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Nearly 6,000 immigrants died on the frontiers of Europe since 1988

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  • May 9, 2008 -- Amnesty International today called on the Moroccan government to immediately open a comprehensive, independent and impartial investigation into claims that at least 28 migrants drowned at sea after their boat was jostled and punctured by members of the Moroccan security forces.

    Amnesty International has spoken to some of the survivors. According to their testimonies at least 28 persons drowned, including four children aged between two and four years old. One Nigerian woman said her daughter Soses, aged three years and four months, was among the dead.

    Moroccan authorities have categorically denied that anyone in the security forces was responsible for these deaths at sea, off the port of Al Hoceima, on Monday 28 April. They said that the security forces had rescued people about to die and also collected ten bodies.

    Survivors of the drowning said that the inflatable boat which 72 of them had boarded was approached by four Moroccan members of the security forces on a boat, who asked them to stop. The migrants said that they refused to stop so the Moroccan security forces came closer to their boat, started to shake it, and then one member of the security forces punctured the inflatable boat in four places with a knife.

    The survivors of the drowning were rescued by two other boats of the Moroccan security forces and taken back to land. Some of the dead bodies were also reportedly transported back to the shore. Once on land, two survivors were taken to hospital, while the others were taken to a police station where their photographs and fingerprints were taken. They told Amnesty International that they were later taken on a truck over night and left near the city of Oujda, at the frontier with Algeria, in what appears to be a summary expulsion.

    “We have asked for an investigation into these deaths, that the results are made public and that anyone found responsible for causing the deaths be brought to justice,” said Amnesty International.

    “However, previous investigations opened by the Moroccan authorities into migrants shot dead in Ceuta and Mellila in 2005 and in Western Sahara in 2007 have not so far been concluded. The Moroccan authorities must give a clear signal that, if there is a case to answer, the security forces will be held accountable.”


    • May 9, 2008 -- Princess Cruises has told Cruise Critic that its U.K.-based ship, Sea Princess, picked up a group of eight Algerian refugees during a Mediterranean cruise.

      A Cruise Critic member alerted us to the fact the 77,690-ton, 1,950-passenger ship was sailing from Ajaccio to Gibraltar on Tuesday when it went to the aid of a small boat which staff presumed was in distress.

      It turned out that this wasn't the case at all, and when crew from Sea Princess began the rescue it became clear the group were refugees.

      A spokesperson for Princess Cruises confirmed to Cruise Critic that the group has been examined by medical staff and are in good health. The ship is due to arrive in Southampton tomorrow and the refugees will be handed over to authorities.


      • Samedi 10 Mai 2008 -- Un bateau Britannique a sauvé, avant-hier, la vie de huit immigrés clandestins algériens en méditerranée, qui voulaient rejoindre les plages Espagnoles.

        « Ocean Cruises », qui est une compagnie qui organise des croisières, a indiqué, avant-hier, dans un communiqué, qu’un de ses bateaux, « Sea Princess » «princesse de la mer », a sauvé huit immigrés clandestins algériens à bord d’une barque en plein naufrage.

        « Sea Princess » naviguait en méditerranée entre Ajaccio, près de l’ile Françaises, la Corse, et Gibraltar, qui est sous la souveraineté des Britanniques.

        La porte-parole de « Sea Princess » a déclaré que les algériens qui ont été sauvés sont, maintenant, en bonne santé après avoir reçus les premiers soins, et après avoir été examinés par les médecins du bateau.

        « Sea Princess » arrive aujourd’hui au port de Southampton, Sud de l’Angleterre, où il est prévu de livrer les algériens aux services d’immigration en tant que réfugiés. Les lois de la navigation internationale exigent aux bateaux commerciaux et voyageurs de venir en aide aux personnes en danger et de les transporter vers l’endroit le plus proche.

        A rappeler que « Oceana » avait sauvé, le 7 Mai 2007, sept algériens qui étaient sur le point de mourir. Ces derniers ont été transportés vers le port de Southampton.


        • Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post

          May 11, 2008 -- Moroccan officials lambasted a Spanish journalist on Friday (May 9th) for unsubstantiated claims that Moroccan naval forces intentionally punctured an inflatable raft in the Mediterranean on April 28th and caused the drowning deaths of 28 immigrants. The Moroccan Ministry of Communications accused the writer for Spanish newspaper El Pais of reporting "in a totally false way, based on statements of unknown people without trying to verify information from reliable sources, which misleads readers and undermines the respect for ethics by this journalist," MAP reported. After El Pais reported the boat story, Human Rights Watch called for immediate investigation into the case. Mohammed El Boukili, a senior member of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH), said his staff has been trying to find out more about what happened, but were unable to verify the claims of the surviving immigrants.


          • May 13, 2008 -- Some 47 illegal immigrants attempting the dangerous trip from the Libyan port of Zawara to Italy died of starvation and cold some 250 km southeast of Tunis, Reuters cited a report in the local Assabah el Ousboue as saying on Monday (May 12th). After the engine of the boat broke down, some were forced to throw bodies in the sea to prevent the vessel from sinking. The Tunisian coastguard rescued the 16 survivors.


            • Lundi 19 Mai 2008 -- L’avocate des algériens détenus en Lybie, Me Fatma Zohra Ben Brahem, a révélé que les autorités Libyennes compétentes ont arrêté ces derniers jours, 60 Haragas algériens, qui ont transité par les territoires Libyens pour immigrer en Italie.

              Tout en expliquant que la situation juridique des Haragas est complètement différente de la situation classique des prisonniers algériens, l’avocate Ben Brahem a affirmé à El Khabar que les autorités algériennes peuvent demander à leurs homologues Libyennes d’extrader les 60 prisonniers algériens. Elle a expliqué que cela ne nécessite pas plus que l’activation des relations diplomatiques entre les deux pays. Elle a toutefois estimé que le problème est que les autorités algériennes ignorent si ces algériens sont détenus dans des prisons. Ce qui est sur c’est que ces derniers n’ont pas encore été jugés et que les autorités concernées les ont orientés vers des camps de regroupement d’immigrés.

              L’avocate a expliqué que les lois internationales affirment le droit de ces personnes d’être reconduits aux frontières entre les deux pays, malgré qu’ils aient été jugés. Elle a, cependant, indiqué le risque de les reconduire vers les frontières Sahariennes entre les deux pays. Elle a considéré qu’il est nécessaire de promouvoir les relations diplomatiques entre les deux pays, de manière à assurer le transport aux Haragas algériens, qui transitent par le territoire Libyen pour immigrer en Italie, afin d’assurer leur retour à leurs proches.


              • Stephanie Nolen:

                THIAROYE-SUR-MER, SENEGAL, May 20, 2008 — A dozen young men beam out from the photograph on Yayi Diouf's desk, their arms wrapped around each other's shoulders, their grins wide, their eyes alive with hope and possibility. Over on the left of the photograph, squashed between a couple of his closest pals, is her son Alion Mar. The picture was taken in early March of 2006, the night before he climbed aboard a six-metre wooden fishing canoe with an outboard motor and set out across the Atlantic for a new life in Europe.

                Ms. Diouf had pushed him to make the trip. She sold her wedding jewellery to raise money to help pay for his passage. She was anxious for him have new opportunities, anxious to see her own status improve in relation to her husband's other wives and children when Alion, 26, started to send back euros he earned in Spain or Italy.

                But two weeks after the pirogue set out, a phone call came, from another young man from this small fishing town near the Senegalese capital, a fellow who had already made it to Europe. Alion's pirogue had washed ashore after capsizing somewhere off Algeria. He was lost, presumed dead, and so were the other 79 young men from Thiaroye-sur-Mer.

                "He was my only son," said Ms. Diouf, gently setting his photograph aside on the desk in her tiny, dusty office. "In this society, it's males that are important; a house with 1,000 women and one son, it's a house with one son."

                It is the sons who risk their lives to make the trip to Europe, seeking jobs and cash to send home, and sons who run the lucrative smuggling rings that pack young men from across West Africa into fishing boats bound for the Canary Islands, the southernmost toe of Europe.

                But it is the women of Thiaroye-sur-Mer who are now saying, 'Enough.' It is the women who have banded together to create new jobs in their town, the women who are turning in the smugglers to police, the women who were recognized last week by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade for their work to fight what they call l'immigration clandestine.

                Not long after Ms. Diouf lost her son, two more boatloads left Thiaroye-sur-Mer. Neither reached Europe. In total, 209 young men were lost.

                "Finally, that gave women the spirit to organize," said Ms. Diouf, an imperious 49-year-old in a billowing yellow dress and head wrap who has stepped deftly into the role of bossy local leader.

                "We said, 'All of these young men from the same community, the same neighbourhood, it must stop.' "

                Last year, she founded an anti-illegal-immigration group with other women who had lost sons. They canvassed the same European countries that draw their sons to give them small cash grants so they could start processing and freezing fish, then offered some of the smugglers in town an alternative way to earn a living.

                Their organization has grown to 35 chapters here and in Mali, with nearly 400 members.

                Every time a mother reports to them that her own son is thinking of buying a place on a pirogue, they send a squad of women who have lost their own boys to talk him out of it. "I say to them, 'Ours is a very young country and it will be built by you, the young people. Stay here and build your country.' "

                Ms. Diouf insists her words have an impact - "I'm the prototypical victim; they must listen to me."

                But in truth, there is little sign that the story of her lost son, however moving, and the work of her organization, is having any success in arresting the traffic of young men. It has slowed in the past six months, but only because European nations have stepped up their naval patrols of the Senegalese and Mauritanian coastlines, and Spain has hardened its policy of hunting for and immediately deporting illegal immigrants.

                United Nations agencies put the estimate of sub-Saharan Africans who attempt to cross to Europe at about 40,000 each year. In Europe, they are often condemned for burdening social services or forcing down wages for blue-collar jobs. But this side of the immigration story, of the communities that risk and lose a large portion of a generation of young people, is heard far less often.

                The would-be migrants are from all over West Africa - from Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea - here to Senegal or neighbouring Mauritania, in both of which a lucrative human-smuggling operation thrives.

                Spain alone received 18,600 Senegalese illegal immigrants in 2006; on a single day in September, more than 1,000 arrived. Spain also receives most of the failed candidates. Hundreds of bodies wash up on the coast, while thousands more are never found. Spanish authorities estimated that 6,000 Senegalese died attempting the crossing in 2006.

                It is not Senegal's poorest people, in remote Sahel farming villages, making this trip, but rather those who have had some exposure to the West through education and news media and whose families invest in their trips. This town is suffering, like many other coastal communities, because of the collapse of the global fishery. There are few wage-paying jobs here, none that compare to the $70 average daily wage in Spain. People in Thiaroye-sur-Mer have seen iPods on television, and they have a concrete image of just what their "better" lives should look like.

                "We were excited by our friends who went to Europe. They had nice houses, nice cars," said Niang Boubacar. "Here, life was so hard. We could just fish all the time. So we wanted to go to improve our lives."

                A couple of years ago, he hung up his fishing nets and used his renown as a navigator to get a job captaining a smuggling pirogue; he planned to make a few return trips to Europe and then stay there himself. But three separate times, Mr. Boubacar, now 50, nearly drowned in heavy storms near Gibraltar. He had two brothers who were flourishing in Spain, but two more who were "resting beneath the sea." So when Ms. Diouf offered him the chance to process and freeze the shellfish he dives for, through her anti-immigration organization, he accepted. "I know now it's not worth it, that trip."

                But, he said, few people share his opinion. "Go out the door and walk five metres, you'll find a young man who intends to go. On TV they show corpses washing up in Europe all the time, but it doesn't matter. People only see the opportunity of getting out of here."

                In part, they are shielded from the realities of the trip by a cult of bravery and pride.

                "The situation for Senegalese people in Europe is very difficult: They live in terrible conditions, but they don't tell that part of it to people back home. And they always send money, even if it's just 100 euros [$150]; that's a lot for people here," said Séverine Cirlande of the UN International Organization for Migration office in Dakar. "So it's difficult to explain to people here that it's not easy to live in Europe. They don't want to believe you."

                Yet those who make it to Europe and discover for themselves how hard it is - hiding constantly from police, sharing accommodation with a dozen other illegals, hunting for often dangerous or grossly underpaid illegal work - feel they cannot leave, she said, until they have earned a substantial sum.

                "The whole family gives money for one person to go, so it's very important that you come back with gifts for everyone and positive stories. You can't say, 'You gave me money and I came home with nothing.' "

                Mr. Boubacar said a fatalism born of the local strand of Islam plays into it, too. "People here believe that if you're going to die, you're going to die, and if you're going to live, you live," he said. Thus they dismiss Ms. Diouf's warnings that they could end up dead like her son. "People here think it was his time to die."

                The sand streets around Ms. Diouf's office are narrow, lined with tumbledown concrete brick houses, strewn with trash and reeking of sewage. But a few blocks away, the wind off the turquoise sea blows the smell away. The beach is choked with brightly painted pirogues and fishermen sit in the shade of the hulls, sipping tiny glasses of tea and mending nets that billow at their feet like pale-green clouds.

                Adama Guye, 21, spends long days at sea in the increasingly fruitless search for fish; 18 months ago, he paid $900, money he had saved for years, for a place in a pirogue. "My mother encouraged me to go. She knows I'm ambitious. We knew about the deaths, but my mother wasn't worried. ... The only solution here is the sea, fishing or the crossing, so we give everything to God."

                After nine days at sea, drenched by waves and buffeted by winds, he made it to Tenerife. Others from Thiaroye-sur-Mer gave him a place to stay, and he started looking for work. But just nine days after he arrived, he was arrested. After 39 days in a detention camp, he was flown back to Senegal.

                The steady flow of forced repatriations keeps him from trying again, for now.

                "Look, it's now five o'clock and if someone said to me, 'At six, let's go,' I'd go," he said. "Life here is like living in a pigeon coop compared to there. Here life is horrible, compared to there."


                • continued.....

                  The boats

                  The pirogues that make the trip from West Africa to Europe can be as long as 18 metres and may hold 120 passengers.

                  The owner hires a fishing captain and a crew of seven or eight to make each trip. The captain travels to a community where he is not well known, rents a room and puts out word that he has a pirogue going, former human trafficker Niang Boubacar explains.

                  When the wooden boat is booked full, the captain tells the would-be migrants to meet him on the beach at about 2 a.m., in the hope of avoiding the authorities. The pirogue is loaded with drums of fuel, fresh water and food. The young men bring only the clothes they wear. Tied around their waists or necks are gris-gris, which are charms that their mothers get from their marabouts, their Muslim leaders, to help bring a safe crossing.

                  From Senegal, the captain motors up the coast to near Nouakchott in Mauritania, and from there to Nouadhibou, on the border of Mauritania and the Western Sahara. From that point, the boat takes one of two routes: It either cuts west to the Canary Islands, or, when the Spanish government is cracking down on the islands, it continues up to Morocco and across to Gibraltar, the navigator charting the way with a hand-held global positioning system. When conditions are good, the trip takes eight days. If the boat has to turn back, the passengers are reimbursed half the cost of the tickets. If they make it, the jubilant men head to pay phones, where they call others from back home who are already working there to pick them up.

                  Their families at home wait two or three weeks for a phone call to tell them the men have arrived safely. "When six months go by and you don't hear anything," Mr. Boubacar said, "you know yours are among the victims."

                  Stemming the tide

                  European nations are attempting to stem the tide of illegal migrants by patrolling the Senegalese and Mauritanian coasts and turning back the boats, giving aid to bolster local law enforcement, and opening job centres in the African countries to give young people a chance to obtain visas and travel legally to Europe, where they provide vital labour in construction, fishing and agriculture. But the visa programs meet only a tiny portion of the demand to get out of Africa.

                  While the dominant impression in the West is of young Africans pouring into Europe, in fact more than 75 per cent of migration in Africa is to other African countries, to regional hubs such as Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos and Dakar, and to high-employment agricultural and mineral-extraction areas.

                  Senegalese dominate the flow of people, both as the traffickers and as migrants. A recent survey of European illegal migrants found Senegalese were nearly as large a migrant group as Nigerians, even though Nigeria's population is 11 times that of Senegal.


                  • BRUSSELS, May 21, 2008 (Reuters) - Huddled on mattresses on the floor of a church in central Brussels, some 240 illegal migrants have embarked on a hunger strike to demand the right to stay in the European Union.

                    The answer they are getting from the bloc's headquarters across the city is: You are not welcome.

                    Representatives of the EU's 27 states meet on Wednesday to try to seal a preliminary agreement allowing governments to detain illegal migrants for up to 18 months and ban them from re-entering the wealthy bloc for five years.

                    Rights groups say the move would erode international human rights law and encourage locking up more illegal migrants.

                    "The European Community is not human," said Mohad from Algeria, who did not give his second name. He has been on hunger strike since May 8 and said he had spent about two years in a migrants' detention centre in the Netherlands.

