Posts Tagged ‘Jugend Rettet’

Italy impounds German NGO migrant rescue boat

August 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Some 600,000 mostly African migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya since the start of 2014, putting the country’s reception facilities under strain and the centre-left government under pressure over the crisis

ROME (AFP) – Italian authorities on Wednesday impounded a German NGO’s migrant rescue boat on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration, police said.The Iuventa, operated by the Jugend Rettet organisation, was “preventatively” impounded on the Italian island of Lampedusa on the orders of a prosecutor based in Trapani, Sicily, the state police force said in a statement.

“Enquiries begun in October 2016, and conducted with the use of sophisticated techniques and investigative technology, have produced circumstantial evidence of the motorboat Iuventa being used for activities facilitating illegal immigration,” the statement said.

More details were to be provided at a 1530 GMT press conference.

The impounding of the Iuventa came as Italy began enforcing a controversial code of conduct for charity boats rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.

Jugend Rette was among six of nine NGO’s operating search-and-rescue activities in waters off Libya to reject the new rules. Italian authorities say they are necessary to ensure the boats are not effectively encouraging migrants to embark on the perilous crossing.

The NGOs have particularly objected to a requirement to allow an Italian police official to travel on each boat and a ban on moving rescued migrants from one aid vessel to another while still at sea, which they say could result in avoidable deaths.

Some 600,000 mostly African migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya since the start of 2014, putting the country’s reception facilities under strain and the centre-left government under pressure over the crisis.

Just over a third of those rescued this year have been saved by NGO boats, up from around a quarter last year.

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Italy enforces NGO boat crackdown as fewer migrants decide to cross Med

August 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP | New figures have revealed a sharp drop in the number of Migrants arriving in Italy from Libya

ROME (AFP) – Italy on Wednesday began enforcing a controversial code of conduct for charity boats rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean as new figures revealed a sharp drop in the numbers of people arriving from Libya.

A boat operated by Germany’s Jugend Rettet, one of several NGO’s which have refused to sign the code, was intercepted off Lampedusa and escorted to the outlying Italian island for “routine checks”, a coastguard spokesman told AFP.

The organisation said its boat, the Iuventa, had not been impounded and the crew had not been arrested, but could not immediately provide further details of the coastguard operation.

Only three of the nine NGO’s operating search-and-rescue activities in waters off Libya have accepted the new rules, which Italian authorities say are necessary to ensure the boats are not effectively encouraging migrants to embark on the perilous crossing.

The NGOs have particularly objected to a requirement to allow an Italian police official to travel on each boat and a ban on moving rescued migrants from one aid vessel to another while still at sea, which they say could result in avoidable deaths.

Some 600,000 mostly African migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya since the start of 2014, putting the country’s reception facilities under strain and the centre-left government under pressure over the crisis.

For most of this year the numbers of new arrivals have pointed to 2017 breaking all previous records.

But July, normally a busy month, saw the trend reversed, suggesting various efforts to close down the Libya-Italy route to Europe could be having an impact.

The Interior Ministry said 11,193 people had been registered at Italian ports in July, compared with 23,552 in July 2016.

Arrivals for the first seven months of this year were 95,214, up 0.78 percent on the same period last year.

Italy has been working with the Libyan authorities to strengthen the north African state’s coastguard with training and new equipment in the hope of making it more effective in policing traffickers and intercepting migrant boats before they reach international waters.

The Italian parliament was Wednesday discussing further support for Libya in the form of a naval mission comprised of a logistics ship and patrol boat dedicated to supporting Libyan coastguard activities.

Officials believe boats being sent back to Libyan ports will have a powerful deterrent effect on would-be migrants considering paying traffickers for passage to Europe.

But the approach has been criticised by international rights groups who say people returned to troubled Libya face detention in squalid camps and abuse at the hands of traffickers.

At least 30 migrants drown in new Med disaster — “Real life tragedy unfolding on Europe’s doorstep today.”

May 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | The Libyan coast guard has recently begun carrying out its own operations at sea, towing migrant dinghies headed for Europe back to shore and locking up those recovered in centres which are renowned for human rights abuses

ROME (AFP) – 

At least 30 migrants including young children drowned Wednesday when they fell off an overloaded vessel in the Mediterranean, where tensions are rising between aid ships and the Libyan coast guard.

“There’s a critical situation today. About 200 people fell into the water,” a coastguard spokesman told AFP, while a humanitarian worker at the scene said 31 bodies had been recovered.

The migrants were on a wooden boat carrying between 500 and 700 people and were just 20 nautical miles off the Libyan coast when the accident happened.

The crew of the Phoenix aid boat, chartered by the Maltese NGO Moas, had begun the rescue and were distributing lifejackets when many of those on deck fell into the water, perhaps knocked off balance by a wave.

“Not a scene from a horror movie… Real life tragedy unfolding on Europe’s doorstep today!,” said Chris Catrambone, Moas co-founder, who was aboard the Phoenix and published photos showing white body bags lined up on the deck.

“Rescuers are frantically trying to break open the locked hold on a wooden boat where hundreds of migrants are trapped!” he tweeted.

With the help of an Italian coast guard ship and several commercial ships, rescuers raced to drag as many people as possible from the water, while a military aircraft dropped life-rafts and a helicopter looked for survivors.

“Current body count at 31,” Catrambone said, adding many who fell overboard had been “small toddlers”.

– ‘Shots fired’ –

About 15 relief operations were under way Wednesday off Libya in total, the coast guard said.

On Tuesday, they coordinated the rescue of about 1,500 people, while their Libyan counterparts intercepted 237 others, including 20 women and 15 children, travelling on two wooden boats.

Among the migrants was a group of 12 Libyans — including five women and three children — who were trying to flee the conflict-hit country. Libyans have been a rare sight on migrant boats so far.

The German NGO Jugend Rettet said Tuesday it had had a run-in with armed men on a boat purportedly commandeered by the Libyan coast guard.

The Libyan boat already had passengers on board — presumably picked up from a dinghy in the area.

Jugend Rettet published a photograph appearing to show the armed men pointing their weapons directly at the migrants and said “a variety of shots” were fired “and refugees were beaten”.

Some 100 people on the Libyan boat panicked when the shots rang out and threw themselves into the water, swimming towards the German boat Iuventa and the SOS Mediterranee boat Aquarius, which was also at the scene.

“We can not say whether and how many dead there were in the shooting. We had to be careful not to get a bullet ourselves,” Jugend Rettet said in a statement citing the Iuventa’s 25-year old captain Jonas, without giving his surname.

The Libyan coast guard has recently begun carrying out its own operations at sea, towing migrant dinghies headed for Europe back to shore and locking up those recovered in centres which are renowned for human rights abuses.

© 2017 AFP