On April 17, 2015, Le Monde reported that 12 Christians were thrown overboard from a ship sailing from Africa to Libya.

Fifteen men were arrested when a rescue boat on which they were travelling landed in Sicily. The suspects are Muslims from Mali, Ivory Coast and Senegal. The victims were Christians from Niger and Ghana.

Survivors said that the Muslims did not want to be in the company of the Christians:

‘I saw with my own eyes nine Ghanaians and three men from Niger thrown into the water,’ recounted Yeboah. ‘I survived because, together with my companions, we banded together for an hour to resist our aggressors. Then a boat came to rescue us.’

Le Monde reported that authorities in Palermo are taking charge of the situation. As the incident took place in international waters, the Italian justice ministry will obtain any necessary authorisations to investigate the case.

With the weather improving, more boats and ships have been arriving in Italy and Sicily. Last year, more than 170,000 persons arrived.

In January 2015, The Atlantic explained a new trend on the seas — ghost ships:

… in lieu of the small, unsteady boats typical of such journeys, border forces have contended with large ghost ships full of people and abandoned by the smugglers.

“At first we wondered if it was a one-off, but it now seems to be a trend,” an official from Frontex, the European Union’s border control agency, told the Telegraph. “The smugglers acquire a decommissioned cargo ship, recruit a crew, pack it with migrants and then abandon them at sea, telling them to call the rescue services. It’s a very dangerous new development, especially in bad weather.”

This is all very sad for the migrants but also for European countries which must find some way to shelter them then, once they obtain official paperwork, find them jobs at a time when many young Europeans cannot find work.

This phenomenon puts a huge strain on national infrastructure and funds, Italy’s in particular. There is no solution at hand, and whilst death is tragic, there is also little future for mass waves of illegal immigrants in Europe. It’s a topic no one, especially in government, wants to discuss in any constructive detail.

At some point, whatever system is in place will be overloaded. Le Monde went to Sicily to investigate the charity work and accommodation of the boat people, mostly young men:

‘I see their pain and it makes me angry. They’re marked by what they’ve experienced, but we don’t have the means to help them. They really need psychologists, but that notion is foreign to them,’ Valentina laments. Father Don Piero is torn between confusion and indignation. ‘We opened our centre in 2006. We served 30 meals a day. Today, we serve up to 500. We have a project to double the size of the refectory. There are always benefactors to help. The Catanian generosity is great, but institutional help is lacking.’

‘There are around 200 who come every night, all year round,’ Sebastiano Cavalli explains, running a sentry box across the way. ‘Especially younger and younger Africans. I can understand their situation …’ Carmelo, 32, who works at the railway station sees more and more young Africans. ‘When we stop one or two, they run away, never to be seen again. There’s no control. They could be spreading disease.’

The article explains that juveniles, or those perceived to be so, are sent to youth centres. As these adolescents do not wish to be caught up in a government institution, they insist they are of majority age.

Francesco Rocco, director of the Italian Red Cross, says that without Libyan intervention, the migrations will continue. He is appealing for a stronger humanitarian effort from Africa.

In the meantime, a migrant cemetery exists and, for survivors, two former military camps have been allocated for accommodation — Mineo and Sigonella:

John, 29, a Nigerian, who was living in Libya before the fall of Khadafi, is losing patience after one year and seven months in the camp. ‘There’s nothing to do. We eat pasta and rice every day. What I’m waiting for now are my papers to get a house and a job here in Italy.’

What can one say? At least he has a roof over his head and eats daily. The Italian taxpayer is footing the bill. Going through the correct channels — legal immigration — avoids the camp situation. Choices, choices.

Meanwhile, French towns on the border with Italy are receiving an influx of migrants. On April 24, 2015, Nice-Matin reported that the police had questioned 800 migrants during the previous six days. Also, according to the policemen’s union, Alliance, during the first four months of 2015:

border police processed interviews with over 2,200 migrants, double the number from the previous year.

A source close to the Ministry of the Interior disputes these numbers and says only 540 have been questioned.

However, Christian Estrosi, UMP (Conservative) mayor of Nice and parliamentarian, agrees with the union:

‘Fifteen days ago I sent a request to Prime Minister Manuel Valls asking for more police reinforcements. The reality in our region is the record explosion of asylum demands, up 44% over the course of one year, a trebling of irregular immigration in 2014 and already an increase of 50% during the first trimester of 2015.’

Nice-Matin carried a follow-up article on April 26, explaining that this sudden influx is related to the recent arrivals in the south of Italy over the past few weeks:

Arrested at railway stations in Garavan and Menton, on the tollroad near Turbie, on the coastal highway or in the Roya Valley, these migrants with no documentation become part of a process for readmission into Italy. They are sent to the Transalpine authorities after a simple ‘verbal’ check.

Legally, the paper says, this is all the police can do. They are not allowed to take photos or fingerprints. The deputy director of the border police, Emmanuel Grout, assured Nice-Matin:

We are trying to do this with humanity. We know these people are fleeing war.

Nice-Matin readers were of divided opinion. Some think the police are exaggerating. Others, however, said:

‘Everybody’s arguing over numbers without giving a solution to the reality that’s hitting us in the face.’

‘Yeah, politicians only do politics. Reality is of no interest to them …’

It is unclear whether this phenomenon can be contained and how far it will spread. European leaders have discussed options, but no one wants to be seen as the bad guy discouraging further migration or encouraging African countries to help their own people.

There will be no quick — or satisfactory — resolution.

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