Refugee tragedies continue off Libya


Hand of drowned refugee, Reuters photo

Dutch NOS TV reports today that the dead bodies of drowned refugees keep washing up on the beach of Zuwara in Libya. The first dead bodies there had been found on Thursday. By now, 148 drowned people have been found.

What a contrast to when I was at a beach in Libya in 2006, and found only cuttlefish cuttlebones and bivalve seashells.

According to Wikipedia, Zuwara is ‘famous for its beautiful beaches and abundant seafood’. …

Report: Over 130 Migrant Bodies Wash Ashore In Libya. About three-quarters of the migrants were women and there were at least five children.
06/05/2016 09:11 am ET: here.

Another NOS TV report today says that ‘the Libyan government’ will not accept refugees sent back by European countries. The report is about the government of Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, one of three governments in Libya (not counting the internationally not recognized ‘Islamic state’ of ISIS). Fayez Sarraj says there won’t be a deal with the European Union like the European Union made with the Turkish government about refoulement of refugees.

From the NOS report (translated):

German media reported earlier that the EU speaks with Libya about setting up camps for refugees in Libya itself.

This refers to, eg, a 29 April 2016 report in German weekly Der Spiegel, called (translated):

Planned Deal: EU mulls having migrant prisons in Libya

So, apparently, as prisons are for criminals, it now seems to be a crime to flee the bloody ‘humanitarian’ wars of NATO.

Refugees help German flood disaster victims


This video says about itself:

Refugees spent Halloween night at Austrian-German border

1 November 2015

Hundreds of refugees waited at the Austrian-German border at the bridge between Braunau and Simbach am Inn last night ready to cross into Germany.

That was then. Today, refugee news from Simbach, similar to when there was flooding in England.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Refugees bailing out cellars in Germany

Today, 17:29

In Germany, refugees help with clearing debris in collapsed buildings, bailing out basements and cleaning streets and houses. Eg in the southern German town of Simbach am Inn in Bavaria, dozens of refugees offered their help after the high water had wreaked havoc.

The help is gladly accepted, says Mayor Klaus Schmid. “We can use every helping hand. Without volunteers we would not be able to get it done.”

Among the helping refugees are many Syrians. One of them, Mouath, says he is happy that he can do something in return. “We have received so much help from the people in Simbach. We can now give something in return, which is good.”

“We mourn along”

Feallou Diob [from Africa] followed the news about the flooding on the radio. “It’s a major disaster. We heard that there are seven deaths. We mourn along, and therefore we decided to help.

The municipality receives all requests for aid and coordinates assistance. In minivans volunteers are brought to where the need is greatest.

Incidentally, there is also help from neighboring Austria. Three women from nearby Braunau have crossed the border. “We can not stay at home and let our neighbors drown.” They have helped in clearing a basement of a printing business which was flooded.

Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau. Good to read that today, people from there are better than Hitler, or than present day extreme right German politicians who want to shoot refugee women and children.

From DPA news agency today:

Naja Al Hassa, a 30-year-old Syrian, was one of 25 refugees helping to clean up the small town of Simbach am Inn after floods ravaged large parts of southern Germany on Wednesday.

“We have received so much help from the people of Simbach am Inn, now we can give something back,” Al Hassa said. “That feels good.”

Simbach am Inn was one of several Bavarian cities hit hard by torrential downpours and flooding that left six people dead, with rescue teams still searching for at least three missing people.

The refugees said they want to be a part of the community and feel closer to this goal shoveling dirt alongside city residents. “We know what it means to live in a war zone and what it’s like to lose your home,” Al Hassa said.

Jana Kirchner, whose arcade was completely destroyed by the floods, said she thinks this is the best way for these refugees to integrate. “They can even learn a few words of German in the process,” Kirchner said.

Despite being sore and covered from head to toe in mud, the refugees remain in high spirits. Kirchner said the refugees’ cheerful mood keeps her spirits up. It’s an impressive feat when surveying the damage and work needed to rid the streets of ankle-deep mud.

Meanwhile in the small city of Braunsbach, at least 46 refugees, both men and women, have stepped up to help volunteer staff and residents clean or unload relief supplies, according to council member Danica Goehler.

The mass deaths of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea has reached a new, grim record over the first five months of 2016. According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), at least 2,510 refugees drowned between January and May during their attempts to cross to Europe. The European governments and European Union bear full responsibility for turning the Mediterranean into a mass graveyard for refugees: here.

Over 700 refugees drown in Mediterranean


This video says about itself:

25 May 2016

More refugees are trying to reach Europe from Libya in dangerous and overcrowded boats. On Wednesday, the Italian navy said it rescued 550 people from one boat that started tipping over as the operation began. At least five people drowned.

Al Jazeera’s Caroline Malone explains.

By Laura Tiernan:

Over 700 refugees drown in Mediterranean shipwrecks

30 May 2016

More than 700 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea since Wednesday attempting to reach Europe from Libya. It is the single deadliest week for refugee drownings this year, according to the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR.

Three shipwrecks in just three days account for most of the week’s enormous death toll. Other agencies, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), have estimated more than 900 deaths. “We will never know exact numbers,” MSF tweeted on Sunday, “Around 900 people may have died in the Central Mediterranean in the last week alone. Europe, this is unbearable.”

Carlotta Sami, a spokesperson for the UNHCR, has confirmed an estimated 100 people are missing after an unseaworthy vessel capsized on Wednesday. Horrifying images of the boat tipping over, with hundreds of terrified asylum seekers thrown into the sea, were captured on video by the Italian Navy.

Sami told the Associated Press that another 550 people are feared dead after another boat carrying refugees capsized the next day. The vessel reportedly left the Libyan port of Sabratha on Wednesday, with 670 refugees on board.

A third shipwreck occurred on Friday, during which 135 people were rescued and at least 45 bodies were recovered—taking the overall death toll to 700. But refugees who survived the incident say many more are missing.

The shipwrecks account for the largest loss of life in the Mediterranean since April 2015, when a single boat capsized killing 800 people trapped inside.

The death of hundreds of refugees in the Mediterranean is not only a tragedy, it is a crime. The governments in the US, Germany, Greece, Italy and other European countries, as well as the European Union, bear principal responsibility.

The numbers of asylum seekers fleeing to Europe in unseaworthy vessels is increasing due to vicious anti-migrant controls that have blocked routes to Europe via the Balkans. This includes the deal reached in March with Turkey creating a “Fortress Europe,” aimed at cutting off lifelines to those fleeing wars conducted by the European powers and the United States that have devastated entire countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

As a result, according to Italian authorities, the number of refugees rescued this week reached 13,000. On Saturday alone, a flotilla of ships saved 668 people from boats off the southern coast. Last week, over 4,000 migrants were rescued at sea in just one day.

The UNHCR’s update provided new information about Thursday’s deadliest sinking. Initial reports only took into account the missing and dead from a smaller, powered boat. Sami told AFP that the refugees rescued from the smaller vessel said the boat that sank did not have an engine and was being towed by another equally packed smuggling boat before it capsized.

AFP reports that Italian police corroborated the UN account, based on their own interviews with survivors, though the numbers cited do not precisely tally. According to survivors, the boat “started taking on water after about eight hours of navigation.” An attempt to bail it out “with a line of migrants passing a few five-litre bailing cans” failed:

“At that point, the commander of the first smuggler’s boat ordered the tow rope to be cut to the sinking boat. The migrants on the top deck jumped into the sea, while those below deck, estimated at 300, sank with the ship, police said. Of those who jumped into the sea, just 90 were rescued.”

Giovanna Di Benedetto, a spokeswoman for Save the Children, said, “There were many women and children on board. We collected testimony from several of those rescued from both boats. They all say they saw the same thing.”

The Independent reports a Libyan naval spokesman, Col. Ayoub Gassim, saying its own coastguard had rescued 766 refugees in two operations that took place on Thursday. They were found in two groups: 550 near the western coast city of Sabratha and another 216 off the coastal city of Zwara. Gassim said two boats were also found empty in the area between the two Libyan cities, and only four bodies had been retrieved. The death toll is unknown.

There are sinister and unanswered questions over the role of the military in the tragic events of the past week.

As part of “Operation Sophia,” a massive military mobilisation involving fourteen European countries has been underway for the past year. Warships, submarines, aircraft, helicopter gunships and drones have been deployed by European powers, including Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Britain, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden. The headquarters of the mission is located at a military airport in Rome.

According to media reports over the weekend, military aircraft first saw the vessel (which subsequently sank on Thursday) in trouble around 35 nautical miles off the coast of Libya. Yet little was done in response. EU officials said a second helicopter “arrived on the scene Thursday and threw lifejackets into the water.”

