Daily World News Digest, 24 April 2015

Mediterranean migrants crisis: EU triples funding

The BBC reports today that European leaders are to triple funding for search-and-rescue operations aimed at migrant boats in the Mediterranean following crisis talks in Brussels. The EU will also look at ways to capture and destroy smugglers’ boats and deploy immigration officers to non-EU countries, officials said. Several EU member states have promised more ships and other resources. The summit comes after more than 750 people died on a boat crossing from Libya on Sunday. Earlier, funerals for 24 of the victims were held in Malta. The number of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa has risen sharply in recent months. More than 35,000 are thought to have crossed from Africa to Europe this year and some 1,750 have died while attempting the journey. The estimated toll from Sunday’s capsizing was the worst on record. The boost in funding to some €120m (£86m) brings spending back up to about the level of Mare Nostrum, an Italian-run search-and-rescue operation that was cancelled last year. Several member states pledged additional naval resources on Thursday. The UK – in the past a leading advocate of reducing naval patrols – said it would contribute helicopter carrier HMS Bulwark, two patrol boats and three helicopters. Germany, France and Belgium also offered ships. http://bbc.in/1QoGpUu

EU: mixed messages on boat migration

Human Rights Watch reported on 23 April that the commitment by European Union heads of state to triple the capacity of Frontex operations in the Mediterranean is an important step towards preventing migrant deaths at sea, but noted that at its extraordinary summit on 23 April the EU remained vague about whether Frontex ships will be deployed off the Libyan coast where migrant boats are sinking. “It’s not enough to increase EU boats at sea if they remain focused on protecting Europe’s borders rather than the people at sea who are dying trying to get there,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch. In an open letter and video message released on 22 April, Roth also urged EU leaders to show more generosity in refugee resettlement and to ensure that any immigration or asylum cooperation with origin or transit countries does not engender or entrench human rights abuses. http://bit.ly/1I14LzW

Serbia’s Kosovo cover-up

Balkan Insight reported on 23 April on the case of a refrigerator truck found in April 1999 in the eastern Serbian village of Tekija containing the corpses of 86 Albanians killed by Serbian forces during President Slobodan Milosevic’s military campaign in Kosovo in the same year. They had been dumped in the Danube in what appeared to be a botched cover-up attempt. Local police and state security officers initially tried to repaint parts of the truck and put Serbian license plates on it, part of an unsuccessful cover-up. A total of 744 bodies related to the same incident were uncovered two years later in mass graves at the Batajnica police training center in Belgrade. A further 75 were found at a police training center in Petrovo Selo and 84 in Lake Perucac in western Serbia, while 54 more were exhumed last year from a quarry near Raska in the south – all victims of the Serbian Kosovo offensive. ICMP identified the bodies found at Batajnica, among the 900 identifications made by ICMP related to the Kosovo conflict. http://bit.ly/1DGkcHB

Armenia marks centenary of mass killings by Ottoman Turks

The BBC reports today that Commemorations are under way in Armenia to mark the centenary of the start of killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. Armenia says up to 1.5 million people died, a figure disputed by Turkey. Turkey strongly objects to the use of the term genocide to describe the killings and the issue has soured relations between the nations. Turkey accepts that atrocities were committed but argues there was no systematic attempt to destroy the Christian Armenian people. Turkey says many innocent Muslim Turks also died in the turmoil of war. A memorial service will also be held in Turkey on Friday and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said the country will “share the pain” of Armenians. But he reiterated Turkey’s stance that the killings were not genocide. http://bbc.in/1HuIYS9

MH370 ‘found’: wreckage located in ocean between India and Malaysia

The Mirror newspaper from the UK reported on 23 April that an aviation technology expert may have found the remains of the missing MH370 flight – but says he needs £1.3million to find it. Andre Milne, who is voluntarily investigating the missing Malaysia Airlines flight which disappeared in March last year, has identified wreckage in the ocean between Malaysia and India. Milne, who works in military aviation technology, hopes to crowdfund a project with supporters pledging £6.70 each. http://bit.ly/1DqkGCm

Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff.  These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.