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ngos warn of intimidation as italy seizes migrant rescue ship | news


rome, italy - human rights groups have warned of a campaign of intimidation after italian authorities seized a spanish rescue ship and threatened criminal charges against some of its crew members who refused to hand over rescued refugees and migrants to the libyan coastguard.the ngo proactiva open arms said its vessel responded to boats in distress in international waters off the coast of libya on march 15. the vessel took the 216 rescued refugees and migrants to the sicilian port of pozzallo port on march 17, where the ship was seized.complications in the operation began when the ngo attended to the second boat in distress.crew members said they were approached by a libyan patrol boat demanding they transferred the migrants to them, claiming the libyans used "death threats" and intimidati






sicily prosecutor probes possible ngos-smuggler 'contacts'


rome — an investigation of humanitarian groups operating migrant rescue ships in the mediterranean has turned up evidence of contacts between some ngos and libyan-based human smugglers, a prosecutor based in sicily said in comments published sunday.anti-migrant politicians immediately demanded to know who finances rescue ships run by ngos.catania chief prosecutor carmelo zuccaro was quoted as saying in an interview with la stampa newspaper that his office's probe has revealed "evidence that there are direct contacts between some ngos and human traffickers in libya."several nongovernmental organizations have operated rescue boats in the mediterranean just outside libya's territorial waters.humanitarian advocates said that if it weren't for them, countless more migrants would perish at sea."






sicily prosecutor probes possible ngos-smuggler 'contacts'


rome — a prosecutor in sicily says that an investigation has found "evidence" of contacts between rescue boats run by some humanitarian groups and libya-based migrant smugglers.catania chief prosecutor carmelo zuccaro was quoted as saying in an interview published sunday in la stampa newspaper that the probe has revealed "evidence there's direct contacts between some ngos and human traffickers in libya."nine nongovernmental organizations have operated rescue boats in the mediterranean just outside libya's territorial waters. rescue operations are ultimately coordinated by the italian coast guard under maritime rules requiring help be given to distressed boats.populist italian politicians on sunday demanded to know who's financing the ngos.premier paolo gentiloni has praised ngos' saving li






italian prosecutor: no ngos-migrant smuggler links emerge


rome — a prosecutor based in sicily told italian senators tuesday his office has found no links or contacts between migrant smugglers and humanitarian organizations operating rescue boats in the mediterranean.last month, another sicilian prosecutor raised alarm by saying in interviews he has evidence that some ngos, established specifically to rescue migrants from foundering smugglers' boats, could be in collusion with human traffickers based in libya, from where the vessels are launched.right-wing political parties, notably the anti-migrant northern league, seized on the catania prosecutor's comments to support their contentions that the transferring of hundreds of thousands of migrants rescued at sea to the safety of italian ports over the past few years essentially facilitates the human






italy coast guard says at least 20 dead in migrant capsizing – the denver post


rome — the italian coast guard says at least 20 migrants have died after their vessel capsized off libya’s coast.the coast guard says the ship was carrying about 500 people. at a certain point, either a wave hit or the migrants shifted to one side and about 200 of them ended up in the water.officials intervened and rescued most, but at least 20 bodies were seen. the coast guard, which is coordinating migrant rescues, has dispatched other rescue vessels to the area to try to find any survivors.the incident was one of 15 rescue operations over the past day that have saved some 1,700 people.






libyan coastguard opens fire at migrant boats: ngos | libya news


libyan coastguards opened fire on two boats loaded with refugees while rescue operations were under way in the mediterranean on tuesday, according to ngos at the scene.at around noon, rescue workers from four organisations - the french ngos sos mediterranee and doctors without borders (msf), italian save the children and german jugend rettet - were trying to save refugees when a speedboat labelled with the emblem of the libyan coastguard arrived with four machine guns attached to it.the speedboat approached the rescue operation at high speed, those at the scene told al jazeera on thursday, creating large waves and thereby complicating attempts to bring the refugees aboard rubber dinghies.shortly after, a series of gunshots could be heard coming from the direction of one of the inflatable b






