Socialist Worker

Refugees stranded at sea by racist Italian government

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2649

Migrants trapped on the Alan Kurdi ship

Refugees trapped on the Alan Kurdi ship (Pic: sea-eye on Facebook)


A rescue ship carrying 64 refugees is stuck at sea after the Italian and Maltese governments refused to let it dock on Thursday.

The German charity Sea-Eye’s ship, the Alan Kurdi, rescued the refugees off the Libyan coast on Wednesday.

The refugees, including ten women and six children, are stuck at sea in rough weather and with few supplies. A message from the Alan Kurdi crew reports, “It’s raining, the wind is blowing ever more strongly.

“The captain has ordered everyone to go below deck. There aren’t any safe ports for us so far.

“We are in communication with the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany and hope for a swift resolution.”

Italy’s racist interior minister Matteo Salvini of the Lega party said the ship should “go to Hamburg”.

Carlotta Weible from Sea-Eye said sailing to Hamburg in northern Germany was “completely out of the question”.

“It’s a journey of three or four weeks and we don’t have food and water,” she said.  

Deadly

The standoff over the Alan Kurdi is another reminder of Europe’s deadly immigration system.   

The Sea-Eye ship rescued the 64 refugees from a rubber dingy as it was looking for another boat with 50 people on board. It has not been found, bringing the total number of refugees who have been reported as missing in the Mediterranean to 100 in the last four days.

Weible warned, “Their chances of survival are low”.

Salvini has repeatedly used racism in an attempt to gain votes. He stopped the Doctors Without Borders rescue ship Aquarius from docking last June, then later ordered its seizure. It was forced to cease operations.

The Italian government has created a foul racist atmosphere. In the latest of a series of attacks on Roma, hundreds of fascists, far right activists and local residents took to the streets of a Rome suburb on Tuesday in a violent protest against 70 Roma people.

Nearly half of them were children and they were all to be temporarily transferred to a reception centre in the area.

Italys war on Roma
Italy's war on Roma
  Read More

Demonstrators set fire to cars and bins, destroyed food that was meant for Roma and prevented their entry into a shelter for vulnerable people.

On Wednesday, Rome’s city council, which is controlled by the Five Star Movement, capitulated and announced it had decided to relocate the Roma in another area.

The brutal treatment of refugees isn’t just down to far right or racist governments. It flows from the EU’s “Fortress Europe” policy, which is designed to strictly control the trading bloc’s borders.

A week ago the EU suspended sea patrols in the Mediterranean. They were dropped after the Italian government threatened to block an extension to Operation Sophia.

This EU-led military operation was launched in 2015 amid growing numbers of refugees trying to make it to safety in Europe. While rescuing some refugees, its aim was to try to stop people from making the journey to Europe.

And the EU has made it harder for refugees by closing off shorter, safer routes into Europe.

The refugees are fleeing war, poverty, dictatorship and catastrophic climate change. The only solution is to open the borders and let the refugees in to safety.


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