company:amnesty international

  • Amnesty International Condemns U.S. Attacks on Border Journalists and Human Rights Defenders
    https://theintercept.com/2019/07/02/amnesty-international-human-rights-border-report

    The shape of the Trump administration’s approach to policing immigration is at this point familiar. Since January 2017, federal agents and officers have been under orders to enforce a harsh interpretation of immigration laws without restraint. The result has most infamously manifested in the forced separation of immigrant parents from their children and, more recently, a series of horrific reports detailing conditions in border-area detention centers. Though undocumented people have always (...)

    #DHS #migration #surveillance #frontières #Amnesty #journalisme

  • UK rights advocate co-owns firm whose spyware is ’used to target dissidents’
    https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/jun/14/yana-peel-uk-rights-advocate-serpentine-nso-spyware-pegasus

    A leading human rights campaigner and head of a prestigious London art gallery is the co-owner of an Israeli cyberweapons company whose software has allegedly been used by authoritarian regimes to spy on dissidents, the Guardian can reveal.

    Yana Peel, the chief executive of the Serpentine Galleries and a self-proclaimed champion of free speech, co-owns NSO Group, a $1bn (£790m) Israeli tech firm, according to corporate records in the US and Luxembourg.

    NSO is the subject of multiple ongoing lawsuits and has been criticised by human rights groups, including Amnesty International, which has asked Israel’s ministry of defence to revoke the company’s export licences.

    However, Peel, who has declared the Serpentine a “safe space for unsafe ideas” and served as a judge for international freedom-of-expression awards, defended her stake in NSO, which she has held since February. She described criticism of the company as “misinformed”.

    #surveillance

  • The Dark Side of Israel’s Cold Peace With Saudi Arabia
    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-06-03/israel-s-cold-peace-with-saudi-arabia-has-a-dark-side

    The Saudis’ phone hacking is enabled by a privately owned Israeli company called the NSO Group Ltd. Its cyberweapon suite, Pegasus, has come under deserved scrutiny in the last year because governments have misused the weapon to hack the phones of journalists and human-rights activists. Last year, two groups of victims sued the company in Israel and Cyprus for providing phone surveillance to the Mexican and Emirati governments, which then used it against political targets.

    Pegasus and similar hacking programs are now able to break into a phone without requiring the user to even click a link. In some cases, a bogus WhatsApp call is enough to infect the phone and make it a powerful tracking device. That makes it particularly suited to monitor Arab dissidents like Al-Baghdadi, who rely on the encrypted messaging service to make contact with networks of activists across the Middle East.

  • Tunisia prepares to host refugees fleeing Libya

    Officials working for international organizations and institutions have visited Tunisia’s border areas with Libya to evaluate the resources available ahead of the potential arrival of refugees fleeing armed clashes in Libya.

    Representatives for the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR and the regional directorate of the Tunisian health ministry on Thursday visited the border delegations of Dehiba and Ramada, in the governorate of Tataouine near the border with Libya. Officials visited the locations to examine the resources available ahead of the potential mass arrival of refugees fleeing armed clashes in Libya.

    Visit to prevent humanitarian crisis

    The visit was aimed at preventing a possible humanitarian crisis like the one reported in 2011, which required international aid, given a situation in Libya considered critical by humanitarian agencies. The inspection was used to identify logistical needs and intervention strategies to deal in the best way possible with the potential arrival of refugees. Concern over the situation in Libya and its consequences on Tunisia was expressed by the UN High commissioner for Refugees in Tunisia, Mazen Abu Shanab, who stressed that assistance efforts need to be intensified due to an increase in the number of Libyan migrants in Tunisia, an estimated 300 a month.

    Amnesty documents ’war crimes’ in Tripoli

    Amnesty International has gathered witness testimony and analyzed satellite imagery that documented attacks that could constitute “war crimes” in areas of Tripoli where an offensive conducted by the troops of General Khalifa Haftar has been ongoing since the beginning of April, according to a statement released by the human rights organization. These attacks could be examined by the international judiciary, Amnesty stressed, highlighting the case of three residential areas in the Abu Salim district of Tripoli that were “indiscriminately attacked with rockets during an episode of intense fighting between April 15-17” (Hay al-Intissar, Hay Salaheddin and the so-called “Kikla buildings”).

    The organization also said in the statement that it documented attacks that endangered the lives of hundreds of refugees and migrants, including an air raid on May 7 that hit an area some 100 meters from the migrant detention center of Tajoura, wounding two detainees.


    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/16979/tunisia-prepares-to-host-refugees-fleeing-libya
    #OMS #HCR #asile #migrations #Libye #réfugiés #migrerrance #externalisation #Ramada #camps #camps_de_réfugiés

    Les personnes qui fuient les affrontements en Libye passent la frontière avec la Tunisie et sont installées dans #camp_de_réfugiés à #Dehiba, en plein désert, à quelques km de la frontière avec la Libye...

    Le commentaire de #Vincent_Cochetel :

    #Tunisia, we should not panic, but prepare. 120 arrivals (non-Libyans) this week. Reception capacity must improve. Working on it with partners and with very limited resources

    https://twitter.com/cochetel/status/1134456403115094017?s=19

    ping @_kg_ @isskein @reka

  • State-sponsored hackers target Amnesty International Hong Kong with sophisticated cyber-attack
    https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2019/04/state-sponsored-cyber-attack-hong-kong

    Amnesty International Hong Kong can reveal it has been the target of a sophisticated state-sponsored cyber-attack, consistent with those carried out by hostile groups linked to the Chinese government. The cyber-attack was first detected on 15 March 2019, when state-of-the-art security monitoring tools detected suspicious activity on Amnesty International Hong Kong’s local IT systems. Cyber security experts took immediate action to protect the systems and to commence an investigation into (...)

    #activisme #surveillance #hacking #Amnesty

  • Runaway Saudi sisters call on #Google and #Apple to pull ’inhuman’ woman-monitoring app

    Two runaway Saudi sisters on Wednesday urged Apple and Google to pull an “inhuman” app allowing men to monitor and control female relatives’ travel as it helped trap girls in abusive families.

    Maha and Wafa al-Subaie, who are seeking asylum in Georgia after fleeing their family, said Absher – a government e-services app – was bad for women as it supported Saudi Arabia’s strict male guardian system.

    “It gives men control over women,” said Wafa, 25. “They have to remove it,” she added, referring to Google and Apple.

    #Absher, which is available in the Saudi version of Google and Apple online stores, allows men to update or withdraw permissions for female relatives to travel abroad and to get SMS updates if their passports are used, according to researchers.

    Neither company was immediately available to comment. Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said in February that he had not heard of Absher but pledged to “take a look at it”.

    A free tool created by the interior ministry, Absher allows Saudis to access a wide range of government services, such as renewing passports, making appointments and viewing traffic violations.

    Saudi women must have permission from a male relative to work, marry and travel under the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom’s guardianship system, which has faced scrutiny following recent cases of Saudi women seeking refuge overseas.

    The al-Subaie sisters, who stole their father’s phone to get themselves passports and authorisation to fly to Istanbul, said they knew of dozens of other young women who were looking to escape abusive families.

    Tech giants could help bring about change in Saudi Arabia if they pulled Absher or insisted that it allows women to organise travel independently – which would significantly hamper the guardianship system - they said.

    “If [they] remove this application, maybe the government will do something,” Wafa said.

    The sisters’ plea added to growing calls from rights groups, diplomats and US and European politicians for the app to be removed from online stores.

    United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday that she had asked tech companies in Silicon Valley “tough questions” this month about the “threats” posed by apps like Absher.

    “Technology can, and should, be all about progress. But the hugely invasive powers that are being unleashed may do incalculable damage if there are not sufficient checks in place to respect human rights,” she said in a statement.

    A Saudi teen received global attention and ultimately an offer of asylum in Canada when she refused to leave a Thai airport hotel in January to escape her family. Two other Saudi sisters who hid in Hong Kong for six months were granted visas in March to travel to a third country.

    “Increasing cases of women fleeing the country are indicative of the situation of women in Saudi Arabia,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director for rights group Amnesty International.

    “Despite some limited reforms, [they] are inadequately protected against domestic violence and abuse and, more generally, are discriminated against.”

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has introduced reforms, such as lifting the driving ban for women, and indicated last year that he favoured ending the guardianship system. But he has stopped short of backing its annulment.

    Western criticism of the kingdom has sharpened with the trial of 11 women activists who said last month that they had been tortured while in detention on charges related to human rights work and contacts with foreign journalists and diplomats.

    The public prosecutor has denied the torture allegations and said the women had been arrested on suspicion of harming Saudi interests and offering support to hostile elements abroad.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/25/runaway-saudi-sisters-call-for-inhuman-woman-monitoring-app-absher-to-b
    #contrôle #hommes #surveillance #femmes
    #liberté #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Arabie_Saoudite #femmes #technologie #domination_masculine #fuite #contrôles_frontaliers #frontières #passeport

    ping @reka

  • Syria: At least 1,600 civilians killed by US coalition in Raqqa, probe finds | Middle East Eye
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syria-least-1600-civilians-killed-us-coalition-raqqa-probe-finds

    A US-led military coalition killed thousands of civilians in Raqqa during its “indiscriminate” bombing campaign against the Islamic State group (IS) in Syria, an investigation released on Thursday has found.

    In a new joint report, the Airwars monitoring group and human rights advocate Amnesty International said the US-led coalition was responsible for the deaths of at least 1,600 civilians during its bombardment of northeastern Syria.

    Both groups used open source data, which included thousands of social media posts and other material, to build a database of more than 1,600 civilians reportedly killed in coalition strikes between June to October 2017.

    The organisations said they had gathered the names of more than 1,000 victims. Amnesty added that it had managed to directly verify 641 of these names on the ground in Raqqa, the eastern Syrian city IS was headquartered in.

    The groups noted one incident where four families had been “wiped out in an instant” after the US-led coalition bombed a Raqqa neighbourhood on 25 September 2017.

    #syrie

  • Carne da cannone. In Libia i profughi dei campi sono arruolati a forza e mandati a combattere

    Arruolati di forza, vestiti con vecchie divise, armati con fucili di scarto e spediti a combattere le milizie del generale #Haftar che stanno assediando Tripoli. I profughi di Libia, dopo essere stati trasformati in “merce” preziosa dai trafficanti, con la complicità e il supporto del’Italia e dall’Europa, sono diventati anche carne da cannone.

    Secondo fonti ufficiali dell’Unhcr e di Al Jazeera, il centro di detenzione di Qaser Ben Gashir, è stato trasformato in una caserma di arruolamento. “Ci viene riferito – ha affermato l’inviato dell’agenzia Onu per i rifugiati, Vincent Cochetel – che ad alcuni migranti sono state fornite divise militari e gli è stati promesso la libertà in cambio dell’arruolamento”. Nel solo centro di Qaser Ben Gashir, secondo una stima dell’Unhcr, sono detenuti, per o più arbitrariamente, perlomeno 6 mila profughi tra uomini e donne, tra i quali almeno 600 bambini.

    Sempre secondo l’Unhcr, tale pratica di arruolamento pressoché forzato – è facile intuire che non si può dire facilmente no al proprio carceriere! – sarebbe stata messa in pratica perlomeno in altri tre centri di detenzione del Paese. L’avanzata delle truppe del generale Haftar ha fatto perdere la testa alle milizie fedeli al Governo di accordo nazionale guidato da Fayez al Serraj, che hanno deciso di giocarsi la carta della disperazione, mandando i migranti – che non possono certo definirsi militari sufficientemente addestrati – incontro ad una morte certa in battaglia. Carne da cannone, appunto.

    I messaggi WhatsUp che arrivano dai centri di detenzione sono terrificanti e testimoniano una situazione di panico totale che ha investito tanto i carcerieri quanto gli stessi profughi. “Ci danno armi di cui non conosciamo neppure come si chiamano e come si usano – si legge su un messaggio riportato dall’Irish Time – e ci ordinano di andare a combattere”. “Ci volevano caricare in una camionetta piena di armi. Gli abbiamo detto di no, che preferivamo essere riportato in cella ma non loro non hanno voluto”.

    La situazione sta precipitando verso una strage annunciata. Nella maggioranza dei centri l’elettricità è già stata tolta da giorni. Acque e cibo non ne arrivano più. Cure mediche non ne avevano neppure prima. I richiedenti asilo sono alla disperazione. Al Jazeera porta la notizia che ad Qaser Ben Gashir, qualche giorno fa, un bambino è morto per semplice denutrizione. Quello che succede nei campi più lontani dalla capitale, lo possiamo solo immaginare. E con l’avanzare del conflitto, si riduce anche la possibilità di intervento e di denuncia dell’Unhcr o delle associazioni umanitarie che ancora resistono nel Paese come Medici Senza Frontiere.

    Proprio Craig Kenzie, il coordinatore per la Libia di Medici Senza Frontiere, lancia un appello perché i detenuti vengano immediatamente evacuati dalle zone di guerra e che le persone che fuggono e che vengono intercettate in mare non vengano riportate in quell’Inferno. Ma per il nostro Governo, quelle sponde continuano ad essere considerate “sicure”.

    https://dossierlibia.lasciatecientrare.it/carne-da-cannone-in-libia-i-profughi-dei-campi-sono-a
    #Libye #asile #migrations #réfugiés #armées #enrôlement_militaire #enrôlement #conflit #soldats #milices #Tripoli

    • ’We are in a fire’: Libya’s detained refugees trapped by conflict

      Detainees at detention centre on the outskirts of Tripoli live in fear amid intense clashes for control of the capital.

      Refugees and migrants trapped on the front line of fierce fighting in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, are pleading to be rescued from the war-torn country while being “surrounded by heavy weapons and militants”.

      Hit by food and water shortages, detainees at the #Qasr_bin_Ghashir detention centre on the southern outskirts of Tripoli, told Al Jazeera they were “abandoned” on Saturday by fleeing guards, who allegedly told the estimated 728 people being held at the facility to fend for themselves.

      The refugees and migrants used hidden phones to communicate and requested that their names not be published.

      “[There are] no words to describe the fear of the women and children,” an Eritrean male detainee said on Saturday.

      “We are afraid of [the] noise... fired from the air and the weapons. I feel that we are abandoned to our fate.”
      Fighting rages on Tripoli outskirts

      Tripoli’s southern outskirts have been engulfed by fighting since renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s eastern forces launched an assault on the capital earlier this month in a bid to wrestle control of the city from Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

      The showdown threatens to further destabilise war-wracked Libya, which splintered into a patchwork of rival power bases following the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

      At least 121 people have been killed and 561 wounded since Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) started its offensive on April 4, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

      Both sides have repeatedly carried out air raids and accuse each other of targeting civilians.

      The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), for its part, estimates more than 15,000 people have been displaced so far, with a “significant number” of others stuck in live conflict zones.

      Amid the fighting, refugees and migrants locked up in detention centres throughout the capital, many of whom fled war and persecution in countries including Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan, are warning that their lives are at risk.

      “We find ourselves in a fire,” a 15-year-old detainee at Qasr bin Ghashir told Al Jazeera.
      Electricity outage, water shortages

      Others held at the centre described the abject conditions they were subject to, including a week-long stint without electricity and working water pumps.

      One detainee in her 30s, who alleged the centre’s manager assaulted her, also said they had gone more than a week until Saturday with “no food, [and] no water”, adding the situation “was not good” and saying women are particularly vulnerable now.

      This is the third time since August that detainees in Qasr bin Ghashir have been in the middle of clashes, she said.

      Elsewhere in the capital, refugees and migrants held at the #Abu_Salim detention centre also said they could “hear the noise of weapons” and needed protection.

      “At this time, we want quick evacuation,” said one detainee at Abu Salim, which sits about 20km north of Qasr bin Ghashir.

      “We’ve stayed years with much torture and suffering, we don’t have any resistance for anything. We are (under) deep pressure and stressed … People are very angry and afraid.”
      ’Take us from Libya, please’

      Tripoli’s detention centres are formally under the control of the GNA’s Department for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM), though many are actually run by militias.

      The majority of the approximately 6,000 people held in the facilities were intercepted on the Mediterranean Sea and brought back to the North African country after trying to reach Europe as part of a two-year agreement under which which the European Union supports the Libyan coastguard with funds, ships and training, in return for carrying out interceptions and rescues.

      In a statement to Al Jazeera, an EU spokesperson said the bloc’s authorities were “closely monitoring the situation in Libya” from a “political, security and humanitarian point of view” though they could not comment on Qasr bin Ghashir specifically.

      DCIM, for its part, did not respond to a request for comment.

      The UN, however, continues to reiterate that Libya is not a safe country for refugees and migrants to return.

      Amid the ongoing conflict, the organisation’s human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, warned last week of the need to “ensure protection of extremely vulnerable civilians”, including refugees and migrants who may be living “under significant peril”.

      Bachelet also called for authorities to ensure that prisons and detention centres are not abandoned, and for all parties to guarantee that the treatment of detainees is in line with international law.

      In an apparent move to safeguard the refugees and migrants being held near the capital, Libyan authorities attempted last week to move detainees at Qasr bin Ghashir to another detention centre in #Zintan, nearly 170km southwest of Tripoli.

      But those being held in Qasr bin Ghashir refused to leave, arguing the solution is not a move elsewhere in Libya but rather a rescue from the country altogether.

      “All Libya [is a] war zone,” an Eritrean detainee told Al Jazeera.

      “Take us from Libya, please. Where is humanity and where is human rights,” the detainee asked.

      https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/fire-libya-detained-refugees-trapped-conflict-190414150247858.html

      700+ refugees & migrants - including more than 150 women & children - are trapped in a detention centre on the front lines, amid renewed clashes in Tripoli. The below photos, taken today, show where a jet was downed right beside them.


      https://twitter.com/sallyhayd/status/1117501460290392064

    • ESCLUSIVO TPI: “Senza cibo né acqua, pestati a sangue dai soldati”: la guerra in Libia vista dai migranti rinchiusi nei centri di detenzione

      “I rifugiati detenuti in Libia stanno subendo le più drammatiche conseguenze della guerra civile esplosa nel paese”.

      È la denuncia a TPI di Giulia Tranchina, avvocato che, a Londra, si occupa di rifugiati per lo studio legale Wilson Solicitor.

      Tranchina è in contatto con i migranti rinchiusi nei centri di detenzione libici e, da tempo, denuncia abusi e torture perpetrate ai loro danni.

      L’esplosione della guerra ha reso le condizioni di vita delle migliaia di rifugiati presenti nei centri governativi ancora più disumane.

      La gestione dei centri è stata bocciata anche dagli organismi internazionali in diversi rapporti, ignorati dai governi europei e anche da quello italiano, rapporti dove si evidenzia la violazione sistematica delle convenzioni internazionali, le condizioni sanitarie agghiaccianti e continue torture.

      https://www.tpi.it/2019/04/13/guerra-libia-migranti-centri-di-detenzione
      #guerre_civile

    • The humanitarian fallout from Libya’s newest war

      The Libyan capital of Tripoli is shuddering under an offensive by forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, with the city’s already precarious basic services in danger of breaking down completely and aid agencies struggling to cope with a growing emergency.

      In the worst and most sustained fighting the country has seen since the 2011 uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, the Haftar-led Libyan National Army, or LNA, surged into the city – controlled by the UN-backed Government of National Accord, or GNA – on 4 April.

      Fighting continues across a string of southern suburbs, with airstrikes and rocket and artillery fire from both sides hammering front lines and civilians alike.

      “It is terrible; they use big guns at night, the children can’t sleep,” said one resident of the capital, who declined to give her name for publication. “The shots land everywhere.”

      The violence has displaced thousands of people and trapped hundreds of migrants and refugees in detention centres. Some analysts also think it has wrecked years of diplomacy, including attempts by the UN to try to build political consensus in Libya, where various militias support the two major rivals for power: the Tripoli-based GNA and the Haftar-backed House of Representatives, based in the eastern city of Tobruk.

      “Detained migrants and refugees, including women and children, are particularly vulnerable.”

      “Pandora’s box has been opened,” said Jalel Harchaoui, a research fellow at Clingendael Institute think tank in The Hague. “The military operation [to capture Tripoli] has inflicted irreversible damage upon a modus vivendi and a large set of political dialogues that has required four years of diplomatic work.”
      Civilians in the line of fire

      Media reports and eyewitnesses in the city said residents face agonising decisions about when to go out, and risk the indiscriminate fire, in search of food and other essentials from the few shops that are open.

      One resident said those in Tripoli face the dilemma of whether to stay in their homes or leave, with no clear idea of what part of the city will be targeted next.

      The fighting is reportedly most intense in the southern suburbs, which until two weeks ago included some of the most tranquil and luxurious homes in the city. Now these districts are a rubble-strewn battleground, made worse by the ever-changing positions of LNA forces and militias that support the GNA.

      This battle comes to a city already struggling with chaos and militia violence, with residents having known little peace since the NATO-backed revolt eight years ago.

      “Since 2011, Libyans have faced one issue after another: shortages of cooking gas, electricity, water, lack of medicines, infrastructure in ruin and neglect,” said one woman who lives in an eastern suburb of Tripoli. “Little is seen at community level, where money disappears into pockets [of officials]. Hospitals are unsanitary and barely function. Education is a shambles of poor schools and stressed teachers.”
      Aid agencies scrambling

      Only a handful of aid agencies have a presence in Tripoli, where local services are now badly stretched.

      The World Health Organisation reported on 14 April that the death toll was 147 and 614 people had been wounded, cautioning that the latter figure may be higher as some overworked hospitals have stopped counting the numbers treated.

      “We are still working on keeping the medical supplies going,” a WHO spokesperson said. “We are sending out additional surgical staff to support hospitals coping with large caseloads of wounded, for example anaesthetists.”

      The UN’s emergency coordination body, OCHA, said that 16,000 people had been forced to flee by the fighting, 2,000 on 13 April alone when fighting intensified across the front line with a series of eight airstrikes. OCHA says the past few years of conflict have left at least 823,000 people, including 248,000 children, “in dire need of humanitarian assistance”.

      UNICEF appealed for $4.7 million to provide emergency assistance to the half a million children and their families it estimates live in and around Tripoli.
      Migrants and refugees

      Some of the worst off are more than 1,500 migrants trapped in a string of detention centres in the capital and nearby. The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, said over the weekend it was trying to organise the evacuation of refugees from a migrant camp close to the front lines. “We are in contact with refugees in Qaser Ben Gashir and so far they remain safe from information received,” the agency said in a tweet.

      At least one media report said migrants and refugees at the centre felt they had been abandoned and feared for their lives.

      UNHCR estimates there are some 670,000 migrants and refugees in Libya, including more than 6,000 in detention centres.

      In its appeal, UNICEF said it was alarmed by reports that some migrant detention centres have been all but abandoned, with the migrants unable to get food and water. “The breakdown in the food supply line has resulted in a deterioration of the food security in detention centres,” the agency said. “Detained migrants and refugees, including women and children, are particularly vulnerable, especially those in detention centres located in the vicinity of the fighting.”

      Many migrants continue to hope to find a boat to Europe, but that task has been made harder by the EU’s March decision to scale down the rescue part of Operation Sophia, its Mediterranean anti-smuggling mission.

      “The breakdown in the food supply line has resulted in a deterioration of the food security in detention centres.”

      Search-and-rescue missions run by nongovernmental organisations have had to slow down and sometimes shutter their operations as European governments refuse them permission to dock. On Monday, Malta said it would not allow the crew of a ship that had been carrying 64 people rescued off the coast of Libya to disembark on its shores. The ship was stranded for two weeks as European governments argued over what to do with the migrants, who will now be split between four countries.

      Eugenio Cusumano, an international security expert specialising in migration research at Lieden University in the Netherlands, said a new surge of migrants and refugees may now be heading across the sea in a desperate attempt to escape the fighting. He said they will find few rescue craft, adding: “If the situation in Libya deteriorates there will be a need for offshore patrol assets.”
      Failed diplomacy

      Haftar’s LNA says its objective is to liberate the city from militia control, while the GNA has accused its rival of war crimes and called for prosecutions.

      International diplomatic efforts to end the fighting appear to have floundered. Haftar launched his offensive on the day that UN Secretary-General António Guterres was visiting Tripoli – a visit designed to bolster long-delayed, UN-chaired talks with the various parties in the country, which were due to be held this week.

      The UN had hoped the discussions, known as the National Conference, might pave the way for elections later this year, but they ended up being cancelled due to the upsurge in fighting.

      Guterres tried to de-escalate the situation by holding emergency talks with the GNA in Tripoli and flying east to see Haftar in Benghazi. But as foreign powers reportedly line up behind different sides, his calls for a ceasefire – along with condemnation from the UN Security Council and the EU – have so far been rebuffed.


      https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news/2019/04/15/humanitarian-fallout-libya-s-newest-war

    • Detained refugees in Libya moved to safety in second UNHCR relocation

      UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today relocated another 150 refugees who were detained in the #Abu_Selim detention centre in south Tripoli to UNHCR’s #Gathering_and_Departure_Facility (#GDF) in the centre of Libya’s capital, safe from hostilities.

      The Abu Selim detention centre is one of several in Libya that has been impacted by hostilities since clashes erupted in the capital almost a fortnight ago.

      Refugees at the centre told UNHCR that they were petrified and traumatised by the fighting, fearing for their lives.

      UNHCR staff who were present and organizing the relocation today reported that clashes were around 10 kilometres away from the centre and were clearly audible.

      While UNHCR intended to relocate more refugees, due to a rapid escalation of fighting in the area this was not possible. UNHCR hopes to resume this life-saving effort as soon as conditions on the ground allow.

      “It is a race against time to move people out of harm’s way. Conflict and deteriorating security conditions hamper how much we can do,” said UNHCR’s Assistant Chief of Mission in Libya, Lucie Gagne.

      “We urgently need solutions for people trapped in Libya, including humanitarian evacuations to transfer those most vulnerable out of the country.”

      Refugees who were relocated today were among those most vulnerable and in need and included women and children. The relocation was conducted with the support of UNHCR’s partner, International Medical Corps and the Libyan Ministry of Interior.

      This relocation is the second UNHCR-organized transfer since the recent escalation of the conflict in Libya.

      Last week UNHCR relocated more than 150 refugees from the Ain Zara detention centre also in south Tripoli to the GDF, bringing the total number of refugees currently hosted at the GDF to more than 400.

      After today’s relocation, there remain more than 2,700 refugees and migrants detained and trapped in areas where clashes are ongoing. In addition to those remaining at Abu Selim, other detention centres impacted and in proximity to hostilities include the Qasr Bin Ghasheer, Al Sabaa and Tajoura centres.

      Current conditions in the country continue to underscore the fact that Libya is a dangerous place for refugees and migrants, and that those rescued and intercepted at sea should not be returned there. UNHCR has repeatedly called for an end to detention for refugees and migrants.

      https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2019/4/5cb60a984/detained-refugees-libya-moved-safety-second-unhcr-relocation.html

    • Libye : l’ONU a évacué 150 réfugiés supplémentaires d’un camp de détention

      L’ONU a annoncé mardi avoir évacué 150 réfugiés supplémentaires d’une centre de détention à Tripoli touché par des combats, ajoutant ne pas avoir été en mesure d’en déplacer d’autres en raison de l’intensification des affrontements.

      La Haut-commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR) a précisé avoir évacué ces réfugiés, parmi lesquels des femmes et des enfants, du centre de détention Abou Sélim, dans le sud de la capitale libyenne, vers son Centre de rassemblement et de départ dans le centre-ville.

      Cette opération a été effectuée au milieu de violents combats entre les forces du maréchal Khalifa Haftar et celles du Gouvernement d’union nationale (GNA) libyen.

      « C’est une course contre la montre pour mettre les gens à l’abri », a déclaré la cheffe adjointe de la mission du HCR en Libye, Lucie Gagne, dans un communiqué. « Le conflit et la détérioration des conditions de sécurité entravent nos capacités », a-t-elle regretté.

      Au moins 174 personnes ont été tuées et 758 autres blessés dans la bataille pour le contrôle de Tripoli, a annoncé mardi l’Organisation mondiale de la Santé (OMS).

      Abu Sélim est l’un des centres de détention qui ont été touchés par les combats. Le HCR, qui avait déjà évacué la semaine dernière plus de 150 migrants de centre de détention d’Ain Zara, a indiqué qu’il voulait en évacuer d’autres mardi mais qu’il ne n’avait pu le faire en raison d’une aggravation rapide des combats dans cette zone.

      Les réfugiés évacués mardi étaient « traumatisés » par les combats, a rapporté le HCR, ajoutant que des combats avaient lieu à seulement une dizaine de km.

      « Il nous faut d’urgence des solutions pour les gens piégés en Libye, y compris des évacuations humanitaires pour transférer les plus vulnérables hors du pays », a déclaré Mme Gagne.

      Selon le HCR, plus de 400 personnes se trouvent désormais dans son centre de rassemblement et de départ, mais plus de 2.700 réfugiés sont encore détenus et bloqués dans des zones de combats.

      La Libye « est un endroit dangereux pour les réfugiés et les migrants », a souligné le HCR. « Ceux qui sont secourus et interceptés en mer ne devraient pas être renvoyés là-bas ».

      https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1166761/libye-lonu-a-evacue-150-refugies-supplementaires-dun-camp-de-detentio

    • Footage shows refugees hiding as Libyan militia attack detention centre

      At least two people reportedly killed in shooting at Qasr bin Ghashir facility near Tripoli.

      Young refugees held in a detention centre in Libya have described being shot at indiscriminately by militias advancing on Tripoli, in an attack that reportedly left at least two people dead and up to 20 injured.

      Phone footage smuggled out of the camp and passed to the Guardian highlights the deepening humanitarian crisis in the centres set up to prevent refugees and migrants from making the sea crossing from the north African coast to Europe.

      The footage shows people cowering in terror in the corners of a hangar while gunshots can be heard and others who appear to have been wounded lying on makeshift stretchers.

      The shooting on Tuesday at the Qasr bin Ghashir detention centre, 12 miles (20km) south of Tripoli, is thought to be the first time a militia has raided such a building and opened fire.

      Witnesses said men, women and children were praying together when soldiers they believe to be part of the forces of the military strongman Khalifa Haftar, which are advancing on the Libyan capital to try to bring down the UN-backed government, stormed into the detention centre and demanded people hand over their phones.

      When the occupants refused, the soldiers began shooting, according to the accounts. Phones are the only link to the outside world for many in the detention centres.

      Amnesty International has called for a war crimes investigation into the incident. “This incident demonstrates the urgent need for all refugees and migrants to be immediately released from these horrific detention centres,” said the organisation’s spokeswoman, Magdalena Mughrabi.

      Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said a review of the video evidence by its medical doctors had concluded the injuries were consistent with gunshot wounds. “These observations are further supported by numerous accounts from refugees and migrants who witnessed the event and reported being brutally and indiscriminately attacked with the use of firearms,” a statement said.

      The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said it evacuated 325 people from the detention centre after the incident. A statement suggested guns were fired into air and 12 people “endured physical attacks” that required hospital treatment, but none sustained bullet wounds.

      “The dangers for refugees and migrants in Tripoli have never been greater than they are at present,” said Matthew Brook, the refugee agency’s deputy mission chief in Libya. “It is vital that refugees in danger can be released and evacuated to safety.”

      The Guardian has previously revealed there is a network of 26 Libyan detention centres where an estimated 6,000 refugees are held. Children have described being starved, beaten and abused by Libyan police and camp guards. The UK contributes funding to humanitarian assistance provided in the centres by NGOs and the International Organization for Migration.

      Qasr bin Ghashir is on the frontline of the escalating battle in Libya between rival military forces. Child refugees in the camp started sending SOS messages earlier this month, saying: “The war is started. We are in a bad situation.”

      In WhatsApp messages sent to the Guardian on Tuesday, some of the child refugees said: “Until now, no anyone came here to help us. Not any organisations. Please, please, please, a lot of blood going out from people. Please, we are in dangerous conditions, please world, please, we are in danger.”

      Many of the children and young people in the detention centres have fled persecution in Eritrea and cannot return. Many have also tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Italy, but have been pushed back by the Libyan coastguard, which receives EU funding.

      Giulia Tranchina, an immigration solicitor in London, has been raising the alarm for months about the plight of refugees in the centres. “I have been in touch with seven refugees in Qasr Bin Gashir since last September,. Many are sick and starving,” she said.

      “All of them tried to escape across the Mediterranean to Italy, but were pushed back to the detention centre by the Libyan coastguard. Some were previously imprisoned by traffickers in Libya for one to two years. Many have been recognised by UNHCR as genuine refugees.”

      Tranchina took a statement from a man who escaped from the centre after the militia started shooting. “We were praying in the hangar. The women joined us for prayer. The guards came in and told us to hand over our phones,” he said.

      “When we refused, they started shooting. I saw gunshot wounds to the head and neck, I think that without immediate medical treatment, those people would die.

      “I’m now in a corrugated iron shack in Tripoli with a few others who escaped, including three women with young children. Many were left behind and we have heard that they have been locked in.”

      A UK government spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned by reports of violence at the Qasr Ben Ghashir detention centre, and call on all parties to allow civilians, including refugees and migrants, to be evacuated to safety.”

      • Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières and other NGOs are suing the French government to stop the donation of six boats to Libya’s navy, saying they will be used to send migrants back to detention centres. EU support to the Libyan coastguard, which is part of the navy, has enabled it to intercept migrants and asylum seekers bound for Europe. The legal action seeks a suspension on the boat donation, saying it violates an EU embargo on the supply of military equipment to Libya.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/25/libya-detention-centre-attack-footage-refugees-hiding-shooting

    • From Bad to Worse for Migrants Trapped in Detention in Libya

      Footage (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/25/libya-detention-centre-attack-footage-refugees-hiding-shooting) revealed to the Guardian shows the panic of migrants and refugees trapped in the detention facility Qasr bin Ghashir close to Tripoli under indiscriminate fire from advancing militia. According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR more than 3,300 people trapped in detention centres close to the escalating fighting are at risk and the agency is working to evacuate migrants from the “immediate danger”.

      Fighting is intensifying between Libyan National Army (LNA) loyal to Khalifa Haftar and the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) around the capital Tripoli. There have been reports on deaths and forced enlistment among migrants and refugees trapped in detention centres, which are overseen by the Libyan Department for Combating Illegal Migration but often run by militias.

      Amid the intense fighting the EU-backed Libyan coastguard continues to intercept and return people trying to cross the Mediteranean. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) 113 people were returned to the Western part of the country this week. In a Tweet the UN Agency states: “we reiterate that Libya is not a safe port and that arbitrary detention must end.”

      Former UNHCR official, Jeff Crisp, calls it: “…extraordinary that the UN has not made a direct appeal to the EU to suspend the support it is giving to the Libyan coastguard”, and further states that: “Europe has the option of doing nothing and that is what it will most likely do.”

      UNHCR has evacuated 500 people to the Agencies Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli and an additional 163 to the Emergency Transit Mechanism in Niger. However, with both mechanisms “approaching full capacity” the Agency urges direct evacuations out of Libya. On April 29, 146 refugees were evacuated from Libya to Italy in a joint operation between UNHCR and Italian and Libyan authorities.

      https://www.ecre.org/from-bad-to-worse-for-migrants-trapped-in-detention-in-libya

    • Libia, la denuncia di Msf: «Tremila migranti bloccati vicino ai combattimenti, devono essere evacuati»

      A due mesi dall’inizio dei combattimenti tra i militari del generale Khalifa Haftar e le milizie fedeli al governo di Tripoli di Fayez al-Sarraj, i capimissione di Medici Senza Frontiere per la Libia hanno incontrato la stampa a Roma per fare il punto della situazione. «I combattimenti hanno interessato centomila persone, di queste tremila sono migranti e rifugiati bloccati nei centri di detenzione che sorgono nelle aree del conflitto - ha spiegato Sam Turner -. Per questo chiediamo la loro immediata evacuazione. Solo portandoli via da quelle aree si possono salvare delle vite».

      https://video.repubblica.it/dossier/migranti-2019/libia-la-denuncia-di-msf-tremila-migranti-bloccati-vicino-ai-combattimenti-devono-essere-evacuati/336337/336934?ref=twhv

    • Libia, attacco aereo al centro migranti. 60 morti. Salvini: «E’ un crimine di Haftar, il mondo deve reagire»

      Il bombardamento è stato effettuato dalle forze del generale Khalifa Haftar, sostenute dalla Francia e dagli Emirati. Per l’inviato Onu si tratta di crimine di guerra. Il Consiglio di sicurezza dell’Onu si riunisce domani per una sessione d’urgenza.

      Decine di migranti sono stati uccisi nel bombardamento che ieri notte un aereo dell’aviazione del generale Khalifa Haftar ha compiuto contro un centro per migranti adiacente alla base militare di #Dhaman, nell’area di #Tajoura. La base di Dhaman è uno dei depositi in cui le milizie di Misurata e quelle fedeli al governo del presidente Fayez al-Serraj hanno concentrato le loro riserve di munizioni e di veicoli utilizzati per la difesa di Tripoli, sotto attacco dal 4 aprile dalle milizie del generale della Cirenaica.

      https://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2019/07/03/news/libia_bombardato_centro_detenzione_migranti_decine_di_morti-230198952/?ref=RHPPTP-BH-I230202229-C12-P1-S1.12-T1

    • Le HCR et l’OIM condamnent l’attaque contre Tajoura et demandent une enquête immédiate sur les responsables

      Le nombre effroyable de blessés et de victimes, suite à l’attaque aérienne de mardi soir à l’est de Tripoli contre le centre de détention de Tajoura, fait écho aux vives préoccupations exprimées par le HCR, l’Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, et l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), concernant la sécurité des personnes dans les centres de détention. Ce tout dernier épisode de violence rend également compte du danger évoqué par l’OIM et le HCR concernant les retours de migrants et de réfugiés en Libye après leur interception ou leur sauvetage en mer Méditerranée.

      Nos deux organisations condamnent fermement cette attaque ainsi que toute attaque contre la vie des civils. Nous demandons également que la détention des migrants et des réfugiés cesse immédiatement. Nous appelons à ce que leur protection soit garantie en Libye.

      Cette attaque mérite davantage qu’une simple condamnation. Selon le HCR et l’OIM, une enquête complète et indépendante est nécessaire pour déterminer comment cela s’est produit et qui en est responsable, ainsi que pour traduire les responsables en justice. La localisation de ces centres de détention à Tripoli est bien connue des combattants, qui savent également que les personnes détenues à Tajoura sont des civils.

      Au moins 600 réfugiés et migrants, dont des femmes et des enfants, se trouvaient au centre de détention de Tajoura. La frappe aérienne a causé des dizaines de morts et de blessés. Nous nous attendons de ce fait que le nombre final de victimes soit beaucoup plus élevé.

      Si l’on inclut les victimes de Tajoura, environ 3300 migrants et réfugiés sont toujours détenus arbitrairement à Tripoli et en périphérie de la ville dans des conditions abjectes et inhumaines. De plus, les migrants et les réfugiés sont confrontés à des risques croissants à mesure que les affrontements s’intensifient à proximité. Ces centres doivent être fermés.

      Nous faisons tout notre possible pour leur venir en aide. L’OIM et le HCR ont déployé des équipes médicales. Par ailleurs, une équipe interinstitutions plus large des Nations Unies attend l’autorisation de se rendre sur place. Nous rappelons à toutes les parties à ce conflit que les civils ne doivent pas être pris pour cible et qu’ils doivent être protégés en vertu à la fois du droit international relatif aux réfugiés et du droit international relatif aux droits de l’homme.

      Le conflit en cours dans la capitale libyenne a déjà forcé près de 100 000 Libyens à fuir leur foyer. Le HCR et ses partenaires, dont l’OIM, ont transféré plus de 1500 réfugiés depuis des centres de détention proches des zones de combat vers des zones plus sûres. Par ailleurs, des opérations de l’OIM pour le retour volontaire à titre humanitaire ont facilité le départ de plus de 5000 personnes vulnérables vers 30 pays d’origine en Afrique et en Asie.

      L’OIM et le HCR exhortent l’ensemble du système des Nations Unies à condamner cette attaque et à faire cesser le recours à la détention en Libye. De plus, nous appelons instamment la communauté internationale à mettre en place des couloirs humanitaires pour les migrants et les réfugiés qui doivent être évacués depuis la Libye. Dans l’intérêt de tous en Libye, nous espérons que les États influents redoubleront d’efforts pour coopérer afin de mettre d’urgence un terme à cet effroyable conflit.

      https://www.unhcr.org/fr/news/press/2019/7/5d1ca1f06/hcr-loim-condamnent-lattaque-contre-tajoura-demandent-enquete-immediate.html

    • Affamés, torturés, disparus : l’impitoyable piège refermé sur les migrants bloqués en Libye

      Malnutrition, enlèvements, travail forcé, torture : des ONG présentes en Libye dénoncent les conditions de détention des migrants piégés dans ce pays, conséquence selon elles de la politique migratoire des pays européens conclue avec les Libyens.

      Le point, minuscule dans l’immensité de la mer, est ballotté avec violence : mi-mai, un migrant qui tentait de quitter la Libye dans une embarcation de fortune a préféré risquer sa vie en plongeant en haute mer en voyant arriver les garde-côtes libyens, pour nager vers un navire commercial, selon une vidéo mise en ligne par l’ONG allemande Sea-Watch et tournée par son avion de recherche. L’image illustre le désespoir criant de migrants, en grande majorité originaires d’Afrique et de pays troublés comme le Soudan, l’Érythrée, la Somalie, prêts à tout pour ne pas être à nouveau enfermés arbitrairement dans un centre de détention dans ce pays livré au conflit et aux milices.

      Des vidéos insoutenables filmées notamment dans des prisons clandestines aux mains de trafiquants d’êtres humains, compilées par une journaliste irlandaise et diffusées en février par Channel 4, donnent une idée des sévices de certains tortionnaires perpétrés pour rançonner les familles des migrants. Allongé nu par terre, une arme pointée sur lui, un migrant râle de douleur alors qu’un homme lui brûle les pieds avec un chalumeau. Un autre, le tee-shirt ensanglanté, est suspendu au plafond, un pistolet braqué sur la tête. Un troisième, attaché avec des cordes, une brique de béton lui écrasant dos et bras, est fouetté sur la plante des pieds, selon ces vidéos.

      Le mauvais traitement des migrants a atteint un paroxysme dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi quand plus de 40 ont été tués et 70 blessés dans un raid aérien contre un centre pour migrants de Tajoura (près de Tripoli), attribué aux forces de Khalifa Haftar engagées dans une offensive sur la capitale libyenne. Un drame « prévisible » depuis des semaines, déplorent des acteurs humanitaires. Depuis janvier, plus de 2.300 personnes ont été ramenées et placées dans des centres de détention, selon l’ONU.

      « Plus d’un millier de personnes ont été ramenées par les gardes-côtes libyens soutenus par l’Union européenne depuis le début du conflit en avril 2019. A terre, ces personnes sont ensuite transférées dans des centres de détention comme celui de Tajoura… », a ce réagi mercredi auprès de l’AFP Julien Raickman, chef de mission de l’ONG Médecins sans frontières (MSF) en Libye. Selon les derniers chiffres de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), au moins 5.200 personnes sont actuellement dans des centres de détention en Libye. Aucun chiffre n’est disponible pour celles détenues dans des centres illégaux aux mains de trafiquants.

      L’UE apporte un soutien aux gardes-côtes libyens pour qu’ils freinent les arrivées sur les côtes italiennes. En 2017, elle a validé un accord conclu entre l’Italie et Tripoli pour former et équiper les garde-côtes libyens. Depuis le nombre d’arrivées en Europe via la mer Méditerranée a chuté de manière spectaculaire.
      « Les morts s’empilent »

      Fin mai, dans une prise de parole publique inédite, dix ONG internationales intervenant en Libye dans des conditions compliquées – dont Danish Refugee Council, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Première Urgence Internationale (PUI) – ont brisé le silence. Elles ont exhorté l’UE et ses Etats membres à « revoir en urgence » leurs politiques migratoires qui nourrissent selon elles un « système de criminalisation », soulignant que les migrants, « y compris les femmes et les enfants, sont sujets à des détentions arbitraires et illimitées » en Libye dans des conditions « abominables ».

      « Arrêtez de renvoyer les migrants en Libye  ! La situation est instable, elle n’est pas sous contrôle ; ils n’y sont en aucun cas protégés ni par un cadre législatif ni pour les raisons sécuritaires que l’on connaît », a réagi ce mercredi à l’AFP Benjamin Gaudin, chef de mission de l’ONG PUI en Libye. Cette ONG intervient dans six centres de détention dans lesquels elle est une des seules organisations à prodiguer des soins de santé.

      La « catastrophe ne se situe pas seulement en Méditerranée mais également sur le sol libyen ; quand ces migrants parviennent jusqu’aux côtes libyennes, ils ont déjà vécu l’enfer », a-t-il témoigné récemment auprès de l’AFP, dans une rare interview à un média. Dans certains de ces centres officiels, « les conditions sont terribles », estime M. Gaudin. « Les migrants vivent parfois entassés les uns sur les autres, dans des conditions sanitaires terribles avec de gros problèmes d’accès à l’eau – parfois il n’y a pas d’eau potable du tout. Ils ne reçoivent pas de nourriture en quantité suffisante ; dans certains centres, il n’y a absolument rien pour les protéger du froid ou de la chaleur. Certains n’ont pas de cours extérieures, les migrants n’y voient jamais la lumière du jour », décrit-il.
      Human Rights Watch, qui a eu accès à plusieurs centres de détention en 2018 et à une centaine de migrants, va plus loin dans un rapport de 2019 – qui accumule les témoignages de « traitements cruels et dégradants » : l’organisation accuse la « coopération de l’UE avec la Libye sur les migrations de contribuer à un cycle d’abus extrêmes ».

      « Les morts s’empilent dans les centres de détention libyens – emportés par une épidémie de tuberculose à Zintan, victimes d’un bombardement à Tajoura. La présence d’une poignée d’acteurs humanitaires sur place ne saurait assurer des conditions acceptables dans ces centres », a déploré M. Raickman de MSF. « Les personnes qui y sont détenues, majoritairement des réfugiés, continuent de mourir de maladies, de faim, sont victimes de violences en tout genre, de viols, soumises à l’arbitraire des milices. Elles se retrouvent prises au piège des combats en cours », a-t-il dénoncé.

      Signe d’une situation considérée comme de plus en plus critique, la Commissaire aux droits de l’Homme du Conseil de l’Europe a exhorté le 18 juin les pays européens à suspendre leur coopération avec les gardes-côtes libyens, estimant que les personnes récupérées « sont systématiquement placées en détention et en conséquence soumises à la torture, à des violences sexuelles, à des extorsions ». L’ONU elle même a dénoncé le 7 juin des conditions « épouvantables » dans ces centres. « Environ 22 personnes sont décédées des suites de la tuberculose et d’autres maladies dans le centre de détention de Zintan depuis septembre », a dénoncé Rupert Colville, un porte-parole du Haut-Commissariat de l’ONU aux droits de l’Homme.

      MSF, qui a démarré récemment des activités médicales dans les centres de Zintan et Gharyan, a décrit une « catastrophe sanitaire », soulignant que les personnes enfermées dans ces deux centres « viennent principalement d’Érythrée et de Somalie et ont survécu à des expériences terrifiantes » durant leur exil. Or, selon les ONG et le HCR, la très grande majorité des milliers de personnes détenues dans les centres sont des réfugiés, qui pourraient avoir droit à ce statut et à un accueil dans un pays développé, mais ne peuvent le faire auprès de l’Etat libyen. Ils le font auprès du HCR en Libye, dans des conditions très difficiles.
      « Enfermés depuis un an »

      « Les évacuations hors de Libye vers des pays tiers ou pays de transit sont aujourd’hui extrêmement limitées, notamment parce qu’il manque des places d’accueil dans des pays sûrs qui pourraient accorder l’asile », relève M. Raickman. « Il y a un fort sentiment de désespoir face à cette impasse ; dans des centres où nous intervenons dans la région de Misrata et Khoms, des gens sont enfermés depuis un an. » Interrogée par l’AFP, la Commission européenne défend son bilan et son « engagement » financier sur cette question, soulignant avoir « mobilisé » depuis 2014 pas moins de 338 millions d’euros dans des programmes liés à la migration en Libye.

      « Nous sommes extrêmement préoccupés par la détérioration de la situation sur le terrain », a récemment déclaré à l’AFP une porte-parole de la Commission européenne, Natasha Bertaud. « Des critiques ont été formulées sur notre engagement avec la Libye, nous en sommes conscients et nous échangeons régulièrement avec les ONG sur ce sujet », a-t-elle ajouté. « Mais si nous ne nous étions pas engagés avec l’OIM, le HCR et l’Union africaine, nous n’aurions jamais eu cet impact : ces 16 derniers mois, nous avons pu sortir 38.000 personnes hors de ces terribles centres de détention et hors de Libye, et les raccompagner chez eux avec des programmes de retour volontaire, tout cela financé par l’Union européenne », a-t-elle affirmé. « Parmi les personnes qui ont besoin de protection – originaires d’Érythrée ou du Soudan par exemple – nous avons récemment évacué environ 2.700 personnes de Libye vers le Niger (…) et organisé la réinstallation réussie dans l’UE de 1.400 personnes ayant eu besoin de protection internationale », plaide-t-elle.

      La porte-parole rappelle que la Commission a « à maintes reprises ces derniers mois exhorté ses États membres à trouver une solution sur des zones de désembarquement, ce qui mettrait fin à ce qui passe actuellement : à chaque fois qu’un bateau d’ONG secoure des gens et qu’il y a une opposition sur le sujet entre Malte et l’Italie, c’est la Commission qui doit appeler près de 28 capitales européennes pour trouver des lieux pour ces personnes puissent débarquer : ce n’est pas viable ! ».

      Pour le porte-parole de la marine libyenne, le général Ayoub Kacem, interrogé par l’AFP, ce sont « les pays européens (qui) sabotent toute solution durable à l’immigration en Méditerranée, parce qu’ils n’acceptent pas d’accueillir une partie des migrants et se sentent non concernés ». Il appelle les Européens à « plus de sérieux » et à unifier leurs positions. « Les États européens ont une scandaleuse responsabilité dans toutes ces morts et ces souffrances », dénonce M. Raickman. « Ce qu’il faut, ce sont des actes : des évacuations d’urgence des réfugiés et migrants coincés dans des conditions extrêmement dangereuses en Libye ».

      https://www.charentelibre.fr/2019/07/03/affames-tortures-disparus-l-impitoyable-piege-referme-sur-les-migrants

    • « Mourir en mer ou sous les bombes : seule alternative pour les milliers de personnes migrantes prises au piège de l’enfer libyen ? »

      Le soir du 2 juillet, une attaque aérienne a été signalée sur le camp de détention pour migrant·e·s de #Tadjourah dans la banlieue est de la capitale libyenne. Deux jours après, le bilan s’est alourdi et fait état d’au moins 66 personnes tuées et plus de 80 blessées [1]. A une trentaine de kilomètres plus au sud de Tripoli, plusieurs migrant·e·s avaient déjà trouvé la mort fin avril dans l’attaque du camp de Qasr Bin Gashir par des groupes armés.

      Alors que les conflits font rage autour de Tripoli entre le Gouvernement d’union nationale (GNA) reconnu par l’ONU et les forces du maréchal Haftar, des milliers de personnes migrantes enfermées dans les geôles libyennes se retrouvent en première ligne : lorsqu’elles ne sont pas abandonnées à leur sort par leurs gardien·ne·s à l’approche des forces ennemies ou forcées de combattre auprès d’un camp ou de l’autre, elles sont régulièrement prises pour cibles par les combattant·e·s.

      Dans un pays où les migrant·e·s sont depuis longtemps vu·e·s comme une monnaie d’échange entre milices, et, depuis l’époque de Kadhafi, comme un levier diplomatique notamment dans le cadre de divers marchandages migratoires avec les Etats de l’Union européenne [2], les personnes migrantes constituent de fait l’un des nerfs de la guerre pour les forces en présence, bien au-delà des frontières libyennes.

      Au lendemain des bombardements du camp de Tadjourah, pendant que le GNA accusait Haftar et que les forces d’Haftar criaient au complot, les dirigeant·e·s des pays européens ont pris le parti de faire mine d’assister impuissant·e·s à ce spectacle tragique depuis l’autre bord de la Méditerranée, les un·e·s déplorant les victimes et condamnant les attaques, les autres appelant à une enquête internationale pour déterminer les coupables.

      Contre ces discours teintés d’hypocrisie, il convient de rappeler l’immense responsabilité de l’Union européenne et de ses États membres dans la situation désastreuse dans laquelle les personnes migrantes se trouvent sur le sol libyen. Lorsqu’à l’occasion de ces attaques, l’Union européenne se félicite de son rôle dans la protection des personnes migrantes en Libye et affirme la nécessité de poursuivre ses efforts [3], ne faut-il pas tout d’abord se demander si celle-ci fait autre chose qu’entériner un système de détention cruel en finançant deux organisations internationales, le HCR et l’OIM, qui accèdent pour partie à ces camps où les pires violations de droits sont commises ?

      Au-delà de son soutien implicite à ce système d’enfermement à grande échelle, l’UE n’a cessé de multiplier les stratégies pour que les personnes migrantes, tentant de fuir la Libye et ses centres de détention aux conditions inhumaines, y soient immédiatement et systématiquement renvoyées, entre le renforcement constant des capacités des garde-côtes libyens et l’organisation d’un vide humanitaire en Méditerranée par la criminalisation des ONG de secours en mer [4].

      A la date du 20 juin 2019, le HCR comptait plus de 3 000 personnes interceptées par les garde-côtes libyens depuis le début de l’année 2019, pour à peine plus de 2000 personnes arrivées en Italie [5]. Pour ces personnes interceptées et reconduites en Libye, les perspectives sont bien sombres : remises aux mains des milices, seules échapperont à la détention les heureuses élues qui sont évacuées au Niger dans l’attente d’une réinstallation hypothétique par le HCR, ou celles qui, après de fortes pressions et souvent en désespoir de cause, acceptent l’assistance au retour « volontaire » proposée par l’OIM.

      L’Union européenne a beau jeu de crier au scandale. La détention massive de migrant·e·s et la violation de leurs droits dans un pays en pleine guerre civile ne relèvent ni de la tragédie ni de la fatalité : ce sont les conséquences directes des politiques d’externalisation et de marchandages migratoires cyniques orchestrées par l’Union et ses États membres depuis de nombreuses années. Il est temps que cesse la guerre aux personnes migrantes et que la liberté de circulation soit assurée pour toutes et tous.

      http://www.migreurop.org/article2931.html
      aussi signalé par @vanderling
      https://seenthis.net/messages/791482

    • Migrants say militias in Tripoli conscripted them to clean arms

      Migrants who survived the deadly airstrike on a detention center in western Libya say they had been conscripted by a local militia to work in an adjacent weapons workshop. The detention centers are under armed groups affiliated with the Fayez al-Sarraj government in Tripoli.

      Two migrants told The Associated Press on Thursday that for months they were sent day and night to a workshop inside the Tajoura detention center, which housed hundreds of African migrants.

      A young migrant who has been held for nearly two years at Tajoura says “we clean the anti-aircraft guns. I saw a large amount of rockets and missiles too.”

      The migrants spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

      http://www.addresslibya.com/en/archives/47932

    • Statement by the Post-3Tajoura Working Group on the Three-Month Mark of the Tajoura Detention Centre Airstrike

      On behalf of the Post-Tajoura Working Group, the European Union Delegation to Libya issues a statement to mark the passing of three months since the airstrike on the Tajoura Detention Centre. Today is the occasion to remind the Libyan government of the urgency of the situation of detained refugees and migrants in and around Tripoli.

      https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/libya/68248/statement-post-tajoura-working-group-three-month-mark-tajoura-detention-

    • Statement by the Spokesperson on the situation in the #Tajoura detention centre

      Statement by the Spokesperson on the situation in the Tajoura detention centre.

      The release of the detainees remaining in the Tajoura detention centre, hit by a deadly attack on 2 July, is a positive step by the Libyan authorities. All refugees and migrants have to be released from detention and provided with all the necessary assistance. In this context, we have supported the creation of the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli and other safe places in order to improve the protection of those in need and to provide humane alternatives to the current detention system.

      We will continue to work with International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) in the context of the African Union-European Union-United Nations Task Force to support and protect refugees and migrants in Libya. We call on all parties to accelerate humanitarian evacuation and resettlement from Libya to third countries. In particular, we are supporting UNHCR’s work to resettle the most vulnerable refugees with durable solutions outside Libya, with around 4,000 individuals having been evacuated so far. We are also working closely with the IOM and the African Union and its Member States to continue the Assisted Voluntary Returns, thereby adding to the more than 45,000 migrants returned to their countries of origin so far.

      The European Union is strongly committed to fighting traffickers and smugglers and to strengthening the capacity of the Libyan Coast Guard to save lives at sea. Equally, we recall the need to put in place mechanisms that guarantee the safety and dignity of those rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard, notably by ending arbitrary detention and allowing the UN agencies to carry out screening and registration and to provide direct emergency assistance and protection. Through our continuous financial support and our joined political advocacy towards the Libyan authorities, the UNHCR and IOM are now able to better monitor the situation in the disembarkation points and have regular access to most of the official detention centres.

      Libya’s current system of detaining migrants has to end and migration needs to be managed in full compliance with international standards, including when it comes to human rights. The European Union stands ready to help the Libyan authorities to develop solutions to create safe and dignified alternatives to detention in full compliance with the international humanitarian standards and in respect of human rights.

      https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/65266/statement-spokesperson-situation-tajoura-detention-centre_en

    • 05.11.2019

      About 45 women, 16 children and some men, for a total of approximately 80 refugees, were taken out of #TariqalSikka detention centre by the Libyan police and taken to the #UNHCR offices in #Gurji, Tripoli, yesterday. UNHCR told them there is nothing they can do to help them so...
      they are now homeless in Tripoli, destitute, starving, at risk of being shot, bombed, kidnapped, tortured, raped, sold or detained again in an even worst detention centre. Forcing African refugees out of detention centres and leaving them homeless in Tripoli is not a solution...
      It is almost a death sentence in today’s Libya. UNHCR doesn’t have capacity to offer any help or protection to homeless refugees released from detention. These women & children have now lost priority for evacuation after years waiting in detention, suffering rape, torture, hunger...

      https://twitter.com/GiuliaRastajuly/status/1191777843644174336
      #SDF #sans-abri

  • Opinion | Two Women, Heroes for Our Age - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/opinion/hathloul-sotoudeh-iran-saudi-arabia.html

    They are women who bravely challenged misogyny and dictatorship, one in Iran, the other in Saudi Arabia. Those two nations may be enemies, but they find common cause in their barbaric treatment of women — and since they are trying to squelch and smother these two women, we should shout their names from the mountaintops.

    Nasrin Sotoudeh, 55, is a writer and human rights lawyer who for decades has been fighting for women and children in Iran. Her family reports that this week she was sentenced to another 33 years in prison, on top of a five-year sentence she is now serving, plus 148 lashes.

    Loujain al-Hathloul, 29, a leader of the Saudi women’s rights movement, went on trial Wednesday after months of imprisonment and torture, including floggings, sexual harassment, waterboarding and electric shocks.

    Her sister Alia al-Hathloul told me that Loujain was finally presented with the charges against her, which included communicating with human rights organizations and criticizing the Saudi “guardianship” system for women.

    I previously suggested that Hathloul should get the Nobel Peace Prize, and she has now been nominated for it. So let me revise my proposal: Hathloul and Sotoudeh should win the Nobel together for their courageous advocacy of women’s rights before rival dictators who share one thing: a cruel misogyny.

    I know I’ll get notes from people who harrumph that the problem is simply Islam. That’s too glib, but it is fair to say that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei together tarnish the global image of Islam more than any army of blasphemers could.

    “This sentence is beyond barbaric,” the U.S. State Department said of Sotoudeh’s reported sentence. Quite true. But the State Department refuses to be equally blunt in denouncing Hathloul’s torture and imprisonment; that’s because it sees the Saudis as allies and the Iranians as enemies.

    What the Trump administration doesn’t seem to understand is this: If you care about human rights only in countries that you despise, you don’t actually care about human rights.

    Alia al-Hathloul said that her sister was ordered to sign a letter requesting a royal pardon, and did so, and that the torture appears to have ended. I’m hoping that the crown prince is looking for a way to climb down from his brutal mistreatment of the women’s rights activists and will eventually grant the pardon that she “requested.”

    Meanwhile, Iran seems to be cracking down harder. Amnesty International reports that Iran arrested more than 7,000 dissidents last year and that the 38-year combined sentence for Sotoudeh, if true, is the harshest imposed against a human rights defender in Iran in recent years. Iran state media suggested that she had been given a shorter sentence, but Sotoudeh and her family have much more credibility than Iran’s government.

    “The shockingly harsh sentence against her is a signal of just how unnerved the Iranian authorities have become,” Kumi Naidoo, the secretary general of Amnesty International, told me. He noted that women’s rights activists in Iran have become bolder, sometimes waving their head scarves on a stick and posting videos on social media.

    “With this cruel sentence, the Iranian authorities appear to be seeking to make an example of Nasrin Sotoudeh and to intimidate other women’s rights defenders,” he said.

    Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, was separately sentenced in January to six years in prison, for posting updates about his wife’s case on Facebook. The couple has two children, a 12-year-old son named Nima and a 19-year-old daughter named Mehraveh. Hadi Ghaemi of the Center for Human Rights in Iran said that relatives may now have to raise Nima and Mehraveh.

    “My dearest Mehraveh,” Sotoudeh once wrote her daughter from prison, “you were my main motivation for pursuing children’s rights. … Every time I came home from court, after having defended an abused child, I would hold you and your brother in my arms, finding it hard to let go of your embrace.”

    #femmes #héros #arabie_saoudite #iran

  • Snowden Joins Calls For Google To End Censored Chinese Search Project
    https://www.dailydot.com/debug/snowden-google-censored-china

    Mikael Thalen— Dec 11 2018 - Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has joined numerous human rights groups in condemning Google over its plan to launch a censored search engine in China.

    In an open letter published Monday, Snowden and more than 60 organizations including Amnesty International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Human Rights Watch, called on the tech giant to cease its work on the secretive “Dragonfly” project.

    “Facilitating Chinese authorities’ access to personal data, as described in media reports, would be particularly reckless,” the letter states. “If such features were launched, there is a real risk that Google would directly assist the Chinese government in arresting or imprisoning people simply for expressing their views online, making the company complicit in human rights violations.”

    First revealed last August by the Intercept, the search app, made in an attempt by Google to re-enter the Chinese market, would not only surveil users but blacklist results for search queries such as “student protest” and “Nobel Prize” at the behest of Beijing.

    “New details leaked to the media strongly suggest that if Google launches such a product it would facilitate repressive state censorship, surveillance, and other violations affecting nearly a billion people in China,” the letter adds.

    Describing the project as “reckless,” the letter also warns that deploying Dragonfly would likely “set a terrible precedent for human rights and press freedoms worldwide.”

    Monday’s statement comes just weeks after more than 600 Google employees signed a similar letter demanding the company cancel Dragonfly’s development.

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who was confronted about Dragonfly during testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee Monday, has repeatedly alleged that there are no plans “right now” to launch the project.

    A leaked meeting transcript from July, however, revealed Google’s search chief Ben Gomes had said the company intended to launch Dragonfly somewhere between January and April of 2019.

    #Chine #surveillance #Google

  • Facebook criticised after women complain of inaction over abuse
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/mar/04/facebook-women-abuse-harassment-social-media-amnesty

    Amnesty says social media firm must do more to support users who report harassment Human rights campaigners have called for action after a survey revealed that more than half of the reports that women lodge about harassment on Facebook are met with no action from the social media company. The Survation poll, commissioned by the feminist campaign group Level Up, found that 29% of the 1,000 women who took part had been harassed on Facebook. A spokesperson for Amnesty International UK said (...)

    #Facebook #harcèlement #discrimination #Amnesty

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/b8085faf324d481368a475817df9fda8c773ccaf/0_74_3500_2100/master/3500.jpg

  • Europe’s deadly migration strategy. Officials knew EU military operation made Mediterranean crossing more dangerous.

    Since its creation in 2015, Europe’s military operation in the Mediterranean — named “#Operation_Sophia” — has saved some 49,000 people from the sea. But that was never really the main objective.

    The goal of the operation — which at its peak involved over a dozen sea and air assets from 27 EU countries, including ships, airplanes, drones and submarines — was to disrupt people-smuggling networks off the coast of Libya and, by extension, stem the tide of people crossing the sea to Europe.

    European leaders have hailed the operation as a successful joint effort to address the migration crisis that rocked the bloc starting in 2015, when a spike in arrivals overwhelmed border countries like Greece and Italy and sparked a political fight over who would be responsible for the new arrivals.

    But a collection of leaked documents from the European External Action Service, the bloc’s foreign policy arm, obtained by POLITICO (https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/OperationSophia.pdf), paint a different picture.

    In internal memos, the operation’s leaders admit Sophia’s success has been limited by its own mandate — it can only operate in international waters, not in Libyan waters or on land, where smuggling networks operate — and it is underfunded, understaffed and underequipped.

    “Sophia is a military operation with a very political agenda" — Barbara Spinelli, Italian MEP

    The confidential reports also show the EU is aware that a number of its policies have made the sea crossing more dangerous for migrants, and that it nonetheless chose to continue to pursue those strategies. Officials acknowledge internally that some members of the Libyan coast guard that the EU funds, equips and trains are collaborating with smuggling networks.

    For the operation’s critics, the EU’s willingness to turn a blind eye to these shortcomings — as well as serious human rights abuses by the Libyan coast guard and in the country’s migrant detention centers — are symptomatic of what critics call the bloc’s incoherent approach to managing migration and its desire to outsource the problem to non-EU countries.

    “Sophia is a military operation with a very political agenda,” said Barbara Spinelli, an Italian MEP and member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament. “It has become an instrument of refoulement, legitimizing militias with criminal records, dressed up as coast guards.”

    Now the operation, which is managed by Italy and has been dogged by political disagreements since it began, is coming under increasing pressure as the deadline for its renewal approaches in March.

