News / Africa

UN: Smugglers Taking Advantage Of Tunisian Migrants

A Carabinieri police officer walks past Tunisian migrants as they wait to board a ship towards Porto Empedocle, in Sicily, where they will be taken for document checks, in Lampedusa, Italy, February 14, 2011
A Carabinieri police officer walks past Tunisian migrants as they wait to board a ship towards Porto Empedocle, in Sicily, where they will be taken for document checks, in Lampedusa, Italy, February 14, 2011

United Nations and international agencies are working to manage the recent influx of thousands of Tunisians into the small Italian island of Lampedusa. The agencies are warning migrants to beware of smugglers waiting to take advantage of them.

The Italian government reports more than 5,200 people have arrived in Lampedusa since mid-January, with the vast majority arriving during the past few days.  

The UN refugee agency says most of the migrants are young men.  But, it notes at least 20 women and more than 200 minors, many unaccompanied, also have arrived.

UNHCR spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, says all of Europe and other parts of the world are bracing for a significant movement of people from the Middle East.  She says many economic migrants and asylum seekers are likely to flee in the near future given the turmoil and toppling of governments in the region.

She warns these desperate people will be fair game for people waiting to profit from their fear and misery.

“Obviously, smugglers’ business is seeing big opportunities to exploit the situation.  As said in Tunisia, we are very concerned.  We are hearing the smugglers are not only hanging out at the ports waiting for people to come, but they are actually moving inland and seeking out people falsely advertising what they could offer, what kind of futures they could offer to young Tunisians frustrated and wishing to move on,” she said.  

Smugglers are making huge profits.  They reportedly are charging the Tunisians about $1,800 to get to Italy.  Although the journey is short, high seas and bad weather can make it perilous.  The UNHCR says it has received unconfirmed reports that at least four people have drowned.  

It is believed most of the people fleeing Tunisia are doing so for economic reasons.  But, Fleming says among them are people who probably have good reason to seek asylum and they should receive a fair hearing. “We have been critical about Europe - that it depends very much on where you land, whether you get a fair hearing.  And, so we continue to urge that Europe harmonize its asylum procedures, so that everyone who arrives on Europe’s shores or borders does have the chance to seek asylum, if they feel that they have the right to,” she said.  

Fleming notes it is very possible some of the Tunisians fleeing and seeking asylum were part of the previous regime and may have a legitimate fear of persecution.

The UNHCR welcomes the Italian government’s stated commitment that it will provide access to asylum procedures for those who are seeking international protection.  The agency urges other European countries to show solidarity with Italy during this difficult period.



You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid