World View: Europe Tries to Deal with Increasing Flood of Migrants from Africa

World View: Europe Tries to Deal with Increasing Flood of Migrants from Africa

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Europe tries to deal with increasing flood of migrants from Africa
  • United Nations accuses Syria of continuing use of chemical weapons
  • Israel’s army exchanges fire with Syria’s al-Nusra front

Europe tries to deal with increasing flood of migrants from Africa

The number of migrants leaving Africa on unsafe smugglers’ boatshoping to reach Europe has been surging this year. This year, 110,000people have been rescued from drowning on the unsafe trip, hoping toreach the southern tip of Sicily. That figure is up from 42,000 inall of 2013. Some 1,900 others have died this year during the perilouscrossing. The numbers have surged this year because of the unrest inSyria and Libya. Last weekend, an Italian navy patrol boat found 73migrants on board a rubber dinghy, along with 18 dead bodies. 

There were two tragic shipwrecks last October in which more than 400Eritrean, Somali, and Syrian migrants drowned. (“16-Oct-13 World View — Sicily declares state of emergency as African migrants flood in”

After that, Italy began spending $13 million dollars per month on aprogram called “Mare Nostrum” to rescue drowning migrants trying toreach Sicily. The Italian program has had the undesirable consequenceof motivating more migrants to risk making the trip, since they have agood chance of being rescued by the Italians in case of mishap. 

In fact, critics are complaining that Italy’s rescue program is makingthe problem worse. These are presumably not the same critics who, lastOctober, were condemning Italy for doing nothing to keep migrants fromdrowning. 

Italy has been demanding that the EU do more to help out, since mostof the migrants want to settle in northern Europe, not in Italy.Unsurprisingly, northern European countries are not rushing to spendtheir own money on illegal migrants, since they can just leave Italystuck with the entire bill, and because paying to save drowningmigrants is politically unpopular. 

Still, the European Commission agreed Wednesday to expand its Frontexborder agency into a program called “Frontex Plus,” which will takesome of the load from Italy. EU member states will be encouraged tocontribute planes, ships, and personnel to the program, scheduled forlaunch in November. Euro News and APand Daily Mail (London)

United Nations accuses Syria of continuing use of chemical weapons

A new report by the U.N. Human Rights Council’s independent commissionof inquiry on Syria accuses the regime of Syria’s president Basharal-Assad of multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity, includingthe use of chemical weapons. 

Both Syria’s government and the opposing unnamed “non-state armedgroups,” presumably referring to the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria(IS or ISIS), or one of its predecessors, are accused of massacres and war crimes.

However, the U.N. report singles out the al-Assad regime for thecontinuing use of chemical weapons: 

Government forces continued to perpetrate massacresand conduct widespread attacks on civilians, systematicallycommitting murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearanceamounting to crimes against humanity. Government forces havecommitted gross violations of human rights and the war crimes ofmurder, hostage-taking, torture, rape and sexual violence,recruiting and using children in hostilities and targetingcivilians.

Government forces disregarded the special protection accorded tohospitals and medical and humanitarian personnel. Indiscriminateand disproportionate aerial bombardment and shelling led to masscivilian casualties and spread terror. Government forces usedchlorine gas, an illegal weapon…

116. Witnesses saw helicopters drop barrel bombs an d smelled ascent akin to domestic chlorine immediately followingimpact. Accounts of victims, and of medical personnel involved inadministering treatment, provide descriptions of symptomscompatible with exposure to chemical agents, namely vomiting, eyea nd skin irritation, choking and other respiratory problems.

117. Chlorine gas is a chemical weapon as defined in theConvention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production,Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction,of 1992. The use of chemical weapons is prohibited in allcircumstances under customary international humanitarian law andis a w ar crime under the Rome Statute of the InternationalCriminal Court.

As we’ve pointed out in the past, the policy of Russia’s presidentVladimir Putin to continue to provide masses of heavy weapons for theal-Assad regime to use against innocent civilians makes Vladimir Putina war criminal as well. 

Al-Assad’s actions, startingin 2011 against innocent protesters, including women and children, hasturned Syria into a global “jihadist magnet,” and has led to thecreation of ISIS. If ISIS is now a danger to the al-Assad regime,then al-Assad has no one to blame but himself, although therest of us have to suffer as well.

U.N. report and Full Report PDF

Israel’s army exchanges fire with Syria’s al-Nusra front

Forces from the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front)militias in southern Syria apparently overran Syrian regime forces andtook control of the town of Quneitra, on the border with the GolanHeights, as well as the Quneitra border crossing into Israel. Mortarshells, apparently fired by al-Nusra, landed in Israeli territory,wounding one Israeli and damaging several vehicles. 

Al-Nusra began as a rebel militia fighting against the Syrian regimeof Bashar al-Assad, and later joined al-Qaeda. It’s frequently foughtagainst ISIS to gain territory, as often as it’s fought the al-Assadregime. What appears to be happening is that al-Nusra is gainingground in southeastern Syria, defeating both ISIS and the Syrianregime. 

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) responded to the cross-border firewith artillery fire of its own. However, Israel has no intention toget involved in fighting over Quneitra, according to Yaakov Amidror,former head of Israelis National Security Council. According toAmidror, Israel will not get involved unless one of three red lines iscrossed: 

  • Firing across the border into Israel’s Golan Heights,
  • The transfer of strategic weapons to Hezbollah,
  • The proliferation of chemical arms.

According to Amidror, “From our point of view there is a very clearred line, and this is the border. We should not interfere on the otherside of the border to save [either] one of the two sides.” Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Europe, Africa, Sicily, Libya,Mare Nostrum, Frontex Plus, Syria, Bashar al-AssadIslamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL,Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, UN Human Rights Council,Russia, Vladimir Putin, Quneitra, Golan Heights, Israel,Yaakov Amidror 

Permanent web link to this article

Receive daily World View columns by e-mail