Migrants’ hay-bale truck journey ends in the Libyan desert

Before they make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean trying to get to Europe, tens of thousands of African migrants are herded through the desert to Libya.

They are robbed and abused by militia and people smugglers.

At a checkpoint outside Misrata, border guards search trucks for migrants.

Quentin Sommerville was there to watch some of them being freed by border guards in Misrata after 48 hours crossing the desert without food and water in a hay-bale truck.

by BBC NEWS

In this photo released by Greek Defense Ministry on April 27, 2015,

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, left, awards Army Sgt. Antonis Deligiorgis, the Cross of Excellency for his role in rescuing passengers on a ship carrying migrants on the island of Rhodes, at a ceremony in Athens on April 27, 2015. Deligiogis was photographed assisting Eritrean asylum seeker Wegasi Nebiat, in an image that was on front pages of leading world newspapers the following day. Three people died in the shipwreck, while 90 others from Syria and Eritrea were rescued. (Greek Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo released by Greek Defense Ministry on April 27, 2015, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, left, awards Army Sgt. Antonis Deligiorgis, the Cross of Excellency for his role in rescuing passengers on a ship carrying migrants on the island of Rhodes, at a ceremony in Athens on April 27, 2015. Deligiogis was photographed assisting Eritrean asylum seeker Wegasi Nebiat, in an image that was on front pages of leading world newspapers the following day. Three people died in the shipwreck, while 90 others from Syria and Eritrea were rescued. (Greek Defense Ministry via AP)

Pastor Gebremichael Yohannes, a Dutiful Shepherd | Assenna.com Pastor Gebremichael Yohannes, a Dutiful Shepherd By assenna on April 26, 2015

Pastor Gebremichael Yohannes 1

Sunday is church day in the City of Atlanta, where smartly dressed men sit erectly on the right side of the hall while the women, equally dressed in sharp traditional attire, grace the left side of the same auditorium. The church is festooned with all kinds of paintings, memorabilia and religious artifacts, which help lend this packed place of worship a serene aura for reflection.

On this particular Sunday, it was raining heavy, forcing motorists to drive gingerly, though bad weather did not seem to have impacted church attendance. The location of the church itself is not conducive, as it is quite a distance from where most of the worshipers live. Not surprisingly, that did not seem to have hindered attendance either, for the place was filled to the rafters–a common occurrence every Sunday.
Attending Atlanta’s church is like being in your favorite classroom with an engaging teacher. And the city’s favorite teacher is Pastor Gebremichael Yohannes, a member of a new generation of Eritrean preachers of various denominations, who have assumed leadership positions in their respective communities and, like dutiful shepherds, are diligently looking after the welfare of their flock.
“We have perhaps the lowest divorce rate in the country,” Emanuel Berhane Muhtsun, one of the city’s active members, proudly told this reporter. “If a [married] couple are having any problems, the pastor will find a way to bring them together.”
Equally important for his congregation is that Pastor Gebremichael made a clear break with the regime in Eritrea, which he–like many other religious leaders across the world–believes has been a colossal failure.
Serving a population of diverse backgrounds, leaders like the pastor are serving as counsellors and healers in their respective communities, assuming many of the duties

 

ዕለታዊ ምጽናትና ከኸትም ካብ እናሰማዕና ምጽቃጥ ንበራበር!!! By assenna on April 27, 2015

ዕለታዊ ምጽናትና ከኸትም ካብ እናሰማዕና ምጽቃጥ ንበራበር!!! | Assenna.com

Ogbai_1

ዕለታዊ ምጽናትና ከኸትም
ካብ እናሰማዕና ምጽቃጥ ንበራበር!!!
ብ ዑቕባይ ገብረመድህን
ከምብሪጅ፡ ማሳቹሰትስ፡ ሰ.ኣ.
ሚያዝያ (April) 26፡ 2015
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ቅድሚ ላምፓዱሳን ድሕሪኡን ኣብ ባሕርን ምድራ በዳን፡ ምስጋር ሩባታትን ዝጠፍኡ ዘይተኣወየሎም ዜጋታትና ልዕሊ ዓሰርተታት ኣሽሓት ከም ዝገማገም ዘየጠራጥር ኣብ ርእሲ ምዃኑ፡ እንደገና ካልኣይ ደግሲ ጥፍኣት ላምፓዱሳ ናይ 350 ኤርትራዊ ሕይወት ብሓንሳብ ኪቕዘፉና ከለዉ ነእምሮ ዘደንዝዝ፡ ንንብዓት ዘንቅጽ ኩነታት`ዩ።ንበዓል ሓዊ ተኵሶ ከም ዝበሃል፡ መሰነይታ ቅዝፈታት ምድረበዳን ባሕርን ባርባራዊ ምስያፍ ISIS ተወሲኽዎ። እቶም ዝሓሊ ህዝብን ሰላማዊ ሰልፊ ዝፈቅድ መንግስትን ዘሎዎ ግዳያት ISIS ንድሕነት ኣብ ስደት ዝርከቡ ህዝቦም ተላዒሎም ንመንግስቲ ስጉምቲ ኪውስድ ዘነቓንቖ ማዕበል ድምጺ ደርጒሖሙሉ፤ ጠለብ ህዝቢ ካብ ብህጹጽ ምትግባር ካልእ ኣማራጺ ኣይነበሮን። ብኣንጻሩ፡ ካብ ፋሺስታዊ ስርዓት ህግደፍ ኪሃድሙ ሃገሮም ኣዝኽቲሞም ዝዘኽተሙ ተካላት ኤርትራውያን ዜጋታት ግን ዝሕለቐሎም መንግስትን ህዝብን የብሎምን፣ ወዲ ዓሻስ ክልተ ግዜ ይውቃዕ ኮይኑ። እቲ ጠንቂ ዕንወትን ድሕረትን ሃገርን ምጽናት ህዝብን ኤርትራ ኮይኑ ዘሎ ፋሺስታዊ ውልቀምልኪ ንዝጠፍኡ ኤርትራውያን ከም ጥፍኣት ላምፓዱሳ ሓቅነቱ ኪኽሕድ ኣየሕፈሮን፣ ብውድብ ሕቡራት ሃገራት ንዝተዋህበ ቍጽሪ ግዳያት ከይሓፈረ ካበይ ኣምጺእኩሞ ክብል ድኣ ተሰምዐ።
ነዚ ዕለታዊ ኣእላፋዊ ምጽናት ንጹሃት ዜጋታት ብጭብጢ ንምግላጽ ዘኽእል ቃላት ኪርከቦ ይከኣል ድዩ? ነዚ ሕቶ`ዚ መሰረታዊ ጠንቁ ብዕምቈት ዳህሲስካ ንምርዳእን ቅኑዕ ነባሪ ፍታሕ ኣብ ምምጻእ ብግብሪ ንምዕጣቕን ኣብ ቀጻሊ ምኣዲ ዘተና ሒዝናዮ ዘለና ኣርእስቲ`ዩ።
ዝኾነ ኾይኑ፡ እቲ ጠንቂ ብግዜን ብዓቐንን ኣዚዩ ርሑቕ፡ ኣብ ሃገራዊ ሕይወትና ምሉእ ስነ-ኣእምሮኣዊ ጥዕና ንምርግጋጽ ንኣረኣእያናን ስምዒትናን ብመርማሪ ኣገባብ ክንግዘቦ እንግደደሉ ኩነታት`ዩ ኣብ ቅድሜና ተገቲሩ ዘሎ። ካብ ጸቢብ ርእሰ-ፍትወት ፍርሃት፣ ካብ ፍርሃት እንታይ ገዲሱኒ ከም ልምዲ ሳዕሪሩ፡ ባህሪያዊ ሕይወት ጠፊኡ፡ ሓሳርን መከራን፡ ማእሰርትን ምህመናን፡ ጥፍኣትን ሞትን ልሙድ ሕይወት ኮይኑሉ ዘሎ ብሕልፈታት ዝልለ ኤርትራዊ እዋን ኢና ንሓልፎ ዘለና። እዚ ኣብ ዓለም ኰሊልካ ካልኣይ ዘይርከቦ ፍጹም ጸልማትን ጥፍኣትን ኤርትራ (ኣብዚ ሳልስቲ ኣብ NPR ሓደ ዝርርብ ዝገብር ዝነበረ ኣመሪካዊ `ኤርትራ ናይ መግቢ ውሕስነት ኣረጋጊጻላ` ክብል ዘደንጹ ዘረባ ሰሚዐ ናይ መወዳእታ ደቒቕ ኮይና ምስ ሓደ ዕዉት ኤርትራዊ ተወሳኺ መልሲ ክህበሉ ዘይከኣልኩ፡ ህግደፍ ድኣ ከመይሉ`ዩ መዓልታዊ ንኣመሪካ ዘማርር ዝብል ሕቶ ነእምሮይ ሰንጢቑዎ ሓሊፉ) ፋሺስታዊ ውልቀመላኺ ኢሳያስ መለኮታዊ ሓይሊ ሃሊዩዎ
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ዘይኮነ ብርእሰ ፍትወትና፡ ብእንታይ ገዲሱኒ፡ ብትም ምባልና ዘረከብናዮ ህዝባዊ ሓይሊ`ዩ ዝረግጸናን ዘጥፍኣናን ዘሎ። ውልቀመላኺ ኢሳያስ ርእሰ-ምትእማን ዘይውንን፡ ብምጕብባዕ ዝነብር ውስጠ ሃጓፍ፡ ክሳብ ዝደሉ ምሕንካስ ናይ ዝብኢ ባህሪ ዘጥረየ፡ ብመርዚ ግብረ እኪት ዝዓበየ ዘርኢ መርገም ኤርትራ`ዩ። ነዚ ሓቅዚ ተረዲእና ነዚ ብውስጠ ፍርሃት ዝተናወጸ ኣምሰሉ መሬትና ገዲፍናሉ ኣብ ክንዲ ንጸንት፡ ነዚ ዘርኢ ክርዳድ መንድዓት ሃገር ብህዝባዊ ቅልጽም ደርቢና ዓድናን ክብረትናን ክንመልስ እዋኑ ኣዚዩ ሓሊ`ፉናሎ። እቲ ዘማህምነና ዘሎ ትርጉም ኣልቦ ድንቍርና ጸቢብ ፍልልያትን ትምን ነቒሕና ብሓድነት ንግብሪ እንተ ዘይተባራቢርናሉ ግን እታ ጽዋእ ጥፍኣት ጽባሕ`ውን ምሳና ክትህሉ`ያ። ለውጢ እናደለና ለውጢ ካብ ምዃን ምሕንጋድና፡ ከምቲ ዘይዘርኦ ምህርቲ ኪሓፍስ ዚጽበ ሓረስታይ ኣብ ባዶ ሕልሚ ንነብር ኣለና ማለት`ዩ። ርእስና ኣብ ሑጻ ካብ ምቕባር፡ ለውጢ ብግብሪ-ኣልቦ ባዶ ትምኒት ክመጸልና ብደውና ካብ ምሕላም ወጺእና ጸሓይና ክትበርቕ ንበራበር።
ኣብዚ ከም ኣብነት ክጠቕሶ ዝደሊ ዝምድና ተጐሮ ኣካልን ተጐሮ ኣተሓሳስባን`ዩ። ተጐሮ ኣካል፡ ንኣብነት ብዘይሳእኒ ዝረግጽ ኣእጋር፡ ንነዊ ግዜ እንተ ዘይተሓጺቡ ይትጕር`ዩ፣ ተጐሮ ኣብ ረርእሲ ዝተደራረበ ዳርጋ ኣካል ቆርበት ዝኾነ ርስሓት`ዩ። ነዚ ከተጽርዮ ቆርበት ዝቐልጥ ብዙሕ ምፍሕፋሕ የድልዮ። ብተመሳሳሊ፡ ብኹሉ ዓይነታት ናይ ጸቢብ ኣተሓሳስባን ኣረኣእያን ኣእምሮ ብተጐሮ ጸቢብን ድሑርን ፍልልያት ምስ ዚጥቃዕ፡ ብመርማሪ ኣገባብ እንተ ዘይተሓጺቡ፡ ተጐሮ ርእሰ-ፍትወትን፡ ፍርሃትን እንታይ ገዲሱንን ከም ልሙድ ተወሲዱ ኣብ ደልሃመት የንብር። እዚ ኸኣ ክብሪ ሓርነት ሕይወት ዝሰሓተ፡ ንጊልያነት ከም ንቡር-ሕይወት ዝወሰደ ርእሰ-ፍትወት ዝፈጥሮ ጸልማት ድንቍርና`ዩ።
ትብዓትን ጭካኔን – ክልቲኦም ተጻያት መለለይቲ ደቅሰብ ኢዮም፣ ስለዚ ክልቲኦም ኣብ ሓደ ሰብ ኪህልዉ ዝከኣል ኣይመስለንን። እቲ ምንታይ፡ ተባዕ ፍትሐኛ`ዪ፣ ንሰብ ኪብድል ኣይብገስን`ዩ፣ ርእሰ ምትእምማን ይውንን፡ መን ምዃኑ ከፍልጥ ኣይግደስን፣ ኣብ ርእሰ ምክልኻል ከኣ ድምብርጽ ኣይብሎን። ብኣንጻሩ፡ ጨካን ሰብ ርእሰ ምትእምማን የብሉን፣ ሕይወቱ ብመን ምዃኑ ናይ ምርኣይ ምስሉይነት ዝተገዝአ`ዩ። ጭካነ ውላድ ፍርሃት ከም ምዃና መጠን፡ ከይቀደሙኒ ክቕድም ባህሪያት ጨካን ሰብ`ዩ። ፈራህ ሰብ ተባዕ ኪመስል ኩሉ ግዜ ሰባት ይለክፍ፣ ይድህል፣ የነኣእስ፣ የጕባዕብዕ፣ደንዳኒ ስለ ዝኾነ፡ ንተባዕ ሰብ ጐሲዩዎ`ዩ ዝሓልፍ። ጨካን ሰብ ፍትሒ ኣይንታዩን`ዩ፡ ዓማጺ ባህሪያት መለለዪኡ`ዩ። ኪዕብልል ይደሊ፡ ህውከት ምፍጣር ደስታ ይህቦ።
እሞ እዚ ዳሕራይ ጠባይ ኣብ ኢሳያስ ዝረአ፡ ንከይሲነቱ ዝምስክርዶ ኣይኮነን? ኣየናይ`ዩ ዓብላሊ ብዘየገድስ፡ ኣብ ሕይወትና ሒዝናዮ ንጐዓዝ ጠባይ ገሊኡ መፋጥርትና ኪኸውን ይኽእል፡ ገሊኡ ኸኣ እንዓብየሉ ኩነታት ዘሕደረልና ጽልዋ ይኸውን። መተዓብይቲ ኢሳያስ ክገልጹዎ ከለዉ፡ ካብ ንእስነቱ ርኡይ እከይ ባህርያት ከም ዝነበሮ ይምስክሩ፣ ብተወሳኺ ትም ዝብል ጻቕጥ ምንባሩ`ውን ይንገረሉ። እቲ ኻልኣይ ጠባዩ እምበኣር ንምሉእ ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ከም ዘታለለ ኣብ ኣዕናዊ ግብራዊ ውጽኢቱ ንርእዮ ኣለና።
ስለዚ፡ ኣብዚ ክንርድኦ ዘለና ነገር፡ ከም ኢሳያስ ዝኣመሰሉ ሰባት፡ ኣብ መጀመርያ ወስታኦም ተመሳሳሊ ግብረ መልሲ እንተ ዘይረኺቦም መሸደኒኦም`ዩ ዝኸውን። ንኣብነት እቲ ኢሳያስ መጀመርያ ኣብ ሜዳ ዝጸፍዖ ሰብ ናይ ርእሰ ምክልኻል ግብረ መልሲ ወሲዱ እንተ ዝነብር፡
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ኢሳያስ ካልኣይ ግዜ ኣእዳዉ ኣብ ልዕሊ ካልእ ሰብ ኣይምዓለባን። ብኻልእ ኣዘራርባ፡ ቀጻሊ ሕቡር ተቓውሞታት የጋጥሞ እንተ ዝነብር ኣብዚ በጺሑዎ ዘሎ ደረጃ ኣዕናውነት ኪበጽሕ ኣይምኸኣለን። ከምቲ እሾኽ ኣብ ውልዶኣ ኸላ እንተ ዘይተማሕያ፡ ምስ ተረረት ክትምሕዋ ኣጸጋሚ ስለ ዝኸውን፡ ምሳር ጌርካ ክትቆርጻ ጥራይ ኢዩ እቲ ኣማራጺ። ከምኡ`ውን ከምዚ ሎሚ ኢሳያስ ከይገበለ ኸሎ በቶም መሳርሕቱ ብእግኡ ተለሊዩ እንተ ዘይተኣለየ፡ ንሕጊ ኪግዛእ ቀይዲታት ተገይሩሉ እንተ ዝነብር፡ ሃገርና መንእሰያት ደቃ ኣብ ክንዲ ግዳያት ወፍሪ ባርነትን ስደትን፡ ጥፍኣትን ሞትን ኮይኖም ሎሚ ኣብ ክንዲ ናይ ሓዘን ሽምዓ ነብርሃሎም፡ ተማሂሮም ባዕላቶም ብርሃን ኮይኖም ኣብ ጕዕዞ ምዕባለን ሰላምን ሰሪዖማ ምሃዉ። ሕጂ`ውን ነዚ ዝተጠልመ ጸጋ ሓርነት ንምምላስ ከምቲ ኣሻዅ ቆጥቋጥ ኣብ ርእሲ ስርዓት ኢሳያስ እትውዕል በላዕ ምሳር ክንስሕል የድልየና ኣሎ። እዚ ድሕሪ ምግባር ግን ፡ ነባሪ ፍታሕ ምትካል ግዝኣተ ሕጊ ምዃኑ ንሓቲ ክልኢት እውን ክንዝንግዖ ከም ዘይግባእ ከነስተውዕሎ የድሊ።
ራህዋን ሰላምን ኣብ ትሕቲ ብርሃን ሓርነት ንህዝቢ ኤርትራ!
ዘለዓለማዊ ግብራዊ ዝኽሪ ንስዉኣትናን ግዳያት ግፍዕን!!

