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Friday, September 4, 2015


The pictures show a small boy lying face down in the sand on a Turkish beach as an official stands over him. The child, who is thought to be Syrian, has drowned in an apparent attempt to flee the war ravaging his country.

They are extraordinary images and serve as a stark reminder that, as European leaders increasingly try to prevent refugees from settling in the continent, more and more refugees are dying in their desperation to flee persecution and reach safety. 

The Independent has taken the decision to publish these images because, among the often glib words about the "ongoing migrant crisis", it is all too easy to forget the reality of the desperate situation facing many refugees.

The boy, pictured below being carried by the official, is one of 12 Syrian refugees feared dead after they drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean on two boats bound for the Greek island of Kos.

One of the boats was carrying six Syrians when it sank after leaving Akyarlar, in a desperate attempt to cross the 5km Aegean straight to Kos that represented their best chance of entering the EU.

According to Turkey’s Dogan news agency, three children and a woman from the small boat drowned. Two people survived after swimming back to shore in life jackets.

In Britain, David Cameron and Philip Hammond have been criticised for the “dehumanising” language they use to describe refugees.

The Prime Minister described refugees coming to the UK as a “swarm”, and later said he would not “allow people to break into our country”.

Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said refugees were “marauding” around Calais. Amnesty International called his comments “shameful”.

The pictures, and the tragedy they convey, are hard to ignore, and now senior politicians are calling on Cameron to do more to tackle the crisis.

Labour leadership front-runner Jeremy Corbyn told The Independent: "Nobody could fail to be moved by this harrowing and heartbreaking image.

"It should remind us of the situation facing millions of people desperately fleeing a terrible civil war.

"The government's response to the refugee crisis has been wholly inadequate, and we are being shamed by our European neighbours."

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, told The Independent: "Enough is enough. These pictures are beyond horrific. They are the wake-up call David Cameron needs."

He was joined by Yvette Cooper, another contender for the Labour leader post, who told The Independent: "It is heartbreaking what is happening on our continent. We cannot keep turning our backs on this. We can - and must - do more."

Along with Afghan citizens, Syrians make up the bulk of the people fleeing conflict in their homeland to seek a safer home in Europe.

But while images of desperate refugees emerge almost every day, the attitude of Europe's policymakers and much of the public have continued to harden.

Image of a Small, Still Syrian Boy Brings Migration Crisis Into Focus 

At Budapest Train Station, Only the Clever and Lucky Remain 

Migranti, assalti e scontri in Ungheria. Piano Ue: altri 120mila ricollocamenti e sanzioni a chi non accoglie

Paesi ricchi del Golfo sotto accusa: 'Porte chiuse ai profughi siriani' 04/09/2015

Czech police officer marked a refugee with a number on Tuesday while detaining more than 200 refugees, mostly from Syria, on trains from Hungary and Austria at the railway station in Breclav, Czech Republic. CreditIgor Zehl/CTK, via Associated Press
In the Czech Republic, some 200 refugees with valid train tickets were hauled off a train bound for Germany and given registration numbers, in permanent marker, written on their arms.
In the Netherlands, the government has announced a toughening of its rules that would see failed asylum-seekers cut off from food and shelter within “a few weeks” of being handed a decision.

Numbering of Migrants by Czechs Brings Outcry 

Hundreds of migrants wait in front of the Keleti Railway Station after police stopped them from boarding trains to Germany, Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek) 

BUDAPEST — With thousands of migrants pouring out of Afghanistan and the Middle East, the business of smuggling them across the Balkans into the European Union has grown even larger than the illicit trade in drugs and weapons, law enforcement officials said.

In Greece alone, there are 200 such smuggling rings, said Col. Gerald Tatzgern, head of the Austrian police service fighting human trafficking.

“It has developed into a business worth billions,” said Johanna Mikl-Leitner, the interior minister of Austria. Smugglers have spread out through the region, in Bulgaria, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia, she added.

Their presence is evident at Budapest’s Keleti train station, where thousands have had their route to the West cut off by Hungarian officials. The smugglers’ agents roam the crowd, quietly offering rides to Austria for hundreds of dollars.

But the memory is fresh of the 71 migrants found suffocated in the back of a sealed truck along an Austrian highway last week, abandoned by their smugglers. 

