The most dangerous passage to Europe claimed 18,000 casualties. Who speaks for them? | Lorenzo Tondo


MeEarly on June 21, a team of Doctors Without Borders on a rescue ship received a distress signal somewhere vast in the Central Mediterranean.Motor of a small boat carrying asylum seekers Libya It was out of order and the ship was taking in water.

These are the first dramatic scenes of Unsafe passage – Edow’s outlaw ocean project guardian and documentary film released today – but it’s also the first moment of a recurring battle against time in the ocean that separates Europe and Africa.

If the Libyan Coast Guard arrives on the boat in front of the rescue team, the refugees will be pointed at the gun and pushed back to the Libyan detention center. And if neither MSF nor Libyan arrive at the ship, other lives will be lost in this huge watery cemetery, which has already claimed thousands of asylum seekers: this year alone has crossed the Central Mediterranean so far. Over 1,300 people died or went missing when they tried.

However Europe Not only did they close their eyes to fear, but they also made the rescue of these people, and the lives of their rescuers, more and more complicated.

In February 2017, Europe delegated responsibility to Libya to oversee the relief efforts of the Mediterranean. NS handle, Attacked between Rome and Tripoli with the aim of reducing the flow of immigrants to Europe. Since then, Italy has trained the Libyan Coast Guard and has spent millions of euros supplying them with numerous patrol vessels. The goal is to prevent migrants from reaching Sicily and help them return to Libya frequently. Suffering from violence and torture In jail.

The results were disastrous, revealing the contradictions of the agreement and the EU’s hypocrisy against the immigration crisis.

The most important paradox is represented by Libya, a politically unstable country that is still licking its wounds after the civil war. Italy Italian authorities indirectly define Libya as a safe country, even though it often admits torture and sexual abuse in Libya and gives asylum seekers the 1951 status. Rome has criticized Libya for refugee abuse, but just last year Italy renewed its agreement with the country’s Coast Guard.

Refugees rescued off the coast of Libya sleep on Geo Barents, a rescue vessel operated by MSF. Composite: Ed Ou / Ed Ou / The Outlaw Ocean Project

The Coast Guard is made up of many former militias who are allegedly associated with traffickers. October 2020, Tripoli authorities arrested Abdal-Rahman Milad, known as the Coast Guard commander Bija, is alleged to be behind the drowning of dozens of people. In 2018, the United Nations claimed that Bija was a trafficking promoter and part of the criminal network. Libyan officials withdrew the charges against him in April because of lack of evidence, but Mirad denied any connection to trafficking. Last year, a survey by the Italian newspaper Avvenire claimed that he attended a series of official meetings in Italy in May 2017.

Their method is reported to be brutal. July of this year Video appeared It appears that the Libyan Coast Guard is shooting at a small wooden boat in the pain of carrying a family and showing it plunging into it. The Coast Guard ship was the PB 648 Ras Jadir, one of several patrol vessels supplied from Italy to Libya.

NGOs have filled the void since Europe washed the hands of the Mediterranean relief efforts. Thanks to the donations, dozens of charities put their crew on board and saved thousands of people. MSF alone has helped more than 80,000 people.

Still, for the past four years, charities have been the subject of dozens of investigations by Italian prosecutors, accusing aid NGOs of being involved in smuggling. As Europe cracked down on migrants, aid workers realized they were facing prosecution as refugee rescue became more and more criminal. In 2019 Italy introduced security legislation Fine Up to € 50,000 (£ 42,700) for boats that take asylum seekers to Italy without permission.

Most of these investigations will eventually be discontinued, but the ship remains seized at the Italian port and is unable to assist the sea people who continue to die during the day. Iuventa, a former fishing vessel operated by the German NGO Jugend Rettet since 2017, has decayed on the quay of Trapani Port after prosecutors ordered it to be seized.

Refugees rescued off the coast of Libya arrive in Augusta, Italy, on a Geovalentz.
Refugees arrive in Augusta, Italy, on the Geo Barents. Composite: Ed Ou / Ed Ou / The Outlaw Ocean Project

In the process of investigating Iuventa, Italian police eavesdropped on several conversations between Libya and the Italian Coast Guard. In various recordings that revealed that many Libyan officials were indifferent to the plight of asylum seekers and international law. Was a response The commander of the Tripoli Coast Guard, who responded to Mayday’s call, is on holiday here. Maybe we can be there tomorrow. (The Coast Guard then says it is “very difficult to find a record of these events” and cannot answer questions related to this.)

In a just world, with this evidence, a country that claims to be democratic and respectful of human rights should have overturned the trial. Putting the Libyan authorities on the wharf and putting the charity in the position of a witness.

Instead, we are still counting the dead: Estimated 18,580 In this most dangerous passage to Europe since 2014.

The most dangerous passage to Europe claimed 18,000 casualties. Who speaks for them? | Lorenzo Tondo

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