Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

The image above is from the EMERGENCY website. All of their contact information is here.
Dr. Linda di Benedetto's log entries will start below... waiting... waiting... waiting... aaah, there it is!

Aug 29 '21

OK. She got there! So far, it looks pretty easy. Oh, it was Sunday. That car looks like a WWII German VW jeep left over from the Afrikakorps. Well, they're close to north Africa.

Aug 31 '21
The gateway to Europe. Dedicated to all the immigrants who have lost their lives at sea. Very very emotional.

Sept 1 '21

 The Reception Center has a veterinary staff.
They handle a lot of caretta caretta, the Latin

term for, uh, "turtle turtle" (image above). It is all
close enough (a few km, as the crow-crow flies)
to Carthage so that if elephant-elephants are left
from when Hannibal
was there, we'll see how good
these vets really are.
It's sad to see how much weight Dr. Linda has lost 

 in just a  few days (image above) ...  wait...
whew!  Scared me.

Sept 2 '21

   Uh, captain, I'll wait, thank you. What time  does the next turtle leave?
Note the Arabic text on the boat.

Sept 6 '21 

News sources in general are now reporting on the grim situation on Lampedusa. The Immigration Reception Center (IRC) is overflowing, with now (Sept 5) more than twice as many refugees (568) than it was built to hold (250).
Some have been transferred by ferries to Sicily. Desperate "boat people" keep arriving daily by the dozens, 300 in the last few days. One "solution" is to warehouse in cruise ships moored off-shore at Lampedusa those who do not require immediate emergency care. The problem is not likely to get better.

Sept 7 '21

 General info about Lampedusa  (L.) (image, right) . If you are unsure of where L. is, it is the largest island of the Italian Pelagie Islands (the tiny box in the image (left). L., Linosa, and Lampione are in the Sicilian province of Agrigento. L. is the southernmost part of Italy and Italy's southernmost island. Tunisia, which is about 113 km (70  miles) away, is the closest landfall to the islands. Sicily is farther at 205 km (127 mls), while the island nation of Malta is 176 km (109 mls) to the east.

From January to April 2015, about 1600 migrants died on the route from Libya to L. , making it the deadliest migrant
route in the world. The 2017 Oscar-nominated Italian documentary Fire at Sea  was about this migrant crisis and was filmed entirely on the island in 2014 and 2015. The film also won the 66th Berlin Film Festival. The 2016 book Tears of Salt: A Doctor's Story by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilitta tells of life on the island and the migrant crisis through the eyes of a local doctor. Dr. Bartolo (b.1956 in L.) was the responsible doctor for the health service and the outpatient clinic of L. from 1992 to 2019. He was there for the  first migrants who landed. In 25 years he examined and cared for about 250,000 refugees on the island. That position has now passed to Dr. Francesco Cascio.

SEP 9 - The Italian Coast said Thursday that it saved 125 asylum seekers on two boats off Isola dei Conigli, a small island near Lampedusa, after one of the vessels starting taking on water in choppy waters. The bad sea conditions made the operation complex and rescue swimmers were needed. All of the 125 people, including 49 women and 20 minors, are in good health although several are in a state of shock.

Sept 14, '21

Reports for the 14th say five more boats have landed, unloading 63 migrants on the island. They keep coming, drawn by what from north Africa looks like good weather —high-pressure area and calm seas. That is very deceptive. A few miles out, that high barometric pressure has been dropping for days, and you can get a waterspout,. That sounds like the tiny thing in your bathroom. It's  a tornado. This is a photo taken from Lampedusa on Sept.11. It missed Lampedusa but struck the island of Pantelleria, killing 2 persons, injuring 9, and causing extensive damage to property. They toss cars and people around like matchsticks. Pantelleria and Lampedusa are 150 km (93 miles) apart. The twister then turned for Lampedusa, but stopped. People at the reception center don't panic. They stare at it and think, Please, not this.

updated at 20.53 on Sept. 14 from the station at Agrigento on Sicily. Incoming refugee boats poured into Lampedusa today with the landing of 25 boats, towed in by Italian coast guard patrols. The boats held from 6 to 16 Tunisians. There are now 613 refugees house in the IRC facility. It was built for 250. The coast guard also took into tow one large boat (9 meters/28 feet) with 48 men from Bangladesh and another 12-meter/36-ft boat with 102 men from Bangladesh, Eritrea, and Sudan. Many have been warehoused in the large quarantine ferry in the harbor.

Sept 15, '21
Yes, it's this bad.

photo from Sept. 15

Sept 16, '21


Sept.18, '21

The plight of refugees is world-wide. The larger boat in the background off of Lampedusa is from the Spanish charity
Proactiva Open Arms, in operation since2015. It is run from the Greek island of Lesbos. There are other organizations such as the
UK-based International Maritime Rescue Federation. It's all less of a hierarchy than a group with everyone helping everyone
else with the goal of preventing loss of life in the waters of the world. (photo: Juan Medina, Reuters)

A Benefactor's Work is Never Done
I remind you that EMERGENCY was founded by this man.

Gino Strada (1948 – 13 August 2021) died a few weeks ago. That left a big gap among doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers, whose goal is to help those who are in pain. The consolation is that his life was exemplary. A doctor told me the other day she wanted join EMERGENCY, the medical humanitarian organization founded in 1994 by Strada, his wife, and colleagues and that by now has treated millions of patients around the world. After medical school Strada went into emergency surgery. His concern was war victims. In 1988, he began surgery with the International Committee of the Red Cross in conflict zones, including Pakistan, Ethiopia, Peru, Afghanistan, Thailand, Djibouti, Somalia, Bosnia. He launched projects in Iraq, Cambodia, Eritrea and Afghanistan, now much in the news. EMERGENCY was effective. By 2013 EMERGENCY was running four hospitals and 34 clinics in Afghanistan. Strada's life was a handbook on doing the right thing: "Do you think that health care is a human right? Do you think all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity? Yes and yes. He devoted his life to those principles. He would be the first to say he left a lot undone. But what he did get done matters to the millions he helped.
    "If any human being is, at this very moment, suffering, or ill, or hungry, that is something that should concern  all of us because to ignore the suffering of a person is always an act of violence, one of the most cowardly."  
 "War is a persistent form of terrorism against civilian populations in which people are maimed by bullets, shrapnel, 
antipersonnel mines and so-called toy mines. Treating the wounded is neither generous nor merciful; it is only just. It has to be done.” 
-Gino Strada          

Sept.19, '21

This is what that the Italian Coast Guard on Lampedusa does all day, all night, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The summer season and early autumn are intense. The good weather and calm seas tempt refugees to make the crossing. The Coast Guard cruises constantly, searching every beach and every rock, any place where a refugee might just have been dumped, always keeping an eye on the open water for loose swimmers.

When they find someone, they get that person into a life-jacket and into a small wooden boat. Coast Guard swimmers often go into the water to get those who cannot help themselves, such as (shown here) pregnant woman and young children. The Coast Guard gets the refugees back to the Immigration Reception Center where
they will get immediate care if necessary. The center is already overflowing and there is a large cruise ship
converted to  a refugee hotel in the harbor. They're safe. That's a start.                        (photos: Juan Medina, Reuters)

Sept.21, '21

To get a handle on how vast the problem is, we should know the answers to a few questions:
Q1— How many people are there in the world?     A— Almost 8 billion               

Q2— What's the difference between "refugee" and "internally displaced person"?    A—  Refugees cross an international border and are at risk in their own country.  Displaced persons have not crossed a border, but have also fled their homes.

Q3— How many of each are there?         A— At the end of 2020, there were 82.4 million forcibly displaced people in the world, more than a quarter are refugees. That  has doubled since 2010 and is higher now than ever before. So, about 20 million refugees.

Q4— What is a refugee camp?       A— A temporary settlement for refugees and people in refugee-like situations. They have fled  their country. Camps with over  100,000 people are common, but as of 2012, the average camp houses around 11,400.  They are  built and run by a government, the United Nations, international organizations (such as the Red Cross), or non-governmental organization.

Q5— Where are these camps?     A— In the world?  Many nations on all continents except Antarctica have them.

Q6— Where are they in Europe?      A— Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Turkey, France, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Montenegro.

Q7— In general, what services do camps provide for refugees?
A— Ideally, a headquarters to coordinate services; health care (regular and emergency, both physical and  emotional, particularly important); hygiene facilities, such as washing areas, latrines, or toilets; places for water collection; food distribution; news (e.g. at least a radio); security and protection from theft; schools and training centers; cemeteries or crematoria; places for solid waste disposal.

Q8— What is done at sea?      A— There are at least 30 vessels dedicated to rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean. They are from Spain, Germany, Italy, Gibraltar, Luxembourg, France, Norway, Panama, Netherlands, UK, and Belize. There are also some single- and twin-engine planes that patrol.

Q9— What happens to refugees when they are "finished" at a camp?  
A— Compassion and politics don't mix very well.  Some camps go back decades. Some refugees have spent their entire lives  in a camp. More to the point, in Italy they might move into Italian society. Many have useful skills: language teachers, medical skills, skilled laborers, whatever. They can apply for  residence and  citizenship. Then they are part of us. That would be ideal.

Sept.22, '21

Lampedusa was the scene of a highly publicized sea-rescue. German sea-captain, 31-year-old Carola Rackete (image) in June of 2019 as captain of the Sea-Watch 3 and her crew took 53 Libyan refugees from their sinking boat in the Mediterranean. She spent weeks looking for a European port that would accept them and finally, on June 29, landed them at the island of Lampedusa, flouting Italian authorities who had forbidden her from docking. (My original entry is here.)
The rest
is heavy legalese.

Q1— What is a sea-resue?       A — Saving someone who is in danger at sea in a sinking boat or already in the water.

Q2— What laws govern this?   A — International maritime laws specifically direct captains of vessels  to rescue "those in peril on the sea." A captain who ignores that risks fines, prison, and his/her license as a captain.

Q3— What do courts and scholarly legal opinion say about the affair.   A — Capt. Rakete was justified. She had no choice. The law says "rescue and disembark safely" at the nearest friendly port. That was Lampedusa.  She had critically ill refugees. She made the right decision.

Q4 — Did they know she was coming?
A —  She radio'd ahead. An Italian Coast Guard boat went out to check and took about 10 refugees in critical health back to the medical facility on Lampedusa.

Q5 — So what's the problem?     A — Matteo Salvini, former head of the anti-immigration Lega (Northern League). He hates the south and refugees. He has told ports not to take refugees, but this time is charged with kidnapping
forceful detentionbecause he did not let them  "disembark safely" in a sea-rescue. He says it is a citizen's duty to defend his country. His duty as a member of the legislature, however, is to help his country fulfill its commitments. His trial started in September of 2020 and will go on forever. He could go to jail, I  doubt that will happen. He could lose his right to ever again hold public office.  Maybe.

Q6 — What happened to Capt. Rackete?    A — Released after 3 days of house arrest. She is strong and believes in "doing the right thing". You will not shove this woman around. She is a committed political activist. She says, "I'm white, born in a wealthy nation, my papers are all in order, I studied at three universities and was successful when I was 23. I should help those who are less fortunate."

Q7 — Where do we stand now?
A —  Conclusions? If no one really wants these people ... I don't know. Nationalism in the world is on the rise, as are authoritarian governments. Einstein once said that "nationalism is like a childhood disease. It's the 'measles of the human race."



                        The forgotten victims at the bottom of the sea off of Lampedusa.
Nine bodies (some are women and children) have been on the bottom 500 meters off of Lampedusa 90 meters down (180 feet) since June 30 when their boat went down. It is not clear from the video how many are below board and how many are outside, next to to the wreckage (there are at least two tarps on the sand) but 9 victims in all have been counted. The state will not pay for the recovery. Some private citizens have offered to pay,  but the Coast Guard can't accept money from private sources. The Coast Guard video is very brief, nothing grisly, just the wreckage and open hatches. The bodies are down there, seen by a robot camera. No one pays much attention  to things like this anymore.  They're so common. That's grim.



Kelly T. Clements, assistant secretary to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) said recently:

"Over the past decade, the population of forcibly displaced people around the world has doubled to a record 82 million people. I don’t think you can go to any region of the world that is not impacted,” she said, pointing to the need for a greater collective response as conflicts and climate change destabilize more communities. "My frustration is often we have little snippets of attention — on Venezuela, on Syria, on Myanmar — whatever is the hot topic of the moment. But then the world turns away.”

Lampedusa is always a case-in-point. This comes from yesterday,  28 Sept.: "700 refugees in few hours. After a few of bad weather, calm seas have seen renewed arrivals, mostly in a single old 15-meter (45-foot) metal fishing boat, spotted four miles from shore by a vessel of the Guardia di Finance" [whose normally look for smugglers of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms) and escorted into disembark at Lampedusa. Those who require immediate medical care will get it. The others will be warehoused in the large cruise ship in the harbor. It may not be, as Clements suggests, that the world is "turning away". The world is swamped.

From the
"The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are the key legal documents that form the basis of our work. With 149 States parties to either or both, they define the term ‘refugee’ and outline the rights of refugees, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them. The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that refugeea should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law. UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with us in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected." Both documents are at this UN link.

Oct .1, '21
To stress how massive and continuous the effort is to save refugees in the Mediterranean, there are at this moment 35 rescue ships cruising, looking for refugees in the water or on boats. They all deserve praise, but one will make the point. On Sept. 29, the humanitarian vessel Geo Barents  (shown) docked in the coastal town of Augusta in Sicily, disembarking 60 African migrants over a week after rescuing them in the sea off Libya. Geo Barents is the current rescue vessel of Médecins Sans  Frontières (MSF) (Doctors Without Borders). It is the sixth vessel that Médecins Sans Frontières has used since its founding in 1971 in the aftermath of the Biafra secession in Nigeria (1967-70). The MSF HQ is in Geneva and works in 70 countries with over 35,000 personnel, mostly local doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, logistical experts, and water and sanitation engineers. Private donors provide about 90% of their funding. This is the seventh year in which MSF has operated in the Mediterranean. Their "home port" of choice is Augusta. Geo Barents is a solid ship, built in 2007 for geological research and now adapted for search and rescue. The ship is 77 meters long, and has two sections for refugees - one for men, the other for women and children. The vessel has facilities for MSF teams to carry out medical assistance and can deploy two fast rigid inflatable boats. Geo Barents sails under the Norwegian flag. The latest operation was the third this year and typical: she sailed from Alesund in Norway on 13 May 2021, and on 10 June 2021 made the first rescue of refugees from the sea. By 14 June 2021, there were 400 refugees aboard, who were disembarked on 18 June at Augusta. They crew and personnel will now self-quarantine for ten days and then go off on another rescue mission. As of Monday, 27 Sept., according to Italy’s Interior Ministry, 44,778 migrants had disembarked in Italy this year, with the top nationalities Tunisia, Bangladesh and Egypt. The total is nearly double the number of arrivals in the first nine months of 2020 and five times the number of 2019.
(cont. below)

Oct .2, '21


From Doctors Without Borders (MSF): " With increasing numbers of migrants and refugees arriving by boat on Lampedusa, our teams plan to work on the island throughout the summer alongside local authorities. We will provide medical and psychological support at landing points and at the reception center, with a focus on identifying vulnerable people with specific needs to  ensure they receive adequate care. We call for safe and legal channels for people to reach Europe and a European rescue  system to avoid unacceptable suffering." MSF has three teams working in Lampedusa. The first – made up of a doctor, a nurse and two cultural mediators, working alongside doctors from local health authorities – is involved in triage activities and
providing initial assistance, from testing people for COVID-19 screening to identifying people in need of emergency care.The second team – a doctor, a nurse, a psychologist and two cultural mediators – will be based at the reception center during  periods of high arrivals on the island or when there are specific needs. This team will provide medical and mental healthcare and ensure that patients can access further medical assistance and continuity of care. The third team – made up of psychologists and cultural mediators – will be on standby to offer psychological first aid to survivors of shipwrecks.   [Lampedusa is just beyond the light-green area "40 nautical mile (74 km) from the coast, the major sea route.)

This is from the Save the Children

“European governments showed leadership by supporting the Italian government in rescue operations in the Mediterranean – but they must think about what happens to vulnerable children when they get off the boats,” said Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children. “For many of these children, their journey has only just begun. We have a brief window of opportunity to save them from people traffickers when they land in Italy, before they disappear into a criminal underworld. Italy must be given more support to protect every unaccompanied child, at the point of arrival, and beyond. EU governments must share the responsibility for the care and protection of vulnerable children who cross the Mediterranean – especially victims of trafficking and violence. To prevent thousands of vulnerable migrants – including children – from becoming victims of violence, abuse, exploitation, and risking their lives to make the perilous journey to Europe, Save the Children is calling on Member States to strengthen resettlement and humanitarian admission program, as well as other safe and legal routes for migration to the EU.

Oct .4, '21

Please, is there nothing to lighten the despair? these tales of refugee woe and agony? Well, yes. The ones who are rescued and taken to Lampedusa are safe. No more beatings, torture, rape. Whatever their future, they're safe. And maybe this.
                       Sail on, O Sheep of State! —or
                        If you're a sheep, this is as good as it gets.
From Lampedua on 02 October: 13 Tunisians, among whom were 2 women and 3 children, were spotted 20 miles (30 km) off the island by the Italian coast guard and escorted in. There was also a sheep on board their boat. What? Yes, a sheep just bleating to be rescued. The refugees are safe, but the sheep had to be quarantined. A veterinarian had to come down from Sicily and determine its condition. The first condition, of course, is that it's a sheep. No help for that. If it turns out to be a healthy animal, it is good to go. Go where? I don't know. Right now, it's trimming weeds at the Immigration Reception Center, but it'll sure have tales to tell of the great escape! the high seas! the rescue!  something to thrill the little lambs before they're all turned into chops and diplomas for semi-literate high-school seniors.

Oct .5, '21

The annual October 3 commemoration on Lampedusa has just finished. The participants have dispersed. A few live on the island, some were former refugees come back for the occasion, many were young people from various countries who wanted to be in this noble, endless fight for justice. The memorial is organized by the Comitato 3 Ottobre, by their self-description, "a non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness on issues of integration and acceptance through dialogue with citizens, students and institutions. On October 3, 2013, in a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa, 368 migrants lost their lives. 155 people survived including 41 minors. For this reason, we have chosen October 3 as a symbolic date, not only to commemorate the victims of that shipwreck but to remember the thousands of people who regularly die drowning in the Mediterranean or remain stranded at the eastern borders of Europe. On March 16, 2016, the Italian Senate gave final approval to establish the “Day of Remembrance and Reception,” to be celebrated on October 3 every year." Comitato 3 has adopted "Europe Starts in Lampedusa" as a slogan and uses this image (above) as an icon.

Oct .9, '21
When is bad weather good?

At the moment (Sat. Oct 9), there has been a temporary lull in the flood of refugees coming into Lampedusa because the weather has turned for the worse. Choppy seas and bad weather along the coast of Libya and Tunesia keep the refugee smugglers from putting out to sea. That lull gives the Immigration Reception Center time to deal with their overcrowded conditions. They has 628 migrants in a space built for 250, so now they can thin out the crowd a bit and move some of them to their real destination, Sicily. Yesterday they put 110 migrants (among whom were 30 unaccompanied children) onto a "refugee ferry" for the run to Porto Empedocle on the southern coast of Sicily. All of this is handled by provincial administration in Agrigento.

Oct .13, '21

On Oct. 11, sources in Sicily reported that a large rubber raft (shown) had capsized off the coast of
Libya near Zuwarah, a city 100 Km (60 miles) west of Tripoli and around 260 km/160 miles from the island of Lampedusa (where they were certainly headed). The first SOS went out from Alarm Phone, a volunteer organization that looks for people in the water. There were 105 persons on board, including 10 children and pregnant woman. There were no immediate reports of the number of casualties, but the fear is the toll will be high, potentially one of the worst such incidents in years. Reports indicate a Libyan coast guard vessel was very late arriving on the scene.

Oct.20, '21
The International Organization for Migration
Established in 1951, IOM is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration. With 174 member states, and further 8 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM works to promote humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.
Via L. G. Faravelli, Casale Strozzi Superiore. 00195 Rome            Tel: (+39) 06 44 23 14 28              email:

Oct.28, '21

The Geo Barents rescue ship of Doctors Without Borders (image) reports that in the last 48 hours they picked up 367 migrants/refugees from five different boats adrift in the sea. The weather was stormy and getting worse.The refugees had been without food or water for days and all were suffering from hypothermia (subnormal body temperature). There were numerous children among those rescued, including infants under one year of age.The Geo Barents has now docked safely in the port of Palermo in Sicily.


These are a few passages from a 2016 article in Jacobin Magazine, a journal for migrants and refugees. Not much has changed in Italy.
   "Far from Rome’s central train station stands an abandoned office building occupied by about seven hundred refugees, mostly from Somalia and Eritrea. Aside from a large handwritten banner hanging from its windows that says, 'We are refugees, not terrorists,' the eight-floor structure looks like any other in the neighborhood, a business district with international embassies and well-kept parks... Italians pass by without shifting their gaze, apparently used to such scenes in a country that’s been receiving “irregular” migration from Africa since the 1990s. I ask around and find the building’s inhabitants have been living in Italy with full asylum rights for six, eight, at times more than ten years...A recent study by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) found that more than ten thousand refugees live in abandoned spaces, handmade shacks, or camping tents throughout the country... Relegated to the margins for extended periods of time, just one-third of documented
refugees living in such places have regular access to services they are entitled to, such as health care. For some, the proximate cause of their marginalization is the visa program. At the moment, asylum-seekers arriving in Lampedusa or Sicily are granted documents for seven days, and then they must decide whether to make their asylum claims in Italy or attempt to migrate to another country. This arrangement was originally a response to unpredictable waves of asylum-seekers..."
The article contains links to a number of private organizations that attempt to provide assistance to migrants, such as MEDU (Doctors for Human Rights) and the Catholic organization, Caritas, all of which constitute an independent humanitarian aid system running parallel to the state. At best, volunteers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are a stopgap — an unsustainable solution to a humanitarian crisis. With this comes news that Sicily’s regional government has announced that it will set up a migrant assistance center in every province of the island with the aim of integration between Sicilians and newcomers.

The Global Detention Project (GDP) is an independent non-profit association under Swiss law. It gets funding and support from members, charitable foundations, academic institutions, and private individuals. The passage below is from their "Overview of Italy" in 2019 (modified to show that Matteo Salvini is no longer the Italian Interior Minister).  The GDP tracks all refugee movements throughout the world, This (my) paraphrase is from Nov. 2021-jm. (The blue pin-drop in the image marks the location of the Immigration Reception Center on Lampedusa.)

"Italy has typically been an important European destination for asylum seekers and migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Africa. Until recently, Italy had aggressive and harsh migration controls and was accused of gravely violating human rights. When Matteo Salvini was the Italian Interior Minister, Italy took extreme measures to keep refugees from arriving by sea, including blocking ports to vessels carrying refugees, prosecuting those seeking to save lives at sea, and supporting Libya's attempts to keep refugees from fleeing in the first place. In 2018 Italy changed its immigration laws, doubling the maximum length of detention in pre-removal centers (Lampedusa, is one such center. Refugees are then "removed" to Sicily or mainland Italy.) This places an extra burden on Immigration Reception Centers since they are already overcrowded."

                              Massive Sea-Rescue Saves 1,000
Reported on Nov.4. Ships of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) averted a disaster by taking, collectively,1000 refugees from dangerously overloaded boats that were trying to make it to Lampedusa. Three ships were involved: Sea-Eye 4, Mission Lifeline, and Ocean Viking. The spotting and rescue efforts were coordinated by the air-ship and air-air communications network "Alarm Phone". Ships not directly involved continue to search for more "boat people." The Sea Eye-4 picked up 800 persons from 7 different small boats, the largest of which had two decks loaded with 400 persons. Finger-pointing continues at Tunisia and Malta as to whose territorial waters these boats were in. "You didn't do your job." "No, you didn't do your job." Thankfully, the NGOs did theirs. The Sea-Eye 4 reports refugees in critical condition, including pregnant women, hundreds of children younger than four and unaccompanied minors.
Nov.9, '21

I call your attention to this website of
the Association of European Migration Institutions. It is a very valuable source.

Nov.13, '21

                                          O Little Town of Lampedusa

My neighbor has just put up a Christmas tree. "It's that time of year," he says. Really? It's the middle of November. This image shows a presepe (also presepio), a crèche, a manger scene, depicting the birth of the Baby Jesus. (My neighbor will both a tree and a presepe.) The presepe starts appearing in the homes of Italian Christians as the day approaches. You put it together slowly over many days, piece by piece, laying the Christ Child in the manger as the last piece, "the night before Christmas... no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head." The one here, however, has something special about it: it is made of bits of wood found at the bottom of the sea or washed up on the beaches of Lampedusa island, the southernmost piece of Italy. It's part of Sicily and almost in Libya. They are pieces of boats that once bore refugees who often did not survive the shipwreck. These "manger boats" are made by prisoners doing "hard time" in a Sicilian prison. Normally
they make violins and work under the tutelage of a master lutanist and of a carpenter.  Christmas is different. With that:
One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.   from A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas.

Nov.16, '21
Europe - a cemetery?
“It’s important to have personal openness to our brothers and sisters in need,” Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, told Vatican Radio. He added: “The Pope spoke about the Mediterranean becoming a huge cemetery. Now with this you have E.U. borders becoming a huge cemetery. I do not feel well living in a European Union surrounded by cemeteries of people who wished to share our way of life. We cannot forget our principles when we see people in need.”

Nov.19, '21

Securing the physical safety of refugees at sea is the first concern in all situations. Get them out of the water or off the leaky boat, check for immediate medical needs, disembark them safely, and assure them they are now safe and forever free from whatever abuses they have suffered. That's a lot, but sooner or later the bureausaurus will lumber in and ask to see some papers. There are a few organizations that handle maritime legal issues. One of them is the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (logo shown), based in Hamburg, Germany. It is typically concerned with establishing territorial waters, fishing rights, undersea mining rights, etc. but their charter also expresses concern with the legal status of refugees and making it easier for them to become "legal" again, real persons with a future. There are currently 168 signatories, 167 states plus the European Union. They have agreed to abide by the rulings of the tribunal. As of 2021, holdouts include the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Nov.20, '21
                                                 STILL MISSING!
On Nov 15, 272 refugees were rescued at sea from a number of different craft  20 miles ( 35 km) off of Lampedusa.They were taken to the Immigration Reception Center on Lampedusa and are safe.
    As of today, however, Nov. 20, contact has been lost with 75 migrant "boat people" in trouble aboard an
as yet unidentified craft. They were spotted yesterday about 80 km (50 mile) from Lampedusa by "Alarm Phone" a volunteer rescue service that tries to direct rescue vessels to  the position of the emergency. Alarm Phone has complained that they are getting no cooperation from either Maltese or Italian authorities and that Tunisian authorities have called off their efforts. Last word from Alarm Phone: "These persons have not arrived at Lampedusa. They are missing. Don't let them drown."

Nov.21, '21

Reports are confused but apparently almost all of those 75 refugees have drowned. A handful of survivors were picked up by fishermen and handed over to Libyan authorities. The UN says the number of refugees lost at sea in the central Mediterranean this year is now more than 1,300. The same Sea-Watch 4 ship that in the last few days has rescued 193 persons was kept from their search for the missing 75 by this confrontation with the Libyan Navy even though Sea Watch 4 was in international waters.
-  -  -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -  -
The Alarm-Phone-Initiative (Also known as: Watch The Med Alarm Phone Project) has run since October 2014, staffed by volunteers from Europe, Tunisia and Morocco. It is committed to the sea rescue of refugees. This Wikipedia entry explains it in detail. This is a further explanations by the Alarm Phone site, itself,
with videos in English and French. It is important to know that Alarm Phone does not rescue people. It calls vessels that can rescue you. The Watch the Med section monitors and summarizes ongoing refugee events in the Mediterranean. This is the Wikipedia general entry on Immigrant Rights Activism.
This is the Wikipedia entry on Forensic Oceanography, a project that makes films and exhibits about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

Nov.23, '21

This child was just born on this boat in the Sicilian Channel! There are 106 persons in it. All have been taken aboard the Sea- Watch 4, which now has 482 refugees aboard. Another 200 were rescued by passing fishing boats off of Malta and another 359 just disembarked at Lampedusa. Depending on where the rescue takes place, some might head for Lampedusa, others might make for Sicily. The key words: "a safe port".

Nov.23, '21

Nov.24, '21

Those 475 migrants, now at least safe on board Sea-Watch 4, are still looking for a "safe port". The captain patiently explained (again) that Malta and Italy are giving him the round-around: "International law says that persons rescued at sea have to be disembarked at the nearest safe port. We are asking authorities to respect that law." Meanwhile: The Children's Boat. There were 26 refugees on board. Three were adults! They were spotted 2 miles out from Lampedusa by an Italian Coast Guard vessel, checked for emergency medical needs and
taken to the Immigration Reception Center on Lampedusa, a center built to house 250 but now with 667 "guests".

Nov.25, '21

What is Frontex? and why do entities such as Sea-Watch want it closed?
Yesterday's refugee tragedy in the English channel in which at least 27 migrants (including women and children) drowned while trying to cross from France to Britain reminds us of the scope of the refugee crisis. Yet, there is an agency named Frontex that, in theory, should be able to help. The name is from French: Frontières extérieures for "external borders". It is an agency of the European Union in Warsaw, Poland, tasked with border control of the European Schengen Area, together with the border and coast guards of Schengen Area member states. (The Schengen Area is 26 European countries that have removed passport and other types of checks at their borders. It is a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes with a common visa policy.) Frontex was meant to be a European Border and Coast Guard. Yet Sea-Watch has accused Frontex of heinous violations of human rights including "push-back", i.e.returning refugees to places they have just fled from. If true, that is indeed a grave violation of human rights, not to mention common sense and decency.

Dec. 1, '21

The author, Matteo De Bellis, is a researcher for Amnesty International [AI], Italy. Dated 03 Nov. 2021
"A year after signing a memorandum with Libya, we see it has not only failed but been arbitrarily betrayed by Libya and Italy. Italy has continued to furnish boats to Libya, in effect helping Libya expand its borders beyond accepted territorial waters. The situation for migrants and refugees is as bad as ever. If refugees fleeing Libya are sent back to Libya —men, women, and children— they are confined and  subject to unspeakable acts of violence —murder, torture, and rape. The current Italian government has said it is working on getting a memorandum that all parties will abide by. [That AI comment is
from early November. From what I can tell —as seen in the item just above (for Nov. 21) of the piratical behavior of a Libyan gunboat— Italy is still helping the pirates.

Dec. 6, '21

                Pope Francis in Lesbos, Greece and pleads for action on migrant crisis

In Lesbos Pope Francis comforted tmigrants at a refugee camp and blasted what he said was the indifference and self-interest shown by Europe "that condemns to death those on the fringes" [...] "Please, let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!" Francis said at the camp, a cluster of white U.N. containers on the edge of the sea lined by barbed wire fencing and draped with laundry hanging from lines. A maskless Francis walked along the barricades, patting children and babies on the head and posing for selfies. His 5-day trip to Cyprus and Greece centered the migrant issue. He called for European countries to stop building walls, stoking fears and shutting out "those in great need who knock at our door" [...] "I ask every man and woman, all of us, to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disregard that condemns to death those on the fringes!" [...] "Let's stop ignoring reality, stop constantly shifting responsibility, stop passing off the issue of migration to others, as if it mattered to no one and was only a pointless burden to be shouldered by somebody else!" He called it an “illusion” to think a society could safeguard itself without helping those who “knock at our door.” He said respect for human rights should be upheld — “especially on this continent, which is constantly promoting them worldwide.” He denounced that the Mediterranean Sea, "the cradle of so many civilizations," had become a vast cemetery where smuggling boats packed with desperate people sink. "Let us not let our sea (mare nostrum) be transformed into a desolate sea of death (mare mortuum)."

Dec. 12, '21 Nelson Mandela: "When the history of our times is written, will we be remembered as the generation that turned
our backs in a moment of global crisis? Or will it be recorded that we did the right thing?"

Dec. 13, '21
Investigative Journalism vs the Bad Guys

W.B.Yeats wrote in The Second Coming of a terrible time when "...the ceremony of innocence is drowned;/The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity."
I've just read The Outlaw Ocean (2019 by Ian Urbina)*. It tells of crimes offshore the murder of stowaways, sea slavery, rape, and torture --the wholesale, literal "drowning of innocence" in the ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. For my brief "fair use" comment, I cite briefly from The Outlaw Ocean below.
"In July 2018, an Italian oil supply ship crossing the Mediterranean Sea saw a stalled rubber raft carrying 100 desperate migrants. On the dangerous journey from Libya to Europe, they had reached international waters when the supply ship rescued them. But the ship’s captain opted not to take the migrants to a port of safety in Europe, as required by law, but back to a gulag of migrant detention facilities in Libya where the United Nations and others have documented systematic torture, rape, extortion, forced labor and death [...] For the EU, and for captains in the Med, the task of handling desperate migrants fleeing hardships in their native countries is only going to get worse. Climate change is expected to displace 150 million people across the globe in the next 50 years. desertification,  rising seas abd famine will drive the desperate to places like Europe and the U.S., testing the moral character and political imagination of countries better prepared to survive an overheated planet. Those working commercial ships in the Med will find themselves in an impossible bind [...] Most migrants trying to cross the Med never make it onto merchant ships because they are caught by the Libyan coast guard. Though it routinely opens fire on migrant rafts and has been tied to human trafficking, the coast guard continues to draw strong EU support. This year, the EU shipped six new speedboats to the coast guard, which uses them to capture migrants [...] In Tripoli, I interviewed dozens of migrants who had been imprisoned [and] my own taste of Libyan impunity. A week into my reporting on a killing, I was abducted in my hotel room, and held for almost a week by Libya’s intelligence service, run by a militia called Al Nawasi. I was blindfolded, two of my ribs were broken, and I was held incommunicado for five days before my release. My crime? Reporting on migrants. Our four-person team was later forced at gunpoint by our captors to sign a confession document made out on the Libyan government’s official letterhead.

*Ian Urbina is an investigative journalist and the director of the Outlaw Ocean Project.
Dec. 20, '21
Little joy for many migrants and refugees this festive season
by Dr Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization's (WHO) Regional Director for Europe.
[ed. note: edited to focus on Dr. Kluge's points about the Mediterranean refugee crisis.]

18 Dec 2021
Many welcome the first signs of winter and the end-of -year festivities
. But for others, the onset of winter marks the start of a life-threatening period. We see it daily across Europe: The lives, health and well-being of refugees and migrants are at risk because of geopolitics. Hundreds of people risk their lives to cross the seas in Europe, over the English Channel or in the Mediterranean. Now their deaths barely make headlines. Just in the last month, 90 people have lost their lives in the Med and at least 34 in the English Channel.
  The U.N. estimates a staggering 274 million people in the world will need humanitarian help in 2022, a 17 percent increase from 2021. Humanitarian aid to countries in need can also help address why so many people leave in search of a better life in the first place. On all these fronts, WHO is working with partners to lessen human suffering, deliver supplies, and address immediate national needs such as sanitary facilities, setting up medical units, and improving measures against COVID-19, such as testing and vaccination. But these measures are no substitute for more sustainable solutions.
  This is a make or break moment. No matter political consensus or lack thereof, refugees and migrants must  have humanitarian aid and access to healthcare. Our region faces a new wave of COVID-19 with the  emergence of a new variant and sharply rising cases, so we must ensure protection against the virus for the most vulnerable. Health should never be a matter of politics, and access to health must be safeguarded as a fundamental human right. The WHO Regional Office for Europe has long championed migrant and refugee health with support to countries in preparing for large arrivals of refugees and migrants, and developing health systems that are inclusive and migrant-friendly. It is a our principle to leave no one behind. But we need to speed up this work, with broader political backing. This is why
we are inviting health ministers from the European as well as the African and Eastern Mediterranean regions to a high-level summit in March 2022 to find a common way forward and mobilise commitment to ensure the health of refugees and migrants. Good health is something that everyone, everywhere, should be able to enjoy. A change of season should not be a matter of life or death. Health is not a privilege: it is a fundamental right for all people, including refugees and migrants. Let us give all human beings respect, dignity, and access to healthcare, not only this winter, but for years to come.

Dec. 28, '21

Dec. 29, '21

In his Christmas message earlier this week, Pope Francis lamented the "pandemic of loneliness" and personal alienation. "Our capacity for social relationships is sorely tried; there is a growing tendency to withdraw, to do it all by ourselves, to stop making an effort to encounter others and do things together." He surveyed crises around the world. In sign of a gradual return to normalcy, the pope this year celebrated Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with a socially distanced congregation of about 2,000 —10 times as many as were permitted to attend the Mass last year.
   This comes at a time when the refugee situation in the Mediterranean is  utterly catastrophic, the worst in many months, boats swarming out of Turkish ports -- no one knows exactly how many --trying to pass through the Greek islands and make their way to Italy, either Sicily or Lampedusa. Reports are conflicting, confused, and disjointed. For example: "The Greek coastguard is scouring the Aegean Sea for survivors after the latest in a series of refugee boat accidents that killed at least 30 people in just days. Late Friday, the coastguard found 16 bodies, including those of three women and a baby, and rescued 63 people from a boat that overturned and sank near the island of Paros (image). According to those rescued, around 80 people had been on the vessel." [...] "11 bodies were recovered from another boat that ran aground on an islet north of the Greek island of Antikythera on Thursday evening..." [...]"Overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, a boat thought to have been carrying up to 50 refugees sank off the island of Folegandros, with an unknown number of persons still missing..." It is a complete disaster. This is not going away.
The Geo Barents, the Doctors Without Borders hospital-ship has disembarked 558 migrants in Augusta on the southern coast of Sicily. Officials there await the arrival of 440 additional refugees aboard Sea Watch 3. All arrivals have been --or will be-- ID'd and tested for covid. Of the 550, 174 were unaccompanied children. Many of the 550 shows signs of fuel burns, respiratory infections, and having been beaten. Most of the migrants are from sub-Saharan north Africa.

Jan. 12, '22

The image shows the cover of the Human Rights Law Review, Volume 19 Issue 3 November 2019.
Here is the link to that issue. It concerns the violations of human rights in extraterritorial migration controls and the complicity and responsibilities of nations towards refugees and migrants. There is also this  Wikipedia entry on the responsibility of the international community towards refugees and migrants. They both give you an idea of internationally wrongful acts, including refoulement;* arbitrary detention; violations of the right to life; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment; and violations of the right to leave.
*refoulement: lit. to force back: The expulsion of refugees from a place where they can rightfully claim refugee status to a place where they may face persecution or other threats, such as the country or disaster area from which they originally fled.

Jan. 22, '22 142 men, women and children (many sick and weak) have disembarked at Lampedua from a single rescue ship. the total for the day is 208, counting those from smaller vessels that arrived. A vessel took 70 of those migrants in the worst condition to the port of Pozzallo (southern tip of Sicily in the province of Ragusa.

Jan. 28
                                       "Give us a port! Give us a port!"
Last night 98 refugees disembarked at Lampedusa, and the Geo Barents, the rescue ship of Doctors Without Borders, is off the coast of Sicly, and has radio'd. "We have a ship full of kids. Give us a port! Give us a port!" The youngest is about 2 months old and is one of the few accompanied by a adult. The rest are unaccompanied kids.
Feb. 6
                          3,000 Unmarked Refugee Graves in Sicily

An unmarked grave is one that lacks a marker, headstone, or nameplate indicating that a body is buried there.
In cultures that mark burial sites, the phrase 'unmarked grave' has a few metaphorical meanings. A deliberately unmarked grave, for example, may signify disdain and contempt. The underlying intention of some unmarked graves may be to suggest that the person buried is not worthy of commemoration, and should therefore be ignored and forgotten. Unmarked graves have long been used to bury executed criminals as an added degree of disgrace. None of that applies here. These poor people drowned in the Mediterranean refugee crisis.The International Red Cross says that since 2013 one-thousand persons have drowned and remained unidentified. They had no papers when they drowned and now have no death certificates, just a number in a book of the nameless dead who were put in a mass grave. Above the ground, they put a certain number of crosses spread apart to make it look like each one represents someone buried beneath. It's an illusion, though. Perhaps a kind one. It's not clear what the text in the photo means. A woman's voice is saying, "...and now my sister's grave is no longer there." There are more than a few of these communal graves in Sicily.

Feb. 19

Complicity Starts Here. I can find no other word for it. Italy, through its military naval facility in the Gulf of Naples, is contributing  to the misery of the refugees  trying to escape from Libya north to any safe port, usually in Italy and usually the island of Lampedusa. They are often stopped by Libyan gunboats, which intercept their small lifeboats and take them back where they are beaten and punished by unspeakable means --men, women, and children. The gunboats were built in Italy in the first place, then supplied to Libya, and must be regularly repaired and serviced, which Italy does at their naval yards in the Gulf of Naples, just down from Cape Miseno (which marks the western end of the gulf. The map on the right shows the entire Gulf. Some familiar landmarks include the large island of Ischia (bottom right quadrant) and its tiny neighbor Procida; the cone of Mt. Vesuvius (upper left quadrant); the entire Sorrento peninsula (top center) with the Isle of Capri off to the right. The urban mass at left center is the city of Naples. From the tip of the Sorrento peninsula down to the bit of land in the white circle is 28 km/18 miles. The white circle encloses
the small port where the Italian naval yards are located. The gunboats are like the ones shown
in the image, above. A line from the circle to the gap between the peninsula and Capri is to the SE.

Feb. 28


                                          Unity and Solidarity
The general refugee crisis in the world has become worse because of events in Ukraine. The United Nations warned Friday that up to 5 million of Ukraine’s 44 million people could become refugees if Russian attacks go on. It’s mainly women, children and the elderly fleeing. Ylva Johansson, the European commissioner for home affairs, told Euronews on Wednesday that the European Union (E.U.) was “quite well prepared” to absorb Ukrainian refugees as a matter of “unity” and “solidarity.” The image shows a pro-Ukrainian demonstration in Torino. There have similar one throughout Italy. The Italian government has said it supports measures to expel Russia from the SWIFT global payment system. Italian PM Draghi spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Zelensky and assured him of Italy's support, adding that "Ukraine must become part of the E.U." Draghi also said Italy will provide Ukraine with assistance to defend itself and the two leaders agreed to remain in close contact in the immediate future.         a photo of the demonstration in Naples is here
There is an excellent and comprehensive article on migration in the Mediterranean on Wikipedia here.


                             Finally, an Oligarch When you Need One.
The current flight of Ukrainian refugees is the largest forced migration of human beings since right after
WWII. It has totally overshadowed the never-ending flight of refugees from North African ports trying to get to Italy.The Geo Barents, the rescue ship run by "Doctors without Borders" said yesterday it now has 111 refugees on board after plucking 31 migrants from a rubber raft that had already capsized near Malta. It will now head for the closest "safe" port, probably in Sicily. Also involved in a rescue mission near Malta was the Quantum Blue, the 104 meter (341 ft.) mega-yacht (image, right) belonging to Sergey Galitsky, the Russian oligarch (owner of a large supermarket chain in Russia).  I'll give Sergey the benefit of the doubt and say he probably feels pretty good about himself right now. That's OK. The ship is underway to Monaco. Call and say "hi" to Ollie Gark himself. Call-sign: ZGEM4. Sails under the flag of the Cayman Islands. Costs less.

About Physicians for Human Rights (the link has complete information about this group. Please read it.)

"We investigate and document human rights violations, give voice to survivors and witnesses, and plant seeds of reconciliation by ensuring that perpetrators can be held accountable for their crimes. We believe that medical ethics are deeply bound to the protection of human rights. PHR uses our core disciplines – science, medicine, forensics, and public health – to inform our research and investigations and to strengthen the skills of frontline human rights defenders."


The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a global humanitarian aid and relief,
nongovernmental organization. Founded in 1933 as the International Relief Association, at the request of Albert Einstein, and changing its name in 1942 after amalgamating with the similar Emergency Rescue Committee, the IRC provides emergency aid and long-term assistance to refugees and those displaced by war, persecution, or natural disaster. The IRC is currently working in about 40 countries. It resettles refugees and helps them become self-sufficient. It focuses mainly on health, education, economic well-being, power, and safety. The staff is made up of first responders, humanitarian relief workers, international development experts, health care providers, and educators. The IRC has assisted millions of people around the world since its founding. In 2016, 26 million people in about 40 countries benefited from IRC programs. Their HQ is in New York City. Their website is here. They welcome donations. If you can give, give. At least read what they do. Be aware.


      Just a reminder, lest we forger. With the refugee attention of the world focused on Ukraine at the moment, 476 human beings,
      have died so far trying to get to Italy, largely from Libya. It's a trickle, but they are still innocent persons drowned at sea, The
      situation shows absolutely no sign of easing. With summer approaching, it will get worse. Do what you can. Please.

May 30

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre or IDMC is an International non-governmental organization established in 1998 by the Norwegian Refugee Council in Geneva. It is focused on monitoring and providing information and analysis on the world's internally displaced persons (IDPs). The IDMC contributes to improving national and international capacities to protect and assist the millions of people around the globe who have been displaced within their own country. IDMC also develops statistics and analysis on internal displacement, including analysis commissioned for use by the United Nations. This is their home page, where you can download their Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID -image), the world’s leading source of data and analysis on internal displacement. This year’s report, released on 19 May, includes a special focus on internally displaced children and youth.

June 6

adapted from Wash Post text by Ishaan Tharoor with Sammy Westfall 
  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World     War II. In just over a hundred days, close to 7 million Ukrainians have fled across their nation’s borders, with most finding sanctuary in the European Union (EU). Ukraine has four E.U. member states as its neighbors, all of whom opened their borders. The EU used a special power to grant Ukrainians blanket protection, giving those who receive it the right to move freely within the EU, permission to work and access to health care, education and housing. It is “a very generous offer, said Margaritis Schinas, vice president of the European Commission, said. “It’s Europe at its best.” He says also that many of these refugees may not return to their homeland. “This offer is so generous that no matter what happens in the war, at least 2.5 million to 3 million people will stay...Many Ukrainian refugees are highly educated and skilled people who can immediately be taken into our systems... Many of them have already found housing and accommodation, while thousands of citizens across the EU, Britain and the United States, among others, have registered to host or sponsor them. Their schoolchildren can access their materisl digitally." Ukrainians have caused minimal strains in host nations.
image: logo of the IOM (International Organization of Migration).
Sept 20

                                 Refugees in the Mediterranean, a forgotten war
                                                      by Lorenzo Marone

The massacres have been pushed away; no one cares about the "boat people" children, dead from starvation and thirst.
19 September 2022   (published in la Repubblica. Permission to translate pending and assumed.)

There's a silent drama still going on and still killing people that we don't talk about as much as we should, that we don't even want to look at anymore. Some will say my words add nothing, and yet my words are still not enough because the greatest risk today is indifference. This silent drama is a war going on around us and we don't notice it; it's being fought without soldiers, helicopters or missiles and only takes the lives of innocent civilians, a war that the powers-that-be didn't want and are not interested in. Seven more children have died in recent days of exhaustion and deprivation, their skin ripped raw by the salt-laden winds. The survivors, witnesses, remind you of those from  a Nazi death camp. The attempted crossings have gone down in number since 2015, but are more fatal. Sine the beginning of this year, more than a thousand persons have died, about the same as in one of the Twin Towers destroyed in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
 Lucky survivors taken aboard a roaming rescue vessel
It's a catastrophe that knows no end; estimates says that since 2014 about 25,000 migrants have died trying to cross the waters to find a new life for themselves. The water takes them down where we can't see them so we forget about them and find their bodies months later, like that mother and her baby still clutching each other in the hold of a boat. When you talk of shipwrecks, you envision waves as high as buildings, but on these migrant crossings you can lose your life even when the waters are not rough because you are stuffed by the hundreds into cheap rubber rafts, so-called "boats," that cost €100 on the Alì Babà website. You'll die smothered in a shallow pool of water at the bottom of the raft. If you fall, you'll be crushed, and others won't  help you out of fear of winding up down there with you. This is a Slaughter of the Innocents and civilian Europe has washed its hands of the affair and is off to vote for those who doesn't care about it.

Sept 24

At least 77 people die when a boat carrying migrants sinks off Syria

The incident was the deadliest so far as a surging number of Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians have been trying to flee crisis-hit Lebanon by sea for a better future in Europe. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs while the Lebanese pound has dropped more than 90% in value, eradicating the purchasing power of thousands of families that now live in extreme poverty. Victims' relatives have started crossing from Lebanon into Syria to help identify their loved ones and retrieve their bodies. The vessel left Lebanon on Tuesday and news of what happened first started to emerge on Thursday afternoon. The boat was carrying Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinians. Twenty people were rescued and treated at al-Basel hospital in Syria's coastal city of Tartus. There were conflicting reports on how many people were on board the vessel when it sank, with some saying at least 120. Details about the ship, such as its size and capacity, were also not clear. The Lebanese army has stormed the homes of several suspected smugglers, detaining four in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon's second-largest and most impoverished. Three others were detained in the nearby village of Deir Ammar. The suspects were involved in smuggling of migrants by sea while others were planning to buy boats for the same reason. Lebanon, with a population of 6 million, including 1 million Syrian refugees, has been in the grips of a severe economic meltdown since late 2019 that has pulled over three-quarters of the population into poverty.

Mar 29
                            MEDITERRANEAN  REFUGEE CRISIS CONTINUES -strung together from Wash Post reports 26-28 Mar 2023

In the volume of migrant boats crossing the Med, Italy sees a daunting trend taking shape.
People are reaching the country by sea at a pace unmatched by any other winter and early spring on record. Six times in March alone, more than 1,000 people have landed ashore in a single day — a total that used to account for a month’s worth of arrivals. At the same time, Italy has launched complex rescue missions, responded to shipwrecks and seen its reception centers for asylum seekers fill to the brink. And this is supposed to be the slow season.
  Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni says the migration pressure on Italy is “unprecedented.”If this year fits the pattern of others — with crossings rising during the warmer months — Italian officials worry that  it all
spiral out of control, rivaling or even eclipsing the migration apex of 2015 and 2016, when an exodus from warring Syria and Afghanistan spurred political strife in Europe and a populist backlash against Middle  Eastern and African asylum seekers.
above:Mourners surround the coffin of a migrant who, along with 58 others, died when their ship crashed before reaching the
Italian shore last month. (photo:Remo Casilli/Reuters)

The situation isn’t an exact match for seven or eight years ago. That was a period of relative free-for-all migration, with huge flows into Italy and especially Greece. Since then, Europe has invested billions in clamping down, building fences, beefing up coast guards and offering financial incentives to transit countries to tighten the doors. Those efforts have resulted in a continent that is harder, but not impossible, to reach. Migrants are still finding paths. And right now, those paths lead predominantly to Italy, a country that hasn’t gone as far as other front-line nations, Greece and Spain, in using brute force to deter arrivals. So far this year, Italy has seen 26,800 people arriving by boat, four times the pace of 2022, and 1.5 times the record mark of 2016, when 181,000 people reached the country’s shores. So far this year, about 80 percent of people crossing the Mediterranean have headed toward Italy, with Greece and Spain seeing far lower shares.

Critics of Europe’s migration strategy say it’s wrong to frame the uptick as an emergency, noting that last year, the continent accommodated some 5 million Ukrainians — a figure that dwarfs any flows from Africa and the Middle East. Some but not all people crossing the Mediterranean are fleeing conflict or persecution. Last year, Italy saw arrivals chiefly from Egypt, Tunisia and Bangladesh, countries whose citizens do not generally qualify for international protection. Italy makes for an unlikely preferred migrant destination, given that, for several years, it had been a crucible of  Western European anti-migration sentiment. In 2018, the far right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, authored a
close-the-ports crackdown that spurred legal challenges but bolstered his personal, get-tough brand. Meloni was in the opposition at the time, speaking regularly about dangers of “invasion.” But even with Meloni in power, the public sentiment has softened. The shift was crystallized after a deadly shipwreck last month along Italy’s Calabrian coast. Bodies, including of children, washed ashore. Many were Afghans escaping after the Taliban takeover, and their personal stories made headlines in Italy for weeks. Italy’s much-respected
president, Sergio Mattarella, stood vigil in a sports hall lined with coffins, saying the disaster had “moved” the country.

Meloni seems to have registered the change. She has so far avoided explicitly anti-migrant talking points and instead tried to bargain with Europe for more support. An overwhelmed Italy, she has argued pointedly, will have a harder time stopping migrants from leaving Italy and heading north to other parts of Europe.

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