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Frontex: “Triton will extend to 139 Nm south of Sicily”

Defence/Europe di

Frontex’s operation area will expand during this summer. Moreover, 3 airplanes, 6 Offshore Patrol Vessels, 12 patrol boats, 2 helicopters, 9 debriefing and 6 screening teams will make avaible to Triton.

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“We have dramatically increased the deployment levels in the Central Mediterranean to support the Italian authorities in controlling its sea borders and in saving lives, too many of which have already been tragically lost this year – Frontex’s Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said. The role of the debriefing officers is particularly important because they collect intelligence about the criminals operating in Libya and other countries of transit. In this way Frontex is assisting the Italian authorities and Europol in their investigations and efforts to dismantle the smuggling networks preying on desperate people”, he added.

After funding’s increasing decided by the last European Council, Triton in Italy and Poseidon Sea in Greece will be stand to Eur 38 and 18 million by the European Commission. And it will be boosted Frontex with further Eur 45 million for both operations from next year.

26 European countries will equip Triton with their experts and technical equipment: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.
Giacomo Pratali

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Libya: Tobruk bombed oil tanker off the coast of Sirte

Defence/Europe/Middle East - Africa di

New military action against a vessel, after Turkish merchant ship’s attack. According to Gb intelligence’s report, foreign fighters pass through France and Italy to reach Lybia.

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Still a bombing, this time against an oil tanker near Sirte. After the attack on a merchant turkish on May 11, the Tobruk government’s fighters hit the ship was carrying oil to a terrorist group’s powerhouse, close theTripoli government. Moreover, vessel has suspected to have arms for rebels. Two crew members were injured.

Meanwhile, according to the report published by the British intelligence, foreign fighters have developed a new strategy to enlist in the Islamic state in Libya. To avoid the strict airport controls, these aspiring jihadists arrive in France by sea. And, once in Italy, they left reached Tunis by ferry. Then, reach Derna and Sirte, town controlled by Isis.

The other hot front is immigration. Last Wednesday, Tobruk government sent letter to the United Nations, where it opens a joint action with the European Union “to develop an action plan to address the crisis of immigrants in the Mediterranean”.

A substantial admission of “Lybia’s failure to reduce illegal migration”. But also an important cho, choice, whichsatisfy what the UN resolution on the subject should say: no to the bombing and yes to the inspection of boats before they left Libya.

According to diplomatic sources, this mission should have all Libyan parties’ approval and, therefore, also the Tripoli government. So the mission of the mediator Bernardino Leon to seach an national unity agreement is crucial.

Therefore, Libya’s future and the migration issue are related. “Eu’s choice to operations at sea to dismantle criminal networks and trafficking in human beings in the Mediterranean. The agreement between the two governments is essential”, Eu High Representative Federica Mogherini said after summit with Un in New York.

The political match inside the Security Council will be decisive in the coming days. Although outcome may already be written. Russia is the only one permanent member which dissents with a military operation. But the Kremlin, as well as the US, Britain, France and China, have given their agreement to an international police who, with a solid legal basis, give the “opportunity to inspect, seize and neutralize boats”, the chapter 7 of the UN Charter said.
Giacomo Pratali

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Moas, Xuereb: “Immigration in Mediterrean sea is an International issue that requires a Global solution”

Europe di

Immigration has become an International issue. The European Union and Onu try to find a solution to this emergency because Italy and Malta can’t be left alone. To talk about these questions, European Affairs has interviewed Martin Xuereb, Director of Migrants Offshore Aid Station (Moas).

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When and why was Moas founded?

“Moas was setup in 2014 in Malta. The idea came to Regina and Christopher Catambrone after that 400 migrants drowned close to Lampedusa during the summer of 2013. After the visit of the Pope in Lampedusa, again in 2013, when he made an appeal to help these people in any possible way, Regina and Christopher had the spark. They started thinking about an organization to save lives in Mediterranean context because none deserves to die out at sea. I became involved in February of 2015, when they proposed this project to me to help, aid and save migrants’ lives”. We are a private entity and we depend on the donations people make. We hope that our message, that life is precious no matter who the person is, ispires others to donate.

 

What’s yours working activity?

“We started this project last year. We went out at sea where after a 16-day operation we saved 3000 people. We came back in September and October. At the end of October, we started thinking about an operation in 2015. Now, one thing that is very different from 2014, it’s our partnership with Msf. They have taken over and provided host rescue assistance. Moas has a 40 metre boat (Phoenix). Again, it’s two Remote Piloted Aircraft and two RHIBs (rigid-hulled inflatable boats) that can react and fly if there is higher requirement of information: they are coordinated by the Rescue Coordination Center. Then, we have two dinghies that can be deployed if there is a boat out at sea that needs assistance. The choice to take migrants on board is taken in coordination with the Rescue Coordination Centre. When migrants are on boats, Msf, with their doctors , nurses and logistics thing will take over to provide them with medical care and to feed them”.

 

How are competences learned during humanitarian rescues on the high seas important?

“Searching rescue is very challenging. You need capability, knowledge and attitude to most risk. Obviously, you need to work for the love of it, but more importantly you need to be able to do professionally rescues because we are dealing with people’s lives”.
What were results in the last year?

