Excerpts from a short IOM report released on 6 January 2015 on the recent use of cargo ships, specifically the Blue Sky M and the Ezadeen, to transport Syrians towards Italy:
“IOM analysts do believe the prospect of single-nationality cargoes – on these latest voyages, migrants fleeing Syria – creates opportunities for smuggling rings to employ certain economies of scale that were not apparent in the more ‘mixed’ passenger manifests seen leaving Egypt and Libya in 2014.”
“‘The predictability of thousands now fleeing Syria every month allows smugglers to plan for a reliable stream of customers, which of course allows them to set a price point,’ explained Joel Millman, a spokesperson for IOM in Geneva. ‘So they can predict how much revenue each trip will bring, and then quickly deploy vessels and crews’. Millman added that Lebanon’s recent decision to require visas of Syrian migrants seeking to enter Lebanon may divert new migrant traffic to Turkey’s coasts, which will swell demand for smugglers’ services.”
“In the last four months of 2014 IOM learned of larger ‘mother’ ships waiting in open water to receive passengers ferried out by smugglers. Larger ships leaving Turkey loaded with migrants from Syria began appearing in greater numbers late last year in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
“Maritime experts calculate that such ships normally would be available for between USD 100,000 and USD 150,000, allowing smugglers to earn upwards of USD 3 million for voyages like the two that ended in recent days, with up to 900 migrants crammed on board.”
“‘This new route is a direct consequence of the Syrian crisis,’ added IOM’s [Federico] Soda. ‘Despite the end of the Mare Nostrum’s rescue-at-sea operations, arrivals continue because of the many crises close to Europe.’”
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Filed under Aegean Sea, Frontex, Migrants, Refugees, Reports
Tagged as Blue Sky M, Ezadeen, Frontex, Human Smuggling, IOM, Italy, Maritime migration, Migrants, Operation Triton, Refugees, Rescue at Sea, Syria, Turkey
Frontex press statement: The cargo vessel was carrying 360 migrants and had departed from Turkey. “People smugglers began using cargo vessels like Ezadeen last summer, and it has now become a new method of bringing migrants to Europe. These decommissioned freighters, up to 75-metre long, depart from Turkey and head for the Italian cost. Some 15 incidents involving cargo ships have taken place since August 2014.”
Filed under European Union, Frontex, Migrants, Refugees
Tagged as Ezadeen, Frontex, Italy, Migrants, Operation Triton, Refugees, Rescue at Sea, Turkey
Statement by Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Europe Bureau Director, on new boat arrival in Italy:
“The use of larger cargo ships is a new trend, but it is part of an ongoing and worrying situation that can no longer be ignored by European governments. We need urgent European concerted action in the Mediterranean Sea, increasing efforts to rescue people at sea and stepping up efforts to provide legal alternatives to dangerous voyages. Without safer ways for refugees to find safety in Europe, we won’t be able to reduce the multiple risks and dangers posed by these movements at sea.
UNHCR thanks the Italian authorities for their response to these latest incidents, despite the phasing down of the Mare Nostrum operation. We have expressed concerns over the ending of this operation without a similar European search-and-rescue operation to replace it. This will undoubtedly increase the risk for those trying to find safety in Europe.”
For more information on this topic, please contact:
In Geneva, William Spindler on mobile +41 79 217 3011, firstname.lastname@example.org
In Geneva, Ariane Rummery on mobile +41 79 200 7617, email@example.com
Click here for Statement.
Filed under Frontex, Mediterranean, Statements, UNHCR
Tagged as Blue Sky M, European Union, Ezadeen, Frontex, Italy, Migrants, Operation Triton, Refugees, Rescue at Sea, UNHCR