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

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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]

TIME Italy

Valet Parker Wrecks $450,000 Ferrari After Mistaking Accelerator for Brake

Ferrari 599 GTB Driver Crashes into a Shop In Rome
Claudio Peri—EPA The aftermath following a ferrari 599 GTO which crashed into a shop in Viminale's road in Rome, Italy, on March 30, 2015

An extremely, extremely costly mistake

A parking attendant in Italy wrecked a $450,000 Ferrari while delivering it back to its owners a few blocks away, crashing the supercar into a storefront in Rome after accidentally pressing the accelerator instead of the brake.

Roberto Cinti was driving the Ferrari 599 GTO, one of the most powerful vehicles in the world, from a parking garage to the Hotel Exedra down the road when he lost control, according to local media.

“I was confused — instead of the brake, I pressed down on the accelerator,” Cinti told police on the scene, the Telegraph quoted a local newspaper as reporting.

And as he found out, a moment of confusion can cause catastrophic damage when you’re in a car that goes from 0-60 mph in three seconds.

Ferrari 599 GTB Driver Crashes into a Shop In Rome
CLAUDIO PERI—EPA A photograph made available on 01 April 2015 showing the aftermath following a ferrari 599 GTO which crashed into a shop in Viminale’s road in Rome, Italy 30 March 2015.

The owners, a Dutch couple who had traveled to a meeting of Ferrari enthusiasts in Anzio, south of Rome, have not been identified or publicly reacted to the incident.

The valet, meanwhile, received treatment for minor injuries in a hospital and was — understandably — in a state of shock.

TIME Italy

Amanda Knox Conviction Overturned by Italy’s Top Court

File photo of Knox, the U.S. student convicted of murdering her British flatmate in Italy in November 2007, arriving at the court during her appeal trial session in Perugia
Alessandro Bianchi—Reuters Amanda Knox, the U.S. student convicted of murdering her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Italy in November 2007, arrives at the court during her appeal trial session in Perugia in this September 30, 2011 file photo.

American finally acquitted of the murder of Meredith Kercher

The Italian Supreme Court overturned Amanda Knox’s conviction Friday for the 2007 murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher.

Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted as co-conspirators in Kercher’s murder in the apartment they shared as exchange students in Perugia in 2009. But that conviction was overturned in 2011 and in 2014, after prosecutors argued that evidence had been omitted in the appeal, the original guilty verdict was reinstated. Knox was re-convicted in abstentia.

But Italy’s Supreme Court ruled Friday afternoon to finally acquit the 27-year old American of the long-hanging charges over her. She had faced extradition to Italy if the conviction had been upheld.

Knox released a statement saying she was “tremendously relieved and grateful” for the decision.

“The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal,” Knox says in the statement. “And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family, friends, and strangers. To them, I say: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your kindness has sustained me. I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in person.”

A man named Rudy Guede, whose fingerprints and DNA were found at the scene, has already been convicted for the murder and is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence, but prosecutors had argued that Knox and Sollecito were Guede’s accomplices.

This means the only standing conviction against Amanda Knox is a slander conviction for 2007 statements she made blaming bar owner Patrick Lumumba for Kercher’s murder. Lumumba was eventually cleared and sued Knox for slander. She was convicted and eventually received a 3-year prison sentence, which will now be counted as time served, since she has already spent almost four years in prison.

Since she moved back to the US after her 2011 acquittal, Knox has been leading a quiet life. She finished her degree at the University of Washington and got work as a freelance journalist for the West Seattle Herald. She was reportedly paid $4 million for her memoir about her experiences in Italy. And she’s engaged to a musician, Colin Sutherland.

Read next: A Look At The Amanda Knox-Inspired Movie The Face of an Angel

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TIME Crime

Italy’s Highest Court to Rule on Amanda Knox Conviction

Amanda Knox reacts while being interviewed on the set of ABC's "Good Morning America" in New York in this January 31, 2014 file photo.
Andrew Kelly—Reuters/Corbis Amanda Knox reacts while being interviewed on the set of ABC's "Good Morning America" in New York in this January 31, 2014 file photo.