almost 8,300 asylum seekers rescued in mediterranean | news


nearly 8,300 asylum seekers were rescued from unseaworthy smugglers' boats in the mediterranean over the easter weekend, according to ngos and rescue workers.more than 1,400 of the rescued were saved by european border and coastguard agency frontex, which said it was involved in 13 search-and-rescue operations over the past three days.those saved were transferred to ships sailing to southern italy.eu countries to crackdown on people smuggling in libyaa un refugee agency spokeswoman, carlotta sami, tweeted on monday that "rescuers worked incessantly" over friday, saturday and sunday to save those people.on sunday, the bodies of seven people, including a child, were found during the latest rescue operations off the coast of libya, a maltese ngo and the italian coastguard said.since saturday,






aid groups wary of proposed italian rules on migrant rescues


rome (ap) — humanitarian organizations that rescue migrants in the mediterranean are voicing concern over proposed rules to govern their operations that italy has drafted amid accusations that some agencies are complicit with the libyan-based traffickers.rescue boats could be refused port in italy if they don’t sign onto the proposed code of conduct, which the italian government is to present to the nongovernmental organizations in the coming days.michele trainiti, search and rescue coordinator of doctors without borders, told the associated press on friday that the draft rules seem to violate the aid groups’ independence and neutrality and could hamper their ability to rescue migrants.“the fact that some ships may be barred from disembarking in italian ports worries us very much, because






almost 8,300 asylum seekers rescued in mediterranean | news


nearly 8,300 asylum seekers were rescued from unseaworthy smugglers' boats in the mediterranean over the easter weekend, according to ngos and rescue workers.more than 1,400 of the rescued were saved by european border and coast guard agency frontex, which said it was involved in 13 search-and-rescue operations over the past three days.those saved were transferred to ships sailing to southern italy.eu countries to crackdown on people smuggling in libyaa un refugee agency spokeswoman, carlotta sami, tweeted on monday that "rescuers worked incessantly" over friday, saturday and sunday to save those people.on sunday, the bodies of seven people, including a child, were found during the latest rescue operations off the coast of libya, a maltese ngo and the italian coastguard said.since saturday






report: italians seize ngo migrant rescue ship in sicily


rome — the italian news agency ansa says a spanish non-governmental organization's migrant rescue ship has been sequestered in sicily by prosecutors' orders.the seizure took place sunday in pozzallo port, where a day earlier the proactiva open arms' vessel brought 216 migrants it had rescued last week in the mediterranean north of libya.ansa says catania prosecutor carmelo zuccaro is investigating three people for suspected criminal association for illegal immigration, including the commander of the boat.officials of the ngo couldn't immediately be reached for comment. ansa quoted lawyer rosa emanuela lo faro, representing the commander, as saying "i guess they've instituted the crime of solidarity."the ngo has said a libyan coast guard vessel threatened to shoot its rescue dinghies if the






saving lives, 1 day at a time, on the deadly mediterranean


on the mediterranean sea — as usual, it started with a call on a satellite phone from italian rescue officials in rome. they were relaying a distress call they'd received from a migrant smuggling ship adrift somewhere off the coast of libya.on board the golfo azurro, guillermo canardo was taking notes."two boats," he said. "one hundred people in each one."he paused, then asked the question that needed to be asked: "are they (the migrants) still moving?"a fishing trawler-turned-exploration yacht-turned-rescue ship, the 30-year-old golfo azurro is now operated by proactiva open arms, a spanish nonprofit dedicated to rescuing migrants before they are consumed by the unforgiving mediterranean sea.it works the sar zone — the search-and-rescue zone — which starts 12 nautical miles from the libya






europe migrant crisis: un calls for more support for italy


image copyrightepaimage caption about 650 migrants were rescued and brought to the italian port of catania on saturday italy needs more support as it deals with large numbers of migrants crossing the mediterranean from africa, the un's refugee agency has said."what is happening in front of our eyes in italy is an unfolding tragedy," filippo grandi said."this cannot be an italian problem alone," he added.italy has threatened to stop vessels of other countries from bringing migrants to its ports, as it warned the eu the situation was unsustainable.on thursday, the european union's migration commissioner, dimitris avramopoulos, promised more financial support for italy, and urged member states to demonstrate greater solidarity.the interior ministers of france, germany and italy are due to dis






europe migrant crisis: un calls for more support for italy


image copyrightepaimage caption about 650 migrants were rescued and brought to the italian port of catania on saturday italy needs more support as it deals with large numbers of migrants crossing the mediterranean from africa, the un's refugee agency has said."what is happening in front of our eyes in italy is an unfolding tragedy," filippo grandi said."this cannot be an italian problem alone," he added.italy has threatened to stop vessels of other countries from bringing migrants to its ports, as it warned the eu the situation was unsustainable.on thursday, the european union's migration commissioner, dimitris avramopoulos, promised more financial support for italy, and urged member states to demonstrate greater solidarity.the interior ministers of france, germany and italy are due to dis






italy seizes spanish aid vessel in dispute over migrants


rome—italy seized a spanish aid ship that had refused to turn over rescued migrants to a libyan coast guard vessel, an incident that reflects growing tensions over an agreement italy struck with libya last year to stem the flow of refugees.officials on monday seized the boat, operated by proactiva open arms, a spanish nongovernmental organization dedicated to rescuing migrants fleeing libya to italy, after the crew refused to hand over more than 200 migrants to libyan authorities.the ngo said it declined the order because...






who is really responsible for deadly refugee journeys? | refugees


in recent months, a debate has been brewing inside italy and across the european union about ngos that operate in the mediterranean sea between the coasts of sicily and libya to conduct search and rescue operations (sar) to save refugees fleeing africa - where at least 1300 people have drowned attempting the dangerous journey so far this year, according to the iom's missing migrants project.the dispute surrounding sars started in december last year, after a financial times news report alleged that the eu's border agency, frontex, had "accused charities operating in the mediterranean of colluding with people smugglers". the news report, which was based on leaked memos by the border agency, also suggested that frontex believes the lights used by rescue boats act "as a beam for the migrants".






who is really responsible for deadly refugee journeys? | refugees


in recent months, a debate has been brewing inside italy and across the european union about ngos that operate in the mediterranean sea between the coasts of sicily and libya to conduct search and rescue operations (sar) to save refugees fleeing africa - where at least 1300 people have drowned attempting the dangerous journey so far this year, according to the iom's missing migrants project.the dispute surrounding sars started in december last year, after a financial times news report alleged that the eu's border agency, frontex, had "accused charities operating in the mediterranean of colluding with people smugglers". the news report, which was based on leaked memos by the border agency, also suggested that frontex believes the lights used by rescue boats act "as a beam for the migrants".






saving lives, 1 day at a time, on the deadly mediterranean


on the mediterranean sea (ap) — as usual, it started with a call on a satellite phone from italian rescue officials in rome. they were relaying a distress call they’d received from a migrant smuggling ship adrift somewhere off the coast of libya. on board the golfo azurro, guillermo canardo was taking notes.“two boats,” he said. “one hundred people in each one.”he paused, then asked the question that needed to be asked: “are they (the migrants) still moving?”most read stories3-course dinners for $32 starting april 2. a fishing trawler-turned-exploration yacht-turned-rescue ship, the 30-year-old golfo azurro is now operated by proactiva open arms, a spanish nonprofit dedicated to rescuing migrants before they are consumed by the unforgiving mediterranean sea.it works the sar zone — the sear






report: italians seize ngo migrant rescue ship in sicily


rome (ap) — the italian news agency ansa says a spanish non-governmental organization’s migrant rescue ship has been sequestered in sicily by prosecutors’ orders.the seizure took place sunday in pozzallo port, where a day earlier the proactiva open arms’ vessel brought 216 migrants it had rescued last week in the mediterranean north of libya.ansa says catania prosecutor carmelo zuccaro is investigating three people for suspected criminal association for illegal immigration, including the commander of the boat.officials of the ngo couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. ansa quoted lawyer rosa emanuela lo faro, representing the commander, as saying “i guess they’ve instituted the crime of solidarity.”most read nation & world storiesunlimited digital access: $1 for 4 weeksthe ngo has sa






