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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid