country:ethiopia

  • Asylum seeker to sue UK for funding Libyan detention centres

    Ethiopian teenager says he experienced physical abuse, extortion and forced labour in centres part-funded by UK.

    A teenage asylum seeker from Ethiopia is planning to sue the government for its role in funding detention centres in Libya, where he says he experienced physical abuse, extortion and forced labour.

    The teenager, who turned 18 a few weeks ago, cannot be named. He lives in London and is waiting for the Home Office to determine his asylum claim. His legal action against the government’s Department for International Development (DfID) for its contribution to funding these overseas centres is thought to be the first of its kind.
    Separated at sea: a Sierra Leonean father’s desperate fear for his boy
    Read more

    The Guardian previously revealed the terrible conditions in a network of 26 detention centres across Libya. The EU’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa provides some funding for the centres. DfID says that the funding it provides is used to improve conditions in the camps.

    Children have described being starved, beaten and abused by Libyan police and camp guards. One said the conditions were like “hell on Earth”.

    The government insists the funding is necessary as part of a humane effort to dissuade people from making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing. Arguing that migrant detention centres are the responsibility of the Libyan authorities, it is understood to have raised concerns over the treatment of detainees with the Libyan government.

    A spokeswoman previously told the Guardian: “We continue to help fund the European Union Trust Fund’s work to improve conditions for migrants in detention centres.”

    But critics see the Libyan camps as a way for European countries to prevent asylum seekers and other migrants from reaching Europe, and the UK’s involvement as another plank of the so called “hostile environment” to keep people out.

    Last year the UK government spent £10m in Libya on various initiatives, including the detention centres.

    The teenager who has begun the legal action against the government claims that officials are acting unlawfully in funding the detention centres and should stop doing so. He is also asking for compensation for the suffering he endured there.

    The boy’s legal team is calling on DfID to facilitate the relocation of the detention centres to the UK or other safe countries so that asylum claims can be safely processed. His lawyers have asked DfID to disclose the funding agreements between the UK and Libyan governments and any internal documents concerning the destination of UK funding in Libya as well as any untoward incidents in the centres.
    Inside the chaos and corruption of Tripoli, where militias rule the streets
    Read more

    The teenager fled persecution in Ethiopia because of his father’s political allegiances and finally reached the UK after a dangerous journey through Libya and across the Mediterranean.

    In Libya he suffered both at the hands of traffickers and in the detention centres, some of which are controlled by local militias.

    “The period I was detained and enslaved in Libya was a living hell,” he said. An expert medical report conducted in London identified 31 different lesions, including 10 on his face, which the doctor who examined him found provided “significant corroboration” of his account of repeated ill treatment.

    Many of those in the camps are from Eritrea but there are also asylum seekers from Ethiopia, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

    James Elliott of Wilsons Solicitors, who is bringing the legal action on the teenager’s behalf, said: “DfID acknowledges that conditions in the camps are appalling. We are bringing this legal challenge because it is vital that UK taxpayers’ money is not used to allow places where men, women and children are subjected to torture, rape and slavery to continue to exist.”

    DfID has been approached for comment.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/dec/20/asylum-seeker-to-sue-uk-for-funding-libyan-detention-centres
    #Libye #externalisation #UK #Angleterre #justice #centres_de_détention #asile #migrations #réfugiés #poursuite #viol #abus_sexuels #travail_forcé #Trust_fund #Trust_fund_for_Africa



  • An Interview with Ryszard Kapuscinski: Writing about Suffering
    https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jii/4750978.0006.107/--interview-with-ryszard-kapuscinski-writing-about-suffering?rgn=mai

    Wolfe:

    Were you trained as a journalist? Kapuscinski: No, never. I started in journalism in 1950 — I was 18, just finishing secondary school, and the newspaper people came to ask me to work. I learned journalism through practice.

    Wolfe: How would you describe your genre?

    Kapuscinski: It’s very difficult to describe. We have such a mixture now, such a fusion of different genres… in the American tradition you would call it New Journalism. This implies writing about the facts, the real facts of life, but using the techniques of fiction writing. There is a certain difference in my case, because I’m trying to put more elements of the essay into my writing… My writing is a combination of three elements. The first is travel: not travel like a tourist, but travel as exploration, as concentration, as a purpose. The second is reading literature on the subject: books, articles, scholarship. The third is reflection, which comes from travel and reading. My books are created from a combination of these three elements.

    Wolfe:When did the idea of Aesopian writing enter into the genre, the idea of putting layers into official texts?

    Kapuscinski: Well, this is not a new thing — it was a nineteenth-century Russian tradition. As for us, we were trying to use all the available possibilities, because there wasn’t any underground. Underground literature only began in the 70s, when technical developments made it possible. Before that, we were involved in a game with the censors. That was our struggle. The Emperor is considered to be an Aesopian book in Poland and the Soviet Union. Of course it’s not about Ethiopia or Haile Selassie — rather, it’s about the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The First Secretary at the time was named Gierek, and he was very much the emperor with his court, and everybody read the book as being about him and the Central Committee.

    Wolfe: But you didn’t write explicitly about the Central Committee.

    Kapuscinski: No, but of course the authorities knew what it was about, and so it had a very small circulation, and it was forbidden to turn it into a film or a play. Aesopian language was used by all of us. And of course, using this language meant having readers who understood it.

    Cohen: The other day we were discussing the crisis of readership, and wondering whether people were still capable of doing the double reading, of taking apart a text that has been written in a complicated way.

    Kapuscinski: The limitation of sources under the Communists had a very political effect on reading. People had just one book, and nothing else — no television or other diversions — so they just read the same book very carefully several times. Readership was high, and very attentive. It was people’s only source of knowledge about the world. You have to understand that the tradition of Russian literature — and Russians are great readers — is also an eastern tradition of learning poetry and prose by heart. This is the most intimate relationship between literature and its readers: they treat the text as a part of themselves, as a possession. This art of reading, reading the text behind the text, is missing now.

    Cohen: When did you first arrive on the African continent?

    Kapuscinski:My first trip to Africa came when the first countries south of the Sahara became independent, in 1958. Ghana was the first African country I visited. I wrote a series of reports about Nkumrah and Lumumba. My second trip was just two years later, when I went to cover the events surrounding the independence of the Congo. At that time, I was not allowed to go to Kinshasa — it was Leopoldville at that time — but I crossed the Sudan-Congo border illegally with a Czech journalist friend, since there was nobody patrolling it. And I went to Kisangani, which was called Stanleyville then.

    Cohen: Were you in Leopoldville during the actual transfer[1]?

    Kapuscinski:No, afterwards. It was a moment of terrible international tension. I remember the atmosphere of danger: there was the expectation that the Congo might begin a new world war. I say this today and people just smile. But that’s why everybody was so nervous: Russians were going there, Americans were going there, the French, the United Nations… I remember one moment at the airport in Kisangani, thinking that Soviet planes were coming — all the journalists were there, and we all expected it to happen.

    Cohen: At that time, in the early 1960s, there weren’t more than three regular American journalists covering Africa.

    Kapuscinski:There were very few, because most correspondents came from the former colonial powers — there were British, French, and a lot of Italians, because there were a lot of Italian communities there. And of course there were a lot of Russians.

    Wolfe: Was there competition among this handful of people?

    Kapuscinski: No, we all cooperated, all of us, East and West, regardless of country, because the working conditions were really terrible. We had to. We always moved in groups from one coup d’état to another, from one war to another… So if there was a coup d’état of leftist orientation in some country I took my Western colleagues with me and said ‘look, let them come in,’ and if there was one of rightist orientation they took me, saying ‘no, he’s okay, give him a visa please, he’s going with us, he’s our friend,’ and so on. I didn’t compete with the New York Times, for example, because the Polish press agency is a small piece of cake, not important. And because conditions were so hard. For example, to send the news out, there was no e-mail, nothing: telex was the only means, but telex was very rare in Africa. So if somebody was flying to Europe, we gave him correspondence, to send after he arrived. I remember that during the period leading up to independence in Angola in 1975, I was the only correspondent there at all for three months. I was in my hotel room when somebody knocked on my door - I opened it, and a man said, ‘I’m the New York Times correspondent.’ The official independence celebration was going to be held over four or five days, and a group of journalists from all over the world was allowed to fly in, because Angola was closed otherwise. So he said, ‘I’m sorry, but I’m the new man here, and I heard you’ve been here longer, and I have to write something from Angola, and this is the article I have to send to the New York Times. Could you kindly read it and correct things which are not real?’ And he brought a bottle of whiskey. And whiskey was something which was absolutely marvelous, because there was nothing: no cigarettes, no food, nothing…The difference at that time, in comparison with today, was that this was a group of highly specialized people. They were real Africanists, and not only from experience. If you read articles from that time in Le Monde, in the Times, you’ll find that the authors really had background, a knowledge of the subject. It was a very highly qualified sort of journalism — we were all great specialists.

    Woodford: Professor Piotr Michalowski[2] says that when he was growing up in Poland, people lived through your reports in a very special way: they were like a big, exotic outlet, given the state of world politics. People of all ranks and stations followed these adventures. When you went back, did regular Poles, non-educated people, also want you to tell them about what it was like to see these things?

    Kapuscinski:Yes, very much so. They were very interested in what I was writing. This was a unique source of information, and Africa held incomparably greater interest for them at that time than it does now. People were really interested in what was going on because of the international context of the Cold War.

    Wolfe: What did the Poles know about Africa?

    Kapuscinski: They had very limited knowledge. This was very typical of the European understanding of Africa, which is full of stereotypes and biases. Nevertheless, there was a certain fascination with Africa. Maybe it has something to do with our literature: we have Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, for example, and Conrad is considered in Poland as a Polish writer. The similarity between Africa and Poland - and this is an argument I have always had with people in Africa - is that we were also a colonized country. We were a colony for 130 years. We lost independence at the end of the 18th century, and only regained it in 1918, after the First World War. We were divided between three colonial powers - Russia, Prussia, and Austria. There’s a certain similarity of experience. I’ve often quarreled with African friends about this. I’ve asked, ‘How long were you colonized?’ “Eighty years,” they’ve answered, and I’ve responded, ‘We were colonized 50 years longer, so what can you say about colonialism? I’ll tell you what colonial experience is.’ And they’re shocked. But though there is a similarity of experience, the common people are not conscious of this.

    Wolfe: At the end of the Copernicus Lecture, you said that you wrote Imperium because it was important to bring a Polish way of seeing things to your topic. How did you come to a sense that there was a Polish way of seeing things? Did it emerge from your experiences in Africa, or in relationship to Russia?

    Kapuscinski: It developed in relation to Russia in particular. Our history, the history of Polish-Russian relations, is very tragic, very harrowing. There has been a lot of suffering on our side, because Stalin killed all our intelligentsia. It wasn’t just that he killed 100,000 people, it was that he purposely killed the 100,000 who were our only intelligentsia… When I started writing Imperium, I had a problem with my conscience, because if I wrote strictly from the point of view of this Polish experience, the book would be completely unacceptable and incomprehensible to the Western reader…So I had to put aside our Polish experience, and to find an angle, an objective way of writing about Russia.

    Wolfe: Isn’t there something inherently difficult in writing about suffering? How does one go back and forth between a sense of causation in daily suffering on the one hand, and an understanding of the purges as a social phenomenon, on the other? How does one attempt to understand the cultural propensity of Russians to suffer?

    Kapuscinski: There is a fundamental difference between the Polish experience of the state and the Russian experience. In the Polish experience, the state was always a foreign power. So, to hate the state, to be disobedient to the state, was a patriotic act. In the Russian experience, although the Russian state is oppressive, it is their state, it is part of their fabric, and so the relation between Russian citizens and their state is much more complicated. There are several reasons why Russians view the oppressive state positively. First of all, in Russian culture, in the Russian Orthodox religion, there is an understanding of authority as something sent by God. This makes the state part of the sacred… So if the state is oppressive, then it is oppressive, but you can’t revolt against it. The cult of authority is very strong in Russian society.

    Wolfe: But what is the difference between Soviet suffering and something like the battle of the Marne, the insanity of World War I and trench warfare?

    Kapuscinski: It’s different. In the First World War, there was the sudden passion of nationalism, and the killing took place because of these emotions. But the Soviet case is different, because there you had systematic murder, like in the Holocaust. Ten or 12 million Ukrainian peasants were purposely killed by Stalin, by starvation, in the Ukrainian hunger of 1932-3…It was a very systematic plan… In modern Russia, you have no official, formal assessment of this past. Nobody in any Russian document has said that the policy of the Soviet government was criminal, that it was terrible. No one has ever said this.

    Woodford: But what about Khrushchev in 1956?

    Kapuscinski: I’m speaking about the present. Official Russian state doctrine and foreign policy doesn’t mention the Bolshevik policy of expansion. It doesn’t condemn it. If you ask liberal Russians - academics, politicians - if Russia is dangerous to us, to Europe, to the world, they say: ‘No, it’s not dangerous, we’re too weak, we have an economic crisis, difficulties with foreign trade, our army is in a state of anarchy…’ That is the answer. They are not saying: ‘We will never, ever repeat our crimes of expansionism, of constant war.’ No, they say: ‘We are not dangerous to you, because right now we are weak.’

    Cohen:

    When Vaclav Havel was president of Czechoslovakia, he was asked whether the state would take responsibility for the deaths, the oppression, the confiscations of the previous governments of Czechoslovakia, and he said ‘yes.’ The same questions were asked in South Africa of the Mandela government. And I think Poland is now struggling with how much responsibility the government will have to take for the past. But the Russian official response has been that Stalin can be blamed for everything.

    Kapuscinski:This is a very crucial point: there is a lack of critical assessment of the past. But you have to understand that the current ruling elite is actually the old ruling elite. So they are incapable of a self-critical approach to the past.

    Polish-born journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski worked as an African correspondent for various Polish periodicals and press agencies from 1958 to 1980. In his book Imperium (Granta Books, 1994), he turns a journalist’s eye onto the Russian state, and the effects of authoritarianism on everyday Russian life. Kapuscinski delivered his November, 1997 Copernicus lecture: "The Russian Puzzle: Why I Wrote Imperium at the Center for Russian and East European Studies. During his visit, he spoke with David Cohen (International Institute); John Woodford (Executive Editor of Michigan Today ); and Thomas Wolfe (Communications). The following is an excerpted transcript of their conversation.

    Sei Sekou Mobutu seized control of the Congo in 1965. After the evolution, the name of the capital was changed from Leopoldville to Kinshasa, and in 1971 the country was renamed Zaire, instead of the Congo. return to text

    Piotr Michalowski is the George D. Cameron Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations and Languages at the Unversity of Michigan.

    Kapuscinski, more magical than real

    What’s the truth about Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski
    https://www.newstatesman.com/africa/2007/02/wrong-kapuscinski-african

    https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryszard_Kapu%C5%9Bci%C5%84ski

    #presse #littérature #reportage


  • Power shift creates new tensions and Tigrayan fears in Ethiopia.

    Disagreements over land and resources between the 80 different ethnic groups in Ethiopia have often led to violence and mass displacement, but a fast and unprecedented shift of power led by reformist Prime Minister #Abiy_Ahmed is causing new strains, experts say.

    “Ethnic tensions are the biggest problem for Ethiopia right now,” Tewodrose Tirfe, chair of the Amhara Association of America, a US-based advocacy group that played a significant role in lobbying the US government to censor the former regime. “You’ve got millions of people displaced – it’s a humanitarian crisis, and it could get out of control.”

    During the first half of 2018, Ethiopia’s rate of 1.4 million new internally displaced people exceeded Syria’s. By the end of last year, the IDP population had mushroomed to nearly 2.4 million.

    Tigrayans comprise just six percent of Ethiopia’s population of 100 million people but are perceived as a powerful minority because of their ethnic affinity with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The TPLF wielded almost unlimited power for more than two decades until reforms within the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front last year.

    Since coming to power in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy – from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest – has brought major changes to the politics of the country, including an unprecedented redistribution of power within the EPRDF and away from the TPLF.
    The politics of ethnic tensions

    Despite the conflicting interests and disagreements between ethnic groups, the Ethiopian government has managed to keep the peace on a national scale. But that juggling act has shown signs of strain in recent years.

    https://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2019/02/14/Ethiopia-ethnic-displacement-power-shift-raises-tensions
    #Ethiopie #terres #tensions #conflit #violence #IDPs #déplacés_internes #migrations #minorités

    In 2017, an escalation in ethnic clashes in the Oromia and the Somali regions led to a spike in IDPs. This continued into 2018, when clashes between the Oromo and Gedeo ethnic groups displaced approximately 970,000 people in the West Guji and Gedeo zones of neighbouring Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region.

    “The pace and scale of the change happening in Ethiopia is quite unbelievable,” said Ahmed Soliman, a research fellow with the Africa Programme at the London-based think tank Chatham House.

    “The impact of inter-communal tensions and ethnic violence presents a serious challenge for the new leadership – in Tigray and elsewhere. Abiy’s aggressive reform agenda has won praise, but shaking up Ethiopia’s government risks exacerbating several long-simmering ethnic rivalries.”

    Although clashes are sometimes fuelled by other disagreements, such as land or resources, people affected often claim that politicians across the spectrum use ethnic tensions as a means of divide and rule, or to consolidate their position as a perceived bulwark against further trouble.

    “Sadly [around Ethiopia] ethnic bias and violence is affecting many people at the local level,” said a foreign humanitarian worker with an international organisation helping Ethiopian IDPs, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue. This includes fuelling the displacement crisis and worsening the humanitarian situation.

    “The main humanitarian concern is that new displacements are occurring by the day, that due to the wide geographic scope, coordination and response in all locations is practically impossible,” the aid worker said.

    “I would like to see more transparency as to what actions the government is taking to hold regional and zonal governments responsible for addressing conflict, for supporting reconciliation, and supporting humanitarian response.”
    Tigray fears

    Although Tigrayans constitute a relatively small part of overall IDP numbers so far, some Tigrayans fear the power shift in Addis Ababa away from the TPLF leaves them more vulnerable and exposed.