    Italy’s deputy prime minister, far-right leader Matteo Salvini, has said the operation should only be extended if there are new provisions to resettle rescued people across the bloc. Last month, Germany announced it would be discontinuing its participation in the program, claiming that Italy’s refusal to allow rescued migrants to disembark is undermining the mission.

    Named after a baby girl born on an EU rescue ship, Sophia is the uneasy compromise to resolve a deep split across the bloc: between those who pushed for proactive search-and-rescue efforts to save more lives and those who favored pulling resources from the sea to make the crossing more dangerous.

    The naval operation sits uncomfortably between the two, rescuing migrants in distress at sea, but insisting its primary focus is to fight smugglers off the coast of Libya. The two activities are frequently in conflict.

    The operation has cycled through a number of strategies since its launch: a campaign to destroy boats used by smugglers; law-enforcement interviews with those rescued at sea; extensive aerial surveillance; and training and funding a newly consolidated Libyan coast guard.

    But the success of these approaches is highly disputed, and in some cases they have put migrants’ lives at greater risk.

    The EU’s policy of destroying the wooden boats used by smugglers to avoid them being reused, for example, has indeed disrupted the Libyan smuggling business, but at a substantial human cost.

    As Libyan smugglers lost their wooden boats, many started to rely more heavily on smaller, cheaper rubber boats. The boats, which smugglers often overfill to maximize profit, are not as safe as the wooden vessels and less likely to reach European shores. Instead, Libyan smugglers started to abandon migrants in international waters, leaving them to be pulled out of peril by European rescue ships.

    Sophia officials tracked the situation and were aware of the increased risk to migrants as a result of the policy. “Smugglers can no longer recover smuggling vessels on the high seas, effectively rendering them a less economic option for the smuggling business and thereby hampering it,” they wrote in a 2016 status report seen by POLITICO.

    The report acknowledged however that the policy has pushed migrants into using rubber boats, putting them in greater danger. “Effectively, with the limited supply and the degree of overloading, the migrant vessels are [distress] cases from the moment they launch,” it said.

    These overfilled rubber boats, which officials described as shipwrecks waiting to happen, also present a problem for the EU operation.

    International maritime law compels vessels to respond to people in distress at sea and bring the rescued to a nearby safe port. And because European courts have held that Libya has no safe port, that means bringing migrants found at sea to Europe — in most cases, Italy.

    This has exacerbated political tensions in the country, where far-right leader Salvini has responded to the influx of new arrivals by closing ports to NGO and humanitarian ships carrying migrants and threatening to bar Sophia vessels from docking.

    Meanwhile, Sophia officials have complained that rescuing people from leaking, unseaworthy boats detracted from the operation’s ability to pursue its primary target: Libyan smugglers.

    In a leaked status report from 2017, Sophia officials made a highly unusual suggestion: that the operation be granted permission to suspend its rescue responsibilities in order to focus on its anti-smuggling operations.

    “Consideration should be given to an option that would allow the operation to be authorized for being temporarily exempt from search and rescue when actively conducting anti-smuggling operations against jackals in international waters,” the report read.

    The EU has also wilfully ignored inconvenient aspects of its policies when it comes to its collaboration with Libya’s municipal coast guard.

    The intention of the strategy — launched one year into the Sophia operation — was to equip Libyan authorities to intercept migrant boats setting off from the Libyan coast and bring people back to shore. This saved Europe from sending its own ships close to coast, and meant that people could be brought back to Libya, rather than to Europe, as required by international maritime law — or more specifically, Italy.

    Here too, the EU was aware it was pursuing a problematic strategy, as the Libyan coast guard has a well-documented relationship with Libyan smugglers.

    A leaked report from Frontex, the EU’s coast guard, noted in 2016: “As mentioned in previous reports, some members of Libya’s local authorities are involved in smuggling activities.” The report cited interviews with recently rescued people who said they were smuggled by Libyans in uniform. It also noted that similar conclusions were reported multiple times by the Italian coast guard and Operation Sophia.

    “Many of [the coast guard officers] were militia people — many of them fought with militias during the civil war" — Rabih Boualleg, Operation Sophia translator

    In Sophia’s leaked status report from 2017, operation leaders noted that “migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks remain well ingrained” throughout the region and that smugglers routinely “pay off authorities” for passage to international waters.

    “Many of [the coast guard officers] were militia people — many of them fought with militias during the civil war,” said Rabih Boualleg, who worked as a translator for Operation Sophia in late 2016 on board a Dutch ship involved in training the coast guard from Tripoli.

    “They were telling me that many of them hadn’t gotten their government salaries in eight months. They told me, jokingly, that they were ‘forced’ to take money from smugglers sometimes.”

    The coast guards talked openly about accepting money from smuggling networks in exchange for escorting rubber boats to international waters instead of turning them back toward the shore, Boualleg said.

    “If the [on-duty] coast guard came,” Boualleg added, “they would just say they were fishermen following the rubber boats, that’s all.”

    Frontex’s 2016 report documents similar cases. Two officials with close knowledge of Sophia’s training of the Libyan coast guard also confirmed that members of the coast guard are involved in smuggling networks. A spokesperson for the Libyan coast guard did not return repeated requests for comment.

    EU governments have, for the most part, simply looked the other way.

    And that’s unlikely to change, said a senior European official with close knowledge of Operation Sophia who spoke on condition of anonymity. For the first time since the start of the operation, Libyan authorities are returning more people to Libya than are arriving in Italy.

    “If Italy decides — since it is the country in command of Operation Sophia — to stop it, it is up to Italy to make this decision" — Dimitris Avramopoulos, immigration commissioner

    “Europe doesn’t want to upset this balance,” the official said. “Any criticism of the coast guards could lead to resentment, to relaxing.”

    Two years into the training program, leaked reports also show the Libyan coast guard was unable to manage search-and-rescue activities on its own. Sophia monitors their operations with GoPro cameras and through surveillance using ships, airplanes, drones and submarines.

    The operation is limited by its mandate, but it has made progress in difficult circumstances, an EEAS spokesperson said. Operation Sophia officials did not respond to multiple interview requests and declined to answer questions via email.

    “The provision of training the Libyan coast guard and navy, as well as continued engagement with them have proven to be the most effecting complementary tool to disrupt the activities of those involved in trafficking,” the EEAS spokesperson said in an email.

    The spokesperson maintained that Libyan coast guards who are trained by Operation Sophia undergo a “thorough vetting procedure." The spokesperson also stated that, while Operation Sophia does advise and monitor the Libyan coast guard, the operation is not involved “in the decision-making in relation to operations.”

    *

    With the March deadline for the operation’s renewal fast approaching, pressure is mounting to find a way to reform Sophia or disband it altogether.

    When Salvini closed Italy’s ports to NGO and humanitarian ships last July, the country’s foreign minister turned to the EU to negotiate a solution that would ensure migrants rescued as part of Operation Sophia would be resettled among other countries. At the time, Italy said it expected results “within weeks.” Six months later, neither side has found a way through the impasse.

    “The fate of this operation is not determined yet,” European Commissioner for Immigration Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters last month, adding that discussions about allowing migrants to disembark in non-Italian ports are still underway among member countries.

    “If Italy decides — since it is the country in command of Operation Sophia — to stop it, it is up to Italy to make this decision.”

    The political fight over the future of the operation has been made more acute by an increase in criticism from human rights organizations. Reports of violence, torture and extortion in Libyan detention centers have put the naval operation and EEAS on the defensive.

    A Human Rights Watch report published in January found that Europe’s support for the Libyan coast guard has contributed to cases of arbitrary detention, and that people intercepted by Libyan authorities “face inhuman and degrading conditions and the risk of torture, sexual violence, extortion, and forced labor.” Amnesty International has also condemned the conditions under which migrants are being held, and in an open letter published earlier this month, 50 major aid organizations warned that “EU leaders have allowed themselves to become complicit in the tragedy unfolding before their eyes.”

    These human rights violations have been well documented. In 2016, the U.N. Human Rights Office said it considered “migrants to be at high risk of suffering serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, in Libya and thus urges States not to return, or facilitate the return of, persons to Libya.”

    Last June, the U.N. sanctioned six men for smuggling and human rights violations, including the head of the coast guard in Zawiya, a city west of Tripoli. A number of officials under his command, a leaked EEAS report found, were trained by Operation Sophia.

    An EEAS spokesperson would not comment on the case of the Zawiya coast guards trained by Operation Sophia or how the officers were vetted. The spokesperson said that none of the coast guards “trained by Operation Sophia” are on the U.N. sanctions list.

    The deteriorating human rights situation has prompted a growing chorus of critics to argue the EU’s arrangement with Libya is unsustainable.

    “What does the EU do in Libya? They throw money at projects, but they don’t have a very tangible operation on the ground" — Tarek Megerisi, Libyan expert

    “Returning anyone to Libya is against international law,” said Salah Margani, a former justice minister in Libya’s post-civil war government. “Libya is not a safe place. They will be subject to murder. They will be subjected to torture.”

    “This is documented,” Margani added. “And [Europe] knows it.”

    Sophia is also indicative of a larger, ineffective European policy toward Libya, said Tarek Megerisi, a Libya specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

    “What does the EU do in Libya? They throw money at projects, but they don’t have a very tangible operation on the ground. They really struggle to convert what they spend into political currency — Operation Sophia is all they’ve got,” he said.

    The project, he added, is less a practical attempt to stop smuggling or save migrants than a political effort to paper over differences within the EU when it comes to migration policy.

    With Sophia, he said, Europe is “being as vague as possible so countries like Italy and Hungary can say this is our tool for stopping migration, and countries like Germany and Sweden can say we’re saving lives.”

    “With this operation, there’s something for everyone,” he said.

    https://www.politico.eu/article/europe-deadly-migration-strategy-leaked-documents

    Commentaire ECRE :

    Leaked documents obtained by @POLITICOEurope show that the #EU knew its military operation “Sophia” in the Mediterranean made sea crossing more dangerous.

    https://twitter.com/ecre/status/1101074946057482240

    #responsabilité #Méditerranée #mourir_en_mer #asile #migrations #réfugiés #mer_Méditerranée #Frontex #EU #UE
    #leaks #sauvetage #externalisation #frontières

    –-----------------------------------------

    Mise en exergue de quelques passages de l’article qui me paraissent particulièrement intéressants :

    The confidential reports also show the EU is aware that a number of its policies have made the sea crossing more dangerous for migrants, and that it nonetheless chose to continue to pursue those strategies. Officials acknowledge internally that some members of the Libyan coast guard that the EU funds, equips and trains are collaborating with smuggling networks.

    Named after a baby girl born on an EU rescue ship, Sophia is the uneasy compromise to resolve a deep split across the bloc: between those who pushed for proactive search-and-rescue efforts to save more lives and those who favored pulling resources from the sea to make the crossing more dangerous.
    The naval operation sits uncomfortably between the two, rescuing migrants in distress at sea, but insisting its primary focus is to fight smugglers off the coast of Libya. The two activities are frequently in conflict.

    The report acknowledged however that the policy has pushed migrants into using rubber boats, putting them in greater danger. “Effectively, with the limited supply and the degree of overloading, the migrant vessels are [distress] cases from the moment they launch,” it said.

    In a leaked status report from 2017 (https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ENFM-2017-2.pdf), Sophia officials made a highly unusual suggestion: that the operation be granted permission to suspend its rescue responsibilities in order to focus on its anti-smuggling operations.

    “Consideration should be given to an option that would allow the operation to be authorized for being temporarily exempt from search and rescue when actively conducting anti-smuggling operations against jackals in international waters,” the report read.

    A leaked report from #Frontex (https://theintercept.com/2017/04/02/new-evidence-undermines-eu-report-tying-refugee-rescue-group-to-smuggl), the EU’s coast guard, noted in 2016: “As mentioned in previous reports, some members of Libya’s local authorities are involved in smuggling activities.” The report cited interviews with recently rescued people who said they were smuggled by Libyans in uniform. It also noted that similar conclusions were reported multiple times by the Italian coast guard and Operation Sophia.

    In Sophia’s leaked status report from 2017, operation leaders noted that “migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks remain well ingrained” throughout the region and that smugglers routinely “pay off authorities” for passage to international waters. “Many of [the coast guard officers] were militia people — many of them fought with militias during the civil war,” said Rabih Boualleg, who worked as a translator for Operation Sophia in late 2016 on board a Dutch ship involved in training the coast guard from Tripoli. The coast guards talked openly about accepting money from smuggling networks in exchange for escorting rubber boats to international waters instead of turning them back toward the shore, Boualleg said.

    Frontex’s 2016 report documents similar cases. Two officials with close knowledge of Sophia’s training of the Libyan coast guard also confirmed that members of the coast guard are involved in smuggling networks. A spokesperson for the Libyan coast guard did not return repeated requests for comment.

    Two years into the training program, leaked reports (https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ENFM-Monitoring-of-Libyan-Coast-Guard-and-Navy-Report-October-2017-January-2018.pdf) also show the Libyan coast guard was unable to manage search-and-rescue activities on its own. Sophia monitors their operations with GoPro cameras and through surveillance using ships, airplanes, drones and submarines.

    A Human Rights Watch report (https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/01/21/no-escape-hell/eu-policies-contribute-abuse-migrants-libya) published in January found that Europe’s support for the Libyan coast guard has contributed to cases of arbitrary detention, and that people intercepted by Libyan authorities “face inhuman and degrading conditions and the risk of torture, sexual violence, extortion, and forced labor.” Amnesty International has also condemned (https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/LY/DetainedAndDehumanised_en.pdf) the conditions under which migrants are being held, and in an open letter published earlier this month, 50 major aid organizations warned that “EU leaders have allowed themselves to become complicit in the tragedy unfolding before their eyes.”

    “Returning anyone to Libya is against international law,” said Salah Margani, a former justice minister in Libya’s post-civil war government. “Libya is not a safe place. They will be subject to murder. They will be subjected to torture.”

    “This is documented,” Margani added. “And [Europe] knows it.”
    Sophia is also indicative of a larger, ineffective European policy toward Libya, said Tarek Megerisi, a Libya specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
    “What does the EU do in Libya? They throw money at projects, but they don’t have a very tangible operation on the ground. They really struggle to convert what they spend into political currency — Operation Sophia is all they’ve got,” he said.

    With Sophia, he said, Europe is “being as vague as possible so countries like Italy and Hungary can say this is our tool for stopping migration, and countries like Germany and Sweden can say we’re saving lives.”
    “With this operation, there’s something for everyone,” he said.

    #flou

  • Amnesty India staff complain of harassment and discrimination | Global development | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/feb/15/amnesty-india-staff-complain-of-harassment-and-discrimination

    Prominent Indian rights activists have withdrawn their support for Amnesty India amid allegations of caste discrimination and harassment within the organisation, the Guardian has learned.

    The allegations include claims that staff were humiliated, ill-treated and discriminated against because of their caste, a system of social hierarchy among Hindus.

    A further 32 Indian lawyers and civil rights campaigners have written to Amnesty International’s secretary general in London to demand an independent investigation into the claims from staff members. Parts of the letter were seen by the Guardian.

    It comes after the human rights group released a report last week identifying a “toxic” work culture at Amnesty International with widespread bullying, discrimination, public humiliation and other abuses of power. The review of workplace culture was prompted by staff concerns after researcher Gaëtan Mootoo killed himself in his Paris office.

    #amnesty_international #Inde #caste #discriminations #harcèlement

  • Israel/OPT : Tourism companies driving settlement expansion, profiting from war crimes

    Online booking giants #Airbnb, #Booking.com, #Expedia and #TripAdvisor are fuelling human rights violations against Palestinians by listing hundreds of rooms and activities in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem, Amnesty International said today. In a new report, ‘Destination: Occupation’, the organization documents how online booking companies are driving tourism to illegal Israeli settlements and contributing to their existence and expansion.

    Israel’s settling of Israeli civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) violates international humanitarian law and is a war crime. Despite this, the four companies continue to operate in the settlements, and profit from this illegal situation.

    One of the settlements included in Amnesty International’s report is #Kfar_Adumim, a growing tourism hub located less than two kilometres from the Bedouin village of #Khan_al-Ahmar, whose imminent and complete demolition by Israeli forces has been given a green light by Israel’s Supreme Court. The expansion of Kfar Adumim and other surrounding settlements is a key driver of human rights violations against the local Bedouin community.

    “Israel’s unlawful seizure of Palestinian land and expansion of settlements perpetuates immense suffering, pushing Palestinians out of their homes, destroying their livelihoods and depriving them of basics like drinking water. Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor model themselves on the idea of sharing and mutual trust, yet they are contributing to these human rights violations by doing business in the settlements,” said Seema Joshi, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Thematic Issues.

    “The Israeli government uses the growing tourism industry in the settlements as a way of legitimizing their existence and expansion, and online booking companies are playing along with this agenda. It’s time for these companies to stand up for human rights by withdrawing all of their listings in illegal settlements on occupied land. War crimes are not a tourist attraction.”

    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/01/israel-opt-tourism-companies-driving-settlement-expansion-profiting-from-wa
    #Israël #territoires_occupés #tourisme #Palestine #droits_humains #démolition #destruction #industrie_touristique
    ping @reka

  • Hunger Strike Gains Momentum in Azerbaijan – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/01/16/hunger-strike-gains-momentum-in-azerbaijan-political-prisoner-protest


    From left, Rafik Bakhishov, Zafar Ahmadov, and Tofig Yagublu take part in a hunger strike at the headquarters of the opposition party Musavat in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Jan. 15.
    (Khadija Ismayilova)

    Seeing Baku as a strategic partner, the United States and Europe overlook rights violations.

    More than a dozen political prisoners, activists, and members of the opposition in Azerbaijan have joined a solidarity hunger strike to call attention to the plight of the imprisoned anti-corruption blogger Mehman Huseynov, who has refused food for three weeks.

    Huseynov, 29, launched his own hunger strike on Dec. 26 after new charges were brought against him that could keep him detained for another seven years.

    His supporters include the prominent Azerbaijani investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova, who announced on her Facebook page Monday that she would stop eating and called on the international community to intervene on Heseynov’s behalf. Ismayilova’s own imprisonment between 2015 and 2016 sparked an international outcry.

    “I can only sacrifice my time, health and stamina. Please, respond, world,” she wrote.

    Daniel Balson, the Europe and Central Asia advocacy director for Amnesty International USA, said the solidarity hunger strike was unprecedented in Azerbaijan.

    Corruption and human rights abuses are rife in the southern Caucasus country. President Ilham Aliyev, who succeeded his father in 2003, has abolished term limits and appointed his wife as vice president, drawing accusations that he has effectively established a monarchy in Azerbaijan.

    It is estimated that there are currently more than 100 political prisoners in the country, according to Amnesty International USA, and the media is tightly controlled. Last year, the Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was abducted in the capital of neighboring Georgia and brought to Azerbaijan, where he was sentenced to six years for smuggling and illegally crossing the border.

    “All well-known human rights defenders and journalists spend at least one or two years in prison,” said Huseynov’s brother, Emin Huseynov.

    He told Foreign Policy that while his brother began his hunger strike by refusing to eat or drink water, he has since begun to drink milk, enabling him to prolong his protest.

    Mehman Huseynov ran SANCAQ (“Pin” in Azerbaijani), a popular online magazine across Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. His video reports, which explored government corruption and social problems, frequently garnered hundreds of thousands of views.

    In January 2017, plainclothes police officers dragged Huseynov into a van, placed a hood over his head, and took him to a police station, where he was electrocuted and beaten. After he spoke out about the abuse, Huseynov was charged with slander and sentenced to two years in prison for defaming an entire police station.

    The blogger was due to be released in March, but new charges that were brought against him, which are widely thought to be politically motivated, could add years to his sentence.

    The European Parliament is set to debate a resolution on Thursday calling on Azerbaijan to release all political prisoners unconditionally and to respect the freedom of the press.

    The Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

  • And Yet We Move - 2018, a Contested Year

    Alarm Phone 6 Week Report, 12 November - 23 December 2018

    311 people escaping from Libya rescued through a chain of solidarity +++ About 113,000 sea arrivals and over 2,240 counted fatalities in the Mediterranean this year +++ 666 Alarm Phone distress cases in 2018 +++ Developments in all three Mediterranean regions +++ Summaries of 38 Alarm Phone distress cases

    Introduction

    “There are no words big enough to describe the value of the work you are doing. It is a deeply human act and it will never be forgotten. The whole of your team should know that we wish all of you health and a long life and the best wishes in all the colours of the world.” These are the words that the Alarm Phone received a few days ago from a man who had been on a boat in the Western Mediterranean Sea and with whom our shift teams had stayed in touch throughout the night until they were finally rescued to Spain. He was able to support the other travellers by continuously and calmly reassuring them, and thereby averted panic on the boat. His message motivates us to continue also in 2019 to do everything we can to assist people who have taken to the sea because Europe’s border regime has closed safe and legal routes, leaving only the most dangerous paths slightly open. On these paths, over 2,240 people have lost their lives this year.

    While we write this report, 311 people are heading toward Spain on the rescue boat of the NGO Proactiva Open Arms. The travellers called the Alarm Phone when they were on a boat-convoy that had left from Libya. Based on the indications of their location, Al-Khums, the civil reconnaissance aircraft Colibri launched a search operation in the morning of the 21st of December and was able to spot the convoy of three boats which were then rescued by Proactiva. Italy and Malta closed their harbours to them, prolonging their suffering. Over the Christmas days they headed toward their final destination in Spain. The successful rescue operation of the 313 people (one mother and her infant child were flown out by a helicopter after rescue) highlights the chain of solidarity that activists and NGOs have created in the Central Mediterranean Sea. It is a fragile chain that the EU and its member states seek to criminalise and tear apart wherever they can.

    Throughout the year of 2018, we have witnessed and assisted contested movements across the Mediterranean Sea. Despite violent deterrence policies and practices, about 113,000 people succeeded in subverting maritime borders and have arrived in Europe by boat. We were alerted to 666 distress situations at sea (until December 23rd), and our shift teams have done their best to assist the many thousands of people who saw no other option to realise their hope for a better future than by risking their lives at sea. Many of them lost their lives in the moment of enacting their freedom of movement. Over 2,240 women, men, and children from the Global South – and probably many more who were never counted – are not with us anymore because of the violence inscribed in the Global North’s hegemonic and brutal borders. They were not able to get a visa. They could not board a much cheaper plane, bus, or ferry to reach a place of safety and freedom. Many travelled for months, even years, to get anywhere near the Mediterranean border – and on their journeys they have lived through hardships unimaginable for most of us. But they struggled on and reached the coasts of Northern Africa and Turkey, where they got onto overcrowded boats. That they are no longer with us is a consequence of Europe’s racist system of segregation that illegalises and criminalises migration, a system that also seeks to illegalise and criminalise solidarity. Many of these 2,240 people would be alive if the civil rescuers were not prevented from doing their work. All of them would be alive, if they could travel and cross borders freely.

    In the different regions of the Mediterranean Sea, the situation has further evolved over the course of 2018, and the Alarm Phone witnessed the changing patterns of boat migration first hand. Most of the boats we assisted were somewhere between Morocco and Spain (480), a considerable number between Turkey and Greece (159), but comparatively few between Libya and Italy (27). This, of course, speaks to the changing dynamics of migratory escape and its control in the different regions:

    Morocco-Spain: Thousands of boats made it across the Strait of Gibraltar, the Alboran Sea, or the Atlantic and have turned Spain into the ‘front-runner’ this year with about 56,000 arrivals by sea. In 2017, 22,103 people had landed in Spain, 8,162 in 2016. In the Western Mediterranean, crossings are organised in a rather self-organised way and the number of arrivals speaks to a migratory dynamism not experienced for over a decade in this region. Solidarity structures have multiplied both in Morocco and Spain and they will not be eradicated despite the wave of repression that has followed the peak in crossings over the summer. Several Alarm Phone members experienced the consequences of EU pressure on the Moroccan authorities to repress cross-border movements first hand when they were violently deported to the south of Morocco, as were several thousand others.

    Turkey-Greece: With about 32,000 people reaching the Greek islands by boat, more people have arrived in Greece than in 2017, when 29,718 people did so. After arrival via the sea, many are confined in inhumane conditions on the islands and the EU hotspots have turned into rather permanent prisons. This desperate situation has prompted renewed movements across the Turkish-Greek land border in the north. Overall, the number of illegalised crossings into Greece has risen due to more than 20,000 people crossing the land border. Several cases of people experiencing illegal push-back operations there reached the Alarm Phone over the year.

    Libya-Italy/Malta: Merely about 23,000[1] people have succeeded in fleeing Libya via the sea in 2018. The decrease is dramatic, from 119,369 in 2017, and even 181,436 in 2016. This decrease gives testament to the ruthlessness of EU deterrence policies that have produced the highest death rate in the Central Mediterranean and unspeakable suffering among migrant communities in Libya. Libyan militias are funded, trained, and legitimated by their EU allies to imprison thousands of people in camps and to abduct those who made it onto boats back into these conditions. Due to the criminalisation of civil rescuers, a lethal rescue gap was produced, with no NGO able to carry out their work for many months of the year. Fortunately, three of them have now been able to return to the deadliest area of the Mediterranean.

    These snapshots of the developments in the three Mediterranean regions, elaborated on in greater detail below, give an idea of the struggles ahead of us. They show how the EU and its member states not only created dangerous maritime paths in the first place but then reinforced its migrant deterrence regime at any cost. They show, however, also how thousands could not be deterred from enacting their freedom of movement and how solidarity structures have evolved to assist their precarious movements. We go into 2019 with the promise and call that the United4Med alliance of sea rescuers has outlined: “We will prove how civil society in action is not only willing but also able to bring about a new Europe; saving lives at sea and creating a just reception system on land. Ours is a call to action to European cities, mayors, citizens, societies, movements, organisations and whoever believes in our mission, to join us. Join our civil alliance and let us stand up together, boldly claiming a future of respect and equality. We will stand united for the right to stay and for the right to go.”[2] Also in the new year, the Alarm Phone will directly engage in this struggle and we call on others to join. It can only be a collective fight, as the odds are stacked against us.

    Developments in the Central Mediterranean

    In December 2018, merely a few hundred people were able to escape Libya by boat. It cannot be stressed enough how dramatic the decrease in crossings along this route is – a year before, 2,327 people escaped in December, in 2016 even 8,428. 2018 is the year when Europe’s border regime ‘succeeded’ in largely shutting down the Central Mediterranean route. It required a combination of efforts – the criminalisation of civil search and rescue organisations, the selective presence of EU military assets that were frequently nowhere to be found when boats were in distress, the closure of Italian harbours and the unwillingness of other EU member states to welcome the rescued, and, most importantly, the EU’s sustained support for the so-called Libyan coastguards and other Libyan security forces. Europe has not only paid but also trained, funded and politically legitimised Libyan militias whose only job is to contain outward migratory movements, which means capturing and abducting people seeking to flee to Europe both at sea and on land. Without these brutal allies, it would not have been possible to reduce the numbers of crossings that dramatically.

    The ‘Nivin case’ of November 7th exemplifies this European-Libyan alliance. On that day, a group of 95 travellers reached out to the Alarm Phone from a boat in distress off the coast of Libya. Among them were people from Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Eritrea. Italy refused to conduct a rescue operation and eventually they were rescued by the cargo vessel Nivin. Despite telling the rescued that they would be brought to a European harbour, the crew of the Nivin returned them to Libya on November 10th. At the harbour of Misrata, most of the rescued refused to disembark, stating that they would not want to be returned into conditions of confinement and torture. The people, accused by some to be ‘pirates’, fought bravely against forced disembarkation for ten days but on the 20th of November they could resist no longer when Libyan security forces stormed the boat and violently removed them, using tear gas and rubber bullets in the process. Several of the protestors were injured and needed treatment in hospital while others were returned into inhumane detention camps.[3]

    Also over the past 6 weeks, the period covered in this report, the criminalisation of civil rescue organisations continued. The day that the protestors on the Nivin were violently removed, Italy ordered the seizure of the Aquarius, the large rescue asset operated by SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières that had already been at the docs in France for some time, uncertain about its future mission. According to the Italian authorities, the crew had falsely labelled the clothes rescued migrants had left on the Aquarius as ‘special’ rather than ‘toxic’ waste.[4] The absurdity of the accusation highlights the fact that Italy’s authorities seek out any means to prevent rescues from taking place, a “disproportionate and unfounded measure, purely aimed at further criminalising lifesaving medical-humanitarian action at sea”, as MSF noted.[5] Unfortunately, these sustained attacks showed effect. On the 6th of December, SOS Med and MSF announced the termination of its mission: “European policies and obstruction tactics have forced [us] to terminate the lifesaving operations carried out by the search and rescue vessel Aquarius.” As the MSF general director said: “This is a dark day. Not only has Europe failed to provide search and rescue capacity, it has also actively sabotaged others’ attempts to save lives. The end of Aquarius means more deaths at sea, and more needless deaths that will go unwitnessed.”[6]

    And yet, despite this ongoing sabotage of civil rescue from the EU and its member states, three vessels of the Spanish, German, and Italian organisations Open Arms, Sea-Watch and Mediterranea returned to the deadliest area of the Mediterranean in late November.[7] This return is also significance for Alarm Phone work in the Central Mediterranean: once again we have non-governmental allies at sea who will not only document what is going on along the deadliest border of the world but actively intervene to counter Europe’s border ‘protection’ measures. Shortly after returning, one of the NGOs was called to assist. Fishermen had rescued a group of travellers off the coast of Libya onto their fishing vessel, after they had been abandoned in the water by a Libyan patrol boat, as the fishermen claimed. Rather than ordering their rapid transfer to a European harbour, Italy, Malta and Spain sought out ways to return the 12 people to Libya. The fishing boat, the Nuestra Madre de Loreto, was ill-equipped to care for the people who were weak and needed medical attention. However, they were assisted only by Proactiva Open Arms, and for over a week, the people had to stay on the fishing boat. One of them developed a medical emergency and was eventually brought away in a helicopter. Finally, in early December, they were brought to Malta.[8]

    Around the same time, something rare and remarkable happened. A boat with over 200 people on board reached the Italian harbour of Pozzallo independently, on the 24th of November. Even when they were at the harbour, the authorities refused to allow them to quickly disembark – a irresponsible decision given that the boat was at risk of capsizing. After several hours, all of the people were finally allowed to get off the boat. Italy’s minister of the interior Salvini accused the Maltese authorities of allowing migrant boats to move toward Italian territory.[9] Despite their hardship, the people on the Nuestra Madre de Loreto and the 200 people from this boat, survived. Also the 33 people rescued by the NGO Sea-Watch on the 22nd of December survived. Others, however, did not. In mid-November, a boat left from Algeria with 13 young people on board, intending to reach Sardinia. On the 16th of November, the first body was found, the second a day later. Three survived and stated later that the 10 others had tried to swim to what they believed to be the shore when they saw a light in the distance.[10] In early December, a boat with 25 people on board left from Sabratha/Libya, and 15 of them did not survive. As a survivor reported, they had been at sea for 12 days without food and water.[11]

    Despite the overall decrease in crossings, what has been remarkable in this region is that the people escaping have more frequently informed the Alarm Phone directly than before. The case mentioned earlier, from the 20th of December, when people from a convoy of 3 boats carrying 313 people in total reached out to us, exemplifies this. Detected by the Colibri reconnaissance aircraft and rescued by Proactiva, this case demonstrates powerfully what international solidarity can achieve, despite all attempts by EU member states and institutions to create a zone of death in the Central Mediterranean Sea.
    Developments in the Western Mediterranean Sea

    Over the past six weeks covered by this report, the Alarm Phone witnessed several times what happens when Spanish and Moroccan authorities shift responsibilities and fail to respond quickly to boats in distress situations. Repeatedly we had to pressurise the Spanish authorities publicly before they launched a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation. And still, many lives were lost at sea. On Moroccan land, the repression campaign against Sub-Saharan travellers and residents continues. On the 30th of November, an Alarm Phone member was, yet again, arrested and deported towards the South of Morocco, to Tiznit, along with many other people. (h https://alarmphone.org/en/2018/12/04/alarm-phone-member-arrested-and-deported-in-morocco/?post_type_release_type=post). Other friends in Morocco have informed us about the deportation of large groups from Nador to Tiznit. Around the 16th of December, 400 people were forcibly removed, and on the 17th of December, another 300 people were deported to Morocco’s south. This repression against black residents and travellers in Morocco is one of the reasons for many to decide to leave via the sea. This has meant that also during the winter, cross-Mediterranean movements remain high. On just one weekend, the 8th-9th of December, 535 people reached Andalusia/Spain.[12]

    Whilst people are constantly resisting the border regime by acts of disobedience when they cross the borders clandestinely, acts of resistance take place also on the ground in Morocco, where associations and individuals are continuously struggling for the freedom of movement for all. In early December, an Alarm Phone delegation participated at an international conference in Rabat/Morocco, in order to discuss with members of other associations and collectives from Africa and Europe about the effects of the outsourcing and militarisation of European borders in the desire to further criminalise and prevent migration movements. We were among 400 people and were impressed by the many contributions from people who live and struggle in very precarious situations, by the uplifting atmosphere, and by the many accounts and expressions of solidarity. Days later, during the international meeting in Marrakesh on the ‘Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration’, the Alarm Phone was part of a counter-summit, protesting the international pact on migration which is not meant to reduce borders between states, but to curtail the freedom of movement of the many in the name of ‘legal’ and ‘regulated’ migration. The Alarm Phone delegation was composed of 20 activists from the cities of Tangier, Oujda, Berkane, Nador and Fes. One of our colleagues sums up the event: “We have expressed our ideas and commitments as Alarm Phone, solemnly and strongly in front of the other organisations represented. We have espoused the vision of freedom of movement, a vision without precedent. A vision which claims symbolically all human rights and which has the power to help migrants on all continents to feel protected.” In light of the Marrakesh pact, several African organisations joined together and published a statement rejecting “…the wish to confine Africans within their countries by strengthening border controls, in the deserts, at sea and in airports.”[13]

    Shortly after the international meeting in Marrakesh, the EU pledged €148 million to support Morocco’s policy of migrant containment, thus taking steps towards making it even more difficult, and therefore more dangerous for many people on the African continent to exercise their right to move freely, under the pretext of “combating smuggling”. Making the journeys across the Mediterranean more difficult does not have the desired effect of ending illegalised migration. As the routes to Spain from the north of Morocco have become more militarised following a summer of many successful crossings, more southern routes have come into use again. These routes, leading to the Spanish Canary Islands, force travellers to overcome much longer distances in the Atlantic Ocean, a space without phone coverage and with a heightened risk to lose one’s orientation. On the 18th of November, 22 people lost their lives at sea, on their way from Tiznit to the Canary Islands.[14] Following a Spanish-Frontex collaboration launched in 2006, this route to the Canary Islands has not been used very frequently, but numbers have increased this year, with Moroccan nationals being the largest group of arrivals.[15]
    Developments in the Aegean Sea

    Over the final weeks of 2018, between the 12th of November and the 23rd of December, 78 boats arrived on the Greek islands while 116 boats were stopped by the Turkish coastguards and returned to Turkey. This means that there were nearly 200 attempts to cross into Europe by boat over five weeks, and about 40 percent of them were successful.[16] Over the past six weeks, the Alarm Phone was involved in a total of 19 cases in this region. 6 of the boats arrived in Samos, 3 of them in Chios, and one each on Lesvos, Agathonisi, Farmkonisi, and Symi. 4 boats were returned to Turkey (3 of them rescued, 1 intercepted by the Turkish coastguards). In one distress situation, a man lost his life and another man had to be brought to the hospital due to hypothermia. Moreover, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 2 cases along the Turkish-Greek land border. While in one case their fate remains uncertain, the other group of people were forcibly pushed-back to Turkey.

    Thousands of people still suffering in inhuman conditions in hotspots: When we assist boats crossing the Aegean Sea, the people are usually relieved and happy when arriving on the islands, at least they have survived. However, this moment of happiness often turns into a state of shock when they enter the so-called ‘hotspots’. Over 12,500 people remain incarcerated there, often living in tents and containers unsuitable for winter in the five EU-sponsored camps on Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos, and Leros. In addition to serious overcrowding, asylum seekers continue to face unsanitary and unhygienic conditions and physical violence, including gender-based violence. Doctors without Borders has reported on a measles outbreak in Greek camps and conducted a vaccination campaign.[17] Amnesty International and 20 other organizations have published a collective call: “As winter approaches all asylum seekers on the Aegean islands must be transferred to suitable accommodation on the mainland or relocated to other EU countries. […] The EU-Turkey deal containment policy imposes unjustified and unnecessary suffering on asylum seekers, while unduly limiting their rights.”

    The ‘humanitarian’ crisis in the hotspots is the result of Greece’s EU-backed policy of containing asylum seekers on the Aegean islands until their asylum claims are adjudicated or until it is determined that they fall into one of the ‘vulnerable’ categories listed under Greek law. But as of late November, an estimated 2,200 people identified as eligible for transfer are still waiting as accommodation facilities on the mainland are also severely overcrowded. Those who are actually transferred from the hotspot on Lesvos to the Greek mainland are brought to far away camps or empty holiday resorts without infrastructure and without a sufficient number of aid workers.

    Criminalisation along Europe’s Eastern Sea Border: A lot has been written about the many attempts to criminalise NGOs and activists carrying out Search and Rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Much less publicly acknowledged are the many cases in which migrant travellers themselves become criminalised for their activist involvement, often for protesting against the inhuman living conditions and the long waiting times for the asylum-interviews. The case of the ‘Moria 35’ on Lesvos was a case in point, highlighting how a few individual protesters were randomly selected by authorities to scare others into silence and obedience. The Legal Centre Lesvos followed this case closely until the last person of the 35 was released and they shared their enquiries with “a 15-month timeline of injustice and impunity” on their website: “On Thursday 18th October, the last of the Moria 35 were released from detention. Their release comes one year and three months – to the day – after the 35 men were arbitrarily arrested and subject to brutal police violence in a raid of Moria camp following peaceful protests, on July 18th 2017.” While the Legal Centre Lesbos welcomes the fact that all 35 men were finally released, they should never have been imprisoned in the first place. They will not get back the 10 to 15 months they spent in prison. Moreover, even after release, most of the 35 men remain in a legally precarious situation. While 6 were granted asylum in Greece, the majority struggles against rejected asylum claims. Three were already deported. One individual was illegally deported without having exhausted his legal remedies in Greece while another individual, having spent 9 months in pre-trial detention, signed up for so-called ‘voluntary’ deportation.[18] In the meantime, others remain in prison to await their trials that will take place with hardly any attention of the media.

    Humanitarian activists involved in spotting and rescue released after 3 months: The four activists, Sarah Mardini, Nassos Karakitsos, Panos Moraitis and Sean Binder, were released on the 6th of December 2018 after having been imprisoned for three months. They had been held in prolonged pre-trial detention for their work with the non-profit organization Emergency Response Center International (ERCI), founded by Moraitis. The charges misrepresented the group as a smuggling crime ring, and its legitimate fundraising activities as money laundering. The arrests forced the group to cease its operations, including maritime search and rescue, the provision of medical care, and non-formal education to asylum seekers. They are free without geographical restrictions but the case is not yet over. Mardini and Binder still face criminal charges possibly leading to decades in prison.[19] Until 15 February the group ‘Solidarity now!’ is collecting as many signatures as possible to ensure that the Greek authorities drop the case.[20]

    Violent Pushbacks at the Land Border: During the last six weeks, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two groups at the land border separating Turkey and Greece. In both situations, the travellers had already reached Greek soil, but ended up on Turkish territory. Human Right Watch (HRW) published another report on the 18th of December about violent push-backs in the Evros region: “Greek law enforcement officers at the land border with Turkey in the northeastern Evros region routinely summarily return asylum seekers and migrants […]. The officers in some cases use violence and often confiscate and destroy the migrants’ belongings.”[21] Regularly, migrants were stripped off their phones, money and clothes. According to HRW, most of these incidents happened between April and November 2018.[22] The UNHCR and the Council of Europe’s Committee for Prevention of Torture have published similar reports about violent push backs along the Evros borders.[23]
    CASE REPORTS

    Over the past 6 weeks, the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone was engaged in 38 distress cases, of which 15 took place in the Western Mediterranean, 19 in the Aegean Sea, and 4 in the Central Mediterranean. You can find short summaries and links to the individual reports below.
    Western Mediterranean

    On Tuesday the 13th of November at 6.17pm, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a relative to a group of travellers who had left two days earlier from around Orán heading towards Murcia. They were around nine people, including women and children, and the relative had lost contact to the boat. We were also never able to reach the travellers. At 6.46pm we alerted the Spanish search and rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo (SM) to the distress of the travellers. For several days we tried to reach the travellers and were in contact with SM about the ongoing rescue operation. We were never able to reach the travellers or get any news from the relative. Thus, we are still unsure if the group managed to reach land somewhere on their own, or if they will add to the devastating number of people having lost their lives at sea (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1085).

    On Thursday the 22nd of November, at 5.58pm CET, the Alarm Phone received news about a boat of 11 people that had left Nador 8 hours prior. The shift team was unable to immediately enter into contact with the boat, but called Salvamento Maritimo to convey all available information. At 11.48am the following day, the shift team received word from a traveler on the boat that they were safe (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1088).

    At 7.25am CET on November 24, 2018, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 70 people (including 8 women and 1 child) that had departed from Nador 3 days prior. The shift team was able to reach the boat at 7.50am and learned that their motor had stopped working. The shift team called Salvamento Maritimo, who had handed the case over to the Moroccan authorities. The shift team contacted the MRCC, who said they knew about the boat but could not find them, so the shift team mobilized their contacts to find the latest position and sent it to the coast guard at 8.55am. Rescue operations stalled for several hours. At around 2pm, the shift team received news that rescue operations were underway by the Marine Royale. The shift team remained in contact with several people and coast guards until the next day, when it was confirmed that the boat had finally been rescued and that there were at least 15 fatalities (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1087).

    On Friday the 7th of December 2018, we were alerted to two boats in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea. One boat was brought to Algeria, the second boat rescued by Moroccan fishermen and returned to Morocco (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1098).

    On Saturday, the 8th of December 2018, we were informed by a contact person at 3.25pm CET to a boat in distress that had left from Nador/Morocco during the night, at about 1am. There were 57 people on the boat, including 8 women and a child. We tried to establish contact to the boat but were unable to reach them. At 4.50pm, the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) informed us that they were already searching for this boat. At 8.34pm, SM stated that this boat had been rescued. Some time later, also our contact person confirmed that the boat had been found and rescued to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1099).

    On Monday the 10th of December, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to three boats in the Western Med. Two had left from around Nador, and one from Algeria. One boat was rescued by the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo, one group of travellers returned back to Nador on their own, and the boat from Algeria returned to Algeria (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1101).

    On Wednesday the 12th of December the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted two boats in the Western Med, one carrying seven people, the other carrying 12 people. The first boat was rescued by the Spanish search and rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo (SM), whilst the second boat was intercepted by the Moroccan Navy and brought back to Morocco, where we were informed that the travellers were held imprisoned (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1102).

    On December 21st, 2018, we were informed of two boats in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea. The first had left from Algeria and was probably rescued to Spain. The other one had departed from Tangier and was rescued by the Marine Royale and brought back to Morocco (for full report, see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1110).

    On the 22nd of December, at 5.58pm CET, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 81 people (including 7 women) that had left the previous day from Nador. The motor was not working properly. They informed that they were in touch with Salvamiento Maritimo but as they were still in Moroccan waters, Salvamiento Maritimo said they were unable to perform rescue operations. The shift team had difficulty maintaining contact with the boat over the course of the next few hours. The shift team also contacted Salvamiento Maritimo who confirmed that they knew about the case. At 7.50pm, Salvamiento Maritimo informed the shift team that they would perform the rescue operations and confirmed the operation at 8.15pm. We later got the confirmation by a contact person that the people were rescued to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1111).

    On the 23rd of December 2018, at 1.14am CET, the Alarm Phone received an alert of a boat with 11 men and 1 woman who left from Cap Spartel at Saturday the 22nd of December. The Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to this rubber boat in the early hours of Sunday the 23rd of December. The shift team informed the Spanish Search and Rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 4:50am CET about the situation and provided them with GPS coordinates of the boat. SM, however, rejected responsibility and shifted it to the Moroccan authorities but also the Moroccan Navy did not rescue the people. Several days later, the boat remains missing (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1112).
    Aegean Sea

    On Saturday the 17th of November the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two boats in the Aegean Sea. The first boat returned back to Turkey, whilst the second boat reached Samos on their own (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1086).

    On the 19th of November at 8.40pm CET the shift team was alerted to a boat of 11 travelers in distress near the Turkish coast on its way to Kos. The shift team called the Turkish Coastguard to inform them of the situation. At 9.00pm, the Coastguard called back to confirm they found the boat and would rescue the people. The shift team lost contact with the travelers. At 9.35pm, the Turkish coast guard informed the shift team that the boat was sunk, one man died and one person had hypothermia and would be brought to the hospital. The other 9 people were safe and brought back to Turkey (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1090).

    On the 20th of November at 4.07am CET, the shift team was alerted to a boat with about 50 travelers heading to Samos. The shift team contacted the travelers but the contact was broken for both language and technological reasons. The Alarm Phone contacted the Greek Coastguard about rescue operations. At 7.02am, the shift team was told that a boat of 50 people had been rescued, and the news was confirmed later on, although the shift team could not obtain direct confirmation from the travelers themselves (see:http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1089).

    On the 23rd of November at 7.45pm CET, the Alarm Phone was contacted regarding a group of 19 people, (including 2 women, 1 of whom was pregnant, and a child) who had crossed the river Evros/ Meric and the Turkish-Greek landborder 3 days prior. The shift team first contacted numerous rescue and protection agencies, including UNHCR and the Greek Police, noting that the people were already in Greece and wished to apply for asylum. Until today we remained unable to find out what happened to the people (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1091).

    On the 26th of November at 6:54am CET the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a group of 30 people (among them 7 children and a pregnant woman) who were stranded on the shore in southern Turkey, close to Kas. They wanted us to call the Turkish coastguard so at 7:35am we provided the coastguard with the information we had. At 8:41am we received a photograph from our contact person showing rescue by the Turkish coastguard (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1092).

    On the 29th of November at 4am CET the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat carrying 44 people (among them 19 children and some pregnant women) heading towards the Greek island of Samos. Shortly afterwards the travellers landed on Samos and because of their difficulties orienting themselves we alerted the local authorities. At 9:53am the port police told us that they had rescued 44 people. They were taken to the refugee camp (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1093).

    On Monday, the 3rd of December 2018, the Alarm Phone was alerted at 5.30am CET to a boat in distress south of Chios, with 43 people on board, among them 14 children. We were able to reach the boat at 5.35am. When we received their position, we informed the Greek coastguards at 7.30am and forwarded an updated GPS position to them ten minutes later. At 8.52am, the coastguards confirmed the rescue of the boat. The people were brought to Chios Island. On the next day, the people themselves confirmed that they had all safely reached Greece (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1095).

    On Tuesday the 4th of December 2018, at 6.20am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat in distress near Agathonisi Island. There were about 40 people on board. We established contact to the boat at 6.38am. At 6.45am, we alerted the Greek coastguards. The situation was dangerous as the people on board reported of high waves. At 9.02am, the Greek coastguards confirmed that they had just rescued the boat. The people were brought to Agathonisi (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1096).

    On Wednesday the 5th of December 2018, at 00:08am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a contact person to a boat in distress near Chios Island, carrying about 50 people. We received their GPS position at 00.17am and informed the Greek coastguards to the case at 00.30am. At 00.46am, we learned from the contact person that a boat had just been rescued. The Greek authorities confirmed this when we called them at 00.49am. At around 1pm, the people from the boat confirmed that they had been rescued (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1097).

    On Friday the 7th of December 2018, the Alarm Phone was contacted at 5.53am CET by a contact person and informed about a group of 19 people who had crossed the Evros river to Greece and needed assistance. We assisted them for days, but at some point contact was lost. We know that they were returned to Turkey and thus suspect an illegal push-back operation (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1109).

    On Thursday the 13th of December the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two boats in the Aegean sea. In both cases we were not able to reach the travellers, but we were in contact with both the Turkish and Greek coast guard and were in the end able to confirm that one boat had arrived to Lesvos on their own, whilst the others had been rescued by Turkish fishermen (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1100).

    On the 17th of December, 2018, at 6.39am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 60 travellers. Water was entering the boat, and so the travelers were in distress. Though the shift team had a difficult time remaining in contact with the boat, they contacted the Greek Coastguard to inform them of the situation and the position of the boat. Although the team was not able to remain in contact with the travelers, they received confirmation at 8.18am that the boat had been brought to Greece (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1103).

    On the 18th of December at 2.11am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two boats. The first, of 29 travellers, had landed on the island of Symi and needed help to exit the place of landing. The second was a boat of 54 travellers (including 16 children, and 15 women) that was rescued by the Greek Coastguard later (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1104).

    On the 21st of December, our shift teams were alerted to 2 boats on the Aegean. The first boat was directed to Chios Island and was likely rescued by the Greek Coastguard. The second boat was in immediate distress and after the shift team contacted the Greek Coastguard they rescued the boat (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1105).

    On the 23rd of December 2018 at 6am CET, the Alarm Phone received information about a boat in distress heading to Samos with around 60 travellers (including 30 children and 8 women, 4 pregnant). The shift team made contact with the boat and was informed that one of the women was close to giving birth and so the situation was very urgent. The shift team then called the Greek Coast Guard. At 8.07am, the shift team received confirmation that the boat had been rescued (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1106).
    Central Mediterranean

    On Monday the 12th of November at 6.57pm, the Alarm Phone was called by a relative, asking for help to find out what had happened to his son, who had been on a boat from Algeria towards Sardinia, with around 11 travellers on the 8t of November. Following this, the Alarm Phone was contacted by several relatives informing us about missing people from this boat. Our shift teams tried to gain an understanding of the situation, and for days we stayed in contact with the relatives and tried to support them, but it was not possible to obtain information about what had happened to the travellers (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1094).

    On November 23rd at 1.24pm CET, the Alarm Phone shift team was called by a boat of 120 travelers that was in distress and had left the Libyan coast the night before. The shift team remained in touch with the boat for several hours, and helped recharge their phone credit when it expired. As the boat was in distress, and there were no available NGO operations near the boat, the shift team had no choice but to contact the Italian Coast Guard, but they refused to engage in Search and Rescue (SAR) activities, and instead told the Libyan Coastguard. The boat was intercepted and returned to Libya (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1107).

    On December 20th, 2018, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two cases in the Central Mediterranean Sea. The first was a boat of 20 people that was intercepted and brought back to Libya. The second concerned 3 boats with 300 people in total, that were rescued by Open Arms and brought to Spain (for full report see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1108).

    https://alarmphone.org/en/2018/12/27/and-yet-we-move-2018-a-contested-year/?post_type_release_type=post

  • Syria: Thousands of digital activists to track how US-led air strikes destroyed Raqqa | Amnesty International
    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/11/syria-thousands-of-digital-activists-to-track-how-us-led-air-strikes-destro

    Thousands of digital activists around the world will take part in an innovative new crowdsourcing data project Amnesty International is launching today, which uses satellite imagery to help plot how the US-led military coalition’s bombings destroyed almost 80% of the Syrian city of Raqqa.

    “Strike Tracker” is the next phase of an in-depth Amnesty International investigation, in partnership with Airwars, into the shocking scale of civilian casualties resulting from four months of US, UK and French bombardment to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) from Raqqa.

    Amnesty International’s field investigations and analysis since the battle ended in October 2017 presented compelling evidence of apparent violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by the US-led Coalition. They prompted the Coalition to revise its civilian death toll statistics upwards from 23 to more than 100 – a 300% increase.

    “Based on our meticulous on-the-ground investigations, hundreds of interviews amid the rubble of Raqqa, and expert military and geospatial analysis, we’ve been able to push the US-led coalition to admit to almost every civilian death case we’ve documented so far. But with bodies still being recovered from the wreckage and mass graves more than a year later, this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Milena Marin, Senior Adviser for Tactical Research on Amnesty International’s Crisis Response team.

    With thousands of ‘Strike Trackers’ on the case to help us narrow down precisely when and where Coalition air and artillery strikes destroyed buildings, we can significantly scale up our ability to map out the apocalyptic destruction in Raqqa.

  • 430,000 flee Cameroon’s restive Anglophone areas, says group

    An international refugee agency says that more than 430,000 people have fled violence in Cameroon’s restive English-speaking regions and are hiding in rural areas with few resources.

    The Norwegian Refugee Council, one of several humanitarian organizations offering support, said Wednesday it is assisting the displaced by providing shelter and supplies to needy families. David Manan, the Norwegian group’s country director for Cameroon, called for more international aid.

    He said there are too few agencies on the ground to provide the amount of aid needed. He said many people are hiding in the bush.

    Cameroon’s English-speaking separatists have been protesting since 2016 against what they claim is discrimination by the French-speaking majority. Their protests were initially peaceful, but in response to a government crackdown some separatists are waging a violent campaign.

    https://www.thestate.com/news/nation-world/world/article223306000.html
    #Cameroun #Cameroun_anglophone #asile #migrations #réfugiés #COI #IDPs #déplacés_internes

    • Conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions forces 430,000 people to flee

      The number of people displaced as a result of the crisis in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions has spiked to more than 430,000 during the last months. Many people are hiding in the bush with no support, warns the Norwegian Refugee Council.

      “We are deeply worried by the ongoing conflict and the increasing displacement figures. Parties to the conflict must ensure that civilians in the area are protected and are able to safely access life-saving assistance,” said David Manan, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Cameroon.

      The number of people displaced from their homes in Cameroon’s Anglophone Southwest and Northwest regions and in neighbouring Littoral and West regions has reached 437.000, according to the latest UN estimates.

      NRC is assisting people displaced by this crisis. However, many people are left without any support, as insecurity is hindering organisations from accessing many areas. People are without proper shelter and sanitation facilities, clean water, food and access to medical care.

      “The needs we are witnessing in the Southwest and Northwest regions are alarming and there are too few agencies on the ground to provide the necessary aid due to limited funding. We call for more donors to prioritise this crisis to allow more agencies to respond so that we can stem the rising tide of suffering and displacement,” said Manan.

      “Displaced families who receive our assistance have told us that they share it or give it to their relatives who did not yet receive any assistance and desperately need help. Many people are hiding in the bush with no support, fearing for their lives,” added Manan.

      “This is the first time I am being helped since I fled,” said Annoh, who received essential household items, including materials to build a shelter. “I will share what I have received with my husband who is hiding in the bush. He has nothing but the clothes he was wearing when he fled,” she added.

      NRC is distributing household items, shelter and hygiene kits in Northwest and Southwest regions with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA) and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).


      https://www.nrc.no/news/2018/december/conflict-in-cameroons-anglophone-regions-forces-430000-people-to-flee

    • A generation of unschooled Cameroonians, another generation of conflict?

      “As we trekked, they kept on telling us that they don’t want us to go to school again,” says 15-year-old Martha Lum, four weeks after being released by the armed gunmen who kidnapped her along with 78 other children and staff members in Cameroon.

      Lum’s story is becoming common across the country’s Northwest and Southwest regions, where the conflict between anglophone separatists and francophone armed forces that’s claimed hundreds of lives has made schools a battlefield.

      Since the anglophone conflict escalated in late 2017, more than 430,000 people have been forced to flee their homes. In May, the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, said approximately 42,500 children were out of school. However, local rights groups estimate that number has now increased fourfold following frequent abductions.

      Some 20,000 school-age children now live in the bush. With no learning materials or trained teachers, they have no access to a formal education. Parents and local officials worry that the children could be driven to take up arms, becoming a lost generation that perpetuates the conflict and the humanitarian crisis.

      “Imagine that these children miss school for five or 10 years because of the fighting, hearing the sound of guns every day, and seeing people being killed; what will become of them?” says 45-year-old mother of four *Elizabeth Tamufor.

      “We have been hiding in the bush for more than a year,” she tells IRIN. “I am sure the children have forgotten what they were taught in school. You think in five years they will still be hiding here? They will probably pick up guns and start fighting.”

      The fear of schoolchildren and young students joining the armed separatists is already a reality for some. *Michael, 20, used to be a student before the conflict started. He joined the separatists when his friend was killed by government forces.

      “I replaced books with the gun since then. But I will return to school immediately we achieve our independence,” he says.
      Right from the start

      The roots of Cameroon’s anglophone conflict can be traced back to education. The separatists fighting for independence from French-majority Cameroon say the current school system symbolises the marginalisation of the English language and culture.

      After years of discontent, in November 2016, anglophone teachers began an indefinite strike to protest what they said amounted to systematic discrimination against English-speaking teachers and students. In response, government security forces clamped down on protests, arresting hundreds of demonstrators, including children, killing at least four people and wounding many more.

      This caused widespread anger across the Southwest and Northwest regions, which a year later led to the rise of the armed separatist groups now fighting for independence and a new English-speaking nation called “#Ambazonia”.

      Although the majority of teacher trade unions called off their strike in February 2017, separatists continue to impose curfews and abduct people as a means to push the local population to refrain from sending children back to school.

      As a result, tens of thousands of children haven’t attended school since 2016. Local media is awash with stories of kidnappings of children and teachers who do not comply with the boycott, while rights groups say the disruption of education puts children at risk of exploitation, child labour, recruitment by armed groups, and early marriage.

      “Schools have become targets,” a July 2018 Human Rights Watch report notes. “Either because of these threats, or as a show of solidarity by parents and teachers with the separatist cause, or both, school enrollment levels have dropped precipitously during the crisis.”

      In June, Amnesty International said at least 42 schools had been attacked since February last year. While latest statistics are not available, it is believed that at least 100 separate incidents of school kidnapping have taken place since the separatist movement turned violent in 2017. More than 100 schools have also been torched and at least a dozen teachers killed or wounded, according to Issa Tchiroma, Cameroon’s minister of communication.
      The separatist view

      Speaking to IRIN last month in Bali, a town neighbouring Bamenda – the capital of Northwest region – armed separatist leader *Justin says his group is enforcing the school boycott started by the teacher trade unions.

      “They (teachers) started a strike action to resist the ‘francophonisation’ of the anglophone system of education, and the evil francophone regime arrested and detained their colleagues, shot dead schoolchildren, and you expect us to sit down and watch them killing our people?”

      “We don’t want the schoolchildren of Ambazonia to be part of the corrupt francophone system of education,” he said. “We have designed a new school programme for them which will start as soon as we achieve our independence.“

      *Laba, who controls another group of armed separatists, is more categorical. “When we say no school, we mean no school,” he says emphatically. “We have never and will never kill a student or teacher. We just want them to stay home until we get our independence and begin implementing our own system of education.”

      There are about 20 armed separatist groups across the two English-speaking regions. They operate independently, and separatists have publicly disagreed on the various methods of imposing the school boycott.

      Both Justin and Laba accuse the government of staging “some” of the school abductions in order “to discredit the image of the separatists internationally”. But they also admit that some armed separatist groups are guilty of kidnapping and killing children and teachers.

      “We don’t kidnap schoolchildren,” Justin says. “We just impose curfews to force them to stay home.”

      But for many parents and schoolchildren, staying at home for this long is already having devastating consequences.
      School children in uniforms walk on the street toward camera.

      ‘Everything is different’

      Parents who can afford it have enrolled their children in schools in the French-speaking part of the country – mostly Douala and Yaoundé. But the influx has caused fees to rise in the francophone zones. Tuition fees that normally cost $150 annually have now more than doubled to $350.

      Beyond the costs, parents also need to transport their children from the troubled regions, along a very insecure highway, to apply for enrollment.

      When they get there, success is far from guaranteed. A lot of the francophone schools are now at full capacity and have stopped accepting students from anglophone regions, meaning many children will likely have to stay home for yet another year.

      Those studying in a new environment can also take quite a while to adapt.

      George Muluh, 16, had been at a school in the Southwest region before the conflict but is now attending Government Bilingual High School Deido in Douala.

      “Everything is just different,” he says. “I don’t understand French. The classrooms are overcrowded. The teaching method is different. I am getting more and more confused every day. I just want the conflict to end so I can go back to the Southwest to continue my studies.”

      It might be a long while before George has that opportunity. To the Cameroonian government, the teachers’ grievances have already been solved.

      “The government has employed 1,000 bilingual teachers, allocated two billion CFA ($4 million) to support private education, transferred teachers who could not speak French and redeployed them to French zones. These were the demands of the teachers. What do they want again?” asks Tchiroma, the minister of communication.

      But Sylvester Ngan, from the Teachers Association of Cameroon (TAC), which defends the rights of English-speaking teachers in the country, says most of these measures are cosmetic and don’t solve key issues related to French-only exams and francophone teachers in English schools.
      Leave the children alone

      While the government and teachers’ unions argue about who is right and what education system to implement, the war is ongoing, people are dying, and tens of thousands of children are not in school.

      “No reason can be advanced to justify the unwarranted attacks on children in general and pupils who are seeking to acquire knowledge and skills,” says Jacques Boyer, UNICEF representative in Cameroon. “All children in the regions must be able to go to school in peace.”

      President Paul Biya, 85, who just won another seven-year term after 36 years in power, has ignored calls for an inclusive dialogue to end the conflict. The first related measure he undertook after the October election was the creation of a commission to disarm and reintegrate former armed separatists.

      Cameroonian political analyst Michael Mbah describes the move as “a joke”, saying that a ceasefire and dialogue must precede any serious attempt at disarmament and reintegration.

      Meanwhile, the next year looks bleak for children like Lum whose futures are being decided by a war beyond their control. “I have always wanted to become a medical doctor,” Lum tells IRIN, but she now fears her dream will be shattered by the persistent conflict.

      “Leave the children alone,” says *Raymond, a father of four whose offspring haven’t been able to study for close to two years now.

      “We, parents, cannot afford to raise a generation of illiterates,” he says. “The future of the children is being sacrificed, just like that.”

      *Names changed at the request of the interviewees for security reasons.

      https://www.irinnews.org/news-feature/2018/12/19/cameroon-generation-unschooled-children-could-fuel-long-term-conflict
      #éducation #droit_à_l'éducation #école #scolarisation #enfants #enfance #conflit

    • République d’#Ambazonie

      « Le nom Ambazonia a été préféré à Southern British Cameroons afin de ne pas confondre cette zone avec la région territoriale du sud (Southern Cameroon). Les « autonomistes ambazoniens » avaient à cœur de trouver un nom local afin de bannir « Cameroun » qu’ils considéraient comme le symbole du lourd fardeau de l’héritage colonial. Pour cela, ils ont fouillé dans les livres d’histoire et inventé le nom Ambazonia. Celui-ci dérive d’Ambas, nom donné à la région de l’embouchure du fleuve Wouri. Ce site, en forme de baie, avait alors reçu le nom anglais Baie d’Ambas1. »

      https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A9publique_d%27Ambazonie

  • Jamal Khashoggi’s private WhatsApp messages may offer new clues to killing - CNN
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/02/middleeast/jamal-khashoggi-whatsapp-messages-intl/index.html

    Le téléphone de #khashoggi espionné grâce à un logiciel israélien.

    Abdulaziz first spoke publicly about his contact with Khashoggi last month after researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab reported his phone had been hacked by military-grade spyware.

    According to Bill Marczak, a research fellow at the Citizen Lab, the software was the invention of an Israeli firm named NSO Group, and deployed at the behest of the Saudi Arabian government.
    Marczak said at least two other Saudi dissidents have been targeted with NSO tools: an activist named Yahya Assiri and a staff member who had been involved in Amnesty International’s work on Saudi Arabia.
    Danna Ingleton, an Amnesty deputy program director, said its technology experts studied the staff member’s phone and confirmed it was targeted with the spyware. Amnesty is currently exploring potential recourse against NSO Group and last week wrote a letter to the Israeli Ministry of Defense requesting it revoke NSO’s export license, Ingleton said.
    On Sunday, Abdulaziz’s lawyers filed a lawsuit in Tel Aviv, alleging NSO broke international laws by selling its software to oppressive regimes, knowing it could be used to infringe human rights. “NSO should be held accountable in order to protect the lives of political dissidents, journalists and human rights activists,” said the Jerusalem-based lawyer Alaa Mahajna, who is acting for Abdulaziz.
    The lawsuit follows another filed in Israel and Cyprus by citizens in Mexico and Qatar.

    *#mbs #israël

  • Saudi Arabia: Reports of torture and sexual harassment of detained activists | Amnesty International
    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/11/saudi-arabia-reports-of-torture-and-sexual-harassment-of-detained-activists

    Several Saudi Arabian activists, including a number of women, who have been arbitrarily detained without charge since May 2018 in Saudi Arabia’s Dhahban Prison, have reportedly faced sexual harassment, torture and other forms of ill-treatment during interrogation, Amnesty International said today.

    According to three separate testimonies obtained by the organization, the activists were repeatedly tortured by electrocution and flogging, leaving some unable to walk or stand properly. In one reported instance, one of the activists was made to hang from the ceiling, and according to another testimony, one of the detained women was reportedly subjected to sexual harassment, by interrogators wearing face masks.

    #torture #agression_sexuelle #Arabie_saoudite #femmes #activisme #les_copains_de_macron

  • Detainees Evacuated out of Libya but Resettlement Capacity Remains Inadequate

    According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (#UNHCR) 262 migrants detained in Libya were evacuated to Niger on November 12- the largest evacuation from Libya carried out to date. In addition to a successful airlift of 135 people in October this year, this brings the total number of people evacuated to more than 2000 since December 2017. However Amnesty International describes the resettlement process from Niger as slow and the number of pledges inadequate.

    The evacuations in October and November were the first since June when the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) centre in Niger reached its full capacity of 1,536 people, which according to Amnesty was a result of a large number of people “still waiting for their permanent resettlement to a third country.”

    57,483 refugees and asylum seekers are registered by UNHCR in Libya; as of October 2018 14,349 had agreed to Voluntary Humanitarian Return. Currently 3,886 resettlement pledges have been made by 12 states, but only 1,140 have been resettled.

    14,595 people have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard and taken back to Libya, however it has been well documented that their return is being met by detention, abuse, violence and torture. UNHCR recently declared Libya unsafe for returns amid increased violence in the capital, while Amnesty International has said that “thousands of men, women and children are trapped in Libya facing horrific abuses with no way out”.

    In this context, refugees and migrants are currently refusing to disembark in Misrata after being rescued by a cargo ship on November 12, reportedly saying “they would rather die than be returned to land”. Reuters cited one Sudanese teenager on board who stated “We agree to go to any place but not Libya.”

    UNHCR estimates that 5,413 refugees and migrants remain detained in #Directorate_for_Combatting_Illegal_Migration (#DCIM) centres and the UN Refugee Agency have repetedly called for additional resettlement opportunities for vulnerable persons of concern in Libya.

    https://www.ecre.org/detainees-evacuated-out-of-libya-but-resettlement-capacity-remains-inadequate
    #réinstallation #Niger #Libye #évacuation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #HCR #détention #centres_de_détention #Emergency_Transit_Mechanism (#ETM)

    • ET DES INFORMATIONS PLUS ANCIENNES DANS LE FIL CI-DESSOUS

      Libya: evacuations to Niger resumed – returns from Niger begun

      After being temporarily suspended in March as the result of concerns from local authorities on the pace of resettlement out of Niger, UNHCR evacuations of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers from Libya through the Emergency Transit Mechanism has been resumed and 132 vulnerable migrants flown to the country. At the same time the deportation of 132 Sudanese nationals from Niger to Libya has raised international concern.

      Niger is the main host for refugees and asylum seekers from Libya evacuated by UNHCR. Since the UN Refugee Agency began evacuations in cooperation with EU and Libyan authorities in November 2017, Niger has received 1,152 of the 1,474 people evacuated in total. While UNHCR has submitted 475 persons for resettlement a modest 108 in total have been resettled in Europe. According to UNHCR the government in Niger has now offered to host an additional 1,500 refugees from Libya through the Emergency Transit Mechanism and upon its revival and the first transfer of 132 refugees to Niger, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation, Vincent Cochetel stated: “We now urgently need to find resettlement solutions for these refugees in other countries.”

      UNHCR has confirmed the forced return by authorities in Niger of at least 132 of a group of 160 Sudanese nationals arrested in the migrant hub of Agadez, the majority after fleeing harsh conditions in Libya. Agadez is known as a major transit hub for refugees and asylum seekers seeking passage to Libya and Europe but the trend is reversed and 1,700 Sudanese nationals have fled from Libya to Niger since December 2017. In a mail to IRIN News, Human Rights Watch’s associate director for Europe and Central Asia, Judith Sunderland states: “It is inhuman and unlawful to send migrants and refugees back to Libya, where they face shocking levels of torture, sexual violence, and forced labour,” with reference to the principle of non-refoulement.

      According to a statement released by Amnesty International on May 16: “At least 7,000 migrants and refugees are languishing in Libyan detention centres where abuse is rife and food and water in short supply. This is a sharp increase from March when there were 4,400 detained migrants and refugees, according to Libyan officials.”

      https://www.ecre.org/libya-evacuations-to-niger-resumed-returns-from-niger-begun

    • Libya: return operations running but slow resettlement is jeopardizing the evacuation scheme

      According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) 15.000 migrants have been returned from Libya to their country of origin and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has assisted in the evacuation of more than 1,300 refugees from Libya thereby fulfilling the targets announced at the AU-EU-UN Taskforce meeting in December 2017. However, a modest 25 of the more than 1000 migrants evacuated to Niger have been resettled to Europe and the slow pace is jeopardizing further evacuations.

      More than 1000 of the 1300 migrants evacuated from Libya are hosted by Niger and Karmen Sakhr, who oversees the North Africa unit at the UNHCR states to the EU Observer that the organisation: “were advised that until more people leave Niger, we will no longer be able to evacuate additional cases from Libya.”

      During a meeting on Monday 5 March with the Civil Liberties Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs, members of the Delegation for relations with Maghreb countries, Commission and External Action Service representatives on the mistreatment of migrants and refugees in Libya, and arrangements for their resettlement or return, UNHCR confirmed that pledges have been made by France, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Malta as well as unspecified non-EU countries but that security approvals and interviewing process of the cases is lengthy resulting in the modest number of resettlements, while also warning that the EU member states need to put more work into resettlement of refugees, and that resettlement pledges still fall short of the needs. According to UNHCR 430 pledges has been made by European countries.

      An estimated 5000 people are in government detention and an unknown number held by private militias under well documented extreme conditions.

      https://www.ecre.org/libya-return-operations-running-but-slow-resettlement-is-jeopardizing-the-evac

    • Libya: migrants and refugees out by plane and in by boat

      The joint European Union (EU), African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) Task Force visited Tripoli last week welcoming progress made evacuating and returning migrants and refugees out of Libya. EU has announced three new programmes, for protecting migrants and refugees in Libya and along the Central Mediterranean Route, and their return and reintegration. Bundestag Research Services and NGOs raise concerns over EU and Member State support to Libyan Coast Guard.

      Representatives of the Task Force, created in November 2017, met with Libyan authorities last week and visited a detention centres for migrants and a shelter for internally displaced people in Tripoli. Whilst they commended progress on Voluntary Humanitarian Returns, they outlined a number of areas for improvement. These include: comprehensive registration of migrants at disembarkation points and detention centres; improving detention centre conditions- with a view to end the current system of arbitrary detention; decriminalizing irregular migration in Libya.

      The three new programmes announced on Monday, will be part of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. €115 million will go towards evacuating 3,800 refugees from Libya, providing protection and voluntary humanitarian return to 15,000 migrants in Libya and will support the resettlement of 14,000 people in need of international protection from Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. €20 million will be dedicated to improving access to social and protection services for vulnerable migrants in transit countries in the Sahel region and the Lake Chad basin. €15 million will go to supporting sustainable reintegration for Ethiopian citizens.

      A recent report by the Bundestag Research Services on SAR operations in the Mediterranean notes the support for the Libyan Coast Guard by EU and Member States in bringing refugees and migrants back to Libya may be violating the principle of non-refoulement as outlined in the Geneva Convention: “This cooperation must be the subject of proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights, because the people who are being forcibly returned with the assistance of the EU are being inhumanely treated, tortured or killed.” stated Andrej Hunko, European policy spokesman for the German Left Party (die Linke). A joint statement released by SAR NGO’s operating in the Mediterranean calls on the EU institutions and leaders to stop the financing and support of the Libyan Coast Guard and the readmissions to a third country which violates fundamental human rights and international law.

      According to UNHCR, there are currently 46,730 registered refugees and asylum seekers in Libya. 843 asylum seekers and refugees have been released from detention so far in 2018. According to IOM 9,379 people have been returned to their countries of origin since November 2017 and 1,211 have been evacuated to Niger since December 2017.

      https://www.ecre.org/libya-migrants-and-refugees-out-by-plane-and-in-by-boat

      Complément de Emmanuel Blanchard (via la mailing-list Migreurop):

      Selon le HCR, il y aurait actuellement environ 6000 personnes détenues dans des camps en Libye et qui seraient en attente de retour ou de protection (la distinction n’est pas toujours très claire dans la prose du HCR sur les personnes à « évacuer » vers le HCR...). Ces données statistiques sont très fragiles et a priori très sous-estimées car fondées sur les seuls camps auxquels le HCR a accès.

    • First group of refugees evacuated from new departure facility in Libya

      UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in coordination with Libyan authorities, evacuated 133 refugees from Libya to Niger today after hosting them at a Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli which opened on Tuesday.

      Most evacuees, including 81 women and children, were previously detained in Libya. After securing their release from five detention centres across Libya, including in Tripoli and areas as far as 180 kilometres from the capital, they were sheltered at the GDF until the arrangements for their evacuation were concluded.

      The GDF is the first centre of its kind in Libya and is intended to bring vulnerable refugees to a safe environment while solutions including refugee resettlement, family reunification, evacuation to emergency facilities in other countries, return to a country of previous asylum, and voluntary repatriation are sought for them.

      “The opening of this centre, in very difficult circumstances, has the potential to save lives. It offers immediate protection and safety for vulnerable refugees in need of urgent evacuation, and is an alternative to detention for hundreds of refugees currently trapped in Libya,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

      The centre is managed by the Libyan Ministry of Interior, UNHCR and UNHCR’s partner LibAid. The initiative is one of a range of measures needed to offer viable alternatives to the dangerous boat journeys undertaken by refugees and migrants along the Central Mediterranean route.

      With an estimated 4,900 refugees and migrants held in detention centres across Libya, including 3,600 in need of international protection, the centre is a critical alternative to the detention of those most vulnerable.

      The centre, which has been supported by the EU and other donors, has a capacity to shelter up to 1,000 vulnerable refugees identified for solutions out of Libya.

      At the facility, UNHCR and partners are providing humanitarian assistance such as accommodation, food, medical care and psychosocial support. Child friendly spaces and dedicated protection staff are also available to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers are adequately cared for.

      https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2018/12/5c09033a4/first-group-refugees-evacuated-new-departure-facility-libya.html

    • Migration : à Niamey, des migrants rapatriés de Libye protestent contre leurs conditions de séjour

      Les manifestants protestent contre leur détention de vie qu’ils jugent « déplorables » et pour amplifier leurs mouvements, ils ont brandi des pancartes sur lesquelles ils ont écrit leurs doléances. Les migrants manifestant s’indignent également de leur séjour qui ne cesse de se prolonger, sans véritable alternatives ou visibilité sur leur situation. « Ils nous ont ramené de la Libye pour nous laisser à nous-mêmes ici », « on ne veut pas rester ici, laisser nous partir là où on veut », sont entre autres les slogans que les migrants ont scandés au cours de leur sit-in devant les locaux de l’agence onusienne. Plusieurs des protestataires sont venus à la manifestation avec leurs bagages et d’autres avec leurs différents papiers, qui attestent de leur situation de réfugiés ou demandeurs d’asiles.

      La situation, quoique déplorable, n’a pas manqué de susciter divers commentaires. Il faut dire que depuis le début de l’opération de rapatriement des migrants en détresse de Libye, ils sont des centaines à vivre dans la capitale mais aussi à Agadez où des centres d’accueil sont mis à leurs dispositions par les agences onusiennes (UNHCR, OIM), avec la collaboration des autorités nigériennes. Un certain temps, leur présence de plus en plus massive dans divers quartiers de la capitale où des villas sont mises à leur disposition, a commencé à inquiéter les habitants sur d’éventuels risques sécuritaires.

      Le gouvernement a signé plusieurs accords et adopté des lois pour lutter contre l’immigration clandestine. Il a aussi signé des engagements avec certains pays européens notamment la France et l’Italie, pour l’accueil temporaire des réfugiés en provenance de la Libye et en transit en attendant leur réinstallation dans leur pays ou en Europe pour ceux qui arrivent à obtenir le sésame pour l’entrée. Un geste de solidarité décrié par certaines ONG et que les autorités regrettent presque à demi-mot, du fait du non-respect des contreparties financières promises par les bailleurs et partenaires européens. Le pays fait face lui-même à un afflux de réfugiés nigérians et maliens sur son territoire, ainsi que des déplacés internes dans plusieurs régions, ce qui complique davantage la tâche dans cette affaire de difficile gestion de la problématique migratoire.

      Le Niger accueille plusieurs centres d’accueil pour les réfugiés et demandeurs d’asiles rapatriés de Libye. Le 10 décembre dernier, l’OFPRA français a par exemple annoncé avoir achevé une nouvelle mission au Niger avec l’UNHCR, et qui a concerné 200 personnes parmi lesquelles une centaine évacuée de Libye. En novembre dernier, le HCR a également annoncé avoir repris les évacuations de migrants depuis la Libye, avec un contingent de 132 réfugiés et demandeurs d’asiles vers le Niger.

      Depuis novembre 2017, le HCR a assuré avoir effectué vingt-trois (23) opérations d’évacuation au départ de la Libye et ce, « malgré d’importants problèmes de sécurité et les restrictions aux déplacements qui ont été imposées ». En tout, ce sont 2.476 réfugiés et demandeurs d’asile vulnérables qui ont pu être libérés et acheminés de la Libye vers le Niger (2.069), l’Italie (312) et la Roumanie (95).


      https://www.actuniger.com/societe/14640-migration-a-niamey-des-migrants-rapatries-de-libye-protestent-contr

      Je découvre ici que les évacuations se sont faites aussi vers l’#Italie et... la #Roumanie !

    • Destination Europe: Evacuation. The EU has started resettling refugees from Libya, but only 174 have made it to Europe in seven months

      As the EU sets new policies and makes deals with African nations to deter hundreds of thousands of migrants from seeking new lives on the continent, what does it mean for those following dreams northwards and the countries they transit through? From returnees in Sierra Leone and refugees resettled in France to smugglers in Niger and migrants in detention centres in Libya, IRIN explores their choices and challenges in this multi-part special report, Destination Europe.

      Four years of uncontrolled migration starting in 2014 saw more than 600,000 people cross from Libya to Italy, contributing to a populist backlash that is threatening the foundations of the EU. Stopping clandestine migration has become one of Europe’s main foreign policy goals, and last July the number of refugees and migrants crossing the central Mediterranean dropped dramatically. The EU celebrated the reduced numbers as “good progress”.

      But, as critics pointed out, that was only half the story: the decline, resulting from a series of moves by the EU and Italy, meant that tens of thousands of people were stuck in Libya with no way out. They faced horrific abuse, and NGOs and human rights organisations accused the EU of complicity in the violations taking place.

      Abdu is one who got stuck. A tall, lanky teenager, he spent nearly two years in smugglers’ warehouses and official Libyan detention centres. But he’s also one of the lucky ones. In February, he boarded a flight to Niger run (with EU support) by the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, to help some of those stranded in Libya reach Europe. Nearly 1,600 people have been evacuated on similiar flights, but, seven months on, only 174 have been resettled to Europe.

      The evacuation programme is part of a €500-million ($620-million) effort to resettle 50,000 refugees over the next two years to the EU, which has a population of more than 500 million people. The target is an increase from previous European resettlement goals, but still only represents a tiny fraction of the need – those chosen can be Syrians in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon as well as refugees in Libya, Egypt, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia – countries that combined host more than 6.5 million refugees.

      The EU is now teetering on the edge of a fresh political crisis, with boats carrying people rescued from the sea being denied ports of disembarkation, no consensus on how to share responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees within the continent, and increasing talk of further outsourcing the management of migration to African countries.

      Against this backdrop, the evacuation and resettlement programme from Libya is perhaps the best face of European policy in the Mediterranean. But, unless EU countries offer more spots for refugees, it is a pathway to safety for no more than a small handful who get the luck of the draw. As the first evacuees adjust to their new lives in Europe, the overwhelming majority are left behind.

      Four months after arriving in Niger, Abdu is still waiting to find out if and when he will be resettled to Europe. He’s still in the same state of limbo he was in at the end of March when IRIN met him in Niamey, the capital of Niger. At the time, he’d been out of the detention centre in Libya for less than a month and his arms were skeletally thin.

      “I thought to go to Europe [and] failed. Now, I came to Niger…. What am I doing here? What will happen from here? I don’t know,” he said, sitting in the shade of a canopy in the courtyard of a UNHCR facility. “I don’t know what I will be planning for the future because everything collapsed; everything finished.”
      Abdu’s story

      Born in Eritrea – one of the most repressive countries in the world – Abdu’s mother sent him to live in neighbouring Sudan when he was only seven. She wanted him to grow up away from the political persecution and shadow of indefinite military service that stifled normal life in his homeland.

      But Sudan, where he was raised by his uncle, wasn’t much better. As an Eritrean refugee, he faced discrimination and lived in a precarious legal limbo. Abdu saw no future there. “So I decided to go,” he said.

      Like so many other young Africans fleeing conflict, political repression, and economic hardship in recent years, he wanted to try to make it to Europe. But first he had to pass through Libya.

      After crossing the border from Sudan in July 2016, Abdu, then 16 years old, was taken captive and held for 18 months. The smugglers asked for a ransom of $5,500, tortured him while his relatives were forced to listen on the phone, and rented him out for work like a piece of equipment.

      Abdu tried to escape, but only found himself under the control of another smuggler who did the same thing. He was kept in overflowing warehouses, sequestered from the sunlight with around 250 other people. The food was not enough and often spoiled; disease was rampant; people died from malaria and hunger; one woman died after giving birth; the guards drank, carried guns, and smoked hashish, and, at the smallest provocation, spun into a sadistic fury. Abdu’s skin started crawling with scabies, his cheeks sank in, and his long limbs withered to skin and bones.

      One day, the smuggler told him that, if he didn’t find a way to pay, it looked like he would soon die. As a courtesy – or to try to squeeze some money out of him instead of having to deal with a corpse – the smuggler reduced the ransom to $1,500.

      Finally, Abdu’s relatives were able to purchase his freedom and passage to Europe. It was December 2017. As he finally stood on the seashore before dawn in the freezing cold, Abdu remembered thinking: “We are going to arrive in Europe [and] get protection [and] get rights.”

      But he never made it. After nearly 24 hours at sea, the rubber dinghy he was on with around 150 other people was intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard, which, since October 2016, has been trained and equipped by the EU and Italy.

      Abdu was brought back to the country he had just escaped and put in another detention centre.

      This one was official – run by the Libyan Directorate for Combating Irregular Migration. But it wasn’t much different from the smuggler-controlled warehouses he’d been in before. Again, it was overcrowded and dirty. People were falling sick. There was no torture or extortion, but the guards could be just as brutal. If someone tried to talk to them about the poor conditions “[they are] going to beat you until you are streaming blood,” Abdu said.

      Still, he wasn’t about to try his luck on his own again in Libya. The detention centre wasn’t suitable for human inhabitants, Abdu recalled thinking, but it was safer than anywhere he’d been in over a year. That’s where UNHCR found him and secured his release.

      The lucky few

      The small village of Thal-Marmoutier in France seems like it belongs to a different world than the teeming detention centres of Libya.

      The road to the village runs between gently rolling hills covered in grapevines and winds through small towns of half-timbered houses. About 40 minutes north of Strasbourg, the largest city in the region of Alsace, bordering Germany, it reaches a valley of hamlets that disrupt the green countryside with their red, high-peaked roofs. It’s an unassuming setting, but it’s the type of place Abdu might end up if and when he is finally resettled.

      In mid-March, when IRIN visited, the town of 800 people was hosting the first group of refugees evacuated from Libya.

      It was unseasonably cold, and the 55 people housed in a repurposed section of a Franciscan convent were bundled in winter jackets, scarves, and hats. Thirty of them had arrived from Chad, where they had been long-time residents of refugee camps after fleeing Boko Haram violence or conflict in the Sudanese region of Darfur. The remaining 25 – from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan – were the first evacuees from Libya. Before reaching France, they, like Abdu, had been flown to Niamey.

      The extra stop is necessary because most countries require refugees to be interviewed in person before offering them a resettlement spot. The process is facilitated by embassies and consulates, but, because of security concerns, only one European country (Italy) has a diplomatic presence in Libya.

      To resettle refugees stuck in detention centres, UNHCR needed to find a third country willing to host people temporarily, one where European resettlement agencies could carry out their procedures. Niger was the first – and so far only – country to volunteer.

      “For us, it is an obligation to participate,” Mohamed Bazoum, Niger’s influential interior minister, said when interviewed by IRIN in Niamey. Niger, the gateway between West Africa and Libya on the migration trail to Europe, is the top recipient of funds from the EU Trust Fund for Africa, an initiative launched in 2015 to “address the root causes of irregular migration”.

      “It costs us nothing to help,” Bazoum added, referring to the evacuation programme. “But we gain a sense of humanity in doing so.”

      ‘Time is just running from my life’

      The first evacuees landed in Niamey on 12 November. A little over a month later, on 19 December, they were on their way to France.

      By March, they had been in Thal-Marmoutier for three months and were preparing to move from the reception centre in the convent to individual apartments in different cities.

      Among them, several families with children had been living in Libya for a long time. But most of the evacuees were young women who had been imprisoned by smugglers and militias, held in official detention centres, or often both.

      “In Libya, it was difficult for me,” said Farida, a 24-year-old aspiring runner from Ethiopia. She fled her home in 2016 because of the conflict between the government and the Oromo people, an ethnic group.

      After a brief stay in Cairo, she and her husband decided to go to Libya because they heard a rumour that UNHCR was providing more support there to refugees. Shortly after crossing the border, Farida and her husband were captured by a militia and placed in a detention centre.

      “People from the other government (Libya has two rival governments) came and killed the militiamen, and some of the people in the prison also died, but we got out and were taken to another prison,” she said. “When they put me in prison, I was pregnant, and they beat me and killed the child in my belly.”

      Teyba, a 20-year-old woman also from Ethiopia, shared a similar story: “A militia put us in prison and tortured us a lot,” she said. “We stayed in prison for a little bit more than a month, and then the fighting started…. Some people died, some people escaped, and some people, I don’t know what happened to them.”

      Three months at the reception centre in Thal-Marmoutier had done little to ease the trauma of those experiences. “I haven’t seen anything that made me laugh or that made me happy,” Farida said. “Up to now, life has not been good, even after coming to France.”

      The French government placed the refugees in the reception centre to expedite their asylum procedures, and so they could begin to learn French.

      Everyone in the group had already received 10-year residency permits – something refugees who are placed directly in individual apartments or houses usually wait at least six months to receive. But many of them said they felt like their lives had been put on pause in Thal-Marmoutier. They were isolated in the small village with little access to transportation and said they had not been well prepared to begin new lives on their own in just a few weeks time.

      “I haven’t benefited from anything yet. Time is just running from my life,” said Intissar, a 35-year-old woman from Sudan.

      A stop-start process

      Despite their frustrations with the integration process in France, and the still present psychological wounds from Libya, the people in Thal-Marmoutier were fortunate to reach Europe.

      By early March, more than 1,000 people had been airlifted from Libya to Niger. But since the first group in December, no one else had left for Europe. Frustrated with the pace of resettlement, the Nigerien government told UNHCR that the programme had to be put on hold.

      “We want the flow to be balanced,” Bazoum, the interior minister, explained. “If people arrive, then we want others to leave. We don’t want people to be here on a permanent basis.”

