After Italy announced a new security bill on Aug. 5 that says skippers of vessels transporting immigrants to Italian ports without permission could face fines up to €1 million ($1.120.000 USD) and their vessels impounded, actor Richard Gere hopped on an immigrants’ boat today close to Italian island Lampedusa.
Gere took food on board the Spanish-flagged Open Arms between Tunisia and Malta and released a video message praising the ship’s work and asking for a port to receive the boat.
Open Arms has been in the Mediterranean for eight days with 121 Africans after Italy and Malta declined to receive them.
In response, Italian deputy PM Matteo Salvini stated both on twitter and in a video interview with La Repubblica “let’s hope he (Gere) gets tanned and that he feels good. I don’t think he will be lacking in anything. I wish him a good trip.”
“We’ve told the Spanish government that since it is a Spanish NGO waving a Spanish flag and since there are so many Spanish mayors ready to welcome a Spanish NGO, it needs to go to a Spanish port,” he added. “Also because they’ve been still for eight days, 30 miles off of Lampedusa, and in eight days they could have gone and returned to Ibiza or Formentera three times.”
Salvini, like Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, is known in Europe for being very vocal about his stance on immigration.
Lybian traffickers: the “Al Bija Boys”
According to a UN Security Council report, the commander Abd al-Rahman Milad, better known as Commander “Al Bija” is head of the self-proclaimed coast guard of Zawia, Libya.
He is in charge of the so-called “Al Bija Boys”, all with military training who have been providing the NGOs with illegal immigrants.
The Al Bija Boys, who are also suspected to be involved in oil thefts, provide the NGOs with illegal immigrants, escorting them to their vessels in the Mediterranean.
Amnesty International published an appeal on Aug. 8 for the ship “to be allowed to dock immediately” adding that “Spanish authorities have yet to formally request help from European institutions to mediate a solution.”
Meanwhile European Parliament president David Sassoli sent a letter to outgoing European Commissioner president Jean-Claude Juncker asking for the vessel to be immediately assisted.
A European Commission spokesperson confirmed today that the Commission will reply within the next few days.
“The Commission has not initiated coordination as there has been no request by a member state,” affirmed Annika Breidthardt. “We have however (…) reached out to member states asking them to show solidarity and to contribute to finding a solution for the persons on board.”
“The Commission has no competence when it comes to coordination of search and rescue activities,” she added.
The Ocean Viking replaces the Aquarius
On July 18, SOS Méditerranée went back at sea with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) on board its new ship, the Ocean Viking, and launched an appeal for donations from Europeans. Co-founder Sophie Beau affirmed that the vessel costs €14,000 ($15.700 USD) a day. What she fails to mention is how much SOS Méditerranée receives per immigrant that steps foot on European soil.
SOS Méditerranée, known for its Aquarius ship which was operating from February 2016 to October 2018 alongside MSF, says it “works as a European association with teams in Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland in a European network” and that it is financed “exclusively through donations”.
Aquarius stopped operating after Italy ordered its seizure in November when port health authorities registered 5,088 medical cases including scabies, meningitis, tuberculosis, AIDS and syphilis among the immigrants it had transported.
Italian authorities fined MSF €460,000 ($515.400 USD) and froze some of its bank accounts based in Italy. They also investigated 24 people for ‘‘trafficking and the illegal management of waste,” including Aquarius captain Evgenii Talanin and the deputy head of the Italy mission of MSF Belgium, Michele Trainiti.
Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros –whose Jewish surname was originally Schwartz but changed in 1936– is known to finance several of these “rescue” organisations.
Amnesty International has ties with the oligarch whom some accuse of being involved in Europe’s human trafficking industry. Soros’ institution, Open Society Foundations, helped boost Amnesty International Ireland’s operating surplus by 70 per cent with an unlawful donation later used in a campaign to push pro-abortion laws in Ireland.
Ever since Lybia, one of Africa’s richest countries, was bombed by the West into Stone Age and long-ruling Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011, about a third of the population now live under the poverty line despite having the largest oil reserves in Africa.
As it continues to sink into poverty, its oil money disappears into foreign bank accounts. Oil traders can exploit different exchange rates which leaves the country receiving less than it is due for its crude.
The main routes that “NGOs” use to traffic immigrants from north Africa into Europe are via Spain, Italy and Greece. Greece has received the highest number in recent years due to the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.