‘Alan Kurdi’ rescue ship picks up another 44 migrants

Migrants from the German rescue ship ‘Alan Kurdi’ arrive on an Armed Forces of Malta vessel at its base in Marsamxett Harbor, Valletta, last week. (Reuters)
Updated 09 July 2019

‘Alan Kurdi’ rescue ship picks up another 44 migrants

  • Malta’s coast guard confirmed that it would transfer the migrants to one of its vessels in international waters
  • The ‘Alan Kurdi’ last week rescued 65 shipwrecked migrants attempting the perilous journey from North Africa

VALLETTA: The migrant rescue boat ‘Alan Kurdi’ has saved another 44 people, including women and infants from their stricken vessel in the Mediterranean, its operator German charity Sea-Eye said on Tuesday.
Malta has agreed to take in those rescued and is sending a vessel to pick them up, the charity said in a statement.
Malta’s coast guard confirmed that it would transfer the migrants to one of its vessels in international waters. Malta’s government did not say whether a deal had been reached for the migrants’ final destination.
The ‘Alan Kurdi’ last week rescued 65 shipwrecked migrants attempting the perilous journey from North Africa, handing them over to Malta after hard-line Interior Minister Matteo Salvini closed Italy’s ports to the vessel.
Sea-Eye said it was alerted to the plight of the latest migrants off the Libyan coast by Tunisian fishermen and a civilian search plane.
The rescued migrants said they had left Zuwara in Libya early Saturday.
Their wooden boat was in Malta’s search and rescue area so Maltese authorities asked a nearby freighter to coordinate the rescue, which told Sea-Eye to take the migrants on board.
“Forty-four people, including four women and three children,” were brought aboard the ‘Alan Kurdi’, Sea-Eye said.
The children are 15 months, three and five years old. The people come from Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Guinea, it said.
“A 15-month-old baby should never have to be in such a life-threatening situation,” said Sea-Eye spokeswoman Carlotta Weibl.
The 65 migrants the Alan Kurdi handed over to Maltese authorities on Sunday have already been sent on to other European Union countries.
An Italian customs vessel on Tuesday separately brought 47 rescued migrants into Sicily’s Pozzallo port, Italian media reported.
The migrants had been headed to Lampedusa, an Italian island between Sicily and Libya, but there was no space for them there as hundreds of migrants continue to arrive by their own means or are rescued by authorities.
Salvini has vowed to close Italian ports to charity rescue ships, which he accuses of helping people smugglers.
Interior ministry figures showed that 395 migrants have arrived in Italy since the end of June.
Italian media reported that this year barely one in 10 migrants and asylum seekers has been brought into Italy by charity vessels — the vast majority arrived by other means.
Salvini on Monday said he wanted to deploy military vessels to stop migrant vessels arriving.
Half of the migrants landed in Pozzallo are Tunisian, Italian media reported. Salvini has written to the Tunisian authorities urging a new bilateral deal on handling migrants, including using ferries to repatriate them.
Italy and Malta have repeatedly criticized Europe’s “case-by-case” approach to migrant rescues, which means shipwreck victims spend days or weeks at sea while countries try to agree where they should go.
The Alan Kurdi, which had been banned from entering Maltese and Italian waters, is the third rescue vessel in a week to make headlines.
Some 41 people were finally allowed to step off migrant rescue charity Mediterranea’s Italian-flagged Alex, which arrived at the port on Saturday in an overnight operation that saw the ship seized by authorities.
The boat’s captain Tommaso Stella is being investigated for allegedly aiding illegal immigration.
Salvini last month issued a decree that would impose fines of up to 50,000 euros ($57,000) for the captain, owner and operator of a vessel “entering Italian territorial waters without authorization.”
Authorities on Lampedusa in late June seized a rescue ship belonging to German aid group Sea-Watch, which had forced its way into port with dozens of rescued migrants on board, and arrested its captain, Carola Rackete.
An Italian judge subsequently ordered her freed, saying she had been acting to save lives, a decision which sparked Salvini’s ire but may have encouraged the Alex crew.
Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, desperate to reach Europe.