                    "Look around you, look at the situation here. No one is doing anything about it," he said, pointing at migrants from more than 40 countries lying listlessly next to each other.

                    Others complained they were being treated as criminals.

                    "You would go to jail for a year for a violent theft, but we face 18 months in jail for being without papers. We are treated worse than criminals," said Mohammed Aissaoui from Morocco.

                    The 18-month limit is higher than the maximum detention in two-thirds of EU states.

                    The cap is 40 days in Spain and eight months in Belgium, although in practice it can extend to over a year, according to European Commission data. Those countries would be allowed to keep an upper limit lower than the new EU one although critics say the new cap could encourage longer detention periods.

                    Germany has an 18-month cap. Eight countries which have higher caps or none at all would need to adopt the EU limit.

                    Lawmakers and governments have been struggling over the draft law for nearly three years and it must also be approved by the European Parliament. Lawmakers are divided and a vote set for early June has been postponed with no new date arranged.

                    Some 8 million illegal migrants live in the EU, the Commission estimates, and it says the lengthy talks and controversy over the legislation illustrate just how hard it is to find a solution.

                    The EU executive argues the new legislation is needed to deter more would-be illegal migrants from embarking on often risky journeys to reach the bloc.

                    "We can understand their desire to improve their future," , Commission spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said of the men and women on hunger strike.

                    "Sorry, but what we are precisely doing right now is ... to be tough on illegal migration," he said. "If they arrive here, it's not going to be paradise."

                    More than 200,000 illegal migrants were arrested in the bloc in the first half of 2007 and less than 90,000 were expelled.

                    Roscam Abbing said being tough on illegal migration was the only way to convince governments and EU citizens to open the door to legal migrants.

                    "It's not only 'Fortress Europe'," he said, using the term usually employed by critics of EU policies. "You can only be generous on legal migration channels if on the other hand you make sure it is the only route to get in."

                    The EU executive proposed last year new legislation to attract high-skilled migrants, modelled on the U.S. Green Card, and will table later this year a scheme for seasonal workers.

                    Elizabeth Collett of the European Policy Centre think-tank said she was worried by how tough some in the EU were getting over the issue of migrants.

                    "If you look at Italy right now, there is a certain trend towards the idea that illegal migration is a crime," she said.

                    "This is a trend that is quite dangerous for the EU."

                    Rome will discuss new laws such as re-imposing border checks, increased deportations, making illegal immigration a custodial offence and turning holding centres into detention camps.

                    Shahi Tulsi Devi, a pregnant Nepalese in the Brussels church, said she had not found the respect for human rights she had been expecting in Europe.

                    "Now is not good," she said. "When I have papers, then the child's future is also good."

                    "I will stay until I die," said Iranian migrant Ali Rajab, who has been living in Belgium for eight years. "We will continue until we get papers or until we die."


                    • Jeudi 22 Mai 2008 -- Les pays européens devaient fixer hier des règles communes pour l’expulsion et le bannissement des quelque douze millions d’immigrés vivant dans l’illégalité sur leurs territoires, et dont beaucoup sont exploités sur le marché du travail. Le projet de directive sur lequel devraient s’accorder les ambassadeurs des 27 pays de l’Union européenne (UE) ne concerne pas les malheureux recueillis dans des embarcations de fortune au large des côtes italiennes, maltaises, françaises ou espagnoles. Ces derniers sont des demandeurs d’asile.


                      • Jeudi 22 mai 2008 -- Les deux jeunes harraga ont été inhumés avant-hier au cimetière de la ville de Mostaganem. Il s'agit de S.M., âgé de 22 ans, étudiant universitaire, et B.A., âgé de 23 ans. Selon des sources, ces deux victimes ont débarqué clandestinement à partir des plages du Dahra Est vers la péninsule Ibérique, la semaine écoulée, avec un autre groupe de candidats au suicide de la région de Mostaganem. Ils furent repêchés par les gardes-côtes au large de Cherchell, précise-t-on.


                        • Samedi 24 Mai 2008 -- Dans l’après-midi de mercredi dernier, les pêcheurs ont signalé le corps d’un jeune, flottant au large de la localité de Mazer, à près de 7 km à l’ouest de la ville de Tigzirt. Le corps sans vie serait celui d’un candidat malheureux à l’immigration clandestine vers le continent européen, communément appelée El harga. Le corps a été récupéré par les éléments de la Gendarmerie nationale et transféré vers la morgue de l’hôpital de Tigzirt. La jeune victime portait un gilet de sauvetage et était en état de décomposition avancée. Les autorités ont effectué des prélèvements sur le corps devant servir à des tests ADN pour l’identifier. A signaler que depuis le 21 mars dernier, c’est le troisième corps de harraga rejeté par la mer au large de Tigzirt. Face à la misère sociale endurée, les jeunes tentent de façon suicidaire la traversée de la Méditerranée, avec des moyens de fortune, en quête d’une vie clémente sous d’autres cieux.


                          • May 27, 2008 -- An urgent investigation was under way last night after the bodies of two men were found in the hold of a foreign ship docked in a Scottish harbour.

                            Officers were alerted by a shipping company to the discovery in Ayr harbour about 2.40pm.

                            Strathclyde Police said last night the bodies were still on board the ship and inquiries were at an early stage.

                            The ship was last night named as The Pascal. It is believed to be registered in Antigua, though this was not confirmed.

                            The Herald understands that the men were of African origin and that police are investigating one theory that they were stowaways.

                            Efforts were last night being made to establish where they were from.

                            The two men found dead in the hold are not thought to be the same nationality as the crew, believed to be Russian and unable to speak English.

                            It is understood the vessel had sailed from Africa to Ayr with a cargo of components for making fertiliser.

                            The port area remained sealed off by police last night. Forensic officers in protective suits could be seen boarding and leaving the vessel.

                            A spokesman for Associated British Ports, which owns and operates the port of Ayr, last night referred all inquiries to the police.

                            A police spokeswoman said: "At 2.40pm today, police received a call from the shipping company stating that one of their ships had docked at Ayr and crew members had discovered the bodies of two men within one of the hold areas.

                            "Police inquiries have begun to establish the identities of the men and how they came to be on board the ship."

                            Police have not released the name of the shipping company.

                            Local politicians last night expressed their shock at the discovery.

                            John Scott, Conservative MSP for Ayr, said: I am shocked and saddened by this macabre discovery.

                            "However these two men managed to get into this position it is very sad that they have lost their lives in this way.

                            "I understand police inquiries are continuing and doubtless more details will be revealed in due course as to how the men came to be on the ship and how they met such a tragic end. My sympathies go out to their families."

                            Councillor Hugh Hunter, leader of the Conservative-run South Ayrshire Council, was unaware of the development when contacted by The Herald last night. He said: "I am shocked to hear of this news. I have never heard of such a tragic discovery at the port.

                            "The port is still quite busy despite most of the fishing boats in the area going to Troon. Clearly there will be families that will be devastated by this news. My sympathies are with them."


                            • Dimanche 1 Juin 2008 -- Installé en Italie depuis quinze ans, le réalisateur-producteur algérien, Ahmine Lemnaouer, nous parle des harragas sur lesquels il a tourné un documentaire diffusé dernièrement sur la chaîne italienne RAI 3.

                              Liberté : Votre documentaire les Harragas de Annaba a été diffusé par la RAI 3 en février dernier. Quels échos avez-vous eus du côté italien ?

                              Ahmine Lemnaouer : Bien avant, ils étaient curieux d’en savoir plus sur ce qui se passe du côté algérien. Ce documentaire de 30 minutes est venu à point nommé pour eux. Ils conçoivent ce phénomène d’immigration clandestine comme une menace. Une de plus, dirai-je. Avant, la Sardaigne et ses harragas venant d’Annaba, il y avait l’île de Lampdusa qui était envahie régulièrement par ceux en provenance de Libye. Même les Algériens, en plus des Marocains et des Tunisiens, utilisaient cette filière. Annaba-la Sardaigne a surtout cassé les prix, et c’est ce qui fait encore plus peur aux gens du Nord.

                              De quels prix parlez-vous ?

