News / Africa

    North African Migrants Risk Their Lives in Mediterranean Waters

    Migrants are seen aboard a navy ship before being disembarked in the Sicilian harbor of Augusta, June 1, 2014.Migrants are seen aboard a navy ship before being disembarked in the Sicilian harbor of Augusta, June 1, 2014.
    x
    Migrants are seen aboard a navy ship before being disembarked in the Sicilian harbor of Augusta, June 1, 2014.
    Migrants are seen aboard a navy ship before being disembarked in the Sicilian harbor of Augusta, June 1, 2014.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Kim Lewis
    The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling for the international community to respond to the life-threatening needs of increasing populations of North African migrants seeking haven in Europe aboard unsafe vessels on the Mediterranean Sea.
     
    In three days last week three merchant ships rescued more than 5,200 men, women and children from unsafe boats (Reuters, JUNE 8) in Mediterranean waters, bringing the total so far in 2014 to more than 50,000 people who have risked their lives to get to Italy and other European countries.
     
    Flavio Di Giacomo is a spokesperson for IOM in Rome. He said the number of migrant arrivals in the first five months of this year has already exceeded the 40,000 who sought refuge in Italy in the 12 months of 2013.
     
    “The problem is, in our opinion, more a humanitarian problem, than the problem of numbers. That’s because those people… actually they are risking their lives at sea, and it’s very complicated to save all of these lives,” said Di Giacomo.
     
    The Italian government initiated a Mediterranean effort called Operation Mare Nostrum last October. Di Giacomo said they started Mare Nostrum – which means “Our Seas” in Italian – after a vessel capsized off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa and more than 360 people drowned. The European Union responded to the deaths by pledging $30 million to fund immigration facilities for those who safely reach European shores. (Reuters JUNE 8)
     
    Mare Nostrum has succeeded in rescuing thousands of people from the sea, Di Giacomo said, but some tragedies in the Mediterranean are inevitable.
     
    “Last month there was a shipwreck on May 13 which caused the deaths of at least around 17 migrants. But maybe more than that, because a witness told us that probably 60 migrants died at sea. So it’s very difficult to avoid shipwrecks,” Di Giacomo said.
     
    There must be a comprehensive approach to managing the massive influx of migrants coming into Europe, Di Giacomo argued.
     
    “IOM is calling for a high-level debate on these flows that could bring together all the countries of destination, of origin, and transit, because it is needed to offer alternatives to migrants,” Giacomo said. “And to tell them, OK, do not risk your life because you can enter Europe safely.”
     
    He emphasized the importance of enhancing the legal avenues for migrants to go Europe, citing the example of “reinforcing resettlement programs in order to transfer migrants to Europe. Or, for example, some people say it may be possible to establish migrant centers in the country of transit… where a migrant can be provided with adequate legal assistance.”
     
    It is also important to tackle traffickers and smugglers, a big challenge Di Giacomo pointed out that requires cooperation of the international community.
     
    Trafficking is a major problem “because cooperation must be reinforced among countries in order to identify and to prosecute the traffickers because those are people who actually are taking advantage of the desperation of migrants, and they are getting rich.”

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora