TIME Italy

Italy Says It Rescued 3,600 Migrants From the Sea in 48 Hours

A group of 300 sub-Saharan African migrants sit on board a boat during a rescue operation off the coast of Sicily, Italy on May 14, 2015.
Alessandro Bianchi—Reuters A group of 300 sub-Saharan African migrants sit on board a boat during a rescue operation off the coast of Sicily, Italy on May 14, 2015.

Some 200,000 are expected to arrive in Italy this year

Italy has rescued 3,600 migrants from rickety boats sailing from Africa to Europe in the past two days, officials said. Hundreds were taken to the Sicilian port of Catania.

The Interior Ministry expects human cargo to the southern European nation to increase by 30,000 to 200,000 this year, Reuters reports.

Many migrants embark from Libya, where a prevailing lawlessness creates conditions favorable to those seeking to profit from the demand for illegal passages to Europe.

This week, the European Union declared it would absorb an additional 20,000 refugees and more evenly disperse asylum seekers across member states.

The death toll from migrant boat journeys is expected to move beyond 2,000 in 2015. In early May, approximately 6,800 people were brought ashore to safety by European rescue missions.

[Reuters]

TIME ebola

Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola in Italy

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Getty Images

The patient was a healthcare worker volunteering in Sierra Leone

A healthcare worker in Italy has been diagnosed with Ebola, the first time a person has received an Ebola diagnosis in the country. The patient is currently undergoing treatment for the disease.

The worker was volunteering in an Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone, and on May 7, the volunteer flew from Freetown, Sierra Leone to Rome, stopping in Casablanca, Morocco. The patient had no symptoms at that time. It wasn’t until May 10, when the patient was already in Italy, that they began to experience symptoms of the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the patient isolated themselves in their home before they were transported on the May 11 to the Hospital of Sassari, Sardinia. On May 12th, samples from the patient confirmed that they did indeed have Ebola.

The patient was then transferred from the Hospital of Sassari to he National Institute for Infectious Diseases (INMI) Lazzaro Spallanzani of Rome in a special aircraft.

Since the patient did not start experiencing symptoms until 72 hours after returning to Italy, WHO says it is not necessary to conduct contact tracing of individuals who were on the same plane. Ebola can only be transmitted via the bodily fluids of a symptomatic person.

More than 26,720 cases of Ebola have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since the start of the outbreak, and more than 11,000 people have died.

TIME Italy

Italian Olive Oil Production Threatened by Bacteria Attack

Olive trees in Tuscany, Italy.
Getty Images Olive trees in Tuscany, Italy.

South Italy produces 80% of the country's olive oil production

A bacterial outbreak is sweeping across one of Italy’s most famous olive regions, infecting an estimated one million trees and putting a major part of Europe’s olive production at risk.

The bacterium, Xylella fastidious, is threatening to put many families out of business in the southeastern Salento peninsula of Italy (the ‘heel’ of the Italian boot’), which produces some of the country’s best olive oils. It causes withering by restricting water flow from a tree’s roots to its canopy; a tree eventually collapses and dies.

The bacterium has destroyed vineyards in northern California (costing the grape industry $100 million a year) and infects 200 million citrus trees in Brazil but it’s presence was only confirmed in Europe for the first time when olive trees began dying rapidly in southern Italy. Italian researchers first notified the European Commission in October 2013 that the pathogen had been detected in the southern parts of the Apulia region in Italy. Some 10% of trees in the area are now thought to be affected, the Times reports.

Production has already dropped at farms across the region, but the bacterium is expected to spread even further. A recent E.U. report said “establishment and spread in the E.U. is very likely” and warned of “major risk to the E.U. territory” if the disease spread to other olive producing regions.

Italian officials are now trying to quarantine the outbreak by creating a buffer zone across the peninsula. Last week an Italian court suspended the destruction of olive trees but Italy’s Agriculture Ministry has appealed the decision. According to the Times, 35,000 trees could soon be uprooted under the government plan.

TIME Internet

New Google Doodle Honors Bartolomeo Cristofori, Inventor of the Piano

The May 4 Google Doodle is seen featuring its inventor Bartolomeo Christofori.
Leon Hong—Google The May 4 Google Doodle is seen featuring its inventor Bartolomeo Christofori.

Named for its ability to play forte (strong) and piano (soft)

Considered the “king” of musical instruments, the piano has proved a key vehicle for the genius of Frédéric Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven and many other composing greats, which is why today Google is celebrating the 360th birthday of the instrument’s inventor, Bartolomeo Cristofori, with a new Doodle.

Already an accomplished musical instrument maker, Cristofori moved from the northern Italian city of Padua, then part of the Venetian republic, to Florence in 1690 at the behest of the famed Medici family. There he would eventually invent his masterpiece.

The piano was not a voilà ’invention — Cristofori’s first incarnation was built in 1709 but it took 17 more years before he created a version that encompassed all the elements of the modern-day piano.

The piano was originally called the gravicembalo col piano e forte (harpsichord that plays soft and loud) in reference to the instrument’s ability to produce varying volumes based on how hard or soft the key is struck. But Cristofori’s greatest instrument was largely ignored in Italy and did not become well-known until after his death in 1731, when the Germans popularized it through articles in music dictionaries.

Monday’s Google Doodle features a figure of Cristofori playing a melody from Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and features a sliding scale that allows visitors to adjust the volume of the piano’s volume — much like the characteristic that gives the instrument its namesake.

TIME conflict

Read an Eye-Witness Account of Mussolini’s Final Moments

Benito Speech
Fox Photos / Getty Images Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini giving a speech in 1935

"In death, Mussolini seemed a little man"

Seventy years ago on this day, April 28, 1945, the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was executed after a failed attempt to flee Italy with his mistress. In his report on Mussolini’s last days, TIME correspondent Reg Ingraham recalled one of the dictator’s famous lines from earlier in World War II: “If I retreat, kill me!”

Ingraham’s report shows how that instruction played out in ways that Mussolini surely did not mean. A timeline presented in TIME’s May 7, 1945, issue begins on April 22, with the first wave of strikes against the fascists and their German allies. By April 25, the dictator’s retreat had begun, when the Swiss denied an asylum request for Mussolini’s family.

Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, attempted to escape to the north. They were foiled when a partisan known only as Eduardo found Mussolini in the town of Dongo and sent men to arrest him and sentence him and Petacci to death by firing squad.

After the execution — and before his body was hung from a scaffold to give the crowds a better view — Mussolini’s corpse was laid out on the ground in the Piazzale Loreto. TIME described the moment as “one of history’s raw spectacles,” and Ingraham described what he saw thus:

While I watched, a civilian tramped across the bodies and dealt Mussolini‘s shaven head a terrific kick. Someone pushed the twisted head into a more natural position again with a rifle butt.

Although the Duce’s upper teeth now protruded grotesquely, there was no mistaking his jaw. In death, Mussolini seemed a little man. He wore a Fascist Militia uniform — grey breeches with a narrow black stripe, a green-grey tunic and muddy black riding boots. A bullet had pierced his skull over the left eye and emerged at the back, leaving a hole from which the brains dripped. Mistress Petacci, 25 -year-old daughter of an ambitious Roman family, wore a white silk blouse. In her breast were two bullet holes ringed by dark circles of dried blood.

The mob surged and swayed around the grisly spot. One woman emptied a pistol into the Duce’s body. “Five shots!” she screamed. “Five shots for my five murdered sons!” Others cried: “He died too quickly! He should have suffered!” But the hate of many was wordless. They could only spit.

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Death in Milan

TIME Behind the Photos

How Photographers Are Trying to Put a Face on Europe’s Migrant Crisis

"I wanted to show that behind each migrant there’s a person”

European leaders are grappling with what’s being called one of the worst migrant and refugee crises in two generations. On Thursday, in a hastily formed summit in Brussels called after an estimated 800 people died in a capsizing off Libya while en route to Europe, leaders pledged new support to cap the rising death toll in the Mediterranean. But aid organizations and humanitarian officials said Europe is still “lagging far behind” of what’s realistically needed to ease the tragedy.

The crisis along the Mediterranean’s coastlines, from Libya to Morocco and Greece to Italy, is not new. Photographers have worked over the last decade to raise awareness as conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa have displaced millions. Last June, one image crystallized the scale of this movement. Shot by Italian photographer Massimo Sestini aboard a helicopter taking part in Mare Nostrum, an Italian-led search and rescue operation largely funded by the European Union and abandoned late last year, it showed one boat with hundreds of people looking up, waving their arms. “You could see their desperation,” Sestini said last year. “And, concurrently, their happiness at being saved.”

The photograph, which TIME named one of the top 10 images of 2014, went on to win a World Press Photo award, but it told only one part of a much larger story.

“The only way to really tell the story is to spend time with them in their home countries, see how they live, learn why they leave and then just go with them on their way,” says Daniel Etter, a German photographer, who has documented migrants in northern Africa and across Europe. He called that “almost impossible” to do. Security risks, travel obstacles and financial barriers get in the way, leaving most photographers unable to build the kind of all-encompassing narrative that could help people understand the true nature of the crisis.