    Already simmering anti-Tigrayan sentiments have led to violence, people told IRIN, from barricading roads and forcibly stopping traffic to looting and attacks on Tigrayan homes and businesses in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

    In the Tigray region’s capital of Mekelle, more than 750 kilometers north of the political changes taking place in Addis Ababa, many Tigrayans feel increasingly isolated from fellow Ethiopians.

    “The rest of the country hates us,” Weyanay Gebremedhn, 25, told IRIN. Despite the reforms, Tigrayans say what hasn’t changed is the narrative that they are responsible by association for the ills of the TPLF.

    Although he now struggles to find work, 35-year-old Huey Berhe, who does mostly odd jobs to pay the bills, said he felt safer living among his own community in Mekelle.

    Huey said he had been a student at Jimma University in western Ethiopia, until growing ethnic tensions sparked fights on campus and led to Tigrayans being targeted. “I left my studies at Jimma after the trouble there,” he said. “It was bad – it’s not something I like to discuss.”
    ‘A better evil’

    “There is a lot of [lies] and propaganda, and the TPLF has been made the scapegoat for all vice,” said Gebre Weleslase, a Tigrayan law professor at Mekelle University. He criticised Abiy for not condemning ethnic attacks, which he said had contributed to tens of thousands of Tigrayans leaving Amhara for Tigray in recent years.

    But Amhara Association of America’s Tewodrose said the feeling of “hate” that Ethiopians have toward the TPLF “doesn’t extend to Tigrayans”.

    “There is resentment toward them when other Ethiopians hear of rallies in Tigray supporting the TPLF, because that seems like they aren’t supporting reform efforts,” he said. “But that doesn’t lead to them being targeted, otherwise there would have been more displacements.”

    Tigrayans, however, aren’t as reassured. Despite the vast majority enduring years of poverty and struggle under the TPLF, which should give them as many reasons as most Ethiopians to feel betrayed, even those Tigrayans who dislike the TPLF now say that turning to its patronage may be their only means of seeking protection.

    “The TPLF political machinery extended everywhere in the country – into the judiciary, the universities… it became like something out of George Orwell’s ‘1984’,” Huey said. “But the fact is now the TPLF may represent a better evil as we are being made to feel so unsafe – they seem our only ally as we are threatened by the rest of the country.”

    Others note that Abiy has a delicate balance to strike, especially for the sake of Tigrayans.

    “The prime minister needs to be careful not to allow his targeting of anti-reform elements within the TPLF, to become an attack on the people of Tigray,” said Soliman.

    “The region has a history of resolute peoples and will have to be included with all other regions, in order for Abiy to accomplish his goals of reconciliation, socio-political integration and regional development, as well as long-term peace with Eritrea.”

    Although the government has a big role to play, some Ethiopians told IRIN it is essential for the general population to also face up to the inherent prejudices and problems that lie at the core of their society.

    “It’s about the people being willing and taking individual responsibility – the government can’t do everything,” Weyanay said. “People need to read more and challenge their assumptions and get new perspectives.”


    https://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2019/02/14/Ethiopia-ethnic-displacement-power-shift-raises-tensions

    #Tigréans


  • Undercover agents target cybersecurity watchdog who detailed Israeli firm NSO’s link to #Khashoggi scandal
    Haaretz.Com
    https://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/.premium-undercover-agents-target-watchdog-who-detailed-israeli-firm-nso-s-

    Operatives with fake identities are pursuing members of #Citizen_Lab, the group that uncovered the connection between Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and Israel’s surveillance company #NSO
    The Associated Press | Jan. 26, 2019 | 4:19 PM

    The researchers who reported that Israeli software was used to spy on Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s inner circle before his gruesome death are being targeted in turn by international undercover operatives, The Associated Press has found.

    Twice in the past two months, men masquerading as socially conscious investors have lured members of the Citizen Lab internet watchdog group to meetings at luxury hotels to quiz them for hours about their work exposing Israeli surveillance and the details of their personal lives. In both cases, the researchers believe they were secretly recorded.

    Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert described the stunts as “a new low.”

    “We condemn these sinister, underhanded activities in the strongest possible terms,” he said in a statement Friday. “Such a deceitful attack on an academic group like the Citizen Lab is an attack on academic freedom everywhere.”

    Who these operatives are working for remains a riddle, but their tactics recall those of private investigators who assume elaborate false identities to gather intelligence or compromising material on critics of powerful figures in government or business.

    Citizen Lab, based out of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, has for years played a leading role in exposing state-backed hackers operating in places as far afield as Tibet , Ethiopia and Syria . Lately the group has drawn attention for its repeated exposés of an Israeli surveillance software vendor called the NSO Group, a firm whose wares have been used by governments to target journalists in Mexico , opposition figures in Panama and human rights activists in the Middle East .

    In October, Citizen Lab reported that an iPhone belonging to one of Khashoggi’s confidantes had been infected by the NSO’s signature spy software only months before Khashoggi’s grisly murder. The friend, Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz, would later claim that the hacking had exposed Khashoggi’s private criticisms of the Saudi royal family to the Arab kingdom’s spies and thus “played a major role” in his death.

    In a statement, NSO denied having anything to do with the undercover operations targeting Citizen Lab, “either directly or indirectly” and said it had neither hired nor asked anyone to hire private investigators to pursue the Canadian organization. “Any suggestion to the contrary is factually incorrect and nothing more than baseless speculation,” NSO said.

    NSO has long denied that its software was used to target Khashoggi, although it has refused to comment when asked whether it has sold its software to the Saudi government more generally.

    The first message reached Bahr Abdul Razzak, a Syrian refugee who works as a Citizen Lab researcher, Dec. 6, when a man calling himself Gary Bowman got in touch via LinkedIn. The man described himself as a South African financial technology executive based in Madrid.

    “I came across your profile and think that the work you’ve done helping Syrian refugees and your extensive technical background could be a great fit for our new initiative,” Bowman wrote.

    Abdul Razzak said he thought the proposal was a bit odd, but he eventually agreed to meet the man at Toronto’s swanky Shangri-La Hotel on the morning of Dec. 18.

    The conversation got weird very quickly, Abdul Razzak said.

    Instead of talking about refugees, Abdul Razzak said, Bowman grilled him about his work for Citizen Lab and its investigations into the use of NSO’s software. Abdul Razzak said Bowman appeared to be reading off cue cards, asking him if he was earning enough money and throwing out pointed questions about Israel, the war in Syria and Abdul Razzak’s religiosity.

    “Do you pray?” Abdul Razzak recalled Bowman asking. “Why do you write only about NSO?” ’’Do you write about it because it’s an Israeli company?" ’’Do you hate #Israel?"

    Abdul Razzak said he emerged from the meeting feeling shaken. He alerted his Citizen Lab colleagues, who quickly determined that the breakfast get-together had been a ruse. Bowman’s supposed Madrid-based company, FlameTech, had no web presence beyond a LinkedIn page, a handful of social media profiles and an entry in the business information platform Crunchbase. A reverse image search revealed that the profile picture of the man listed as FlameTech’s chief executive, Mauricio Alonso, was a stock photograph.

    “My immediate gut feeling was: ’This is a fake,’” said John Scott-Railton, one of Abdul Razzak’s colleagues.

    Scott-Railton flagged the incident to the AP, which confirmed that FlameTech was a digital facade.

    Searches of the Orbis database of corporate records, which has data on some 300 million global companies, turned up no evidence of a Spanish firm called FlameTech or Flame Tech or any company anywhere in the world matching its description. Similarly, the AP found no record of FlameTech in Madrid’s official registry or of a Gary Bowman in the city’s telephone listings. An Orbis search for Alonso, the supposed chief executive, also drew a blank. When an AP reporter visited Madrid’s Crystal Tower high-rise, where FlameTech claimed to have 250 sq. meters (2,700 sq. feet) of office space, he could find no trace of the firm and calls to the number listed on its website went unanswered.

    The AP was about to publish a story about the curious company when, on Jan. 9, Scott-Railton received an intriguing message of his own.

    This time the contact came not from Bowman of FlameTech but from someone who identified himself as Michel Lambert, a director at the Paris-based agricultural technology firm CPW-Consulting.

    Lambert had done his homework. In his introductory email , he referred to Scott-Railton’s early doctoral research on kite aerial photography — a mapping technique using kite-mounted cameras — and said he was “quite impressed.

    We have a few projects and clients coming up that could significantly benefit from implementing Kite Aerial Photography,” he said.

    Like FlameTech, CPW-Consulting was a fiction. Searches of Orbis and the French commercial court registry Infogreffe turned up no trace of the supposedly Paris-based company or indeed of any Paris-based company bearing the acronym CPW. And when the AP visited CPW’s alleged office there was no evidence of the company; the address was home to a mainly residential apartment building. Residents and the building’s caretaker said they had never heard of the firm.

    Whoever dreamed up CPW had taken steps to ensure the illusion survived a casual web search, but even those efforts didn’t bear much scrutiny. The company had issued a help wanted ad, for example, seeking a digital mapping specialist for their Paris office, but Scott-Railton discovered that the language had been lifted almost word-for-word from an ad from an unrelated company seeking a mapping specialist in London. A blog post touted CPW as a major player in Africa, but an examination of the author’s profile suggests the article was the only one the blogger had ever written.

    When Lambert suggested an in-person meeting in New York during a Jan. 19 phone call , Scott-Railton felt certain that Lambert was trying to set him up.

    But Scott-Railton agreed to the meeting. He planned to lay a trap of his own.

    Anyone watching Scott-Railton and Lambert laughing over wagyu beef and lobster bisque at the Peninsula Hotel’s upscale restaurant on Thursday afternoon might have mistaken the pair for friends.

    In fact, the lunch was Spy vs. Spy. Scott-Railton had spent the night before trying to secret a homemade camera into his tie, he later told AP, eventually settling for a GoPro action camera and several recording devices hidden about his person. On the table, Lambert had placed a large pen in which Scott-Railton said he spotted a tiny camera lens peeking out from an opening in the top.

    Lambert didn’t seem to be alone. At the beginning of the meal, a man sat behind him, holding up his phone as if to take pictures and then abruptly left the restaurant, having eaten nothing. Later, two or three men materialized at the bar and appeared to be monitoring proceedings.

    Scott-Railton wasn’t alone either. A few tables away, two Associated Press journalists were making small talk as they waited for a signal from Scott-Railton, who had invited the reporters to observe the lunch from nearby and then interview Lambert near the end of the meal.

    The conversation began with a discussion of kites, gossip about African politicians, and a detour through Scott-Railton’s family background. But Lambert, just like Bowman, eventually steered the talk to Citizen Lab and NSO.

    “Work drama? Tell me, I like drama!” Lambert said at one point, according to Scott-Railton’s recording of the conversation. “Is there a big competition between the people inside Citizen Lab?” he asked later.

    Like Bowman, Lambert appeared to be working off cue cards and occasionally made awkward conversational gambits. At one point he repeated a racist French expression, insisting it wasn’t offensive. He also asked Scott-Railton questions about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and whether he grew up with any Jewish friends. At another point he asked whether there might not be a “racist element” to Citizen Lab’s interest in Israeli spyware.

    After dessert arrived, the AP reporters approached Lambert at his table and asked him why his company didn’t seem to exist.
    He seemed to stiffen.

    “I know what I’m doing,” Lambert said, as he put his files — and his pen — into a bag. Then he stood up, bumped into a chair and walked off, saying “Ciao” and waving his hand, before returning because he had neglected to pay the bill.

    As he paced around the restaurant waiting for the check, Lambert refused to answer questions about who he worked for or why no trace of his firm could be found.

    “I don’t have to give you any explanation,” he said. He eventually retreated to a back room and closed the door.

    Who Lambert and Bowman really are isn’t clear. Neither men returned emails, LinkedIn messages or phone calls. And despite their keen focus on NSO the AP has found no evidence of any link to the Israeli spyware merchant, which is adamant that it wasn’t involved.

    The kind of aggressive investigative tactics used by the mystery men who targeted Citizen Lab have come under fire in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal. Black Cube, an Israeli private investigation firm apologized after The New Yorker and other media outlets revealed that the company’s operatives had used subterfuge and dirty tricks to help the Hollywood mogul suppress allegations of rape and sexual assault.

    Scott-Railton and Abdul Razzak said they didn’t want to speculate about who was involved. But both said they believed they were being steered toward making controversial comments that could be used to blacken Citizen Lab’s reputation.

    “It could be they wanted me to say, ’Yes, I hate Israel,’ or ’Yes, Citizen Lab is against NSO because it’s Israeli,’” said Abdul Razzak.
    Scott-Railton said the elaborate, multinational operation was gratifying, in a way.

    “People were paid to fly to a city to sit you down to an expensive meal and try to convince you to say bad things about your work, your colleagues and your employer,” he said.

    “That means that your work is important.”


  • Eritrea-Ethiopia border closed amid escalating tension

    “Currently, the situation in Eritrea is reminiscent of the pre-1998 border war period when the war of words and public agitation was at its highest. Now, taking advantage of the proliferation of social media, the agitation is being escalated on a daily basis.”

    Ethio-Eritrean Border: Haphazardly Opened Erratically Closed

    A little over three months after it was haphazardly opened, the Ethiopian-Eritrean Border was closed from the Eritrean side which now requires Ethiopians to have entry permits. The decision to close the border was passed to the Eritrean border guards on Christmas Eve.

    The Eritrean side didn’t explain the change of policy and now requires permits issued by the Federal Ethiopian Government. Similarly, Ethiopian authorities stated they have no official information regarding the Eritrean decisión.

    The border remained closed since the two countries went to war between 1998-2000, a gruesome war in which over a hundred thousand people were killed. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their villages and some of them still live in makeshift camps.

    Until recently, the borders were guarded by soldiers who were on a shoot-to-kill order. Many Eritreans escaping the country to avoid the indefinite military service, poor employment prospects, and severe violations of human rights, were shot and killed while crossing the border.

    However, since September 10, a border crossing checkpoint at Zalambessa-Serha, in the central region, was opened following the agreement between Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea and the Ethiopian prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed. People and goods were allowed to move across the border freely with no permits or visas.

    Immediately after the border was opened, thousands of Eritreans rushed to Ethiopia to take advantage of the border opening either to travel further and join family members in foreign lands, or in search of better employment and educational prospects for themselves.

    At the same time, Ethiopians crowded the streets of Eritrean cities as tourists, or to meet long-separated family members, while merchants flooded the markets that suffered from an acute shortage of different merchandise.

    Another border crossing checkpoint that was briefly opened between the Ethiopian town of Humera and the Eritrean town of Um-Hajer over the Tekezze River was closed on the beginning of August 2018.

    Still another crossing point at Bure south of the Eritrean port of Assab is either closed or open depending on unpredictable intermittent decisions by the Eritrean authorities.

    The border also has also faced problems related to Exchange rates between the currencies of the two countries since neither of the two governments had planned for it ahead of time.

    Since the border opened, over 30,000 Eritreans have crossed to Ethiopia on a one-way journey.

    The reason for the two days old decision by Eritrea is believed to have been triggered by the attempt on the life of general Sebhat’s on December 19, 2018. Dozens of colonels and other lower rank officers suspected of being part of a plot to overthrow Isaias Afwki’s government have been arrested. Their fate is still unknown.

    Over the last few days, PFDJ trolls on social media have accused the TPLF of being behind the plot to “disrupt Eritrean security” and of masterminding the attempt on general Sebhat Efrem’s life.

    Currently, the situation in Eritrea is reminiscent of the pre-1998 border war period when the war of words and public agitation was at its highest. Now, taking advantage of the proliferation of social media, the agitation is being escalated on a daily basis.

    Both the Eritrean government and the Ethiopian federal government are waging relentless media wars and exerting political pressure on the TPLF of Tigray region, which occupies most of the area between the two countries.

    https://eritreahub.org/eritrea-ethiopia-border-closed-amid-escalating-tension
    #fermeture_des_frontières #frontières #Erythrée #Ethiopie #conflit

    Re-fermeture de cette frontière, après un petit moment d’espoir, il y a quelques mois :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/721926


  • 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


  • Asylum seeker to sue UK for funding Libyan detention centres

    Ethiopian teenager says he experienced physical abuse, extortion and forced labour in centres part-funded by UK.

    A teenage asylum seeker from Ethiopia is planning to sue the government for its role in funding detention centres in Libya, where he says he experienced physical abuse, extortion and forced labour.

    The teenager, who turned 18 a few weeks ago, cannot be named. He lives in London and is waiting for the Home Office to determine his asylum claim. His legal action against the government’s Department for International Development (DfID) for its contribution to funding these overseas centres is thought to be the first of its kind.

    The Guardian previously revealed the terrible conditions in a network of 26 detention centres across Libya. The EU’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa provides some funding for the centres. DfID says that the funding it provides is used to improve conditions in the camps.

    Children have described being starved, beaten and abused by Libyan police and camp guards. One said the conditions were like “hell on Earth”.

    The government insists the funding is necessary as part of a humane effort to dissuade people from making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing. Arguing that migrant detention centres are the responsibility of the Libyan authorities, it is understood to have raised concerns over the treatment of detainees with the Libyan government.

    A spokeswoman previously told the Guardian: “We continue to help fund the European Union Trust Fund’s work to improve conditions for migrants in detention centres.”

    But critics see the Libyan camps as a way for European countries to prevent asylum seekers and other migrants from reaching Europe, and the UK’s involvement as another plank of the so called “hostile environment” to keep people out.

    Last year the UK government spent £10m in Libya on various initiatives, including the detention centres.

    The teenager who has begun the legal action against the government claims that officials are acting unlawfully in funding the detention centres and should stop doing so. He is also asking for compensation for the suffering he endured there.

    The boy’s legal team is calling on DfID to facilitate the relocation of the detention centres to the UK or other safe countries so that asylum claims can be safely processed. His lawyers have asked DfID to disclose the funding agreements between the UK and Libyan governments and any internal documents concerning the destination of UK funding in Libya as well as any untoward incidents in the centres.

    The teenager fled persecution in Ethiopia because of his father’s political allegiances and finally reached the UK after a dangerous journey through Libya and across the Mediterranean.

    In Libya he suffered both at the hands of traffickers and in the detention centres, some of which are controlled by local militias.

    “The period I was detained and enslaved in Libya was a living hell,” he said. An expert medical report conducted in London identified 31 different lesions, including 10 on his face, which the doctor who examined him found provided “significant corroboration” of his account of repeated ill treatment.

    Many of those in the camps are from Eritrea but there are also asylum seekers from Ethiopia, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

    James Elliott of Wilsons Solicitors, who is bringing the legal action on the teenager’s behalf, said: “DfID acknowledges that conditions in the camps are appalling. We are bringing this legal challenge because it is vital that UK taxpayers’ money is not used to allow places where men, women and children are subjected to torture, rape and slavery to continue to exist.”

    DfID has been approached for comment.

    https://amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/dec/20/asylum-seeker-to-sue-uk-for-funding-libyan-detention-centres?CMP=Sh
    #Libye #justice #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #poursuites_judiciaires #violence #abus #UK #Angleterre




    • First Light – Migration in the Swiss alps

      “Escape from hardship, because it is the only hope.” is what the father of the little Iranian boy explained to me as to why his son is named Vihan. (In Persian, the name Vihan can be translated as “First light” or hope)

      From August to October 2016 I had the opportunity to work as ‘artist in residence’, on a project for SMART (Sustainable Mountain Art programme) in Switzerland, creating pictures to raise awareness on the challenges facing mountain regions. I chose the theme of migration that has interested me for some time already.

      Since the middle ages, demographic pressure, armed conflict and oppression, natural disasters and overpopulation have driven the cause for Migration in the Swiss mountain regions. The largest mass emigration being of the Walser people from Lötschental, who over the course of 2 centuries established themselves over the Valais region and even as far as Austria.

      The foreigner’s lot was that of having very limited rights and labeled with the status of ‘inhabitant’, often not welcomed and even restricted by opposition to marriage to locals.

      I stayed in the historical village of #Medergen in the Graubünden, established by the #Walser people as early as 1300 with houses dating back to the 1700s, high in the alps at 2000m above sea level. A special, tiny village almost frozen in time, as people live a very modest life with no running water inside the house, which also means no flushing toilets or showers. Wooden stoves are used for cooking and heating water for washing, as there is no electricity either, except for the recent additions of solar panels. People use buckets to fetch water from the fresh water fountains, just like Heidi! :)

      In Litzirüti the closest village to Medergen, there is an old ski-hotel, that has been transformed into a temporary home for about 100 asylum seekers from various war torn and heavily oppressed countries such as Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Siria, Gambia, Tibet, awaiting the decision of the Swiss government to announce their fate, if they will be rejected or if they will be given permission to stay in Switzerland.

      During the time I worked on the project, I hiked four hours up and down the mountain every second or third day, spending time and getting to know some of the people who reside here. If you ask anyone they will say that they are very thankful to be here in this peaceful village of Litzirüti and to be so well looked after in this beautiful place. And thankful to be in a country where there is peace and modern prosperity.

      However, thankful for escaping the unimaginable oppression and life threatening situations in their home countries, it is clear that they now have to deal with new challenges and difficulty in their lives. The youth in particular find it challenging to be in such a tiny village where there isn’t a single shop or anything to stimulate their growing minds. Furthermore, most of the people have been in Switzerland for a year or more, still waiting to have an interview to have their reasons for needing asylum assessed and their fate and extent of freedom, decided accordingly.

      What I’ve learnt from my research and looking at both the history of migration and what is happening today, is that the same challenges that existed centuries ago still exist today, namely that whenever there are newcomers, inevitably there is at least a degree of resistance to their acceptance that they are met with and state control that is the decider of their fate, prolonging the process of integration, usually in order to protect the fears of the established.

      “Cultural diversity is as essential to humanity as biodiversity is to nature. It makes the world a richer and more varied place and enlarges the range of choices available. It is the breeding ground that allows different cultures to continue and develop and enrich themselves through contact with each other, without drifting towards rigid identities. It is one of the sources of development, which must be perceived not merely in terms of economic growth , but also as a means of attaining to a satisfying intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.”

      (Quote from the SDC – Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation on the importance of culture for development).

      By depicting the contrast between the history of migration in the Swiss alps and the rich traditions that has become established in time, with the current asylum seeker and refugee situation mostly being a state of limbo, I aim to raise awareness of the current day migrants (asylum seekers) and remind people that sooner or later in life we all were or will be migrants again.

      I believe that through time, if cultures can embrace their differences, be it language, colour, traditions or spirituality, they will see that on the other side is another human being with the same hopes and desires as themselves and that we can all benefit and be so much richer for getting to know each other and giving each other the freedom to live out our own identity that makes us complete and wholesome human beings.


      http://lavonne.co.za/lavonnebosmanphotographicart/portfolio/first-light-migration-swissalps
      #Suisse #Alpes #Grisons

    • The Italian Ski Resort

      From Libya via Lampedusa. In the dark, the hotel that loomed after the last hairpin bend looked rather like Overlook in Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Montecampione, altitude 1,800 meters, is a ski resort at the end of the road winding up the Camonica Valley in Lombardy. The most striking thing on arrival here is being greeted with the faces and voices from another continent. Since June 2011, more than 100 Africans who fled the war inhave been settled in this hotel by the Brescia police authority, in line with the Italian government’s policy of spreading thearound the country. In most places the local authorities have been required to house them, but here private enterprise has also been asked to contribute. The hotel in Montecampione houses and feeds the migrants for 40 euros a head per day. The nearest village in the valley is more than 20km away, so the migrants are cut off from the outside world while they await a decision on their fates.
      “We live in a strange situation here,” admitted a lively young Ghanaian called Michael. “We’ve got absolutely nothing to do, but we’re all impatient to find work and start our lives again.” The last five migrants to arrive in Montecampione are equally bewildered. They reached Lampedusa early in August, and were taken across Italy. They have got plenty of time to find out about where they have ended up.

      http://www.bclaudia.com/libya-refugees/eleanor-rigby
      #Italy #stations_de_ski

    • Des photos, mais aussi un #film...

      Ilmurrán

      Nell’estate 2014, una giovane ragazza Maasai ha raggiunto una “pastora” piemontese sui pascoli delle Alpi Marittime. Due donne lontanissime tra loro, diverse per colore di pelle, generazione e lingua hanno vissuto una stagione d’alpeggio insieme, condividendo il lavoro, raccontandosi la loro storia, riconoscendosi più vicine.

      Le loro voci arrivano da lontano. Silvia si muove tra elementi primordiali, produce il formaggio con gli strumenti dei suoi antenati, ha tramandato la passione a suo figlio come in un rituale. Leah ha impressi a fuoco sulla pelle i simboli di un popolo pastore che ancora sopravvive sugli altipiani del Kenya. L’una e l’altra incarnano culture che oggi si trovano di fronte a scelte decisive, necessarie per la loro sopravvivenza. Ilmurrán significa “guerrieri”, perché la loro è una storia di resistenza.

      L’incontro è nato come un’esperienza antropologica a tutti gli effetti, realizzata in regime di completa autoproduzione dall’Associazione Culturale Geronimo Carbonò.


      http://www.ilmurran.it
      #Italie #Maasaï #pastoralisme #Alpes_maritimes #femmes


  • The Crisis Below the Headlines: Conflict Displacement in Ethiopia

    Since April 2018, the ascension of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister of Ethiopia has ushered in a wave of national optimism. The new prime minister has moved quickly to open political space, promote human rights, and negotiate peace with neighboring Eritrea. However, behind the positive headlines—and indeed positive measures that merit international support—a major humanitarian crisis has unfolded in the south of the country. Over the past year, intercommunal violence has displaced hundreds of thousands Ethiopians. At the outset of the crisis, Prime Minister Abiy’s administration took laudable action in collaborating openly with United Nations agencies and other humanitarian organizations to mobilize and coordinate a response to the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Unfortunately, however, it has more recently taken steps that have compounded IDPs’ suffering by pressing for their return home before conditions were suitable.

    As political ground shifted at the federal level, long-standing grievances between ethnic groups over land, borders, and rights re-emerged in an explosion of violence in southern Ethiopia. Significant displacement occurred between April and June along the internal border of Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR).
    In September, a team from Refugees International (RI) traveled to southern Oromia and SNNPR to assess the situation of the displaced and the response. The team found that while the government made a proactive effort to partner with international humanitarian organizations early on, this positive trend was soon upended. In late August, the government began to restrict the delivery of assistance, telling IDPs that they would only receive help if they returned home. However, because many return areas were destroyed in the violence and remained insecure, a number of IDPs who tried to return home now find themselves living in secondary displacement sites.
    Read the Full Report
    The government must take four key steps to address the crisis. First, it must refrain from carrying out additional premature, non-voluntary returns and allow aid organizations to provide assistance in both areas of displacement and areas of return. Second, it must establish a clear and transparent plan for voluntary and sustainable returns. Third, the government should implement this return plan in close coordination with relief organizations. And fourth, it must inform IDPs who have already been returned that they can live where they feel safest and that aid provision will be need-based. Donors and humanitarians must advocate for these changes while working with the government to support an overall improvement in its response to conflict IDPs.
    Resolving ethnic disputes will be a long-term endeavor for the new government. Displacement due to intercommunal violence is therefore likely to remain a challenge for the foreseeable future. Indeed, over the last few months, tensions on the outskirts of Addis Ababa caused thousands to flee while another 70,000 people were forced from their homes in the western state of Benishangul-Gumuz. The government’s push for premature returns in the south should not become the precedent for responding to ongoing and future displacement crises.


    https://www.refugeesinternational.org/reports/2018/11/14/the-crisis-below-the-headlines-conflict-displacement-in-ethio
    #IDPs #déplacés_internes #Ethiopie #asile #migrations #rapport


  • 5 Reasons We Need Gender Conscious Responses to Climate Change

    Not all climate change victims are created equal. There are communities of society that experience climate change more intensely and destructively than the rest, and it’s not based solely on location.