      Since then, an additional 148 people have been resettled to France, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands, and other departures are in the works. “The situation is improving,” said Louise Donovan, a UNHCR communications officer in Niger. “We need to speed up our processes as much as possible, and so do the resettlement countries.”

      A further 312 people were evacuated directly to Italy. Still, the total number resettled by the programme remains small. “What is problematic right now is the fact that European governments are not offering enough places for resettlement, despite continued requests from UNHCR,” said Matteo de Bellis, a researcher with Amnesty International.
      Less than 1 percent

      Globally, less than one percent of refugees are resettled each year, and resettlement is on a downward spiral at the moment, dropping by more than 50 percent between 2016 and 2017. The number of refugees needing resettlement is expected to reach 1.4 million next year, 17 percent higher than in 2018, while global resettlement places dropped to just 75,000 in 2017, UNHCR said on Monday.

      The Trump administration’s slashing of the US refugee admissions programme – historically the world’s leader – means this trend will likely continue.

      Due to the limited capacity, resettlement is usually reserved for people who are considered to be the most vulnerable.

      In Libya alone, there are around 19,000 refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan registered with UNHCR – a number increasing each month – as well as 430,000 migrants and potential asylum seekers from throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Many have been subjected to torture, sexual violence, and other abuses. And, because they are in Libya irregularly, resettlement is often the only legal solution to indefinite detention.

      In the unlikely scenario that all the sub-Saharan refugees in Libya were to be resettled, they would account for more than one third of the EU’s quota for the next two years. And that’s not taking into account people in Libya who may have legitimate grounds to claim asylum but are not on the official radar. Other solutions are clearly needed, but given the lack of will in the international community, it is unclear what those might be.

      “The Niger mechanism is a patch, a useful one under the circumstance, but still a patch,” de Bellis, the Amnesty researcher, said. “There are refugees… who cannot get out of the detention centres because there are no resettlement places available to them.”

      It is also uncertain what will happen to any refugees evacuated to Niger that aren’t offered a resettlement spot by European countries.

      UNHCR says it is considering all options, including the possibility of integration in Niger or return to their countries of origin – if they are deemed to be safe and people agree to go. But resettlement is the main focus. In April, the pace of people departing for Europe picked up, and evacuations from Libya resumed at the beginning of May – ironically, the same week the Nigerien government broke new and dangerous ground by deporting 132 Sudanese asylum seekers who had crossed the border on their own back to Libya.

      For the evacuees in Niger awaiting resettlement, there are still many unanswered questions.

      As Abdu was biding his time back in March, something other than the uncertainty about his own future weighed on him: the people still stuck in the detention centres in Libya.

      He had started his travels with his best friend. They had been together when they were first kidnapped and held for ransom. But Abdu’s friend was shot in the leg by a guard who accused him of stealing a cigarette. When Abdu tried to escape, he left his friend behind and hasn’t spoken to him or heard anything about him since.

      “UNHCR is saying they are going to find a solution for me; they are going to help me,” Abdu said. “It’s okay. But what about the others?”

      https://www.irinnews.org/special-report/2018/06/26/destination-europe-evacuation

    • Hot Spots #1 : Niger, les évacués de l’enfer libyen

      Fuir l’enfer libyen, sortir des griffes des trafiquants qui séquestrent pendant des mois leurs victimes dans des conditions inhumaines. C’est de l’autre côté du désert, au Niger, que certains migrants trouvent un premier refuge grâce à un programme d’#évacuation d’urgence géré par les Nations Unies depuis novembre 2017.

      https://guitinews.fr/video/2019/03/12/hot-spots-1-niger-les-evacues-de-lenfer-libyen

      Lien vers la #vidéo :

      « Les gens qu’on évacue de la Libye, ce sont des individus qui ont subi une profonde souffrance. Ce sont tous des victimes de torture, des victimes de violences aussi sexuelles, il y a des femmes qui accouchent d’enfants fruits de cette violences sexuelles. » Alexandra Morelli, Représentante du HCR au Niger.

      https://vimeo.com/323299304

      ping @isskein @karine4

  • Israeli settlers flood Khan al-Ahmar with wastewater
    Oct. 2, 2018 4:16 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 2, 2018 4:42 P.M.)
    http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=781301

    JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — As Israel threatened to raid and demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar at any moment since the evacuation period ended, Israeli settlers stormed the village and flooded the area with wastewater, on Tuesday afternoon.

    Locals said that Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adummim stormed the village, and were confronted by international and local activists along with residents of Khan al-Ahmar.

    Israeli settlers managed to flood the area with wastewater before activists and residents were able to stop them.

    Following the Israeli High Court’s approval for the demolition, it had granted a deadline for the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to evacuate the village until October 1st.

    Since the deadline has ended, the village is in danger of being demolished by Israeli forces at any moment, which would displace 181 people, half of whom are children. (...)

    #Khan_al-Ahmar

    • Amnesty International: ’Demolition of Khan al-Ahmar is a war crime’
      Oct. 2, 2018 5:18 P.M.
      http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=781303

      BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Amnesty International said, on Tuesday, that the demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of occupied Jerusalem, and the displacement of its residents by Israeli forces as part of an illegal Israeli settlement expansion plan is a “war crime.”

      Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, denounced Israel’s planned demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and stressed that “this act is not only heartless and discriminatory, it is illegal.”

      The demolition of the village would displace 181 residents, 53% of whom are children and 95% of whom are refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

    • La démolition du village palestinien de Khan al Ahmar est un acte cruel et un crime de guerre
      2 octobre | Amnesty International
      https://www.aurdip.org/la-demolition-du-village.html

      La démolition prévue le 1er octobre d’un village en Cisjordanie et le transfert forcé de sa population pour laisser place à des colonies israéliennes illégales est un crime de guerre révélateur du mépris qu’entretient le gouvernement israélien à l’égard des Palestiniens, a déclaré Amnesty International le 1er octobre 2018.

      Quelque 180 habitants de la communauté bédouine de Khan al Ahmar, à l’est de Jérusalem, risquent d’être expulsés de force et transférés par l’armée israélienne. Les autorités israéliennes offrent aux villageois le choix entre deux destinations possibles : un site jouxtant l’ancienne décharge municipale de Jérusalem, non loin du village d’Abou Dis, ou un site à proximité d’une station d’épuration, non loin de la ville de Jéricho.

      « Après presque 10 ans de lutte contre cette démolition injuste, les habitants de Khan al Ahmar redoutent de voir se concrétiser le jour terrible où l’habitation qui est la leur depuis plusieurs générations sera mise en pièces, a déclaré Saleh Higazi, directeur adjoint du programme Afrique du Nord et Moyen-Orient à Amnesty International.

  • 15 personnes poursuivies pour avoir tenté d’empêcher le décollage d’un charter de 57 expulsés (Ghana et Nigeria) en se couchant sur le tarmac (voir End Deportation latest newsletter : https://us16.campaign-archive.com/?u=ae35278d38818677379a2546a&id=6be6b043c3)
    –-> reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop par Claire Rodier.

    #Stansted_15 : Amnesty to observe trial amid concerns for anti-deportation activists

    Amnesty considers the 15 to be human rights defenders

    ‘We’re concerned the authorities are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut with this case’ - Kate Allen

    Amnesty International will be observing the trial of 15 human rights defenders set to go on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court next week (Monday 1 October) relating to their attempt to prevent what they believed was the unlawful deportation of a group of people at Stansted airport.

    The protesters - known as the “#Stansted 15” - are facing lengthy jail sentences for their non-violent intervention in March last year.

    Amnesty is concerned that the serious charge of “endangering safety at aerodromes” may have been brought to discourage other activists from taking non-violent direct action in defence of human rights. The organisation has written to the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney General calling for this disproportionate charge to be dropped.

    The trial is currently expected to last for approximately six weeks.

    Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

    “We’re concerned the authorities are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut with this case.

    “Public protest and non-violent direct action can often be a key means of defending human rights, particularly when victims have no way to make their voices heard and have been denied access to justice.

    “Human rights defenders are currently coming under attack in many countries around the world, with those in power doing all they can to discourage people from taking injustice personally. The UK must not go down that path.”

    https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/stansted-15-amnesty-observe-trial-amid-concerns-anti-deportation-activis

    #avion #déportation #renvois #expulsions #UK #Angleterre #résistance #procès #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières

    • The Stansted protesters saved me from wrongful deportation. They are heroes

      The ‘Stansted 15’ face jail for stopping my flight from taking off. They helped me see justice – and the birth of my daughter

      I’ll never forget the moment I found out that a group of people had blocked a charter deportation flight leaving Stansted airport on 28 March 2017, because I was one of the people that had a seat on the plane and was about to be removed from Britain against my will. While most of those sitting with me were whooping with joy when they heard the news, I was angry. After months in detention, the thought of facing even just one more day in that purgatory filled me with terror. And, crucially, I had no idea then of what I know now: that the actions of those activists, who became known as the Stansted 15, would help me see justice, and save my life in Britain.
      Stansted 15 convictions a ‘crushing blow for human rights in UK’
      Read more

      I first arrived in Britain in 2004 and, like so many people who come here from abroad, built a life here. As I sat in that plane in Stansted last year I was set to be taken “back” to a country that I had no links to. Indeed there is no doubt in my mind that had I been deported I would have been destitute and homeless in Nigeria – I was terrified.

      Imagine it. You’ve lived somewhere for 13 years. Your mum, suffering with mobility issues, lives there. Your partner lives there. Two of your children already live there, and the memory of your first-born, who died at just seven years old, resides there too. Your next child is about to be born there. That was my situation as we waited on the asphalt – imagining my daughter being born in a country where I’d built a life, while I was exiled to Nigeria and destined to meeting my newborn for the first time through a screen on a phone.

      My story was harsh, but it’s no anomaly. Like many people facing deportation from the United Kingdom, my experience with the immigration authorities had lasted many years – and for the last seven years of living here I had been in a constant state of mental detention. A cycle of Home Office appeals and its refusal to accept my claims or make a fair decision based on the facts of my case saw me in and out of detention and permanently waiting for my status to be settled. Though the threat of deportation haunted me, it was the utter instability and racial discrimination that made me feel like I was going mad. That’s why the actions of the Stansted 15 first caused me to be angry. I simply didn’t believe that their actions would be anything more than a postponement of further pain.

      My view isn’t just shaped by my own experience. My life in Britain has seen me rub along with countless people who find themselves the victims of the government’s “hostile environment” for migrants and families who aren’t white. Migration and deportation targets suck humanity from a system whose currency is the lives of people who happen to be born outside the UK. Such is the determination to look “tough” on the issue that people are rounded up in the night and put on to brutal, secretive and barely legal charter flights. Most take off away from the public eye – 60 human beings shackled and violently restrained on each flight, with barely a thought about the life they are dragged away from, nor the one they face upon arrival.
      Stansted 15 activists vow to overcome ‘dark, dark day for the right to protest’
      Read more

      I was one of the lucky few. My removal from the plane gave me two life-changing gifts. The first was a chance to appeal to the authorities over my deportation – a case that I won on two separate occasions, following a Home Office counter-appeal. But more importantly the brave actions of the Stansted 15 gave me something even more special: the chance to be by my partner’s side as she gave birth to our daughter, and to be there for them as they both needed extensive treatment after a complicated and premature birth. Without the Stansted 15 I wouldn’t have been playing football with my three-year-old in the park this week. It’s that simple. We now have a chance to live together as a family in Britain – and that is thanks to the people who lay down in front of the plane.

      On Monday the Stansted 15 were found guilty of breaching a barely used terror law. Though the jury were convinced that their actions breached this legislation, there’s no doubt in my mind that these 15 brave people are heroes, not criminals. For me a crime is doing something that is evil, shameful or just wrong – and it’s clear that it is the actions of the Home Office that tick all of these boxes; the Stansted 15 were trying to stop the real crime being committed. As the Stansted 15 face their own purgatory – awaiting sentences in the following weeks – I will be praying that they are shown leniency. Without their actions I would have missed my daughter’s birth, and faced the utter injustice of being deported from this country without having my (now successful) appeal heard. My message to them today is to fight on. Your cause is just, and history will absolve you of the guilt that the system has marked you with.

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/10/stansted-15-protesters-deportation

    • Regno Unito, quindici attivisti rischiano l’ergastolo per aver bloccato la deportazione di migranti

      La criminalizzazione della solidarietà non riguarda solo l’Italia, con la martellante campagna contro le Ong che salvano vite nel Mediterraneo. In Francia sette attivisti rischiano 10 anni di carcere e 750mila euro di multa per “associazione a delinquere finalizzata all’immigrazione clandestina”. Nel Regno Unito altri quindici rischiano addirittura l’ergastolo per aver bloccato nella notte del 28 marzo 2017 nell’aeroporto di Stansted la deportazione di un gruppo di migranti caricati in segreto su un aereo diretto in Nigeria.

      Attivisti appartenenti ai gruppi End Deportations, Plane Stupid e Lesbian and Gays Support the Migrants hanno circondato l’aereo, impedendone il decollo. Come risultato della loro azione undici persone sono rimaste nel Regno Unito mentre la loro domanda di asilo veniva esaminata e due hanno potuto restare nel paese. Nonostante il carattere nonviolento dell’azione, il gruppo che ha bloccato l’aereo è finito sotto processo con accuse basate sulla legge anti-terrorismo e se giudicato colpevole rischia addirittura l’ergastolo. Il verdetto è atteso la settimana prossima.

      Membri dei movimenti pacifisti, antirazzisti e ambientalisti si sono uniti per protestare contro l’iniquità delle accuse. Amnesty International ha espresso la preoccupazione che siano state formulate per scoraggiare altri attivisti dall’intraprendere azioni dirette nonviolente in difesa dei diritti umani. Il vescovo di Chelmsford, la cittadina dove si tiene il processo, si è presentato in tribunale per esprimere il suo appoggio agli imputati. La primavera scorsa oltre 50 personalità, tra cui la leader dei Verdi Caroline Lucas, la scrittrice e giornalista Naomi Klein, il regista Ken Loach e l’attrice Emma Thompson hanno firmato una lettera in cui chiedono il ritiro delle accuse contro i “Quindici di Stansted” e la fine dei voli segreti di deportazione.

      Nel Regno Unito questa pratica è iniziata nel 2001. Molte delle persone deportate hanno vissuto per anni nel paese; vengono portate via dai posti di lavoro, in strada o dalle loro case, rinchiuse in centri di detenzione, caricate in segreto su voli charter notturni e inviate in paesi che spesso non conoscono e dove rischiano persecuzioni e morte. Alcuni non vengono preavvisati in tempo per ricorrere in appello contro la deportazione. “Il nostro è stato un atto di solidarietà umana, di difesa e resistenza contro un regime sempre più brutale” ha dichiarato un’attivista.


      https://www.pressenza.com/it/2018/12/regno-unito-quindici-attivisti-rischiano-lergastolo-per-aver-bloccato-la-
      #UK #Angleterre #solidarité #délit_de_solidarité #criminalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #expulsions

    • Activists convicted of terrorism offence for blocking Stansted deportation flight

      Fifteen activists who blocked the takeoff of an immigration removal charter flight have been convicted of endangering the safety of Stansted airport, a terrorism offence for which they could be jailed for life.

      After nearly three days of deliberations, following a nine-week trial, a jury at Chelmsford crown court found the defendants guilty of intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act, a law passed in response to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

      The court had heard how members of the campaign group End Deportations used lock-on devices to secure themselves around a Titan Airways Boeing 767 chartered by the Home Office, as the aircraft waited on the asphalt at the airport in Essex to remove undocumented immigrants to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

      The prosecution argued that their actions, which led to a temporary shutdown of Stansted, had posed a grave risk to the safety of the airport and its passengers.

      The verdict came after the judge Christopher Morgan told the jury to disregard all evidence put forward by the defendants to support the defence that they acted to stop human rights abuses, instructing jurors to only consider whether there was a “real and material” risk to the airport.

      In legal arguments made without the jury present, which can now be reported, defence barristers had called for the jury to be discharged after Morgan gave a summing up which they said amounted to a direction to convict. The judge had suggested the defendants’ entry to a restricted area could be considered inherently risky.

      Human rights organisations and observers had already expressed concerns over the choice of charge, which Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty International, likened to “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”. Responding to the verdict on Monday, Gracie Bradley, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, called the verdict a “grave injustice” and a “malicious attack” on the right to peaceful protest.

      Dr Graeme Hayes, reader in political sociology at Aston University, was one of a team of academics who observed the trial throughout. The only previous use of the 1990 law he and colleagues were able to find was in 2002 when a pilot was jailed for three years after flying his helicopter straight at a control tower.

      “This is a law that’s been brought in concerning international terrorism,” he said. “But for the last 10 weeks [of the trial], we’ve heard what amounts to an extended discussion of health and safety, in which the prosecution has not said at any point what the consequences of their actions might have been.”

      In a statement released by End Deportations after the verdict, the defendants said: “We are guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm. The real crime is the government’s cowardly, inhumane and barely legal deportation flights and the unprecedented use of terror law to crack down on peaceful protest.

      The protest took place on the night of 28 March 2017. The activists cut a hole in the airport’s perimeter fence, the court heard. Jurors were shown footage from CCTV cameras and a police helicopter of four protesters arranging themselves around the front landing gear of the aircraft and locking their arms together inside double-layered pipes filled with expanding foam.

      Further back, a second group of protesters erected a two-metre tripod from scaffolding poles behind the engine on the left wing on which one of them perched while others locked themselves to the base to prevent it from being moved, the videos showed. In the moments before police arrived, they were able to display their banners, one of which said: “No one is illegal.”

      Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Joseph McGahan, Benjamin Smoke, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Alistair Temlit, Edward Thacker, Emma Hughes, May McKeith, Ruth Potts and Melanie Stickland, aged 27 to 44, had all pleaded not guilty.

      They will be sentenced at a later date.


      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/dec/10/activists-convicted-of-terror-offence-for-blocking-stansted-deportation

    • Stansted 15: no jail for activists convicted of terror-related offences

      Judge says group ‘didn’t have a grievous intent as some may who commit this type of crime’.

      Fifteen activists convicted of a terrorism-related offence for chaining themselves around an immigration removal flight at Stansted airport have received suspended sentences or community orders.

      The judge decided not to imprison them after he accepted they were motivated by “genuine reasons”.

      Amid an outcry over what human rights defenders branded a heavy-handed prosecution, the group, who have become known as the Stansted 15, were convicted last December of endangering the safety of an aerodrome.

      They had broken into Stansted airport’s “airside” area in March 2017 and chained themselves together around a Boeing 767 chartered by the Home Office to deport 60 people to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. After a 10-week trial a jury found them guilty of the charge – an offence that carries a potential life sentence.
      We in the Stansted 15 have been treated like terrorists
      Emma Hughes
      Read more

      At Chelmsford crown court on Wednesday, Judge Christopher Morgan QC, dismissed submissions in mitigation that the group should receive conditional discharges for the direct action protest, which briefly paralysed the airport, saying they did not reflect the danger that had been presented by their actions.

      He said such action would “ordinarily result in custodial sentences”, but that they “didn’t have a grievous intent as some may do who commit this type of crime”. The mood in the court had lightened considerably at the start of the hearing when Morgan said that he did not consider the culpability of any of the defendants passed the threshold of an immediate custodial sentence.

      The heaviest sentences were reserved for three of the group who had been previously convicted of aggravated trespass at Heathrow airport in 2016.

      Alistair Tamlit and Edward Thacker were sentenced on Wednesday to nine months in jail suspended for 18 months, along with 250 hours of unpaid work. Melanie Strickland was sentenced to nine months suspended for 18 months, with 100 hours of unpaid work.

      Benjamin Smoke, Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Joseph McGahan, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Emma Hughes and Ruth Potts were each given 12-month community orders with 100 hours of unpaid work, while May McKeith received a 12-month community order with 20 days of rehabilitation.

      In mitigation, Dexter Dias QC said it should be taken into account that all acted to try to help individuals they perceived to be in danger. “The reason they wanted to prevent [the flight’s] departure is that they believed the welfare and safety of some of the people on that flight was at risk,” he said.
      Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
      Read more

      “In those circumstances the court historically in this country have considered that conscientious motivations offer quite significant mitigation.”

      Dias pointed out that 11 of those who had been due to be deported to west Africa that night remain in the country, including two of whom there were reasons to believe were victims of human trafficking, and two who were subsequently found to have been victims of human trafficking. “One of them had been raped and forced into sex work in several European cities,” he said.

      Kirsty Brimelow QC, who appeared to have been specially recruited for the mitigation after not acting for any defendant during the trial, told Morgan he must balance the defendants’ rights to protest and free association against the harm their actions caused the airport.

      Brimelow last year acted for three fracking protesters whose sentences were overturned by the court of appeal as “manifestly excessive”. She continually referred to that case as she told Morgan that he must consider the “proportionality” of the sentences.

      The defendants emerged from the court to a rousing reception from hundreds of supporters who had spent the day protesting outside. Tamlit said he was “relieved that’s over”.

      “It’s been a gruelling process,” he said. “The flight that went this morning [to Jamaica] put things in perspective. We might have been in jail tonight but people could have visited us and we would have eventually been released.

      “Not going to jail is a partial victory but we are going to keep campaigning to end charter flights, immigration detention and the hostile environment.”

      McKeith’s mother, Ag, said she was pleased at the relatively lenient sentence. But, she said she felt they ought not to have been convicted at all. “Despite the judge’s stern account, it’s simply not true that they endangered anybody at the airport,” she said. “The only people who were in danger were the people on the plane. I watched the trial all the way through and watched the prosecution trying to spin straw into gold, and they didn’t convince me.”

      Graeme Hayes, reader in political sociology at Aston University, who observed the entire trial, said: “Although the defendants have not got the custodial sentence, the bringing of a terrorism-related charge against non-violent protesters is a very worrying phenomenon. It’s so far the only case [of its type] in the UK, and points to a chilling of legitimate public dissent.”

      The defendants have already filed an appeal against their convictions. Raj Chada, of Hodge, Jones & Allen, represented most of them. “We will be studying the judgment carefully to review whether there are any issues that need to be brought up in the appeal,” he said.

      “It’s striking that nowhere was there any endangerment of individuals identified.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/global/2019/feb/06/stansted-15-rights-campaigners-urge-judge-to-show-leniency?CMP=Share_An