Displaying items by tag: Mediterranean
An official In Catania, Sicily, called the situation ‘very critical’. Streets are completely flooded, and a red alert - the highest level warning - has been issued for flooding in northeast Sicily and the southwest region of Calabria. A depression on the Mediterranean is causing disturbed weather conditions in southern Italy. Over two feet of rain fell in half a day - never seen before. While storms continue, a Medicane (rare Mediterranean hurricane producing 5 metre waves) meanders south, with 150mm of rain predicted for Friday with localized areas receiving higher amounts. Schools and businesses are closed, and people are advised to stay indoors and banned from areas prone to landslides. Fire and rescue have had hundreds of callouts in one day. See alsowww.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-59048809
Greece and Turkey were on the verge of military confrontation last August, after Turkey launched its seismic survey ship and a small naval fleet to explore for undersea oil and gas in Eastern Mediterranean waters which Greece claims as part of its exclusion zone, but Turkey disputes this. Although these zones do not entail the absolute sovereignty that territorial waters do, they give countries rights of exploration and exploitation of mineral and living resources. Last week, Greece doubled the extent of its western territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to twelve nautical miles - the maximum allowed by the UN. The possibility of conflict has alarmed both NATO, of which Greece and Turkey are members, and the EU. However, on 25 January Greece and Turkey announced they will begin exploratory talks in Istanbul, with the aim of setting maritime boundaries.
There are currently two rival governments in Libya who are unable to find common ground while large parts of the country are run by IS. The dreadful security situation is the main reason for the growing migrant crisis, as traffickers turn Libya into a launchpad for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the North Africa and Middle East violence across the Mediterranean Sea. Smugglers have moved hundreds of thousands of migrants into Europe. By December 2017 there were an estimated 400,000 to 700,000 migrants in over 40 detention camps across Libya. People trapped in detention centres are beaten and live in inhumane conditions, while more than 3,100 migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya died last year. Meanwhile Libyan coastguards rescued 152 immigrants on two boats and another 80 on 10 June, with sanctions being imposed on six human traffickers. See https://www.libyaobserver.ly/news/libyas-coast-guard-rescues-over-230-illegal-immigrants-western-shores
Two French pilots were not content with doing nothing about the annual tragedy of hundreds perishing in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe in small makeshift boats. José Benavente and Benoît Micolon invested all their €130,000 savings to buy a light plane and establish the non-profit organisation Pilotes Volontaires to provide aerial observation support to the non-governmental organisations carrying out rescue operations in a part of the Mediterranean where over 3,000 people die each year. Based in Malta, they will be attached to a rescue plan already in place and coordinated by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome, and be in strict contact with all organisations in the area.
This year, 2,800 refugees and migrants have perished in the Mediterranean, while countless others died crossing the Sahel desert. The UN Secretary General said there is displacement, and discrimination against refugees and increasing xenophobia that needs addressing. There is a need to re-establish the integrity of the refugee protection regime on both sides of the Mediterranean. Challenges facing the region include illicit trade in narcotics, weapons and petroleum products, refugees and migrants managed by smugglers, traffickers, and maritime pirates. (The Mediterranean Sea provides economic resources of hydrocarbons, fish stocks and invaluable trade routes.) But its benefits depend on stability and security cooperation.
Italy's coastguard reports that at least 34 migrants (some of them children) have drowned off the Libyan coast. The overcrowded boat was carrying about 500 migrants when it listed, sending about 200 people into the water, and triggering a frantic search for survivors. Good weather has prompted an increase in the number of migrants leaving Libya for Italy. The waters are busy with Italian and Libyan coastguard boats, humanitarian vessels, and even scavenger boats hoping to recover abandoned equipment. An NGO reported a Libyan coastguard vessel firing gunshots as it conducted a rescue. The boat was already carrying migrants, presumably picked up from other vessels, who panicked and threw themselves overboard, only to be shot at. ‘We cannot say whether and how many dead there were,’ the 25-year-old captain, named Jonas, was quoted as saying. ‘We had to be careful not to get a bullet ourselves. We are speechless against this crude violence.’