Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Aquarius and its refugees headed for Spain

The anti-immigrant fanaticism in the EU, facilitated by the irresponsible nationalism that has left both the euro crisis and the long-running refugees crisis unsolved for years with effective solutions still not on the horizon, is putting more lives of desperate refugees at risk in the Mediterranean.

Chris Stephen reports in Italy bars two more refugee ships from ports Guardian 06/16/2018:

Charities say the NGO boats are a vital lifeline, rescuing more than 88,000 people in the past two years, but critics say they are a pull factor, encouraging people to make the dangerous sea journey.

More than 600,000 migrants have made the crossing from Libya to Italy in the past four years, and Salvini’s stance reflects frustration that the rest of Europe refuses to take its share of arrivals. At least 13,000 people have drowned trying to reach European shores. ...

If the NGO boats are unable to land the people they rescue and cease to operate, Operation Sophia, an EU anti-smuggler mission patrolling the Mediterranean, may take up some of the slack. NGOs, however, say its warships operate too far out to sea, given that people traffickers favour towing rubber boats full of migrants to the edge of Libya’s 12-mile territorial waters before setting them adrift.
It's a key talking point for the xenophobes in the EU is that all the refugees are "migrants," and their preferred term is "migration crisis" rather than "refugee crisis" or even "immigration crisis." The "migrant" label is taken to be more favorable to portraying the refugees as freeloaders coming to live high on the hog off the benefits provided in western Europe by worthy Christian white people.

There is a huge amount of cynicism in the anti-immigrant agitation, of course. People don't undertake a trip like that without being desperate. Letting further thousands or tens of thousands of them to drown in the sea is not an acceptable solution for any "European values" or any Christianity worth the names. And it's a very serious business for Italy to turn away ships carrying refugees in violation of the international laws made to deal with such emergencies.

During the acute phase of the refugee crisis in 2015, around 1,000 refugees drowned at sea in 10-day period. (Factsheet Mittelmeerroute OGPP 2017)

If we had a normal government in the US instead of one intent on running a campaign of state terror even against perfectly legal immigrants, they might be expected to object to this, as well: "Sea Watch refused last week to take 40 migrants rescued by the US navy ship Trenton off Libya, fearing a fate similar to that of the Aquarius. Trenton waited four days before being allowed to dock in Sicily." (my emphasis)

Presumably the US Navy registered some kind of protest. But Stephen doesn't provide further information on the US response.

The Aquarius is on its way to Valencia, Spain, after the new social-democratic government there agree to accept the 629 immigrants. The plan is to resettle them in various parts of Spain. France has also agreed to take some of them. (Francia ofrece acoger a los migrantes del ‘Aquarius’ que quieran ir a ese país El País 16.06.2018)

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