How Facebook Helps to Reveal the Fate of Missing Refugees oleh - seputarcoldfusion.xyz

Halo sahabat selamat datang di website seputarcoldfusion.xyz, pada kesempatan hari ini kita akan membahas seputar How Facebook Helps to Reveal the Fate of Missing Refugees oleh - seputarcoldfusion.xyz, kami sudah mempersiapkan artikel tersebut dengan informatif dan akurat, silahkan membaca

How Facebook Helps to

Reveal the Fate

of Missing Refugees

How Facebook Helps to Reveal the Fate of Missing Refugees

As the rickety blue fishing boat started to take on water, the panic set in.

Musaab Shabani was standing on the deck of the 50-foot vessel, squeezed in tight among hundreds of other desperate people. Most were Syrians, like him. Above them, the roof overflowed with passengers. Below them, the people crammed into the storage hold clamored to scoop up buckets of incoming water and pass them above deck to be dumped overboard.

Earlier in the day, the engine of the trawler had given out while in the territorial waters off the coast of Libya. The smugglers responsible for the journey sent another boat with a crew, but instead of pulling the struggling vessel back to shore where the engine could be fixed, they tugged it into international waters. Fortunately, a passing merchant ship alerted the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome, which dispatched three government ships to help. They also sent a helicopter to monitor the situation until the boats could arrive. But at the first sight of the chopper, the smugglers cut the towline, turned back to Libya, and left the fishing boat and its hundreds of passengers to drift at sea.

In the hours it took for the government to arrive, the wind picked up and water continued seeping in through the trawler’s aged wood hull. When the Italian rescuers showed up, the passengers forced their way toward the edge of their boat, their arms outstreched for life jackets or helping hands. This sudden movement caused the boat to angle sharply and almost tip over in the rolling waves. Terrified, some passengers pushed toward the opposite side, sending the vessel careening in the other direction. For a moment, the boat seemed to freeze on edge in the gathering dusk. And then, at 7:58 pm on August 24, 2014, it flipped. In one violent motion, the smooth hull turned skyward, pointing the stalled propeller uselessly into the air. Musaab was thrown into the sea.


SCROLL DOWN

A photo of Musaab Shabani and his son next to a report from the investigation into Musaab’s disappearance.

At the time he was 26 years old, with jet-black hair, a receding hairline, and a dark stubbly beard on his round cheeks. In Damascus, where he lived before the civil war, he had worked as a self-taught computer technician, the neighborhood IT guy who could help with a system crash. In the summer, he used to rent a car with his friends and younger brother, Abd, and make the four-hour drive to the coastal province of Latakia to lounge on the beaches and swim in the blue Mediterranean waters.

But that was a distant memory. The uprising against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad began in 2011, and a little over a year later, Musaab and Abd were arrested under suspicion of supporting the opposition. Abd says they were tortured both physically and psychologically, and after a month and a half in captivity they were cleared and released. They fled to Gaziantep, just across the Turkish border, and sought to build some semblance of a normal life. Musaab worked briefly at a radio station that supported the Syrian opposition. When that fell through, he and Abd moved on to Istanbul, where he found a job at a garment factory. It went bankrupt and closed within a year. His new life wasn’t all darknessâ€"he married and had a sonâ€"but he couldn’t seem to get his bearings.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people had been fleeing Syria to Libya, where they would pay a smuggler somewhere between $500 and $2,000 for a spot on a boat that would carry them on an illicit journey to southern Italy. From there, most people continued north to other European countries, like Germany and Sweden, with stronger economies and better support systems for asylum seekers. Musaab knew people who had already made the journey, and he decided to follow them.

When Musaab reached the beach, he found the boat packed with more than 500 men, women, and childrenâ€"and no life jackets to be seen.

The plan was for Musaab to go first, and later, once he was given status as a refugee, his wife and son would join him through the United Nations’ family reunification program. In early August 2014, he boarded a flight to Algeria (which, at the time, was still granting visas on arrival to Syrians with passports); from there smugglers helped him sneak across the Tunisian desert and into Libya, where he headed to Zuwara, a city known to be the starting point for clandestine crossings to Italy. The smugglers Musaab paid to make arrangements for the trip to Europe promised there would be life jackets. They also promised that there would be no more than 150 people on the boat.

When Musaab reached the beach the night the boat was leaving, he found it packed with more than 500 men, women, and childrenâ€"and no life jackets to be seen. A handful of people tried to back out. This was not what they had agreed to. But the smugglers were armed and threatened to kill anyone who didn’t get on board.

