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26 Dead Nigerian Ladies Between Age Of 14 to 18 Found On Spanish Warship |RN

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Rescuers recover dead bodies from the Spanish ship ‘Cantabria’ in the harbour of Salerno, Italy… on Sunday. Photos: Gettyimages.com

Adelani Adepegba, Success Nwogu, Olaleye Aluko and Oladimeji Ramon

The remains of 26 Nigerian women believed to be migrants have been recovered from a Spanish warship in the Italian coast city of Salerno.

A report by the British Broadcasting Corporation on Monday said a Spanish warship, Cantabria, which docked in the city, was found to be carrying 375 rescued migrants and the dead women.

According to the report, 23 of the dead women were on a rubber boat with 64 other people.

It also quoted Italian media report that the women’s bodies were kept in a refrigerated section of the warship. Most of them were between the ages of 14 and 18.

UNHCR spokesman, Marco Rotunno, said the 26 dead were involved in a shipwreck off Libya.

Most of the 375 survivors brought to Salerno were sub-Saharan Africans from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan, the daily La Repubblica reports.

Among them were 90 women – eight of them pregnant – and 52 children. There were also some Libyan men and women on board.

The BBC said, “People-smuggling gangs charge each migrant about $6,000 (£4,578) to get to Italy, $4,000 of which is for the trans-Saharan journey to Libya, according to the Italian aid group L’Abbraccio. Many migrants have reported violence, including torture and sexual abuse by the gangs.

“Italian prosecutors are investigating the deaths of 26 Nigerian women – most of them teenagers – whose bodies were recovered at sea.

“There are suspicions that they may have been sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean. Five migrants are being questioned in the southern port of Salerno.”

Nigerians slam FG, seek end to economic crisis

Reacting to the development, some notable bodies and individual Nigerians blamed the Federal Government, its agencies and the harsh economic situation in the country for the tragedy.

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, said the Federal and state governments must tackle the rising rate of unemployment in the country to curb the menace of human trafficking.

The CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran, said, “The problems of illegal migration and trafficking are an accumulated issue. We have a high population of children and youths in this country and we are not planning for their future. Workplaces are actually winding up and no new jobs are springing up. This is why people want to leave and look for the proverbial ‘greener pastures.’

“The establishment of agencies such as NAPTIP (is commendable) but in recent times, some officials are complicit in some of these cases. Authorities need to pay more attention to these agencies, including the Nigeria Immigration Service. If our agencies do their work conscientiously, we will not have a lot of these problems.

“The important step by the government is to create more jobs for our youths and school-leavers. We need to ensure that we create an enabling environment for those who want to establish their own jobs.”

Activist lawyer, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, blamed illegal migration by citizens on economic hardship, which creates a sense of desperation.

He said though the blame could not be entirely put on the doorsteps of the current administration, the government had not done enough to address the question of citizens’ survival.

Adegboruwa said, “The situation of Nigeria has taught everyone to become a government to themselves. The government has neglected its responsibility under the constitution, which says that the welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. The country we live in now does not recognise merit, even when you score high mark, they tell you, you can’t gain university admission because you are not from a particular part of the country; you can’t get a job, there is no health facility, there is no road; so, our youths are daily dying in the Sahara Desert on their way to Libya, on their way to Italy, to Europe and I think that this is a pointer to the fact that our economy is down.

“We live in a country where everybody is for himself and God for all. I believe the situation of the Nigerian economy does not offer hope for our youths; it does not offer hope for those who have no connections; and life is getting tougher by the day. So, I think that this event in particular is a pointer to the fact that our economy has not improved.

“Beyond what we read in the newspapers, Nigerians know what is happening in their homes, there is darkness. They know what is happening in their bank accounts – salaries are not paid, pension is not paid. So, people have lost their purchasing power and so the only option left is for our people to seek greener pastures because in those places that they are going to – America, Europe – the things that we are battling with here are taken for granted. Nigeria is killing its people. I do not think that this government is particularly the one to blame for it but I think it has not done enough to address the question of survival for the ordinary Nigerian and that is unfortunate.”

