Germany to send new frigate to protect ships in the Red Sea

The attacks on the vital trade route have been met with retaliatory strikes by US and British forces since January…reports Asian Lite News

Germany said on Saturday it will send a new frigate to the Red Sea in August to help secure maritime traffic, which has been disrupted for months due to Houthi attacks.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the “Hamburg” will replace the “Hessen,” which left the zone on Saturday. The “Hessen” had been deployed in the area on Feb. 23 as part of the EU’s “Aspides” mission to protect ships.

The statement said the “Hamburg” had escorted 27 merchant ships in the intervention zone and had, on four occasions, repulsed drone and missile attacks by the Houthis. It had around 240 military personnel on board.

The Houthis said on Thursday they had attacked almost 100 vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in months of strikes. They began attacking ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea in November, a campaign they say is intended as a show of support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The attacks on the vital trade route have been met with retaliatory strikes by US and British forces since January.

The US set up a multinational task force late last year to “protect” Red Sea shipping. Recent Houthi attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have also affected the global maritime transport chain.

Merchant ships and seafarers are increasingly in peril at sea as attacks escalate in the Middle East, the industry said in a letter released on Friday. It said the UN must do more to protect supply chains.

In a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the world’s leading shipping industry associations said Iran’s seizure on April 13 of the MSC Aries container ship 50 nautical miles off the UAE coast “once again highlighted the intolerable situation where shipping has become a target.” “Innocent seafarers have been killed. Seafarers are being held hostage,” the letter said. “The world would be outraged if four airliners were seized and held hostage with innocent souls onboard. Regrettably, there does not seem to be the same response or concern (for ships and their crew members).”

India’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that an Indian woman who was a mariner on the MSC Aries had returned to the country. It added that it was in touch with the other 16 Indian crew members still being held aboard the vessel.

The industry letter said: “Seafarers and the maritime sector are neutral and must not be politicized.” The letter added: “Given the continually evolving and severe threat profile within the area, we call on you for enhanced coordinated military presence, missions, and patrols in the region to protect our seafarers against any further possible aggression.”

Iran has also seized other vessels in international waters in recent years, heightening risks for merchant shipping in the area.

Ministers urge EU to ‘deepen’ ties to tackle migration roots

Ministers from five Mediterranean nations have urged the EU to “deepen” bilateral agreements with migrant countries of origin and increase funding to tackle the root causes of migration.

During the Gran Canaria Island meeting, ministers of interior and migration from the MED5 nations — Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain — discussed the new migration and asylum pact adopted by the EU Parliament on April 11.

Years in the making, the deal involves a sweeping reform of the bloc’s asylum policies that will harden border procedures while forcing all 27 nations to share responsibility for migrant arrivals.

The reform was spurred by the massive influx of migrants in 2015, with its provisions taking effect in 2026. Hailing the pact as “historic,” Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said there was “still a long way to go” and that the solution lay in “prevention” and addressing the root causes of migration “at its source.”

“The key to migration management lies in bilateral cooperation,” he told a news conference, urging the European Commission “to deepen and broaden partnerships and agreements with third countries” to stem flows of irregular migrants.

“But we believe there is room for improvement, and the commitment should also focus on increasing European funds and flexible financing tools destined for such cooperation,” he said.

Under current EU rules, the arrival country bears responsibility for hosting and vetting asylum-seekers and returning those deemed inadmissible, which has put southern frontline states under huge pressure, fueling far-right opposition.

The new EU pact, which includes building border centers to hold asylum-seekers and sending some to outside “safe” countries, has been denounced by migrant charities and NGOs, with Amnesty International warning it would “lead to greater human suffering.”

In February, the UK Home Office has said that a record 290 people arrived in small boats in a single day, thus taking the migrant Channel crossings in the country to more than 2000 so far this year.

This is the highest single-day number recorded on February 25 after 358 people were recorded on January 17, The Evening Standard reported on Tuesday.

According to the figures published Monday, the migrants crossed in five boats with an estimated 58 people per boat.

Beginning this year, a union of Border Force officials in the UK warned that the number of people arriving in small boats is expected to rise again this year.

Last year, 29,437 migrants made the crossing, compared to 45,774 in 2022, according to figures from the UK Home Office, but the number was the second-highest since 2018 — about 1,000 above the total in 2021.

Migrants coming in small boats has been a major political issue in the UK with more than 45,000 migrants crossing the English Channel in that manner to reach the UK in 2022.

Ever since then, “stopping the boats” has been one of the top priorities of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government with the leader admitting that it is “not easy” to fix the problem overnight.

The government has also tried to send migrants to Rwanda following an agreement with the African country.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said last week that the country’s moves to facilitate the removal of asylum-seekers to Rwanda run contrary to the basic principles of the rule of law and risk delivering a serious blow to human rights.

ALSO READ-Germany to send new frigate to protect ships in the Red Sea

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