3 migrant girls missing as boat sinks off Greece

Migrants sit at a naval base after being rescued by the Libyan coast guard in Tripoli, on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 04 February 2019

3 migrant girls missing as boat sinks off Greece

  • The World Health Organization has urged Europe to guarantee migrants better access to health care

THESSALONIKI, Greece: Greek police say four migrants, including three girls, are believed missing since an inflatable boat they used to cross a river from Turkey into Greece was punctured by a tree branch.
A search was underway on Sunday for the suspected migrants.
Twelve people overall were in a dinghy that sank on Saturday. Police found eight Iraqi migrants — five adults, two boys and a girl — on a rock outcropping in the middle of the Evros River, which divides Greece and Turkey.
On questioning, police were told that a tree branch had punctured the migrants’ inflatable boat and that four of the original 12 passengers were missing. Eight of them managed to swim to safety and alerted the authorities.
A police search has recovered the boat with the migrants’ belongings, but there have been no signs of the missing. The father of the three girls is among the survivors, as are two of their siblings, a girl and a boy.
The Evros River has seen increased migrant traffic since Greek and EU naval patrols intensified in the Aegean in 2016.
Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas in October said numbers had increased dramatically, from more than 3,000 in 2016 to 5,500 in 2017 and some 12,000 up to that point last year.
Migration is among the issues to be discussed during a visit to Turkey next week by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Libyan coast
On Sunday, three migrants died and about 15 went missing off the Libyan coast, the Italian navy said after staging a rescue operation in the Mediterranean.
The navy intervened and a helicopter rescued three people suffering from hypothermia who were flown to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, Adm. Fabio Agostini said.
This was after Italian air force pilots “spotted a dinghy in distress carrying about 20 people,” he told Italian television in an interview tweeted by the navy.
A Red Crescent spokesman meanwhile said 16 bodies had been found on the beaches of the Libyan city of Sirte between Jan. 2 and 15.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 83 people have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean.
It said the number of migrants and refugees landing on European shores had almost doubled in the first 16 days of this year to 4,216 against 2,365 over the same period in 2018.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged Europe to guarantee migrants better access to health care.
“The most important is the access to health services. To improve their health, it is important to fill the gap for access to basic care,” Santino Severoni, the head of the WHO’s migration and health program, told AFP.
In WHO’s Europe region, which covers 53 countries, migrants represent almost 10 percent of the population, or 90.7 million of 920 million inhabitants.
But the proportion of migrants varies widely from country to country, accounting for 45 percent of Malta’s population to just 2 percent in Albania.
Depending on the country and migrant status, they may enjoy full access to the health care system or none at all.
In 15 European countries, such as Austria, Turkey and Britain, asylum seekers have access to the same care as the local population, whereas in Germany and Hungary they are only entitled to emergency care.
In mid-November, a fishing vessel stolen from the harbor was intercepted with migrants aboard off the southern English coast.
A second stolen vessel was stopped with 16 migrants aboard on Dec. 23 just after making it out to sea from Boulogne harbor.
Britain and France have agreed to boost cooperation to try to stop the increase in numbers, which began in October, the Britain’s Home Office said Sunday.

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Australia plans to censor extremist online content

Updated 26 August 2019

Australia plans to censor extremist online content

  • The country will create a 24/7 Crisis Coordination Center for monitoring and censorship
  • Australia earlier set up a task force with tech giants to address spread of extremist material online

SYDNEY: Australia plans to block websites to stop the spread of extreme content during “crisis events,” the country’s prime minister has said.
Speaking from the G7 in Biarritz Sunday, Scott Morrison said the measures were needed in response to the deadly attack on two New Zealand mosques in March.
The live-streamed murder of 51 worshippers “demonstrated how digital platforms and websites can be exploited to host extreme violent and terrorist content,” he said in a statement.
“That type of abhorrent material has no place in Australia, and we are doing everything we can to deny terrorists the opportunity to glorify their crimes, including taking action locally and globally.”
Under the measures, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner would work with companies to restrict access to domains propagating terrorist material.
A new 24/7 Crisis Coordination Center will be tasked with monitoring terror-related incidents and extremely violent events for censorship.
In the wake of the Christchurch attack, Australia set up a task force with global tech giants like Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Microsoft and Twitter to address the spread of extremist material online.
It is not yet clear how the measures will be enforced. Morrison has previously suggested that legislation may come if technology companies do not cooperate.