The budget is very heavy. At least 43 migrants have drowned in the past few hours in a shipwreck off the coast of Tunisia while trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy. Another 84 were saved, the Tunisian Red Crescent reports according to Reuters on its website. The boat left Zuwara, on the northwestern coast of Libya, with migrants on board from Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Bangladesh, explains the humanitarian organization. In recent months there have been several tragic shipwrecks off the Tunisian coast, with an increase in the frequency of attempts to cross to Europe from Tunisia and Libya to Italy with the improvement of the weather and the warmer seasons. “The navy rescued 84 migrants and another 43 drowned in a boat that sailed from Zuwara in Libya to Europe,” said Red Crescent official Mongi Slim.
People continue to die on the Central Mediterranean route, but also on the Morocco-Canary Islands route. Hundreds of thousands of people have made the perilous Mediterranean crossing in recent years, many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. Arrivals to Italy – one of the main migrant routes in Europe – had declined in recent years, but increased again in 2021. Almost 19,800 migrants arrived in 2021 against just over 6,700 in the same period last year, according to data from the Interior Ministry. The Agrigento prosecutor recently opened an investigation into attempted massacre thanks to a Sea Watch complaint containing video testimony on ramming attempts and shooting at a group of migrants from a Libyan patrol boat donated by Italy.
Also today, the bodies of 14 people, including a child and a woman, were found on the beach of Zawya, Libya, in what SeaWatch calls “the horrifying daily reality in the Mediterranean”.
The humanitarian ships stopped in the port
After a 12-hour inspection, Italy yesterday stopped GeoBarents, the rescue ship of Doctors Without Borders. In recent days, the ship had rescued 410 migrants off the coast of Libya: it was blocked in the port of Augusta after “22 non-compliances were identified” on board. This was announced by the NGO itself, underlining that it is the thirteenth time in 3 years that Italy has blocked a humanitarian ship. In the first six months of the year, MSF recalls, “721 people lost their lives at sea. We will do everything possible to return to the Mediterranean to save lives”. With Conte-Salvini the NGO ships did not dock, with Draghi-Lamorgese they cannot even leave. That’s right: at the time of the Conte-Salvini-Di Maio government, NGO ships struggled to dock after the rescues (the most “famous” is the Rackete case). Now, with the government “of the best”, they do not even leave for the Central Mediterranean route.
The question is always the same: is it better a humanitarian ship or rather nothing in the Mediterranean, having acknowledged that humanitarian ships are not a pull factor (they have never been) and that we are leaving from North Africa anyway? Is it better for someone to try, to save lives, or is it preferable to have the shameful silence of these months, weeks, days? Today there are numerous ships that have been recently stopped by the provisions of the Italian Coast Guard: among others, the Open Arms, the Alan Kurdi (technically no longer in detention, but in port until some irregularities have been resolved and fixed) , the Sea-Watch 3 and 4, Louise Michel. Now also GeoBarents. “While the checks on board represent legitimate maritime procedures, aimed at ensuring the safety of navigation at sea, these inspections are exploited by the Italian authorities to hit humanitarian ships indiscriminately” comments Doctors Without Borders. NGOs have long been asking Italy and Europe to set up an effective search and rescue system whose primary purpose is to safeguard human life in the Mediterranean. The organizations also called for an overcoming of the hostile climate to civilian relief. In vain, for now. Men, women and children continue to die in the Mediterranean, with an increase three times higher than in the same period in 2020.
“The dead at sea cannot be accepted, we must fight human trafficking. But Europe certainly needs to be even more present”. This is the warning of the Minister of the Interior Luciana Lamorgese, today in Syracuse. “Fortunately, the topic was put on the agenda by the European Council and it will be discussed in a more concrete way in October – says Lamorgese – Certainly there was also a vision of perspective on the part of the participating States, because he is finally understanding that there is a need for greater responsibility and sharing of activities to be put in place “. And he adds: “Italy is already moving”. October is far away, the very long summer.
Italian allocations to the Libyan Coast Guard continue to increase
“The Italian allocations to the Libyan Coast Guard continue to increase – Oxfam denounces – The government has in fact decided to allocate 500 thousand euros more in 2021 to support its activities, for a total of 32.6 million euros spent since 2017, the year of Italy-Libya agreement. The cost incurred by Italian taxpayers for naval missions in the Mediterranean (none of which has search and rescue tasks at sea) and in the North African country also rises to 960 million, with an increase of 17 million compared to to 2020 for the Safe Sea mission and 15 million for Irini. All this, despite continuing to die along the central Mediterranean route and the intervention methods of the so-called Libyan Coast Guard are now well known, as evidenced by the video released in recent days by Sea-Watch “.
The parliamentary debate on the renewal of the Italian military missions is around the corner. This year marks the record of people intercepted and brought back to Libya: more than 13,000. “Given that he evidently did not suggest to the Government, nor a profound reflection on the fate of migrants, including women and children, who once returned to the North African country are destined to be victims of systematic abuse and torture from which they were escaping, ending up in official detention centers and in other clandestine places of detention. Nor has the same agreement been revised with the Libyan authorities, despite numerous inquiries and witnesses confirming the involvement of the Libyan Coast Guard in human trafficking “notes Oxfam. .
“While people continue to die along the central Mediterranean route, as demonstrated by the continuous shipwrecks of recent weeks, with the umpteenth tragedy that occurred in Lampedusa a few days ago, – underlines Paolo Pezzati, policy advisor for humanitarian emergencies at Oxfam Italia – the The Draghi Government is acting in perfect continuity with the previous executives on migration policies, as also demonstrated by the recent requests to the European Council for greater involvement of the Union in strengthening agreements with the Libyan authorities. a country where the “smuggling and trafficking industry” has been partly converted into a “detention industry” with abuses and violence now known to all, also thanks to this considerable flow of money “.
“A few days after the parliamentary discussion on the renewal of Italian military missions abroad, – concludes Pezzati – we therefore ask the majority parties to immediately stop the allocations for 2021 directed to the Libyan Coast Guard. Together, a review of the missions they contain is necessary. initiatives linked to his training and support. What is needed is a decisive change of approach, direct management of flows and not the mere closure of borders delegated to countries such as Libya or Turkey “.