Legal battle over extradition could follow if murder conviction let stand

Italy’s highest court will decide Wednesday whether to uphold the 2007 murder conviction of Amanda Knox, a ruling that could set up a legal battle over the American’s extradition.

The country’s Supreme Court must decide whether to let stand an appeals court ruling upholding the convictions of Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, in the murder of Meredith Kercher, who was found stabbed to death in the home in Italy she shared with Knox.

Knox and Sollecito have already been found guilty twice by Italian courts and served four years in jail. Knox has been in Seattle, Wa. since 2011, when she was freed on appeal. That acquittal was later overturned.

Read more at Reuters.

TIME Italy

Italian Politician Looks to Highlight Gay Rights by Getting Married in Canada

Nicola Vendola attends the 'Che Tempo Che Fa' Italian TV Show on March 18, 2013, in Milan, Italy.
Stefania D'Alessandro—Getty Images Nicola Vendola attends the Che Tempo Che Fa Italian TV Show on March 18, 2013, in Milan

“From their elevated social rung they don’t really understand what it means to live in a country where homophobia kills"

Nicola Vendola, one of the first openly gay politicians in Italy, has announced his plan to marry his Canadian partner in Canada, as Italy has no current plan to legalize gay marriage.

The 56-year-old LGBT activist, who is also the left-wing representative for the traditionally conservative southern region of Puglia, is giving serious thoughts on starting a family and having children, Agence France-Presse reports.

“Everything is going to change, I’m going to marry Ed,” Vendola said about his partner Eddy Testa.

Although Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has announced plans to allow same-sex civil partnerships, the influential Catholic Church vehemently opposes extending this to nuptials.

Vendola also clashed with Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Italy’s influential gay fashion-designer duo, who recently drew the wrath of pop legend Elton John by describing children born to gay parents via IVF as “synthetic babies.”

“From their elevated social rung they don’t really understand what it means to live in a country where homophobia kills and the lack of basic rights weighs heavily on many people’s lives,” said Vendola.

[AFP]

TIME celebrities

Dolce & Gabbana Try to Clarify IVF Remarks That Had Elton John Fuming

Celebrities urged a boycott of Dolce & Gabbana products in response to their comments about "synthetic children"

Italian fashion moguls Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have used an interview with CNN to backtrack slightly on their controversial remarks about in vitro fertilization (IVF) that sparked a public backlash, saying that they don’t judge the lifestyles of others but were simply expressing a private opinion.

“I respect you because you choose what you want. I respect me because I choose what I want … This just my point of private view,” Dolce said in the interview.

The two appeared to disagree over IVF with Gabbana seeming more open to the idea while Dolce explained that his Sicilian background engrained in him a belief in the strong, traditional family.

The original comments, in which Dolce called IVF babes “wombs for rent” and “sperm selected from a catalog,” caused pop icon Elton John to urge a boycott of Dolce & Gabbana products that gained support from many celebrities and the wider public.

Read next: This Is Why Shailene Woodley Eats Clay

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MONEY Millennials

This One Question Can Show if You’re Smarter than Most U.S. Millennials

Millennial office
Leonardo Patrizi—Getty Images

Young people in the United States ranked nearly last in a new international test of skills. See how you compare by answering this one question.

Let’s say you see an advertisement that reads:

Apply for a loan
Up to $70,000
Terms of the loan
Pay only $103 per month for each $1,000 borrowed
Payable in 12 equal monthly payments

What’s the annual simple interest rate on the loan?

If you answer correctly—you’ll have to read on to find out—you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to marketable job skills.

According to a new report from Educational Testing Service (ETS), which designs the GRE and other exams, American millennials lag far behind young people in other countries when it comes to all the top skills that employers seek.

Those include literacy, ability to follow basic written instructions, problem-solving while using technology—and math.

To arrive at these findings, ETS administered a new test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies to thousands of people across 22 developed countries.

Out of all millennials, Americans ranked last for numeracy, tied with Italians and Spaniards. Gen Y-ers stateside also got lower reading comprehension scores than peers in 15 of the 22 countries. (Japan ranked number one across all categories.)

That sample question you saw above was described by ETS as 5/5 on the difficulty scale for numeric literacy. The answer, by the way, is around 24%.

You can see a longer list of sample questions here and read the full report on the ETS website.

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