Hundreds of migrants are believed dead after a smugglers’ boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized off the Libyan coast. Pressure is growing on EU leaders to prevent such tragedies.
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Hundreds of people were detained in an effort to end the recent anti-foreigner violence that has swept South Africa. Renee Montagne talks to David Smith, the Africa correspondent for The Guardian.
An Italian Coast Guard vessel took part in a large search and rescue operation Sunday, after a boat carrying migrants capsized overnight,
The European Union is holding an emergency meeting Monday about the deadly capsizing of a boat crowded with would-be migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. With 28 survivors reported and 24 bodies recovered, only a fraction of the hundreds of people who were reportedly on board are accounted for.
The boat was about 120 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa when it capsized this weekend; it was roughly 60 miles from Libya. Estimates of the number of people who were on the 65-foot craft range from 700 to 950. The boat reportedly capsized after many of its passengers rushed to the same side.
From Rome, NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports:
“One survivor says there were 950 people on board, many locked in the hold by the human traffickers before departure. But Italian authorities say they cannot confirm the numbers on board.
“Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has long been seeking more help and resources from Italy’s European partners, has called for an emergency meeting of EU government leaders.”
Today’s EU meeting in Luxembourg comes as some 1,500 migrants are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year; more than 10,000 have been rescued. The foreign ministers’ discussions are sure to center on who will bear responsibility for patrolling immigration routes and helping those in danger. The EU has run one such program since last fall, when Italy discontinued its larger operation.
This weekend’s disaster stands to eclipse a similar event late in 2013, when 500 migrants had crammed onto a boat that caught fire and sank near Sicily. Officials estimated that up to 300 people died.
“We’ve had one and a half years now to talk about that and discuss that – and plan for that,” says the UN High Commission for Human Rights’ Laurens Jolles. “And only now we hear the EU and governments are all starting to discuss that and say, ‘It’s unacceptable, we have to do something.’”
Many of the smuggling boats have launched from Libya, fueled by a combination of upheaval and a lack of border controls. The passengers are often from a range of North African countries.
“The disaster comes only a week after 400 others were reported dead in a similar capsize near Lampedusa,” as Scott wrote for The Two-Way Sunday.
For a sign of the state of things in Libya, consider that a newspaper headline on Sunday touted the pending return of roadway traffic lights in Benghazi.
“We have what is possibly becoming a failed state at our doorstep. We have criminal gangs having a heyday organizing these trips in rickety boats,” Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tells the BBC. “We need to get the Libyan factions together to form some sort of government of almost national unity.”
One year ago, 16 Nepalis guiding climbers up Mount Everest were swept away by a hanging glacier that had peeled off the mountain. It was the worst single accident in the history of Everest.
Hundreds of would-be migrants from North Africa who were trying to reach Europe are missing and feared drowned after their boat capsized about 120 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Officials say it could be the largest-ever such tragedy on the Mediterranean.
Officials engaged in a major air-and-sea rescue in the Mediterranean say that so far 28 people have been rescued along with the recovery of 24 bodies. As many as 700 are still missing after the overcrowded fishing boat capsized and sank overnight. Although it is not uncommon for such migrant boats to come to grief in the Mediterranean, the sheer loss of life in the latest incident appears to be particularly large.
Adrian Edwards, a spokesman from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, tells NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday that some 20 ships from Italy and Malta, as well as several helicopters were engaged in the search.
“There are many, many bodies in the water.,” Edwards says.
“We are hoping there are survivors among them,” he tells Weekend Edition. “But, it’s really a matter of very great concern,” adding that if the numbers of dead reported are confirmed, “we are looking at the single largest tragedy so far on the Mediterranean.”
The Times of Malta reports that the migrants went overboard when they rushed to one side of the boat to alert a passing ship. A Maltese patrol boat was helping in the rescue effort and the island’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, said: “They are literally trying to find people alive among the dead floating in the water.”
The Associated Press notes: “The capsizing comes amid a wave of migrants trying to leave Libya for Italian shores. So far, at least 900 have died trying this year.”