italy seeks more eu help with wave of migrant arrivals


rome (ap) — italy made a formal request for more support from the european union on wednesday as it copes with an increase in migrant rescues, including a reported proposal to limit the types of ships that can offload migrants in italian ports.italy’s ambassador to the eu, maurizio massari, met with eu migration commissioner dimitris avramopoulos as a half-dozen different ships offloaded some of the more than 10,000 migrants rescued in recent days.“discussed with italian ambassador our support after increasing numbers of arrivals in italy,” avramopoulos tweeted.italian news agency ansa said italy was proposing a ban on non-italian flagged rescue ships disembarking migrants in italian ports, though not those participating in the eu’s frontex rescue operation. that would affect mostly europe






2,100 migrants rescued in mediterranean, heading to italy


rome — the italian coast guard says some 2,100 migrants have been rescued at sea to be brought to safety in italy.among those rescued friday and early saturday is a 6-week-old boy, one of seven migrants transferred to a coast guard motorboat to be sped to a medical facility. one body was also recovered.the onset of warmer weather has encouraged even more human traffickers based in libya to launch overcrowded, unseaworthy dinghies or small wooden boats, leaving the migrants to the mercy of the deadly mediterranean sea.besides italian coast guard vessels and a spanish ship, two cargo ships and boats operated by ngos helped in the massive rescue effort.the migrants, most lately from sub-saharan africa, are fleeing war, conflict as well as poverty.






migrant crisis: italy threatens to shut ports


image copyrightgetty imagesimage caption more than 73,000 migrants have landed in italy this year italy has threatened to stop vessels of other countries from bringing migrants to its ports.the warning came as italy's eu representative, maurizio massari, warned in a letter to the bloc the situation had become "unsustainable".prime minister paolo gentiloni has accused other european nations of "looking the other way".an estimated 10,000 people are believed to have attempted the journey from north africa in the past four days.more than 73,000 migrants have landed in italy this year, an increase of 14% on the same period last year.some 2,000 have died or are missing feared drowned, the un's refugee agency says, the vast majority attempting the crossing from libya.libya is a gateway to europe






italy seizes spanish aid vessel in dispute over migrants


rome—italy seized a spanish aid ship that had refused to turn over rescued migrants to a libyan coast guard vessel, an incident that reflects growing tensions over an agreement italy struck with libya last year to stem the flow of refugees.officials on monday seized the boat, operated by proactiva open arms, a spanish nongovernmental organization dedicated to rescuing migrants fleeing libya to italy, after the crew refused to hand over more than 200 migrants to libyan authorities.the ngo said it declined the order because of its concerns about the conditions in which returned migrants are being held in libya.the boat, the open arms, had rescued the migrants from a small vessel that was foundering in international waters in an area of the mediterranean sea where patrols are libya’s responsi






the latest: eu prolongs migrant border controls


rome — the latest on migration issues in europe (all times local):5:45 p.m.the european union says it will allow austria, denmark, germany, sweden and non-eu country norway to prolong id checks at their borders but want the migrant controls phased out by november.the five are members of europe's passport-free travel area. a year ago, as greece struggled to maintain control of its maritime border because of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants, the five introduced id checks for security reasons.they have prolonged them for six months twice since may 14, 2016, but may only do so once more. systematic id checks are banned in the area, known as schengen.eu migration commissioner dimitris avramopoulos said tuesday that controls will be prolonged, but he called on "member states to p






eu: migrant deaths in central mediterranean rise despite aid


brussels — the chief of the european border and coast guard agency says migrant deaths in the mediterranean on the libya-to-italy smuggling route have increased to a record level despite ever more rescue vessels trying to prevent mass drownings.frontex executive director fabrice leggeri said wednesday "we face a kind of sad paradox" that as the international community increases efforts to send more rescue ships close to libya, smuggling rings pack ever more people onto unseaworthy boats and push them out toward the open sea.he said the recorded number of migrant drowning deaths in 2016 — 4,579 — might be much less than the true loss of life. he says this "is tragic and the reasons are well known: the number of migrants now (arriving) on very small dinghies."






