Italy has to be praised for having been the only European country which has honoured its commitment to taking in migrants from north Africa. I know this on good authority having interviewed the founder of the charity Open Arms which has three ships in the area helping to give war refugees safe passage to Europe, and they do so under the instruction of and in cooperation with the Italian coastguard. Frontex, a cluster of European naval ships which are supposed to assist at times of crisis, do next to nothing. There is little communication between them and the Italian authorities, hence why the Italians turned to the non-governmental organisations working in the area.

However, a change of government and a shift of feelings amongst the Italian public have altered the situation and Italy has decided to put the emphasis on the rest of Europe to help migrants fleeing war zones.

Few of those risking their lives actually want to leave their homes. But should they stay, they face capture by warring factions. So they put their lives into the hands of gangs of human smugglers.

Trouble is, should migrants get caught by another Libyan faction, they are held captives, if not killed, and sold on to another gang like slaves. That gang will be paid again to smuggle them out of the country, and should that fail, they are caught in a vicious and dangerous circle - provided they have not drowned at sea. So this time, well done to Spain for stepping up.

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