• #Macédoine_du_Nord : la nouvelle présidente refuse d’utiliser le nom officiel du pays

    Lors de sa prestation de serment, #Gordana_Siljanovska-Davkova, première femme présidente de la Macédoine du Nord, a refusé de prononcer le nouveau nom du pays adopté après un accord « historique » avec la Grèce.

    Fraîchement élue, la première femme présidente de la Macédoine du Nord a refusé de prononcer le nouveau nom du pays utilisé depuis un accord conclu en 2018 avec la Grèce. « Je déclare que j’exercerai la fonction de présidente de Macédoine de manière consciencieuse et responsable, que je respecterai la Constitution et les lois et que je protégerai la souveraineté, l’intégrité territoriale et l’indépendance de la Macédoine », a déclaré dimanche 12 mai Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova devant les députés du Parlement et des invités lors de sa prestation de serment.

    Dans le texte officiel, qu’elle a répété, c’est bien le nom constitutionnel de Macédoine du Nord qui est employé. Skopje a conclu en 2018 un accord « historique » avec la Grèce, en acceptant d’ajouter la mention géographique « du Nord » au nom du pays, pour mettre fin à une querelle de longue date avec son voisin, qui bloquait pour cette raison son adhésion à l’OTAN et ses négociations d’adhésion à l’Union européenne (UE).

    Depuis, le pays est devenu membre de l’OTAN. Mais la formation de droite nationaliste VMRO-DPMNE, dont Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova était la candidate au dernier scrutin présidentiel, s’opposait à cet accord avec la Grèce.

    Départ de l’ambassadrice de #Grèce

    Athènes a vivement réagi aux propos de Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova. Sa déclaration est une « violation flagrante de l’accord de Prespa et de la Constitution du pays voisin, qui est conforme à ses obligations internationales », a écrit dans un communiqué le ministère des affaires étrangères grec.

    « La Grèce déclare catégoriquement que la poursuite des progrès dans ses relations bilatérales avec la Macédoine du Nord et le parcours européen de cette dernière dépendent de la mise en œuvre intégrale de l’accord de Prespa et, surtout, de l’utilisation du nom constitutionnel du pays voisin », a ajouté le ministère. L’ambassadrice de Grèce à Skopje a quitté la cérémonie au Parlement en signe de protestation, ont rapporté les médias locaux, en citant l’ambassade grecque.
    Skopje rappelée au respect de ses engagements

    Dans un premier temps, la prise de fonctions de la présidente macédonienne a été saluée depuis Bruxelles par la présidente de la Commission européenne, Ursula von der Leyen, et le président du Conseil européen, Charles Michel. Mais dans un second message posté sur X, la présidente de la Commission européenne a jugé « primordial » que la Macédoine du Nord « continue sur la voie des réformes et respecte pleinement ses engagements » dans la perspective d’une adhésion à l’UE.

    Le VMRO-DPMNE est également arrivé largement en tête des élections législatives, qui se sont déroulées aussi le 8 mai, s’assurant 58 des 120 sièges au Parlement en battant l’Union sociale-démocrate de Macédoine (SDSM), au pouvoir depuis 2017. Le retour au pouvoir de l’opposition de droite dans ce pays pauvre des Balkans de 1,8 million d’habitants risque de raviver les tensions avec la Grèce mais aussi avec la Bulgarie, qui pose ses propres conditions pour faire avancer les négociations d’adhésion de la Macédoine du Nord à l’UE.

    Elue le 8 mai pour un mandat de cinq ans, en battant avec 65 % des voix le chef de l’Etat sortant social-démocrate, Stevo Pendarovski, Mme Siljanovska-Davkova est la première femme à accéder à cette fonction depuis la proclamation d’indépendance de ce petit pays des Balkans en 1991. Cette professeure universitaire à la retraite, qui a fêté samedi son 71e anniversaire, a assuré qu’elle serait la présidente de « tous les citoyens » et a appelé à l’« unité » dans le pays.

    https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2024/05/12/macedoine-du-nord-la-nouvelle-presidente-refuse-d-utiliser-le-nom-officiel-d

    #toponymie #toponymie_politique

    via @reka

  • Border security with drones and databases

    The EU’s borders are increasingly militarised, with hundreds of millions of euros paid to state agencies and military, security and IT companies for surveillance, patrols and apprehension and detention. This process has massive human cost, and politicians are planning to intensify it.

    Europe is ringed by steel fences topped by barbed wire; patrolled by border agents equipped with thermal vision systems, heartbeat detectors, guns and batons; and watched from the skies by drones, helicopters and planes. Anyone who enters is supposed to have their fingerprints and photograph taken for inclusion in an enormous biometric database. Constant additions to this technological arsenal are under development, backed by generous amounts of public funding. Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there are more walls than ever at Europe’s borders,[1] and those borders stretch ever further in and out of its territory. This situation is the result of long-term political and corporate efforts to toughen up border surveillance and controls.

    The implications for those travelling to the EU depend on whether they belong to the majority entering in a “regular” manner, with the necessary paperwork and permissions, or are unable to obtain that paperwork, and cross borders irregularly. Those with permission must hand over increasing amounts of personal data. The increasing automation of borders is reliant on the collection of sensitive personal data and the use of algorithms, machine learning and other forms of so-called artificial intelligence to determine whether or not an individual poses a threat.

    Those without permission to enter the EU – a category that includes almost any refugee, with the notable exception of those who hold a Ukrainian passport – are faced with technology, personnel and policies designed to make journeys increasingly difficult, and thus increasingly dangerous. The reliance on smugglers is a result of the insistence on keeping people in need out at any cost – and the cost is substantial. Thousands of people die at Europe’s borders every year, families are separated, and people suffer serious physical and psychological harm as a result of those journeys and subsequent administrative detention and social marginalisation. Yet parties of all political stripes remain committed to the same harmful and dangerous policies – many of which are being worsened through the new Pact on Migration and Asylum.[2]

    The EU’s border agency, Frontex, based in Warsaw, was first set up in 2004 with the aim of providing technical coordination between EU member states’ border guards. Its remit has been gradually expanded. Following the “migration crisis” of 2015 and 2016, extensive new powers were granted to the agency. As the Max Planck Institute has noted, the 2016 law shifted the agency from a playing “support role” to acting as “a player in its own right that fulfils a regulatory, supervisory, and operational role.”[3] New tasks granted to the agency included coordinating deportations of rejected refugees and migrants, data analysis and exchange, border surveillance, and technology research and development. A further legal upgrade in 2019 introduced even more extensive powers, in particular in relation to deportations, and cooperation with and operations in third countries.

    The uniforms, guns and batons wielded by Frontex’s border guards are self-evidently militaristic in nature, as are other aspects of its work: surveillance drones have been acquired from Israeli military companies, and the agency deploys “mobile radars and thermal cameras mounted on vehicles, as well as heartbeat detectors and CO2 monitors used to detect signs of people concealed inside vehicles.”[4] One investigation described the companies that have held lobbying meetings or attended events with Frontex as “a Who’s Who of the weapons industry,” with guests including Airbus, BAE Systems, Leonardo and Thales.[5] The information acquired from the agency’s surveillance and field operations is combined with data provided by EU and third country agencies, and fed into the European Border Surveillance System, EUROSUR. This offers a God’s-eye overview of the situation at Europe’s borders and beyond – the system also claims to provide “pre-frontier situational awareness.”

    The EU and its member states also fund research and development on these technologies. From 2014 to 2022, 49 research projects were provided with a total of almost €275 million to investigate new border technologies, including swarms of autonomous drones for border surveillance, and systems that aim to use artificial intelligence to integrate and analyse data from drones, satellites, cameras, sensors and elsewhere for “analysis of potential threats” and “detection of illegal activities.”[6] Amongst the top recipients of funding have been large research institutes – for example, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute – but companies such as Leonardo, Smiths Detection, Engineering – Ingegneria Informatica and Veridos have also been significant beneficiaries.[7]

    This is only a tiny fraction of the funds available for strengthening the EU’s border regime. A 2022 study found that between 2015 and 2020, €7.7 billion had been spent on the EU’s borders and “the biggest parts of this budget come from European funding” – that is, the EU’s own budget. The total value of the budgets that provide funds for asylum, migration and border control between 2021-27 comes to over €113 billion[8]. Proposals for the next round of budgets from 2028 until 2035 are likely to be even larger.

    Cooperation between the EU, its member states and third countries on migration control comes in a variety of forms: diplomacy, short and long-term projects, formal agreements and operational deployments. Whatever form it takes, it is frequently extremely harmful. For example, to try to reduce the number of people arriving across the Mediterranean, member states have withdrawn national sea rescue assets (as deployed, for example, in Italy’s Mare Nostrum operation) whilst increasing aerial surveillance, such as that provided by the Israel-produced drones operated by Frontex. This makes it possible to observe refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean, whilst outsourcing their interception to authorities from countries such as Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.

    This is part of an ongoing plan “to strengthen coordination of search and rescue capacities and border surveillance at sea and land borders” of those countries. [9] Cooperation with Tunisia includes refitting search and rescue vessels and providing vehicles and equipment to the Tunisian coastguard and navy, along with substantial amounts of funding. The agreement with Egypt appears to be structured along similar lines, and five vessels have been provided to the so-called Libyan Coast Guard in 2023.[10]

    Frontex also plays a key role in the EU’s externalised border controls. The 2016 reform allowed Frontex deployments at countries bordering the EU, and the 2019 reform allowed deployments anywhere in the world, subject to agreement with the state in question. There are now EU border guards stationed in Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and North Macedonia.[11] The agency is seeking agreements with Niger, Senegal and Morocco, and has recently received visits from Tunisian and Egyptian officials with a view to stepping up cooperation.[12]

    In a recent report for the organisation EuroMed Rights, Antonella Napolitano highlighted “a new element” in the EU’s externalisation strategy: “the use of EU funds – including development aid – to outsource surveillance technologies that are used to entrench political control both on people on the move and local population.” Five means of doing so have been identified: provision of equipment; training; financing operations and procurement; facilitating exports by industry; and promoting legislation that enables surveillance.[13]

    The report highlights Frontex’s extended role which, even without agreements allowing deployments on foreign territory, has seen the agency support the creation of “risk analysis cells” in a number of African states, used to gather and analyse data on migration movements. The EU has also funded intelligence training in Algeria, digital evidence capacity building in Egypt, border control initiatives in Libya, and the provision of surveillance technology to Morocco. The European Ombudsman has found that insufficient attention has been given to the potential human rights impacts of this kind of cooperation.[14]

    While the EU and its member states may provide the funds for the acquisition of new technologies, or the construction of new border control systems, information on the companies that receive the contracts is not necessarily publicly available. Funds awarded to third countries will be spent in accordance with those countries’ procurement rules, which may not be as transparent as those in the EU. Indeed, the acquisition of information on the externalisation in third countries is far from simple, as a Statewatch investigation published in March 2023 found.[15]

    While EU and member state institutions are clearly committed to continuing with plans to strengthen border controls, there is a plethora of organisations, initiatives, campaigns and projects in Europe, Africa and elsewhere that are calling for a different approach. One major opportunity to call for change in the years to come will revolve around proposals for the EU’s new budgets in the 2028-35 period. The European Commission is likely to propose pouring billions more euros into borders – but there are many alternative uses of that money that would be more positive and productive. The challenge will be in creating enough political pressure to make that happen.

    This article was originally published by Welt Sichten, and is based upon the Statewatch/EuroMed Rights report Europe’s techno-borders.

    Notes

    [1] https://www.tni.org/en/publication/building-walls

    [2] https://www.statewatch.org/news/2023/december/tracking-the-pact-human-rights-disaster-in-the-works-as-parliament-makes

    [3] https://www.mpg.de/14588889/frontex

    [4] https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/dec/06/fortress-europe-the-millions-spent-on-military-grade-tech-to-deter-refu

    [5] https://frontexfiles.eu/en.html

    [6] https://www.statewatch.org/publications/reports-and-books/europe-s-techno-borders

    [7] https://www.statewatch.org/publications/reports-and-books/europe-s-techno-borders

    [8] https://www.statewatch.org/publications/reports-and-books/europe-s-techno-borders

    [9] https://www.statewatch.org/news/2023/november/eu-planning-new-anti-migration-deals-with-egypt-and-tunisia-unrepentant-

    [10] https://www.statewatch.org/media/4103/eu-com-von-der-leyen-ec-letter-annex-10-23.pdf

    [11] https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2021/briefing-external-action-frontex-operations-outside-the-eu

    [12] https://www.statewatch.org/news/2023/november/eu-planning-new-anti-migration-deals-with-egypt-and-tunisia-unrepentant-, https://www.statewatch.org/publications/events/secrecy-and-the-externalisation-of-eu-migration-control

    [13] https://privacyinternational.org/challenging-drivers-surveillance

    [14] https://euromedrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Euromed_AI-Migration-Report_EN-1.pdf

    [15] https://www.statewatch.org/access-denied-secrecy-and-the-externalisation-of-eu-migration-control

    https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2024/border-security-with-drones-and-databases
    #frontières #militarisation_des_frontières #technologie #données #bases_de_données #drones #complexe_militaro-industriel #migrations #réfugiés #contrôles_frontaliers #surveillance #sécurité_frontalière #biométrie #données_biométriques #intelligence_artificielle #algorithmes #smugglers #passeurs #Frontex #Airbus #BAE_Systems #Leonardo #Thales #EUROSUR #coût #business #prix #Smiths_Detection #Fraunhofer_Institute #Engineering_Ingegneria_Informatica #informatique #Tunisie #gardes-côtes_tunisiens #Albanie #Monténégro #Serbie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Macédoine_du_Nord #Egypte #externalisation #développement #aide_au_développement #coopération_au_développement #Algérie #Libye #Maroc #Afrique_du_Nord

  • Greece is planning a €40m automated surveillance system at borders with North Macedonia and Albania

    The European Commission wants Greece to build an automated wall to prevent some people from leaving the country. Locals are not enthusiastic, but their opinion counts for little.
    Many people holding Syrian, Afghan, Somalian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani passports seeking asylum in the European Union move out of Greece when they have the feeling that their administrative situation will not improve there. The route to other EU countries through the Balkans starts in northern Greece, onward to either North Macedonia or Albania. Greek police, it is said, are quite relaxed about people leaving the country.

    “We have many people who pass our area who want to go to Europe,” says Konstantinos Sionidis, the mayor of Paionia, a working-class municipality of 30,000 at Greece’s northern border. “It’s not a pleasant situation for us,” he adds.

    But leaving via Paionia is getting more difficult. In May 2023, Frontex guards started patrolling at North Macedonia’s border. Near the highway, one young woman from Sierra Leone said she and her friend tried to leave four times in the past month. Once, they got as far as the Serbian border. The other times, they were arrested immediately in North Macedonia at night, coming out of the forest, by Frontex officers asking “Do you want to go to Germany?” (No.) “They don’t want us here [in Greece],” she says. “Let us go!”

    However, the European Commission has plans to make it harder for people to travel through North Macedonia (and other parts of the Western Balkan route). According to a national programming document for the 2021 - 2027 EU “border management” funding for Greek authorities, €47m are budgeted to build an “automated border surveillance system” at Greece’s borders with North Macedonia and Albania. The new system shall explicitly be modeled on the one already deployed at the land border with Türkiye, along the Evros river.
    The virtual border wall

    Evros is described as a surveillance “testing ground.” (https://www.dw.com/en/is-greece-failing-to-deploy-eu-funded-surveillance-system-at-turkish-border-as-intended/a-63055306) In the early 2000s, police used thermal cameras and binoculars to spot people attempting to cross the border. As Greece and other Member-States increased their efforts to keep people out of the EU, more funding came in for drones, heartbeat detectors, more border guards – and for an “automated border surveillance system.”

    In 2021, the Greek government unveiled dozens of surveillance towers, equipped with cameras, radars and heat sensors. Officials claimed these would be able to alert regional police stations when detecting people approaching the border. At the time, media outlets raved about this 24-hour “electronic shield” (https://www.kathimerini.gr/society/561551092/ilektroniki-aspida-ston-evro-se-leitoyrgia-kameres-kai-rantar) that would “seal” (https://www.staratalogia.gr/2021/10/blog-post_79.html#google_vignette) Evros with cameras that can see “up to 15 km” into Türkiye (https://meaculpa.gr/stithikan-oi-pylones-ston-evro-oi-kamer).

    Greece is not the first country to buy into the vision of automated, omnipotent border surveillance. The German Democratic Republic installed automated rifles near the border with West-Germany, for instance. But the origin of the current trend towards automated borders lies in the United States. In the 1970s, sensors originally built for deployment in Vietnam were installed at the Mexican border. Since then, “the relationship between surveillance and law enforcement has been one between salespeople and officers who are not experts,” says Dave Maas, an investigator at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Somebody buys surveillance towers, leaves office and three administrations later, people are like: ‘Hey, this did not deliver as promised’, and then the new person is like: ‘Well I wasn’t the one who paid for it, so here is my next idea’.”

    At the US-Mexico border, the towers are “like a scarecrow,” says Geoff Boyce, who used to direct the Earlham College Border Studies Program in Arizona. His research showed that, in cases where migrants could see the towers, they took longer, more dangerous routes to avoid detection. “People are dying outside the visual range of the towers.”

    No data is available that would hint that the Greek system is different. While the Greek government shares little information about the system in Evros, former minister for citizen protection Takis Theodorikakos mentioned it earlier this year in a parliamentary session. He claimed that the border surveillance system in Evros had been used to produce the official statistics for people deterred at the Evros border in 2022 (https://www.astynomia.gr/2023/01/03/03-01-2022-koino-deltio-typou-ypourgeiou-prostasias-tou-politi-kai-ellinik). But thermal cameras, for example, cannot show an exact number of people, or even differentiate people from animals.

    In Evros, the automated border surveillance system was also intended to be used for search-and-rescue missions. Last year, a group of asylum-seekers were stranded on an islet on the Evros river for nearly a month. Deutsche Welle reported that a nearby pylon with heat sensors and cameras should have been able to immediately locate the group. Since then, authorities have continued to be accused of delaying rescue missions.

    “At the border, it is sometimes possible to see people stranded with your own eyes,” says Lena Karamanidou, who has been researching border violence in Evros for decades. “And [they] are saying the cameras that can see up to 15 kilometers into Türkiye can’t see them.”
    Keeping people in

    In contrast to the system in Evros, the aim of the newly planned automated border surveillance systems appears to be to stop people from leaving Greece. Current policing practices there are very different from those at Evros.

    At Greece’s border with North Macedonia, “we’ve heard reports that the police were actively encouraging people to leave the country,” says Manon Louis of the watchdog organization Border Violence Monitoring Network. “In testimonies collected by BVMN, people have reported that the Greek police dropped them off at the Macedonian border.”

    “It’s an open secret,” says Alexander Gkatsis from Open Cultural Center, a nonprofit in the center of Paionia, “everybody in this area knows.”

    Thirty years ago, lots of people came from Albania to Paionia, when there were more jobs in clothing factories and agriculture, many of which are now done by machines. These days, the region is struggling with unemployment and low wages. In 2015, it drew international media attention for hosting the infamous Idomeni camp. Sionidis, the Paionia mayor, says he didn’t know anything about plans for an automated border system until we asked him.

    “The migration policy is decided by the minister of migration in Athens,” says Sionidis. He was also not consulted on Frontex coming to Paionia a few years ago. But he readily admits that his municipality is but one small pawn in a Europe-wide negotiation. “[Brussels and Athens] have to make one decision for the whole European border,” says Sionidis, “If we don’t have the electronic wall here, then we won’t have it at Evros.”

    https://algorithmwatch.org/en/greece-is-planning-a-e40m-automated-surveillance-system-at-borders-w

    #Albanie #Macédoine_du_Nord #frontières #migrations #réfugiés #barrières #fermeture_des_frontières #Grèce #frontières_terrestres #surveillance #contrôles_frontaliers #technologie #complexe_militaro-industriel #Paionia #militarisation_des_frontières #Frontex #border_management #automated_border_surveillance_system #Evros #efficacité #inefficacité #caméra_thermiques #sortie #murs_anti-sortie (comme aux temps de la #guerre_froide)

  • Oltre 28mila persone respinte alle frontiere europee nel 2023 : 8° rapporto #PRAB

    Di fronte all’emergenza umanitaria i respingimenti illegali e le violazioni dei diritti continuano ad essere diffusi e sono diventati uno strumento accettato per la gestione delle frontiere europee .

    L’ottavo rapporto di Protecting Rights at Borders (PRAB) “Respinti alle Frontiere dell’Europa: una crisi continuamente ignorata” documenta ancora una volta le continue violazioni dei diritti umani che si verificano lungo le frontiere europee.

    Il monitoraggio conferma violenze e numeri crescenti

    Secondo il rapporto, nel 2023 più di 28.609 migranti hanno subito respingimenti e violazioni dei diritti umani alle frontiere europee, di cui oltre 8.400 solo negli ultimi quattro mesi dell’anno. Tuttavia, tali numeri rappresentano solo una frazione degli effettivi respingimenti illegali.

    Questo rapporto copre il periodo dal 1 settembre al 31 dicembre 2023. I dati raccolti direttamente dai partner di PRAB o ottenuti dalle fonti governative documentano un totale di 8.403 casi di respingimento durante il periodo di rilevamento. Come parte della documentazione, 1.448 persone sono state intervistate dai partner di PRAB, fornendo dettagli sulle violazioni dei diritti alle quali hanno dichiarato di essere stati esposti.

    I numeri riportati dall’iniziativa PRAB rappresentano una frazione delle persone respinte alle frontiere dell’Europa. La natura delle aree di confine europee e i metodi utilizzati per attraversarle, uniti alla mancanza di accesso a alcune zone di frontiera, rendono difficile raggiungere tutte le persone che subiscono respingimenti e violazioni correlate. Inoltre, la registrazione dei respingimenti dipende dal momento dell’evento e dalla volontà delle vittime di segnalarlo. Come documentato dai partner di PRAB, molte vittime di respingimenti hanno paura di segnalare l’incidente, temendo che ciò possa influire negativamente sulla loro possibilità di entrare o rimanere in uno Stato membro dell’UE.

    I fatti principali che vengono riconfermati dal monitoraggio:

    Numeri allarmanti – Nel solo 2023, più di 28.609 migranti hanno subito respingimenti e violazioni dei diritti umani alle frontiere europee. Nel periodo settembre-dicembre 2023, sono stati documentati oltre 8.400 casi.

    Mancanza di vie legali sicure – Molti migranti, provenienti da regioni colpite da conflitti, persecuzioni o disastri naturali, intraprendono viaggi pericolosi verso l’Europa in cerca di sicurezza e opportunità.

    Respinti con violenza: I respingimenti illegali coinvolgono l’uso di metodi violenti e disumani, con migliaia di persone respinte forzatamente oltre il confine e sottoposte a violenze e abusi.

    Violazioni documentate: PRAB ha intervistato 1.448 persone, documentando i trattamenti disumani e degradanti subiti dall’83% degli arrivi al confine tra Croazia e Bosnia ed Erzegovina e dal 61% al confine tra Francia e Italia.

    Distruzione e confisca illegittima dei beni personali: Oltre alle violenze fisiche, i respingimenti forzati privano le persone dei loro beni, lasciandole vulnerabili e senza mezzi vitali.

    La situazione ai confini italiani

    L’ottavo rapporto di Protecting Rights at Borders (PRAB) rivela la dura realtà dei respingimenti che riguardano quanti arrivano alle frontiere italiane e tentano di attraversarle.

    In Italia, le organizzazioni della rete PRAB hanno documentato il respingimento di 3.180 persone nelle zone di Oulx e Ventimiglia, con particolare preoccupazione per i 737 bambini, di cui 519 erano minori non accompagnati. Un aspetto inquietante è la pratica di respingere minori registrati erroneamente come adulti.

    La maggior parte delle persone coinvolte nei respingimenti proveniva dall’Etiopia, Costa d’Avorio, Marocco e Sudan, con quasi il 40% di loro che ha dichiarato di essere arrivato in Italia via Tunisia.

    Oltre al persistere dei respingimenti , il rapporto registra anche nuovi peggioramenti per chi cerca asilo in Italia.

    Inoltre, l’Italia ha recentemente reintrodotto controlli alle frontiere con la Slovenia, giustificando tale misura con una presunta minaccia alla sicurezza con il conflitto in Medio Oriente. Il governo italiano ha dichiarato apertamente di avere l’intenzione di riprendere i respingimenti dei richiedenti asilo, in violazione della legge nazionale e internazionale.

    Il rapporto critica, infine, anche gli accordi con paesi terzi, tra cui il recente Accordo tra Italia e Albania, evidenziando le problematiche relative al trasferimento dei migranti e la detenzione in Albania.
    Dal patto europeo nuove violazioni

    Il rapporto dimostra come l’impiego sistematico di respingimenti alle frontiere e la mancanza di percorsi sicuri e legali per raggiungere l’UE spinga i rifugiati a mettere a rischio le proprie vite.

    La volontà politica, il coraggio e il realismo nel mettere i diritti delle persone prima della protezione delle frontiere sembrano assenti dagli accordi politici che si tengono a livello europeo e nazionale.

    Sia gli accordi, come il Memorandum tra Italia e Albania, sia il nuovo Patto UE su Asilo e Migrazione rischiano di compromettere ulteriormente i diritti delle persone in cerca di asilo, invece che mettere fine alle violazioni alle frontiere europee.

    Pour télécharger le rapport :
    https://www.asgi.it/asilo-e-protezione-internazionale/oltre-28mila-persone-respinte-alle-frontiere-europee-nel-2023-8-rapporto-prab/attachment/prab-report-september-to-december-2023-_-final

    https://www.asgi.it/asilo-e-protezione-internazionale/oltre-28mila-persone-respinte-alle-frontiere-europee-nel-2023-8-rapporto-prab
    #rapport #Protecting_Rights_at_Borders (#PRAB) #2023 #statistiques #chiffres #refoulements #push-backs #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #droits_humains #violence #violences #Italie #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Grèce #Macédoine_du_Nord #Biélorussie #Pologne #Lithuanie

  • Border justice

    Instead of forging safe, legal pathways to protection, European states and the EU are fostering strategies of deterrence, exclusion and externalization. Most people on the move are left with no alternative but to cross borders irregularly. When they do, state actors routinely detain, beat and expel them – mostly in secret, with no assessment of their situation, and denying them access to legal safeguards.

    These multiple human rights violations are all part of the pushback experience. Often reliant on racial profiling, pushbacks have become a normalized practice at European borders. ECCHR challenges this state of rightlessness through legal interventions and supports affected people to document and tell their stories. Together we hold states accountable and push for changes in border practice and policies.

    Our team brings together a diverse group of lawyers and interdisciplinary researchers, working transnationally with partners to develop legal strategies and tackle rights violations at borders. We meticulously reconstruct and verify the experiences of those subjected to pushbacks. Confronted with states’ denial of the reality at Europe’s borders, we collect, analyze and publicise in-depth knowledge. Our aim is to enforce the most basic of legal principles: the right to have rights.

    https://www.ecchr.eu/en/border-justice

    #frontières #justice #refoulements #push-backs #violence #migrations #réfugiés #asile #justice_frontalière #justice_migratoire #Espagne #rapport #Ceuta #Grèce #Macédoine_du_Nord #Libye #Italie #hotspots #Allemagne #Croatie #Slovénie #frontière_sud-alpine #droit_d'asile #ECCHR

  • Macedonia del Nord: poche risorse per gestire gli incendi nei parchi naturali
    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Macedonia-del-Nord/Macedonia-del-Nord-poche-risorse-per-gestire-gli-incendi-nei-parchi-

    Le aree protette macedoni hanno una grande importanza ecologica, ma sono sempre più esposte – tra gli altri – al rischio di incendi. La frammentazione politica e la carenza di personale e risorse pongono sfide notevoli, ma si stanno registrando dei progressi incoraggianti. Un reportage dal parco dei Monti Šar

  • Signature par le Conseil d’un #accord avec l’#Albanie sur la #coopération avec #Frontex

    Le Conseil a adopté une décision relative à la signature d’un accord avec l’Albanie en ce qui concerne les activités opérationnelles menées par l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes (Frontex). Cet accord permettra l’organisation d’#opérations_conjointes et le déploiement d’équipes de Frontex spécialisées dans la gestion des frontières en Albanie. Le déploiement d’équipes de Frontex aura lieu sous réserve que le pays soit d’accord. La décision a été prise par voie de procédure écrite.

    « La criminalité transfrontière et la gestion de l’immigration constituent des défis importants tant pour les pays de l’UE que pour nos voisins les plus proches. »
    Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gómez, ministre espagnol de l’intérieur par intérim

    Grâce à cet accord, Frontex sera en mesure d’aider l’Albanie à gérer les flux migratoires, et à lutter contre l’immigration clandestine et contre la criminalité transfrontière.

    Contexte

    Depuis l’adoption d’un nouveau règlement relatif à l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes en 2019, Frontex peut prêter assistance aux pays avec lesquels elle signe des accords sur l’ensemble de leur territoire et pas seulement dans les régions limitrophes de l’UE, comme c’était le cas en vertu du mandat précédent. Le règlement permet également au personnel de Frontex d’exercer des pouvoirs d’exécution, comme les vérifications aux frontières et l’enregistrement de personnes.

    Cet accord remplacera l’accord actuel entre l’Albanie et Frontex, qui est entré en vigueur en 2019 (et qui a été conclu avant l’entrée en vigueur du nouveau règlement relatif à l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes).

    Frontex a conclu des accords de coopération en matière de gestion des frontières avec la #Serbie (2020) en vertu des règles précédentes, et avec la #Moldavie (2022), la #Macédoine_du_Nord et le #Monténégro (tous deux en 2023) en vertu des nouvelles règles.

    Prochaines étapes

    Une fois que le Parlement européen aura donné son approbation à l’accord, celui-ci pourra être définitivement conclu par le Conseil.

    L’accord entrera en vigueur le premier jour du deuxième mois suivant la date à laquelle l’Albanie et l’UE se seront notifié l’accomplissement de leurs procédures de ratification.

    - Renforcer les frontières extérieures de l’UE (informations générales) : https://www.consilium.europa.eu/fr/policies/strengthening-external-borders
    - Accord entre l’Union Européenne et la République d’Albanie concernant les activités opérationnelles menées par l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes en République d’Albanie : https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11944-2023-INIT/fr/pdf
    – Décision du Conseil relative à la conclusion de l’accord entre l’Union européenne et la République d’Albanie concernant les activités opérationnelles menées par l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes en République d’Albanie : https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11945-2023-INIT/fr/pdf

    https://www.consilium.europa.eu/fr/press/press-releases/2023/09/08/council-will-sign-agreement-with-albania-on-frontex-cooperation
    #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #contrôle_frontalier

  • Nessuno vuole mettere limiti all’attività dell’Agenzia Frontex

    Le istituzioni dell’Ue, ossessionate dal controllo delle frontiere, sembrano ignorare i problemi strutturali denunciati anche dall’Ufficio europeo antifrode. E lavorano per dispiegare le “divise blu” pure nei Paesi “chiave” oltre confine

    “Questa causa fa parte di un mosaico di una più ampia campagna contro Frontex: ogni attacco verso di noi è un attacco all’Unione europea”. Con questi toni gli avvocati dell’Agenzia che sorveglia le frontiere europee si sono difesi di fronte alla Corte di giustizia dell’Unione europea. Il 9 marzo, per la prima volta in oltre 19 anni di attività (ci sono altri due casi pendenti, presentati dalla Ong Front-Lex), le “divise blu” si sono trovate di fronte a un giudice grazie alla tenacia dell’avvocata olandese Lisa-Marie Komp.

    Non è successo, invece, per le scioccanti rivelazioni del rapporto dell’Ufficio europeo antifrode (Olaf) che ha ricostruito nel dettaglio come l’Agenzia abbia insabbiato centinaia di respingimenti violenti: quell’indagine è “semplicemente” costata la leadership all’allora direttore Fabrice Leggeri, nell’aprile 2022, ma niente di più. “Tutto è rimasto nel campo delle opinioni e nessuno è andato a fondo sui problemi strutturali -spiega Laura Salzano, dottoranda in Diritto europeo dell’immigrazione presso l’Università di Barcellona-. C’erano tutti gli estremi per portare l’Agenzia di fronte alla Corte di giustizia e invece nulla è stato fatto nonostante sia un’istituzione pubblica con un budget esplosivo che lavora con i più vulnerabili”. Non solo l’impunità ma anche la cieca fiducia ribadita più volte da diverse istituzioni europee. Il 28 giugno 2022 il Consiglio europeo, a soli due mesi dalle dimissioni di Leggeri, dà il via libera all’apertura dei negoziati per portare gli agenti di Frontex in Senegal con la proposta di garantire un’immunità totale nel Paese per le loro azioni.

    A ottobre, invece, a pochi giorni dalla divulgazione del rapporto Olaf -tenuto segreto per oltre quattro mesi- la Commissione europea chiarisce che l’Agenzia “si è già assunta piena responsabilità di quanto successo”. Ancora, a febbraio 2023 il Consiglio europeo le assicura nuovamente “pieno supporto”. Un dato preoccupante soprattutto con riferimento all’espansione di Frontex che mira a diventare un attore sempre più presente nei Paesi chiave per la gestione del fenomeno migratorio, a migliaia di chilometri di distanza dal suo quartier generale di Varsavia.

    “I suoi problemi sono strutturali ma le istituzioni europee fanno finta di niente: se già è difficile controllare gli agenti sui ‘nostri’ confini, figuriamoci in Paesi al di fuori dell’Ue”, spiega Yasha Maccanico, membro del centro di ricerca indipendente Statewatch.

    A fine febbraio 2023 l’Agenzia ha festeggiato la conclusione di un progetto che prevede la consegna di attrezzature ai membri dell’Africa-Frontex intelligence community (Afic), finanziata dalla Commissione, che ha permesso dal 2010 in avanti l’apertura di “Cellule di analisi del rischio” (Rac) gestite da analisti locali formati dall’Agenzia con l’obiettivo di “raccogliere e analizzare informazioni strategiche su crimini transfrontalieri” oltre che a “sostenere le autorità nella gestione dei confini”. A partire dal 2021 una potenziata infrastruttura garantisce “comunicazioni sicure e istantanee” tra le Rac e gli agenti nella sede di Varsavia. Questo è il “primo livello” di collaborazione tra Frontex e le autorità di Paesi terzi che oggi vede, come detto, “cellule” attive in Nigeria, Gambia, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Costa d’Avorio, Togo e Mauritania oltre a una ventina di Stati coinvolti nelle attività di formazione degli analisti, pronti ad attivare le Rac in futuro. “Lo scambio di dati sui flussi è pericoloso perché l’obiettivo delle politiche europee non è proteggere i diritti delle persone, ma fermarle nei Paesi più poveri”, continua Maccanico.

    Un gradino al di sopra delle collaborazioni più informali, come nell’Afic, ci sono i cosiddetti working arrangement (accordi di cooperazione) che permettono di collaborare con le autorità di un Paese in modo ufficiale. “Non serve il via libera del Parlamento europeo e di fatto non c’è nessun controllo né prima della sottoscrizione né ex post -riprende Salzano-. Se ci fosse uno scambio di dati e informazioni dovrebbe esserci il via libera del Garante per la protezione dei dati personali, ma a oggi, questo parere, è stato richiesto solo nel caso del Niger”. A marzo 2023 sono invece 18 i Paesi che hanno siglato accordi simili: da Stati Uniti e Canada, passando per Capo Verde fino alla Federazione Russa. “Sappiamo che i contatti con Mosca dovrebbero essere quotidiani. Dall’inizio del conflitto ho chiesto più volte all’Agenzia se queste comunicazioni sono state interrotte: nessuno mi ha mai risposto”, sottolinea Salzano.

    Obiettivo ultimo dell’Agenzia è riuscire a dispiegare agenti e mezzi anche nei Paesi terzi: una delle novità del regolamento del 2019 rispetto al precedente (2016) è proprio la possibilità di lanciare operazioni non solo nei “Paesi vicini” ma in tutto il mondo. Per farlo sono necessari gli status agreement, accordi internazionali che impegnano formalmente anche le istituzioni europee. Sono cinque quelli attivi (Serbia, Albania, Montenegro e Macedonia del Nord, Moldova) ma sono in via di sottoscrizione quelli con Senegal e Mauritania per limitare le partenze (poco più di 15mila nel 2022) verso le isole Canarie, mille chilometri più a Nord: accordi per ora “fermi”, secondo quanto ricostruito dalla parlamentare europea olandese Tineke Strik che a fine febbraio ha visitato i due Stati, ma che danno conto della linea che si vuole seguire. Un quadro noto, i cui dettagli però spesso restano nascosti.

    È quanto emerge dal report “Accesso negato”, pubblicato da Statewatch a metà marzo 2023, che ricostruisce altri due casi di scarsa trasparenza negli accordi, Niger e Marocco, due Paesi chiave nella strategia europea di esternalizzazione delle frontiere. “Con la ‘scusa’ della tutela della riservatezza nelle relazioni internazionali e mettendo la questione migratoria sotto il cappello dell’antiterrorismo l’accesso ai dettagli degli accordi non è consentito”, spiega Maccanico, uno dei curatori dello studio. Non si conoscono, per esempio, i compiti specifici degli agenti, per cui si propone addirittura l’immunità totale. “In alcuni accordi, come in Macedonia del Nord, si è poi ‘ripiegato’ su un’immunità connessa solo ai compiti che rientrano nel mandato dell’Agenzia -osserva Salzano-. Ma il problema non cambia: dove finisce la sua responsabilità e dove inizia quella del Paese membro?”. Una zona grigia funzionale a Frontex, anche quando opera sul territorio europeo.

    Lo sa bene l’avvocata tedesca Lisa-Marie Komp che, come detto, ha portato l’Agenzia di fronte alla Corte di giustizia dell’Ue. Il caso, su cui il giudice si pronuncerà nei prossimi mesi, riguarda il rimpatrio nel 2016 di una famiglia siriana con quattro bambini piccoli che, pochi giorni dopo aver presentato richiesta d’asilo in Grecia, è stata caricata su un aereo e riportata in Turchia: quel volo è stato gestito da Frontex, in collaborazione con le autorità greche. “L’Agenzia cerca di scaricare le responsabilità su di loro ma il suo mandato stabilisce chiaramente che è tenuta a monitorare il rispetto dei diritti fondamentali durante queste operazioni -spiega-. Serve chiarire che tutti devono rispettare la legge, compresa l’Agenzia le cui azioni hanno un grande impatto sulla vita di molte persone”.

    Le illegittimità nell’attività dei rimpatri sono note da tempo e il caso della famiglia siriana non è isolato. “Quando c’è una forte discrepanza nelle decisioni sulle domande d’asilo tra i diversi Paesi europei, l’attività di semplice ‘coordinamento’ e preparazione delle attività di rimpatrio può tradursi nella violazione del principio di non respingimento”, spiega Mariana Gkliati, docente di Migrazione e Asilo all’università olandese di Tilburg. Nonostante questi problemi e un sistema d’asilo sempre più fragile, negli ultimi anni i poteri e le risorse a disposizione per l’Agenzia sui rimpatri sono esplosi: nel 2022 questa specifica voce di bilancio prevedeva quasi 79 milioni di euro (+690% rispetto ai dieci milioni del 2012).

    E la crescita sembra destinata a non fermarsi. Frontex nel 2023 stima di poter rimpatriare 800 persone in Iraq, 316 in Pakistan, 200 in Gambia, 75 in Afghanistan, 57 in Siria, 60 in Russia e 36 in Ucraina come si legge in un bando pubblicato a inizio febbraio 2023 che ha come obiettivo la ricerca di partner in questi Paesi (e in altri, in totale 43) per garantire assistenza di breve e medio periodo (12 mesi) alle persone rimpatriate. Un’altra gara pubblica dà conto della centralità dell’Agenzia nella “strategia dei rimpatri” europea: 120 milioni di euro nel novembre 2022 per l’acquisto di “servizi di viaggio relativi ai rimpatri mediante voli di linea”. Migliaia di biglietti e un nuovo sistema informatico per gestire al meglio le prenotazioni, con un’enorme mole di dati personali delle persone “irregolari” che arriveranno nelle “mani” di Frontex. Mani affidabili, secondo la Commissione europea.

    Ma il 7 ottobre 2022 il Parlamento, nel “bocciare” nuovamente Frontex rispetto al via libera sul bilancio 2020, dava conto del “rammarico per l’assenza di procedimenti disciplinari” nei confronti di Leggeri e della “preoccupazione” per la mancata attivazione dell’articolo 46 (che prevede il ritiro degli agenti quando siano sistematiche le violazioni dei diritti umani) con riferimento alla Grecia, in cui l’Agenzia opera con 518 agenti, 11 navi e 30 mezzi. “I respingimenti e la violenza sui confini continuano sia alle frontiere terrestri sia a quelle marittime così come non si è interrotto il sostegno alle autorità greche”, spiega la ricercatrice indipendente Lena Karamanidou. La “scusa” ufficiale è che la presenza di agenti migliori la situazione ma non è così. “Al confine terrestre di Evros, la violenza è stata documentata per tutto il tempo in cui Frontex è stata presente, fin dal 2010. È difficile immaginare come possa farlo in futuro vista la sistematicità delle violenze su questo confine”. Su quella frontiera si giocherà anche la presunta nuova reputazione dell’Agenzia guidata dal primo marzo dall’olandese Hans Leijtens: un tentativo di “ripulire” l’immagine che è già in corso.

    Frontex nei confronti delle persone in fuga dal conflitto in Ucraina ha tenuto fin dall’inizio un altro registro: i “migranti irregolari” sono diventati “persone che scappano da zone di conflitto”; l’obiettivo di “combattere l’immigrazione irregolare” si è trasformato nella gestione “efficace dell’attraversamento dei confini”. “Gli ultimi mesi hanno mostrato il potenziale di Frontex di evolversi in un attore affidabile della gestione delle frontiere che opera con efficienza, trasparenza e pieno rispetto dei diritti umani”, sottolinea Gkliati nello studio “Frontex assisting in the ukrainian displacement. A welcoming committee at racialised passage?”, pubblicato nel marzo 2023. Una conferma ulteriore, per Salzano, dei limiti strutturali dell’Agenzia: “La legge va rispettata indipendentemente dalla cornice in cui operi: la tutela dei diritti umani prescinde dagli umori della politica”.

    https://altreconomia.it/nessuno-vuole-mettere-limiti-allattivita-dellagenzia-frontex

    #Frontex #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #justice #Lisa-Marie_Komp #OLAF #Sénégal #externalisation #Africa-Frontex_intelligence_community (#Afic) #Rac #Nigeria #Gambie #Niger #Ghana #Côte_d'Ivoire #Togo #Mauritanie #status_agreement #échange_de_données #working_arrangement #Serbie #Monténégro #Albanie #Moldavie #Macédoine_du_Nord #CJUE #cours_de_justice #renvois #expulsions

    • I rischi della presenza di Frontex in Africa: tanto potere, poca responsabilità

      L’eurodeputata #Tineke_Strik è stata in Senegal e Mauritania a fine febbraio 2023: in un’intervista ad Altreconomia ricostruisce lo stato dell’arte degli accordi che l’Ue vorrebbe concludere con i due Paesi ritenuti “chiave” nel contrasto ai flussi migratori. Denunciando la necessità di una riforma strutturale dell’Agenzia.

      A un anno di distanza dalle dimissioni del suo ex direttore Fabrice Leggeri, le istituzioni europee non vogliono mettere limiti all’attività di Frontex. Come abbiamo ricostruito sul numero di aprile di Altreconomia, infatti, l’Agenzia -che dal primo marzo 2023 è guidata da Hans Leijtens- continua a svolgere un ruolo centrale nelle politiche migratorie dell’Unione europea nonostante le pesanti rivelazioni dell’Ufficio europeo antifrode (Olaf), che ha ricostruito nel dettaglio il malfunzionamento nelle operazioni delle divise blu lungo i confini europei.

      Ma non solo. Un aspetto particolarmente preoccupante sono le operazioni al di fuori dei Paesi dell’Unione, che rientrano sempre di più tra le priorità di Frontex in un’ottica di esternalizzazione delle frontiere per “fermare” preventivamente i flussi di persone dirette verso l’Europa. Non a caso, a luglio 2022, nonostante i contenuti del rapporto Olaf chiuso solo pochi mesi prima, la Commissione europea ha dato il via libera ai negoziati con Senegal e Mauritania per stringere un cosiddetto working arrangement e permettere così agli “agenti europei” di operare nei due Paesi africani (segnaliamo anche la recente ricerca pubblicata dall’Associazione per gli studi giuridici sull’immigrazione sul tema).

      Per monitorare lo stato dell’arte di questi accordi l’eurodeputata Tineke Strik, tra le poche a opporsi e a denunciare senza sconti gli effetti delle politiche migratorie europee e il ruolo di Frontex, a fine febbraio 2023 ha svolto una missione di monitoraggio nei due Paesi. Già professoressa di Diritto della cittadinanza e delle migrazioni dell’Università di Radboud di Nimega, in Olanda, è stata eletta al Parlamento europeo nel 2019 nelle fila di GroenLinks (Sinistra verde). L’abbiamo intervistata.

      Onorevole Strik, secondo quanto ricostruito dalla vostra visita (ha partecipato alla missione anche Cornelia Erns, di LeftEu, ndr), a che punto sono i negoziati con il Senegal?
      TS La nostra impressione è che le autorità senegalesi non siano così desiderose di concludere un accordo di status con l’Unione europea sulla presenza di Frontex nel Paese. L’approccio di Bruxelles nei confronti della migrazione come sappiamo è molto incentrato su sicurezza e gestione delle frontiere; i senegalesi, invece, sono più interessati a un intervento sostenibile e incentrato sullo sviluppo, che offra soluzioni e affronti le cause profonde che spingono le persone a partire. Sono molti i cittadini del Senegal emigrano verso l’Europa: idealmente, il governo vuole che rimangano nel Paese, ma capisce meglio di quanto non lo facciano le istituzioni Ue che si può intervenire sulla migrazione solo affrontando le cause alla radice e migliorando la situazione nel contesto di partenza. Allo stesso tempo, le navi europee continuano a pescare lungo le coste del Paese (minacciando la pesca artigianale, ndr), le aziende europee evadono le tasse e il latte sovvenzionato dall’Ue viene scaricato sul mercato senegalese, causando disoccupazione e impedendo lo sviluppo dell’economia locale. Sono soprattutto gli accordi di pesca ad aver alimentato le partenze dal Senegal, dal momento che le comunità di pescatori sono state private della loro principale fonte di reddito. Serve domandarsi se l’Unione sia veramente interessata allo sviluppo e ad affrontare le cause profonde della migrazione. E lo stesso discorso può essere fatto su molti dei Paesi d’origine delle persone che cercano poi protezione in Europa.

      Dakar vede di buon occhio l’intervento dell’Unione europea? Quale tipo di operazioni andrebbero a svolgere gli agenti di Frontex nel Paese?
      TS Abbiamo avuto la sensazione che l’Ue non ascoltasse le richieste delle autorità senegalesi -ad esempio in materia di rilascio di visti d’ingresso- e ci hanno espresso preoccupazioni relative ai diritti fondamentali in merito a qualsiasi potenziale cooperazione con Frontex, data la reputazione dell’Agenzia. È difficile dire che tipo di supporto sia previsto, ma nei negoziati l’Unione sta puntando sia alle frontiere terrestri sia a quelle marittime.

      Che cosa sta avvenendo in Mauritania?
      TS Sebbene questo Paese sembri disposto a concludere un accordo sullo status di Frontex -soprattutto nell’ottica di ottenere un maggiore riconoscimento da parte dell’Europa-, preferisce comunque mantenere l’autonomia nella gestione delle proprie frontiere e quindi non prevede una presenza permanente dei funzionari dell’Agenzia nel Paese. Considerano l’accordo sullo status più come un quadro giuridico, per consentire la presenza di Frontex in caso di aumento della pressione migratoria. Inoltre, come il Senegal, ritengono che l’Europa debba ascoltare e accogliere le loro richieste, che riguardano principalmente i visti e altre aree di cooperazione. Anche in questo caso, Bruxelles chiede il mandato più ampio possibile per gli agenti in divisa blu durante i negoziati per “mantenere aperte le opzioni [più ampie]”, come dicono loro stessi. Ma credo sia chiaro che il loro obiettivo è quello di operare sia alle frontiere marittime sia a quelle terrestri.
      Questo a livello “istituzionale”. Qual è invece la posizione della società civile?
      TS In entrambi i Paesi è molto critica. In parte a causa della cattiva reputazione di Frontex in relazione ai diritti umani, ma anche a causa dell’esperienza che i cittadini senegalesi e mauritani hanno già sperimentato con la Guardia civil spagnola, presente nei due Stati, che ritengono stia intaccando la sovranità per quanto riguarda la gestione delle frontiere. È previsto che il mandato di Frontex sia addirittura esecutivo, a differenza di quello della Guardia civil, che può impegnarsi solo in pattugliamenti congiunti in cui le autorità nazionali sono al comando. Quindi la sovranità di entrambi i Paesi sarebbe ulteriormente minata.

      Perché a suo avviso sarebbe problematica la presenza di agenti di Frontex nei due Paesi?
      TS L’immunità che l’Unione europea vorrebbe per i propri operativi dispiegati in Africa non è solo connessa allo svolgimento delle loro funzioni ma si estende al di fuori di esse, a questo si aggiunge la possibilità di essere armati. Penso sia problematico il rispetto dei diritti fondamentali dei naufraghi intercettati in mare, poiché è difficile ottenere l’accesso all’asilo sia in Senegal sia in Mauritania. In questo Paese, ad esempio, l’Alto commissariato delle Nazioni Unite per i rifugiati (Unhcr) impiega molto tempo per determinare il loro bisogno di protezione: fanno eccezione i maliani, che riescono a ottenerla in “appena” due anni. E durante l’attesa queste persone non hanno quasi diritti.

      Ma se ottengono la protezione è comunque molto difficile registrarsi presso l’amministrazione, cosa necessaria per avere accesso al mercato del lavoro, alle scuole o all’assistenza sanitaria. E le conseguenze che ne derivano sono le continue retate, i fermi e le deportazioni alla frontiera, per impedire alle persone di partire. A causa delle attuali intercettazioni in mare, le rotte migratorie si stanno spostando sulla terra ferma e puntano verso l’Algeria: l’attraversamento del deserto può essere mortale. Il problema principale è che Frontex deve rispettare il diritto dell’Unione europea anche se opera in un Paese terzo in cui si applicano norme giuridiche diverse, ma l’Agenzia andrà a operare sotto il comando delle guardie di frontiera di un Paese che non è vincolato dalle “regole” europee. Come può Frontex garantire di non essere coinvolta in operazioni che violano le norme fondamentali del diritto comunitario, se determinate azioni non sono illegali in quel Paese? Sulla carta è possibile presentare un reclamo a Frontex, ma poi nella pratica questo strumento in quali termini sarebbe accessibile ed efficace?

      Un anno dopo le dimissioni dell’ex direttore Leggeri ritiene che Frontex si sia pienamente assunta la responsabilità di quanto accaduto? Può davvero, secondo lei, diventare un attore affidabile per l’Ue?
      TS Prima devono accadere molte cose. Non abbiamo ancora visto una riforma fondamentale: c’è ancora un forte bisogno di maggiore trasparenza, di un atteggiamento più fermo nei confronti degli Stati membri ospitanti e di un uso conseguente dell’articolo 46 che prevede la sospensione delle operazioni in caso di violazioni dei diritti umani (abbiamo già raccontato il ruolo dell’Agenzia nei respingimenti tra Grecia e Turchia, ndr). Questi problemi saranno ovviamente esacerbati nella cooperazione con i Paesi terzi, perché la responsabilità sarà ancora più difficile da raggiungere.

      https://altreconomia.it/i-rischi-della-presenza-di-frontex-in-africa-tanto-potere-poca-responsa

    • «Un laboratorio di esternalizzazione tra frontiere di terra e di mare». La missione di ASGI in Senegal e Mauritania

      Lo scorso 29 marzo è stato pubblicato il rapporto «Un laboratorio di esternalizzazione tra frontiere di terra e di mare» (https://www.asgi.it/notizie/rapporto-asgi-della-senegal-mauritania), frutto del sopralluogo giuridico effettuato tra il 7 e il 13 maggio 2022 da una delegazione di ASGI composta da Alice Fill, Lorenzo Figoni, Matteo Astuti, Diletta Agresta, Adelaide Massimi (avvocate e avvocati, operatori e operatrici legali, ricercatori e ricercatrici).

      Il sopralluogo aveva l’obiettivo di analizzare lo sviluppo delle politiche di esternalizzazione del controllo della mobilità e di blocco delle frontiere implementate dall’Unione Europea in Mauritania e in Senegal – due paesi a cui, come la Turchia o gli stati balcanici più orientali, gli stati membri hanno delegato la gestione dei flussi migratori concordando politiche sempre più ostacolanti per lo spostamento delle persone.

      Nel corso del sopralluogo sono stati intervistati, tra Mauritania e Senegal, più di 40 interlocutori afferenti a istituzioni, società civile, popolazione migrante e organizzazioni, tra cui OIM, UNHCR, delegazioni dell’UE. Intercettare questi soggetti ha consentito ad ASGI di andare oltre le informazioni vincolate all’ufficialità delle dichiarazioni pubbliche e di approfondire le pratiche illegittime portate avanti su questi territori.

      Il report parte dalle già assodate intenzioni di collaborazione tra l’Unione Europea e le autorità senegalesi e mauritane – una collaborazione che in entrambi i paesi sembra connotata nel senso del controllo e della sorveglianza; per quanto riguarda il Senegal, si fa menzione del ben noto status agreement, proposto nel febbraio 2022 a Dakar dalla Commissaria europea agli affari interni Ylva Johansson, con il quale si intende estendere il controllo di Frontex in Senegal.

      L’obiettivo di tale accordo era il controllo della cosiddetta rotta delle Canarie, che tra il 2018 e il 2022 è stata sempre più battuta. Sebbene la proposta abbia generato accese discussioni nella società civile senegalese, preoccupata all’idea di cedere parte della sovranità del paese sul controllo delle frontiere esterne, con tale accordo, elaborato con un disegno molto simile a quello che regola le modalità di intervento di Frontex nei Balcani, si legittimerebbe ufficialmente l’attività di controllo dell’agenzia UE in paesi terzi, e in particolare fuori dal continente europeo.

      Per quanto riguarda la Mauritania, si menziona l’Action Plan pubblicato da Frontex il 7 giugno 2022, con il quale si prospetta una possibilità di collaborare operativamente sul territorio mauritano, in particolare per lo sviluppo di governance in materia migratoria.

      Senegal

      Sin dai primi anni Duemila, il dialogo tra istituzioni europee e senegalesi è stato focalizzato sulle politiche di riammissione dei cittadini senegalesi presenti in UE in maniera irregolare e dei cosiddetti ritorni volontari, le politiche di gestione delle frontiere senegalesi e il controllo della costa, la promozione di una legislazione anti-trafficking e anti-smuggling. Tutto questo si è intensificato quando, a partire dal 2018, la rotta delle Canarie è tornata a essere una rotta molto percorsa. L’operatività delle agenzie europee in Senegal per la gestione delle migrazioni si declina principalmente nei seguenti obiettivi:

      1. Monitoraggio delle frontiere terrestri e marittime. Il memorandum firmato nel 2006 da Senegal e Spagna ha sancito la collaborazione ufficiale tra le forze di polizia europee e quelle senegalesi in operazioni congiunte di pattugliamento; a questo si aggiunge, sempre nello stesso anno, una presenza sempre più intensiva di Frontex al largo delle coste senegalesi.

      2. Lotta alla tratta e al traffico. Su questo fronte dell’operatività congiunta tra forze senegalesi ed europee, la normativa di riferimento è la legge n. 06 del 10 maggio 2005, che offre delle direttive per il contrasto della tratta di persone e del traffico. Tale documento, non distinguendo mai fra “tratta” e “traffico”, di fatto criminalizza la migrazione irregolare tout court, dal momento che viene utilizzato in maniera estensiva (e arbitraria) come strumento di controllo e di repressione della mobilità – fu utilizzato, ad esempio, per accusare di traffico di esseri umani un padre che aveva imbarcato suo figlio su un mezzo che poi naufragato.

      Il sistema di asilo in Senegal

      Il Senegal aderisce alla Convenzione del 1951 sullo status de rifugiati e del relativo Protocollo del 1967; la valutazione delle domande di asilo fa capo alla Commissione Nazionale di Eleggibilità (CNE), che al deposito della richiesta di asilo emette un permesso di soggiorno della durata di 3 mesi, rinnovabile fino all’esito dell’audizione di fronte alla CNE; l’esito della CNE è ricorribile in primo grado presso la Commissione stessa e, nel caso di ulteriore rifiuto, presso il Presidente della Repubblica. Quando il richiedente asilo depone la propria domanda, subentra l’UNHCR, che nel paese è molto presente e finanzia ONG locali per fornire assistenza.

      Il 5 aprile 2022 l’Assemblea Nazionale senegalese ha approvato una nuova legge sullo status dei rifugiati e degli apolidi, una legge che, stando a diverse associazioni locali, sulla carta estenderebbe i diritti cui i rifugiati hanno accesso; tuttavia, le stesse associazioni temono che a tale miglioramento possa non seguire un’applicazione effettiva della normativa.
      Mauritania

      Data la collocazione geografica del paese, a ridosso dell’Atlantico e delle isole Canarie, in prossimità di paesi ad alto indice di emigrazione (Senegal, Mali, Marocco), la Mauritania rappresenta un territorio strategico per il monitoraggio dei flussi migratori diretti in Europa. Pertanto, analogamente a quanto avvenuto in Senegal, anche in Mauritania la Spagna ha proceduto a rafforzare la cooperazione in tema di politiche migratorie e di gestione del controllo delle frontiere e a incrementare la presenta e l’impegno di attori esterni – in primis di agenzie quali Frontex – per interventi di contenimento dei flussi e di riammissione di cittadini stranieri in Mauritania.

      Relativamente alla Mauritania, l’obiettivo principale delle istituzioni europee sembra essere la prevenzione dell’immigrazione lungo la rotta delle Canarie. La normativa di riferimento è l’Accordo di riammissione bilaterale firmato con la Spagna nel luglio 2003. Con tale accordo, la Spagna può chiedere alla Mauritania di riammettere sul proprio territorio cittadini mauritani e non solo, anche altri cittadini provenienti da paesi terzi che “si presume” siano transitati per la Mauritania prima di entrare irregolarmente in Spagna. Oltre a tali interventi, il report di ASGI menziona l’Operazione Hera di Frontex e vari interventi di cooperazione allo sviluppo promossi dalla Spagna “con finalità tutt’altro che umanitarie”, bensì di gestione della mobilità.

      In tale regione, nella fase degli sbarchi risulta molto dubbio il ruolo giocato da organizzazioni come OIM e UNHCR, poiché non è codificato; interlocutori diversi hanno fornito informazioni contrastanti sulla disponibilità di UNHCR a intervenire in supporto e su segnalazione delle ONG presenti al momento dello sbarco. In ogni caso, se effettivamente UNHCR fosse assente agli sbarchi, ciò determinerebbe una sostanziale impossibilità di accesso alle procedure di protezione internazionale da parte di qualsiasi potenziale richiedente asilo che venga intercettato in mare.

      Anche in questo territorio la costruzione della figura del “trafficante” diventa un dispositivo di criminalizzazione e repressione della mobilità sulla rotta atlantica, strumentale alla soddisfazione di richieste europee.
      La detenzione dei cittadini stranieri

      Tra Nouakchott e Nouadhibou vi sono tre centri di detenzione per persone migranti; uno di questi (il Centro di Detenzione di Nouadhibou 2 (anche detto “El Guantanamito”), venne realizzato grazie a dei fondi di un’agenzia di cooperazione spagnola. Sovraffollamento, precarietà igienico-sanitaria e impossibilità di accesso a cure e assistenza legale hanno caratterizzato tali centri. Quando El Guantanamito fu chiuso, i commissariati di polizia sono diventati i principali luoghi deputati alla detenzione dei cittadini stranieri; in tali centri, vengono detenute non solo le persone intercettate in prossimità delle coste mauritane, ma anche i cittadini stranieri riammessi dalla Spagna, e anche le persone presenti irregolarmente su territorio mauritano. Risulta delicato il tema dell’accesso a tali commissariati, dal momento che il sopralluogo ha rilevato che le ONG non hanno il permesso di entrarvi, mentre le organizzazioni internazionali sì – ciò nonostante, nessuna delle persone precedentemente sottoposte a detenzione con cui la delegazione ASGI ha avuto modo di interloquire ha dichiarato di aver riscontrato la presenza di organizzazioni all’interno di questi centri.

      La detenzione amministrativa risulta essere “un tassello essenziale della politica di contenimento dei flussi di cittadini stranieri in Mauritania”. Il passaggio successivo alla detenzione delle persone migranti è l’allontanamento, che si svolge in forma di veri e propri respingimenti sommari e informali, senza che i migranti siano messi nelle condizioni né di dichiarare la propria nazionalità né di conoscere la procedura di ritorno volontario.
      Il ruolo delle organizzazioni internazionali in Mauritania

      OIM riveste un ruolo centrale nel panorama delle politiche di esternalizzazione e di blocco dei cittadini stranieri in Mauritania, tramite il supporto delle autorità di pubblica sicurezza mauritane nello sviluppo di politiche di contenimento della libertà di movimento – strategie e interventi che suggeriscono una connotazione securitaria della presenza dell’associazione nel paese, a scapito di una umanitaria.

      Nonostante anche la Mauritania sia firmataria della Convenzione di Ginevra, non esiste a oggi una legge nazionale sul diritto di asilo nel paese. UNHCR testimonia come dal 2015 esiste un progetto di legge sull’asilo, ma che questo sia tuttora “in attesa di adozione”.

      Pertanto, le procedure di asilo in Mauritania sono gestite interamente da UNHCR. Tali procedure si differenziano a seconda della pericolosità delle regioni di provenienza delle persone migranti; in particolare, i migranti maliani provenienti dalle regioni considerate più pericolose vengono registrati come rifugiati prima facie, quanto non accade invece per i richiedenti asilo provenienti dalle aree urbane, per loro, l’iter dell’asilo è ben più lungo, e prevede una sorta di “pre-pre-registrazione” presso un ente partner di UNHCR, cui segue una pre-registrazione accordata da UNHCR previo appuntamento, e solo in seguito alla registrazione viene riconosciuto un certificato di richiesta di asilo, valido per sei mesi, in attesa di audizione per la determinazione dello status di rifugiato.

      Le tempistiche per il riconoscimento di protezione, poi, sono differenti a seconda del grado di vulnerabilità del richiedente e in taluni casi potevano condurre ad anni e anni di attesa. Alla complessità della procedura si aggiunge che non tutti i potenziali richiedenti asilo possono accedervi – ad esempio, chi proviene da alcuni stati, come la Sierra Leone, considerati “paesi sicuri” secondo una categorizzazione fornita dall’Unione Africana.
      Conclusioni

      In fase conclusiva, il report si sofferma sul ruolo fondamentale giocato dall’Unione Europea nel forzare le politiche senegalesi e mauritane nel senso della sicurezza e del contenimento, a scapito della tutela delle persone migranti nei loro diritti fondamentali. Le principali preoccupazioni evidenziate sono rappresentate dalla prospettiva della conclusione dello status agreement tra Frontex e i due paesi, perché tale ratifica ufficializzerebbe non solo la presenza, ma un ruolo legittimo e attivo di un’agenzia europea nel controllo di frontiere che si dispiegano ben oltre i confini territoriali comunitari, ben oltre le acque territoriali, spingendo le maglie del controllo dei flussi fin dentro le terre di quegli stati da cui le persone fuggono puntando all’Unione Europea. La delegazione, tuttavia, sottolinea che vi sono aree in cui la società civile senegalese e mauritana risulta particolarmente politicizzata, dunque in grado di esprimere insofferenza o aperta contrarietà nei confronti delle ingerenze europee nei loro paesi. Infine, da interviste, colloqui e incontri con diretti interessati e testimoni, il ruolo di organizzazioni internazionali come le citate OIM e UNHCR appare nella maggior parte dei casi “fluido o sfuggevole”; una prospettiva, questa, che sembra confermare l’ambivalenza delle grandi organizzazioni internazionali, soggetti messi innanzitutto al servizio degli interessi delle istituzioni europee.

      Il report si conclude auspicando una prosecuzione di studio e analisi al fine di continuare a monitorare gli sviluppi politici e legislativi che legano l’Unione Europea e questi territori nella gestione operativa delle migrazioni.

      https://www.meltingpot.org/2023/05/un-laboratorio-di-esternalizzazione-tra-frontiere-di-terra-e-di-mare

    • Pubblicato il rapporto #ASGI della missione in Senegal e Mauritania

      Il Senegal e la Mauritania sono paesi fondamentali lungo la rotta che conduce dall’Africa occidentale alle isole Canarie. Nel 2020, dopo alcuni anni in cui la rotta era stata meno utilizzata, vi è stato un incremento del 900% degli arrivi rispetto all’anno precedente. Il dato ha portato la Spagna e le istituzioni europee a concentrarsi nuovamente sui due paesi. La cosiddetta Rotta Atlantica, che a partire dal 2006 era stata teatro di sperimentazioni di pratiche di contenimento e selezione della mobilità e di delega dei controlli alle frontiere e del diritto di asilo, è tornata all’attenzione internazionale: da febbraio 2022 sono in corso negoziazioni per la firma di un accordo di status con Frontex per permettere il dispiegamento dei suoi agenti in Senegal e Mauritania.

      Al fine di indagare l’attuazione delle politiche di esternalizzazione e i loro effetti, dal 7 al 13 maggio 2022 un gruppo di socз ASGI – avvocatз, operatorз legali e ricercatorз – ha effettuato un sopralluogo giuridico a Nouakchott, Mauritania e a Dakar, Senegal.

      Il report restituisce il quadro ricostruito nel corso del sopralluogo, durante il quale è stato possibile intervistare oltre 45 interlocutori tra istituzioni, organizzazioni internazionali, ONG e persone migranti.

      https://www.asgi.it/notizie/rapporto-asgi-della-senegal-mauritania
      #rapport

    • Au Sénégal, les desseins de Frontex se heurtent aux résistances locales

      Tout semblait devoir aller très vite : début 2022, l’Union européenne propose de déployer sa force anti-migration Frontex sur les côtes sénégalaises, et le président Macky Sall y semble favorable. Mais c’était compter sans l’opposition de la société civile, qui refuse de voir le Sénégal ériger des murs à la place de l’Europe.

      Agents armés, navires, drones et systèmes de sécurité sophistiqués : Frontex, l’agence européenne de gardes-frontières et de gardes-côtes créée en 2004, a sorti le grand jeu pour dissuader les Africains de prendre la direction des îles Canaries – et donc de l’Europe –, l’une des routes migratoires les plus meurtrières au monde. Cet arsenal, auquel s’ajoutent des programmes de formation de la police aux frontières, est la pierre angulaire de la proposition faite début 2022 par le Conseil de l’Europe au Sénégal. Finalement, Dakar a refusé de la signer sous la pression de la société civile, même si les négociations ne sont pas closes. Dans un climat politique incandescent à l’approche de l’élection présidentielle de 2024, le président sénégalais, Macky Sall, soupçonné de vouloir briguer un troisième mandat, a préféré prendre son temps et a fini par revenir sur sa position initiale, qui semblait ouverte à cette collaboration. Dans le même temps, la Mauritanie voisine, elle, a entamé des négociations avec Bruxelles.

      L’histoire débute le 11 février 2022 : lors d’une conférence de presse à Dakar, la commissaire aux Affaires intérieures du Conseil de l’Europe, Ylva Johansson, officialise la proposition européenne de déployer Frontex sur les côtes sénégalaises. « C’est mon offre et j’espère que le gouvernement sénégalais sera intéressé par cette opportunité unique », indique-t-elle. En cas d’accord, elle annonce que l’agence européenne sera déployée dans le pays au plus tard au cours de l’été 2022. Dans les jours qui ont suivi l’annonce de Mme Johansson, plusieurs associations de la société civile sénégalaise ont organisé des manifestations et des sit-in à Dakar contre la signature de cet accord, jugé contraire aux intérêts nationaux et régionaux.

