Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions Impacting on Italy: Part II Tunisians, Libyans, and SubSaharans Converge on Lampedusa, Italy

Lampedusa, Italy — A boat carrying would-be immigrants navigates to the Italian island of Lampedusa at dusk. Escaping the unrest and violence in North Africa, 155 immigrants landed on the island early Monday with customs air patrols above the Strait of Sicily sighting eight more boats on the way.PHOTOGRAPH BY: ROBERTO SALOMONE / AFP/Getty Images [From the LA Times March 7, 2011]

Since publishing the first part of this post on the impact on Italy of events in North Africa, Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions Impacting on Italy: Part I Egyptian Uprising Organization Inspires Italian Women--Attenzione Berlusconi!, the Libyan Revolution has added to the influx of migrants to Italy, and particularly to the small refugee service at the island of Lampedusa.


Sadly, some of those migrants are now lost at sea as described in the second article below. Most of these are among the many SubSaharan Africans, legal or illegal, who form a Libyan underclass. Some may have been passing through (though staying years) in a bid to immigrate to Europe. However, events in the country have precipitated more rapid and desperate measures.

Lampedusa, the largest of the Pelagie Islands, in the Province of Agrigento, Region of Sicily, closer to North Africa than to the Italian Mainland.

The European Union, of which Italy is a member, has refused to help Italy with the challenges of processing, returning, or resettling the sudden influx of migrants. This seems quite unfair, to me, as Italy has not invited the migrants, and the small refugee service at Lampedusa was easily overwhelmed by the numbers. Such an efflux from countries at times of instability could have been predicted. The proximity of the Pelagie Islands to North Africa, specifically Tunisia and Libya, makes them a preferred destination.

South coast of Lampedusa, facing Tunisia and Libya

The journey is usually safer than that taken by other migrants, most often SubSaharans traversing the Straits of Gibraltar in ricketty rowboats, after migrating through Morocco. However, as the recent shipwreck of 200-300 passengers detailed in the second article below shows, even this journey is not particularly safe. Moreover, rescue efforts are hampered by Force 5 seas.

Lampedusa, Italy — Migrants from North Africa arrive in the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. Hundreds of Tunisian migrants continued arriving in Lampedusa on boats of various sizes throughout the early hours on Monday. PHOTOGRAPH BY: STRINGER/ITALY / Reuters[From the LA Times March 7, 2011]

After a few days in which there were no boats arriving at Lampedusa from Tunisia, there are now more arriving from both Tunisia and Libya. In addition, both those countries are struggling with massive displacements of peoples, including workers from around the world, as well as from nearby Egypt, trying to reach their home countries.

More than 15,000 Tunisian migrants have arrived in Italy since January (AFP)[BBC yesterday reported >20,000 migrants arriving in Italy since the beginning of the Arab revolts]

New wave of Tunisians arrives on Italian island

(AFP) – 4 days ago

ROME — A new wave of Tunisian boat people landed Sunday at Italy's Lampedusa island, authorities said, as Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he would visit Tunis to try to halt the arrivals.

A first boatload of 133 arrived at Italy's southernmost island shortly before dawn on Sunday, while another 113 landed at around 8:00 am (0600 GMT), they said.

A third boat with around 100 people aboard was rescued a few kilometres (miles) off the tiny island after an Italian journalist who was with them raised the alarm that the boat was taking on water.

Another three boats were headed towards the island, the sources said.

The new arrivals came after a four-day hiatus.

An Italian navy vessel meanwhile left the island at around 2:00 am with some 500 migrants on board to ferry them to the mainland.

They were among more than 15,000 Tunisian migrants who have landed on Italy's shores since the ouster of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a popular revolt in January.

Berlusconi announced the transfers to the mainland during a visit to the island on Wednesday but they were later suspended because of bad weather.

Three big ferries with a total capacity of more than 4,000 were preparing to evacuate the newcomers in an operation that may be completed Sunday, the authorities said.

The Italian government has asked Tunis to stop the exodus and to take back those migrants who have already arrived in Italy.

Late Saturday Rome said Tunis had agreed to take them back though the Tunisian foreign minister had denied this a few hours earlier.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he will go to Tunis on Monday to address the exodus (AFP)

Berlusconi confirmed he would be in Tunis on Monday to address the issue with the Tunisian authorities.

"I am going to Tunis to see if a non-elected and weak government will be able to assert itself and stop new departures," he said, according to the ANSA news agejavascript:void(0)ncy.

The massive influx of migrants sparked weeks of protests from Lampedusa residents and fierce condemnation from aid organisations over living conditions on the overcrowded island, whose population is just 5,000.

On Friday, Berlusconi said he might allow the migrants to join relatives and friends across Europe, despite open reluctance from European countries to take them in.

Italy last week renewed its appeal to the European Union for help dealing not just with Tunisian migrants looking for a better life, but also with refugees from other parts of Africa formerly held in detention camps in Libya.

Since the conflict in Libya began in mid-February, Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis have also begun turning up on Lampedusa and other islands in the Pelagian archipelago, which lies closer to north Africa than to mainland Italy.

**********

A migrant was treated for hypothermia at a hospital on Lampedusa on Wednesday. He was among 50 migrants rescued after their boat capsized.

250 Migrants Missing After Boat Sinks Off Italy
By GAIA PIANIGIANI and RACHEL DONADIO
Published: April 6, 2011

ROME — More than 250 people, including women and children, were missing on Wednesday after their boat capsized off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa in the worst shipwreck since thousands of migrants began traveling to Italy because of the unrest in North Africa.

The vessel, which capsized in the predawn dark, had been carrying mostly sub-Saharan Africans, including at least one pregnant woman. The capsized vessel was among the first to try to reach Lampedusa from Libya since fighting began in Libya in February. About 22,000 migrants have arrived on the island since January, most of them from Tunisia.

The shipwreck is an alarming sign of the challenges facing Italy as it contends with a wave of migrants leaving North Africa. Aid officials on Wednesday called for a swifter response in boat rescues and better coordination among Mediterranean countries in distinguishing between “economic immigrants” seeking work in Europe and refugees seeking asylum.

After interviewing survivors on Lampedusa, Italian officials and the International Organization for Migration estimated that more than 250 people were missing.

By Wednesday afternoon, an Italian patrol boat and a fishing boat had rescued 50 people and had taken them to Lampedusa, but coast guard officials feared that many more were still at sea, and rough weather was hampering rescue efforts.

“We are still looking for at the least 150 people in the sea, but we fear there could be even more than that,” said Cmdr. Valerio Alessandro, a spokesman for the Italian port authorities. He later revised that number to 250, and he said about 20 bodies had been seen in the water.

According to the International Organization for Migration, the boat left Libya carrying migrants and asylum seekers from Somalia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Chad and Sudan. The organization said that an estimated 40 women and 5 children had been on board, and that only 2 women had been rescued so far.

Early Wednesday morning, an Italian Coast Guard patrol boat reached the stricken vessel after those aboard, using a satellite phone, had sought help from the Maltese maritime authorities, Commander Alessandro said.

Just as the coast guard boat reached the vessel, which was taking on water, its engine stalled. Strong waves and panicking passengers caused the vessel to rock, people began falling overboard and it capsized.

Italian Coast Guard officials were using aircraft and boats to search for possible survivors, with help from the financial police, Commander Alessandro said.

Lying in a clinic in Lampedusa, Peter Hougot, 29, from Cameroon, recounted the crossing from Libya. “My 24-year-old girlfriend died, and I lost her and my friend who was traveling with us,” Mr. Hougot said.

He said he had been working as a house painter in Libya for the past two years and had paid $400 to a middleman to cross the Mediterranean to Italy.

He said that he had refused to join a militia fighting for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and that in response he was told “to go out to go to Italy.”

In a television interview, one survivor said he had paid a Somali group for passage to Italy from Libya.

“The survivors are all in a state of shock,” said Simona Moscarelli, an official for the International Organization for Migration who was acting as an interpreter for the rescued migrants and the police in Lampedusa on Wednesday.

“One man told me he had lost his 1-year-old son. One of the two surviving women told me how she had lost her husband,” Ms. Moscarelli added in a statement.

The boat capsized about 39 miles from Lampedusa, which since January has attracted thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing unrest in North Africa. Some of the migrants from the boat said in Italian television interviews that they had come from the western port city of Zuwarah, near the Tunisian border.

Last week, Lampedusa was on the brink of collapse, running low on food and water, with thousands of migrants sleeping in the open air. In response, Italy transferred many of them to makeshift tent camps on the Italian mainland, from which a number of them easily escaped and tried to make their way to other parts of Italy and Europe to seek work.

The spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Italy, Laura Boldrini, said the shipwreck underscored the need for better coordination in identifying the migrants arriving in Italy from North Africa.

So far, most have been Tunisians seeking work, Ms. Boldrini said, but in recent days more boats have been coming from Libya and could contain refugees. “At the moment, this has been very limited, but we have to be ready for the possibility they will come,” she said.

On Tuesday, the Italian interior minister, Roberto Maroni, signed an agreement with the Tunisian government to try to block the flow of migrants from that country. The Tunisian authorities will accept the repatriation of new arrivals, and Italy will provide Tunisia with boats and off-road vehicles to put into effect the border controls that have almost ceased since Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from the Tunisian presidency in a popular revolt in January.

Italy said it would also grant some Tunisian arrivals six-month temporary residence permits.

Critics have objected that the agreement does not set any dates or provide practical details on how the repatriation would take place. In a statement on Wednesday on the Italian Interior Ministry’s Web site, Mr. Maroni expressed satisfaction with the renewed cooperation between Italy and Tunisia, but he also said the agreement “will now have to be implemented.”

Gianni Cipriano contributed reporting from Lampedusa, Italy.

A version of this article appeared in print on April 7, 2011, on page A4 of the New York edition.

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As noted above, Berlusconi plans to visit Tunis on Monday, April 11, to discuss alternatives to migration. Perhaps some North Africans are a distraction for difficulties with another.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi touches his face during a press conference following a cabinet meeting last week. Berlusconi underwent jaw surgery earlier this month. (AP/Andrew Medichini) Photo accompanying the Salon article, "Berlusconi: I'm too old for too much sex--Embattled Italian PM says his age precludes him from the exploits suggested by investigators"

Teenage nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug of Morocco (a.k.a. Ruby Rubacuori [Ruby Heart-throb]) poses during a photocall at the Karma disco in Milan in this November 14, 2010 file photo. (REUTERS/Stringer/Files) Photo accompanying the Globe and Mail article, "Berlusconi sex trial adjourned until May, 'Ruby' lashes out at media"

Your comments, thoughts, impressions?

Related Posts:
Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions Impacting on Italy: Part I Egyptian Uprising Organization Inspires Italian Women--Attenzione Berlusconi!
See the blog Category NorthAfrica for posts on the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan Uprisings

See Also:
Italy bears brunt of EU’s immigration crisis which puts the onus squarely on Berlusconi for the non-response of the EU.

Italian Police and Coast Guard officers carried an injured refugee onto the Italian island of Lampedusa after a boat carrying more than 200 migrants capsized on Wednesday. (Photo: Vincenzo Tersigni/Eidon, via Reuters) (NYT)

10 comments:

countrygirl said...

I'm not the only one to say send them (the tunisian) back home...back their home there's no civil wars, the dictator fleed. 99% of the tunisian who arrived where male between 20 and 25 years years old, they were well dresses and for sure they didn't show any sign of malnutrition. On You Tube you will find some videos on how those "migrant" left the ferries that were used to transport them off Lampedusa...one video was so disgusting that i stopped watching it...they complained about the food because they got pasta for several days and DEMANDED CIGARETTS...

If someone have legitimate motive for political asylum there's no problems but those from Tunisia should go go home....another little thing a few days ago an article in a sicilian newspaper stated that many prisoners held in tunisian prisions were freed and then taken to the harbors in Tunis where they embarked to boats toward Italy (same things happened severals years ago with romanians scums)

Jay Kactuz said...

The last thing any European country needs is more Muslims. Collectively they are a big MINUS to any society. They have demonstrated time after time that they do not respect nonMuslims nor will they live in peace with their infidel neighbors.

Send them home! In fact, they should thank the Italians for doing this so they wont have to live among those twisted, evil, vile people that reject Mohammad and Allah.

Majed said...

even if these people were not true asylum seekers,and they are just people looking for better life,they are trying to do it in a decent way.

Europeans and americans too don't look so starving and they well dress too, then why do you think they invade,ravage,plunder other people `s countries, instead of like decent human beings at they can politely beg for some oil,gas, stones like diamonds and minerals like coltan or bases in some strategic spots rather than causing genocides and decimating nations, Europeans and Americans are behind every problem in the world check this for example http://www.sprword.com/videos/bloodcoltan/ and what is happening in Ivory coast too i will tell why, simply because americans and europeans are blood suckers and vulchers this the only way of life they know and have ever known, look what they are doing in Iraq for oil and the same in Libya,each expired bomb they drop,every flight they fly and each unemployed scum they deployed is charged for many many folds its real cost and all will be debited to Libya 's account and will be paid in free oil for long long time, they never do anything for Jesus they will sell Jesus if they are paid for, and people like countrygirl as long as she is not doing the killing herself she just does not care and pretend it is not happening, Islam is the hope to cure the sicknesses of america and Europe and you too jay, don't worry brother Allah will heel you hallelujah.

Countrygirl said...

@Majed the usual old story about the bad western people...you lnow your are so full of it, thinking that you are superior to us all poor kafir (and i thank got that i'm not muslim)..you think that islam is the cure for the all the sickness that there are in the western world but you avoid to say anything about the sickness that exist in muslims countries....for you islam is perfect, muslim people didn't ever do anything wrong for you all the bad thing in the world happens because it's fault of the bad western people (and i never said that we are perfect i'm well aware of what happens in Africa), grow up, study history about the slave trade that granted western world took part but also muslim countries (btw some muslim countries banned slavery few decades ago), think about the woman condition in many muslim countries where they can't do ANYTHING without their MALE relative consent, think about FEMALE children are married off barely in their teens.

You don't know anything about Italy or how the jails are filled with drug dealers, robbers, criminals, pimps coming from Tunisia, Marocco and Algeria...and now there are boat after boat filled with ILLEGALS coming from Tunisia filled with people well dressed that DEMANDS cigarets and complain about the food...there are legals way to come in Italy, to give you an example many Philipini come heres for work in the legal way (all right some of them come here illegal) but they don't complain they never DEMAND they work as domestic helper (and they aren't treated as in the KSA) and it's very seldom to find them in jail.

Majed said...

shock waves,wreckage expelled around and smoke is the least you should be expecting when you throw bombs at your neighbor just to avoid paying debts, allegedly that you people are helping (armed) peaceful revolutionaries, whom you are about to forsake when Qaddafi will cut you a better deal with new more favorable and tempting concession.

robbers,pimps,drug dealers and pimps I never though there would ever be any vacancies in italy for those professions even after you have exported millions of them to America, and who might need a pimp in Italy except hopelessly desperate man.

About the Italians and Filipinos going along very well as they say it is just Birds of the feather flocking together, I usually think that all people are good people only circumstances make them adapt their way of life to survive ,but I can make exception for you sake.

Countrygirl said...

@Majed you still didn't get it, I simply said that italian jails are filled with criminal coming from north africa, it's not fiction and they were coming well before the mess in Lybia and FYI the Tunisian people are coming guess from Tunisia!!!! where there's no war and the dictator had fled....Granted among the millions of immigrants coming to America there were bad apples but the majority of them worked hard and NEVER demand anything, they never DEMANDED a prefered treatement and they intergrate themselved to the country...it would be too long to make a list of italian who did good to America.

Go back to your "perfect" muslim country and stay there...you think you are superior to everybody only because of your religion but sorry to break you bubble but you are a simple human being same as Philipino or gasp a Jew.

You are very offensive by implying that every woman in Italy is a whore/easy by saying "who might need a pimp in Italy except hopelessly desperate man." it's the tipical mentality of muslim men who thinks that since women can do whatever they want without men's permission they are whores.

In my boook you are a mysoginist, backward and racist men who thinks that everybody is bellow him only because of your religion.

Sorry Chiara if i highjacked but Majed relly piss me off...I simply stated my opinion and he started to attack me and my country

Majed said...

countrygirl, you can not generalize
and expect me to specify, in your case it is some bad apples, with us it is the whole lot, be fair girl you have to drink from the same cup so that you know how it tastes and I feel you really did know now.

(Jews) with a sigh or without, if Europeans really felt something for the Jews they would not have done what they have done to them and eventually got rid of them by sending away to our land, we lived with jews hundred of years in Spain,Iraq,Palestine,Moroco,yemen etc, it is you who had to get rid of them, you find it hard to accommodate the other they have to be digested not be studding your fabric.

Chiara, see you did not say only
Ruby you also said her real name Karima El Mahrougof others will say someone 's sister or someone daughter or wife in our societies her misdeed will eventually come around to nail her family,
she brought shame not only to herself but to all those related to her, this is what happens when sister,mother or wife does something like dancing,modeling,doing beauty pageant thing etc , I would not like to be in her peoples shoes for the money of the world, I hope you understand in the light of of this post my cruel heartless comments in beauty pageant post though i think it is not very likely to happen.

oby said...

Majed...

Islam is NOT the answer, just as Christianity is not the answer. Religion is never the answer to the worlds problems because when any religion is allowed to reign supreme it is always to the detriment of the people. I know Muslims think of isalm as this utopia that will solve all the worlds ills as do many
christians feel Christianity is the answer..so tell me this: why when Christianity reigned supreme in Europe, the clergy has all the power and the people had none was it one of the WORST times in the history of Europe? Why when islam is gaining in strength and strictness is the muslim world in such a mess? For the same reason as Europe so long ago...the clerics reign supreme and keep the people scared, illiterate and poor. That utopia you dream of doesn't exist. And even if it did you can be sure that human beings in their greed and avarice will never allow itself to be fully expressed and it will forever remain an elusive dream.

countrygirl said...

@oby you are right 100% Europe started to "evolve" with the counter reform, when Christianity changed from within, religion is an important part but it doesn't dictate our every day life....I mean i THINK i don't use the religion to think in my place.

@Majed i used Jews to day that your are an human being no more perfect than anybody else but of course you went on tangent say the old same story , if you think that you are more equal for your reliong that's your problem.

Any country doesn't want criminals to enter in their border and to send back Tunisian criminals is a duty for any lawmaker. In Tunisia there's no war, the dictator is gone if you still doesn't understand it's your problem i don't want to repeat myself again, what would you do if your home country would enter thousands of people with no qualification and many of them were criminals escaped from jails? what would you do if your jails were filled with foreigns (drug dealers, pimps, robber, killers)and more foreigns from the same countrie enter in your country?

Here in the Western world there's freedom, and one can use this freedom to make mistakes it's up to her/him to learn from their mistakes.

Majed said...

First, with a kiss, I want to say sorry for all lovely Italians I made a mistake.

Ar Room:22 - And among His Signs of greatness is the creation of the heavens (skies)and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours verily in that are signs for those who know.

I believe that diversity is essential rule of life as is struggle among nations(but of course it is allowed to say Ouch it hurts)when it is my turn take the blows, I have never tried to promote Islam in that mean way of product placement into my comments on posts,Islam does not need that,if one does not fall in love with Islam at the first glance it is hard to say he will ever do. I only responded intensely to attacks by showing how proud I am for being A Muslim.

Oby, sorry to say we did not face the problem of clergy or church rule that Europe had experienced,
except for something similar to it for sometime in the mountainous areas of Yemen and Oman, and all the major Islamic empires were rather secular in nature
Umayyads (east & west), Abbasids and Ottomans non was clergy type rule,neither were the Muguls,Qutob Shahis, Nizams of India, and many famous battles from Emperor Akbar and upward were lead By Hindu generals and included Hindu and Muslim soldiers in both warring parties.

Regarding the mess we see in recent days most of it is due the bias and unfair grounds and interference (Algeria,Hamas) and some is legitimate child of Muslims ignorance and rigidity and extremism (Taliban).

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