turned into art in a museum on Lampedusa.
As you may remember, a couple of months ago NATO vessels (the French were specifically named) were accused of deliberately leaving a disabled boatload of enrichers adrift on the Mediterranean, until most of the passengers died from hunger and thirst.
The UN Human Rights Council has now caught up with the issue, and has issued a reprimand to the European powers. Notice that those voting for censure included a host of illiberal Third World regimes, Latin American countries, and Russia. In contrast, those opposing the resolution included major EU nations, the UK, and the USA:
HRC Adopts Resolution on Migrants and Asylum Seekers Fleeing North Africa; Calls for Inquiry Into Allegations of Failures to Rescue Boats in Distress
The UN Human Rights Council, 17th Session, on Friday, 17 June, adopted a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.13) on Migrants and Asylum Seekers Fleeing from Events in North Africa. The Resolution recalls states’ obligations under human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law, including the obligation of non-refoulement and called for ships patrolling the Mediterranean Sea to provide assistance to non-seaworthy boats leaving North Africa.
The Resolution also calls for “a comprehensive inquiry into the very troubling allegations that sinking vessels carrying migrants and asylum seekers fleeing the events in North Africa were abandoned to their fate despite the alleged ability of European ships in the vicinity to rescue them, and welcomes the call made by the Council of Europe in this regard on 9 May 2011.” [NB – this quoted text is taken from a 15 June version of the Resolution and may not reflect the final approved language. frenzen]
The Resolution was adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 14 against, and no abstentions:
In favour (32): Angola; Argentina; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Brazil; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chile; China; Cuba; Djibouti; Ecuador; Gabon; Ghana; Guatemala; Jordan; Kyrgyzstan; Malaysia; Maldives; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mexico; Nigeria; Pakistan; Qatar; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Thailand; Uganda; Uruguay and Zambia.
Against (14): Belgium; France; Hungary; Japan; Norway; Poland; Republic of Korea; Republic of Moldova; Slovakia; Spain; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom and United States.
There’s much more information, and additional links, in the original article.
Finally, for a bit of comic relief, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is showing his solidarity with the island of Lampedusa by buying a villa there.
Do you think he plans on intercepting a few of the more nubile arrivals from North Africa and inviting them over to his new place for a little “bunga-bunga”?
Italy: Berlusconi ‘Due to Sign Deed’ To Buy Beach Villa on Troubled Island
Rome, 16 June (AKI) — Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is due to sign the deed to purchase a villa on the southern Italian island Lampedusa where tens-of-thousands of illegal immigrants have arrived this year, according to Bernardino De Rubeis, mayor of Lampedusa.
During a meeting on Wednesday with the billionaire premiere at his Rome residence on Wednesday, Berlusconi said he will sign the deed to purchase the villa on 28 June, De Rubeis said. The price was not immediately known.
Lampedusa is closer to Tunisia than Italy making it the most convenient location to enter Italy for tens of thousands of migrants who have made the trip this year after setting sail from North Africa.
The 20-square-kilometre island’s reputation as a vacation paradise has been damaged by televised images of an overflowing migrant detention centre and hundreds of African’s sleeping rough and wandering the streets. Summer tourist traffic has reportedly slowed to a trickle.
During a March visit Berlusconi made a public relations pitch for the troubled island, pledging to build a golf course and declaring his intention to purchase a villa on the island with around 6,000 residents.
Now it appears that Berlusconi will add the white beach-front Greek-style house named “Two Palms” to his collection of vacation properties including a home on the Caribbean island of Antigua, one on Italy’s island of Sardinia and a sprawling Lake Como villa, near Milan in Italy’s north.
According to an Italian real estate web site, the house can sleep [Hah! Sleep? — BB] eight people, is set back from the scenic bay of Cala Francese, and has two palm trees.
That’s all for tonight. More enrichment in a day or two.
For previous posts about the Mediterranean refugee crisis, see The Camp of the Saints Archive.
Hat tips: AC, C. Cantoni, and Insubria.