      Une frontière déplacée vers la côte sénégalaise

      « Il s’agit d’un #dispositif_policier très coûteux qui ne permet pas de résoudre les problèmes d’immigration tant en Afrique qu’en Europe. C’est pourquoi il est impopulaire en Afrique. Frontex participe, avec des moyens militaires, à l’édification de murs chez nous, en déplaçant la frontière européenne vers la côte sénégalaise. C’est inacceptable, dénonce Seydi Gassama, le directeur exécutif d’Amnesty International au Sénégal. L’UE exerce une forte pression sur les États africains. Une grande partie de l’aide européenne au développement est désormais conditionnée à la lutte contre la migration irrégulière. Les États africains doivent pouvoir jouer un rôle actif dans ce jeu, ils ne doivent pas accepter ce qu’on leur impose, c’est-à-dire des politiques contraires aux intérêts de leurs propres communautés. » Le défenseur des droits humains rappelle que les transferts de fonds des migrants pèsent très lourd dans l’économie du pays : selon les chiffres de la Banque mondiale, ils ont atteint 2,66 milliards de dollars (2,47 milliards d’euros) au Sénégal en 2021, soit 9,6 % du PIB (presque le double du total de l’aide internationale au développement allouée au pays, de l’ordre de 1,38 milliard de dollars en 2021). « Aujourd’hui, en visitant la plupart des villages sénégalais, que ce soit dans la région de Fouta, au Sénégal oriental ou en Haute-Casamance, il est clair que tout ce qui fonctionne – hôpitaux, dispensaires, routes, écoles – a été construit grâce aux envois de fonds des émigrés », souligne M. Gassama.

      « Quitter son lieu de naissance pour aller vivre dans un autre pays est un droit humain fondamental, consacré par l’article 13 de la Convention de Genève de 1951, poursuit-il. Les sociétés capitalistes comme celles de l’Union européenne ne peuvent pas dire aux pays africains : “Vous devez accepter la libre circulation des capitaux et des services, alors que nous n’acceptons pas la libre circulation des travailleurs”. » Selon lui, « l’Europe devrait garantir des routes migratoires régulières, quasi inexistantes aujourd’hui, et s’attaquer simultanément aux racines profondes de l’exclusion, de la pauvreté, de la crise démocratique et de l’instabilité dans les pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest afin d’offrir aux jeunes des perspectives alternatives à l’émigration et au recrutement dans les rangs des groupes djihadistes ».

      Depuis le siège du Forum social sénégalais (FSS), à Dakar, Mamadou Mignane Diouf abonde : « L’UE a un comportement inhumain, intellectuellement et diplomatiquement malhonnête. » Le coordinateur du FSS cite le cas récent de l’accueil réservé aux réfugiés ukrainiens ayant fui la guerre, qui contraste avec les naufrages incessants en Méditerranée et dans l’océan Atlantique, et avec la fermeture des ports italiens aux bateaux des ONG internationales engagées dans des opérations de recherche et de sauvetage des migrants. « Quel est ce monde dans lequel les droits de l’homme ne sont accordés qu’à certaines personnes en fonction de leur origine ?, se désole-t-il. À chaque réunion internationale sur la migration, nous répétons aux dirigeants européens que s’ils investissaient un tiers de ce qu’ils allouent à Frontex dans des politiques de développement local transparentes, les jeunes Africains ne seraient plus contraints de partir. » Le budget total alloué à Frontex, en constante augmentation depuis 2016, a dépassé les 754 millions d’euros en 2022, contre 535 millions l’année précédente.
      Une des routes migratoires les plus meurtrières

      Boubacar Seye, directeur de l’ONG Horizon sans Frontières, parle de son côté d’une « gestion catastrophique et inhumaine des frontières et des phénomènes migratoires ». Selon les estimations de l’ONG espagnole Caminando Fronteras, engagée dans la surveillance quotidienne de ce qu’elle appelle la « nécro-frontière ouest-euro-africaine », entre 2018 et 2022, 7 865 personnes originaires de 31 pays différents, dont 1 273 femmes et 383 enfants, auraient trouvé la mort en tentant de rejoindre les côtes espagnoles des Canaries à bord de pirogues en bois et de canots pneumatiques cabossés – soit une moyenne de 6 victimes chaque jour. Il s’agit de l’une des routes migratoires les plus dangereuses et les plus meurtrières au monde, avec le triste record, ces cinq dernières années, d’au moins 250 bateaux qui auraient coulé avec leurs passagers à bord. Le dernier naufrage connu a eu lieu le 2 octobre 2022. Selon le récit d’un jeune Ivoirien de 27 ans, seul survivant, le bateau a coulé après neuf jours de mer, emportant avec lui 33 vies.

      Selon les chiffres fournis par le ministère espagnol de l’Intérieur, environ 15 000 personnes sont arrivées aux îles Canaries en 2022 – un chiffre en baisse par rapport à 2021 (21 000) et 2020 (23 000). Et pour cause : la Guardia Civil espagnole a déployé des navires et des hélicoptères sur les côtes du Sénégal et de la Mauritanie, dans le cadre de l’opération « Hera » mise en place dès 2006 (l’année de la « crise des pirogues ») grâce à des accords de coopération militaire avec les deux pays africains, et en coordination avec Frontex.

      « Les frontières de l’Europe sont devenues des lieux de souffrance, des cimetières, au lieu d’être des entrelacs de communication et de partage, dénonce Boubacar Seye, qui a obtenu la nationalité espagnole. L’Europe se barricade derrière des frontières juridiques, politiques et physiques. Aujourd’hui, les frontières sont équipées de moyens de surveillance très avancés. Mais, malgré tout, les naufrages et les massacres d’innocents continuent. Il y a manifestement un problème. » Une question surtout le hante : « Combien d’argent a-t-on injecté dans la lutte contre la migration irrégulière en Afrique au fil des ans ? Il n’y a jamais eu d’évaluation. Demander publiquement un audit transparent, en tant que citoyen européen et chercheur, m’a coûté la prison. » L’activiste a été détenu pendant une vingtaine de jours en janvier 2021 au Sénégal pour avoir osé demander des comptes sur l’utilisation des fonds européens. De la fenêtre de son bureau, à Dakar, il regarde l’océan et s’alarme : « L’ère post-Covid et post-guerre en Ukraine va générer encore plus de tensions géopolitiques liées aux migrations. »
      Un outil policier contesté à gauche

      Bruxelles, novembre 2022. Nous rencontrons des professeurs, des experts des questions migratoires et des militants belges qui dénoncent l’approche néocoloniale des politiques migratoires de l’Union européenne (UE). Il est en revanche plus difficile d’échanger quelques mots avec les députés européens, occupés à courir d’une aile à l’autre du Parlement européen, où l’on n’entre que sur invitation. Quelques heures avant la fin de notre mission, nous parvenons toutefois à rencontrer Amandine Bach, conseillère politique sur les questions migratoires pour le groupe parlementaire de gauche The Left. « Nous sommes le seul parti qui s’oppose systématiquement à Frontex en tant qu’outil policier pour gérer et contenir les flux migratoires vers l’UE », affirme-t-elle.

      Mme Bach souligne la différence entre « statut agreement » (accord sur le statut) et « working arrangement » (arrangement de travail) : « Il ne s’agit pas d’une simple question juridique. Le premier, c’est-à-dire celui initialement proposé au Sénégal, est un accord formel qui permet à Frontex un déploiement pleinement opérationnel. Il est négocié par le Conseil de l’Europe, puis soumis au vote du Parlement européen, qui ne peut que le ratifier ou non, sans possibilité de proposer des amendements. Le second, en revanche, est plus symbolique qu’opérationnel et offre un cadre juridique plus simple. Il n’est pas discuté par le Parlement et n’implique pas le déploiement d’agents et de moyens, mais il réglemente la coopération et l’échange d’informations entre l’agence européenne et les États tiers. » Autre différence substantielle : seul l’accord sur le statut peut donner – en fonction de ce qui a été négocié entre les parties – une immunité partielle ou totale aux agents de Frontex sur le sol non européen. L’agence dispose actuellement de tels accords dans les Balkans, avec des déploiements en Serbie et en Albanie (d’autres accords seront bientôt opérationnels en Macédoine du Nord et peut-être en Bosnie, pays avec lequel des négociations sont en cours).

      Cornelia Ernst (du groupe parlementaire The Left), la rapporteuse de l’accord entre Frontex et le Sénégal nommée en décembre 2022, va droit au but : « Je suis sceptique, j’ai beaucoup de doutes sur ce type d’accord. La Commission européenne ne discute pas seulement avec le Sénégal, mais aussi avec la Mauritanie et d’autres pays africains. Le Sénégal est un pays de transit pour les réfugiés de toute l’Afrique de l’Ouest, et l’UE lui offre donc de l’argent dans l’espoir qu’il accepte d’arrêter les réfugiés. Nous pensons que cela met en danger la liberté de circulation et d’autres droits sociaux fondamentaux des personnes, ainsi que le développement des pays concernés, comme cela s’est déjà produit au Soudan. » Et d’ajouter : « J’ai entendu dire que le Sénégal n’est pas intéressé pour le moment par un “statut agreement”, mais n’est pas fermé à un “working arrangement” avec Frontex, contrairement à la Mauritanie, qui négocie un accord substantiel qui devrait prévoir un déploiement de Frontex. »

      Selon Mme Ernst, la stratégie de Frontex consiste à envoyer des agents, des armes, des véhicules, des drones, des bateaux et des équipements de surveillance sophistiqués, tels que des caméras thermiques, et à fournir une formation aux gardes-frontières locaux. C’est ainsi qu’ils entendent « protéger » l’Europe en empêchant les réfugiés de poursuivre leur voyage. La question est de savoir ce qu’il adviendra de ces réfugiés bloqués au Sénégal ou en Mauritanie en cas d’accord.
      Des rapports accablants

      Principal outil de dissuasion développé par l’UE en réponse à la « crise migratoire » de 2015-2016, Frontex a bénéficié en 2019 d’un renforcement substantiel de son mandat, avec le déploiement de 10 000 gardes-frontières prévu d’ici à 2027 (ils sont environ 1 500 aujourd’hui) et des pouvoirs accrus en matière de coopération avec les pays non européens, y compris ceux qui ne sont pas limitrophes de l’UE. Mais les résultats son maigres. Un rapport de la Cour des comptes européenne d’août 2021 souligne « l’inefficacité de Frontex dans la lutte contre l’immigration irrégulière et la criminalité transfrontalière ». Un autre rapport de l’Office européen de lutte antifraude (Olaf), publié en mars 2022, a quant à lui révélé des responsabilités directes et indirectes dans des « actes de mauvaise conduite » à l’encontre des exilés, allant du harcèlement aux violations des droits fondamentaux en Grèce, en passant par le refoulement illégal de migrants dans le cadre d’opérations de rapatriement en Hongrie.

      Ces rapports pointent du doigt les plus hautes sphères de Frontex, tout comme le Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG), une commission d’enquête créée en février 2021 par le Parlement européen dans le but de « contrôler en permanence tous les aspects du fonctionnement de Frontex, y compris le renforcement de son rôle et de ses ressources pour la gestion intégrée des frontières et l’application correcte du droit communautaire ». Ces révélations ont conduit, en mars 2021, à la décision du Parlement européen de suspendre temporairement l’extension du budget de Frontex et, en mai 2022, à la démission de Fabrice Leggeri, qui était à la tête de l’agence depuis 2015.
      Un tabou à Dakar

      « Actuellement aucun cadre juridique n’a été défini avec un État africain », affirme Frontex. Si dans un premier temps l’agence nous a indiqué que les discussions avec le Sénégal étaient en cours – « tant que les négociations sur l’accord de statut sont en cours, nous ne pouvons pas les commenter » (19 janvier 2023) –, elle a rétropédalé quelques jours plus tard en précisant que « si les négociations de la Commission européenne avec le Sénégal sur un accord de statut n’ont pas encore commencé, Frontex est au courant des négociations en cours entre la Commission européenne et la Mauritanie » (1er février 2023).

      Interrogé sur les négociations avec le Sénégal, la chargée de communication de Frontex, Paulina Bakula, nous a envoyé par courriel la réponse suivant : « Nous entretenons une relation de coopération étroite avec les autorités sénégalaises chargées de la gestion des frontières et de la lutte contre la criminalité transfrontalière, en particulier avec la Direction générale de la police nationale, mais aussi avec la gendarmerie, l’armée de l’air et la marine. » En effet, la coopération avec le Sénégal a été renforcée avec la mise en place d’un officier de liaison Frontex à Dakar en janvier 2020. « Compte tenu de la pression continue sur la route Canaries-océan Atlantique, poursuit Paulina Bakula, le Sénégal reste l’un des pays prioritaires pour la coopération opérationnelle de Frontex en Afrique de l’Ouest. Cependant, en l’absence d’un cadre juridique pour la coopération avec le Sénégal, l’agence a actuellement des possibilités très limitées de fournir un soutien opérationnel. »

      Interpellée sur la question des droits de l’homme en cas de déploiement opérationnel en Afrique de l’Ouest, Paulina Bakula écrit : « Si l’UE conclut de tels accords avec des partenaires africains à l’avenir, il incombera à Frontex de veiller à ce qu’ils soient mis en œuvre dans le plein respect des droits fondamentaux et que des garanties efficaces soient mises en place pendant les activités opérationnelles. »

      Malgré des demandes d’entretien répétées durant huit mois, formalisées à la fois par courriel et par courrier, aucune autorité sénégalaise n’a accepté de répondre à nos questions. « Le gouvernement est conscient de la sensibilité du sujet pour l’opinion publique nationale et régionale, c’est pourquoi il ne veut pas en parler. Et il ne le fera probablement pas avant les élections présidentielles de 2024 », confie, sous le couvert de l’anonymat, un homme politique sénégalais. Il constate que la question migratoire est devenue, ces dernières années, autant un ciment pour la société civile qu’un tabou pour la classe politique ouest-africaine.

      https://afriquexxi.info/Au-Senegal-les-desseins-de-Frontex-se-heurtent-aux-resistances-locales
      #conditionnalité #conditionnalité_de_l'aide_au_développement #remittances #résistance

    • What is Frontex doing in Senegal? Secret services also participate in their network of “#Risk_Analysis_Cells

      Frontex has been allowed to conclude stationing agreements with third countries since 2016. However, the government in Dakar does not currently want to allow EU border police into the country. Nevertheless, Frontex has been active there since 2006.

      When Frontex was founded in 2004, the EU states wrote into its border agency’s charter that it could only be deployed within the Union. With developments often described as the “refugee crisis,” that changed in the new 2016 regulation, which since then has allowed the EU Commission to negotiate agreements with third countries to send Frontex there. So far, four Balkan states have decided to let the EU migration defense agency into the country – Bosnia and Herzegovina could become the fifth candidate.

      Frontex also wanted to conclude a status agreement with Senegal based on this model (https://digit.site36.net/2022/02/11/status-agreement-with-senegal-frontex-wants-to-operate-in-africa-for-t). In February 2022, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, announced that such a treaty would be ready for signing by the summer (https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220211-eu-seeks-to-deploy-border-agency-to-senegal). However, this did not happen: Despite high-level visits from the EU (https://digit.site36.net/2022/02/11/status-agreement-with-senegal-frontex-wants-to-operate-in-africa-for-t), the government in Dakar is apparently not even prepared to sign a so-called working agreement. It would allow authorities in the country to exchange personal data with Frontex.

      Senegal is surrounded by more than 2,600 kilometers of external border; like neighboring Mali, Gambia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, the government has joined the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Similar to the Schengen area, the agreement also regulates the free movement of people and goods in a total of 15 countries. Senegal is considered a safe country of origin by Germany and other EU member states like Luxembourg.

      Even without new agreements, Frontex has been active on migration from Senegal practically since its founding: the border agency’s first (and, with its end in 2019, longest) mission started in 2006 under the name “#Hera” between West Africa and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic (https://www.statewatch.org/media/documents/analyses/no-307-frontex-operation-hera.pdf). Border authorities from Mauritania were also involved. The background to this was the sharp increase in crossings from the countries at the time, which were said to have declined successfully under “Hera.” For this purpose, Frontex received permission from Dakar to enter territorial waters of Senegal with vessels dispatched from member states.

      Senegal has already been a member of the “#Africa-Frontex_Intelligence_Community” (#AFIC) since 2015. This “community”, which has been in existence since 2010, aims to improve Frontex’s risk analysis and involves various security agencies to this end. The aim is to combat cross-border crimes, which include smuggling as well as terrorism. Today, 30 African countries are members of AFIC. Frontex has opened an AFIC office in five of these countries, including Senegal since 2019 (https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news/news-release/frontex-opens-risk-analysis-cell-in-senegal-6nkN3B). The tasks of the Frontex liaison officer stationed there include communicating with the authorities responsible for border management and assisting with deportations from EU member states.

      The personnel of the national “Risk Analysis Cells” are trained by Frontex. Their staff are to collect strategic data on crime and analyze their modus operandi, EU satellite surveillance is also used for this purpose (https://twitter.com/matthimon/status/855425552148295680). Personal data is not processed in the process. From the information gathered, Frontex produces, in addition to various dossiers, an annual situation report, which the agency calls an “#Pre-frontier_information_picture.”

      Officially, only national law enforcement agencies participate in the AFIC network, provided they have received a “mandate for border management” from their governments. In Senegal, these are the National Police and the Air and Border Police, in addition to the “Department for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Similar Practices.” According to the German government, the EU civil-military missions in Niger and Libya are also involved in AFIC’s work.

      Information is not exchanged with intelligence services “within the framework of AFIC activities by definition,” explains the EU Commission in its answer to a parliamentary question. However, the word “by definition” does not exclude the possibility that they are nevertheless involved and also contribute strategic information. In addition, in many countries, police authorities also take on intelligence activities – quite differently from how this is regulated in Germany, for example, in the separation requirement for these authorities. However, according to Frontex’s response to a FOIA request, intelligence agencies are also directly involved in AFIC: Morocco and Côte d’Ivoire send their domestic secret services to AFIC meetings, and a “#Center_for_Monitoring_and_Profiling” from Senegal also participates.

      Cooperation with Senegal is paying off for the EU: Since 2021, the total number of arrivals of refugees and migrants from Senegal via the so-called Atlantic route as well as the Western Mediterranean route has decreased significantly. The recognition rate for asylum seekers from the country is currently around ten percent in the EU.

      https://digit.site36.net/2023/08/27/what-is-frontex-doing-in-senegal-secret-services-also-participate-in-t
      #services_de_renseignement #données #services_secrets

  • 25,000 violent pushbacks at EU borders documented in the ‘Black Book’

    The Left in the European Parliament today launches the second edition of the “#Black_Book_of_Pushbacks”: over 3,000 pages mapping the systematic violence unfolding at Europe’s borders. The four volumes of the Black Book are a collection of more than one thousand testimonies of people on the move compiled by independent experts from the #Border_Violence_Monitoring_Network (#BVMN). It documents how almost 25,000 thousand people were beaten, kicked, humiliated and arbitrarily detained before being illegally pushed back, both at the EU’s external borders and from deep within the territory of its member states.

    Key data:

    - 1,635 testimonies impacting 24,990 persons
    - 4 volumes, consisting of more than 3,000 pages
    - 15 countries covered: Austria, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania 

    https://left.eu/25000-violent-pushbacks-at-eu-borders-documented-in-the-black-book

    #Black_Book #refoulements #push-backs #frontières #migrations #réfugiés #asile #violence #frontières_extérieures #frontières_intérieures #rapport #statistiques #chiffres #Autriche #Italie #Slovénie #Grèce #Croatie #Pologne #Hongrie #Roumanie #Serbie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Bosnie #Monténégro #Kosovo #Bulgarie #Macédoine_du_Nord #Albanie #frontière_sud-alpine #Balkans #route_des_Balkans

    –—

    voir aussi ce fil de discussion :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/892443

    • - 15 countries covered: Austria, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania

      ce qui veut dire que si on inclut la France et ses 10aines de pushback à la frontière avec l’Italie (Montgenèvre en particulier) par semaine (jours !) on doit arriver à des chiffres nettement supérieurs...

      #Frontex

  • At the heart of Fortress Europe: A new study about Austria’s role in border externalization policies in the Balkans

    On the 28th of September 2020, Ayoub N. and six of his friends were chain pushed back from Austria to Slovenia, Croatia, and eventually back to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), from where Ayoub had begun his journey to Austria a few weeks earlier. Ayoub, like many others, had been stuck for years in between the EU member states, in the Balkans, and this was just another attempt to reach the Schengen Zone. He continued trying even after this push-back. In July 2022, Ayoub was still stuck inside the Balkan Circuit (Stojić Mitrović and Vilenica 2019), a region of transit with many loops, within which movement is circular, going forward and backwards because of border violence.

    Exactly one year after Ayoub and his group of friends experienced the chain push-back, Austrian Interior Minister, Karl Nehammer, finished his trip to Kosovo, Albania, and Montenegro meant to coordinate joint frameworks for fighting what he calls illegal migration, terrorism, and organized crime. During the trip, he announced that a “Return Conference” would take place a few months later in Vienna. The gathering in February 2022 brought together high-ranking officials from more than 22 countries, including representatives of EU agencies and think tanks. The main focus of the event was supporting Western Balkan[1] states with effective deportation practices through the newly established “Joint Coordination Platform against irregular migration.” BiH was mentioned as one of the platform’s main partners, and during the press conference organized after the event BiH Security Minister Selmo Cikotić stated that “With the support of the EU and some proactive partners, like Austria, we could move from a crisis situation to migration management.”

    It is not known to the public how the “return mechanisms” discussed would materialize and on what legal grounds the return of people would take place. In 2021, a parliamentary request for information focused specifically on Austria’s plans to return people to the Western Balkans, while another asked details about the role of BiH. In response to the queries, the interior minister emphasized that Austria is “only” providing good practice, expertise, and training, while partner countries can state their specific needs and are, in the end, responsible for ensuring that the human rights of those concerned will be upheld. This is a common rhetorical practice in the context of EU border externalization policies, with EU countries only providing knowledge and equipment, while “accession” countries in the Balkans have to fulfil the dark side of Europeanization.

    Austria took over a key role in building up a network of multilateral stakeholders that enables the fortification of Europe on diplomatic and informal levels, while states and locations near and far from Central Europe face the consequences of these policies; BiH is one example.

    Lobbying for Externalization

    In July 1998, Austria took over the EU presidency. As its first intervention on the issue of EU-migration policy, it introduced the Strategy Document on Immigration and Asylum Policies, which was sent to the European Council for further discussion. In this document, Austria advocated for a unified approach to migration in the Schengen area, which at that moment comprised 15 countries. It proposed the “Europeanization of migration policy,” while describing the existing approach and structures dealing with migration as “relatively clumsy.” The document called for more cooperation with “third states” in exchange for economic and other benefits. The Strategy envisaged that “Fortress Europe” should be replaced by the “concentric circles of the migration policy,” which included EU neighboring countries. Further, the neighboring partners “should be gradually linked into a similar system” that would eventually be similar to the “first circle,” meaning the EU member states. As for “transit countries,” the main approach would be to “eliminate push factors” in them. The Strategy called for the “tightening of the pre-accession strategy… as far as migration policies are concerned.” In addition, it stressed the need for agreements with third countries that would allow the return of people whose asylum applications were rejected, as well as the introduction of policies that would deter migration in general. The paper also argued that the Geneva Convention was outdated and that individual rights should be replaced with “political offers” of EU membership, or other types of cooperation.

    By the end of the year, this proposal had been amended twice, but in the end it was rejected. A number of non-governmental organizations, including the International Federation for Human Rights, condemned the document on account of its harsh language and the restrictive measures proposed. Even though it was never adopted, the document remains a guideline, and some of its measures were put in place, especially in Austria. Along with several Balkan neighboring countries, Austria became more involved in security-related questions in the region, establishing various organizations and groups that are visibly active in the field, including the Salzburg Forum as one key intergovernmental group. Since the early 1990s, the forum functioned as a lobbying group, not only within the framework of the EU and on a regional level between its partners, but also on an often invisible level that reaches far beyond the EU. Austria played a key role in establishing the forum and is also one of its leading members. While the forum did not always achieve its strategic goals (Müller 2016, 28), it became a testing ground for fueling anti-Muslim and anti-migrant sentiments in Europe, and spearheaded plans for the dark future of EU border externalization policies. The multilateral cooperation within the Forum was based on debate, dialogue, exchange of ideas, and strategic planning; the establishment of its operative tool, the Joint Coordination Platform, is another step in cementing the externalization of border management to the Balkans.

    Coordinating “Migration Management”

    The Joint Coordination Platform (JCP) is a network that coordinates political and strategic intervention outside the Schengen Area, monitoring and controlling the EU’s external borders, as well as actions in third countries. Although it was already in the planning for several years, the JCP was inaugurated in Vienna after the Return Conference in February 2022. The JCP office is led by former Frontex Vice-President Berndt Körner and by lawyer Bohumil Hnidek,[2] and will provide a hinge function for Frontex operations in the Balkans (Monroy 2022). As the Frontex agency is not allowed to organize deportations to third countries, in the future it may support deportations from different EU countries to the Balkans, while the JCP would coordinate and monitor the rest of the “local” operations. In September 2022, the first deportations from Bosnia to Morocco with the support of the JCP already took place.

    The investigative journalist Matthias Monroy further links the Vienna-based think tank ICMPD, led by former Austrian Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger (ÖVP), to the operational implementation of regional return mechanisms to the Balkans. As early as 2020, the JCP started training police officers from BiH for conducting deportations. The training of 50 “return specialists” was recently described by Austrian Interior Minister Karner: “We help with training, impart standards, but that doesn’t change the responsibility that remains in the respective countries. It is about observing all international standards.”

    To understand ICMPD’s practices on the ground, it is worth reviewing the project descriptions of its Western Balkans and Turkey office in recent years. The long-standing partner of the Salzburg Forum implements migration management, border management, and capacity building in the Balkans, for example by providing the border police in Kosovo[3] with technical and biometric equipment to register people on the move; and supporting the border police in Albania[4] with equipment for land border surveillance and maritime border surveillance and control. Capacity building in Albania means in particular providing patrol boats and surveillance vehicles. The regional capacity building projects further cover information campaigns for people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and people on the move in the Western Balkans.[5] Labelled as protection and support for migrants, ICMPD invests in the enhancement of migrant information systems[6] for authorities in BiH to implement entry control, registration, and data collection mechanisms. The “electronic biometric residence permit cards,” which should be made available through such projects, point not only to the on-ground preparation but also to the implementation of what investigative journalists call “extra-European Dublin.” This includes for example “Balkandac,” a fingerprint database in the Balkans that would allow countries to deport third-country nationals to countries with readmission agreements before entering the EU Schengen area.

    It is important to highlight that ICMPD has entered the Joint Coordination Platform with years of experience in implementing EU border externalization projects in Africa and the Middle East (Naceur 2021).

    Another active regional partner of the Joint Coordination Platform is Hilfswerk International. Next to the 1 million Euro in Austrian Development Aid that was used as an emergency relief fund through IOM in BiH in 2021, the Upper Austrian Federal Government donated 100,000 Euro to support the construction of a water system in the Lipa camp.[7] The project was implemented by Hilfswerk International, which has been working in the Balkans and especially in BiH as a humanitarian aid organization since 1996. While the organization covers a broad range of services in BiH, it recently joined the niche of network and capacity building in the field of “migration management” in BiH, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Montenegro.

    Hilfswerk International has joined the field of migration management in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a player that can offer extensive experience on the ground. Considering the top-down and dysfunctional approach implemented by IOM in the region, Hilfswerk International is an organization that is closely linked to Austria-based actors and accessible for unbureaucratic and, according to its managing director, pragmatic solutions. As Regional Director Jašarević stated in an interview about their most recent project:

    … we all know, and it is not a secret, that the EU does not want migrants on their territory. And what now? Should we leave them here to suffer or to disappear? It’s not possible.

    They [the JCP] can use our infrastructure here if needed, but they also organize some events themselves. They are connecting donors and infrastructure. They know what is going on at a much deeper level than we do. And we are happy to contribute. They are working very hard as far as I know. Very few people and very big plans, but very capable people. I think it will be more visible this year. But it has only just started.[8]

    Balkan Route: better coordination with Austrian aid

    Even at the end of the 1990s, Austria’s political landscape paved the way for defining the Western Balkans as a strategic buffer zone for Europe’s increasingly restrictive migration and asylum policies. What has been drafted as a strategy to contain migration in “concentric circles” has since developed into the full-scale implementation of land and sea border zones that legitimate legislation, control, tracking, management of, and violence against people moving in circuits while trying to reach the EU Schengen zone.

    Our study can be used as a tool to further investigate Austrian-based and Austrian-initiated organizations, security corporations, and individual actors that are heavily involved in violent EU border externalization from Vienna to Sarajevo and beyond.

    The full study can be accessed here.

    References:

    Müller, Patrick. 2016. “Europeanization and regional cooperation initiatives: Austria’s participation in the Salzburg Forum and in Central European Defence Cooperation.” Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft 45, no. 2: 24-34.

    Stojić Mitrović, Marta, and Ana Vilenica. 2019. “Enforcing
    and disrupting circular movement in an EU
    Borderscape: housingscaping in Serbia.” Citizenship Studies 23, no. 6: 540-55.

    Stojić Mitrović, Marta, Nidzara Ahmetašević, Barbara Beznec, and Andrej Kurnik. 2020. The Dark Sides of Europeanisation: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the European Border Regime. Belgrade: Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung Southeast Europe; and Ljubljana: Inštitut Časopis za kritiko znanosti. https://rosalux.rs/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/169_the-dark-side-of-europeanisation-_vladan_jeremic_and_wenke_christoph_rls.

    [1] The authors only use the term Western Balkans in relation to the process of EU border externalization and accession plans of Albania, BiH, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. See Stojić Mitrović et al. 2020, 20-22.

    [2] Bohumil Hnidek is a lawyer and the former Director for International Cooperation and EU Affairs to the Ministry of interior of the Czech Republic.

    [3] MIK: Manage increased influx of migrants in Kosovo, April, March 2021 (Fact Sheet ICMPD, 4).

    [4] EU4SAVEALB: EU Support for the Effective Management of Green and Blue Borders in Albania, February 2019-April 2022 (Fact Sheet ICMPD, 7-8).

    [5] IKAM: Information and capacity building on asylum, legal and irregular migration in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Western Balkans, March 2021-March 2022 (ICMPD Fact Sheet, 9).

    [6] MiS BiH: Enhancement of Migration Information System for Strengthening Migration, Asylum and Border Management in Bosnia and Herzegovina, November 2021-March 2023 (ICMPD Fact Sheet, 9-10).

    [7] In mid-June 2022, people living in Lipa reached out to local volunteers in BiH to inform them that for a week they did not have running water. At that moment, the temperatures were over 40 degrees. Even though less than 400 people were in the camp (capacity is 1,500), people were crammed in containers (six in each) with one small fan, and were receiving a gallon of water per person a day. Every day, one cistern was used. According to the testimony, there was no water in the bathrooms and toilets, either. After the information was published on social media, people in the camp told local volunteers that the employees in the camp threatened some of the residents, warning them that they cannot talk about the camp and saying that if they did not like the place they could leave.

    [8] Interview Suzana Jašarević online, 15 March 2022.

    https://lefteast.org/fortress-europe-austria-border-externalization

    #Autriche #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #push-backs #refoulements #refoulements_en_chaîne #Slovénie #Croatie #migrerrance #violence #Balkan_Circuit #Return_Conference #Joint_Coordination_Platform_against_irregular_migration #renvois #expulsions #Joint_Coordination_Platform (#JCP) #Frontex #ICMPD #Michael_Spindelegger #return_specialists #spécialistes_du_retour #Salzburg_Forum #Kosovo #militarisation_des_frontières #complexe_militaro-industriel #Albanie #surveillance #surveillance_des_frontières #biométrie #Balkandac #empreintes_digitales #réadmission #Hilfswerk_International #Lipa #Bosnie #Bosnie_et_Herzégovine #Serbie #Macédoine_du_Nord #Monténégro

    • At the Heart of Fortress Europe

      The study provides a broad mapping of Austrian-based multilateral cooperation, actors, and or­ganisations that are heavily involved in EU border externalisation policies far beyond Austrian borders – and therefore in the violent and sometimes lethal approach to people on the move.

      Since the ‘long summer of migration’ in 2015 and the sealing of the Balkan Route in 2016, people on the move are trying to make their way to the European Schengen area via Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to Frontex, the Western Balkans has become one of the main migrant routes to Europe. The actors examined here are therefore of particular importance.

      https://www.transform-network.net/publications/issue/at-the-heart-of-fortress-europe

      #rapport

    • Balkans : la #Serbie, la #Hongrie et l’Autriche s’unissent contre l’immigration illégale

      La Serbie a accepté mercredi, en concertation avec la Hongrie et l’Autriche, de déployer des forces de police supplémentaires à sa frontière Sud avec la Macédoine du Nord, afin de lutter contre l’immigration illégale. L’Autriche va envoyer 100 policiers en renfort dans cette zone.

      La Serbie est parvenue à un accord avec la Hongrie et l’Autriche, mercredi 16 novembre, sur le déploiement de patrouilles de police conjointes le long de sa frontière Sud.

      « Nous avons convenu d’engager plus de police (...) à la frontière avec la Macédoine du Nord », a déclaré le président serbe Aleksandar Vucic, lors d’une conférence de presse organisée après la signature de l’accord avec les Premiers ministres hongrois et autrichien, Viktor Orban et Karl Nehammer.

      L’accord vise à freiner en amont les arrivées dans l’Union européenne (UE), la Serbie étant utilisée comme un pays de transit par les migrants. La route des Balkans occidentaux, via la Turquie, la Bulgarie, la Macédoine du Nord et la Serbie, reste la principale porte d’entrée dans l’UE pour les migrants. Près de 130 000 entrées irrégulières dans l’UE à partir de la route des Balkans occidentaux ont été enregistrées sur les dix premiers mois de l’année 2022, soit le nombre le plus fort depuis le pic de la crise migratoire de 2015, selon Frontex.
      « La migration illégale ne devrait pas être gérée, elle devrait être stoppée »

      Karl Nehammer a annoncé que son pays allait déployer 100 officiers de police pour aider son voisin serbe à patrouiller la frontière avec la Macédoine du Nord. Ces patrouilles seront secondées par des moyens techniques tels que « des caméras à vision thermique, des drones et des véhicules », a précisé le Premier ministre autrichien. Le même genre de matériel est déjà utilisé à la frontière serbo-hongroise où, depuis 2017, une clôture s’étend sur 160 km.

      Viktor Orban a, de son côté, affirmé que, depuis le début de l’année 2022, la Hongrie avait empêché 250 000 franchissements illégaux de frontières, dont beaucoup organisés par des passeurs armés. « La migration illégale ne devrait pas être gérée, elle devrait être stoppée », a-t-il ajouté, décrivant la situation à la frontière avec la Serbie comme « difficile ».

      Conséquence du mur érigé entre la Serbie et la Hongrie : les migrants se tournent vers les passeurs, seuls espoirs pour les aider à franchir. Résultat, dans la zone, leur mainmise s’exerce partout, dans les camps informels comme à l’intérieur des centres officiels, comme a pu le constater InfoMigrants sur place en octobre.
      En finir avec le « tourisme de l’asile »

      Toujours mercredi, Aleksandar Vucic a déclaré que son pays imposait désormais des visas aux ressortissants de la Tunisie et du Burundi, une mesure déjà annoncée en octobre mais qui entre ces jours-ci en vigueur.

      L’UE et la Suisse avaient fait pression pendant plusieurs semaines sur la Serbie afin qu’elle modifie sa politique des visas. Ces pays avaient reproché à la Serbie de servir de porte d’entrée vers l’UE à des migrants turcs, indiens, tunisiens, cubains et burundais, dispensés de visas jusque là pour venir dans le pays. C’est maintenant chose faite.

      Le président de la Serbie, du pays candidat à l’UE depuis 2012, avait promis que Belgrade alignerait sa politique des visas sur celle de Bruxelles « d’ici la fin de l’année » en commençant par la révocation des dispenses accordées aux Tunisiens, Burundais et Indiens. « Bientôt, deux autres pays seront soumis à cette même mesure car nous devrons avoir le même régime de visas que l’UE », a-t-il prévenu, sans préciser de quels pays il s’agissait.

      « Je suis reconnaissant envers le président de la Serbie pour tout ce qu’il fait pour en finir avec le ’tourisme de l’asile’ », a réagi, mercredi, Karl Nehammer.

      Ensemble, les Tunisiens, les Burundais, les Indiens, les Cubains et les Turcs représentent seulement 20% des migrants passés par la route des Balkans occidentaux depuis janvier 2022. La grande majorité des personnes qui transitent par la Serbie ne sont donc pas des exilés exemptés de visas. La plupart sont originaires d’Afghanistan et de Syrie.

      http://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/44816/balkans--la-serbie-la-hongrie-et-lautriche-sunissent-contre-limmigrati

  • #Route_des_Balkans : avec #Frontex, l’UE met les grands moyens pour enrayer les migrations

    La route des Balkans des réfugiés s’impose comme une priorité pour l’UE, qui accorde une enveloppe supplémentaire de 39,2 millions d’euros. Frontex va se déployer en #Albanie, en #Bosnie-Herzégovine, au #Monténégro et en #Serbie. La mission européenne vient aussi de signer un accord avec la #Macédoine_du_Nord.

    La #Commission_européenne a donné son #accord à une présence renforcée de Frontex, l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, dans quatre pays des Balkans occidentaux. Cette autorisation porte sur les frontières entre l’UE, l’Albanie, la Serbie, le Monténégro et la Bosnie-Herzégovine. Bruxelles a aussi adopté un nouveau plan d’aides à hauteur de 39,2 millions d’euros, dans le cadre de l’#Instrument_d’aide_de_préadhésion (#IAP) pour le renforcement de la gestion des frontières dans ces pays candidats à l’intégration.

    Selon les accords actuellement en vigueur entre Frontex et l’Albanie, la Serbie et le Monténégro, des effectifs permanents de l’Agence européenne ne peuvent être déployées que sur les frontières de ces pays avec l’UE, sans exercer de compétences exécutives. Désormais, des #effectifs_permanents de Frontex pourront également être déployés sur les frontières de ces pays avec des États tiers. Cela veut dire, par exemple que des agents Frontex pourront patrouiller sur la frontière entre l’Albanie et le Monténégro ou entre la Serbie et la Bosnie-Herzégovine.

    Le plan d’aides financières annoncé servira surtout à financer du #matériel spécialisé (systèmes de #surveillance mobiles, #drones ou appareils biométriques). Ce plan financera aussi de la #formation et une aide à la mise en place et au fonctionnement de #centres_de_coordination_nationaux, dont des #centres_d’accueil et de #rétention des migrants. Ces 39,2 millions d’euros viennent renforcer les dispositifs sécuritaires pour un meilleur contrôle des frontières, dotés jusque là de 171,7 millions d’euros.

    “Nous nous concentrons sur le renforcement de la protection des frontières, la lutte contre les réseaux de trafiquants et l’intensification des #retours depuis la région.”

    La Commissaire aux Affaires intérieures #Ylva_Johansson a souligné que l’UE était très impliquée dans le soutien aux Balkans occidentaux au renforcement de la #coopération pour la gestion des migrations sur le terrain. « Voilà pourquoi nous proposons de négocier des accords de statut conformes au nouveau cadre juridique, qui permettront le déploiement de Frontex dans nos quatre pays partenaires avec la pleine force de son mandat, afin d’assurer que leurs frontières soient respectées et protégées conformément aux meilleures pratiques et normes européennes. »

    De son côté, le Commissaire européen à l’Élargissement #Oliver_Varhelyi estime que ce paquet arrive à point nommé, car les migrations restent, selon lui, un domaine dans lequel la collaboration avec les partenaires des Balkans occidentaux doit être renforcée. « Étant donné la pression migratoire accrue dans la région, nous nous concentrons sur le renforcement de la #protection_des_frontières, la lutte contre les réseaux de trafiquants et l’intensification des retours depuis la région. C’est dans ce but que nous renforçons notre soutien politique et financier. »

    Oliver Varhelyi a annoncé que la Commission avait l’intention d’augmenter ses financements en la matière d’ici 2024 pour les pays candidats des Balkans occidentaux, soit une enveloppe totale d’au moins 350 millions d’euros. Cette somme doit permettre à ces pays candidats de développer un système efficace de gestion des migrations dans tous les domaines, y compris l’asile, l’accueil, la sécurité aux frontières et les procédures de retour.

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Route-des-Balkans-avec-Frontex-l-Union-europeenne-veut-mettre-les
    #Balkans #migrations #réfugiés #asile #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #aide_financière #biométrie #militarisation_des_frontières #renvois #expulsions

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

    • Tracking the Pact: EU seeks to seal off Balkan Route with expanded Frontex deployments

      The European Commission wants to launch negotiations with Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Albania so that EU border agency Frontex can extend its zone of operations. Currently, Frontex operations in those states can only take place at the borders they share with EU member states, in accordance with the 2016 Frontex Regulation. Upgrading the EU’s agreements with the Balkan states to take into account the powers granted to Frontex by the 2019 Regulation will make it possible to deploy EU border guards at non-EU borders - for example, between Bosnia and Serbia, or between Serbia and Montenegro. An agreement with North Macedonia has already been signed. The aim is to halt the irregular movement of people through the Balkans towards “core” EU member states.

      In order to launch negotiations the Commission needs the approval of the Council of the EU, and has thus sent to the Council four recommendations that, once they are signed off, will allow it to enter into negotiations with each of the four states:

      - Albania (COM(2022) 690 final, in Council doc. 14060/22, LIMITE, 26 October 2022, pdf)
      – Bosnia and Herzegovina (COM(2022) 691 final, in Council doc. 14061/22, LIMITE, 26 October 2022, pdf)
      – Montenegro (COM(2022) 692 final, in Council doc. 14062/22, LIMITE, 26 October 2022, pdf)
      – Serbia (COM(2022) 693 final, in Council doc. 14063/22, LIMITE, 26 October 2022, pdf)

      An upgraded agreement with North Macedonia based on the 2019 Frontex Regulation has already been approved.

      Each of the documents contains an explanatory memorandum before coming to the draft text of the proposed Council Recommendations.

      For example, the proposal on Albania notes:

      “Albania lies on the Western Balkans migration route, which sees significant irregular migration towards the core of the European Union, both via land and across the Adriatic Sea...

      Given that Albania is a neighbouring third country that remains an important country of transit for irregular migration to the European Union, the value of cooperation between the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and the relevant authorities of Albania remains high. Albania has been a model for the successful deployment of Frontex joint operations to third countries, and it therefore represents an ideal candidate for the expansion of such cooperation.”

      Amongst other things, the memoranda note bilateral agreements signed by each of the states - for example, Bosnia has signed “readmission agreements with all the Western Balkan countries, Türkiye, Russia, Moldova and Pakistan whose practical implementation started in August 2022.” The intention is that Balkan states will not just prevent people from arriving in “core” EU territory - they will also deport them.

      There is no mention in any of the documents of the controversy the agency is mired in for its failure to uphold fundamental rights standards within the EU, in particular at the Greek-Turkish border, as confirmed by the recently-published report of the European Anti-Fraud Office.

      An annex to each of the above documents contains the negotiating directives for the Commission to follow, subject to possible amendment and then approval by the Council.

      - Albania (as above, ANNEX/ADD 1, pdf)
      - Bosnia and Herzegovina (as above, ANNEX/ADD 1, pdf)
      - Montenegro (as above, ANNEX/ADD 1, pdf)
      - Serbia (as above, ANNEX/ADD 1, pdf)

      Although marked ’SENSITIVE’ (as are the proposals for recommendations), the annexes merely state that the agreement with each country should meet the standards set out in the model status agreement adopted by the European Commission in December last year.

      The final terms of the agreements are of course subject to negotiations with each state, with the texts then sent to the Council and Parliament for approval (or not).

      This is likely to lead to certain discrepancies. For example, the current status agreements with Balkan states contain differences on the privileges and immunities of officials deployed on Frontex operations:

      “While the agreements with Albania, Montenegro, and North Macedonia include the provision that the executive director’s decision [on whether to waive criminal immunity or not] will be binding upon the authorities of the host state, no such article is found in the agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.”

      Negotiations on status agreements that would allow Frontex operations in Senegal and Mauritania are also ongoing. When approved, Frontex operations in those two countries will be the first ones outside the European continent.

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2022/october/tracking-the-pact-eu-seeks-to-seal-off-balkan-route-with-expanded-fronte

    • Communiqué de presse du Conseil de l’UE du 24 février 2023 au sujet du nouvel accord conclu entre Frontex et la Macédoine du Nord (signé en octobre 2022, déploiement opérationnel à partir du 1er avril 2023: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/02/24/border-management-eu-concludes-agreement-with-north-macedonia-on-fr).

      Le communiqué refait le point sur les accords entre Frontex et les Etats non UE :

      - Border management cooperation agreements in place with Albania (2019), Montenegro (2020) and Serbia (2020) under the previous rules.
      - In November 2022, the Council authorised the opening of negotiations with these countries to broaden these agreements. It also agreed to open negotiations for an agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
      - In July 2022, the Council also authorised the opening of negotiations for agreements with Mauritania and Senegal.
      - An agreement with Moldova, already under the new rules, entered into force on 1 November 2022.
      - The agreement with North Macedonia was signed on 26 October 2022. North Macedonia has reported its conclusion of the agreement, meaning it will enter into force on 1 April 2023 following today’s decision by the Council.

      –---

      Border management: EU concludes agreement with North Macedonia on Frontex cooperation

      The Council gave today its final green light to an agreement with North Macedonia on operational activities carried out by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). The agreement will allow joint operations to be organised and Frontex border management teams to be deployed in North Macedonia, subject to the country’s agreement.

      As of 1st April, Frontex will be able to assist North Macedonia in its efforts to manage migratory flows, counter illegal immigration, and tackle cross-border crime. Reinforcing controls along North Macedonia’s borders will contribute to further enhancing security at the EU’s external borders.

      In line with the European border and coast guard regulation, the agreement also includes provisions for compliance monitoring and for the protection of fundamental rights.

      Background

      In 2019 a new Frontex regulation was adopted, broadening the agency’s mandate on several areas, including cooperation with third countries. The new mandate allows the agency to assist those countries with a status agreement throughout their territory and not only in the regions bordering the EU, as was the case with the previous mandate. It also allows Frontex staff to exercise executive powers, such as border checks and registration of persons. Status agreements allowing for joint operations can now be concluded with a wider range of countries and are no longer limited to neighbouring countries.

      Frontex had border management cooperation agreements in place with Albania (2019), Montenegro (2020) and Serbia (2020) under the previous rules. In November 2022, the Council authorised the opening of negotiations with these countries to broaden these agreements. It also agreed to open negotiations for an agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

      In July 2022, the Council also authorised the opening of negotiations for agreements with Mauritania and Senegal.

      An agreement with Moldova, already under the new rules, entered into force on 1 November 2022.

      The agreement with North Macedonia was signed on 26 October 2022. North Macedonia has reported its conclusion of the agreement, meaning it will enter into force on 1 April 2023 following today’s decision by the Council.

      https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/02/24/border-management-eu-concludes-agreement-with-north-macedonia-on-fr

  • Sudan says willing to host Afghan refugees

    Sudan on Thursday said willing to host Afghan refugees evacuated recently after the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from the Muslim country located in South Central Asia.

    The U.S. army evacuated more than 100,000 Afghans from Kabul since August But they have not been taken directly to the U.S. as many friendly countries showed a willingness to give them temporary asylum to allow Washington to prepare their resettlement.

    Until now, Uganda is the only African country that has received Afghan refugees in transit to the United States. Rwanda also agreed to house Afghan refugees, according to the State Department.

    On Thursday the Sudanese Security and Defence Council discussed the matter in a meeting chaired by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Head of the Sovereign Council.

    Defence Minister Lt-Gen Yassin Ibrahim Yassin stated that the meeting discussed hosting a limited group of Afghans in the country for a known period.

    “Based on Humanitarian grounds, the Council agreed in principle (to temporarily host Afghan refugees), while subjecting the matter to further arrangements and procedures (...),” Yassin further said.

    In a briefing call to the US House of Representatives on 20 August, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told lawmakers that some countries including Sudan offered to house Afghan evacuees.

    The evacuated Afghan may face extended-stay in third countries. Besides the logistical preparations before resettling the Afghan refugees, U.S. security services prefer to conduct security screening for the evacuated people.

    U.S. Army has already placed in custody an Afghan who failed the screening in a military base in Germany. French authorities took a similar decision for an evacuee that was linked to the Taliban.

    https://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article70021

    Après le #Kosovo, l’#Albanie, la #Macédoine_du_Nord, l’#Ouganda, c’est au tour du #Soudan d’accueillir des #réfugiés_afghans évacués de l’#Afghanistan, et qui attendront (à l’infini ?) une #réinstallation...
    C’est l’heure de commencer une métaliste, la voilà :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/928551

  • #Doors_Wide_Shut – Quarterly report on push-backs on the Western Balkan Route

    As part of the #Protecting_Rights_at_Borders initiative funded by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), the second quarterly report on unlawful push-backs carried out by authorities in Greece, North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, and Italy was published: https://helsinki.hu/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/07/PRAB-Report-April-to-June-2021.pdf

    A key finding is that the informal cooperation between states has prevented thousands of women, men and children from seeking protection in Europe this year, in often extremely violent and humiliating ways. Rights violations at borders are not an isolated issue. There is an overall trend, a so–called race to the bottom, with regards to respect for the fundamental rights of migrants, asylum–seekers and refugees. While governments deliberately do not respect and often directly violate migrants’, refugees’, and asylum seekers’ rights under human rights law, humanitarian organizations are often prevented from providing assistance in line with their humanitarian mandates.

    Country chapters were written by Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione (ASGI), Diaconia Valdese (DV) and Danish Refugee Council (DRC) regarding Italy; the Hungarian Helsinki Committee regarding Hungary; DRC BiH for Bosnia-Herzegovina; Humanitarian Center for Integration and Tolerance (HCIT) regarding Serbia; Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA) regarding North-Macedonia, and the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and DRC Greece regarding Greece.

    The previous quarterly report is also available here: https://helsinki.hu/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/05/prab-report-january-may-2021-_final_10052021.pdf

    https://helsinki.hu/en/doors-wide-shut-quarterly-report-on-push-backs-on-the-western-balkan-route

    Dans le rapport on trouve une carte avec le nombre de refoulements entre janvier et juin 2021 :

    #push-backs #refoulements #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Grèce #Macédoine_du_Nord #Serbie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Hongrie #Italie
    #rapport

  • UK plans #offshore_asylum_centres in other countries for Afghans

    Defence secretary says processing #hubs will be used for those Britain has ‘an obligation to’.

    Britain plans to establish offshore asylum centres for Afghan refugees in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey, as ministers admit that the UK will not be able to rescue those eligible for resettlement before troops leave Kabul.

    The defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said in a newspaper article on Sunday that the UK planned to establish a series of #processing_hubs across the region outside Afghanistan, for Afghans it had “an obligation to”.

    At least 1,429 Afghans have been evacuated from Kabul since last Friday, as part of the #Arap_relocation_scheme designed to help interpreters and others who have helped the British during their 20 years in Afghanistan.

    But it is estimated that a similar number – or more – remain in the country. The emergency airlift was continuing on Sunday, with RAF flights operating despite a crush at the airport gates as desperate Afghans try to flee.

    Nato believes 20 people have died around the airport in the last week, but Britain’s armed forces minister, James Heappey, said the flow outside the airport had improved because the Taliban were “marshalling people into separate queues for the US evacuation and the UK evacuation”.

    A total of 1,721 people – Britons, Afghans and people from allied countries – had been evacuated from Kabul on eight flights in the past 24 hours, Heappey said, with the RAF receiving help from its Australian counterpart in getting people to safety.

    But British officials already acknowledge that it is virtually impossible to evacuate people coming from outside Kabul, although Afghans with a claim have told charity workers they would risk crossing the country if they knew they had a flight.

    The new proposal was born out of the emergency, Wallace said, in an article in the Mail on Sunday. “The [Arap] scheme is not time-limited. We shall stand by our obligations and are investigating now how to process people from third countries and refugee camps,” he wrote.

    However, there were signs that the asylum plan had not been very far developed on Sunday night, when Turkey said it had not been approached and would reject any approach that was made.

    The names of countries had been briefed out by UK officials as examples of where processing centres might be established.

    A scheme to establish an offshore immigration centre was included as part of the Home Office’s nationality and borders bill, published in the early summer, before the western-backed government in Afghanistan collapsed.

    It was controversial because the intention was to allow the UK to send people to a third country to allow their claims to be processed. Officials had begun talks with Denmark about creating a processing centre in Africa – but how it will link together to the emergency centres is unclear.

    Britain has also agreed to take 20,000 Afghan refugees in a separate scheme announced on Tuesday, 5,000 of which will be in the first year. Priority will be given to groups who are most at risk of human rights abuses, such as women, girls and those from religious minorities.

    Ministers are also debating how to respond to the Taliban, with the home secretary, Priti Patel, understood to be exploring with security officials whether they should be proscribed as a terrorist organisation alongside the likes of Isis.

    But the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and other government departments have been holding out the possibility of recognising the Taliban government in Kabul, arguing the regime should be judged by “actions not words”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/aug/22/uk-plans-offshore-asylum-centres-in-pakistan-and-turkey-for-afghans

    #réfugiés_afghans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #UK #Angleterre #Pakistan #Turquie #procédure_d'asile #réinstallation #interprètes #interprètes_afghans #évacuation

    Comme dit l’article :

    A scheme to establish an offshore immigration centre was included as part of the Home Office’s nationality and borders bill, published in the early summer, before the western-backed government in Afghanistan collapsed.

    –-> voir ici le fil de discussion sur ce sujet (qui concerne le Royaume-Uni et le Danemark) :
    #Priti_Patel ’opens talks with Denmark to open new centre in AFRICA to process asylum seekers who want to come to UK’
    https://seenthis.net/messages/918427

    –—

    Pour rappel, les #USA ont apparemment signé un accord avec 4 pays pour un accueil temporaire (?) des réfugiés afghans, en attente d’un visa états-uniens : #Albanie, #Kosovo, #Macédoine_du_Nord et #Ouganda :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/926161

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

  • Albania, Kosovo say ready to temporarily house Afghan refugees

    Albania and Kosovohave accepted a U.S. request to temporarily take in Afghan refugees seeking visas to enter the United States, the country two countries said on Sunday.

    In Tirana, Prime Minister Edi Rama Rama said U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration had asked fellow NATO member Albania to assess whether it could serve as a transit country for a number of Afghan refugees whose final destination is the United States.

    “We will not say ’No’, not just because our great allies ask us to, but because we are Albania,” Rama said on Facebook.

    Sources had told Reuters that Biden’s administration had held discussions with such countries as Kosovo and Albania about protecting U.S.-affiliated Afghans from Taliban reprisals until they completed the process of approval of their U.S. visas.

    In Kosovo, President Vjosa Osmani said the government had been in contact with the U.S. authorities about housing Afghan refugees since mid-July.

    “Without any hesitation and ... conditioning I gave my consent to that humanitarian operation,” Osmani said on her Facebook account.

    Osmani said Afghan refugees would be vetted by the U.S. security authorities, and added they would stay in Kosovo until their documentation for U.S. immigration visas was arranged.

    Hundreds of U.S. troops are still stationed in Kosovo as peacekeepers more than two decades after the 1998-99 war with the then-Yugoslav security forces.

    https://www.reuters.com/world/albania-ready-temporarily-house-afghan-refugees-pm-rama-says-2021-08-15

    #Albanie #Kosovo #réfugiés_afghans #anti-chambre #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réinstallation #dans_l'attente_d'un_visa (qui probablement n’arrivera pas?) #externalisation #USA #Etats-Unis #transit

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • Prime Minister Rama Confirms Albania Will Accept Afghan Refugees

      Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced that Albania will accept Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban rule.

      Rama made the announcement this morning, confirming reports that the American government had asked Albania to host Afghan refugees waiting for their US visas.

      He expects Albania to become a transition destination, as Afghan refugees wait to settle in the US.

      He also said that he didn’t know if Kosovo’s government had been asked to do the same. Nevertheless, he expressed his hopes that if approached, Kosovo would also accept the US’s request.

      In his post, Rama mentioned that Albania had already agreed to host several hundreds high risk refugees, such as intellectual figures and women, at the request of various institutions. Rama did not name the institutions in question.

      Earlier this week, Reuters wrote that the US government had been conducting secret talks with Kosovo and Albania to temporarily house Afghan refugees who had worked for the US government.

      https://exit.al/en/2021/08/15/prime-minister-rama-confirms-albania-will-accept-afghan-refugees

    • HEBRENJTË, AFGANËT, SHQIPËRIA

      Nuk e ka shqiptaria një histori më të lavdishme për botën, se sa marrja në mbrojtje e hebrenjve gjatë Luftës së Dytë Botërore. Askush s’ua kërkoi gjyshërve tanë ta rrezikonin jetën e tyre për të shpëtuar hebrenjtë, siç pakkush bëri në Europën e përpirë nga flama naziste. Ata e bënë. Pa dallim krahine e feje. Disa syresh e paguan me jetën e tyre, po asnjë hebre për be nuk e dorëzuan tek nazistët. Falë nderit të tyre shqiptar, Shqipëria u bë vendi i vetëm i Europës që pati më shumë hebrenj pas Luftës së Dytë se sa para nisjes së saj.
      Përpara disa vitesh, ne strehuam në Shqipëri mbi dymijë njerëz që përndiqen nga regjimi i ajatollahëve të Iranit. U shpëtuam jetën, duke i tërhequr nga i quajturi, Camp Liberty, në Irak, ku sulmoheshin prej shërbimit sekret iranian e thereshin të gjallë. Dhe e vërteta, ndryshe nga ç’jashtënxorri çisterna e mexhelisit të korruptuar mediatik të Tiranës, është se askush nuk na e vuri litarin në fyt, përkundrazi.
      Qeveria e mëparshme kishte marrë mbi njëqind syresh prej tyre, me kërkesë të qeverisë amerikane dhe nder i kishte bërë vetes e këtij vendi. Më pas ne morëm afro treqind të tjerë. Mirëpo përtej moralit në vetvete të kësaj fabule njerëzore, ca shqipo mendjefikur e harrojnë se ne jemi kahera aleatë të Shteteve të Bashkuara, jo vetëm kur na duhen për hallet tona, siç na u deshën bombat e tyre për t’u mbrojtur nga spastrimi etnik i Sllobodan Millosheviçit ; siç na u desh zëri i tyre i superfuqishëm për ta hapur rrugën e pavarësisë së Kosovës apo për ta anëtarësuar Shqipërinë në NATO ; siç na duhet gjithnjë mbështetja e tyre për të forcuar pozitat tona kombëtare e shtetërore, po edhe kur ne u duhemi atyre ndonjëherë, jo për t’i shpëtuar ata siç ata na kanë shpëtuar ne në kthesa historike, por për t’u gjendur në krah të tyre kur edhe ata, ja që ndodh, kanë nevojë për diçka të vogël prej nesh.
      Por ata qindra iranianë të ardhur me kërkesë të aleatëve amerikanë, u bënë mbi dymijë jo me insistimin amerikan, po me kërkesën tonë drejtuar miqve tanë të mëdhenj ! Po po, e lexuat tamam, pjesën e madhe të iranianëve në rrezik për jetën të mbetur në mëshirë të fatit e kërkuam ne, pas një masakre të llahtarshme atje në Camp Liberty, ku u vranë me dhjetra, mes të cilëve plot gra e fëmijë.
      Dhe për ta mbyllur këtë pjesë, pyetja ime është : Çfarë problemi u kanë krijuar sharësve e mallkuesve pa din e as iman të rrjeteve sociale, ata njerëz të shkretë, që rrinë mbyllur dhe jetojnë me hallin e tyre e me paratë e tyre, në zonën e banuar të ndërtuar po me fondet e tyre diku në periferi të Tiranës ?
      Zero probleme.
      Tani le të vijmë tek lajmi i parmbrëmshëm se Amerika kërkon të sjellë përkohësisht në Shqipëri e në Kosovë, afganë të shkretë që vetëm pse u rreshtuan me NATO-n e ndihmuan ushtarët tanë në misionin e tyre paqeruajtës, rrezikojnë të theren si kafshë nga talebanët. Menjëherë pas daljes së lajmit, qysh dje në mëngjes, ka nisur të hidhet përpjetë llumi njerëzor i rrjeteve sociale, me sharjet e mallkimet e shqipes së vet bazike me 100 fjalë - edhe ato të shkruara për ibret - me të cilat mbron me zjarrin e padijes detin nga greku, dheun nga serbi, ajrin nga armiku imagjinar i radhës, duke shpërfaqur krejt egërsinë e injorancës, në emër të një kinse patriotizmi mu si ai i talebanëve, të cilët tjetrin, të ndryshmin e këdo mendon si ai, e konsiderojnë një armik që duhet asgjësuar, sakatuar e poshtëruar, vetëm pse as nuk është i verbër si ata, as nuk friket nga helmi i kafshimit të tyre.
      Nuk e di nëse amerikanët i kanë kërkuar edhe Kosovës të strehojë afganët që u ekspozuan si miq dhe mbështetës të ushtrive aleate ; uroj që në rast se po, qeveria e Kosovës të përgjigjet pozitivisht, për nderin e saj e të Kosovës sigurisht. Por bëj me dije se në Samitin e NATO-s isha unë që e ngrita këtë shqetësim, për jetët e bashkëpunëtorëve afganë të Aleancës pas tërheqjes së saj nga Afganistani. Madje iu referova si shembull eksperiencës tragjike të kundërshtarëve të regjimit komunist në vendin tonë, që vrau, burgosi, torturoi, shkatërroi çdo armik të brendshëm pasi triumfoi mbi armiqtë e jashtëm dhe mbylli totalisht Shqipërinë, siç do të bëjnë së shpejti tanimë, talebanët me Afganistanin.
      Thashë në samit se pas tërheqjes së ushtrive të saj, bashkësia e qytetërimit demokratik të NATO-s nuk mund t’i lerë në mëshirën e barbarëve triumfatorë, njerëzit e ekspozuar si mbështetës të afërt të misioneve paqeruajtëse atje. Dhe nënvizova me gojën plot, se Shqipëria ishte e gatshme të merrte pjesën e saj të barrës, të cilën të gjitha vendet e NATO-s duhet ta ndajnë mes tyre. Kjo është bindja ime, jo vetëm si njeri i një populli që ka shpëtuar hebrenjtë nga nazistët e shekullit të XX, po edhe si kryeministër i një vendi që i njeh mirë të dyja anët e medaljes, qoftë kur të lënë vetëm në duart e një regjimi xhelatësh në atdheun tënd, qoftë kur kërkon një jetë të re si i huaj në vendet e të tjerëve.
      Eshtë e vërtetë po, se ditët e fundit qeveria amerikane i ka kërkuar Shqipërisë të vlerësojë nëse mund të shërbejë si një vend tranzit, për një numër të caktuar emigrantësh politikë afganë, të cilët destinacion fundor kanë Shtetet e Bashkuara. Dhe padiskutim që ne nuk do të themi jo, e jo thjesht pse na e kërkojnë aleatët tanë të mëdhenj, po sepse ne jemi Shqipëria ! Shqipëria është shtëpia e shqiptarit që as me Kanun, as me Zakon, e as me Moral po të doni, nuk ua përplas derën në fytyrë të panjohurve që trokasin për mbrojtje. Ne nuk jemi të pasur, por s’jemi as pa kujtesë, as pa zakone, as pa moral dhe është në nderin tonë t’u gjendemi të tjerëve, siç të tjerë na janë gjendur ne, po sidomos të mos u kthejmë kurrizin hallexhinjve të huaj, siç shpesh na e kthyen ne dikur, kur ishim të huaj hallexhinj. Kjo është arsyeja morale pse ende pa ardhur kërkesa e qeverisë amerikane, ne kemi mikpritur dy kërkesa prej dy institucionesh shoqërore shumë të respektueshme përtej oqeanit, për të vlerësuar strehimin e përkohshëm në Shqipëri të disa qindra personave, nga rrethet intelektuale dhe të grave aktiviste afgane, të cilët janë nga të parët në listat e ekzekutimeve të barbarëve të Afganistanit.
      Kujt nuk është dakord me gjithë sa thashë për këtë lajm, i them me keqardhje se kjo nuk e ndryshon qëndrimin tim e të shumicës qeverisëse në emër të Shqipërisë. Shqipëria nuk është e salltanetit të atyre që hidhen për të në flakën e ndezur nga egërsia dhe padija e kinse patriotizmit, por është e amanetit shekullor të mikpritjes së të panjohurve në rrezik🇦🇱

      https://www.facebook.com/edirama.al/posts/10158954065891523

    • L’Albanie et le Kosovo vont accueillir « plusieurs milliers » de réfugiés d’Afghanistan

      L’Albanie et le Kosovo ont confirmé mener des négociations secrètes avec les États-Unis pour accueillir « plusieurs milliers » de ressortissants d’Afghanistan qui ont collaboré avec les forces américaines, le temps que soit examinée leur demande d’asile.

      (Avec Radio Slobodna Evropa et Top Chanel TV) - Le gouvernement du Kosovo a confirmé qu’il travaillait « depuis la mi-juillet » avec les autorités américaines pour élaborer un plan permettant d’accueillir des Afghans qui ont collaboré avec les États-Unis. Luan Dalipi, chef de cabinet du Premier ministre Albin Kurti, a confirmé à Radio Free Europe (RFE) que les pourparlers « se concluaient positivement ». « Il faut régler beaucoup de questions logistiques, techniques, sécuritaires et sociales. Nous agissons avec prudence. Les États-Unis sont notre allié et partenaire stratégique. »

      La Présidente du Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, a également confirmé qu’elle avait été contactée par l’ambassadeur américain à Pristina, Philip Kosnett, qui lui a fait part de la demande du Président Joe Biden que le Kosovo puisse accueillir temporairement des civils afghans. Elle a expliqué que le Kosovo avait accepté cette « sans aucune hésitation et sans aucune condition ». « Les ressortissants afghans devront passer par un processus d’évaluation sécuritaire, ils ne resteront que temporairement au Kosovo, jusqu’à ce que leurs documents d’immigration aux États-Unis soient établis », a précisé Vjosa Osmani.

      Le 13 août, l’agence Reuters avait annoncé que le gouvernement américain menait des négociations secrètes avec l’Albanie et le Kosovo pour trouver un hébergement temporaire pour des Afghans qui ont coopéré avec les forces américaines en Afghanistan. Les sources de Reuters assurent que les États-Unis offriraient au Kosovo des avantages économiques et politiques en contrepartie de l’accueil de plusieurs milliers d’Afghans. Cependant, des diplomates américains auraient exprimé des inquiétudes quant aux capacités du Kosovo à mener à bien cette mission.
      Le précédent des Moudjahidines du peuple en Albanie

      Alors que les talibans sont rapidement en train de reprendre le contrôle de tout l’Afghanistan, de nombreux Afghans qui ont coopéré avec les forces internationales craignent des représailles. Le département d’État américain a annoncé un programme qui permettra à des milliers d’Afghans de s’installer aux États-Unis en tant que réfugiés. Cependant, ils doivent d’abord être placés dans un pays tiers, où ils séjourneront pendant « douze à quatorze mois », le temps de l’analyse de leur demande de visa américain.

      Le Premier ministre d’Albanie Edi Rama a également confirmé dimanche 15 août qu’elle avait répondu positivement à la demande des États-Unis, et que son pays allait accueillir « quelques centaines » de réfugiés afghans. L’Albanie accueille déjà plusieurs milliers de moudjahidines du peuple d’Iran, évacués depuis leurs bases situées en Irak. Ils sont arrivés en Albanie en 2013 et 2014. Le camp d’Ashraf-3, situé près de Durrës, accueille plus de 3000 membres de l’organisation.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Albanie-Kosovo-vont-accueillir-refugies-d-afghanistan

    • Balkan Countries Offer Refuge to Afghans After Taliban Takeover

      After Taliban forces swept to power in Afghanistan, governments in Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia have accepted a US request to offer temporary refuge to some political refugees who are fleeing the country in fear of retaliation.

      Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia have expressed readiness to temporarily host an undefined number of Afghans fleeing their country after Taliban forces seized control over the weekend as the United States pulled out.

      “It is true that in recent days, US government has asked Albania to assess if we could serve as a transit country for a certain number of Afghan political migrants, which have US as the final destination. And undoubtedly we will not say no, not only because our allies are asking this, but because we are Albania,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said in a statement on Facebook on Sunday.

      The final destination for the refugees, who fear retaliation from the Taliban because they cooperated with NATO forces in Afghanistan, is the US. Their number is so far unknown.

      Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani also confirmed that her country agreed to the request to give temporary safe haven refugees “without any hesitation”.

      “Kosovo respects the international right and obligation to not close the door to refugees,” Osmani said.

      The Kosovo government said that discussions with the US government over hosting the refugees started in mid-July.

      Luan Dalipi, chief of staff of Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti, told BIRN that since then, the government has been in “constant communication and cooperation” with the US authorities.

      “There are many logistical, technical, security and social issues we are carefully addressing. The US is our main ally and our strategic partner,” Dalipi said.

      North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told media on Sunday that his country will accept civilians from Afghanistan who need evacuation and that they will be allowed to stay in the country until a more permanent solution is found for them.

      “With the aim of saving the lives of the local population [in Afghanistan], we have informed the US that we are ready to accept civilians from Afghanistan who over the past 20 years have been working for peace in that country, who were the local support for the allied NATO troops, including our forces, including activists from the humanitarian and human rights organisations,” Zaev said.

      He said that North Macedonia could accommodate the refugees in hotels and resorts, and that the financial cost for this accommodation, until a more permanent solution is found, will be covered by the US.

      “We are a country of solidarity. Our people and our society have always given support and help, the same way we have been receiving help during major catastrophes,” Zaev said.

      Washington wants to evacuate thousands of people from Afghanistan and has been seeking other countries to host them temporarily while their papers for entering the US are finalised.

      Adrian Shtuni, a Washington-based foreign policy and security specialist, told BIRN that Tirana and Pristina’s move to shelter Afghans was “as much a sign of moral leadership and humanitarian compassion as it is a confirmation that Albanians are reliable partners of the United States”.

      “The main concerns associated with refugee relocations are often related to potential security risks and financial costs. From a security perspective, there’s no reason to believe the contingent of Afghan refugees would present a risk. These are interpreters and contractors (as well as family members) employed by the US Military, waiting to be issued Special Immigration Visas by the US State Department. They are not former fighters or militants,” Shtuni said.

      Adrian Shtuni said that both Albania and Kosovo will not be burdened by hosting the Afghans because “the refugee contingent will be a few hundred people and nor Albania neither Kosovo are intended as their final destination the financial costs will be contained”.

      The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, welcomed Albania’s decision to give temporary safe haven to the Afghans.

      “The people of Albania are once again showing the world what ‘BESA’ [‘word of honour’ in Albanian] means. You have our respect and thanks,” Menendez wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

      https://balkaninsight.com/2021/08/16/balkan-countries-offer-refuge-to-afghans-after-taliban-takeover

      #Macédoine_du_Nord

    • Les premiers Afghans exfiltrés par les États-Unis sont arrivés en Albanie et au Kosovo

      Un premier groupe de 111 réfugiés afghans exfiltrés par les États-Unis est arrivé dimanche soir au Kosovo. Un autre groupe de 121 réfugiés était arrivé vendredi matin en Albanie. Ils doivent séjourner temporairement dans ces pays jusqu’à ce qu’ils obtiennent leur visa américain.

      (#paywall)

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Les-premiers-Afghans-exfiltres-par-les-Etats-Unis-arrivent-en-Alb

    • Quand l’Afghanistan était une manne financière pour les Kosovars

      Les États-Unis ont demandé au Kosovo d’abriter des Afghans devant quitter leur pays pour des raisons de sécurité. Pristina a aussitôt accepté. Les Kosovars connaissent en effet bien l’Afghanistan : depuis 2001, des milliers d’entre eux ont travaillé pour des #contractants américains dans la reconstruction du pays.

      Traduit par Belgzim Kamberi (article original : https://www.koha.net/veshtrime/284704/kur-afganistani-ishte-parajse-financiare-per-kosovaret). Depuis la prise du pouvoir par les talibans en Afghanistan, le Kosovo est l’un des rares pays à qui les États-Unis ont demandé d’abriter un certain nombre d’Afghans devant quitter le pays pour des raisons de sécurité. Pristina a accepté. Même si l’on ne sait pas encore combien de personne cela représente, la nouvelle semble avoir été bien accueillie par l’opinion publique.

      Cela n’est pas une surprise. Depuis 2001, les Kosovars ont développé des liens avec l’Afghanistan. Ils sont notamment des milliers à avoir travaillé à la reconstruction du pays, recevant pendant des années des salaires de différents contractants américains. Selon un rapport de l’Institut GAP publié en novembre 2011, 7000 à 8000 Kosovars ont été engagés entre 2001 et 2011 sur différents chantiers en tant que chauffeurs, mécaniciens, ou occupaient d’autres emplois physiques...

      Les Kosovars ont été principalement engagés par les entreprises américaines #Fluor_Group, #Dyncorp_International et #Kellogg_Brown & Root, les même qui étaient chargées de la construction de la #base_militaire américaine #Bondsteel, près de #Ferizaj, au Kosovo. Cette base employait entre 2000 et 2500 Kosovars au début des années 2000. Il n’est donc pas étonnant que ces contractants aient fait appel aux services des Kosovars pour leurs missions en Afghanistan.

      Des millions d’euros pour l’#économie kosovare

      En Afghanistan, le salaire de base annuel pour les ressortissants des pays en développement, dont font partie les pays des Balkans, se situait en effet entre 14 800 et 29 700 dollars. Pour l’économie kosovare, cela a représenté 50 à 55 millions d’euros de rentrées annuelles, soit plus d’un demi-milliard d’euros sur la période 2001-2011. La plus grande partie des #travailleurs_kosovars en Afghanistan provenait de la région de Ferizaj (56%), de Pristina (21%) et Gjilan (19%).

      Les revenus depuis l’Afghanistan n’étaient pas considérés comme des rémittences (les fonds envoyés au pays par les émigrés) par la Banque centrale du Kosovo. Mais si on les compare avec les rémittences envoyées d’autres pays, l’Afghanistan se rangeait tout de suite après l’Allemagne et la Suisse.

      Le travail là-bas n’était pourtant pas sans danger. De 2001 à 2011, 78 595 travailleurs employés par des contractants américains ont été blessés sur leur lieu de travail et 2871 y ont perdu la vie. Les Kosovars n’ont pas été épargnés. En octobre 2004, Shqipe Hebibi, qui travaillait pour le bureau des Nations-Unies en Afghanistan, a été kidnappée, avant d’être libérée un mois plus tard. En octobre 2011, une employée originaire de Ferizaj a perdu la vie. On ne connaît pas le nombre de travailleurs kosovars blessés en Afghanistan ces dernières années. Selon les informations de Pristina, seuls trois Kosovars étaient présents en Afghanistan quand le pays est tombé aux mains des talibans. Deux d’entre aux auraient réussi de sortir du pays.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Quand-l-Afghanistan-etait-un-paradis-financier-pour-les-kosovares

    • Afghanistan : les témoignages des premiers évacués transférés en Albanie

      Ils sont arrivés à Tirana dans la nuit de vendredi à samedi. Les premiers 121 réfugiés afghans ont été provisoirement installés dans les bâtiments de la Cité universitaire. En quittant Kaboul, ils ne savaient pas qu’ils partaient pour l’Albanie...

      Témoignages.

      Je travaillais pour le ministère de l’Agriculture dans le cadre d’un projet financé par USAID. J’étais responsable de la communication. J’ai un master de la Khazak American Free University et plus de treize ans d’expérience, mais je ne sais pas si mon diplôme sera encore reconnu quelque part. J’avais un bon travail, un bon salaire, tout se passait bien. Maintenant, je ne sais pas si je vais devoir travailler comme serveur quelque part, ou bien comme chauffeur Uber. Ma vie a été bouleversée », raconte Ahmad [Tous les noms ont été modifiés, NDLR], l’un de ces premiers réfugiés afghans arrivés en Albanie. « J’avais encore de l’espoir. Je pense que la jeunesse avait le devoir d’aider l’Afghanistan à se développer, mais nous n’avions plus d’autre choix que de partir ». La fuite n’a pourtant pas été facile. Ahmad et sa famille, comme beaucoup d’autres, ont dû attendre des heures, voire des jours, pour pénétrer dans l’aéroport de Kaboul, où des milliers de personnes se pressaient pour s’échapper.

      39 de ces premiers Afghans venus en Albanie sont d’anciens employés du ministère de l’Agriculture, qui travaillaient sur un projet américain mené en partenariat avec l’Université du Michigan. Leur évacuation a été bien organisée. « Il était difficile d’embarquer à bord d’un avion même avec un visa valide », raconte toutefois Ali, la quarantaine. « Mais nos amis et nos collègues américains nous ont aidés. Une fois dans l’avion, la vie semblait à nouveau simple. »

      Avant de partir, ils ne savaient pas qu’ils allaient venir en Albanie. La destination leur a été communiquée deux ou trois heures avant le décollage. De toute façon, leur but était de monter dans un avion, quelle qu’en soit la destination. « Quand je suis parti, ma dignité ne comptait plus. À l’aéroport, nous dormions au milieu des poubelles. Cela n’aurait pas dû se passer comme cela, nous sommes tous des êtres humains… On a des sentiments », confie Ahmad, au bord des larmes.

      Les réfugiés arrivés samedi 28 août ont été accueillis par la ministre des Affaires étrangères, Olta Xhaçka, et par l’ambassadrice des États-Unis en Albanie. De l’aéroport, ils ont été immédiatement amenés dans les bâtiments 11 et 12 de la Cité universitaire de Tirana. C’est là qu’ils seront logés jusqu’à nouvel ordre.

      “Parmi les choses déconseillée : parler aux journalistes. Et la recommandation ne valait pas seulement pour les Afghans.”

      « Même dans mon propre pays, je n’avais pas cette possibilité d’atterrir à l’aéroport, de monter directement dans un bus et de m’en aller », explique Ali. L’enregistrement des documents s’est déroulé durant la matinée de samedi. Des employés municipaux ont accompagnés les réfugiés pendant presque toute la journée, leur montrant où aller et leur donnant des indications sur ce qu’ils devaient faire. Parmi les choses déconseillée : parler aux journalistes. Et la recommandation ne valait pas seulement pour les Afghans, la direction de la Cité universitaire et la municipalité n’étant pas plus ouvertes à la communication.

      L’enregistrement à la police était plutôt simple, ne durant souvent pas plus d’une demi-heure. Les gens qui ne possédaient pas de passeport du tout, un passeport périmé ou bien juste le tazkira, la pièce d’identité afghane, ont été mis en relation avec la police. « Je n’ai pas d’informations particulières, mais si l’on croit les rumeurs qui courent parmi les évacués, les pays tiers comme l’Albanie facilitent les visites à l’ambassade afghane pour pouvoir récupérer nos passeports et recevoir le visa américain », explique Ahmad. Ses enfants n’ont pas de documents d’identité. Ahmad espère recevoir le précieux visa américain dans les vingt prochains jours. En général, les réfugiés afghans ne veulent pas rester en Albanie, mais partir pour les États-Unis ou vers d’autres pays européens.

      Obligés de ne prendre qu’un petit sac à main à leur embarquement à Kaboul, les réfugiés n’ont presque pas de vêtements de rechange et, le plus souvent, pas un sou dans les poches. En collaboration avec les États-Unis, le gouvernement albanais va aider ces personnes à satisfaire leurs besoins fondamentaux. Vers 15h, une liste de tout ce dont les réfugiés avaient besoin a été dressée. « On a rempli des formulaires, mais ils n’ont pas pris nos mesures... Je ne sais pas quel genre de vêtements ils vont m’apporter », plaisante Ahmad.

      Malgré la présence de soignants, la seule assistance médicale reçue jusqu’à présent a été le test de dépistage de la Covid-19. Les réfugiés n’ont pas encore été invités à consulter une cellule d’aide psychologique. Mal renseignés sur ce qu’il leur ait ou non permis de faire, ces derniers essaient de ne pas s’éloigner de la petite rue qui relie les bâtiments où ils sont logés au bureau de la police. Ils ne veulent pas créer de problèmes et tiennent à faire bonne impression aux Albanais. Préoccupés par le sort de la famille qu’ils ont laissée derrière eux et de la situation en Afghanistan, où ils aimeraient revenir un jour, leur but est dans l’immédiat de savoir où ils vont pouvoir s’installer pour commencer une nouvelle vie.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Afghanistan-temoignages-premiers-evacues-Albanie

    • The fact that the Afghan refugees who were evacuated by NATO and who are currently in Kosovo, have been in detention since their arrival, speaks of the fact that the human rights of refugees from Afghanistan are constantly being violated. Namely, the refugees are housed inside two camps, Camp Bechtel and Camp Lyia, and according to a spokesman for the US Embassy in Kosovo, the refugees were not allowed to move freely outside the camps to protect the safety of them and other Kosovo citizens. It should be noted that these are not the first Afghan refugees in Kosovo. Refugees who go through the so-called Balkan route also come to Kosovo and meantime have the right to move freely. What is even more worrying is the kind of limbo in which the evacuated refugees currently are. It is still unclear how visas will be granted, or what types of visas will be obtained. If the rule of restriction of movement is maintained until people are granted visas, the question arises as to how will they access services, health care, education, especially bearing in mind that the duration of this process is unknown.

      Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, du 24.09.2021

    • Afghan evacuees in Kosovo de facto detained

      The first group of Afghan evacuees landed in Kosovo on August 29 following a chaotic airport evacuation in the wake of the United States’ abrupt exit from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. These Afghans’ futures are unclear, as is their present situation. But one thing is clear: they aren’t being granted the right to move freely.

      In fact, it is easier for an Afghan asylum seeker who arrived in Kosovo through the difficult Balkan route to move about the country. Once in Kosovo such an asylum seeker can request asylum, with or without identification. They will be offered basic amenities, an identification card, and, notably, the freedom to move in and out of the asylum housing complex.

      But this is not the case for the approximately 1,000 Afghans brought by NATO into Kosovo as part of an international effort to offer safe haven to thousands who fear persecution after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

      On August 16 Kosovo’s government approved a decision offering Afghan evacuees — largely U.S. visa applicants, former NATO contractors and their families — temporary protection, a form of immediate protection different from the refugee status recognized in the Law on Asylum. Persons under temporary protection enjoy clearly defined rights, such as the right to schooling, healthcare and freedom of movement.

      The government’s decision specifies that freedom of movement may be restricted if considered necessary, and that a verification process will be put in place for issues of national security.

      Since arriving, the evacuees have been housed at two camps referred to as Camp Bechtel and Camp Liya, located on the premises of the Bechtel Enka company and inside the U.S. military base Bondsteel. NATO’s international command is running Camp Bechtel and the U.S. is running Camp Liya inside Bondsteel.

      As of yet, there has been no public information provided about the living conditions of these Afghan evacuees, a contrast to other countries, including some in the region, where journalists have been granted access to speak directly to arriving refugees.

      The Ministry of Internal Affairs has declined to answer K2.0’s questions on the matter, while the minister of Internal Affairs, Xhelal Sveçla, gave few details during a recent press conference. When asked about the evacuees’ freedom of movement, Sveçla said that movement outside the camp would be organized only if necessary, noting apparent security concerns.

      Neither NATO nor the Ministry of Internal Affairs have granted media access to the Afghan evacuees’ living conditions, while the government of Kosovo has not formally asked international organizations working in this field to assist.

      The government insists that the U.S. and NATO have promised a quick operation with Kosovo only functioning as a transit country. NATO spokesperson Jason Salata said that “Camp Bechtel is a temporary lodging until they identify follow-on resettlement options.”

      A first group of 117 NATO-affiliated Afghan evacuees departed Camp Bechtel for the UK on September 16.

      Government spokesperson Perparim Kryeziu told K2.0 that Kosovo’s legal framework guarantees freedom of movement, but he noted it also foresees specific cases where restrictions are allowed.

      “At the moment, we are in the process of providing Afghan citizens with all necessary documents,” said Kryeziu. “Due to this and also taking into consideration their own safety for the moment they are free to move within their hosting facilities. However, we expect them to have the opportunity to move freely outside these facilities in the near future following the finalization of documents and other needed administrative procedures.”

      The law on asylum specifies cases in which freedom of movement can be restricted for persons under international protection. It also says that each individual must be given the right to complain about their restriction of movement, and in the case of children, it also states that detention should be only a last measure.

      A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo agreed to respond to K2.0’s questions on the issue only after specifically designated “U.S.-affiliated” evacuees arrived on September 13.

      The embassy spokesperson said that “to ensure the health and safety of both Afghan guests and Kosovan hosts, the Government of Kosovo has stated that Afghans being temporarily hosted at Camp Liya must remain within the boundaries of the facility while U.S. interagency teams work to complete processing for their eventual admission to the United States or resettlement in a third country.”

      The spokesperson also said that U.S. law enforcement members arrived in Kosovo to screen and vet all U.S.-affiliated Afghan “travelers” before they are allowed into the United States.

      According to the embassy spokesperson, who referred to the Afghans as travelers, all Afghans currently hosted at Camp Liya have already transited through other third countries since leaving Afghanistan, where they received initial biometric and medical screenings.

      Who’s in charge?

      Human rights experts are having difficulty accessing knowledge about the condition of Afghan evacuees in Kosovo.

      Jelena Sesar, Amnesty International’s researcher for the Balkans and the EU, said that the lack of information about the status of the facilities or the management of the camps makes it hard to monitor any potential human rights violations.

      “Under normal circumstances, the temporary protection status would guarantee people full freedom of movement on the territory of Kosovo, food, clothes, access to health and education, and a range of other support services,” said Sesar. “This does not seem to be the case here. Afghan nationals in Bechtel-Enka and Bondsteel are not allowed to go out and media and humanitarian organizations do not seem to have access to the camps.”

      While the government of Kosovo created the legal framework for temporary protection, the outsized role of NATO and the U.S. in the management of camps and processing of Afghans makes it unclear what role, if any, the government of Kosovo has in activities occurring within its own borders.

      “If these Afghan families are to remain in Kosovo until their Special Immigrant Visas are processed, which can take a very long time for some applicants, it is essential that Kosovo’s authorities assume full responsibility for the management of the camps and ensure that the protection needs of the people there are fully met, as required by law,” Sesar said.

      “This entails full freedom of movement and access to health, education and other support, as well as access to asylum procedures in Kosovo,” she said. “If the current approach doesn’t change, these people would be subjected to an indefinite confinement and a de-facto detention, which would be contrary to Kosovo’s and international law.”

      Unanswered questions

      In early September the Associated Press, citing an anonymous U.S. government source, reported that Kosovo has agreed to take in Afghans who fail to clear initial rounds of screening and host them for up to a year, raising questions about potential reasons behind restrictions on evacuees’ freedom of movement.

      The temporary protection provided by Kosovo has a limit of one year with the possibility of extension, according to the Law on Asylum.

      The AP’s reporting shows the conditions established at other transit sites like in Germany or Italy, where the authorities are given a two week deadline to complete the verification and processing of evacuees.

      According to the government source the AP spoke to, transferring Afghans to Kosovo who do not pass the initial screening is a response to potential gaps in security that may have occurred during the chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan.

      There is a rising use of transit countries in the asylum process. Countries like the United Kingdom and Denmark proposed legislation to send asylum seekers to third countries while their applications are processed, something that human rights advocates and international organizations like the United Nations have criticized.

      The evacuations out of the Kabul airport were chaotic and deadly, leaving the world with terrible images, such as the footage of bodies plummeting from the sky after people attempted to cling to the exterior of a U.S. military plane. In the chaos of the last days of the evacuation, two suicide bombers and gunmen at the airport led to the deaths of 60 Afghans and 13 U.S. troops.

      The people who made it onto the planes in the midst of this chaos are considered the lucky ones. But many of those who were evacuated were already in the process of migrating to the U.S.

      The Afghan evacuees awaiting entry into the U.S. and other affiliated countries are largely people who had already started the Special Immigrant Visa process as well as applicants for a special U.S. refugee program. They are former contractors who worked with international governments as well as in vulnerable professions such as journalists, as well as these peoples’ families.

      Neither NATO nor the government of Kosovo have responded to K2.0’s questions submitted about the AP’s report.

      The U.S. Embassy in Kosovo published a statement saying that such reports may leave people with the “incorrect impression” that the U.S. is sending to Kosovo individuals they deem inadmissible. The statement insists, “this is not the case,” and says that American officials in Kosovo are assisting in the processing of applicants who may require additional paperwork in order to clarify “an applicant’s identity, employment history or other ties to the United States.”

      “Afghan travelers being temporarily hosted at Camp Liya are in the process of having their paperwork and eligibilities confirmed for eventual admission to the United States or resettlement to a third country,” a U.S. embassy spokesperson told K2.0. “None have been deemed inadmissible to the United States because their cases are still being processed.”

      On the matter of how long the process may take, the spokesperson said that “under the agreement with the Government of Kosovo, U.S.-affiliated Afghan travelers may shelter at Camp Liya for up to a year while their cases are being processed for eventual admission to the United States or resettlement in a third country. However, individuals may be approved for travel to the United States sooner, as soon as their processing is complete.”

      On September 10, the minister of Internal Affairs met with representatives of international organizations who could provide assistance, but the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration have not yet received a formal request to assist in the operation.

      The IOM and UNHCR in Kosovo could only tell K2.0 that they are monitoring the situation closely. Sources from these organizations said that they have little information about the Afghan evacuees and remain on standby awaiting a request for assistance from the government.

      According to Amnesty International’s Sesar, “the inaccessibility of the camps to independent and public scrutiny raises concerns about the conditions in these facilities as well as the commitment to genuinely assist Afghans who had to flee their country.”

      The situation is no clearer for Jeff Crisp, international migration expert from the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University. “The rapid evacuation from Kabul has certainly left many questions unanswered,” said Crisp via email to K2.0, who offered a number of questions that can be used to hold institutions accountable.

      “How were decisions made with respect to the temporary locations to which they have been sent? What will happen to any refugees who are ‘screened out’ by the U.S., is there a risk that they could become stateless, or be sent back to Afghanistan?”

      Millions displaced

      The long war in Afghanistan has displaced an enormous number of people. It is estimated by UNHCR that only in the first half of 2021 more than half a million people were newly displaced in Afghanistan, while 3 million were displaced in 2020.

      Afghans have often taken the long refugee journey far into Europe, across the Balkans. Despite not being a key country on the Balkan refugee route, Kosovo registered 31 Afghan asylum seekers in the first half of 2021, while many others pass through unnoticed and uncounted, continuing their journey to seek asylum further on in other European countries.

      After the U.S. exit from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover, the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic published an advisory, asking members and cooperative third countries to stop any forced returns for Afghans who saw their asylum requests rejected and had not yet been deported, and asked states to offer asylum to Afghans forced to flee and to cooperate in protecting their rights.

      https://kosovotwopointzero.com/en/afghan-evacuees-in-kosovo-de-facto-detained


    • https://twitter.com/CdBalkans/status/1444193687144120322

      Kosovo : #camps_fermés pour les Afghans évacués

      Le 16 août dernier, alors que Kaboul venait de tomber entre les mains des Talibans, le Kosovo a accepté d’accueillir sur son sol 2000 Afghans nécessitant d’être évacués. Aujourd’hui, personne ne sait combien sont réellement arrivés. Selon les informations disponibles, environ un millier seraient aujourd’hui hébergés au Kosovo.

      Les autorités de Pristina se sont engagées à leur offrir une « protection temporaire », différente du statut de réfugié, mais censée leur donner un accès à la scolarisation et aux soins, et leur garantir la liberté de mouvement. Or, il semble qu’aucun de ces droits ne soit respecté. Les informations restent confidentielles et les journalistes ne sont pas autorisés à visiter les deux camps d’accueil, l’un se trouvant sur un site appartenant au conglomérat turco-américain Bechtel-Enka, l’autre dans la controversée base américaine de Bondsteel. Les travailleurs humanitaires n’ont pas de permis pour opérer auprès de ces Afghans et ni le Haut Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (UNHCR), ni l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) ne sont impliqués dans la gestion de leur situation.

      Pour justifier un tel isolement, le gouvernement d’Albin Kurti met en avant des questions de « sécurité nationale » et souligne que la liberté de mouvement des personnes bénéficiant de la protection temporaire peut être restreinte si nécessaire. Le ministre de l’Intérieur Xhelal Sveçla a tenu une conférence de presse, mais s’est montré avare en détails. C’est tout juste s’il a reconnu que les déplacements à l’extérieur des camps ne seraient organisés qu’en cas d’extrême nécessité. Un processus de vérification, des identités notamment, a été mis en place pour des questions de sécurité nationale, a-t-il indiqué.

      Le Kosovo n’est « qu’un pays de transit » pour ces Afghans avant qu’ils ne soient accueillis dans un pays tiers, insistent les autorités. « Le camp Bechtel est un hébergement temporaire jusqu’à ce que soient identifiées des options de réinstallation ultérieures », a confirmé le porte-parole de l’Otan, Jason Salata. Le 16 septembre, 117 Afghans ayant travaillé pour l’Otan ont ainsi pris la route du Royaume-Uni.

      Du côté de l’Ambassade des États-Unis, on explique que des policiers sont arrivés au Kosovo pour des opérations de contrôle des Afghans évacués afin de s’assurer qu’ils offrent toutes les garanties pour obtenir l’autorisation d’entrer sur le territoire américain.

      « Si l’approche actuelle ne change pas, ces personnes seraient soumises à un confinement indéfini et à une détention de facto, ce qui serait contraire au droit du Kosovo et au droit international », souligne Jelena Sesar, analyste à Amnesty International, interrogée par Kosovo 2.0. La protection temporaire fournie par le Kosovo est limitée à un an, avec possibilité de prolongation, conformément à la loi sur l’asile. Une durée particulièrement longue comparée à d’autres pays de transit, comme l’Allemagne ou l’Italie, où les autorités ne disposent que d’un délai de quinze jours pour opérer les vérifications nécessaires. Rappelons que la plupart des Afghans évacués aujourd’hui en transit avaient déjà entamé la procédure d’obtention de visas spéciaux en tant qu’anciens contractants pour des gouvernements étrangers ou des organisations internationales.

      « L’inaccessibilité des camps à un examen indépendant et public soulève des inquiétudes quant aux conditions de vie dans ces installations, de même qu’à l’engagement à aider véritablement les Afghans qui ont dû fuir leur pays », déplore Jelena Sesar.
      Dans des hôtels au bord de l’Adriatique

      Lorsque les premiers vols transportant des réfugiés afghans sont arrivés en Albanie, à la mi-août, le Premier ministre albanais avait été catégorique : aucun ne serait placé dans un camp de réfugiés, des installations qualifiées de « déshumanisantes » par Edi Rama. Sur Twitter, il avait alors publié deux images accolées, l’une montrant des centaines d’Afghans entassés dans un avion militaire américain à l’aéroport de Kaboul, l’autre des milliers d’Albanais prenant d’assaut un cargo, en 1991, après la chute du régime communiste.

      Très critiqué pour sa dérive autoritaire, Edi Rama a ici trouvé un moyen de se racheter une bonne image auprès des Occidentaux. À bon compte : personne ne sait combien Tirana a reçu d’aide de la part des États-Unis pour prendre en charge ces réfugiés. « Nous devons nous préparer aussi à ce que le financement des organisations américaines prenne fin », s’est contenté de dire le Premier ministre albanais, interrogé par Le Monde.

      Aujourd’hui, 700 Afghans sont hébergés dans des hôtels de la côte adriatique, surtout au nord de Tirana, entre Lezhe et Shëngjin. Des colis de bienvenue contenant des produits de première nécessité ont été préparés pour les nouveaux arrivants, des équipes de travailleurs humanitaires offrant une aide médicale et psychologique étaient sur place et, très vite, certains journalistes autorisés ont pu constater que les réfugiés étaient libres de se mêler aux clients habituels sur les plages et au bord des piscines des hôtels.

      Les Afghans vivant en Albanie ont obtenu le statut de « protection temporaire » pour un an, avec la possibilité d’une prolongation si nécessaire. Si leurs droits, notamment la liberté de mouvement, sont garantis par la loi albanaise sur l’asile, les autorités se sont toutefois réservé le droit de restreindre la liberté de mouvement de certaines personnes « si cela est jugé nécessaire, sur la base de l’évaluation individuelle de chaque cas ».

      Cet accueil n’est pas une première pour l’Albanie : depuis 2014, déjà à la demande de Washington, le pays accueille 3000 moudjahidines du peuple iranien, arrivés après le retrait des forces américaines d’Irak, où ces opposants radicaux au régime de Téhéran avaient été regroupés, ainsi que cinq Ouïgours sortis de Guantanamo en 2006.

      En Macédoine du Nord, les 200 Afghans arrivés à Skopje ont été logés dans plusieurs hôtels réquisitionnés autour de la capitale et un jeune homme homosexuel a même reçu l’autorisation d’être accueilli dans un refuge destiné aux personnes LGBT+. Si les médias ne peuvent pas accéder à ces sites, les ONG de défense des droits humains qui s’y sont rendues assurent qu’aucun signe de violations de leurs libertés individuelles n’est à déplorer.

      « Jusqu’à présent, nous n’avons pas reçu de plaintes suggérant que les droits de l’homme des réfugiés sont menacés », raconté à Balkan Insight Uranija Pirovska, la responsable du Comité Helsinki pour les droits de l’homme de Macédoine du Nord. « Nous avons pu visiter l’hôtel Bellevue [près de Skopje] et nous allons continuer à surveiller leur statut pendant leur séjour ici. » La présence policière est visible autour des centres d’accueil, mais la liberté de mouvement des Afghans n’est pas restreinte.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Afghans-evacues-en-camps-fermes-au-Kosovo-a-l-hotel-en-Albanie-et

      #hôtels

  • #Grèce : à #Idomeni, les migrants reviennent au grand désespoir des habitants

    A Idomeni, les migrants reviennent au grand désespoir des locaux. Depuis plusieurs années, ce petit village dans le nord de la Grèce est un lieu de transit : situé sur la route des Balkans, les migrants qui tentent de traverser vers la #Macédoine_du_Nord y restent coincés.

    « Ils viennent à Idomeni dans le seul but de pouvoir passer la frontière et aller en Europe, explique Xanthoula Soupli, la présidente du village. Leur but n’est pas de rester ici, c’est simplement le point à partir duquel ils essaient de passer la frontière. Les réfugiés et les migrants ont augmenté au cours du dernier mois ».

    Des bâtiments abandonnés dans la campagne servent de refuge aux migrants. Ils sont arrivés en trains depuis Thessalonique et ont sauté des wagons peu avant Idomeni, au péril de leur vie. Nous rencontrons un petit groupe d’Afghans, qui vient de se faire refouler par les gardes-frontières de Macédoine du Nord.

    « Maintenant, à la frontière du côté de la Macédoine du Nord, c’est dur. Il y a beaucoup de policiers. Maintenant nous sommes en Grèce sans papiers et sans argent », dit un jeune homme.

    Ils sont originaires d’Afghanistan, du Pakistan, d’Irak, de Syrie, d’Algérie, du Maroc.

    La grande majorité sont des hommes et dans certains cas, il y a aussi des mineurs.

    Sans argent, ils demandent de l’aide aux habitants, mais la cohabitation est tendue :

    « Comme ils ont faim, ils s’introduisent dans nos propriétés, font des dégâts, ce qui nous coûte cher, explique Christos Kovatsis, un apiculteur. Ils détruisent aussi nos cultures, et beaucoup d’autres choses . Ils entrent dans nos maisons ».

    La présence de la police dans le village aurait diminué à cause de la pandémie. La police affirme que tous ceux qui ne possèdent pas les documents requis sont transférés dans des centres de détention, et commence alors pour eux le processus d’expulsion.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV4wcE5qcas&t=78s


    https://fr.euronews.com/2021/03/20/grece-a-idomeni-les-migrants-reviennent-au-grand-desespoir-des-habitant
    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #2021

  • The fortified gates of the Balkans. How non-EU member states are incorporated into fortress Europe.

    Marko Gašperlin, a Slovenian police officer, began his first mandate as chair of the Management Board of Frontex in spring 2016. Less than two months earlier, then Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar had gone to North Macedonia to convey the message from the EU that the migration route through the Balkans — the so-called Balkan route — was about to close.

    “North Macedonia was the first country ready to cooperate [with Frontex] to stop the stampede we had in 2015 across the Western Balkans,” Gašperlin told K2.0 during an interview conducted at the police headquarters in Ljubljana in September 2020.

    “Stampede” refers to over 1 million people who entered the European Union in 2015 and early 2016 in search of asylum, the majority traveling along the Balkan route. Most of them were from Syria, but also some other countries of the global South where human rights are a vague concept.

    According to Gašperlin, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s primary interest at the EU’s external borders is controlling the movement of people who he describes as “illegals.”

    Given numerous allegations by human rights organizations, Frontex could itself be part of illegal activity as part of the push-back chain removing people from EU territory before they have had the opportunity to assert their right to claim asylum.

    In March 2016, the EU made a deal with Turkey to stop the flow of people toward Europe, and Frontex became even more active in the Aegean Sea. Only four years later, at the end of 2020, Gašperlin established a Frontex working group to look into allegations of human rights violations by its officers. So far, no misconduct has been acknowledged. The final internal Frontex report is due at the end of February.

    After allegations were made public during the summer and fall of 2020, some members of the European Parliament called for Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri to step down, while the European Ombudsman also announced an inquiry into the effectiveness of the Agency’s complaints mechanism as well as its management.

    A European Parliament Frontex Scrutiny Working Group was also established to conduct its own inquiry, looking into “compliance and respect for fundamental rights” as well as internal management, and transparency and accountability. It formally began work this week (February 23) with its fact-finding investigation expected to last four months.

    2021 started with more allegations and revelations.

    In January 2021 the EU anti-fraud office, OLAF, confirmed it is leading an investigation over allegations of harassment and misconduct inside Frontex, and push-backs conducted at the EU’s borders.

    Similar accusations of human rights violations related to Frontex have been accumulating for years. In 2011, Human Rights Watch issued a report titled “The EU’s Dirty Hands” that documented the ill-treatment of migrant detainees in Greece.

    Various human rights organizations and media have also long reported about Frontex helping the Libyan Coast Guard to locate and pull back people trying to escape toward Europe. After being pulled back, people are held in notorious detention camps, which operate with the support of the EU.