Eritrean migrant gives birth on Italian Navy ship   Published: 16 Dec 2014 11:35 GMT+01:00

Aloniab Nahom was born at around 2.00am this morning on board the Etna vessel, shortly after his mother was picked up in the Strait of Sicily.

Born to a Catholic Eritrean woman, the baby boy has already been baptized by the on-board chaplain.

“Mother and baby are doing well and will today go ashore at Lampedusa, on board a helicopter,” the Italian Navy said in a statement.

The “happy event” was the conclusion of an operation to save 430 boat migrants off the coast of Italy, the rescuers said.

Marina Militare

SEE ALSO: A year of Mare Nostrum: Italy’s ‘proud’ rescuers

The Italian Navy continues to save boat migrants from the grips of ruthless traffickers despite ending its dedicated “Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) operation in October. Around 160,000 migrants were saved in the 13-month mission, which has since been replaced by a significantly smaller EU operation.

More than 207,000 migrants and refugees have taken the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean so far this year. Of those, more than 34,500 have been Eritreans and over 60,000 Syrians, the UN refugee agency said last week.

Today’s birth is not the first to happen on board an Italian Navy ship. A baby girl was born in September to a Gambian woman, saved along with 600 others off Italy’s southern shore.

Eritrea’s climate of repression, violence and paranoia is prompting hundreds of people to flee every day BY SAM JONES, PATRICK KINGSLEY, AND MARK ANDERSON Published: Monday April 27, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM

 

Escaping oppression: An Eritrean refugee preparing a meal outside his shelter in the woods in Calais, France. Unbearable living conditions back home have triggered a growing exodus of Eritreans who hope to find a better life for themselves in Europe. Photo: Reuters

Escaping oppression: An Eritrean refugee preparing a meal outside his shelter in the woods in Calais, France. Unbearable living conditions back home have triggered a growing exodus of Eritreans who hope to find a better life for themselves in Europe. Photo: Reuters

‘If I die at sea, it’s not a problem – at least I won’t be tortured,’ says a Eritrean refugee.

LIKE many of her fellow Eritrean refugees, Sofia, who managed to escape northwards to Cairo, has a very simple reason for fleeing her homeland.

“In Eritrea you’re even afraid to talk to your family,” she says. “The person next to me in a cafe could be a spy, and they are looking at what you are doing. People disappear every day.”

One day, a friend made the innocent mistake of striking up a conversation with a man in a cafe who later turned out to be from the Libyan embassy. “They were just chatting. And they said she was a spy passing information to him. We don’t know what happened to her. She is in jail till now.

“One day they told us she was in hospital with high blood pressure but we were so afraid that we didn’t go because we feared they might arrest us, too.”

This, says Sofia, is the daily reality of life in Eritrea, whose citizens are second only to Syrians when it comes to risking dangerous crossings of the Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), nearly 37,000 Eritreans applied for asylum in 38 European countries over the first 10 months of last year, compared with about 13,000 in the same period in 2013. It puts the total Eritrean refugee population at more than 321,000.

The reasons for the exodus are not hard to fathom: last month, a UN inquiry accused the government of President Isaias Afewerki – who has ruled the east African country since its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 – of operating a system of “ruthless repression” and “pervasive state control”.

The chair of the inquiry, Mike Smith, noted a culture of “extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances and incommunicado detentions,” all aimed at silencing critics of the regime.

Given the climate of repression, violence and paranoia – and the indefinite national service – asked Smith, “Is it surprising that faced with such challenges, Eritreans leave their country in their hundreds every day?”

The Eritrean government responded to the inquiry by criticising its reporting methods. Tesfamicael Gerahtu, an Eritrean diplomat, said his delegation was dismayed at “the protracted reliance on unreliable, unproven and sensational information and interactions,” adding that “preconceived ideas and conclusions” about Eritrea had become rampant.

Others bitterly disagree. Elsa Chyrum, director of the Britain-based group Human Rights Concern – Eritrea, sums up her homeland in two words: open prison. “There’s no freedom of speech, no freedom of expression, no religious freedom,” she says.

“We have more than 300 prisons across the country and people there have no food to eat. Even begging is criminalised in Eritrea.”

But equally pernicious, says Chyrum, is the national service that sees 17-year-old students taken from their families and pressed into unending conscription. Some work up to 12 hours a day, six days a week; the less fortunate are sent to work in mines without basic protective equipment.

“Many children are brought up without their fathers because their fathers are tied up in conscription for life,” she says. “The whole family unit is completely broken. You see all the unaccompanied children leaving because they don’t want to have a miserable life like their fathers and brothers, so what do they do? They run away. Everybody is running away.”

Smugglers

Meron Estefanos, another Eritrean human rights activist, says those Eritreans with enough money are paying senior government officials up to US$5,000 (RM18,000) each to leave. Once over the border into Sudan, people smugglers take them by pick-up truck to Libya, where they look for boats to Europe.

Most hope to reach Sweden or Norway. Israel – where about 42,000 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals are believed to reside – recently announced that it would begin deporting asylum seekers from the two countries to other African nations.

“It’s absurd that Israel doesn’t recognise Eritreans as refugees,” says Estafanos. “They are deporting refugees to Rwanda, where they have no rights. They are being given letters that say they will be granted asylum and work permits in Rwanda and that it’s a great place to live. But as soon as they arrive in Rwanda their documents are being taken away and they have only one or two days before the same people who picked them up from the airport are smuggling the Eritreans out of Rwanda and into Uganda and then God knows what happens.”

But even those who, like Sofia, have made it as far as Cairo do not feel safe. Deportations have been recorded from Sudan and Egypt, meaning that in Cairo – where Eritreans are barred from the state education system and face few job prospects – refugees feel vulnerable.

Despite the risks of deportation, Sofia does not want to risk travelling to Europe by sea. She does, however, understand what drives her compatriots to climb aboard the crowded and dangerous vessels that ply their trade between Libya and the coast of Europe.

“If you want to register for resettlement with UNHCR, they give you an appointment for 2017,” she says. “And who can afford to wait that long? It’s better to go by boat. I have two choices – one is to die, the other is to live. If I die at sea, it won’t be a problem – at least I won’t be tortured.

“Here you don’t have a destiny – you don’t have education, no work, you can’t help your family. Every day you’re just asking for help. But if you go to Europe at least at some point in the future, you will have a nationality and you will be a human.’

Desperation

That desperation is echoed by Eritreans who are being held in a Tripoli detention centre after being intercepted at sea by Libyan coastguards.

“It is not our choice to penetrate the sea,” says Bayin Keflemekal, a 30-year-old nurse. “If we got some help from the Libyan government, from UNHCR, we would try something else. But if the government won’t help us, if UNHCR won’t help us, if no one can help us, then the only option is to go to the smugglers. We are suspended in the air.’

Chyrum hopes the deaths of at least 800 people who perished when their boat capsized off the coast of Libya two Sundays ago, will compel European leaders to rethink their approach to Eritrea. She is fiercely critical of the EU’s recent decision to try to halt the exodus of Eritreans by sending development aid to the country, arguing that the money will stay in the hands of the political elite.

Chyrum says the European funds would be better spent on helping the thousands of Eritreans already in southern Europe or expanding the EU’s Frontex border control agency.

If Europe is serious about reducing the flow of people from Eritrea, she says, it needs to use its political, diplomatic and financial influence to bring about change in Asmara.

“Unless the root cause is dealt with, people will keep taking risks,” she says. “A lot of pressure needs to be put on the government of Eritrea to stop the indefinite national service, to make life bearable for people and to allow them to live a free life. They have to release all the prisoners of conscience from prison and allow people to choose what they want to do in life.”

Unless tough action is taken against the Isaias regime, she says, the government will continue acting with impunity, and Eritreans will continue making the long trek north, and fishermen and coastguards will continue fishing bodies from European waters.

“It’s a one-person rule, but one person has destroyed the whole country,” says Chyrum. “The future of Eritrea is fleeing and drowning in the Mediterranean.” – Guardian News Service

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Greek hero highlights migrant crisis by pulling 20 people from the sea 6:33 AM Monday Apr 27, 2015

This image of Greek soldier Antonis Deligiorgis rescuing migrant Wegasi Nebiat defined a week of tragedy. Photo / Argiris Mantikos / AP

It was the image that defined a week of tragedy – and showed the world how Europe had failed to deal with its migrant problem.

A burly Greek man, bent double, pulling a migrant to safety as three others who had tried to make the crossing from North Africa to Greece on board the same rickety boat perished, turning the Mediterranean into a graveyard.

In all, hundreds of people died during a series of incidents as the world turned its gaze on Europe – and how nations and politicians had singularly failed to address the travesty of the refugees risking their lives in a bid to reach Europe.

And now the Greek soldier who singlehandedly saved 20 migrants who were washed up on the coast of Rhodes after the boat they were travelling in hit rocks has revealed the moment he leapt to save a woman.

One of those whom Antonis Deligiorgis saved was a 24-year-old Eritrean refugee, Wegasi Nebiat.

The woman’s parents had paid $10,000 for her passage to Europe, which began in the Eritrean capital, Asmara. She managed to travel to Khartoum, before flying to Istanbul on a fake passport and then took a boat from the Turkish city of Marmaris bound for Greece.

Her journey could have ended tragically when her vessel, packed with Syrians and Eritrean migrants, began to sink off the Zefyros beach on Thursday. But fortunately for Ms Nebiat, Mr Deligiorgis, 34, was in a cafe and saw the boat as it began to list.

“The boat disintegrated in a matter of minutes. It was as if it was made of paper,” he told the Observer.

“Without really giving it a second’s thought, I did what I had to do… I had taken off my shirt and was in the water.”

Within minutes of the boats crashing into rocks off the beach, coast guards officers, army recruits, fisherman and volunteers scrambled to help the refugees, many of whom clung to pieces of the wreckage.

“Everyone who saw what was happening just jumped in the water, without thinking of their own safety,” Stathis Samaras, a coast guard officer, said.

But of the 93 migrants who were aboard the boat, the Greek father-of-two, saved 20 of them himself.

“The water was full of oil from the boat and was very bitter and the rocks were slippery and very sharp. I cut myself quite badly on my hands and feet, but all I could think of was saving those poor people,” he explained.

Following her miraculous rescue, Ms Wegasi was taken to hospital with pneumonia and exhaustion.

She has since left hospital and travelled by ferry to Piraeus near Athens where she met with fellow Eritrean refugees.

“I am so happy. We are not sure what we will do but we hope to travel across Europe,” she told the Daily Mail.

“I don’t remember much. I was in the water and scared and then I was here. I feel lucky. I have family back at home and I am lucky that I made it,” she added.

While the majority of migrants from Africa and the Middle East come from Libya and land on Italian shores, the number of people arriving in Greece has almost doubled this year to more than 10,000. Over 1000 migrants have arrived in the last week alone.

So far this year, more than 1650 people will have died in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe.

Devastating Photographs Reveal Terrible Human Cost of Europe’s Continuing Imperialism   By David Sim / ibtimes.co.uk

Migrants seeking a better life in Europe have died by the thousands in the Mediterranean Sea in recent years while fleeing poverty and bloodshed in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The precise number of deaths is unknown. Authorities count only those bodies found in the sea, on shore, or aboard boats. Survivors often tell of fellow passengers who lost their lives at sea, but the bodies are never found.

As many as 1,500 migrants are believed to have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year. Many were children.

The death toll in 2015 is on course to far exceed the 3,200 people who died making the journey in 2014 – according to the International Organisation for Migration – given that the summer peak has not yet begun. Fewer than 100 of the deaths in 2014 took place before May.

Mediterranean migrants
April 20, 2015: Migrants are rescued by members of the Greek Coast guard and locals after a wooden sailboat carrying dozens of immigrants ran aground off the coast of the island of Rhodes(Argiris Mantikos/Eurokinissi/Reuters)
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April 19, 2015: A child is carried off a boat by a rescue worker at the Sicilian port of Pozzallo. Some 98 migrants were rescued from rickety craft bobbing in the Mediterranean(Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
November 5, 2014: Two people rest at Maspalomas beach on Gran Canaria after travelling from Africa in a fishing boat(Borja Suarez/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
October 4, 2014: A rubber dinghy with 104 people on board waiting to be rescued is seen some 25 miles off the Libyan coast(Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters)
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August 23, 2014: Members of Libya’s coast guard recover the body of a migrant off the coast of Tripoli. A wooden boat carrying up to 200 migrants sank just one kilometre off the Libyan coast, with most passengers feared drowned(Reuters)

Migrants pay thousands of dollars to human traffickers in Libya and other refugee transit hot spots for the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean.

Libya’s plunge into chaos has created an ideal environment for smugglers, who pack people fleeing war and poverty in the Arab world and sub-Saharan African onto rickety boats that set sail for Europe — mainly aiming for Italy or Malta.

Mediterranean migrants
August 12, 2014: A rescued woman and her baby disembark from a Spanish coast guard vessel in Tarifa(Marcos Moreno/AFP)
Mediterranean migrants
June 1, 2014: Hundreds of migrants are seen aboard an Italian Navy vessel before disembarking in the Sicilian port of Augusta(Antonio Parinello/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
May 14, 2014: Around 250 migrants are hoisted onto a landing craft of an Italian Navy ship after being rescued in the Mediterranean between Italy and Libya(Giorgio Perottino/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
October 4, 2013: A boat is seen under water after it sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. The Italian coast guard rescued 155 people, but it is thought more than 360 drowned(Vigili del Fuoco/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
October 5, 2013: Coffins are laid out in a hangar at Lampedusa airport after a boat packed with migrants sank, killing more than 360 people(Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)

European officials are struggling to come up with a policy to respond more humanely to an exodus of migrants travelling by sea from Africa and Asia to Europe, without worsening the crisis by encouraging more to leave.

An Italian naval operation in the southern Mediterranean, known as “Mare Nostrum“, was cancelled in 2014, partly because of its cost, but also due to  domestic opposition to sea rescues that could encourage more migration.

It was replaced in November 2014 by a far smaller EU mission with a third of the budget, a decision that seems to have made the journey much deadlier for migrants packed into rickety vessels by traffickers who promise a better life in Europe.

Mediterranean migrants
March 29, 2009: A boat overflowing with people rescued from three boats that sank in a violent storm off the coast of Libya arrive in the port of Tripoli. More than 200 were missing presumed dead(AFP)
Mediterranean migrants
March 29, 2009: A man rests after arriving with other 63 sub-Saharan immigrants at La Tejita beach on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife(Desiree Martin/AFP)
Mediterranean migrants
February 5, 2009: Some 115 would-be immigrants await rescue on their boat after it ran into difficulties, 48 nautical miles off Malta(Armed Forces of Malta Air Wing/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
July 30, 2008: A group of 53 would-be immigrants in a half-submerged dinghy await rescue by the Armed Forces of Malta while sheltering against the hull of a cargo ship(Rohan Dalli /Maritime Squadron AFM/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
July 1, 2008: A man offer prayers of thanks after arriving at a beach on Spain’s Canary island of Gran Canaria(Borja Suarez/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
June 16, 2008: A boat used by would-be immigrants floats upside-down after capsizing, 75 miles south-west of Malta June 16, 2008. Twenty-seven people were rescued by the Italian trawler Altomare when their boat capsized(Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
May 21, 2007 :A small boat packed with 53 people drifts off Malta after its engine failed(AFP)
Mediterranean migrants
August 3, 2006: First aid workers and tourists on a beach on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife help African migrants suffering from the effects of their perilous voyage(Desiree Martin/AFP)
Mediterranean migrants
May 5, 2006: A would-be immigrant crawls onto the beach after washing up in a makeshift boat on the Gran Tarajal beach on Spain’s Canary Island of Fuerteventura(Juan Medina/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
September 25, 2005: Members of the Maltese armed forces toss bottles of water to a group of around 180 illegal immigrants after their vessel ran into engine trouble, off the coast of Malta(Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
November 12, 2004: Migrants grab onto life preservers after their makeshift boat overturned during a rescue operation by Spanish authorities off the coast of Fuerteventura(Juan Medina/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
November 12, 2004: Migrants try to climb aboard a Spanish civil guard vessel after their makeshift boat capsized during a rescue operation at sea off the coast of Fuerteventura. Of the 36 in the boat, 29 were rescued(Juan Medina/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
August 21, 2004: Beachgoers carrying a body walk past more bodies of would-be immigrants on the Fuerteventura coast(Juan Medina/Reuters)
Mediterranean migrants
January 1, 2003: The body of a migrant who drowned after his makeshift boat capsized lies covered on El Matorral beach in Fuerteventura, Spain, as holidaymakers walk along the shore(Juan Medina/Reuters)

The following is a script from “Death in the Mediterranean” which aired on April 26, 2015. Clarissa Ward is the correspondent. Randall Joyce, producer.

Nepal is digging out tonight from a powerful earthquake centered just outside the city of Kathmandu, a natural disaster that killed more than 2,000 people. A tragedy with a similar dimension of human loss is taking place in the Mediterranean Sea.

Last weekend, an estimated 800 migrants trying to reach Europe, drowned when their boat capsized off the Libyan coast. Thousands of people had already died trying to make that same dangerous journey. They’re part of the largest mass migration since the Second World War, fueled by the chaos and violence that have consumed the Middle East and North Africa.

Every day desperate migrants are packed into rubber rafts and overloaded fishing boats in Libya and sent toward the Italian coast. They spend hours or days hoping to be rescued before they sink. It is a dangerous gamble and the odds are getting worse.

We wanted to see what it’s like to travel through those treacherous waters. Over a period of months we followed the people on both sides of this life and death struggle.

binoculars.jpgThe Italian coast guard allowed us to join its search and rescue mission. With summer approaching and the weather improving, this is shaping up to be an unprecedented season of death in the Mediterranean.

At first, it was just a tiny smudge on the horizon, dwarfed by a merchant ship nearby, but as we moved closer, we were able to make out human forms, around 50 people we thought at first, packed into a rickety wooden fishing boat, no more than 40 feet long, bobbing in the open sea.

[Coast guard: OK, understood, 20 minutes we arrive in the area.]

“It’s not easy to see every day for months only people in the deep sea….obliged to make this travel because they are escaping from wars, from bombs, from dying and it’s a human experience that is very hard to accept.”

On the bridge of the Italian coast guard ship Fiorillo, the captain had received word that someone from the boat had used a satellite phone to call for help. The migrants were just 40 miles from the Libyan coast, well outside of Italian waters, but the law of the sea dictates that anyone who can help, must.

He sent two small launches to make the first approach. The crews threw bags stuffed with life jackets to the migrants. It’s one of the most dangerous moments in any rescue as desperate passengers surge towards their rescuers, boats like this often capsize. Eyewitnesses say that’s exactly what happened in last weekend’s disaster.

Women and children are always the first to be taken off and we were shocked by just how many there were. The coast guard ferried the migrants back to the ship before returning to collect more and more, an operation that lasted into the night. On this rescue the final count, an incredible 301 migrants in a 40-foot fishing boat.

It’s a process that is being repeated day after day across this strip of the Mediterranean by Italian coast guard crews, led by officers like Arturo Incerti. Last year, more than 170,000 people made the crossing.

Arturo Incerti: It’s not easy to see every day for months only people in the deep sea like, obliged to make this travel because they are escaping from wars, from bombs, from dying and it’s, it’s a human experience that is very hard to accept.

Clarissa Ward: They’re so desperate these people–

Arturo Incerti: They have nothing to lose. That is terrible to understand.

massimononboard.jpgMany were in a state of shock, wrapped in emergency blankets. They were given a basic medical checkup and some food.

From the moment they set foot on this deck, these migrants have reached safety. But they’ve also, in a sense, crossed a border, because being rescued by the Italian coast guard means that they will reach Italy. And that is something they were willing to risk their lives for.

On the rescue we witnessed, some of the migrants were refugees from Syria’s brutal civil war but most were fleeing the harsh dictatorship in the African country of Eritrea.

They told us that conditions there were so brutal and opportunities so few that they were willing to travel more than 1,500 miles just to take a chance on a small boat.

Mulu Amale: It is very dangerous but to live in Eritrea is more dangerous from this.

We talked to Mulu Amale and his friends who said they spent weeks living on bread and water under the control of armed, Libyan smugglers.

“It is very dangerous but to live in Eritrea is more dangerous from this.”

Mulu Amale: All the Libyan they have guns…It is very cruel people.

Clarissa Ward: Cruel people- why? How were they cruel? What did they do?

Mulu Amale: If you speak with your brother, they take –

Clarissa Ward: They smack, they beat you?

Mulu Amale: Yes.

By the time they saw how small the boat was, they were too scared of the smugglers to back out.

The coast guard has now started to dread good weather. A flat blue sea can spell disaster, triggering a flood of refugees to attempt the crossing at once…

captain.jpg

Captain Leopoldo Manna and Clarissa Ward
CBS News

Captain Leopoldo Manna: We have never seen something like this.

Captain Leopoldo Manna is the man who receives those desperate satellite phone calls from migrants abandoned by smugglers at sea. His coast guard command center in Rome works around the clock, knowing that if their boats don’t take action, the migrants will likely die.

Captain Leopoldo Manna: It’s difficult to explain that sometime we have 25 boats asking for rescue. We don’t exactly (know) where they are. And they all ask to be rescued. It’s an–

Clarissa Ward: And you can’t rescue–

Captain Manna: –incredible–

Clarissa Ward: –all of them.

Captain Manna: It’s not possible to rescue 25 all together and you don’t know where they are.

Clarissa Ward: Do you believe they understand the risks?

Captain Manna: I believe that they understand the risk.

