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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid