country:malta

  • Refugee, volunteer, prisoner: #Sarah_Mardini and Europe’s hardening line on migration

    Early last August, Sarah Mardini sat on a balcony on the Greek island of Lesvos. As the sun started to fade, a summer breeze rose off the Aegean Sea. She leaned back in her chair and relaxed, while the Turkish coastline, only 16 kilometres away, formed a silhouette behind her.

    Three years before, Mardini had arrived on this island from Syria – a dramatic journey that made international headlines. Now she was volunteering her time helping other refugees. She didn’t know it yet, but in a few weeks that work would land her in prison.

    Mardini had crossed the narrow stretch of water from Turkey in August 2015, landing on Lesvos after fleeing her home in Damascus to escape the Syrian civil war. On the way, she almost drowned when the engine of the inflatable dinghy she was travelling in broke down.

    More than 800,000 people followed a similar route from the Turkish coast to the Greek Islands that year. Almost 800 of them are now dead or missing.

    As the boat Mardini was in pitched and spun, she slipped overboard and struggled to hold it steady in the violent waves. Her sister, Yusra, three years younger, soon joined. Both girls were swimmers, and their act of heroism likely saved the 18 other people on board. They eventually made it to Germany and received asylum. Yusra went on to compete in the 2016 Olympics for the first ever Refugee Olympic Team. Sarah, held back from swimming by an injury, returned to Lesvos to help other refugees.

    On the balcony, Mardini, 23, was enjoying a rare moment of respite from long days spent working in the squalid Moria refugee camp. For the first time in a long time, she was looking forward to the future. After years spent between Lesvos and Berlin, she had decided to return to her university studies in Germany.

    But when she went to the airport to leave, shortly after The New Humanitarian visited her, Mardini was arrested. Along with several other volunteers from Emergency Response Centre International, or ERCI, the Greek non-profit where she volunteered, Mardini was charged with belonging to a criminal organisation, people smuggling, money laundering, and espionage.

    According to watchdog groups, the case against Mardini is not an isolated incident. Amnesty International says it is part of a broader trend of European governments taking a harder line on immigration and using anti-smuggling laws to de-legitimise humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants.

    Far-right Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini recently pushed through legislation that ends humanitarian protection for migrants and asylum seekers, while Italy and Greece have ramped up pressure on maritime search and rescue NGOs, forcing them to shutter operations. At the end of March, the EU ended naval patrols in the Mediterranean that had saved the lives of thousands of migrants.

    In 2016, five other international volunteers were arrested on Lesvos on similar charges to Mardini. They were eventually acquitted, but dozens of other cases across Europe fit a similar pattern: from Denmark to France, people have been arrested, charged, and sometimes successfully prosecuted under anti-smuggling regulations based on actions they took to assist migrants.

    Late last month, Salam Kamal-Aldeen, a Danish national who founded the rescue non-governmental organisation Team Humanity, filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights, challenging what he says is a Greek crackdown on lifesaving activities.

    According to Maria Serrano, senior campaigner on migration at Amnesty International, collectively the cases have done tremendous damage in terms of public perception of humanitarian work in Europe. “The atmosphere… is very hostile for anyone that is trying to help, and this [has a] chilling effect on other people that want to help,” she said.

    As for the case against Mardini and the other ERCI volunteers, Human Rights Watch concluded that the accusations are baseless. “It seems like a bad joke, and a scary one as well because of what the implications are for humanitarian activists and NGOs just trying to save people’s lives,” said Bill Van Esveld, who researched the case for HRW.

    While the Lesvos prosecutor could not be reached for comment, the Greek police said in a statement after Mardini’s arrest that she and other aid workers were “active in the systematic facilitation of illegal entrance of foreigners” – a violation of the country’s Migration Code.

    Mardini spent 108 days in pre-trial detention before being released on bail at the beginning of December. The case against her is still open. Her lawyer expects news on what will happen next in June or July. If convicted, Mardini could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

    “It seems like a bad joke, and a scary one as well because of what the implications are for humanitarian activists and NGOs just trying to save people’s lives.”

    Return to Lesvos

    The arrest and pending trial are the latest in a series of events, starting with the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011, that have disrupted any sense of normalcy in Mardini’s life.

    Even after making it to Germany in 2015, Mardini never really settled in. She was 20 years old and in an unfamiliar city. The secure world she grew up in had been destroyed, and the future felt like a blank and confusing canvas. “I missed Syria and Damascus and just this warmness in everything,” she said.

    While wading through these emotions, Mardini received a Facebook message in 2016 from an ERCI volunteer. The swimming sisters from Syria who saved a boat full of refugees were an inspiration. Volunteers on Lesvos told their story to children on the island to give them hope for the future, the volunteer said, inviting Mardini to visit. “It totally touched my heart,” Mardini recalled. “Somebody saw me as a hope… and there is somebody asking for my help.”

    So Mardini flew back to Lesvos in August 2016. Just one year earlier she had nearly died trying to reach the island, before enduring a journey across the Balkans that involved hiding from police officers in forests, narrowly escaping being kidnapped, sneaking across tightly controlled borders, and spending a night in police custody in a barn. Now, all it took was a flight to retrace the route.

    Her first day on the island, Mardini was trained to help refugees disembark safely when their boats reached the shores. By nighttime, she was sitting on the beach watching for approaching vessels. It was past midnight, and the sea was calm. Lights from the Turkish coastline twinkled serenely across the water. After about half an hour, a walkie talkie crackled. The Greek Coast Guard had spotted a boat.

    Volunteers switched on the headlights of their cars, giving the refugees something to aim for. Thin lines of silver from the reflective strips on the refugees’ life jackets glinted in the darkness, and the rumble of a motor and chatter of voices drifted across the water. As the boat came into view, volunteers yelled: “You are in Greece. You are safe. Turn the engine off.”

    Mardini was in the water again, holding the boat steady, helping people disembark. When the rush of activity ended, a feeling of guilt washed over her. “I felt it was unfair that they were on a refugee boat and I’m a rescuer,” she said.

    But Mardini was hooked. She spent the next two weeks assisting with boat landings and teaching swimming lessons to the kids who idolised her and her sister. Even after returning to Germany, she couldn’t stop thinking about Lesvos. “I decided to come back for one month,” she said, “and I never left.”
    Moria camp

    The island became the centre of Mardini’s life. She put her studies at Bard College Berlin on hold to spend more time in Greece. “I found what I love,” she explained.

    Meanwhile, the situation on the Greek islands was changing. In 2017, just under 30,000 people crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece, compared to some 850,000 in 2015. There were fewer arrivals, but those who did come were spending more time in camps with dismal conditions.

    “You have people who are dying and living in a four-metre tent with seven relatives. They have limited access to water. Hygiene is zero. Privacy is zero. Security: zero. Children’s rights: zero. Human rights: zero… You feel useless. You feel very useless.”

    The volunteer response shifted accordingly, towards the camps, and when TNH visited Mardini she moved around the island with a sense of purpose and familiarity, joking with other volunteers and greeting refugees she knew from her work in the streets.

    Much of her time was spent as a translator for ERCI’s medical team in Moria. The camp, the main one on Lesvos, was built to accommodate around 3,000 people, but by 2018 housed close to 9,000. Streams of sewage ran between tents. People were forced to stand in line for hours for food. The wait to see a doctor could take months, and conditions were causing intense psychological strain. Self-harm and suicide attempts were increasing, especially among children, and sexual and gender-based violence were commonplace.

    Mardini was on the front lines. “What we do in Moria is fighting the fire,” she said. “You have people who are dying and living in a four-metre tent with seven relatives. They have limited access to water. Hygiene is zero. Privacy is zero. Security: zero. Children’s rights: zero. Human rights: zero… You feel useless. You feel very useless.”

    By then, Mardini had been on Lesvos almost continuously for nine months, and it was taking a toll. She seemed to be weighed down, slipping into long moments of silence. “I’m taking in. I’m taking in. I’m taking in. But it’s going to come out at some point,” she said.

    It was time for a break. Mardini had decided to return to Berlin at the end of the month to resume her studies and make an effort to invest in her life there. But she planned to remain connected to Lesvos. “I love this island… the sad thing is that it’s not nice for everybody. Others see it as just a jail.”
    Investigation and Arrest

    The airport on Lesvos is on the shoreline close to where Mardini helped with the boat landing her first night as a volunteer. On 21 August, when she went to check in for her flight to Berlin, she was surrounded by five Greek police officers. “They kind of circled around me, and they said that I should come with [them],” Mardini recalled.

    Mardini knew that the police on Lesvos had been investigating her and some of the other volunteers from ERCI, but at first she still didn’t realise what was happening. Seven months earlier, in February 2018, she was briefly detained with a volunteer named Sean Binder, a German national. They had been driving one of ERCI’s 4X4s when police stopped them, searched the vehicle, and found Greek military license plates hidden under the civilian plates.

    When Mardini was arrested at the airport, Binder turned himself in too, and the police released a statement saying they were investigating 30 people – six Greeks and 24 foreigners – for involvement in “organised migrant trafficking rings”. Two Greek nationals, including ERCI’s founder, were also arrested at the time.

    While it is still not clear what the plates were doing on the vehicle, according Van Esveld from HRW, “it does seem clear… neither Sarah or Sean had any idea that these plates were [there]”.

    The felony charges against Mardini and Binder were ultimately unconnected to the plates, and HRW’s Van Esveld said the police work appears to either have been appallingly shoddy or done in bad faith. HRW took the unusual step of commenting on the ongoing case because it appeared authorities were “literally just [taking] a humanitarian activity and labelling it as a crime”, he added.
    Detention

    After two weeks in a cell on Lesvos, Mardini was sent to a prison in Athens. On the ferry ride to the mainland, her hands were shackled. That’s when it sank in: “Ok, it’s official,” she thought. “They’re transferring me to jail.”

    In prison, Mardini was locked in a cell with eight other women from 8pm to 8am. During the day, she would go to Greek classes and art classes, drink coffee with other prisoners, and watch the news.

    She was able to make phone calls, and her mother, who was also granted asylum in Germany, came to visit a number of times. “The first time we saw each other we just broke down in tears,” Mardini recalled. It had been months since they’d seen each other, and now they could only speak for 20 minutes, separated by a plastic barrier.

    Most of the time, Mardini just read, finishing more than 40 books, including Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, which helped her come to terms with her situation. “I decided this is my life right now, and I need to get something out of it,” she explained. “I just accepted what’s going on.”

    People can be held in pre-trial detention for up to 18 months in Greece. But at the beginning of December, a judge accepted Mardini’s lawyer’s request for bail. Binder was released the same day.
    Lingering fear

    On Lesvos, where everyone in the volunteer community knows each other, the case came as a shock. “People started to be... scared,” said Claudia Drost, a 23-year-old from the Netherlands and close friend of Mardini’s who started volunteering on the island in 2016. “There was a feeling of fear that if the police… put [Mardini] in prison, they can put anyone in prison.”

    “We are standing [up] for what we are doing because we are saving people and we are helping people.”

    That feeling was heightened by the knowledge that humanitarians across Europe were being charged with crimes for helping refugees and migrants.

    During the height of the migration crisis in Europe, between the fall of 2015 and winter 2016, some 300 people were arrested in Denmark on charges related to helping refugees. In August 2016, French farmer Cédric Herrou was arrested for helping migrants and asylum seekers cross the French-Italian border. In October 2017, 12 people were charged with facilitating illegal migration in Belgium for letting asylum seekers stay in their homes and use their cellphones. And last June, the captain of a search and rescue boat belonging to the German NGO Mission Lifeline was arrested in Malta and charged with operating the vessel without proper registration or license.

    Drost said that after Mardini was released the fear faded a bit, but still lingers. There is also a sense of defiance. “We are standing [up] for what we are doing because we are saving people and we are helping people,” Drost said.

    As for Mardini, the charges have forced her to disengage from humanitarian work on Lesvos, at least until the case is over. She is back in Berlin and has started university again. “I think because I’m not in Lesvos anymore I’m just finding it very good to be here,” she said. “I’m kind of in a stable moment just to reflect about my life and what I want to do.”

    But she also knows the stability could very well be fleeting. With the prospect of more time in prison hanging over her, the future is still a blank canvas. People often ask if she is optimistic about the case. “No,” she said. “In the first place, they put me in… jail.”

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/feature/2019/05/02/refugee-volunteer-prisoner-sarah-mardini-and-europe-s-hardening-
    #criminalisation #délit_de_solidarité #asile #migrations #solidarité #réfugiés #Grèce #Lesbos #Moria #camps_de_réfugiés #Europe

    Avec une frise chronologique:

    ping @reka

  • Sous les applaudissements de la Maison blanche, Malte refuse le passage aux avions russes à destination du Venezuela. Venant de Syrie, c’est le chemin qu’ils avaient emprunté il y a un mois, https://seenthis.net/messages/769558

    Malta niega permiso de paso a aviones militares rusos
    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/mundo/malta-niega-permiso-paso-aviones-militares-rusos_279753


    Cortesía Twitter : @FedericoBlackB [photo du 24/03]

    El gobierno de Malta informó esta semana al pentágono que rechazó una nueva petición de Rusia para que aviones militares sobrevuelen su espacio aéreo con destino a Venezuela, informó el diario ABC.

    Morgan Ortagus, portavoz del Departamento de Estados Unidos, felicitó al gobierno de la isla europea por negar el permiso a Rusia. “Aplaudimos al gobierno de Malta por negarse a permitir que aviones rusos usen su espacio aéreo para abastecer al antiguo régimen en Venezuela.”, dijo en Twitter.

    Asimismo, instó a todos los países que sigan el ejemplo de Malta “para detener el apoyo del Kremlin al dictador Maduro”.

    La Casa Blanca protestó hace tres semanas, después de que varios aviones militares rusos, procedentes de Siria, atravesaran el espacio aéreo maltés para llevar soldados y material bélico a Venezuela.

  • #Minniti: ‘Affidare il salvataggio dei naufraghi ai libici è stato un drammatico errore’

    Marco Minniti (PD): ‘Il problema è chi risponde al telefono. Prima rispondeva la guardia costiera italiana, ma ora nel Mediterraneo centrale non operiamo più… e la guardia costiera libica non è in grado di salvare i naufraghi’

    http://www.la7.it/piazzapulita/video/giannini-%E2%80%98l%E2%80%99italia-in-libia-ha-scommesso-sul-cavallo-sbagliato%E
    #ONG #sauvetage #asile #migrations #Méditerranée #réfugiés #erreur #erreur_dramatique #gardes-côtes_libyens #Libye
    via @isskein

    J’ai ajouté à cette métaliste:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749#message765324

    • «La guardiacostiera libica non è preparata a svolgere attività di coordinamento e salvataggio in mare. È stato un tragico errore». L’ex ministro Minniti dice la verità. Finalmente. Dopo centinaia di morti.

      https://twitter.com/openarms_it/status/1116448798472134656

      Traduction de @isskein :

      « Les garde-côtes libyens ne sont pas prêts à mener des activités de coordination et de sauvetage en mer. C’était une erreur tragique » L’ancien ministre Minniti (qui a lancé es négociations avec les Libyens) dit la vérité. Enfin. Après des centaines de morts.

      https://twitter.com/isskein/status/1116452323050565641?s=12

    • Warning of ’Libyan death zone’ as Tripoli stops migrant rescues

      The Libyan Coast Guard has not been operating in its maritime rescue zone for three weeks. A German search and rescue NGO, Sea-Eye, has called for Malta to take over and has warned of a ’Libyan death zone.’

      Sea-Eye says the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, has confirmed that there has been no search and rescue activity by the Libyan Coast Guard in the maritime rescue zone since April 10. The claim is supported by a UN official in Tripoli with access to “official information,” according to the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

      Avvenire alleges that Libyan patrol boats normally used for search and rescue, which include some supplied by Italy and France, are being deployed for combat.operations in the civil war. Since the beginning of April, hundreds of people have been killed in fighting between the Haftar Libyan National Army and the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord. “Obviously, the government of Tripoli has its own problems instead of dealing with EU border protection,” says Gorden Isler, a spokesperson for Sea-Eye.

      Blackout

      The Sea-Eye search and rescue vessel, the Alan Kurdi, will spend the next month in a Spanish shipyard for routine maintenance, leaving one other NGO ship, the Mare Jonio, in action in the Central Mediterranean.

      With very few NGOs active in the area and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) unable to work in Tripoli, Isler says there is no information about emergencies or drownings at sea. Sea-Eye has not heard of any rescues since April 10.

      However, this tweet from Alarm Phone, the hotline for people in distress at sea, says a group of 23 people was picked up by a fishing boat and returned to Libya yesterday.

      Leaving rescue to Libyans ’irresponsible’

      With Libya “paralyzed” by civil war, Europe must step in now and take over rescue work in the Mediterranean, says Isler. Sea-Eye wants immediate action from the International Maritime Organization to remove responsibility for the sea area from Libya, or “Libya’s so-called search and rescue zone will become a Libyan death zone.”

      Sea-Eye says Libya had conducted few missions in its search and rescue zone before the escalation of civil conflict, with only 12 operations this year. During the period in which the Sea-Eye’s vessel was in the area, between March 25 and April 3, the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) failed to engage in three separate emergencies, according to Isler. “Rubber boats with people disappear without any LCG activities. It is irresponsible to leave this search and rescue area to the Libyans.”

      Malta urged to take over

      Italy handed over responsibility for rescuing migrants in the search and rescue zone to Libya last June. In February, the German left-wing party, Die Linke, called for administration of the zone to be given back to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome. But the prospect of Italy agreeing to take back responsibility, Isler says, is “probably an illusion”.

      The best option now, according to Sea-Eye, is Malta, a small archipelago with a population of about half a million. The NGO argues that the country is capable of taking responsibility for the search and rescue zone “in principle”.

      But Malta has so far given no public sign that it would be willing to take over from Libya. Earlier this month, the Maltese government forced the Alan Kurdi, with 62 rescued migrants on board, to remain at sea for days while European countries argued over who would take them in. “Once again, the European Union’s smallest state has been put under pointless pressure in being tasked with resolving an issue which was not its responsibility,” the government complained.

      Sea-Eye says a resolution involving Malta must include support from other EU member states, particularly Germany. “We hope that our own government will lead by example and play an important role in supporting Malta,” Isler says.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/16615/warning-of-libyan-death-zone-as-tripoli-stops-migrant-rescues

  • First #Geneva_Declaration_on_Human_Rights_at_Sea published

    The first version of the inaugural ‘Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea‘ is today published by Human Rights at Sea after the initial drafting session was held in Switzerland on 20-21 March 2019 at the Graduate Instiute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.

    The Declaration was first announced to students in Malta on 4 April at the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) during the second Human Rights and the Law of the Sea workshop held in co-ordination with the Stockton Centre for International Law; and today will be briefed at the World Maritime University, Malmo, Sweden during the Empowering Women in the Maritime Community conference by the charity’s Iranian researcher, Sayedeh Hajar Hejazi.

    The principal aim of the Declaration is to raise global awareness of the abuse of human rights at sea and to mobilise a concerted international effort to put an end to it.

    It recognises established International Human Rights Law and International Maritime Law, highlights the applicable legal assumptions, and reflects the emerging development and customary use of the increased cross-over of the two bodies of law.

    The concept of human rights at sea rests on four fundamental principles: 1. Human rights apply at sea to exactly the same degree and extent that they do on land. 2. All persons at sea, without any distinction, enjoy human rights at sea. 3. There are no maritime specific rules allowing derogation from human rights standards. 4. All human rights established under treaty and customary international law must be respected at sea.

    The core drafting team comprises: Professor Anna Petrig, LL.M. (Harvard), University of Basel, Switzerland, Professor Irini Papanicolopulu, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, Professor Steven Haines, Greenwich University, United Kingdom and David Hammond Esq. BSc (Hons), PgDL, Human Rights at Sea, United Kingdom. It is supported by Elisabeth Mavropoulou LL.M. (Westminster), Sayedeh Hajar Hejazi LL.M. (Symbiosis India).

    The first drafting round was supported with input and observers from multiple UN agencies, leading human rights lawyers, international and civil society organisations.

    The second drafting session will be held in Geneva in May.


    https://www.humanrightsatsea.org/2019/04/05/first-geneva-declaration-on-human-rights-at-sea-published
    #mer #droits_humains #déclaration
    ping @reka @simplicissimus

    Pour télécharger la déclaration :
    https://www.humanrightsatsea.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/HRAS_GENEVA_DECLARATION_ON_HUMAN_RIGHTS_AT_SEA_5_April_2019_Versio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • The humanitarian fallout from Libya’s newest war

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Footage shows refugees hiding as Libyan militia attack detention centre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Migrants say militias in Tripoli conscripted them to clean arms

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

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

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

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

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

  • Where is the ‘Malta’ of Asia?
    https://hackernoon.com/where-is-the-malta-of-asia-e4b3117c396f?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3---4

    The digital economy has given rise to megacities like London, Singapore, Hong Kong, and New York. A recent McKinsey study indicated that 600 cities across the world are creating over 60% of the global GDP and over 130 new cities are expected to enter the top 600 by 2025 , all of them from developing countries and 100 new cities from China. These cities are becoming smarter and will benefit from the fourth industrial revolution.Connectivity , human capital , use of internet service, integration of digital technology , and digital public services are indicators used to measure the success and impact of a digital economy.However, this is the case for developed cities. What about the other side?The Case of Emerging EconomiesIndia is a fine example. In spite of a proactive approach to digitise (...)

    #blockchain-technology #blockchain #malta #cryptocurrency #telangana

  • Dorothy Garrod (1892 –1968), archéologue, pionnière du paléolithique


    Dorothy Garrod, c.1913. Photograph by Newnham College, Cambridge

    https://www.strangescience.net/garrod.htm

    Praise has been heaped upon paleoanthropologist Lee Berger for hiring a number of women for crucial roles in the excavation of Homo naledi in South Africa, but archaeologist Dorothy Garrod beat him to that gender-equalizing trick by several decades. Starting in 1929, she oversaw excavations at Mount Carmel, Palestine, and hired many local women to do the fieldwork. She appreciated their work, as well as the fact that their wages helped support their families. In 1996, Mary Kitson Clark, the last of those women still living, then aged 92, remembered Garrod as “small, dark, alive!”
    Garrod was born in England in 1892. In the First World War, her father, Sir Archibald Garrod, was stationed in Malta as the director of war hospitals. Dorothy Garrod spent time in Malta after the Great War, and developed in interest in archaeology. By that time, she had already earned a history degree from Newnham College, Cambridge. Returning to England from Malta, she enrolled at Oxford to study archaeology. She had lost three brothers in WWI, and she wanted to continue her family’s long legacy in academic achievement. After graduating from Oxford, she went on to work with the Abbé Breuil at the Institut de Paleontologié Humaine, Paris. At that time, France was perhaps the epicenter of prehistoric archaeology; archaeologists classified ancient artifacts based on a system devised by 19th-century archaeologist Gabriel de Mortillet. Breuil began to revise Mortillet’s system, and Garrod continued Breuil’s work.
    Breuil and Garrod ranked among the first archaeologists to think globally about human prehistory. That might not sound like much of a breakthrough today, but consider the times. Garrod began working with Breuil in the early 1920s. Anthropologists and paleontologists still believed Piltdown Man to be a valid human ancestor. Eugène Dubois had discovered Java Man (the first recognized specimen of Homo erectus) in the late 19th century, but for a variety of reasons (including Dubois’s own prickly personality), the find hadn’t enjoyed widespread acceptance. Charles Darwin had surmised that early humans arose in Africa, but his astute prediction wasn’t very popular among early-20th-century anthropologists. So after Raymond Dart described Australopithecus africanus in 1925, he had to wait decades for the fossil to be accepted as a human ancestor. In an age of widespread prejudice and eugenic enthusiasms, many Europeans eschewed ancestors outside Europe. For Garrod to excavate elsewhere was an innovation. And excavate elsewhere she did.
    Between 1923 and 1963, Garrod conducted archaeological digs in France, Britain, Gibraltar, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. On Gibraltar, she excavated Neanderthal sites, including a child she nicknamed Abel. Perhaps her most important fieldwork occurred at Mount Carmel, Palestine. Fieldwork there picked up speed ahead of the construction of Haifa Harbor as archaeologists feared that the site would be quarried right out of the harbor’s way. In a Mount Carmel cave named Skhul, she found apparent remains of at least 10 modern Homo sapiens; in a nearby cave named Tabun, she found remains of at least two people with Neanderthal characteristics. She studied and classified some 92,000 artifacts from Mount Carmel, and the sites she oversaw there eventually yielded a nearly continuous succession from the Old Stone Age to the Middle Stone Age.

    https://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/event/a-pioneer-of-prehistory
    https://musee-archeologienationale.fr/objet/dorothy-annie-elizabeth-garrod
    https://dianabuja.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/the-groundbreaking-female-archaeologist

    #Dorothy_Garrod #archéologie

  • Five Reasons the Indian Government should Hand Over Regulation of #crypto Assets to #sebi
    https://hackernoon.com/five-reasons-the-indian-government-should-hand-over-regulation-of-crypto

    India is among the few countries in the world that has seemingly no idea what to do with cryptocurrencies. While some countries like China have completely banned cryptocurrencies, many others like Japan, Thailand and Malta are becoming the launchpad for new #blockchain and #cryptocurrency startups. The Indian government, due to part ignorance and part lack of prioritization, has never given this nascent asset class the attention that it deserves. This existing regulatory gap is leading to cryptocurrency scams, brain drain and the risk of getting left behind in a revolution where other countries are miles ahead.Now, one of the big problems for regulating cryptocurrencies is that it cuts across jurisdictional boundaries. According to the existing regulatory framework, both the Reserve Bank (...)

    #cryptocurrency-regulation

  • The top ‘onshore’ crypto jurisdiction — if you’re not American
    https://hackernoon.com/the-top-onshore-crypto-jurisdiction-if-you-re-not-american-6a4497e6e832?

    The top ‘onshore’ crypto jurisdiction — if you’re not AmericanDelaware has held bragging rights as the first state to adopt the US constitution since 1787. And it seems that being a pioneer is the State’s ‘thing,’ as it takes a similar approach to drive #blockchain adoption in the country.True to its motto, the state of ‘liberty and independence’ has taken many steps over the past few months to provide an attractive business environment for crypto businesses.While jurisdictions such as Malta and Zug have become some of the most established blockchain and crypto-friendly places in an international context, #delaware has enforced a series of legislative changes that have positioned it as the new ‘Crypto Valley’ in the US.The main driving factors for this are Delaware’s laws designed to attract foreign (...)

    #blockchain-startup #cryptocurrency #cryptocurrency-investment

  • AFM rescues 87 migrants as another group leaves Malta for France

    An AFM patrol boat rescued 87 migrants off Lampedusa overnight and brought them to Malta on Wednesday morning.

    The Armed Forces of Malta said it was informed by Rome rescue centre on Monday evening about the presence of the wooden boat with 87 migrants on board. The boat was located some 30NM south of Lampedusa.

    An Italian naval asset operating under Frontex, the EU border control agency, was dispatched to assist. However the vessel was unable to provide any assistance due to technical faults.

    Times Talk: ’They say we help smugglers... but they’re the ones financing them’

    An AFM patrol craft rescued the migrants last night.

    This was the first major rescue of migrants by the AFM since 180 were picked up at the end of December and 69 more were rescued a few days previously. Most were later transferred to other EU countries along with other migrants rescued by NGO rescue ships.

    Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced on Wednesday morning that another group of migrants brought to Malta a few weeks ago had left for France.

    No further details were immediately available.


    https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20190306/local/afm-rescues-87-migrants-bringing-them-to-malta.703733
    #Malte #France #sauvetage #naufrage #Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés
    Dans le cadre des #relocalisations ?
    On ne sait d’ailleurs pas combien ont été transféré à Malte parmi les 87 migrants sauvés.

    signalé par @isskein

  • 2018: The Downfall of Crypto Funds
    https://hackernoon.com/2018-the-downfall-of-crypto-funds-9d7a2642dc96?source=rss----3a8144eabfe

    “Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance”Crypto hedge funds are part of a larger group of crypto funds, including those based on venture capital and private equity. Grouped together, there are currently 622 crypto funds across all categories, 303 of those being crypto hedge funds, which represent assets of less than $4 billion, according to the research. Half of the funds are based in the U.S., multiple launches have been seen in Australia, China, Malta, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the U.K. this 2018. 2017 was a great year to start a crypto hedge fund. Great returns.Is it hard to perform in bull markets?2018, on the other hand, has seen a significant downturn in many of the cryptocurrencies. Many of these coins make up a strong percentage of most of the (...)

    #cryptocurrency #finance #blockchain #investing #bitcoin

  • Pope enters migrant ships dispute with appeal for safe ports | Reuters
    https://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKCN1P0094

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgAIsWMtV8k

    Pope Francis urged European leaders on Sunday to stop bickering over the fate of 49 migrants stuck aboard two humanitarian rescue ships on the Mediterranean and let them land at a safe port of call.

    With his comments in an address to 60,000 people in St. Peter’s Square for the feast of the Epiphany, Francis jumped into a diplomatic fracas between Italy and Malta and into an internal dispute among leaders of Italy’s populist government.

    I make a heartfelt appeal to European leaders to show concrete solidarity for these people,” Francis said, raising his voice. They were only “seeking a safe port where they can disembark”, he said.

  • Pan Am Flight 103 : Robert Mueller’s 30-Year Search for Justice | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/story/robert-muellers-search-for-justice-for-pan-am-103

    Cet article décrit le rôle de Robert Mueller dans l’enquête historique qui a permis de dissimuler ou de justifier la plupart des batailles de la guerre non déclarée des États Unis contre l’OLP et les pays arabes qui soutenaient la lutte pour un état palestinien.

    Aux États-Unis, en Allemagne et en France le grand public ignore les actes de guerre commis par les États Unis dans cette guerre. Vu dans ce contexte on ne peut que classer le récit de cet article dans la catégorie idéologie et propagande même si les intentions et faits qu’on y apprend sont bien documentés et plausibles.

    Cette perspective transforme le contenu de cet article d’une variation sur un thème connu dans un reportage sur l’état d’âme des dirigeants étatsuniens moins fanatiques que l’équipe du président actuel.

    THIRTY YEARS AGO last Friday, on the darkest day of the year, 31,000 feet above one of the most remote parts of Europe, America suffered its first major terror attack.

    TEN YEARS AGO last Friday, then FBI director Robert Mueller bundled himself in his tan trench coat against the cold December air in Washington, his scarf wrapped tightly around his neck. Sitting on a small stage at Arlington National Cemetery, he scanned the faces arrayed before him—the victims he’d come to know over years, relatives and friends of husbands and wives who would never grow old, college students who would never graduate, business travelers and flight attendants who would never come home.

    Burned into Mueller’s memory were the small items those victims had left behind, items that he’d seen on the shelves of a small wooden warehouse outside Lockerbie, Scotland, a visit he would never forget: A teenager’s single white sneaker, an unworn Syracuse University sweatshirt, the wrapped Christmas gifts that would never be opened, a lonely teddy bear.

    A decade before the attacks of 9/11—attacks that came during Mueller’s second week as FBI director, and that awoke the rest of America to the threats of terrorism—the bombing of Pan Am 103 had impressed upon Mueller a new global threat.

    It had taught him the complexity of responding to international terror attacks, how unprepared the government was to respond to the needs of victims’ families, and how on the global stage justice would always be intertwined with geopolitics. In the intervening years, he had never lost sight of the Lockerbie bombing—known to the FBI by the codename Scotbom—and he had watched the orphaned children from the bombing grow up over the years.

    Nearby in the cemetery stood a memorial cairn made of pink sandstone—a single brick representing each of the victims, the stone mined from a Scottish quarry that the doomed flight passed over just seconds before the bomb ripped its baggage hold apart. The crowd that day had gathered near the cairn in the cold to mark the 20th anniversary of the bombing.

    For a man with an affinity for speaking in prose, not poetry, a man whose staff was accustomed to orders given in crisp sentences as if they were Marines on the battlefield or under cross-examination from a prosecutor in a courtroom, Mueller’s remarks that day soared in a way unlike almost any other speech he’d deliver.

    “There are those who say that time heals all wounds. But you know that not to be true. At its best, time may dull the deepest wounds; it cannot make them disappear,” Mueller told the assembled mourners. “Yet out of the darkness of this day comes a ray of light. The light of unity, of friendship, and of comfort from those who once were strangers and who are now bonded together by a terrible moment in time. The light of shared memories that bring smiles instead of sadness. And the light of hope for better days to come.”

    He talked of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and of inspiration drawn from Lockerbie’s town crest, with its simple motto, “Forward.” He spoke of what was then a two-decade-long quest for justice, of how on windswept Scottish mores and frigid lochs a generation of FBI agents, investigators, and prosecutors had redoubled their dedication to fighting terrorism.

    Mueller closed with a promise: “Today, as we stand here together on this, the darkest of days, we renew that bond. We remember the light these individuals brought to each of you here today. We renew our efforts to bring justice down on those who seek to harm us. We renew our efforts to keep our people safe, and to rid the world of terrorism. We will continue to move forward. But we will never forget.”

    Hand bells tolled for each of the victims as their names were read aloud, 270 names, 270 sets of bells.

    The investigation, though, was not yet closed. Mueller, although he didn’t know it then, wasn’t done with Pan Am 103. Just months after that speech, the case would test his innate sense of justice and morality in a way that few other cases in his career ever have.

    ROBERT S. MUELLER III had returned from a combat tour in Vietnam in the late 1960s and eventually headed to law school at the University of Virginia, part of a path that he hoped would lead him to being an FBI agent. Unable after graduation to get a job in government, he entered private practice in San Francisco, where he found he loved being a lawyer—just not a defense attorney.

    Then—as his wife Ann, a teacher, recounted to me years ago—one morning at their small home, while the two of them made the bed, Mueller complained, “Don’t I deserve to be doing something that makes me happy?” He finally landed a job as an assistant US attorney in San Francisco and stood, for the first time, in court and announced, “Good morning your Honor, I am Robert Mueller appearing on behalf of the United States of America.” It is a moment that young prosecutors often practice beforehand, and for Mueller those words carried enormous weight. He had found the thing that made him happy.

    His family remembers that time in San Francisco as some of their happiest years; the Muellers’ two daughters were young, they loved the Bay Area—and have returned there on annual vacations almost every year since relocating to the East Coast—and Mueller found himself at home as a prosecutor.

    On Friday nights, their routine was that Ann and the two girls would pick Mueller up at Harrington’s Bar & Grill, the city’s oldest Irish pub, not far from the Ferry Building in the Financial District, where he hung out each week with a group of prosecutors, defense attorneys, cops, and agents. (One Christmas, his daughter Cynthia gave him a model of the bar made out of Popsicle sticks.) He balanced that family time against weekends and trainings with the Marines Corps Reserves, where he served for more than a decade, until 1980, eventually rising to be a captain.

    Over the next 15 years, he rose through the ranks of the San Francisco US attorney’s office—an office he would return to lead during the Clinton administration—and then decamped to Massachusetts to work for US attorney William Weld in the 1980s. There, too, he shined and eventually became acting US attorney when Weld departed at the end of the Reagan administration. “You cannot get the words straight arrow out of your head,” Weld told me, speaking of Mueller a decade ago. “The agencies loved him because he knew his stuff. He didn’t try to be elegant or fancy, he just put the cards on the table.”

    In 1989, an old high school classmate, Robert Ross, who was chief of staff to then attorney general Richard Thornburgh, asked Mueller to come down to Washington to help advise Thornburgh. The offer intrigued Mueller. Ann protested the move—their younger daughter Melissa wanted to finish high school in Massachusetts. Ann told her husband, “We can’t possibly do this.” He replied, his eyes twinkling, “You’re right, it’s a terrible time. Well, why don’t we just go down and look at a few houses?” As she told me, “When he wants to do something, he just revisits it again and again.”

    For his first two years at so-called Main Justice in Washington, working under President George H.W. Bush, the family commuted back and forth from Boston to Washington, alternating weekends in each city, to allow Melissa to finish school.

    Washington gave Mueller his first exposure to national politics and cases with geopolitical implications; in September 1990, President Bush nominated him to be assistant attorney general, overseeing the Justice Department’s entire criminal division, which at that time handled all the nation’s terrorism cases as well. Mueller would oversee the prosecution of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, mob boss John Gotti, and the controversial investigation into a vast money laundering scheme run through the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, known as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals

    None of his cases in Washington, though, would affect him as much as the bombing of Pan Am 103.

    THE TIME ON the clocks in Lockerbie, Scotland, read 7:04 pm, on December 21, 1988, when the first emergency call came into the local fire brigade, reporting what sounded like a massive boiler explosion. It was technically early evening, but it had been dark for hours already; that far north, on the shortest day of the year, daylight barely stretched to eight hours.

    Soon it became clear something much worse than a boiler explosion had unfolded: Fiery debris pounded the landscape, plunging from the sky and killing 11 Lockerbie residents. As Mike Carnahan told a local TV reporter, “The whole sky was lit up with flames. It was actually raining, liquid fire. You could see several houses on the skyline with the roofs totally off and all you could see was flaming timbers.”

    At 8:45 pm, a farmer found in his field the cockpit of Pan Am 103, a Boeing 747 known as Clipper Maid of the Seas, lying on its side, 15 of its crew dead inside, just some of the 259 passengers and crew killed when a bomb had exploded inside the plane’s cargo hold. The scheduled London to New York flight never even made it out of the UK.

    It had taken just three seconds for the plane to disintegrate in the air, though the wreckage took three long minutes to fall the five miles from the sky to the earth; court testimony later would examine how passengers had still been alive as they fell. Nearly 200 of the passengers were American, including 35 students from Syracuse University returning home from a semester abroad. The attack horrified America, which until then had seen terror touch its shores only occasionally as a hijacking went awry; while the US had weathered the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, attacks almost never targeted civilians.

    The Pan Am 103 bombing seemed squarely aimed at the US, hitting one of its most iconic brands. Pan Am then represented America’s global reach in a way few companies did; the world’s most powerful airline shuttled 19 million passengers a year to more than 160 countries and had ferried the Beatles to their US tour and James Bond around the globe on his cinematic missions. In a moment of hubris a generation before Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the airline had even opened a “waiting list” for the first tourists to travel to outer space. Its New York headquarters, the Pan Am building, was the world’s largest commercial building and its terminal at JFK Airport the biggest in the world.

    The investigation into the bombing of Pan Am 103 began immediately, as police and investigators streamed north from London by the hundreds; chief constable John Boyd, the head of the local police, arrived at the Lockerbie police station by 8:15 pm, and within an hour the first victim had been brought in: A farmer arrived in town with the body of a baby girl who had fallen from the sky. He’d carefully placed her in the front seat of his pickup truck.

    An FBI agent posted in London had raced north too, with the US ambassador, aboard a special US Air Force flight, and at 2 am, when Boyd convened his first senior leadership meeting, he announced, “The FBI is here, and they are fully operational.” By that point, FBI explosives experts were already en route to Scotland aboard an FAA plane; agents would install special secure communications equipment in Lockerbie and remain on site for months.

    Although it quickly became clear that a bomb had targeted Pan Am 103—wreckage showed signs of an explosion and tested positive for PETN and RDX, two key ingredients of the explosive Semtex—the investigation proceeded with frustrating slowness. Pan Am’s records were incomplete, and it took days to even determine the full list of passengers. At the same time, it was the largest crime scene ever investigated—a fact that remains true today.

    Investigators walked 845 square miles, an area 12 times the size of Washington, DC, and searched so thoroughly that they recovered more than 70 packages of airline crackers and ultimately could reconstruct about 85 percent of the fuselage. (Today, the wreckage remains in an English scrapyard.) Constable Boyd, at his first press conference, told the media, “This is a mammoth inquiry.”

    On Christmas Eve, a searcher found a piece of a luggage pallet with signs of obvious scorching, which would indicate the bomb had been in the luggage compartment below the passenger cabin. The evidence was rushed to a special British military lab—one originally created to investigate the Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and kill King James I in 1605.

    When the explosive tests came back a day later, the British government called the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for combating terrorism, L. Paul Bremer III (who would go on to be President George W. Bush’s viceroy in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion of Iraq), and officially delivered the news that everyone had anticipated: Pan Am 103 had been downed by a bomb.

    Meanwhile, FBI agents fanned out across the country. In New York, special agent Neil Herman—who would later lead the FBI’s counterterrorism office in New York in the run up to 9/11—was tasked with interviewing some of the victims’ families; many of the Syracuse students on board had been from the New York region. One of the mothers he interviewed hadn’t heard from the government in the 10 days since the attack. “It really struck me how ill-equipped we were to deal with this,” Herman told me, years later. “Multiply her by 270 victims and families.” The bombing underscored that the FBI and the US government had a lot to learn in responding and aiding victims in a terror attack.

    INVESTIGATORS MOVED TOWARD piecing together how a bomb could have been placed on board; years before the 9/11 attack, they discounted the idea of a suicide bomber aboard—there had never been a suicide attack on civil aviation at that point—and so focused on one of two theories: The possibility of a “mule,” an innocent passenger duped into carrying a bomb aboard, or an “inside man,” a trusted airport or airline employee who had smuggled the fatal cargo aboard. The initial suspect list stretched to 1,200 names.

    Yet even reconstructing what was on board took an eternity: Evidence pointed to a Japanese manufactured Toshiba cassette recorder as the likely delivery device for the bomb, and then, by the end of January, investigators located pieces of the suitcase that had held the bomb. After determining that it was a Samsonite bag, police and the FBI flew to the company’s headquarters in the United States and narrowed the search further: The bag, they found, was a System 4 Silhouette 4000 model, color “antique-copper,” a case and color made for only three years, 1985 to 1988, and sold only in the Middle East. There were a total of 3,500 such suitcases in circulation.

    By late spring, investigators had identified 14 pieces of luggage inside the target cargo container, known as AVE4041; each bore tell-tale signs of the explosion. Through careful retracing of how luggage moved through the London airport, investigators determined that the bags on the container’s bottom row came from passengers transferring in London. The bags on the second and third row of AVE4041 had been the last bags loaded onto the leg of the flight that began in Frankfurt, before the plane took off for London. None of the baggage had been X-rayed or matched with passengers on board.

    The British lab traced clothing fragments from the wreckage that bore signs of the explosion and thus likely originated in the bomb-carrying suitcase. It was an odd mix: Two herring-bone skirts, men’s pajamas, tartan trousers, and so on. The most promising fragment was a blue infant’s onesie that, after fiber analysis, was conclusively determined to have been inside the explosive case, and had a label saying “Malta Trading Company.” In March, two detectives took off for Malta, where the manufacturer told them that 500 such articles of clothing had been made and most sent to Ireland, while the rest went locally to Maltese outlets and others to continental Europe.

    As they dug deeper, they focused on bag B8849, which appeared to have come off Air Malta Flight 180—Malta to Frankfurt—on December 21, even though there was no record of one of that flight’s 47 passengers transferring to Pan Am 103.

    Investigators located the store in Malta where the suspect clothing had been sold; the British inspector later recorded in his statement, “[Store owner] Anthony Gauci interjected and stated that he could recall selling a pair of the checked trousers, size 34, and three pairs of the pajamas to a male person.” The investigators snapped to attention—after nine months did they finally have a suspect in their sights? “[Gauci] informed me that the man had also purchased the following items: one imitation Harris Tweed jacket; one woolen cardigan; one black umbrella; one blue colored ‘Baby Gro’ with a motif described by the witness as a ‘sheep’s face’ on the front; and one pair of gents’ brown herring-bone material trousers, size 36.”

    Game, set, match. Gauci had perfectly described the clothing fragments found by RARDE technicians to contain traces of explosive. The purchase, Gauci went on to explain, stood out in his mind because the customer—whom Gauci tellingly identified as speaking the “Libyan language”—had entered the store on November 23, 1988, and gathered items without seeming to care about the size, gender, or color of any of it.

    As the investigation painstakingly proceeded into 1989 and 1990, Robert Mueller arrived at Main Justice; the final objects of the Lockerbie search wouldn’t be found until the spring of 1990, just months before Mueller took over as assistant attorney general of the criminal division in September.

    The Justice Department that year was undergoing a series of leadership changes; the deputy attorney general, William Barr, became acting attorney general midyear as Richard Thornburgh stepped down to run for Senate back in his native Pennsylvania. President Bush then nominated Barr to take over as attorney general officially. (Earlier this month Barr was nominated by President Trump to become attorney general once again.)

    The bombing soon became one of the top cases on Mueller’s desk. He met regularly with Richard Marquise, the FBI special agent heading Scotbom. For Mueller, the case became personal; he met with victims’ families and toured the Lockerbie crash site and the investigation’s headquarters. He traveled repeatedly to the United Kingdom for meetings and walked the fields of Lockerbie himself. “The Scots just did a phenomenal job with the crime scene,” he told me, years ago.

    Mueller pushed the investigators forward constantly, getting involved in the investigation at a level that a high-ranking Justice Department official almost never does. Marquise turned to him in one meeting, after yet another set of directions, and sighed, “Geez, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you want to be FBI director.”

    The investigation gradually, carefully, zeroed in on Libya. Agents traced a circuit board used in the bomb to a similar device seized in Africa a couple of years earlier used by Libyan intelligence. An FBI-created database of Maltese immigration records even showed that a man using the same alias as one of those Libyan intelligence officers had departed from Malta on October 19, 1988—just two months before the bombing.

    The circuit board also helped makes sense of an important aspect of the bombing: It controlled a timer, meaning that the bomb was not set off by a barometric trigger that registers altitude. This, in turn, explained why the explosive baggage had lain peacefully in the jet’s hold as it took off and landed repeatedly.

    Tiny letters on the suspect timer said “MEBO.” What was MEBO? In the days before Google, searching for something called “Mebo” required going country to country, company to company. There were no shortcuts. The FBI, MI5, and CIA were, after months of work, able to trace MEBO back to a Swiss company, Meister et Bollier, adding a fifth country to the ever-expanding investigative circle.

    From Meister et Bollier, they learned that the company had provided 20 prototype timers to the Libyan government and the company helped ID their contact as a Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who looked like the sketch of the Maltese clothing shopper. Then, when the FBI looked at its database of Maltese immigration records, they found that Al Megrahi had been present in Malta the day the clothing was purchased.

    Marquise sat down with Robert Mueller and the rest of the prosecutorial team and laid out the latest evidence. Mueller’s orders were clear—he wanted specific suspects and he wanted to bring charges. As he said, “Proceed toward indictment.” Let’s get this case moving.

    IN NOVEMBER 1990, Marquise was placed in charge of all aspects of the investigation and assigned on special duty to the Washington Field Office and moved to a new Scotbom task force. The field offce was located far from the Hoover building, in a run-down neighborhood known by the thoroughly unromantic moniker of Buzzard Point.

    The Scotbom task force had been allotted three tiny windowless rooms with dark wood paneling, which were soon covered floor-to-ceiling with 747 diagrams, crime scene photographs, maps, and other clues. By the door of the office, the team kept two photographs to remind themselves of the stakes: One, a tiny baby shoe recovered from the fields of Lockerbie; the other, a picture of the American flag on the tail of Pan Am 103. This was the first major attack on the US and its civilians. Whoever was responsible couldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

    With representatives from a half-dozen countries—the US, Britain, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, France, and Malta—now sitting around the table, putting together a case that met everyone’s evidentiary standards was difficult. “We talked through everything, and everything was always done to the higher standard,” Marquise says. In the US, for instance, the legal standard for a photo array was six photos; in Scotland, though, it was 12. So every photo array in the investigation had 12 photos to ensure that the IDs could be used in a British court.

    The trail of evidence so far was pretty clear, and it all pointed toward Libya. Yet there was still much work to do prior to an indictment. A solid hunch was one thing. Having evidence that would stand up in court and under cross-examination was something else entirely.

    As the case neared an indictment, the international investigators and prosecutors found themselves focusing at their gatherings on the fine print of their respective legal code and engaging in deep, philosophical-seeming debates: “What does murder mean in your statute? Huh? I know what murder means: I kill you. Well, then you start going through the details and the standards are just a little different. It may entail five factors in one country, three in another. Was Megrahi guilty of murder? Depends on the country.”

    At every meeting, the international team danced around the question of where a prosecution would ultimately take place. “Jurisdiction was an eggshell problem,” Marquise says. “It was always there, but no one wanted to talk about it. It was always the elephant in the room.”

    Mueller tried to deflect the debate for as long as possible, arguing there was more investigation to do first. Eventually, though, he argued forcefully that the case should be tried in the US. “I recognize that Scotland has significant equities which support trial of the case in your country,” he said in one meeting. “However, the primary target of this act of terrorism was the United States. The majority of the victims were Americans, and the Pan American aircraft was targeted precisely because it was of United States registry.”

    After one meeting, where the Scots and Americans debated jurisdiction for more than two hours, the group migrated over to the Peasant, a restaurant near the Justice Department, where, in an attempt to foster good spirits, it paid for the visiting Scots. Mueller and the other American officials each had to pay for their own meals.

    Mueller was getting ready to move forward; the federal grand jury would begin work in early September. Prosecutors and other investigators were already preparing background, readying evidence, and piecing together information like the names and nationalities of all the Lockerbie victims so that they could be included in the forthcoming indictment.

    There had never been any doubt in the US that the Pan Am 103 bombing would be handled as a criminal matter, but the case was still closely monitored by the White House and the National Security Council.

    The Reagan administration had been surprised in February 1988 by the indictment on drug charges of its close ally Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and a rule of thumb had been developed: Give the White House a heads up anytime you’re going to indict a foreign agent. “If you tag Libya with Pan Am 103, that’s fair to say it’s going to disrupt our relationship with Libya,” Mueller deadpans. So Mueller would head up to the Cabinet Room at the White House, charts and pictures in hand, to explain to President Bush and his team what Justice had in mind.

    To Mueller, the investigation underscored why such complex investigations needed a law enforcement eye. A few months after the attack, he sat through a CIA briefing pointing toward Syria as the culprit behind the attack. “That’s always struck with me as a lesson in the difference between intelligence and evidence. I always try to remember that,” he told me, back when he was FBI director. “It’s a very good object lesson about hasty action based on intelligence. What if we had gone and attacked Syria based on that initial intelligence? Then, after the attack, it came out that Libya had been behind it? What could we have done?”

    Marquise was the last witness for the federal grand jury on Friday, November 8, 1991. Only in the days leading up to that testimony had prosecutors zeroed in on Megrahi and another Libyan officer, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah; as late as the week of the testimony, they had hoped to pursue additional indictments, yet the evidence wasn’t there to get to a conviction.

    Mueller traveled to London to meet with the Peter Fraser, the lord advocate—Scotland’s top prosecutor—and they agreed to announce indictments simultaneously on November 15, 1991. Who got their hands on the suspects first, well, that was a question for later. The joint indictment, Mueller believed, would benefit both countries. “It adds credibility to both our investigations,” he says.

    That coordinated joint, multi-nation statement and indictment would become a model that the US would deploy more regularly in the years to come, as the US and other western nations have tried to coordinate cyber investigations and indictments against hackers from countries like North Korea, Russia, and Iran.

    To make the stunning announcement against Libya, Mueller joined FBI director William Sessions, DC US attorney Jay Stephens, and attorney general William Barr.

    “We charge that two Libyan officials, acting as operatives of the Libyan intelligence agency, along with other co-conspirators, planted and detonated the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103,” Barr said. “I have just telephoned some of the families of those murdered on Pan Am 103 to inform them and the organizations of the survivors that this indictment has been returned. Their loss has been ever present in our minds.”

    At the same time, in Scotland, investigators there were announcing the same indictments.

    At the press conference, Barr listed a long set of names to thank—the first one he singled out was Mueller’s. Then, he continued, “This investigation is by no means over. It continues unabated. We will not rest until all those responsible are brought to justice. We have no higher priority.”

    From there, the case would drag on for years. ABC News interviewed the two suspects in Libya later that month; both denied any responsibility for the bombing. Marquise was reassigned within six months; the other investigators moved along too.

    Mueller himself left the administration when Bill Clinton became president, spending an unhappy year in private practice before rejoining the Justice Department to work as a junior homicide prosecutor in DC under then US attorney Eric Holder; Mueller, who had led the nation’s entire criminal division was now working side by side with prosecutors just a few years out of law school, the equivalent of a three-star military general retiring and reenlisting as a second lieutenant. Clinton eventually named Mueller the US attorney in San Francisco, the office where he’d worked as a young attorney in the 1970s.

    THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY of the bombing came and went without any justice. Then, in April 1999, prolonged international negotiations led to Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi turning over the two suspects; the international economic sanctions imposed on Libya in the wake of the bombing were taking a toll on his country, and the leader wanted to put the incident behind him.

    The final negotiated agreement said that the two men would be tried by a Scottish court, under Scottish law, in The Hague in the Netherlands. Distinct from the international court there, the three-judge Scottish court would ensure that the men faced justice under the laws of the country where their accused crime had been committed.

    Allowing the Scots to move forward meant some concessions by the US. The big one was taking the death penalty, prohibited in Scotland, off the table. Mueller badly wanted the death penalty. Mueller, like many prosecutors and law enforcement officials, is a strong proponent of capital punishment, but he believes it should be reserved for only egregious crimes. “It has to be especially heinous, and you have to be 100 percent sure he’s guilty,” he says. This case met that criteria. “There’s never closure. If there can’t be closure, there should be justice—both for the victims as well as the society at large,” he says.

    An old US military facility, Kamp Van Zeist, was converted to an elaborate jail and courtroom in The Hague, and the Dutch formally surrendered the two Libyans to Scottish police. The trial began in May 2000. For nine months, the court heard testimony from around the world. In what many observers saw as a political verdict, Al Megrahi was found guilty and Fhimah was found not guilty.

    With barely 24 hours notice, Marquise and victim family members raced from the United States to be in the courtroom to hear the verdict. The morning of the verdict in 2001, Mueller was just days into his tenure as acting deputy US attorney general—filling in for the start of the George W. Bush administration in the department’s No. 2 role as attorney general John Ashcroft got himself situated.

    That day, Mueller awoke early and joined with victims’ families and other officials in Washington, who watched the verdict announcement via a satellite hookup. To him, it was a chance for some closure—but the investigation would go on. As he told the media, “The United States remains vigilant in its pursuit to bring to justice any other individuals who may have been involved in the conspiracy to bring down Pan Am Flight 103.”

    The Scotbom case would leave a deep imprint on Mueller; one of his first actions as FBI director was to recruit Kathryn Turman, who had served as the liaison to the Pan Am 103 victim families during the trial, to head the FBI’s Victim Services Division, helping to elevate the role and responsibility of the FBI in dealing with crime victims.

    JUST MONTHS AFTER that 20th anniversary ceremony with Mueller at Arlington National Cemetery, in the summer of 2009, Scotland released a terminally ill Megrahi from prison after a lengthy appeals process, and sent him back to Libya. The decision was made, the Scottish minister of justice reported, on “compassionate grounds.” Few involved on the US side believed the terrorist deserved compassion. Megrahi was greeted as a hero on the tarmac in Libya—rose petals, cheering crowds. The US consensus remained that he should rot in prison.

    The idea that Megrahi could walk out of prison on “compassionate” ground made a mockery of everything that Mueller had dedicated his life to fighting and doing. Amid a series of tepid official condemnations—President Obama labeled it “highly objectionable”—Mueller fired off a letter to Scottish minister Kenny MacAskill that stood out for its raw pain, anger, and deep sorrow.

    “Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision,” Mueller began. “Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991. And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of ‘compassion.’”

    That nine months after the 20th anniversary of the bombing, the only person behind bars for the bombing would walk back onto Libyan soil a free man and be greeted with rose petals left Mueller seething.

    “Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world,” Mueller wrote. “You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution. You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification—the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.”

    For Mueller, walking the fields of Lockerbie had been walking on hallowed ground. The Scottish decision pained him especially deeply, because of the mission and dedication he and his Scottish counterparts had shared 20 years before. “If all civilized nations join together to apply the rules of law to international terrorists, certainly we will be successful in ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism,” he had written in a perhaps too hopeful private note to the Scottish Lord Advocate in 1990.

    Some 20 years later, in an era when counterterrorism would be a massive, multibillion dollar industry and a buzzword for politicians everywhere, Mueller—betrayed—concluded his letter with a decidedly un-Mueller-like plea, shouted plaintively and hopelessly across the Atlantic: “Where, I ask, is the justice?”

    #USA #Libye #impérialisme #terrorisme #histoire #CIA #idéologie #propagande

  • Is the #malta #ico #regulation crypto-friendly?
    https://hackernoon.com/is-the-malta-ico-regulation-crypto-friendly-69c2bbb0a552?source=rss----3

    Malta-based ICO regulationIn November, Malta passed a 63-page regulation detailing the requirements for issuing virtual financial assets, better known as cryptocurrencies, cryptoassets or tokens. While many in the crypto community welcome this change as the beginning of the end of the “Wild West” stage, it has both benefits and downsides to issuers of new tokens. When it comes to ICO whitepaper writing, it’s new territory.Is the Malta regulation crypto-friendly?As one of the first jurisdictions to pass clear and detailed requirements around ICOs, including details on ICO whitepapers, Malta has attracted a tremendous amount of attention as a crypto-friendly jurisdiction. On the one hand, clarity in regulation provides a level of protection and assurance for founders and investors. Just (...)

    #token-sale #blockchain

  • ‘It’s an Act of Murder’: How Europe Outsources Suffering as Migrants Drown

    This short film, produced by The Times’s Opinion Video team and the research groups #Forensic_Architecture and #Forensic_Oceanography, reconstructs a tragedy at sea that left at least 20 migrants dead. Combining footage from more than 10 cameras, 3-D modeling and interviews with rescuers and survivors, the documentary shows Europe’s role in the migrant crisis at sea.

    On Nov. 6, 2017, at least 20 people trying to reach Europe from Libya drowned in the Mediterranean, foundering next to a sinking raft.

    Not far from the raft was a ship belonging to Sea-Watch, a German humanitarian organization. That ship had enough space on it for everyone who had been aboard the raft. It could have brought them all to the safety of Europe, where they might have had a chance at being granted asylum.

    Instead, 20 people drowned and 47 more were captured by the Libyan Coast Guard, which brought the migrants back to Libya, where they suffered abuse — including rape and torture.

    This confrontation at sea was not a simplistic case of Europe versus Africa, with human rights and rescue on one side and chaos and danger on the other. Rather it’s a case of Europe versus Europe: of volunteers struggling to save lives being undercut by European Union policies that outsource border control responsibilities to the Libyan Coast Guard — with the aim of stemming arrivals on European shores.

    While funding, equipping and directing the Libyan Coast Guard, European governments have stymied the activities of nongovernmental organizations like Sea-Watch, criminalizing them or impounding their ships, or turning away from ports ships carrying survivors.

    More than 14,000 people have died or gone missing while trying to cross the central Mediterranean since 2014. But unlike most of those deaths and drownings, the incident on Nov. 6, 2017, was extensively documented.

    Sea-Watch’s ship and rescue rafts were outfitted with nine cameras, documenting the entire scene in video and audio. The Libyans, too, filmed parts of the incident on their mobile phones.

    The research groups Forensic Architecture and Forensic Oceanography of Goldsmiths, University of London, of which three of us — Mr. Heller, Mr. Pezzani and Mr. Weizman — are a part, combined these video sources with radio recordings, vessel tracking data, witness testimonies and newly obtained official sources to produce a minute-by-minute reconstruction of the facts. Opinion Video at The New York Times built on this work to create the above short documentary, gathering further testimonials by some of the survivors and rescuers who were there.

    This investigation makes a few things clear: European governments are avoiding their legal and moral responsibilities to protect the human rights of people fleeing violence and economic desperation. More worrying, the Libyan Coast Guard partners that Europe is collaborating with are ready to blatantly violate those rights if it allows them to prevent migrants from crossing the sea.

    Stopping Migrants, Whatever the Cost

    To understand the cynicism of Europe’s policies in the Mediterranean, one must understand the legal context. According to a 2012 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, migrants rescued by European civilian or military vessels must be taken to a safe port. Because of the chaotic political situation in Libya and well-documented human rights abuses in detention camps there, that means a European port, often in Italy or Malta.

    But when the Libyan Coast Guard intercepts migrants, even outside Libyan territorial waters, as it did on Nov. 6, the Libyans take them back to detention camps in Libya, which is not subject to European Court of Human Rights jurisdiction.

    For Italy — and Europe — this is an ideal situation. Europe is able to stop people from reaching its shores while washing its hands of any responsibility for their safety.

    This policy can be traced back to February 2017, when Italy and the United Nations-supported Libyan Government of National Accord signed a “memorandum of understanding” that provided a framework for collaboration on development, to fight against “illegal immigration,” human trafficking and the smuggling of contraband. This agreement defines clearly the aim, “to stem the illegal migrants’ flows,” and committed Italy to provide “technical and technological support to the Libyan institutions in charge of the fight against illegal immigration.”

    Libyan Coast Guard members have been trained by the European Union, and the Italian government donated or repaired several patrol boats and supported the establishment of a Libyan search-and-rescue zone. Libyan authorities have since attempted — in defiance of maritime law — to make that zone off-limits to nongovernmental organizations’ rescue vessels. Italian Navy ships, based in Tripoli, have coordinated Libyan Coast Guard efforts.

    Before these arrangements, Libyan actors were able to intercept and return very few migrants leaving from Libyan shores. Now the Libyan Coast Guard is an efficient partner, having intercepted some 20,000 people in 2017 alone.

    The Libyan Coast Guard is efficient when it comes to stopping migrants from reaching Europe. It’s not as good, however, at saving their lives, as the events of Nov. 6 show.

    A Deadly Policy in Action

    That morning the migrant raft had encountered worsening conditions after leaving Tripoli, Libya, over night. Someone onboard used a satellite phone to call the Italian Coast Guard for help.

    Because the Italians were required by law to alert nearby vessels of the sinking raft, they alerted Sea-Watch to its approximate location. But they also requested the intervention of their Libyan counterparts.

    The Libyan Coast Guard vessel that was sent to intervene on that morning, the Ras Jadir, was one of several that had been repaired by Italy and handed back to the Libyans in May of 2017. Eight of the 13 crew members onboard had received training from the European Union anti-smuggling naval program known as Operation Sophia.

    Even so, the Libyans brought the Ras Jadir next to the migrants’ raft, rather than deploying a smaller rescue vessel, as professional rescuers do. This offered no hope of rescuing those who had already fallen overboard and only caused more chaos, during which at least five people died.

    These deaths were not merely a result of a lack of professionalism. Some of the migrants who had been brought aboard the Ras Jadir were so afraid of their fate at the hands of the Libyans that they jumped back into the water to try to reach the European rescuers. As can be seen in the footage, members of the Libyan Coast Guard beat the remaining migrants.

    Sea-Watch’s crew was also attacked by the Libyan Coast Guard, who threatened them and threw hard objects at them to keep them away. This eruption of violence was the result of a clash between the goals of rescue and interception, with the migrants caught in the middle desperately struggling for their lives.

    Apart from those who died during this chaos, more than 15 people had already drowned in the time spent waiting for any rescue vessel to appear.

    There was, however, no shortage of potential rescuers in the area: A Portuguese surveillance plane had located the migrants’ raft after its distress call. An Italian Navy helicopter and a French frigate were nearby and eventually offered some support during the rescue.

    It’s possible that this French ship, deployed as part of Operation Sophia, could have reached the sinking vessel earlier, in time to save more lives — despite our requests, this information has not been disclosed to us. But it remained at a distance throughout the incident and while offering some support, notably refrained from taking migrants onboard who would then have had to have been disembarked on European soil. It’s an example of a hands-off approach that seeks to make Libyan intervention not only possible but also inevitable.

    A Legal Challenge

    On the basis of the forensic reconstruction, the Global Legal Action Network and the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration, with the support of Yale Law School students, have filed a case against Italy at the European Court of Human Rights representing 17 survivors of this incident.

    Those working on the suit, who include two of us — Mr. Mann and Ms. Moreno-Lax — argue that even though Italian or European personnel did not physically intercept the migrants and bring them back to Libya, Italy exercised effective control over the Libyan Coast Guard through mutual agreements, support and on-the-ground coordination. Italy has entrusted the Libyans with a task that Rome knows full well would be illegal if undertaken directly: preventing migrants from seeking protection in Europe by impeding their flight and sending them back to a country where extreme violence and exploitation await.

    We hope this legal complaint will lead the European court to rule that countries cannot subcontract their legal and humanitarian obligations to dubious partners, and that if they do, they retain responsibility for the resulting violations. Such a precedent would force the entire European Union to make sure its cooperation with partners like Libya does not end up denying refugees the right to seek asylum.

    This case is especially important right now. In Italy’s elections in March, the far-right Lega party, which campaigned on radical anti-immigrant rhetoric, took nearly 20 percent of the vote. The party is now part of the governing coalition, of which its leader, Matteo Salvini, is the interior minister.

    His government has doubled down on animosity toward migrants. In June, Italy took the drastic step of turning away a humanitarian vessel from the country’s ports and has been systematically blocking rescued migrants from being disembarked since then, even when they had been assisted by the Italian Coast Guard.

    The Italian crackdown helps explain why seafarers off the Libyan coast have refrained from assisting migrants in distress, leaving them to drift for days. Under the new Italian government, a new batch of patrol boats has been handed over to the Libyan Coast Guard, and the rate of migrants being intercepted and brought back to Libya has increased. All this has made the crossing even more dangerous than before.

    Italy has been seeking to enact a practice that blatantly violates the spirit of the Geneva Convention on refugees, which enshrines the right to seek asylum and prohibits sending people back to countries in which their lives are at risk. A judgment by the European Court sanctioning Italy for this practice would help prevent the outsourcing of border control and human rights violations that may prevent the world’s most disempowered populations from seeking protection and dignity.

    The European Court of Human Rights cannot stand alone as a guardian of fundamental rights. Yet an insistence on its part to uphold the law would both reflect and bolster the movements seeking solidarity with migrants across Europe.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/26/opinion/europe-migrant-crisis-mediterranean-libya.html
    #reconstruction #naufrage #Méditerranée #Charles_Heller #Lorenzo_Pezzani #asile #migrations #réfugiés #mourir_en_mer #ONG #sauvetage #Sea-Watch #gardes-côtes_libyens #Libye #pull-back #refoulement #externalisation #vidéo #responsabilité #Ras_Jadir #Operation_Sophia #CEDH #cour_européenne_des_droits_de_l'homme #justice #droits_humains #droit_à_la_vie

    ping @reka

    • È un omicidio con navi italiane” L’accusa del Nyt

      Video-denuncia contro Roma e l’Ue per un naufragio di un anno fa: botte dei libici ai migranti, 50 morti.

      Patate scagliate addosso ai soccorritori della Sea Watch invece di lanciare giubbotti e salvagente ai naufraghi che stavano annegando. E poi botte ai migranti riusciti a salire sulle motovedette per salvarsi la vita. Ecco i risultati dell’addestramento che l’Italia ha impartito ai libici per far fuori i migranti nel Mediterraneo. È un video pubblicato dal New York Times che parte da una delle più gravi tra le ultime stragi avvenute del Canale di Sicilia, con un commento intitolato: “‘È un omicidio’: come l’Europa esternalizza sofferenza mentre i migranti annegano”.

      Era il 6 novembre 2017 e le operazioni in mare erano gestite dalla guardia costiera libica, in accordo con l’allora ministro dell’Interno, Marco Minniti. Il dettaglio non è secondario, lo stesso video mostra la cerimonia di consegna delle motovedette made in Italy ai partner nordafricani. Una delle imbarcazioni, la 648, la ritroviamo proprio al centro dell’azione dove, quel giorno, cinquanta africani vennero inghiottiti dal mare. Al tempo era consentito alle imbarcazioni di soccorso pattugliare lo specchio di mare a cavallo tra le zone Sar (Search and rescue, ricerca e soccorso) di competenza. Al tempo i porti italiani erano aperti, ma il comportamento dei militari libici già al limite della crudeltà. Il video e le foto scattate dal personale della Sea Watch mostrano scene durissime. Un migrante lasciato annegare senza alcun tentativo da parte dei libici di salvarlo: il corpo disperato annaspa per poi sparire sott’acqua, quando il salvagente viene lanciato è tardi. Botte, calci e pugni a uomini appena saliti a bordo delle motovedette, di una violenza ingiustificabile. Il New York Times va giù duro e nel commento, oltre a stigmatizzare attacca i governi italiani. Dalla prova delle motovedette vendute per far fare ad altri il lavoro sporco, al nuovo governo definito “di ultradestra” che “ha completato la strategia”. Matteo Salvini però non viene nominato. L’Italia, sottolinea il Nyt, ha delegato alle autorità della Tripolitania il pattugliamento delle coste e il recupero di qualsiasi imbarcazione diretta a nord. Nulla di nuovo, visto che la Spagna, guidata dal socialista Sanchez e impegnata sul fronte occidentale con un’ondata migratoria senza precedenti, usa il Marocco per “bonificare” il tratto di mare vicino allo stretto di Gibilterra da gommoni e carrette. Gli organismi europei da una parte stimolano il blocco delle migrazioni verso il continente, eppure dall’altra lo condannano. Per l’episodio del 6 novembre 2017, infatti, la Corte europea dei diritti umani sta trattando il ricorso presentato dall’Asgi (Associazione studi giuridici sull’immigrazione) contro il respingimento collettivo. Sempre l’Asgi ha presentato due ricorsi analoghi per fatti del dicembre 2018 e gennaio 2018; infine altri due, uno sulla cessione delle motovedette e l’altro sull’implementazione dell’accordo Italia-Libia firmato da Minniti.

      https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/premium/articoli/e-un-omicidio-con-navi-italiane-laccusa-del-nyt

    • Comment l’Europe et la Libye laissent mourir les migrants en mer

      Il y a un peu plus d’un an, le 6 novembre 2017, une fragile embarcation sombre en mer avec à son bord 150 migrants partis de Tripoli pour tenter de rejoindre l’Europe. La plupart d’entre eux sont morts. Avec l’aide de Forensic Oceanography – une organisation créée en 2011 pour tenir le compte des morts de migrants en Méditerranée – et de Forensic Architecture – groupe de recherche enquêtant sur les violations des droits de l’homme –, le New York Times a retracé le déroulement de ce drame, dans une enquête vidéo extrêmement documentée.

      Depuis l’accord passé en février 2017 entre la Libye et l’Italie, confiant aux autorités libyennes le soin d’intercepter les migrants dans ses eaux territoriales, le travail des ONG intervenant en mer Méditerranée avec leurs bateaux de sauvetage est devenu extrêmement difficile. Ces dernières subissent les menaces constantes des gardes-côtes libyens, qui, malgré les subventions européennes et les formations qu’ils reçoivent, n’ont pas vraiment pour but de sauver les migrants de la noyade. Ainsi, en fermant les yeux sur les pratiques libyennes régulièrement dénoncées par les ONG, l’Europe contribue à aggraver la situation et précipite les migrants vers la noyade, s’attache à démontrer cette enquête vidéo publiée dans la section Opinions du New York Times. Un document traduit et sous-titré par Courrier international.

      https://www.courrierinternational.com/video/enquete-comment-leurope-et-la-libye-laissent-mourir-les-migra

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=dcbh8yJclGI

    • How We Made an Invisible Crisis at Sea Visible

      An ambitious Opinion Video project produced across three continents — in collaboration with a pioneering forensic research group — shines a spotlight on the more than 16,000 migrants who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean since 2014.

      Forensic Oceanography had created a report and a minute-by-minute reconstruction of the episode (http://www.forensic-architecture.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2018-05-07-FO-Mare-Clausum-full-EN.pdf) intended partly to support a case that was about to be filed on behalf of survivors at the European Court of Human Rights.

      Their reporting was deep, but it was very technical. We wanted to build on the original research to create a short film that would sharpen the story while still embracing complexity.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/23/reader-center/migrants-mediterranean-sea.html
      #visibilité #invisibilité #in/visiblité #Mare_clausum

  • 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

  • Detainees Evacuated out of Libya but Resettlement Capacity Remains Inadequate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Libya: evacuations to Niger resumed – returns from Niger begun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The lucky few

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      ‘Time is just running from my life’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      A stop-start process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Lien vers la #vidéo :

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

      https://vimeo.com/323299304

      ping @isskein @karine4

  • The Cities Leading in #blockchain : #shanghai-Part 1
    https://hackernoon.com/the-cities-leading-in-blockchain-shanghai-part-1-2f7b1395d63d?source=rss

    Dave Tacon/CNNThroughout every metro-city today, you can find a burgeoning blockchain community. This renaissance movement is affecting every major industry, not only technology, but economics, politics, and society. Countries, territories, and states are using this as a chance to find their new identities. Estonia and Malta are vying to become the main “blockchain country”, Puerto Rico is being transformed into a Crypto Paradise, and other countries like China, silently maintain dominance in the space despite heavily publicized bans and regulations .This series of articles will focus on different cities and the communities within. Each will highlight projects, events, services, and personalities that are uniquely shaping each local landscape. At the end, I hope that this series has (...)

    #blockchain-meetup #blockchain-shanghai

  • #malta Rocks #blockchain Summit
    https://hackernoon.com/malta-rocks-blockchain-summit-ff4a53681ff7?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3---

    2018 was an undeniably tough year for crypto — whichever way you slice and dice it, the industry as a whole felt it. Whether you’ve been dabbling in BTC for years or bought your first stash of Satoshi in late 2017, the last 12 months have been a challenging period. That said, the visionary vibe of this Maltese Summit was a stark contrast to a glum past year.No longer were people fixated on price and Bitcoin Futures contracts, instead, the focus was on building future-proofed projects, sustainable development and working with, not against regulators — leaving even the cynics giddy with optimism for the future.A packed crowd at the Main Stage.The Coinweb team landed in Malta on Hallows Eve. No ghosting here. Over 8,500 crypto enthusiasts occupied over three floors of the Intercontinental Hotel, (...)

    #cryptocurrency #regulation

  • Iranian Tanker That Sank Months Ago Among Ships Hit by Sanctions - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-05/iranian-tanker-that-sank-months-ago-among-ships-hit-by-sanctions

    Among the hundreds of Iranian-linked banks, companies and vessels that the U.S. slapped sanctions against on Monday was an Iranian crude oil tanker called the Sanchi. There’s one problem: The ship sank after a collision and fiery explosion in January.

    The U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions list distributed Monday leaves no doubt about the identity of the vessel targeted with sanctions. It’s the Sanchi, otherwise known as the Gardenia, the Seahorse and the Sepid, that’s flown under flags including those of Tanzania, Malta and Tuvalu. Its International Maritime Organization number is 9356608, and it’s linked to the National Iranian Tanker Company.

    Tanker tracking data compiled by Bloomberg shows that’s the same ship that sank in the East China Sea — with all 32 people aboard — after colliding with another vessel on Jan. 6. The tanker was laden with more than 1 million barrels of light crude oil and burned for several days, creating a large oil spill, before an explosion destroyed what was left of it and sent the vessel to the bottom of the sea.

  • Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with ’golden passport’ schemes published | Business | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/oct/16/tax-evasion-oecd-blacklist-of-21-countries-with-golden-passport-schemes

    A blacklist of 21 countries whose so-called “golden passport” schemes threaten international efforts to combat tax evasion has been published by the west’s leading economic thinktank.

    Three European countries – Malta, Monaco and Cyprus – are among those nations flagged as operating high-risk schemes that sell either residency or citizenship in a report released on Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    #paradis_fiscaux #évasion_fiscale #criminalité_financière

  • Tunisian fishermen await trial after ’saving hundreds of migrants’

    Friends and colleagues have rallied to the defence of six Tunisian men awaiting trial in Italy on people smuggling charges, saying they are fishermen who have saved hundreds of migrants and refugees over the years who risked drowning in the Mediterranean.

    The men were arrested at sea at the weekend after their trawler released a small vessel it had been towing with 14 migrants onboard, 24 miles from the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

    Italian authorities said an aeroplane crew from the European border agency Frontex had first located the trawler almost 80 nautical miles from Lampedusa and decided to monitor the situation.They alerted the Italian police after the migrant vessel was released, who then arrested all crew members at sea.

    According to their lawyers, the Tunisians maintain that they saw a migrant vessel in distress and a common decision was made to tow it to safety in Italian waters. They claim they called the Italian coastguard so it could intervene and take them to shore.

    Prosecutors have accused the men of illegally escorting the boat into Italian waters and say they have no evidence of an SOS sent by either the migrant boat or by the fishermen’s vessel.

    Among those arrested were 45-year-old Chamseddine Ben Alì Bourassine, who is known in his native city, Zarzis, which lies close to the Libyan border, for saving migrants and bringing human remains caught in his nets back to shore to give the often anonymous dead a dignified burial.

    Immediately following the arrests, hundreds of Tunisians gathered in Zarzis to protest and the Tunisian Fishermen Association of Zarzis sent a letter to the Italian embassy in Tunis in support of the men.

    “Captain Bourassine and his crew are hardworking fishermen whose human values exceed the risks they face every day,” it said. “When we meet boats in distress at sea, we do not think about their colour or their religion.”

    According to his colleagues in Zarzis, Bourassine is an advocate for dissuading young Tunisians from illegal migration. In 2015 he participated in a sea rescue drill organised by Médecins Sans Frontières (Msf) in Zarzis.

    Giulia Bertoluzzi, an Italian filmmaker and journalist who directed the documentary Strange Fish, about Bourassine, said the men were well known in their home town.

    “In Zarzis, Bourassine and his crew are known as anonymous heroes”, Bertoluzzi told the Guardian. “Some time ago a petition was circulated to nominate him for the Nobel peace prize. He saved thousands of lives since.”

    The six Tunisians who are now being held in prison in the Sicilian town of Agrigento pending their trial. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.

    The Italian police said in a statement: “We acted according to our protocol. After the fishing boat released the vessel, it returned south of the Pelagie Islands where other fishing boats were active in an attempt to shield itself.”

    It is not the first time that Italian authorities have arrested fishermen and charged them with aiding illegal immigration. On 8 August 2007, police arrested two Tunisian fishermen for having guided into Italian waters 44 migrants. The trial lasted four years and both men were acquitted of all criminal charges.

    Leonardo Marino, a lawyer in Agrigento who had defended dozens of Tunisian fishermen accused of enabling smuggling, told the Guardian: “The truth is that migrants are perceived as enemies and instead of welcoming them we have decided to fight with repressive laws anyone who is trying to help them.”


    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/05/tunisian-fishermen-await-trial-after-saving-hundreds-of-migrants?CMP=sh
    #Tunisie #pêcheurs #solidarité #mourir_en_mer #sauvetage #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Méditerranée #pêcheurs_tunisiens #délit_de_solidarité
    Accusation: #smuggling #passeurs

    cc @_kg_

    • Commentaires de Charles Heller sur FB :

      Last year these Tunisian fishermen prevented the identitarian C-Star - chartered to prevent solidarity at sea - from docking in Zarzis. Now they have been arrested for exercising that solidarity.

      Back to the bad old days of criminalising Tunisian fishermen who rescue migrants at sea. Lets make some noise and express our support and solidarity in all imaginable ways!

    • Des pêcheurs tunisiens poursuivis pour avoir tracté des migrants jusqu’en Italie

      Surpris en train de tirer une embarcation de migrants vers l’Italie, des pêcheurs tunisiens -dont un militant connu localement- ont été écroués en Sicile. Une manifestation de soutien a eu lieu en Tunisie et une ONG essaie actuellement de leur venir en aide.

      Des citoyens tunisiens sont descendus dans la rue lundi 3 septembre à Zarzis, dans le sud du pays, pour protester contre l’arrestation, par les autorités italiennes, de six pêcheurs locaux. Ces derniers sont soupçonnés d’être des passeurs car ils ont été "surpris en train de tirer une barque avec 14 migrants à bord en direction de [l’île italienne de] Lampedusa", indique la police financière et douanière italienne.

      La contestation s’empare également des réseaux sociaux, notamment avec des messages publiés demandant la libération des six membres d’équipage parmi lesquels figurent Chamseddine Bourassine, président de l’association des pêcheurs de Zarzis. “Toute ma solidarité avec un militant et ami, le doyen des pêcheurs Chamseddine Bourassine. Nous appelons les autorités tunisiennes à intervenir immédiatement avec les autorités italiennes afin de le relâcher ainsi que son équipage”, a écrit lundi le jeune militant originaire de Zarzis Anis Belhiba sur Facebook. Une publication reprise et partagée par Chamesddine Marzoug, un pêcheur retraité et autre militant connu en Tunisie pour enterrer lui-même les corps des migrants rejetés par la mer.

      Sans nouvelles depuis quatre jours

      Un appel similaire a été lancé par le Forum tunisien pour les droits économiques et sociaux, par la voix de Romdhane Ben Amor, chargé de communication de cette ONG basée à Tunis. Contacté par InfoMigrants, il affirme n’avoir reçu aucune nouvelle des pêcheurs depuis près de quatre jours. “On ne sait pas comment ils vont. Tout ce que l’on sait c’est qu’ils sont encore incarcérés à Agrigente en Sicile. On essaie d’activer tous nos réseaux et de communiquer avec nos partenaires italiens pour leur fournir une assistance juridique”, explique-t-il.

      Les six pêcheurs ont été arrêtés le 29 août car leur bateau de pêche, qui tractait une embarcation de fortune avec 14 migrants à son bord, a été repéré -vidéo à l’appui- par un avion de Frontex, l’Agence européenne de garde-côtes et garde-frontières.

      Selon une source policière italienne citée par l’AFP, les pêcheurs ont été arrêtés pour “aide à l’immigration clandestine” et écroués. Le bateau a été repéré en train de tirer des migrants, puis de larguer la barque près des eaux italiennes, à moins de 24 milles de Lampedusa, indique la même source.

      Mais pour Romdhane Ben Amor, “la vidéo de Frontex ne prouve rien”. Et de poursuivre : “#Chamseddine_Bourassine, on le connaît bien. Il participe aux opérations de sauvetage en Méditerranée depuis 2008, il a aussi coordonné l’action contre le C-Star [navire anti-migrants affrété par des militant d’un groupe d’extrême droite]”. Selon Romdhane Ben Amor, il est fort probable que le pêcheur ait reçu l’appel de détresse des migrants, qu’il ait ensuite tenté de les convaincre de faire demi-tour et de regagner la Tunisie. N’y parvenant pas, le pêcheur aurait alors remorqué l’embarcation vers l’Italie, la météo se faisant de plus en plus menaçante.

      La Tunisie, pays d’origine le plus représenté en Italie

      Un nombre croissant de Tunisiens en quête d’emploi et de perspectives d’avenir tentent de se rendre illégalement en Italie via la Méditerranée. D’ailleurs, avec 3 300 migrants arrivés entre janvier et juillet 2018, la Tunisie est le pays d’origine le plus représenté en Italie, selon un rapport du Haut commissariat de l’ONU aux réfugiés (HCR) publié lundi.

      La Méditerranée a été "plus mortelle que jamais" début 2018, indique également le HCR, estimant qu’une personne sur 18 tentant la traversée meurt ou disparaît en mer.


      http://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/11752/des-pecheurs-tunisiens-poursuivis-pour-avoir-tracte-des-migrants-jusqu

    • Lampedusa, in cella ad Agrigento il pescatore tunisino che salva i migranti

      Insieme al suo equipaggio #Chameseddine_Bourassine è accusato di favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione illegale. La Tunisia chiede il rilascio dei sei arrestati. L’appello per la liberazione del figlio di uno dei pescatori e del fratello di Bourassine

      Per la Tunisia Chameseddine Bourassine è il pescatore che salva i migranti. Protagonista anche del film documentario «Strange Fish» di Giulia Bertoluzzi. Dal 29 agosto Chameseddine e il suo equipaggio sono nel carcere di Agrigento, perchè filmati mentre trainavano un barchino con 14 migranti fino a 24 miglia da Lampedusa. Il peschereccio è stato sequestrato e rischiano molti anni di carcere per favoreggiamento aggravato dell’immigrazione illegale. Da Palermo alcuni parenti giunti da Parigi lanciano un appello per la loro liberazione.

      Ramzi Lihiba, figlio di uno dei pescatori arrestati: «Mio padre è scioccato perchè è la prima volta che ha guai con la giustizia. Mi ha detto che hanno incontrato una barca in pericolo e hanno fatto solo il loro dovere. Non è la prima volta. Chameseddine ha fatto centinaia di salvataggi, portando la gente verso la costa più vicina. Prima ha chiamato la guardia costiera di Lampedusa e di Malta senza avere risposta».

      Mohamed Bourassine, fratello di Chameseddine: «Chameseddine l’ha detto anche alla guardia costiera italiana, se trovassi altre persone in pericolo in mare, lo rifarei».
      La Tunisia ha chiesto il rilascio dei sei pescatori di Zarzis. Sit in per loro davanti alle ambasciate italiane di Tunisi e Parigi. Da anni i pescatori delle due sponde soccorrono migranti con molti rischi. Ramzi Lihiba: «Anche io ho fatto la traversata nel 2008 e sono stato salvato dai pescatori italiani, altrimenti non sarei qui oggi».

      https://www.rainews.it/tgr/sicilia/video/2018/09/sic-lampedusa-carcere-pescatore-tunisino-salva-migranti-8f4b62a7-b103-48c0-8

    • Posté par Charles Heller sur FB :

      Yesterday, people demonstrated in the streets of Zarzis in solidarity with the Tunisian fishermen arrested by Italian authorities for exercising their solidarity with migrants crossing the sea. Tomorrow, they will be heard in front of a court in Sicily. While rescue NGOs have done an extraordinary job, its important to underline that European citizens do not have the monopoly over solidarity with migrants, and neither are they the only ones being criminalised. The Tunisian fishermen deserve our full support.


      https://www.facebook.com/charles.heller.507/posts/2207659576116549

    • I pescatori, eroi di Zarzis, in galera

      Il 29 agosto 2018 sei pescatori tunisini sono stati arrestati ad Agrigento, accusati di favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione clandestina, reato punibile fino a quindici anni di carcere. Il loro racconto e quello dei migranti soccorsi parla invece di una barca in panne che prendeva acqua, del tentativo di contattare la Guardia Costiera italiana e infine - dopo una lunga attesa – del trasporto del barchino verso Lampedusa, per aiutare le autorità nelle operazioni di soccorso. Mentre le indagini preliminari sono in corso, vi raccontiamo chi sono questi pescatori. Lo facciamo con Giulia Bertoluzzi, che ha girato il film “Strange Fish” – vincitore al premio BNP e menzione speciale della giuria al festival Visioni dal Mondo - di cui Bourassine è il protagonista, e Valentina Zagaria, che ha vissuto oltre due anni a Zarzis per un dottorato in antropologia.

      Capitano, presidente, eroe. Ecco tre appellativi che potrebbero stare a pennello a Chamseddine Bourassine, presidente della Rete Nazionale della Pesca Artigianale nonché dell’associazione di Zarzis “Le Pêcheur” pour le Développement et l’Environnement, nominata al Premio Nobel per la Pace 2018 per il continuo impegno nel salvare vite nel Mediterraneo. I pescatori di Zarzis infatti, lavorando nel mare aperto tra la Libia e la Sicilia, si trovano da più di quindici anni in prima linea nei soccorsi a causa della graduale chiusura ermetica delle vie legali per l’Europa, che ha avuto come conseguenza l’inizio di traversate con mezzi sempre più di fortuna.
      I frutti della rivoluzione

      Sebbene la legge del mare abbia sempre prevalso per Chamseddine e i pescatori di Zarzis, prima della rivoluzione tunisina del 2011 i pescatori venivano continuamente minacciati dalla polizia del regime di Ben Ali, stretto collaboratore sia dell’Italia che dell’Unione europea in materia di controlli alle frontiere. “Ci dicevano di lasciarli in mare e che ci avrebbero messo tutti in prigione”, spiegava Bourassine, “ma un uomo in mare è un uomo morto, e alla polizia abbiamo sempre risposto che piuttosto saremmo andati in prigione”. In prigione finivano anche i cittadini tunisini che tentavano la traversata e che venivano duramente puniti dal loro stesso governo.

      Tutto è cambiato con la rivoluzione. Oltre 25.000 tunisini si erano imbarcati verso l’Italia, di cui tanti proprio dalle coste di Zarzis. “Non c’erano più né stato né polizia, era il caos assoluto” ricorda Anis Souei, segretario generale dell’Associazione. Alcuni pescatori non lasciavano le barche nemmeno di notte perché avevano paura che venissero rubate, i più indebitati invece tentavano di venderle, mentre alcuni abitanti di Zarzis, approfittando del vuoto di potere, si improvvisavano ‘agenti di viaggi’, cercando di fare affari sulle spalle degli harraga – parola nel dialetto arabo nord africano per le persone che ‘bruciano’ passaporti e frontiera attraversando il Mediterraneo. Chamseddine Bourassine e i suoi colleghi, invece, hanno stretto un patto morale, stabilendo di non vendere le proprie barche per la harga. Si sono rimboccati le maniche e hanno fondato un’associazione per migliorare le condizioni di lavoro del settore, per sensibilizzare sulla preservazione dell’ambiente – condizione imprescindibile per la pesca – e dare una possibilità di futuro ai giovani.

      E proprio verso i più giovani, quelli che più continuano a soffrire dell’alto tasso di disoccupazione, l’associazione ha dedicato diverse campagne di sensibilizzazione. “Andiamo nelle scuole per raccontare quello che vediamo e mostriamo ai ragazzi le foto dei corpi che troviamo in mare, perché si rendano conto del reale pericolo della traversata”, racconta Anis. Inoltre hanno organizzato formazioni di meccanica, riparazione delle reti e pesca subacquea, collaborando anche con diversi progetti internazionali, come NEMO, organizzato dal CIHEAM-Bari e finanziato dalla Cooperazione Italiana. Proprio all’interno di questo progetto è nato il museo di Zarzis della pesca artigianale, dove tra nodi e anforette per la pesca del polipo, c’è una mostra fotografica dei salvataggi in mare intitolata “Gli eroi anonimi di Zarzis”.

      La guerra civile libica

      Con l’inasprirsi della guerra civile libica e l’inizio di veri e propri traffici di esseri umani, le frontiere marittime si sono trasformate in zone al di fuori della legge.
      “I pescatori tunisini vengono regolarmente rapiti dalle milizie o dalle autorità libiche” diceva Bourassine. Queste, una volta sequestrata la barca e rubato il materiale tecnico, chiedevano alle autorità tunisine un riscatto per il rilascio, cosa peraltro successa anche a pescatori siciliani. Sebbene le acque di fronte alla Libia siano le più ricche, soprattutto per il gambero rosso, e per anni siano state zone di pesca per siciliani, tunisini, libici e anche egiziani, ad oggi i pescatori di Zarzis si sono visti obbligati a lasciare l’eldorado dei tonni rossi e dei gamberi rossi, per andare più a ovest.

      “Io pesco nelle zone della rotta delle migrazioni, quindi è possibile che veda migranti ogni volta che esco” diceva Bourassine, indicando sul monitor della sala comandi del suo peschereccio l’est di Lampedusa, durante le riprese del film.

      Con scarso sostegno delle guardie costiere tunisine, a cui non era permesso operare oltre le proprie acque territoriali, i pescatori per anni si sono barcamenati tra il lavoro e la responsabilità di soccorrere le persone in difficoltà che, con l’avanzare del conflitto in Libia, partivano su imbarcazioni sempre più pericolose.

      “Ma quando in mare vedi 100 o 120 persone cosa fai?” si chiede Slaheddine Mcharek, anche lui membro dell’Associazione, “pensi solo a salvare loro la vita, ma non è facile”. Chi ha visto un’operazione di soccorso in mare infatti può immaginare i pericoli di organizzare un trasbordo su un piccolo peschereccio che non metta a repentaglio la stabilità della barca, soprattutto quando ci sono persone che non sanno nuotare. Allo stesso tempo non pescare significa non lavorare e perdere soldi sia per il capitano che per l’equipaggio.
      ONG e salvataggio

      Quando nell’estate del 2015 le navi di ricerca e soccorso delle ONG hanno cominciato ad operare nel Mediterraneo, Chamseddine e tutti i pescatori si sono sentiti sollevati, perché le loro barche non erano attrezzate per centinaia di persone e le autorità tunisine post-rivoluzionarie non avevano i mezzi per aiutarli. Quell’estate, l’allora direttore di Medici Senza Frontiere Foued Gammoudi organizzò una formazione di primo soccorso in mare per sostenere i pescatori. Dopo questa formazione MSF fornì all’associazione kit di pronto soccorso, giubbotti e zattere di salvataggio per poter assistere meglio i rifugiati in mare. L’ONG ha anche dato ai pescatori le traduzioni in italiano e inglese dei messaggi di soccorso e di tutti i numeri collegati al Centro di coordinamento per il soccorso marittimo (MRCC) a Roma, che coordina i salvataggi tra le imbarcazioni nei paraggi pronte ad intervenire, fossero mercantili, navi delle ONG, imbarcazioni militari o della guardia costiera, e quelle dei pescatori di entrambe le sponde del mare. Da quel momento i pescatori potevano coordinarsi a livello internazionale e aspettare che le navi più grandi arrivassero, per poi riprendere il loro lavoro. Solo una settimana dopo la formazione, Gammoudi andò a congratularsi con Chamseddine al porto di Zarzis per aver collaborato con la nave Bourbon-Argos di MSF nel salvataggio di 550 persone.

      Oltre al primo soccorso, MSF ha offerto ai membri dell’associazione una formazione sulla gestione dei cadaveri, fornendo sacchi mortuari, disinfettanti e guanti. C’è stato un periodo durato vari mesi, prima dell’arrivo delle ONG, in cui i pescatori avevano quasi la certezza di vedere dei morti in mare. Nell’assenza di altre imbarcazioni in prossimità della Libia, pronte ad aiutare barche in difficoltà, i naufragi non facevano che aumentare. Proprio come sta succedendo in queste settimane, durante le quali il tasso di mortalità in proporzione agli arrivi in Italia è cresciuto del 5,6%. Dal 26 agosto, nessuna ONG ha operato in SAR libica, e questo a causa delle politiche anti-migranti di Salvini e dei suoi omologhi europei.

      Criminalizzazione della solidarietà

      La situazione però è peggiorata di nuovo nell’estate del 2017, quando l’allora ministro dell’Interno Marco Minniti stringeva accordi con le milizie e la guardia costiera libica per bloccare i rifugiati nei centri di detenzione in Libia, mentre approvava leggi che criminalizzano e limitano l’attività delle ONG in Italia.

      Le campagne di diffamazione contro atti di solidarietà e contro le ONG non hanno fatto altro che versare ancora più benzina sui sentimenti anti-immigrazione che infiammano l’Europa. Nel bel mezzo di questo clima, il 6 agosto 2017, i pescatori di Zarzis si erano trovati in un faccia a faccia con la nave noleggiata da Generazione Identitaria, la C-Star, che attraversava il Mediterraneo per ostacolare le operazioni di soccorso e riportare i migranti in Africa.

      Armati di pennarelli rossi, neri e blu, hanno appeso striscioni sulle barche in una mescolanza di arabo, italiano, francese e inglese: “No Racists!”, “Dégage!”, “C-Star: No gasolio? No acqua? No mangiaro?“.

      Chamseddine Bourassine, con pesanti occhiaie da cinque giorni di lavoro in mare, appena appresa la notizia ha organizzato un sit-in con tanto di media internazionali al porto di Zarzis. I loro sforzi erano stati incoraggiati dalle reti antirazziste in Sicilia, che a loro volta avevano impedito alla C-Star di attraccare nel porto di Catania solo un paio di giorni prima.
      La reazione tunisina dopo l’arresto di Bourassine

      Non c’è quindi da sorprendersi se dopo l’arresto di Chamseddine, Salem, Farhat, Lotfi, Ammar e Bachir l’associazione, le famiglie, gli amici e i colleghi hanno riempito tre pullman da Zarzis per protestare davanti all’ambasciata italiana di Tunisi. La Terre Pour Tous, associazione di famiglie di tunisini dispersi, e il Forum economico e sociale (FTDES) si sono uniti alla protesta per chiedere l’immediato rilascio dei pescatori. Una protesta gemella è stata organizzata anche dalla diaspora di Zarzis davanti all’ambasciata italiana a Parigi, mentre reti di pescatori provenienti dal Marocco e dalla Mauritania hanno rilasciato dichiarazioni di sostegno. Il Segretario di Stato tunisino per l’immigrazione, Adel Jarboui, ha esortato le autorità italiane a liberare i pescatori.

      Nel frattempo Bourassine racconta dalla prigione al fratello: “stavo solo aiutando delle persone in difficoltà in mare. Lo rifarei”.


      http://openmigration.org/analisi/i-pescatori-eroi-di-zarzis-in-galera

    • When rescue at sea becomes a crime: who the Tunisian fishermen arrested in Italy really are

      Fishermen networks from Morocco and Mauritania have released statements of support, and the Tunisian State Secretary for Immigration, Adel Jarboui, urged Italian authorities to release the fishermen, considered heroes in Tunisia.

      On the night of Wednesday, August 29, 2018, six Tunisian fishermen were arrested in Italy. Earlier that day, they had set off from their hometown of Zarzis, the last important Tunisian port before Libya, to cast their nets in the open sea between North Africa and Sicily. The fishermen then sighted a small vessel whose engine had broken, and that had started taking in water. After giving the fourteen passengers water, milk and bread – which the fishermen carry in abundance, knowing they might encounter refugee boats in distress – they tried making contact with the Italian coastguard.

      After hours of waiting for a response, though, the men decided to tow the smaller boat in the direction of Lampedusa – Italy’s southernmost island, to help Italian authorities in their rescue operations. At around 24 miles from Lampedusa, the Guardia di Finanza (customs police) took the fourteen people on board, and then proceeded to violently arrest the six fishermen. According to the precautionary custody order issued by the judge in Agrigento (Sicily), the men stand accused of smuggling, a crime that could get them up to fifteen years in jail if the case goes to trial. The fishermen have since been held in Agrigento prison, and their boat has been seized.

      This arrest comes after a summer of Italian politicians closing their ports to NGO rescue boats, and only a week after far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini[1] prevented for ten days the disembarkation of 177 Eritrean and Somali asylum seekers from the Italian coastguard ship Diciotti. It is yet another step towards dissuading anyone – be it Italian or Tunisian citizens, NGO or coastguard ships – from coming to the aid of refugee boats in danger at sea. Criminalising rescue, a process that has been pushed by different Italian governments since 2016, will continue to have tragic consequences for people on the move in the Mediterranean Sea.
      The fishermen of Zarzis

      Among those arrested is Chamseddine Bourassine, the president of the Association “Le Pêcheur” pour le Développement et l’Environnement, which was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year for the Zarzis fishermen’s continuous engagement in saving lives in the Mediterranean.

      Chamseddine, a fishing boat captain in his mid-40s, was one of the first people I met in Zarzis when, in the summer of 2015, I moved to this southern Tunisian town to start fieldwork for my PhD. On a sleepy late-August afternoon, my interview with Foued Gammoudi, the then Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Head of Mission for Tunisia and Libya, was interrupted by an urgent phone call. “The fishermen have just returned, they saved 550 people, let’s go to the port to thank them.” Just a week earlier, Chamseddine Bourassine had been among the 116 fishermen from Zarzis to have received rescue at sea training with MSF. Gammoudi was proud that the fishermen had already started collaborating with the MSF Bourbon Argos ship to save hundreds of people. We hurried to the port to greet Chamseddine and his crew, as they returned from a three-day fishing expedition which involved, as it so often had done lately, a lives-saving operation.

      The fishermen of Zarzis have been on the frontline of rescue in the Central Mediterranean for over fifteen years. Their fishing grounds lying between Libya – the place from which most people making their way undocumented to Europe leave – and Sicily, they were often the first to come to the aid of refugee boats in distress. “The fishermen have never really had a choice: they work here, they encounter refugee boats regularly, so over the years they learnt to do rescue at sea”, explained Gammoudi. For years, fishermen from both sides of the Mediterranean were virtually alone in this endeavour.
      Rescue before and after the revolution

      Before the Tunisian revolution of 2011, Ben Ali threatened the fishermen with imprisonment for helping migrants in danger at sea – the regime having been a close collaborator of both Italy and the European Union in border control matters. During that time, Tunisian nationals attempting to do the harga – the North African Arabic dialect term for the crossing of the Sicilian Channel by boat – were also heavily sanctioned by their own government.

      Everything changed though with the revolution. “It was chaos here in 2011. You cannot imagine what the word chaos means if you didn’t live it”, recalled Anis Souei, the secretary general of the “Le Pêcheur” association. In the months following the revolution, hundreds of boats left from Zarzis taking Tunisians from all over the country to Lampedusa. Several members of the fishermen’s association remember having to sleep on their fishing boats at night to prevent them from being stolen for the harga. Other fishermen instead, especially those who were indebted, decided to sell their boats, while some inhabitants of Zarzis took advantage of the power vacuum left by the revolution and made considerable profit by organising harga crossings. “At that time there was no police, no state, and even more misery. If you wanted Lampedusa, you could have it”, rationalised another fisherman. But Chamseddine Bourassine and his colleagues saw no future in moving to Europe, and made a moral pact not to sell their boats for migration.

      They instead remained in Zarzis, and in 2013 founded their association to create a network of support to ameliorate the working conditions of small and artisanal fisheries. The priority when they started organising was to try and secure basic social security – something they are still struggling to sustain today. With time, though, the association also got involved in alerting the youth to the dangers of boat migration, as they regularly witnessed the risks involved and felt compelled to do something for younger generations hit hard by staggering unemployment rates. In this optic, they organised training for the local youth in boat mechanics, nets mending, and diving, and collaborated in different international projects, such as NEMO, organised by the CIHEAM-Bari and funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate General for Cooperation Development. This project also helped the fishermen build a museum to explain traditional fishing methods, the first floor of which is dedicated to pictures and citations from the fishermen’s long-term voluntary involvement in coming to the rescue of refugees in danger at sea.

      This role was proving increasingly vital as the Libyan civil war dragged on, since refugees were being forced onto boats in Libya that were not fit for travel, making the journey even more hazardous. With little support from Tunisian coastguards, who were not allowed to operate beyond Tunisian waters, the fishermen juggled their responsibility to bring money home to their families and their commitment to rescuing people in distress at sea. Anis remembers that once in 2013, three fishermen boats were out and received an SOS from a vessel carrying roughly one hundred people. It was their first day out, and going back to Zarzis would have meant losing petrol money and precious days of work, which they simply couldn’t afford. After having ensured that nobody was ill, the three boats took twenty people on board each, and continued working for another two days, sharing food and water with their guests.

      Sometimes, though, the situation on board got tense with so many people, food wasn’t enough for everybody, and fights broke out. Some fishermen recall incidents during which they truly feared for their safety, when occasionally they came across boats with armed men from Libyan militias. It was hard for them to provide medical assistance as well. Once a woman gave birth on Chamseddine’s boat – that same boat that has now been seized in Italy – thankfully there had been no complications.
      NGO ships and the criminalisation of rescue

      During the summer of 2015, therefore, Chamseddine felt relieved that NGO search and rescue boats were starting to operate in the Mediterranean. The fishermen’s boats were not equipped to take hundreds of people on board, and the post-revolutionary Tunisian authorities didn’t have the means to support them. MSF had provided the association with first aid kits, life jackets, and rescue rafts to be able to better assist refugees at sea, and had given them a list of channels and numbers linked to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome for when they encountered boats in distress.

      They also offered training in dead body management, and provided the association with body bags, disinfectant and gloves. “When we see people at sea we rescue them. It’s not only because we follow the laws of the sea or of religion: we do it because it’s human”, said Chamseddine. But sometimes rescue came too late, and bringing the dead back to shore was all the fishermen could do.[2] During 2015 the fishermen at least felt that with more ships in the Mediterranean doing rescue, the duty dear to all seafarers of helping people in need at sea didn’t only fall on their shoulders, and they could go back to their fishing.

      The situation deteriorated again though in the summer of 2017, as Italian Interior Minister Minniti struck deals with Libyan militias and coastguards to bring back and detain refugees in detention centres in Libya, while simultaneously passing laws criminalising and restricting the activity of NGO rescue boats in Italy.

      Media smear campaigns directed against acts of solidarity with migrants and refugees and against the work of rescue vessels in the Mediterranean poured even more fuel on already inflamed anti-immigration sentiments in Europe.

      In the midst of this, on 6 August 2017, the fishermen of Zarzis came face to face with a far-right vessel rented by Generazione Identitaria, the C-Star, cruising the Mediterranean allegedly on a “Defend Europe” mission to hamper rescue operations and bring migrants back to Africa. The C-Star was hovering in front of Zarzis port, and although it had not officially asked port authorities whether it could dock to refuel – which the port authorities assured locals it would refuse – the fishermen of Zarzis took the opportunity to let these alt-right groups know how they felt about their mission.

      Armed with red, black and blue felt tip pens, they wrote in a mixture of Arabic, Italian, French and English slogans such as “No Racists!”, “Dégage!” (Get our of here!), “C-Star: No gasoil? No acqua? No mangiato?” ?” (C-Star: No fuel? No water? Not eaten?), which they proceeded to hang on their boats, ready to take to sea were the C-Star to approach. Chamseddine Bourassine, who had returned just a couple of hours prior to the impending C-Star arrival from five days of work at sea, called other members of the fishermen association to come to the port and join in the peaceful protest.[3] He told the journalists present that the fishermen opposed wholeheartedly the racism propagated by the C-Star members, and that having seen the death of fellow Africans at sea, they couldn’t but condemn these politics. Their efforts were cheered on by anti-racist networks in Sicily, who had in turn prevented the C-Star from docking in Catania port just a couple of days earlier.

      It is members from these same networks in Sicily together with friends of the fishermen in Tunisia and internationally that are now engaged in finding lawyers for Chamseddine and his five colleagues.

      Their counterparts in Tunisia joined the fishermen’s families and friends on Thursday morning to protest in front of the Italian embassy in Tunis. Three busloads arrived from Zarzis after an 8-hour night-time journey for the occasion, and many others had come from other Tunisian towns to show their solidarity. Gathered there too were members of La Terre Pour Tous, an association of families of missing Tunisian migrants, who joined in to demand the immediate release of the fishermen. A sister protest was organised by the Zarzis diaspora in front of the Italian embassy in Paris on Saturday afternoon. Fishermen networks from Morocco and Mauritania also released statements of support, and the Tunisian State Secretary for Immigration Adel Jarboui urged Italian authorities to release the fishermen, who are considered heroes in Tunisia.

      The fishermen’s arrest is the latest in a chain of actions taken by the Italian Lega and Five Star government to further criminalise rescue in the Mediterranean Sea, and to dissuade people from all acts of solidarity and basic compliance with international norms. This has alarmingly resulted in the number of deaths in 2018 increasing exponentially despite a drop in arrivals to Italy’s southern shores. While Chamseddine’s lawyer hasn’t yet been able to visit him in prison, his brother and cousin managed to go see him on Saturday. As for telling them about what happened on August 29, Chamseddine simply says that he was assisting people in distress at sea: he’d do it again.

      https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/valentina-zagaria/when-rescue-at-sea-becomes-crime-who-tunisian-fishermen-arrested-in-i

    • Les pêcheurs de Zarzis, ces héros que l’Italie préfère voir en prison

      Leurs noms ont été proposés pour le prix Nobel de la paix mais ils risquent jusqu’à quinze ans de prison : six pêcheurs tunisiens se retrouvent dans le collimateur des autorités italiennes pour avoir aidé des migrants en Méditerranée.

      https://www.middleeasteye.net/fr/reportages/les-p-cheurs-de-zarzis-ces-h-ros-que-l-italie-pr-f-re-voir-en-prison-

    • Les pêcheurs tunisiens incarcérés depuis fin août en Sicile sont libres

      Arrêtés après avoir tracté une embarcation de quatorze migrants jusqu’au large de Lampedusa, un capitaine tunisien et son équipage sont soupçonnés d’être des passeurs. Alors qu’en Tunisie, ils sont salués comme des sauveurs.

      Les six pêcheurs ont pu reprendre la mer afin de regagner Zarzis, dans le sud tunisien. Les familles n’ont pas caché leur soulagement. Un accueil triomphal, par des dizaines de bateaux au large du port, va être organisé, afin de saluer le courage de ces sauveteurs de migrants à la dérive.

      Et peu importe si l’acte est dénoncé par l’Italie. Leurs amis et collègues ne changeront pas leurs habitudes de secourir toute embarcation en danger.

      A l’image de Rya, la cinquantaine, marin pêcheur à Zarzis qui a déjà sauvé des migrants en perdition et ne s’arrêtera pas : « Il y a des immigrés, tous les jours il y en a. De Libye, de partout. Nous on est des pêcheurs, on essaie de sauver les gens. C’est tout, c’est très simple. Nous on ne va pas s’arrêter, on va sauver d’autres personnes. Ils vont nous mettre en prison, on est là, pas de problème. »

      Au-delà du soulagement de voir rentrer les marins au pays, des voix s’élèvent pour crier leur incompréhension. Pour Halima Aissa, présidente de l’Association de recherche des disparus tunisiens à l’étranger, l’action de ce capitaine de pêche ne souffre d’aucune légitimité : « C’est un pêcheur tunisien, mais en tant qu’humaniste, si on trouve des gens qui vont couler en mer, notre droit c’est de les sauver. C’est inhumain de voir des gens mourir et de ne pas les sauver, ça c’est criminel. »

      Ces arrestations, certes suivies de libérations, illustrent pourtant la politique du nouveau gouvernement italien, à en croire Romdhane Ben Amor, du Forum tunisien des droits économiques et sociaux qui s’inquiète de cette nouvelle orientation politique : « Ça a commencé par les ONG qui font des opérations de sauvetage dans la Méditerranée et maintenant ça va vers les pêcheurs. C’est un message pour tous ceux qui vont participer aux opérations de sauvetage. Donc on aura plus de danger dans la mer, plus de tragédie dans la mer. » Pendant ce temps, l’enquête devrait se poursuivre encore plusieurs semaines en Italie.

      ■ Dénoncés par Frontex

      Détenus dans une prison d’Agrigente depuis le 29 août, les six pêcheurs tunisiens qui étaient soupçonnés d’aide à l’immigration illégale ont retrouvé leur liberté grâce à la décision du tribunal de réexamen de Palerme. L’équivalent italien du juge des libertés dans le système français.

      Le commandant du bateau de pêche, Chamseddine Bourassine, président de l’association des pêcheurs de Zarzis, ville du sud de la Tunisie, avait été arrêté avec les 5 membres d’équipage pour avoir secouru au large de l’île de Lampedusa une embarcation transportant 14 migrants.

      C’est un #avion_de_reconnaissance, opérant pour l’agence européenne #Frontex, qui avait repéré leur bateau tractant une barque et averti les autorités italiennes, précise notre correspondante à Rome, Anne Le Nir.

      http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20180923-pecheurs-tunisiens-incarceres-depuis-fin-aout-sicile-sont-libres

    • A Zarzis, les pêcheurs sauveurs de migrants menacés par l’Italie

      Après l’arrestation le 29 août de six pêcheurs tunisiens à Lampedusa, accusés d’être des passeurs alors qu’ils avaient secouru des migrants, les marins de la petite ville de Zarzis au sud de la Tunisie ont peur des conséquences du sauvetage en mer.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/121118/zarzis-les-pecheurs-sauveurs-de-migrants-menaces-par-l-italie
      #pêcheurs_tunisiens

    • Migrants : quand les pêcheurs tunisiens deviennent sauveteurs

      En Méditerranée, le sauvetage des candidats à l’exil et les politiques européennes de protection des frontières ont un impact direct sur le village de pêcheurs de #Zarzis, dans le sud de la Tunisie. Dans le code de la mer, les pêcheurs tout comme les gardes nationaux ont l’obligation de sauver les personnes en détresse en mer. Aujourd’hui, ce devoir moral pousse les pêcheurs à prendre des risques, et à se confronter aux autorités européennes.

      Chemssedine Bourassine a été arrêté fin août 2018 avec son équipage par les autorités italiennes. Ce pêcheur était accusé d’avoir fait le passeur de migrants car il avait remorqué un canot de 14 personnes en détresse au large de Lampedusa. Lui arguait qu’il ne faisait que son devoir en les aidant, le canot étant à la dérive, en train de couler, lorsqu’il l’avait trouvé.

      Revenu à bon port après trois mois sans son navire, confisqué par les autorités italiennes, cet épisode pèse lourd sur lui et ses compères. Nos reporters Lilia Blaise et Hamdi Tlili sont allés à la rencontre de ces pêcheurs, pour qui la mer est devenue une source d’inquiétudes.

      https://www.france24.com/fr/20190306-focus-tunisie-migrants-mediterranee-mer-sauvetage-pecheurs

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKpxQxiJCSc

    • Les pêcheurs tunisiens, sauveurs d’hommes en Méditerranée

      Lorsque Chamseddine Bourassine a vu l’embarcation de 69 migrants à la dérive au large de la Tunisie, il a appelé les secours et continué à pêcher. Mais deux jours plus tard, au moment de quitter la zone, il a bien fallu les embarquer.

      Les pêcheurs tunisiens se retrouvent de plus en plus seuls pour secourir les embarcations clandestines quittant la Libye voisine vers l’Italie, en raison des difficultés des ONG en Méditerranée orientale et du désengagement des navires militaires européens.

      Le 11 mai, les équipages de M. Bourassine et de trois autres pêcheurs ont ramené à terre les 69 migrants partis cinq jours plus tôt de Zouara dans l’ouest libyen.

      « La zone où nous pêchons est un point de passage » entre Zouara et l’île italienne de Lampedusa, souligne Badreddine Mecherek, un patron de pêche de Zarzis (sud), port voisin de la Libye plongée dans le chaos et plaque tournante pour les migrants d’Afrique, mais aussi d’Asie.

      Au fil des ans, la plupart des pêcheurs de Zarzis ont ramené des migrants, sauvant des centaines de vies.

      Avec la multiplication de départs après l’hiver, les pêcheurs croisent les doigts pour ne être confrontés à des tragédies.

      « On prévient d’abord les autorités, mais au final on les sauve nous-mêmes », soupire M. Mecherek, quinquagénaire bougonnant, en bricolant le Asil, son sardinier.

      La marine tunisienne, aux moyens limités, se charge surtout d’intercepter les embarcations clandestines dans ses seules eaux territoriales.

      Contactées par l’AFP pour commenter, les autorités tunisiennes n’ont pas souhaité s’exprimer. Celles-ci interdisent depuis le 31 mai le débarquement de 75 migrants sauvés de la noyade dans les eaux internationales, sans avancer de raisons.

      – « Comme un ange » -

      « Tout le monde s’est désengagé », déplore M. Mecherek.

      « Si nous trouvons des migrants au deuxième jour (de notre sortie en mer), nous avons pu travailler une nuit, mais si nous tombons sur eux dès la première nuit, il faut rentrer », ajoute-t-il. « C’est très compliqué de terminer le travail avec des gens à bord ».

      La situation est particulièrement complexe quand les pêcheurs tombent sur des migrants à proximité de l’Italie.

      M. Bourassine, qui a voulu rapprocher des côtes italiennes une embarcation en détresse mi-2018 au large de Lampedusa, a été emprisonné quatre semaines avec son équipage en Sicile et son bateau confisqué pendant de longs mois.

      Ces dernières années, les navires des ONG et ceux de l’opération antipasseurs européenne Sophia étaient intervenus pour secourir les migrants. Mais les opérations ont pâti en 2019 de la réduction du champ d’action de Sophia et des démarches contre les ONG des Etats européens cherchant à limiter l’arrivée des migrants.

      « Avec leurs moyens, c’était eux qui sauvaient les gens, on arrivait en deuxième ligne. Maintenant le plus souvent on est les premiers, et si on n’est pas là, les migrants meurent », affirme M. Mecherek.

      C’est ce qui est arrivé le 10 mai. Un chalutier a repêché de justesse 16 migrants ayant passé huit heures dans l’eau. Une soixantaine s’étaient noyés avant son arrivée.

      Ahmed Sijur, l’un des miraculés, se souvient de l’arrivée du bateau, comme « un ange ».

      « J’étais en train d’abandonner mais Dieu a envoyé des pêcheurs pour nous sauver. S’ils étaient arrivés dix minutes plus tard, je crois que j’aurais lâché », explique ce Bangladais de 30 ans.

      – « Pas des gens » ! -

      M. Mecherek est fier mais inquiet. « On aimerait ne plus voir tous ces cadavres. On va pêcher du poisson, pas des gens » !.

      « J’ai 20 marins à bord, il disent +qui va faire manger nos familles, les clandestins ?+ Et ils ont peur des maladies, parfois des migrants ont passé 15-20 jours en mer, ils ne se sont pas douchés, il y a des odeurs, c’est compliqué ». « Mais nos pêcheurs ne laisseront jamais des gens mourir ».

      Pour Mongi Slim, responsable du Croissant-Rouge tunisien, « les pêcheurs font pratiquement les gendarmes de la mer et peuvent alerter. Des migrants nous disent que certains gros bateaux passent » sans leur porter secours.

      Même les gros thoniers de Zarzis, sous pression pour pêcher leur quota en une sortie annuelle, reconnaissent éviter parfois d’embarquer les migrants mais assurent qu’ils ne les abandonnent pas sans secours.

      « On signale les migrants, mais on ne peut pas les ramener à terre : on n’a que quelques semaines pour pêcher notre quota », souligne un membre d’équipage.

      Double peine pour les sardiniers : les meilleurs coins de pêche au large de l’ouest libyen leur sont inaccessibles car les gardes-côtes et les groupes armés les tiennent à l’écart.

      « Ils sont armés et ils ne rigolent pas », explique M. Mecherek. « Des pêcheurs se sont fait arrêter », ajoute-t-il, « nous sommes des témoins gênants ».

      Pour M. Bourassine « l’été s’annonce difficile : avec la reprise des combats en Libye, les trafiquants sont de nouveau libres de travailler, il risque d’y avoir beaucoup de naufrages ».


      https://www.courrierinternational.com/depeche/les-pecheurs-tunisiens-sauveurs-dhommes-en-mediterranee.afp.c

    • Les pêcheurs tunisiens, désormais en première ligne pour sauver les migrants en Méditerranée

      Les embarcations en péril sont quasiment vouées à l’abandon avec le recul forcé des opérations de sauvetage des ONG et de la lutte contre les passeurs.

      Lorsque Chamseddine Bourassine a vu l’embarcation de 69 migrants à la dérive au large de la Tunisie, il a appelé les secours et continué à pêcher. Mais, deux jours plus tard, au moment de quitter la zone, il a bien fallu les embarquer puisque personne ne leur était venu en aide.

      Les pêcheurs tunisiens se retrouvent de plus en plus seuls pour secourir les embarcations clandestines quittant la Libye voisine vers l’Italie, en raison des difficultés des ONG en Méditerranée orientale et du désengagement des navires militaires européens.

      Le 11 mai, les équipages de M. Bourassine et de trois autres pêcheurs ont ramené à terre les 69 migrants partis cinq jours plus tôt de Zouara, dans l’Ouest libyen. « La zone où nous pêchons est un point de passage » entre Zouara et l’île italienne de Lampedusa, explique Badreddine Mecherek, un patron de pêche de Zarzis (sud). Le port est voisin de la Libye, plongée dans le chaos et plaque tournante pour les migrants d’Afrique, mais aussi d’Asie.
      « Tout le monde s’est désengagé »

      Au fil des ans, la plupart des pêcheurs de Zarzis ont ramené des migrants, sauvant des centaines de vies. Avec la multiplication de départs après l’hiver, les pêcheurs croisent les doigts pour ne pas être confrontés à des tragédies. « On prévient d’abord les autorités, mais au final on les sauve nous-mêmes », soupire M. Mecherek, quinquagénaire bougonnant, en bricolant le Asil, son sardinier.

      La marine tunisienne, aux moyens limités, se charge surtout d’intercepter les embarcations clandestines dans ses seules eaux territoriales. Contactées par l’AFP pour commenter, les autorités tunisiennes n’ont pas souhaité s’exprimer. Celles-ci interdisent depuis le 31 mai le débarquement de 75 migrants sauvés de la noyade dans les eaux internationales, sans avancer de raisons.

      « Tout le monde s’est désengagé, déplore M. Mecherek. Si nous trouvons des migrants au deuxième jour de notre sortie en mer, cela nous laisse le temps de travailler une nuit. Mais si nous tombons sur eux dès la première nuit, il faut rentrer. C’est très compliqué de terminer le travail avec des gens à bord. »

      La situation est particulièrement complexe quand les pêcheurs tombent sur des migrants à proximité de l’Italie. M. Bourassine, qui avait voulu rapprocher des côtes italiennes une embarcation en détresse mi-2018 au large de Lampedusa, a été emprisonné quatre semaines en Sicile avec son équipage et son bateau, confisqué pendant de longs mois.
      « Un ange »

      Ces dernières années, les navires des ONG et ceux de l’opération européenne antipasseurs Sophia intervenaient pour secourir les migrants. Mais ces manœuvres de sauvetage ont pâti en 2019 de la réduction du champ d’action de Sophia et des démarches engagées contre les ONG par des Etats européens qui cherchent à limiter l’arrivée des migrants.

      « Avec leurs moyens, c’était eux qui sauvaient les gens, on arrivait en deuxième ligne. Maintenant, le plus souvent, on est les premiers, et si on n’est pas là, les migrants meurent », affirme M. Mecherek.

      C’est ce qui est arrivé le 10 mai. Un chalutier a repêché de justesse 16 migrants ayant passé huit heures dans l’eau. Une soixantaine d’entre eux s’étaient noyés avant son arrivée.

      Ahmed Sijur, l’un des miraculés, se souvient de l’arrivée du bateau, comme d’« un ange ». « J’étais en train d’abandonner, mais Dieu a envoyé des pêcheurs pour nous sauver. S’ils étaient arrivés dix minutes plus tard, je crois que j’aurais lâché », explique ce Bangladais de 30 ans.

      M. Mecherek est fier mais inquiet : « On aimerait ne plus voir tous ces cadavres. On va pêcher du poisson, pas des gens ! ». « J’ai vingt marins à bord, explique-t-il encore. Ils disent “Qui va faire manger nos familles, les clandestins ?” Et ils ont peur des maladies, parfois des migrants ont passé quinze à vingt jours en mer, ils ne se sont pas douchés. C’est compliqué, mais nos pêcheurs ne laisseront jamais des gens mourir. » Les petits chalutiers ont donc pris l’habitude d’emporter de nombreux gilets de sauvetage avant leur départ en mer.
      « L’été s’annonce difficile »

      Pour Mongi Slim, responsable du Croissant-Rouge tunisien, « les pêcheurs sont devenus en pratique les gendarmes de la mer et peuvent alerter. Des migrants nous disent que certains gros bateaux passent » sans leur porter secours.

      Les gros thoniers de Zarzis, sous pression pour pêcher leur quota en une seule sortie annuelle, reconnaissent éviter parfois d’embarquer les migrants, mais assurent qu’ils ne les abandonnent pas sans secours. « On signale les migrants, mais on ne peut pas les ramener à terre : on n’a que quelques semaines pour pêcher notre quota », explique un membre d’équipage.

      Double peine pour les sardiniers : les meilleurs coins de pêche au large de l’Ouest libyen leur sont devenus inaccessibles, car les garde-côtes et les groupes armés les tiennent à l’écart. « Ils sont armés et ils ne rigolent pas, témoigne M. Mecherek. Des pêcheurs se sont fait arrêter. Nous sommes des témoins gênants. »

      Pour M. Bourassine, « l’été s’annonce difficile : avec la reprise des combats en Libye, les trafiquants sont de nouveau libres de travailler, il risque d’y avoir beaucoup de naufrages ».

      https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2019/06/17/les-pecheurs-tunisiens-desormais-en-premiere-ligne-pour-sauver-les-migrants-

    • Un bon article de #Matteo_Villa qui résume ces questions, paru en septembre 2018 :

      Outsourcing European Border Control : Recent Trends in Departures, Deaths and Search and Rescue Activities in the Central Mediterranean

      In our previous blog post ‘Border Deaths in the Mediterranean: what we can learn from the latest data?’ on Border Criminologies (March 2017) we discussed the existing data sources on Mediterranean Sea migration and provided an analysis of key patterns and trends. We found that Search and Rescue (SAR) has little or no effect on the number of arrivals, and it is rather the absence of SAR that leads to more deaths. These results, which are in line with other research, were covered by various European media outlets and also resulted in a peer reviewed publication in Sociology (also available as a free preprint).

      These findings covered the period until December 2016. Since then, however, the context of European border policy has changed considerably:

      Through a mix of political pressure, financial incentives and military assistance, the EU has tried to induce transit countries in the Sahel to close their borders to Europe-bound migrants. According to European parliament president Tajani, this resulted in a 95% drop in crossings through Niger, a key transition point for migrants on the way to Libya, although it cannot be excluded that migrants are taking different, more dangerous routes in order to reach Northern African countries (either via Niger or through Algeria).
      From the beginning of 2017 onwards, the Italian government backed by the EU has increasingly cooperated with Libyan authorities to block depatures in exchange for financial and logistical support. The UN-backed government in Libya in turn, has allegedly forged deals with a number of militias.
      Increased European support for the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG), resulting in an increase in interceptions and the declaration of a Libyan SAR zone.
      Increasing legal and political attacks on NGOs engaged in SAR have culminated in Italy’s decision to declare its ports to be “closed” to NGO vessels and (temporarily) to EU rescue ships in June 2018.

      Each of these developments can be seen as part of a broader strategy to close the European borders by externalizing border control to third countries, a practice that was tried earlier with Turkey, and to relax commitments enshrined in international law, such as search and rescue at sea and non refoulement.

      In view of these recent developments, we document estimated trends in arrivals, deaths, mortality rates and rescue activities covering the most recent period, between January 2016 and July 2018. In doing so, we strongly rely on detailed statistical analyses conducted by the Italian research institute ISPI. Our analyses are based on publicly available data from the IOM and the UNHCR for arrivals and interceptions, and IOM’s Missing Migrants Project for deaths. It is important to note that recorded deaths are a lower bound estimate of the actual death toll, because some deaths are likely to remain unreported. We provide an extensive discussion of data sources, data quality and challenges for their interpretation in our academic article on the issue. Since most of the above developments relate to the situation in Libya, we focus on migrants departing from that country. Libya is also the only Northern African country where interceptions at sea by the Coast Guard are independently monitored by both IOM and UNHCR personnel at disembarkation points.

      Although each of these individual developments have been reported elsewhere, together they paint a picture of Europe’s resolve to close its external borders and deter irregular migration, regardless of the (human) cost.

      Trend #1: A sharp drop in departures

      Figure 1 plots trends in the number of migrants departing irregularly from Libya by sea since January 2016. Until mid-2017, migrant departures show a remarkably regular seasonal pattern, with around 20,000 departures during the summer months. As of July 2017, however, the number of arrivals dropped dramatically, and it has stayed at comparatively low levels up to the present. The decrease in arrivals occurred after alleged ’deals’ between Libyan authorities and the militias in Western Libya that control the smuggling networks, and a few months after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Italy and Libya. Convergent diplomatic action induced some militias to switch from smuggling to preventing departures. Other factors, such as the activity of the LCG, private and public SAR providers, or dynamics in the rate of dead and missing along the route, are relevant per se but appear to play no significant role in the decrease in arrivals to Europe. Europe’s efforts to block migrants passing though transit countries may have played a role as well, but evidence is still too sparse to be reliably assessed.

      Trend #2: An increased risk of interception by the Libyan Coast Guard

      The Libyan Coast Guard plays a pivotal role in Europe’s strategy of externalizing migration control to third countries. A report by Human Rights Watch suggests that in recent months “the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (IMRCC) has routinized a practice, tested since at least May 2017, of transferring responsibility to Libyan coast guard forces in international waters even when there are other, better-equipped vessels, including its own patrol boats or Italian navy vessels, closer to the scene.” This practice has been termed ’refoulement by proxy’ because the LCG is financed, equipped and instructed by the Italian and European authorities, as described in this recent investigative report. Migrants who are forcibly returned to Libya are imprisoned in detention centres for indefinite periods, and they face systematic violence—including torture and rape—as has been documented in numerous reports.

      The new Italian government intensified and formalized the policy of transferring responsibility to the LCG. Since June, it has instructed ships undertaking rescues in the Libyan SAR zone to refer all emergency calls to the Libyan authorities, who will then arrange their interception and pull-back to Libya. The declarations that Italian ports are “closed” to NGO ships are also part of this strategy, as their operations are considered to interfere with LCG interceptions. In late July, this practice resulted in the first instance of a non-Libyan vessel, the Asso Ventotto, being instructed to coordinate with the Tripoli Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC). The ship ultimately disembarked the rescued persons on Libyan territory and thus effectively engaged in refoulement and collective expulsion of migrants.

      The practice of outsourcing European border control to the Libyan Coast Guard has brought about a sharp increase in its activity: by the end of July 2018, the LCG had intercepted 12,490 migrants at sea compared to 8,851 during the same period in the previous year, which amounts to a 41% increase. In combination with the drop in departures, this policy has resulted in a rapid increase in the risk of interception. To illustrate this fact, in July 2017 just 6% of migrants leaving Libya by sea ended up being caught and brought back, while almost 94% made it to Europe. In July 2018, instead, 71% of migrants leaving Libya’s shores were intercepted and brought back, while just 24% arrived safely in a European country (see Figure 2).

      Trend #3: An increase in the absolute and relative mortality rate between mid-June and July 2018

      In this section, we look at trends in absolute mortality (the number of dead and missing people at sea) and relative mortality (the risk of crossing) of migrants departing from Libya. In particular, we analyse the widely reported spike in deaths that occurred in late June 2018, after virtually all SAR NGOs had been prevented from operating as a result of policies introduced by the new Italian Minister of Interior Salvini from the far-right Lega and the continued denial by the Maltese authorities to offer Valetta as a port of entry. On June 10, Italy unilaterally decided to declare its ports to be “closed” to NGO rescue ships, as well as (temporarily) to commercial and EU vessels carrying rescued migrants. Also Malta tightened its position on rescue activities and cracked down on two SAR NGOs in early July. Since then, rescue operations close to the Libyan coast have been almost entirely delegated to the LCG.

      First, we look at trends in the absolute mortality rate. Figure 3 shows a reduction in the monthly number of deaths since July 2017, commensurate with the reduction in the number of departures described above. For example, 20 deaths were recorded in April 2018, and 11 in May (Figure 3). In June, however, an estimated 451 migrants died on their way from Libya to Europe—of which 370 between 16 and 30 June. It is important to note that these deaths occurred during a time when departures were comparatively low. As a result, the risk of crossing has increased from 2.8% in the previous months to a staggering 7% since mid-June 2018 (Figure 4). These findings are also robust to using different time frames for the pre-NGO absence period, including the entire period since the drop of arrivals in July 2017 until the NGO ban. Whereas relative mortality has fluctuated in recent years, 7% constitute an extraordinary spike.

      Figure 5 maps shipwreck events occurring between 16 June and 31 July 2018 with at least estimated 15 dead or missing persons, using geocoded data provided by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project. While the precise location of each shipwreck is only an estimate, as “precise locations are not often known” (as explained in the “Methodology” section of the Missing Migrants Project), such estimates do provide an indication of where such shipwrecks have taken place. In particular, IOM data shows that shipwrecks between 16 June and 31 July took place well within 50 nautical miles from Libya’s shores, an area which used to be patrolled by either the LCG or NGO vessels. Yet, during the time when deaths spiked, only two NGO vessels had been operating, and only discontinuously.

      These observations are reminiscent of what happened in 2015, when the withdrawal of competent SAR providers (the Italian mission Mare Nostrum) similarly created the conditions for avoidable loss of life. Although these findings are based on a relatively short time period, they are suggestive of the risk of leaving the Libyan SAR zone to the operations of the LCG alone. Continuous monitoring of the situation remains of utmost importance.

      Conclusion

      In combination, the three trends described above highlight the harsh realities of recent European migration policies, which seek to limit irregular migration regardless of the moral, legal and humanitarian consequences. The current European obsession with reducing migration at all costs is even less comprehensible when considering that arrivals decreased drastically prior to the most recent escalation of rhetoric and externalization of migration control. Arrivals to Italy in the first half of 2018 were down by 79% compared to the same time frame in 2017. Although increasingly inhumane policies are often cloaked in a rhetoric about reducing deaths at sea, it is important to remember that those who are prevented from crossing or forcibly returned are generally not safe but remain subject to precarious and often lethal conditions in countries of transit. Rather than providing a sustainable response to the complex challenges involved in irregular migration, Europe has outsourced the management of its migration ’problem’ to countries like Libya and Niger, where violence and death often remains hidden from the public view.

      https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2018/09/outsourcing

    • Arrivées en Europe via la Méditerranée :
      2018 :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/705781
      Arrivées en Europe toute frontière confondue :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/739902
      –-> attention, c’est les « crossings »... rappelez-vous de la question des doubles/triples contages des passages :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/705957

      Pour #2016 #2017 et #2018, chiffres de Matteo Villa :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/768142
      database : https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ncHxOHIx4ptt4YFXgGi9TIbwd53HaR3oFbrfBm67ak4/edit#gid=0
      #base_de_données #database

    • Arrivées par la #Méditerranée en #2019 :
      Europe : plus de 21.000 migrants et réfugiés arrivés par la Méditerranée depuis janvier

      Selon l’Agence des Nations Unies pour les migrations (OIM ), les arrivées de migrants en Méditerranée ont dépassé le seuil des 21.000, ce qui constitue une baisse d’environ un tiers par rapport aux 32.070 arrivés au cours de la même période l’an dernier.

      Ce sont exactement 21.301 migrants et réfugiés qui sont entrés en Europe par voie maritime à la date du 29 mai. Les arrivées en Espagne et en Grèce représentent 85% du total des arrivées, le reste des migrants et réfugiés de cette année ont pris la direction de l’Italie, de Malte et de Chypre.

      La Grèce a désormais surpassé l’Espagne au titre de première destination des migrants et des réfugiés rejoignant l’Europe via la Méditerranée. Selon l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), le nombre total d’arrivées par mer cette année est de 10.200 dont 2.483 arrivées signalées entre le 1er et le 29 mai dernier.

      Le Bureau de l’OIM en Grèce a indiqué mercredi dernier que les garde-côtes helléniques ont confirmé que pendant plus de 48 heures entre le 28 et le 29 mai, il y eu sept incidents nécessitant des opérations de recherche et sauvetage au large des îles de Lesbos, Leros, Samos, Symi Kos et le port d’Alexandroupolis. Ils ont ainsi sauvé 191 migrants qui ont été transférés par la suite dans les ports respectifs grecs.

      De plus, à la date du 30 avril, ce sont 3.497 migrants qui ont réussi à atteindre la Grèce via sa frontière terrestre avec la Turquie.
      519 décès de migrants, dont plus de la moitié sur la route de la Méditerranée centrale

      L’Espagne reste la deuxième porte d’entrée des réfugiés en Méditerranée, avec 7.876 arrivées dont 1.160 hommes, femmes et enfants pour le seul mois de mai. Sur la même période l’an dernier, Madrid a comptabilisé 8.150 migrants et réfugiés ayant réussi à franchir la route de la Méditerranée occidentale. En outre, plus de 2.100 ont atteint l’Espagne via sa frontière terrestre avec le Maroc.

      Par ailleurs, l’OIM rappelle que les arrivées ont considérablement baissé en Italie où seuls 1.561 migrants ont réussi à franchir les côtes siciliennes.

      Mais la route de la Méditerranée centrale (Italie et Malte) reste tout de même la plus meurtrière avec 321 décès, soit plus de la moitié du total de migrants et réfugiés ayant péri en tentant d’atteindre l’Europe. Les décès enregistrés sur les trois principales routes de la mer Méditerranée pendant près de cinq mois en 2019 s’élèvent à 519 personnes, soit un quart de moins que les 662 décès confirmés au cours de la même période en 2018.

      A cet égard, l’OIM rappelle que dans l’ouest de la Méditerranée, l’organisation non gouvernementale Alarme Phone a signalé qu’un jeune Camerounais avait disparu le 21 mai dernier. Selon les témoignages des huit survivants qui l’accompagnaient, il serait tombé en mer avant que leur navire ne soit intercepté par la marine marocaine. Son corps n’a pas été retrouvé.

      En Méditerranée centrale, des migrants interceptés et renvoyés en Libye le 23 mai ont également indiqué aux équipes de l’OIM que cinq hommes s’étaient noyés au cours de leur voyage. « Aucun autre détail concernant l’identité, le pays d’origine ou d’autres informations personnelles concernant les disparus n’est disponible », a souligné l’OIM dans une note à la presse.

      https://news.un.org/fr/story/2019/05/1044671

  • Vu sur Twitter :

    M.Potte-Bonneville @pottebonneville a retweeté Catherine Boitard

    Vous vous souvenez ? Elle avait sauvé ses compagnons en tirant l’embarcation à la nage pendant trois heures : Sarah Mardini, nageuse olympique et réfugiée syrienne, est arrêtée pour aide à l’immigration irrégulière.

    Les olympiades de la honte 2018 promettent de beaux records

    M.Potte-Bonneville @pottebonneville a retweeté Catherine Boitard @catboitard :

    Avec sa soeur Yusra, nageuse olympique et distinguée par l’ONU, elle avait sauvé 18 réfugiés de la noyade à leur arrivée en Grèce. La réfugiée syrienne Sarah Mardini, boursière à Berlin et volontaire de l’ONG ERCI, a été arrêtée à Lesbos pour aide à immigration irrégulière

    #migration #asile #syrie #grèce #solidarité #humanité

    • GRÈCE : LA POLICE ARRÊTE 30 MEMBRES D’UNE ONG D’AIDE AUX RÉFUGIÉS

      La police a arrêté, mardi 28 août, 30 membres de l’ONG grecque #ERCI, dont les soeurs syriennes Yusra et Sarah Mardini, qui avaient sauvé la vie à 18 personnes en 2015. Les militant.e.s sont accusés d’avoir aidé des migrants à entrer illégalement sur le territoire grec via l’île de Lesbos. Ils déclarent avoir agi dans le cadre de l’assistance à personnes en danger.

      Par Marina Rafenberg

      L’ONG grecque Emergency response centre international (ERCY) était présente sur l’île de Lesbos depuis 2015 pour venir en aide aux réfugiés. Depuis mardi 28 août, ses 30 membres sont poursuivis pour avoir « facilité l’entrée illégale d’étrangers sur le territoire grec » en vue de gains financiers, selon le communiqué de la police grecque.

      L’enquête a commencé en février 2018, rapporte le site d’information protagon.gr, lorsqu’une Jeep portant une fausse plaque d’immatriculation de l’armée grecque a été découverte par la police sur une plage, attendant l’arrivée d’une barque pleine de réfugiés en provenance de Turquie. Les membres de l’ONG, six Grecs et 24 ressortissants étrangers, sont accusés d’avoir été informés à l’avance par des personnes présentes du côté turc des heures et des lieux d’arrivée des barques de migrants, d’avoir organisé l’accueil de ces réfugiés sans en informer les autorités locales et d’avoir surveillé illégalement les communications radio entre les autorités grecques et étrangères, dont Frontex, l’agence européenne des gardes-cotes et gardes-frontières. Les crimes pour lesquels ils sont inculpés – participation à une organisation criminelle, violation de secrets d’État et recel – sont passibles de la réclusion à perpétuité.

      Parmi les membres de l’ONG grecque arrêtés se trouve Yusra et Sarah Mardini, deux sœurs nageuses et réfugiées syrienne qui avaient sauvé 18 personnes de la noyade lors de leur traversée de la mer Égée en août 2015. Depuis Yusra a participé aux Jeux Olympiques de Rio, est devenue ambassadrice de l’ONU et a écrit un livre, Butterfly. Sarah avait quant à elle décidé d’aider à son tour les réfugiés qui traversaient dangereusement la mer Égée sur des bateaux de fortune et s’était engagée comme bénévole dans l’ONG ERCI durant l’été 2016.

      Sarah a été arrêtée le 21 août à l’aéroport de Lesbos alors qu’elle devait rejoindre Berlin où elle vit avec sa famille. Le 3 septembre, elle devait commencer son année universitaire au collège Bard en sciences sociales. La jeune Syrienne de 23 ans a été transférée à la prison de Korydallos, à Athènes, dans l’attente de son procès. Son avocat a demandé mercredi sa remise en liberté.

      Ce n’est pas la première fois que des ONG basées à Lesbos ont des soucis avec la justice grecque. Des membres de l’ONG espagnole Proem-Aid avaient aussi été accusés d’avoir participé à l’entrée illégale de réfugiés sur l’île. Ils ont été relaxés en mai dernier. D’après le ministère de la Marine, 114 ONG ont été enregistrées sur l’île, dont les activités souvent difficilement contrôlables inquiètent le gouvernement grec et ses partenaires européens.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Une-ONG-accusee-d-aide-a-l-entree-irreguliere-de-migrants

      #grèce #asile #migrations #réfugiés #solidarité #délit_de_solidarité

    • Arrest of Syrian ’hero swimmer’ puts Lesbos refugees back in spotlight

      Sara Mardini’s case adds to fears that rescue work is being criminalised and raises questions about NGO.

      Greece’s high-security #Korydallos prison acknowledges that #Sara_Mardini is one of its rarer inmates. For a week, the Syrian refugee, a hero among human rights defenders, has been detained in its women’s wing on charges so serious they have elicited baffled dismay.

      The 23-year-old, who saved 18 refugees in 2015 by swimming their waterlogged dingy to the shores of Lesbos with her Olympian sister, is accused of people smuggling, espionage and membership of a criminal organisation – crimes allegedly committed since returning to work with an NGO on the island. Under Greek law, Mardini can be held in custody pending trial for up to 18 months.

      “She is in a state of disbelief,” said her lawyer, Haris Petsalnikos, who has petitioned for her release. “The accusations are more about criminalising humanitarian action. Sara wasn’t even here when these alleged crimes took place but as charges they are serious, perhaps the most serious any aid worker has ever faced.”

      Mardini’s arrival to Europe might have gone unnoticed had it not been for the extraordinary courage she and younger sister, Yusra, exhibited guiding their boat to safety after the engine failed during the treacherous crossing from Turkey. Both were elite swimmers, with Yusra going on to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

      The sisters, whose story is the basis of a forthcoming film by the British director Stephen Daldry, were credited with saving the lives of their fellow passengers. In Germany, their adopted homeland, the pair has since been accorded star status.

      It was because of her inspiring story that Mardini was approached by Emergency Response Centre International, ERCI, on Lesbos. “After risking her own life to save 18 people … not only has she come back to ground zero, but she is here to ensure that no more lives get lost on this perilous journey,” it said after Mardini agreed to join its ranks in 2016.

      After her first stint with ERCI, she again returned to Lesbos last December to volunteer with the aid group. And until 21 August there was nothing to suggest her second spell had not gone well. But as Mardini waited at Mytilini airport to head back to Germany, and a scholarship at Bard College in Berlin, she was arrested. Soon after that, police also arrested ERCI’s field director, Nassos Karakitsos, a former Greek naval force officer, and Sean Binder, a German volunteer who lives in Ireland. All three have protested their innocence.

      The arrests come as signs of a global clampdown on solidarity networks mount. From Russia to Spain, European human rights workers have been targeted in what campaigners call an increasingly sinister attempt to silence civil society in the name of security.

      “There is the concern that this is another example of civil society being closed down by the state,” said Jonathan Cooper, an international human rights lawyer in London. “What we are really seeing is Greek authorities using Sara to send a very worrying message that if you volunteer for refugee work you do so at your peril.”

      But amid concerns about heavy-handed tactics humanitarians face, Greek police say there are others who see a murky side to the story, one ofpeople trafficking and young volunteers being duped into participating in a criminal network unwittingly. In that scenario,the Mardini sisters would make prime targets.

      Greek authorities spent six months investigating the affair. Agents were flown into Lesbos from Athens and Thessaloniki. In an unusually long and detailed statement, last week, Mytilini police said that while posing as a non-profit organisation, ERCI had acted with the sole purpose of profiteering by bringing people illegally into Greece via the north-eastern Aegean islands.

      Members had intercepted Greek and European coastguard radio transmissions to gain advance notification of the location of smugglers’ boats, police said, and that 30, mostly foreign nationals, were lined up to be questioned in connection with the alleged activities. Other “similar organisations” had also collaborated in what was described as “an informal plan to confront emergency situations”, they added.

      Suspicions were first raised, police said, when Mardini and Binder were stopped in February driving a former military 4X4 with false number plates. ERCI remained unnamed until the release of the charge sheets for the pair and that of Karakitsos.

      Lesbos has long been on the frontline of the refugee crisis, attracting idealists and charity workers. Until a dramatic decline in migration numbers via the eastern Mediterranean in March 2016, when a landmark deal was signed between the EU and Turkey, the island was the main entry point to Europe.

      An estimated 114 NGOs and 7,356 volunteers are based on Lesbos, according to Greek authorities. Local officials talk of “an industry”, and with more than 10,000 refugees there and the mood at boiling point, accusations of NGOs acting as a “pull factor” are rife.

      “Sara’s motive for going back this year was purely humanitarian,” said Oceanne Fry, a fellow student who in June worked alongside her at a day clinic in the refugee reception centre.

      “At no point was there any indication of illegal activity by the group … but I can attest to the fact that, other than our intake meeting, none of the volunteers ever met, or interacted, with its leadership.”

      The mayor of Lesbos, Spyros Galinos, said he has seen “good and bad” in the humanitarian movement since the start of the refugee crisis.

      “Everything is possible,. There is no doubt that some NGOs have exploited the situation. The police announcement was uncommonly harsh. For a long time I have been saying that we just don’t need all these NGOs. When the crisis erupted, yes, the state was woefully unprepared but now that isn’t the case.”

      Attempts to contact ERCI were unsuccessful. Neither a telephone number nor an office address – in a scruffy downtown building listed by the aid group on social media – appeared to have any relation to it.

      In a statement released more than a week after Mardini’s arrest, ERCI denied the allegations, saying it had fallen victim to “unfounded claims, accusations and charges”. But it failed to make any mention of Mardini.

      “It makes no sense at all,” said Amed Khan, a New York financier turned philanthropist who has donated boats for ERCI’s search and rescue operations. To accuse any of them of human trafficking is crazy.

      “In today’s fortress Europe you have to wonder whether Brussels isn’t behind it, whether this isn’t a concerted effort to put a chill on civil society volunteers who are just trying to help. After all, we’re talking about grassroots organisations with global values that stepped up into the space left by authorities failing to do their bit.”


      https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/06/arrest-of-syrian-hero-swimmer-lesbos-refugees-sara-mardini?CMP=shar

      #Sarah_Mardini

    • The volunteers facing jail for rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean

      The risk of refugees and migrants drowning in the Mediterranean has increased dramatically over the past few years.

      As the European Union pursued a policy of externalisation, voluntary groups stepped in to save the thousands of people making the dangerous crossing. One by one, they are now criminalised.

      The arrest of Sarah Mardini, one of two Syrian sisters who saved a number of refugees in 2015 by pulling their sinking dinghy to Greece, has brought the issue to international attention.

      The Trial

      There aren’t chairs enough for the people gathered in Mytilíni Court. Salam Aldeen sits front row to the right. He has a nervous smile on his face, mouth half open, the tongue playing over his lips.

      Noise emanates from the queue forming in the hallway as spectators struggle for a peak through the door’s windows. The morning heat is already thick and moist – not helped by the two unplugged fans hovering motionless in dead air.

      Police officers with uneasy looks, 15 of them, lean up against the cooling walls of the court. From over the judge, a golden Jesus icon looks down on the assembly. For the sunny holiday town on Lesbos, Greece, this is not a normal court proceeding.

      Outside the court, international media has unpacked their cameras and unloaded their equipment. They’ve come from the New York Times, Deutsche Welle, Danish, Greek and Spanish media along with two separate documentary teams.

      There is no way of knowing when the trial will end. Maybe in a couple of days, some of the journalists say, others point to the unpredictability of the Greek judicial system. If the authorities decide to make a principle out of the case, this could take months.

      Salam Aldeen, in a dark blue jacket, white shirt and tie, knows this. He is charged with human smuggling and faces life in jail.

      More than 16,000 people have drowned in less than five years trying to cross the Mediterranean. That’s an average of ten people dying every day outside Europe’s southern border – more than the Russia-Ukraine conflict over the same period.

      In 2015, when more than one million refugees crossed the Mediterranean, the official death toll was around 3,700. A year later, the number of migrants dropped by two thirds – but the death toll increased to more than 5,000. With still fewer migrants crossing during 2017 and the first half of 2018, one would expect the rate of surviving to pick up.

      The numbers, however, tell a different story. For a refugee setting out to cross the Mediterranean today, the risk of drowning has significantly increased.

      The deaths of thousands of people don’t happen in a vacuum. And it would be impossible to explain the increased risks of crossing without considering recent changes in EU-policies towards migration in the Mediterranean.

      The criminalisation of a Danish NGO-worker on the tiny Greek island of Lesbos might help us understand the deeper layers of EU immigration policy.

      The deterrence effect

      On 27 March 2011, 72 migrants flee Tripoli and squeeze into a 12m long rubber dinghy with a max capacity of 25 people. They start the outboard engine and set out in the Mediterranean night, bound for the Italian island of Lampedusa. In the morning, they are registered by a French aircraft flying over. The migrants stay on course. But 18 hours into their voyage, they send out a distress-call from a satellite phone. The signal is picked up by the rescue centre in Rome who alerts other vessels in the area.

      Two hours later, a military helicopter flies over the boat. At this point, the migrants accidentally drop their satellite phone in the sea. In the hours to follow, the migrants encounter several fishing boats – but their call of distress is ignored. As day turns into night, a second helicopter appears and drops rations of water and biscuits before leaving.

      And then, the following morning on 28 March – the migrants run out of fuel. Left at the mercy of wind and oceanic currents, the migrants embark on a hopeless journey. They drift south; exactly where they came from.

      They don’t see any ships the following day. Nor the next; a whole week goes by without contact to the outside world. But then, somewhere between 3 and 5 April, a military vessel appears on the horizon. It moves in on the migrants and circle their boat.

      The migrants, exhausted and on the brink of despair, wave and signal distress. But as suddenly as it arrived, the military vessel turns around and disappears. And all hope with it.

      On April 10, almost a week later, the migrant vessel lands on a beach south of Tripoli. Of the 72 passengers who left 2 weeks ago, only 11 make it back alive. Two die shortly hereafter.

      Lorenzo Pezzani, lecturer at Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths University of London, was stunned when he read about the case. In 2011, he was still a PhD student developing new spatial and aesthetic visual tools to document human rights violations. Concerned with the rising number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, Lorenzo Pezzani and his colleague Charles Heller founded Forensic Oceanography, an affiliated group to Forensic Architecture. Their first project was to uncover the events and policies leading to a vessel left adrift in full knowledge by international rescue operations.

      It was the public outrage fuelled by the 2013 Lampedusa shipwreck which eventually led to the deployment of Operation Mare Nostrum. At this point, the largest migration of people since the Second World War, the Syrian exodus, could no longer be contained within Syria’s neighbouring countries. At the same time, a relative stability in Libya after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011 descended into civil war; waves of migrants started to cross the Mediterranean.

      From October 2013, Mare Nostrum broke with the reigning EU-policy of non-interference and deployed Italian naval vessels, planes and helicopters at a monthly cost of €9.5 million. The scale was unprecedented; saving lives became the political priority over policing and border control. In terms of lives saved, the operation was an undisputed success. Its own life, however, would be short.

      A critical narrative formed on the political right and was amplified by sections of the media: Mare Nostrum was accused of emboldening Libyan smugglers who – knowing rescue ships were waiting – would send out more migrants. In this understanding, Mare Nostrum constituted a so-called “pull factor” on migrants from North African countries. A year after its inception, Mare Nostrum was terminated.

      In late 2014, Mare Nostrum was replaced by Operation Triton led by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, with an initial budget of €2.4 million per month. Triton refocused on border control instead of sea rescues in an area much closer to Italian shores. This was a return to the pre-Mare Nostrum policy of non-assistance to deter migrants from crossing. But not only did the change of policy fail to act as a deterrence against the thousands of migrants still crossing the Mediterranean, it also left a huge gap between the amount of boats in distress and operational rescue vessels. A gap increasingly filled by merchant vessels.

      Merchant vessels, however, do not have the equipment or training to handle rescues of this volume. On 31 March 2015, the shipping community made a call to EU-politicians warning of a “terrible risk of further catastrophic loss of life as ever-more desperate people attempt this deadly sea crossing”. Between 1 January and 20 May 2015, merchant ships rescued 12.000 people – 30 per cent of the total number rescued in the Mediterranean.

      As the shipping community had already foreseen, the new policy of non-assistance as deterrence led to several horrific incidents. These culminated in two catastrophic shipwrecks on 12 and 18 April 2015 and the death of 1,200 people. In both cases, merchant vessels were right next to the overcrowded migrant boats when chaotic rescue attempts caused the migrant boats to take in water and eventually sink. The crew of the merchant vessels could only watch as hundreds of people disappeared in the ocean.

      Back in 1990, the Dublin Convention declared that the first EU-country an asylum seeker enters is responsible for accepting or rejecting the claim. No one in 1990 had expected the Syrian exodus of 2015 – nor the gigantic pressure it would put on just a handful of member states. No other EU-member felt the ineptitudes and total unpreparedness of the immigration system than a country already knee-deep in a harrowing economic crisis. That country was Greece.

      In September 2015, when the world saw the picture of a three-year old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a beach in Turkey, Europe was already months into what was readily called a “refugee crisis”. Greece was overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Syrian war. During the following month alone, a staggering 200.000 migrants crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to reach Europe. With a minimum of institutional support, it was volunteers like Salam Aldeen who helped reduce the overall number of casualties.

      The peak of migrants entered Greece that autumn but huge numbers kept arriving throughout the winter – in worsening sea conditions. Salam Aldeen recalls one December morning on Lesbos.

      The EU-Turkey deal

      And then, from one day to the next, the EU-Turkey deal changed everything. There was a virtual stop of people crossing from Turkey to Greece. From a perspective of deterrence, the agreement was an instant success. In all its simplicity, Turkey had agreed to contain and prevent refugees from reaching the EU – by land or by sea. For this, Turkey would be given a monetary compensation.

      But opponents of the deal included major human rights organisations. Simply paying Turkey a formidable sum of money (€6 billion to this date) to prevent migrants from reaching EU-borders was feared to be a symptom of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude pervasive among EU decision makers. Moreover, just like Libya in 2015 threatened to flood Europe with migrants, the Turkish President Erdogan would suddenly have a powerful geopolitical card on his hands. A concern that would later be confirmed by EU’s vague response to Erdogan’s crackdown on Turkish opposition.

      As immigration dwindled in Greece, the flow of migrants and refugees continued and increased in the Central Mediterranean during the summer of 2016. At the same time, disorganised Libyan militias were now running the smuggling business and exploited people more ruthlessly than ever before. Migrant boats without satellite phones or enough provision or fuel became increasingly common. Due to safety concerns, merchant vessels were more reluctant to assist in rescue operations. The death toll increased.
      A Conspiracy?

      Frustrated with the perceived apathy of EU states, Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) responded to the situation. At its peak, 12 search and rescue NGO vessels were operating in the Mediterranean and while the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) paused many of its operations during the fall and winter of 2016, the remaining NGO vessels did the bulk of the work. Under increasingly dangerous weather conditions, 47 per cent of all November rescues were carried out by NGOs.

      Around this time, the first accusations were launched against rescue NGOs from ‘alt-right’ groups. Accusations, it should be noted, conspicuously like the ones sounded against Mare Nostrum. Just like in 2014, Frontex and EU-politicians followed up and accused NGOs of posing a “pull factor”. The now Italian vice-prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, went even further and denounced NGOs as “taxis for migrants”. Just like in 2014, no consideration was given to the conditions in Libya.

      Moreover, NGOs were falsely accused of collusion with Libyan smugglers. Meanwhile Italian agents had infiltrated the crew of a Save the Children rescue vessel to uncover alleged secret evidence of collusion. The German Jugendrettet NGO-vessel, Iuventa, was impounded and – echoing Salam Aldeen’s case in Greece – the captain accused of collusion with smugglers by Italian authorities.

      The attacks to delegitimise NGOs’ rescue efforts have had a clear effect: many of the NGOs have now effectively stopped their operations in the Mediterranean. Lorenzo Pezzani and Charles Heller, in their report, Mare Clausum, argued that the wave of delegitimisation of humanitarian work was just one part of a two-legged strategy – designed by the EU – to regain control over the Mediterranean.
      Migrants’ rights aren’t human rights

      Libya long ago descended into a precarious state of lawlessness. In the maelstrom of poverty, war and despair, migrants and refugees have become an exploitable resource for rivalling militias in a country where two separate governments compete for power.

      In November 2017, a CNN investigation exposed an entire industry involving slave auctions, rape and people being worked to death.

      Chief spokesman of the UN Migration Agency, Leonard Doyle, describes Libya as a “torture archipelago” where migrants transiting have no idea that they are turned into commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value.

      Migrants intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) are routinely brought back to the hellish detention centres for indefinite captivity. Despite EU-leaders’ moral outcry following the exposure of the conditions in Libya, the EU continues to be instrumental in the capacity building of the LCG.

      Libya hadn’t had a functioning coast guard since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011. But starting in late 2016, the LCG received increasing funding from Italy and the EU in the form of patrol boats, training and financial support.

      Seeing the effect of the EU-Turkey deal in deterring refugees crossing the Aegean Sea, Italy and the EU have done all in their power to create a similar approach in Libya.
      The EU Summit

      Forty-two thousand undocumented migrants have so far arrived at Europe’s shores this year. That’s a fraction of the more than one million who arrived in 2015. But when EU leaders met at an “emergency summit” in Brussels in late June, the issue of migration was described by Chancellor Merkel as a “make or break” for the Union. How does this align with the dwindling numbers of refugees and migrants?

      Data released in June 2018 showed that Europeans are more concerned about immigration than any other social challenge. More than half want a ban on migration from Muslim countries. Europe, it seems, lives in two different, incompatible realities as summit after summit tries to untie the Gordian knot of the migration issue.

      Inside the courthouse in Mytilini, Salam Aldeen is questioned by the district prosecutor. The tropical temperature induces an echoing silence from the crowded spectators. The district prosecutor looks at him, open mouth, chin resting on her fist.

      She seems impatient with the translator and the process of going from Greek to English and back. Her eyes search the room. She questions him in detail about the night of arrest. He answers patiently. She wants Salam Aldeen and the four crew members to be found guilty of human smuggling.

      Salam Aldeen’s lawyer, Mr Fragkiskos Ragkousis, an elderly white-haired man, rises before the court for his final statement. An ancient statuette with his glasses in one hand. Salam’s parents sit with scared faces, they haven’t slept for two days; the father’s comforting arm covers the mother’s shoulder. Then, like a once dormant volcano, the lawyer erupts in a torrent of pathos and logos.

      “Political interests changed the truth and created this wicked situation, playing with the defendant’s freedom and honour.”

      He talks to the judge as well as the public. A tragedy, a drama unfolds. The prosecutor looks remorseful, like a small child in her large chair, almost apologetic. Defeated. He’s singing now, Ragkousis. Index finger hits the air much like thunder breaks the night sounding the roar of something eternal. He then sits and the room quiets.

      It was “without a doubt” that the judge acquitted Salam Aldeen and his four colleagues on all charges. The prosecutor both had to determine the defendants’ intention to commit the crime – and that the criminal action had been initialised. She failed at both. The case, as the Italian case against the Iuventa, was baseless.

      But EU’s policy of externalisation continues. On 17 March 2018, the ProActiva rescue vessel, Open Arms, was seized by Italian authorities after it had brought back 217 people to safety.

      Then again in June, the decline by Malta and Italy’s new right-wing government to let the Aquarious rescue-vessel dock with 629 rescued people on board sparked a fierce debate in international media.

      In July, Sea Watch’s Moonbird, a small aircraft used to search for migrant boats, was prevented from flying any more operations by Maltese authorities; the vessel Sea Watch III was blocked from leaving harbour and the captain of a vessel from the NGO Mission Lifeline was taken to court over “registration irregularities“.

      Regardless of Europe’s future political currents, geopolitical developments are only likely to continue to produce refugees worldwide. Will the EU alter its course as the crisis mutates and persists? Or are the deaths of thousands the only possible outcome?

      https://theferret.scot/volunteers-facing-jail-rescuing-migrants-mediterranean

  • #binance And #litecoin Go Bank Shopping | CryptoPotato — #bitcoin & Cryptocurrency
    https://hackernoon.com/binance-and-litecoin-go-bank-shopping-cryptopotato-bitcoin-cryptocurrenc

    Throughout the course of Bitcoins rise, one of the biggest questions posed has been whether #banks will ever be open to accepting cryptocurrencies.However, a series of recent investments made by Litecoin and Binance may indicate that actually cryptocurrencies who will be the ones to start accepting banks.Last week Tuesday, it was announced that Litecoin had acquired a 9.9% stake in a WEG Bank AG. The stake was first purchased by a crypto-to-fiat payments company called Token pay, then passed on to Litecoin in exchange for recruiting technical talent that would help the bank bring crypto payments to customers.Then on Thursday, Binance had announced that it bought a 5% stake in ‘Founders Bank’ based in Malta. The goal of the investment is to “lay the groundwork for a new bank whose owners (...)

    #binance-and-litecoin