A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Monday Ubani, also blamed illegal migration on economic hardship.

Rescuers recover dead bodies from the Spanish ship ‘Cantabria’ in the harbour of Salerno, Italy… on Sunday. Photos: Gettyimages.com

Ubani said, “I don’t think there is any policy in place towards checking this kind of illegal migration; we see a lot of people perishing on the sea trying to migrate to Europe, to the so-called greener pastures and I don’t think there is any clear policy in place to discourage people. I know that Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa has been in charge, trying to discourage Nigerians from such a fatalistic journey. But I don’t think there is a government structure or policy in place to ensure that Nigerians don’t embark on a journey like this.

“Apart from Nigeria, nationals of other African countries are also embarking on this dangerous journey, with many perishing on the sea. So, it is not peculiar to Nigeria.

“And in the Nigerian situation, it didn’t just start and it’s not peculiar to this administration. People have always had this wrong notion that immediately they cross over, they will pick money on the ground. As I speak to you, there are those who will be willing to spend N1m to cross over to go and hustle, not that they are going there as expatriate to get skilled employment.”

Similarly, the Chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraj, blamed the problem on institutional failure.

Suraj said, “To be fair, this is not something that can be attributed to a particular government. It has always been there and I think it is probably reducing not basically because the government is doing anything more but because people are getting more conscious of the hazards associated with such trips. For that reason, you can see a certain level of decline. But unfortunately, the government institutions are really not doing enough. You only see NAPTIP, RRS showing few individuals that were arrested for trafficking but there is really no conscious, holistic approach connecting all the security agencies.”

The National Legal Adviser of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Rafiu Balogun, and the Chairman, NBA, Ilorin branch, Mr. Issa Mazumah, identified acute unemployment, harsh economic environment, bad governance, corruption, insecurity, epileptic power supply and high crime rate as some of the reasons for the increasing rate of such illegal migration.

Balogun said, “It is sad that our youths are leaving this country for greener pastures abroad because they are not gainfully employed in this country. You can imagine that our able-bodied young people after graduating from universities are not employed.

“In other climes, they will plan ahead for their youths, as they are leaving tertiary institutions, they will be gainfully employed and even if they are not employed, they will have some social security or welfare programme that will sustain them.”

Mazumah said, “Many Nigerians, including my humble self, want to leave this country because of bad governance. The situation in the country is more frightening. There is serious or chronic unemployment, power failure or the lack of power, lack of critical infrastructure. Corruption remains a major problem.

“In fact, the other time, I was on a particular federal highway and to my dismay, I saw some members of the Nigerian Armed Forces collecting bribes on Nigerian road. The commercial vehicle drivers said he had no change and they asked him to wait and they changed the money, gave him the balance and took their bribe.”

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Policy to curb illegal migration underway

When contacted, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tope Elias-Fatile, promised to get in touch with the Nigerian Mission in Rome, but he had yet to get back to our correspondent at 9:02pm.

However, responding to the incident, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, expressed government’s condolences to those who lost loved ones in the tragedy.

She also appealed to Nigerian youths to stop illegal migration through the Mediterranean or the desert.

She also revealed plans to unveil a comprehensive policy document to curb illegal migration.

Dabiri-Erewa also explained that she just returned from a summit on the issue from Adis-Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

The presidential aide further explained that the document would be unveiled in July next year. According to her, the policy document is prepared to discourage African youths from risking their lives on the perilous journey to Europe through the Mediterranean and the Sahara Desert.

She revealed that no fewer than 5,000 Nigerians who emigrated illegally had been brought back to the country in the last six months.

Dabiri-Erewa said, “Fatalities are increasing on the Mediterranean because the smugglers are using smaller boats. I just returned from a summit in Adis-Ababa where we are coming up with a comprehensive irregular migration document. By July next year, a formal document would be unveiled. I hope it would assist in checking the sad trends.

“The migrants are going over there to work, so there is a way it could be properly regularised.

“Unfortunately, the part of Europe they are migrating to is no longer interested in saving anyone; they are tired. We are appealing to our youths to stop illegal migration.”

The SSA said that some agencies including the National Emergency Management Agency and the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons would soon hold a summit to also discuss the way forward on illegal migration by Nigerians.

The National Director, Press and Public Relations, NAPTIP, Mr. Josiah Emerole, could not be reached for comment on the deaths of the 26 Nigerians as of press time.

Calls to his mobile telephone indicated that it was switched off. A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.

However, an official of the agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said turbulence at sea especially across the Mediterranean during this time of the year was probably responsible for such high casualties. The source explained that criminal gangs usually targeted such periods to embark on the risky journey because they knew security patrols were less.

The source said they (smugglers) consider such periods “safe for trafficking.”  The official further explained that, “We get no fewer than 300 returnees from Libya every week. They want to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, mostly into Italy and Spain. Some of them are stranded in Agadez, Libya, and have to be deported by authorities.

“Most of the victims go by land. They take buses from Edo, Kano, and others and it takes them approximately five days on land to get to Libya, from where most of them want to cross the sea.

“Deaths are common on the Mediterranean because the smugglers force their victims to wait till when the sea is safe, which to them means that security patrol is little.

“But the irony is that the patrol is little only when the sea is turbulent and thus, the traffickers push their victims aboard the ship and a wreck is inevitable.”  (Punch)

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Spain Takeover Will Escalate Crisis, Catalan Leader Warns |The Republican News

Catalonia’s leader, Carles Puigdemont warned, on Thursday, that the crisis over his drive for independence would escalate if Spain follows through on its vow to suspend the region’s autonomy.

The government “will create an even more serious, extraordinary situation by seizing Catalonia’s political autonomy,” he wrote in a letter to the Spanish senate.

The senate is poised to approve measures on Friday to take away Catalonia’s powers.

Puigdemont said that would be an “affront” to Spain’s constitution.

In the senate, the central government is preparing to invoke the never-before-used Article 155 of the constitution which allows it to intervene in Catalonia.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government plans to use this article to strip Puigdemont and the rest of his executive of their political powers. It also plans to take control of Catalonia’s regional police force, public broadcaster and parliament.

Those measures are intended to last for up to six months, until regional elections are called and a new Catalan parliament is sworn in.

Spain’s senate, where Rajoy’s Popular Party has a majority, will convene Friday to formally approve measures under Article 155.

Puigdemont said the measures would violate “the principle of political autonomy” of Spain’s regions. He added that the constitution does not give the central government blanket powers.

The Spanish constitution states Spain is “indivisible”. But Puigdemont’s separatist government declared itself “above” the constitution when it held an independence referendum on October 1.

That vote istelf was ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

The Catalan parliament is scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon to formulate a response to Madrid. (France24)

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Barcelona Attack: Five Terror Suspects ‘Wearing Suicide Vest’ Shot Dead In Cambrils

By Barney Henderson and James Rothwell and Hannah Strange and Chris Graham

 Terror returned to the streets of Europe on Thursday when a van ploughed into a crowd of people in Barcelona, killing at least 13 and injuring more than 100 others.Footage of the scene showed dozens of bodies sprawled across the pavement in Las Ramblas, a street popular with tourists. Two men, one Spanish and one Moroccan, were arrested but police said the driver of the van was still at large.

In the early hours of Friday morning, in the town of Cambrils, 70 miles away,  at least six people were hurt when “alleged terrorists” drove into pedestrians before being shot dead by security forces.

The five attackers in the Audi A3, who were wearing bomb belts, were shot dead, police said. The bomb belts were detonated by the force’s bomb squad.

Slide 1 of 30: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, center, speaks during a meeting following the attack of Barcelona where a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 80 on the Rambla in Barcelona, on August 17, 2017.

Two of the injured in Cambrils was in critical condition, emergency services said.

“The alleged terrorists were in an Audi A3 and apparently knocked down several people before coming across a police patrol and a shoot-out ensued,” said a spokesman for the regional government of Catalonia, where Cambrils is located in Spain’s northeast. One of the suspects was said to be brandishing a knife.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack as Joaquim Forn, Catalonia’s police chief, warned: “Unfortunately the number of fatalities will likely rise.”

