There are many news stories, endless narratives, about the situation of ‘asylum seekers’ who get into large dinghies and set sail from Tunisia to Italy. These rubber-sided, leaky vessels with their thin wooden bottoms are death traps. But still, the migrants pay their money, crowd in and set sail for Lampedusa.
Today the big news, carried by most of the MSM, was the killing of a dozen Christian refugees by fifteen Muslims. Fjordman sent this:
A dozen Christian asylum seekers drowned in the Mediterranean after they were thrown overboard by Muslim migrants in a furious row fueled by “religious hatred” on a smuggler boat sailing from Libya to Italy.
Conservative politicians accused the centre-Left government of Matteo Renzi of allowing “fundamentalists” into Italy and called for a blockade of the refugee boats.
“Intervention is now urgent because what has happened is extremely worrying,” said Maurizio Gasparri, a senator with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party. “The Renzi government is bringing in Islamist fundamentalists and using Italian ships as taxis for potential jihadists.”
Ignazio La Russa, another centre-Right politician, said: “The government is not only bringing to its knees the social fabric of our cities (through immigration) but is allowing onto Italian soil fundamentalist terrorists.”
Italy is indeed in trouble fiscally because of the migrants, but the superficial MSM is counting drops of water and telling us that their drops are an accurate reflection of the size of the sea.
There is real information out there, and I found some of it accidentally when searching Google Images for maps of the routes traveled from, say, Tunisia to Italy.
The first place I found was a site that isn’t current but is still full of information that provides you with information about the scope of the problem. In January, the blog “Migrants at Sea” reported on the statistics for 2014 [the emphases are mine]:
While roughly 170,000 migrants over the past 14 months have reached Italy or been rescued and brought to Italy, according to UNHCR and Eurostat figures, very few of them are applying for asylum in Italy. Eurostat data through November 2014 indicate approximately 25,200 asylum applications from all nationalities were filed in Italy during the first six months of 2014; the number increased to approximately 27,000 during the period July-November 2014.
According to Italian press reports, “[n]ew figures from the UN’s refugee agency showed 25,077 people applied for asylum in Italy during the first six months of 2014. The highest number in Europe was recorded in Germany, which received 77,109 applications, followed by France (54,131) and Sweden (38,792).”
Notice that somehow these migrants are leaving Italy for the richer territories of Northern Europe. That doesn’t mean that Italy isn’t facing severe strain in having to take them in as they land. And Italy faces severe criticism from the rest of the EU for letting them get away.
There are other interesting stories on that page, featuring – for instance – huge numbers turned back by Turkey’s Coast Guard. But still they come. Reading just the increase in numbers of incidents gives one an idea of the masses of humanity involved. The smugglers are ever more agile in escaping if the authorities come near. Out of 524 incidents of capture by Turkey in 2014, involving over twelve thousand people, only 74 smugglers were charged.
The increase in numbers of captured migrants since they started keeping count in 2011 is 24-fold. And going up.
As you know if you’ve ever gone puddle-jumping in the blogosphere, one site leads to another. Migrants at Sea (the site was maintained by a professor in Southern California) mentioned “Frontex” a few times so off I went, and came up with their reason for being, and a long explanation of how this Big Business of mass migration operates and is changing:
Frontex promotes, coordinates and develops European border management in line with the EU fundamental rights charter applying the concept of Integrated Border Management…
Winter used to bring some respite for those agencies responsible for controlling Europe’s long Mediterranean borders. For each of the last ten years, irregular migration has slowed or even stopped in the run-up to Christmas, with the people smugglers largely confined to port by the rough seas. Not any more, it seems.
Since the launch on November 1st of Operation Triton, the Frontex-coordinated mission in the central Mediterranean, some 11,400 migrants have been rescued, about 10,000 of them in situations characterised as “distressed,” in 77 separate Search and Rescue incidents at sea. Although significantly smaller than the number recorded during the August peak — when some 28,000 migrants were detected on this route — this level of traffic is still unprecedented for wintertime. 2014 could be remembered as the year that people-smuggling by sea truly became a year-round business.
