April 2, 2012
Minister of Immigration, Integration, and Asylum Policy
Dear Minister Leers,
We, the undersigned 5 human rights organizations, are writing to urge you not to return Abu Kurke Kebato, a 23-year-old Ethiopian, and his 21-year-old wife Seena Tafse Mohammed, also an Ethiopian national, to Italy. We understand that both were detained on March 29, 2012 pending deportation to Italy on April 5, 2012.
Mr. Kurke Kebato and his wife were granted refugee status in Italy in October 2011, but we strongly urge you to grant them leave to remain in the Netherlands on humanitarian grounds.
We believe that Mr. Kurke Kebato’s experiences of repeated traumatic crossings of the Mediterranean, ill-treatment in detention in Libya following a push-back by the Italian authorities in 2010, and lack of state support in Italy for asylum seekers and recognized refugees, including crucial psycho-social assistance for someone with Mr. Kurke Kebato’s vulnerabilities, require exceptional measures to ensure his full rehabilitation and integration. We call on you to offer him and his wife this chance in the Netherlands.
Mr. Kurke Kebato as a particularly vulnerable person
Mr. Kurke Kebato is one of the nine survivors of a fateful boat crossing in late March/early April 2011 in which 63 people died attempting to flee conflict-torn Libya. This tragic loss of life has been the subject of significant attention because survivor testimonies, including that of Mr. Kurke Kebato, as well as official information indicate that the boat was left to drift for two weeks in the Mediterranean despite distress signals and contact with a military helicopter, a military warship, and two fishing vessels. The boat eventually drifted back to the Libyan coast on April 10, 2011.
Joint press release
On Anniversary of Migrant Deaths, Public Disclosure Needed
Letters requesting information were sent on March 26, 2012, to NATO’s Maritime Command in Naples, Italy, as well as to the defense ministers of France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, the United States, and Canada.
“The shocking loss of life in the Mediterranean in 2011 – the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that at least 1500 people died attempting the crossing last year – demands concerted efforts to investigate as well as to prevent such tragedies in the future,” the signatories urge in the letters.
Every single day, small boats are getting lost and sink in the Strait of Sicily, off the Apulian coast or in the Tunisian, Maltese and Italian waters. The migrants on board are sometimes being rescued in tragic circumstances. They continue to leave the African continent, in spite of the political stabilisation in the Maghreb-Mashrek area. Each shipwreck and each tragedy adds to the more than 2000 migrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea since early 2011, as recorded by the UNHCR.
On the occasion of the Day of Global Action Against Racism and for the Rights of Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People, Boats 4 People is mobilising in order to raise awareness of and condemn the situation affecting thousands of migrants who risk their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Below you will find a list of events planned in Tunisia, the Netherlands, Belgium and France.