Tuesday, March 21, 2017

THE NEVER-ENDING STORY

Over the weekend, the Italian coastguard rescued around 3,000 migrants off the coast of Libya. 

According to the Italian government, 16,206 people have been rescued from the sea until March 18 of this year. Last year, this number was 11,911. According to the Italian coast guard, good weather is the reason for a rise in the numbers.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that altogether, 19,722 migrants have entered Europe by sea in 2017 until now. Eighty percent of the arrivals landed in Italy, with the rest coming to Spain and Greece. Last year by this time, around 154,416 migrants had arrived in Europe through the Mediterranean route, the IOM said.
The IOM says that refugees arriving in Italy through Libya usually flee because of conflicts, persecution, poverty and reasons related to climate change. However, most of these migrants don't want to come to Europe. They travel to Libya, which is still perceived as a country where they can find a job and send money home, but the situation in Libya is very dangerous.
Once they cross the borders, they become targets of abuse and human rights violations. They are kidnapped, detained illegally, tortured or raped and even killed. A majority of them don't want to come to Europe, but they see the sea crossing as the only way to save their lives.
The EU is  trying to seal deals with North African countries, including Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, to stem the flow of refugees. Proposed measures, for example, by Libya's UN-backed unity government include a 800-million-euro grant from the EU for equipment to patrol its coast and territorial waters as well as to buy helicopters, radars and boats, according to Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Rights groups however have launched protests against Libya's detention centers for refugees, home to severe rights violations. Refugees who are caught by the Libyan Coast Guard are taken back to Libya and held in detention centers there.

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