Tag Archives: Mussie Zerai

[UPDATED- Link to Complaint] Press Conference to Announce Filing of Legal Complaint Against French Army for Failure to Assist Migrant Boat (Paris, 11 April)

FIDH, GISTI, and Migreurop are holding a press conference at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, 11 April, to announce the filing of a legal complaint against the French military with the Procureur de la République du Tribunal de grande instance de Paris alleging that military forces failed to render assistance to the migrant boat that drifted for days one year ago within the NATO military zone off the Libyan coast.  63 persons ultimately died.

Press Conference details:

“mercredi 11 avril à 11H00, dans les locaux de la FIDH, 17, passage de la Main d’or – Paris 75011

en présence de:

  • – Stéphane Maugendre, président de GISTI
  • – Patrick Baudouin, président d’Honneur de la FIDH
  • – Jacques Montacié, LDH
  • – Charles Heller, chercheur à Goldsmiths, University of London
  • – Père Mussie Zerai, président de l’Agenzia Habeshia

Un an après la mort de 63 migrants dans un bateau au large de la Libye, des survivants, avec le soutien d’une coalition d’ONG déposeront, mercredi 11 avril, devant le auprès du Procureur de la République du Tribunal de grande instance de Paris , une plainte mettant en cause l’armée française pour non assistance à personne en danger. Cette conférence de presse sera l’occasion de revenir en détails sur les événements de ce périple cauchemardesque et d’expliquer pourquoi notre coalition estime que certains militaires français devraient en l’espèce voir leur responsabilité pénale engagée.

Contacts presse: FIDH: Arthur Manet – Tel: +33 6 72 28 42 94; GISTI: Stéphane Maugendre – Tel: +33 6 07 37 90 72”

UPDATE: Click here or on this link, La plainte contre-armee-francaise 11avril2012, for copy of the Complaint.  (FR)

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Filed under France, Libya, Mediterranean, News

Mare Deserto: RSI documentary about the failure to rescue and subsequent deaths of 60 migrants in the Mediterranean in March 2011

RSI LA1, the Swiss Italian-language television network, last month broadcasted a one hour documentary,  Mare deserto , produced by Emiliano Bos and Paul Nicol.  The documentary is in Italian.  It investigates the events that occurred between 25 March and 10 April 2011 when a disabled migrant boat attempting to travel from Libya to Italy drifted for days during which time approximately 60 persons died.  Survivors from the migrant boat reported that at various times military ships and helicopters ignored their requests for assistance.  The producers located and interviewed 9 of the known survivors in Italy, Tunisia and Norway.

Click here or here for a link to the documentary.  (IT)

Click here and here for some of my previous posts on the incident and the ongoing PACE investigation into the incident.

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Filed under Council of Europe, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, Reports, UNHCR

PACE Rapporteur Conducts Interviews in Italy Regarding Mediterranean Migrant Deaths

Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC) concluded a two day fact-finding trip to Italy on 7 September as Rapporteur for the PACE Migration Committee.  She is investigating the deaths of boat people who have died in the Mediterranean since January 2011.  Strik interviewed Father Moses Zerai, an Eritrean priest, who was in satellite phone contact with several migrant boats during their voyages from Libya, including the disabled migrant boat that drifted for days in March-April this year and on which 61 persons are believed to have died.  In addition to Zerai, Strik interviewed three of the nine survivors from the boat, Italian Coastguard officials, and NGO and UNHCR staff.  Strik “is planning interviews with officials from Nato and the Maltese government, which the Italian coastguard says was alerted to the boat’s plight.”

From the PACE press statement: “‘There is an obligation to help all people in distress.  If anyone did not live up to this responsibility and deliberately did not assist them, they must not be allowed to get away with it. … The testimonies of witnesses directly involved in this incident are coherent, but we have to continue to collect more data and information on who was when and where in the area,’ Mrs Strik reported.  ‘My mission is to try to find out what went wrong, and if there was perhaps a gap in responsibility-sharing. The recommendation which will be contained in my report is aimed at establishing responsibilities and trying to determine how to deal with such incidents in the future. We have to draw the right lessons to prevent similar situations from occurring again.  … At the end of my inquiry, I expect national jurisdictions, governments and parliaments to carry on the investigations and I very much hope that the dynamic of truth … will pave the way,’ she concluded.”