In another case, the police rescued 24 Afghans from a sealed truck after a chase through the streets of Vienna. “One hour longer and they would have been dead,” Ms. Mikl-Leitner said.

Rob Wainwright, head of Europol, Europe’s police agency, told Newstalk, an Irish radio network, that an estimated 30,000 people were involved in human smuggling gangs. Europol has opened 1,400 cases this year involving human smuggling, he said.

Officials continue to arrest suspects involved in the operation that led to the 71 deaths.

While members of smuggling groups that use a sea route into Italy have been prosecuted, this case is the first against a land-based ring, and may be the first in which the police have linked both a driver and his accomplices to deaths, said Melissa Fleming, chief spokeswoman for the United Nations’ refugee agency.

Until now, Ms. Fleming said, smugglers were “able to commit mass murder with impunity.”

Prosecutors in Bulgaria released the names and some details of the five citizens arrested. Four are in custody in Hungary; the fifth awaits extradition from Bulgaria. An Afghan national — who, like the others, has a long criminal history, officials said — was also arrested in the case.

Some of the Bulgarian suspects lived elsewhere in Europe recently, said Rumiana Arnaudova, chief spokeswoman for the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office.

One of the men, Metodi Georgiev, is from Lom, Bulgaria, on the Romanian border. Several residents who declined to give their names for fear of antagonizing the smugglers said Mr. Georgiev had been living in Austria and Germany. They said he had not been one of the truck’s drivers, but a lookout and recruiter.

Another suspect, identified as Tsvetan Tsvetanov, was arrested on a European warrant issued by the Austrian police. He appeared Thursday in Montana, Bulgaria.

Ushered into the courtroom with his hands and feet shackled, Mr. Tsvetanov denied being one of the truck’s drivers. He told the judge he was unemployed and had not been traveling abroad. But outside the court, some of his relatives said he had recently returned from Germany, where he had gone in search of a job.

A third suspect, Vetsislav Todorov, is from a village near Vratsa, Bulgaria, local news media reported. His brother was quoted by Btv, a Bulgarian network, as saying the leader of the smuggling ring was from Lom.

Prosecutors identified the two other suspects as Kasem Saleh and Ivailo Stoyanov, but provided no details about their residences.

The Afghan suspect, Samsooryamal Lahoo, also in custody in Hungary, was previously picked up in 2013 after traveling to Germany without a passport, said Frank Passade, a spokesman for state prosecutors in Bremen.

Officials are expected to give more details Friday on the time and cause of the 71 deaths. But the deteriorated state of the bodies and the lack of identity documents may mean that some of them — 59 men, eight women and four children — will never be identified, a police spokesman, Helmut Marban, said Thursday.

Officials said the smuggling groups in the Balkans varied in size and sophistication. Usually, they are local organized crime groups that have simply seized on a moneymaking opportunity, said Izabella Cooper, spokeswoman for Frontex, which monitors the European Union’s borders. They normally hire Afghan or Syrian representatives to act as their agents on the ground, handling contact with potential customers, Ms. Cooper said.

“If a migrant has a lot of money, smugglers can get them a forged passport or a stolen ID card with a visa, together with a plane ticket to a chosen European country,” she said. “But this option is affordable only for a handful of people.”

Migrants can sometimes plot a route from Turkey to Germany with one central coordinator and are passed from gang to gang, paying as they go, said Livia Styp-Rekowska, senior immigration and border management specialist at the International Organization for Migration.

“The one phenomenon that we definitely see in this region is the growth of the smuggling operation online,” Ms. Styp-Rekowska said. “There are all sorts of online advertisements targeting Syrians, written in Arabic.”

The migrants have become wary of dealing with the smugglers, both for fear of injury or death and because there are many stories of migrants’ being cheated by phony smugglers.

One group, preying on the migrants huddled outside the Keleti station this week, promised rides to the Austrian border, but instead placed the migrants in the back of a windowless van and drove several times around Budapest’s outer ring road, depositing them by a suburban shopping center with entry gates that look vaguely like a border crossing.

Others are abandoned in the woods and threatened if they complain. Still others are robbed and left on remote roadsides.

“We explain the options, but the smugglers are so tempting,” said Zoltan Bolek, head of the Hungarian Islamic Community, a service group. “Taxis willing to take them to the Austrian border are everywhere. It costs 1,000 euro, and if they are lucky, they actually get there.”

Rick Lyman reported from Budapest, and Alison Smale from Vienna. Boryana Dzhambazova contributed reporting from Montana, Bulgaria, and Joanna Berendt from Warsaw.

Profughi a Budapest: i 500 che non mollano il treno 04 settembre 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A wooden boat crammed with migrant workers who were headed back to Indonesia capsized Thursday off Malaysia's western coast, killing at least 14 people, a maritime official said.

The boat was believed to be carrying 70 people, said First Adm. Mohamad Aliyas Hamdan, district chief of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. Fishermen had earlier estimated that 100 people were on board.

He said 13 women and one man were confirmed dead, and 19 people had been rescued.

Agency official Mohamad Hambali Yaakup said the boat sank in bad sea conditions not far from the coast, and several vessels and an aircraft were searching for survivors near the coastal town of Sabak Bernam in central Selangor state.

He said the boat was believed to have been taking migrant workers home to Tanjung Balai in Indonesia's Sumatra province and was likely to have been overcrowded.

Such incidents are common in Malaysia, which has up to 2 million Indonesian migrants working illegally.

The Indonesians work without permits in plantations and other industries in Malaysia, and often travel between the countries by crossing the narrow Strait of Malacca in poorly equipped boats.

Boat carrying migrant workers capsizes off Malaysia; 14 dead EILEEN NG Sep. 3, 2015

Some European officials may be tempted to adopt the hard-line approach Australia has used to stem a similar tide of migrants. That would be unconscionable.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has overseen a ruthlessly effective effort to stop boats packed with migrants, many of them refugees, from reaching Australia’s shores. His policies have been inhumane, of dubious legality and strikingly at odds with the country’s tradition of welcoming people fleeing persecution and war.

Since 2013, Australia has deployed its navy to turn back boats with migrants, including asylum seekers, before they could get close to its shores. Military personnel force vessels carrying people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea and other conflict-roiled nations toward Indonesia, where most of the journeys begin. A boat captain recently reported that Australian authorities paid him $30,000 to turn back. If true, that account, which the Australian government has not disputed, would represent a violation of international laws designed to prevent human smuggling and protect asylum seekers.

Those who have not been turned back are held at detention centers run by private contractors on nearby islands, including the tiny nation of Nauru. A report this week by an Australian Senate committee portrayed the Nauru center as a purgatory where children are sexually abused, guards give detainees marijuana in exchange for sex and some asylum seekers are so desperate that they stitch their lips shut in an act of protest. Instead of stopping the abuses, the Australian government has sought to hide them from the world.

The Border Force Act, which took effect July 1, makes it a crime punishable by a two-year prison sentence for employees at detention camps to discuss the conditions there publicly. Australia and Nauru, which depends heavily on Australian foreign aid, have gone to great lengths to keep international journalists from gaining access to the detention center, in which more than 2,200 people have been held since 2012. Last year, Nauru raised the fee it charges for journalists’ visas from $200 to roughly $8,000; applicants who are turned down are not given refunds.

Scores of people who have worked at the camp have become whistle-blowers. More than 40, including medical personnel and social workers, wrote a public letter to senior government officials in July saying they would rather risk arrest than stay quiet. “If we witness child abuse in Australia we are legally obliged to report it to child protection authorities,” they wrote. “If we witness child abuse in detention centers, we can go to prison for attempting to advocate for them effectively.”

European officials have traveled to Australia on fact-finding missions recently. Mr. Abbott, who argues that aggressively intercepting the boats saves lives, has urged European governments to follow his model, and some European leaders seem so inclined.

“The Australian model may seem attractive to politicians,” said Leonard Doyle, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration. “Politicians love fences, but what fences do is create a market for smugglers and major humanitarian problems.”

The world’s war zones are all but certain to continue to churn out an extraordinary number of refugees and economic migrants in the years ahead. Those people understandably will head to the most prosperous nations, hoping to rebuild their lives. It is inexcusable that some find themselves today in situations that are more hopeless and degrading than the ones that prompted them to flee.

Australia’s Brutal Treatment of Migrants 

EMERGENZA MIGRANTI Proteste e Caos a Budapest SEPTEMBER 1, 2015

Journalists Face Jail Over Thai Trafficking Report SEPTEMBER 1, 2015

Banned cluster bombs used in Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Sudan, Libya 


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