02 October 2006

September 2006


During the last month 71 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean sea and in the Atlantic ocean, including 21 who were missing, mostly in the Aegean sea and off Sicily. Two others people died on the mined field along Turkish-Greek border area. The victimes of illegal migration since 1988 are at least 5.544

Initial media reports said the migrants, believed to have been heading to a nearby Greek island, drowned when their ship sank off Karaburun, in Izmir province. However, officials - from both the local government and the Coast guard command in Ankara - quoted the 31 survivors as saying they had been dumped into the sea off the Turkish coast by a Greek vessel. The migrants claimed they had reached the Greek island of Chios the day before, after a clandestine overnight boat trip but were captured by the Greek authorities. They were then put on a boat early in the morning and left at sea close to the Turkish coast, where local residents alerted the Coast guard after hearing their cries. But it was already too late: 8 people drowned, among them 2 were missing. This is not the kind of Europe they used to dream. The Old continent is afraid of illegal migration ghosts. A 457 millions people Giant is obsessed from the arrival of some tens of thousands migrants coming from Africa and Asia knocking at the Mediterranean's doors. Frontiers are more and more patrolled and dying at the border becomes easier and easier. September counts 71 victims - according to Fortress Europe -, among them 21 were missing, the majority in Sicily and Greece. Nothing to report for the Mediterranean sea. Illegal emigration has killed at least 5,544 people since 1988, and during the last month of August, at least 304 would-be immigrants died.

What happened in September makes light of what is going on in the Aegean sea. Here the last shipwreck was reported in June 2006, but the lessening of incidents actually hides the strong repression policy against illegal migration adopted by Greece and supported by Europe. Official data speak by themselves. From the start of 2006 until August, police caught 48,010 people who did not have the right travel documents. Just over 10,000 of them were sent back to their countries. Deportation procedures for the rest of them have begun, a ministry source said. Trying to enter Greece in September 8 migrants drowned in Crete waters and 2 others died in the mined fields of Evros. And then the victims of Karaburun, on which it risks to explode a diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Athens, as a group of Amnesty International lawyers from Izmir asked the Un to open an inquiry over the accusations against Greek Coast guard.

Denunciations against Spain are not less serious. The 17 of September a boy under police safekeeping in Tenerife Commissariat, in Canary island, died. Actually he disembarked the day before in critical conditions. Feeling ill, the man asked medical aid several times throughout the afternoon. In spite of it, he was not transferred to any hospital neither taken in the police medical centre. This caused the indignation of his travel companions, also detained in the Commissariat, who protested so insistently that the police had to ask for reinforcements. At the end a doctor arrived, at 22 o'clock. But it was too late for the man, already died as a result of an infarct. With him other 5 people died along the Africa-Canary route in the month of September. Everyone of them left family, friends, loves. According to Spanish Government's official data 490 migrants bodies were recovered from Spanish waters in the first 8 months of 2006. Since 1988 at least 1,469 migrants have died off Canary, Ceuta, Melilla and the Spanish southern coast. During the last weeks boats arrivals in Andalusia restarted and some hundreds of people disembarked after a period of strict patrolling along Moroccan coast. Anyway even who touched the shore can't feel safe. In fact aerial repatriations in Senegal resumed and hundreds of migrants have been deported to Dakar and Saint Louis. Moreover Frontex operations keep on working along African Atlantic coast with Spanish vessels and helicopters, supported by an Italian and a Portuguese ship in Mauritania and Senegal sea. Up to now they intercepted 2 boats with 180 persons aboard. Meanwhile Dakar earned from Spain a 20 million euro check for a "return to agriculture" project.

Frontex is the European agency for the management of operational cooperation at the external borders, up today involved in two mission: one in the Atlantic sea, for an initial period of 9 weeks then extended, the other in Sicily Channel, where in these days is beginning a two weeks combined patrolling that involve ships from Italian, Maltese and Greek Navy and a German helicopter. But actually the real goal indicated from the vice president of the European union Franco Frattini is the Libyan coasts control. That's why Brussels will finance Mu' ammar al-Qaddafi Government with 3 millions euro, appointed to the purchase of 10 specialized motor vehicles and patrolling equipment to be used along the southern frontier. A recent Human rights watch report accused Libya of abuses and arbitrary detainment of migrants in its jails, including the three ones that Italy has been financing since 2003 in Kufrah, Sebha and Gharyan. No problem: Eu doesn't care about it, and Tripoli will host in November the Euro-African summit on illegal migration. Let's hope at least that they will discuss of the victims of frontiers repression policies: 5,544 people vanished in the last ten years just because they can't obtain an entry visa to the Castle.

One third of the victims (1,873 persons) died in the Sicily Channel. During the month of September 36 bodies were recovered off Lampedusa and Sicily, including a woman with her child. Twelve others people were missing off Tunisia after their boat sank. During the first week of the month the sea returned the bodies of 7 migrants, maybe drowned in the dramatic shipwrecks of August. One of them was discovered from the tourists of a ferry sailing to Lampedusa. From the start of 2006 until August about 16,000 people disembarked at Lampedusa aboard of 342 boats, a little bit more than the 13,000 passangers of the 165 ships arrived in the island last year. Actually it is not so much comparing with the nearly 25,000 who joined Canary and the 48,000 who entered illegally in Greece during the first eight months of 2006. September marked also the return of disembarks along Puglia coast, where in 3 different occasions a total of 53 Asian citizens were intercepted by Police reaching coast aboard of little boat, after they travelled hidden in regular cargo vessels joining the Mediterranean sea through Suez Channel towards Italy.