That was how Musaab’s voyage began, and it ended as he tumbled into the sea with hundreds of other passengers frantically clawing the water to stay afloat, their arms and legs and bodies tangling together. Italian rescuers pulled 24 dead bodies from the water that day, along with 352 survivors. The remaining hundred-some passengers were unaccounted for. Within days, Abd heard that a cousin who was also on the boat had gotten in touch with his relatives. The cousin had been on the deck, like Musaab, but they were separated in all of the chaos. After the boat flipped, the cousin lost track of Musaab and couldn’t find him among the survivors in Italy. Rumors swirled among refugees that some of the passengers were being detained by Italian authorities. Maybe Musaab was with them, or his cousin had somehow overlooked him in the confusion following the wreck. Nobody knew. Like thousands of others who have fled their homes over the past two years and joined the greatest mass migration in human history, Musaab had gone missing.

At 58 years old, Angelo Milazzo is nearly bald, with closely cropped gray hair on the sides of his head, a strong nose, and brown eyes crowned with bushy salt-and-pepper eyebrows. He has been a police inspector in the southeastern Sicilian province of Siracusa for 22 years. When we met in September, he sat behind a bare metal desk, one of four in a cramped office in Siracusa’s Palazzo di Giustizia. While talking about his work, he was meticulous, showing an investigator’s obsession with detail. It animated him. And, over the course of the evening, his desk began overflowing with files filled with documents he wanted to show me. He would shuffle through them, pulling out pieces of paper and photographs, tapping them with a finger to illustrate a point.

Back in 2014, he was working with the Interagency Task Force for Combating Illegal Migration (GICIC, by its Italian acronym). Italy is a main European gateway for refugees from the Middle East and Africa. Nearly half a million people have fled to the country since 2014â€"and more than 10,000 of them died crossing the Mediterranean, the vast majority of whom remain unidentified. The main mission of Milazzo’s unit is to investigate the clandestine movement of people across the Mediterranean and to arrest the smugglers who make it possible. When a boat carrying refugees arrives safely, GICIC investigators are often at the scene to interview passengers in the hope of identifying the smugglers. When a ship sinks, they’re charged with identifying the bodies.

The government response to the August 24 shipwreck was in many ways typical of the Italian system. It took nearly two days for the navy vessels carrying the survivors and the dead to reach Siracusa. The ships had no refrigeration units, so the corpses were left in mortuary bags on deck. The rescuers photographed the bodies before sealing them up, which is a good thing: Under the sun, they bloated and became disfigured, the skin blackening as if burnt.

Once in Siracusa, the survivors were sent to shelters. The bodies were taken to a mortuary, where coroners created a report of postmortem data consisting of identifying information, including height, sex, and approximate age. Tattoos, scars, birthmarks, and other distinguishing characteristics were noted, and DNA samples were taken. All of this information was then given to the district attorney’s office so the process of identifying them could begin.

Unless a passport or some other official government document is found on a body, the only legal way to determine the identity of a victim is through confirmation from an immediate family member. “You’ve got to reach out to families, and you’ve got to collect data from them,” says Simon Robins, a researcher with the Mediterranean Missing project, an initiative studying missing migrants in the region. “As long as you don’t have the information from families, you’re not going to identify anybody.”

This is where most shipwreck investigations involving Syrian refugees end. By 2014, nearly all of Europe had cut off diplomatic relations with the Assad government, meaning Italian investigators couldn’t go through official channels to reach families back in Syria. They also couldn’t rely on nongovernmental and humanitarian organizations, most of which buckled under the weight of the refugee crisis.


SCROLL DOWN

A cemetery in Sicily. On this island alone, there are more than 1,500 graves of anonymous migrants and refugees.

When the task of investigating the August 24 shipwreck fell to Milazzo, he knew the odds of identifying every missing person and every anonymous body were against him, but he got to work. The day before the investigation began, he had received the résumé of a translator named Rabab Marina Mina. She was 38 years old and from a Greek family, but she had settled in Sicily after marrying an Italian man who owned a pizzeria in Siracusa. She spoke five languages, including Arabic, and Milazzo hired her to start immediately.

Milazzo and Mina headed to a shelter where hundreds of the shipwreck’s survivors were living. They arrived around lunchtime, and everyone was gathered in the large dining hall. “You could tell from their faces that, yes, they had reached their goalâ€"they reached Italyâ€"but that many of them lost something of greater value,” Milazzo says.

Within that first week, Milazzo and Mina interviewed most of the witnesses and were able to find relatives of six of the 24 victims. But that left 18 bodies and scores of passengers unaccounted for, and Milazzo and Mina would spend the next few weeks trying to track down potential leads through NGOs and humanitarian organizations. They got few responses and no matches. Their cases were running cold.

“If all the missing people who washed ashore are on Facebook,” Milazzo thought, “why shouldn’t I just look for my missing people there?”

