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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid