UN rebukes Europe for failing to allow rescued Arab migrants to land

Photo showing Syrians gather at a departure point prior to being evacuated from the rebel-held town of Rastan, in Syria’s central Homs province, in a convoy of buses, Rastan, Homs, May 7, 2018. (AFP/File)
Updated 22 January 2019
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UN rebukes Europe for failing to allow rescued Arab migrants to land

  • Private rescue ships have been restricted from conducting search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean
  • Libya, wracked by violence, is no refuge, the UNHCR said

GENEVA: UN aid agencies criticized European countries on Tuesday for not allowing migrants to disembark at safe ports, after more than 140 people rescued at sea were taken to a detention center in Misrata, Libya.

An estimated 170 migrants were lost in the Mediterranean in two incidents involving dinghies that left from Libya and Morocco, migrant organizations said on Saturday.

In all, 203 passengers have drowned at sea trying to reach Europe in January; 4,883 have arrived, mainly in Spain, Greece and Italy, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

Private rescue ships have been restricted from conducting search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, putting more lives unnecessarily at risk, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.

“IOM confirmed yesterday (Monday) that the Sierra Leonean flagged cargo vessel Lady Sham returned 144 rescued migrants to Libya. It remains unclear when and from where these individuals departed,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told a Geneva briefing.

“IOM staff counted 26 women and four children among those rescued and taken to a detention center in Misrata,” he said.

Libya, wracked by violence, is no refuge, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

“In Libya’s current context, where outbreaks of violence and widespread human rights violations prevail, no rescued refugees and migrants should be returned there,” said UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley.

“It has been well-documented at this point that the people in these detention centers face pretty appalling treatment, many report going hungry for days on end, not being able to receive dire urgent medical care that they require; others allege to have been tortured,” he said.

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister, who has closed off Italian ports to humanitarian rescue vessels since a populist government came to power in mid-2018, has said the ports would remain closed to deter human traffickers.

UNHCR denounced “politicking around sea rescues” by European states that have restricted aid groups from conducting missions.

“Currently, rescue at sea has been taken hostage by politics... decisive leadership that taps into fundamental values of humanity and compassion is sorely needed,” Yaxley said.


How Meir Kahane’s toxic legacy poisoned the Palestinian peace process

Updated 22 April 2019
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How Meir Kahane’s toxic legacy poisoned the Palestinian peace process

  • Brooklyn-born rabbi who demanded forced emigration of Arabs and inspired Israel’s far right is latest subject of Arab News ‘Preachers of Hate’ series
  • As a member of the Israeli parliament, Kahane proposed laws to strip Arabs of citizenship and force their emigration

JEDDAH: As Israel’s most right-wing government in living memory prepares to take office, the outlook for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process has rarely been more dismal.

After his narrow election victory this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is clinging to office by assembling a coalition of Knesset members with no interest in peace. They range from far-right ultra Zionists to overt racists. Many, in particular the Otzma Yehudit, or “Jewish Power” party, are acolytes of Meir Kahane — a Brooklyn-born rabbi who co-founded the militant Jewish Defense League in 1968,  joined the West Bank settler movement and established an extremist Israeli political party.

It is because of this toxic legacy that Kahane is the subject today of Preachers of Hate — the Arab News series that exposes extremist clerics of all religions and nationalities, places their words and deeds in context, and explains their malign influence on those who follow them.

As a member of the Knesset, Kahane proposed laws to strip Arabs of citizenship and force their emigration. 

In the end he proved too extreme even for the Israeli far right; he was disqualified from running for office, and was eventually assassinated in New York in 1990.

Kahane’s hatred lives on, however, in Israel’s continuing rejection of the Palestinian people’s entitlement to basic human dignity, far less a meaningful peace process and an independent state.

As the leading academic and Arab News columnist Yossi Mekelberg writes today: “Few people have contaminated the discourse within Israel with sheer hatred and anti-Arab bigotry as much as Meir Kahane.”

 

Also Read: Meir Kahane: A torch to fuel anti-Arab hatred