AFRICA/LIBYA - "By blocking visas, Europe pushes immigrants into the arms of traffickers", says Fr. Zerai

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Tripoli (Agenzia Fides) - "There are at least two factors that explain the increase in the number of people trying to cross the Mediterranean with boats" says to Fides Agency Don Mussie Zerai Yosief, President of the Habeshia Agency for cooperation and development.
"In the first place, in Sudan the local authorities are doing round ups of illegal immigrants in Khartoum and other cities. We are in particular talking about Ethiopians and Eritreans, who are sent back to their Countries, where they are subject to persecution. The insecurity in which these people live becomes a motivation to reach Europe".
"Every day - adds Fr. Zerai – people are kidnapped in Sudanese refugee camps to be sold in the Sinai. Others are kidnapped on the border between Sudan, Libya and Egypt, where there are containers in which the hostages are held. The kidnappers initially put themselves in contact with the families of the kidnapped for ransom. If the family cannot pay, the hostages are sold to other traffickers who transport them to Egypt, where they are used as slaves in agriculture and construction field. Others are involved by force in the trafficking of arms and drugs, and still others become victims of organ trafficking".
The same - continues Fr. Zerai - happens in Libya, where migrants are constantly blackmailed, robbed, or locked up in detention centers where they have to pay more than 700-1000 dollars to get out".
Fr. Zerai states: "it is not true that there are controls on the Libyan border. The Libyan border control exists but has turned into a business, since the days of Gaddafi. The same happens today, only that there is no regime but hundreds of militias involved in this dirty game".
Fr. Zerai states that "Libya's southern borders are well guarded to control migrants from Chad, Niger, Sudan, by the militia, who, however, are doing business with the traffickers. Each person has to pay 700-1000 dollars to enter Libya, plus another sum of money to cross the Mediterranean.
Before leaving the migrants have already collected the amount required to overcome the various checkpoints".
"The responsibility of this tragedy is partly European", says the priest, " because the Embassies of European Countries have blocked the release of visas. For example, the Italian embassy in Ethiopia, Sudan Kenya and Uganda, are blocking the visas of thousands of women and children, waiting to come to Italy to be reunited with their relatives, despite the grant of permission by the Ministry of the Interior. The desperation of these people is pushing them to travel via Libya to reach Italy illegally. Closing the legal access, you push these people into the hands of traffickers", said the priest . (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 15/05/2014)