In a rapid adaptation of strategy that has become their hallmark, the smugglers have started using much larger boats. These are typically decommissioned freighters, up to 75m long, procured in the ports of south-eastern Turkey, notably Mersin: a departure point still connected by ferry to the Syrian port of Latakia, making it reachable for the tens of thousands of Syrians still fleeing the conflict in their country. The freighters, repaired and manned by crews sometimes hired from as far away as Russia, are piloted via Cyprus and Crete towards Italy, which remains the EU destination of choice for refugees from the Middle East.
“Scrap vessels are expensive and difficult to procure, but high demand makes this method profitable,” says Antonio Saccone, Head of Operational Analysis at Frontex. “It shows how powerful and sophisticated the smuggling networks have become. There is no doubt that the Mediterranean coasts are now in serious crisis.”
Syrian refugees are generally richer than Asian or sub-Saharan migrants, and are charged €6,000 each for the service in order to reach Mersin. This cost is often on top of the ‘fees’ they must pay to the militias controlling the border crossings on exit from Syria — often as much as 16g of gold per person. With freighters frequently filled with as many as 600 people, the profit for the smugglers runs into the millions.
A place on a freighter from Turkey costs at least three times the price of a ticket on the usual sea route from Libya. And yet the migrants are willing to pay. Travelling this way not only circumvents the considerable danger of capsizing in a small boat in rough seas: it also avoids having to go to Libya. The departure point of choice for facilitator networks in 2014, this increasingly lawless North African nation appears to have become too dangerous an operating environment even for the criminal gangs.
Thank you, President Obama. You have increased geometrically the suffering in the Middle East and North Africa. Uncountable deaths are on your head.
For all its advantages, though, the new route from Turkey is not without dangers. The engines of the old ships are often highly unreliable. In the last six weeks alone, one freighter has been found drifting near Cyprus; another was rescued 30 miles off Crete; still others, off the Italian coast. The danger of shipwreck is greatly increased by the smugglers’ habit of switching off the freighter’s AIS (the Automatic Identification System with which all boats over 300 tonnes, as well as all passenger ships, are equipped). The effect is to make the boat electronically invisible to the Italian search and rescue authorities — a stratagem that buys time for the smuggling crew to escape by fast launch and thus avoid arrest.
Frontex has discerned another worrying recent trend: some 30% of all migrants rescued at sea in September and October were picked up by civilian shipping — the vast majority of them, 52 incidents, off the coast of Libya. The smugglers have learned to time the departure of migrant boats so that they cross the paths of merchant ships heading for the EU. When a distress call is transmitted, the merchant ship, being the nearest, is obliged by international maritime law to go to the rescue — and then disembarks them at the next port of call.
The risk to life when transferring migrants between ships at sea is significant; and the merchant marine is of course far from happy. Operation Triton, however, cannot be expected to handle the migrant challenge alone. It has two aircraft and a helicopter at its disposal, two open sea patrol vessels, and four coastal ones: a fleet appropriate to its mandate, which is to control the EU’s borders, not to police 2.5million square kilometres of the Mediterranean. Triton’s budget, at €2.9m a month, is one third of what Italy were spending on Operation Mare Nostrum. That said, saving lives is always a priority for Frontex. “There is great suffering out there, among a great many vulnerable people,” says Gil Arias Fernandez, Frontex Executive Director “so of course we do whatever we can.” Christmas, it is safe to predict, will be no holiday for the border guards engaged in the central Mediterranean.
I have only touched the bare edges of this story (it’s been a hard day here at Schloss Bodissey what with plumbers and such) but my point in providing the few links and their stories is that the MSM is pretty well useless beyond its “if-it-bleeds-it-leads” attitude toward what is going on in the world. They excel at telling you when things blow up, but they are silent on follow-up.
For you and me the job becomes digging for information. These two instances happened because I was looking for maps. I may indeed search that way again for ongoing information. For example, what might a map of the area where the FBI chose to meet have provided in terms of information?
Mass immigration is here to stay. It will continue on particularly as our foreign “policy” is a hit-and-run affair leaving smashed bodies and lives behind. Let’s see what happens with Cuban boats in the coming months. Only ninety miles to freedom… unless Obama manages to kill those fleeing before they arrive. It may even be part of his arrangement with the Castro Company.