Friday, April 15, 2011

IMA condemns NATO naval forces in Mediterranean for ignoring Libyan refugee distress call

For leaving 72 Libyan refugees to die at sea

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA), a global alliance of grassroots migrant organizations and their allied and support groups, condemn in the strongest terms the criminal abandonment by the NATO naval forces and other Western coast guards of 72 Libyan refugees adrift on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to a Council of Europe inquiry, around 5pm (GMT) of March 27 2011, a distress call was sent via satellite phone alerting coast guards about 72 Libyan refugees who left Tripoli early morning of the same day and were at that time drifting at the Mediterranean. While a helicopter was reportedly sent to drop food supplies to the refugees, not one ship or any other rescue mission was reportedly made. On April 2, on its seventh day in sea, people have started to die, and on April 10, the boat with only 11 people left eventually landed in Zitlan, Libya. Two out of the 11 died shortly after.

Although the area by which the boat was located is within the military zone controlled by NATO, and despite the fact that it had prior knowledge of the refugees’ condition, no rescue operation was carried out.

This 15-day Mediterranean ordeal of the 72 Libyan refugees could have been resolved if only the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces and Western coast guards units in the area were quick to respond, assist and rescue them. There were several occasions and opportunities in which assistance, attention and rescue could have been given yet apparently none were taken.

It is deplorable for such a strong institution like the NATO to abandon any possible support or assistance that can be easily extended to people in need like the 72 Libyan refugees. It is understandable that people will try to flee Libya, a country stricken with political and military conflict, and the likes of NATO and many governments in Europe should be aware of this reality and plan sufficient assistance measures.

This incident also begs the questions on the real objectives of NATO in intervening militarily in Libya and against Qaddafi. If the intent was really to “protect civilians” from human right violation by the Libyan armed forces, then why were the 72 drifting Libyan civilians needing rescue abandoned by NATO to their own terrible fate? And if the UN and NATO were so sincere about the civilian costs of war, then why were they not ready for the predictable influx of political refugees on their shores? What has happened speaks volumes on the hypocrisy of UN-backed “humanitarian missions,” which are often used as convenient smokescreens for US and NATO to make imperialist incursions in Third World countries.

Anyone in distress at sea, regardless of their race or status, should be given immediate attention. The IMA welcomes the resolution calling on European nations to take responsibility when states like Libya refuse or is unable to conduct actions like search and rescue.

According to a Europe-based human rights watchdog, 1,500 people died at sea trying to reach Europe in 2011.

For reference:
Eni Lestari, chairperson
(852) 9608 1475

Friday, April 1, 2011

2nd International Assembly of International Migrants' Alliance (IMA)

Manila, Philippines
July 3-4, 2011

I. Introduction

The IMA international founding assembly was held in Hong Kong in June 15 to 16, 2008 and attended by 167 delegates representing 118 organizations from 25 countries. Among these, 102 were present as founding members (regular and associate members) while 16 came as observers.

The assembly was highlighted with panel presentations and discussions on various issues and resistance of im/migrants, refugees and displaced people. Likewise, the assembly approved its Basis of Unity, Constitution and By-Laws and the General Program of Action (GPOA) for the next three years.

This year, the 2nd international assembly will be held and it will gather representatives of its member organizations in various countries worldwide in order to look back on the past three years and assess the levels of struggle and resistance as well as the levels of capacity and developments of the IMA in relation to various major issues confronting migrants. We shall look both into the victories of our struggles as well as look into the points where the IMA and its members can further improve. This is important in order to formulate a more objective plan of action of the international alliance for the coming years.

Thus, the 2nd assembly will focus more on strengthening the organizational capacity of the IMA (both as an alliance as well as its members) in order for it to be more effective in addressing various issues as well as strengthening unities within the IMA and raising the alliance in new levels of international solidarity and people’s resistance against imperialism.