Click here (EN), here (FR), and here (ES) for articles.

Click here for PACE press statement.

Click here for previous post.

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Filed under Council of Europe, European Union, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia, UNHCR

Italy Fears New Surge in People Fleeing Post-Qadhafi Libya

As I noted earlier this week, Italy hopes to re-implement the migration control provisions of the Italy-Libya Friendship Agreement with a new Libyan government as soon as possible.  This desire is motivated by fears of a new surge in refugees fleeing Libya.  In one of the articles to which I previously linked, Italian Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Alfredo Mantica also said Italy fears that instability in a post-Qadhafi Libya will lead to increased numbers of Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans seeking to escape to Europe.  Father Moses Zerai, an Eritrean priest who heads the Agenzia Habeshia per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo, also said in the article that he believes over the short to medium term many sub-Saharan Africans in Libya will likely try to flee to Italy and Europe.  Moses Zerai said that he is in contact with migrants in Tripoli who are fearful of treatment at the hands of the rebels.

Images such as the one below demonstrate vividly why many sub-Saharan Africans in Libya may be fearful of reprisal or harm if they are suspected by rebel forces of being a Qadhafi mercenary.  This picture (Florent Marcie/AFP/Getty Images) was taken on 19 August in Zawiya and reportedly shows “suspected members of the Libyan regime forces [being] rounded up in a pick-up truck by Libyan rebel fighters in Zawiya.”

Click here for article.  (IT)

Click here for my previous post on re-implementing the migration control agreement.

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Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News

Report: Military Ships Failed to Rescue or Render Aid and 61 Died at Sea

The Guardian on Sunday reported many more details about an incident that began on 25 March when a migrant boat left Libya carrying 72 asylum seekers and which ended 16 days later on 10 April when the disabled vessel washed ashore in Libya with only 11 survivors.  The survivors have described several incidents where military ships and planes ignored their pleas for rescue.  It is clear from the survivors’ descriptions that their disabled vessel was sighted because at one point a military helicopter dropped bottles of water and emergency food rations on the migrant boat.

The UNHCR and Father Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean priest in Rome who runs the refugee rights organisation Habeshia, have called for further investigations into why the boat’s passengers were not rescued.

From the Guardian article: “The Guardian’s investigation into the case of the boat of 72 migrants which set sail from Tripoli on 25 March established that it carried 47 Ethiopians, seven Nigerians, seven Eritreans, six Ghanaians and five Sudanese migrants. Twenty were women and two were small children, one of whom was just one year old. The boat’s Ghanaian captain was aiming for the Italian island of Lampedusa, 180 miles north-west of the Libyan capital, but after 18 hours at sea the small vessel began running into trouble and losing fuel.  Using witness testimony from survivors and other individuals who were in contact with the passengers during its doomed voyage, the Guardian has pieced together what happened next. The account paints a harrowing picture of a group of desperate migrants condemned to death by a combination of bad luck, bureaucracy and the apparent indifference of European military forces who had the opportunity to attempt a rescue….

The Guardian has made extensive inquiries to ascertain the identity of the Nato aircraft carrier, and has concluded that it is likely to have been the French ship Charles de Gaulle, which was operating in the Mediterranean on those dates.  French naval authorities initially denied the carrier was in the region at that time. After being shown news reports which indicated this was untrue, a spokesperson declined to comment.

A spokesman for Nato, which is co-ordinating military action in Libya, said it had not logged any distress signals from the boat and had no records of the incident. ‘Nato units are fully aware of their responsibilities with regard to the international maritime law regarding safety of life at sea,’ said an official. ‘Nato ships will answer all distress calls at sea and always provide help when necessary. Saving lives is a priority for any Nato ships.’”

Click here for full Guardian article.

Click here (IT) for earlier article.

