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Can a Young American Entrepreneur Succeed Where Europe Has Failed?

Stashed in: Young Americans, Europe, Refugees United

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Where is the American succeeding and why did the Europeans fail?

Okily dokily. Thank you Geege!


I hope PW read the unabridged story.

Yes. Libyan Refugees making the dangerous trip to Italy:

This year is shaping up to be an unprecedentedly active one for “irregular migrants”—a description adopted by the United Nations to avoid stigmatizing them with the term illegal—journeying across the Mediterranean Sea. In 2009, according to Frontex, the EU’s border patrol, 11,000 people made the perilous journey from the beaches of North Africa to Italy and Malta. Two years later, the Arab Spring unleashed instability throughout the region, and the number of migrants crossing from Libya or neighboring Tunisia jumped to 64,300. Since then a devastating civil war in Syria, radical Islamic terror in Nigeria and Mali, forced military conscription in Eritrea, and the beginning of a third decade of chaos in Somalia have driven those numbers ever higher. Some refugees come from as far away as Bangladesh, driven by economic misery to make marathon odysseys by land and sea before arriving in North Africa. By the end of 2015, this year’s numbers could exceed 250,000 people.

The deepening woes of Libya, the main launching point for migrant ships, have facilitated the exodus. Operating in the anarchic country with impunity, human traffickers charge refugees between $500 and $2,000 for a journey that typically starts in Tripoli, where the migrants are warehoused for weeks and sometimes months before being trucked to beaches west of the capital. Some of these smugglers are astute businessmen who aspire to provide a safe service for their clients. (“I even heard about one smuggler who allows kids under five to ride for free,” Catrambone told me.) But the majority are unscrupulous operators who show migrants large and safe boats in Libyan ports, then pack them instead onto derelict fishing vessels or open inflatable dinghies with no safety equipment and no crew. The migrants are given a plastic bottle of water each and maybe a single compass for the two-day journey. There’s often no going back: dependent on rapid turnover and determined to prevent word from spreading about the bait and switch, the smugglers will typically force migrants to board the craft at gunpoint. The boats are piloted either by volunteers among the migrants or by a captain, hired by the smugglers, who avoids capture by leaving the boat in the middle of the journey and jumping to a smuggler mother ship. The boats are abandoned at sea and either recovered by fishermen and resold to smugglers or destroyed by EU naval forces. 

The refugees have good reason for hesitation. The crossing from Africa to Italy is now, according to the UN, “the most lethal route in the world,” with a record 3,419 migrants perishing in 2014, and another 2,000 by August 2015. On an icy February night, three of four inflatable rubber boats filled with migrants capsized in frigid, storm-tossed waters off the Libyan coast. At least 300 died, including 29 who died of hypothermia during the rescue of 106 survivors. Two months later, a 60-foot fishing boat full of migrants capsized when it collided with a Portuguese merchant vessel at night and the passengers all rushed to one side. A Bangladeshi survivor reported that smugglers had locked hundreds of people, including dozens of women and children, in the hold. Twenty-eight refugees survived.

In October 2013, Italy launched a $10-million-per-month rescue operation called Mare Nostrum, the ancient Roman name for the Mediterranean. The Italian Navy deployed an amphibious assault carrier, two frigates, and two search and rescue vessels just beyond Libyan waters—and saved 130,000 people the first year. Like MOAS, Mare Nostrum operated under the assumption that every migrant journey is a dangerous one, and its rescues targeted not only foundering vessels but also those that seemed to be in no imminent peril.