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  • Joe Biden has done more than arm Israel. He’s complicit in Gaza’s devastating famine | The Independent
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/gaza-famine-biden-israel-hamas-b2542961.html

    Extrait d’un long et important article dans lequel des fonctionnaires US de l’USAID déclarent (anonymement) que l’administration Biden a sciemment contribué à affamer la population de Gaza.

    By December, the two international institutions used by governments around the world to determine when famine is occurring – the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network – had come to the same conclusion: famine was imminent, and threatened more than one million people.

    Mr Konyndyk, who led USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for three years, said those warnings should have compelled the White House to act urgently. If the same conditions were appearing in most other countries in the world, he said, it would have. But the US had stubbornly refused to do anything that would hamper Israel’s war effort.

    “When the warnings start signalling that risk, there should be a forceful reaction, both on the relief aid front and on the diplomatic front,” he said. “Nothing about the Biden administration’s response to the December famine forecast demonstrated that kind of hard pivot toward famine prevention.”

    What followed was a pattern of defence, deflection and outright denial from the White House.

    Under questioning from The Independent, Biden administration spokespersons have routinely highlighted Mr Biden’s repeated requests for the Israeli government to open up more crossings to aid, and pointed to temporary increases in aid trucks entering Gaza as proof of what they describe as his effectiveness.

    What was left unsaid by those Biden aides was the fact that those piecemeal influxes of aid were not consummate to the scale of the crisis. Hunger continued to spread, and still the White House refused to use its leverage by threatening to condition military aid.

    Nothing about the Biden administration’s response to the first famine report demonstrated that kind of hard pivot toward famine prevention

    Jeremy Konyndyk, former director of USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance

    “Behind the scenes, my impression is that the Biden administration was pushing Israel to resume opening crossings to aid. But it was this posture of pretty extensive deference to how Israel was choosing to fight the war, while continuing to supply it with arms and not putting any real conditions on that,” Mr Konyndyk said.

    A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said: “Since the beginning of this conflict, president Biden has been leading efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza to alleviate the suffering of innocent Palestinians who have nothing to do with Hamas.”

    “Before the president’s engagement, there was no food, water, or medicine getting into Gaza. The United States is the largest provider of aid to the Gaza response. This is and will continue to be a top priority to address dire conditions on the ground since much more aid is needed,” the spokesperson added.

    Inside USAID, career civil servants with extensive experience were horrified by the lack of urgency from their politically appointed leaders.

    Internal USAID documents seen by The Independent showed that staff were passing their concerns about the lack of action up the chain to USAID administrator Samantha Power and other senior leaders in the form of letters and internal dissent memos, often to no avail.

    “What was surprising to me, and deeply disappointing, was the fact that we were hearing nothing about imminent famine in Gaza,” said a USAID staffer, who asked to remain anonymous because they are still employed by the agency.
    A Palestinian child transporting portions of food walks past a building destroyed by Israeli bombardment in Gaza City in May
    A Palestinian child transporting portions of food walks past a building destroyed by Israeli bombardment in Gaza City in May (Getty)

    Dissent memos – a kind of sanctioned internal protest through a dedicated channel for offering critical feedback on policy – are relatively rare in USAID compared with the state department. However, the USAID staff member said they were aware of at least 19 memoranda being sent in objection to the lack of action by the agency – and the government – over the looming famine.

    Mr Konyndyk described it as “an extraordinary number,” and noted that he didn’t recall encountering a single dissent memo at USAID during his more than five years there under Mr Obama and Mr Biden.

    By mid-January, aid agencies on the ground in Gaza were issuing desperate pleas for a humanitarian ceasefire so that food supplies could be delivered. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 378,000 people in Gaza were facing catastrophic levels of hunger, and all 2.2 million people in Gaza were facing acute food insecurity.
    A graphic showing the number of trucks to enter Gaza since the 7 October Hamas attacks
    A graphic showing the number of trucks to enter Gaza since the 7 October Hamas attacks (UNRWA)

    “This is a population that is starving to death, this is a population that is being pushed to the brink,” the World Health Organisation’s emergencies director Michael Ryan said at a press conference on 31 January.

    The same day Mr Ryan described Gaza’s grim outlook, White House national security communications adviser John Kirby defended the Biden administration’s decision to suspend aid to UNRWA. Mr Kirby denied that cutting off assistance to the UN entity with the largest footprint in Gaza would have a detrimental effect on the humanitarian situation there, and instead claimed that the US was “working so hard to get more [humanitarian] assistance into the people of Gaza”.

    Even at this point, the White House was focused on giving Israel everything it needed to win its war against Hamas.
    UNRWA loses ability to function

    Hunger spread rapidly over the next month as the war raged on. On 27 February, three senior United Nations officials told a security council that at least 576,000 people were now “one step away from famine”.

    “Unfortunately, as grim as the picture we see today is, there is every possibility for further deterioration,” Ramesh Rajasingham, director of UN’s OCHA, told the chamber.

    In one of the most deadly massacres of the conflict, dozens of Palestinians desperately trying to access supplies were killed after Israeli troops fired on a crowd collecting flour from aid trucks on 29 February near Gaza City. The Israeli army initially blamed a stampede for the chaos, but in a later review claimed that Israeli forces “did not fire at the humanitarian convoy, but did fire at a number of suspects who approached the nearby forces and posed a threat to them.”

    “During the course of the looting, incidents of significant harm to civilians occurred from the stampede and people being run over by the trucks,” the Israeli army review added. More than 100 Palestinians were killed trying to access aid that day.

    Before the war, UNRWA, the largest UN agency working in Gaza, provided and distributed the basic necessities for people to survive in the blockaded territory, such as food, medicine and fuel. The US was by far the largest donor to UNRWA, contributing nearly half the agency’s yearly operating budget.
    World Central Kitchen team prepare food for displaced Palestinians after resuming work in Gaza in this handout picture released on 30 April
    World Central Kitchen team prepare food for displaced Palestinians after resuming work in Gaza in this handout picture released on 30 April (Reuters)

    But the US suspended that funding following allegations by Israel that some 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the 7 October attack and around 10 per cent of its staff had ties to militants. (An independent review led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna later found that Israel has yet to provide any supporting evidence of these claims.)

    By the end of February, UNRWA said Israel had effectively banned it from entering the north of Gaza.

    At least 188 of its staff had been killed since the beginning of the war, more than 150 of its facilities were hit – among them many schools – and more than 400 people were killed “while seeking shelter under the UN flag”, the organisation said.

  • Home Office to detain asylum seekers across UK in shock Rwanda operation

    Operation comes weeks earlier than expected and is thought to have been timed to coincide with local elections.

    The Home Office will launch a major operation to detain asylum seekers across the UK on Monday, weeks earlier than expected, in preparation for their deportation to Rwanda, the Guardian can reveal.

    Officials plan to hold asylum seekers who turn up for routine meetings at immigration service offices or bail appointments and will also pick people up nationwide in a surprise two-week exercise.

    Lawyers and campaigners said the detentions risked provoking protracted legal battles, community protests and clashes with police – with officers in Scotland put on high alert.

    Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “The government is determined to recklessly pursue its inhumane Rwanda plan despite the cost, chaos and human misery it will unleash. We know it is likely to cause a catastrophic system meltdown.”

    Detainees will be immediately transferred to detention centres, which have already been prepared for the operation, and held until they are put on planes to Rwanda. Some will be put on the first flight due to take off this summer.

    The Home Office said ratification of the prime minister’s Safety of Rwanda Act meant “the government is entering the final phase of operationalising this landmark policy to tackle illegal migration and stop the boats”.

    It added: “At some stage inevitably this will include detaining people in preparation for the first flight, which is set to take off to Rwanda in 10 to 12 weeks. It would be inappropriate to comment further on operational activity.”

    The start of the Home Office’s detention operation, which had not been anticipated for weeks, coincides with Thursday’s local council elections in England where the Tories face losing up to half the seats they currently hold.

    Rishi Sunak said on Sunday that cracking down on illegal migration was central to the Tory campaign.

    Police in Scotland have been put on alert because of the high risk of street protests and attempts by pro-refugee campaigners to stop detentions. Officers will not take part in the detentions but will take charge of crowd control and public order. A Police Scotland spokesperson referred the Guardian to the Home Office.

    Local communities in Scotland have twice prevented deportations by staging mass protests, on Kenmure Street in Glasgow in May 2021, and in Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, in June 2022. On both occasions, hundreds of people surrounded immigration enforcement vehicles to prevent asylum seekers being removed.

    During an interview in which he mentioned Rwanda and illegal migration 13 times, the prime minister said on Sunday that he was focused on “stopping the boats”, as well as his pledges on the economy. He told Sky News’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips of his “determination to get that Rwanda scheme going”.

    However, the latest official data, released on Sunday, showed the number of people arriving by small boats in the first four months of 2024 was the highest ever for that period, at 7,167 people, compared with 5,745 for the same period last year. The previous record for those four months was 6,691.

    Speaking on Monday before the Lords and Commons sat through the night to pass the safety of Rwanda (asylum and immigration) bill, Sunak said: “To detain people while we prepare to remove them, we’ve increased detention spaces to 2,200.

    “To quickly process claims, we’ve got 200 trained, dedicated caseworkers ready and waiting. To deal with any legal cases quickly and decisively, the judiciary have made available 25 courtrooms and identified 150 judges who could provide over 5,000 sitting days.”

    Aamer Anwar, a Glasgow-based human rights lawyer who was directly involved in the Kenmure Street protests, said Police Scotland and the Scottish government had to be certain they believed this was lawful.

    He revealed he had been inundated with calls from activists after the Guardian first reported the Home Office move on Sunday morning. “People are extremely angry and upset, and ready to mobilise,” Anwar said, adding it would be “extremely dangerous” for Police Scotland to put itself in the middle of a deportation protest if people felt they were acting to protect deportation operations.

    “I suspect in the coming days we will see an explosion of the spirit of Kenmure Street across the UK, opposing a policy that will lead to misery, self-harm and death, driving so many more into the arms of people smugglers,” Anwar said. “The fundamental question for the Scottish government as well as Police Scotland is whether they are willing to engage in this barbaric abuse of power against a desperate people.”

    Solomon said the detention and removal operations were likely to persuade other asylum seekers already in the UK to disappear, for fear of being deported.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/apr/28/home-office-to-detain-asylum-seekers-across-uk-in-shock-rwanda-operatio

    –-

    ajouté à la métaliste sur la mise en place de l’#externalisation des #procédures_d'asile au #Rwanda par l’#Angleterre (2022) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/966443

    elle-même ajouté à la métaliste sur les tentatives de différentes pays européens d’#externalisation non seulement des contrôles frontaliers (https://seenthis.net/messages/731749), mais aussi de la #procédure_d'asile dans des #pays_tiers :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/900122

    • One in five asylum seekers on Rwanda deportation list is from Afghanistan, charity says

      Care4Calais says the government’s rounding up of asylum seekers for deportation to Rwanda was ‘deeply worrying’

      One in five asylum seekers due to be deported to Rwanda is from Afghanistan, according to a charity supporting the refugees.

      Care4Calais says that from the first group it has contacted, 18 per cent were Afghans and another one in five – 21 per cent – were Syrians.

      It’s not known whether the Afghans found by the charity included workers who supported the British armed forces overseas, such as interpreters and pilots.

      On Wednesday ministers released pictures of the first asylum seekers being rounded up for deportation to Rwanda after a controversial bill legalising such flights finally obtained royal assent last week.

      The House of Lords fought to have Afghans who supported British forces exempted from the legislation, but ultimately lost when it was forced to give way to the government in parliamentary “ping-pong”.

      The Independent has campaigned for these war heroes to be granted leave to remain in the UK.

      Care4Calais also said 15 per cent of the first cohort were Sudanese, while Eritreans and Iranians each accounted for 14 per cent.

      The remaining 18 per cent included Kuwaitis, Iraqis and Sri Lankans.

      Home Office immigration officers began detaining potential deportees on Monday at their homes or as they arrived at immigration centres, although the first flights are not due to depart until July.

      Around 800 officers are being deployed in Operation Vector, and home secretary James Cleverly said they were working “at pace”.

      Care4Calais said that from the first people it was in contact with, it was clear that those detained were predominantly from countries with a high rate of asylum granted by the UK.

      Hannah Marwood, head of legal access, said: “The government’s actions during this election week have been deeply worrying, but we are relieved that a significant number of people detained are now in contact with our caseworkers who will ensure they have access to legal support.

      “The people detained have not had their asylum claims processed, and it’s clear from the first cohort we are in contact with that if their claims were processed they would likely be granted refugee status in the UK.

      “It reaffirms how shameful the Rwanda plan is and why it must be stopped.”

      A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have proven time and again that Rwanda is a safe country, most recently with our landmark Safety of Rwanda Act and joint, legally binding treaty which makes clear that individuals relocated to Rwanda will not be returned to an unsafe country.

      “We remain confident in the country’s strong and successful track record in resettling people and are working at pace to get flights off the ground to Rwanda in the next to nine to eleven weeks.”

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rwanda-asylum-seekers-deport-afghanistan-b2539287.html

      #réfugiés_afghans

  • On Aaron Bushnell’s action in solidarity with Gaza
    https://fr.crimethinc.com/2024/02/26/this-is-what-our-ruling-class-has-decided-will-be-normal-on-aaron-bus

    “This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.” These words of Aaron’s haunt us. He is right. We are rapidly entering an era in which human life is treated as worthless. Let’s admit that the kind of protest activity that has taken place thus far in the United States has not served to compel the US government to compel a halt to the genocide in Gaza. It is an open question what could accomplish that. Aaron’s action challenges us to answer this question. Source: Crimethinc

  • International watchdog investigation finds Islamic State used mustard gas in 2015 attack in Syria
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/islamic-state-ap-syria-islamic-netherlands-b2500876.html
    https://img-s-msn-com.akamaized.net/tenant/amp/entityid/BB1iJ2fI.img?w=768&h=512&m=4&q=81

    Donc ce n’était pas « l’armée de Bachar » : qui l’aurait cru !!!

    An international investigative team said Thursday that its probe into a 2015 attack in Syria found “reasonable grounds to believe” that the Islamic State group used mustard gas, the latest finding of use of poison gas and nerve agents in Syria’s grinding civil war.

    The report by the Investigation and Identification team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that mustard gas, also known as sulfur mustard, was used during attacks on Sept. 1, 2015, as Islamic State attacked the town of Marea.

    The investigation “established that the chemical payload was deployed by artillery from areas under the control of ISIL, and that no entity other than ISIL possessed the means, motives, and capabilities to deploy sulfur mustard as part of an attack in Marea,” its report said, referring to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

    “This is a stark reminder to the international community that non-state actors like ISIL have developed the capacity and the will to use chemical weapons.” OPCW Director-General Ambassador Fernando Arias said. "This emphasises the OPCW’s pivotal role and expertise in addressing such threats. The facts are now known – it is up to the international community to take action, at the OPCW and beyond.”

    The report said that 11 people “experienced symptoms consistent with exposure to sulfur mustard.”

    Previous reports by the team have held Syrian government forces responsible for using chemical weapons five times in three different towns and cities in Syria in 2017 and 2018. Syria denies using chemical weapons.

  • King Charles, Sunak and Cameron each take own private jets to travel to Cop28 | The Independent
    https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/king-charles-sunak-cameron-cop28-private-jets-b2456050.html

    Downing Street confirmed all three of the leading British representatives at the crucial summit – aimed at cutting global emissions – will each get their own private plane.

    3 personnes, 3 jets privés. Visiblement le partage de véhicules c’est juste bon pour les pauvres.
    Le #covoilurage c’est pas tendance.
    Bla-bla fly reste à créer
    En attendant c’est juste bla-bla

  • Gideon Levy, membre du comité directeur du quotidien Haaretz dénonce depuis trois décennies les exactions de l’armée israélienne dans les territoires occupés de la Palestine.

    Voici ce qu’il décrit en 2010, portant la vérité au monde dans un grand moment de solitude.

    Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic ? | The Independent | The Independent
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/is-gideon-levy-the-most-hated-man-in-israel-or-just-the-most-heroic-2

    “My biggest struggle,” he says, “is to rehumanize the Palestinians. There’s a whole machinery of brainwashing in Israel which really accompanies each of us from early childhood, and I’m a product of this machinery as much as anyone else. [We are taught] a few narratives that it’s very hard to break. That we Israelis are the ultimate and only victims. That the Palestinians are born to kill, and their hatred is irrational. That the Palestinians are not human beings like us… So you get a society without any moral doubts, without any questions marks, with hardly public debate. To raise your voice against all this is very hard.”

  • Les guerres US de l’après-11 septembre ont tué près de 4,5 millions de personnes investigaction.net

    La guerre contre le terrorisme qui a suivi le 11 septembre 2001 pourrait avoir causé la mort d’au moins 4,5 millions de personnes dans une demi-douzaine de pays. C’est ce qui ressort d’un rapport publié lundi par la principale institution universitaire qui étudie les coûts, les pertes et les conséquences de cette guerre dans laquelle les bombes et les balles US continuent de tuer et de blesser des personnes dans de nombreux pays.


    Le nouveau rapport https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/papers/2023/IndirectDeaths du projet « Costs of War » du Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs de l’université Brown montre « comment la mort survit à la guerre » en se penchant sur le sort des personnes tuées indirectement par la guerre contre le terrorisme en Afghanistan, en Irak, en Libye, au Pakistan, en Somalie, en Syrie et au Yémen.

    « Dans un pays comme l’Afghanistan, la principale question aujourd’hui est de savoir si un décès peut être considéré comme n’étant pas lié à la guerre« , a déclaré Stephanie Savell, codirectrice de Costs of War et auteur du rapport. « Les guerres tuent souvent beaucoup plus de personnes indirectement que dans les combats directs, en particulier les jeunes enfants. »

    La publication « passe en revue les recherches les plus récentes afin d’examiner les voies de causalité qui ont conduit à une estimation de 3,6 à 3,7 millions de décès indirects dans les zones de guerre après le 11 septembre« , tandis que « le nombre total de morts dans ces zones de guerre pourrait être d’au moins 4,5 à 4,6 millions et plus, bien que le chiffre précis de la mortalité reste inconnu« .


    Comme le précise le Washington Post, qui a été le premier à faire état de cette étude :
    « Depuis 2010, une équipe de 50 universitaires, experts juridiques, spécialistes des droits de l’homme et médecins participant au projet « Costs of War » ont effectué leurs propres calculs. Selon leur dernière évaluation, plus de 906 000 personnes, dont 387 000 civils, sont mortes directement à cause des guerres de l’après 11 septembre. En outre, 38 millions de personnes ont été déplacées ou sont devenues des réfugiés. Le gouvernement fédéral US, quant à lui, a dépensé plus de 8 000 milliards de dollars pour ces guerres.

    Cependant, Savell a déclaré que la recherche indique qu’un nombre exponentiel de personnes, en particulier les enfants et les populations les plus pauvres et marginalisées, ont été tuées par les effets de la guerre – pauvreté croissante, insécurité alimentaire, contamination de l’environnement, traumatisme permanent de la violence et destruction des infrastructures sanitaires et publiques, ainsi que de la propriété privée et des moyens de subsistance. »

    Selon le rapport, « la grande majorité des décès indirects dus à la guerre sont dus à la malnutrition, aux problèmes liés à la grossesse et à l’accouchement, et à de nombreuses maladies, y compris les maladies infectieuses et les maladies non transmissibles comme le cancer« .

    Une étude réalisée en 2012 https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/iraq-records-huge-rise-in-birth-defects-8210444.html a ainsi révélé que plus de la moitié des bébés nés dans la ville irakienne de Falloujah entre 2007 et 2010 présentaient des malformations congénitales. Parmi les femmes enceintes interrogées dans le cadre de l’étude, plus de 45 % ont fait des fausses couches au cours des deux années qui ont suivi les attaques US de 2004 sur Falloujah. Les relevés du compteur Geiger sur les sites contaminés par de l’uranium appauvri dans les zones urbaines irakiennes densément peuplées ont régulièrement révélé des niveaux de radiation de 1 000 à 1 900 fois supérieurs à la normale.

    L’étude a aussi révélé que certains décès « résultent également de blessures dues à la destruction par la guerre d’infrastructures telles que les feux de signalisation, ainsi que de traumatismes et de violences interpersonnelles« .


    Savell a déclaré que « les parties belligérantes qui endommagent les infrastructures ayant un impact sur la santé de la population ont la responsabilité morale de fournir une assistance et des réparations rapides et efficaces« .

    « Le gouvernement des États-Unis, même s’il n’est pas le seul responsable des dommages, a l’obligation d’investir dans l’aide humanitaire et la reconstruction dans les zones de guerre de l’après-11 septembre« , a-t-elle ajouté. « Le gouvernement étasunien pourrait faire beaucoup plus que ce qu’il fait actuellement pour assumer cette responsabilité. »

    Source originale : Common Dreams https://consortiumnews.com/2023/05/17/post-9-11-us-conflicts-killed-over-4-5-million-people

    La traduction : https://www.investigaction.net/fr/les-guerres-us-de-lapres-11-septembre-ont-tue-pres-de-45-millions-de

    Traduit de l’anglais par GL pour Investig’Action

  • #ANDREA_DWORKIN S’ENTRETIENT AVEC LIESL SCHILLINGER (1996)
    https://tradfem.wordpress.com/2023/05/08/andrea-dworkin-sentretient-avec-liesl-schillinger-1996

    http://tradfem.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/photo-dworkin-rayon-de-soleil.webp « Les caractérisations que l’on fait de moi en public sont à peu près à l’opposé de ce que je suis », me dit-elle d’une voix basse et essoufflée. « Je suis plutôt hédoniste. » Dworkin est une lesbienne qui vit avec un homme depuis plus de 20 ans. C’est une écrivaine célèbre qui n’arrive pas à trouver d’éditeur et qui voit encore ses œuvres rejetées par le New Yorker et le New York Times, quand elle peut se résoudre à encore les leur proposer. (Ses ouvrages phares, Woman Hating [1974] et Pornography : Men Possessing Women [1981], sont épuisés en version anglaise). Elle est présumée haïr les hommes mais déclare avec désinvolture : « Je ne déteste pas les hommes. Non pas qu’ils ne le méritent pas. Ce n’est tout simplement pas dans ma nature. » En fait, tout ce qui s’avère cohérent et prévisible chez Dworkin, c’est son engagement dans la lutte contre la pornographie, un combat qu’elle mène depuis plus de 20 ans. La pornographie, dit Dworkin, fait du tort aux femmes et il faut y mettre fin.

    Version originale : https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-interview-andrea-dworkin-talks-to-liesl-schillinger-1305909.html ?

    Plusieurs des ouvrages-clé de Dworkin sont enfin disponibles en français grâce aux Éditions du remue-ménage, Sisyphe, M Éditeur, des Femmes et LIBRE, ainsi qu’au travail de la collective TRADFEM.

  • UK signs contract with US startup to identify migrants in small-boat crossings

    The UK government has turned a US-based startup specialized in artificial intelligence as part of its pledge to stop small-boat crossings. Experts have already pointed out the legal and logistical challenges of the plan.

    In a new effort to address the high number of Channel crossings, the UK Home Office is working with the US defense startup #Anduril, specialized in the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

    A surveillance tower has already been installed at Dover, and other technologies might be rolled out with the onset of warmer temperatures and renewed attempts by migrants to reach the UK. Some experts already point out the risks and practical loopholes involved in using AI to identify migrants.

    “This is obviously the next step of the illegal migration bill,” said Olivier Cahn, a researcher specialized in penal law.

    “The goal is to retrieve images that were taken at sea and use AI to show they entered UK territory illegally even if people vanish into thin air upon arrival in the UK.”

    The “illegal migration bill” was passed by the UK last month barring anyone from entering the country irregularly from filing an asylum claim and imposing a “legal duty” to remove them to a third country.
    Who is behind Anduril?

    Founded in 2017 by its CEO #Palmer_Luckey, Anduril is backed by #Peter_Thiel, a Silicon Valley investor and supporter of Donald Trump. The company has supplied autonomous surveillance technology to the US Department of Defense (DOD) to detect and track migrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border.

    In 2021, the UK Ministry of Defence awarded Anduril with a £3.8-million contract to trial an advanced base defence system. Anduril eventually opened a branch in London where it states its mission: “combining the latest in artificial intelligence with commercial-of-the-shelf sensor technology (EO, IR, Radar, Lidar, UGS, sUAS) to enhance national security through automated detection, identification and tracking of objects of interest.”

    According to Cahn, the advantage of Brexit is that the UK government is no longer required to submit to the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPDP), a component of data protection that also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.

    “Even so, the UK has data protection laws of its own which the government cannot breach. Where will the servers with the incoming data be kept? What are the rights of appeal for UK citizens whose data is being processed by the servers?”, he asked.

    ’Smugglers will provide migrants with balaclavas for an extra 15 euros’

    Cahn also pointed out the technical difficulties of identifying migrants at sea. “The weather conditions are often not ideal, and many small-boat crossings happen at night. How will facial recognition technology operate in this context?”

    The ability of migrants and smugglers to adapt is yet another factor. “People are going to cover their faces, and anyone would think the smugglers will respond by providing migrants with balaclavas for an extra 15 euros.”

    If the UK has solicited the services of a US startup to detect and identify migrants, the reason may lie in AI’s principle of self-learning. “A machine accumulates data and recognizes what it has already seen. The US is a country with a significantly more racially and ethnically diverse population than the UK. Its artificial intelligence might contain data from populations which are more ethnically comparable to the populations that are crossing the Channel, like Somalia for example, thus facilitating the process of facial recognition.”

    For Cahn, it is not capturing the images which will be the most difficult but the legal challenges that will arise out of their usage. “People are going to be identified and there are going to be errors. If a file exists, there needs to be the possibility for individuals to appear before justice and have access to a judge.”

    A societal uproar

    In a research paper titled “Refugee protection in the artificial intelligence Era”, Chatham House notes “the most common ethical and legal challenges associated with the use of AI in asylum and related border and immigration systems involve issues of opacity and unpredictability, the potential for bias and unlawful discrimination, and how such factors affect the ability of individuals to obtain a remedy in the event of erroneous or unfair decisions.”

    For Cahn, the UK government’s usage of AI can only be used to justify and reinforce its hardline position against migrants. “For a government that doesn’t respect the Geneva Convention [whose core principle is non-refoulement, editor’s note] and which passed an illegal migration law, it is out of the question that migrants have entered the territory legally.”

    Identifying migrants crossing the Channel is not going to be the hardest part for the UK government. Cahn imagines a societal backlash with, “the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom being solicited, refugees seeking remedies to legal decisions through lawyers and associations attacking”.

    He added there would be due process concerning the storage of the data, with judges issuing disclosure orders. “There is going to be a whole series of questions which the government will have to elucidate. The rights of refugees are often used as a laboratory. If these technologies are ’successful’, they will soon be applied to the rest of the population."

    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/48326/uk-signs-contract-with-us-startup-to-identify-migrants-in-smallboat-cr

    #UK #Angleterre #migrations #asile #réfugiés #militarisation_des_frontières #frontières #start-up #complexe_militaro-industriel #IA #intelligence_artificielle #surveillance #technologie #channel #Manche

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur la Bibby Stockholm:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/1016683

    • Huge barge set to house 500 asylum seekers arrives in the UK

      The #Bibby_Stockholm is being refitted in #Falmouth to increase its capacity from 222 to 506 people.

      A barge set to house 500 asylum seekers has arrived in the UK as the government struggles with efforts to move migrants out of hotels.

      The Independent understands that people will not be transferred onto the Bibby Stockholm until July, following refurbishment to increase its capacity and safety checks.

      The barge has been towed from its former berth in Italy to the port of Falmouth, in Cornwall.

      It will remain there while works are carried out, before being moved onto its final destination in #Portland, Dorset.

      The private operators of the port struck an agreement to host the barge with the Home Office without formal public consultation, angering the local council and residents.

      Conservative MP Richard Drax previously told The Independent legal action was still being considered to stop the government’s plans for what he labelled a “quasi-prison”.

      He accused ministers and Home Office officials of being “unable to answer” practical questions on how the barge will operate, such as how asylum seekers will be able to come and go safely through the port, what activities they will be provided with and how sufficient healthcare will be ensured.

      “The question is how do we cope?” Mr Drax said. “Every organisation has its own raft of questions: ‘Where’s the money coming from? Who’s going to do what if this all happens?’ There are not sufficient answers, which is very worrying.”

      The Independent previously revealed that asylum seekers will have less living space than an average parking bay on the Bibby Stockholm, which saw at least one person die and reports of rape and abuse on board when it was used by the Dutch government to detain migrants in the 2000s.

      An official brochure released by owner Bibby Marine shows there are only 222 “single en-suite bedrooms” on board, meaning that at least two people must be crammed into every cabin for the government to achieve its aim of holding 500 people.

      Dorset Council has said it still had “serious reservations about the appropriateness of Portland Port in this scenario and remains opposed to the proposals”.

      The Conservative police and crime commissioner for Dorset is demanding extra government funding for the local force to “meet the extra policing needs that this project will entail”.

      A multi-agency forum including representatives from national, regional and local public sector agencies has been looking at plans for the provision of health services, the safety and security of both asylum seekers and local residents and charity involvement.

      Portland Port said it had been working with the Home Office and local agencies to ensure the safe arrival and operation of the Bibby Stockholm, and to minimise its impact locally.

      The barge is part of a wider government push to move migrants out of hotels, which are currently housing more than 47,000 asylum seekers at a cost of £6m a day.

      But the use of ships as accommodation was previously ruled out on cost grounds by the Treasury, when Rishi Sunak was chancellor, and the government has not confirmed how much it will be spending on the scheme.

      Ministers have also identified several former military and government sites, including two defunct airbases and an empty prison, that they want to transform into asylum accommodation.

      But a court battle with Braintree District Council over former RAF Wethersfield is ongoing, and legal action has also been threatened over similar plans for RAF Scampton in Lancashire.

      Last month, a barrister representing home secretary Suella Braverman told the High Court that 56,000 people were expected to arrive on small boats in 2023 and that some could be made homeless if hotel places are not found.

      A record backlog of asylum applications, driven by the increase in Channel crossings and a collapse in Home Office decision-making, mean the government is having to provide accommodation for longer while claims are considered.

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/barge-falmouth-cornwall-migrants-bibby-b2333313.html
      #barge #bateau

    • ‘Performative cruelty’ : the hostile architecture of the UK government’s migrant barge

      The arrival of the Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port, in Dorset, on July 18 2023, marks a new low in the UK government’s hostile immigration environment. The vessel is set to accommodate over 500 asylum seekers. This, the Home Office argues, will benefit British taxpayers and local residents.

      The barge, however, was immediately rejected by the local population and Dorset council. Several British charities and church groups have condemned the barge, and the illegal migration bill it accompanies, as “an affront to human dignity”.

      Anti-immigration groups have also protested against the barge, with some adopting offensive language, referring to the asylum seekers who will be hosted there as “bargies”. Conservative MP for South Dorset Richard Drax has claimed that hosting migrants at sea would exacerbate tenfold the issues that have arisen in hotels to date, namely sexual assaults, children disappearing and local residents protesting.

      My research shows that facilities built to house irregular migrants in Europe and beyond create a temporary infrastructure designed to be hostile. Governments thereby effectively make asylum seekers more displaceable while ignoring their everyday spatial and social needs.
      Precarious space

      The official brochure plans for the Bibby Stockholm show 222 single bedrooms over three stories, built around two small internal courtyards. It has now been retrofitted with bunk beds to host more than 500 single men – more than double the number it was designed to host.

      Journalists Lizzie Dearden and Martha McHardy have shown this means the asylum seekers housed there – for up to nine months – will have “less living space than an average parking bay”. This stands in contravention of international standards of a minimum 4.5m² of covered living space per person in cold climates, where more time is spent indoors.

      In an open letter, dated June 15 2023 and addressed to home secretary Suella Braverman, over 700 people and nearly 100 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) voiced concerns that this will only add to the trauma migrants have already experienced:

      Housing people on a sea barge – which we argue is equal to a floating prison – is morally indefensible, and threatens to retraumatise a group of already vulnerable people.

      Locals are concerned already overstretched services in Portland, including GP practices, will not be able to cope with further pressure. West Dorset MP Chris Lode has questioned whether the barge itself is safe “to cope with double the weight that it was designed to bear”. A caller to the LBC radio station, meanwhile, has voiced concerns over the vessel’s very narrow and low fire escape routes, saying: “What they [the government] are effectively doing here is creating a potential Grenfell on water, a floating coffin.”

      Such fears are not unfounded. There have been several cases of fires destroying migrant camps in Europe, from the Grand-Synthe camp near Dunkirk in France, in 2017, to the 2020 fire at the Moria camp in Greece. The difficulty of escaping a vessel at sea could turn it into a death trap.

      Performative hostility

      Research on migrant accommodation shows that being able to inhabit a place – even temporarily – and develop feelings of attachment and belonging, is crucial to a person’s wellbeing. Even amid ever tighter border controls, migrants in Europe, who can be described as “stuck on the move”, nonetheless still attempt to inhabit their temporary spaces and form such connections.

      However, designs can hamper such efforts when they concentrate asylum seekers in inhospitable, cut-off spaces. In 2015, Berlin officials began temporarily housing refugees in the former Tempelhof airport, a noisy, alienating industrial space, lacking in privacy and disconnected from the city. Many people ended up staying there for the better part of a year.

      French authorities, meanwhile, opened the Centre Humanitaire Paris-Nord in Paris in 2016, temporary migrant housing in a disused train depot. Nicknamed la Bulle (the bubble) for its bulbous inflatable covering, this facility was noisy and claustrophobic, lacking in basic comforts.

      Like the barge in Portland Port, these facilities, placed in industrial sites, sit uncomfortably between hospitality and hostility. The barge will be fenced off, since the port is a secured zone, and access will be heavily restricted and controlled. The Home Office insists that the barge is not a floating prison, yet it is an unmistakably hostile space.

      Infrastructure for water and electricity will physically link the barge to shore. However, Dorset council has no jurisdiction at sea.

      The commercial agreement on the barge was signed between the Home Office and Portland Port, not the council. Since the vessel is positioned below the mean low water mark, it did not require planning permission.

      This makes the barge an island of sorts, where other rules apply, much like those islands in the Aegean sea and in the Pacific, on which Greece and Australia have respectively housed migrants.

      I have shown how facilities are often designed in this way not to give displaced people any agency, but, on the contrary, to objectify them. They heighten the instability migrants face, keeping them detached from local communities and constantly on the move.

      The government has presented the barge as a cheaper solution than the £6.8 million it is currently spending, daily, on housing asylum seekers in hotels. A recent report by two NGOs, Reclaim the Seas and One Life to Live, concludes, however, that it will save less than £10 a person a day. It could even prove more expensive than the hotel model.

      Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK charity, has described the illegal migration bill as “performative cruelty”. Images of the barge which have flooded the news certainly meet that description too.

      However threatening these images might be, though, they will not stop desperate people from attempting to come to the UK to seek safety. Rather than deterring asylum seekers, the Bibby Stockholm is potentially creating another hazard to them and to their hosting communities.

      https://theconversation.com/performative-cruelty-the-hostile-architecture-of-the-uk-governments

      –---

      Point intéressant, lié à l’aménagement du territoire :

      “Since the vessel is positioned below the mean low water mark, it did not require planning permission”

      C’est un peu comme les #zones_frontalières qui ont été créées un peu partout en Europe (et pas que) pour que les Etats se débarassent des règles en vigueur (notamment le principe du non-refoulement). Voir cette métaliste, à laquelle j’ajoute aussi cet exemple :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/795053

      voir aussi :

      The circumstances at Portland Port are very different because where the barge is to be positioned is below the mean low water mark. This means that the barge is outside of our planning control and there is no requirement for planning permission from the council.

      https://news.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/2023/07/18/leaders-comments-on-the-home-office-barge

      #hostile_architecture #architecture_hostile #dignité #espace #Portland #hostilité #hostilité_performative #île #infrastructure #extraterritorialité #extra-territorialité #prix #coût

    • Sur l’#histoire (notamment liées au commerce d’ #esclaves) de la Bibby Stockholm :

      Bibby Line, shipowners

      Information
      From Guide to the Records of Merseyside Maritime Museum, volume 1: Bibby Line. In 1807 John Bibby and John Highfield, Liverpool shipbrokers, began taking shares in ships, mainly Parkgate Dublin packets. By 1821 (the end of the partnership) they had vessels sailing to the Mediterranean and South America. In 1850 they expanded their Mediterranean and Black Sea interests by buying two steamers and by 1865 their fleet had increased to twenty three. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 severely affected their business and Frederick Leyland, their general manager, failed to persuade the family partners to diversify onto the Atlantic. Eventually, he bought them out in 1873. In 1889 the Bibby family revived its shipowning interests with a successful passenger cargo service to Burma. From 1893 it also began to carry British troops to overseas postings which remained a Bibby staple until 1962. The Burma service ended in 1971 and the company moved to new areas of shipowning including bulkers, gas tankers and accommodation barges. It still has its head office in Liverpool where most management records are held. The museum holds models of the Staffordshire (1929) and Oxfordshire (1955). For further details see the attached catalogue or contact The Archives Centre for a copy of the catalogue.

      The earliest records within the collection, the ships’ logs at B/BIBBY/1/1/1 - 1/1/3 show company vessels travelling between Europe and South America carrying cargoes that would have been produced on plantations using the labour of enslaved peoples or used within plantation and slave based economies. For example the vessel Thomas (B/BIBBY/1/1/1) carries a cargo of iron hoops for barrels to Brazil in 1812. The Mary Bibby on a voyage in 1825-1826 loads a cargo of sugar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to carry to Rotterdam. The log (B/BIBBY/1/1/3) records the use of ’negroes’ to work with the ship’s carpenter while the vessel is in port.

      In September 1980 the latest Bibby vessel to hold the name Derbyshire was lost with all hands in the South China Sea. This collection does not include records relating to that vessel or its sinking, apart from a copy ’Motor vessel ’Derbyshire’, 1976-80: in memoriam’ at reference B/BIBBY/3/2/1 (a copy is also available in The Archives Centre library collection at 340.DER). Information about the sinking and subsequent campaigning by the victims’ family can be found on the NML website and in the Life On Board gallery. The Archives Centre holds papers of Captain David Ramwell who assisted the Derbyshire Family Association at D/RAM and other smaller collections of related documents within the DX collection.

      https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/artifact/bibby-line-shipowners

      –—
      An Open Letter to #Bibby_Marine

      Links between your parent company #Bibby_Line_Group (#BLG) and the slave trade have repeatedly been made. If true, we appeal to you to consider what actions you might take in recompense.

      Bibby Marine’s modern slavery statement says that one of the company’s values is to “do the right thing”, and that you “strongly support the eradication of slavery, as well as the eradication of servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking”. These are admirable words.

      Meanwhile, your parent company’s website says that it is “family owned with a rich history”. Please will you clarify whether this rich history includes slaving voyages where ships were owned, and cargoes transported, by BLG’s founder John Bibby, six generations ago. The BLG website says that in 1807 (which is when slavery was abolished in Britain), “John Bibby began trading as a shipowner in Liverpool with his partner John Highfield”. John Bibby is listed as co-owner of three slaving ships, of which John Highfield co-owned two:

      In 1805, the Harmonie (co-owned by #John_Bibby and three others, including John Highfield) left Liverpool for a voyage which carried 250 captives purchased in West Central Africa and St Helena, delivering them to Cumingsberg in 1806 (see the SlaveVoyages database using Voyage ID 81732).
      In 1806, the Sally (co-owned by John Bibby and two others) left Liverpool for a voyage which transported 250 captives purchased in Bassa and delivered them to Barbados (see the SlaveVoyages database using Voyage ID 83481).
      In 1806, the Eagle (co-owned by John Bibby and four others, including John Highfield) left Liverpool for a voyage which transported 237 captives purchased in Cameroon and delivered them to Kingston in 1807 (see the SlaveVoyages database using Voyage ID 81106).

      The same and related claims were recently mentioned by Private Eye. They also appear in the story of Liverpool’s Calderstones Park [PDF] and on the website of National Museums Liverpool and in this blog post “Shenanigans in Shipping” (a detailed history of the BLG). They are also mentioned by Laurence Westgaph, a TV presenter specialising in Black British history and slavery and the author of Read The Signs: Street Names with a Connection to the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Abolition in Liverpool [PDF], published with the support of English Heritage, The City of Liverpool, Northwest Regional Development Agency, National Museums Liverpool and Liverpool Vision.

      While of course your public pledges on slavery underline that there is no possibility of there being any link between the activities of John Bibby and John Highfield in the early 1800s and your activities in 2023, we do believe that it is in the public interest to raise this connection, and to ask for a public expression of your categorical renunciation of the reported slave trade activities of Mr Bibby and Mr Highfield.

      https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/an-open-letter-to-bibby-marine

      –-

      Très peu d’info sur John Bibby sur wikipedia :

      John Bibby (19 February 1775 – 17 July 1840) was the founder of the British Bibby Line shipping company. He was born in Eccleston, near Ormskirk, Lancashire. He was murdered on 17 July 1840 on his way home from dinner at a friend’s house in Kirkdale.[1]


      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bibby_(businessman)

    • ‘Floating Prisons’: The 200-year-old family #business behind the Bibby Stockholm

      #Bibby_Line_Group_Limited is a UK company offering financial, marine and construction services to clients in at least 16 countries around the world. It recently made headlines after the government announced one of the firm’s vessels, Bibby Stockholm, would be used to accommodate asylum seekers on the Dorset coast.

      In tandem with plans to house migrants at surplus military sites, the move was heralded by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman as a way of mitigating the £6m-a-day cost of hotel accommodation amid the massive ongoing backlog of asylum claims, as well as deterring refugees from making the dangerous channel crossing to the UK. Several protests have been organised against the project already, while over ninety migrants’ rights groups and hundreds of individual campaigners have signed an open letter to the Home Secretary calling for the plans to be scrapped, describing the barge as a “floating prison.”

      Corporate Watch has researched into the Bibby Line Group’s operations and financial interests. We found that:

      - The Bibby Stockholm vessel was previously used as a floating detention centre in the Netherlands, where undercover reporting revealed violence, sexual exploitation and poor sanitation.

      – Bibby Line Group is more than 90% owned by members of the Bibby family, primarily through trusts. Its pre-tax profits for 2021 stood at almost £31m, which they upped to £35.5m by claiming generous tax credits and deferring a fair amount to the following year.

      - Management aboard the vessel will be overseen by an Australian business travel services company, Corporate Travel Management, who have previously had aspersions cast over the financial health of their operations and the integrity of their business practices.

      - Another beneficiary of the initiative is Langham Industries, a maritime and engineering company whose owners, the Langham family, have longstanding ties to right wing parties.

      Key Issues

      According to the Home Office, the Bibby Stockholm barge will be operational for at least 18 months, housing approximately 500 single adult men while their claims are processed, with “24/7 security in place on board, to minimise the disruption to local communities.” These measures appear to have been to dissuade opposition from the local Conservative council, who pushed for background checks on detainees and were reportedly even weighing legal action out of concern for a perceived threat of physical attacks from those housed onboard, as well as potential attacks from the far right against migrants held there.

      Local campaigners have taken aim at the initiative, noting in the open letter:

      “For many people seeking asylum arriving in the UK, the sea represents a site of significant trauma as they have been forced to cross it on one or more occasions. Housing people on a sea barge – which we argue is equal to a floating prison – is morally indefensible, and threatens to re-traumatise a group of already vulnerable people.”

      Technically, migrants on the barge will be able to leave the site. However, in reality they will be under significant levels of surveillance and cordoned off behind fences in the high security port area.

      If they leave, there is an expectation they will return by 11pm, and departure will be controlled by the authorities. According to the Home Office:

      “In order to ensure that migrants come and go in an orderly manner with as little impact as possible, buses will be provided to take those accommodated on the vessel from the port to local drop off points”.

      These drop off points are to be determined by the government, while being sited off the coast of Dorset means they will be isolated from centres of support and solidarity.

      Meanwhile, the government’s new Illegal Migration Bill is designed to provide a legal justification for the automatic detention of refugees crossing the Channel. If it passes, there’s a chance this might set the stage for a change in regime on the Bibby Stockholm – from that of an “accommodation centre” to a full-blown migrant prison.

      An initial release from the Home Office suggested the local voluntary sector would be engaged “to organise activities that keep occupied those being accommodated, potentially involved in local volunteering activity,” though they seemed to have changed the wording after critics said this would mean detainees could be effectively exploited for unpaid labour. It’s also been reported the vessel required modifications in order to increase capacity to the needed level, raising further concerns over cramped living conditions and a lack of privacy.

      Bibby Line Group has prior form in border profiteering. From 1994 to 1998, the Bibby Stockholm was used to house the homeless, some of whom were asylum seekers, in Hamburg, Germany. In 2005, it was used to detain asylum seekers in the Netherlands, which proved a cause of controversy at the time. Undercover reporting revealed a number of cases abuse on board, such as beatings and sexual exploitation, as well suicide attempts, routine strip searches, scabies and the death of an Algerian man who failed to receive timely medical care for a deteriorating heart condition. As the undercover security guard wrote:

      “The longer I work on the Bibby Stockholm, the more I worry about safety on the boat. Between exclusion and containment I encounter so many defects and feel so much tension among the prisoners that it no longer seems to be a question of whether things will get completely out of hand here, but when.”

      He went on:

      “I couldn’t stand the way prisoners were treated […] The staff become like that, because the whole culture there is like that. Inhuman. They do not see the residents as people with a history, but as numbers.”

      Discussions were also held in August 2017 over the possibility of using the vessel as accommodation for some 400 students in Galway, Ireland, amid the country’s housing crisis. Though the idea was eventually dropped for lack of mooring space and planning permission requirements, local students had voiced safety concerns over the “bizarre” and “unconventional” solution to a lack of rental opportunities.
      Corporate Travel Management & Langham Industries

      Although leased from Bibby Line Group, management aboard the Bibby Stockholm itself will be handled by #Corporate_Travel_Management (#CTM), a global travel company specialising in business travel services. The Australian-headquartered company also recently received a £100m contract for the provision of accommodation, travel, venue and ancillary booking services for the housing of Ukrainian refugees at local hotels and aboard cruise ships M/S Victoria and M/S Ambition. The British Red Cross warned earlier in May against continuing to house refugees on ships with “isolated” and “windowless” cabins, and said the scheme had left many “living in limbo.”

      Founded by CEO #Jamie_Pherous, CTM was targeted in 2018 by #VGI_Partners, a group of short-sellers, who identified more than 20 red flags concerning the company’s business interests. Most strikingly, the short-sellers said they’d attended CTM’s offices in Glasgow, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Switzerland. Finding no signs of business activity there, they said it was possible the firm had significantly overstated the scale of its operations. VGI Partners also claimed CTM’s cash flows didn’t seem to add up when set against the company’s reported growth, and that CTM hadn’t fully disclosed revisions they’d made to their annual revenue figures.

      Two years later, the short-sellers released a follow-up report, questioning how CTM had managed to report a drop in rewards granted for high sales numbers to travel agencies, when in fact their transaction turnover had grown during the same period. They also accused CTM of dressing up their debt balance to make their accounts look healthier.

      CTM denied VGI Partners’ allegations. In their response, they paraphrased a report by auditors EY, supposedly confirming there were no question marks over their business practices, though the report itself was never actually made public. They further claim VGI Partners, as short-sellers, had only released the reports in the hope of benefitting from uncertainty over CTM’s operations.

      Despite these troubles, CTM’s market standing improved drastically earlier this year, when it was announced the firm had secured contracts for the provision of travel services to the UK Home Office worth in excess of $3bn AUD (£1.6bn). These have been accompanied by further tenders with, among others, the National Audit Office, HS2, Cafcass, Serious Fraud Office, Office of National Statistics, HM Revenue & Customs, National Health Service, Ministry of Justice, Department of Education, Foreign Office, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

      The Home Office has not released any figures on the cost of either leasing or management services aboard Bibby Stockholm, though press reports have put the estimated price tag at more than £20,000 a day for charter and berthing alone. If accurate, this would put the overall expenditure for the 18-month period in which the vessel will operate as a detention centre at almost £11m, exclusive of actual detention centre management costs such as security, food and healthcare.

      Another beneficiary of the project are Portland Port’s owners, #Langham_Industries, a maritime and engineering company owned by the #Langham family. The family has long-running ties to right-wing parties. Langham Industries donated over £70,000 to the UK Independence Party from 2003 up until the 2016 Brexit referendum. In 2014, Langham Industries donated money to support the re-election campaign of former Clacton MP for UKIP Douglas Carswell, shortly after his defection from the Conservatives. #Catherine_Langham, a Tory parish councillor for Hilton in Dorset, has described herself as a Langham Industries director (although she is not listed on Companies House). In 2016 she was actively involved in local efforts to support the campaign to leave the European Union. The family holds a large estate in Dorset which it uses for its other line of business, winemaking.

      At present, there is no publicly available information on who will be providing security services aboard the Bibby Stockholm.

      Business Basics

      Bibby Line Group describes itself as “one of the UK’s oldest family owned businesses,” operating in “multiple countries, employing around 1,300 colleagues, and managing over £1 billion of funds.” Its head office is registered in Liverpool, with other headquarters in Scotland, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Malaysia, France, Slovakia, Czechia, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Nigeria (see the appendix for more). The company’s primary sectors correspond to its three main UK subsidiaries:

      #Bibby_Financial_Services. A global provider of financial services. The firm provides loans to small- and medium-sized businesses engaged in business services, construction, manufacturing, transportation, export, recruitment and wholesale markets. This includes invoice financing, export and trade finance, and foreign exchanges. Overall, the subsidiary manages more than £6bn each year on behalf of some 9,000 clients across 300 different industry sectors, and in 2021 it brought in more than 50% of the group’s annual turnover.

      - #Bibby_Marine_Limited. Owner and operator of the Bibby WaveMaster fleet, a group of vessels specialising in the transport and accommodation of workers employed at remote locations, such as offshore oil and gas sites in the North Sea. Sometimes, as in the case of Chevron’s Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project in Nigeria, the vessels are used as an alternative to hotels owing to a “a volatile project environment.” The fleet consists of 40 accommodation vessels similar in size to the Bibby Stockholm and a smaller number of service vessels, though the share of annual turnover pales compared to the group’s financial services operations, standing at just under 10% for 2021.

      - #Garic Ltd. Confined to construction, quarrying, airport, agriculture and transport sectors in the UK, the firm designs, manufactures and purchases plant equipment and machinery for sale or hire. Garic brought in around 14% of Bibby Line Group’s turnover in 2021.

      Prior to February 2021, Bibby Line Group also owned #Costcutter_Supermarkets_Group, before it was sold to #Bestway_Wholesale to maintain liquidity amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In their report for that year, the company’s directors also suggested grant funding from #MarRI-UK, an organisation facilitating innovation in maritime technologies and systems, had been important in preserving the firm’s position during the crisis.
      History

      The Bibby Line Group’s story begins in 1807, when Lancashire-born shipowner John Bibby began trading out of Liverpool with partner John Highfield. By the time of his death in 1840, murdered while returning home from dinner with a friend in Kirkdale, Bibby had struck out on his own and come to manage a fleet of more than 18 ships. The mysterious case of his death has never been solved, and the business was left to his sons John and James.

      Between 1891 and 1989, the company operated under the name #Bibby_Line_Limited. Its ships served as hospital and transport vessels during the First World War, as well as merchant cruisers, and the company’s entire fleet of 11 ships was requisitioned by the state in 1939.

      By 1970, the company had tripled its overseas earnings, branching into ‘factoring’, or invoice financing (converting unpaid invoices into cash for immediate use via short-term loans) in the early 1980s, before this aspect of the business was eventually spun off into Bibby Financial Services. The group acquired Garic Ltd in 2008, which currently operates four sites across the UK.

      People

      #Jonathan_Lewis has served as Bibby Line Group’s Managing and Executive Director since January 2021, prior to which he acted as the company’s Chief Financial and Strategy Officer since joining in 2019. Previously, Lewis worked as CFO for Imagination Technologies, a tech company specialising in semiconductors, and as head of supermarket Tesco’s mergers and acquisitions team. He was also a member of McKinsey’s European corporate finance practice, as well as an investment banker at Lazard. During his first year at the helm of Bibby’s operations, he was paid £748,000. Assuming his role at the head of the group’s operations, he replaced Paul Drescher, CBE, then a board member of the UK International Chamber of Commerce and a former president of the Confederation of British Industry.

      Bibby Line Group’s board also includes two immediate members of the Bibby family, Sir #Michael_James_Bibby, 3rd Bt. and his younger brother #Geoffrey_Bibby. Michael has acted as company chairman since 2020, before which he had occupied senior management roles in the company for 20 years. He also has external experience, including time at Unilever’s acquisitions, disposals and joint venture divisions, and now acts as president of the UK Chamber of Shipping, chairman of the Charities Trust, and chairman of the Institute of Family Business Research Foundation.

      Geoffrey has served as a non-executive director of the company since 2015, having previously worked as a managing director of Vast Visibility Ltd, a digital marketing and technology company. In 2021, the Bibby brothers received salaries of £125,000 and £56,000 respectively.

      The final member of the firm’s board is #David_Anderson, who has acted as non-executive director since 2012. A financier with 35 years experience in investment banking, he’s founder and CEO of EPL Advisory – which advises company boards on requirements and disclosure obligations of public markets – and chair of Creative Education Trust, a multi-academy trust comprising 17 schools. Anderson is also chairman at multinational ship broker Howe Robinson Partners, which recently auctioned off a superyacht seized from Dmitry Pumpyansky, after the sanctioned Russian businessman reneged on a €20.5m loan from JP Morgan. In 2021, Anderson’s salary stood at £55,000.

      Ownership

      Bibby Line Group’s annual report and accounts for 2021 state that more than 90% of the company is owned by members of the Bibby family, primarily through family trusts. These ownership structures, effectively entities allowing people to benefit from assets without being their registered legal owners, have long attracted staunch criticism from transparency advocates given the obscurity they afford means they often feature extensively in corruption, money laundering and tax abuse schemes.

      According to Companies House, the UK corporate registry, between 50% and 75% of Bibby Line Group’s shares and voting rights are owned by #Bibby_Family_Company_Limited, which also retains the right to appoint and remove members of the board. Directors of Bibby Family Company Limited include both the Bibby brothers, as well as a third sibling, #Peter_John_Bibby, who’s formally listed as the firm’s ‘ultimate beneficial owner’ (i.e. the person who ultimately profits from the company’s assets).

      Other people with comparable shares in Bibby Family Company Limited are #Mark_Rupert_Feeny, #Philip_Charles_Okell, and Lady #Christine_Maud_Bibby. Feeny’s occupation is listed as solicitor, with other interests in real estate management and a position on the board of the University of Liverpool Pension Fund Trustees Limited. Okell meanwhile appears as director of Okell Money Management Limited, a wealth management firm, while Lady Bibby, Michael and Geoffrey’s mother, appears as “retired playground supervisor.”

      Key Relationships

      Bibby Line Group runs an internal ‘Donate a Day’ volunteer program, enabling employees to take paid leave in order to “help causes they care about.” Specific charities colleagues have volunteered with, listed in the company’s Annual Review for 2021 to 2022, include:

      - The Hive Youth Zone. An award-winning charity for young people with disabilities, based in the Wirral.

      – The Whitechapel Centre. A leading homeless and housing charity in the Liverpool region, working with people sleeping rough, living in hostels, or struggling with their accommodation.

      - Let’s Play Project. Another charity specialising in after-school and holiday activities for young people with additional needs in the Banbury area.

      - Whitdale House. A care home for the elderly, based in Whitburn, West Lothian and run by the local council.

      – DEBRA. An Irish charity set up in 1988 for individuals living with a rare, painful skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa, as well as their families.

      – Reaching Out Homeless Outreach. A non-profit providing resources and support to the homeless in Ireland.

      Various senior executives and associated actors at Bibby Line Group and its subsidiaries also have current and former ties to the following organisations:

      - UK Chamber of Shipping

      - Charities Trust

      - Institute of Family Business Research Foundation

      - Indefatigable Old Boys Association

      - Howe Robinson Partners

      - hibu Ltd

      - EPL Advisory

      - Creative Education Trust

      - Capita Health and Wellbeing Limited

      - The Ambassador Theatre Group Limited

      – Pilkington Plc

      – UK International Chamber of Commerce

      – Confederation of British Industry

      – Arkley Finance Limited (Weatherby’s Banking Group)

      – FastMarkets Ltd, Multiple Sclerosis Society

      – Early Music as Education

      – Liverpool Pension Fund Trustees Limited

      – Okell Money Management Limited

      Finances

      For the period ending 2021, Bibby Line Group’s total turnover stood at just under £260m, with a pre-tax profit of almost £31m – fairly healthy for a company providing maritime services during a global pandemic. Their post-tax profits in fact stood at £35.5m, an increase they would appear to have secured by claiming generous tax credits (£4.6m) and deferring a fair amount (£8.4m) to the following year.

      Judging by their last available statement on the firm’s profitability, Bibby’s directors seem fairly confident the company has adequate financing and resources to continue operations for the foreseeable future. They stress their February 2021 sale of Costcutter was an important step in securing this, given it provided additional liquidity during the pandemic, as well as the funding secured for R&D on fuel consumption by Bibby Marine’s fleet.
      Scandal Sheet

      Bibby Line Group and its subsidiaries have featured in a number of UK legal proceedings over the years, sometimes as defendants. One notable case is Godfrey v Bibby Line, a lawsuit brought against the company in 2019 after one of their former employees died as the result of an asbestos-related disease.

      In their claim, the executors of Alan Peter Godfrey’s estate maintained that between 1965 and 1972, he was repeatedly exposed to large amounts of asbestos while working on board various Bibby vessels. Although the link between the material and fatal lung conditions was established as early as 1930, they claimed that Bibby Line, among other things:

      “Failed to warn the deceased of the risk of contracting asbestos related disease or of the precautions to be taken in relation thereto;

      “Failed to heed or act upon the expert evidence available to them as to the best means of protecting their workers from danger from asbestos dust; [and]

      “Failed to take all reasonably practicable measures, either by securing adequate ventilation or by the provision and use of suitable respirators or otherwise, to prevent inhalation of dust.”

      The lawsuit, which claimed “unlimited damage”’ against the group, also stated that Mr Godfrey’s “condition deteriorated rapidly with worsening pain and debility,” and that he was “completely dependent upon others for his needs by the last weeks of his life.” There is no publicly available information on how the matter was concluded.

      In 2017, Bibby Line Limited also featured in a leak of more than 13.4 million financial records known as the Paradise Papers, specifically as a client of Appleby, which provided “offshore corporate services” such as legal and accountancy work. According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a global network of investigative media outlets, leaked Appleby documents revealed, among other things, “the ties between Russia and [Trump’s] billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser and the offshore interests of the Queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world.”

      This would not appear to be the Bibby group’s only link to the shady world of offshore finance. Michael Bibby pops up as a treasurer for two shell companies registered in Panama, Minimar Transport S.A. and Vista Equities Inc.
      Looking Forward

      Much about the Bibby Stockholm saga remains to be seen. The exact cost of the initiative and who will be providing security services on board, are open questions. What’s clear however is that activists will continue to oppose the plans, with efforts to prevent the vessel sailing from Falmouth to its final docking in Portland scheduled to take place on 30th June.

      Appendix: Company Addresses

      HQ and general inquiries: 3rd Floor Walker House, Exchange Flags, Liverpool, United Kingdom, L2 3YL

      Tel: +44 (0) 151 708 8000

      Other offices, as of 2021:

      6, Shenton Way, #18-08A Oue Downtown 068809, Singapore

      1/1, The Exchange Building, 142 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5LA, United Kingdom

      4th Floor Heather House, Heather Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland

      Unit 2302, 23/F Jubilee Centre, 18 Fenwick Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong

      Unit 508, Fifth Floor, Metropolis Mall, MG Road, Gurugram, Haryana, 122002 India

      Suite 7E, Level 7, Menara Ansar, 65 Jalan Trus, 8000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

      160 Avenue Jean Jaures, CS 90404, 69364 Lyon Cedex, France

      Prievozská 4D, Block E, 13th Floor, Bratislava 821 09, Slovak Republic

      Hlinky 118, Brno, 603 00, Czech Republic

      Laan Van Diepenvoorde 5, 5582 LA, Waalre, Netherlands

      Hansaallee 249, 40549 Düsseldorf, Germany

      Poland Eurocentrum, Al. Jerozolimskie 134, 02-305 Warsaw, Poland

      1/2 Atarbekova str, 350062, Krasnodar, Krasnodar

      1 St Peter’s Square, Manchester, M2 3AE, United Kingdom

      25 Adeyemo Alakija Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

      10 Anson Road, #09-17 International Plaza, 079903 Singapore

      https://corporatewatch.org/floating-prisons-the-200-year-old-family-business-behind-the-bibby-s

      signalé ici aussi par @rezo:
      https://seenthis.net/messages/1010504

    • The Langham family seem quite happy to support right-wing political parties that are against immigration, while at the same time profiting handsomely from the misery of refugees who are forced to claim sanctuary here.


      https://twitter.com/PositiveActionH/status/1687817910364884992

      –---

      Family firm ’profiteering from misery’ by providing migrant barges donated £70k to #UKIP

      The Langham family, owners of Langham Industries, is now set to profit from an 18-month contract with the Home Office to let the Bibby Stockholm berth at Portland, Dorset

      A family firm that donated more than £70,000 to UKIP is “profiteering from misery” by hosting the Government’s controversial migrant barge. Langham Industries owns Portland Port, where the Bibby Stockholm is docked in a deal reported to be worth some £2.5million.

      The Langham family owns luxurious properties and has links to high-profile politicians, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden. And we can reveal that their business made 19 donations to pro-Brexit party UKIP between 2003 and 2016.

      Late founder John Langham was described as an “avid supporter” of UKIP in an obituary in 2017. Now his children, John, Jill and Justin – all directors of the family firm – are set to profit from an 18-month contract with the Home Office to let the Bibby Stockholm berth at Portland, Dorset.

      While Portland Port refuses to reveal how much the Home Office is paying, its website cites berthing fees for a ship the size of the Bibby Stockholm at more than £4,000 a day. In 2011, Portland Port chairman John, 71, invested £3.7million in Grade II* listed country pile Steeple Manor at Wareham, Dorset. Dating to around 1600, it has a pond, tennis court and extensive gardens designed by the landscape architect Brenda Colvin.

      The arrangement to host the “prison-like” barge for housing migrants has led some locals to blast the Langhams, who have owned the port since 1997. Portland mayor Carralyn Parkes, 61, said: “I don’t know how John Langham will sleep at night in his luxurious home, with his tennis court and his fluffy bed, when asylum seekers are sleeping in tiny beds on the barge.

      “I went on the boat and measured the rooms with a tape measure. On average they are about 10ft by 12ft. The bunk bed mattresses are about 6ft long. If you’re taller than 6ft you’re stuffed. The Langham family need to have more humanity. They are only interested in making money. It’s shocking.”

      (#paywall)
      https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/family-firm-profiteering-misery-providing-30584405.amp

      #UK_Independence_Party

    • ‘This is a prison’: men tell of distressing conditions on Bibby Stockholm

      Asylum seekers share fears about Dorset barge becoming even more crowded, saying they already ‘despair and wish for death’

      Asylum seekers brought back to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, have said they are being treated in such a way that “we despair and wish for death”.

      The Guardian spoke to two men in their first interview since their return to the barge on 19 October after the vessel lay empty for more than two months. The presence of deadly legionella bacteria was confirmed on board on 7 August, the same day the first group of asylum seekers arrived. The barge was evacuated four days later.

      The new warning comes after it emerged that one asylum seeker attempted to kill himself and is in hospital after finding out he is due to be taken to the barge on Tuesday.

      A man currently on the barge told the Guardian: “Government decisions are turning healthy and normal refugees into mental patients whom they then hand over to society. Here, many people were healthy and coping with OK spirits, but as a result of the dysfunctional strategies of the government, they have suffered – and continue to suffer – from various forms of serious mental distress. We are treated in such a way that we despair and wish for death.”

      He said that although the asylum seekers were not detained on the barge and could leave to visit the nearby town, in practice, doing so was not easy.

      He added: “In the barge, we have exactly the feeling of being in prison. It is true that they say that this is not a prison and you can go outside at any time, but you can only go to specific stops at certain times by bus, and this does not give me a good feeling.

      “Even to use the fresh air, you have to go through the inspection every time and go to the small yard with high fences and go through the X-ray machine again. And this is not good for our health.

      “In short, this is a prison whose prisoners are not criminals, they are people who have fled their country just to save their lives and have taken shelter here to live.”

      The asylum seekers raised concerns about what conditions on the barge would be like if the Home Office did fill it with about 500 asylum seekers, as officials say is the plan. Those on board said it already felt quite full with about 70 people living there.

      The second asylum seeker said: “The space inside the barge is very small. It feels crowded in the dining hall and the small entertainment room. It is absolutely clear to me that there will be chaos here soon.

      “According to my estimate, as I look at the spaces around us, the capacity of this barge is maximum 120 people, including personnel and crew. The strategy of ​​transferring refugees from hotels to barges or ships or military installations is bound to fail.

      “The situation here on the barge is getting worse. Does the government have a plan for shipwrecked residents? Everyone here is going mad with anxiety. It is not just the barge that floats on the water, but the plans of the government that are radically adrift.”

      Maddie Harris of the NGO Humans For Rights Network, which supports asylum seekers in hotels, said: “Home Office policies directly contribute to the significant deterioration of the wellbeing and mental health of so many asylum seekers in their ‘care’, with a dehumanising environment, violent anti-migrant rhetoric and isolated accommodations away from community and lacking in support.”

      A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Bibby Stockholm is part of the government’s pledge to reduce the use of expensive hotels and bring forward alternative accommodation options which provide a more cost-effective, sustainable and manageable system for the UK taxpayer and local communities.

      “The health and welfare of asylum seekers remains the utmost priority. We work continually to ensure the needs and vulnerabilities of those residing in asylum accommodation are identified and considered, including those related to mental health and trauma.”

      Nadia Whittome and Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour MPs for Nottingham East and Brighton Kemptown respectively, will travel to Portland on Monday to meet asylum seekers accommodated on the Bibby Stockholm barge and local community members.

      The visit follows the home secretary, Suella Braverman, not approving a visit from the MPs to assess living conditions as they requested through parliamentary channels.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/oct/29/this-is-a-prison-men-tell-of-distressing-conditions-on-bibby-stockholm
      #prison #conditions_de_vie

  • Shimon Pères, coupable des crimes de Qana au Liban en 1996
    samedi 15 mars 2008 | Association France Palestine Solidarité
    https://www.france-palestine.org/Shimon-Peres-coupable-des-crimes

    L’armée israélienne sur ordre de Shimon Pères, a bombardé le 18 avril 1996 l’abri de l’ONU, tuant 102 civils principalement des enfants, des femmes et des personnes âgées, et faisant de nombreux blessés.
    Robert Fisk, journaliste, témoignait un an plus tard.

    Le 18 avril 1996, alors que les troupes israéliennes occupaient le Sud Liban, Shimon Pères était premier ministre. En plein milieu d’une campagne pour se faire réélire premier ministre, et pour changer son image politique de « colombe » qui semblait lui porter préjudice dans un pays où les extrémistes religieux et politiques avaient le vent en poupe et que les « colombes » sionistes étaient de moins en moins respectées, Pères a pris une décision à l’origine du massacre de Qana. Il a donné l’ordre de lancer « l’Opération Grapes of Wrath » - Opération Raisins de la Colère. Cette opération a provoqué la fuite de 400 000 civils libanais du Sud Liban, dont presque 800 se sont réfugiés dans la base de l’ONU à Qana. (...)

    18 Avril 1996 : Massacre à Qana ... Article du Palestine Times de 1997
    Voici le reportage du massacre de Qana qui eut lieu le 18 avril 1996.

    Robert Fisk fut le premier journaliste à pénétrer l’enceinte des Casques Bleus du Fidji après qu’elle fut attaquée par des obus de proximité au plus fort des bombardements israéliens du Sud Liban l’année dernière.

    Au cours de sa description très détaillée et émouvante, qui fit couler les larmes de plusieurs membres du public, il raconta la scène alors qu’il entrait dans le camp.

    "Le sang coulait à flots depuis les portes de l’enceinte des Nations Unis, dans laquelle ces pauvres gens avaient trouvé refuge. C’était les portes de l’enfer. Alors que je pénétrai à l’intérieur, je vis une petite fille entourant de ses bras le corps d’un homme d’âge mûr, berçant le corps de droite à gauche et gémissant et pleurant sans cesse "mon père, mon père" Il y avait des bébés sans tête, des femmes sans bras. Je n’oublierai jamais ce que j’ai vu. J’ai tout décrit dans le quotidien qui m’emploie."

    Il raconta ensuite toute l’histoire du massacre de Qana. Le fait qu’il parlait le 18 avril, exactement un an après l’attaque d’Israël, rendit sa présentation d’autant plus poignante.

    "Pour nous reporters de l’époque - et pour les Nations Unis - la vérité ou autre de l’explication d’Israël - qu’ils n’avaient jamais eu l’intention d’attaquer la base Onusienne, ni les civils musulmans qu’elle protégeait - reposait sur leur affirmation qu’ils ne pouvaient pas voir où tombaient les obus. Mais les survivants, des soldats de l’ONU comme les réfugiés, ont tous témoigné avoir vu un avion israélien sans pilote capable de prendre des photos de reconnaissance, survoler le camp pendant le massacre. Et si c’était vrai, alors la conclusion était évidente : les Israéliens savaient très bien ce qu’ils faisaient."

    Après avoir interrogé les réfugiés et les soldats des Nations Unies, Robert Fisk entendit des rumeurs à plusieurs reprises qu’un soldat de l’ONU d’une base proche avait filmé tout à fait par hasard le bombardement de Qana ainsi que l’avion de reconnaissance israélien. Sa recherche du film mystérieux resta sans succès. On lui dit que les personnels de l’ONU avaient reçu les ordres strictes de ne pas parler de son existence à qui que ce soit. Deux jours après les funérailles communes des victimes du massacre de Qana, la sonnerie du téléphone de Fisk retentit dans son appartement de Beyrouth. Une voix anonyme lui donna une référence sur une carte et ajouta : "13h".

    L’audience de Fisk restait captivée par son récit émouvant, peut-être l’événement principal de la soirée, et mérite d’être reproduit mot à mot. La référence de carte indiquait un carrefour à l’extérieur de Qana.

    « Je n’ai jamais conduit aussi vite jusqu’au Sud Liban. A 13h, dans mon rétroviseur, je vis une Jeep de l’ONU s’arrêter derrière moi. Un soldat de l’ONU en tenue de combat et portant le béret bleu s’approcha de moi, me serra la main et dit : "J’ai fait une copie de la vidéo avant que les Nations Unies ne la saisissent. On y voit l’avion. J’ai pris une décision personnelle. J’ai deux enfants en bas-âge. Du même âge que ceux que j’ai portés, morts, dans mes bras à Qana. C’est pour eux que je le fais." Et de sa chemise kaki, il sortit une cassette vidéo et la jeta sur le siège passager de ma voiture. C’était, je pense rétrospectivement, l’acte individuel et personnel le plus dramatique que j’ai jamais vu faire un soldat. Les grands pouvoirs peuvent parfois essayer de cacher des choses, mais les petites gens peuvent parfois gagner. »

    Le film à l’état brut, sans coupures, montrait clairement la base des Nations Unies de Qana sous les bombardements avec l’avion sans pilote au-dessus. Fisk commenta la projection de la vidéo au public, montrant la trajectoire et la direction des obus qui venaient de l’extérieur. Un hélicoptère israélien était également visible au-dessus de Qana au moment de l’attaque, larguant des balises lumineuses pour éviter les missiles à tête chercheuse thermique. Qana était recouverte de fumée tandis que les obus d’artillerie tombaient du ciel. A un moment, les flammes étaient clairement visibles dans la base de l’ONU. Fisk annonça en montrant l’écran,

    "Ici, c’est la salle de conférence en feu. Il y a environ 50 personnes qui sont en train d’être brûlées vives en ce moment. Cette fumée, continua-t-il, montrant une autre section proche sur l’écran, provient en fait de la crémation de ces gens alors que les murs prennent feu."

    Le public restait immobile et silencieux comme des jurés dans un tribunal, tandis que Fisk présentait ses preuves avec la précision méticuleuse et le sang-froid d’un avocat de l’accusation démolissant de façon convaincante l’argument principal des avocats de la défense. Après que la vidéo fut arrêtée, il retourna sur le podium et finit son discours sur les phrases suivantes :

    "C’est ici, je crois, que le travail du journaliste doit s’arrêter et que les faits historiques doivent prendre la relève. Pour votre gentillesse ce soir, mesdames et messieurs, et pour votre gentillesse de m’avoir invité à Ottawa pour vous faire cette présentation, je vous remercie beaucoup."

    Massacre in sanctuary
    Eyewitness | Robert Fisk | Thursday 18 April 1996 23:02
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/massacre-in-sanctuary-1305571.html

    Qana, southern Lebanon - It was a massacre. Not since Sabra and Chatila had I seen the innocent slaughtered like this. The Lebanese refugee women and children and men lay in heaps, their hands or arms or legs missing, beheaded or disembowelled. There were well over a hundred of them. A baby lay without a head. The Israeli shells had scythed through them as they lay in the United Nations shelter, believing that they were safe under the world’s protection. Like the Muslims of Srebrenica, the Muslims of Qana were wrong.

    In front of a burning building of the UN’s Fijian battalion headquarters, a girl held a corpse in her arms, the body of a grey-haired man whose eyes were staring at her, and she rocked the corpse back and forth in her arms, keening and weeping and crying the same words over and over: “My father, my father.” A Fijian UN soldier stood amid a sea of bodies and, without saying a word, held aloft the body of a headless child.

    “The Israelis have just told us they’ll stop shelling the area,” a UN soldier said, shaking with anger. “Are we supposed to thank them?” In the remains of a burning building - the conference room of the Fijian UN headquarters - a pile of corpses was burning. The roof had crashed in flames onto their bodies, cremating them in front of my eyes. When I walked towards them, I slipped on a human hand.

    So why did the Israelis kill all these refugee civilians - more than 70 at the latest count - and go on sending 25 shells into the survivors and the bodies around them for up to 10 minutes after the first round had landed? A Fijian soldier, looking at a dead woman lying at his feet, her neck encircled with blood, said simply: “The guerrillas fired six Katyushas from near our position. The shells came in two minutes later. But the Israelis know we’re here. This has been a UN battalion headquarters for 18 years. They knew we had 600 refugees here.”

    "Indeed they did. The Israelis know that 5,200 penniless civilians - too poor to flee to Beirut - are crowded into the compounds of the 4,500- strong UN force. The Fijian battalion headquarters is clearly marked on Israel’s military maps. The UN buildings were plastered with white and black UN signs. They are lit up at night. Not a soul in southern Lebanon is ignorant of their location. Nor is the Hizbollah. It is not the first time the guerrillas have fired their missiles at Israel from beside a UN building; when a Fijian officer tried to prevent the Hizbollah from firing rockets close to his position on the coast road two days ago, a Hizbollah man shot him in the chest.

    But does a Hizbollah target of opportunity justify the nightmare scenes which confronted us yesterday? Are Lebanese civilians worth so little on the immoral scales of war that armies can write them off as “collateral damage” while following the hopeless goal of eradicating “terrorism” by gunfire and blood? True, the Hizbollah should bear a burden of guilt, though they will refuse to do so.

    But Israel’s slaughter of civilians in this terrible 10-day offensive - 206 by last night (- has been so cavalier, so ferocious, that not a Lebanese will forgive this massacre. There had been the ambulance attacked on Saturday, the sisters killed in Yohmor the day before, the 2-year-old girl decapitated by an Israeli missile four days ago. And earlier yesterday, the Israelis had slaughtered a family of 12 - the youngest was a four- day-old baby - when Israeli helicopter pilots fired missiles into their home.

    Shortly afterwards, three Israeli jets dropped bombs only 250 metres from a UN convoy on which I was travelling, blasting a house 30 feet into the air in front of my eyes. Travelling back to Beirut to file my report on the Qana massacre to the Independent last night, I found two Israeli gunboats firing at the civilian cars on the river bridge north of Sidon.

    Every foreign army comes to grief in Lebanon. The Sabra and Chatila massacre of Palestinians by Israel’s militia allies in 1982 doomed Israel’s 1982 invasion. Now the Israelis are stained again by the bloodbath at Qana, the scruffy little Lebanese hill town where the Lebanese believe Jesus turned water into wine.

    The Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres may now wish to end this war. But the Hizbollah are not likely to let him. Israel is back in the Lebanese quagmire. Nor will the Arab world forget yesterday’a terrible scenes.

    The blood of all the refugees ran quite literally in streams from the shell-smashed UN compound restaurant in which the Shiite Muslims from the hill villages of southern Lebanon - who had heeded Israel’s order to leave their homes - had pathetically sought shelter. Fijian and French soldiers heaved another group of dead - they lay with their arms tightly wrapped around each other - into xblankets.

    A French UN trooper muttered oaths to himself as he opened a bag in which he was dropping feet, fingers, pieces of people’s arms.

    And as we walked through this obscenity, a swarm of people burst into the compound. They had driven in wild convoys down from Tyre and began to pull the blankets off the mutilated corpses of their mothers and sons and daughters and to shriek “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great") and to threaten the UN troops.

    We had suddenly become not UN troops and journalists but Westerners, Israel’s allies, an object of hatred and venom. One bearded man with fierce eyes stared at us, his face dark with fury. “You are Americans,” he screamed at us. “Americans are dogs. You did this. Americans are dogs.”

    President Bill Clinton has allied himself with Israel in its war against “terrorism” and the Lebanese, in their grief, had not forgotten this. Israel’s official expression of sorrow was rubbing salt in their wounds. “I would like to be made into a bomb and blow myself up amid the Israelis,” one old man said.

    As for the Hizbollah, which has repeatedly promised that Israelis will pay for their killing of Lebanese civilians, its revenge cannot be long in coming. Operation Grapes of Wrath may then turn out then to be all too aptly named.

    Yaniv Cogan
    @yanivcogan· 18 avr. 2022
    https://twitter.com/yanivcogan/status/1516000967807967234


    oeuvre de Mustafa Haider
    #Qana #Cana #Liban

  • #Home_Office planning to house asylum seekers on disused cruise ships

    Exclusive: Ministers facing growing anger from Tory backbenchers over use of hotels in their constituencies

    The Home Office is planning to use disused cruise ships to house asylum seekers amid growing anger from Conservative backbenchers over the use of hotels in their constituencies.

    Ministers are looking at possible vessels including a former cruise ship from Indonesia, which would be moored in south-west England, the Guardian understands.

    During the Conservative leadership campaign last summer, Rishi Sunak proposed putting illegal immigrants on cruise ships moored around the country but was warned it could be illegal under the Human Rights Act and the European convention on human rights.

    Downing Street confirmed he had dropped the idea to use the ships to house asylum seekers, which critics said would amount to arbitrary detention, once he became prime minister last October.

    Sources suggested, however, that the cruise ships could be registered as hotels rather than detention centres to get around possible legal challenges.

    The immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, is due to make an announcement on Wednesday regarding asylum accommodation amid speculation that it will include the use of boats and military barracks. It could also disclose plans to make use of a clause in the levelling up bill to force councils to accept large-scale accommodation for those seeking asylum.

    Multiple reports on Tuesday night suggested a plan to house asylum seekers on giant barges normally used for offshore construction projects could also be announced.

    The barges are built to house hundreds of people, although a government source told the Times that plans were at an “early stage” and had significant practical issues that needed to be addressed.

    The disclosure comes as the Home Office admitted nearly 400 hotels across the country were being used to accommodate more than 51,000 people at a reported cost of more than £6m a day.

    Sunak is under pressure to come up with alternatives as Conservative MPs, including members of his own cabinet, object to plans to move some people from hotels into former military bases.

    Suella Braverman, the home secretary, is expected to announce alternatives to hotel accommodation as soon as this week. They are expected to be used for new arrivals initially, rather than to rehouse people who are in hotels.

    The prime minister managed to face down a potentially big rebellion on Monday as up to 60 Tory MPs attempted to amend the new illegal migration bill by giving UK courts the power to ignore rulings by Strasbourg judges.

    Whitehall sources confirmed that the government had “in recent months” examined plans including using cruise ships from across the world, which could be brought to the UK and then used to house asylum seekers.

    The ships would be moored off the coast, emulating an approach by the Scottish government, which housed Ukrainian refugees in two 700-cabin ships. They were docked in Glasgow and Edinburgh and could hold 1,750 people each.

    Braverman said she would not rule out the use of former cruise ships when questioned in December by a House of Lords committee. “We will bring forward a range of alternative sites, they will include disused holiday parks, former student halls – I should say we are looking at those sites – I wouldn’t say anything is confirmed yet.

    “But we need to bring forward thousands of places, and when you talk about vessels all I can say is – because we are in discussion with a wide variety of providers – that everything is still on the table and nothing is excluded,” she said.

    It comes amid a Tory backlash over hotels in constituencies being used to house asylum seekers.

    Ministers had also drawn up plans to use two military bases that were identified to house asylum seekers earlier this year – RAF Scampton, the Dambusters’ base in Lincolnshire, and MDP Wethersfield in Braintree, Essex. But they are facing opposition from local Conservative politicians. Council leaders in Braintree are taking legal action to stop up to 5,000 people being moved to the site over the space of a year.

    James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, who is the local MP, wrote on his Facebook page that Wethersfield was inappropriate as an asylum camp because of “the remote nature of the site, limited transport infrastructure and narrow road network”.

    The local council in Scampton is seeking listed status for the Lincolnshire base, while historians and RAF veterans have written to the government asking for the plans to be halted.

    One government source, asked about the possible use of cruise ships, said ministers were working to end the use of hotels and bring forward a range of alternative sites for longer-term accommodation. But they would not discuss details of individual sites or proposals that could be used for bridging or asylum accommodation.

    A government spokesperson said: “We have always been upfront about the unprecedented pressure being placed on our asylum system, brought about by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal journeys into the country.

    “We continue to work across government and with local authorities to identify a range of accommodation options. The government remains committed to engaging with local authorities and key stakeholders as part of this process.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/mar/28/home-office-planning-to-house-asylum-seekers-on-disused-cruise-ships
    #hébergement #asile #réfugiés #migrations #bateaux #bateaux_de_croisière #bateau_de_croisière #Angleterre #UK

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur la Bibby Stockholm :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/1016683

    ajouté à la métaliste #migrations et #tourisme :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/770799

    • Air force bases set to be used to house migrants as ministers hunt for cheaper alternatives to hotels

      The Government are reportedly also considering a former cruise ship from Indonesia, which would be moored in south-west England, as a possible site

      Migrants will be housed at two air force bases in a bid to cut down on the use of hotels and deter people from crossing the Channel on small boats, the immigration minister is expected to announce on Wednesday.

      #RAF_Scampton in Lincolnshire, the former home of the Dambusters and Red Arrows, and #RAF_Wethersfield in Essex are expected to be among the accommodation sites for asylum seekers confirmed by Robert Jenrick, despite local opposition.

      The announcement is being made with the aim of ending the use of hotels for migrants – a pledge the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has made. More than 51,000 people are being housed in 395 hotels, according to the BBC, at an estimated cost of £5.6m a day. Holiday parks and student halls are not expected to be included on the initial list of new sites.

      The Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, has found himself at odds with his own government over plans to house asylum seekers at RAF Wethersfield, which is in his constituency.

      Braintree District Council is taking legal action against the Home Office in an attempt to secure an injunction against plans to house 1,500 migrants at RAF #Wethersfield.

      Veteran Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh has meanwhile raised concerns that using RAF Scampton to house asylum seekers could put at risk a £300 million investment plan for the site.

      A plan to turn a former RAF base in Linton-on-Ouse, in the constituency of Mr Sunak’s close ally Kevin Hollinrake, into a processing centre for asylum seekers, was meanwhile ditched under Liz Truss.

      During the Tory leadership contest last summer, the Prime Minister pledged to use “cruise ships” as part of efforts to “end the farce of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being spent every day on housing illegal migrants in hotels”.

      Downing Street did not respond to a question on whether that meant the prospect of using cruise ships has now been shelved.

      The Guardian reports that the Government was considering a former cruise ship from Indonesia, which would be moored in south-west England, as a possible site.

      According to The Sun, an announcement on nautical accommodation will be made in the coming days.

      There are reports ministers are said to be considering obtaining accommodation barges – typically used for offshore construction projects with only basic facilities – which could house hundreds of migrants who are currently in hotels.

      The plan is at an “early stage”, The Times reported, with ministers not yet decided on where the barge or barges will be stationed, though they are expected to be stationed at port, rather than at sea.

      A source told The Times the Government was aware of “significant practical issues” with these vessels, and it was not clear how safety would be dealt with, though a source told the newspaper: “It’s a row we’re prepared to have.”

      The Government is said to be keen on the idea as a way to discourage people from crossing the Channel and is pointing to countries like France housing refugees in floating vessels.

      Meanwhile, right-wing Tory rebel Jonathan Gullis said it would be “perfectly acceptable” to house asylum seekers in tents while they await for deportation, amid concerns about the cost of hotels.

      During a debate on the Illegal Migration Bill, ministers were also urged to give “serious assurances” they will not return to the “barbaric days” of detaining children in immigration centres.

      Conservative former minister Tim Loughton led calls for the Government to confirm it would not place migrant children in indefinite detention if they come to the UK by unauthorised means.

      Centrist Tories were joined by MPs from across the political spectrum who are worried that a coalition government-era policy not to detain children could be overturned.

      The announcement comes after months of pressure from Tory MPs over the use of hotels for asylum seekers, at a cost of £5.6m a day.

      But it will also be a test of the Government’s ability to override local opposition to build new asylum sites.

      Plans for alternative sites have however triggered a backlash from some Tory MPs over now-abandoned plans to house asylum seekers in Pontins holiday parks in Southport and Camber Sands.

      https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/rishi-sunak-plan-house-asylum-seekers-cruise-ships-shelved-for-now-2239548
      #bases_aériennes #Scampton

    • Au Royaume-Uni, des #barges pour parquer les réfugiés qui traversent la Manche

      Le gouvernement britannique multiplie les annonces censées dissuader les migrants de traverser. La dernière innovation prévoit d’installer les demandeurs d’asile sur d’anciennes embarcations, dans les ports, le temps de leur procédure. Le premier ministre se targue d’avoir déjà fait baisser le nombre de passages depuis la France.

      LeLe feuilleton au Royaume-Uni se poursuit. Les exilé·es, qui en sont les actrices et acteurs principaux, ne sont pour autant jamais consulté·es. On parle d’elles et d’eux comme des « indésirables » qu’il faudrait éloigner, tantôt en usant de machines capables de générer des vagues en mer, tantôt en les parquant sur des ferrys hors d’usage en mer.

      Il y a eu ensuite l’accord non officiel signé entre le Royaume-Uni et le Rwanda, visant à acter le projet de sous-traitance des demandes d’asile à un pays tiers. Un accord décrié et vivement critiqué par les membres de la société civile, mais aussi des chercheurs et chercheuses, qui soulignaient combien cette externalisation venait saboter le droit d’asile.

      Faute de pouvoir encore les envoyer au Rwanda – l’accord a fait l’objet d’un recours devant la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH), puis devant la justice britannique fin 2022 –, le gouvernement a décidé plus récemment d’installer une barge au sud-ouest du pays pour y parquer les demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile qui parviendraient à rejoindre le Royaume-Uni de manière irrégulière.

      L’objectif ? Dissuader les personnes exilées de tenter la traversée de la Manche, alors que le nombre de traversées n’a jamais été aussi élevé en 2022, et qu’un terrible naufrage survenu le 24 novembre 2021 ayant coûté la vie à au moins 27 migrant·es est venu souligner les défaillances du secours en mer.

      Satisfait des résultats de son « plan », le premier ministre britannique, Rishi Sunak, a annoncé l’installation de deux nouvelles barges pour l’accueil de demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile, d’une capacité de 500 personnes chacune, d’ici cet été. Le gouvernement entend ainsi réduire de moitié la facture correspondant à l’hébergement des migrant·es dans les hôtels du pays, qui s’élèverait à 6 millions de livres (soit environ 7 millions d’euros) par jour.
      Un « plan » qui fonctionnerait déjà

      La toute première barge, baptisée Bibby Stockholm, a fait l’objet d’une rénovation à Falmouth et sera installée au port de Portland, une petite île située au sud-ouest de Londres. Elle devrait accueillir 500 personnes pour un total de 200 chambres, et sera surveillée en permanence dans l’objectif de préserver la population locale, avancent les autorités.

      La barge aurait coûté, selon le journal The Times, près de 20 000 livres (soit 23 000 euros), et le dispositif coûterait « nettement moins cher que les hôtels », a affirmé Rishi Sunak. La ministre de l’intérieur britannique, Suella Braverman, avait déjà affirmé le souhait de freiner l’hébergement des demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile dans les hôtels, compte tenu du coût que cela engendrait « pour le contribuable ».

      Le 5 juin, le premier ministre a tenu un discours particulièrement dur à leur endroit, renvoyant dos à dos les difficultés économiques rencontrées par les Britanniques dans un contexte d’inflation et le coût de l’accueil des migrant·es.

      « Notre plan commence à fonctionner. Avant que l’on ne le mette en place en décembre, le nombre de personnes ayant traversé illégalement la Manche avait quadruplé en deux ans. Mais en cinq mois, les traversées ont baissé de 20 % par rapport à l’an dernier », a-t-il rassuré. Ce serait la première fois, insiste Rishi Sunak, qu’une baisse des arrivées serait observée sur la période de janvier à mai.

      « Je ne me reposerai pas tant que les bateaux ne sont pas stoppés », a-t-il poursuivi, indiquant utiliser « tous les outils à disposition » ; à commencer par la diplomatie, puisque le partenariat avec la France aurait permis d’empêcher 33 000 traversées en 2022, soit une hausse de 40 % des interceptions.

      L’accord signé avec l’Albanie en décembre dernier, pour réduire les migrations depuis « un pays sûr, européen », aurait lui aussi porté ses fruits. Alors que les Albanais·es représentaient un tiers des arrivées en small boats (lire nos reportages ici et là), Rishi Sunak se vante d’avoir ainsi fait baisser ce chiffre de près de 90 %, et d’avoir expulsé 1 800 ressortissant·es albanais·es en l’espace de six mois.

      « C’est bien la preuve que notre stratégie de détermination peut fonctionner. Quand les gens savent qu’en venant ici illégalement, ils ne pourront pas rester, ils ne viennent plus. »

      Pour « sortir » les demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile du schéma classique d’hébergement dans les hôtels, le gouvernement compte par ailleurs se servir de lieux « alternatifs », comme des bases militaires situées à Wethersfield et à Scampton, où des centaines de personnes devraient être transférées d’ici à cet été, et 3 000 d’ici à l’automne. Celles et ceux restant dans les hôtels pourront être amenés à partager une même chambre avec plusieurs personnes, « lorsque c’est approprié ».
      L’externalisation toujours d’actualité

      « Et je dis à ces migrants qui protestent : ceci est plus que juste. Si vous venez ici illégalement, en quête d’une protection après avoir fui la mort, la torture ou la persécution, alors vous devriez pouvoir partager une chambre d’hôtel, payée par le contribuable, dans le centre de Londres. »

      À l’avenir, le gouvernement britannique mise aussi sur la réforme de la loi sur l’immigration et espère, une fois tous les recours en justice « terminés », pouvoir mettre en pratique la nouvelle loi sur la migration, qui permettrait de placer en détention toute personne arrivée illégalement sur le territoire, avant de l’expulser, soit vers son pays d’origine, soit vers un pays tiers comme le Rwanda, avec lequel un accord a été signé en ce sens.