    Nonetheless, EU leaders are not giving up on the idea of expanding the Frontex mission, making deals with governments of non-member states in the Balkans to participate in their efforts to stop migration.

    Currently, the Frontex plan is to deploy up to 10,000 border guards at the EU external borders by 2027.

    Policing Europe

    Frontex, with its headquarters in Poland, was established in 2004, but it remained relatively low key for the first decade of its existence. This changed in 2015 when, in order to better control Europe’s visa-free Schengen area, the European Commission (EC) extended the Agency’s mandate as it aimed to turn Frontex into a fully-fledged European Border and Coastguard Agency. Officially, they began operating in this role in October 2016, at the Bulgarian border with Turkey.

    In recent years, the territory they cover has been expanding, framed as cooperation with neighboring countries, with the main goal “to ensure implementation of the European integrated border management.”

    The budget allocated for their work has also grown massively, from about 6 million euros in 2005, to 460 million euros in 2020. According to existing plans, the Agency is set to grow still further and by 2027 up to 5.6 billion euros is expected to have been spent on Frontex.

    As one of the main migration routes into Europe the Balkans has become the key region for Frontex. Close cooperation with authorities in the region has been growing since 2016, particularly through the “Regional Support to Protection-Sensitive Migration Management in the Western Balkans and Turkey” project: https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Partners/Third_countries/IPA_II_Phase_II.pdf.

    In order to increase its powers in the field, Frontex has promoted “status agreements” with the countries in the region, while the EC, through its Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) fund, has dedicated 3.4 million euros over the two-year 2019-21 period for strengthening borders.

    The first Balkan state to upgrade its cooperation agreement with Frontex to a status agreement was Albania in 2018; joint police operations at its southern border with Greece began in spring 2019. According to the agreement, Frontex is allowed to conduct full border police duties on the non-EU territory.

    Frontex’s status agreement with Albania was followed by a similar agreement with Montenegro that has been in force since July 2020.

    The signing of a status agreement with North Macedonia was blocked by Bulgaria in October 2020, while the agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina requires further approvals and the one with Serbia is awaiting ratification by the parliament in Belgrade.

    “The current legal framework is the consequence of the situation in the years from 2014 to 2016,” Gašperlin said.

    He added that he regretted that the possibility to cooperate with non-EU states in returns of “illegals” had subsequently been dropped from the Frontex mandate after an intervention by EU parliamentarians. In 2019, a number of changes were made to how Frontex functions including removing the power to “launch return interventions in third countries” due to the fact that many of these countries have a poor record when it comes to rule of law and respect of human rights.

    “This means, if we are concrete, that the illegals who are in BiH — the EU can pay for their accommodation, Frontex can help only a little with the current tools it has, while when it comes to returns, Frontex cannot do anything,” Gašperlin said.

    Fortification of the borders

    The steady introduction of status agreements is intended to replace and upgrade existing police cooperation deals that are already in place with non-EU states.

    Over the years, EU member states have established various bilateral agreements with countries around the world, including some in the Balkan region. Further agreements have been negotiated by the EU itself, with Frontex listing 20 “working arrangements” with different non-member states on its website.

    Based on existing Frontex working arrangements, exchange of information and “consultancy” visits by Frontex officials — which also include work at border crossings — are already practiced widely across the Balkan-EU borders.

    The new status agreements allow Frontex officers to guard the borders and perform police tasks on the territory of the country with which the agreement is signed, while this country’s national courts do not have jurisdiction over the Frontex personnel.

    Comparing bilateral agreements to status agreements, Marko Gašperlin explained that, with Frontex taking over certain duties, individual EU states will be able to avoid the administrative and financial burdens of “bilateral solidarity.”

    Radoš Đurović, director of the NGO Asylum Protection Centre (APC) which works with migrants in Serbia, questions whether Frontex’s presence in the region will bring better control over violations and fears that if past acts of alleged violence are used it could make matters worse.

    “The EU’s aim is to increase border control and reduce the number of people who legally or illegally cross,” Đurović says in a phone interview for K2.0. “We know that violence does not stop the crossings. It only increases the violence people experience.”

    Similarly, Jasmin Redžepi from the Skopje-based NGO Legis, argues that the current EU focus on policing its borders only entraps people in the region.

    “This causes more problems, suffering and death,” he says. “People are forced to turn to criminals in search of help. The current police actions are empowering criminals and organized crime.”

    Redžepi believes the region is currently acting as some kind of human filter for the EU.

    “From the security standpoint this is solidarity with local authorities. But in the field, it prevents greater numbers of refugees from moving toward central Europe,” Redžepi says.

    “They get temporarily stuck. The EU calls it regulation but they only postpone their arrival in the EU and increase the violations of human rights, European law and international law. In the end people cross, just more simply die along the way.”

    EU accused of externalizing issues

    For the EU, it was a shifting pattern of migratory journeys that signified the moment to start increasing its border security around the region by strengthening its cooperation with individual states.

    The overland Balkan route toward Western Europe has always been used by people on the move. But it has become even more frequented in recent years as changing approaches to border policing and rescue restrictions in the Central Mediterranean have made crossings by sea even more deadly.

    For the regional countries, each at a different stage of a still distant promise of EU membership, partnering with Frontex comes with the obvious incentive of demonstrating their commitment to the bloc.

    “When regional authorities work to stop people crossing towards the EU, they hope to get extra benefits elsewhere,” says APC Serbia’s Radoš Đurovic.

    There are also other potential perks. Jasmin Redžepi from Legis explains that police from EU states often leave behind equipment for under-equipped local forces.

    But there has also been significant criticism of the EU’s approach in both the Balkans and elsewhere, with many accusing it of attempting to externalize its borders and avoid accountability by pushing difficult issues elsewhere.

    According to research by Violeta Moreno-Lax and Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, who have analyzed the consequences of the EU’s approach to border management, the bloc’s actions amount to a “dispersion of legal duties” that is not “ethically and legally tenable under international law.”

    One of the results, the researchers found, is that “repressive forces” in third countries gain standing as valid interlocutors for cooperation and democratic and human rights credentials become “secondary, if at all relevant.”

    APC’s Radoš Đurović agrees, suggesting that we are entering a situation where the power of the law and international norms that prevent illegal use of force are, in effect, limited.

    “Europe may not have enough power to influence the situations in places further away that push migration, but it can influence its border regions,” he says. “The changes we see forced onto the states are problematic — from push-backs to violence.”

    Playing by whose rules?

    One of the particular anomalies seen with the status agreements is that Albanian police are now being accompanied by Frontex forces to better control their southern border at the same time as many of Albania’s own citizens are themselves attempting to reach the EU in irregular ways.

    Asked about this apparent paradox, Marko Gašperlin said he did “not remember any Albanians among the illegals.”

    However, Frontex’s risk analysis for 2020, puts Albania in the top four countries for whose citizens return orders were issued in the preceding two years and second in terms of returns effectively carried out. Eurostat data for 2018 and 2019 also puts Albania in 11th place among countries from which first time asylum seekers come, before Somalia and Bangladesh and well ahead of Morocco and Algeria.

    While many of these Albanian citizens may have entered EU countries via regular means before being subject to return orders for reasons such as breaching visa conditions, people on the move from Albania are often encountered along the Balkan route, according to activists working in the field.

    Meanwhile, other migrants have complained of being subjected to illegal push-backs at Albania’s border with Greece, though there is a lack of monitoring in this area and these claims remain unverified.

    In Serbia, the KlikAktiv Center for Development of Social Policies has analyzed Belgrade’s pending status agreement for Frontex operations.

    It warns that increasing the presence of armed police, from a Frontex force that has allegedly been involved in violence and abuses of power, is a recipe for disaster, especially when they will have immunity from local criminal and civil jurisdiction.

    It also flags that changes in legislation will enable the integration of data systems and rapid deportations without proper safeguards in place.

    Police activities to secure borders greatly depend on — and supply data to — EU information technology systems. But EU law provides fewer protections for data processing of foreign nationals than for that of EU citizens, effectively creating segregation in terms of data protection.

    The EU Fundamental Rights Agency has warned that the establishment of a more invasive system for non-EU nationals could potentially lead to increased discrimination and skew data that could further “fuel existing misperceptions that there is a link between asylum-seekers, migration and crime.”

    A question of standards

    Frontex emphasizes that there are codified safeguards and existing internal appeal mechanisms.

    According to the status agreements, violations of fundamental rights such as data protection rules or the principle of non-refoulement — which prohibits the forcible return of individuals to countries where they face danger through push-backs or other means — are all reasons for either party to suspend or terminate their cooperation.

    In January, Frontex itself suspended its mission in Hungary after the EU member state failed to abide by an EU Court of Justice decision. In December 2020, the court found that Hungarian border enforcement was in violation of EU law by restricting access to its asylum system and for carrying out illegal push-backs into Serbia.

    Marko Gašperlin claimed that Frontex’s presence improved professional police standards wherever it operated.

    However, claims of raising standards have been questioned by human rights researchers and activists.

    Jasmin Redžepi recounts that the first complaint against a foreign police officer that his NGO Legis filed with North Macedonian authorities and international organizations was against a Slovenian police officer posted through bilateral agreement; the complaint related to allegations of unprofessional conduct toward migrants.

    “Presently, people cross illegally and the police push them back illegally,” Redžepi says. “They should be able to ask for asylum but cannot as police push people across borders.”

    Gašperlin told K2.0 that it is natural that there will be a variation of standards between police from different countries.

    In its recruitment efforts, Frontex has sought to enlist police officers or people with a customs or army background. According to Gašperlin, recruits have been disproportionately from Romania and Italy, while fewer have been police officers from northern member states “where standards and wages are better.”

    “It would be illusory to expect that all of the EU would rise up to the level of respect for human rights and to the high standards of Sweden,” he said. “There also has not been a case of the EU throwing a member out, although there have been examples of human rights violations, of different kinds.”

    ‘Monitoring from the air’

    One of the EU member states whose own police have been accused of serious human rights violations against refugees and migrants, including torture, is Croatia.

    Despite the allegations, in January 2020, Croatia’s Ministry of the Interior Police Academy was chosen to lead the first Frontex-financed training session for attendees from police forces across the Balkan route region.

    Frontex currently has a presence in Croatia, at the EU border area with Bosnia and Herzegovina, amongst other places.

    Asked about the numerous reports from international NGOs and collectives, as well as from the national Ombudsman Lora Vidović and the Council of Europe, of mass human rights violations at the Croatian borders, Gašperlin declined to engage.

    “Frontex helps Croatia with monitoring from the air,” he said. “That is all.”

    Gašperlin said that the role of his agency is only to notify Croatia when people are detected approaching the border from Bosnia. Asked if Frontex also monitors what happens to people once Croatian police find them, given continuously worsening allegations, he said: “From the air this might be difficult. I do not know if a plane from the air can monitor that.”

    Pressed further, he declined to comment.

    To claim ignorance is, however, becoming increasingly difficult. A recent statement on the state of the EU’s borders by UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, notes: “The pushbacks [at Europe’s borders] are carried out in a violent and apparently systematic way.”

    Radoš Đurović from APC Serbia pointed out that Frontex must know about the alleged violations.

    “The question is: Do they want to investigate and prevent them?” he says. “All those present in the field know about the violence and who perpetrates it.”

    Warnings that strict and violent EU border policies are increasing the sophistication and brutality of smugglers, while technological “solutions” and militarization come with vested interests and more potential human rights violations, do not seem to worry the head of Frontex’s Management Board.

    “If passage from Turkey to Germany is too expensive, people will not decide to go,” said Gašperlin, describing the job done by Frontex:

    “We do the work we do. So people cannot simply come here, sit and say — here I am, now take me to Germany, as some might want. Or — here I am, I’m asking for asylum, now take me to Postojna or Ljubljana, where I will get fed, cared for, and then I’ll sit on the bus and ride to Munich where I’ll again ask for asylum. This would be a minimal price.”

    Human rights advocates in the region such as Jasmin Redžepi have no illusions that what they face on the ground reflects the needs and aims of the EU.

    “We are only a bridge,” Redžepi says. “The least the EU should do is take care that its policies do not turn the region into a cradle for criminals and organized crime. We need legal, regular passages and procedures for people to apply for asylum, not illegal, violent push-backs.

    “If we talk about security we cannot talk exclusively about the security of borders. We have to talk about the security of people as well.”

    https://kosovotwopointzero.com/en/the-fortified-gates-of-the-balkans

    #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #frontex #Macédoine_du_Nord #contrôles_frontaliers #militarisation_des_frontières #push-backs #refoulements #refoulements_en_chaîne #frontières_extérieures #Regional_Support_to_Protection-Sensitive_Migration_Management_in_the_Western_Balkans_and_Turkey #Instrument_for_Pre-Accession (#IPA) #budget #Albanie #Monténégro #Serbie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #accords_bilatéraux

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur l’externalisation des frontières :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749
    Et plus particulièrement ici :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749#message782649

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Renvois : la pratique des autorités migratoires suisses menace les #droits_humains

    Le #Tribunal_administratif_fédéral prononce encore et toujours le renvoi de personnes vers des « #Etats_tiers_sûrs » ou des « #Etats_d'origine_sûrs » sans procéder à un examen suffisant de la situation des droits humains dans ces pays et à une évalutation minutieuse des #risques encourus par les personnes concernées. Aussi s’accumulent les #mesures_conservatoires (#interim_measures) à l’encontre de la Suisse, sur la base desquelles les comités onusiens suspendent provisoirement les menaces de renvoi. Conclusion : les #critères_d’examen des autorités suisses sont inadéquats du point de vue des droits humains.

    Une femme seule avec des enfants fuit un pays en guerre civile pour se rendre en #Bulgarie, où elle obtient le statut de réfugiée. Sur place, elle est victime de #violence_domestique. Ne recevant pas de protection de la part des autorités bulgares, elle se réfugie en Suisse avec ses enfants. Le Secrétariat d’État aux migrations (SEM) rejette sa demande d’asile, invoquant qu’elle peut retourner en Bulgarie car il s’agit d’un « État tiers sûr ». Le Tribunal administratif fédéral confirme la décision du SEM*.

    Selon la loi sur l’asile (LAsi), une demande d’asile n’est généralement pas accordée si la personne requérante peut retourner dans un « État tiers sûr » dans lequel elle résidait avant de déposer sa demande en Suisse (art. 31a LAsi). En Suisse, les États de l’UE et de l’AELE sont considérés comme des pays tiers sûrs, car ils ont ratifié la Convention de Genève sur les réfugiés et la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme, qu’ils mettent en œuvre dans la pratique selon le Secrétariat d’État aux migrations. Le Conseil fédéral peut également désigner d’autres pays comme « États tiers sûrs » si ceux-ci disposent d’un mécanisme de protection efficace contre le renvoi des personnes concernées permettant de respecter le #principe_de_non-refoulement. Enfin, sont également considérés comme des « États d’origine sûrs » les pays dans lesquels les requérant·e·s d’asile sont à l’abri de toute persécution (art. 6a al. 2 let. a et b LAsi).

    Avec le soutien de l’Organisation suisse d’aide aux réfugiés (OSAR), la mère requérante d’asile et ses enfants déposent une plainte individuelle auprès du Comité des droits de l’enfant de l’ONU. Le Comité demande instamment à la Suisse de ne pas rapatrier la famille afin d’éviter que les enfants ne subissent un préjudice irréparable du fait des violations de leurs droits humains ; il ne peut en effet pas exclure que la famille se retrouve en danger en Bulgarie. Selon Adriana Romer, juriste et spécialiste pour l’Europe au sein de l’OSAR, cette affirmation est claire : « La référence générale au respect par un État de ses obligations en vertu du #droit_international n’est pas suffisante, surtout dans le cas d’un pays comme la Bulgarie. S’il y a des indications de possibles violations des droits humains, une évaluation et un examen minutieux sont nécessaires dans chaque cas individuel ».

    Le cas d’une demandeuse d’asile qui a fui un camp de réfugié·e·s grec pour se réfugier en Suisse illustre bien la problématique. Selon le Tribunal administratif fédéral (TAF), elle n’a pas fait valoir de circonstances qui remettraient en cause la #Grèce en tant qu’« État tiers sûr » (arrêt du TAF E-1657/2020 du 26 mai 2020). Les #viols qu’elle a subis à plusieurs reprises dans le camp de réfugié·e·s et l’absence de soutien psychologique sur place n’ont pas été pris en compte. Le Comité de l’ONU pour l’élimination de la discrimination à l’égard des #femmes (#CEDEF) est finalement intervenu un mois plus tard. C’est un sort similaire qu’a connu un requérant ayant survécu à la #torture, reconnu comme réfugié en Grèce. Bien que celui-ci ait dû vivre dans la rue et n’ait pas eu accès aux #soins_médicaux en Grèce, l’Office fédéral des migrations et le Tribunal administratif fédéral ont décidé que la « présomption d’ État tiers sûr » s’appliquait à la Grèce dans cette affaire (arrêt du TAF E-2714/2020 du 9 juin 2020). Là encore, le Comité contre la torture de l’ONU est intervenu et a empêché le renvoi. Pour Stephanie Motz, avocate zurichoise qui a plaidé dans les trois cas, deux fois avec l’association AsyLex et une fois avec l’avocate Fanny de Weck : « La situation dans les pays tiers n’est que sommairement examinée par le SEM et l’établissement des faits n’est pas suffisant pour être conforme au droit. En outre, il est fréquent que le Tribunal administratif fédéral n’examine pas en profondeur la situation des droits humains dans ces États, mais se contente de formuler des affirmations générales. En conséquence, les comités onusiens interviennent de plus en plus dans ces procédures ».

    Les critères d’évaluation peu rigoureux des autorités suisses concernent également les transferts au titre du #Règlement_de_Dublin, par lequel les requérant·e·s d’asile sont renvoyé·e·s vers l’État membre dans lequel ils et elles ont déposé leur première demande d’asile. À la fin de l’année dernière, le Comité contre la torture de l’ONU a dû interrompre temporairement un rapatriement Dublin de la Suisse vers la Pologne (arrêt du TAF F-3666/2020 du 23 juillet 2020).

    Enfin, le Comité pour l’élimination de la #discrimination_raciale de l’ONU (#CERD) est également intervenu au début de cette année lorsque la Suisse a voulu expulser un couple de #Roms vers le nord de la #Macédoine (arrêt du TAF E-3257/2017 du 30 juillet 2020, cons.10.2). Le couple était exposé à de sérieux risques et n’était pas protégé de manière adéquate par les autorités de #Macédoine_du_Nord. Le Tribunal administratif fédéral ayant désigné la Macédoine du Nord comme un « État d’origine sûr », le couple a, avec le soutien du Réseau de solidarité Berne, déposé une plainte individuelle auprès du CERD et peut rester en Suisse à titre provisoire.

    Plusieurs années peuvent s’écouler avant que les comités de l’ONU statuent définitivement sur les cas présentés. Dans trois de ceux-ci, le SEM a entre temps accepté les demandes d’asile. Dans les deux autres cas, grâce aux mesures conservatoires, les recourant·e·s sont également protégé·e·s pendant que le Comité examine le risque concret de violations des droits humains.

    En qualifiant un grand nombre de pays de « sûrs » de manière générale, les autorités suisses font courir de graves risques aux demandeur·euse·s d’asile. Les droits humains peuvent également être violés dans des #pays_démocratiques. Les nombreuses interventions des comités de l’ONU le montrent clairement : la pratique suisse n’est pas suffisante pour respecter les droits humains.

    *Pour la protection de la famille concernée, la référence correspondante n’est pas publiée.

    https://www.humanrights.ch/fr/qui-sommes-nous/autorite-migratoires-mesures-conservatoires
    #renvois #expulsions #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Suisse #TAF #SEM #justice #ONU #Dublin #renvois_Dublin

  • Is Frontex involved in illegal ’pushbacks’ in the Balkans ?

    Refugees and migrants in Greece trying to reach western Europe have accused EU border protection agency Frontex of taking part in illegal deportations known as “pushbacks.” DW reports.

    Ali al-Ebrahim fled in 2018 from Manbij, a Syrian city that was under Kurdish control, to escape being forced to fight in the conflict.

    Al-Ebrahim, now 22, first tried his luck in Turkey. When he arrived in Antakya, not far from the Syrian border, Turkish authorities took his details and sent him back home without citing any reasons, the young Syrian man says in very good English. He explains that this meant he was banned from legally entering Turkey again for five years.

    Nevertheless, al-Ebrahim decided to try again, this time with the aim of reaching Greece. He managed to make his way to Turkey’s Aegean coastline and eventually reached the Greek island of Leros in a rubber dinghy. When he applied for asylum, however, his application was rejected on the grounds that Turkey was a safe third country.

    But al-Ebrahim was not able to return to Turkey, and certainly not Syria — though this was of no interest to Greek authorities. “The new Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is very strict when it comes to migrants,” he says. “So I decided to go to Albania.”
    Uniforms with the EU flag

    Al-Ebrahim says that in September 2020, he traveled by bus with five others to the northern Greek city of Ioannina, and then walked to the Albanian border without encountering any Greek police.

    But, he says, staff from the EU border protection agency Frontex stopped them in Albania and handed them over to Albanian authorities in the border town of Kakavia. When asked how he knew they were Frontex officials, al-Ebrahim replies, “I could tell from their armbands.”

    Frontex staff wear light-blue armbands with the EU flag on them.
    €5,000 to reach Austria

    Al-Ebrahim says that he and the other migrants asked the Albanian authorities for asylum but were told that the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to file any new asylum applications. They were then just sent back to Greece without the Greek authorities being notified, he says.

    Al-Ebrahim had more luck on the second attempt. He managed to travel to the Albanian capital, Tirana, and then on to Serbia via Kosovo.

    His interview with DW takes place at a refugee camp in the Serbian city of Sombor, near the Hungarian border. Al-Ebrahim says he wants to travel on through Hungary into Austria, but the traffickers charge €5,000 to get as far as the Austrian border.

    Detention instead of asylum

    Hope Barker has heard many similar stories before. She coordinates the project “Wave - Thessaloniki,” which provides migrants traveling the Balkan route with food, medical care and legal advice. Barker tells DW that the northern Greek city was a safe haven until the new conservative government took office in summer 2019.

    In January 2020, a draconian new law came into effect in Greece. According to Barker, it allows authorities to detain asylum seekers for up to 18 months without reviewing their cases — and detention can then be extended for another 18 months.

    “So you can be held in detention for three years without any action on your case if you ask for asylum,” says Baker.

    Pushbacks by Frontex?

    Baker tells DW that the illegal deportation of migrants, known as “pushbacks,” happen both at the borders and further inland. Migrants trying to reach western Europe avoid any contact with Greek authorities.

    Refugee aid organizations say there have been “lots of pushbacks” at the border with North Macedonia and Albania. Baker says that witnesses have reported hearing those involved speaking German, for example, and seeing the EU insignia on their blue armbands.

    Frontex rejects allegations

    Baker says that it is, nonetheless, difficult to prove pushbacks at the Greek border because of the confusing situation, but she adds that they know that Frontex is active in Albania and that there are pushbacks on a daily basis across the River Evros that flows through Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey and forms a large part of the border. “We know that pushbacks are happening daily. So, to think that they don’t know or are not at all involved in those practices seems beyond belief,” says Baker.

    A Frontex spokesman told DW that the agency had investigated some of the allegations and “found no credible evidence to support any of them.”

    Frontex added that its staff was bound by a code of conduct, which explicitly calls for the “prevention of refoulement and the upholding of human rights, all in line with the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

    “We are fully committed to protecting fundamental rights,” it added.

    Border protection from beyond the EU

    So why does the European border protection agency protect an external border of the European Union from the Albanian side? “The main aim of the operation is to support border control, help tackle irregular migration, as well as cross-border crime, including migrant smuggling, trafficking in human beings and terrorism, and identify possible risks and threats related to security,” said Frontex to DW.

    Frontex also said that cooperation with countries in the western Balkans was one of its priorities. “The agency supports them in complying with EU standards and best practices in border management and security,” the spokesman said.

    Yet it is worthwhile taking a look at another part of Greece’s border. While military and police officers are omnipresent at the Greek-Turkish border and are supported by Frontex staff, you seldom encounter any uniforms in the mountains between Greece and Albania. As a result, this route is regarded as safe by refugees and migrants who want to travel onward to western Europe via Greece.

    The route west

    Many migrants travel from Thessaloniki to the picturesque town of Kastoria, about 30 kilometers outside Albania. “There, the police pick us up from the bus and take us to the Albanian border,” Zakarias tells DW at the Wave Center in Thessaloniki. He is Moroccan and arrived in Greece via Turkey.

    But at this point, these are just rumors.

    That afternoon the men get on the bus. Another Moroccan man, 46-year-old Saleh Rosa, is among them. He has been in Greece for a year and was homeless for a long time in Thessaloniki. “Greece is a good country, but I cannot live here,” Rosa tells DW. He aims to reach western Europe via Albania, Kosovo, Serbia and then Hungary.

    Ominous police checks

    Police stop the bus shortly before its arrival in Kastoria. There is a parked police car with uniformed officers. Two men in plain clothes board the bus, claiming to be police. Without showing any ID, they target the foreigners, detaining Saleh, Zakarias and their companions.

    At around 11pm that same evening, the migrants send a WhatsApp message and their Google coordinates. They say that the men in plainclothes have taken them to a place some 15 kilometers from the Albanian border, but within Greece. Later in the Albanian capital, Tirana, DW met with Rosa again, who stresses that his papers were not checked in Greece.

    Conflicting accounts

    When asked by DW, Greek police authorities confirmed the existence of the plain-clothed officers and the roadside check. But then their account diverges from that of the two men. Police said they wanted to check if the migrants were legally permitted to be in Greece and they were released once this was confirmed.

    But the migrants say that Saleh Rosa was the only one with the papers to stay in Greece legally and that the other men were unregistered. Moreover, there is a curfew in Greece because of COVID-19. You are only allowed to travel from one district to another in exceptional cases. Even if they had been carrying papers, the men should have been fined.

    The police refused to comment on that.

    https://www.dw.com/en/is-frontex-involved-in-illegal-pushbacks-in-the-balkans/a-56141370

    #Frontex #Balkans #route_des_balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #push-backs #refoulements #Albanie #Serbie #Kosovo #Sombor #Hongrie #Macédoine_du_Nord #Evros #Grèce

    –---

    voir aussi les accusations envers Frontex de refoulement en #Mer_Egée :
    Migrations : l’agence européenne #Frontex mise en cause pour des #refoulements en mer
    https://seenthis.net/messages/882952

    • Frontex confronted with allegations of violence in North Macedonia

      Allegations that officials deployed on Frontex operations have participated in or condoned violence against people on the move in North Macedonia must be investigated, says a letter (https://www.statewatch.org/media/2494/letter-to-frontex-sw-and-bvmn.pdf) sent to Frontex today by #Statewatch and #Border_Violence_Monitoring_Network (#BVMN).

      Allegations that officials deployed on Frontex operations have participated in or condoned violence against people on the move in North Macedonia must be investigated, says a letter sent to Frontex today by Statewatch and Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN).

      Since September 2019, volunteers for BVMN have gathered five separate testimonies from people pushed back from North Macedonia to Greece alleging the presence of Frontex officers on North Macedonian territory, where the agency has no legal authority to act. The reports involve a total of 130 people.

      The testimonies include allegations that officers deployed by Frontex engaged in or condoned brutal violence – including the use of tasers and electroshock batons, throwing people into rivers, and tying people up and beating them.

      Frontex says it has no records of any such incidents. The agency’s press office said to Statewatch last month that “Frontex does not have any operational activities at the land border from the North Macedonian side,” and “is only present on the Greek side of the border.”

      The letter, addressed to Frontex’s executive director, the new Fundamental Rights Officer, and the agency’s Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights, calls for a thorough investigation into the allegations to clarify the facts and ensure appropriate action against any individuals found to have engaged in, condoned or consented to violence and/or to have acted on North Macedonian territory.

      The violence allegedly meted out or condoned by Frontex officials is part of a broader wave of violence against people on the move through North Macedonia. Since February 2019, BVMN volunteers have gathered 37 reports of pushbacks from North Macedonia to Greece, which are likely only a fraction of the total number of pushback cases.

      The five reports alleging the presence of Frontex officials are a subset of 15 testimonies that cite the involvement of foreign officials working alongside North Macedonian officers.

      An analysis published today by Statewatch (https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2021/foreign-agents-and-violence-against-migrants-at-the-greek-macedonian-bor) looks at the deployment of foreign border guards to North Macedonia, which since 2015 has played a key role in the EU’s efforts to prevent migrants and refugees departing from Greece to reach ‘core’ EU territory further north.

      A number of states (members of the EU and other states in the region) have signed bilateral deals with the North Macedonian government that allow the deployment of border guards in the country.

      Frontex, meanwhile, is not yet legally able to operate there. An agreement between the EU and North Macedonia is in the works, but is being held up in a dispute over language (https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2021/briefing-external-action-frontex-operations-outside-the-eu).

      The agency must provide answers and an investigation into the numerous allegations of its officials being involved in abuse.

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/june/frontex-confronted-with-allegations-of-violence-in-north-macedonia
      #Macédoine_du_Nord

    • Briefing: External action: Frontex operations outside the EU

      The EU has negotiated five agreements with states in the Balkans that allow Frontex operations on their territories, and most of the agreements have now been approved by both sides. This briefing looks at the main provisions of those agreements, highlights key differences and similarities, and argues that they will likely serve as a template for future deals with states that do not border the EU, as made possible by the 2019 Regulation governing Frontex.

      For an overview of the key points of the agreements, see the table at the end of this article, or here as a PDF (https://www.statewatch.org/media/2011/eu-frontex-external-action-briefing-table.pdf).

      Frontex launched its first official joint operation on non-EU territory at Albania’s border with Greece in May 2019. Still ongoing today, this was the first operation resulting from a series of Status Agreements between the EU and a number of Western Balkan states – Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and North Macedonia.

      These agreements make it possible for Frontex to undertake operations on those other states’ territories. Signed in accordance with the agency’s 2016 Regulation, all five agreements allow the agency to carry out joint operations and rapid border interventions on the states’ borders, where those borders are coterminous with those of an EU member state or states. Frontex can also assist those states with deportation operations from EU member states to those countries. Since the entry into force of Frontex’s 2019 mandate, the EU can now also make such agreements with states that do not border EU territory.

      The contents of the status agreements, all based on a template document produced by the Commission, are very similar, with small but important differences emerging from the negotiation procedures with each state, explored below.

      The first agreements in context

      The five Balkan states targeted for the first agreements make up what is seen by officials as a “buffer zone” between Greece and other Schengen states, and they have long been embroiled in the bloc’s border policies. Through long negotiations over accession to the Union (https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/albania-dealing-with-a-new-migration-framework-on-the-edge-of-the-empire), Western Balkan states are at various stages of approximating domestic law with the EU’s legal ‘acquis’, involving substantial amendments to migration and asylum systems.

      In theory, these systems must match up to EU legal and fundamental rights standards in order to allow accession, though violence against migrants is well documented on both sides of these “coterminous borders”. The so-called Balkan Route is the site of well-documented abuses (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/january/eu-the-black-book-of-pushbacks-testimonies-of-pushbacks-affecting-over-1) suffered by people on the move, recently compiled and published in a ‘Black Book of pushbacks’ which detail violence perpetrated by border agents, member state police and soldiers. Pushbacks from Croatia (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2020/november/european-commission-plans-to-visit-croatia-in-light-of-human-rights-viol) and Hungary are particularly notorious, with Frontex finally withdrawing its support for operations in Hungary (https://www.statewatch.org/statewatch-database/frontex-suspends-operations-in-hungary) in January this year due to the state’s violation of a European Court of Justice ruling against pushbacks into Serbia.

      The agency had long-insisted that its presence discouraged fundamental rights violations (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/february/frontex-management-board-pushes-back-against-secrecy-proposals-in-prelim) - a far less credible claim in the wake of allegations (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/february/frontex-management-board-pushes-back-against-secrecy-proposals-in-prelim) of Frontex complicity in serious incidents in the Aegean, including possible pushbacks.

      Frontex expands external operations while future agreements remain on hold

      Following deployment of officers to Montenegro’s border with Croatia in July, Frontex launched a second operation in Montenegro in October. The third executive operation outside the EU (and the second in Montenegro), the aim of this activity is “to tackle cross-border crime at the country’s sea borders, including the smuggling of drugs and weapons, smuggling of migrants, trafficking in human beings and terrorism”.

      The agency says it will provide aerial surveillance, deploy officers from EU member states, and provide technical and operational assistance with coast guard functions in international waters, “including search and rescue support, fisheries control and environmental protection”.

      The agreement with Serbia was approved by the European Parliament in February this year, along with the agreement with Montenegro. Three presidential entities need to sign the agreement in order for it to be ratified by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s government; the Serb entity has so far refused to do so.

      Meanwhile, the agreement with North Macedonia was due to be tabled in the European Parliament this autumn, but negotiations have been held up, in part by Bulgaria’s objection to the language in which it is written. According to the site European Western Balkans, “Bulgaria does not recognise the language of North Macedonia as ‘Macedonian’”, but “as a dialect of Bulgarian”. It will apparently take “a change in terminology regarding Macedonian language in order to allow progress in drafting a final negotiating framework”. While negotiations are stalled, the agreement cannot be considered by the European Parliament.

      Once the status agreements are in force, Frontex operations are launched in accordance with an operational plan agreed with each state. These plans include the circumstances under which Frontex staff can use executive powers and other details of the operations not available elsewhere. These plans are not systematically made public and although it is possible for the public to request their release, Frontex can refuse access to them. These non-public documents contain important provisions on fundamental rights and data protection, as well as details on the aims and objectives of the agency’s operations.

      Fundamental rights

      Under article 8 of the agreements with Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina (article 9 of the other agreements) all parties are obliged to:

      “[H]ave a complaint mechanism to deal with allegations of a breach of fundamental rights committed by its staff in the exercise of their official functions in the course of a joint operation, rapid border intervention or return operation performed under this agreement”.

      Both Frontex and the host state must operate such a complaints mechanism, to handle allegations against their own team members. Frontex’s complaint mechanism is currently the subject of an Ombudsman inquiry, following years of research showing it up as inaccessible and ineffective. Details of updates bringing the mechanism into line with Frontex’s 2019 Regulation have not yet been made public, although the rules set out in that Regulation have problems of their own. It is noteworthy that the agreements do not explicitly require an independent complaints mechanism.

