• Revealed: 2,000 refugee deaths linked to illegal EU pushbacks

    A Guardian analysis finds EU countries used brutal tactics to stop nearly 40,000 asylum seekers crossing borders

    EU member states have used illegal operations to push back at least 40,000 asylum seekers from Europe’s borders during the pandemic, methods being linked to the death of more than 2,000 people, the Guardian can reveal.

    In one of the biggest mass expulsions in decades, European countries, supported by EU’s border agency #Frontex, has systematically pushed back refugees, including children fleeing from wars, in their thousands, using illegal tactics ranging from assault to brutality during detention or transportation.

    The Guardian’s analysis is based on reports released by UN agencies, combined with a database of incidents collected by non-governmental organisations. According to charities, with the onset of Covid-19, the regularity and brutality of pushback practices has grown.

    “Recent reports suggest an increase of deaths of migrants attempting to reach Europe and, at the same time, an increase of the collaboration between EU countries with non-EU countries such as Libya, which has led to the failure of several rescue operations,’’ said one of Italy’s leading human rights and immigration experts, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, professor of asylum law at the University of Palermo. ‘’In this context, deaths at sea since the beginning of the pandemic are directly or indirectly linked to the EU approach aimed at closing all doors to Europe and the increasing externalisation of migration control to countries such as Libya.’’

    The findings come as the EU’s anti-fraud watchdog, Olaf, has launched an investigation into Frontex (https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/20/eu-migration-chief-urges-frontex-to-clarify-pushback-allegations) over allegations of harassment, misconduct and unlawful operations aimed at stopping asylum seekers from reaching EU shores.

    According to the International Organization for Migration (https://migration.iom.int/europe?type=arrivals), in 2020 almost 100,000 immigrants arrived in Europe by sea and by land compared with nearly 130,000 in 2019 and 190,000 in 2017.

    Since January 2020, despite the drop in numbers, Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia and Spain have accelerated their hardline migration agenda. Since the introduction of partial or complete border closures to halt the outbreak of coronavirus, these countries have paid non-EU states and enlisted private vessels to intercept boats in distress at sea and push back passengers into detention centres. There have been repeated reports of people being beaten, robbed, stripped naked at frontiers or left at sea.

    In 2020 Croatia, whose police patrol the EU’s longest external border, have intensified systemic violence and pushbacks of migrants to Bosnia. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) recorded nearly 18,000 migrants pushed back by Croatia since the start of the pandemic. Over the last year and a half, the Guardian has collected testimonies of migrants who have allegedly been whipped, robbed, sexually abused and stripped naked (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/oct/21/croatian-police-accused-of-sickening-assaults-on-migrants-on-balkans-tr) by members of the Croatian police. Some migrants said they were spray-painted with red crosses on their heads by officers who said the treatment was the “cure against coronavirus” (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/28/they-made-crosses-on-our-heads-refugees-report-abuse-by-croatian-police).

    According to an annual report released on Tuesday by the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) (https://www.borderviolence.eu/annual-torture-report-2020), a coalition of 13 NGOs documenting illegal pushbacks in the western Balkans, abuse and disproportionate force was present in nearly 90% of testimonies in 2020 collected from Croatia, a 10% increase on 2019.

    In April, the Guardian revealed how a woman from Afghanistan was allegedly sexually abused (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/07/croatian-border-police-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-afghan-migrant) and held at knifepoint by a Croatian border police officer during a search of migrants on the border with Bosnia.

    “Despite the European Commission’s engagement with Croatian authorities in recent months, we have seen virtually no progress, neither on investigations of the actual reports, nor on the development of independent border monitoring mechanisms,” said Nicola Bay, DRC country director for Bosnia. “Every single pushback represents a violation of international and EU law – whether it involves violence or not.”

    Since January 2020, Greece has pushed back about 6,230 asylum seekers from its shores, according to data from BVMN. The report stated that in 89% of the pushbacks, “BVMN has observed the disproportionate and excessive use of force. This alarming number shows that the use of force in an abusive, and therefore illicit, way has become a normality […]

    “Extremely cruel examples of police violence documented in 2020 included prolonged excessive beatings (often on naked bodies), water immersion, the physical abuse of women and children, the use of metal rods to inflict injury.”

    In testimonies, people described how their hands were tied to the bars of cells and helmets put on their heads before beatings to avoid visible bruising.

    A lawsuit filed against the Greek state in April at the European court of human rights (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/greece-accused-of-shocking-pushback-against-refugees-at-sea) accused Athens of abandoning dozens of migrants in life rafts at sea, after some had been beaten. The case claims that Greek patrol boats towed migrants back to Turkish waters and abandoned them at sea without food, water, lifejackets or any means to call for help.

    BVMN said: “Whether it be using the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown to serve as a cover for pushbacks, fashioning open-air prisons, or preventing boats from entering Greek waters by firing warning shots toward boats, the evidence indicates the persistent refusal to uphold democratic values, human rights and international and European law.”

    According to UNHCR data, since the start of the pandemic, Libyan authorities – with Italian support since 2017, when Rome ceded responsibility (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/23/mother-and-child-drown-after-being-abandoned-off-libya-says-ngo) for overseeing Mediterranean rescue operations to Libya – intercepted and pushed back to Tripoli about 15,500 asylum seekers. The controversial strategy has caused the forced return of thousands to Libyan detention centres where, according to first hand reports, they face torture. Hundreds have drowned when neither Libya nor Italy intervened.

    “In 2020 this practice continued, with an increasingly important role being played by Frontex planes, sighting boats at sea and communicating their position to the Libyan coastguard,” said Matteo de Bellis, migration researcher at Amnesty International. “So, while Italy at some point even used the pandemic as an excuse to declare that its ports were not safe for the disembarkation of people rescued at sea, it had no problem with the Libyan coastguard returning people to Tripoli. Even when this was under shelling or when hundreds were forcibly disappeared immediately after disembarkation.”

    In April, Italy and Libya were accused of deliberately ignoring a mayday call (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) from a migrant boat in distress in Libyan waters, as waves reached six metres. A few hours later, an NGO rescue boat discovered dozens of bodies (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) floating in the waves. That day 130 migrants were lost at sea.

    In April, in a joint investigation with the Italian Rai News and the newspaper Domani, the Guardian saw documents from Italian prosecutors detailing conversations between two commanders of the Libyan coastguard and an Italian coastguard officer in Rome. The transcripts appeared to expose the non-responsive behaviour (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/16/wiretaps-migrant-boats-italy-libya-coastguard-mediterranean) of the Libyan officers and their struggling to answer the distress calls which resulted in hundreds of deaths. At least five NGO boats remain blocked in Italian ports as authorities claim administrative reasons for holding them.

    “Push- and pull-back operations have become routine, as have forms of maritime abandonment where hundreds were left to drown,’’ said a spokesperson at Alarm Phone, a hotline service for migrants in distress at sea. ‘’We have documented so many shipwrecks that were never officially accounted for, and so we know that the real death toll is much higher. In many of the cases, European coastguards have refused to respond – they rather chose to let people drown or to intercept them back to the place they had risked their lives to escape from. Even if all European authorities try to reject responsibility, we know that the mass dying is a direct result of both their actions and inactions. These deaths are on Europe.’’

    Malta, which declared its ports closed early last year, citing the pandemic, has continued to push back hundreds of migrants using two strategies: enlisting private vessels to intercept asylum seekers and force them back to Libya or turning them away with directions to Italy (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/20/we-give-you-30-minutes-malta-turns-migrant-boat-away-with-directions-to).

    “Between 2014 and 2017, Malta was able to count on Italy to take responsibility for coordinating rescues and allowing disembarkations,” said De Bellis. “But when Italy and the EU withdrew their ships from the central Mediterranean, to leave it in Libya’s hands, they left Malta more exposed. In response, from early 2020 the Maltese government used tactics to avoid assisting refugees and migrants in danger at sea, including arranging unlawful pushbacks to Libya by private fishing boats, diverting boats rather than rescuing them, illegally detaining hundreds of people on ill-equipped ferries off Malta’s waters, and signing a new agreement with Libya to prevent people from reaching Malta.”

    Last May, a series of voice messages obtained by the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/19/exclusive-12-die-as-malta-uses-private-ships-to-push-migrants-back-to-l) confirmed the Maltese government’s strategy to use private vessels, acting at the behest of its armed forces, to intercept crossings and return refugees to Libyan detention centres.

    In February 2020, the European court of human rights was accused of “completely ignoring the reality” after it ruled Spain did not violate the prohibition of collective expulsion (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/13/european-court-under-fire-backing-spain-express-deportations), as asylum applications could be made at the official border crossing point. Relying on this judgment, Spain’s constitutional court upheld “border rejections” provided certain safeguards apply.

    Last week, the bodies of 24 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were found by Spain’s maritime rescue (https://apnews.com/article/atlantic-ocean-canary-islands-coronavirus-pandemic-africa-migration-5ab68371. They are believed to have died of dehydration while attempting to reach the Canary Islands. In 2020, according to the UNHCR, 788 migrants died trying to reach Spain (https://data2.unhcr.org/en/country/esp).

    Frontex said they couldn’t comment on the total figures without knowing the details of each case, but said various authorities took action to respond to the dinghy that sunk off the coast of Libya (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) in April, resulting in the deaths of 130 people.

    “The Italian rescue centre asked Frontex to fly over the area. It’s easy to forget, but the central Mediterranean is massive and it’s not easy or fast to get from one place to another, especially in poor weather. After reaching the area where the boat was suspected to be, they located it after some time and alerted all of the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centres (MRCCs) in the area. They also issued a mayday call to all boats in the area (Ocean Viking was too far away to receive it).”

    He said the Italian MRCC, asked by the Libyan MRCC, dispatched three merchant vessels in the area to assist. Poor weather made this difficult. “In the meantime, the Frontex plane was running out of fuel and had to return to base. Another plane took off the next morning when the weather allowed, again with the same worries about the safety of the crew.

    “All authorities, certainly Frontex, did all that was humanly possible under the circumstances.”

    He added that, according to media reports, there was a Libyan coast guard vessel in the area, but it was engaged in another rescue operation.


    #push-backs #refoulements #push-back #mourir_aux_frontières #morts_aux_frontières #décès #morts #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #responsabilité #Croatie #viols #Grèce #Italie #Libye

    ping @isskein

  • Greece ready to welcome tourists as refugees stay locked down in Lesbos

    In #Moria, Europe’s largest migrant camp, tensions are rising as life is more restricted and the threat of Covid-19 is ever present

    Children fly kites between tents in the shadow of barbed wire fences as life continues in Europe’s largest refugee camp. There are 17,421 people living here in a space designed for just under 3,000. Residents carrying liquid soap and water barrels encourage everyone to wash their hands as they pass by, refugees and aid workers alike. While Moria remains untouched by the pandemic, the spectre of coronavirus still looms heavy.

    Greece is poised to open up to tourism in the coming months and bars and restaurants are reopening this week. Movement restrictions were lifted for the general population on 4 May but have been extended for refugees living in all the island camps and a number of mainland camps until 7 June.

    According to the migration ministry, this is part of the country’s Covid-19 precautions. Greece has had remarkable success in keeping transmission and death rates from coronavirus low.

    Calls for the mass evacuation of Moria, on the island of Lesbos, by aid workers and academics, have so far gone unheeded.

    The news of the extended lockdown has been met with dismay by some in the camp. “Why do they keep extending it just for refugees?” one resident says. Hadi, 17, an artist from Afghanistan, is distributing flyers, which underline the importance of hand washing. He gingerly taps on the outside of a tent or makeshift hut to hand over the flyer. “People were dancing at the prospect of being able to leave, now they have another two weeks of lockdown,” he says.

    Before the coronavirus restrictions, residents were able to leave Moria freely; now police cars monitor both exits to ensure that only those with a permit can get out. About 70 of these are handed out each day on top of those for medical appointments.

    Halime, 25, gave birth just over two weeks ago in the Mytilene hospital on Lesbos. She cradles her newborn daughter in the small hut she shares with her husband and two other young children. May is proving one of the hottest on record in Greece and her hut is sweltering. “We always wash our hands of course,” she says. “Corona isn’t our biggest concern here at the moment, how do we raise our children in a place like this? It’s so hot, and there are so many fights.”


    Halime left home in Baghlan, Afghanistan, with two children after her husband, a farmer, was asked to join the Taliban and refused. They have been living in the camp for five months, two of which have been under the coronavirus lockdown. “We came here and it was even worse in many ways. Then the coronavirus hit and then we were quarantined and everything shut down.”

    Social distancing is an impossibility in Moria. Queueing for food takes hours. Access to water and sanitation is also limited and in some remoter parts of the camp currently there are 210 people per toilet and 630 per shower.

    Khadija, 38, an Afghan tailor, produces a bag from the tent she shares with her son and daughter in the overspill site. “When people came around telling us to wash our hands, we asked, how can we do it without soap and water?” she says. She has now been given multiple soaps by various NGOs as her large bag testifies. Kahdija and her family wash using water bottles and towels, creating a makeshift shower outside their tent, instead of waiting for the camp facilities.


    At the bottom of the camp Ali Mustafa, 19, is manning a hand-washing station. “It’s really important,” says Mustafa. “There are a lot of people crowded in Moria and if one person got coronavirus it could be very dangerous.” Mustafa, from Afghanistan, hopes one day to be able to live somewhere like Switzerland where he can continue his studies. He is looking forward to the lockdown being lifted so he can go back to his football practice.

    Five boats have arrived on Lesbos in the past three weeks: 157 of the arrivals have been quarantined in the north of the island. Four have since tested positive for the virus and have been isolated according to a UNHCR spokesperson, who said they had installed four water tanks in the quarantine camp and are providing food and essential items. “We have generally observed substandard reception conditions across the islands for new arrivals since the start of March,” he adds.

    The threat of coronavirus has increased anxiety and led to mounting tensions in the camp. There have been two serious fights in the past few days. One 23-year-old woman has died and a 21-year-old man is in a critical condition.

    Omid, 30, a pharmacist from Kabul, leads one of the self-organised teams raising Covid-19 awareness in Moria. He said that the lockdown had been necessary as a preventive measure but was challenging for residents. “There is only one supermarket inside the camp and it’s overcrowded and not enough for people. It also makes people’s anxiety worse to be all the time inside the camp and not able to leave.”

    Stephan Oberreit, the head of mission for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Greece, said they were working on the preparation of an inpatient medical unit, which would be able to admit suspected Covid-19 patients and those with mild symptoms. MSF is already running multiple health services, including a paediatric clinic, in Moria camp.
    ’Moria is a hell’: new arrivals describe life in a Greek refugee camp
    Read more

    Greek asylum services reopened last week after being closed for two months, and 1,400 people have subsequently received negative responses to their asylum claims. People with negative decisions have to file an appeal within 10 days or face deportation but there are not enough permits for everyone to leave Moria within the designated time period to seek legal advice.

    Lorraine Leete from Legal Centre Lesvos says that 14 people who came to its offices on 18 May hoping to get legal advice for their rejections were fined by police for being out of the camp without a permit. “All of them had negative decisions issued over the last months and have limited time to find legal aid – which is also inadequate on the island,” she says. “The police have visited our office every day since the asylum office opened, and on Monday they gave out 14 €150 fines, which we have contested.

    “These are people who are stuck in Moria camp for months, who have the right to legal aid, and who obviously don’t have any source of income.”

    Leete added that she considered that the movement restrictions were still in place for refugees in Moria in the absence of robust efforts to protect and evacuate the most vulnerable in the camp and were unjustifiable. “While people continue to be detained inside refugee camps in horrible conditions where there’s limited measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, restaurants and bars will be opened this week across Greece. This discriminatory treatment is fulfilling the goal of local rightwing groups of keeping migrants out of public spaces away from public view, abandoned by the state,” she says.

    As Greece starts to see some signs of normality returning, each week brings fresh turmoil to the thousands of residents of Moria, who are still living under lockdown in a space not much bigger than one square mile.


    #coronavirus #covid-19 #confinement #Moria #Lesbos #Grèce #tourisme #camps_de_réfugiés #réfugiés #asile #migrations


    Ajouté à la métaliste tourisme et migrations :

    Et ajouté à ce fil de discussion :
    Grèce : nouvelle extension du confinement dans les #camps de demandeurs d’asile

    ping @isskein @luciebacon

    • Greece extends lockdown in refugee camps amid tourist season

      Greek authorities have extended the lockdown in all refugee camps for two more weeks, until July 19, 2020. The joint ministerial decision on Saturday comes more than two months after lifting restrictions for the general population and just four days after the country opened wide its gates to international tourists.

      According to the announcement by the ministers of Citizen Protection, Health and Migration the lockdown extension aims at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

      Refugees and migrants in the camps have been locked down since March 23rd.

      Detention Migrants are allowed to leave the camps from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm only in groups of less than 10 and no more than 150 people per hour

      At the end of the day, it seems that the coronavirus is a pretext to authorities to implement a kind of ‘soft detention’ or ‘closed camps’ as was the government plan in last winter but rebuked by the European Union and international organizations.

      It has been alleged that the lockdown has become an instrument to restrict the movement of refugees and migrants who normally exit the camps to purchase food and basic goods.

      According to an AFP report, Marco Sandrone, coordinator of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) at the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos, said before the announcement that the lockdowns had nothing to do with public health as there were no cases in the camps.

      Some NGOs and volunteers have argued that the lockdown extension is linked to Greece’s tourist season.

      “They try to make the refugees as invisible as possible, and think that then the tourists would love to come,” said Jenny Kalipozi, a Chios island local and volunteer who often brought aid to the Vial refugee camp.

      Greece has recorded 192 deaths across the country since the outbreak in late February and no death in the refugees and migrants camps.

      It should be stressed that social distancing inside the camps is impossible.


  • Refugee families reunited in UK after rescue flight from Greece
    Vulnerable people from Greek refugee camps reunited with close family at Heathrow

    Some 47 highly vulnerable migrants have arrived in the UK on an “unprecedented” family reunion flight from Greece.

    British refugees travelled to Heathrow to greet nephews, brothers, husbands and wives after Monday’s flight brought people from Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan to join close family in the UK. The reunion was the result of two months of intense lobbying by the campaign group Safe Passage and the British peer Alf Dubs.

    Many of the individuals, some with severe health problems, had been living for several months in the dire conditions of Greek refugee camps.

    ’Finally, at last’: vulnerable migrants to leave Greece for UK
    Read more
    Vulnerable asylum seekers in Europe can apply to be transferred to another EU country where they have close family, but as Covid-19 spread family reunions ground to a halt. Along with children stranded on their own, married couples and vulnerable adults were brought together with relatives who have offered to support them.

    Among them was an 18-year-old from Somalia who joined his uncle in the UK after a process of many months, during which he lived in the Moria camp in Lesbos. Some had spent years in Greece while their claims for family reunion were processed. A stateless boy originally from Kuwait was able to join his brother only after his lawyer overturned several Home Office refusals of their claim.

    Ahmed, 22*, left his north of England home in the early hours of Monday to reach Heathrow. He was given refugee status in the UK after escaping the Syrian war and has been working nights to support his little brother Wahid who was trapped on Samos. After a lengthy bureaucratic process, Wahid had been about to board a flight in March when it was cancelled.

    ‘All I think of is my brother’: UK refugee family reunions disrupted by Covid-19
    Read more
    “He was so disappointed,” Ahmed told the Guardian, “I phoned everybody I could think of to try to get him on a flight, I offered to pay myself. Nobody could help me then just suddenly a few days ago I was told he was coming. I have everything ready for him, we will just sit and talk.”

    Peers from both sides of the Lords worked to persuade the Home Office to allow the flight to go ahead, including Lord Dubs who has campaigned for several years for more lone children to be accepted into the UK.

    He told the Guardian: “In these bleak times this is a rare but wonderful good news story to emerge from the coronavirus crisis. The conditions in the camps in Greece are truly awful. They’re no place for children or vulnerable people, especially now.

    “I hope it is only a start, because there are other children who want to join their family in Britain and there are also children who are in the Greek camps who may not have family here but also need to be helped to find safety.”

    The UK Home Office was criticised last month for refusing to take unaccompanied minors from the overcrowded camps. In April, Germany took 49 children and Luxembourg took 12.

    Beth Gardiner-Smith, the CEO of Safe Passage, said: “The UK and Greek governments have shown real leadership in reuniting these families despite the travel difficulties and we now urge the UK and other countries across Europe to continue these efforts to ensure no one is left behind.”

    A UK Home Office spokesperson said “The UK has a long and proud tradition of providing help and support to the vulnerable, and now more than ever it is important we honour that.”

    Eirini Agapidaki, Greek special secretary for the protection of unaccompanied minors, told the Guardian that Greece’s prime minister and the minister for migration had worked with the Home Office as well as Lord Dubs to ensure the reunions went ahead. “Among these people are children that will finally be with their siblings, men and women to finally be reunited with their spouses,” she said.

    “It’s the collaborative teamwork that allows us to be effective in times of corona restrictions, a legacy that we need to sustain not just at national but also at the EU level.”


    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Grèce #Transfert #Royaume-Uni

  • ’There is no future’: the refugees who became pawns in Erdoğan’s game - The guardian

    The investigation has shown how, after leaving the quarantine camps, some people ended up on the streets of Izmir. Others, including children, were put into a detention facility in Ankara. Some of the Syrians have been threatened with deportation to “safe zones” in northern Syria. These people are what remains of Turkey’s “leverage” over the EU. Their stories are just a handful of those who risked and lost much at the European border in March.



  • Millions predicted to develop tuberculosis as result of #Covid-19 lockdown | Global development | The Guardian

    “I have to say we look from the TB community in a sort of puzzled way because TB has been around for thousands of years,” Ditiu said. “For 100 years we have had a vaccine and we have two or three potential vaccines in the pipeline. We need around half a billion [people] to get the vaccine by 2027 and we look in amazement on a disease that … is 120 days old and it has 100 vaccine candidates in the pipeline. So I think this world, sorry for my French, is really fucked up,” she said.


  • Qatar’s migrant workers beg for food as Covid-19 infections rise | Global development | The Guardian

    The plight of low-wage workers in Qatar is repeated across the Gulf, where economies are almost entirely dependent on millions of migrant workers from south and southeast Asia and east Africa. Kuwait has reportedly seen a surge in the number of suicides among migrants. Workers in the UAE have described being “trapped” without work or a way to return home, while Saudi Arabia has deported thousands of Ethiopian domestic workers. A coalition of human rights organisations wrote to governments in the Gulf in April, warning that low-paid migrant workers remain “acutely vulnerable” to infection. They urged governments to take steps to reduce the economic impact of the outbreak.


  • Les barbelés de clôtures, abandonnés par l’#Espagne mais maintenus par le #Maroc ?

    Alors que le gouvernement espagnol a annoncé vendredi qu’il abandonnera les barbelés de clôtures séparant #Ceuta et #Melilla du Maroc, ce dernier serait en train de mettre en place une nouvelle clôture autour des deux enclaves..

    Le gouvernement espagnol a approuvé vendredi un plan de modernisation visant à supprimer les barbelés de clôtures séparant Ceuta et Melilla du Maroc.

    Selon le média espagnol Info Libre, cette annonce intervient sept mois après que le ministre de l’Intérieur, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, s’était prononcé contre ce dispositif. La même source rappelle que ces barbelés de clôtures causent de graves blessures aux migrants qui tentent d’accéder illégalement aux deux enclaves espagnoles.

    Le gouvernement espagnol pour des moyens « plus surs mais moins sanglants »

    « Le retrait des clôtures et leur remplacement par de nouveaux équipements avec une technologie de pointe permettra de renforcer la sécurité sans blesser » ces migrants, poursuit-on de même source. Cette opération concernera d’abord les « zones frontalières les plus vulnérables ».

    Malgré l’insistance de l’opinion publique espagnole, Grande-Marlaska n’a pas précisé en quoi son ministère rendrait les clôtures plus sûres, mais il a cité un rapport technique du gouvernement de Rajoy. Ce document, cité par les médias espagnols, avait établi que les barbelés n’étaient plus dissuasifs pour les migrants, ce qui justifie la décision de les remplacer par des moyens « plus sûrs mais moins sanglants ».

    Toutes les actions seront développées en coordination avec le Royaume du Maroc, chargé de la surveillance de l’autre côté de la frontière, a précisé le ministre. Ce dernier a indiqué aussi que les travaux commenceront cette année par l’installation d’un nouveau système de surveillance en circuit fermé.

    « L’amélioration du réseau de fibre optique ou l’extension du circuit fermé de vidéosurveillance jusqu’au territoire marocain sont également prévues, tout comme l’adaptation des zones de transit de personnes à Tarajal (Ceuta) et d’autres passages frontaliers et l’installation de dispositifs de reconnaissance faciale », poursuit le média espagnol.

    Les « concertinas » maintenus par le Maroc ?

    Avec ces actions, le gouvernement montre sa volonté de prendre « très au sérieux la sécurité des migrants et le respect des droits de l’Homme », a déclaré Grande-Marlaska. Cette mesure intervient dans le cadre d’un large plan annoncé par le gouvernement pour l’amélioration des infrastructures de sécurité de l’Espagne, conclut Info Libre.

    De son côté, le média local Ceuta Actualidad a rapporté ce samedi que le Maroc serait en train d’installer, au niveau sa frontière avec Ceuta, une clôture avec des fils barbelés concertinas. « Pour le moment, les travaux ont commencé dans la région de Finca Berrocal. La clôture, plus petite que celle des Espagnols, sera située à quelques mètres de celle-ci », précise-t-il.

    « Avec cette mesure, un migrant qui veut accéder à Ceuta devra d’abord franchir la barrière marocaine puis un deuxième obstacle. De cette manière, il sera très difficile pour un migrant de pénétrer sur le territoire espagnol sans être intercepté à mi-parcours », détaille-t-il.

    Et Ceuta Actualidad de conclure : « Désormais, les #concertinas (#fils_barbelés, ndlr) seront placées du côté marocain » de la frontière.


    #murs #barbelés #barrières_frontalières #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #fil_barbelé

    • Le Maroc remplace les #lames_coupantes retirées des clôtures espagnoles de Ceuta et Melilla

      « Il sera désormais presque impossible pour les immigrants d’arriver à Ceuta ou à Melilla, et avec l’argent européen, nous protégeons nos frontières », a déclaré une source autorisée du ministère de l’Intérieur à El Mundo. Et pour cause, révèle la même source, le financement de 140 millions d’euros promis par l’Union européenne au Maroc et dont plus de 30 millions ont d’ores et déjà été injectés dans le budget du « cordon de sécurité », servira en priorité à ériger une double barrière hérissée de lames coupantes et d’un profond fossé en amont de la clôture espagnole.

      Le ministre espagnol de l’Intérieur, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, avait, quant à lui, annoncé que les lames, qui avaient suscité une vive polémique en Espagne après de graves blessures infligées à des migrants subsahariens, seraient retirées des « zones les plus vulnérables » des clôtures de Ceuta et Melilla.

      Comme l’avait expliqué Marlaska, le système de protection espagnol « sera renforcé, mais sans moyens sanglants », simplement parce-que ces « moyens sanglants » sont désormais pris en charge… par le Maroc. « Nous sommes prêts à jouer à nouveau le mauvais rôle tant que l’Espagne et l’Europe respectent ce qu’elles ont promis. Si elles ne veulent pas d’immigrants, elles doivent nous procurer plus d’argent, de moyens et de formation », a expliqué à El Mundo, le haut responsable du ministère de l’Intérieur. Résultat : les lames de la partie espagnole vont disparaître. Mais le Maroc les remplace…


    • Migration : l’Espagne augmentera la #hauteur des #clôtures frontalières à #Ceuta

      Le ministère espagnol de l’Intérieur a annoncé samedi 23 février sa volonté de renforcer sa frontière à Ceuta en élevant la hauteur de sa clôture. “La hauteur de la clôture sera augmentée de 30%, atteignant les dix mètres, là où se sont produites le plus d’entrées”, a annoncé le ministre de l’Intérieur, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, lors d’une visite à Ceuta, selon un communiqué de son ministère.

