As migrant shipwreck survivors remember dead, hundreds more die this year trying to reach Italy

As migrant shipwreck survivors remember dead, hundreds more die this year trying to reach Italy
Migrants arrive at the Lampedusa island, Italy, on Sunday. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 04 October 2021

As migrant shipwreck survivors remember dead, hundreds more die this year trying to reach Italy

As migrant shipwreck survivors remember dead, hundreds more die this year trying to reach Italy
  • Save the Children says 18,000 migrants have perished, gone missing in central Mediterranean in past 8 years 
  • Mayor of Lampedusa calls on EU to honor promises, stop tragedies

ROME: Almost 18,000 people in the past eight years — 1,000 this year only — have lost their lives or gone missing while trying to reach Italy from North Africa, NGO Save the Children said on the anniversary of one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean.

In a report presented on Sunday for the Italian National Day in Remembrance of the Victims of Immigration, Save the Children said that Lampedusa, the tiny Mediterranean island closer to Africa than to the Italian mainland, continues to be one of the main points of arrival and initial reception. Since the beginning of the year, over 6,000 unaccompanied minors have reached Italy via sea, with most of them landing on the island.

“After that tragedy, everyone made promises. The EU pledged they would do their best to stop this chain of death. The facts tell us that no promise has been kept so far. Every day we are informed about more deaths of desperate people who only want to reach Europe to build a better future,” Salvatore Martello, mayor of Lampedusa, told Arab News at the end of a memorial ceremony to remember the 368 migrants who lost their lives in a shipwreck on Oct. 3, 2013.

Many of the dead in the accident were Eritreans and Ethiopians who became trapped on the boat when it overturned or drowned trying to swim ashore. The capsizing occurred just off an uninhabited islet and less than a kilometer from Lampedusa itself.

“I well remember all the authorities who came here for the funeral service looking at the coffins in our airport’s hangar, all promising that such a thing would not be allowed to happen again. Eight years later, I cannot say that that pledge has been honored,” Martello adds.

He repeated his appeal to the EU to “commit to creating a structured, coordinated, and effective search and rescue operation for the central Mediterranean.”

While speaking to Arab News, Martello received a phone call from the chief of the island’s coast guard, informing him that only in the previous night, 748 migrants landed in Lampedusa. A 4-month-old baby was among them.

“You see? It never stops. We welcome everyone here, and my people do their best to help, but if the ‘big shots’ in Brussels and in Rome do not act soon, we will be mourning more and more fatalities. Now, the reception facility is full. We can only accommodate 250 people there. Where do we send those other people?”

The Mediterranean route, he explained, “is one of the most dangerous in the world. People cross miles and miles on ramshackle boats or dinghies. Somebody must do something. We cannot only cry when people die. We must act. States must act. And must act now.” Martello urged for an “appropriate system to receive and provide protection for the most vulnerable, including unaccompanied minors.”

Some survivors of the October 2013 shipwreck attended the memorial ceremony, tossing flowers into the sea. A Catholic priest and an imam participated in the seaside service.

At the end of the ceremony, everyone went for a moment of reflection to the “Gate of Europe,” a monument by Italian artist Mimmo Paladino, located in the southernmost point of Lampedusa and of Europe, to remember the many migrants who died and went missing in the Mediterranean.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said in a message that “Europe can be the landing place for all those who want to escape from slavery.”


Jordan’s FM, US climate envoy discuss environmental protection

Jordan’s FM, US climate envoy discuss environmental protection
Updated 19 sec ago

Jordan’s FM, US climate envoy discuss environmental protection

Jordan’s FM, US climate envoy discuss environmental protection
  • Safadi and Kerry stressed the importance of the strategic partnership between Jordan and the US

LONDON: Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi held talks with US special envoy for climate, John Kerry, on Sunday to discuss environmental protection and confronting climate change.
“Safadi and Kerry stressed the importance of the strategic partnership between the kingdom and the US, and reviewed ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries,” Jordanian state news agency Petra reported.
Safadi praised the aid provided by the US to the Kingdom and its support for economic development, stressing the importance of its leading role in efforts to resolving regional crises and achieve peace and stability.
Kerry said that Jordan was a strong and essential ally of the US, and that his country appreciated the key role and efforts led by King Abdullah II to overcome regional challenges and achieve security, stability and peace.
Kerry reiterated Washington’s support for Jordan, including in the areas of environmental protection, facing the challenges of climate change, and developing clean energy and water sources.
“This engagement with government counterparts aims to accelerate global climate action following the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November,” the US State Department said in a statement.
It added that Kerry would discuss how the region could collaborate to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.


Aboul Gheit: Iran seeks to control Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab

Aboul Gheit: Iran seeks to control Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab
Updated 36 min 34 sec ago

Aboul Gheit: Iran seeks to control Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab

Aboul Gheit: Iran seeks to control Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab
  • Aboul Gheit said that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would trigger an arms race in the region

CAIRO: The Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Aboul Gheit has said that Iran aims to extend its control over the Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab, either directly or through militias it funds.

During his participation in the seventh Rome-Mediterranean Dialogue, held in the Italian capital with the participation of senior officials, experts and economists from countries bordering the shores of the Mediterranean, he pointed to attacks carried out by Iran in the summer of 2019, as well as to the continuing threat posed by the Houthis to navigation in the Red Sea.

The secretary-general added that the stability of navigation in these strategic straits, especially in the transportation of petroleum products, represented a fundamental backbone of the global economy, and that maintaining freedom of navigation without threat was a global priority and not only for the Arab countries bordering it.

He said that Iran’s behavior in the region, and its apparent tendency to dominate and interfere with Arab countries, was behind the difficulty in establishing a security system in the Gulf based on cooperation and the common welfare of the people.

He said that several initiatives had been put forward on this, but the main problem remained a lack of confidence due to Iranian policies that represented a threat to its neighbors.

Aboul Gheit said that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would trigger an arms race in the region. He hoped negotiations would succeed in dissuading Iran from achieving this goal to avoid a deterioration in the current security situation.

He said it was difficult to address the Iranian nuclear program without acknowledging that there was already a nuclear power in the region in Israel, especially in light of its insistence on destroying the two-state solution and wasting opportunities for its implementation.


Explosions heard near Syria-Iraq border, rebels deny blasts inside US base

Explosions heard near Syria-Iraq border, rebels deny blasts inside US base
Updated 42 min 20 sec ago

Explosions heard near Syria-Iraq border, rebels deny blasts inside US base

Explosions heard near Syria-Iraq border, rebels deny blasts inside US base
  • US-backed rebel group Maghawir Al-Thawra say the blasts were part of joint ground and air exercises that began earlier this week
  • The garrison was first set up when Daesh fighters controlled eastern Syria bordering Iraq

DUBAI/AMMAN: Syrian state television reported on Sunday that multiple explosions had been heard inside a US base in the Al-Tanf region near the Iraqi border.
The report was denied, however, by a commander in the US-backed rebel group Maghawir Al-Thawra, whose several hundred fighters work with US troops at the Tanf base, who said the blasts were part of joint ground and air exercises that began earlier this week and did not come from inside the base.
The garrison is located in a strategic area near Syria’s Tanf border crossing with Iraq at the crossroad of a main Baghdad-Damascus highway, Tehran’s main arms supply route by land to Syria and Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah militia.
Several drones attacked the outskirts of the base last October but there were no American casualties, according to US officials.
While it is not common for attacks on the US troops at the outpost, Iranian-backed forces have frequently attacked American troops with drones and rockets in eastern Syria and Iraq. .
Russia and the Syrian government have repeatedly called on Washington to pull its troops from the Tanf base, where it has declared a 55 km (35 mile)-radius “deconfliction zone.”
The garrison was first set up when Daesh fighters controlled eastern Syria bordering Iraq, but since the militants were driven out Tanf has assumed a role as part of a US strategy to contain Iran’s military build-up in eastern Syria.


Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity
Updated 05 December 2021

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity
  • The two discussed their vision of what the relationship between followers of religions should be
  • Last month, Sheikh Al-Tayeb met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the Religious Leaders on Climate Change summit

Cairo: Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, held a meeting in the Vatican with Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to discuss how to implement the provisions of the Document on Human fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.

This joint statement, which was signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Al-Tayeb on Feb. 4, 2019, in Abu Dhabi, includes various proposed solutions from a religious standpoint to the current problems facing the world.

During the meeting Sheikh Al-Tayeb said that “the relationship of Al-Azhar and the Vatican remains an effective and real model for spreading tolerance and peace and combating extremism, hatred, wars and conflicts, and that the path of peace and dialogue is a difficult path, but the path is moving and making efforts,” adding that the world is in urgent need of the values of brotherhood, peaceful coexistence and respect for the other.

He stressed that religious leaders and scholars have a religious and societal duty to confront negative phenomena, especially with regard to moral aspects.

The two discussed their vision of what the relationship between followers of religions should be, and the role that religions should play in our contemporary world. The document seeks to activate dialogue about coexistence among human beings.

Ayuso said that the Grand Imam and His Holiness Pope Francis had the courage to fight battles for the good of humanity, and that the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity was not an easy thing.

But their persistence and sincerity helped to break barriers and repair broken bridges between some Muslims and Christians, and continued the dialogue between Al-Azhar and the Vatican after a rupture of nearly six years. They said they had begun to reap the fruits of this document in a rapprochement not only at the level of official institutions and institutes, but also between individuals among the wider masses.

Ayuso spoke about the great efforts of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity that emerged from the document, noting that this committee includes religious and cultural leaders from different ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds around the world.

He said that even in their diversity the members of the committee represent a group of friends loyal to their humanity, united by their concern to work for mankind and end its suffering. They seek to replace hatred with love and intolerance with dialogue, especially between young people, to ensure healthy relations and a better future for coming generations.

Last month, Sheikh Al-Tayeb met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the Religious Leaders on Climate Change summit, where they said that returning to the teachings of religions is the way to save the world from extremism and division.


Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks

Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks
Updated 05 December 2021

Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks

Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks
  • Israel has been watching with concern as world powers sit down with Iran to jump-start talks on the tattered nuclear deal
  • Talks in Vienna aimed at re-imposing curbs on Iran’s nuclear program restarted last week after a more than five-month hiatus

TEL AVIV: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday urged world powers to take a hard line against Iran in negotiations to curb the country’s nuclear program, as his top defense and intelligence officials headed to Washington amid the flailing talks.
Israel has been watching with concern as world powers sit down with Iran to jump-start talks on the tattered nuclear deal. Iran last week struck its own hard line as talks resumed in Vienna, suggesting everything discussed in previous rounds of diplomacy could be renegotiated. Iran also isn’t slowing down the advances in its atomic program, further raising the stakes in the talks, which are crucial to cooling years of tensions boiling in the wider Mideast.
Talks in Vienna aimed at re-imposing curbs on Iran’s nuclear program restarted last week after a more than five-month hiatus.
Israel has long opposed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, saying it didn’t go far enough to halt the country’s nuclear program and doesn’t address Iran’s military involvement in countries bordering Israel.
“I call on every country negotiating with Iran in Vienna to take a strong line and make it clear to Iran that they cannot enrich uranium and negotiate at the same time,” Bennett told a meeting of his Cabinet. “Iran must begin to pay a price for its violations.”
Israel is not a party to the negotiations but it has made a point of keeping up lines of communication with its European and American allies during the talks, which are set to resume this week.
Israeli spy chief David Barnea headed to Washington late Saturday on a previously unannounced trip and Defense Minister Benny Gantz leaves Wednesday for meetings with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was in London and Paris last week to discuss the talks with Israel’s European allies.