29 August 2014: The Italian Council for Refugees (CIR) greeted the recent news that Italy’s “Mare Nostrum” search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean will be supplanted by “Frontex Plus” with caution. “The risk is that of a return to putting more emphasis on defending the EU borders rather than on the need to ensure that persons seeking protection have safe access to Europe, and rescue to prevent new deaths at sea”, stressed CIR’s Director, Christopher Hein.
28 August 2014: Tiscali Italia has published an article by Giovanni Maria Bella whose subject is Operation “Mare Nostrum” and the new “Frontex Plus” initiative, announced on 27 August by Italy’s Interior Minister Angelo Alfano. Among those interviewed for the article, entitled “Humanitarian Associations’ Doubts about Europe’s Real Will”, was CIR’s Maria de Donato, head of CIR’s Legal Department.
Read the article (in Italian) here:
27 August 2014: Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano stated today in Brussels that “’Mare Nostrum’ will be substituted by ‘Frontex Plus’; we have set forth the bases to undertake this operation”. His statement followed a meeting with the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström. According to the Interior Minister, two concrete results were reached at the meeting in Brussels: the birth of “Frontex Plus” with the strengthening of the broader defense of Europe’s border, and that boats used by smugglers be will be destroyed to prevent them from being reused. The hope, Alfano explained, is that the new approach will start by the end of November, and that all EU countries will contribulte to strengthening the budget of the operation, even with naval and air craft for border surveillance.
27 August 2014: Yesterday, on the eve of the summit between Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano and European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström on migration flows, UNHCR announced dramatic data regarding those who have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea during crossings to reach Europe: 1,889, including 1,600 since the beginning of June (in 2012, there were about 500, in 2013, over 600). There have been 108,172 arrivals in Italy as of 24/8/14), of whom14,000 are minors, including 8,600 unaccompanied minors, who arrived in the first seven months of the year.
Read more (in Italian) at http://www.unhcr.it/news/mediterraneo-tre-tragedie-in-mare-in-cinque-giorni-si-temono-numerosi-morti
For a UNHCR report (in English) on some of the most recent sinkings, see http://www.unhcr.org/53fc58969.html
25 August 2014: According to the Italian Navy’s Chief of Staff Giuseppe Di Giorgi, 113,000 immigrants have been aided by Operation “Mare Nostrum”. The principal countries of origin of those assisted are Eritrea, followed by Syria and Mali.
24 August 2014: Speaking with the Huffington Post about the controversy arising when the Interior Minister of Bavaria, Germany accused Italy’s Interior Ministry of not taking the fingerprints of refugees that arrive on Italy’s coasts, CIR’s Director Christopher Hein noted that it is not possible to force a person to be fingerprinted, unless there is a judicial order. “When we consider all those who have landed in recent months, 4,000 people arriving in two days at Sicilian ports. How can a judge issue so many orders in an extremely short time?” Hein asked.