Misery mounts as Kashmir marks 100 days of lockdown

Updated 1 min 9 sec ago

Misery mounts as Kashmir marks 100 days of lockdown

  • Normal life continues to elude the valley with several schools and colleges shut, internet services suspended and prepaid mobile services barred
  • More than three months ago, New Delhi repealed Article 370 of the constitution which gave special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir

Kashmir completes 100 days of a lockdown on Wednesday following the abrogation of the special constitutional status of the state on August 5.

Normal life continues to elude the valley with several schools and colleges shut, internet services suspended and prepaid mobile services barred.

More than three months ago, New Delhi repealed Article 370 of the constitution which gave special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.

It also bifurcated the state into two Union Territories (UT) – UT of Ladakh and UT of Jammu and Kashmir. A UT is a centrally administered unit where the power of the local legislature becomes subservient to the will of the lieutenant governor, a bureaucrat appointed by New Delhi.

Major mainstream leaders, including three former chief ministers of the state, continue to remain under house arrest, and nearly 3,000 civilians from different parts of the state are being held in different jails across the country.

The shops in Srinagar and other parts of the valley remain shut with businesses operating for a few hours every day.

“This is our way of resisting,” Qurban Ali, a cloth merchant in the Lal Chowk area of Srinagar, said.

“New Delhi wants us to open the shop normally but people want to resist the dictates of the government. They want to tell the government that we are not happy with the decision to abrogate Article 370, or the bifurcation of the state,” Ali told Arab News.

Ghulam Rasool of Pulwama district in South Kashmir has been struggling to get his 21-year-old son released from a detention center for the past three months.

“The security forces picked up my son in August as a preventive measure fearing protest. He has been put in a jail in Agra in Uttar Pradesh and despite so many entreaties he has not yet been released. It’s really painful to see my young son languishing in jail,” he said.

Professor Sheikh Showkat of the Central University of Kashmir said: “I have not held a single class for more than three months. It feels so painful to be deprived of the pleasure of teaching. The university is only conducting necessary exams without holding classes. Students don’t come to the campus out of fear.”

He told Arab News: “I cannot remain cut off from the internet. There are some important conferences and papers to present and for that I need internet. My daughter also travelled to Delhi last time to download some important study materials.

“Kashmir has been excommunicated in this modern world. We have been deprived of modern means of communication. How long this will go one only Delhi can tell you. We have been pushed into this situation.

“New Delhi took the drastic decision of abrogating the special status without understanding the situation and without knowing the consequences. It’s now 100 days and the government does not know what to do. The irony is that this government has dismantled the structure they built in 70 years. They have also now alienated all those who have been with India. Kashmir has never been internationalized so much as it is now all because of the folly of Delhi.

“With each passing day India looks more distant. The dance of majoritarianism in the mainstream India with almost all wings of the state showing disregard to the secular values, the people in Kashmir feel more nervous.”

Srinagar-based Professor Siddiq Wahid said: “I don’t see any change taking place in the next 100 days also. No reach out to people at all. The government remains in complete denial of the criticism it is facing.

“People will continue with the resistance and they will sustain the civil disobedience against the government.”

Jammu-based Ajay Sadotra of National Conference, the oldest regional party of Kashmir, said: “People are in trouble in the valley. It’s three months still there is no attempt by the government to reach out to the people. Allow democracy to breathe in the valley.”

He told Arab News: “It’s sad that all the important leaders are still in jail and the government is more keen to manipulate media and manage headlines rather than genuinely attempt to restore normality in the state.”

Srinagar-based Dr. Hina Bhat of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said: “It is to the credit of the government that in three months no major casualties have taken place in the valley despite the landmark political decision.

“There is no curfew, no clampdown, no restrictions. If people are not opening shops it is because of the threat from the separatist groups and militants,” she added.

Bhat told Arab News: “Despite the presence of militants in the valley the situation has remained under the control of the government. I feel this is remarkable.

“Right now we cannot think of the democratic process. If you release the political leaders there are chances that they might provoke people to protest and this will lead to killings.

"Elections will take place when there is a little normality. The government is taking steps and I am sure with time life will resume when people see the good works of the government.”