    People of color, poor people, and women are most adversely affected by climate change. They are more likely to be negatively impacted by climate change than men, especially women in developing countries and the global south.

    Why? Well, in short, because of the same gender inequality that already persists in our societies. like education and employment discrimination. Climate change only worsens what is already happening.

    The burdens of climate change (like displacement, agricultural, and economic loss) disproportionately impact women from low-income communities, particularly in the Global South and Indigenous communities, more than in than in wealthy communities and the western world.

    Women from these regions often deal with lacking infrastructure and are more dependent on natural resources in everyday life. And, though studies show that women are most impacted, we are often not involved in the policy and decision making processes for climate change initiatives and solutions.

    One of the big takeaways from this year’s UN Climate Summit was the importance of promoting gender equality and women’s leadership in climate policy. One woman in attendance summed it up: “There cannot be climate justice without gender justice.”

    Women are as much a part of the solution for climate change impacts as they are the primary victims, but this fact is not being recognized enough. The reality that women are more intensely impacted also means they deserve to be leaders in the climate change movement.

    To be sure, our current responses to climate change do not just fail women; they also do not do enough to include the full spectrum of people and genders impacted by the inequalities and impacts of climate change.

    Women, more so than their male counterparts, know how dire these environmental changes are firsthand and deserve to be equal stakeholders at every level of our climate movement from grassroots to policy and politics.

    Here are 5 reasons we need gender conscious responses to climate change:
    1. First of all, not everyone identifies as a man or a woman.

    Gender is fluid and goes far beyond your sex. The same inequalities that exist in our greater society — such as those placed on non-binary folks who do not identify as man or woman — also exist in the climate change movements.

    Entire communities’ climate experiences, issues, and potential solutions are being routinely ignored.

    Relief efforts during natural disasters, which are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change, regularly exclude or fall short of adequately assessing, informing, and aiding queer and trans communities.

    Discrimination and stigma leave LGBTQ/GNC peoples especially vulnerable to climate-related displacement and homelessness because emergency shelters are not always equipped to aid their needs. Even worse, this stigma often plays out in how our media rarely covers the experiences and stories of LGBTQ disaster victims.

    A more expansive, gender-conscious perspective of climate change would urge organizations — from grassroots to regulatory — to take into account the importance of including all identities when approaching the extent of climate changes impacts and possible resolutions.

    “The [climate policy and regulatory] spaces are historically spaces for men,” said Laura Cooper Hall, a former gender and finance Fellow at Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO).

    “I think in terms of a real transformative future there really needs for all perspectives and identities need to be included explicitly.”
    2. Being the most impacted, women have firsthand experiences that can lead to creative and practical solutions.

    Globally, women make up 80% of the world’s climate refugees. They’re 45-80% of the agricultural workforce in rural areas and are responsible (along with girls) for collecting nearly two-thirds of the household water in developing countries.

    When natural disasters like hurricanes, cyclones, or droughts hit, women around the world experience the loss in a very real way. For that same reason, they, better than anyone else, will know which solutions will work best.

    Better yet, their ideas are directly connected to real-life situations and remedies.

    “The thing that really inspires me is so many of the women we work with on the frontlines, they always say we don’t want to be seen as victims,” said Osprey Orielle Lake, Founder and Executive Director of WECAN. “Because we’re also the solutions.”
    3. Right now, we don’t have consistent leadership that reflects people of all genders.

    Only recently have women increasingly become a part of the mainstream discussion about how best to tackle these climate change. But even in cases when a ciswomen/man gender balance is accomplished, it is rarely consistently maintained, and for trans and gender non-conforming peoples it’s nearly non-existent.

    Between 2013 and 2016, six ciswomen delegates were elected as chairs (or co-chairs) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, but this year only three ciswomen filled those positions, according to a report by the on their annual conference.

    You’d be hard-pressed to find any formal LGBTQ/GNC organizations or representation at conferences like the Framework Convention or the UN Climate Talks.

    Diverse and varied perspectives and experiences must be a critical and necessary part of any and all climate talks — not just when the world (or Twitter) is watching, but always.
    4. Climate change magnifies existing inequalities — including gender inequality.

    “Reinforced gender inequality really reduces women’s physical and economic mobility, their voice, their opportunity in many places,” said Lake. “That makes them a lot more vulnerable to environmental stress.”

    All those same systems of inequality that function in greater society are at work in the climate change movement.

    No, climate cannot be racist or sexist but people can and people — whether in our federal and local government, climate organizations, or world regulatory organizations — decide our climate policy, responses, and solutions.

    “Climate change and gender justice, because of its personal effect on people and because people have personal identities, you can’t disconnect them,” said Cooper Hall.

    When we solve gender inequality and have achieved true gender justice, then we can will have more well-rounded and genuinely equitable responses to climate change — starting with diverse representation at Climate Change conferences and talks and leading to more specific bottom-up initiatives that put community first and corporations last (Think: The Tiny House Warriors in Canada or low-cost reflective paint by Mahila Housing Trust used to combat heat waves in India)
    5. Considering gender as a climate change factor benefits everything!

    Keeping gender equality in mind when planning for and implementing our climate future is valuable to everyone, so why wouldn’t we want that?

    “It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Atti Worku, founder of Seeds of Africa, a New York-based nonprofit working toward equality in education for children and communities in Ethiopia (hit particularly hard by climate change related droughts) and Africa. “It’s not only because it’s a good thing to include women or whatever, it’s also just beneficial to have women involved.”

    More diverse leadership means more diverse ideas and creative solutions. It also means more minds working together to solve our climate challenges.

    “Environmental sustainability and gender equality are interdependent,” said Worku. “If you educate girls, for example, then we’re addressing a future where women and girls will be scientists. They will be in government. They will be making decisions that are for the needs of everyone.”

    I didn’t always see my gender as being connected to the impacts of our climate. I’ve not felt any more connected to nature than the next person.

    I don’t live in a flood zone and though I am a Black woman — and, as such, more likely to be disproportionately impacted — I have been lucky enough to not have had a physical experience with a hurricane, wildfire, or other climate change-related disaster.

    I initially drew the connection quite randomly on the subway. I saw an ad with a poem about the Christian Bible’s Eve having named all the animals in nature.

    “If Eve were here now, she’d probably be a badass environmental activist or climate change policy-maker,” I thought to myself. “But she’d be terribly overqualified and definitely underpaid.”

    I immediately Googled “women in climate change” like the complete nerd that I am and found myself in a wormhole of women fighting for a seat at the table in an uncharted climate future.

    They aren’t asking for anything grand. Only that all people — of every gender and identity — be included in how we respond to climate change, how we go about making our future.

    I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?

    https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/5-reasons-we-need-gender-conscious-responses-to-climate-change
    #genre #changement_climatique #climat #pauvres #pauvreté #inégalités


  • Somali returned to Libya under Italian policy sets himself on fire

    A Somali man set himself on fire in a Libyan detention centre on Wednesday, according to fellow detainees and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

    The man, who is in his late 20s, reportedly doused himself in petrol from a generator in the centre and lit it, after telling friends he had lost hope of being relocated to a safe country.

    Sources told The Irish Times the man carried out the action after being told he had little chance of evacuation by visiting officials from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The UNHCR said it was trying to verify this.

    IOM spokesman Joel Millman said the detainee had set himself on fire as an “act of protest”.

    “He was admitted into the hospital yesterday in Tripoli in the burn centre for intensive medical care. Our medical team visited him and informed the management that they are willing to support if it is needed,” he said.

    However, a fellow detainee said he believed the Somali man had died. “All refugees have [a] very bad feeling. Today [we’re] not eating at all because so many people have died.” This would be the eighth death in Triq al Sikka centre this year, according to the detainee.

    Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants have been returned to Libya since February 2017, when the country’s UN-backed government entered into a deal with Italy to prevent migration to Europe. Italian politicians have called the deal a success, because it has reduced the number of people arriving on their shores.
    Rife with abuse

    However, for the men, women and children returned to Libya, the situation is bleak. More than a dozen detainees across Tripoli contacted by phone have described detention centres rife with abuse, where they’re fed once a day at most, forced to work, and sometimes beaten or raped. Overcrowding has led to the spread of infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

    A Somali man set himself on fire in a Libyan detention centre on Wednesday, according to fellow detainees and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

    The man, who is in his late 20s, reportedly doused himself in petrol from a generator in the centre and lit it, after telling friends he had lost hope of being relocated to a safe country.

