Rome—The violent deaths of 12 migrants at sea off Libya today is a sad fable about the perfect storm of chaos on the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

April 15: A drowned man pulled from Mediterranean after a boat with 400 migrants capsized.

The terrible twist was this: Some sort of fight broke out on a rubber raft crammed with around 100 sub-Saharan Africans. Muslim migrants from Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau attacked Christian refugees from Ghana and Nigeria on another part of the raft. At some point, the aggressors tossed Christians overboard and they drowned, Italian police said. They all had shoved off from Libya in hopes of reaching Italy; Christian passengers who were able to defend themselves told the tale upon arrival in Sicily.

Police arrested 15 men for the killings.

The shocking event brought together in a boil the concurrent situations in North Africa:

  • Thousands of impoverished Africans are streaming in ever-larger numbers toward an ever-less welcoming Europe.
  • There have been a series of mass deaths of refugees at sea. In a separate incident today, a migrant ship sunk and 41 people are missing. Four-hundred died the day before.
  • The anarchy in Libya has put wild migration in the hands of armed mafias that shepherd the travelers through war-torn Libya, charge them hundreds or even thousands of dollars and then put them on unseaworthy boats to cross the Mediterranean.
  • The vicious sectarian warfare that marks conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Libya, with its emblematic Muslim assaults on Christians, can even bleed onto boat of desperate wanderers.

It’s a grim scenario. And no one has a different script on offer, neither in Libya, Italy, Europe nor Washington.

This is the AP account.

Here’s a fuller account, in Italian.

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