Thursday, 29 March 2012

Mass migration, the Arab Spring, and multilateral management – with or without PMCs?

In May 2010, The Guardian broke the story of the boat with 72 would be refugees from Africa practically left to die whilst on route to Europe. The dinghy drifted back to Libya's coast 2 weeks later. 63 people died. Today, March 29, 2012, The Guardian revisited the event upon the publication of a formal investigation. The investigative report is very critical of NATO’s involvement and multilateral management. In light of our previous post, the fear of mass migration into Europe, is seems prudent to reflect on the tragedy.

To recap, visit the interactive presentation created by The Guardian: GO>>

The Guardian wrote today "Despite Nato's initial claim that none of its ships received a distress signal regarding the migrant vessel, the report reveals that distress calls were sent out by the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome and should have been passed on to at least one ship under Nato command – the Spanish frigate Méndez Núñez, which was in the immediate vicinity of the migrant boat and equipped with helicopters. A rescue would have been "a piece of cake", said one Nato official." >>MORE

The Council of Europe (Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons) investigation into the tragedy, Lives lost in the Mediterranean Sea: who is responsible, raises the issue that "Of particular concern to the Assembly was the worrying failure of a military helicopter and a large military vessel to intervene and rescue the boat after they had come into contact with it. The same applies to at least two fishing vessels. None of these have as yet been identified with any certainty." (para 9) >>MORE

We wrote on our related blog post: "The reader can fill in the gaps and feel free to add other countries in transition such as Syria, Egypt, and perhaps Lebanon in the near future into the equation. The social and economic costs of a North African exodus into Europe would be astronomical and, we adventure to suggest, might have become the chief issue underpinning the growing role of Europe in the Libyan conflict." GO>>

How much has changed since our original post of April 22, 2012? A month before The Guardian broke the story on the refugee vessel.

How much will change in the near future now that Syria is next on the list and Egypt's Spring is heading to an ambiguous Autumn. Some food for though? Survivor of migrant boat tragedy arrested in Netherlands: GO>>

Had a highly experience Private Military Company, or an umbrella contract involving several strategically located contractors with proven maritime skills, been involved, this tragedy would not had happened. NATO –EU would have retained authority over the contract, but rescue and patrol efforts would have been centrally managed and efficient. Perhaps it is time to think on ways of making better use of PMCs given what is likely to be a permanent issue in the 21st century for Europe.

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