auditors warn of shortfalls at greece, italy migrant centers


brussels — migrant centers in greece and italy meant to fast-track the arrival of people seeking sanctuary in europe are overwhelmed and urgently require more experts, particularly to help vulnerable children traveling alone, european union auditors warned tuesday.in a new report, the auditors said that two more centers known as "hotspots" are needed to process migrants in italy and that facilities on greek islands where people arrive from turkey must be improved.in greece, the auditors said, "there are still more migrants arriving at the hotspots than leaving, and they are seriously overcrowded." some children have been held in "restrictive conditions" there for more than three months."this issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency," said hans gustaf wessberg, an auditor responsi






migrant boats: thousands saved off libyan coast over easter


image copyrightreutersimage caption a two-week-old baby was among the passengers on flimsy boats thousands of migrants have been saved from the sea near libya during one of the busiest weekends of the year for rescue workers.more than 2,000 people were rescued on friday and 3,000 on saturday in dozens of separate rescues, the italian coast guard said.but at least 20 drowned as aid workers struggled to rescue more than 1,500 migrants in one ongoing operation.an eight-year-old boy was among the dead, rescue workers said.the migrant offshore aid station (moas) said its rescue started in the early hours of saturday and had continued non-stop into sunday afternoon.the group said it had rescued at least 453 people, but more than 1,000 remained in danger.a reuters photographer on board the phoeni






irish naval ship 'rescues 712 people' off libyan coast | libya news


an irish naval ship has rescued 712 people, including pregnant women and infants, off the coast of the libyan capital of tripoli as part of an international migrant-rescue effort, ireland's defence forces say.the le eithne ship led the rescue of multiple vessels in distress 40km north-west of tripoli throughout sunday.six migrants, including one baby, were revived from states of unconsciousness.the ship will transport the people, including 14 pregnant women and four infants below the age of four months, to a designated "port of safety" to be handed over to italian authorities."i'm very proud to say all lives were saved, no lives were lost. it was a complex operation where lives were at stake at every turn over a full eight-hour period," commander brian fitzgerald told national broadcaster






irish naval ship 'rescues 712 people' off libyan coast | libya news


an irish naval ship has rescued 712 people, including pregnant women and infants, off the coast of the libyan capital of tripoli as part of an international migrant-rescue effort, ireland's defence forces say.the le eithne ship led the rescue of multiple vessels in distress 40km north-west of tripoli throughout sunday.six migrants, including one baby, were revived from states of unconsciousness.the ship will transport the people, including 14 pregnant women and four infants below the age of four months, to a designated "port of safety" to be handed over to italian authorities."i'm very proud to say all lives were saved, no lives were lost. it was a complex operation where lives were at stake at every turn over a full eight-hour period," commander brian fitzgerald told national broadcaster






irish naval ship 'rescues 712 people' off libyan coast | libya news


an irish naval ship has rescued 712 people, including pregnant women and infants, off the coast of the libyan capital of tripoli as part of an international migrant-rescue effort, ireland's defence forces say.the le eithne ship led the rescue of multiple vessels in distress 40km north-west of tripoli throughout sunday.six migrants, including one baby, were revived from states of unconsciousness.the ship will transport the people, including 14 pregnant women and four infants below the age of four months, to a designated "port of safety" to be handed over to italian authorities. read more: african migrants traded in libya's 'slave markets' "i'm very proud to say all lives were saved, no lives were lost. it was a complex operation where lives were at stake at every turn over a full eight-hour






italy refugee crisis: gangs running child prostitution rings | italy


syracuse, italy - we've been on sicily for a week now.my team and i first came to cover the g7 talks, in which us president donald trump successfully fended off an italian proposal for all the countries at the table to treat the refugee crisis in the mediterranean sea as a humanitarian emergency.but we then stayed on to have a look at the crisis now.as it turns out, things are going from bad to worse, with the libyan coastguard, such as it is, involving itself in rescues by boarding dinghies full of refugees and then firing into the air and robbing them, at least according to the victims and ngos.read more: libyan coastguard opened fire at refugee boats: ngos to add insult to injury, the rescuers themselves are now increasingly being blamed for making the crisis worse by being too good at






