• From Sea To Prison. The Criminalization of Boat Drivers in Italy

    Freedom of movement is a right, not a crime. But over the past decade, Italy has arrested thousands of people in connection with driving migrant boats across the Mediterranean Sea. Our report describes their journeys from sea to prison, examining and taking a stand against the criminalization of migration.

    Italy has spent decades pursuing people who have done nothing other than drive a boat of migrants towards its shores, utilizing criminal law, undercover police operations and emergency anti-Mafia powers to re-enforce Europe’s border regime.

    We have spoken to hundreds of people involved – persons accused of boat driving, ex-prisoners, lawyers, researchers, activists, judges and members of the police and Coast Guard – and studied dozens of court sentences to reveal the full extent of Italy’s process of criminalizing migration.
    Life sentences

    The prison sentences that have been issued range from 2 years to 20 years – and sometimes even more. Of the nearly 1,000 cases we have discovered through a systematic media review, we have found 24 people with prison sentences of over 10 years, and 6 people who have received life sentences.
    Imprisoning refugees

    Boat drivers come from many countries, and are often migrants and refugees too. In 2018 and 2019, the police arrested around one person for every hundred migrants who arrived.

    From a review of nearly one thousand cases, we estimate that over a third of the arrestees are from North Africa, 20% from Eastern Europe and 20% from West Africa. Many of the West and North African citizens arrested and imprisoned in Italy were forced to drive boats from Libya, a country they were fleeing from. In the case of the Eastern European boat drivers, many recount that they were tricked into people smuggling.
    Criminalization causes deaths

    Italy, the EU and the UN have consistently claimed that arresting boat drivers is a way of cracking down on human smuggling, in order to prevent deaths at sea. But our report demonstrates that criminalizing boat drivers has actually contributed to some of the worst maritime disasters in recent history.
    Our report examines:

    – available official data on the arrest and imprisonment of boat drivers
    - nearly 1,000 cases reported by the Italian media over the last 10 years
    - how the Italian law has been consistently modified over the last 25 years to criminalize and persecute boat drivers
    - the different kinds of boat drivers punished under the law, including those forced to drive boats under threats and violence
    - how all the sea routes into Italy have been criminalized: from Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Greece and Albania
    - how boat drivers are identified at sea on the basis of faulty photography and unreliable witnesses
    - court cases that fail to protect the rights of arrestees, sentencing people on flimsy evidence with little access to defense
    - how the Italian prison system fails to protect the rights of foreign prisoners, and how boat drivers are prevented from accessing house arrest
    – the social and economic consequences for boat drivers after leaving prison – even if they are found innocent

    Our report demonstrates that:

    – criminalization of migrant boat drivers in Italy has consistently increased over the last 25 years, especially since 2015.
    - criminalizing boat drivers does not prevent deaths at sea – it contributes to shipwrecks and maritime disasters
    - the consequences of being arrested as a boat driver has a serious impact on people’s lives – even if the charges are dropped
    - the rights of imprisoned boat drivers are being overlooked: contact with families is often non-existent, there are almost no translators in the Italian prison system, and access to adequate defense is not protected.

    #Italie #scafisti #criminalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Méditerranée #Mer_Méditerranée #criminalisation_de_la_migration
    #rapport #ARCI_Porco_Rosso

    • Migrants: thousands of boat drivers arrested in Italy, new report shows

      Exclusive new report by activists and NGOs reveals scale of Europe’s attack on migration.

      More than 2,500 people have been arrested in Italy for people smuggling over the last 10 years, even when they have done nothing more than drive a boat across the Mediterranean Sea. Hundreds of them are languishing in prisons across Italy, a report released today by ARCI Porco Rosso and Alarm Phone demonstrates.

      It is the first time that public data on arrests of boat drivers has been pulled together and analyzed. Over the past year, Italian police have arrested as many as one migrant for every 100 people who have arrived in Italy by sea, accusing them of ‘facilitating illegal immigration’, a crime that can lead to 15 years imprisonment and millions of Euros in fines. In some cases – when migrants have died during the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea – prison sentences have reached 30 years or even life

      The report reviews around 1,000 cases of migrants who have been arrested for people smuggling. Italian law says that anyone who helps migrants enter the country irregularly can face years in prison – even if the accused have done nothing more than drive a boat, and even if they too are migrants.

      Cheikh Sene, a community organizer with ‘Porco Rosso’, who worked on the report, said:
      “I did two years in prison for driving a boat. I saved those people’s lives, we had no choice. Now we want to fight for the freedom and human rights of
      other migrants unjustly in prison."

      “Migrants come to Europe because Europeans are in our countries, everyone should have the right to move where they want to, we’re all humans”, Sene continued.
      The authors spoke to a hundred people for the research - including dozens of criminalized boat drivers, as well as lawyers, judges, members of the Italian Coast
      Guard and prison workers.

      Many migrants are found guilty even when court evidence is extremely weak, the report details. Maria Giulia Fava, a paralegal who co-wrote the report, said:
      “These are politically charged trials. In the man-hunt for a scapegoat, someone to blame for the death and disaster, normal guarantees of a fair
      trial are set aside. The very principles that should be the foundation of criminal law are simply forgotten.”

      The imprisoned migrants come from many different countries. Today’s report estimates that 35% come from North Africa, 20% from West African countries, and
      another 20% from Eastern Europe. These include people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Libya, Senegal, Syria and Ukraine.

      The criminalization of migrant boat drivers is part of an increasingly worrying trend in Italy as well as the rest of Europe, where both migrants and those in solidarity with them, including NGO rescue ships, have been subjected to criminal investigations.

      Sara Traylor, an activist from ‘Alarm Phone’ commented:
      “Criminalizing migration is simply part of a violent border system that we need to abolish. Europe needs to acknowledge and take responsibility for its unjust and deadly migration policies, and the consequences these have on the lives of the people they affect. Sending people to jail isn’t going to stop migration or make it any safer.”

      Read the report online: fromseatoprison.info

      For questions on the report or a comment on the findings, contact Richard at
      arciporcorosso@gmail.com or on +393245820120.

      ARCI Porco Rosso is a cultural center and migrant solidarity project in Palermo, Italy.
      Alarm Phone is a transnational network of activists that run a hotline to support people in distress in the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Épisode 1 : Des bénévoles dans les airs face à l’agence européenne de garde-frontières et garde-côtes, Frontex

    Depuis 2018, l’ONG Pilotes Volontaires survole le large des côtes libyennes pour localiser les bateaux de fortune en détresse qu’empruntent les migrants pour tenter de rejoindre l’Europe.

    José Benavente fait ce triste constat : « les agences européennes comme Frontex espéraient que mettre un terme à l’opération "Mare Nostrum" rendraient les traversées plus difficiles et opéreraient un effet de dissuasion pour les migrants qui tentent de traverser la mer ». Or depuis leur petit #avion_d'observation, le #Colibri_2, ils aident les bateaux qui sont évidemment toujours présents dans la zone à opérer des sauvetages plus rapidement.

    D’autres avions, ceux de Frontex notamment, transitent aussi par là pour permettre aux gardes côtes libyens d’opérer toujours plus d’interceptions synonymes d’un retour en enfer pour les migrants qui tentent justement de fuir coûte que coûte ce pays en proie à la guerre civile. Comme le regrette Charles Heller « les migrants fuient la Libye, où ils sont réduits à l’esclavage, aux travaux forcés, à la torture. Les migrants sont devenus un objet qui circule de main en main, que ce soit les milices ou les centres de détention de l’Etat. Aucune opération de secours en mer dans la zone libyenne ne peut effectivement être terminée de manière adéquate et respectueuse du droit international, dès lors que les passagers sont ramenés dans un pays où leur vie est en danger ».

    Surveillance et interception d’un côté, contre #surveillance et #sauvetage de l’autre, ce documentaire retrace l’histoire récente de ce qui se trame dans les airs et en mer depuis l’arrêt en 2014 de l’opération "Mare Nostrum" initiée par la marine italienne et qui avait permis de sauver des dizaines de milliers de vies car comme le rappelle Charles Heller : « l’Union européenne a sciemment créé ce vide de secours d’abord, et ce système de refoulement indirect ensuite. Et les avions de surveillance européens sont au cœur de ce dispositif » et José Benavente ajoute « lorsqu’on survole la Méditerranée, on n’est pas au-dessus d’un cimetière. On est littéralement au-dessus d’une fosse commune ».


    #pilotes_volontaires #sauvetage #mer #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #avions
    #audio #son #podcast


    sur les pilotes volontaires, voir aussi ce fil de discussion :

  • Mediterranean carcerality and acts of escape

    In recent years, migrants seeking refuge in Europe have faced capture and containment in the Mediterranean – the result of experimentation by EU institutions and member states.

    About two years ago, in June 2019, a group of 75 people found themselves stranded in the central Mediterranean Sea. The migrant group had tried to escape from Libya in order to reach Europe but was adrift at sea after running out of fuel. Monitored by European aerial assets, they saw a vessel on the horizon slowly moving toward them. When they were eventually rescued by the Maridive 601, an offshore supply vessel, they did not know that it would become their floating prison for nearly three weeks. Malta and Italy refused to allocate a port of safety in Europe, and, at first, the Tunisian authorities were equally unwilling to allow them to land.

    Over 19 days, the supply vessel turned from a floating refuge into an offshore carceral space in which the situation for the rescued deteriorated over time. Food and water were scarce, untreated injuries worsened, scabies spread, as did the desperation on board. The 75 people, among them 64 Bangladeshi migrants and dozens of minors, staged a protest on board, chanting: “We don’t need food, we don’t want to stay here, we want to go to Europe.”

    Reaching Europe, however, seemed increasingly unlikely, with Italy and Malta rejecting any responsibility for their disembarkation. Instead, the Tunisian authorities, the Bangladeshi embassy, and the #International_Organisation_for_Migration (#IOM) arranged not only their landing in Tunisia, but also the removal of most of them to their countries of origin. Shortly after disembarkation in the harbour of Zarzis, dozens of the migrants were taken to the runways of Tunis airport and flown out.

    In a recently published article in the journal Political Geography, I have traced the story of this particular migrant group and their zig-zagging trajectories that led many from remote Bangladeshi villages, via Dubai, Istanbul or Alexandria, to Libya, and eventually onto a supply vessel off the Tunisian coast. Although their situation was certainly unique, it also exemplified the ways in which the Mediterranean has turned into a ‘carceral seascape’, a space where people precariously on the move are to be captured and contained in order to prevent them from reaching European shores.

    While forms of migrant capture and containment have, of course, a much longer history in the European context, the past ten years have seen particularly dramatic transformations in the central Mediterranean Sea. When the Arab Uprisings ‘re-opened’ this maritime corridor in and after 2011, crossings started to increase significantly – about 156,000 people crossed to Europe on average every year between 2014 and 2017. Since then, crossings have dropped sharply. The annual average between 2018 and 2020 was around 25,000 people – a figure resembling annual arrivals in the period before the Arab Uprisings.

    One significant reason for this steep decrease in arrivals is the refoulement industry that EU institutions and member states have created, together with third-country allies. The capture of people seeking to escape to Europe has become a cruel trade, of which a range of actors profit. Although ‘refouling’ people on the move – thus returning them to places where they are at risk of facing torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment – violates international human rights laws and refugee conventions, these practices have become systemic and largely normalised, not least as the COVID pandemic has come to serve as a suitable justification to deter potential ‘Corona-spreaders’ and keep them contained elsewhere.

    That migrants face capture and containment in the Mediterranean is the result of years of experimentation on part of EU institutions and member states. Especially since 2018, Europe has largely withdrawn maritime assets from the deadliest areas but reinforced its aerial presence instead, including through the recent deployment of drones. In this way, European assets do not face the ‘risk’ of being forced into rescue operations any longer but can still monitor the sea from above and guide North African, in particular Libyan, speed boats to chase after escaping migrant boats. In consequence, tens of thousands have faced violent returns to places they sought to flee from.

    Just in 2021 alone, about 16,000 people have been caught at sea and forcibly returned to Libya in this way, already more than in the whole of 2020. In mid-June, a ‘push-back by proxy’ occurred, when the merchant vessel Vos Triton handed over 170 migrants to a Libyan coastguard vessel that then returned them to Tripoli, where they were imprisoned in a camp known for its horrendous conditions.

    The refoulment industry, and Mediterranean carcerality more generally, are underpinned by a constant flow of finances, technologies, equipment, discourses, and know-how, which entangles European and Libyan actors to a degree that it might make more sense to think of them as a collective Euro-Libyan border force.

    To legitimise war-torn and politically divided Libya as a ‘competent’ sovereign actor, able to govern the maritime expanse outside its territorial waters, the European Commission funded, and the Italian coastguard implemented, a feasibility study in 2017 to assess “the Libyan capacity in the area of Search and Rescue” (SAR). Shortly after, the Libyan ‘unity government’ declared its extensive Libyan SAR zone, a zone over which it would hold ‘geographical competence’. When the Libyan authorities briefly suspended the establishment of its SAR zone, given its inability to operate a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), an Italian navy vessel was stationed within Tripoli harbour, carrying out the functions of the Libyan MRCC.

    Since 2017, €57.2m from the EU Trust Fund for Africa has funded Libya’s ‘integrated border management’, on top of which hundreds of millions of euros were transferred by EU member states to Libyan authorities through bilateral agreements. Besides such financial support, EU member states have donated speed boats and surveillance technologies to control the Libyan SAR zone while officers from EU military project Operation Sophia and from European Border Agency Frontex have repeatedly provided training to the Libyan coastguards. When out to search for escaping migrants, the Libyan speed boats have relied on Europe’s ‘eyes in the sky’, the aerial assets of Frontex and EU member states. Migrant sightings from the sky would then be relayed to the Libyan assets at sea, also via WhatsApp chats in which Frontex personnel and Libyan officers exchange.

    Thinking of the Mediterranean as a carceral space highlights these myriad Euro-Libyan entanglements that often take place with impunity and little public scrutiny. It also shows how maritime carcerality is “often underscored by mobilities”. Indeed, systematic forms of migrant capture depend on the collaboration of a range of mobile actors at sea, on land, and in the sky. Despite their incessant movements and the fact that surveillance and interception operations are predominantly characterised as rescue operations, thousands of people have lost their lives at sea over recent years. Many have been left abandoned even in situations where their whereabouts were long known to European and North African authorities, often in cases when migrant boats were already adrift and thus unable to reach Europe on their own accord.

    At the same time, even in the violent and carceral Mediterranean Sea, a range of interventions have occurred that have prevented both deaths at sea and the smooth operation of the refoulment industry. NGO rescuers, activists, fishermen and, at times, merchant vessel crews have conducted mass rescues over recent years, despite being harassed, threatened and criminalised by Euro-Libyan authorities at every turn. Through their presence, they have documented and repeatedly ruptured the operations of the Euro-Libyan border force, shedding light on what is meant to remain hidden.

    Maybe most importantly, the Mediterranean’s carceral condition has not erased the possibility of migratory acts of escape. Indeed, tactics of border subversion adapt to changing carceral techniques, with many migrant boats seeking to cross the sea without being detected and to reach European coasts autonomously. As the UNHCR notes in reference to the maritime arrival of 34,000 people in Italy and Malta in 2020: “Only approximately 4,500 of those arriving by sea in 2020 had been rescued by authorities or NGOs on the high seas: the others were intercepted by the authorities close to shore or arrived undetected.”