The route of the boat - from guardian.co.uk

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Filed under France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, UNHCR

Libyan Migrant Boats Carrying Over 400 People Missing; Reports of Deaths

There have been reports in recent days from the UNHCR and others about at least two boats that are believed to have left Libya over the past 10-14 days carrying persons from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and possible other countries.  Family members and friends of people who are believed to be on the boats have been calling for assistance in searching for the boats.  Reuters reported that “[o]ne of the boats was reported to have left Libya on March 22 with 335 people on board.  Italian media said 68 people on the other boat had almost certainly died during the journey, although there was no official confirmation. The top Vatican official in Tripoli, Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, said 10 bodies of African migrants were at the capital’s morgue on [4 April]. … He said there were reports of ‘many more bodies’ of migrants washed up on the shores of Garaboulli, some 40 km from Tripoli.”  Father Mussie Zerai, who is based in Rome, “said he had last spoken to migrants on board the smaller boat, an inflatable, by satellite phone on 26 March before the line went dead.  ‘I have meanwhile had no contact with the larger boat, but family members of those on board have called us from Canada, Sweden and Switzerland to tell us they left.’”

Click here and here for articles. (EN)

There have been confirmed deaths among migrants who have left Tunisia in recent weeks.  At least 27 bodies had been recovered as of last week in Kerkennah.  The dead were probably on board boats that sank on the 13th and 27th of March off the Tunisian coast.

Click here for article.

UPDATE:  If you have information about a family member or friend who may be on a boat or if you are seeking information, please consider contacting the Agenzia Habeshia per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo in Italy at this email address: agenzia_habeshia@yahoo.it .

 

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Filed under European Union, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia, UNHCR

Mussie Zerai – Eritrean Catholic priest assisting refugees in Libya and at sea

Here is a short AFP article about Father Mussie Zerai who is in frequent contact by satellite phone with African refugees in Libya and with those who are in the process of leaving Libya:  “A few steps away from St Peter’s Basilica, an Eritrean Catholic priest is on the phone with boats in the middle of the Mediterranean filled with African refugees fleeing Libya.  Mussie Zerai receives calls from satellite phones on the boats and co-ordinates the arrival of hundreds of Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis with Italy’s coast guard and the NATO warships imposing a naval embargo on Libya….”

Click here for article.

Father Zerai’s organisation’s blog: habeshia.blogspot.com/

UPDATE:  If you have information about a family member or friend who may be on a boat or if you are seeking information, please consider contacting the Agenzia Habeshia per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo in Italy at this email address: agenzia_habeshia@yahoo.it .

UPDATE: Click here for 19 April 2011 BBC article.

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Filed under Eritrea, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News

Boat With 350 African Migrants from Libya Receives Assistance from Canadian Navy Ship

A boat carrying approximately 350 African migrants or asylum seekers from Libya has been intercepted and is being diverted to the Italian island of Linosa between Malta and Lampedusa.  There have been reports over the past several days that the migrant boat was at sea.  A Canadian navy ship, probably the frigate HMCS Charlottetown, first intercepted and boarded the migrant boat to determine whether the passengers required immediate rescue or not and to provide a pump.  The migrant boat was allowed to proceed.  An Italian navy helicopter later rescued a woman who gave birth on the boat.  The woman, the newborn baby, the father, and a second pregnant woman were removed from the migrant boat and taken to hospitals on Lampedusa and Sicily.  The Italian navy said that the migrant boat will be taken to Linosa rather than Lampedusa.  UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini is quoted by AFP as saying that “[t]his is the first boat coming from Libya with people fleeing the military escalation, the vendettas and the retaliation attacks and that “the people on board the boat required ‘international protection’”.  AFP also reported that “Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean Catholic priest in Italy who has been in direct contact with the vessel via a satellite phone, said conditions on the boat were extremely difficult with around 10 children and 20 women on board.  He said the people were mostly Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalians.”  Zerai also “said four or five other boats carrying African migrants had … left Libyan shores carrying around 1,000 people.”

Click here (EN) and here (IT) for articles.

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Filed under Eritrea, Ethiopia, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Somalia, UNHCR