The purpose of Operation Sophia is to strengthen “Fortress Europe” to ward off refugees, while preparing a new military intervention in North Africa under the guise of fighting the ‘causes’ of refugee crisis.

On Friday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron once again confirmed this analysis. Speaking at the G7 summit, he praised the EU-Turkey agreement to deport asylum seekers from Greece. He declared, “In the eastern Mediterranean, on average nearly 2,000 people arrived this way per day before the EU-Turkey deal was signed. Since then, it’s fewer than 100. It’s still a fragile agreement—but returning people works. Now we need to do the same with the central Mediterranean route.”

Cameron also declared that the European powers “are working to agree a plan to boost the capability of the Libyan coastguard.” Then he announced: “Once a detailed plan has been agreed with the Libyan authorities, the UK will send a UK training team to assist in its implementation. And once the relevant permissions and UN Security Council Resolution are in place, I will deploy a naval warship to the south central Mediterranean to combat arms trafficking in the region.”

Drowned Baby Picture Captures Week Of Tragedy In Mediterranean: here.

Fukushima radiation American sailors get ex-Japanese prime minister’s support


This video from the USA says about itself:

Fukushima Fallout: Sick U.S. Sailors Sue TEPCO After Exposure to Radiation 30x Above Normal (1/2)

19 March 2014

Three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, scores of U.S. sailors and Marines are suing the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, for allegedly misleading the Navy about the level of radioactive contamination. Many of the service members who provided humanitarian relief during the disaster have experienced devastating health ailments since returning from Japan, ranging from leukemia to blindness to infertility to birth defects.

We are joined by three guests: Lieutenant Steve Simmons, a U.S. Navy sailor who served on board the USS Ronald Reagan joined in the class-action lawsuit against TEPCO after suffering health problems; Charles Bonner, an attorney for the sailors; and Kyle Cleveland, sociology professor and associate director of the Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Japan campus in Tokyo. Cleveland recently published transcripts of the Navy’s phone conversations about Fukushima that took place at the time of the disaster, which suggest commanders were also aware of the risk faced by sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan.

This video is the sequel.

From the Japan Times:

Former Prime Minister Koizumi backs U.S. sailors suing over Fukushima radiation

May 19, 2016

CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA – Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has thrown his support behind a group of former U.S. sailors suing the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The sailors claim health problems they now suffer were caused by exposure to radiation after a triple meltdown at the plant following an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday in Carlsbad, California, with some of the plaintiffs, Koizumi said, “Those who gave their all to assist Japan are now suffering from serious illness. I can’t overlook them.”

The lawsuit was lodged in 2012 against plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., which was last month renamed Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The plaintiffs include crew members of the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, which provided humanitarian relief along the tsunami-battered coastline in a mission dubbed Operation Tomodachi.

Koizumi spent Sunday through Tuesday meeting 10 of the plaintiffs, asking about the nature of the disaster relief they undertook and about their symptoms.

“I learned that the number of sick people is still increasing, and their symptoms are worsening,” he told the news conference.

Koizumi called on those in Japan, both for and against nuclear power, to come together to think of ways to help the ailing U.S. servicemen.

The group of about 400 former U.S. Navy sailors and Marines alleges the utility did not provide accurate information about the dangers of radioactive material being emitted from the disaster-struck plant.

This led the U.S. military to judge the area as being safe to operate in, resulting in the radiation exposure, the group claims.

One of the plaintiffs at the news conference, Daniel Hair, said Koizumi’s involvement made him feel for the first time that Japan is paying serious attention to their plight.

According to lawyers for the group, seven of its members have died so far, including some from leukemia.

Koizumi, who served as prime minister between 2001 and 2006, came out in opposition to nuclear power in the wake of the 2011 disaster. He has repeatedly urged the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to halt its efforts to restart dormant reactors across Japan.

Fort McMurray, Canada wildfire disaster continues


This video says about itself:

Wildfires Force Canadian City Evacuation

6 May 2016

Nearly all Fort McMurray‘s 90,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes due to several wildfires that are ravaging their city since Sunday.

The huge wildfire that has forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray—the northern Alberta city that is the hub of Canada’s tar-sands oil industry—continued to rage uncontrollably yesterday: here.

Fort McMurray teacher describes chaotic evacuation: here.