    While most of those stuck on the Maridive supply vessel off Tunisia’s coast in 2019 were returned to countries of origin, some tried to cross again and eventually escaped Mediterranean carcerality. Despite Euro-North African attempts to capture and contain them, they moved on stubbornly, and landed their boats in Lampedusa.


    #enfermement #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #expérimentation #OIM #Tunisie #Zarzis #externalisation #migrerrance #carcéralité #refoulement #push-backs #Libye #Vos_Triton #EU_Trust_Fund_for_Africa #Trust_Fund #carceral_space

    via @isskein

  • Friends of the Traffickers Italy’s Anti-Mafia Directorate and the “Dirty Campaign” to Criminalize Migration

    Afana Dieudonne often says that he is not a superhero. That’s Dieudonne’s way of saying he’s done things he’s not proud of — just like anyone in his situation would, he says, in order to survive. From his home in Cameroon to Tunisia by air, then by car and foot into the desert, across the border into Libya, and onto a rubber boat in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Dieudonne has done a lot of surviving.

    In Libya, Dieudonne remembers when the smugglers managing the safe house would ask him for favors. Dieudonne spoke a little English and didn’t want trouble. He said the smugglers were often high and always armed. Sometimes, when asked, Dieudonne would distribute food and water among the other migrants. Other times, he would inform on those who didn’t follow orders. He remembers the traffickers forcing him to inflict violence on his peers. It was either them or him, he reasoned.

    On September 30, 2014, the smugglers pushed Dieudonne and 91 others out to sea aboard a rubber boat. Buzzing through the pitch-black night, the group watched lights on the Libyan coast fade into darkness. After a day at sea, the overcrowded dinghy began taking on water. Its passengers were rescued by an NGO vessel and transferred to an Italian coast guard ship, where officers picked Dieudonne out of a crowd and led him into a room for questioning.

    At first, Dieudonne remembers the questioning to be quick, almost routine. His name, his age, his nationality. And then the questions turned: The officers said they wanted to know how the trafficking worked in Libya so they could arrest the people involved. They wanted to know who had driven the rubber boat and who had held the navigation compass.

    “So I explained everything to them, and I also showed who the ‘captain’ was — captain in quotes, because there is no captain,” said Dieudonne. The real traffickers stay in Libya, he added. “Even those who find themselves to be captains, they don’t do it by choice.”

    For the smugglers, Dieudonne explained, “we are the customers, and we are the goods.”

    For years, efforts by the Italian government and the European Union to address migration in the central Mediterranean have focused on the people in Libya — interchangeably called facilitators, smugglers, traffickers, or militia members, depending on which agency you’re speaking to — whose livelihoods come from helping others cross irregularly into Europe. People pay them a fare to organize a journey so dangerous it has taken tens of thousands of lives.

    The European effort to dismantle these smuggling networks has been driven by an unlikely actor: the Italian anti-mafia and anti-terrorism directorate, a niche police office in Rome that gained respect in the 1990s and early 2000s for dismantling large parts of the Mafia in Sicily and elsewhere in Italy. According to previously unpublished internal documents, the office — called the Direzione nazionale antimafia e antiterrorismo, or DNAA, in Italian — took a front-and-center role in the management of Europe’s southern sea borders, in direct coordination with the EU border agency Frontex and European military missions operating off the Libyan coast.

    In 2013, under the leadership of a longtime anti-mafia prosecutor named Franco Roberti, the directorate pioneered a strategy that was unique — or at least new for the border officers involved. They would start handling irregular migration to Europe like they had handled the mob. The approach would allow Italian and European police, coast guard agencies, and navies, obliged by international law to rescue stranded refugees at sea, to at least get some arrests and convictions along the way.

    The idea was to arrest low-level operators and use coercion and plea deals to get them to flip on their superiors. That way, the reasoning went, police investigators could work their way up the food chain and eventually dismantle the smuggling rings in Libya. With every boat that disembarked in Italy, police would make a handful of arrests. Anybody found to have played an active role during the crossing, from piloting to holding a compass to distributing water or bailing out a leak, could be arrested under a new legal directive written by Roberti’s anti-mafia directorate. Charges ranged from simple smuggling to transnational criminal conspiracy and — if people asphyxiated below deck or drowned when a boat capsized — even murder. Judicial sources estimate the number of people arrested since 2013 to be in the thousands.

    For the police, prosecutors, and politicians involved, the arrests were an important domestic political win. At the time, public opinion in Italy was turning against migration, and the mugshots of alleged smugglers regularly held space on front pages throughout the country.

    But according to the minutes of closed-door conversations among some of the very same actors directing these cases, which were obtained by The Intercept under Italy’s freedom of information law, most anti-mafia prosecutions only focused on low-level boat drivers, often migrants who had themselves paid for the trip across. Few, if any, smuggling bosses were ever convicted. Documents of over a dozen trials reviewed by The Intercept show prosecutions built on hasty investigations and coercive interrogations.

    In the years that followed, the anti-mafia directorate went to great lengths to keep the arrests coming. According to the internal documents, the office coordinated a series of criminal investigations into the civilian rescue NGOs working to save lives in the Mediterranean, accusing them of hampering police work. It also oversaw efforts to create and train a new coast guard in Libya, with full knowledge that some coast guard officers were colluding with the same smuggling networks that Italian and European leaders were supposed to be fighting.

    Since its inception, the anti-mafia directorate has wielded unparalleled investigative tools and served as a bridge between politicians and the courts. The documents reveal in meticulous detail how the agency, alongside Italian and European officials, capitalized on those powers to crack down on alleged smugglers, most of whom they knew to be desperate people fleeing poverty and violence with limited resources to defend themselves in court.

    Tragedy and Opportunity

    The anti-mafia directorate was born in the early 1990s after a decade of escalating Mafia violence. By then, hundreds of prosecutors, politicians, journalists, and police officers had been shot, blown up, or kidnapped, and many more extorted by organized crime families operating in Italy and beyond.

    In Palermo, the Sicilian capital, prosecutor Giovanni Falcone was a rising star in the Italian judiciary. Falcone had won unprecedented success with an approach to organized crime based on tracking financial flows, seizing assets, and centralizing evidence gathered by prosecutor’s offices across the island.

    But as the Mafia expanded its reach into the rest of Europe, Falcone’s work proved insufficient.

    In September 1990, a Mafia commando drove from Germany to Sicily to gun down a 37-year-old judge. Weeks later, at a police checkpoint in Naples, the Sicilian driver of a truck loaded with weapons, explosives, and drugs was found to be a resident of Germany. A month after the arrests, Falcone traveled to Germany to establish an information-sharing mechanism with authorities there. He brought along a younger colleague from Naples, Franco Roberti.

    “We faced a stone wall,” recalled Roberti, still bitter three decades later. He spoke to us outside a cafe in a plum neighborhood in Naples. Seventy-three years old and speaking with the rasp of a lifelong smoker, Roberti described Italy’s Mafia problem in blunt language. He bemoaned a lack of international cooperation that, he said, continues to this day. “They claimed that there was no need to investigate there,” Roberti said, “that it was up to us to investigate Italians in Germany who were occasional mafiosi.”

    As the prosecutors traveled back to Italy empty-handed, Roberti remembers Falcone telling him that they needed “a centralized national organ able to speak directly to foreign judicial authorities and coordinate investigations in Italy.”

    “That is how the idea of the anti-mafia directorate was born,” Roberti said. The two began building what would become Italy’s first national anti-mafia force.

    At the time, there was tough resistance to the project. Critics argued that Falcone and Roberti were creating “super-prosecutors” who would wield outsize powers over the courts, while also being subject to political pressures from the government in Rome. It was, they argued, a marriage of police and the judiciary, political interests and supposedly apolitical courts — convenient for getting Mafia convictions but dangerous for Italian democracy.

    Still, in January 1992, the project was approved in Parliament. But Falcone would never get to lead it: Months later, a bomb set by the Mafia killed him, his wife, and the three agents escorting them. The attack put to rest any remaining criticism of Falcone’s plan.

    The anti-mafia directorate went on to become one of Italy’s most important institutions, the national authority over all matters concerning organized crime and the agency responsible for partially freeing the country from its century-old crucible. In the decades after Falcone’s death, the directorate did what many in Italy thought impossible, dismantling large parts of the five main Italian crime families and almost halving the Mafia-related murder rate.

    And yet, by the time Roberti took control in 2013, it had been years since the last high-profile Mafia prosecution, and the organization’s influence was waning. At the same time, Italy was facing unprecedented numbers of migrants arriving by boat. Roberti had an idea: The anti-mafia directorate would start working on what he saw as a different kind of mafia. The organization set its sights on Libya.

    “We thought we had to do something more coordinated to combat this trafficking,” Roberti remembered, “so I put everyone around a table.”

    “The main objective was to save lives, seize ships, and capture smugglers,” Roberti said. “Which we did.”

    Our Sea

    Dieudonne made it to the Libyan port city of Zuwara in August 2014. One more step across the Mediterranean, and he’d be in Europe. The smugglers he paid to get him across the sea took all of his possessions and put him in an abandoned building that served as a safe house to wait for his turn.

    Dieudonne told his story from a small office in Bari, Italy, where he runs a cooperative that helps recent arrivals access local education. Dieudonne is fiery and charismatic. He is constantly moving: speaking, texting, calling, gesticulating. Every time he makes a point, he raps his knuckles on the table in a one-two pattern. Dieudonne insisted that we publish his real name. Others who made the journey more recently — still pending decisions on their residence permits or refugee status — were less willing to speak openly.

    Dieudonne remembers the safe house in Zuwara as a string of constant violence. The smugglers would come once a day to leave food. Every day, they would ask who hadn’t followed their orders. Those inside the abandoned building knew they were less likely to be discovered by police or rival smugglers, but at the same time, they were not free to leave.

    “They’ve put a guy in the refrigerator in front of all of us, to show how the next one who misbehaves will be treated,” Dieudonne remembered, indignant. He witnessed torture, shootings, rape. “The first time you see it, it hurts you. The second time it hurts you less. The third time,” he said with a shrug, “it becomes normal. Because that’s the only way to survive.”

    “That’s why arresting the person who pilots a boat and treating them like a trafficker makes me laugh,” Dieudonne said. Others who have made the journey to Italy report having been forced to drive at gunpoint. “You only do it to be sure you don’t die there,” he said.

    Two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s government, much of Libya’s northwest coast had become a staging ground for smugglers who organized sea crossings to Europe in large wooden fishing boats. When those ships — overcrowded, underpowered, and piloted by amateurs — inevitably capsized, the deaths were counted by the hundreds.

    In October 2013, two shipwrecks off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa took over 400 lives, sparking public outcry across Europe. In response, the Italian state mobilized two plans, one public and the other private.

    “There was a big shock when the Lampedusa tragedy happened,” remembered Italian Sen. Emma Bonino, then the country’s foreign minister. The prime minister “called an emergency meeting, and we decided to immediately launch this rescue program,” Bonino said. “Someone wanted to call the program ‘safe seas.’ I said no, not safe, because it’s sure we’ll have other tragedies. So let’s call it Mare Nostrum.”

    Mare Nostrum — “our sea” in Latin — was a rescue mission in international waters off the coast of Libya that ran for one year and rescued more than 150,000 people. The operation also brought Italian ships, airplanes, and submarines closer than ever to Libyan shores. Roberti, just two months into his job as head of the anti-mafia directorate, saw an opportunity to extend the country’s judicial reach and inflict a lethal blow to smuggling rings in Libya.

    Five days after the start of Mare Nostrum, Roberti launched the private plan: a series of coordination meetings among the highest echelons of the Italian police, navy, coast guard, and judiciary. Under Roberti, these meetings would run for four years and eventually involve representatives from Frontex, Europol, an EU military operation, and even Libya.

    The minutes of five of these meetings, which were presented by Roberti in a committee of the Italian Parliament and obtained by The Intercept, give an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the events on Europe’s southern borders since the Lampedusa shipwrecks.

    In the first meeting, held in October 2013, Roberti told participants that the anti-mafia offices in the Sicilian city of Catania had developed an innovative way to deal with migrant smuggling. By treating Libyan smugglers like they had treated the Italian Mafia, prosecutors could claim jurisdiction over international waters far beyond Italy’s borders. That, Roberti said, meant they could lawfully board and seize vessels on the high seas, conduct investigations there, and use the evidence in court.

    The Italian authorities have long recognized that, per international maritime law, they are obligated to rescue people fleeing Libya on overcrowded boats and transport them to a place of safety. As the number of people attempting the crossing increased, many Italian prosecutors and coast guard officials came to believe that smugglers were relying on these rescues to make their business model work; therefore, the anti-mafia reasoning went, anyone who acted as crew or made a distress call on a boat carrying migrants could be considered complicit in Libyan trafficking and subject to Italian jurisdiction. This new approach drew heavily from legal doctrines developed in the United States during the 1980s aimed at stopping drug smuggling.

    European leaders were scrambling to find a solution to what they saw as a looming migration crisis. Italian officials thought they had the answer and publicly justified their decisions as a way to prevent future drownings.

    But according to the minutes of the 2013 anti-mafia meeting, the new strategy predated the Lampedusa shipwrecks by at least a week. Sicilian prosecutors had already written the plan to crack down on migration across the Mediterranean but lacked both the tools and public will to put it into action. Following the Lampedusa tragedy and the creation of Mare Nostrum, they suddenly had both.

    State of Necessity

    In the international waters off the coast of Libya, Dieudonne and 91 others were rescued by a European NGO called Migrant Offshore Aid Station. They spent two days aboard MOAS’s ship before being transferred to an Italian coast guard ship, Nave Dattilo, to be taken to Europe.

    Aboard the Dattilo, coast guard officers asked Dieudonne why he had left his home in Cameroon. He remembers them showing him a photograph of the rubber boat taken from the air. “They asked me who was driving, the roles and everything,” he remembered. “Then they asked me if I could tell him how the trafficking in Libya works, and then, they said, they would give me residence documents.”

    Dieudonne said that he was reluctant to cooperate at first. He didn’t want to accuse any of his peers, but he was also concerned that he could become a suspect. After all, he had helped the driver at points throughout the voyage.

    “I thought that if I didn’t cooperate, they might hurt me,” Dieudonne said. “Not physically hurt, but they could consider me dishonest, like someone who was part of the trafficking.”

    To this day, Dieudonne says he can’t understand why Italy would punish people for fleeing poverty and political violence in West Africa. He rattled off a list of events from the last year alone: draught, famine, corruption, armed gunmen, attacks on schools. “And you try to convict someone for managing to escape that situation?”

    The coast guard ship disembarked in Vibo Valentia, a city in the Italian region of Calabria. During disembarkation, a local police officer explained to a journalist that they had arrested five people. The journalist asked how the police had identified the accused.

    “A lot has been done by the coast guard, who picked [the migrants] up two days ago and managed to spot [the alleged smugglers],” the officer explained. “Then we have witness statements and videos.”

    Cases like these, where arrests are made on the basis of photo or video evidence and statements by witnesses like Dieudonne, are common, said Gigi Modica, a judge in Sicily who has heard many immigration and asylum cases. “It’s usually the same story. They take three or four people, no more. They ask them two questions: who was driving the boat, and who was holding the compass,” Modica explained. “That’s it — they get the names and don’t care about the rest.”

