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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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 Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs