European Union guilty in refugees’ drowning, United Nations say


This 20 April 2015 video says about itself:

More migrants drown in latest shipwreck

The calls for help from the middle of the Mediterranean continued on Monday after another boat filled with migrants ran aground off Greece.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

UN attacks ‘callous’ EU over sea tragedy

Tuesday 21st April 2015

UNITED NATIONS high commissioner for human rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein urged European Union governments yesterday to take a new and “less callous” approach to the surge of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr Hussein said in Geneva that recent deaths in the Mediterranean were “the result of a continuing failure of governance accompanied by a monumental failure of compassion.”

He called for the creation of a robust and well-financed European search-and-rescue effort and urged the international community to set up an independent inquiry.

The UN high commissioner said that Europe was turning its back on some of the world’s most vulnerable migrants and ran the risk of turning the Mediterranean into “a vast cemetery.”

His passion and humanity contrasted with the tired repetition of past failures by EU border surveillance agency Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri, who insisted that recent tragedies involving migrants trying to enter Europe showed the continent must do more to stop economic migration.

EU leaders will hold an emergency summit on Thursday to address the crisis in the Mediterranean.

The bloc’s president Donald Tusk made the announcement yesterday after days of waffling and indecision on how to tackle the rapidly worsening tragedy of hundreds of migrants drowning during desperate attempts to reach Europe’s shores.

The situation worsened further yesterday, with rescue crews still searching for survivors and bodies while hundreds more migrants took to the sea.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has been to the fore in demanding an end to seach-and-rescue operations as a supposed “pull factor” for refugees, welcomed the summit.

He said: “I think what we need is a comprehensive plan that does involve elements of search and rescue but, crucially, we have got to do more to deal with the problems in the countries from which these people are coming.”

That in itself sounds OK, Mr Cameron. However, you forgot to mention that these ‘problems in the countries from which these people are coming‘ are caused to a very large extent by the warmongering by your government and governments like yours, in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Mali etc.

DEATH TOLL FOR MEDITERRANEAN DISASTER COULD HIT 900: Only 28 survivors have been found thus far. The captain and a crew member have been arrested for “multiple homicide.” [NYT]

THE appalling death of up to 950 people fleeing the war-torn regions of the Middle East and North Africa has prompted the political representatives of European capitalism to rush to Luxembourg for an emergency meeting to discuss this ‘humanitarian’ crisis. Most of them support the ‘Australian solution’ – that the boats should be turned back at gunpoint as soon as they set sail, and to hell with the poor, the oppressed and the hungry: here.

European Union plans more aggressive measures against refugees: here.

Blood on their hands: Libya’s boat refugees and “humanitarian” imperialism: here.

700 refugees drown, European politicians guilty


This 19 April 2015 video is called Boat Carrying 700 Migrants Capsizes Off Libya.

From AFP news agency:

700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean shipwreck

Hundreds more people are believed to have drowned when a fishing boat smuggling migrants to Europe capsized off Libya, UN’s refugee agency says

Sunday 19 April 2015 10.14 BST

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Migrant boat disaster: ‘irresponsible’ rhetoric blamed for failure to restart rescue

UN official accuses politicians in Britain and across Europe of obstructing attempts to save migrant lives after boat sinks in Mediterranean

Mark Townsend

Saturday 18 April 2015 20.43 BST

Anti-immigrant rhetoric from politicians across Europe, including Britain, is blocking attempts to introduce large search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean that would save large numbers of migrant lives, a senior UN official has warned.

In comments that reveal the growing frustration within the UN Refugee Agency over Europe’s response to the growing migration crisis in the Mediterranean, Laurens Jolles said political expediency was preventing measures being taken to reduce migrant deaths.

Jolles, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Italy, said: “In many countries in Europe at the moment, the [political] dialogue and the rhetoric is quite extreme and very irresponsible.”

Italy is experiencing a wave of hostility towards the influx of migrants before regional elections at the end of May, while in the runup to the UK general election, Ukip has been accused of forcing a toxic debate about immigration and national identity.

Jolles said: “Because of elections and because of the economic crisis, it becomes difficult for those parties who traditionally would not follow on those same lines to counter the rhetoric with the strength that they should.

“It’s a fear of foreigners, which is a logical fear, a natural fear, but it is being exploited for populist or political reasons, especially in election periods.”

An estimated 400 migrants drowned last week when their boat capsized en route from Libya to Italy. The tragedy prompted fresh calls from human rights organisations to mount large-scale search-and-rescue operations, but UNHCR officials say politicians are choosing to avoid upsetting their electorates. “The level of this dialogue compared to 20 years ago is just incredible. It wouldn’t have been possible in the past, the racist rhetoric, the rhetoric of intolerance. In the 60s, 70s and the 80s, we would never have accepted this,” said Jolles.

Critics say the cancellation last year of an Italian-run sea rescue mission, Mare Nostrum, and the launch in November of Triton, a significantly smaller border surveillance operation by the EU, have created the conditions for what many believe will lead to a record number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean this year.

EU governments believe the narrower scope of the current mission is justified, claiming that a scaled-back rescue operation will deter migrants from making the crossing.

The Foreign Office says it will not support future search-and-rescue operations because they encourage migration.

“The fact that the UK has made it clear that it does not wish to participate in contributing measures to a rescue operation, or putting in place a rescue operation in the Mediterranean, is very concerning,” said Jolles.

In December, the UNHCR appealed to the EU to provide 130,000 resettlement places for Syrians displaced by the civil war. Germany has pledged to take 30,000 and Sweden 2,700. The remaining 26 EU states are taking 5,438 between them, with Britain taking just 143. “The UK should be participating and contributing in a European context to solidarity measures and trying to fulfil its part making it easier to deal with these [migration] flows,” said Jolles.

“If one really wants to tackle the problem and ensure that there are less deaths, then the thing to do is to look at providing legal avenues to come to Europe. There is an obligation, both moral and legal, to try and do something. People will die.”

The European commission has drawn up a policy document, the European Agenda on Migration, due to be presented to member states next month, aimed at establishing a concerted European asylum policy. It more clearly defines conditions for legal migration, while formulating “a clear plan to fight smuggling and trafficking of migrants and an effective return policy”.The UNHCR is concerned that rather than helping to create a safe passage for migrants, the commission is more concerned with trying to stop people entering. “What we are hearing is that there is more dialogue on how to prevent people coming to Europe and how to stop them than how to manage the flows and what to do when these persons come into Europe,” said Jolles.

This article might also have mentioned French Prime Minister Valls, copying the anti-Roma and anti-refugee hate speech of the neo-fascist National Front.

Laurens Jolles’ criticism of European politicians, at least as summarized in this Observer article, does mention the war in Syria (encouraged by politicians like British Prime Minister David Cameron, one may add) and refugees from that war, but does not mention another important point. In 2011, European politicians like David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy enthusiastically preached and practiced ´humanitarian war´ for regime change in Libya. Warmongering hawks in the United States administration like Victoria Nuland and Samantha Power (a lot more pro-war in Libya, it seems, than President Obama, or even than the Pentagon) joined them. That ‘humanitarian’ Libya war led to an extremely un-humanitarian chain reaction of bloodshed in Libya and in other African countries. To neo-colonial war in Mali. To neo-colonial war in the Central African Republic. Etc.

Without these horrors of bloodshed and economic destruction in Africa, fewer people would try to flee Libya and other African countries. There would have been a better chance of refugees being rescued. Of course, there would be even better chances for them without the European politicians’ anti-refugee rhetoric, as Laurens Jolles notes correctly.

Birds still killed in Malta


This 2014 video is called Malta – Massacre on Migration (Episode 1).

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Friday 17th April 2015

PETER FROST is outraged that year in and year out millions of migratory birds fly over Malta where they are killed by the thousands to satisfy a primitive bloodlust.

Each spring millions of birds fly north across the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Britain and the rest of Europe after wintering in Africa.

The popular holiday island of Malta lies on one of these key bird-migration routes and every spring thousands of Maltese hunters point their guns skyward and blast these birds of passage out of the sky.

The hunters claim their targets are the traditional quarry of turtle doves and quail but in fact anything with feathers is considered fair game. Thousands of local hunters arrive in trucks with banners and slogans such as “If it flies it dies.”

Over the last three years nearly eighty species of bird, including 17 species of birds of prey, have been recorded shot illegally by these Maltese hunters. Thousands of protected species, including birds of prey or herons, are persecuted each year.

Of these 80 species there were four species of very serious global conservation concern. They are Audouin’s gull, pallid harrier, red-footed falcon and lesser kestrel. The latter is considered under threat of total worldwide extinction.

Another 40 species are of European conservation concern, including greater flamingo, crane, kingfisher and lesser spotted eagle. The spring bloodlust also slaughters owls, swifts, swallows, martins, cuckoos and nightingales.

Far from showing any guilt Maltese hunters have recently requested that the islands’ government further defy international bird protection laws and the European Court of Justice by permitting the spring shooting of quail and turtle dove in even larger numbers.

The spring hunting of quail and turtle doves is illegal all across Europe but the Maltese government allows hunters to ignore the ban under special agreements with the European courts. They claim the slaughter is a long established cultural tradition.

Last week a special referendum in Malta narrowly rejected a proposed ban on the slaughter. The result was very close with just 2,220 more votes deciding against the ban out of a total of over a quarter of a million votes cast. Malta’s population is just over half a million.

Hunters scored 50.4 per cent of the vote mostly thanks to a strong showing from the island of Gozo, perhaps the most pro-hunting part of Malta. So the hunting goes on and thousands of birds will die this spring in Malta.

Against this background of wild-bird slaughter in Malta let me introduce Karmenu Vella. This 64-year-old politician is a long-serving member of Malta’s government, which has overseen and approved the widespread slaughter of birdlife on the island — including many endangered species.

Amazingly Vella took up last November his new job European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Vella being put in charge of the European commission’s environment portfolio, which has specific responsibility for birdlife and its habitats, has horrified green groups, campaigners and wildlife protection organisations. It certainly terrifies me.

Many feel that Vella’s appointment is part of the newly elected commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s plan to weaken the powers of Europe’s environment directorate and that Vella has been selected specifically to implement these changes.

Other parts of Europe also have their illegal bird hunting too although tighter legislation and more enlightened environmental thinking have reduced, and are reducing, its impact.

As well as Malta hunters in parts of Spain and much of Italy still shoot and kill protected birds.

One of the worst offenders is Cyprus where around 10 million songbirds a year are shot, netted or limed to make a traditional Cypriot dish. The birds are often either pickled or poached for an island delicacy called ambekopoulia.

The dish is expensive and illegal. It can still be found in many traditional restaurants. One restaurant owner with ambelopoulia on his menu explains its popularity by likening it to Viagra.