Photo Credit: Associated Press
LUXEMBOURG – Italy is urging reluctant European Union partners to sign up to a plan to share 40,000 refugees, as French police forcibly removed migrants trying to cross their common border.
Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano called Tuesday for solidarity with front-line countries Italy and Greece as tens of thousands of migrants cross the Mediterranean in search of sanctuary in the EU.
He says that Italy is "working to avoid the political bankruptcy of Europe."
Alfano met with fellow EU interior ministers in Luxembourg to debate a plan for obligatory relocation of Syrian and Eritrean refugees to other European countries over the next two years.
Only about 10 of the EU's 28 nations support the plan and even those that do disagree with the calculations for distributing the refugees.
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UN Situation Report (PDF)
As of 4 May, an estimated 14,529 people have arrived in Somalia and Djibouti from Yemen.
Arrivals in Djibouti
In Djibouti IOM staff report that 9,703 people arrived through boats and charter flights since 26 March. 51% of the new arrivals are transiting TCNs, 33% are Yemenis and 16% Djiboutians.
As of 6 May, IOM's Migration Response Center in Obock is hosting 87 Ethiopian migrants, who are scheduled to return to Addis Ababa with IOM in the next days.
As of 7 May, IOM Djibouti has so far assisted 171 TCNs with visa support, transfer, transit accommodation, and onward air and ground transportation.
Arrivals in Somalia
Two more boats arrived in Bosasso, Puntland, on 5 and 6 May, one carrying 832 and one carrying 26 passengers. This brings the total number of arrivals in Puntland to 3,276. IOM is providing water and biscuits/dates to arrivals at the sea port, supporting immigration with registration and, in coordination with Puntland authorities, arranging for transport of those passengers who require further assistance, and their luggage, to a transit centre. 520 individuals were transferred to the transit centre for a maximum 3 day stay for further verification and onward transportation grants. At the transit centre, IOM is supporting those in need with medical assistance and is leading in the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene activities. Two more toilets are currently being constructed by IOM, as well as laundry bays for both female and male beneficiaries and shade for the water tanks. IOM is further providing water trucking, supporting garbage collection and has engaged cleaners to preserve a hygienic environment. Further, IOM is providing fitness for travel checks to those who are traveling onward to their areas of origin. To date, IOM has supported 118 persons with onward transportation and a further 110 individuals, including both Somali nationals and third country nationals, are currently being verified for assistance.
The civil war in Libya has made it easier for smugglers to transport people through the country. As a result, the number of people fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea has surged since last year. So far this year more than 1,800 migrants may have drowned attempting the journey.
Seeking Asylum in Europe
Many refugees sought asylum in countries like Germany and Sweden, which have been relatively open to immigrants. As the refugee surge continues, debate is growing in the European Union about the lack of unified immigration policies and funding for migrant rescue operations.
Human traffickers don’t need to sell the promise of better life abroad. Somalis on Facebook unwittingly do it for them.
Borama, Somaliland - From emotionally-traumatised returned migrants, to the chief immigration commissioner to the top smugglers, one thing keeps turning up in conversation: social media.
It keeps the steady flow of would-be migrants coming, they say, enticing young Somalis to risk it all - even death. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter paint the West as a paradise that should be reached by all means, I was told repeatedly.
The polished and heavily touched-up photos Somalis abroad post on their social media accounts mask the reality, officials complained.
“Our young people all have Facebook on their phones and the pictures they see on there can only be described as paradise on earth,” Somaliland’s Immigration Commissioner, Mohamed Ali Yusuf, told me in his office in the city of Hargeisa.
The 72-year-old father-of-five, who is not a fan of new technology, had to change his ways. He learned to embrace some “new tricks” in a bid to halt the flow of young people leaving Somali shores every day, destined for Europe via the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean.
Funerals were held on Thursday for refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean’s worst-ever migrant disaster as European leaders prepared to discuss measures to stem the flow of those risking their lives to reach the continent.
Ahead of emergency EU talks in Brussels on Thursday afternoon, 24 coffins containing the only bodies recovered from the weekend capsizing that left an estimated 900 dead were laid out for an interfaith memorial service on the grounds of Malta’s main hospital.
Wails from members of Malta’s African community punctuated the ceremony, which included Christian and Muslim prayers and was attended by Malta’s president and prime minister, Italy’s interior minister and the EU’s migration commissioner.
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