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European solidarity does not exist
Illegal immigration in the Mediterranean sea, the libyan crisis and the foreign fighters terrorist are to the center of the problem
29-01-2019 - Last week B[some United Nations speakers criticised European countries for not allowing illegal migrants to disembark in a safe Mediterranean port. According to Libya’s coastguard almost 500 illegal migrants trying to reach Italy on rafts had been brought back to the North African country in order to save their lives as per the agreement with Tripoli. U.N. supported aid agencies condemned the transfer of migrants to Libyan detention centres in which they claimed illegal migrants could face abuse, lack of medical care, rape and forced labour.
Most of the 473 people who attempted to illegally cross the Mediterranean since the beginning of January were saved by rescue operations while some were aided by a cargo ship. Libya figures included more than 140 migrants rescued at sea by the ‘Lady Sham’ cargo ship, whom the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said were brought to the western city of Misrata and then to a selected EU sponsored detention centre. Libya’s western shores are the main departure point for thousands of migrants mainly from sub-Saharan countries trying to reach Europe pretending to fly from conflict or poverty. Since July 2017, because of an agreement reached by the former Italian Minister of the Interior Minniti, smuggling networks inside Libya have been disrupted. This Italy-backed deal was made with local authorities in the former smuggling hub of Sabratha town in western Libya. Sources of Brussels claim that 92 million European funds have been allocated for the municipalities in Libya, whose leadership is the expression of the main 14 tribes, and another 91.3 for border control. Important figures when considering they are meant for a country with just over 6 million inhabitants (more or less the Italian region of Lazio) - in which the average salary is very low compared to Italy.
Italy, it should be remembered, is officially present in Libya with the MIASIT mission of assistance and support to the Government of the national agreement of Fayez al-Sarraj. It entails the employment of 400 soldiers, 130 land, naval, and air vehicles (the latter within the units of the national sea-safe navy device). MIASIT replaces and strengthens the old Hippocrate mission (300 men and 103 vehicles) that has allowed the construction of a military field hospital in Misurata that offers 30 beds. Italian soldiers are also involved in training local forces. That field hospital is the Italian flagship and no safety or incident problems have occurred until today.
The Libyan coast guard has stepped up patrols after receiving new boats from Italy as part of efforts by the Italian government there to stop migrants reaching Italian shores from Africa. 
At the end of the rescue operations, the Lady Sharm cargo ship, flying the flag of Sierra Leone, returned to Libya, from where the boat had left.
"They will be brought to safety in the port of Misrata,“ said prime minister Conte office in the evening, which had previously urged the Libyan coast guard to carry out the operation as soon as possible. "These are the facts” he declared.
It has been highlighted that the alarm system for shipping in the Mediterranean had received the distress signal of the damaged vessel off the coast of Misurata. It seems there have been numerous reports made in Rome, Valletta and Tripoli, the latter indicated by all as the competent authority to coordinate relief efforts. "We have called seven different numbers of the operating room of the Coast Guard of Tripoli - NGO operators say - but we have not received an answer. We have warned Italy and Malta that Libya is not reachable. No one has activated a rescue operation“. These claims were rejected by the Libyan navy. Its spokesman, Brigadier Ayoub Gassem, denied that the rescue requests were ignored, pointing out that in the morning another 140 migrants were rescued by a Tripoli patrol boat. The Italian Coast Guard has specified that as soon as it became aware of the emergency "as required by the international regulations on the SAR“ it immediately contacted the Libyan Coast Guard. The incident happened within the area of jurisdiction of the Libyan coastguard which coordinated the rescue with the Merchant ship of Sierra Leone since it was unable to send its own vessels which were already occupied in another rescue operation.
Analysing the facts, it is legitimate to question what migrants most probably registered by the UN in Libya were doing on ships bound to Europe when they should have been under the protection of local authorities rather than in the company of smugglers.
The issue in Libya is akin a sandstorm, it is impossible to see clearly through it. When NGOs have accused European powers of sending illegal migrants to inhumane detention centres Italy spoke of "migrants saved and brought back to Libya", where there are "centres of the UN High Commission for Refugees“.
The spokesperson of the UN agency Carlotta Sani recalled that those brought back to Libya go to detention centres where UN personnel have limited access and that, in her opinion, "The return of people from international waters to Libya is against international law because there is no safe haven in Libya to date“.
The increase in departures, according to various representatives of the government in Rome, can be attributed to the presence of NGOs in the area. Off the Libyan shores, the NGO ship Sea Watch 3 can be found ferrying migrants across to Italy. While some analysts continue to declare that "the data actually shows that there is no correlation between the sea rescue activities carried out by the NGOs and the landings on the Italian shores“ the German NGO ship, strangely enough, continues to operate under a Dutch flag and insisting on bringing rescued illegal migrants to Italian shores.
The Italian government's request the Dutch government to take responsibility for the migrants rescued by the ship carrying its flag. "As long as there are no European-level structural agreements for migrants, the Netherlands will not adopt ad hoc solutions“, the Foreign Ministry told the Dutch media. "We have taken note of the Italian request, but the Sea Watch 3 is not our responsibility“, they explain from The Hague.
A letter from the Ministry of the Interior sent by the Foreign Affair offices to the Netherlands reportedly said: "The Government of the Italian Republic invites the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to prepare, with urgency, the obligations related to the organization of the taking charge and transfer to the territory of the 47 migrants on board the Dutch ship Sea Watch 3“. The government, adds the letter, "also asks to be able to provide any information about the NGO Sea Watch, with particular reference to compliance with the legislation of the flag state of the organization and the activities of the aforementioned NGO, as well as the related vessels and crew“.
The same evening, the Italian interior minister reiterated: “Sea Watch 3 is at Dutch flag, German NGO ship. Open the ports of Rotterdam or Hamburg, in Italy there is no place“!
As final answer, on the 28TH afternoon the last Dutch Ministry of Justice negative answer, top level example of EU solidarity and cooperation, was: “We need to distinguish between people who actually need asylum and economic migrants“ - "Those who do not have the right to international protection must be sent immediately back home as soon as they arrive at the European border" - "without a prospect for this solution, the Netherlands rejects measures ad hoc“.
Moreover, the Italian determinate opposition to the arrival of illegal migrants from Libya is also presumably connected with the numerous presence of ISIS Foreign Fighters in the area.
As several intelligence agencies have reported since the beginning of the Libyan crisis and by the own admission of Frontex leadership, there is a serious risk of radical Islamic terrorists exploiting the current situation in the Mediterranean to ship their fighters back in Europe among illegal migrants. It is often hard to establish the country of origin of these individuals let alone carry out a proper background check on every single one of them.
The lax system currently in place is ill suited to face both the migrant and the terrorist issues, two issues which are becoming increasingly intertwined and threaten the security of European citizens in a manner impossible to ignore.
It is time for the European Union to start thinking concretely about how to solve the problem of illegal migrants in the Mediterranean sea without leaving Italy and Malta alone. The problem is as urgent as the end of winter is approaching and it will be easier for traffickers to bring on the Libyan shores those who want to try their luck in Italy or Europe. There are two months left to the Spring and four months to the European elections. If there is a European solidarity it is time to prove itself.












Giuseppe Morabito & Ermete Del Buon
 
  


 
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