    Modica was one of the first judges in Italy to acquit people charged for driving rubber boats — known as “scafisti,” or boat drivers, in Italian — on the grounds that they had been forced to do so. These “state of necessity” rulings have since become increasingly common. Modica rattled off a list of irregularities he’s seen in such cases: systemic racism, witness statements that migrants later say they didn’t make, interrogations with no translator or lawyer, and in some cases, people who report being encouraged by police to sign documents renouncing their right to apply for asylum.

    “So often these alleged smugglers — scafisti — are normal people who were compelled to pilot a boat by smugglers in Libya,” Modica said.

    Documents of over a dozen trials reviewed by The Intercept show prosecutions largely built on testimony from migrants who are promised a residence permit in exchange for their collaboration. At sea, witnesses are interviewed by the police hours after their rescue, often still in a state of shock after surviving a shipwreck.

    In many cases, identical statements, typos included, are attributed to several witnesses and copied and pasted across different police reports. Sometimes, these reports have been enough to secure decadeslong sentences. Other times, under cross-examination in court, witnesses have contradicted the statements recorded by police or denied giving any testimony at all.

    As early as 2015, attendees of the anti-mafia meetings were discussing problems with these prosecutions. In a meeting that February, Giovanni Salvi, then the prosecutor of Catania, acknowledged that smugglers often abandoned migrant boats in international waters. Still, Italian police were steaming ahead with the prosecutions of those left on board.

    These prosecutions were so important that in some cases, the Italian coast guard decided to delay rescue when boats were in distress in order to “allow for the arrival of institutional ships that can conduct arrests,” a coast guard commander explained at the meeting.

    When asked about the commander’s comments, the Italian coast guard said that “on no occasion” has the agency ever delayed a rescue operation. Delaying rescue for any reason goes against international and Italian law, and according to various human rights lawyers in Europe, could give rise to criminal liability.

    NGOs in the Crosshairs

    Italy canceled Mare Nostrum after one year, citing budget constraints and a lack of European collaboration. In its wake, the EU set up two new operations, one via Frontex and the other a military effort called Operation Sophia. These operations focused not on humanitarian rescue but on border security and people smuggling from Libya. Beginning in 2015, representatives from Frontex and Operation Sophia were included in the anti-mafia directorate meetings, where Italian prosecutors ensured that both abided by the new investigative strategy.

    Key to these investigations were photos from the rescues, like the aerial image that Dieudonne remembers the Italian coast guard showing him, which gave police another way to identify who piloted the boats and helped navigate.

    In the absence of government rescue ships, a fleet of civilian NGO vessels began taking on a large number of rescues in the international waters off the coast of Libya. These ships, while coordinated by the Italian coast guard rescue center in Rome, made evidence-gathering difficult for prosecutors and judicial police. According to the anti-mafia meeting minutes, some NGOs, including MOAS, routinely gave photos to Italian police and Frontex. Others refused, arguing that providing evidence for investigations into the people they saved would undermine their efficacy and neutrality.

    In the years following Mare Nostrum, the NGO fleet would come to account for more than one-third of all rescues in the central Mediterranean, according to estimates by Operation Sophia. A leaked status report from the operation noted that because NGOs did not collect information from rescued migrants for police, “information essential to enhance the understanding of the smuggling business model is not acquired.”

    In a subsequent anti-mafia meeting, six prosecutors echoed this concern. NGO rescues meant that police couldn’t interview migrants at sea, they said, and cases were getting thrown out for lack of evidence. A coast guard admiral explained the importance of conducting interviews just after a rescue, when “a moment of empathy has been established.”

    “It is not possible to carry out this task if the rescue intervention is carried out by ships of the NGOs,” the admiral told the group.

    The NGOs were causing problems for the DNAA strategy. At the meetings, Italian prosecutors and representatives from the coast guard, navy, and Interior Ministry discussed what they could do to rein in the humanitarian organizations. At the same time, various prosecutors were separately fixing their investigative sights on the NGOs themselves.

    In late 2016, an internal report from Frontex — later published in full by The Intercept — accused an NGO vessel of directly receiving migrants from Libyan smugglers, attributing the information to “Italian authorities.” The claim was contradicted by video evidence and the ship’s crew.

    Months later, Carmelo Zuccaro, the prosecutor of Catania, made public that he was investigating rescue NGOs. “Together with Frontex and the navy, we are trying to monitor all these NGOs that have shown that they have great financial resources,” Zuccaro told an Italian newspaper. The claim went viral in Italian and European media. “Friends of the traffickers” and “migrant taxi service” became common slurs used toward humanitarian NGOs by anti-immigration politicians and the Italian far right.

    Zuccaro would eventually walk back his claims, telling a parliamentary committee that he was working off a hypothesis at the time and had no evidence to back it up.

    In an interview with a German newspaper in February 2017, the director of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, refrained from explicitly criticizing the work of rescue NGOs but did say they were hampering police investigations in the Mediterranean. As aid organizations assumed a larger percentage of rescues, Leggeri said, “it is becoming more difficult for the European security authorities to find out more about the smuggling networks through interviews with migrants.”

    “That smear campaign was very, very deep,” remembered Bonino, the former foreign minister. Referring to Marco Minniti, Italy’s interior minister at the time, she added, “I was trying to push Minniti not to be so obsessed with people coming, but to make a policy of integration in Italy. But he only focused on Libya and smuggling and criminalizing NGOs with the help of prosecutors.”

    Bonino explained that the action against NGOs was part of a larger plan to change European policy in the central Mediterranean. The first step was the shift away from humanitarian rescue and toward border security and smuggling. The second step “was blaming the NGOs or arresting them, a sort of dirty campaign against them,” she said. “The results of which after so many years have been no convictions, no penalties, no trials.”

    Finally, the third step was to build a new coast guard in Libya to do what the Europeans couldn’t, per international law: intercept people at sea and bring them back to Libya, the country from which they had just fled.

    At first, leaders at Frontex were cautious. “From Frontex’s point of view, we look at Libya with concern; there is no stable state there,” Leggeri said in the 2017 interview. “We are now helping to train 60 officers for a possible future Libyan coast guard. But this is at best a beginning.”

    Bonino saw this effort differently. “They started providing support for their so-called coast guard,” she said, “which were the same traffickers changing coats.”
    Rescued migrants disembarking from a Libyan coast guard ship in the town of Khoms, a town 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital on October 1, 2019.

    Same Uniforms, Same Ships

    Safe on land in Italy, Dieudonne was never called to testify in court. He hopes that none of his peers ended up in prison but said he would gladly testify against the traffickers if called. Aboard the coast guard ship, he remembers, “I gave the police contact information for the traffickers, I gave them names.”

    The smuggling operations in Libya happened out in the open, but Italian police could only go as far as international waters. Leaked documents from Operation Sophia describe years of efforts by European officials to get Libyan police to arrest smugglers. Behind closed doors, top Italian and EU officials admitted that these same smugglers were intertwined with the new Libyan coast guard that Europe was creating and that working with them would likely go against international law.

    As early as 2015, multiple officials at the anti-mafia meetings noted that some smugglers were uncomfortably close to members of the Libyan government. “Militias use the same uniforms and the same ships as the Libyan coast guard that the Italian navy itself is training,” Rear Adm. Enrico Credendino, then in charge of Operation Sophia, said in 2017. The head of the Libyan coast guard and the Libyan minister of defense, both allies of the Italian government, Credendino added, “have close relationships with some militia bosses.”

    One of the Libyan coast guard officers playing both sides was Abd al-Rahman Milad, also known as Bija. In 2019, the Italian newspaper Avvenire revealed that Bija participated in a May 2017 meeting in Sicily, alongside Italian border police and intelligence officials, that was aimed at stemming migration from Libya. A month later, he was condemned by the U.N. Security Council for his role as a top member of a powerful trafficking militia in the coastal town of Zawiya, and for, as the U.N. put it, “sinking migrant boats using firearms.”

    According to leaked documents from Operation Sophia, coast guard officers under Bija’s command were trained by the EU between 2016 and 2018.

    While the Italian government was prosecuting supposed smugglers in Italy, they were also working with people they knew to be smugglers in Libya. Minniti, Italy’s then-interior minister, justified the deals his government was making in Libya by saying that the prospect of mass migration from Africa made him “fear for the well-being of Italian democracy.”

    In one of the 2017 anti-mafia meetings, a representative of the Interior Ministry, Vittorio Pisani, outlined in clear terms a plan that provided for the direct coordination of the new Libyan coast guard. They would create “an operation room in Libya for the exchange of information with the Interior Ministry,” Pisani explained, “mainly on the position of NGO ships and their rescue operations, in order to employ the Libyan coast guard in its national waters.”

    And with that, the third step of the plan was set in motion. At the end of the meeting, Roberti suggested that the group invite representatives from the Libyan police to their next meeting. In an interview with The Intercept, Roberti confirmed that Libyan representatives attended at least two anti-mafia meetings and that he himself met Bija at a meeting in Libya, one month after the U.N. Security Council report was published. The following year, the Security Council committee on Libya sanctioned Bija, freezing his assets and banning him from international travel.

    “We needed to have the participation of Libyan institutions. But they did nothing, because they were taking money from the traffickers,” Roberti told us from the cafe in Naples. “They themselves were the traffickers.”
    A Place of Safety

    Roberti retired from the anti-mafia directorate in 2017. He said that under his leadership, the organization was able to create a basis for handling migration throughout Europe. Still, Roberti admits that his expansion of the DNAA into migration issues has had mixed results. Like his trip to Germany in the ’90s with Giovanni Falcone, Roberti said the anti-mafia strategy faltered because of a lack of collaboration: with the NGOs, with other European governments, and with Libya.

    “On a European level, the cooperation does not work,” Roberti said. Regarding Libya, he added, “We tried — I believe it was right, the agreements [the government] made. But it turned out to be a failure in the end.”

    The DNAA has since expanded its operations. Between 2017 and 2019, the Italian government passed two bills that put the anti-mafia directorate in charge of virtually all illegal immigration matters. Since 2017, five Sicilian prosecutors, all of whom attended at least one anti-mafia coordination meeting, have initiated 15 separate legal proceedings against humanitarian NGO workers. So far there have been no convictions: Three cases have been thrown out in court, and the rest are ongoing.

    Earlier this month, news broke that Sicilian prosecutors had wiretapped journalists and human rights lawyers as part of one of these investigations, listening in on legally protected conversations with sources and clients. The Italian justice ministry has opened an investigation into the incident, which could amount to criminal behavior, according to Italian legal experts. The prosecutor who approved the wiretaps attended at least one DNAA coordination meeting, where investigations against NGOs were discussed at length.

    As the DNAA has extended its reach, key actors from the anti-mafia coordination meetings have risen through the ranks of Italian and European institutions. One prosecutor, Federico Cafiero de Raho, now runs the anti-mafia directorate. Salvi, the former prosecutor of Catania, is the equivalent of Italy’s attorney general. Pisani, the former Interior Ministry representative, is deputy head of the Italian intelligence services. And Roberti is a member of the European Parliament.

    Cafiero de Raho stands by the investigations and arrests that the anti-mafia directorate has made over the years. He said the coordination meetings were an essential tool for prosecutors and police during difficult times.

    When asked about his specific comments during the meetings — particularly statements that humanitarian NGOs needed to be regulated and multiple admissions that members of the new Libyan coast guard were involved in smuggling activities — Cafiero de Raho said that his remarks should be placed in context, a time when Italy and the EU were working to build a coast guard in a part of Libya that was largely ruled by local militias. He said his ultimate goal was what, in the DNAA coordination meetings, he called the “extrajudicial solution”: attempts to prove the existence of crimes against humanity in Libya so that “the United Nation sends troops to Libya to dismantle migrants camps set up by traffickers … and retake control of that territory.”

    A spokesperson for the EU’s foreign policy arm, which ran Operation Sophia, refused to directly address evidence that leaders of the European military operation knew that parts of the new Libyan coast guard were also involved in smuggling activities, only noting that Bija himself wasn’t trained by the EU. A Frontex spokesperson stated that the agency “was not involved in the selection of officers to be trained.”

    In 2019, the European migration strategy changed again. Now, the vast majority of departures are intercepted by the Libyan coast guard and brought back to Libya. In March of that year, Operation Sophia removed all of its ships from the rescue area and has since focused on using aerial patrols to direct and coordinate the Libyan coast guard. Human rights lawyers in Europe have filed six legal actions against Italy and the EU as a result, calling the practice refoulement by proxy: facilitating the return of migrants to dangerous circumstances in violation of international law.

    Indeed, throughout four years of coordination meetings, Italy and the EU were admitting privately that returning people to Libya would be illegal. “Fundamental human rights violations in Libya make it impossible to push migrants back to the Libyan coast,” Pisani explained in 2015. Two years later, he outlined the beginnings of a plan that would do exactly that.

    The Result of Mere Chance

    Dieudonne knows he was lucky. The line that separates suspect and victim can be entirely up to police officers’ first impressions in the minutes or hours following a rescue. According to police reports used in prosecutions, physical attributes like having “a clearer skin tone” or behavior aboard the ship, including scrutinizing police movements “with strange interest,” were enough to rouse suspicion.

    In a 2019 ruling that acquitted seven alleged smugglers after three years of pretrial detention, judges wrote that “the selection of the suspects on one side, and the witnesses on the other, with the only exception of the driver, has almost been the result of mere chance.”

    Carrying out work for their Libyan captors has cost other migrants in Italy lengthy prison sentences. In September 2019, a 22-year-old Guinean nicknamed Suarez was arrested upon his arrival to Italy. Four witnesses told police he had collaborated with prison guards in Zawiya, at the immigrant detention center managed by the infamous Bija.

    “Suarez was also a prisoner, who then took on a job,” one of the witnesses told the court. Handing out meals or taking care of security is what those who can’t afford to pay their ransom often do in order to get out, explained another. “Unfortunately, you would have to be there to understand the situation,” the first witness said. Suarez was sentenced to 20 years in prison, recently reduced to 12 years on appeal.

    Dieudonne remembered his journey at sea vividly, but with surprising cool. When the boat began taking on water, he tried to help. “One must give help where it is needed.” At his office in Bari, Dieudonne bent over and moved his arms in a low scooping motion, like he was bailing water out of a boat.

    “Should they condemn me too?” he asked. He finds it ironic that it was the Libyans who eventually arrested Bija on human trafficking charges this past October. The Italians and Europeans, he said with a laugh, were too busy working with the corrupt coast guard commander. (In April, Bija was released from prison after a Libyan court absolved him of all charges. He was promoted within the coast guard and put back on the job.)

    Dieudonne thinks often about the people he identified aboard the coast guard ship in the middle of the sea. “I told the police the truth. But if that collaboration ends with the conviction of an innocent person, it’s not good,” he said. “Because I know that person did nothing. On the contrary, he saved our lives by driving that raft.”


    #Méditerranée #Italie #Libye #ONG #criminalisation_de_la_solidarité #solidarité #secours #mer_Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #violence #passeurs #Méditerranée_centrale #anti-mafia #anti-terrorisme #Direzione_nazionale_antimafia_e_antiterrorismo #DNAA #Frontex #Franco_Roberti #justice #politique #Zuwara #torture #viol #Mare_Nostrum #Europol #eaux_internationales #droit_de_la_mer #droit_maritime #juridiction_italienne #arrestations #Gigi_Modica #scafista #scafisti #état_de_nécessité #Giovanni_Salvi #NGO #Operation_Sophia #MOAS #DNA #Carmelo_Zuccaro #Zuccaro #Fabrice_Leggeri #Leggeri #Marco_Minniti #Minniti #campagne #gardes-côtes_libyens #milices #Enrico_Credendino #Abd_al-Rahman_Milad #Bija ##Abdurhaman_al-Milad #Al_Bija #Zawiya #Vittorio_Pisani #Federico_Cafiero_de_Raho #solution_extrajudiciaire #pull-back #refoulement_by_proxy #refoulement #push-back #Suarez

    ping @karine4 @isskein @rhoumour

  • Numéro 387 : Disparu en #Méditerranée

    En 2015, près de mille migrants disparaissent dans un naufrage en Méditerranée. Depuis, une équipe de chercheurs tente de retrouver leur identité. Un documentaire pudique et fort aux confins de l’indicible.

    C’est la tragédie la plus meurtrière en Méditerranée depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Le 18 avril 2015, un bateau fantôme convoyant entre 800 et 1100 migrants coule au large des côtes libyennes. Très peu d’entre eux survivent. Qui étaient les disparus, d’où venaient-ils ? Comment leur redonner une identité et honorer leur mémoire ? Très vite, le gouvernement italien de Matteo Renzi prend la décision inédite de renflouer l’épave pour identifier les victimes. À Milan, l’anthropologue légiste Cristina Cattaneo travaille sur les 528 corps retrouvés et mène la plus vaste opération d’identification jamais entreprise en Méditerranée. En Afrique, José Pablo Baraybar, pour le CICR (Comité international de la Croix-Rouge), rencontre les familles des disparus pour obtenir le plus d’informations ante mortem possibles, et recueillir leur ADN qui permettra à Cristina Cattaneo de croiser les résultats. En Sicile, la chercheuse Georgia Mirto arpente les cimetières à la recherche des tombes des disparus...


    #mourir_en_mer #identification #morts #morts_aux_frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #naufrage #identification #épave #Cristina_Cattaneo #restes #médecine_légale #justice #droits_humains #Giorgia_Mirto #cimetières #cimetière #Sicile #Italie #pacte_migratoire #pacte_de_Marrakech #cadavres #traçabilité #enterrement #coopération_internationale #celleux_qui_restent #celles_qui_restent #ceux_qui_restent #dignité #survivants #mer_Méditerranée #vidéo


    Ils utilisent hélas les statistiques des morts de l’OIM au lieu d’utiliser celles de United :

    « L’OIM rapporte que la route de l’immigration la plus meurtrière au monde est la route de la Méditerranée centrale (...) L’agence explique que malgré la baisse du nombre de morts, la proportion de décès, rapportée aux tentatives de traversée, a augmenté en 2019 par rapport aux années précédentes. Signe peut-être que les embarcations qui partent sont plus précaires et que les personnes et les passeurs prennent plus de risques. » Ils donnent ensuite le chiffre d’un 1/100, ratio morts/départs.
    –-> embarcations plus précaires et plus de prise de risque ne sont pas une fatalité mais une conséquence des politiques migratoires restrictives et meurtrières de l’UE et ses Etats membres.

  • Italian prosecutor presses charges against the #Iuventa crew

    The Prosecutor of #Trapani officially charged 21 individuals and 3 organisations of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. All the accusations are related to operations conducted between 2016 and 2017. This is a political declaration of intent to criminalise solidarity, and it has a deadly consequence: people die, when they could be saved.

    The story
    As the EU transformed the Mediterranean sea into the deadliest border in the world, the rescue ship Iuventa, operated in a joint effort by more than 200 volunteers at sea, and supported by thousands on shore, started search and rescue operations in the central Mediterranean in July 2016. Their lifesaving efforts were forcibly stopped when, on the 2nd of August 2017, the ship was seized by the Italian prosecutor and ten people were put under investigation.

    More than three years after the seizure of the rescue ship Iuventa by Italian authorities, the Prosecutor of Trapani has declared the investigation against the Iuventa crew closed. The crew members who stand accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration are facing up to 20 years in prison. Yet the legal fight is far from over.

    The legal case

    This day marks the beginning of the trial against the Iuventa crew despite initial accusation theories already having been publicly proven unfounded. The main so-called “eyewitness” who collected evidence against the Iuventa crew publicly revoked his testimony. He then stated to the press that he had been promised a job within the Italian right party Lega Nord in exchange for his witness statement. Furthermore, through a detailed reconstruction of events, renowned team of scientists „Forensic Architecture“, disproved the theses of the prosecution in a public analysis of Iuventa operations.

    “Saving lives is never a crime. We will prove that all the operations of the Iuventa crew were absolutely lawful. While the EU turned away from the Mediterranean transforming it into a mass grave for Europe’s undesirables, the crew of the Iuventa headed to sea as volunteers, in order to protect the fundamental rights to life and to seek asylum, as required by international law and before that by human solidarity”
    —> Francesca Cancellaro, lawyer of the group

    The crew
    While the EU turned away from the Mediterranean, paying militias to bring people back to places of abuse, and transforming the Mediterranean into a mass grave for Europe’s undesirables, the crew of the Iuventa headed to sea as volunteers, moved by an urge of

    “Aslong as governments break their own laws, international conventions and maritime law, all accusations are like a joke to me. It would be funny if this joke didn’t mean death, distress and misery for the people on the move”
    —> Dariush, captain onboard the Iuventa

    “Although we stand accused, it is us who accuse European authorities of refusing safe passage and of letting people drown.”
    —> Sascha Girke, the former Head of Mission onboard the Iuventa

    #Italie #condamnation #Iuventa #sauvetage #mer #Méditerranée #sauvetages_en_mer #migrations #justice (well...) #mer_Méditerranée #frontières #réfugiés #ONG #solidarité #criminalisation_de_la_solidarité

    • Message du team de la Iuventa :

      Cher(e)s ami(e)s, partisan(e)s et camarades,

      Après plus de 3 ans d’enquête, le procureur de Trapani (Sicile) a officiellement inculpé 21 individus et 3 organisations pour aide et encouragement à l’immigration illégale. Toutes ces accusations sont liées à des opérations conduites entre 2016 et 2017. Parmi ces individus sont des membres d’équipage de la Iuventa.

      Il s’agit ici d’une déclaration d’intention à criminaliser la migration et la solidarité - et les conséquences en sont fatales : des personnes meurent, alors qu’elles peuvent être sauvées !

      Nous nous battrons ! Il s’agit d’une affaire politique. Il ne s’agit pas de nous, mais de la politique meurtrière d’exclusion de l’UE et rien de moins que du droit à la vie que l’UE refuse systématiquement aux personnes.

      Nous avons besoin de votre soutien plus que jamais ! Le déroulement et l’issue de cette affaire dépendront énormément des médias et de l’opinion publique.

      Vous pouvez nous soutenir :

      En vous abonnant à nos réseaux sociaux et en publiant le contenu
      En transférant notre Communiqué de Presse à votre journaliste fiable (Ci-joint les version en Allemand, Anglais et Italien)
      En continuant à suivre nos chaînes pour plus d’informations - la lutte vient de commencer !

      Pour plus d’informations sur l’affaire et l’histoire de la Iuventa, vous pouvez visiter et partager notre site https://iuventa10.org

      Salutations solidaires !
      Iuventa Crew

      Message reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop, le 3 mars 2021

  • #Frontex to expand cooperation with Operation #IRINI

    Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and Operation #EUNAVFOR_MED IRINI have agreed last Friday to expand their cooperation to address challenges and threats to EU security in the Central Mediterranean region.

    Under a new working arrangement, Frontex will be supporting Operation IRINI with information gathered as part of the agency’s risk analysis activities, such as tracking vessels of interests on the high seas, as well as data from its aerial surveillance in the Central Mediterranean. The agreement also foresees the exchange of experts. Currently, an EUNAVFOR MED expert is based at the Warsaw headquarters of Frontex to support information exchange and cooperation in search and rescue operations.

    “Operation IRINI is a as a valuable operational partner for us. Frontex will provide information that will help tackle security challenges in the Central Mediterranean. We also work together to help save lives at sea,” said Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri.

    “I am happy to sign the agreement with Frontex in order to strengthen our common action in order to ensure the security of EU borders and stem illicit traffic in the Mediterranean Sea,” said Admiral #Fabio_Agostini, IRINI Operation Commander, during the virtual ceremony.

    The working arrangement was signed during a virtual ceremony by Frontex’s Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri and Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini, the Commander of Operation IRINI and attended by Director-General for Migration and Home Affairs #Monique_Pariat.

    EUNAVFOR MED Operation IRINI is tasked with the implementation of the United Nation Security Council Resolutions on the arms embargo on Libya through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets.
    Cooperation with EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy missions is an integral part of Frontex’s activities. Before the launch of IRINI, the agency worked with EUNAVFOR Med Sophia to together combat people smuggling and trafficking and helped the mission build a comprehensive picture of cross-border criminal activities in the Central Mediterranean.


    #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #operation_IRINI #EUNAVFOR_MED_IRINI #militarisation_des_frontières #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #Méditerranée_Centrale #information #données #sécurité #sauvetage #accord

    ping @isskein @karine4 @etraces

  • –-> carte pour illustrer la dangerosité des routes migratoires (17’000 morts en #Méditerranée)
    Titre de l’article : Verdens dødeligste migrantrute : Minst 17 000 har druknet i Middelhavet – på sju år

    ... une carte qui, en réalité, reproduit la rhétorique de l’#invasion...

    #migrations #flèches #rouge #réfugiés #routes_migratoires

    ping @fbahoken
    via @reka

  • Financement des frontieres : fonds et stratégies pour arrêter l’immigration
    Funding the border : funds and strategies to stop migration
    Financement des frontieres : fonds et stratégies pour arrêter l’immigration

    Dans la première partie de ce document, nous analysons les dépenses pour l’externalisation de la gestion migratoire prévues dans le prochain budget de l’UE ; nous sommes actuellement dans la phase finale des #négociations et le rapport donne un aperçu des négociations jusqu’à présent.
    Dans la deuxième partie, nous nous concentrons sur l’évolution des politiques d’externalisation concernant la route migratoire qui intéresse le plus l’Italie : l’article de Sara Prestianni (EuroMed Rights) présente un panorama sur la situation dangereuse de violations continues des droits de l’Homme en Méditerranée centrale. Dans les deux chapitres suivants, les chercheurs Jérôme Tubiana et Clotilde Warin décrivent l’évolution de l’externalisation des frontières au Soudan et dans la région du #Sahel.

    Pour télécharger les rapports (en français, anglais et italien) :
    FR : https://www.arci.it/app/uploads/2020/12/FR_ARCI-report_Financement-de-Frontie%CC%80res.pdf
    EN : https://www.arci.it/app/uploads/2020/12/ENG_ARCI-report_Funding-the-Border.pdf
    IT : https://www.arci.it/app/uploads/2020/12/Quarto-Rapporto-di-esternalizzazione.pdf

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #frontières #financement #budget #Mali #Méditerranée_centrale #mer_Méditerranée #Soudan #fonds #rapport #ARCI


    ajouté à la métaliste sur l’externalisation des frontières :

    ping @_kg_ @karine4 @rhoumour @isskein

  • "Enfin libéré", l’#Ocean_Viking repartira en #mer_Méditerranée en janvier

    Après cinq mois de blocage par les autorités italiennes, le navire humanitaire de l’ONG #SOS_Méditerranée, Ocean Viking, repartira en mer en janvier 2021 pour reprendre ses opérations de sauvetage. Un « soulagement » pour l’ONG qui estime avoir perdu beaucoup de temps.

    L’ONG de secours aux migrants SOS Méditerranée pousse un cri de soulagement. Lundi 21 décembre, elle a annoncé que son navire Ocean Viking allait pouvoir reprendre ses opérations de sauvetage dans les eaux méditerranéennes, après avoir été bloqué pendant cinq mois par les autorités italiennes.

    « Après une troisième inspection en cinq mois par les garde-côtes italiens, l’Ocean Viking a été jugé conforme à l’interprétation des règles de sécurité des navires par les autorités italiennes. La détention du navire a donc été levée », a indiqué l’ONG dont le siège est à Marseille dans un communiqué.


    L’Ocean Viking va désormais quitter l’Italie et rejoindre Marseille d’ici la fin du mois de décembre pour se réapprovisionner et embarquer les membres des équipes de sauvetage et médicales. Les personnes à bord vont être mises en quarantaine et subir différents tests pour s’assurer de ne pas être positives Covid, avant un départ prévu au cours de la première quinzaine de janvier, indique Sophie Beau, directrice générale de SOS Méditerranée.

    « Nous sommes soulagés que le bateau soit libéré, enfin, et nous sommes déterminés à repartir en Méditerranée centrale après une période très éprouvante pour nos marins sauveteurs », a réagi Sophie Beau, interrogée par InfoMigrants.
    « Mesures de dissuasion visant les navires humanitaires »

    Pour pouvoir obtenir l’autorisation de reprendre à mer, SOS Méditerranée a dû se plier aux desiderata des garde-côtes italiens. « On nous a dit de mettre à niveau notre capacité d’abandon du navire en embarquant des radeaux de survie », poursuit Sophie Beau, précisant que ce genre d’embarcation est utilisée comme solution de repli si le navire coule ou prend feu. « On ne nous avait jamais demandé ça. Nous avons dû en acheter 8 nouveaux. Cela nous a pris du temps et nous a coûté plus de 200 000 euros. »

    Du temps perdu car ces nouvelles mesures de sécurité ont été, de manière paradoxale, prises au détriment de centaines de personnes qui ont, pendant ce temps-là, risqué leur vie en mer, pointe la directrice.

    >> À (re)lire : Mer Méditerranée : un nouveau navire humanitaire italien bientôt prêt pour des opérations de sauvetage

    « On peut considérer que ces exigences s’inscrivent dans une liste de mesures de dissuasion visant à empêcher les navires humanitaires de naviguer », tacle encore Sophie Beau, alors que cinq autres navires humanitaires sont actuellement bloqués dans différents ports. « Il y a une absence de volonté politique de la part des pays européens de mettre en place un mécanisme pour sauver des vies, c’est très choquant. »

    L’année 2020 a été marquée par une recrudescence des tentatives de traversée en Méditerranée centrale. Au total, plus de 1 100 migrants, partis pour l’essentiel de Tunisie ou de Libye, ont péri en Méditerranée dont la grande majorité sur cette route centrale, selon l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM). Mais combien sont morts sans même avoir été répertoriés ?

    Pour 2021, SOS Méditerranée a lancé un nouvel appel aux dons citoyens, dans l’espoir de pouvoir « mener à bien [leur] mission vitale ». Chaque jour passé en mer pour l’Ocean Viking coûte 14 000 euros à l’ONG.

    #ONG #sauvetage #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Méditerranée #libération

  • Près d’un millier de morts en Méditerranée depuis le début de l’année

    Sur les 11 premiers mois de l’année, environ 1 000 personnes ont perdu la vie en tentant de traverser la Méditerranée sur des embarcations de fortune. Un chiffre qui pourrait augmenter au cours du mois de décembre, la plupart des navires humanitaires sillonnant la zone de détresse au large de la Libye étant actuellement immobilisés.

    La barre symbolique du millier de morts en Méditerranée est sur le point d’être franchie : selon l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), 995 personnes ont péri ou sont portées disparues après avoir tenté de rejoindre les côtes européennes à bord d’embarcations de fortune depuis le début de l’année. Parmi elles, 729 avaient emprunté la route de la #Méditerranée_centrale (principalement au départ de la #Libye), 171 celle de la #Méditerranée_orientale et 95 celle de la #Méditerranée_occidentale.

    Un chiffre qui devrait continuer d’augmenter durant le mois de décembre car les traversées ne se sont pas interrompues malgré des conditions météo difficiles et l’absence de bateau humanitaire au large de la Libye. « On sait que lorsqu’il y a une fenêtre météo clémente, les départs augmentent. Mais on ne peut pas dire non plus qu’il n’y a aucun départ en hiver, loin de là », commente une porte-parole de SOS Méditerranée, jointe par InfoMigrants. « L’année dernière, la période de Noël avait été particulièrement chargée pour nous : l’Ocean Viking avait notamment porté secours à 162 personnes lors de deux opérations très difficiles le 20 décembre 2019 », rappelle-t-elle.

    La situation est d’autant plus frustrante pour les ONG d’aide aux migrants qu’aucun bateau humanitaire n’est actuellement présent dans la zone de détresse au large de la Libye. L’Ocean Viking est notamment immobilisé depuis quatre mois en Italie pour des raisons administratives. « C’est dur de ne pas pouvoir agir alors que la tragédie continue en Méditerranée », confie la porte-parole de SOS Méditerranée qui n’a, pour le moment, pas de visibilité sur le retour du navire en mer. Ce dernier doit rejoindre prochainement un chantier naval sicilien afin d’y subir les modifications exigées par les autorités italiennes pour reprendre ses missions de sauvetage.

    En attendant, ce coup d’arrêt porté à l’activité des navires humanitaires ces derniers mois a permis, pour SOS Méditerranée, de démontrer une fois de plus que la théorie de l’appel d’air, selon laquelle les sauvetages réalisés par les ONG encouragent plus de migrants à prendre la mer, n’était pas avérée. « On a bien vu, au début de la pandémie en mars/avril, que les départs ont explosé alors que toutes les ONG étaient bloquées à terre à cause de la situation sanitaire », plaide la porte-parole de SOS Méditerranée.

    Selon Vincent Cochetel, l’envoyé spécial pour la Méditerranée centrale de l’agence onusienne chargée des réfugiés (UNHCR), les départs des côtes libyennes ont augmenté de 290%, soit 6 629 tentatives entre janvier et fin avril 2020, comparé à la même période l’an dernier, et de 156% au départ de la Tunisie. « Qu’il y ait des bateaux ou pas en mer, ça n’a aucune influence sur les départs, cette période de coronavirus nous l’a amplement prouvé, alors qu’on a entendu dans les capitales européennes que c’était la présence d’ONG qui avait un effet magnétique sur les départs », expliquait-il déjà en mai dernier, ajoutant que « 75% des migrants en Libye ont perdu leur travail depuis les mesures de confinement, ce qui peut pousser au désespoir. »

    Selon l’OIM, en 2019, au moins 1 885 personnes ont péri en Méditerranée ou ont été portées disparues. L’année précédente, elles étaient 2 299. « C’est vrai que le nombre de victimes est en diminution, mais le chiffre pour cette année reste impressionnant. Il n’y a pas de course au chiffre lorsqu’il s’agit de vies humaines. La Méditerranée demeure la route maritime migratoire la plus meurtrière au monde », conclut la porte-parole de SOS Méditerranée.


    #mourir_en_mer #Méditerranée #morts #décès #mer_Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #chiffres #statistiques #2020

    ping @reka @karine4 @isskein

  • 110 Mediterranean Deaths In Three Days : Is Europe Committing An (In)act Of War ?

    European authorities’ inaction is starting to look like dirty battle tactics at the world’s deadliest sea border.

    Between November 10th and 12th, four separate shipwrecks in the crossing between Libya and Italy claimed over 110 lives. In the largest of the shipwrecks, a boat of reportedly 120 people capsized, leaving 47 survivors and over 70 bodies floating off the Libyan coast. In another shipwreck, a six-month-old child was one of the casualties. In the week prior, almost 1,000 people were forcibly returned from the Mediterranean to Libya, an active warzone.

    Non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies have hotly criticized Frontex, the European Border and Coastguard Agency, for claiming on November 11th that they were “committed to saving lives at sea in close cooperation with all operational actors.” Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)’s humanitarian affairs advisor, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, called deaths in the Mediterranean the “inevitable outcome of [the EU’s] murderous policies of non-assistance and the active blocking of non-governmental organization (N.G.O.) rescue ships.” In August, the International Organization for Migration (I.O.M.) stated, “Without a dedicated, E.U.-led search and rescue operation and disembarkation mechanism, more lives will be lost in the Mediterranean.”

    Despite international law committing all states to assist those in distress at sea, a variety of tactics are used to disincentivize movement across the Mediterranean, with deadly consequences. Italian authorities have prevented all but one N.G.O. search-and-rescue boat from leaving port with insufficient explanation, such as that there were too many life jackets on board, or insufficient sewage systems for crew. Upon receiving a distress call from 108 people without life jackets in a boat at midday, Maltese authorities delayed the deployment of rescue efforts until the next morning. In August, a commercial ship which picked up hundreds of people in distress had to wait over three weeks to be offered safe port to disembark those rescued.

    While violently inactive on the northern side of the border, the European Union is increasingly proactive in supporting the forced return of migrants to Libya, despite several explicit statements from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and I.O.M. that this should not be done. Besides the risk of sending vulnerable individuals back into an active warzone, migrants are particularly maltreated in Libya. Amnesty International has recorded several human rights abuses against migrants and refugees, including unlawful killings; enforced disappearances; torture and other ill-treatment; rape and other sexual violence; arbitrary detention; and forced labour and exploitation at the hands of state and non-state actors in a climate of near-total impunity. The E.U. continues to provide equipment, training, and coordination to the Libyan Coastguard, facilitating 60,000 forced returns since 2016. Only 5,709 individuals have been evacuated to receiving states officially from Libya since 2017.

    Since last January, over 900 civilians have died in the Mediterranean. To give context, 483 civilians died in the active conflict in Libya between June 2019 and June 2020. While the actions of Libyan and European authorities are not the same as acts of open military confrontation, the willingness to let people die (and in some cases in Libya, to kill them) to prevent their arrival in European or Libyan territory shows that the tens of thousands of humans travelling across North Africa towards Europe are treated, not as a demographic phenomenon, but as an invasion. Even if the Mediterranean were really a place of war, with people who are travelling on one side and the E.U. and Libya on the other, both sides would be obliged by international humanitarian law to allow humanitarian access to “the enemy.” The fact that humanitarian access is restricted to one single boat in the Mediterranean shows that this is not only a war – it’s a dirty one.


    #guerre_aux_migrants #asile #migrations #réfugiés #mer_Méditerranée #Méditerranée #mourir_en_mer #morts #décès #frontières #guerre #victimes #Libye


    Journal d’un marin-sauveteur en Méditerranée

    La mer est un miroir que seule notre étrave vient troubler. Le ciel est voilé, mais la lumière est forte. L’atmosphère d’un gris métallique. Nous sommes en route vers notre dernier sauvetage avant de remonter vers le nord. Je suis tendu, ma tête se remplit de tous les « et si… » que je peux imaginer après les jours que nous avons vécus. Nous mettons les canots rapides à l’eau. À notre approche, la tension est palpable, les gens nous demandent si nous sommes de la police. On dégaine le speech habituel – « nous sommes ici pour vous aider ». Nos « invités » sont pleins de vie, et sans le savoir ils rallument notre motivation. Dans l’équipage, certains disent que ce n’est pas nous qui les avons sauvés, mais eux qui nous sauvent.

    Par le récit de ses expériences du sauvetage en #Méditerranée, #Antonin_Richard nous embarque là où la démagogie des politiques européennes fusionne avec la police des régimes dictatoriaux. Là, aussi, où celles et ceux qui font vivre la camaraderie marine apprivoisent quotidiennement la mer – et s’activent pour laisser aux personnes qui migrent le droit de se donner un présent et un avenir.

    cc @cdb_77 et @tout_le_monde. Je l’ai lu, c’est très bien. ça sort demain...

  • I fantasmi di #Portopalo

    Il giorno della vigilia di Natale #1996 #Saro_Ferro, pescatore del piccolo borgo marinaro siciliano di Portopalo, salva un naufrago al rientro da una battuta di pesca nel mare in tempesta. Nei giorni successivi le acque cominciano a restituire cadaveri su cadaveri: chi sono questi uomini? E cosa gli è successo?

    #pêcheurs #migrations #asile #réfugiés #naufrage #séquestration #Pachino #mourir_en_mer #Italie #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée

    Dans la #terminologie...
    Les naufragés étaient appelés « i #tonni di Portopalo » (les « #thons de Portopalo »)
    #mots #vocabulaire
    –-> ping @sinehebdo


    page wiki
    Naufragio della #F174

  • Discussion #Frontex et #MSF sur twitter...

    Tout commence par un tweet de Frontex, le 13.11.2020 :

    Ruthless people smugglers put dozens of people in danger today. Thankfully a Frontex plane saw the overcrowded boat near Libyan coast and issued mayday call. We also alerted all national rescue centres. 102 people were rescued by Libyan Coast Guard. Sadly, 2 bodies were recovered

    MSF répond le 14.11.2020 :

    How many boats do you see & not report to the NGOs who could have rescued them?
    How many people have you watched die without alerting the world to what reality looks in the #Med?
    What happens to the people you facilitate the Libyan Coast Guard in trapping & forcing back to Libya?


    Frontex :

    Frontex always alerts national rescue centres in the relevant area, as required by international law. Always. Don’t you?

    MSF :

    International law requires people to be brought to a place of safety.

    Frontex :

    So you do not/would not contact the closest internationally-recognised rescue centres, violating international law and putting lives in danger?

    MSF :

    So you are not/ would not be concerned that people are taken back to a place internationally recognised as unsafe, violating international law and putting lives in danger?
    Your Director was.

    –-> en ajoutant le lien vers une lettre signée par Paraskevi MICHOU (EUROPEAN COMMISSION DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR MIGRATION AND HOME AFFAIRS) et adressée à #Fabrice_Leggeri (Ref. Ares(2019)1755075 - 18/03/2019) :

    Frontex :

    We care deeply about the safety and security of hundreds of millions of European by helping to protect our borders. And we care deeply about the lives of those in distress at sea. This is why we helped to save more than a quarter million people in recent years.



    Commentaire de #Jeff_Crisp sur twitter :

    Latest score:
    MSF: 3
    Frontex: 0
    And it is only half-time...


    #sauvetages_en_mer #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #sauvetage #mensonges #Libye #twitter #réseaux_sociaux #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Italy: UN expert condemns ‘criminalization’ of those saving lives in the Mediterranean

    A UN human rights expert condemned today the criminalization of 11 human rights defenders in Italy, saying their efforts to search for and save lives of migrants and asylum seekers in distress in the Mediterranean should instead be applauded.

    “Carola Rackete, the former captain of the rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3, and the ‘Iuventa 10’ crew members are human rights defenders and not criminals,” said Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

    “I regret that the criminal proceedings against them are still open and they continue to face stigmatization in connection with their human rights work protecting the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers at risk in the Mediterranean Sea.”

    In September 2016, a criminal investigation was opened against some crew members of the Iuventa rescue ship.Charges against them included aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime of illegal immigration, an offence that carries a jail term of between five and 20 years, and a fine of 15,000 euros. On 18 June 2019, a motion for the dismissal of the preliminary criminal investigation against the ‘Iuventa 10’ crew members was filed, but a formal decision is still pending.

    Ms. Rackete was arrested by Italian authorities on 29 June 2019 for docking her rescue ship, with 53 migrants on board, without permission. At the beginning of this year, acting upon appeal, the Italian Supreme Court ruled that she should not have been arrested. Despite this, Ms. Rackete continues to face charges, including aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime of illegal immigration. She risks up to 20 years of imprisonment , and various fines of up to 50,000 euros.

    Since 2014, at least 16,000 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean, according to the IOM’s ’Missing Migrants’ project. “The Italian Government must publicly recognise the important role of human rights defenders in protecting the right to life of migrants and asylum seekers at risk in the Mediterranean and must end the criminalization of those who defend their human rights,” Lawlor said.

    #condamnation #UN #nations_unies #Italie #sauvetage #criminalisation #solidarité #Méditerranée #Mer_Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #stigmatisation #Iuventa #Carola_Rakete

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Overlapping crises in Lebanon fuel a new migration to Cyprus

    Driven by increasingly desperate economic circumstances and security concerns in the wake of last month’s Beirut port explosion, a growing number of people are boarding smugglers’ boats in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli bound for Cyprus, an EU member state around 160 kilometres away by sea.

    The uptick was thrown into sharp relief on 14 September when a boat packed with 37 people was found adrift off the coast of Lebanon and rescued by the marine task force of UNIFIL, a UN peacekeeping mission that has operated in the country since 1978. At least six people from the boat died, including two children, and six are missing at sea.

    Between the start of July and 14 September, at least 21 boats left Lebanon for Cyprus, according to statistics provided by the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR. This compares to 17 in the whole of 2019. The majority of this year’s trips have happened since 29 August.

    Overall, more than 52,000 asylum seekers and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, and compared to Libya, Tunisia, and Turkey – where most of these boat journeys originate – departures from Lebanon are still low. But given the deteriorating situation in the county and the sudden increase in numbers, the attempted crossings represent a significant new trend.

    Fishermen at the harbour in the Tripoli suburb of Al Mina told The New Humanitarian that groups of would-be migrants have been leaving in recent weeks on fishing vessels to the small island of Rankin off the coast, under the pretense of going for a day’s swimming outing. They then wait on the island to be picked up and taken onward, normally to Cyprus.

    Lebanese politicians have periodically used the threat of a wave of refugees heading for Europe to coax more funds from international donors. Former foreign minister Gebran Bassil told French President Emmanuel Macron after the 4 August port explosion that “those whom we welcome generously, may take the escape route towards you in the event of the disintegration of Lebanon.”

    The vast majority of those trying to reach Cyprus – many hope to continue on to Germany or other countries in mainland Europe – have been Syrian refugees, whose situation in Lebanon was precarious long before its descent into full-on financial and political meltdown over the past year.

    Syrians are still the largest group, but as the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the multiple crises facing Lebanon – the country recorded a record 1,006 COVID-19 cases on 20 September, precipitating calls for a new lockdown – Lebanese residents of Tripoli told The New Humanitarian that an increasing number of Lebanese citizens are attempting, or considering, the sea route.

    “How many people are thinking about it? All of us, without exception,” Mohammed al-Jindi, a 32-year-old father of two who manages a mobile phone shop in Tripoli, said of people he knows in the city.

    The Lebanese lira, officially pegged to the dollar at a rate of about 1,500, has lost 80 percent of its value over the past year. Prices of many basic goods have skyrocketed, and more than half of the population is now estimated to be living in poverty. The port explosion – which destroyed some 15,000 metric tonnes of wheat and displaced as many as 300,000 families, at least temporarily – has compounded fears about worsening poverty and food insecurity.

    Adding to the uncertainty, it has been nearly a year since the outbreak of a protest movement calling for the ouster of Lebanon’s long-ruling political class, blamed for much of the country’s dysfunction, including the port explosion. The economic and political turbulence has led to fears about insecurity, wielded as a threat by some political parties. These fears were underscored by violent clashes in Beirut’s suburbs that left two dead at the end of August.

