Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.

Frontex in the dark over Italian rescue operations

Italian authorities are not sharing data about rescue operations with Frontex and are keeping the number of people rescued under wraps

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan
6 September 2016, 7:30am
Sources close to the Armed Forces of Malta said that Frontex normally holds and provides such data and “if they don’t have the numbers then information is being withheld by the Italians”
Sources close to the Armed Forces of Malta said that Frontex normally holds and provides such data and “if they don’t have the numbers then information is being withheld by the Italians”
As Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s political future hinges on the result of next month’s constitutional referendum, Italy is coordinating the rescue operations in the central Mediterranean in which at least 13,000 asylum seekers have been rescued at sea in just under a week. 

However, the Italian authorities are not sharing the data with Frontex – the EU agency coordinating external border control – and are keeping the number of people rescued under wraps.

A Frontex spokesperson told MaltaToday that although the agency is actively participating in the rescue operations, the Italian authorities “are not sharing” the data on how many people were rescued or how many people lost their lives last week. 

Sources close to the Armed Forces of Malta said that Frontex normally holds and provides such data and “if they don’t have the numbers then information is being withheld by the Italians.”

Questions sent to the Italian Navy remain unanswered.

On Wednesday, the AFM was asked to assist in the rescue of asylum seekers off the coast of Libya and its vessel P61 landed 272 people in Catania, Sicily. 

According to Doctors Without Borders, which operates a rescue ship in the Mediterranean, the number of rescued asylum seekers since Sunday reached 13,000 on Friday. 

But these numbers have yet to be confirmed as MaltaToday is informd that thousands of asylum seekers are at sea on a daily basis. 

So far this year, (as of 21 August), 269,244 arrivals were recorded by sea to Europe, according to the International Organisation of Migration. Of these, 3,164 are indicated to be dead or missing. 

As of 24 August, 100,244 arrived in Italy through the Central Mediterranean route, with none arriving in Malta. 

On the same route, 2,725 deaths were recorded, with the number of fatalities in 2016 higher than in the same period last year.  

In October, Italians will vote on constitutional reforms championed by Renzi, which include plans to strip the Italian Senate of much of its power. 

It is thought that the numbers might be concealed by the Italian authorities because of the importance of the referendum for Renzi’s political project. 

Concerns on migration, along with fears on Italy’s slouching economy and fragile banking system could swing the vote against Renzi, which could see him resign and trigger another political crisis in Italy and the EU.

The closure of European borders means that refugees have been left bottled up inside Italy, which is struggling to find places to host them. Italian reception centres now shelter 145,000 migrants and refugees, an increase of over 50% since the beginning of the year.    

Thousands of asylum seekers are “racing against the clock” to make the perilous crossing from Libya to Europe before summer ends, with authorities in the conflict-torn country at a loss about how to stem the flow.

Most of the migrants from the Horn of Africa and the west of the continent set out from the Libyan town of Sabratha, just 300 kilometres across the Mediterranean from the Italian island of Lampedusa. 

On Friday, Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni urged “the utmost collaboration” from Libya which is torn between opposing political factions and militias as well as by Islamic State fighters who were recently driven out from the coastal city of Sirte.

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...