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New “boat people” crisis off coast of Italy

  • January 4th, 2014
  • Posted by EU Australia

Migration  EU boatpeople
The rescue of 1000 would-be immigrants in wild seas off Italy, in the first days of 2014, has signaled a possible increase in pressure for passage into Europe.Some were taken on board, others towed into port.

The numbers attempting the trip in overcrowded boats from North Africa would be familiar enough if they’d been coming in Summer; it is highly unusual, and yet more dangerous in rough weather, in the cold.

The European Union has indicated urgent concern about humanitarian aspects of the traffic, organised in the main by regular criminals and corrupt officials on the African side. Italy this week cleared out its over-stressed, rough and ready facility on Lampedusa Island, in response to too many deaths at sea and suffering among survivors. See EUAustralia Online, Trouble in Italy, 31.12.13.

The people coming, mostly, are from Islamic communities in countries enduring economic stress, and social and civic break-down; across Africa and the Middle East, through to Pakistan and Indonesia.

The numbers and persistence of such movement threatens to overwhelm settled EU policy, going back to a summit at Lahti in Finland, in 2007; see EUAustralia Online, Blitz on illegal immigration to head reforms, 17.5.07.

That gathering produced a plan for coordinated border enforcement, and on the positive side, longer-term measures including cooperation with governments in countries of origin, education and development programs there, and controlled migration to fill a generation gap as the population in Europe keeps ageing.

The governments on the “front like”, notably Greece and Italy has made repeated calls for more direct assistance with patrolling the sea approaches to the European shore.

See also, EUAustralia Online: People Smuggling – Who wants a €40000 ticket?, 11.8.13;  “Boat People” worries follow crisis in North Africa 12.2.11; Immigration, new sea strategy, 1.4.10; Lampedusa – detention centre …, 24.1.09; Migration concerns for EU, 31.10.08.