at least 20 refugees drown due to overloaded vessel | libya news


at least 20 refugees, including young children, have died after their vessel capsized off libya's coast, the italian coastguard says.about 200 people fell off the overloaded vessel that was just 20 nautical miles (37km) from libya when the accident occurred.the crew of the phoenix aid boat, chartered by the malta-based ngo migrant offshore aid station (moas), had begun the rescue and were distributing lifejackets when many of those on deck fell into the water, perhaps knocked off balance by a wave."it's not a scene from a horror movie, it's a real-life tragedy that is taking place today at the gates of europe," said chris catrambone, moas co-founder, who was aboard the phoenix.with the help of an italian coastguard ship and several commercial ships, rescuers raced to drag as many people as






italy threatens to close ports to ngo migrant rescue ships


rome — italy threatened wednesday to close its ports to aid groups rescuing migrants off libya's coast as it struggles to cope with the highest rate of rescues this year, officials said.italy's ambassador to the eu, maurizio massari, raised the issue during a meeting with eu migration commissioner dimitris avramopoulos, as a half-dozen different ships offloaded some of the more than 10,000 migrants rescued in recent days."italy is right that the situation is untenable along the central mediterranean route," avramopoulos said in a statement, adding that other eu members concurred and that the bloc was ready to increase financial assistance to help italy manage the flows.italy, however, is mulling a ban on non-italian flagged rescue ships disembarking migrants in italian ports, though not th






2,100 migrants rescued in mediterranean, heading to italy


rome — some 2,100 migrants have been rescued at sea to be brought to safety in italy, the italian coast guard said saturday.among those rescued friday and early saturday was a 6-week-old boy, one of seven migrants transferred to a coast guard motorboat to be sped to a medical facility. one body was recovered.the onset of warmer weather has encouraged even more human traffickers based in libya to launch overcrowded, unseaworthy dinghies or small wooden boats, leaving migrants to the mercy of the deadly mediterranean sea.besides italian coast guard vessels and a spanish navy ship, two cargo ships and boats operated by ngos helped in the rescue effort.the migrants, most lately from sub-saharan africa, are fleeing war, conflict as well as poverty.spain's defense ministry said migrants were plu






italy refugee crisis: gangs running child prostitution rings | italy


we've been on sicily for a week now.my team and i first came to cover the g7 talks, in which donald trump successfully fended off an italian proposal for all the countries at the table to treat the refugee crisis in the mediterranean as a humanitarian emergency.but we then stayed on to have a look at the crisis now.as it turns out, things are going from bad to worse, with the libyan coastguard, such as it is, involving itself in rescues by boarding dinghies full of refugees and then firing into the air and robbing them, at least according to the victims and ngos.read more: libyan coastguard opened fire at refugee boats: ngos to add insult to injury, the rescuers themselves are now increasingly being blamed for making the crisis worse by being too good at saving people.some bloggers in ital






turkey seizes more than a ton of heroin on board ship


ankara, turkey — turkey's state-run news agency says turkish police and coast guards have seized more than a ton of heroin in a raid on a congo-flagged ship in international waters.anadolu agency said wednesday the heroin was one of the largest amounts seized by turkish authorities in recent years.the turkish forces stopped the commander tide ship in the mediterranean on june 2, acting on a tip that it was carrying drugs destined for turkey, the agency said.the heroin was found hidden in secret compartments and the ship's nine crew members were detained, the report said.the ship was brought to a port in the turkish mediterranean coastal town of marmaris and some 1,000 bags containing the drug were put on display for journalists.






europe migrant crisis: italy threatens to close ports as ministers meet


image copyrightgetty imagesimage caption about 650 migrants were rescued and brought to the italian port of catania on saturday the interior ministers of germany, france and italy are due to meet for crisis talks in paris amid a warning from italy that the influx of migrants into the country is unsustainable.italy has threatened to close its ports and impound rescue ships run by aid agencies carrying people from libya.it needs more support as people cross the mediterranean from africa in large numbers, the un's refugee agency said.over 500,000 migrants have passed through italian ports since 2014.the italian government has demanded action from other countries within the european union following the arrival of 12,000 migrants in the space of just two days last week."what is happening in fro






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