    “In desperate situations, whether in search of safety, protection, or basic survival, people will move, whatever the danger,” Mireille Girard, UNHCR representative in Lebanon, said in a statement following the 14 September incident. “Addressing the reasons of these desperate journeys and the swift collective rescue of people distressed at sea are key.”
    ‘It’s the only choice’

    Al-Jindi is planning to take the sea route himself and bring his family later. But so far he has been unable to scrape together the approximately $1,000 required by smugglers – the ones he has contacted insist on being paid in scarce US dollars, not Lebanese lira. The currency crisis means al-Jindi’s monthly salary of 900,000 Lebanese lira, previously worth $600, is now worth only around $120.

    The port explosion in Beirut added insecurity to al-Jindi’s list of worries. He lives in the neighbourhood of Bab al Tabbaneh – which has sporadically clashed for years with the adjacent neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen – and fears a return of the conflict.

    “I don’t want to let my children live the same experiences… the sound of explosions, the sound of shooting,” al-Jindi said. After the port explosion, he added, “1,000 percent, now I have a greater desire to leave.”

    Paying for a smuggler’s services is beyond the reach of many Lebanese. But members of the country’s shrinking middle class, frustrated with a lack of opportunities, are also contemplating the Mediterranean journey.

    “I don’t want to let my children live the same experiences… the sound of explosions, the sound of shooting.”

    Educated young people are more likely to apply for emigration through legal routes.

    According to Lebanese research firm Information International, about 66,800 Lebanese emigrated in 2019, an increase from the previous year. The firm also reported a 36 percent increase in departures from the Beirut airport after the explosion.

    But with COVID-19 travel restrictions and the general trend of tightening borders around the world, some Lebanese are also turning to the sea.

    Unable to find steady work since he graduated from university with a degree in IT two years ago, 22-year-old Mohammed Ahmad had applied for a visa to Canada, without success, before deciding to take his chances on the sea route. Before the port explosion, Ahmad had already struck a deal with a purported smuggler to take him to Cyprus and then Greece for 10 million Lebanese lira (the equivalent of around $1,200 at the black exchange market rate). The explosion has only strengthened his resolve.

    “Before, you could think, ‘Maybe the dollar will go down, maybe the situation will get better,’” said Ahmad. “Now, you can’t think that way. We know how the situation is.”

    Mustapha Masri, 21, a fourth-year accounting student at Lebanese University, said he hadn’t planned on leaving Lebanon, “but year after year the situation got worse.” Like Ahmad, Masri first tried emigrating legally, but without success.

    A few months ago, acquaintances referred him to a smuggler. He began selling his belongings to raise the funds for the trip, beginning with his laptop, which he traded for a cheaper one. Even his parents were willing to sell valuables to help him, Masri said.

    “In the beginning, they were against it, but after Australia and Germany denied me, they agreed,” Masri said. “It’s the only choice.”

    Increasing movement

    The past two months have shown a significant uptick in crossings.

    According to UNHCR statistics, in all of 2019, only eight boats from Lebanon arrived in Cyprus, seven were intercepted by Lebanese authorities before getting to the open sea, and two went missing at sea.

    In 2020, three boats are known to have left Lebanon for Cyprus in July, followed by 16 in the weeks between 29 August and 9 September, said UNHCR spokeswoman Lisa Abou Khaled. Eight of those boats were confirmed to have reached Cyprus and another two were reported to have arrived but could not be verified, she said. Another five were intercepted by Lebanese authorities and four were pushed back by Cypriot authorities before they reached the island and returned to Lebanon.

    “From our conversations with the individuals, we understand that the majority tried to leave Lebanon because of their dire socio-economic situation and struggle to survive, and that a couple of families left because of the impact of the blast,” Abou Khaled said.

    The pushbacks by Cypriot authorities have raised concerns among refugee rights advocates, who allege that Cyprus is violating the principle of non-refoulement, which states that refugees and asylum seekers should not be forcibly returned to a country where they might face persecution.

    Loizos Michael, spokesman for the Cypriot Ministry of Interior, said of the arriving migrants: “At this point we can only confirm the increase in boats arriving in Cyprus…The Cypriot government is in close cooperation with the Lebanese authorities and within this framework are trying to respond to the issue.”

    In 2002, Lebanon and Cyprus signed a bilateral agreement to cooperate in combating organised crime, including illegal immigration and human trafficking.

    Peter Stano, a spokesman for the European Union, said that the EU Commission takes allegations of pushbacks “very seriously”, adding, “It is essential… that fundamental rights, and EU law more broadly, is fully respected.”
    Worth the risk?

    The sea route to Cyprus is often deadly, as the 14 September incident underscored. To increase their earnings, smugglers pack small vessels beyond their capacity. More than 70 people have died or gone missing in 2020 on the Eastern Mediterranean sea route – which includes boats bound for Cyprus and Greece – up from 59 all of last year.

    Those who TNH spoke to who were contemplating the crossing said they were aware of the dangers but they still considered it worth the risk to attempt the journey.

    “I don’t believe all the talk that life there is like paradise.”

    “There are a lot of people who have gone and arrived, so I don’t want to think from the perspective that I might not arrive,” said Ahmad, the 22-year-old IT graduate. He was sanguine too about what he might find if he makes it to Europe. “I don’t believe all the talk that life there is like paradise and so on, but I’ll go and see,” he said.

    But the plans of both Ahmad and Masri hit a glitch.

    The two young men – who do not know each other – had been expecting to travel last month. Both had paid a percentage of the agreed-upon fee to the purported smuggler as a deposit, the equivalent of about $100. In both cases, soon after they paid, the smuggler disappeared. When they tried contacting him, they found his line had been disconnected.

    Still, they haven’t given up.

    “If I found someone else, I would go – 100 percent,” Masri said. “Anything is better than here.”


    #Chypre #Liban #migrations #asile #réfugiés #routes_migratoires #itinéraires_migratoires #migrants_libanais #réfugiés_libanais #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée

    ping @reka @karine4 @isskein

  • Libérez l’« Ocean Viking » et les autres navires humanitaires

    Les maires de #Montpellier et de #Palerme lancent un #appel pour que le navire de #SOS_Méditerranée détenu en Sicile soit libéré, et que les opérations en Méditerranée centrale puissent reprendre.

    Nous, maires des #villes_méditerranéennes jumelées de Montpellier et Palerme, confrontés à la #crise_humanitaire majeure qui a transformé la #mer_Méditerranée en cimetière ces dernières années, sommes indignés par la #détention_administrative du navire humanitaire #Ocean Viking de SOS Méditerranée depuis le 22 juillet en Sicile.

    Cette détention vient s’ajouter à celle de trois autres #navires_humanitaires depuis le mois d’avril. A chaque fois les autorités maritimes italiennes invoquent des « #irrégularités_techniques_et_opérationnelles » et de prétendus motifs de #sécurité à bord des navires. Pourtant, malgré le harcèlement exercé à l’encontre de leurs navires, ces #ONG de sauvetage en mer opèrent depuis plusieurs années en toute transparence et en coordination avec les autorités maritimes compétentes qui les soumettent très régulièrement au contrôle des autorités portuaires.

    Ces dernières années, les ONG civiles de sauvetage en mer ont secouru des dizaines de milliers d’hommes, de femmes et d’enfants en danger de mort imminente, comblant un #vide mortel laissé par les Etats européens en Méditerranée.

    Alors que les sauveteurs sont empêchés de mener leur mission vitale de sauvetage, de nouveaux naufrages, de nouveaux morts sont à prévoir aux portes de l’Europe.

    Est-ce là le prix à payer pour l’#irresponsabilité et la #défaillance des Etats européens ? En tant que #maires, #citoyens méditerranéens et européens, nous le refusons et dénonçons ces politiques délétères !

    Nous demandons la levée immédiate des mesures de détention qui touchent l’Ocean Viking et tous les navires de sauvetage, pour une reprise immédiate des opérations en Méditerranée centrale !

    Nous appelons tous les citoyens à signer la pétition demandant aux autorités maritimes italiennes la libération du navire.


    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #villes-refuge #Méditerranée #sauvetage #indignation #Michael_Delafosse #Leoluca_Orlando #géographie_du_vide #géographie_du_plein


    Ajouté à la métaliste sur les villes-refuge :

  • Migrants : les traversées depuis le #Maghreb bousculées par le Covid

    Au début de la crise sanitaire, les chercheuses #Nabila_Moussaoui et #Chadia_Arab ont constaté une baisse des départs depuis les côtes algériennes et marocaines vers l’Europe, et même quelques traversées « retours ». Depuis, les tentatives de passage ont largement repris.

    Jusqu’à quel point le phénomène de « harraga », qui désigne un départ clandestin par la mer depuis les pays du Maghreb vers l’Europe, a été touché par la pandémie de Covid-19 ? Mediapart donne la parole à deux spécialistes des migrations internationales : Nabila Moussaoui, anthropologue, enseignante-chercheuse à l’université Oran II-Mohamed Ben Ahmed et doctorante à l’université Toulouse II-Jean-Jaurès, et la géographe Chadia Arab, chargée de recherche au CNRS (UMR ESO-Angers), enseignante à l’université d’Angers.

    En Algérie, de nombreux départs clandestins se font depuis l’Oranie, que Nabila Moussaoui surnomme "La Mecque des harragas". © NB

    Avec la fermeture des frontières, la pandémie a-t-elle eu une incidence sur le phénomène de harraga ?

    Nabila Moussaoui : Elle a modifié le cours normal de la vie quotidienne sur tous les plans. Inattendue, elle a poussé les États à prendre des décisions rapides pour limiter les dégâts. La fermeture des frontières, de cette façon inédite, a eu des incidences à plusieurs niveaux. En Algérie, où la harraga est une réalité permanente, beaucoup de jeunes ont renoncé au départ ou l’ont reporté. Tout comme le « Hirak » [le mouvement de contestation sociale ayant touché l’Algérie dès février 2019 – ndlr] à ses débuts, la crise sanitaire a été un moment d’incertitude où la vie humaine a été doublement menacée pour les #harragas.

    Chadia Arab, géographe et chargée de recherche au CNRS, UMR ESO-Angers. © DR
    Chadia Arab : Le Maroc a pris la décision de fermer ses frontières dès le 13 mars, avant certains pays européens. Les harragas de toutes nationalités se sont retrouvés dans des situations compliquées. Dans les deux enclaves espagnoles au Maroc, Ceuta et Melilla, des Marocains ne peuvent pas rentrer chez eux. Des demandeurs d’asile sont aussi en attente, dans des conditions parfois dramatiques (voir notre reportage sur ce sujet en 2019).

    La presse locale a fait état de plusieurs cas de harraga « inversée » : des Marocains et Algériens partis clandestinement pour l’Espagne seraient revenus dans leur pays d’origine durant la crise sanitaire. Un épiphénomène ?

    Nabila Moussaoui : Ça n’a pas été rendu officiel par les autorités mais beaucoup de rumeurs ont circulé quant au retour de migrants par voie maritime, en Algérie comme au Maroc. Travaillant essentiellement sur l’Oranie, j’ai eu des récits de retours de harraga d’Espagne par les côtes de Mostaganem. Un quotidien algérien arabophone a rapporté les mêmes faits, mais je ne peux me prononcer sur leur véracité. Il s’agirait de jeunes (reste à définir sociologiquement ce jeune et la tranche d’âge dans laquelle il se situe) rentrés par les côtes mostaganemoises. Ils seraient une dizaine, originaires de Mostaganem et Relizane. Je trouve curieux qu’il n’y ait pas de harragas d’Oran, qui reste une ville de départ très prisée. Mais si retour il y a, c’est un épisode ponctuel, imposé par la conjoncture.

    Chadia Arab : Les journaux marocains, algériens et espagnols ont évoqué des cas. Je ne pense pas que ce soit un phénomène massif mais il est néanmoins important d’en parler. Il faudrait rappeler que d’une part, dans une histoire récente, des cas de harragas ne supportant pas la vie difficile en Europe sont revenus dans leur pays d’origine. D’autre part, dans les années 1950, les Espagnols fuyant la dictature de Franco empruntaient des barques de fortune pour traverser les 13 kilomètres séparant les côtes espagnoles du Maroc pour s’y réfugier.

    Comment l’analysez-vous ?

    Chadia Arab : Les deux pays majoritairement prisés par les harragas sont l’Espagne et l’Italie, deux pays européens et méditerranéens fortement touchés par l’épidémie. Leur situation géographique explique une partie de ces cas de harraga de retour. Mais c’est surtout la crise économique et sociale qui accompagne cette crise sanitaire qui pousse ces migrants à choisir de rentrer chez eux. Les conditions des migrants sans papiers en Europe sont dramatiques et sont exacerbées par la crise du Covid. Sans papiers mais surtout sans ressources, parfois sans logement, ils ne peuvent même pas travailler dans un pays où le confinement ne permet pas la recherche d’emploi. Les risques sont démultipliés chez des personnes déjà fragilisées par leur statut administratif et leur condition sociale. Il est normal qu’avec ce contexte, un certain nombre d’entre eux réfléchissent à rentrer. Par ailleurs, la gestion de la crise, surtout au début, n’était pas au rendez-vous pour rassurer les populations présentes dans ces pays, qu’elles soient migrantes ou non. Le nombre de décès dans les deux pays a aussi inquiété.

    Nabila Moussaoui, chercheuse à l’université Oran II-Mohamed Ben Ahmed. © DR
    Nabila Moussaoui : Les chiffres alarmants de contaminations par le virus du Covid 19 ont effrayé les migrants et le nombre croissant de morts les a plongés dans la panique. Mais la mauvaise gestion de la crise dans les pays européens n’est pas le seul motif. En partant, le harraga s’inscrit dans l’incertitude, même si son départ est un projet réfléchi. En bravant la mer, il brave la mort, mais celle-ci fait partie du projet initial. Mourir d’une épidémie loin des siens reste « hors contrôle » pour le harraga, avec le risque d’être enterré loin de la terre d’islam, s’il échappe à l’incinération, qui n’est pas de sa culture. Le harraga s’inscrit dans une logique de réussite, il est vu comme un héros « qui prend sa vie en main ». Mais dans ce contexte, sa mort serait synonyme d’échec social. Elle serait assimilée au suicide, comme le stipule la fatwa relative à la harraga en Algérie, le plus grand des péchés dans la religion musulmane.

    Où en est le phénomène de harraga aujourd’hui ?

    Nabila Moussaoui : Au début du Hirak, les départs ont régressé, puis cessé, pour reprendre de manière alarmante au moment de l’annonce de la date des élections. Le même constat est valable aujourd’hui avec cette crise sanitaire : après le flou, les interrogations et la peur vient la résilience.

    Chadia Arab : Ce que nous avons appris de la société civile qui travaille avec les migrants, c’est que la fermeture des frontières ne limite pas la volonté de migrer. Et bien que les personnes ne puissent plus voyager, le transit des camions et conteneurs se poursuit. Dans le port de Tanger, les harragas continuent à tenter d’échapper à la vigilance des contrôles qui se sont renforcés pendant la crise sanitaire. Ils surveillent nuit et jour la possibilité de s’engouffrer sous un camion ou à l’intérieur d’un bateau pour tenter l’aventure migratoire vers l’Europe (lire notre reportage à Tanger).