      On the question of parallel complaints mechanisms for Frontex officers and host country officers, a Frontex spokesperson explained:

      “The complaints team within Frontex Fundamental Rights Office has been working since 2019 on the concept of how to deal with complaints concerning Frontex activities in [Albania]. For that purpose, the FRO team met with competent national authorities in Albania in October 2019. Both parties agreed on the draft of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the purpose of which is a coordination between both complaints mechanisms. The MoU draft proposal was shared with Albanian authorities for their consideration on September 2020 and finalization of the modalities.

      The draft of this MoU will serve as basis for other third countries arrangements on the coexistence of complaints mechanisms, such as the case for Montenegro.”

      An extra article 3

      The agreements with Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia contain an article not included in the agreements with Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. From article 3, on launching an action:

      “The Agency may propose launching an action to the competent authorities of [the host state].

      The competent authorities of [the host state] may also request the Agency to consider launching an action.”

      The launching of any action requires the consent of competent authorities of the host-state and of Frontex (Article 3(2) of the status agreements), while any disputes over the content of the status agreements shall be resolved between the non-EU state in question and the European Commission (Article 11).

      Privileges and immunities of the members of the team

      Members of teams deployed in each of the host states shall enjoy immunity from the criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction of the host state, for all acts carried out in the exercise of official functions, where these are committed in the course of actions contained in the operational plan (articles 6 or 7). It is at the discretion of the executive director of Frontex (currently Fabrice Leggeri) to determine whether acts were committed in the course of actions following the operational plan. This immunity may be waived by the team members’ home state – that is to say, the state of nationality of a Frontex team member, such as Spain or Germany.

      While the agreements with Albania, Montenegro, and North Macedonia include the provision that the executive director’s decision will be binding upon the authorities of the host state, no such article is found in the agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

      A further difficulty with this article was highlighted earlier this year in an internal Frontex report: Protocol No 7 annexed to the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) and to the TFEU, under which the privileges and immunities Agency and its statutory staff are covered, is not applicable outside of the EU. The Commission has not yet responded to a request for comment on an investigation said to be underway into this issue.

      Acting on behalf of the host non-EU state

      Across the status agreements, members of the teams are limited to performing tasks and exercising powers in the host territory in the presence and under instructions of the host state’s border guards or other relevant authorities. The host state may authorise members of teams to act on its behalf, taking into consideration the views of the agency via its coordinating officer. The agreement with Serbia contains extra emphasis (article 5):

      “the competent authority of the Republic of Serbia may authorise members of the teams to act on its behalf as long as the overall responsibility and command and control functions remain with the border guards or other police officers of the Republic of Serbia present at all times.”

      This agreement also emphasises that “the members of the team referred to in paragraphs 1 and 3 to 6 do not include agency staff”.

      Members of teams shall be authorised to use force, including service weapons as permitted by the host state, home state, and Frontex. Each host state may authorise members of the team to use force in the absence of border guards or other relevant staff under article 4 (6) – Albania and Bosnia and Herzegoviina – or 5 (6) – Montenegro,

      Access to databases

      The agreements with Albania and Montenegro allow the host state to authorise members of the team to consult national databases if necessary for the operational aims or for return operations. Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s status agreements are more cautious, allowing certain data from national databases to be shared at the request of a member of the team, provided it is needed to fulfil operational aims as outlined in the operational plan. The agreement with Serbia contains, once more, additional provisions: “members of the team may be communicated only information concerning relevant facts which is necessary for performing their tasks and exercising their powers”, though it also includes in the subsequent paragraph:

      “For the purposes of fulfilling operational aims specified in the operation plan and the implementing actions, the competent authority of the Republic of Serbia and members of the team may exchange other information and findings”.

      Language on discrimination

      The agreement with Serbia once again follows slightly different wording to the others in terms of the prohibition of discrimination. The agreements with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia recite:

      “While performing their tasks and exercising their powers, they shall not arbitrarily discriminate against persons on any grounds including sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

      However, the agreement with Serbia does not include (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/july/eu-frontex-in-the-balkans-serbian-government-rejects-eu-s-criminal-immun) any reference to gender identity.

      Obligation to give evidence as witnesses in criminal proceedings

      Under each of the agreements with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia, members of the team shall not be obliged to give evidence as witnesses. Not only does the agreement with Montenegro omit this provision, it also outlines:

      “Members of the team who are witnesses may be obliged by the competent authorities of Montenegro, while respecting paragraphs 3 and 4, to provide evidence through a statement and in accordance with the procedural law of Montenegro.”

      Frontex and home state obligation not to jeopardise criminal proceedings

      The agreement with Serbia is the only agreement not to include an obligation on the agency and home state of a team member to “refrain from taking any measure likely to jeopardise possible subsequent criminal prosecution of the member of the team by the competent authorities” of the host non-EU state.

      Lingering uncertainty

      On top of uncertainty over when the agreements with North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina might be completed, questions remain regarding the accessibility of complaints mechanisms and the application of rules governing privileges and immunity of team members, even in Albania and Montenegro, where operations have been launched already.

      Additionally, since the entry into force of its new regulation in 2019 and the removal of provisions limiting Frontex’s extra-EU operations only to neighbouring states, the EU can now conclude status agreements with countries not bordering the EU. The implementation of these agreements, as well as their contents, will likely set a precedent for negotiations and operations further afield.

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2021/briefing-external-action-frontex-operations-outside-the-eu
      #Albanie #Monténégro #Serbie #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #buffer-zone #zone-tampon

    • Albania: dealing with a new migration framework on the edge of the empire

      In 2014, Albania was formally accepted as a candidate for membership to the EU. The country is aiming to approximate its domestic law with the EU legal ’acquis’ within the next two years, prompting big changes in the country’s immigration and asylum system - at least on paper. Currently, those systems cannot be said to meet fundamental rights or EU legal standards, but given conditions within the EU itself - notably in Greece - it remains to be seen whether this will be a barrier to Albania joining the bloc.

      Background

      In the 1990s Albania, a small country in the middle of the Balkans, was just emerging from a harsh communist dictatorship. In 1991, a new era in Europe began for the country, as it opened diplomatic relationships with the then-European Community. But it was not until 2014 that Albania was formally accepted as a candidate for membership of the EU, following the endorsement of the European Council.[1]

      In that time, the European Community had evolved into the fortress of the European Union, its borders and expansion reminiscent of the spread of the Roman Empire. Speaking of the EU’s borders, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has even commented, “big empires go down if the external borders are not well-protected”.[2] Since 2014, Albania has been racing to fulfil all the requirements needed to be accepted among the fabulous 27, making major changes in the five main areas identified by the EU: public administration, rule of law, tackling corruption, organised crime and fundamental rights.

      In February 2018, the European Commission declared that further enlargement to encompass the states of the ‘Western Balkans’ (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo) would be “an investment in the EU’s security, economic growth and influence and in its ability to protect its citizens”.[3] In short, the EU was presenting a so-called win-win agreement, where all sides stand to gain.

      In March 2020 – following a limping reform of the justice system, some destabilizing stop-and-go of talks between the EU and Albania, a gloomy summer election crisis in 2019, German concerns, a temporary French veto and a devastating earthquake in November 2019 – the EU finally said ‘I do’ and committed to opening accession negotiations with Albania, in a statement that underscored the need to ‘keep an eye’ on the country:

      “The Council further invites the Commission to continue to monitor the progress and compliance in all areas related to the opening of negotiations and to carry out and complete the process of analytical examination of the EU acquis with the country, starting with the fundamentals’ cluster”.[4]

      Aligning Albania with the EU’s “area of freedom, security and justice”

      The current ‘Project Plan for European integration 2020-2022’[5] lists all the legislative reforms and changes required to align Albanian and EU law. The full approximation of Albanian law with that of the European Union, and its full and effective implementation, is one of the criteria for membership. Indeed, the process of membership negotiations is in itself that process of approximation.

      The process involves the following steps: analysis of EU legislation; identification of deficiencies or contradictory acts of Albanian law; drafting or reviewing of the approximated Albanian acts; and monitoring the implementation of approximated legislation. The 24th chapter of the plan, on “justice, freedom and security”, focuses on: border control; visas; external migration; asylum; police cooperation; the fight against organised crime and terrorism; cooperation on drugs issues; customs; and judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters.

      Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the area of Freedom, Security and Justice is regulated in Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, running from Article 67 to Article 89.[6] This covers secondary legislation on: border checks, asylum and immigration; police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters; judicial cooperation in civil matters; and police cooperation. Primary and secondary legislation is complemented by a large body of jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU, whose primacy is a cornerstone principle of EU law. The acquis inherited by Albania for this specific chapter consists of a volume of 392 acts, divided into a “hard acquis” (which derives from binding acts such as treaties, directives, regulations, etc.) and a “soft acquis” (which derives from standards, principles and recommendations of EU or other relevant international organizations).

      Updating the laws on immigration and borders

      The government affirms to have completed and adopted a comprehensive national cross-sectoral migration strategy, included a new strategy on the diaspora for the period 2018-2024.[7] The government also says it has updated a contingency plan for a possible massive influx of migrants and asylum seekers, expected to be approved soon. But the other side of the coin is that Albania, as the project plan admits, is largely unprepared to host and protect migrants on its territory. Albania currently has one reception centre for irregular migrants in Karreç, with a capacity of only 150 beds. The centre was visited in September 2019 by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which found it to be inadequate in many respects.[8] Even more concerning is the lack of facilities for unaccompanied minors.

      According to a footnote in a 2016 law,[9] Albania’s border control legislation has been aligned with the Schengen Borders Code.[10] However, it appears that the wider legal framework for managing Albania’s external borders is not yet fully in line with EU standards. The government reports that the implementation of the integrated border management strategy and action plan is proceeding: the reconstruction of the two border crossing points Hani i Hotit and Morina has been completed; the country has signed a protocol with Montenegro on the establishment of joint checkpoints; the trilateral centre in Plav (in Northern Macedonia) has become operational; an agreement with Kosovo on the joint border crossing point in Morina has been concluded; anti-corruption preventive measures have been implemented at border crossing points through the installation of cameras; and cooperation between agencies and neighbouring countries has improved.

      Frontex: already on the scene

      The section of the government’s report on regular and irregular immigration states that the agreement with the EU permitting the deployment of Frontex officials on Albanian territory was finalised in February 2019.[11] The deployment began on 22 May 2019, for an indefinite period.[12]

      The joint operation – Frontex’s first outside the EU – deploys 50 EU officers in Albania to “help Albanian authorities with border surveillance and border checks… They will also assist their Albanian counterparts in screening of migrants”.[13] This is not the first time that an EU presence has been active on Albanian territory – an Italian operation in 1997 sought to prevent migration, and there have also been monitoring missions. However, the Frontex presence is an executive mission, marking a more active departure from the monitoring exercises of the past.[14]

      The Albanian Minister of Internal Affairs, Sander Lleshaj, has described the operation as “really effective, very collaborative… crucial in the way to EU integration”.[15] The Prime Minister, Edi Rama, has said the operation makes Albania a contributor to the EU in countering illegal migration and organised crime.[16] The Albanian press has so far expressed an uncritical view of the Frontex mission. In a state where many are supportive of EU accession, appetite for critical investigation is possibly low.

      And asylum?

      Albania reports that its Asylum Law is partially in line with the EU acquis. The country has the necessary institutions and procedures to handle asylum applications. Complaints can be filed with the National Commission for Refugees and Asylum, which was established in 2017 and reopened in 2019. All relevant national legislation should be publicly available on the government website,[17] but the information available does not clarify if complaints related to the application process are admissible, or if the word “complaints” refers to appeals related to unsuccessful applications. Regarding the asylum procedure, applications are registered by the Border and Migration Police by filling out the pre-screening forms, then reported to the Directorate of Asylum and Citizenship to proceed with the status determination procedures.

      Although the number of asylum seekers increased significantly in 2018, with 5,730 arrivals, the authorities say they have responded to the large number of asylum applications. According to UNHCR asylum applications that year increased to 4,378, a 14-fold increase compared to 2017.[18] Albania’s official Gazette outlined in March 2020 that the number of people applying for asylum was at its highest in 2018, and 40 times higher than it had been in 2015.[19] According to the Project Plan for European integration, an asylum database has been functioning since April 2019; it serves as an integral data centre between the Directorate of Asylum and Citizenship, the Directorate of Border and Migration and the National Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers, exchanging information in real time between these institutions and enabling the completion of procedures as well as the issuance of statistics.

      The government also says it tripled its reception capacity for asylum seekers in October 2017. Total reception capacity, including the national reception centre in Tirana and the temporary accommodation centres in Gjirokastra and Korça, reaches almost 380 places. In October 2019, a new centre with a reception capacity of 60 beds was inaugurated to cope with the expected increase of people needing temporary housing in Kapshticë/Korça,[20] which has the same parameters as the transit centre in Gërhot of Gjirokastra.

      Summary

      Both Albania and the EU have undergone a transformative thirty years, with talks of accession beginning six years ago. The EU sees Albania’s incorporation into the bloc as a way of contributing to the economic growth and strengthened security; a different understanding of “expanding the fortress”. Accession negotiations were reinvigorated in March 2020, and the current goal is for Albania to approximate its law to the EU acquis, and implement those measures, within two years. This includes legislation on immigration and borders, which have been updated on paper. Though conditions for asylum seekers and migrants in Albania are not in line with fundamental rights law or the EU acquis, nor are those in EU member states – most notably the Greek island hotspots. The deployment of the EU’s border agency in Albania, unlikely to be criticised locally, represents further step in the EU’s mission to control migration across a wider terrain.

      Sara Ianovitz, Ph.D. in International Law

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/albania-dealing-with-a-new-migration-framework-on-the-edge-of-the-empire

      #Albanie

    • Foreign agents and violence against migrants at the Greek-Macedonian border

      An increasing number of reports of violent pushbacks at the Greek-Macedonian border have been collected by volunteers in recent years. Some reports allege the presence of Frontex, but bilateral policing deals in place may also explain the presence of foreign officers in Macedonia. The violence underpins a long-standing plan to close the ‘Balkan Route’ and keep people out of ‘core’ EU territory. Whoever is behind the violence, there is no shortage of border guards to mete it out – but justice is in short supply.

      Midnight in Macedonia

      Around midnight on 14 August last year, a group of some 20 people were intercepted by border police just north of the Greek-Macedonian border, near the small town of Gevgelija. What happened next, according to the testimony of one member of the group, makes for grim reading.

      “[T]he police officers approached the group and became physically violent. The officers struck various group-members with their batons. Others were pepper-sprayed, including the women and children. After this, the officers loaded the group into a van and left them there without any air conditioning, jammed, soaking in sweat for around two hours, while going about to catch more transit groups. In the end, they squashed around 40 people in a van for fit for ten persons.”[1]

      Macedonian officials were not the only ones involved in the operation. The testimony also recounts “foreign officers wearing uniforms with the European Union flags on their shoulders,” the distinctive mark of EU border agency Frontex.

      Foreign agents

      The testimony is one of five reports gathered by Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), altogether involving some 130 people, that describe violence being meted out in the presence of, or even by, border guards allegedly deployed by Frontex on North Macedonian territory. A further 10 reports gathered by the network, encompassing some 123 people, recount the use of violence by foreign border guards and police officers operating in North Macedonia, but do not mention uniforms bearing the EU flag.[2]

      Statewatch and Border Violence Monitoring Network have written to Frontex to demand an investigation into the allegations recounted in this article. Read more here.

      The violence recounted in those testimonies is shocking. According to the report on the 14 August incident, after cramming people into the van, the police drove them to the banks of the Vardar river. There, they threw peoples’ possessions into the water, took their phones and money, and “the group was beaten brutally with metal electroshock batons and some people were thrown into the river by the police. One person was thrown in despite crying and begging not to be thrown in.” They were subsequently taken back to the border and pushed through a gate leading to the Greek side, while police beat them with electroshock batons.

      In that incident, the witness said that officials with uniforms bearing EU flags were present, but did not directly participate in the violence. But a report from the same area, concerning an incident less than a week later, refers to officials in uniforms bearing Croatian, Slovenian, Czech and EU flags, who bound a group of four men with zip ties and beat three of them with batons (one of the group, who was a minor, was spared the beating).[3] Reports of other incidents allege the presence of Italian, German and Austrian officials.

      No reports at Frontex

      While BVMN volunteers have gathered multiple testimonies that allege Frontex’s presence or involvement in violence in North Macedonia, the agency itself says it has received no reports of any such incidents. The agency also denies any presence in the country – in May, a press officer told Statewatch that “Frontex does not have any operational activities at the land border from the North Macedonian side,” and “is only present on the Greek side of the border.”

      In December 2020, Frontex responded to an access to documents request filed by Statewatch some months earlier. The request sought copies of all serious incident reports (SIRs) concerning the agency’s activities at the Greek-Macedonian land border from 1 January 2020 onwards. SIRs are supposed to be filed by officials deployed on Frontex operations for a variety of reasons, including in case of “suspected violations of fundamental rights or international protection obligations.”[4]

      In its response, the agency said that it did not hold any SIRs concerning the geographic area and time period covered by the request. This does not mean, however, that the incidents recorded by BVMN did not take place – it may simply be that nobody is reporting them.

      A working group set up by Frontex’s own Management Board, in response to allegations of involvement in pushbacks in Greece, found numerous problems with the agency’s reporting system. It noted that there was no way of monitoring the quality of reports submitted, and there were no confidential avenues for team members to report rights violations by their colleagues.

      The report also called for “a newly introduced culture,” suggesting that the existing ambience at the agency is not one in which the rights of migrants and refugees are at the forefront of officials’ minds. The working group said that the agency needed “awareness of and sensitiveness towards possible misconduct,”[5] a call it repeated in its final report.[6]

      Not even numbers

      Serious incident reports may not exist, but the request from Statewatch to Frontex also sought to establish the scale of the agency’s activities at the Greek-Macedonian border through another means – by requesting data on the number of migrants and migrant smugglers apprehended at the Greek-Macedonian border over the same period (1 January 2020 onwards).

      This data, argued Frontex, could not be released – doing so “would jeopardize the work of law enforcement officials and pose a hazard to the course of ongoing and future operations aimed at curtailing the activities of such networks,” despite the request seeking nothing more than figures that Frontex itself has published in previous reports.

      A public evaluation of the tongue-twistingly titled ‘Joint Operation Flexible Operational Activities 2018 Land on Border Surveillance’ (JO FOA Land) says that in 2018, 16,337 migrants and 313 smugglers were apprehended in the area covered by the operation – “the ‘green borders’ of Greece with Turkey, the North Macedonia [sic] and Albania, Bulgaria with Turkey, North Macedonia and Serbia.”[7] Yet for reasons known only to Frontex, providing a breakdown of these figures for the Greek-Macedonian border would apparently undermine public security.

      A significant presence

      According to Frontex’s evaluation report, 25 member states took part in operations at land borders in south-eastern Europe in 2018, along with 47 officers acting as observers from six different “third countries”, namely Georgia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine. Over 1,800 officials were deployed by Frontex over the course of the year. The operations recorded 2,011 “incidents”.

      A substantial Frontex presence at the border between Greece and North Macedonia has been in place since then. In a response to a parliamentary question from German MEP Özlem Demirel, the European Commission said last June that at Greece’s land borders with Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Turkey, 71 officials, 24 patrols and three “thermo-vision vans” were deployed as part of the 2020 edition of JO FOA Land. Thirteen different member states were providing contributions to the operation: Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.[8]

      While Frontex denies any physical presence on North Macedonia territory, the testimonies gathered by BVMN that allege the presence or participation of Frontex officials in violent acts raise serious questions for the agency. All the testimonies concern incidents that took place in North Macedonia, where the agency has no legal basis to operate. An agreement between the EU and North Macedonia that would permit Frontex deployments, similar to those currently in place with Montenegro and Albania, is facing hold-ups due to objections from the Bulgarian authorities.[9]

      Bilateral agreements

      Frontex operations are not the only deployments of foreign officials in North Macedonia. As noted above, nine of the 15 reports gathered by BVMN describing the involvement of non-Macedonian officers in pushbacks to Greece make no mention of Frontex at all. There are, however, multiple references to violence being meted out by officials in uniforms bearing the flags of Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany and Serbia.

      The presence of some of these officials in the country is made possible by bilateral border control agreements. North Macedonia has cooperation agreements with eight other states in the region (Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia), who provide the Macedonian authorities “with assistance from foreign police officers in patrolling the south border with Greece and in performing their daily duties.”[10] The agreement with Austria, Hungary and Serbia has come in for particular criticism, as it is a memorandum of understanding rather than a formal agreement, and therefore has faced no parliamentary scrutiny in Macedonia.[11] Germany, meanwhile, does not appear to have such a formal agreement with North Macedonia at the federal level – which makes the allegations of the presence of German officers puzzling – but the EU’s largest state has provided a ready supply of equipment, including vehicles, mobile thermal imaging cameras, boots and torches.[12]

      The Croatian and Czech governments have made extensive deployments under these agreements. Between December 2015 (when Croatia and North Macedonia signed a police cooperation deal) and February 2019 “over 560 Croatian police… intercepted almost 6,000 illegal migrants in North Macedonia.”[13] The Czech deployments have been even larger – by December 2019, “1,147 police officers [had] been sent to North Macedonia” to police the border with Greece, according to the Czech government.[14]

      High-level police coordination preceded the signing of many of these agreements. In July 2016, the police chiefs of 12 states said that “the deployment of foreign police officers along borders which are strongly affected by irregular migration conveys a strong message that the countries concerned are resolute in jointly coping with the migration crisis.”[15] Under the agreements with Macedonia, foreign officials can “use technical equipment and vehicles with symbols, wear uniforms, carry weapons and other means of coercion”.[16] In some instances, it seems coercion tips over into outright violence.

      An incident dating from 16 August 2020, recorded by BVMN volunteers, refers to officers “with black ski masks over their faces” and “Croatian and Czech flags emblazoned on their uniforms.” The interviewees said that “these officers were violent with them – kicking the group, destroying their mobile phones, taking their money, insulting them, pushing their faces on the ground with tied hands behind the back. One of the respondents was also attacked by a dog, while the officers [were] laughing at him.”[17] As far back as March 2016, an activist supporting refugees at the increasingly well-guarded Greek-Macedonian border told the newspaper Lidovky that, in Macedonia, “the Czech police are known for violence and unprofessionalism.”[18]

      Buffer states in the Balkans

      Bilateral cooperation between EU states and North Macedonia extends far beyond these police cooperation agreements. In September 2020, the German Presidency of the Council of the EU described the region stretching from Turkey to Hungary (known in official jargon as the “Eastern Mediterranean/Western Balkans”) as being “of great strategic importance for the EU in terms of migration management.”[19] Significant attention is therefore being given to reinforcing the ability of states in the region to control peoples’ movements (an issue highlighted in another recent Statewatch report).

      As of May 2020, 15 EU member states were providing bilateral “support” on migration issues to states in the Western Balkans through a total of 228 activities, according to a survey carried out by the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The majority of that support was focused on control measures, “namely border management and combating the smuggling of migrants (over 50% of all MS activities),” said a summary produced by the Presidency. More than 50% of the 228 activities were taking place in Serbia and North Macedonia, both of which border EU territory.[20]

      The Croatian Presidency highlighted the “geopolitical importance” of those two countries, given that “Member States’ focus is on the prevention of irregular migratory movements to the EU.” This was “both expected and understandable, but may contribute to strengthening the Western Balkan partners’ self-perception as a transit region, which poses a challenge for the further improvement of all aspects of their migration capacities.” Rather than a transit region, the plan is to provide ‘capacity-building’ and technical assistance to develop buffer states that can keep people out of the ‘core’ of the EU after they depart from Greece.

      This is, of course, not a new plan. In February and March 2016, as the EU-Turkey deal was heading for agreement and in the wake of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people travelling by foot, road and rail to the ‘core’ of the EU, the ‘Balkan Route’ was declared closed by EU leaders. Initially done on the crude, discriminatory basis of nationality,[21] exclusion measures were extended to apply to all those crossing borders in the region. That process of closure continues today, and violence is a longstanding component of the strategy.[22] Indeed, it is a prerequisite for it to work effectively, and has been denounced repeatedly over the years by NGOs and international organisations. In March 2016, the Macedonian authorities sought supplies of pepper spray, tasers, rubber bullets, “special bomb (shock, with rubber balls)” and “acoustic device to break the mob.”[23] The concern now may be with smaller groups of people attempting to pass through the country, rather than with “the mob”, but the violence is no less brutal.

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2021/foreign-agents-and-violence-against-migrants-at-the-greek-macedonian-bor

  • Bulgaria blocks North Macedonia Frontex agreement

    Bulgaria is the only country blocking the signing of a border management agreement between North Macedonia and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – Frontex, EURACTIV reports.

    The reason for the dispute is that Bulgaria does not recognise the language of North Macedonia as “Macedonian”, as the authorities in Skopje call it. Bulgaria considers it as a dialect of Bulgarian.

    Also, Bulgaria conditions a change in terminology regarding Macedonian language in order to allow progress in drafting a final negotiating framework.

    “Bulgaria does not recognize the existence of a separate so-called ‘Macedonian language’ and therefore cannot agree to any reference to it in EU documents. The reference to the “official language” of this country enables the continuation of institutional work”, reads the document in which Radio Free Europe had an insight.

    An agreement on co-operation in border management would enable Frontex to conduct joint operations and send its teams to border areas to stop illegal immigration, especially in cases of sudden changes in migration flows, and cross-border crime and, if necessary, to provide technical and operational assistance to national border forces.

    Frontex has previously signed such agreements with Serbia, Montenegro and Albania. A similar agreement has been initialed with Bosnia and Herzegovina, but is awaiting finalization.

    https://europeanwesternbalkans.com/2020/10/22/bulgaria-blocks-north-macedonia-frontex-agreement

    #Bulgarie #Frontex #Macédoine_du_Nord #route_des_balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Balkans #accord

    –---

    La raison pour laquelle la Bulgarie ne signe pas est intéressante... sur une question linguistique...

    The reason for the dispute is that Bulgaria does not recognise the language of North Macedonia as “Macedonian”, as the authorities in Skopje call it. Bulgaria considers it as a dialect of Bulgarian.

    #langue #macédonien #dialecte_bulgare #bulgare #langue_bulgare

    • Bulgaria asks EU to stop ’fake’ Macedonian identity

      In another Balkan historical dispute, Sofia has asked its fellow EU members to stop North Macedonia’s accession bid. Sofia wants its neighbor to admit to sharing a common history with Bulgaria.

      A long-simmering historical dispute between two Balkan neighbors is about to enter the corridors of Brussels again as North Macedonia expects an official start to the EU accession negotiation process in December. An EU candidate country since 2005, North Macedonia hoped that solving the name dispute with Greece would end the historical quarrels with its Balkan neighbors and, after having entered NATO in March, start the country down the long road to full EU membership.

      But Bulgaria has different ideas.

      A document titled the “Explanatory Memorandum on the relationship of the Republic of Bulgaria with the Republic of North Macedonia in the context of the EU enlargement and Association and Stabilization Process” caught the attention of the media in North Macedonia last week. The six-page memorandum, sent to 26 EU capitals from Sofia in August, lays out Bulgaria’s position on several historical issues. Key among them, as Sofia claims: “the ethnic and linguistic engineering that has taken place” in North Macedonia since World War II.

      “The accession path of the Republic of North Macedonia provides a valuable opportunity for its leadership to break with the ideological legacy and practices of communist Yugoslavia,” the Bulgarian memorandum stated. “The enlargement process must not legitimize the ethnic and linguistic engineering that has taken place under former authoritarian regimes.”

      According to the official Bulgarian view of history, people of Slavic descent who live in North Macedonia are Bulgarians who speak the Bulgarian language but were brainwashed during the Josip Broz Tito’s communist regime in the former Yugoslavia and were artificially given a new “Macedonian” identity and language in the process.

      Pressing nationalistic views

      The claim is not new. It is the official position of the Bulgarian state since the 1950s and, as a result, the historical misunderstandings between the two neighbors often boiled over in the political arena. As a member of the European Union, Bulgaria sees an advantage and aims to use it.

      Ulf Brunnbauer, chair of history of Southeast and Eastern Europe at the University of Regensburg, said the memorandum is Bulgaria’s way of “pressing its own nationalistic view on the history and culture of another country and its people.”

      “It would be similar to Germany telling the Austrians that they are actually Germans, or Denmark calling the Norwegians an anomaly because they used to be part of their empire and their standard language developed later than Danish,” Brunnbauer told DW.

      The memorandum caused consternation in North Macedonia and condemnation in parts of the Bulgarian academia as well.

      Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Dimitrov said, “Language is not subject to recognition or nonrecognition because in the 21st century, especially in Europe, the right to self-determination and self-expression cannot be denied.”

      Bulgarian sociologist Ivaylo Ditchev wrote for DW that the primary “accusation” made in the Bulgarian memo is the fact that “North Macedonia exists at all.”

      “And if that new nation persistently refuses to abolish itself — Bulgaria considers that an act of aggression,” Ditchev wrote.

      Occupation or liberation?

      During the Second World War, the Kingdom of Bulgaria was part of the Axis powers and occupied the territory of what is today North Macedonia. Macedonian history considers this period “Bulgarian fascist occupation.” But Bulgaria denies that assertion and claims that its forces liberated what it considers its brethren in the west. In a declaration adopted by the parliament last year, Sofia told Skopje to stop using the term “fascist occupation” in reference to Bulgaria in its history books and to remove all such mention on the World War II monuments in the country.

      Disagreements like this were supposed to be solved by a commission formed after the signing of a bilateral friendship agreement in 2017.

      A group of historians and education experts from both countries started working on the long list of divisive issues but stopped last year. The official reason was because of the elections in North Macedonia and later the coronavirus pandemic, unofficially, there were insurmountable disagreements. Now the Bulgarian government insists that the commission continue its work and show results or North Macedonia’s path towards the EU would be stopped before it can begin in earnest.

      No place for bilateral issues

      While the EU has so far been quiet on the issue, Germany, as the current holder of the rotating European Council presidency, called on both countries to resolve outstanding problems in the history commission. German Ambassador in North Macedonia Anke Holstein rejected Bulgaria’s attempt to include the bilateral issues in the EU negotiations framework.

      “Bilateral problems should be solved bilaterally,” Holstein told Radio Free Europe.

      But, according to Dragi Gjorgiev, president of the Macedonian team of experts in the Macedonian-Bulgarian commission, that won’t be an easy task.

      “The Bulgarian memorandum, which denies the modern Macedonian language and identity, is not helpful for the commission’s success,” Gjorgiev told DW.

      While Ditchev, and other political analysts on both sides of the border think the memorandum might be a PR-stunt of Boyko Borisov’s Bulgarian government to turn the attention of the public opinion after months of anti-corruption protests in the country, others disagree.

      “Protests in Sofia have nothing to do with this,” Andrey Kovatchev member of the European Parliament from Bulgaria’s governing conservative GERB party, wrote in an op-ed for DW Macedonian on Saturday. The government in Sofia would not change its position, Kovatchev said, adding that North Macedonia will not be allowed to start the EU accession negotiations unless it accepts Bulgaria’s demands.

      “Do not hope! You will never find another traitor like Georgi Dimitrov [the first communist leader of Bulgaria 1946-1949, who recognized the existence of a separate Macedonian nation and Macedonian language] in Bulgaria to get this thing done for you.,” he said.

      German historian Brunnbauer, on the other hand, called on Brussels and “especially Berlin” to put pressure on the Bulgarian government.

      “The question of how historians or politicians in (North) Macedonia interpret the history of their nation and of their language might enrage Bulgarian nationalists (and vice versa),” he said. “But it has zero connection with the Copenhagen criteria or any other criteria an accession country needs to fulfill for membership in the EU.”

      https://www.dw.com/en/bulgaria-asks-eu-to-stop-fake-macedonian-identity/a-55020781

    • Bulgaria threatens to veto North Macedonia’s EU talks

      Bulgaria said it will veto the formal launch of EU accession talks with North Macedonia unless its concerns about language and history are taken into account, diplomats said after a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday.

      One diplomat who took part in the meeting said the Bulgarian representative gave “a very long and emotional speech” on the topic.

      The ambassadors were having their first discussion on the framework for negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia that was put forward by the European Commission last summer. Once the member states have backed the framework, the presidency of the Council of the EU, currently held by Germany, will present the so-called “agreed General EU Position” to the two countries hoping to join the bloc, marking the formal start of accession negotiations.

      It was expected that the EU’s support for the negotiating framework would be signed off at a ministerial meeting of the General Affairs Council on November 10 — but Sofia could derail those plans.

      Opening talks with the two Balkan countries has already been difficult as North Macedonia and Greece first had to resolve a near 30-year-long dispute over the former’s name. An agreement between the two was ratified last year, paving the way for Skopje’s NATO accession.

      Another obstacle appeared when France led a group of capitals pushing for a change in the way countries join the bloc. At a meeting of EU leaders last October, France blocked approval of the opening of the accession talks with both countries. Approval was granted in March after a compromise was found that included revamping the accession process.

      The discussion among ambassadors on Wednesday was mainly about this new methodology, with some member states having doubts about how negotiations could be suspended, two diplomats said.

      In recent weeks, Bulgaria distributed documents to the other member states to explain its position. In one of the documents, seen by POLITICO, Sofia stressed that Bulgaria cannot “accept that the still ongoing nation-building process in the Republic of North Macedonia be conducted through the revision of our common history, the denial of our common ethnic and linguistic roots or the unfounded claims for the existence of a ‘Macedonian minority’ in Bulgaria.”

      The two countries signed an accord in August 2017 to resolve these problems “but the implementation of the Treaty has been stagnant,” said Sofia.

      Nikola Dimitrov, North Macedonia’s deputy prime minister for European integration, said his country is committed to implementing the friendship agreement with Sofia. He noted Bulgaria had played a positive role in putting EU enlargement back on the bloc’s agenda but said that success would be at risk if a solution is not found to the impasse.

      “It is simply not right for the Macedonian language to be an obstacle to our European future if the EU is a community of values that celebrates diversity,” Dimitrov told POLITICO.

