Three hot European topics in this week’s “Perspectives”, with Rai 3 reporting from Italy where the EU’s Frontex border administration has revealed explosive figures: illegal immigrant numbers have tripled in a year. Italy is redoubling its calls for help from its partners.
From a barge surrendered to the waves three hundred pairs of eyes watch as a patrol boat approaches bringing salvation.
In black sacks there are lifesaver jackets. In the air you can hear the voices of men, while their hands are outstretched.
Not far away the same scene plays out, this time involving a dinghy. The Straits of Sicily, once again, are a deadly lifeline for people trying to leave war behind. The latest boat to capsize cost 10 lives; lives we will never hear about, names we will never hear. The list of those who die trying to cross the Mediterranean is infinite.
It is a massacre that knows no limit, and is spotlighted only when the deaths are in the hundreds. Mares Nostrum, the Italian government’s rescue mission was born on the wave of emotion for a 2013 incident. The discontinued rescue mission saved 150,000 people.
Since November 2014 the EU’s Frontex mission has replaced it but only for patrolling duties. Arrivals have not diminished.
Eight thousand people have arrived in Sicily since the start of the year and rescue operations are getting riskier.
The bodies of the victims from this latest shipwreck have arrived at Augusta port. The shipwrecked boat had 120 on board, with 309 others on a second barge. The Syracuse prosecutor has opened an investigation into the sinking.
Rescue services got seven SOS calls in the last 24 hours: 5 rafts and two boats have been rescued carrying around one thousand migrants. Among them were 30 children and 50 women.
At Pozzallo pier, this morning, there are tents, ambulances and doctors. They are ready to assist people as soon as they land.
Portuguese television has a team in Ukraine covering the violence that continues in the east and it managed to get to a checkpoint near Donetsk, surrounded by destruction and people seeking to flee by whatever means they can.RTP – Separatists shiver as Donetsk ponders its future
20 km from Donetsk, the Vostok volunteer batallion garrisons the Vassinovatailla checkpoint. (Yassinowallalla)
“Our main objective is not to check vehicles coming in or going out.
We have to protect the border. Vehicles are a formality but an important one. My family worries about me here, but accepts someone has to protect our land.”
This was one of the rare moments we could film. The constant possibility of attack means we have to take precautions. This checkpoint was bombarded in January by fire from Vadvieka, a frontline town.
Now the separatists are worried about a new attack, but say they’re not scared.
“I’m fighting for my country and my family because I don’t want fascists running the country. We’ll fight until the end. What the Ukrainians are allowing to happen in so many regions is the end…”
The separatists admit they’re looking for more territory. They openly claim Mariupol and the entire Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, or regions.
The future of the Vostock batallion at this checkpoint is unknown, but their immediate future is; a future between cold checkpoints where life is hard, on duty often for 24 hours a day.
France television ends this edition with a look at two French former jihadis. Of Kurdish origin, like dozens of Europeans going to fight in Syria and Irak, they are ready to risk their lives.France 2 – Fighting for France and Freedom in Iraq and Syria
At the heart of the fighting in this hilltop fortress, that’s where the French fighter we were looking for would be found. A Colonel in the Kurdish army takes us to him.
“I’ll go first and you follow. Keep your eyes open, especially at the reservoirs, that’s the most dangerous.”
A hundred-metre run in the open under IS’s machine guns. Here in Kasmat, six men have died in the last three days, the last just hours before.“Those are bullet holes, look,” says the Colonel.
Our Frenchman is found holding his Kalashnikov, but we don’t get the time to speak to him, as he is hit by a bullet.
Erzen comes from Montélimar, and is a plumber. He’s left behind everything in France to fight the Islamic extremists, and now he’s been shot through the upper arm.
“Bring me a bandage, quick!”
It’s a serious wound, the bullet has come through a window .
“He’ll have to be evacuated, look, there’s the bullet that hit him.”
“They’re good shots.”
“Don’t you say at times like this what am I doing here?”
“No, never. I am here for a cause. First for my country, and then for humanity. because the things I am fighting are not human beings.”
“Wouldn’t you be better off in France?”
“Of course I would, of course., but here we have to fight to defend ourselves just as France has to fight. Because we’re defending France fighting here, too.” His gun won’t leave his hands but Erzen eventually lets himself be taken to the nearest hospital, a three-hour drive away.
Who are these French men going abroad to fight the so-called Islamic State? In the west of France we found an answer. Amir, 33, is one such man. He came to France as his family escaped Saddam Hussein when he was eight. This is where he grew up and went to school.
“What does this building mean to you? “
“Freedom. First of all because under Saddam’s regime we weren’t allowed to go to school.”
“Today do you feel more Kurdish or more French?”
“Both, but more French than Kurdish because I’ve lived in France longer.”
However last summer when the jihadists attacked Kurdistan Amir decided to go and fight alongside the Kurds. The tiler joined three other men, Adji , Adar and Sabri in a car for a three-day journey with war at the end of the road. .
“Had you ever held a weapon before?”
“Never. A suicide bomber approached us, and the general’s son shot him dead, and showed us all the explosives.”
“Are you not afraid to come face to face with one of the IS jihadists?”
“I think so, yes. Every human is scared, especially with these barbarians. Because everyone knows what happens to you if you get stopped or kidnapped by them, and how it ends,” says Amir.
Before leaving Amir had to explain to his four children they might never see him again.
“What did you say to your children?”
“We argued before I left. Yes, because they were absolutely against me going. My 11-year-old girl is aware of what war means, but I told her we had to do something, too. Not go and see, like a tourist. But to sign up for freedom, to fight for world freedom, yes.”