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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid