Monday, June 23, 2014

Maritime Crime Threat: People Smugglers at Sea

There ought to be a special level of hell for the people who engage in the sea smuggling of people for profit. Ruthless hardly covers it.

See here:
Smuggling of Migrants is a crime involving the procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident. Migrant smuggling affects almost every country in the world. It undermines the integrity of countries and communities, and costs thousands of people their lives every year.

Reuters report: "Overloaded boat sinks off Malaysia, 34 Indonesians missing, three dead":
An overloaded boat carrying suspected illegal Indonesian immigrants sank as it left Malaysia's west coast early on Wednesday, and at least three passengers drowned and 34 were missing.

The boat, whose passengers included women and children, sank at the mouth of a river shortly after midnight as it left Malaysia's Carey Island, likely bound for Indonesia's Sumatra island, officials and witnesses said.

Police said the boat lacked safety equipment such as life jackets, but that rescuers were still holding out hope of finding more survivors. The boat went down in shallow water close to shore.

"It is likely that survivors could have swum ashore and went into hiding since they have no legal documents here," said Mohammed Hambali Yaakup, head of operations in the area for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

Hambali said he could not confirm reports that a people-smuggling gang had been involved with the boat. All 60 survivors have been arrested under immigration laws, he said.
This problem is not limited to Asia - as noted in this BBC report, "On Italy's immigration front line":
Record numbers of immigrants have been arriving in the country this year. Arriving from the south, from Africa. Since the start of 2013 some 10,000 have landed every month, a growing number of them picked up by the Italian navy.

When 366 people died off the Italian island of Lampedusa last October, as the boat carrying them sank, Italy decided to deploy its maritime forces to prevent more deaths. They called the operation "Mare Nostrum" - Our Sea.

It's taking a toll on the country's finances, and on its immigration centres, which are filling up at an alarming rate.

It's also putting pressure on other European countries to share the burden, but there's increasing political pressure within many of those countries to limit immigration.
Few countries could handle 10,000 new immigrants per month, especially those arriving without any useful skills or funds to set themselves up in a new location.

Too bad the home countries of these migrants are such hellholes that any escape, even in the hands of hardened criminals, seem like the best of all the bad choices available. Since it seems that so many women and children are involved, it seems even worse.


  1. Anonymous10:37 AM

    I remember when it was a huge problem during a couple of the Haiti crisis. I wonder how many people are aware that the Guantanamo Bay facility currently housing sundry terrorists (well, for a little while longer, anyway) is part of what was originally a holding area for Haitians and others rescued by the Coast Guard and Navy, at sea. The reasoning was that it was closer, allowing the ships to return to patrol quicker and since it is not technically US soil, people had a harder time becoming US residents.
    Given the problems with illegal aliens along the southern border, it might be time to revisit the idea.


    1. Anonymous8:24 PM

      I spent a good part of a three year tour in USCGC Chase WHEC 718 doing Haitian Cuban Migrant OPS in the Carribean in an out of GTMO constantly. I remember there was one month that 100 ships ( CG and Navy ) picked up 38,000 souls from the high seas. Many were returned to Haiti but there were hundreds taken back to Haiti. It was a very sad duty period the poverty and desperation that you saw was unforgetable. Many died when overloaded boats capsized due to overloading, frequently right alongside while trying to be rescued. Picture 60men women and children on a 45ft boat in rough seas without food or water and sitting in their own filth.