                              Tout simplement ce que coûte un voyage d’Annaba vers la Sardaigne sur une embarcation. Les 186 kilomètres de distance valent pour un harraga environ 10 millions de centimes. C’est carrément du low cost. Un tarif bien en dessous de celui pratiqué du côté libyen qui atteint jusqu’à 10 000 euros, soit 100 millions de centimes. C’est dire la différence. Avec ces prix et l’anarchie qui régnait au début, les Italiens devenaient de plus en plus craintifs. Lorsqu’il ne s’agissait que de la Libye, ils géraient plus ou moins bien la situation. Aussi, au cours de mes investigations, j’avais remarqué que ceux qui étaient arrêtés en Italie se présentaient souvent en tant qu’Algériens, même s’ils ne l’étaient pas. Ce sont surtout les Tunisiens et les Marocains qui le faisaient.

                              Pourquoi ?

                              Parce que l’Algérie n’avait pas d’accord d’extradition avec l’Italie. Cependant, depuis la visite de Bouteflika en septembre 2007, tout a changé. Un accord a été signé entre les deux pays. Les harragas algériens arrêtés donnent, depuis, de fausses identités et surtout une fausse nationalité, dans l’espoir de ne pas être reconduits au pays.

                              Vous avez rencontré des harragas en Algérie avant leur départ et aussi en Sardaigne après leur arrivée. Qu’est-ce qui vous a marqué en eux ?

                              À Annaba, certains me disaient “j’irai mendier et je sais qu’après je pourrai m’offrir une voiture”. C’est dire le degré d’idéalisation qu’ils avaient. Toutefois, je dois avouer qu’il y avait certains parmi eux qui avaient des arguments loin d’être farfelus. Tel ce jeune de Bab El-Oued qui m’a donné un véritable cours d’économie avec une simplicité déconcertante. Je l’ai rencontré en Sardaigne après qu’il eut embarqué d’Annaba, quelques semaines auparavant. Il m’a ainsi déclaré, sûr de lui, qu’avec un petit job en Sardaigne, il peut payer son loyer avec seulement trois jours de paie. Mais il ne faut pas oublier que beaucoup sont déçus. Malgré cela, ils ne veulent pas entendre parler d’un retour au pays. Ils recherchent encore leurs rêves qui, pour eux, ne peuvent se réaliser en Algérie. Le rêve continue pour eux, et c’est en France ou en Angleterre.

                              Et comment vivent-ils en Italie ?

                              Ils sont mal vus, exploités et maltraités par certains Italiens. Il y a aussi l’islamophobie qui prend de grandes proportions là-bas. Pour eux, ces harragas sont des inconnus et ils n’hésitent pas à s’imaginer qu’il y a parmi eux des terroristes. L’aspect sécuritaire est loin d’être négligeable. Toutefois, je dois avouer que je suis surpris par la ténacité de ces jeunes. Beaucoup sont déçus, mais ils ne veulent plus retourner au pays. Pour eux, le rêve continue. Si ce n’est pas en Italie, c’est ailleurs en Europe ; en tout cas pas en Algérie.


                              • Lundi 9 juin 2008 -- Le président de la Commission nationale consultative pour la protection et la promotion des Droits de l’Homme a appelé à consacrer un navire algérien pour ramener les dépouilles des Haragas algériens stockées dans des morgues en Espagne et en Italie. Il a ajouté, dans une interview accordée à El Khabar qu’on ne peut pas faire face au phénomène des Haragas dans l’absence de postes d’emploi pour les jeunes. Me Farouk Ksentini a affirmé que les autorités algériennes devront apporter les dépouilles des Haragas algériens qui ont trouvé la mort au large des cotes d’Almeria en Espagne, en Sardaigne et en Italie, pour qu’elles soient enterrées dans leurs pays. En se basant sur des renseignements recueillis, M. Farouk Ksentini a indiqué que les dépouilles des algériens se comptent par centaines. Il faut les ramener de ces morgues même si cela nécessite de consacrer un bateau algérien », a-t-il indiqué. Il a ajouté que la décomposition de certaines dépouilles est arrivée à un stade avancé et qu’elles sont inidentifiables. Toutefois, il est nécessaire d’intervenir et les enterrer pour leur rendre leur dignité. Il a expliqué que plus de 200 dépouilles de Haragas algériens sont dans la morgue d’Almeria. Ces Haragas ont été soit rejetés par les vagues de la mer ou sont morts suite à la malnutrition ou aux maladies, a indiqué El Khabar dans le numéro d’hier. Ces dépouilles n’ont pas été identifiées étant donné qu’aucun document prouvant leur identité n’a été retrouvé sur elles.


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