One thing is clear — this latest incident is an appalling reminder of what happens when people escaping persecution are denied access to safety at the EU’s frontiers. While we don’t know the personal circumstances of everyone on board this particular boat, we do know that the majority were from Somalia and Eritrea, two of the top 10 sources of refugees in the world, according to the UNHCR. Both are countries with well documented human rights abuses. Dozens dead in Italian boat accident Given this, it’s reasonable to believe that a number of people on board were refugees, fleeing persecution and seeking safety in Europe where there are substantial and settled Somali and Eritrean communities. Yet there’s been considerable head scratching in the media about why people would put themselves at such risk. Why would you get on an overcrowded, potentially unseaworthy vessel and risk your life to make it to Lampedusa? For refugees, the answer is simple — what they’re leaving behind is much, much worse. Somalia and Eritrea’s human rights abuses are well documented. Sexual violence and torture are commonplace. For refugees, staying at home — or ‘going back to where they came from’ — is not an option. Difficult though it may be for us to comprehend, for refugees, paying smugglers and boarding these boats is a rational decision. The problem is compounded by the lack of safe, legal routes into Europe.
for a fuel that powers 55 percent of the regions vehicles. Curbed prices also stand to hurt profit at refiners from Saras SpA (SRS) of Italy to Spains Repsol SA (REP), while helping consumers. Europe will be able to draw quite heavily on higher volumes of diesel from the Asia-Pacific in the coming months, Sabine Schels, a commodity strategist at Bank of America Corp. in London, said by phone Oct. 4. With fewer diesel barrels demanded at home, a lot of these Asian countries, including India, have already boosted exports. Winter Peaks The premium paid for diesel barges over the ICE Futures Europe gasoil contract soared during the past two winter seasons, climbing as high as $64 a metric ton more than the benchmark in October 2011 and November last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It was about $26 on Oct. 7, equating to an outright price of $951.75 a ton, the data show. Profits from converting crude into diesel, as approximated by the crack spread between gasoil and Brent crude futures, will stay near current levels this winter, or about 30 percent below the previous seasons peak, five of the refining executives in the Bloomberg survey said. The Sept. 19 poll included plant managers and vice presidents of companies from Italy to Poland. The crack spread averaged $15 a barrel during the past month, compared with $20 one year ago. With Europe now exiting its recession, theres hope for the regions refiners that fuel use will pick up, said Seth Kleinman, head of energy strategy at Citigroup Inc. in New York.