Some in the Tavern today were so. They considered. They discerned and discriminated. They brought some news of the disaster that is happening in the Mediterranean and the bad people behind it. It was a depressing exercise in soul searching and not a little alarming to consider just how easy it is for 'do-good' types to be deceived by the bad.
Been there, you see. Done that. One gets to an age when one can look back and see the stupid we were, and the bad. We are grateful for being put back on a path to Good. Forgive us for we know not what we do much of the time. Is the world becoming insane?
I pulled pints for folk to stare into as they listened.
First up was Nicholas Farrell. He was swiftly followed by a lady close to the PTB.
The rescue racketAre aid agencies colluding with people smugglers?What is happening in the 300-mile stretch of sea between Sicily and Libya, day in and day out — in other words, what ‘we’ are doing there — is beyond reasonable doubt insane.A sane person would assume that the 181,436 migrants (a new record) who made it by sea to Italy last year had done so under their own steam in flimsy fishing boats and dinghies at least some of the way across the Mediterranean.
This, after all, is the message aid agencies and governments put out.
In fact, every one of those 181,436 was picked up by EU and non-government aid-agency vessels off the Libyan coast just outside the 12-mile territorial limit, then ferried across to Europe.
The people-smuggler boats — more often than not these days dangerously unseaworthy rubber dinghies — chug out towards the 12-mile limit, send out a distress signal, and Bob’s your uncle.Nearly all the migrants arriving in Italy are young men from West Africa, not refugees. They have the cash for a ticket on a smuggler boat (€1,500, give or take) so are not destitute.
That’s getting on for £300 million in ticket sales last year.
West African migrants are big business.
The justification for the presence of the EU and aid-agency fleets in the southern Mediterranean is to save lives, and in the case of the EU’s Operation Sophia to arrest people smugglers and destroy their boats. If the fleets did not patrol, there would be far fewer deaths, because far fewer migrants would dare to put to sea. There would be far fewer people smugglers. Yet thanks to this enormous rescue fleet, the Italian interior ministry expects 250,000 more migrant boat people.
The madness does not end here. There’s reason to suspect that the people smugglers are actually in direct contact with aid agencies, which is why they are so often first on the scene to rescue migrant boats — and this is a criminal offence.Last week, the chief prosecutor in Catania, Carmelo Zuccaro, revealed details of an investigation he has just begun amid growing suspicions of collusion between the agencies and the people smugglers. Where is the line, he asked, between aid and facilitation?He told Italian MPs: ‘The NGOs often work near to the coast and territory of Libya. We have calculated that in the last four months of 2016, 30 per cent of the rescues which landed at Catania were carried out by these organisations. In the first months of 2017, that percentage has grown to at least 50 per cent.’
This Sicilian judge said the country with the most aid agencies operating in the central Mediterranean was Germany, with five organisations and six vessels (one costing £350,000 per month to keep at sea — over £4 million a year).‘We must solve the problem of where the money comes from to sustain such high costs — who are the sources of this finance?
We shall be doing checks on the NGOs who bring migrants into our jurisdiction. It is notable that the NGO ships are nearly always the nearest to the location of the emergency.‘It’s not a crime to invade the waters of a foreign country to pick them up. What is punishable is bringing them to Italy without respecting the rules of engagement… vessels should take migrants to the nearest port, which is certainly not Italy.’ The nearest safe port, in fact, would be in Tunisia.Last month the EU’s border agency, Frontex, also accused aid agencies of activities which ‘help criminals achieve their objectives at minimum cost, strengthen their business model by increasing the chances of success’.Its annual report says the smugglers now hardly bother to telephone the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome to be picked up, preferring to call aid-agency vessels directly. The reason is obvious: these people will not arrest them or confiscate their vessels.
And who is to stop this insanity? This stupidity? This subborning of compassion to serve the mad and the bad, the wicked and the dealers in death? I do not think it us useful to look to the Euopean Union to stop the rackets, the deaths, the corruption and the lies. Nicholas was given some support in his assessment by Janice Atkinson MEP, a lady who one can imagine went to the EU Parliament with good intention. She spoke up from a dark corner near the fireplace.
Since June 2016, many boats have been rescued near the Libyan coast by aid-agency vessels ‘without any prior distress call’, suggesting the rendezvous has been pre-arranged. In Italy, the lynch-mob principle of ‘he must have done it’ is enough to secure convictions, so prosecutions are a distinct possibility.But the only way to solve the migrant crisis — as the Frontex report says — is to stop all these West Africans getting to Libya. This would ensure too that the aid-agency humanitarians are not led into further temptation.
Nicholas Farrell is absolutely right that the aid agencies are colluding with the people smugglers.I sit on the EU’s LIBE committee – human rights, migration, etc, where I continually raise the problems of the ‘human rights industry’ and, having visited many of the Greek migrant camps and been to the Calais jungle on numerous occasions,
I have seen this collusion at first hand.
I have confronted the UNHCR, various aid agencies and Doctors Without Borders, discussed the people trafficking with the migrants and MEPs who refuse to listen.
From Mrs Merkel’s EPP MEPs, UKIP’s partners, the Five Star Movement to the extreme left, they all believe that migrants are refugees and not economic migrants. The young, middle class women from Five Star openly state that ‘we should build a bridge from Africa to the EU’.
The EPP are no better. When I call for the aid agencies to lose their EU cash, I am treated with disdain and called heartless. When I call on the cash to be redirected to destroying the people smugglers and their boats, they raise their eyes to the hemicycle’s rafters, where I rather suspect they would like to hang me.
And the evidence of collusion - and worse - pours in. Andrea Vogt gave it. And it is depressingly familiar. The ones who started out on that Good path are sometimes diverted into the swamps and pits and dank places where evil lies.
Priest among 68 arrests as Italy cracks open mafia ring running migrant centreTens of millions of euros in public funds destined for migrant reception centres in Italy have allegedly been syphoned off in one of the biggest mafia scams of recent times, it has been claimed.
More than 68 people were arrested in the dawn raids carried out by Italian authorities on Monday – including the parish priest and the head of the Catholic association managing one of Europe’s largest migrant and asylum seeker reception centres in the Calabrian town of Isola di Capo Rizzuto.“The welcome centre was the cash machine for the ‘Ndrangheta clan,”
said Carabinieri General Giuseppe Governale.The sting, dubbed "Operation Jonny," is said to have involved more than 500 law enforcement agents, many of whom are believed to have worked long periods undercover to secretly record and expose the alleged infiltration of the Arena family, one of the ferocious 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate clans, into the lucrative area of migrant management.The Isola di Capo Rizzuto migrant and asylum seeker reception centre on the Calabrian coast near Crotone is one of the largest such reception points in Europe, capable of hosting up to 1,600 people.
Of the more than 103 million euros in EU and Italian funds directed to the centre between 2006 and 2015, approximately 36 million euros were syphoned off by the Arena family or otherwise misused, Italian police have said.The head of the Catholic Misericordia association that operates the centre, Leonardo Sacco, is accused of helping the clan land contracts for catering services at Isola Capo Rizzuto as well as at a centre on the island of Lampedusa, two of first places in Italy where migrants are brought onto European soil after being rescued at sea.
The skimming resulted in a scarcity of food and sub-standard meals, prosecutors maintain.“There was never enough food and we even filmed the quality of food: it was the kind of food we usually give to the pigs,” said the Catanzaro prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, one of Italy’s toughest anti-mafia magistrates.“There were companies set up purposely for food service and with that money they bought theatres, cinemas, apartments, land, cars and luxury boats.”Even the town’s parish priest, Father Edoardo Scordio, is accused of taking €132,000 (£110,000) in 2017 alone for services related to “spiritual assistance” at the centre.
|Highly paid dupe?|
Yet National Anti-Corruption Authority czar Raffaele Cantone said he believed the operation may have “only revealed the tip of the iceberg.”
|It takes Christ to forgive such sin|
Such vast sums of 'other people's money' that are taxes and duties and imposts etc levied by Governments are aimed with such care that it makes trickle-down economics looks respectable. The opportunities for graft, corruption and theft, not to mention the Destruction of Souls is immense. The compassionate are duped; the stupid go blindly where their 'betters' direct them: the bad flourish.
About 175,000 people are currently housed in Italy’s reception centres, where the state provides food, clothing, language lessons, health care and a small amount of pocket money. More than 45,000 people have arrived this year alone, a 44 per cent increase from the same period in 2016. But, as part of their investigation, the Crotone prefecture said it appeared the official number of people recorded at the centre was inflated so that management could skim funding from the state for “ghost” migrants.The Arena clan had already been busted once back in 2012 after police seized €350 million worth of assets, including one of Europe’s largest wind farms.
Weep into your ales.
Tip a little water into your wine.