    L’inquiétude qu’on peut avoir, c’est sur la dangerosité du « hrig » [« brûler les frontières », soit le départ clandestin – ndlr]. Ces migrants risquent leur vie à chaque tentative, et les arrestations peuvent être rudes et violentes. Plusieurs associations en Europe et au Maghreb (Euromed Right, Sea-Watch, Fmas, Gadem, Ftdes, Amdh, etc.) ont dénoncé les tensions et la vulnérabilité, encore plus fortes en temps de crise sanitaire, dans les centres de détention [Ceti de Melilla et Ceuta, El Wardia en Tunisie, les centres en Libye, à Chypre et Malte – ndlr]. Des bateaux flottants sont venus remplacer ces hotspots pour enfermer les migrants retrouvés en mer. Melilla est un des passages empruntés par ces harragas. Six cents Tunisiens risquent actuellement leur vie à Melilla et peuvent être expulsés à tout moment. La situation déjà dramatique des harragas s’aggrave donc.

    Avez-vous une estimation du nombre de bateaux ou personnes qui partent chaque jour, et du coût que cela représente ?

    Chadia Arab : À l’époque où le phénomène était vraiment très important, fin des années 1990 et début des années 2000, les migrants pouvaient payer une traversée dans des pateras ou Zodiac 1 000 euros. Aujourd’hui, il semblerait que le tarif ait augmenté pour atteindre jusqu’à 5 000 euros.
    Nabila Moussaoui : Je ne peux pas avancer d’estimation. Les prix augmentent d’année en année, suivant le taux de change du secteur informel, la qualité de l’embarcation, le « professionnalisme » du passeur… Et, bien sûr, les conditions du départ. Les traversées coûtent entre 1 200 et 3 000 euros, selon les périodes, les itinéraires choisis et le nombre de candidats. En cette période de crise, je ne doute pas de l’augmentation des coûts de la traversée, de par la conjoncture au départ et à l’arrivée. Elle doit pouvoir se négocier à partir de 2 000 euros aujourd’hui, « prime de risque de contamination incluse ». La harraga est un business.

    À quoi faut-il s’attendre lors du déconfinement au Maroc (où un confinement total a été instauré depuis le 20 mars) et en Algérie (où un confinement partiel a été étendu à tout le territoire le 4 avril) ?

    Nabila Moussaoui : Pour l’instant, les médias se focalisent sur l’évolution du Covid-19. Que le phénomène ne fasse pas la une des journaux ou des JT ne signifie pas qu’il n’existe plus. Au moment du déconfinement, des chiffres alarmants de harragas partis ou disparus seront révélés. La réalité des crises algériennes dans leur globalité refera surface. La liste des disparus en mer ou des signalements s’allongera. Durant le confinement déjà, des cas de disparitions d’adolescents et de jeunes adultes ont envahi les réseaux sociaux. À Oran, deux mineurs de 17 ans sortis faire des courses ne sont jamais rentrés. La situation politique et socio-économique de l’Algérie peut l’expliquer. La crise a révélé le manque affligeant de structures hospitalières et de moyens, ainsi qu’une impréparation à la gestion de crise. Seule la solidarité « populaire » a permis d’y faire face. Les mesures d’aide sont venues bien plus tard (10 000 dinars, soit 50 euros, que l’État a promis aux familles sans ou à faible revenu), après la pénurie d’aliments de première nécessité et le chômage soudain lié à l’arrêt de l’activité économique, reflétant l’importance du secteur informel dans l’économie.

    Chadia Arab : Avec le déconfinement, les réseaux mafieux vont peut-être s’accentuer. Ce qui est sûr, c’est que l’Europe poursuit sa politique de surveillance des frontières : on l’a vu à Melilla et Ceuta, en Grèce, à Malte ou Chypre. L’externalisation des frontières dans les pays du Maghreb fait aussi le jeu de cette Europe sécuritaire. Ce qui veut dire que l’inquiétude sur les risques subis par les migrants sera toujours présente, et que le droit à la vie des migrants, le droit à la liberté de circulation prônés par plusieurs membres de la société civile maghrébine et européenne ne seront toujours pas d’actualité dans le monde d’après, que beaucoup espéraient plus juste…

    Un mot sur le prochain Tribunal permanent des peuples (TPP), qui devrait avoir lieu à Tunis cette année ?

    Chadia Arab : Le TPP est un tribunal d’opinion qui agit de manière indépendante des États et répond aux demandes des communautés et des peuples dont les droits ont été violés. La prochaine édition se tiendra avant la fin de l’année 2020 à Tunis et se concentrera sur les violations des droits des migrants en pointant du doigt les États du Maghreb, avec des accusations sur le droit à la vie, la non-assistance à personnes en danger, les expulsions collectives, le refoulement, la torture, les déplacements forcés, la violence et l’exploitation au sein des centres de détention. Je pense notamment à ce qui se passe en Libye. C’est organisé par la dynamique du Forum social maghrébin (FSMagh).

    #covid-19 #coronavirus #parcours_migratoires #routes_migratoires #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #Algérie #Maroc #Tunisie

    ping @thomas_lacroix @isskein @reka @_kg_

  • L’Europe, la Turquie et les nouvelles lignes de conflit en Méditerranée orientale - European council on foreign relations
    Dans un monde où les grandes puissances sont en compétition, où une pandémie fait rage et où les guerres n’ont pas de fin, d’aucuns seraient surpris que la prochaine crise à laquelle l’Europe se confronterait concernerait des différends en droit maritime.

    Le conflit chypriote et l’antagonisme historique entre la Turquie et la Grèce se trouvent au cœur de ces tensions, autour desquelles un front anti-Turquie plus large se constitue. Ces différends s’entremêlent désormais aux guerres civiles en Libye et en Syrie et attirent des pays aussi lointains que le Golfe ou la Russie.

    Dans une nouvelle cartographie détaillée, l’équipe du programme MENA de l’ECFR analyse les acteurs clés de cette arène méditerranéenne – les Européens, le Conseil de coopération du Golfe, la Turquie et Israël – et identifie les principaux points de compétition, comme les gisements de gaz, le conflit chypriote, mais aussi les conflits en Libye et en Syrie.



  • Appel à l’annulation d’un contrat entre l’#UE et des entreprises israéliennes pour la surveillance des migrants par drones

    Les contrats de l’UE de 59 millions d’euros avec des entreprises militaires israélienne pour s’équiper en drones de guerre afin de surveiller les demandeurs d’asile en mer sont immoraux et d’une légalité douteuse.
    L’achat de #drones_israéliens par l’UE encourage les violations des droits de l’homme en Palestine occupée, tandis que l’utilisation abusive de tout drone pour intercepter les migrants et les demandeurs d’asile entraînerait de graves violations en Méditerranée, a déclaré aujourd’hui Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor dans un communiqué.
    L’UE devrait immédiatement résilier ces #contrats et s’abstenir d’utiliser des drones contre les demandeurs d’asile, en particulier la pratique consistant à renvoyer ces personnes en #Libye, entravant ainsi leur quête de sécurité.

    L’année dernière, l’Agence européenne des garde-frontières et des garde-côtes basée à Varsovie, #Frontex, et l’Agence européenne de sécurité maritime basée à Lisbonne, #EMSA, ont investi plus de 100 millions d’euros dans trois contrats pour des drones sans pilote. De plus, environ 59 millions d’euros des récents contrats de drones de l’UE auraient été accordés à deux sociétés militaires israéliennes : #Elbit_Systems et #Israel_Aerospace_Industries, #IAI.

    L’un des drones que Frontex a obtenu sous contrat est le #Hermes_900 d’Elbit, qui a été expérimenté sur la population mise en cage dans la #bande_de_Gaza assiégée lors de l’#opération_Bordure_protectrice de 2014. Cela montre l’#investissement de l’UE dans des équipements israéliens dont la valeur a été démontrée par son utilisation dans le cadre de l’oppression du peuple palestinien et de l’occupation de son territoire. Ces achats de drones seront perçus comme soutenant et encourageant une telle utilisation expérimentale de la #technologie_militaire par le régime répressif israélien.

    « Il est scandaleux pour l’UE d’acheter des drones à des fabricants de drones israéliens compte tenu des moyens répressifs et illégaux utilisés pour opprimer les Palestiniens vivant sous occupation depuis plus de cinquante ans », a déclaré le professeur Richard Falk, président du conseil d’administration d’Euromed-Monitor.

    Il est également inacceptable et inhumain pour l’UE d’utiliser des drones, quelle que soit la manière dont ils ont été obtenus pour violer les droits fondamentaux des migrants risquant leur vie en mer pour demander l’asile en Europe.

    Les contrats de drones de l’UE soulèvent une autre préoccupation sérieuse car l’opération Sophia ayant pris fin le 31 mars 2020, la prochaine #opération_Irini a l’intention d’utiliser ces drones militaires pour surveiller et fournir des renseignements sur les déplacements des demandeurs d’asile en #mer_Méditerranée, et cela sans fournir de protocoles de sauvetage aux personnes exposées à des dangers mortels en mer. Surtout si l’on considère qu’en 2019 le #taux_de_mortalité des demandeurs d’asile essayant de traverser la Méditerranée a augmenté de façon spectaculaire, passant de 2% en moyenne à 14%.

    L’opération Sophia utilise des navires pour patrouiller en Méditerranée, conformément au droit international, et pour aider les navires en détresse. Par exemple, la Convention des Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer (CNUDM) stipule que tous les navires sont tenus de signaler une rencontre avec un navire en détresse et, en outre, de proposer une assistance, y compris un sauvetage. Étant donné que les drones ne transportent pas d’équipement de sauvetage et ne sont pas régis par la CNUDM, il est nécessaire de s’appuyer sur les orientations du droit international des droits de l’homme et du droit international coutumier pour guider le comportement des gouvernements.

    Euro-Med Monitor craint que le passage imminent de l’UE à l’utilisation de drones plutôt que de navires en mer Méditerranée soit une tentative de contourner le #droit_international et de ne pas respecter les directives de l’UE visant à sauver la vie des personnes isolées en mer en situation critique. Le déploiement de drones, comme proposé, montre la détermination de l’UE à dissuader les demandeurs d’asile de chercher un abri sûr en Europe en facilitant leur capture en mer par les #gardes-côtes_libyens. Cette pratique reviendrait à aider et à encourager la persécution des demandeurs d’asile dans les fameux camps de détention libyens, où les pratiques de torture, d’esclavage et d’abus sexuels sont très répandues.

    En novembre 2019, l’#Italie a confirmé qu’un drone militaire appartenant à son armée s’était écrasé en Libye alors qu’il était en mission pour freiner les passages maritimes des migrants. Cela soulève de sérieuses questions quant à savoir si des opérations de drones similaires sont menées discrètement sous les auspices de l’UE.

    L’UE devrait décourager les violations des droits de l’homme contre les Palestiniens en s’abstenant d’acheter du matériel militaire israélien utilisé dans les territoires palestiniens occupés. Elle devrait plus généralement s’abstenir d’utiliser des drones militaires contre les demandeurs d’asile civils et, au lieu de cela, respecter ses obligations en vertu du droit international en offrant un refuge sûr aux réfugiés.

    Euro-Med Monitor souligne que même en cas d’utilisation de drones, les opérateurs de drones de l’UE sont tenus, en vertu du droit international, de respecter les #droits_fondamentaux à la vie, à la liberté et à la sécurité de tout bateau de migrants en danger qu’ils rencontrent. Les opérateurs sont tenus de signaler immédiatement tout incident aux autorités compétentes et de prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour garantir que les opérations de recherche et de sauvetage soient menées au profit des migrants en danger.

    L’UE devrait en outre imposer des mesures de #transparence et de #responsabilité plus strictes sur les pratiques de Frontex, notamment en créant un comité de contrôle indépendant pour enquêter sur toute violation commise et prévenir de futures transgressions. Enfin, l’UE devrait empêcher l’extradition ou l’expulsion des demandeurs d’asile vers la Libye – où leur vie serait gravement menacée – et mettre fin à la pratique des garde-côtes libyens qui consiste à arrêter et capturer des migrants en mer.

    #Europe #EU #drones #Israël #surveillance #drones #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Méditerranée #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #militarisation_des_frontières #complexe_militaro-industriel #business #armée #droits_humains #sauvetage

    ping @etraces @reka @nepthys @isskein @karine4

  • Esternalizzazione e diritto d’asilo, un approfondimento dell’ASGI

    Con il documento che si pubblica l’ASGI, facendo uso delle analisi, delle azioni e delle discussioni prodotte nel corso degli ultimi anni, offre una lettura del fenomeno dell’esternalizzazione delle frontiere e del diritto di asilo focalizzando la propria attenzione in particolare sulle politiche di esternalizzazione volte ad impedire o limitare l’accesso delle persone straniere attraverso la rotta del Mare Mediterraneo centrale, nonché nell’ottica della verifica del rispetto delle norme costituzionali, europee ed internazionali che tutelano i diritti fondamentali delle persone e della conseguente ricerca di strumenti giuridici di contrasto alle violazioni verificate.

    L’esternalizzazione del controllo delle frontiere e del diritto dei rifugiati viene definita come l’insieme delle azioni economiche, giuridiche, militari, culturali, prevalentemente extraterritoriali, poste in essere da soggetti statali e sovrastatali, con il supporto indispensabile di ulteriori attori pubblici e privati, volte ad impedire o ad ostacolare che i migranti (e, tra essi, i richiedenti asilo) possano entrare nel territorio di uno Stato al fine di usufruire delle garanzie, anche giurisdizionali, previste in tale Stato, o comunque volte a rendere legalmente e sostanzialmente inammissibili il loro ingresso o una loro domanda di protezione sociale e/o giuridica.

    Nell’ambito del documento è considerato prima il contesto storico della esternalizzazione, dunque quello geopolitico più recente, attinente la rotta del mar Mediterraneo centrale, infine il contesto giuridico nazionale ed internazionale che si ritiene leso da tali politiche. Vengono, dunque, indicate alcune tra le possibili strade affinché sia individuata la responsabilità dei soggetti che determinano la violazione dei diritti umani delle persone conseguenti alle politiche in materia.

    Il documento intende porsi quale strumento di dibattito nell’ambito dell’ evoluzione dell’analisi del diritto di asilo per fornire adeguati strumenti di comprensione e contrasto di un fenomeno che si ritiene particolarmente insidioso e tale da inficiare sostanzialmente la rilevanza di diritti, tra cui innanzitutto il diritto di asilo, pur formalmente riconosciuti alle persone da parte dell’Italia e degli Stati membri dell’Unione europea.

    #ASGI #rapport #externalisation #Méditerranée_centrale #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #Mer_Méditerranée #droits_fondamentaux #droit_d'asile #Libye #Italie #Trust_Fund #HCR #relocalisation #fonds_fiduciaire_d’urgence #Trust_Fund_for_Africa

    Pour télécharger le rapport:


    ping @isskein

  • Sauvetage de migrants en Méditerranée : #MSF met un terme à son partenariat avec #SOS_Méditerranée

    Médecins sans frontières a annoncé vendredi la fin de sa collaboration avec SOS Méditerranée à bord du navire Ocean Viking. Les deux ONG sont en désaccord sur la possibilité d’effectuer des sauvetages malgré la #crise_sanitaire liée au coronavirus.