Some photographers have attempted to piece together the stories of migrants who risk their lives on these journeys. Alixandra Fazzina, a photographer with Noor, followed Somali migrants’ arduous trip across the Gulf of Aden in search of a better future in her book A Million Shillings, published in 2010. One in 20 who attempted the crossing lost their lives, their bodies washing up on Yemen’s shore.

She wanted to go deeper, she says, than the “small paragraph you find in a newspaper detailing the number of people that have died… I wanted to find out why they were making the journey. I wanted to find out why these people were willing to put their lives into the hands of smugglers and traffickers? Why would somebody do that?”

Olivier Jobard, a French photographer who followed a Cameroonian man’s trek to France, seeks similar answers. “What’s bothering me when we’re talking about immigration is that we often associate these people with ghosts and shadows,” he says. “They are not human in our minds.”

Italian photographer Alessandro Penso, who has been following migrants around Europe, focusing on hotspots like Greece, Italy and Malta, says he seeks moments of spontaneity to expose the humanity of his subjects.”There are simple gestures and habits in daily life that, as banal as they can seem to our eyes, hide the simple truth that we are all humans and vulnerable.”

Humanizing the people making these dangerous and harrowing journeys is important, Penso and his colleagues argue, especially when photography can lead to misconceptions. Cases in point are the widely published photographs of “hordes” of people scaling border fences in Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the edge of northern Morocco. “[When] people see these images,” says Santi Palacios, an Associated Press photographer who has taken such pictures, “they [think] we’ve been invaded.”

The people portrayed in these images are often seen shirtless and shouting, Jobard says, deliberately assuming a provocative stance. “They actually choose to behave like ‘wild animals’ in these situations—to impress or to scare people because it’s a real battle to get in [Melilla]. Of course, that also does them disservice.”

Once they’ve made it over the fence, he says, the contrast is striking. “They dress up, they take care of their appearances.” Last year, he shadowed a man named Hassan Adam from the Ivory Coast, who spent hours on one of these fences, alone. His friends had made it across to Melilla, successfully avoiding the police forces, but Adam was handcuffed, beaten and sent back to Morocco. Jobard tracked him down, months later, after he had finally made it across. “I told his story,” he says. “I wanted to show that behind each migrant there’s a person.”

For all of those who made it over the fence, or past border patrols or across the Mediterranean, there are untold thousands who lost their lives in the search for a new or better one. In October, Italian photographer Francesco Zizola dived 59 meters to photograph the wreckage of a boat that had carried some 500 people, and now rests at the bottom of the Mediterranean. He sought to convey the vastness of the tragedy that had occurred one year before, when 360 people lost their lives.

“I wanted to show to everybody that our comfortable, bourgeois homes could turn—as if in a nightmare—into that cabin with the red curtain, which I photographed inside the sunken ship,” he says. “That cabin is the tomb of our collective conscience and a memento of our indifference.”

Alice Gabriner and Mikko Takkunen edited this photo essay. With reporting by Lucia De Stefani, a contributor to TIME LightBox.

Andrew Katz is a News Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @katz. Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent.

TIME europe

These 5 Facts Explain Europe’s Deadly Migrants Crisis

Ship with large number of undocumented migrants runs aground at Rhodes
Loukas Mastis—EPA Illegal migrants arriving at Zefyros beach at Rhodes island, Greece, April 20, 2015.

Over 1,500 migrants have died trying to reach Europe—and the numbers are only likely to increase unless the EU takes real action

On April 19, more than 600 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean when their boat capsized on its way from Africa to Italy. On April 12, about 400 people died in a separate shipwreck. So far in 2015, 1,600 migrants have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean, and authorities fear that the number will surge as the weather warms. These five stats explain the rising tide of migration problems for Europe and for the desperate migrants of Africa and the Middle East.

1. Political Refugees Fleeing to Europe

EU member states received 216,300 applications for asylum last year. A large number of these asylum seekers are fleeing from Syria (civil war), Eritrea (dictatorship) and Mali (another civil war). Many of them are officially recognized as “refugees” by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a status that affords certain legal protections. But navigating the red tape takes time. Rather than waiting for a reluctant host country to take them in, many of these refugees entrust their fates to smugglers. As we’ve seen time and again, this can lead to tragic results.

(UNHCR, VOX)

2. Trouble on the Rise

75% of migrant deaths worldwide occur in the Mediterranean Sea. Europe has already seen a 43% increase in migrants through the first two months of 2015, and peak migration season (typically May through September) hasn’t yet begun. In 2014, the top countries of origin of people attempting to enter Europe by sea were Syria (67,000), Eritrea (34,000), Afghanistan (13,000) and Mali (10,000). Currently, an estimated 600,000 people are waiting in Libya to emigrate, according to Vox. These people represent three years worth of migration to Europe at the present rate.

(Guardian, BBC, Economist, VOX)

3. The Insufficient European Response

Even for those migrants who safely reach European shores, their troubles are far from over. The EU requires that asylum petitions be processed by the country in which migrants first arrive. As a result, southern countries such as Malta, Italy and Greece have found themselves overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of incoming migrants, while richer northern countries receive relatively few. Until last year, Italy had a program in place to find and rescue migrant ships, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Italy had to spend $9.7 million a month to fund the program, and so turned to the rest of Europe for help. The United Kingdom and others made it clear that they would not offer support for rescue operations, for fear doing so would encourage more people to attempt to make the dangerous sea crossing. This past fall, the EU’s border patrol agency Frontex took over responsibility from Italian authorities—with a budget that is about a seventh of what Italy was spending on its own.

(FiveThirtyEight, VOX, Economist)

4. Turkey Stands Apart

While Italy and the rest of the EU struggle, neighboring Turkey has been busy hosting 1.6 million displaced Syrians within its borders, or about half the people who have fled that country since the fighting began there nearly four years ago. Taking in refugees is not cheap; the total cost to Turkey is estimated to be $4.5 billion and rising. Turkey has introduced new regulations to give the Syrians a more robust legal status in the country, which includes access to basic services like health care and education. But Istanbul has stopped short of granting these migrants official refugee status, which would provide them with additional social services.

(New York Times, World Bulletin)

5. Rise in Xenophobia

The cost of taking in migrants is not measured only in dollars or euros. As Europe’s economy has struggled to rebound, anti-immigrant attitudes have risen across the continent. In a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2014, a median of 55% of Europeans surveyed wanted to limit immigration. The percentages were much higher in struggling countries like Greece (86%) and Italy (80%). The rise in xenophobia has propelled new far-right parties to the political forefront, and older parties like Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France are looking to play a much larger role in their countries’ politics in years to come. As long as high-unemployment persists in the Euro region, rising xenophobia in EU countries will be an important driver in shaping EU migrant policy.

(New York Times, Pew Research Center)

TIME World

#TheBrief: Who Is Responsible for Migrants Who Seek Asylum?

Who is responsible for migrants seeking asylum? Italy? Or the European Union?

At least 700 refugees are feared dead after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya.

With countries in Europe closing up borders to prevent the influx of refugees fleeing war and conflict, migrants—mostly from Syria and Eritrea, but also from sub-Saharan Africa—are opting for the risky voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy.

From Italy, they travel to countries like Spain, Greece, and the U.K.—all in search for asylum and better job opportunities.

But it could come at a price.

TIME Italy

One Migrant’s Harrowing Journey From Senegal to Italy

ITALY-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECK
Giovanni Isolino—AFP/Getty Images Shipwrecked migrants disembark from a rescue vessel as they arrive in the Italian port of Augusta in Sicily on April 16, 2015.

He traveled through the Sahara for more than 12 days before reaching chaotic Libya and the treacherous Mediterranean

Mahmoud’s journey across the Mediterranean to Europe in mid-April was a hellish two-day ordeal. The 28-year-old vomited uncontrollably as the tight-packed boat tossed on the choppy waters, he recalls, while several passengers died of dehydration and were buried at sea. He was weak and shaken by the time the vessel drifted ashore in Italy, and he remains haunted by the experience. “Even now I have a problem in my head,” he told TIME on Monday, recounting a traumatic four-month trip from his home in Senegal into Fortress Europe. “I cannot sleep,” he says, speaking by phone from an immigrant center in Rome, where he is now applying for refugee status. “Many people I met have died trying to cross to Europe.”

With at least 1,000 migrants dead in the Mediterranean this past week — the deadliest week at sea for migrants in memory — E.U. officials are scrambling to devise strategies to halt the armada of smugglers’ boats crossing from North Africa, and to prevent more mass drownings, which are turning the Mediterranean into a mass grave of migrants. Many are fleeing wars or poverty back home, facing severe risks that have spiraled in their deadliness. About 1,500 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean since Jan. 1, compared with 96 in the first four months of last year, according to the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration.