      Le ministère espagnol de l’Intérieur a également indiqué que les barbelés au sommet des clôtures seraient remplacés par un autre matériel non blessant qui “garantira la sécurité sans blesser tout le long de la clôture”.

      Toujours selon la même source, les travaux de renforcement de cette clôture à Ceuta commenceront dans un mois et demi environ.

      Le but, selon le ministre, est d’avoir “une frontière plus sûre, plus moderne et dotée de moyens technologiques plus sophistiqués”. Ce dernier a évoqué notamment des systèmes de reconnaissance faciale aux passages frontaliers et l’amélioration des systèmes de vidéo-surveillance.

      Selon les chiffres du ministère espagnol de l’Intérieur, 726 migrants sont entrés illégalement dans les enclaves espagnoles de Ceuta et Melilla entre le 1er janvier et le 13 février par voie terrestre.

      Pendant la même période, 4.889 autres migrants ont accosté sur les côtes espagnoles à bord d’embarcations. Les côtes espagnoles constituent la principale voie d’entrée par mer dans l’Union européenne (UE) des migrants en situation irrégulière.

      Rappelons que Ceuta et Melilla ont été plusieurs fois le théâtre de passages en force de migrants africains qui souhaitaient pénétrer dans les enclaves espagnoles, constituant la seule frontière terrestre entre l’Afrique et l’UE.

      #toujours_plus_haut #tout_aussi_inutile

    • ’A bloody method of control’: the struggle to take down Europe’s razor wire walls

      You could barely see that it was a finger. “The wound was large, with several deep cuts into the flesh. He had tried to climb the fence and was up there when he was caught by police in the middle of the night,” says András Léderer, advocacy officer for the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a Budapest-based NGO.

      “He lost his balance. The wound was so horrific because as he fell, he tried to grab the razor wire – and also, he said, touched the second layer of the fence, which is electrified.”

      The unnamed Pakistani refugee in his 30s had attempted to cross the fence near Sombor, Serbia, to get into Hungary in 2016. The coils of metal that lacerated his finger are ubiquitous at the perimeters of “Fortress Europe” and can be found on border fences in Slovenia, Hungary, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Spain and France.

      Razor wire is cut from galvanised steel, and unlike barbed wire, which was devised to tangle and impede movement, it is designed to maim.

      It is one of the most visible symbols of the fortification of the EU’s borders. Thousands of migrants have already paid with their lives while attempting to get around those borders: by crawling through pipes, suffocating in the back of lorries, or drowning in the Mediterranean.

      In September 2005, a Senegalese man reportedly bled to death from wounds inflicted by deadly razor wire coils topping the fence in Ceuta, one of Spain’s two exclaves on the north African coast.

      Migrants from African countries regularly attempt to scale the six-metre high barriers separating these port cities from Morocco. They do so at great personal risk; after mass attempts to cross, Spanish medical staff regularly attend to deep cuts from razor wire, from which migrants’ bloodstained clothes are sometimes left dangling.

      Like the rest of Spain, Ceuta and Melilla have been under lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. But tighter Moroccan border controls linked to the pandemic have not stopped migrants and refugees from coming: 1,140 people succeeded in crossing the frontier into Ceuta and Melilla in the first three months of this year.

      The Spanish authorities started removing the razor wire from these fences last December as part of a review of border security. The wire was first installed in 2005, removed two years later and restored by the centre-right government of Mariano Rajoy in 2013. The socialist government led by Pedro Sanchez had a chance to make good on repeated promises of a more humanitarian migration policy after June 2018. And throughout 2018 and 2019, Spanish officials stated their determination to remove the razor wire and, in the words of the interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, move beyond “bloody methods” of border control.

      Spain’s humanitarian policy has become largely redundant, though, given that Moroccan authorities have started installing razor wire along their own border fence with Ceuta. And Grande-Marlaska announced recently that fences around the two Spanish exclaves would be raised by 30 metres to deter incomers.

      These apparent double standards are part of a pattern, says Karl Kopp, of the German NGO Pro Asyl.

      “The European style is to outsource this more vicious, older style of border control with its razor wire and multiple fences to third countries. At home, it’s about drones, surveillance and technical cooperation to identify migrants approaching the EU border before they even reach it. Meanwhile, violent border policing is kept farther afield: out of sight, out of mind. So the Moroccans build an ‘ugly’ fence which can be criticised, while the Spanish create a more ‘humanitarian’ alternative,” says Kopp.

      Public pressure elsewhere has led some governments to reconsider the use of razor wire as experts brand it both inhumane and ineffective. Others even wonder about the legality of its use.

      “On the one hand, legislation about borders states that crossing anywhere other than an official checkpoint is illegal. On the other hand, the notion of crossing a border illegally is usually voided under international refugee law if making an asylum claim,” says Bernd Kasparek, a researcher at Border Monitoring, a German NGO that tracks pushbacks of refugees. “So there is a legal tension at the EU’s borders. Sometimes it is very necessary to cross the border irregularly in order to lodge an asylum claim. Fortified borders like these interfere with that legal right, particularly in places where it’s an open secret that 99% of asylum claims lodged with border guards are rejected,” Kasparek adds.

      Recent successful attempts at removing razor wire from Europe’s borders have not been motivated by legal or humanitarian concerns but by ecological ones. In Slovenia, environmentalists’ fears of the impact of razor wire on wildlife led in 2016 to the removal of the coils from sections of its border with Croatia. In light of legal constraints in several European states on the deployment of razor wire in rural areas, some manufacturers even indicate the wildlife-friendly credentials of their razor wire.

      One difficulty in mounting a challenge is the near impossibility of establishing the true scale of the injuries inflicted specifically by razor wire at borders. According to Kate Dearden, project officer at the I nternational Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants Project, many governments only keep records on deaths at borders, rather than deaths that occur later as a result of injuries during attempts to cross them.

      Moreover, it can be hard to discover exactly which portions of Europe’s fences are topped by razor wire and who supplied it; in recent years many governments have classified detailed information about fences as state security issues. Nevertheless, some manufacturers have refused to sell to border fences on humanitarian grounds. In 2015, Talat Deger, director of the Berlin-based company Mutanox, refused to do a deal with the Hungarian government. In an interview last year, Deger’s successor, Efekan Dikici, said that he and his staff have kept to the principle.

      “We want to sell razor wire, of course, but only for the right purposes: to secure property, factories, jails, or for example on the railings of ships to prevent piracy. For those purposes it’s justified; but when it’s being used against humans who need help, that’s awkward,” said Dikici. “Most of our workers have a foreign background themselves, so I think we all feel this a bit more.”
      That stance is costly. Dikici stressed that it can be genuinely difficult for razor wire suppliers to establish the end use of their product, given that they often deal with middlemen and procurement agencies. “If you’re selling to a government, razor wire could be used for a prison or a border. But if a request for a really huge amount comes in, we do wonder whether it’s for a border fence. Even large private properties need a few hundred metres, not kilometres. I ask myself, if we got a request from the US for the Mexico border, would we give them a quote?”

      Other companies do not appear to have these scruples – after all, there is a brisk trade to be done in razor wire, which is not to be confused with barbed wire. Razor wire is cut from single sheets of galvanised steel, and most commonly sold in folding coils known in the industry as concertinas. The sharp razors come in various sizes; most seen by the Guardian at four European border fences are of the BTO-22, BTO-20 and BTO-10 varieties – straight razor edges affixed to a metal coil.

      There are even more formidable options: CBT-60 includes “harpoon” style hooked razor heads that can embed themselves in the flesh of those trying to cross them. Some razor wire manufacturers seemingly flaunt the effects in their brochures; for example, Chinese manufacturer Hebei Jinshi advertises its CBT-65 long blade as a “vicious product” whose “extra long blade razors produce[s] [a] frightening effect.”

      However, some European producers have discovered that selling razor wire to border fences comes at the cost of bad press, even in times of rising xenophobic sentiment.

      When Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, decreed in 2015 that a fence be raised on Hungary’s border with Serbia, the Malaga-based manufacturer European Security Fencing (ESF) provided the razor wire. ESF, a subdivision of Mora Salazar, has delivered coils for fences in Austria, Slovenia, Bulgaria and France, and proudly presents itself as one of Europe’s leading razor wire suppliers.

      Nevertheless, after the installation of its razor wire on the Hungarian border, ESF spokesmen told the Spanish press that they had been unaware of the product’s final use by the Hungarian clients. In September 2015, the company deleted its official Twitter account following the backlash provoked by a tweet boasting of ESF’s leading role in the European razor wire industry.

      Today, ESF appears to have competition in the form of Polish company GC Metal, which now refers to itself as Europe’s leading seller of razor wire. The company’s website indicates that it may have been involved in supplying concertina wire for the Bulgarian-Turkish border fence. Neither ESF nor GC Metal responded to requests for comment about the end use of their products or their humanitarian implications.

      Europe’s fortified borders are here to stay, even if borders in decades to come may be unrecognisable in comparison to today’s crude fences. Razor wire, much like fortified borders in general, is both inhumane and ineffective, concludes Kopp, though its removal may not necessarily be a bellwether for a more humanitarian migration policy. Seismic sensors, night vision cameras and surveillance drones have all come to play a greater role in border policing – with hi-tech solutions like these, will razor wire become redundant?

      “There’s a high symbolic value to razor wire, like fences,” says Mark Akkerman, a researcher at the Transnational Institute and author of a recent report on Europe’s border-industrial complex. “Simply put, they allow governments to show the public, the press, their voters, and the world that they’re ‘doing something’ about migration.”