      Diplomats said that Wednesday’s session was just a first discussion and there’s still a chance to avoid the process being derailed, with more talks planned. “There’s still room for diplomacy,” said one of the diplomats involved in the discussion, pointing to preparatory meetings for the next summit as part the so-called Berlin process, that will bring together leaders from the Western Balkans and the EU, to be held in Sofia on November 10, the same day as the General Affairs Council.

      https://www.politico.eu/article/bulgaria-threatens-veto-on-north-macedonia-accession

  • Monthly Report BVMN August 2020

    The #Border_Violence_Monitoring_Network (#BVMN) published 34 cases of illegal pushbacks during August, documenting the experience of 692 people whose rights were violated at the European Union’s external border. Volunteers in the field recorded a variety of cruel and abusive acts by officers, representing at least ten different national authorities. This report summarises the data and narrative testimony shared by people-on-the-move, highlighting the depth of violence being carried out in the service of European borders.

    As a network comprised of grassroots organisations active in Greece and the Western Balkans, this report was produced via a joint-effort between Are You Syrious, Mobile Info Team, No Name Kitchen, Rigardu, Josoor, InfoKolpa, Escuela con Alma, Centre for Peace Studies, Mare Liberum, Collective Aid and Fresh Response

    The report analyses among other things:

    - Czech presence in North Macedonian pushbacks
    - Unrest in the #Una-Sana Canton of Bosnia-Herzegovina
    - Continued Greek Maritime Pushbacks
    - Analyzing a summer of Italian pushbacks

    Special focus is given to the Greek context where in the Evros region, field partners collected several testimonies in August which referenced third-country-nationals facilitating pushbacks across the Evros/Meric River on behalf of Greek authorities. Three reports conducted by members of the Border Violence Monitoring Network allude to this practice and anecdotal evidence from the field reinforces these accounts.

    –-

    The Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) published 34 cases of illegal pushbacks during August, documenting the experience of 692 people whose rights were violated at the European Union’s external border. Volunteers in the field recorded a variety of cruel and abusive acts by officers, representing at least ten different national authorities. This report summarises the data and narrative testimonies shared by peo-ple-on-the-move, highlighting the depth of violence being carried out in the service of European borders.Special focus is given to the Greek context where testimonies in the Evros allude to the trend of Greek au-thorities using third country nationals to facilitate pushbacks across the Evros/Meric River in the last two months. Reports collected by members of the Border Violence Monitoring Network allude to this practice and anecdotal evidence from the field reinforces these accounts. Further analysis covers the way in which Czech forces have been referenced in testimonies collected from push-backs from North Macedonia to Greece in the last month. Returns from Italy to Bosnia also continue to be legitimized by the Italian state and an analysis of recent reports from these returns is included, as well as an update written by volunteers on the ground in Trieste.In this report, BVMN also discusses several cases of pushbacks across the Aegean sea where the Greek au-thorities continue to use worrying methods to force transit ships back into Turkish waters via life raphs. New developments in both Bosnia’s Una-Sana Canton and Serbia’s #Vojvodina region are also noted, showing the situation on the ground and in the legal realm respectively, as it relates to pushbacks.

    https://www.borderviolence.eu/balkan-region-report-august-2020

    #rapport #push-backs #refoulements #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Italie #Grèce #Mer_Egée #Una #Sana #Bosnie #Bosnie_Herzégovine #Macédoine_du_Nord #frontières #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #Serbie

    ping @karine4 @isskein

    • Policajci iz Virovitice prijavljuju šefa: ‘Ilegalno tjera migrante, tuče se pijan, zataškava obiteljsko nasilje’

      ‘Da bi dobili veću plaću, njegovi miljenici tjeraju migrante iz BiH u Hrvatsku, kako bi ih zatim mogli deportirati’, tvrde naši sugovornici...

      https://www.telegram.hr/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hedl_policija_migranti-840x530.jpeg

      Ovo je naš zapovjednik Andrej Hegediš, kaže jedan od četvorice pripadnika Interventne policije u Policijskoj upravi virovitičko-podravskoj, pokazujući na video-snimku Border Violence Monitoringa, nevladine organizacije koja se zalaže za zaštitu prava migranata. Na tajno snimljenom videu, vide se pripadnici hrvatske policije kako, prema tvrdnjama Border Violence Monitoringa, u šumi kraj Lohova, unutar teritorije Bosne i Hercegove, protjeruju skupinu migranata prema Bihaću.

      Ta snimka prikazana je na više televizija kao jedan od dokaza nehumanog postupanja hrvatske policije prema migrantima, zbog čega su na račun Zagreba stigla i ozbiljna upozorenje iz Bruxellesa. Hrvatski MUP odbacio je takve tvrdnje kao neutemeljene.
      Tvrdnje koje zvuče upravo nevjerojatno

      No, ono što su, vezano uz migrante, Telegramu ispričali pripadnici virovitičke Interventne policije koji su sudjelovali na osiguranju državne granice, zvuči upravo nevjerojatno: “Hrvatska je policija, tvrde naši sugovornici, u nekoliko navrata ulazila na teritorij susjedne BiH da bi odatle potjerala migrante u Hrvatsku, a onda ih deportirala!”

      Zašto bi to radili? Razlog je, kažu virovitički interventni policajci, više nego prozaičan: “boravak na terenu financijski je unosan. Na taj način mjesečno mogu zaraditi nekoliko tisuća kuna više, pa treba dokazati da se na granici nešto radi”, tvrde naši sugovornici. “Tako se migrante prvo iz BiH potjera u Hrvatsku, a zatim natrag. Deportiranje se, naravno, dokumentira video snimkama, kako bi se dokazala nužnost pojačanih policijskih ophodnju iz granicu”, dodaju.
      Iz MUP-a su potvrdili anonimnu predstavku

      Četvorica pripadnika interventne policije s kojima je Telegram razgovarao ovih dana, stoje iza predstavke upućene MUP-u u kojoj iznose brojne optužbe na račun Andreja Hegediša, zapovjednika virovitičke Interventne policije. Iz MUP-a su 3. rujna Telegramu potvrdili da su primili anonimnu predstavku.

      ”Potvrđujemo zaprimanje anonimnih podnesaka te Služba za unutarnju kontrolu u suradnji s policijskim službenicima Ravnateljstva policije i Policijske uprave, sukladno Zakonu o policiji i Pravilniku o načinu rada i postupanja po pritužbama te radu Povjerenstava za rad po pritužbama, provjerava njihovu utemeljenost”, stoji u odgovoru Telegramu.
      Šef policije se napio pa nasrnuo na kolegu

      ”Također vas obavještavamo kako je, nakon provjere navoda iz ranijeg podneska, načelnik Policijske uprave virovitičko-podravske pokrenuo disciplinski postupak pred Odjelom prvostupanjskog disciplinskog sudovanja Službe disciplinskog sudovanja u Osijeku zbog sumnje u počinjene teže povrede službene dužnosti iz čl. 96. stavak 1. točke 7. Zakona o policiji. Navedeni postupak je u tijeku”, napisali su iz MUP-a.

      Kad je riječ o potonjem, radi se o slučaju o kojem je prvi pisao Telegram i koji je do tada javnosti bio nepoznat. Naime, 20. prosinca prošle godine, na božićnom domjenku za čelne ljude Policijske uprave virovitičko-podravske, zapovjednik Interventne jedinice policije, Andrej Hegediš, fizički je nasrnuo na svog kolegu, načelnika Policijske postaje Pitomača, Renata Greguraša. Ali, načelnik virovitičke Policijske uprave, Siniša Knežević, koji je sve to vidio, disciplinski je postupak protiv Hegediša pokrenuo tek tri mjeseca nakon događaja.
      Odlasci u McDonald’s i zubaru u Zagreb

      Dvojica od četvorice Telegramovih sugovornika, bivših i aktivnih pripadnika Interventne policije, kažu da su također bili žrtve Hegediševih nasrtaja i pokušaja fizičkog napada. Neki od njih zbog toga su tražili premještaj. U predstavci koju je Telegram imao prilike vidjeti, navode se i druge pritužbe na njegov rad, a zbog čega je unutarnja kontrola MUP-a prošloga tjedna dva dana provela u Virovitici. No, kako neslužbeno doznajemo, njihov izvještaj ne bi trebao zabrinuti Hegediša. Štoviše, kaže jedan od naših izvora, sada se pokušava istražiti tko su autori anonimne predstavke.

      Jedna od optužbi na koju su se interventni policajci žalili odnosi se, kako tvrde, na zapovjednikovo korištenje službenog automobila u posve privatne svrhe, kao što je odlazak zubaru u Zagreb ili u restoran McDonald’s u Sisak. ”Ako postoji volja, lako je istražiti kako si je zapovjednik Interventne obračunavao prekovremeni rad i u vrijeme kada je već četiri sata bio u Mađarskoj, na privatnom putu prema zračnoj luci u Budimpešti. Treba samo pročešljati popis prekovremenih sati i usporediti to s vremenom kada je napustio granični prijelaz, pa će sve biti jasno. No, bojimo se da u policiji, zbog politike ‘ne talasaj’, za to nitko nema volje”, kažu sugovornici Telegrama iz interventne policije u Virovitici.

      ‘Natjerao me da ostavim ministra i vozim njega’

      Upravo je nevjerojatan podatak kojeg su nam iznijeli, kada je kažu, jedan njihov kolega, morao napustiti osiguranje štićene osobe i uputiti se u Slatinu, gdje zapovjednik Hegediš živi, da bi ga prevezao u bazu, u Viroviticu. Radilo se o osiguranju i obilasku kuće tadašnjeg potpredsjednika Vlade i ministra poljoprivrede, Tomislava Tolušića, kao i nekoliko zgrada u kojima bi znao odsjedati kada dolazi u Viroviticu. Hegediš se na to nije osvrtao, kažu Telegramovi sugovornici, već je policajcu naredio da prekine posao na osiguranju štićene osobe i preveze ga u Viroviticu.

      Detaljno su opisali i navodno samovolju svog zapovjednika Hegediša, zbog čega je nekoliko policajaca zatražilo premještaj. Nabrajaju imena svojih kolega koji su zbog mobinga napustili Interventnu policiju. ”Dok se njegovim poslušnicima i miljenicima sve tolerira, drugima se traži dlaka u jajetu i protiv njih se, i zbog najmanje sitnice, pokreću stegovni postupci”, kažu.
      ‘Miljenici mu pomagali u selidbi, usred radnog vremena’

      Opisuju slučaj, u kojem je nekoliko interventnih policajaca, u radnom vremenu, svom zapovjedniku pomagalo kada je iz jedne kuće selio u drugu. Akciju preseljenja, kažu, vodio je J. J.. No, naročito su ogorčeni na svog kolegu D. S., kojem je Hegediš, kažu, pomogao u zataškavanju obiteljskog nasilja i nedoličnog ponašanja, kada se na području između Kutjeva i Orahovice, u alkoholiziranom stanju, nasilnički ponašao prema supruzi, zaustavio automobil u šumi, ostavio je i otišao.

      Njegova supruga tada je, tvrde, zvala Operativno komunikacijski centar (OKC) u virovitičkoj Policijskoj upravi, prijavila slučaj obiteljskog nasilja, a postupak su proveli policajci iz Orahovice. No, slučaj je zataškan, tvrde sugovornici Telegrama, tako što je Hegediš zatražio da se u tom slučaju ne postupa. Sve, kažu, mogu potvrditi tada dežurni u OKC D. Č. i dežurni u jedinici u Virovitici M. V.. Imena svih osoba čije inicijale navodimo poznata su redakciji.

      ”Našem zapovjedniku unatoč svemu ništa se ne događa i bojimo se da ni dolazak unutarnje kontrole MUP-a neće ništa promijeniti”, kažu sugovornici Telegrama. Zatražili smo i komentar zapovjednika Hegediša, ali nije odgovorio na našu poruku. Kada je Telegram pisao o njegovu fizičkom nasrtaju na načelnika Policijske postaje u Pitomači, također ništa nije htio komentirati. Samo je rekao da kao policijski službenik ne smije javno istupati.

      https://www.telegram.hr/politika-kriminal/policajci-iz-virovitice-prijavljuju-sefa-ilegalno-tjera-migrante-tuce-se-pi

      #Andrej_Hegedis

      –—

      Commentaire reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 29.09.2020

      Telegram, on the other hand, published the testimony of intervention police officers in Virovitica, who identified their chief #Andrej_Hegediš as one of the police officers on a BVMN video about an illegal expulsion published in December 2018. They also claimed that refugees and other migrants were expelled from BiH to Croatia and back. The Ministry of the Interior confirmed to Telegram that it had received an anonymous complaint, and Virovitica police officers accused Hegediš of other violations of police powers, including violence against police officers.

    • Bosnie-Herzégovine : les migrants pris en #otages du mille-feuille institutionnel

      La complexité du système institutionnel bosnien ne joue pas en faveur des réfugiés. Le 30 septembre dernier, les autorités du canton d’#Una-Sava et celles de la municipalité de #Bihać ont pris la décision unilatérale d’évacuer le #camp de #Bira, à la grande surprise du ministère de la Sécurité intérieure. Depuis, tout le monde se refile la patate chaude : que faire de ces centaines de personnes qui dorment tous les soirs dans les rues ?
      Le ton monte entre les représentants du canton d’Una-Sava et ceux de l’État central de Bosnie-Herzégovine. « Ils vont devoir utiliser les infrastructures qui sont à leur disposition, dans leur intérêt et dans celui des habitants du canton d’Una-Sana », a sèchement expliqué Selmo Cikotić, le ministre de la Sécurité intérieur, qui réagissait aux propos de Mustafa Ružnić, le président du canton d’Una-Sana, et à ceux du maire de Bihać, Šuhret Fazlić. Ces derniers avaient déclaré qu’ils ne permettraient pas le retour des migrants à Bira, le centre d’hébergement de Bihać vidé par les autorités cantonales le 30 septembre dernier. Suite à l’intervention de la police, certains exilés avaient été laissés libres de se diriger vers la frontière croate, d’autres avaient été conduits dans le camp de #Lipa, situé à une trentaine de kilomètres de Bihać, et ceux qui voulaient revenir vers Sarajevo avaient été autorisés à acheter des tickets de bus pour la capitale. Le camp de Lipa étant déjà plein, les migrants avaient ensuite été laissés dans les rues, sans aucun abris.

      Selon Selmo Cikotić, différentes mesures ont été prises pour fermer définitivement les camps de Bira à Bihać et de #Miral à #Velika_Kladuša. Le ministre peine donc à comprendre le refus des élus locaux de ne pas autoriser le retour temporaire des migrants. « Le plan du ministère de la Sécurité intérieure était en accord avec les institutions internationales et les différentes structures bosniennes », assure-t-il. « Nous avions tout organisé en accord avec la présidence, avec les instances internationales, les lois bosniennes, le conseil municipal de Velika Kladuša, les autorités cantonales et les représentants de l’Union européenne (UE). Le volte-face des autorités cantonales est donc pour moi très surprenant. Le camp de Bira devait de toute façon être fermé d’ici trois à quatre semaines, sans porter préjudice aux migrants ni aux habitants du canton. Je ne comprends pas pourquoi le Premier ministre du canton et le maire de Bihać ont précipité les choses. »

      « Cela fait trois ans que la municipalité est abandonnée à son sort », s’emporte Šuhret Fazlić. « C’est terminé, aucun migrant ne reviendra à Bira et nous appliquerons cette décision par tous les moyens à notre disposition. Je ne fais pas comme s’il n’y avait pas de migrants dans notre région, je dis juste qu’il n’y en aura plus à Bira. Nous avons assuré à ces gens un toit dans le camp de Lipa ». Selon le maire de Bihać, ce centre n’est pas encore plein, mais « la crise de l’accueil des migrants a mis à jour absolument tout ce qui ne fonctionne pas au sein de l’État bosnien ».L’évacuation du camp de Bira a en tout cas provoqué de nombreuses réactions. L’ambassade des États-Unis en Bosnie-Herzégovine, l’Organisation Internationale des Migrations (OIM), les Nations-Unies et Amnesty International sont unanimes : le camp de Bira ne peut être laissé vide, tant que des migrants dorment dans les rues. Dans un communiqué daté du 1er octobre, l’UE a jugé « inacceptable » la décision du canton et de la mairie de Bihać de transférer par la force les migrants vers le camp de Lipa. « L’UE a sans cesse répété que Lipa ne pouvait être qu’une solution temporaire, pendant la pandémie de coronavirus, et que ce centre ne remplissait pas les conditions nécessaires à l’accueil de réfugiés et de migrants, en particulier avec l’arrivée de l’hiver. Jamais Lipa n’a été agréé comme un centre d’accueil », précise le communiqué. Selon Šuhret Fazlić, l’UE menace de sanctions pénales la mairie de Bihać et les autorités du canton d’#Una-Sava.

      Un problème financier ?

      Reste que les désaccords persistent entre les autorités locales et le ministère de la Sécurité intérieure, alors que tous sont sous pression pour trouver rapidement une solution. « Il faut aménager le camp de Lipa », souhaite Šuhret Fazlić. « L’électricité vient d’un groupe électrogène, il faudrait 200 000 euros pour que le camp soit raccordé au réseau. L’eau est puisée dans une source, et provient en partie de notre réseau. Il faudrait 140 000 euros pour avoir assez d’eau, les canalisations existent déjà. Avec un peu moins de 350 000, on pourrait donc assurer les approvisionnements en eau et en électricité. Je ne vois pas pourquoi cela ne serait pas faisable. »

      La municipalité a donné cinq hectares de terre pour construire le camp et a pris en charge, avec l’aide du canton, une partie des frais de fonctionnement, ce que l’UE avait demandé. L’argent de l’État bosnien se fait en revanche attendre, car le Conseil des ministres n’a toujours pris aucune décision en ce qui concerne la fermeture du camp de Bira et l’ouverture de celui de Lipa. Deux millions et demi d’euros prévus pour l’accueil des migrants n’ont donc pas pu être débloqués. Selmo Cikotić estime ainsi que le problème n’est pas financier mais politique.

      Reste que pour l’instant, pas un euro n’a été débloqué pour le financement du camp de Lipa. « La présidence avait décidé de verser 2,5 millions d’euros, mais le Conseil des ministres n’a toujours pas pris la décision d’agréer Lipa comme un centre d’accueil, ni celle de fermer Bira. Je ne sais même pas s’il existe un consensus sur ces questions », s’agace le maire de Bihać.

      La société privée Bira, propriétaire du hangar où ont séjourné les migrants, n’a pas répondu aux questions de Radio Slobodna Evropa sur leur éventuel retour. « Nous ne sommes pas en capacité de vous répondre car le président du conseil d’administration n’est actuellement pas en état d’assurer ses obligations professionnelles. Pour toute précision, adressez-vous à l’OIM », a-t-elle répondu. Le principal actionnaire de Bira a également refusé de fournir des précisions sur la durée du contrat de location du hangar.


      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Bosnie-Herzegovine-migrants-otages-mille-feuille-institutionnel-b

      #Bihac #Velika_Kladusa

    • Croatian police accused of ’sickening’ assaults on migrants on Balkans trail

      Testimony from asylum seekers alleging brutal border pushbacks, including sexual abuse, adds to calls for EU to investigate

      People on the Balkans migrant trail have allegedly been whipped, robbed and, in one case, sexually abused by members of the Croatian police.

      The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has documented a series of brutal pushbacks on the Bosnia-Croatian border involving dozens of asylum seekers between 12 and 16 October.

      The Guardian has obtained photographs and medical reports that support the accounts, described by aid workers as “sickening” and “shocking”.

      “The testimonies collected from victims of pushbacks are horrifying,’’ said Charlotte Slente, DRC secretary general. “More than 75 persons in one week have all independently reported inhumane treatment, savage beatings and even sexual abuse.’’

      According to migrants’ accounts, the pushbacks occurred in Croatian territory over the border from Velika Kladuša in Bosnia, close to Šiljkovača – a tented forest settlement of around 700 refugees and migrants.

      “All of the persons interviewed by DRC bore visible injuries from beatings (bruises and cuts), as a result of alleged Croatian police violence,” reads the DRC report. “According to the statements provided by interviewed victims (with visible evidence of their injuries), pushbacks included brutal and extremely violent behaviour, degrading treatment, and theft and destruction of personal belongings.” One of the testimonies includes a report of serious sexual abuse.

      On 12 October, five Afghans, including two minors, crossed the Croatian border near the #Šturlić settlement. On the same day, near Novo Selo, an uniformed police officer stopped them and then called two more officers. One of the migrants ran, and the other four were detained at a police station. Two days later they were taken to court, where they say they were to “appear as witnesses in the case launched against the fifth member of the group – the one who escaped”, who had been accused of violent behaviour towards police.

      The asylum seekers told the DRC that the original officers then took them “to some unknown location, where they were put in a van in the charge of 10 armed people, dressed in black and with full face balaclavas, army boots and with flashlights on their foreheads”. Their money was taken, their belongings torched and they were ordered to strip to their underwear. The migrants allege that they were forced to lie face down on the ground.

      “One man in black was standing on the victim’s hands, preventing any movements,” reads the report. “Legs were also restrained. Once the person was hampered, the beating started. They were punched, kicked, whipped and beaten.” Medical reports confirm that migrants’ injuries are consistent with the use of a whip.

      One migrant, MK, says at this point he was sexually assaulted by a man using a branch.

      Mustafa Hodžić, a doctor in Velika Kladuša, examined the man. “The patient had wounds all over the back of his body, on his back and legs. I can confirm the signs of clear sexual violence … I have never seen anything like it. Even if it isn’t the first time as a doctor [that] I have seen signs of sexual violence on migrants, which, according the asylum seekers’ accounts, were perpetrated on Croatian territory by Croatian officials dressed in black uniforms.”

      One Pakistani migrant told of being intercepted with two others near Croatia’s Blata railway station. The police allegedly ordered them to strip naked before loading them into a van and taking them to a sort of garage, where five other migrants were waiting to be sent back to Bosnia. Awaiting their arrival were men dressed in black.

      “They started to beat us with batons, and the third one took his mobile phone and took a selfie with us without clothes,” the Pakistani man said. “The first four of us were on the ground, and we lay next to each other, naked and beaten, and the other four were ordered to lie on us, like when trees are stacked, so we lay motionless for 20 minutes. The last one was a minor. He was from the other group; I saw when the police officer ask him where he was from. He tried to say that he is a minor. He was beaten a lot, and when it was his turn to take off his clothes, he was beaten even more.”

      One man added: “A minor from the second group fainted after many blows. His friends took him in their arms, and one of the police officers ordered them to lay him down on the ground. Then they started hitting them with batons. Before the deportation, police told us: ‘We don’t care where you are from or if you will return to Bosnia or to your country, but you will not go to Croatia. Now you have all your arms and legs because we were careful how we hit you. Next time it will be worse’.’’

      Small groups of asylum seekers attempt to cross from Bosnia into Croatia nightly on the migrant trail into western Europe. The EU’s longest internal border, it is patrolled by police armed with truncheons, pistols and night vision goggles. Aid workers, doctors, border guards and UN officials have documented systematic abuse and violence perpetrated along the border stretch for several years.

      Last May, the Guardian documented a case of more than 30 migrants who were allegedly robbed and had their heads spray painted with red crosses by Croatian officers.

      The UNHCR has asked the Croatian government to set up an independent assessment of the border situation.

      The details of the latest pushback are in a report that the DRC has shared with the European commission, which has yet to investigate.

      ‘’The Croatian government and the European commission must act to put a stop to the systematic use of violence,” said Slente. ‘’Treating human beings like this, inflicting severe pain and causing unnecessary suffering, irrespective of their migratory status, cannot and should not be accepted by any European country, or by any EU institution. There is an urgent need to ensure that independent border monitoring mechanisms are in place to prevent these abuses.”

      Croatian police and the ministry of the interior have not responded to requests for comment.

      In June, the Guardian revealed EU officials were accused of an “outrageous cover-up” for withholding evidence of the Croatian government’s failure to supervise border forces. Internal emails showed Brussels officials were fearful of full disclosure of Croatia’s lack of commitment to a monitoring mechanism that EU ministers had agreed to fund.

      In January, a commission official warned a colleague that Croatia’s failure to use money earmarked two years ago for border police “will for sure be seen as a scandal”.

      The recent accusations come as the commission presented its final report on the grant, in which Croatia asserted that the co-financing project had “helped make the implementation of activities of border surveillance more conscientious and of higher quality, with emphasis on the respect of migrants’ rights guaranteed under international, European and national legislation”.

      Regarding allegations of abuse, Croatian authorities stated: “Every single [piece of] information and every single complaint was inspected in the process called internal control. We did not establish that the police officers committed any criminal or disciplinary offence in any of the cases.”

      Clare Daly, an Irish MEP, is among those who have raised concerns in Brussels. “The blood of these people, so horrifically mistreated on the Croatian border, is on the hands of the European commission. They have enabled this violation of fundamental rights by ignoring the facts presented to them by NGOs and MEPs that all was not well. They turned a blind eye time and again, and now these horrible events have occurred again, even worse than before.”

      She added: “The last time such behaviour occurred, the commission rewarded Croatia with an extra grant even bigger than the first one, and said they were happy with how the funds had been spent … when is someone going to be held accountable for these crimes against humanity?”

      https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/oct/21/croatian-police-accused-of-sickening-assaults-on-migrants-on-balkans-tr

      –----

      See the report of Border Violence Monitoring Network (October 21) with photos and videos:
      Croatian authorities leading choreographed violence near #Cetingrad

      In the last fourteen days, BVMN-member No Name Kitchen have collected testimonies alluding to a spike in pushback violence in the Cetingrad area of the Croatian border with Bosnia-Herzegovina. The veracity of these testimonies is further supplemented with reports from local people and media outlets. The characteristics of this trend in violence have been complex and coordinated assaults by Croatian police, consisting of repetitive baton strikes, lashing and kicking. These tactics leave an indelible mark on returned transit groups, visible in the extensive bruising and lacerations across the legs, torso and upper body of people subject to such violence. First hand testimony of recent pushbacks are examined here, alongside pictures and videos from the HR/BiH border which reveal the deterioration in border violence seen in the last fortnight.


      https://www.borderviolence.eu/15983-2

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6JnnUfpulA&feature=emb_logo

      #Novo_Selo #Sturlic

  • Réfugiés : les Balkans jouent les « #chiens_de-garde » de l’UE

    La #Serbie a commencé durant l’été à construire une barrière de barbelés sur sa frontière avec la #Macédoine_du_Nord. Officiellement pour empêcher la propagation de la Covid-19... #Jasmin_Rexhepi, qui préside l’ONG Legis, dénonce la dérive sécuritaire des autocrates balkaniques. Entretien.

    D. Kožul (D.K.) : Que pensez-vous des raisons qui ont poussé la Serbie à construire une barrière à sa frontière avec la Macédoine du Nord ? Officiellement, il s’agit de lutter contre la propagation de l’épidémie de coronavirus. Or, on sait que le nombre de malades est minime chez les réfugiés...

    Jasmin Rexhepi (J.R.) : C’est une mauvaise excuse trouvée par un communicant. On construit des barbelés aux frontières des pays des Balkans depuis 2015. Ils sont posés par des gouvernements ultra-conservateurs, pour des raisons populistes. Les réfugiés ne sont pas une réelle menace sécuritaire pour nos pays en transition, ils ne sont pas plus porteurs du virus que ne le sont nos citoyens, et les barbelés n’ont jamais été efficaces contre les migrations.

    “Faute de pouvoir améliorer la vie de leurs citoyens, les populistes conservateurs se réfugient dans une prétendue défense de la nation contre des ennemis imaginaires.”

    D.K. : Peut-on parler d’une « orbanisation » des pays des Balkans occidentaux ? Quelle est la position à ce sujet des autorités de Macédoine du Nord ?

    J.R. : Tous les pays des Balkans aimeraient rejoindre l’Union européenne (UE), cela ne les empêche pas d’élever des barbelés sur leurs frontières mutuelles, ce qui est contraire aux principes européens de solidarité et d’unité. Quand les dirigeants populistes conservateurs ne peuvent offrir de progrès et d’avancées à leurs citoyens, ils se réfugient dans une prétendue défense de l’État, de la nation et de la religion contre des ennemis imaginaires. Dans le cas présent, ce sont les réfugiés, les basanés et les musulmans qui sont visés, mais il y a eu d’autres boucs émissaires par le passé.

    La Hongrie a ouvert la danse, mais elle n’est pas la seule, il y a eu aussi l’Autriche, la Bulgarie et la Macédoine du Nord en 2016, quand Gruevski était au pouvoir, et maintenant, malheureusement, c’est au tour de la Serbie. La xénophobie des dirigeants de ces États se voit clairement dans leurs discours. La barrière en question n’inquiète toutefois pas outre mesure les dirigeants macédoniens, car ils savent que rien de tout cela n’empêche réellement les migrations, et que ce ne sont pas des barbelés qui vont maintenir les réfugiés de notre côté de la frontière. Surtout pas maintenant qu’ils ont été habitués aux déportations de masse.

    D.K. : Certains disent que cette barrière pourrait couvrir la totalité de la frontière serbo-macédonienne, soit presque 150 km. Cela peut-il freiner les migrations ?

    J.R. : Tout d’abord, il est physiquement impossible d’installer une telle barrière dans les montagnes. À quoi bon couper tant d’arbres, détruire la nature ? Cette barrière ne s’étendra que dans les plaines, comme dans beaucoup d’autres pays. Là où, de toute façon, il n’y a déjà pas grand monde qui passe. La majorité des voies migratoires empruntent des routes de montagnes, qu’il est physiquement difficile de contrôler. C’est d’ailleurs pour cela que beaucoup de migrants entrent en Macédoine du Nord, parce qu’ils peuvent passer par les montagnes. Quant aux autres, ils coupent tout simplement les barbelés.

    “Ceinte de barbelés, l’Europe du XXIe siècle mène une politique hypocrite.”

    D.K. : Les pays des Balkans acceptent-ils de jouer le rôle de chien de garde de l’UE ? Il n’y a aucun pourtant aucune demande officielle de Bruxelles pour la construction de barrières physiques...

    J.R. : L’UE n’a jamais demandé officiellement la construction de barbelés. Ce sont certains de ses États membres ayant pris la responsabilité de « défendre » l’Europe qui ont imposé cette pratique, et offert des barbelés aux pays d’Europe du Sud-Est. C’est ainsi que la route des Balkans a été bloquée en mars 2016, sur la décision de l’Autriche, parce que l’Allemagne commençait soi-disant à refouler les réfugiés, et pas du fait d’une décision officielle des institutions européennes. De même, l’accord entre l’UE et la Turquie, survenu à la même période, a d’abord été signé par un pays de l’UE, qui a ensuite convaincu les autres de faire de même. Ceci étant, les barbelés facilitent le travail des patrouilles de Frontex, l’agence de l’Union européenne chargée du contrôle et de la gestion des frontières extérieures de l’espace Schengen. La position de l’UE n’est donc pas unifiée, d’où l’impression que cette Europe du XXIe siècle, ceinte de barbelés, mène une politique hypocrite et refuse d’assumer ses responsabilités.

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/refugies-balkans-chiens-de-garde-UE
    #réfugiés #asile #migrations #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #externalisation #murs #barrière_frontalière #frontières

    –—

    sur le mur entre Serbie et Macédoine :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/872957

  • Un mur en Serbie...

    Last week, we wrote how Serbian authorities, in complete secrecy, started the construction of a razor-wire fence in the South to prevent the irregular entry of refugees from North Macedonia. The photos which first appeared on the Asylum Protection Center’s (APC) Twitter account show that the fence is being set up from #Presevo to the east, along the border with North Macedonia. It’s worrying how the Serbian local authorities interpret this action as a “one step forward in the Europeanization process” of the country (https://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/srbija-dize-zicanu-ogradu-na-granici-sa-severnom-makedonijom/30789825.html). At the same time, Serbian NGOs have registered an increase in number of pushbacks, specifically Asylum Protection Center (APC) is recording an increase in the return of people to North Macedonia.

    Le tweet du Asylum Protection Center:


    https://twitter.com/APC_CZA/status/1293865742153261056

    Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 24.08.2020
    #frontières #murs #barrières_frontalières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Balkans #Macédoine #refoulements #push-backs #Balkans #route_des_Balkans

    • La Serbie clôture sa frontière avec la Macédoine du Nord

      18 août - 18h30 :

      #clôture métallique sur sa frontière avec la #Macédoine_du_Nord, près de #Preševo. Le maire de cette commune, #Shqiprim_Arifi, a confirmé à Radio Free Europe que la construction de cette clôture faisait partie d’un accord avec l’Union européenne (UE). « Nous pensons que la clôture a pour fonction de sécuriser davantage les frontières des pays extérieurs à l’UE face aux réfugiés, qui vont finir par revenir de manière massive sur la route des Balkans. » Shqiprim Arifi ajoute qu’il a « personnellement de sérieuses réserves » sur cette façon de traiter les réfugiés. Les autorités serbes refusent de communiquer toute information sur cette clôture.

      Source : dernières info du Courrier des Balkans —> https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/les-dernieres-infos-refugies-balkans

    • La barrière frontalière est mentionnée dans cet entretien de #Jasmin_Rexhepi pour le Courrier des Balkans :

      La #Serbie a commencé durant l’été à construire une barrière de barbelés sur sa frontière avec la #Macédoine_du_Nord. Officiellement pour empêcher la propagation de la Covid-19... #Jasmin_Rexhepi, qui préside l’ONG Legis, dénonce la dérive sécuritaire des autocrates balkaniques. Entretien.

      D. Kožul (D.K.) : Que pensez-vous des raisons qui ont poussé la Serbie à construire une barrière à sa frontière avec la Macédoine du Nord ? Officiellement, il s’agit de lutter contre la propagation de l’épidémie de coronavirus. Or, on sait que le nombre de malades est minime chez les réfugiés...

      Jasmin Rexhepi (J.R.) : C’est une mauvaise excuse trouvée par un communicant. On construit des barbelés aux frontières des pays des Balkans depuis 2015. Ils sont posés par des gouvernements ultra-conservateurs, pour des raisons populistes. Les réfugiés ne sont pas une réelle menace sécuritaire pour nos pays en transition, ils ne sont pas plus porteurs du virus que ne le sont nos citoyens, et les barbelés n’ont jamais été efficaces contre les migrations.

      “Faute de pouvoir améliorer la vie de leurs citoyens, les populistes conservateurs se réfugient dans une prétendue défense de la nation contre des ennemis imaginaires.”

      https://seenthis.net/messages/877066