“3000 people were saved in 60 days of operation in 2014. In 2015, starting from May 2nd, we have rescued 1,441people, from unseaworthy boats in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. MOAS carried out six separate rescue missions, providing shelter and lifejackets to 106 children, 211 women and 1,124 men on board the 40-metre (130 ft.) vessel M.Y. Phoenix”.

 

What institutions and entities you are collaborating with?

“First of all is Rome’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre. Then, we are receiving the support of the Rescue Coordination Centre in Malta. They have the responsibility to coordinate rescue missions and we are happy to receive tasks from them. Their relationship is very positive. They’re very much aware of our capability, of the fact that we do not only have boats out at sea, but we also have drones and clinic on board. While like every other boat out there, we have legal obligation to assist boats in distress: we have made it our mission. The difference between us and merchant ships is that our mission is that of saving lives.
After European Council tripled Triton’s funding, have immigration became an European issue?

“I think that this is an International issue that requires a Global solution. We are saying that Europe should not be weak. We would want to see a wider perspective. I need to say this because everyone needs to be aware that most of the rescues are being conducted in International waters. Why should Italy take responsability by itself when rescues are conducted in International waters? Rescue missions should be coordinated by someone else. We think that people should come to the rescue: not only states, but also private companies and entities. As Moas, in conjunction with Msf, we want to bring on the table a new modus operandi”.
Giacomo Pratali

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Libya, Gentiloni: “No military operation”

Europe/Middle East - Africa di

Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs turned down a Un campaign. But Libyan national unity looks faraway because of Haftar’s enmity.

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“No military intervention has been decided either by the EU or by the UN Security Council”. This Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni said, during Italian television show Agorà, denying armed operation conducted at Libyan coasts by International contingent.

Moreover, Gentiloni stated that any positive resolution of the United Nations Monday, May 18, “only authorizes the confiscation and seizure of boats at sea and the identification through intelligence in territorial waters before they embarked the migrants”. This is because “we have to fight organized crime make it more bearable conditions in the countries of origin.” All European partners “have to share it: but some progress might has been made”, he explained again.

If the Tripoli government Tripoli could accept the International solution, Tobruk government didn’t agree. Khalifa Haftar, Chief of the Armed Forces, said he’s worried about a possible “military action against our shores.” In addition, last Monday he agreed the bombing of a Turkish merchant ship, guilty of “failing to comply with orders not to approach the city of Derna,” the former CIA agent said. After a ship’s crew is killed, Ankara has said that it’ll recur in International court.

This context is not supporting exhausting negotiations conducted over two months since UN delegate Bernardino Leon. His optimism about an agreement between governments and factions clashes with Libyan reality.

Libya reality mean civil war. A civil war which involves even children. After 3 deaths a few days ago, another 7 kids were killed a few hours ago by a mortar round in the city of Benghazi. According to Associated Press, it would be attributable to Islamic State and Ansar al Sharia and it’s involved 8 victims, all from the same family.
Giacomo Pratali

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Migrants: Renzi-Ban Ki Moon summit

Defence/Europe/Policy di

The Italian prime minister leaned on the UN Secretary General for international police operation against the boats from Libya.

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“Stopping human traffickers in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe is an absolute priority, and we count on UN support for this”, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said during the summit with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon EU High Foreign Representative Federica Mogherini. They met on board the San Giusto in Sicily Channel because “I want to physically show him what Italy is doing”, Renzi reiterated.

Migrants slaughter and many landings planned in the coming months made this meeting necessary. After more funding to Triton operation, set last Thursday by the European Council, Italian premier, supported by France, Great Britain and Spain, wishes for an “international police operation” aimed at destroying vessels.

Ban Ki Moon told about an “humanitarian emergency which entire International Community have to answer defending the asylum right. While regarding to Lybian context, Un Secretary General said that “there are no alternatives to dialogue on Libya. Special UN representative Bernardino Leon and his team are following to work with the Libyan sides involved to help them reach together a compromise”, he ended.
Giacomo Pratali

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Eu, immigration crisis: more funding to Triton operation

Defence/Europe di

European Council decided to triple Triton operation funding. But Northern countries, like Great Britain, have denied to accept asylum seekers.

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€120m to support Triton and Poseidon operations. European Council have decided to increase funds to Mare Nostrum level on 23rd April. A choice which satisfied in half Italy because James Cameron, Angela Merkel and Francoise Hollande, in the previous summit, will render army assistance but will not receive asylum seekers. The Northern Europe leader have asserted that there is no common immigrant policy.

About a possible military operation in Libya, Merkel said it could based only on international law and United Nations resolutions. While European Council President Donald Tusk said leaders had asked EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini “to propose actions in order to capture and destroy the smugglers’ vessels before they can be used”.

After more than 800 died last Sunday ad several migrants who arrived to Italy from Libya, Europe lost the opportunity of a common immigration policy. Northern and Southern nations have different point of views.

Even about Mare Nostrum operation, ended last October, received different opinions. For some Eu members it was too expensive and stimulated more immigration. But Human Rights groups and Italian point of view are not in agreement because new Triton plan is “contributing to a dramatic increase in migrant and refugee deaths”.

 

Giacomo Pratali

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