MORE DROWN AMID CHAOTIC RESCUE SCENES IN MID-MEDITERRANEAN
In the past two days, dozens are feared drowned in the mid-Mediterranean sea route from Libya to Italy, while over 4,000 people have been rescued. As hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers are reportedly waiting in north Africa to cross to Europe, Italian, Spanish, Libyan and EU navies carried out rescues throughout the area between Sicily and the Libyan coast. In one dramatic scene caught on camera, five refugees drowned and more than 560 were rescued by the Italian navy after a large and overcrowded fishing vessel capsized.
HUNGARY REGAINS POPULARITY AS REFUGEE ROUTE
So far this year, 12,000 refugees have made it through the razor wire fence on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, Hungarian police says. Most are caught within hours and many join those crowding the country’s jails. The majority eventually end up in one of Hungary’s three open camps. Authorities add that despite 1,000 human traffickers put on trial last year, smugglers continue to make contact with refugees looking to continue their journey toward Western Europe.
AMNESTY HEAD: EU TURNING BLIND EYE TO TURKISH HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
The head of Amnesty Internationa (AI)l says the EU has turned a blind eye to Turkey’s human rights violations in its rush to stop the refugee influx. AI Secretary-General Salil Shetty added, “Europe has to take each asylum-seeker case by case. They lecture the whole world about human rights and the first time there is a real test for them, they are not living up to all their claims.” Shetty also noted Turkey has reneged on its open borders policy: “They shoot at people who are coming across; and if anybody gets through, they put them into detention centers.”
RAIL INDUSTRY WELCOMES RE-OPENING OF IDOMENI LINE
The Greek railway industry has welcomed the closing of the Idomeni refugee camp as long overdue. Local transporters’ association representative Anastasios Sachpelidis said of the closure: “We lost clients, we lost money, time and our credibility.” The camp had occupied a key rail artery across the border with FYROM, choking off Greece’s main freight route to the rest of Europe. It also complicated the privatization of the country’s rail freight business, a condition of its international bailout. Officials say it will take up to 10 days to fully restore rail traffic.