On Thursday night it was confirmed that a three-year-old child was among the victims and 15 people were in a critical condition.

Liam Searle, 22, from Chichester, West Sussex, said he was skateboarding along the road at around 5.15pm with his headphones on when he heard “massive bangs and thuds” which he thought were gunshots.

“I realised it was the van next to me hitting people,” he said. “The van had stopped right next to me. That’s when two men got out and I ran for my life.”

Driss Oukabir, a 28-year-old of Moroccan origin, was suspected of having rented the van used in the assault. Spanish reports later said he had handed himself into police, who were investigating whether his brother had stolen his documentation.

Two explosions at a house in the town of Alcanar, 120 miles south of Barcelona, on Wednesday night, were last night linked by police to the attack. Officers said the residents had been preparing explosives. At least one person died and more than 16 were injured in what was initially thought to be a gas explosion.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, condemned the “terrible” Las Ramblas assault and said Britain stood firmly with Spain against terrorism.

 Donald Trump, the US president, tweeted that the US “will do whatever is necessary to help”, adding: “Be tough & strong, we love you!.”   The Spanish royal family described the attackers as “assassins, criminals who won’t terrorise us”, while Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, said the attack was “jihadist terrorism” requiring a global response.

In the aftermath of the attack, metro and train stations were closed amid reports that the attackers had entrenched themselves in a nearby Turkish restaurant.  This was dismissed as false by Spanish police, who advised tourists to stay in hotels.  British tourist Steve Garrett was at a nearby market.

“A large number of people ran into the market, lots of screaming, lots of shouting,” he said. “We ran into a bakery with four or five others and ran straight upstairs. An enormous wave of people went through the market.”

A man was shot dead after running over two police officers at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the city later in the evening. Police said last night it did not appear that the incident was linked to the van attack.

This was the eighth terror attack using a vehicle in Europe in the past three years, following the Nice assault in July 2016 that killed 86 and attacks on Westminster Bridge and London Bridge earlier this year that left four and eight people dead. Spain has not been hit by a serious terrorist incident since 2004, when Islamist militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800. But the country’s reputation as a tourist hotspot has raised the terror risk.

Earlier this year, jihadists warned that they would be seeking to take their campaign of death and destruction to popular areas in the Mediterranean.

The CIA warned Spanish police two months ago that Las Ramblas was a potential target, reports said.

“The CIA had already warned the Mossos d’Esquadra [police] that Barcelona might be a terrorist target … They even put the focus on the Ramblas,” El Periodico stated.             (The Telegraph)

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Beachgoers Watch As Migrant Boats Land On Spanish Shore |The Republican News

Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

 Bathers on a southern Spanish beach watched in amazement when a large dinghy carrying as many as 20 African migrants came ashore in broad daylight before its occupants fled into the surrounding countryside.
The landing, caught on video, took place on Wednesday afternoon in Zahara de los Atunes near Cádiz, 7.7 miles from the coast of north Africa.

Heavy police and coast guard patrols have in recent times forced migrants to use the much longer and more hazardous route from Mauritania to the Canary Islands, but lately, there has been an upsurge in crossings via the Strait of Gibraltar.

Migrant boat arrives on Spanish holiday beach        © JAVIER NEIRA Migrant boat arrives on Spanish holiday beach  

The Spanish coastguard had earlier received an SOS call from another dinghy and rescued all eight people on board. The Moroccan navy rescued seven people from another vessel.

According to the EU’s Frontex border agency, 7,500 immigrants made the crossing to Spain in the first three months of the year, compared with 3,600 in the same period last year.

In June alone, 2,200 attempted to cross the strait on vessels ranging from inflatable toy boats to high-powered launches.

A Frontex spokesman said the route across the strait had been revived because it was the shortest and because powerful launches of the type employed by drug smugglers meant it was possible to ship a large number of people over in a matter of minutes.

The spokesman said the closure of migrant camps in Morocco and Algeria may be driving migrants to take greater risks.

More than 1,600 people have been rescued off the coast of Cádiz since January. According to the Red Cross, more than 90% are from sub-Saharan Africa.   (The Guardian)

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