For many people fleeing North Africa, including the ongoing fighting in Libya, the island of Lampedusa represents the closest outpost of European Union territory from which they hope to move onward and settle elsewhere in the EU.
Reuters writes: “The new deaths fueled calls for a stronger response from Europe to the increasingly deadly migrant crisis playing out in the Mediterranean. International aid groups and Italian authorities have [criticized] Europe’s so-called “Triton” border protection operation, which recently replaced a more comprehensive Italian search-and-rescue mission.
“A tragedy is unfolding in the Mediterranean, and if the EU and the world continue to close their eyes, it will be judged in the harshest terms as it was judged in the past when it closed its eyes to genocides when the comfortable did nothing,” Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was quoted by Reuters as saying.
In February, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres reiterated a call for the European Union to expand operation “Triton.”
The self-declared Islamic State has released a new video purporting to show its followers shooting or beheading some 30 Ethiopian Christians in two separate locations in Libya, as a masked man dressed in black issues a stark warning to the West.
Reuters says of the video, reported by the SITE Intelligence Group, that it “portrays Christians as crusaders out to kill Muslims and then showed about 15 men beheaded on a beach and another group of the same size shot in their heads in scrubland.”
According to Reuters:
“In the latest video, posted on websites supporting IS that are seen as official, a man dressed in black clutching a pistol stood behind some of the victims.
“‘Muslim blood shed under the hands of your religions is not cheap,’ he says, looking at the camera. “To the nation of the cross we are now back again.’”
The Associated Press adds.
“It was not immediately clear who the captives were or when they were captured. It was also not clear how many captives were killed.
“The video bore the official logo of the IS media arm Al-Furqan and resembled previous videos released by the extremist group, including one in February in which IS militants in Libya beheaded 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a beach.”
The IMF and World Bank meet this weekend. Likely on the agenda: the Iran deal, ISIS and Russia. NPR’s Linda Wertheimer talks with Foreign Policy’s David Rothkopf about the state of the global economy.
Like its Central American neighbors, Panama is dealing with a rise in gangs. One hotel developer has taken on several of the gangs in his neighborhood, offering them rehabilitation, jobs and hope.
Riot police spray South Korean protestors with water cannons in front of the main gate to the Gyeongbok Palace, during a rally to commemorate the first anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster in Seoul on Saturday.
Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images
Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images
Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images
A weekend of planned vigils and marches to mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Sewol ferry sinking in South Korea has turned into tense clashes between demonstrators and police.
Seoul police say they put 12,800 riot officers on the streets to manage demonstrations by families of Sewol victims and their supporters, who are demanding a thorough investigation of the ferry disaster that killed 304 people. More than 250 victims were students from a single high school.
Since the disaster, a promised outside investigation into the sinking has yet to begin, nine victims are still unaccounted for and the ferry remains at the bottom of the ocean.
Riot police at the entrance to a subway station in central Seoul.
In Gwanghwamun Square, the symbolic city center where demonstrations have been taking place on-and-off since the April 2014 ferry sinking, a planned sit-in and march to the Blue House, the home of the president, were prevented by police who say demonstrators were illegally protesting. As crowds swelled, officers deployed water cannons to keep demonstrators away from police lines. On Friday and Saturday nights, police used pepper spray on crowds during tense moments — a move Amnesty International is calling an “insult to victims” and illegal.
As of Saturday afternoon local time, police say 22 people have been arrested in the tensions.
Using buses to create a tight perimeter around the heart of central Seoul Saturday, police successfully kept inside the demonstrators, who are in their third day of events commemorating the sinking, and kept out regular citizens trying to move about a normally busy, tourist-filled part of the city.
Police also shut down major arteries for traffic and a central subway station, bringing commerce to a halt in South Korea’s capital.
Hae Ryun Kang contributed reporting.
David Greene talks to David Wessel about whether Greece will receive more loans in exchange for promises to overhaul its economy. Wessel is director of the Hutchins Center at the Brookings Institution