      « Nous voulons que les choses soient claires, a martelé Rishi Sunak lors de son discours empli de fermeté. Je sais que ce sont des mesures difficiles. Et je ne m’en excuserai pas. »

      Dans un rapport rendu public le 11 juin, le comité mixte des droits de l’homme du Parlement britannique a exhorté le gouvernement à « ne pas enfreindre ses obligations légales envers les réfugiés, les enfants et les victimes de l’esclavage moderne », et à « jouer son rôle dans le système international de protection des réfugiés ». Invitée à répondre aux questions des membres de ce comité, la ministre de l’intérieur n’a pas donné suite.

      Le rapport final, qui contient une liste de recommandations telles que le respect effectif du droit d’asile ou du droit européen (comme les mesures de la CEDH), le non-recours à la détention des migrant·es et la protection des mineur·es non accompagné·es et autres publics vulnérables, appelle le gouvernement à répondre dans les deux mois.

      Celui-ci n’y répondra sans doute pas, considérant que la lutte contre la « migration illégale » est une priorité urgente pour laquelle tous les moyens sont permis.
      La société civile ne cesse de dire son inquiétude

      « Nous sommes profondément inquiets de voir que le gouvernement prévoit d’héberger un nombre grandissant de demandeurs d’asile dans des lieux totalement inadaptés à leurs besoins », avait dénoncé dans un tweet le Refugee Council, une organisation venant en aide aux personnes migrantes et réfugiées en Angleterre, réagissant à l’annonce de l’installation de la première barge.

      Sans compter la portée symbolique associée au fait de loger des personnes ayant traversé la Manche – et potentiellement d’autres eaux – à bord d’une embarcation qui, bien qu’elle soit à quai, ne peut que raviver le souvenir d’un parcours migratoire souvent dangereux et des vies que la mer emporte régulièrement, quand elle ne renforce pas le sentiment d’insécurité lié à une potentielle expulsion.

      Le Royaume-Uni a finalement réinventé le concept de « zone d’attente », mais pour les demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile. Reste à savoir dans quelle mesure leur liberté de circulation sera respectée ou non.

      Si le gouvernement britannique assure que la portée dissuasive de son discours et de ses mesures « fonctionne », il serait bon de se pencher sur les résultats concrets d’une telle politique, qui pousse les personnes exilées à davantage de précarité : celles qui n’osent effectivement plus tenter la traversée n’ont que la perspective des camps et de la rue pour horizon, à l’heure où l’État maintient une politique « zéro point de fixation » pour éviter que la jungle de Calais ne se reforme et où l’accueil des migrant·es est toujours plus décousu.

      Celles qui tentent toutefois de rejoindre le Royaume-Uni en small boat prennent de plus en plus de risques, partant désormais de communes plus éloignées des côtes anglaises pour éviter les contrôles et patrouilles des forces de l’ordre, dont les effectifs sont particulièrement présents aux abords des plages servant de points de départ.

      L’association Utopia 56, très présente sur le littoral pour venir en aide aux exilé·es, n’a d’ailleurs pas tardé à réagir aux annonces de Rishi Sunak. « Pourtant, ces quatre derniers jours, 1 519 personnes ont traversé la Manche et nos équipes ont reçu douze appels d’embarcations en détresse. Rishi Sunak, Gérald Darmanin, malgré les effets d’annonce, vos politiques violentes ne mènent à rien, sinon à pousser les personnes à risquer leur vie », a tweeté l’organisation le 14 juin.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/160623/au-royaume-uni-des-barges-pour-parquer-les-refugies-qui-traversent-la-manc
      #Bibby_Stockholm

    • Government quietly awards travel firm £1.6bn contract for asylum barges and accommodation

      Fury over astonishing sum to operate barges and run services to house asylum seekers in Britain

      An Australian travel firm previously slammed for its handling of Covid quarantine hotels has been quietly handed a £1.6bn contract covering the UK’s new asylum accommodation ships, The Independent can reveal.

      #Corporate_Travel_Management (#CTM) was put in charge of the lucrative two-year arrangement in February, weeks before the government revealed it would use a barge as its first offshore accommodation for asylum seekers.

      The contract was awarded directly to CTM without competition, and a lawyer with knowledge of the system said the government had pushed a wider deal originally drawn up for official travel “beyond what it was intended to be used for”.

      Ministers have repeatedly refused to detail the projected cost of Rishi Sunak’s controversial asylum vessels, while insisting they will be cheaper than using hotels that are currently costing £6m a day.

      This week, Suella Braverman told parliament’s Home Affairs Committee she could not predict the cost of the new Illegal Migration Bill, because there are “many unknown factors”.

      Three vessels so far have been announced, with a barge named the “Bibby Stockholm” due to arrive in Portland, Dorset later this month and a further two ships set for undisclosed locations.

      Richard Drax, the Conservative MP for South Dorset, said the public “should know how much is being paid” on the barge set-up and said the spending he was aware of so far was “alarmingly high”.

      “The point is this is taxpayers’ money,” he told The Independent. “This contract might actually be separate to what the ports are being paid.

      “Then on top of that, the police want money, the health authority wants money, of course the council wants money, and yet the government continues to insist that this is cheaper than hotels. The overall figure will be alarmingly high.”

      Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said the Home Office has “serious questions to answer”.

      “The Tories are spending more and more taxpayers’ money on their total failure to fix the asylum backlog they have created,” she added.

      “This is an incredibly expensive contract with no clarity on whether proper procedures have been followed, and the barges come on top of costly hotels, not instead of them, because of the government failure to take asylum decisions or get any grip.”

      The CTM contract, published under the title “provision of bridging accommodation and travel services”, states that it has an estimated value of £1,593,535,200 over two years and could be extended beyond 2025.

      The Home Office refused to answer The Independent’s questions on what portion of the contract covers barges, and parts of official documents headed “pricing details” have been redacted in full because of “commercial interests”.

      John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “This murky contract leaves taxpayers in the dark. The migrant crisis may require an urgent response, but bungled procurement has cost a fortune in recent years.

      “Ministers must ensure transparency and value for money when tendering services.”

      Answering a parliamentary question on the Bibby Stockholm in May, immigration minister Robert Jenrick said it would be managed “by a specialist and experienced provider, which has a strong track record of providing this kind of accommodation”. He added that the provider had “managed two vessels [housing Ukrainian refugees] in Scottish ports for the past year”.

      On its website, CTM describes itself as “a global provider of innovative and cost-effective travel solutions spanning corporate, events, leisure, loyalty and wholesale travel”.

      The firm says it was established in Brisbane in 1994 and has since grown from a “two-person start-up into one of the world’s most successful travel management companies”, operating across Australasia, Asia, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It has two UK offices in London and Manchester.

      The firm’s most recent financial report hailed record profits, having taken A$292m (£160m) in revenue over the last six months of 2022.

      A notice to its shareholders celebrated the new contract’s “significant impact” on financial growth, adding: “This work involves highly complex services and logistic support… CTM has both the experience and specialised knowledge to support this work.”

      The government placed the new barges under a pre-existing agreement with CTM for “travel and venue solutions”, which previously covered official bookings for conferences, flights, train tickets, hotels and vehicle hire for ministers and civil servants.

      A source familiar with the drawing up of the overarching framework accused the government of “pushing the scope beyond what it was intended to be used for”.

      “If products and services are outside scope there’s a procurement failure and the contract has been awarded without following the rules,” they told The Independent. “It doesn’t look like the right vehicle for this kind of contract and it looks like they’ve done it to minimise visibility.”

      The remit of CTM’s government work was widened during the pandemic and its general manager for northern England, Michael Healy, was made an OBE in the 2021 New Year honours list over the repatriation of British nationals stranded abroad during the Covid pandemic.

      A report by parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee found that the operation was “too slow and placed too much reliance on commercial providers”, but CTM was then handed a contract for operating quarantine hotels and mandatory testing.

      In a series of angry Google reviews that dragged the company’s rating down to 1.4 stars, one person called CTM “incompetent”, while another wrote: “Shame on the Tory government UK, on whoever decided to give them this contract.”

      Several MPs raised their constituents’ poor experiences in parliament, with one presenting a formal petition demanding compensation and saying the way the contract was awarded “avoided due process or competition”.

      CTM was later involved in operations to transport Afghans and Ukrainians to the UK, and operated two cruise ships used to temporarily house Ukrainian refugees in Scotland.

      That contract, which was also awarded without competition under the same framework as the new barges, covered two ships and hotels, and had an estimated value of £100m.

      CTM declined to comment and did not answer The Independent’s request for details of what the contract covered.

      A Home Office spokesperson said: “The pressure on the asylum system has continued to grow and requires us to look at a range of accommodation options, which offer better value for money for taxpayers than hotels. It is right that we explore all available options.

      “CTM was awarded the contract to deliver accommodation for the Home Office after an extensive procurement process and has a strong track record of providing this kind of accommodation.

      “We are pleased that they will be providing management for Bibby Stockholm, the two additional vessels announced by the prime minister, as well as bridging accommodation and travel services.”

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/barge-australia-asylum-contract-travel-b2354578.html

    • Le “prigioni galleggianti”: il nuovo piano del Regno Unito per la prima accoglienza

      L’intervista a Tigs Louis-Puttick, fondatrice dell’ONG Reclaim The Sea, arrestata nei giorni scorsi durante una protesta

      Fanno discutere in UK, e non solo, le “prigioni galleggianti” volute fortemente dal primo ministro britannico Rishi Sunak e il ministro dell’Interno Suella Braverman. Una misura per risparmiare sul costo della prima accoglienza che ora prevede la sistemazione in albergo dei richiedenti asilo.

      “Bibby Stockholm” è il nome della chiatta marittima che per i prossimi 18 mesi sarà utilizzata dal governo britannico per “ospitare” fino a 506 richiedenti asilo uomini, tra i 18 e i 56 anni, in attesa che si concluda l’iter della domanda di accoglienza nel Paese.

      Abbiamo parlato del nuovo piano del governo britannico e della campagna “No floating prisons” in questa intervista a Tigs Louis-Puttick, fondatrice dell’ONG Reclaim The Sea. L’attivista il 18 luglio scorso è stata arrestata «per essermi fermata in strada davanti al Ministero degli Interni con un cartello che diceva ‘Refugees Welcome’ e ‘No all’Immigration Bill, No Floating Prisons‘», ha dichiarato Tigs Louis-Puttick 1.

      Nello stesso giorno la “Bibby Stockholm” attraccava nel porto di Portland.

      Il nuovo piano del governo britannico prevede la prima accoglienza di 500 persone richiedenti asilo in una gigantesca chiatta-alloggio ancorata in un porto nel Canale della Manica, violando la libertà di movimento e il diritto alla privacy.

      Il 5 aprile 2023 l’Ufficio degli Interni britannico (Home Office) ha annunciato l’avvio di un piano per “accogliere” le persone migranti su una gigantesca chiatta-alloggio (la Bibby Stockhom), che giacerà all’interno del porto dell’isola di Portland, nel Canale della Manica. Secondo quanto dichiarato, la decisione è stata presa per “(…) ridurre l’insostenibile pressione sul sistema d’asilo britannico e ridurre l’onere economico che pesa sui contribuenti, causato dall’aumento significativo degli attraversamenti del Canale della Manica” 2. Da quanto emerge dalle dichiarazioni ufficiali dell’Home Office, la Bibby Stockholm diventerà operativa da luglio per un periodo iniziale di 18 mesi, e ospiterà fino a 500 richiedenti asilo uomini, tra i 18 e i 65 anni. La chiatta giacerà in un’area cosiddetta “protetta” del porto, da dove sarà possibile uscire e accedere al centro abitato solamente tramite un servizio autobus dedicato. A bordo, sarà presente un servizio di lavanderia, un catering per i pasti e degli spazi comuni. Sebbene sarà permesso scendere e accedere terra ferma, al momento, per gli ospiti, non è prevista l’erogazione di alcun servizio relativo all’accoglienza al di fuori del porto 3.

      È più che evidente come, l’Home Office miri alla limitazione della libertà di movimento delle persone migranti, riducendola ai minimi termini. Secondo quanto stimato da The Independent lo spazio che ogni persona avrà a disposizione sulla chiatta sarà di appena 15 metri quadri, “la misura di un posto auto”.

      Richard Drax, esponente del partito Conservatore britannico, l’ha definita una “quasi-prigione”, dove le persone saranno lasciate “sedute a girarsi i pollici”. Secondo James Wilson, direttore dell’organizzazione Detention Action (che fornisce supporto all’interno dei centri di detenzione per l’immigrazione illegale), non è che “(…) una chiatta angusta e simile ad una prigione” 4. E, a ragion del vero, è lo stesso Home Office, in diverse dichiarazioni ufficiali, a dichiarare esplicitamente la propria intenzione di “minimizzare l’impatto sulle comunità locali”, come dichiarato nel comunicato stampa del 5 aprile 2023, e ribadito, a più riprese nella Scheda Informativa disponibile sul proprio sito ufficiale.

      Di fronte all’ennesimo scenario di un sistema d’accoglienza sempre più restrittivo e non curante dei diritti delle persone richiedenti asilo, c’è chi non è rimasto indifferente e, anzi, ha dato il via ad una vera e propria lotta per i diritti delle persone migranti. In un’intervista per Melting Pot, parla Tigs Louis-Puttick, fondatrice dell’ONG Reclaim The Sea, che, fornendo lezioni di nuoto e surf alle persone migranti, ha l’obiettivo di accrescere la loro qualità di vita, e aiutarle trasformare il mare da un evento traumatico a uno spazio di libertà e guarigione. A maggio, Reclaimthesea ha redatto una lettera aperta a Suella Braverman, Segretaria di Stato per gli Affari Interni, domandando l’abbandono del progetto, firmata da 706 individui e 91 organizzazioni e collettivi, tra cui Medici Senza Frontiere UK e Sea-Watch. Lo scorso 21 maggio, insieme all’ONG Europe Must Act, Reclaimthesea ha guidato una protesta di fronte all’Home Office, e dato il via alla campagna “No floating prisons” (No alle prigioni galleggianti), che comprende una serie attività ed eventi di protesta e sensibilizzazione.

      https://twitter.com/Reclaim_The_Sea/status/1657692409671630849

      «Abbiamo deciso di chiamare la campagna di protesta No floating prisons per l’approccio generale che ne rispecchia il carattere di questi luoghi. L’attuale processo di ristrutturazione della chiatta prevede l’aumento dei posti da 220 a 500, il che vorrà dire stipare le persone in pochissimo spazio, violando la loro privacy e il diritto allo spazio personale. Il piano è che, direttamente al loro arrivo, le persone saranno sistemate sulla chiatta, che pare non sarà nemmeno attraccata alla terraferma. Inoltre, Portland è un porto chiuso, recintato, non si può entrare ed uscire liberamente. Le autorità potrebbero arbitrariamente decidere di negare il permesso a lasciare il porto e, siccome è un porto privato, non abbiamo controllo sulle decisioni delle autorità, ne possiamo essere certi che daranno informazioni».

      Sui rischi delle prigioni galleggianti, Tigs dice: «La quasi totalità delle persone migranti presenti nel Regno Unito, hanno dovuto affrontare un attraversamento in mare, che sia dalla Libia all’Italia, dalla Turchia alla Grecia o il Canale della Manica. Molti di loro, hanno vissuto qualche tipo di trauma legato al mare. Per ciò, l’idea di farli stare ancora in una barca equivale letteralmente a relegarli nel reale, fisico luogo del trauma. Inoltre, solo il 25% degli uomini e il 18% delle donne provenienti dall’Africa Orientale (area di provenienza di molti dei richiedenti asilo nel Regno Unito) sa nuotare. Dunque, se per qualsiasi motivo qualcuno dovesse cadere in acqua dalla barca o dal molo, rischierebbe seriamente la morte, anche per via delle temperature gelide. Infine, molti hanno vissuto momenti di prigionia nei loro paesi d’origine o nei paesi transito. Arrivano qui e ciò che li aspetta è praticamente un’altra prigione».

      La preoccupazione delle prigioni galleggianti è anche legata all’accordo tra Regno Unito e Rwanda, che prevede la ricollocazione permanente dei richiedenti asilo arrivati irregolarmente nel Regno Unito al Rwanda, affinché la loro domanda d’asilo venga esaminata lì 5. «E’ sostanzialmente una sala d’attesa per chi sarà portato in Rwanda, che non è un paese sicuro, poiché ci sono già tantissimi rifugiati e poche risorse. Come si può pensare di portare qualcuno, che per esempio viene dall’Afghanistan, in Rwanda? Cosa faranno lì? Tutto ciò è solo un’esternalizzazione in stile coloniale delle responsabilità del Regno Unito verso il diritto all’ asilo. Ci preoccupa davvero il fatto che queste persone, possano essere spinte al suicidio, perché capiranno che stanno aspettando solo di essere deportate».

      Infine, secondo Tigs «ciò che sta facendo il Regno Unito fa parte di una tendenza più ampia che sta nascendo in Europa, copiata da Grecia e Italia, quando tenevano le persone in quarantena su una nave durante la pandemia. Nel 2021 ho preso parte ad una missione di soccorso con Sea Watch, siamo arrivati al porto di Trapani con 200 persone a bordo, dopo 12 giorni di navigazione, e un’enorme nave ci stava aspettando, per trasferire le persone dalla nostra imbarcazione. Le persone non volevano andare. Volevano scendere a terra. Avevano paura di cosa avrebbero trovato, di restare in acqua, di sentirsi male».

      In conclusione, sebbene sia la prima volta che il Regno Unito decida di adottare un sistema del genere, tenere le persone migranti il più possibile segregate rispetto alla popolazione locale, riducendo il loro spazio vitale al minimo, operare a risparmio sull’accoglienza ed esternalizzare le frontiere non rappresenta alcuna novità. Al contrario, è solo l’ennesimo triste passo verso una tendenza consolidata, dei democraticissimi stati europei, di lavarsi le mani dal dovere di salvare vite umane, accogliere, e rispettare il diritto all’asilo.

      E’ possibile seguire la campagna e donare per sostenere la campagna contro le prigioni galleggianti e avviare un’azione legale contro lo stato britannico a questo link: https://tr.ee/74EHZPD4rz .

      https://www.meltingpot.org/2023/07/le-prigioni-galleggianti-il-nuovo-piano-del-regno-unito-per-la-prima-acc

    • ‘Cabins slightly larger than a prison cell’: life aboard the UK’s barge for asylum seekers

      Home Office tour of asylum seeker Bibby Stockholm barge emphasises no-frills features including TVs that don’t work

      Each two-person cabin in the Bibby Stockholm barge, which is set to start accommodating asylum seekers imminently, has a small flat-screen television screwed to the wall opposite the bunk beds. Residents will not, however, be able to watch them because they have not been wired to anything.

      The timeline for the arrival of the first group of 50 asylum seekers has slipped from next week to “the coming weeks”, with the Home Office aiming to increase the number of occupants (or “service users”, as barge staff term them) to 500 by the autumn.

      Organising tours for journalists on Friday of the 222-cabin barge moored in Portland Port, Dorset, presented government officials with a PR conundrum.

      To underline that reliance on expensive hotel accommodation was being reduced, conditions needed to be shown to be less luxurious than hotels but not so austere that the barge could be classified as a floating prison.

      Officials have refused to provide any detail about the figures behind their assertion that the barge accommodation will be considerably cheaper than hotel rooms.

      When the facility finally opens, arrivals will make their way on to the barge via a gangplank, and through airport-style security. In line with the Home Office’s prevailing dislike of friendly murals and pictures, asylum seekers will be greeted by plain, undecorated walls, though a simple laminated A4 sheet stating “welcome” has been stuck on the wall of the reception room.

      Windowless corridors, narrow enough to trail your fingers along both walls as you walk through them, circle the perimeter of the barge, with about 50 rooms on the long edges. Empty of inhabitants, the very confined space feels clean and cool, with an atmosphere vaguely reminiscent of a faded cross-Channel ferry.

      Single-person cabins have been refitted with bunk beds to double the potential capacity of the vessel. Each cabin is slightly larger in size than a prison cell, a bit smaller than the most basic university accommodation, and is fitted with a shower and toilet, a cupboard, mirror, desk and (staff are keen to point this out as a positive feature) a window.

      There was a subtle difference in approach taken by the Home Office employees giving tours to journalists and the representatives of the firm subcontracted to manage the barge.

      Government officials were keen to emphasise the barge’s low-cost appeal, but staff working for the Miami-based Landry & Kling, which has been subcontracted by the Australian firm Corporate Travel Management (CTM) to run the vessel on behalf of the Home Office, wanted to highlight the “dignified” treatment that would be provided: a 24-hour snack bar, planned visits to local allotments, proposed walks and cycle trips for residents.

      Joyce Landry, the firm’s cofounder, valiantly described the Bibby Stockholm in an interview earlier this week with the Herald as “actually quite lovely”.

      In the centre of the barge there are two smallish outdoor areas where nets are soon to be installed to allow people to play volleyball or netball and possibly a very contracted form of football. There is a small gym with two running machines, and an education room with just eight seats.

      “The thing that puts this vessel above many others is that every room has a window. You won’t feel claustrophobic. The windows open, unlike in some hotels. There’s enough public space to have a sense of freedom and openness,” said a Landry & Kling staff member.

      The windows offer views of high metal fencing and naval works units. Whether or not residents, single men aged 18-65, who will be held here for up to nine months, will agree that there is a sense of freedom and openness is a moot point. Security staff are being trained to manage conflict on board.

      In the street by the port’s entrance local protesters have been displaying their anger about the barge all week, with some furious at the arrival of large numbers of asylum seekers so close to the small tourist town, and others protesting that asylum seekers should not be held on barges at all.

      Landry has spent the past three nights sleeping on the barge to experience conditions. A windy night prompted staff to request extra tethering to fix the barge to the shore.

      Landry & Kling staff said the Home Office had requested that the TVs (previously used by construction workers recently accommodated on the barge) should not be wired up.

      The Home Office staff said they wanted “to promote socialisation” by forcing people out of their rooms to watch television together in the two communal TV rooms.

      But the presence of non-functioning TVs may also signal a determination by the Home Office to show that its latest solution for housing asylum seekers is merely “basic and functional” and will offer no frills to residents.

      Before it housed oil and construction workers, the Bibby Stockholm was used in the 2000s by the Netherlands to house asylum seekers. An Amnesty report from 2008 documented the psychological trauma experienced by residents.

      The rare Home Office tour of facilities was designed to showcase progress away from housing 51,000 asylum seekers in hotels at a cost of £6m a day to a cheaper alternative.