    Sources told The Irish Times the man carried out the action after being told he had little chance of evacuation by visiting officials from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The UNHCR said it was trying to verify this.

    IOM spokesman Joel Millman said the detainee had set himself on fire as an “act of protest”.

    “He was admitted into the hospital yesterday in Tripoli in the burn centre for intensive medical care. Our medical team visited him and informed the management that they are willing to support if it is needed,” he said.

    However, a fellow detainee said he believed the Somali man had died. “All refugees have [a] very bad feeling. Today [we’re] not eating at all because so many people have died.” This would be the eighth death in #Triq_al-Sikka centre this year, according to the detainee.

    Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants have been returned to Libya since February 2017, when the country’s UN-backed government entered into a deal with Italy to prevent migration to Europe. Italian politicians have called the deal a success, because it has reduced the number of people arriving on their shores.

    Rife with abuse

    However, for the men, women and children returned to Libya, the situation is bleak. More than a dozen detainees across Tripoli contacted by phone have described detention centres rife with abuse, where they’re fed once a day at most, forced to work, and sometimes beaten or raped. Overcrowding has led to the spread of infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

    Those detained include pregnant women and children of all ages.

    Sources in #Zintan, a detention centre 180km southwest of Tripoli, said that four detainees have died there within the past month. They say the poor conditions, including a lack of sanitation, have caused or contributed to the deaths.

    In Tripoli, detainees in two centres said their families at home are being forced to send money for them to buy food because managers in the Libyan department for combating illegal immigration (DCIM)-run centres say there is no other way for them to eat.
    Cross the Mediterranean

    Many detainees’ families have already paid ransoms of more than $2,000 to smugglers who held them prisoner, regularly torturing them, before allowing them to attempt to cross the Mediterranean.

    One man said the manager in his centre withholds food depending on his mood and whims. “If the leader of the detention centre gets happy by something in his own personal situation he tries to serve us food, if [he] not get happy he tries to stop it.”

    In September, the UNHCR updated its policy to say Libya is no longer a safe country to return people to. The organisation is currently registering detainees from countries including Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia, who cannot return home or are unwilling to because of conflict or fear of persecution. Many are hoping for evacuation from Libya, but the number of resettlement places currently offered by other countries is very limited.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/africa/somali-returned-to-libya-under-italian-policy-sets-himself-on-fire-1.367
    #décès #mort #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_somaliens #Italie #expulsions #renvois Libye #détention #centre_de_détention #suicide


  • Sahle-Work Zewde becomes Ethiopia’s first female president - BBC News
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-45976620?ocid=socialflow_twitter

    Ethiopian members of parliament have elected Sahle-Work Zewde as the country’s first female president.

    Ms Sahle-Work is an experienced diplomat who has now become Africa’s only female head of state.

    Her election to the ceremonial position comes a week after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a cabinet with half the posts taken up by women.

    After being sworn in, President Sahle-Work promised to work hard to make gender equality a reality in Ethiopia.

    #femmes #Éthiopie #pouvoir #égalité


  • UNFPA urges concerted efforts to address refugee needs in Ethiopia

    The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Saturday called for concerted efforts to address humanitarian needs of refugees in Ethiopia’s Gambella regional state.

    UNFPA Deputy Executive Director Dereje Wordofa and a team of UNFPA regional directors and country representatives visited Ethiopia’s Gambella regional state, which alone hosts more than 423,000 refugees from neighboring countries, mainly the civil-war ravaged South Sudan.

    According to UNFPA figures, about 64 percent of the refugees in camps across Gambella region are younger than 18 and some 88 percent are said to be women and children.

    “In addition to the humanitarian response in the region, the increase in demand for social services among both host communities and displaced people remains a challenge to be addressed, as this is creating tension among refugees,” the UNFPA said in a statement.

    The UNFPA also called for swift efforts in addressing health-sector needs of refugees in Gambella region, with particularly emphasis given to the existing “poor maternal health services.”

    It said the region has only one referral hospital and that “a relatively high proportion” of women still give birth at home, with the assistance of “traditional birth attendants.”

    “There has been increasing concern for the safety of vulnerable groups, especially women and girls traveling long distances to collect firewood, food and water,” the statement said.

    http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-10/21/c_137547252.htm
    #camp_de_réfugiés #réfugiés #asile #migrations #Gambella #Ethiopie #Sud_Soudan #Soudan_du_Sud #réfugiés_sud-soudanais


  • NEW REPORT: 73 percent of Ethiopia’s land could benefit from restoration | AFR100
    http://afr100.org/content/new-report-73-percent-ethiopias-land-could-benefit-restoration

    Ethiopia’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) released the country’s first-ever national forest landscape restoration potential assessment, revealing that 82 million hectares, or 73% of Ethiopia’s total land mass, could benefit from tree-based landscape restoration.

    #Éthiopie #restauration_des_paysages #sols #agriculture #cartographie


  • Egypt backs out of verbal agreement on 4-7 year timeframe to fill Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir | MadaMasr

    https://madamasr.com/en/2018/09/27/feature/politics/egypt-backs-out-of-verbal-agreement-on-4-7-year-timeframe-to-fill-ethiopia

    The irrigation ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan met on Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to be briefed on the latest recommendations on the timeframe to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s reservoir, a contentious issue that has long driven a wedge between the parties amid fears of the impact on downstream water supply.

    A 15-member scientific study group, comprised of five scientists and researchers from each country, presented its findings on Tuesday to Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity Seleshi Bekele, along with his Egyptian and Sudanese counterparts, Mohamed Abdel Aty and Khadr Mohamed Qasmallah.

    No specific conclusions emerged officially from the meeting, the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced through the state-owned MENA news agency on Wednesday. The statement affirmed that all parties are committed to continuing talks, without providing further details.

    Yet an Ethiopian diplomatic source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, says that there was an initial verbal agreement between the parties, which Cairo has since backed away from.

    “The ministers reviewed what the team has been doing during the past three months and consulted on a way forward,” Teferra Beyene, advisor to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, tells Mada Masr.

    While the study group’s findings have not been officially disclosed, the Ethiopian source tells Mada Masr that the team recommended the 74 billion cubic meter dam reservoir be filled over four to seven years, depending on the amount of rainfall and intensity of the Nile’s water flow.

    Following the presentation of the report, the source described Ethiopia and Sudan’s ministers as immediately accepting the recommendations, and expressing a readiness to begin work on a joint declaration to bind the parties to these terms.

    While the Egyptian delegation verbally accepted the report’s findings at first, it later said it would need more time to consider, the source explains. “The Egyptian delegation changed their minds and refused to sign the agreement. Instead, they want first to consult at headquarters and come to a decision.”

    The four-to-seven-year window falls outside the timeframe Cairo has pushed for to fill the dam. An Egyptian diplomat told Mada Masr at the close of August that Cairo’s concerns have centered around the pace at which the dam’s reservoirs would be filled, and that this issue was the subject of “tough and elaborate talks.”


  • UN Human Rights Council passes a resolution adopting the peasant rights declaration in Geneva - Via Campesina
    https://viacampesina.org/en/un-human-rights-council-passes-a-resolution-adopting-the-peasant-right

    Seventeen years of long and arduous negotiations later, peasants and other people working in rural areas are only a step away from having a UN Declaration that could defend and protect their rights to land, seeds, biodiversity, local markets and a lot more.

    On Friday, 28 September, in a commendable show of solidarity and political will, member nations of United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution concluding the UN Declaration for the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. The resolution was passed with 33 votes in favour, 11 abstentions and 3 against. [1]

    Contre : Australie, Hongrie et Royaume-Uni

    In favour: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Chile, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela

    Abstention: Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain

    https://viacampesina.org/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2011/03/Declaration-of-rights-of-peasants-2009.pdf

    #droit_des_paysan·nes


  • As the World Abandons Refugees, UNHCR’s Constraints Are Exposed

    The U.N. refugee agency lacks the funding, political clout and independence to protect refugees in the way that it is supposed to, says former UNHCR official and refugee policy expert #Jeff_Crisp.

    Over the past three years, the world has been confronted with a number of major new refugee emergencies – in Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Venezuela, as well as the Central American region. In addition, existing crises in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Syria have gone unresolved, making it impossible for large exiled populations to return to their own country. As a result, the global refugee population has soared to more than 25 million, the highest figure ever recorded.

    This means that the role of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, which is supposed to protect and find solutions for this growing population, is more important than ever. But is it up to the task? The proliferating crises have stretched it to the limit. Funding, most of which comes from a dozen key donor states, has not kept up with the rising numbers the agency is expected to support. In April, UNHCR said it had received just $2.3 billion of the $8.2 billion it needed for its annual program.

    Things look unlikely to improve. UNHCR is losing the support of the United States, traditionally the organization’s most important government partner, whether under Republican or Democrat administrations. Since Donald Trump’s election, the country has slashed the number of refugees it admits through its resettlement program. In his final years in office, Barack Obama had raised the annual quota to 110,000 refugees. That is now down to 45,000 and may yet be reduced to 25,000.

