An online publication offering specialist insight into the current migration crisis in the Mediterranean has been launched with “exclusive content” from a recent trip to Libya.
Migrant Report “aims to document the global migration phenomenon through news, investigations, and analysis”, the site’s executive editor, Mark Micallef, told IHS Maritime. “The goal is to better understand the impact of migration on Europe and other regions.”
The site’s lead story today offers insight into the Libyan point of view in light of its historic relations with Italy and highlights the impact this is having on current political and military relationships. It covers the current strength/weakness of the Libyan military and coastguard, their view of European and United Nations’ actions or planned actions, and their concern about potential European military action – including mooted plans to strike people smugglers’ boats at sea and in harbours.
A video, ‘Where are our boats?’, accompanies the text and features an interview with a crew member on the Libyan oil tanker Anwar Afriqya, which, was hit by a missile from a Libyan jet fighter in May while docked near Islamic State-held Sirte. It was rescued by the Libyan coastguard from Misurata, 187 km east of Tripoli, who used its two old tugboats to put out the fire and tow it to safety. It also features an interview with Libyan army commander and chief of the Misurata coastguard Ridda Eassa.
Micallef, a former news editor at The Times of Malta, said data from the project on migration flows could help commercial shipping predict where rescue situations are likely to occur in the Mediterranean.
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The project will obtain its data by talking directly to migrants, “partnering” with those on the move, and will provide directly obtained insight about migrant flows “week by week”.
“The key thing is to have a dynamic picture of what is going on. We know where the migration routes are, but we don’t have a week-by-week picture of these migration groups, and that is key.
“If you want to know what is going to happen next week or next month, it’s not enough to have information about how migrants passed through, say, Kufra six months or two years ago. You want to know how they’re going through now and in what numbers and which nationalities, what their treatment is like and so on,” Micallef said.
US-Canadian author and documentary filmmaker Robert Young Pelton is the publisher of the site, which is sponsored by the Organisation for Better Security (OBS), a non-profit based in Malta.
It is supported by researchers from Middlesex University and is linked to the private search-and-rescue charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), which conducts mass rescues at sea for migrants in distress.