      However, plans have only been laid out for alternative accommodation for 3,000 people who they now hope will be moved to new, ex-military facilities and the barge by the autumn.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/jul/21/life-aboard-bibby-stockholm-asylum-seeker-barge-home-office-tour

    • ‘No timeframe’ on delayed opening of Bibby Stockholm asylum barge

      Transport minister says barge in Portland going through final checks amid row over safety concerns

      A UK government minister has said he “cannot put a timeframe” on when the Home Office will open a controversial giant barge meant to house asylum seekers, which has been further delayed for checks.

      The initial plan had been to move people on to the Bibby Stockholm in Portland, Dorset, from this week, with numbers due to rise over the coming months until the vessel held about 500 men.

      Asked on Sky News when the barge would be available, the transport minister Richard Holden said: “It’s going through its final checks at the moment. It’s right that … whatever accommodation we provide is safe and secure as well. I can’t put a timeframe on it.”

      Asked if safety concerns were delaying the opening, he said: “It’s going through final checks at the moment. With anything you would want them to be properly checked out.”

      The Guardian reported on Monday that the first asylum seekers were due to be moved onboard the vessel on Wednesday but that seems to have been delayed further with the minister now unwilling to put a timeframe on the move.

      Asked if it would be delayed as long as the Rwanda policy had taken to implement, Holden added: “I can’t comment on the ongoing process of checks and things that have to take place but it is my understanding (it is) in its final checks.”

      Fears had been expressed that the barge could become a “floating Grenfell” and endanger the lives of vulnerable people who have fled hardship and war as it has not received the relevant safety signoff.

      About 40 claimants staying in other Home Office accommodation had received transfer letters saying they would be moved to the 222-cabin vessel in Dorset, Whitehall sources said.

      More than 50 national organisations and campaigners, including the Refugee Council, Asylum Matters and Refugee Action, have called the government’s plan “cruel and inhumane”. They said the vessel was “entirely inappropriate” and would house traumatised migrants in “detention-like conditions”.

      People are meanwhile expected to be moved this week on to another site that has become a focus for protest, the disused RAF base in Wethersfield, Essex.

      Local people who attended an event convened by the Home Office in the village complained on Monday night of coming away even more frustrated because of what they said was a lack of answers.

      “It was actually embarrassing. They didn’t pass a microphone around and it seemed to be really badly organised so people just ended up shouting to be heard,” said Michelle Chapman, of the Fields Association, a residents group involved in a campaign against the centre.

      “It ended up being quite heated and people just came away feeling frustrated. If there was one answer it was a pledge that they would not bring in any more than 50 people in one go, but there is still confusion here and genuine anxiety.”

      The meeting, held in the village hall, was addressed by senior police officers as well as Home Office officials. Local council officials were also present at the meeting, where Chapman said there was standing room only.

      A Home Office spokesperson said that delivering accommodation on surplus military sites and vessels would provide cheaper and more suitable accommodation for those arriving in the UK in small boats.

      They added: “The first asylum seekers have now been accommodated at Wethersfield and we are working with stakeholders on a carefully structured plan to increase the number staying there in a phased approach.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/aug/01/no-timeframe-on-delayed-opening-of-bibby-stockholm-asylum-barge

    • Transfer of asylum seekers to ‘floating coffin’ Bibby Stockholm postponed

      Nicola David of campaign group One Life to Live documents the reasons why Bibby Stockholm is being recognised as a potential death trap

      With the first asylum seekers due to step aboard Bibby Stockholm this week, the controversy surrounding the Home Office’s decision to contain people on the barge has further escalated. Serious safety questions are being raised about the barge’s setting, a berth at the Langham Industries-run Portland Port. As a direct consequence, the initial transfer of 40 vulnerable adults to Bibby Stockholm has been postponed. I calculate that delays to date have already cost the taxpayer over £3mn.

      This is the first time that asylum seekers are to be contained on a barge in the UK, and the scheme is already mired in misery. There were significant delays in dry dock, where rotten sections of the hull needed replacing. And my report found that keeping people on the barge won’t cost less than in hotels, which is the crux of the Home Office’s strategy.

      Now, I have found that the 47-year-old vessel has not yet passed fire safety checks, and there are grave concerns over serious and unresolved (and potentially unresolvable) safety and fire risks. There also appears to be confusion over which safety regulations will apply, given that the site straddles the sea and land and the engine-less vessel is effectively a hotel.

      Clear evidence is emerging that the decision to transfer vulnerable adults onto Bibby Stockholm was premature at best – and potentially negligent at worst. And politically, if safety concerns require the Home Office to significantly reduce the number of people on board, the cost per head would be a humiliating blow to the prime minister and home secretary, who are counting on large-scale containment sites such as this to put an end to the daily asylum seeker hotel bill.
      Bibby Stockholm: a disaster waiting to happen

      Bibby Stockholm was designed to hold 222 people in single cabins, but was recently reconfigured to hold 506 asylum seekers in multiple-occupancy rooms along with 40 resident staff. A further 20 staff will live off the barge; with some of these on duty, around 550 people could be on board at any time.

      This is 248% of the intended capacity – and more than the previous maximum of 472 asylum seekers held when the same vessel was used as an immigration detention centre in Rotterdam in 2005. I am also left wondering whether the barge’s insurers can have extended its cover to this permit this level of overcrowding, and whether they would refuse public liability claims for injury, death or damage from asylum seekers, staff or the port.

      Asylum seekers sharing small cabins will have “less living space than an average parking bay”, according to the Independent. The mayor of Portland, Carralyn Parkes, measured the cabins and found that those for two people averaged “about 10ft by 12ft”. This could lead to serious problems with exiting rooms, using corridors, and accessing fire exits – and it is not clear whether there are sufficient fire exits for the new, higher population.

      The width of the corridors on board is not publicly known, but following a tour of the barge the Guardian reported that they are “narrow enough to trail your fingers along both walls as you walk”. Given the excess numbers of people, this could result in deadly delays, bottlenecks, and trampling of fallen people.

      Bibby Stockholm has three floors and all of the corridors are configured in the same way. There are no external windows in the corridors, and in an emergency – particularly if smoke and/or dim lighting affect visibility – it is easy to imagine that people might become disoriented or be unable to locate the bow, stern, port or starboard sides. This could cause delays and increase panic.

      Factors that would impede escape

      Asylum seekers may have prior injuries relating to war, conflict or persecution, or may sustain injuries as direct result of an incident on the barge. In 2005, when a fire broke out at a Dutch detention centre in which 11 people died and 15 were injured, one man “suffered injuries to his neck, shoulders and chest when he fell from his bed … in panic after realising that the detention centre was on fire”. Either type of injury could impede escape in a major incident. Additionally, those suffering from the mental trauma of war, conflict or persecution may be less able to process evacuation and safety instructions.

      Local councillors who visited the barge on 27 July reported that there were also no lifejackets on the vessel. The windows on board can be opened, but it is understood that this is restricted and would not allow a person to escape in an emergency. Barge operator Landry & Kling also told journalists that there would be no fire drills on Bibby Stockholm.

      Any emergency would be further compounded by the presence of asylum seekers whose first language is not English, or who speak no English, and may struggle to understand verbal evacuation and safety instructions, especially in a state of panic.
      Access for emergency vehicles

      I am very concerned about the capacity of the small quayside compound, which could not possibly hold 550 people in an evacuation. To prevent asylum seekers leaving the site or walking around on the port, this compound is surrounded by a fence at least 15 feet high and is accessible only via two sets of locked gates. In a crush, people simply couldn’t get out. There is significant potential for a Hillsborough-like crush situation.

      The only way for emergency vehicles to access the vessel would be via this compound. Locked gates could be a problem; even with access, how would first-responders and ambulances get through large numbers of panicked people crowding into the enclosed area?

      Physical condition of Bibby Stockholm

      Bibby Stockholm was built in 1976. According to a recent FT article:

      “The hull was rotten … in places the steel hull had decayed to the point where it was dangerously thin, necessitating the replacement of entire sections … Bibby Stockholm was late out of Falmouth for good reasons, mostly age-related.”

      The repair work done at Falmouth may have fixed the localised problems, and the barge may (as the FT found) have passed its Lloyd’s inspections, but the rot and repairs may have undermined the overall structural integrity of the hull.

      This could leave the barge open to being adversely affected by extreme weather, including being knocked against the berth, or by the weight of the additional residents plus the commensurate additional furniture and stores.
      Complexity around safety

      The barge scheme straddles both water and land, rendering safety inspections and certification more complex and potentially confusing. At least five agencies are involved:

      Lloyd’s Register of Shipping
      The Maritime and Coastguard Agency
      Dorset Council, which regulates the safety of the barge
      The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which regulates the surrounding quayside
      Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.

      Health and safety concerns

      In the week commencing 24 July, the HSE visited the berth at Portland Port. It found that “a lot” of work was still required to be done by both Bibby Marine and Landry & Kling, the US-based subcontractor for operations.

      Landry & Kling co-founder Joyce Landry has claimed in an interview in The Herald that “fears about the conditions on board have been caused by a lack of accurate information,” and that Bibby Stockholm is “actually quite lovely”.

      Mark Davies, head of communications and campaigns at the Refugee Council, expressed concern, saying:

      “Like most people in the UK, we believe people seeking asylum – the vast majority of whom are refugees fleeing unimaginable horrors – should be treated with decency, respect and humanity. These are values people in Britain hold dear.”

      A 27 July report in the Guardian, highlighting some of these safety concerns, includes a statement from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service which indicates that they are not yet satisfied with arrangements at the barge. They said they had “conducted visits to review fire safety arrangements on the Bibby Stockholm” and were continuing to liaise with other authorities “to ensure that appropriate fire safety measures under relevant legislation are in place”.
      Questions for the home secretary

      On 18 July it was reported that Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset, has said:

      “For months, I have been asking for sight of the safety risk assessments that should have been done to allow the Bibby Stockholm to be used in Portland Harbour … But visibility or assurances that adequate safety risk assessments have been completed have not been received.”

      Loder has written to the home secretary Suella Braverman and transport minister Baroness Vere to ask that they either stop the scheme or provide the necessary safety risk assessments confirming that the vessel can cope with double the weight that it was designed to bear.

      In May 2023, a caller named Mark told David Lammy MP on LBC Radio: “What they are effectively doing here is they are creating a potential Grenfell on water, a floating coffin … If there is a fire, people will die. In this case, people won’t die from the smoke or the flames, they will die from the stampede.”
      A failure both of competence and humanity

      The Home Office announced its intention to create a series of asylum seeker containment sites last year, but failed at the first hurdle with the cancelled plans for Linton-on-Ouse. The RAF Scampton and RAF Wethersfield sites now have permission to push ahead with a judicial review. Regardless, Scampton has been delayed until October, since the Home Office has failed for five months to survey the accommodation buildings and to engage tradespeople.

      At Wethersfield (the only large-scale site to have received any asylum seekers so far) there are cases of tuberculosis, scurvy and scabies. Legal action on human rights grounds is certain to follow at all sites, involving misery for individuals and a burden for the public purse.

      The Home Office appears to be embarrassingly unable to set up and manage these sites, or to show any humanity towards deeply vulnerable people. It certainly cannot deliver value for money. It is time for the Home Office to hire more asylum caseworkers to process the shameful backlog, and to put an end to large-scale containment – before we start to see them shifting into concentration-like detention centres.

      https://yorkshirebylines.co.uk/news/home-affairs/transfer-of-asylum-seekers-to-floating-coffin-bibby-stockholm-po
      #sécurité

    • Bibby Stockholm: First asylum seekers to board UK’s controversial barge despite safety warnings

      Fire Bridges Union (FBU) have brand Bibby Stockholm a ’potential deathtrap,’ while leaked health document warns of a potential diphtheria outbreak.

      The first 50 asylum seekers will board the controversial Bibby Stockholm barge “imminently," the British government told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme.

      The announcement comes just days after the Fire Bridges Union (FBU) raised concerns about overcrowding and fire exit access in a letter to the Home Secretary.

      The Bibby Stockholm, a 222-cabin barge moored off Portland port in Dorset, is anticipated to accommodate double its original capacity, with bunkbeds squeezed into single cabins.

      Narrow corridors, a lack of life jackets, and locked gates could create a “Hillsborough-type crush” and make it a “potential deathtrap,” the FBU warned.

      The evacuation point, a compound on the quayside, has been described by Dorset councillors as “completely inappropriate".

      “Firefighting operations on vessels such as the Bibby Stockholm provide significant challenges and require specialist training and safe systems of work. The diminished safety provisions only exacerbate our operational concerns,” Ben Selby, the assistant general Secretary of the FBU wrote.

      A leaked internal health document has also warned of the potential for “a significant outbreak” of diphtheria aboard the boat.

      It also highlighted the risk of the spread of a number of other infectious diseases including TB, Legionnaires’ disease, norovirus, salmonella, and scabies.

      The first group of asylum seekers was initially intended to arrive last Tuesday, but the date was pushed to this week amid health and safety concerns.

      The Home Office had already been forced to delay the first arrivals onto the vessel in order to carry out last-minute fire safety checks, after an intervention by health and safety officials.

      On Sunday, Shadow Immigration Minister Stephen Kinnock said the opposition Labour Party would have “no choice” but to continue housing asylum seekers on barges if it forms the next government.

      The news comes amid a raft of new anti-migration measures including a huge increase in fines for landlords and employers who house or employ undocumented migrants, and the revival of plans to fly asylum seekers to Ascension Island.
      Floating prisons

      The move to house asylum seekers on the barge in “detention-like conditions” has been condemned by over 50 national organisations and campaigners for being “cruel and inhumane".

      “(This) floating prison is very quickly going to turn into an overcrowded camp like Manston,” a member of Action Against Detention and Deportations (ADD) told MEE, referring to the short-term facility in Kent that was dangerously overcrowded.

      “There’s also a concern about how this might affect deportation,” they said.

      “We know that the Home Office cuts a lot of different admin procedures where they can, any route they can go through to detain people easily, they will do so… having that number of people in unsafe conditions… is a big concern.”

      It is the first time a large floating structure has been used as long-term housing for asylum seekers in the UK. In 2008, Algerian national Rachid Abdelsalam died from heart failure aboard the Bibby Stockholm when it was deployed in the Netherlands.

      Reportedly, guards were warned of his deteriorating condition and treated his heart irregularities with cough syrup.

      In 2022, also in the Netherlands, a major typhoid outbreak aboard an ageing cruise liner infected 52 asylum seekers and saw 20 staff members hospitalised after raw sewage contaminated the drinking water.
      No basic protections

      In the same letter, the FBU also expressed concerns about the government’s plans to exempt asylum seeker accommodation from requirements for a Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) license.

      In May this year, the Guardian reported the government plans to exempt asylum seeker accommodation from basic protections that govern HMOs in order to empty hotels of thousands of asylum seekers and transfer them to the private rented sector.

      The proposed changes would lift restrictions on electrical safety and minimum room sizes, and exempt landlords renting to multiple asylum seekers from requiring an HMO license for two years.

      “To strip away the very basic protections currently in place is appalling, allowing rogue landlords to house vulnerable men, women, and children in dangerous accommodation," a Refugee Council spokesperson told MEE.

      Care4Calais CEO Steve Smith told MEE that the plans treated asylum seekers as “second-class citizens.”

      “HMO licences exist for a reason,” Smith said.

      “Without them, people’s lives would be placed in the hands of unscrupulous landlords who are driven by money rather than providing safe and secure housing for tenants.”

      https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/bibby-stockholm-uk-asylum-seekers-board-controversial-barge

    • First occupants of Bibby Stockholm barge taken onboard

      First asylum seekers to be housed on floating accommodation in Portland, Dorset, have arrived

      The first group of asylum seekers due to be housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, have been taken onboard.

      Buses were seen arriving at Portland on Monday morning as activists gathered at the entrance with “welcome” signs. About 50 asylum seekers are expected on Monday.

      The UK government wants to use barges and former military bases to accommodate some asylum seekers after the cost of housing them in hotels soared to £1.9bn pounds last year.

      Their arrival came amid confusion over the government’s immigration policies at the start of Rishi Sunak’s “small boats week”, during which the government is planning a series of eye-catching announcements.

      A Home Office minister indicated that up to 500 asylum seekers could be onboard by the end of the week. But No 10 appeared to suggest that the minister had misspoken. The same minister indicated that the Home Office was examining proposals to send asylum seekers to a UK territory in the south Atlantic. However, Whitehall sources said the proposal was not being pursued.

      The Bibby Stockholm was docked off the Dorset coast nearly three weeks ago and had been empty since due to health and safety concerns.

      The minister for safeguarding, Sarah Dines, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while only a small number of asylum seekers were expected to be housed on the barge at first, it could increase rapidly to its capacity of about 500.

      Pressed on whether all of them could be onboard by the end of the week, Dines said: “Yes, quite possibly it will be 500. We are hoping.”

      She said the increase in the number of people on the ship would be gradual, despite concerns from the Fire Brigades Union that the vessel “is a deathtrap”.

      Later, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “Numbers will increase over time as you would expect for any new asylum facility. My understanding is that the Bibby Stockholm has an upward capacity of 500. We are looking to [reach] that number over time – I don’t think we are aiming to do it by the weekend.”

      Dines also claimed that ministers were “looking at everything” when asked about headlines in national newspapers claiming the government was looking again at sending asylum seekers to Ascension Island.

      Whitehall sources have indicated the plans are not being pursued. The prime minister’s official spokesperson would not comment on “speculation”.

      Ministers have repeatedly said the barge will be better value for British taxpayers and more manageable for local communities – a claim challenged by refugee charities. There has been local opposition to the plan because of concerns about the asylum seekers’ welfare, as well as the potential impact on local services.

      The refugee charity Care4Calais said it had stopped 20 people from being forced to board the barge so far, with referrals coming in from hotels by the hour.

      “None of the asylum seekers we are supporting have gone to the Bibby Stockholm today as legal representatives have had their transfers cancelled,” Steve Smith, the charity’s CEO, said.

      “Among our clients are people who are disabled, who have survived torture and modern slavery and who have had traumatic experiences at sea. To house any human being in a ‘quasi floating prison’ like the Bibby Stockholm is inhumane. To try and do so to this group of people is unbelievably cruel.”

      More than 15,000 asylum seekers have arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the Channel, official figures show.

      On Friday and Saturday 339 people made the journey after an eight-day hiatus amid poor weather conditions at sea, taking the provisional total for 2023 to date to 15,071.

      Amnesty International UK condemned using the barge to house asylum seekers. Steve Valdez-Symonds, the charity’s refugee and migrant rights director, said: “It seems there’s nothing this government won’t do to make people seeking asylum feel unwelcome and unsafe in this country.

      “Reminiscent of the prison hulks from the Victorian era, the Bibby Stockholm is an utterly shameful way to house people who’ve fled terror, conflict and persecution. Housing people on a floating barge is likely to be re-traumatising and there should be major concerns about confining each person to living quarters the typical size of a car parking space.”

      The government hopes the use of the barge and former military bases to house asylum seekers will reduce the cost of hotel bills.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/aug/07/first-occupants-of-bibby-stockholm-barge-taken-onboard?CMP=share_btn_tw

    • Bibby Stockholm: Asylum seekers describe life on barge

      Some of the first group of men to board the Bibby Stockholm have described their first 24 hours on the barge.

      One asylum seeker told the BBC it was like a prison and felt there wasn’t enough room to accommodate up to 500 people onboard, as the government plans.

      The Home Office says the barge will provide better value for the taxpayer as pressure on the asylum system from small boats arrivals continues to grow.

      Moored in Portland Port, Dorset, it is the first barge secured under the government’s plans to reduce the cost of asylum accommodation.

      Monday saw the first 15 asylum seekers board the Bibby Stockholm after a series of delays over safety concerns. It will house men aged 18 to 65 while they await the outcome of their asylum applications.

      An Afghan asylum seeker, whom the BBC is not identifying, said: "The sound of locks and security checks gives me the feeling of entering Alcatraz prison.

      “My roommate panicked in the middle of the night and felt like he was drowning. There are people among us who have been given heavy drugs for depression by the doctor here.”

      He said he had been given a small room, and the dining hall had capacity for fewer than 150 people.

      “Like a prison, it [the barge] has entrance and exit gates, and at some specific hours, we have to take a bus, and after driving a long distance, we go to a place where we can walk. We feel very bad,” the man added.

      There is 24/7 security in place on board the Bibby Stockholm and asylum seekers are issued with ID swipe cards and have to pass through airport-style security scans to get on and off.

      Asylum seekers are expected to take a shuttle bus to the port exit for security reasons. There is no curfew, but if they aren’t back there will be a “welfare call”.

      The Home Office has said it would support their welfare by providing basic healthcare, organised activities and recreation.

      The first group of men arrived on Monday. The Care4Calais charity said it was providing legal support to a further 20 asylum seekers who refused to move to Portland and are challenging the decision.

      On Tuesday, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Griffiths, said that moving to the barge was “not a choice” and if people choose not to comply “they will be taken outside of the asylum support system”.

      “Many of us entered Britain nine to 11 months ago, by airplane. Some of us applied for asylum at the airport. We did not come by boat,” the Afghan man said.

      "It has been two weeks since we received a letter in which they threatened that if we do not agree to go, our aid and NHS will be cut off.

      “There are people among us who take medicine. We accepted. We waited for two weeks and didn’t even have time to bring clean clothes.”

      Another man who boarded the vessel on Monday told the BBC he had arrived in the UK on an aircraft, had a wife still in Iran and had been in Britain for six months.

      The man - whom the BBC is not identifying - said he had eaten a “good” breakfast which included “eggs, cheese, jam and butter”.

      The government says it is spending £6m per day housing more than 50,000 migrants in hotels.

      A Home Office spokesperson said: “This marks a further step forward in the government’s work to bring forward alternative accommodation options as part of its pledge to reduce the use of expensive hotels and move to a more orderly, sustainable system which is more manageable for local communities.”

      “This is a tried-and-tested approach that mirrors that taken by our European neighbours, the Scottish government and offers better value for the British taxpayer,” they added.

      The Home Office says that by the autumn, they aim to house about 3,000 asylum seekers in places that aren’t hotels - such as the barge, and former military sites Wethersfield, in Essex, and Scampton, in Lincolnshire.

      https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-66444120

    • Moment Bibby Stockholm barge migrants are EVACUATED amid fears of Legionnaires’ disease - just DAYS after asylum seekers moved aboard in Dorset

      - All 39 asylum seekers onboard Bibby Stockholm barge were evacuated today
      - It comes after first 15 men boarded vessel in Portland, Dorset, just four days ago

      This the moment asylum seekers were driven away from the Bibby Stockholm after deadly legionella bacteria was found in the migrant barge’s water system.

      All 39 migrants onboard the controversial vessel were evacuated today - just four days after the first 15 men stepped onto it in Portland, Dorset - and are being moved to the same hotel, according to The Independent.

      A 40-seater coach, which had been shuttling migrants to and from Weymouth, was seen leaving today. Inside were two men sat in the middle who turned their faces away from onlookers at the port.

      Other footage of the Bibby Stockholm showed people arriving and leaving this afternoon - with ten people seen walking up a ramp and entering while others left.

      Routine tests of the barge’s water supply were reportedly carried out on July 25 but the results only came back when asylum seekers began boarding the barge on Monday, according to Sky News. The results showed levels of legionella bacteria ’which require further investigation’.

      Home Office sources say they were not made aware of the results until Wednesday, with further tests being carried out on Thursday.

      The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) advised the Government on Thursday evening to remove all six people that arrived on the Bibby Stockholm that day, but the Home Office decided to evacuate all 39 as a precaution.

      The harmful bacteria can cause a serious lung infection called Legionnaires’ disease, which can happen when breathing in tiny droplets of water containing the bacteria.

      Although nobody onboard had shown symptoms of the disease, officials insisted that all migrants be disembarked while further assessments are carried out.

      A letter from the Home Office that was leaked to the Guardian has reportedly informed asylum seekers that they will be tested for Legionnaires diseases if they do begin to show symptoms.

      The migrants will be taken to hotels which are said to be far from Weymouth, where few rooms are available during the height of the school summer holidays.

      One Syrian migrant onboard the barge told MailOnline this afternoon that he had not been given any information and had not been told to leave. He said: ’The place is very empty but no one has said anything to us. We will have to wait and see, but it is worrying.’

      But the migrants were later told they would be evacuated. It comes after health officials ordered six new arrivals to be removed yesterday.

      Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick is said to be holding meetings to discuss the barge, which the Government hoped would house up to 500 migrants. Local councillors have vowed not to see the boat back in use.

      With a capacity of up to 506, the Government is still hoping that use of the Bibby Stockholm, together with former military bases, will help reduce the £6million a day it is spending on hotel bills for asylum seekers.

      But opponents have claimed the barge is unsafe and a ’floating prison’, while lawyers of some migrants due to board this week have successfully argued to allow them to stay in hotels.

      It was only four days ago that the first 15 men were taken onboard the vessel.

      Support workers, who have spoken to some on board, claimed the asylum seekers were not being kept informed about what was happening.

      Heather Jones, of the Portland Friendship Group which is supporting the migrants, said: ’I have had texts and phone conversations from some of them and they are still on board, they haven’t been evacuated yet.

      ’Nobody has told them anything. They have had to ask me what the problem is. One of them was really concerned because he had just drunk a glass of water and he was asking me if he was going to be OK.

      ’I told him it is probably a precautionary measure but they shouldn’t be hearing it from me.

      ’They don’t know where they are being taken to. Hopefully it will be back to the hotels where they have come from.’

      There was a small group of campaigners from Stand Up To Racism at the port entrance holding placards saying ’Legionella death trap’ and ’human rights’.

      Lynne Hubbard, from the group, said: ’The Home Office have admitted they carried on admitting asylum seekers on the barge even though they found out about legionella on Monday.

      ’They would have been drinking the water and showering in it. That shows pretty clearly what the Government thinks of asylum seekers and how much they value their lives. They are heartless.

      ’An asylum seeker in there we are in contact with told us to get in touch with his family in case he dies of Legionella. That’s how frightened they are.’

      A local Portland councillor slammed the health crisis as a ’farce’ this afternoon.

      Paul Kimbdr, an independent councillor, said he thought the outbreak would mean the end of the barge being used to house asylum seekers.

      ’I just can’t see it being back in use. It’s all been a bit of a farce really,’ he told MailOnline.

      A Home Office spokesman told MailOnline today: ’The health and welfare of individuals on the vessel is our utmost priority.

      ’Environmental samples from the water system on the Bibby Stockholm have shown levels of legionella bacteria which require further investigation.

      ’Following these results, the Home Office has been working closely with UKHSA (the UK Health Security Agency) and following its advice in line with long established public health processes, and ensuring all protocol from Dorset Council’s Environmental Health team and Dorset NHS is adhered to.

      ’As a precautionary measure, all 39 asylum seekers who arrived on the vessel this week are being disembarked while further assessments are undertaken.

      ’No individuals on board have presented with symptoms of Legionnaires’, and asylum seekers are being provided with appropriate advice and support.

      ’The samples taken relate only to the water system on the vessel itself and therefore carry no direct risk indication for the wider community of Portland nor do they relate to fresh water entering the vessel. Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person to person.’

      Mr Jenrick has previously described the barge as ’perfectly decent accommodation’, but asylum seekers who have spent four nights onboard have contrasting views.

      While one Afghan compared it to the former US maximum security prison Alcatraz, others have said it was ’cramped but comfortable’ with lots of facilities.

      MailOnline understands that the legionella bacteria is believed to have come from the pipes on the vessel – with tests of the water at point of entry coming back with no indication of legionella.

      Six asylum seekers arrived on the barge yesterday, and the UK Health Security Agency last night advised the Home Office to remove this group.

      Home Office sources have insisted that the removal of everyone was a ’further temporary precaution’ aimed to ’reduce the health risk as much as possible’.

      The Home Office is now awaiting the results of follow-up tests which have been carried out on the water system by Dorset Council environmental health officers.

      The UK Health Security Agency will then provide additional advice.

      Sources added that it was not unusual to identify legionella bacteria in warm water systems, which is why they are often subject to regular testing in buildings.

      A Dorset Council spokesman said: ’Dorset Council’s environmental health team and Public Health Dorset are advising the Home Office and its contractors, alongside the UK Health Security Agency and NHS Dorset, following notification of positive samples of Legionella bacteria in the water system on the Bibby Stockholm barge.

      ’No individuals have presented symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, and there is no health risk to the wider community of Portland.’

      It is understood that the Home Office is managing the search for alternative accommodation for the asylum seekers.

      Dr Laurence Buckman, former chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, told GB News today: ’If you’re unlucky and your immunity isn’t really tip-top, there is a risk that you will get legionella pneumonia and die from it.

      ’It’s potentially treatable but of course you have to diagnose it first. It lives in water supplies. It lives in sink traps, so a U-bend of a sink will be a problem, and it lives in air conditioning units.

      ’That’s why we have what are called ’scrubbers’ in air conditioning units to wipe out the legionella before the air gets blown onto other people, and why hospitals that get legionella in their sinks have a really big problem. At worst, they have to take the sinks out and replace them and the pipework that goes with them.’

      Steve Smith, chief executive of the charity Care4Calais, said: ’We have always known our concerns over the health and safety of the barge are justified, and this latest mismanagement proves our point.

      ’The Bibby Stockholm is a visual illustration of this Government’s hostile environment against refugees, but it has also fast become a symbol for the shambolic incompetence which has broken Britain’s asylum system.

      ’The Government should now realise warehousing refugees in this manner is completely untenable, and should focus on the real job at hand - processing the asylum claims swiftly, so refugees may become contributing members of our communities as they so strongly wish.’

      Meanwhile Fire Brigades Union general secretary Ben Selby said the outbreak suggested it was ’only a matter of time before either lives are lost or there is serious harm to a detainee.’

      He said: ’The Fire Brigades Union warned the Home Secretary that forcibly holding migrants on this barge was a huge health and safety risk.

      ’This outbreak of Legionella suggests that it’s only a matter of time before either lives are lost or there is serious harm to a detainee.’

      And Alex Bailey, a spokesman for the No To The Barge campaign group, told MailOnline: ’This has become Fawlty Towers at sea.

      ’This was inevitable because of the poor advance planning and preparation, the rush and people in power with little knowledge and pushing the experts to break the rules.

      ’This is just another example of the incompetent way our Government has approached this scheme from start to finish. Robert Jenrick promised the country Bibbly Stockholm was safe. That is not the case.’

      Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: ’Across the country, most people want strong border security and a properly managed and controlled asylum system so the UK does its bit alongside other countries to help those who have fled persecution and conflict, while those who have no right to be here are swiftly returned.

      ’Under this Government, we have neither as gangs are undermining our border security and the asylum system is in chaos.’

      And Kolbassia Haoussou, director of survivor empowerment at Freedom from Torture, said: ’The presence of life-threatening bacteria onboard the Bibby Stockholm is just another shocking revelation that we’ve seen unfold over the past few weeks. This Government’s punitive policies and deliberate neglect of the asylum system is not just cruel, it’s dangerous.’

      Yesterday the Home Office denied the barge was a ’floating prison’ and insisted that those onboard would be ’free to come and go as they want’.

      Gardening in nearby allotments and hiking tours of the area are among the activities which could be offered to those onboard.

      Security measures include 18 guards trained to military standard who work around the clock.

      In total, about 60 staff including cooks and cleaners will be on board the barge run by Landry and Kling, a sub-contractor of Corporate Travel Management (CTM) which also managed vessels in Scotland housing Ukrainians.

      Spaghetti with meatballs, roast turkey, Irish stew and beef pie are on the sample menu to be served in the canteen by Dubai-headquartered offshore firm Connect Catering Services, alongside breakfast and a selection of snacks available 24 hours a day.

      The gym, equipped with treadmills and weights, is still awaiting delivery of rowing machines and exercise bikes. Volleyball, basketball, netball and football can all be played in one of two outside courtyards.

      Most of the 222 bedrooms have twin bunk beds, with cupboard space, a desk, en-suite bathroom, heating and windows which open. But there are also 20 larger rooms which would sleep four people, and two rooms housing six people.

      The bedrooms all have televisions which the operator was told to disconnect but were too costly to remove so can be used only as monitors.

      Instead, residents will be encouraged to socialise or watch programmes and films in one of four communal TV rooms, and can also learn English in a classroom and worship in a dedicated space. A small number of laptops are also available and there is Wi-Fi throughout the barge.

      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12397201/All-migrants-housed-Bibby-Stockholm-barge-removed.html
      #maladie #légionellose #maladie_du_légionnaire #évacuation

    • Asylum seekers say Bibby Stockholm conditions caused suicide attempt

      Thirty-nine people who were briefly onboard write to Suella Braverman describing their fear and despair

      Thirty-nine asylum seekers who were briefly accommodated on the Home Office’s controversial Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset have said conditions onboard were so bad that one was driven to attempt suicide.

      A three-page letter sent to the home secretary, Suella Braverman, also sets out the asylum seekers’ fear and despair at being trapped on the barge and appeals to her to help them in their search for safety and freedom in the UK.

      They describe the barge as “an unsafe, frightening and isolated place” but said that as law-abiding people they were fearful of not obeying Home Office instructions. The asylum seekers described the barge as “a place of exile” and said the conditions were “small rooms and a terrifying residence”.

      Some of the asylum seekers have told the Guardian they are too traumatised to return to the barge in Portland.

      According to the letter some people fell ill on the barge.

      The letter says: “Also in a tragic incident one of the asylum seekers attempted suicide but we acted promptly and prevented this unfortunate event. Considering the ongoing difficulties it’s not unexpected that we might face a repeat of such situations in the future.

      “Some friends said they even wished they had courage to commit suicide. Our personal belief is that many of these individuals might resort to this foolishness to escape problems in the future.”

      They said they were the last people to be informed about the legionella bacteria found on the barge and announced by the Home Office on 11 August.

      They said their brief stay on the barge had led to a deterioration in their mental health. “Currently we are staying in an old and abandoned hotel. The sense of isolation and loneliness has taken over us and psychological and emotional pressures have increased significantly.”

      The letter to Braverman concludes with a plea to consider their situation as a priority. “We are individuals who are tired of the challenges that have arisen and no longer have the strength to face them.”

      An Iranian asylum seeker among the 39 has vowed never to return there. He said many of the other men who spent a few days onboard felt the same way.

      “If I had had to stay even one more day on the barge I would have had suicidal thoughts. When I got on to the barge the smell and the stench of seawater was overwhelming,” he said.

      “I developed stomach pains and felt dizzy but I was too scared to refuse to get on. Being on the barge made us feel like criminals and second-class citizens.”

      He added that nobody from the Home Office properly explained the legionella situation to them. “I had to search on Google to find out what it is. Everyone who was on the barge are now all together in one hotel. A few people are coughing and everybody is afraid. When I was having a shower on the barge the water was burning my eyes.

      “Being on that barge will always be a horrific memory in my brain. It’s a completely unfit place. We’re all feeling very upset but are even more upset that the Home Office want to return us to this horror show.

      “I want to ask a question of the people who made the decision to put us on the barge. ‘Would you put a member of your family there even for one day?’ We came to the UK to escape persecution but are facing more persecution here.”

      In response to the letter the Home Office said: “We are following all protocol and advice from Dorset council’s environmental health team, UK Health Security Agency and Dorset NHS, who we continue to work closely with.

      “Further tests are being conducted and we intend to re-embark asylum seekers only when there is confirmation that the water system meets relevant safety standards. The safety of those onboard remains the priority.”
      Bibby Stockholm timeline

      Monday 7 August: The first group of asylum seekers, all men, are taken to the barge by the Home Office. Some lawyers successfully challenged their clients being put onboard. New arrivals said they were shocked by the high walls of the barge, which felt like a ‘floating prison’ and the overwhelming stench of seawater onboard.

      Tuesday 8 August : The reality of life onboard the barge starts to be understood by the men. “My feeling about this ship is negative,” said one. “Right now my strongest feeling is of being humiliated and captured. The government takes revenge on every useful brain and heart. What I mean by revenge is that the British government intends to cover up its political and economic failures by using asylum seekers as an excuse.”

      Thursday 10 August: By this time all the agencies involved with the barge were aware that tests had confirmed legionella onboard the barge on Monday. Dorset council said its officials informed barge contractors the same day they received the test results and that a meeting was held on Tuesday with officials including one from the Home Office. The men continued to shower and use water taps onboard, oblivious to any potential risks to their health.

      Friday 11 August: At 1.54pm the men started seeing messages on social media “that there is a disease problem on the barge and we will need to evacuate”. At about 2pm a text was received that the asylum seekers believed to be from staff onboard the barge telling them not to use the showers for two hours as the shower heads needed to be replaced. At 5pm, a copied text was received from the Home Office describing the bacteria found on the barge and informing the men that they would be leaving the barge at 7pm by bus.

      Saturday 12 August: Relocation to a “disused” hotel. The men begin to process the despair their experience on the barge had left them with. Some said previously they had put their trust in the Home Office to provide them with safety after fleeing danger in their home countries but their time on the barge has destroyed that. “All our hopes are gone. We think now the Home Office is not there to help us. It abandons us to uncertain destiny. The barge has sabotaged hope, trust. Morale among us is at zero.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/aug/25/asylum-seekers-bibby-stockholm-conditions-suicide-attempt

    • Home Office Faces Legal Challenge Against ‘Appalling’ Use of Bibby Stockholm Barge to House Refugees

      “Human beings do not belong in barges or camps. The correct way to house people is to house them in communities.”

      A Labour mayor has launched a legal challenge to Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s use of the Bibby Stockholm barge to accommodate around 500 male asylum-seekers at Portland Port in Dorset, without obtaining planning permission.

      Carralyn Parkes is a Portland Town Councillor and Mayor of Portland, bit is acting in a personal capacity as a local resident. Dorset Council and Portland Port Limited have backed the claim as “interested parties”, meaning that they will have the opportunity to make submissions, file evidence and participate in the case.

      It comes after a deadly legionella strain was found onboard the Bibby Stockholm. It was detected on the first day people boarded on 7 August, with officials evacuating all 39 people onboard that day, the Guardian reported.

      Parkes is asking the Court to declare that the Home Office’s use of the barge as asylum accommodation is capable of constituting ‘development’ under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and therefore that it may amount to a breach of planning control and possible enforcement action by Dorset Council.

      Her claim argues that the Home Office is attempting the ‘technical wheeze’ of using a boat as asylum accommodation in order to circumvent normal planning rules, which would apply if the barge was instead installed on land.

      As a result, local residents’ ability to raise objections to the barge and its use in Portland, via their local authority, is “severely hampered”, her legal team says. It also places the barge outside the reach of “important” legal protections such as limits on overcrowding.

      Carralyn Parkes told Byline Times: “In the 21st century, it’s appalling to think that we’ve even considered housing the most vulnerable people in the world on a barge. The accommodation is wholly unsuitable.

      “If the government had put this through a planning procedure, I’m convinced it would have been denied, as the port is a closed area.”

      She added that infrastructure in Portland is “stretched to breaking point” while the barge was originally produced for 220 people. “Now they’re talking about 500 people. It’s completely overcrowded and there’s no fire safety certificate,” Parkes said.

      “It’s just terrible to think that our country would do something like this to vulnerable people, and to ride roughshod over communities…Human beings do not belong in barges or camps. The correct way to house people is to house them in communities.”

      “Portland is not averse to housing asylum seekers. It’s the actual conditions of housing asylum seekers on the barge that is appalling.”

      Asked if she thought the legal challenge stood a strong chance, she said: “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think it’s a chance of being successful. I’m a private individual taking this on board. It’s a huge and daunting task to take on the whole mechanism of the state, the Home Secretary and the Home Office.”

      While she is launching the legal challenge as a private individual rather than a Labour mayor, she added she had support from Labour colleagues locally.

      Parkes also argues that the Home Office has not complied with its environmental impact assessment duties. An appraisal branded “inadequate” by campaigners was only conducted after asylum seekers had been moved onto the barge, and several months after the Home Office had declared its intention of using the barge for that purpose.

      The claim also argues that the Home Office has not complied with its Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010, which includes prohibition on discrimination on the basis of race, and a duty to foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic (such as race), and those who do not.

      Parkes and her team argue that the Equality Impact Assessment, conducted only days before the barge came into use, is “woefully inadequate” as it fails to consider the impact of the barge’s operation in radicalising far-right extremism, or the equality impact of segregating rather than integrating asylum seekers into communities.

      A spokesperson for Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors said: “Our client is taking a brave stand against the Home Office’s attempts to circumvent important planning rules and protections to use the Bibby Stockholm barge to accommodate vulnerable asylum seekers.

      “She is asking the Court to rule that proper procedures should be followed and that local people and authorities should be given the opportunity to have their say.”

      Carralyn Parkes is represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors. She is continuing to crowdfund to cover her legal costs and to cover the risk that costs are awarded against her. So far Parkes has raised more than £20,000.

      The next step is for the defendant, the Home Office, and the Interested Parties (Dorset Council and Portland Port Limited) to respond. If they wish to do so, the deadline is 4 October. After that the Court will make a decision on whether Parkes has permission for her judicial review.

      https://bylinetimes.com/2023/09/12/home-office-faces-legal-challenge-against-appalling-use-of-bibby-stockh

    • Bibby Stockholm gets ‘satisfactory’ test results for legionella

      Results revealed in FoI data follow other tests that found unsatisfactory levels of the bacteria on barge

      The Bibby Stockholm barge has had “satisfactory” test results for legionella, after tests initially found the presence of the potentially deadly bacteria, the Guardian has learned.

      The Home Office, which hopes to hold hundreds of people seeking asylum on the barge in Portland, received the most recent legionella results on 4 September and government sources said they were not planning to make the results public. The Guardian obtained the results in freedom of information data from Dorset council.

      In these most recent results, all the water samples tested for legionella were deemed “satisfactory”, although some of the bacteria were identified in two of the samples. In three previous sets of tests, at least some of the samples tested were found to be “unsatisfactory” for legionella.

      The worst results related to samples from 9 August, two days after asylum seekers were briefly put on the barge. They were removed after just four and a half days. In these results, eight of the 11 samples taken were unsatisfactory and three were borderline. Some of the bacteria found was the deadliest strain, legionella pneumophila serogroup 1.

      A second freedom of information request, to Cornwall council, revealed that the barge was not inspected for legionella while in Falmouth for checks and repairs before it was moved to Portland.

      A third freedom of information request revealed that the Home Office has used water safety risk assessments for the Bibby Stockholm that are more than six years out of date. The Home Office said a more up-to-date risk assessment had subsequently been signed off.

      Apart from the legionella bacteria found on the barge, concerns have been raised about planning, fire safety and plumbing breaches. Legal actions are under way relating to these issues.

      A spokesperson for the Home Office barge contractor CTM confirmed that repairs to the plumbing were under way after an inspection by Wessex Water found failings.

      In media interviews on Wednesday, the home secretary, Suella Braverman, said “various procedures” needed to be completed before people could return to the Bibby Stockholm but that government had done “really well” with its work on the barge.

      Beyond Borders Totnes & District, an organisation that is supporting some of the men taken off the barge, said none wanted to return there. “They found the barge intolerable and claustrophobic. It is utterly prison-like,” a spokesperson said.

      The Home Office said: “We are pleased to confirm that the latest tests have shown that there are no health risks from legionella on the Bibby Stockholm, with individuals set to return to the barge in due course.

      “The welfare of asylum seekers is of paramount importance. It is right we went above and beyond UK Health Security Agency advice and disembarked asylum seekers as a precautionary measure whilst the issue was investigated.”

      Home Office sources added that an agreed programme of work including a complete flush and chlorination of the water had been undertaken and that a water control plan was in place with regular water testing to continue.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/sep/22/bibby-stockholm-gets-satisfactory-test-results-for-legionella

  • Was Orwell secretly a reactionary snitch ?
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/george-orwell-snitch-list-reactionary-grass-blacklist-communists-info

    Pendant la guerre froide il était difficile d’être de gauche car tous tes alliés potentiels étaient compromis. Tous entretenaient forcément des relations avec « Moscou », « Pankow », « Pekin » ou la #USIA. George Orwell préférait les services de son pays natal. Le film « Animal Farm » d’après sa novelle était financé en bonne partie par des services étatsuniens qui considéraient son oeuvre comme une arme anticommuniste efficace. Là, 39 ans après 1984 la brutalité des pratiques de surveillance des pays capitalistes dépasse de loin celle de son imaginaire et le problème de la liste orwellienne nous rappelle le bon vieux temps quand il fallait un délateur pour se retrover sur une liste noire.

    « Orwell was a snitch », il n’y a pas de doute. Apparamment dans sa vie quotidienne il il était aussi un peu réactionnaire comme la plupart des communistes, anarchistes et verts. C’est humain, n’est-ce pas ?

    24.6.2018 by Adam Lusher - George Orwell, born 115 years ago on Monday, was the writer who challenged the iniquities of imperialism and capitalism, who took a bullet in the throat fighting fascism, and who taught a Western audience about the horrors of Stalinist communism.

    That he died young, of tuberculosis at the age of 46, in 1950, served only to enhance his posthumous reputation. He became, in the words of one astute critic, “the James Dean of the Cold War, the John F Kennedy of English letters”.

    Death may also have saved him from curdling into the kind of bitter, contrarian conservatism that seems to have been the fate awaiting many a one-time youthful socialist.

    Instead, Orwell is often remembered as a man of “genius”, the “greatest political writer of the 20th century”.

    The commonly accepted view of the man is encapsulated in the aims of the foundation bearing his name. Through the coveted Orwell Prize, the Orwell Foundation seeks “to celebrate honest writing and reporting, to uncover hidden lives, to confront uncomfortable truths, to promote Orwell’s values of integrity, decency and fidelity to truth”.

    And yet there is one blemish – or complication – in the reputation of St George.

    It lay hidden until 1996 when Foreign Office file FO 111/189 was made public under the 30-year rule.

