One more immigration aversion business-plan by Italy and partners…
Posted by clandestina on 6 May 2009
This is what is going on in the Mediterranen daily: states and police forces try to sell on the highest price possible their capacity for rendering migration a life – threatening venture. The pretext of “rescuing” the refugees is only miserable. Here is where the original post appeared.
Italy, Malta spar on rescues again
Maltese premier ‘disgust’, Italian boat called in
(ANSA) – Rome, ay 6 – Italy and Malta were involved in a fresh spat on immigrant rescues on Wednesday after two boats carrying 136 migrants appeared near the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.
Italy says it has carried out 670 rescues in Maltese waters since the start of 2007.
Mifsud Bonnici has said 3,800 immigrants landed in Malta last year, adding that ”3,800 on a tiny island like Malta is the equivalent of 400,000 arriving in Italy”.
The boats contacted the Coast Guard on satellite phone and the alert was relayed to Maltese authorities who called in an Italian tanker, the closest vessel to the migrants.
The Italian Coast Guard said the boats were in waters where Malta should step in but Maltese Premier Lawrence Gonzi appeared to dispute this, voicing ”disgust” at what he called ”Italy’s intransigence where human lives are at stake”.
Italian Foreign Undersecretary Stefania Craxi said she was ”stunned” by Gonzi’s claim.
”The Italian Coast Guard is the only one that picks up stranded migrants in non-territorial waters and it does so with great humanity and spirit of service, carrying out work that other countries in the Mediterranean don’t do”.
Last month saw a four-day stand-off between Italy and Malta on rescuing a Turkish freighter, the Pinar, carrying 140 migrants and the dead body of a pregnant woman.
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi eventually ordered the migrants to be rescued on humanitarian grounds, but Interior Minister Roberto Maroni took the case to Brussels.
At a meeting with European Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot on April 24, Maroni and his Maltese counterpart Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici received assurances that the rest of the European Union would give them more help in dealing with illegal immigration.
Barrot said the EC was ready to offer financial help to the two countries, which bear the brunt of immigrants leaving the North African coast for Europe, and would also propose measures that would mean other member states would share the burden of illegal immigration.
He said that sooner or later other EU countries would have to cope with immigrants who arrive on the Italian and Maltese coasts arriving on their territory.
Maroni meanwhile called on the EU to reinforce the role of its border agency Frontex, suggesting that it should be made responsible for the creation and management of ”EU repatriation centres”.
If Europe shared the burden of arrivals in this way, ”the problem would resolve itself” and cases like that of the 140 stranded migrants ”would never happen”, he said.
Italy presented a dossier to the EC that Maroni said ”clearly” showed it had been Malta’s responsibility to receive the migrants, since they were rescued in Maltese waters by the freighter, the Pinar.
Malta admitted the Pinar was in Maltese waters but said international law dictated the freighter should head for the nearest port, which was allegedly Lampedusa.
Following the meeting with Mifsud Bonnici and Barrot, Maroni said the ”Pinar case was closed” but the wider issue of rescue competence remained ”because there are various interpretations”.
Three days later, on April 24, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini urged the European Commission to draw up new measures before its five-year mandate expires this year.
He said other EU countries bordering the Mediterranean – Malta, Greece, Spain, Portugal and France – support a seven-point plan outlined by Italy.
If adopted, these measures must become binding for other EU members because southern European countries can no longer be left alone to bear the brunt of the immigration emergency, he added.
The plan would outline clear-cut rules to help immigrants stranded at sea, avoiding disputes between countries over whose responsibility it is to assist them.
It would also propose shared responsibility among the 27-member states for providing hospitality for the migrants; set up a pan-European network of holding centres; provide concrete incentives to non-EU countries promoting legal immigration; agree to joint sea and coast patrols with non-EU countries in a bid to stem illegal immigration; and work with Libya to organise radar and satellite systems to monitor its southern frontiers.
With almost 800 kilometres of coastline, Libya has become a key stepping-stone for African migrants seeking to enter Europe, most of them through Malta, Sicily and Lampedusa.
Italy is ready to finance 50% of the cost of these monitoring systems but believes the EU should do its bit in covering the rest, Frattini said.
According to the Italian interior ministry, around 37,000 people landed on Italian coasts in 2008 – a 75% increase on 2007.