News / Africa

    New Calls for Smuggling Crackdown After Migrant Boat Accident

    The body of a drowned migrant is being unloaded from a Coast Guard boat in the port of Lampedusa, Italy, Oct. 3, 2013.
    The body of a drowned migrant is being unloaded from a Coast Guard boat in the port of Lampedusa, Italy, Oct. 3, 2013.
    Lisa Schlein
    United Nations agencies are calling for international action to crack down on traffickers and smugglers following Thursday’s Lampedusa boat tragedy.  The U.N. refugee agency says the disaster, which reportedly has claimed hundreds of lives, should serve as a wake-up call to do more to protect the victims. 

    Survivors of the Lampedusa tragedy said around 500 Eritreans left from Libya 13 days ago. Some 111 bodies have been recovered and divers are continuing to search for an estimated 200 people who remain missing. 

    While Italy is mourning the dead, authorities and aid agencies on Lampedusa are focusing on helping the survivors.  U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said 155 people reportedly have survived.  She said all wee Eritreans, with the exception of a Tunisian man believed to be one of the smugglers.  She said Italian police have arrested him. 

    Among the survivors are 40 unaccompanied boys aged between 14 and 17 and six women.  Fleming said they were exhausted and in a state of shock.  She said the survivors have been moved to a nearby reception center.  She said the center was overcrowded as it held 1,000 people who recently arrived on other smugglers’ boats. 

    “There are Syrians there.  There are Palestinians there and there are some Africans there.  We are going to be meeting with the survivors of the accident today.  And, as part of UNHCR’s role, we will be advising them on asylum procedures.  We have additional staff arriving this morning.  IOM (International Organization for Migration) colleagues are also helping out and the Red Cross is providing psychological support to the traumatized survivors,” said Fleming.

    Survivors reported the engine of their boat stopped as they were approaching the Italian coast early Thursday morning.  They said several fishing boats passed them by without offering help before the Italian Coast Guard came to their rescue.

    • Body bags containing African migrants, who drowned trying to reach Italian shores, lie in a hangar of the Lampedusa airport, Italy, Oct. 3, 2013.
    • Mortuary vehicles wait outside a hangar where some of the bodies of Thursday's shipwreck are held, at the airport of Lampedusa, Italy, Oct. 4, 2013.
    • A black flag with writing reading in Italian "Vergogna" (shame) waves in the harbor of the island of Lampedusa, Italy, Oct. 4, 2013.
    • This image made from video provided by the Italian Coast Guard shows the rescue of a survivor from the ship that caught fire and sank off the island of Lampedusa, Italy, Oct. 3, 2013.
    • Rescued migrants arrive onboard a coast guard vessel at the harbor of Lampedusa, Italy, Oct. 3, 2013. (Nino Randazzo/ASP press office)
    • A woman receives assistance at the Palermo Civico hospital after being rescued off the Italian island of Lampedusa, Oct. 3, 2013.
    • Bodies of drowned migrants are lined up in the port of Lampedusa, Oct. 3, 2013.
    • This image from video shows survivors of a ship that sank being transported on an Italian Coast Guard vessel as it arrives at port, Lampedusa, Italy, Oct. 3, 2013. (Italian Coast Guard)
    • This image from video shows survivors of a ship that sank being transported on an Italian Coast Guard vessel as it arrives at port, Lampedusa, Italy, Oct. 3, 2013. (Italian Coast Guard)

    The U.N.’s human rights office said boats that did not answer distress calls at sea are breaking the International Law of the Sea.   The agency is appealing to the Italian authorities and the International Community, especially the European Union to do more to prevent a repeat of this situation.

    U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she was concerned about the increasing rates of smuggling and trafficking of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean and in the Gulf of Aden.  Her spokesman, Rupert Colville, said this indicates the desperation of people living in Eritrea, Somalia and other countries stricken by insecurity and conflict.

    “It is critical that the international community engages further in improving the human rights situation on the ground so as to address the root causes and create sufficient improvement so that people will not feel the need to put their lives at risk by undertaking such dangerous journeys,” he said. 

    The International Organization for Migration reports at least 20,000 people have perished at sea over the past two decades.  This year’s toll is 100, not including the victims from this latest tragedy.  The IOM said people paid smugglers between 1,200 and 2000 euros to be taken from Libya to Italy in rickety fishing boats-a trip that often ends in disaster.

    You May Like

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    City could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters

    Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

    Ankara continues targeting people allegedly linked to exiled cleric, who it says led the failed military coup

    Pakistan Ready to Inaugurate Rebuilt Afghan Border Crossing

    Construction of Torkham Gate triggered deadly clashes between Pakistani and Afghan military forces

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora