News / Africa

    NATO, EU Defend Record of Saving African Migrants

    Hundreds of migrants arrive at the port moments before to flee fighting in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata, May 4, 2011
    Hundreds of migrants arrive at the port moments before to flee fighting in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata, May 4, 2011

    NATO and the European Union say they are doing what they can to help African migrants in trouble at sea amid calls by the United Nations to intervene.

    As hundreds of migrants continue to set sail from North Africa to Europe, and the death toll of casualties climbs. Questions are also mounting about efforts to save those foundering at sea.

    Britain's Guardian newspaper has reported that African survivors of a troubled vessel accused European and NATO units of ignoring their calls for help.  And on Tuesday, the United Nations refugee agency appealed to NATO and the European Union to intervene to help save lives, following reports that a boat carrying hundreds of Africans sank off the coast of Italy.

    At a press conference on Tuesday, NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said that while NATO's mandate was to protect civilians in Libya, the alliance was also helping those at sea.

    "While they are carrying out that mandate, ships under NATO command will always respond to calls from ships in distress. This is the duty under the Law of the Sea and to suggest that our ships' captains would do otherwise is unfair and ... disrespectful," he said.

    For example, Romero said that in March, NATO helped two foundering ships carrying 500 people.  She also said there were allegations the Libyan government recently forced migrants into at least one boat which sank soon after.

    An EU spokesman said the European FRONTEX border protection agency had also rescued those at sea. "This is the Hermes program and we have seen it in action just this weekend in [the Italian island of] Lampedusa where scores of people were saved off the coast of Lampedusa," he said.

    Analyst Hugo Brady, of the London-based Center for European Reform, says the sea migration from Africa to Europe has been going on for years.  But the numbers have spiked with the recent Arab uprisings.

    "The reason why the Arab Spring has created so much instability in migration terms is ... obviously people are escaping a very difficult situation," said Brady.

    Brady says the turmoil in Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere also means these countries no longer patrol their coastlines to prevent migrants from heading to Europe.

    The plight of these sea migrants is part of a larger European debate about how to deal with those fleeing the Arab turmoil. For example, there are discussions on tightening Europe's open-borders Schengen agreement.

    David Nichols, senior executive for rights group Amnesty International in Brussels, says Europe should be welcoming these migrants, not turning them away.

    "All of the rhetoric coming from the EU is completely skewed and it has been completely skewed for a long time now towards trying to prevent people from crossing into Europe, from crossing European borders.  Nothing at all about actually helping people who are in a desperate situation," he said.

    European Union ministers are meeting later this week to discuss the African migration dilemma and how to deal with it.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora