‘Save the Children’ suspends rescue operations in Mediterranean

Migrants, in this file photo, are rescued during an operation off the coast of Libya. (Reuters)
Updated 23 October 2017
0

‘Save the Children’ suspends rescue operations in Mediterranean

ROME: International humanitarian group Save the Children said on Monday it had suspended migrant rescues in the Mediterranean Sea as departures from Libya slow and security conditions worsen.
Save the Children has operated a ship, the Vos Hestia, since September last year, rescuing more than 10,000 migrants from dangerous and overcrowded boats launched by people smugglers.
“For too long, we have been the substitution for the inexistent and inadequate European policies for search and rescue and for hosting migrants,” Save the Children Director-General Valerio Neri said in a statement.
Italian police searched the Vos Hestia on Monday as part of a wider investigation into the role non-government organizations (NGOs) are playing in picking up migrants off the Libya coast and bringing them to Italy.
Save the Children said its decision to halt rescues was already planned before the police search.
Earlier this year, the government asked humanitarian groups to sign a “code of conduct.” The government said the rescuers were providing an incentive for smugglers to put migrants to sea.
Police in August seized a migrant rescue boat operated by a German aid group Jugend Rettet. The chief prosecutor in the Sicilian city of Trapani said he had evidence of encounters between traffickers, who escorted illegal immigrants to the NGO boat, and members of its crew.
Jugend Rettet denied any wrongdoing.
Save the Children said in a statement it was not under investigation and was cooperating with authorities. The documents seized by police on Monday concerned “presumed illegal actions committed by third persons,” it said.
Several months ago, some 10 rescue ships took turns patrolling the North African coast, picking up migrants who reached international waters and bringing them to Italy.
Now only one large ship and a few small ones remain, with many organizations — including Doctors Without Borders — pulling out for various reasons, including security concerns and unhappiness with the attitude of the Italian authorities.
The Libyan Coast Guard, funded and trained by Italy, has taken a hostile stance toward the humanitarian boats in a series of incidents on the high seas.
In August, a Libyan vessel intercepted a charity ship and ordered it to sail to Tripoli or risk being fired on.
Departures from Libya have fallen dramatically since July, when an armed group that had been deeply involved in smuggling from the city of Sabratha began blocking departures.
So far in October sea arrivals to Italy are down more than 75 percent compared with the same month last year.


Eight wounded in China bus knife rampage

Updated 22 June 2018
0

Eight wounded in China bus knife rampage

  • The assault occurred in Xi’an, the former imperial city where tourists flock to see China’s famed Teracotta Army.
  • Mass stabbings are not uncommon in China, which heavily restricts access to firearms. In April a man stabbed nine college students in the same province where Xi’an is located.

BEIJING: A man attacked and wounded eight people Friday in a frenzied knife attack that began on a public bus in northern China, state media said.
The assault occurred in Xi’an, the former imperial city where tourists flock to see China’s famed Teracotta Army.
The suspected attacker was arrested by police, the People’s Daily reported on its Twitter account, posting video of a man being restrained by officers as a siren wailed in the background.
“Suspect that slashed and injured multiple people on and off the bus has been arrested by local police,” the paper wrote.
A video posted on China’s Weibo social networking platform showed harrowing scenes of a woman and a child lying bloodied and visibly unconscious next to the bus.
Local newspaper Huashang Bao, quoting a police note, said the man started attacking people on the bus, including the driver, before exiting the vehicle and assaulting people nearby.
Mass stabbings are not uncommon in China, which heavily restricts access to firearms. In April a man stabbed nine college students in the same province where Xi’an is located.
Two months earlier a man killed a woman and wounded 12 others at a popular Beijing shopping mall.