Shocked at the toll, E.U. leaders are set to discuss a raft of emergency measures in Brussels on Thursday, including deploying more boats to help migrants — something many E.U. countries have been loath to do until now — and streamlining immigration and asylum requests from Africa, where hundreds of thousands of people are leaving for Europe.

But above all, E.U. officials say that for the mass deaths to stop, there is one place where peace is needed, and now: Libya.

With the great majority of boats leaving from Libya’s coast, European officials believe that country’s collapse into chaotic violence has allowed a rapacious mafia of human traffickers to flourish with impunity. E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters Monday that Europe wanted to work with Libyans to form a national unity government, so rival factions could together administer the country and help crack down on traffickers. “We invite all Libyans to have the same sense of urgency,” she said, “not only to save their country but the many human lives that are put at risk on their own territory.”

Judging from Mahmoud’s harrowing description of his journey through Libya, and from interviews with those who remain in Libya, however, stopping the smugglers will be a daunting task.

Despite the deaths on the Mediterranean, Libyan traffickers are still finding thousands of eager customers, mostly African, who are desperate for a way out and willing to pay smugglers a hefty $1,000 each to squeeze on to heavily overloaded boats.

Mahmoud, who requested his last name not be used for fear of complicating his request for asylum in Italy, estimates he paid a steep $2,130 to smugglers throughout the trip.

After leaving Senegal, Mahmoud crossed the blistering Sahara for more than 12 days, traveling through Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, as groups of migrants were passed from one smuggling group to the next, each demanding payment. With little to eat or drink, he recalled, several migrants died in the sand. When they finally staggered into Tripoli, they found a terrifying city racked by gunfire and militia battles. When Mahmoud ventured out to find work in order to pay for his onward journey, he says, police arrested him and jailed him for “one month and four days.”

Libya’s Catholic Bishop, Father Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, told TIME from Tripoli on Monday that he has begun begging Africans who visit his whitewashed Italianate church in the city not to risk death on the unforgiving sea. “I try to discourage them, I try to teach them courage,” he says. But his pleas have fallen on deaf ears. And meanwhile, hundreds more migrants keep arriving in Libya, in search for smugglers to take them to Europe.

By the time the African migrants arrive in Tripoli, they have already paid dearly for leaving home — so dearly, in fact, that stopping short of Europe seems almost unfathomable. Mahmoud never contemplated turning around, a decision that would have required retracing the perilous Sahara route, which he says had “many bandits and robbers.”

Martinelli said many migrants crowded into his church on Sunday, just hours after the news broke that hundreds of migrants appeared to have drowned in the worst single incident in the Mediterranean on record. “The church is full, full, full of Africans,” he said, speaking from Tripoli. “They all want to get to Italy, they all want a possibility to leave.”

Smugglers finally packed Mahmoud and others into a dinghy late one night in early April, but the vessel sprang a leak and the group turned back. Police shot at them as they clambered back ashore, according to his account, killing seven migrants. A few days later, smugglers tried again, packing hundreds into a boat at midnight and sending them across the Mediterranean.

Although his nightmarish journey is now over, Mahmoud says the experience has left him severely affected, and with lasting medical problems. Asked what he tells friends back in Senegal who are considering making the same trek to Europe, he says, “I tell them, ‘Never, never, never go.’”

Read next: More Migrants Saved From Drowning as E.U. Tries to Act

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME celebrities

Get Out of Your Car Within 100m of George Clooney’s Italian Villas and You’ll Be Fined Up to $550

A lakeside view of George Clooney's villa Oleandra on Lake Como, northern Italy, taken Thursday, July 8, 2004.
Antonio Calanni—Associated Press A lakeside view of George Clooney's villa Oleandra on Lake Como, northern Italy, taken Thursday, July 8, 2004.

Drive on sir, nothing to see here

The mayor of Laglio, Italy has warned that anyone who sets foot within 100 meters of George and Amal Clooney’s twin luxury villas overlooking Lake Como will be fined up to €500 ($550.)

Robert Pozzi, mayor of the small picturesque village in northern Italy, issued the ordinance to protect Clooney, his wife Amal and their guests’ privacy while they vacation in their glitzy properties, reports the Telegraph.

Anyone who leaves their car or boat within 100 meters of Clooney’s Villa Oleandra and adjoining Villa Margherita will be liable to pay the hefty fine.

The Gravity and Oceans 11 star bought one of the exclusive villas in 2002, but after fans and paparazzi flooded the town and set up camp near his home, Clooney bought the adjoining property to ensure his privacy.

Before the couple’s wedding last year, a similar exclusion zone was enforced around the homes to protect the pair from snooping photographers

[Telegraph]

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