Clarissa Ward: But it doesn’t stop–

Captain Manna: The problem–

Clarissa Ward: –them.

Captain Manna: They– I believe that they are so desperate that nothing will stop them.

Clarissa Ward: So it’s like these smugglers are putting a gun to your head.

Captain Manna: I confirm. I confirm. Something like that. As they put a gun in front of us to save these people. Almost something like that.

Most of the ships leave from Libya where a complete breakdown of law and order gives smugglers free reign. Italian territory is more than 150 miles away but the boats only need to reach international waters before sending an SOS.

Captain Manna: They call from these places, sometimes closer to Libya. They say, “Save me.” I say, “OK.” I call Libya. Nobody answer from t–

Clarissa Ward: –nobody answered–

Captain Manna: –from Libya. Simply no–

Clarissa Ward: –they don’t even answer the phone?

Captain Manna: No. They even don’t answer to the phone.

The coast guard is proud of the work it is doing, but its resources are overstretched.

Captain Manna: Sometimes I feel alone. This is the truth.

Clarissa Ward: Alone in what sense?

Captain Manna: Alone. Alone because I have my guys, my ladies, men, but I don’t have other help. And I need to be helped.

Clarissa Ward: You need support.

Captain Manna: I need support. Right.

After days at sea the migrants are sent to places like this. We visited Sicily’s Mineo camp which is home to thousands who have been pulled out of the Mediterranean.

For many, Italy is a gateway to countries further north that are already struggling with immigration issues.The cost of feeding and housing so many new migrants in the midst of a financial crisis has presented Europe with a real challenge and no easy solution.

Federico Soda: Every time a boat goes down, and a few hundred people die, we’re shocked. We see it in the headlines. And then we go back pretty much to business as usual.

Federico Soda is the International Organization for Migration’s regional director for the Mediterranean. He welcomed this week’s announcement that Europe would increase funding for its sea patrols but says that more action must be taken.

Clarissa Ward: Where do you think the reluctance comes from?

Federico Soda: I think that it’s a combination of immigration being not only a tricky issue but in some countries almost a toxic issue. And also the fact that, basically, it’s very easy to make the case that, “If we rescue people at sea, that encourages more of them to leave from North Africa and come to Europe.”

Clarissa Ward: Does that not strike you as incredibly cynical?

Federico Soda: It’s– it is. It’s incredibly cynical. That’s exactly what it is.

Clarissa Ward: So do you see this as a moral obligation?

Federico Soda: Yeah. It’s a moral obligation, all right.

Recent events have disproven the idea that deaths at sea act as a deterrent. There is a growing number of desperate people willing to do anything to get to Europe and smugglers finding new ways to ship them there.

The case of the so-called ghost ships is a perfect example. At the beginning of the year traffickers in Turkey started taking large, old merchant ships that were ready to be scrapped and filling them with hundreds of Syrians fleeing a bloodbath at home. The smugglers then pointed the ships toward Italy and abandoned them.

The journey lasted five long days. In one case, passengers were crammed into a boat designed to carry cattle, but the relative safety of those big ships was a huge draw.

The Turkish seaport of Mersin began to fill up with thousands of Syrians ready to make deals with the smugglers.

We brought a hidden camera into the café where many of those first contacts are made. This table is where the smugglers are sitting together talking business.

One of them had taken over this hotel to house all the Syrians who had already paid him to get on a ghost ship.

Out in the courtyard a middleman explained how everything works to a member of our team who was posing as a refugee.

[Man with moustache: With me, it costs 5,500.]

Roughly $ 6,000 per person…children under 8 travel for free he said.

[Man with moustache: It’s not dangerous. These are all large ships. You call the coast guard to say “we are sinking, we are sinking” so they come to take you.]

Upstairs in one of the hotel rooms we found Ahmad Zaid al-Abdu and his pregnant wife, Fatima, waiting with their four young children. Look at what they packed for the journey to Italy.

Translation: Only these three bags. We had two big bags but they said we are not allowed and that the bags will be thrown in the sea.

We brought the family to a safehouse to hear their story. Ahmad told us the bombardment in their hometown of Aleppo was so relentless that they stopped sending their children to school so they sold their house to raise the $ 12,000 for the smuggler’s fee.

Fatima: I am afraid. I am afraid for my children, for my husband but also for myself. That we will drown.

Clarissa Ward: Do you know how to swim?

Fatima: No.

Clarissa Ward: How do you feel as a father to have to make this choice?

Ahmed: I made this decision because it’s better than staying in my own country. There may be a chance of dying on the way, but in Syria death is guaranteed. People became like monsters. No one loves anyone, any more. People don’t love each other at all. A brother doesn’t even love his brother. That’s why I made this decision. And God willing it will be all right.

Clarissa Ward: Would you have taken the risk if you had to go on one of the small boats? Or are you only doing this because it is a big boat.

Ahmed: No, I wouldn’t have traveled because the small boats mean death.

But in the days after that interview the Turkish government cracked down on the ghost ships and the Syrian refugees began flooding in another direction, this time to Greece. Ahmed and his family had to take a gamble on a small boat after all. It was a rubber raft like this one, captured for us on a cellphone by another Syrian refugee who made the same dangerous journey to a Greek island.

The safety measures are rudimentary. While some have life jackets, others wear inner tubes, one man holds a child’s pool float. When they finally reach the shore, you can see their relief.

Not everyone is so lucky. Just days ago, this boat packed with Syrian migrants broke up after hitting rocks off the coast of the Greek island of Rhodes. At least three were killed, one of them a small child.

Ahmed and his family made the journey to Greece at night. He captured the moments just after they were rescued.

They had reached Europe but they too had paid a terrible price. Fatima had a miscarriage.

Yet another casualty that will never be recorded. Most of those who die at sea sink without a trace. Many of the bodies that are recovered are never identified. They are buried in small plots in anonymous graves.

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