    The hitherto secret file revealed that in 1949 the great writer had, via his friend Celia Kirwan, given a semi-secret government propaganda unit called the Information Research Department (IRD) what became known as “Orwell’s List”.

    Orwell effectively handed over to the British authorities the names of 38 public figures whom he thought should be treated with suspicion as secret communists or “fellow travellers” who sympathised with the aims of Stalin’s Russia.

    When the existence of Orwell’s List was revealed in 1996, and when the Foreign Office finally divulged who was on it in 2003, the initial reactions seemed tinged with sadness and hedged about with qualifications.

    But the internet was young then.

    Now it has grown into a giant bristling with social media channels and anger; swift to judge, slow to reflect.

    Orwell worked for the BBC during the Second World War despite once describing it as being ‘halfway between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum’

    And so George Orwell, a hero to so many, is now demonised online as a “fake socialist”, a “reactionary snitch”, a traitor, a McCarthyite “weasel”.

    “Orwell’s List is a term that should be known by anyone who claims to be a person of the left,” declares one fairly widely circulated condemnation. “At the end of his life, he was an outright counter-revolutionary snitch, spying on leftists on behalf of the imperialist British government.”

    “He was an anti-socialist,” asserts another indictment, “corresponding with British secret services and keeping a blacklist of writers.”

    So widespread has the vilification become, that “Orwell as snitch” is sometimes played with – not entirely seriously – as an internet meme.

    And yet, when you consult DJ Taylor, author of the acclaimed biography Orwell: The Life, you do not encounter boiling indignation.

    “I can’t get very worked up about the list,” he says mildly. “I don’t see it particularly as a mistake.

    “You just have to see it in the context of the time.”

    And that context, reveals Taylor, was explained to him by the left wing former Labour leader Michael Foot.

    Taylor recalls: “Foot told me that the great difficulty if you were a left wing Labour MP in the 1940s was working out exactly where your friends stood. You didn’t know whether some were listening to you and agreeing, and then going straight to the British Communist Party’s headquarters in King Street and telling them everything.”

    “Another example of the kind of thing they were facing,” says Taylor, “was the man who worked in the Foreign Office in the room next to Orwell’s IRD friend Celia. His name was Guy Burgess.

    “There were at least a dozen elected parliamentarians taking their orders from a foreign country,” adds Taylor. “What could be more traitorous than that?”

    Years after Orwell listed him as giving the “strong impression of being some kind of Russian agent”, the Mitrokhin Archive of KGB documents revealed that journalist Peter Smollett had indeed been a Russian agent.

    Laying aside the irony that Michael Foot was himself once falsely accused of being a KGB agent, it is, then, perhaps no coincidence that the IRD was in fact set up, not by a headbanging Tory, but by Labour foreign secretary Ernest Bevin.

    “This was at a time when the Soviet Union was swallowing up what had previously been independent East European states,” says Taylor. “The IRD was producing reasoned expositions, pamphlet literature, telling people on the ground in Eastern Europe why they should resist this kind of stuff.

    “But a lot of British people were still seduced by the idea of our ally ‘good old Uncle Joe Stalin’, when in fact the bloke was a mass murdering psychopath. And you were also dealing with some really hardline ideologues.

    “So Orwell’s idea was, if you are going to get somebody to write these kinds of pamphlets, they have to be genuine democrats.

    “He was a democratic socialist who wanted democratic socialists, not right wingers, to be writing this propaganda. But he wanted them to be people who had seen through the Soviet illusion, not covert stooges for Stalin’s Russia.”

    And so Taylor’s anger – such as it is – is reserved, not for Orwell, but for those like the late Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, who greeted the revelation of the list with the “pathetic” remark: “Orwell was a Big Brother too”.

    “This wasn’t Orwell denouncing anybody,” says Taylor. “He wasn’t writing public articles in the press saying ‘these people are evil’.

    “This was him giving private advice to a friend [Celia Kirwan] who was working for the IRD and wanted to know whom to avoid when asking people to write for her department.”

    It should perhaps be noted that Celia Kirwan was a bit more than just a friend. Three years earlier, Orwell had actually proposed marriage to her in the emotional turmoil that followed the death of his first wife Eileen.

    Kirwan rebuffed his advances, but some have suggested that Orwell, aware of his failing health, might have been seeking the comfort of a beautiful woman when on 6 April 1949 he wrote offering to name those who “should not be trusted as propagandists”.

    He certainly knew the list was not for Kirwan’s eyes only. As noted by Timothy Garton Ash, the historian who persuaded the Foreign Office to reveal the document in 2003, Orwell sent his list to Kirwan with a reference to “your friends” who would read it.

    And as Garton Ash also noted, the IRD did not confine itself to relatively innocuous pamphleteering.

    In the New York Review of Books article that formed the first detailed analysis of the list’s contents, Garton Ash wrote: “By the late 1950s, IRD had a reputation as ‘the dirty tricks department’ of the Foreign Office, indulging in character assassination, false telegrams, putting itching powder on lavatory seats and other such Cold War pranks”.

    When he sent his list to Celia Kirwan in 1949, Orwell might not have known that this was the IRD’s direction of travel, but of all people, the author of 1984, who envisaged the Ministry of Truth, should surely have been aware of the possibility.

    That said, as Garton Ash also wrote, not much seemed to have happened to the people on Orwell’s List (apart from missing out on the IRD pamphlet-writing gig). It seems their names weren’t even passed to MI5 or MI6.

    In America, Hollywood actors blacklisted during the McCarthy era had their careers and lives ruined. In England, Michael Redgrave appeared on Orwell’s List in 1949 and starred in the film adaptation of Orwell’s novel 1984 seven years later.

    Peter Smollett, named by Orwell as a likely Russian agent, got an OBE.

    In other words, what happened to those on Orwell’s List seems to have borne no comparison to the fate of Big Brother’s fictional victims or the real millions who died in the purges and repression ordered by Stalin.

    “The list invites us to reflect again on the asymmetry of our attitudes toward Nazism and communism,” wrote Garton Ash, whose own experiences of being spied on by the communist East German Stasi informed his book The File.

    What if Orwell had given the government a list of closet Nazis, he wondered. “Would anyone be objecting?”

    And in truth, there does seem a certain asymmetry in the online articles of denunciation.

    Indeed it is hard not to sense the inspiration of Private Eye’s (fictional) veteran class warrior Dave Spart in some of the articles condemning Orwell as “a social democratic traitor collaborating with the capitalist state against revolutionaries trying to create socialism.”

    “Sure, the USSR did a lot of objectionable things,” says one writer. “But … Western imperialist countries commit much more heinous crimes throughout the world every day.”

    A stronger charge against Orwell might be that of antisemitism. The private notebooks that formed the basis of the list he sent to the IRD included labels like “Polish Jew”, “English Jew”, and “Jewess”.

    But Orwell did also devote an entire 1945 essay to discussing how best to combat antisemitism, while having the honesty to admit – and regret – his own occasional lapses into jokes at the expense of Jews.

    And at the moment, antisemitism might be a problematic charge for some left wingers to level.

    Taylor, though, is convinced that some amongst “the newly emergent hard left” would secretly love to unleash something against Orwell.

    And yes, by “newly emergent hard left”, he does mean some Corbynistas.

    Younger party members, Taylor concedes, might not have the personal memories of the Cold War, still less an instinctive understanding of the context in which Orwell produced his list in 1949.

    But, he adds: “I am a Labour Party member. I have been to hear Corbyn speak and noticed how an awful lot of the people there were aged left wingers for whom there had not really been a place in the Labour Party for the last 20 or 30 years.

    “An awful lot of the hard left these days would pay lip service to Orwell as a beacon of sanity, while secretly having doubts.

    “There are still a load of extreme lefties out there to whom Orwell is this snivelling little Trotskyite telling them things they don’t want to hear and pointing out things that shouldn’t be pointed out because they get in the way of the revolution.”

    And to the ideological, Taylor would add the psychological: “Tall poppy syndrome – Orwell is this secular saint, so let’s have a go at him.”

    This battle over Orwell’s reputation, of course, is more than just a matter of idle literary historical curiosity.

    Its relevance to the political struggles of today is suggested by the remark of one of the more ferocious online critics.

    “George Orwell,” he says, “was the first in a long line of Trots-turned-neocons”.

    It is certainly true that far-right commentators have started trying to co-opt Orwell to their cause, even to the point of suggesting that the man who once chased a fascist across a battlefield with a fixed bayonet would deplore the Antifa movement.

    This, says Taylor, is pretty much what Orwell feared.

    “At the time he was giving Celia Kirwan his list, 1984 was about to be published. Orwell’s great fear was that right wingers would use it as a piece of anti-communist propaganda, and that’s what happened. Immediately after 1984 was published, it was used by the CIA as a propaganda tool.

    “Orwell wrote a very interesting letter to people in the US saying: ‘Look, this is not so much anti-communist as anti-totalitarian.’

    “He feared what right wingers would do with 1984, but thought it was the price you had to pay for exposing evils like totalitarianism.

    “And a writer can’t be blamed for how their books are used by people who are determined to twist meaning for malignant ends.”

    Orwell never wanted to be seen as a secular saint

    Taylor, though, can’t help wondering whether Orwell would really have been that upset by the comments of “slightly disconnected people” on the far left of the internet.

    Orwell himself, he points out, never sought secular saint status. Quite the reverse: “He was very wary of that kind of thing. In an essay on Gandhi he effectively says that when people start being referred to as saints there is something very odd about them and it usually ends in disaster.”

    Instead Taylor has a sneaking suspicion that Orwell might have been rather amused by his online detractors.

    “People undervalue Orwell’s wry sense of humour,” he says. “David Astor, who used to edit the Observer and employed him, told me about the time Orwell came to him saying, ‘You should hear the abuse I have been getting from some of the communist newspapers.’

    “Orwell said: ‘They call me a fascist octopus. They call me a fascist hyena.

    “Then he paused: ‘They’re very fond of animals’.”

    la liste et une introduction
    https://www.orwell.ru/a_life/list/english/e_list

    https://libcom.org/article/orwells-list

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orwell%27s_list

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Information_Agency

    #anticommunisme #Royaume_Uni

    • Article de 2018… on en est encore là en 2023 ? Voici un article de 2020 des éditions Agone, avec un texte des éditions de L’encyclopédie des nuisances, datant d’avant même la diffusion de la liste, en… 1997 déjà.

      Malheureux comme Orwell en France (III) L’affaire de la « liste noire » (2)
      https://agone.org/aujourlejour/malheureux-iii-2

      Cependant, même s’il ne possède guère de connaissances historiques, un individu quelque peu attentif s’apercevra assez vite, à la lecture de la lettre d’Orwell, qu’il s’agit de tout autre chose que d’une lettre de dénonciation. Orwell, malade, a reçu au sanatorium la visite d’une amie proche, la belle-sœur d’Arthur Koestler, lui-même ami très proche d’Orwell. (Il faut noter à ce sujet que les auteurs de l’article – car ils se sont mis à deux –, qui se montrent si pointilleux, ne mentionnent à aucun moment ces relations d’amitié : on est donc amené à croire, à les lire, qu’Orwell a reçu Celia Kirwan en tant que fonctionnaire du Foreign Office.) À cette amie, qui lui parlait de ses activités dans le cadre de la lutte menée par le gouvernement travailliste de l’époque contre la propagande stalinienne, il a indiqué les noms de gens dignes de confiance pour participer d’une façon ou d’une autre à une telle campagne. Revenant là-dessus dans sa lettre, il lui mentionne également l’existence d’un carnet où il a noté les noms de journalistes et d’écrivains dont il faut au contraire, selon lui, se défier, parce qu’ils soutiennent plus ou moins ouvertement la politique de Staline. Orwell n’a donc rien “proposé” au Foreign Office, pas plus qu’il n’a “adressé” quoi que ce soit à l’IRD, et il n’a jamais dénoncé personne. Les journalistes et les écrivains dont il suggérait de se défier avaient une activité publique, et c’est en fonction de celle-ci que quiconque pouvait se faire comme lui, à l’époque, une idée de leur stalinophilie ; aussi facilement qu’en France, par exemple, n’importe qui aurait jugé peu avisé d’aller demander à Sartre de participer à une campagne contre la politique du PCF. En outre, tout au long de ces années-là, Orwell n’a cessé d’attaquer, lui aussi publiquement, cette stalinophilie de l’intelligentsia anglaise, s’en prenant nommément à ses principaux artisans. Et voici, en dernier ressort, ce que prétend révéler ce petit roman d’espionnage : Orwell était bien antistalinien !

      (et non pas anti communisme…)

      Ce pseudo-scoop est d’ailleurs tout aussi fallacieux dans le détail, puisque l’existence du carnet mentionné par Orwell était parfaitement connue depuis la biographie due à Bernard Crick, parue en Angleterre en 1982, comme celui-ci l’a rappelé dans sa lettre au Guardian du 12 juillet 1996. Mais peu importe à nos honnêtes journalistes. Une fois établie comme on l’a vu l’activité de délateur d’Orwell, il n’est guère utile, aux yeux de la conscience moralo-médiatique, de se souvenir que, pas plus qu’il n’y a eu dénonciation, il n’y a eu dans l’Angleterre de l’époque de persécution quelconque contre des écrivains ou des artistes prostaliniens. Il suffit de solliciter les réactions de diverses “personnalités”, toutes prêtes à se déclarer horrifiées par la nouvelle. Et il ne manque pas d’anciens staliniens à la Christopher Hill pour y aller de leur couplet, trop contents de pouvoir baver avec l’aval du ministère de la Vérité

      #George_Orwell

    • Et encore un autre

      Malheureux comme Orwell en France (II) Qui veut tuer son maître l’accuse de la rage - Agone
      https://agone.org/aujourlejour/malheureux-ii

      « En 1996 – puis encore une fois en 2002 –, écrivait Simon Leys en 2006, d’indécrottables staliniens lancèrent puis exploitèrent une rumeur selon laquelle Orwell n’aurait été qu’un vil indicateur de police. » Treize ans après, sans qu’aucune nouvelle pièce à charge n’ait été apportée au dossier, la même rumeur est exploitée aux mêmes fins par le même genre d’individu.

    • @rastapopoulos Ce qui est intéressant c’est de constater les clivages au sein de la gauche qui empêchaient une lutte efficace contre le système capitaliste et impérialiste.

      Nos camarades proches de « Pankow », je parle de l’époque entre 1971 et 1998, défendaient un système qui côté oppression n’était pas pire que n’importe quel autre état, mais on se heurtait toujours à deux forces antagonistes et irréconciliables. D’abord tu vivais dans la certitude que chaque contact avec des représentants du « régime communiste » te valait une entrée dans les fichiers des services de l’Ouest. Parfois tu te tapais une campagne délatrice par la presse de droite. Ceci fut le cas de l’écrivain et historien Bernt Engelmann


      Berlin: Die „Berliner Begegnung zur Friedensförderung“ wurde in der DDR-Hauptstadt eröffnet.
      An dem zweitägigen Treffen nehmen auf Einladung des DDR-Schriftstellers Stephan Hermlin rund 100 Schriftsteller, Künstler und Wissenschaftler aus beiden deutschen Staaten sowie aus weiteren europäischen Ländern und aus Westberlin teil. Unter ihnen sind Prof. Jürgen Kuczynski, Hermann Kant, Stephan Hermlin, Bernt Engelmann (BRD) und Ingeborg Drewitz (Westberlin).-v.l.n.r.

      Passons sur l’infâme « Berufsverbot » qui a transformé une génération entière de diplômés de gauche en chauffeurs de taxi et paumés sans perspective professionelle.

      Si par contre tu osais entretenir des contact avec l’Ouest et tu ouvrais ta gueule en critiquant la RDA on te rangeait dans la case anticommuniste et bien des camarades ainsi visés finissaient par le devenir. Rappellons-nous du sort de Wolf Biermann qui a commencé son itinéraire artistique comme communiste insoumis et s’est transformé en triste guignol anticommuniste après avoir été privé de son passeport RDA.


      Oostduitse zanger Wolf Biermann geeft persconferentie in Frascatie, Amsterdam, Datum : 23 februari 1977

      Pour les militants de gauche « non-dogmatiques » et « spontanéistes » qui vivaient sous la dictature militaire éclairée des #USA et de leurs alliés français et britanniques, il était à la fois évident qu’il fallait défendre la RDA et ses acquis pour les classes laborieuses, les femmes et la solidarité internationale, critiquer les défaillances du socialisme de Berlin-Est et combattre l’impérialisme états-unien qui était en train de corrompre nos amies et amis pendant qu’il assassinait et incarcérait dans le monde entier. Angela Davis fut une de ses victimes libérés grâce aux campagnes de solidarité menée par toutes les tendances de la gauche mondiale.


      11 August 1972, RIA Novosti archive, image #36716, Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, chairperson of the Soviet women committee (right) meeting with Angela Davis at Sheremetyevo Airport.

      Bref le temps entre 1971 et 1989 fut une époque (relativement) heureuse marquée par le début d’une ouverture du rideau de fer et un impérialiste étasunien adouci pour les citoyens d’Europe. La gestion réussie du conflit entre le bloc #COMECON, les #USA et l’Europe nourrissait l’illusion que les conflits mondiaux étaient en train de s’estomper. La politique de détente promettait des avantages pour tous.

      Dans les dernières années de la vie de George Orwell les problèmes se posaient d’une manière différente parce que les forces à l’œuvre n’étaient pas les mêmes et la répartition du pouvoir exigeait un comportement différent de la gauche dans la première phase de la guerre froide.

      On ne pouvait pas ne pas prendre position d’un côté ou de l’autre sous peine de subir le sort des trotskystes ou d’une vie apolitique et insignifiante. La passation violente du pouvoir impérialiste mondial britannique aux nouveaux maîtres de Washington était en plein essor. L’époque de l’après 1914-1918 n’était pas encore révolu et chaque militant et auteur politique devait choisir son camps.

      Bert Brecht nous a légué un fragment de pièce de théâtre qui cerne ce dilemme :

      Untergang des Egoisten Johann Fatzer
      https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatzer_(Fragment)

      Fatzers letzte Worte sind: von jetzt ab und eine ganze zeit über / wird es keine sieger mehr geben / auf unserer welt sondern nur mehr / besiegte.

      En communiquant sa liste à son amie Orwell a choisi son camp. En prenant en compte la situation de l’époque on ne peut que constater qu’il s’est comporté en anticommuniste contrairement à Klaus Fuchs (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaus_Fuchs) et d’autres qui ont opté pour la défense du socialisme même stalinien ou dégénéré.

      Quoi qu’il ait fait peu de temps avant sa mot, l’œuvre de George Orwell occupe une place importante dans notre patrimoine internationaliste au même rang que les écrits de Lev Tolstoï et ceux des humanistes. Notre discussion en est la preuve qu’il a dépassé une position où on peut encore le critiquer pour ses actes alors que nous lui devon l’admiration sans réserve pour tout ce qu’il nous a apporté par ses engagements politiques et comme écrivain.

      Il serait idiot de suivre ou contredire les jugements prononcés à l’époque. Si tu tombes dans ce piège tu risques de te trouver dans une impasse comme les camarades qui ont pris les armes après 1968 pour lutter contre l’impérialisme en Europe. Il ne faut jamais répéter les positions historiques mais il faut les étudier afin de comprendre où nous en sommes. Nous ne pouvons qu’essayer de comprendre comment tout le monde s’est fait avoir par les services secrets, les fausses grandes causes et les attitudes mesquines qu’on essaye de nous imposer par les « contraintes matérielles ».

      Je pense qu’un des meilleurs commentaires sur la question vient d’une source décidément anticommuniste.

      The Bare Necessities (from The Jungle Book)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08NlhjpVFsU


      The Jungle Book (1967 film)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jungle_Book_(1967_film)

      #guerre_froide

  • Leading Russian actress and poet Vera Polozkova brands Putin the ‘main maniac of 21st century’ | The Independent

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russian-actress-vera-polozkova-putin-b2247513.html

    Russian president Vladimir Putin has been branded the “main maniac of the 21st century” by a leading Russian actress as his war on Ukraine enters its tenth month.

    Vera Polozkova, 36, expressed her feeling of “crazy pain and shame” over Russia’s self-styled special military operation in Ukraine, and urged her fellow citizens to prepare to acknowledge, repent and atone for Moscow’s “crimes”.

    Ms Polozkova made her remarks during an interview with popular Russian journalist and YouTuber Yury Dud, known for his interviews with a series of critics of Mr Putin’s brutal attacks on Ukraine.

    #ukraine #agression_russe

  • Study finds ‘millions of tons’ of extremely reactive chemical in Earth’s atmosphere
    https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/earth-atmosphere-highly-reactive-chemical-b2092541.html
    https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/TilRPVdZU8jEl.Fb8axrXA--~B/aD04MDY7dz0xMjAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_independent_635/94192f736652310e566a0fbbd8914f32

    Scientists have discovered an entirely new class of super-reactive chemical compounds in the Earth’s atmosphere which they say may affect both human health and global climate.

    The study, published last month in the journal Science, documented for the first time the formation of so-called #trioxides – extremely oxidising chemical compounds with three oxygen atoms attached to each other.

    […]

    While the study suggests that there could be plenty of chemical compounds in the air that haven’t been found yet, researchers say they are not worried about the new discovery.

    “These compounds have always been around, we just didn’t know about them. But the fact that we now have evidence that the compounds are formed and live for a certain amount of time means that it is possible to study their effect more targeted and respond if they turn out to be dangerous,” Dr Grum Kjærgaard explained.

    “Indeed, the air surrounding us is a huge tangle of complex chemical reactions. As researchers, we need to keep an open mind if we want to get better at finding solutions,” Dr Jing Chen concluded.

    Source:
    #Hydrotrioxide (#ROOOH) formation in the #atmosphere
    https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abn6012

  • Texas shooting latest news: Gunman’s texts revealed as videos show parents pleading with police to act | The Independent
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/crime/texas-school-shooting-victims-identified-gunman-latest-b2087629.html

    olice who responded to the Texas school massacre have been accused of being “unprepared” and failing to respond as videos reveal parents pleading with officers outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday.

    Parents said they urged officers to move into school as the AR-15-wielding assailant fatally shot two teachers and 19 pupils.

    The father of 10-year-old victim Jacklyn Cazares said he even suggested he could go in himself with other bystanders as he was frustrated police were not doing it themselves.

    Details of the timeline and events remain unclear, including whether officers failed to prevent 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos from entering the school, and whether he “barricaded” himself inside a classroom before or after killing fourth-grade children inside.

    Messages from Ramos to recipients on social media appear to show him flaunting his weapons and announcing plans to “shoot up a elementary school” moments before the killings.

  • Child hepatitis cases up to almost 200, say public health officials
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/child-hepatitis-public-health-b2083855.html

    Almost 200 cases of sudden onset hepatitis in children have now been identified in the UK, up by 34 since the beginning of the month.

    As of 16 May, 197 cases have been identified, with 11 needing a liver transplant, according to an update by the UK Health Security Agency on Friday.

    Ah, et grosse découverte : c’est pas à cause des chiens (mais c’était bien tenté) :

    It added: “Following further investigation, there is no evidence linking dog ownership and cases of hepatitis in children.”