    There is also the prospect that the Trump administration will demonstrate its disdain for the U.N. and limited interest in the refugee issue by reducing its funding to the agency, as it has already done with UNRWA, a separate agency that supports Palestinian refugees. Given that the U.S. currently contributes almost 40 percent of the UNHCR budget, even a modest reduction in its support will mean serious cuts in expenditure.

    The agency therefore has little choice but to look for alternative sources of funding and diplomatic support, especially from the European Union and its member states. But that may come at a price. One of the E.U.’s top priorities is to halt the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers who have transited through nearby countries such as Libya, Morocco and Turkey. Populist political parties throughout much of the E.U. are reaping the electoral benefits of taking a hard line on the issue of refugees and migration. Several European governments have shown little hesitation in violating the international refugee laws they have signed in their desperation to seal Europe’s borders.

    The E.U. thus looks to UNHCR for two things: first, the expertise and operational capacity of an organization that has years of experience in responding to mass movements of people; and second, the legitimacy that E.U. policies can acquire by means of close association with an agency deemed by its founding statute to be “entirely non-political and humanitarian.” In this context, it should come as no surprise that E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has been at pains to point out that the E.U. and UNHCR “work together” and have a “close partnership” – and that the E.U. remains “the strongest supporter of UNHCR.”

    But this partnership (which involved $436 million in funding from Brussels alone in 2017) also involves an important element of compromise on the part of UNHCR. In the Mediterranean, for example, the E.U. is funding the Libyan coast guard to intercept and return any refugees who try to leave the country by boat. Those people are subsequently confined to detention centers where, according to Amnesty International, they are at risk of torture, forced labor, extortion and murder at the hand of smugglers, bandits or the Libyan authorities.

    The U.N. high commissioner for human rights has publicly chastised the E.U. for its failure to improve the situation of migrants in Libya. By contrast, UNHCR has kept very quiet about the E.U.’s role in the process of interception, return and detention, despite the fact that these actions violate a fundamental principle of refugee protection: that no one should be returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened.

    This reveals a fundamental tension in the organization’s character. Ostensibly, UNHCR enjoys a high degree of independence and moral authority. As part of the U.N. system, it is treated with more respect by states and other actors than NGOs doing similar work. It has regular access to heads of state, government leaders, regional organizations, the U.N. security council and the secretary-general himself (who was previously UNHCR chief).

    But in practice, the autonomy enjoyed by UNHCR is at best a relative one. Almost 90 percent of the agency’s funding is provided by states, much of it earmarked for specific programs, projects and countries. UNHCR’s governing board consists entirely of states.

    The organization can operate in a country only if it has the agreement of the government, which also has the ability to shape the scope of UNHCR’s operational activities, as well as the partners it works with. In countries such as Ethiopia, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria, for example, the organization is obliged to work with government departments whose priorities may well be different from those of UNHCR.

    Almost 90 percent of the agency’s funding is provided by states, much of it earmarked for specific programs, projects and countries. UNHCR’s governing board consists entirely of states.

    The tensions at the heart of UNHCR seem unlikely to diminish. Throughout the world, governments are closing their borders to refugees and depriving them of basic rights. Exiled populations are being induced to repatriate against their will and to countries that are not safe. As epitomized by the E.U.’s deal with Turkey, asylum seekers have become bargaining chips in interstate relations, used by political leaders to extract financial, political and even military concessions from each other.

    Given the constitutional constraints imposed on the organization, UNHCR’s options are now limited. It can try (as it has done for many years) to diversify its funding base. It could assume a more assertive stance with states that violate refugee protection principles – and in doing so risk the loss of its already diminished degree of diplomatic support. And it can hope that the recently completed Global Compact on Refugees, a nonbinding declaration of principles that most U.N. member states are expected to sign, will have some effect on the way that governments actually treat refugees.

    A final option available to UNHCR is to be more transparent about its limitations, to moderate the relentless self-promotion of its branding and marketing campaign and give greater recognition to the efforts that refugees are making to improve their own lives. In that respect, UNHCR’s favourite hashtag, “We Stand #WithRefugees,” could usefully be changed to “Refugees Are #StandingUpForThemselves.”

    #UN #ONU #HCR #UNHCR #crise #indépendance #fonds #financement #it_has_begun


  • En 1933, le ministre allemand de la propagande, Josef Goebbels, a été invité à une conférence à Genève. Le photographe du Magazine Life , Alfred Eisenstadt , est également arrivé sur les lieux et a commencé à photographier goebbels.
    Le ministre a coopéré, a souri, et a même demandé à Eisenstadt s’il voulait qu’il soit dans une position spéciale.
    Puis les deux nazis sont venus à lui et ont murmuré que le photographe est juif.
    Eisenstadt, qui devint plus tard l’un des plus grands photographes du monde, a immortalisé le moment où Goebbels découvre qu’il est juif.
    Depuis lors, cette image a été appelée « les yeux de la haine. »

    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Eisenstaedt

      à Londre, 1932

      [...]

      Early life

      Eisenstaedt was born in Dirschau (Tczew) in West Prussia, Imperial Germany in 1898.[3] His family was Jewish and moved to Berlin in 1906. Eisenstaedt was fascinated by photography from his youth and began taking pictures at age 14 when he was given his first camera, an Eastman Kodak Folding Camera with roll film. He later served in the German Army’s artillery during World War I and was wounded in 1918. While working as a belt and button salesman in the 1920s in Weimar Germany, Eisenstaedt began taking photographs as a freelancer for the Pacific and Atlantic Photos’ Berlin office in 1928. The office was taken over by the Associated Press in 1931.

      Professional photographer

      Eisenstaedt became a full-time photographer in 1929 when he was hired by the Associated Press office in Germany, and within a year he was described as a “photographer extraordinaire.”[4] He also worked for Illustrierte Zeitung, published by Ullstein Verlag, then the world’s largest publishing house.[4] Four years later he photographed the famous first meeting between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Italy. Other notable early pictures by Eisenstaedt include his depiction of a waiter at the ice rink of the Grand Hotel in St. Moritz in 1932 and Joseph Goebbels at the League of Nations in Geneva in 1933. Although initially friendly, Goebbels scowled at Eisenstaedt when he took the photograph.[5]

      In 1935, Fascist Italy’s impending invasion of Ethiopia led to a burst of international interest in Ethiopia. While working for Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, Alfred took over 3,500 photographs in Ethiopia, before emigrating to the United States, where he joined Life magazine, but returned in the following year to Ethiopia to continue his photography.[6]

      Eisenstaedt’s family was Jewish. Oppression in Hitler’s Nazi Germany caused them to emigrate to the U.S.[7] They arrived in 1935 and settled in New York, where he subsequently became a naturalized citizen,[8] and joined fellow Associated Press émigrés Leon Daniel and Celia Kutschuk in their PIX Publishing photo agency founded that year. The following year, 1936, Time founder Henry Luce bought Life magazine, and Eisenstaedt, already noted for his photography in Europe,[4] was asked to join the new magazine as one of its original staff of four photographers, including Margaret Bourke-White and Robert Capa.[7] He remained a staff photographer from 1936 to 1972, achieving notability for his photojournalism of news events and celebrities.[2]

      Along with entertainers and celebrities, he photographed politicians, philosophers, artists, industrialists, and authors during his career with Life. By 1972 he had photographed nearly 2,500 stories and had more than 90 of his photos on the cover.[9] With Life’s circulation of two million readers, Eisenstaedt’s reputation increased substantially.[4] According to one historian, “his photographs have a power and a symbolic resonance that made him one of the best Life photographers.”[10] In subsequent years, he also worked for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Town & Country and others.[10]

      [...]


  • The shipwrecked refugees marooned for twenty years on a British military base in Cyprus

    Marooned on a British army base for nearly 20 years. The future of five families from Sudan, Ethiopia, Syria and Iraq – 10 adults and 17 children, recognised as refugees – will be decided by the UK’s most senior judges.

    They were shipwrecked off the coast of Cyprus in 1998, rescued by the RAF, housed on a military base but repeatedly denied resettlement in Britain.

    We have been to Cyprus to see how these families have survived two decades in limbo while both countries dispute which is ultimately responsible for them.

    #refugees #in_limbo #réfugiés #Chypre #UK

    https://www.channel4.com/news/the-shipwrecked-refugees-marooned-for-twenty-years-on-a-british-military-b


  • IDPs : Mid-year figures

    There were 5.2 million new internal displacements associated with conflict and violence in the first half of 2018, based on the analysis of data from the 10 worst-affected countries. There were also 3.3 million associated with disasters in 110 countries and territories. Countries in the Horn of Africa bore the brunt of displacement. On top of more than 1.7 million new displacements associated with conflict and violence in Ethiopia and Somalia, significant numbers of people fled devastating floods and drought in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

    http://www.internal-displacement.org/mid-year-figures
    #IDPs #déplacés_internes #rapport #2018 #statistiques #asile #migrations #réfugiés #sécheresse #conflits #inondations #Corne_de_l'Afrique

    cc @isskein