From Voice of America
IOM: No Reports of Migrant Deaths in Mediterranean in Past 20 DaysAugust 29, 2017 2:35 PMGENEVA — The International Organization for Migration reports no migrants have died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea over the past 20 days. …The International Organization for Migration reports a total of 2,410 Mediterranean Sea fatalities so far this year. IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle says it is remarkable to go without a single reported death for 20 days. He acknowledges it is very hard to know exactly why. …“The flows from Libya have diminished. If you recall in July, there were days when 3,000 people were picked up in one weekend. You remember that. Now, we have very, very few. So, something is happening. We are not sure what is behind it all.”
I can guess. From Reuters
earlier this month:
Italy seizes NGO rescue boat for allegedly aiding illegal migrationAUGUST 2, 2017By Wladimiro PantaleonePALERMO, Italy (Reuters) – Italian coastguards seized a migrant rescue boat operated by a German aid group in the Mediterranean suspected of aiding illegal immigration from Libya, a prosecutor said on Wednesday. …It was the first time Italian police have seized a humanitarian boat.
About time …
The move came amidst growing suspicion over the role non-governmental organizations are playing in picking up migrants off the Libya coast and bringing them to Italian ports. …
What’s going on?
Well, Italy finally, for the first time since the halcyon days of the Berlusconi-Gaddafi deal to stifle illegal immigration from Libya to Italy, has a non-feckless politician in power.
From The Local Italy
Former spymaster Minniti credited with stalling migration flowAFP 17 August 2017He was tasked with fixing Italy’s migrant crisis: eight months after becoming interior minister, ex-communist turned spy master Marco Minniti’s hardline approach and contacts seem to have borne fruit. …But it is a recent sharp drop in migrant arrivals that has really boosted the veteran fixer’s profile, even if it remains unclear how much credit he can take for it. According to the latest polls, this expert in backdoor diplomacy has been named Italy’s most popular politician.It is an accolade that has prompted suggestions that Minniti — with his leftist background but firm stance on migration — is perfectly placed to stand as a candidate for prime minister in elections next year. …Minniti’s action plan has been multi-pronged, starting with a threat that unless other European countries do more to help Italy, Rome could issue newly-arrived migrants with visas allowing them to leave the country and head north.The man … was also quick to lay down the law to privately-funded rescue boats saving migrants at sea…. Faced with reluctance among some members of the cabinet as well, he threatened to resign if they did not back him, and his polling numbers won the day, according to Italian media reports.Drawing on contacts in Libya made during his years in intelligence — he made his first visit to the ex-Italian colony at the end of the 1990s — Minniti persuaded tribes in the crisis-hit country’s south to crack down on people smugglers. … Minniti has been pushing hard for the Libyan coast guards to up their interception of migrants at sea — a move heavily criticised by rights groups. …Soon enough the number of arrivals began to drop off: this year Italy has taken in 13,500 new migrants or asylum seekers since July 1, compared with 30,500 last year in the same period. …His plan to block migrants in Libya echoes a deal between former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi …
The modern state that emerged in Europe over the last few hundred years can be quite powerful when it feels like it, as Minniti’s rapid accomplishments have demonstrated. Here in the U.S., we think of the Secretary of the Interior as a semi-comic figure in charge of stopping Yogi Bear from swiping picnic hampers, but in the rest of the world the Minister of the Interior is The Crackdown.
The problem for Europe hasn’t been a lack of ways to defend itself, but demoralization: the feeling that Europeans don’t deserve to defend themselves from invasion.