Some days, Milazzo and Mina would spend hours searching through news reports and websites about the missing. They came across a Facebook page with a list of 64 names of people who had washed ashore in Tunisia, victims of Mediterranean crossings gone wrong. Out of curiosity, Milazzo and Mina started searching for each of those names on Facebook, and they found profiles for all of them. This got them to thinking about the vast web of friends and family that emanated from each account. “If all the missing people who washed ashore in Tunisia are on Facebook,” Milazzo remembered thinking, “why shouldn’t I just look for my missing people there and use their own networks to reach out to their families?”

It was, to him, a revelation. In all his years in the illegal immigration task force, he’d never heard of anyone using Facebook to contact families and forge connections across borders. This was in 2014, and though social media has been a mainstay in police investigations in America for over a decade, Milazzo was not aware of any official policy either encouraging or prohibiting its use in Italian investigations. After he requested and received permission from the district attorney to open a Facebook profile that he could use to contact the families of the missing, he set up a page under the name SIRIA-GICIC. For the cover photo, he used an image of the rickety blue fishing boat overflowing with passengers, their faces turned to the far-off Italian navy helicopter monitoring and documenting the situation until help could arrive. They were waiting to be saved.

21st-Century Exodus

As of early last year, more people were displaced from their homes than ever before. In just the first half of 2016, more than 1.5 million people became refugees and asylum seekers, searching for security, safety, and a second chance. â€"Blanca Myers

Development by Lo Bénichou; Design by Evan Mills; Source: UNHCR

missing_map_mobile.png

As Milazzo began his work, Abd Shabani was in Istanbul awaiting news from his brother, Musaab. When Musaab left Istanbul to make his way to Italy, Abd chose to stay behind. He was making decent money, hawking souvenirs to tourists under the vaulted ceilings of the picturesque Grand Bazaar. “I saw my future here,” Abd told me when I met him at a rooftop café near his workplace.

“We would do almost everything together,” he said of their childhood. Sometimes at night, when it was too late to go out, they’d tell their father they were going to visit relatives nearby but instead would sneak off to kick a soccer ball around. Later on, Abd would tag along with Musaab as the older boys went to picnic and barbecue in the countryside. And, of course, he was there for the trips to the beach in the summertime.

The last time Abd heard from his brother before he left Libya for Italy, Musaab had sent him one last text. “I have just one favor to ask you,” it read. “If I die, take care of my son.”

In the summer of 2014 the number of Syrians crossing the Mediterranean was beginning to skyrocket as the civil war intensified, and an online community blossomed around their movement. On pages run by activists and amateur news outlets, people shared information about the best routes and tried to warn one another about potential dangers. They also attempted to monitor the movement of boats after they set out to sea.

Musaab had used some of these pages to plan his journey. Now Abd used them to try to figure out why he still hadn’t heard from his brother. Each day at work, he obsessively checked online for updates, scouring sites dedicated to Syrian refugees for bits of information, a picture or a piece of news, something, anything, that could give him a sense of what had happened. Abd would also check Musaab’s Facebook page constantly, only to find no updates since Musaab had left for Libya. “We were living on hope,” Abd said, sustained as much by his cousin’s initial reportâ€"perhaps Musaab was detained or distracted in the chaos?â€"as the lack of any evidence indicating otherwise.

The SIRIA-GICIC profile on Facebook went live on October 10, 2014, nearly two months after the shipwreck, with Milazzo and Mina linking to the Facebook pages where the shipwreck was already being discussed. Within minutes, people from all over the world who were looking for answers about missing loved ones started contacting Milazzo and Mina.

Since neither of them had ever used social media to solve a case, they didn’t know what tactics worked best. Sometimes they posted close-ups of the victims’ clothing and personal items to see if anyone recognized them. (They made sure to avoid revealing victims’ faces.) When a potential family member contacted them, ­Milazzo and Mina moved the conversation to a private chat. In other cases, they sifted through the mounds of information sent by the families, looking for details that might match the postmortem data in their files.

“When I saw the picture I was just likeâ€"that’s my brother. I know my brother. It was him. It was him,” Abd said.

Milazzo received a message from a man named Ahmad al-Rashi, who’d heard that his nephew might have been on the shipâ€"midtwenties, black hair, round cheeks. Milazzo replied with a picture of a faded black tracksuit worn by one of the victims who matched the description. Al-Rashi recognized the clothes immediately and sent back a photo of his nephew wearing the same outfit. It was a match. But Milazzo knew better than anyone that an uncle couldn’t confirm the name of the dead. That had to be done by the victim’s next of kin, and because al-Rashi couldn’t bring himself to give any false hope or bad leads to the rest of his family, he would not put ­Milazzo in touch with the next of kin. Instead, he would only give ­Milazzo his nephew’s name. To track down the next of kin, and to complete the process, Milazzo was on his own.

On October 13, Milaz­zo published the name given to him by the uncle. And 800 miles away, Abd Sha­bani logged on to Facebook, clicked on SIRIA-­GICIC, and saw the words “Musaab Shabani” staring back at him from the screen.

“I just didn’t believe it,” Abd told me. He sent a private message to SIRIA-GICIC and followed up with a scanned copy of his passport to prove he was Musaab’s brother. (Abd would only learn later, through me, of his Uncle Ahmad’s role in the investigation, which was all the more shocking to him because he says they are not particularly close.)

In the picture Milazzo and Mina sent back to Abd, a body is inside a partially unzipped body bag. The sun is shining and his head is tilted back, but it is clearly Musaab. He looks peaceful, almost as if he were sleeping, except for two small streaks of blood under his eyes from vessels that had burst. “When I saw the picture I was just likeâ€"that’s my brother. I know my brother. It was him. It was him,” Abd said, trailing off. It didn’t matter how good of a swimmer Musaab was, or how much he liked to float in the blue water at the beach in Latakia. He had drowned.


SCROLL DOWN

In the GICIC offices in Siracusa, inspectors maintain a library of records related to the landing of migrant boats.

In the three months Milazzo and Mina searched for names from the August 24 shipwreck, they had contact with dozens of family members like Abd. Sometimes the two investigators would be in touch with relatives in different countries and continents, working late into the night at Mina’s husband’s pizzeria. The chat threads were haunting: mothers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, all receiving pictures of their dead loved ones. In one message, after seeing a picture of her sister, a woman sent a simple “thumbs up” emoji before signing off. In another, a wife confirmed her husband’s death. “Rest in peace, my love,” she wrote. By the end of 2014, Milazzo and Mina had put names to 21 out of 24 bodiesâ€"15 of them through Facebook.

Milazzo has since been transferred out of the migration task forceâ€" he now tracks down people who fail to respond to subpoenas. But two and a half years since the shipwreck, and with the permission of the prosecutor’s office, he is still working to confirm the identities of the remaining bodies. “I’m convinced that little by little I will be able to discover the identities of all 24 victims,” he says of the ongoing DNA testing and family outreach. “It will bring me a lot of satisfaction, because it will mean bringing closure to these families.”

Vittorio Piscitelli, Italy’s high commissioner for missing people, is aware of Milaz­zo’s success with the August 24 shipwreck and has supported him publiclyâ€"he congratulated Milazzo when the two met at an event in Palermo last September. But there is a reason Milazzo wasn’t aware of any official policy concerning social media during his investigation in 2014â€"there is no official policy, even three years later, and Piscitelli is wary of adopting Milazzo’s social media methods more broadly. “It is one thing to do it for just a few cases,” he says. “It’s something else doing it at a national level.”

“We don’t want the secret service of these countries knowing that their fellow citizens are here and that we’re working on their identification,” one Italian official says.

Piscitelli’s main concern is safetyâ€"in places like Syria, where families are often punished for the acts of a single family member, revealing the names of refugees could pose a risk to the people they left behind. “We don’t want the secret service of these countries knowing that their fellow citizens are here and that we’re working on their identification,” Piscitelli says. There are also potential legal obstacles. The EU has strict regulations over sharing personal data across international borders, and widespread adoption of Milazzo’s tactics could pose legal problems. The issue is still unresolvedâ€"previous attempts to determine whether it’s legal to use social media to identify refugees stalled because of the safety issues raised by Piscitelli. That Milazzo was even granted permission from his superiors to open this Facebook account in the first place suggests the Italians still lack a coherent strategy for identifying the dead.

“I understand where their fears about safety come from,” says Simon Robins, of the Mediterranean Missing project. “But I think there are ways to use social media to make progress without putting people in danger,” perhaps involving social media in the initial outreach phase before transferring the process to secure government channels. In any case, Robins believes, sticking to the existing patchwork of bureaucracies would be catastrophic. “It can’t work on the scale and with the speed that we know social media can achieve,” he says. And for any government to not use every tool availableâ€"to ignore technological advances that have been shown to work and instead rely on an aging, inefficient systemâ€"is, to Robins, the worst kind of indifference.

Itulah tadi informasi dari daftar judi online mengenai How Facebook Helps to Reveal the Fate of Missing Refugees oleh - seputarcoldfusion.xyz dan sekianlah artikel dari kami seputarcoldfusion.xyz, sampai jumpa di postingan berikutnya. selamat membaca.

Post a Comment

0 Comments