Hope for a mi­grant res­cue ship

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

SOS Mediter­ra­nee, the NGO that ran op­er­a­tions on the mi­grant res­cue boat Aquarius, said yes­ter­day it wanted to con­tinue its work on a dif­fer­ent ship as soon as pos­si­ble.

“We are look­ing for new ships and are hav­ing talks with sev­eral ship­ping com­pa­nies,” said Ver­ena Papke, the di­rec­tor of SOS Mediter­ra­nee Ger­many.

Search and res­cue ship Aquarius, which has saved tens of thou­sands of mi­grants in the Mediter­ranean, has ended its op­er­a­tions, the char­ity that runs the ship, Doc­tors with­out Bor­ders (MSF), said on Thurs­day.

MSF and its part­ner SOS Mediter­ra­nee said they were forced to ter­mi­nate its op­er­a­tions due to a “smear cam­paign” by Euro­pean govern­ments.

The ship has been blocked at the French port of Mar­seilles since it lost its regis­tra­tion at the end of Septem­ber.

The Aquarius was the last char­ity res­cue ship op­er­at­ing off Libya. Last year, there were five groups run­ning res­cue ships.

“The end of Aquarius means more lives lost at sea; more avoid­able deaths that will go un­wit­nessed and un­recorded. It re­ally is a case of ‘out of sight out of mind’ for UK and Euro­pean lead­ers as men, women and chil­dren per­ish,” said Vickie Hawkins, head of MSF UK. | COLOM­BIA has ar­rested 27 peo­ple, ac­cused of be­long­ing to four smug­gling net­works, which re­cruited youths to swal­low drug traf­fick­ing cash prof­its and bring them into the South Amer­i­can coun­try from Mex­ico, the po­lice said on Thurs­day.

The money was wrapped in cap­sules made from la­tex gloves and con­sisted of funds from uniden­ti­fied Mex­i­can car­tels.

The cash was in ex­change for co­caine sent by Colom­bian crime gangs, Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (ELN) rebels and dis­si­dents from the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Armed Forces of Colom­bia (FARC), which de­mo­bilised last year.

The smug­gling net­works were bro­ken up with help of the US Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment agency, the po­lice said.

The net­works re­cruit un­em­ployed and poor young peo­ple to travel to Mex­ico and then in­gest be­tween 80 and 120 cap­sules of money be­fore re­turn­ing to Colom­bia, said Gen­eral Jorge Her­nando Ni­eto, the head of the na­tional po­lice.

“With each in­ges­tion they could bring in up to $40 000. There’s even a case where on trav­eller brought in $75 000,” he added. “The con­fis­cated money in this in­ves­ti­ga­tion reaches $11 mil­lion.” |

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