    Après quatre ans de collaboration, l’organisation #Médecins_sans_frontières (MSF) a annoncé, vendredi 17 avril, qu’elle cessait ses missions de #sauvetage_en_mer aux côtés de SOS Méditerranée, qui affrète le bateau #Ocean_Viking, contraint de rester jusqu’à nouvel ordre à Marseille, son port d’attache.


    Les deux ONG, dont le partenariat a permis de sauver au cours des quatre dernières années environ 30 000 personnes en Méditerranée, ne sont pas parvenues à s’entendre sur la possibilité d’opérer malgré la crise sanitaire du coronavirus qui a notamment vu les ports italiens et maltais se fermer.

    MSF aurait souhaité poursuivre les sauvetages, même sans garantie des États européens de pouvoir débarquer les personnes secourues, au nom de « l’#impératif_humanitaire », a expliqué Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, chargée des questions humanitaires. Mais l’ONG pouvait difficilement continuer de mobiliser une équipe médicale si le bateau de sauvetage restait à quai en France, a-t-elle ajouté.

    SOS Méditerranée a considéré, de son côté, que « les conditions de sécurité n’étaient malheureusement plus réunies pour les équipages et les personnes secourues », a expliqué à l’AFP Sophie Beau, sa directrice générale. Reprendre la mer, c’était prendre le risque de se retrouver « face à des situations de #blocage qui s’éternisent en mer », « sans aucune garantie de #débarquement », et « des #évacuations_médicales rendues très hasardeuses du fait des conditions de crise sanitaire », a-t-elle ajouté.

    De nombreuses embarcations quittent la Libye

    MSF a par ailleurs rappelé la gravité de la situation de ceux qui continuent de fuir la #Libye. Alors que #Malte et l’#Italie ont fermé leurs #ports et que plus aucun navire humanitaire ne se trouvait dans la zone de recherche et sauvetage libyenne vendredi, les tentatives de traversées de la Méditerranée sont encore plus dangereuses qu’avant.

    Pour MSF, les États européens « continuent de se dérober devant leur #responsabilité, contrecarrant sans relâche les efforts des ONG ». Elle accuse Malte et l’Italie de ne pas avoir répondu à plusieurs appels de détresse et d’avoir refusé « le débarquement à près de 200 personnes » par d’autres ONG pendant le week-end de Pâques.

    Prenant acte du #retrait de son « #partenaire_médical », SOS Méditerranée espère pouvoir reprendre les opérations de sauvetage au plus vite pour éviter « que la crise sanitaire n’en cache une autre », humanitaire, en Méditerranée. Et elle rappelle dans un communiqué que plus de 1 000 personnes ont fui la Libye « à bord de bateaux impropres à la navigation » au cours des dix derniers jours.


    #sauvetage #ONG #asile #migrations #Méditerranée #coronavirus #covid-19 #Mer_Méditerranée #rupture #ports_fermés #fermeture_des_ports

  • Le Covid-19, nouveau danger pour les migrants en #Méditerranée

    Seul bateau humanitaire à opérer en ce moment, le « #Alan_Kurdi » cherche en vain un port pour débarquer 150 rescapés. Avec l’épidémie, l’Italie et Malte ont fermé leurs ports et disent n’être plus en mesure de mener des opérations de sauvetage.

    La scène est devenue d’une triste banalité. Depuis cinq jours, le bateau de sauvetage Alan Kurdi, de l’ONG allemande Sea-Eye, erre en Méditerranée entre Malte et l’île italienne de Lampedusa. Aucun des deux Etats n’est prêt à accueillir les 150 rescapés que le bateau a recueillis le 6 avril au large de la Libye. Avec l’épidémie de Covid-19 qui fait rage (plus de 18 000 morts en Italie, deux dans le petit archipel maltais), ils s’opposent même à un débarquement temporaire des migrants avant une relocalisation dans d’autres pays, alors que 150 villes allemandes se sont dites prêtes à accueillir des réfugiés, selon Sea-Eye. Rome aurait également refusé d’approvisionner le bateau en nourriture, médicaments et carburant.

    Le coronavirus et la fermeture du continent européen ont rendu les traversées de la Méditerranée plus risquées encore, et le travail des ONG plus difficile. Le Alan Kurdi est actuellement le seul navire humanitaire à patrouiller en Méditerranée centrale. Le bateau de l’ONG espagnole Open Arms est en réfection. Sea Watch et MSF ne sont pas retournés en mer après avoir été placés en quarantaine au large de l’Italie début mars.

    Fermeture des ports

    Après l’annonce du sauvetage effectué le 6 avril par le Alan Kurdi, et alors que le bateau demandait à l’Italie et à Malte une autorisation de débarquer, Rome et La Vallette ont choisi de fermer complètement leurs ports. Le 8 avril, le gouvernement italien annonçait que tant que l’état d’urgence sanitaire serait en vigueur, « les ports italiens ne pourraient être considérés comme "sûrs" pour le débarquement de navires battant pavillon étranger ». « A l’heure actuelle et en raison de l’épidémie de Covid-19, les ports ne présentent plus les conditions sanitaires nécessaires », a précisé le ministère des Transports.

    Malte a suivi le même chemin le 9 avril. « Il n’est actuellement pas possible d’assurer la disponibilité d’une zone sûre sur le territoire maltais sans mettre en danger l’efficacité des structures nationales de santé et de logistique », affirme le gouvernement, qui incite les migrants à ne pas tenter le voyage. « Il est de leur intérêt et de leur responsabilité de ne pas se mettre en danger en tentant un voyage risqué vers un pays qui n’est pas en mesure de leur offrir un abri sûr. »
    Selon l’agence européenne de surveillance des frontières, Frontex, les arrivées illégales en Europe ont diminué avec la pandémie, sans s’arrêter pour autant. Ainsi, 800 personnes ont quitté la Libye en mars, selon l’agence de l’ONU pour les réfugiés. De l’autre côté de la Méditerranée, 177 personnes ont débarqué en Italie entre le 2 et le 8 avril, selon l’OIM. « Nous avons constaté une augmentation des traversées cette semaine en Méditerranée centrale, probablement due à l’instabilité croissante en Libye et à un temps clément », précise une porte-parole d’Alarm Phone, ONG qui alerte les garde-côtes si elle repère des embarcations en détresse. Dans la nuit du 6 au 7 avril, 67 personnes ont ainsi réussi à atteindre Lampedusa par elles-mêmes après avoir dérivé plusieurs dizaines d’heures. Alertés, les garde-côtes italiens et maltais ne sont pas intervenus.


    « Notre ligne d’urgence pour les personnes en détresse a constaté ces derniers jours un comportement de plus en plus irresponsable des garde-côtes européens. Les Maltais ou les Italiens n’interviennent pas toujours ou n’arrivent que très longtemps après les alertes », affirme Alarm Phone. L’ONG accuse les gardes-côtes de Malte d’avoir saboté le 9 avril un bateau transportant 70 personnes, qui se trouvait à 20 miles au sud-ouest de l’île. D’après un enregistrement consulté par le New York Times, les garde-côtes auraient coupé le câble d’alimentation du moteur. On y entend aussi l’un d’eux dire : « On va vous laisser mourir dans l’eau. Personne n’entre à Malte. » L’embarcation a finalement été secourue plusieurs heures plus tard.

    Avec la fermeture des ports, les garde-côtes devraient encore limiter leurs interventions. La Vallette a prévenu qu’elle ne serait plus en mesure de mener des missions de sauvetage. « Les personnes qui fuient la Libye devront rejoindre les points les plus méridionaux de Malte ou de l’Italie par elles-mêmes. C’est un pari extraordinairement risqué pour ces bateaux fragiles et trop chargés », s’inquiète Alarm Phone. « Malgré la pression que la pandémie fait peser sur tous les aspects de la société, nous sommes extrêmement préoccupés par ces décisions politiques qui, de fait, outrepassent le droit international.  Le débarquement des rescapés dans un lieu sûr est une obligation pour les capitaines de navire et les États ont la responsabilité juridique de coopérer à la désignation d’un lieu "sûr" approprié, rappelle une porte-parole de SOS Méditerranée.  Nous craignons que les gouvernements européens établissent une hiérarchie entre deux devoirs de priorité égale : sauver des vies à terre et sauver des vies en mer ».

    La situation est d’autant plus préoccupante que le nombre de traversées devrait repartir à la hausse, comme c’est habituellement le cas au printemps. Et pour la première fois, la marine libyenne pourrait refuser de pourchasser les migrants, là aussi en raison de la pandémie. Tripoli a suivi ses voisins du nord et déclaré ses propres ports « non sûrs ». Un bateau officiel des garde-côtes avec 280 rescapés à bord a été interdit d’aborder dans la capitale libyenne. Selon Sea-Eye, leurs collègues à terre exigent quant à eux des masques pour continuer les opérations d’interception.

    #ONG #sauvetage #Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Mer_Méditerranée #ports #ports_fermés #fermeture_des_ports #frontières #fermeture_des_frontières

    ping @thomas_lacroix

    • Les migrants abandonnés en Méditerranée

      Le navire humanitaire allemand Alan Kurdi est coincé en mer avec 150 personnes à bord, l’Italie et Malte ayant fermé leurs ports pour cause de coronavirus. En raison de la guerre qui sévit à Tripoli, la Libye refuse de faire débarquer sur son sol 280 migrants interceptés par les gardes-côtes libyens.
      Il n’y a plus de port en Méditerranée centrale prêt à accueillir les demandeurs d’asile sauvés en mer. Les bateaux humanitaires se trouvent pris en étau entre les ports italiens et maltais, fermés pour cause de coronavirus, et les ports libyens, qui se ferment également pour cause de guerre.

      L’Alan Kurdi, le bateau de l’ONG allemande Sea Eye, avait tout juste repris du service en mer depuis quelques heures, après plus d’un mois d’absence de navire humanitaire en Méditerranée, qu’il a été amené à secourir, lundi 6 avril au matin, 62 personnes qui avaient lancé un appel de détresse depuis leur embarcation de bois surchargée dans les eaux internationales au large de la Libye.

      L’ONG rapporte que pendant le sauvetage, un hors-bord battant pavillon libyen les a menacés en tirant des coups de feu en l’air. Pris de panique, la moitié des migrants se sont alors jetés à l’eau, mais ils ont pu être sauvés par l’équipage de l’Alan Kurdi.

      Les ports italiens décrétés « peu sûrs »

      Quelques heures plus tard, le bateau était amené à secourir une deuxième embarcation, avec 82 personnes à bord dont une femme enceinte. Selon l’ONG, le bateau italien de ravitaillement de plates-formes pétrolières Asso Ventinove, présent à proximité du bateau en détresse, avait refusé de procéder au sauvetage.

      En raison de la pandémie de Covid-19, les autorités italiennes et maltaises ont informé l’Allemagne qu’elles refusaient tout débarquement sur leurs côtes, même si une répartition des personnes sauvées entre les États européens était organisée. Le 7 avril, le gouvernement italien a publié un décret déclarant ses ports « peu sûrs » tant que durera l’urgence de santé publique.

      Depuis, l’Alan Kurdi reste en mer avec, à son bord, les 150 personnes secourues. Une nouvelle errance en Méditerranée qui rappelle la crise de l’été dernier, lorsque sous, l’impulsion de son ministre de l’intérieur d’extrême droite, Matteo Salvini, l’Italie avait fermé ses ports.

      Gorden Isler, président de Sea-Eye, veut croire que l’Allemagne saura leur venir en aide. « Le gouvernement fédéral a réussi à rapatrier 200 000 de ses propres citoyens de l’étranger dans un effort immense. Il doit être imaginable et humainement possible d’envoyer un avion pour 150 personnes en quête de sécurité en Europe du Sud », a-t-il plaidé.

      Une situation « tragique » à Tripoli

      De l’autre côté de la Méditerranée, la guerre bat son plein. Un an après le lancement, le 4 avril 2019, de l’offensive sur Tripoli par le maréchal Haftar et ses troupes de l’est libyen, le conflit a « dégénéré en une dangereuse et potentiellement interminable guerre par procuration alimentée par des puissances étrangères cyniques »,dénonçait la mission des Nations unies en avril dernier.

      Selon elle, 150 000 personnes ont été forcées de fuir leurs foyers, et près de 350 000 civils restent dans les zones de la ligne de front, sans compter 750 000 autres qui vivent dans les zones touchées par les affrontements. Pour la troisième fois de la semaine, l’hôpital Al-Khadra de Tripoli a été bombardé. « Des éclats d’obus ont touché une salle d’opération et un chirurgien en train d’opérer un patient », précise le journal The Libya observer.

      280 migrants bloqués au large de Tripoli

      En raison de l’intensification des bombardements, y compris sur le port de Tripoli, les autorités libyennes ont refusé, le 9 avril, de laisser débarquer 280 migrants interceptés par les gardes-côtes libyens contraints de rester à bord du bateau, a alerté l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM). L’OIM, présent au point de débarquement pour fournir une aide d’urgence, a jugé la situation « tragique ».

      Selon elle, au moins 500 migrants à bord de six bateaux ont quitté la Libye en une semaine en raison de l’intensification du conflit et de l’amélioration des conditions météorologiques. 150 d’entre eux se trouvent à bord de l’Alan Kurdi, et 177 sont arrivés en Italie (soit près de 3 000 depuis le début de l’année).

      « Le droit maritime international et les obligations en matière de droits de l’homme doivent être respectés pendant l’urgence Covid-19 », revendique l’OIM. « Le statu quo ne peut pas continuer », dénonce-t-elle, en réclamant « une approche globale de la situation en Méditerranée centrale ».

      #port_sûr #ports_sûrs

    • L’Italie - par un décret signé par 4 ministres - annonce le 7 avril que l’Italie ne peut plus être considéré un #POS (#place_of_safety) pour les migrants interceptés par des bateaux battant pavillon étranger hors des eaux nationales.


      Nombreuses les réaction de dénonciation de cette décision par la société civile

      –> l’appel du Tavolo Asilo (circulé hier sur la liste)
      –> l’appel des ong de sauvetage en mer https://mediterranearescue.org/news/ong-decreto-porto-sicuro

      –> un appel signé par parlementaires, sénateurs, conseillers régionaux et parlementaires européennes (de majorité gouvernementale)

      Hier Malte annonce aussi la fermeture de ses ports

      pour ensuite décider - hier à 22:30 - de laisser débarquer un bateau avec à bord 61 migrant(e)s 41 heures après avoir lancé un sos (source : alarm phone) https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1248503658188140545

      Tripoli se déclare aussi un port non sure et refoulé un de ses propres motovedettes avec à bord 280 migrant(e)s, dont semblerait aussi femmes et enfants

      Selon l’OIM la Libye se déclare port non sures à cause de l’intensification du conflit qui toucherait aussi le port de Tripoli-
      Le Gouvernement de Al Serraj déclarait de ne avoir presque plus le control du port de Tripoli.

      Cette semaine serait autour de 500 les migrants partis des cotes libyennes. 67 ont pu arriver par leur moyen à Lampedusa, 150 sont toujours à bord du bateau Alan Kurdi (sans pouvoir trouver un port de débarquement) et les autres ont été interceptés par les « Gardes Cotes Libyennes ». 280 sont à bord d’une motovodette libyenne au large de Tripoli après etre en mer depuis 72heures.

      –-> Message de Sara Prestianni, reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop, le 10.04.2020

      #Malte #Libye

    • Migrants trapped on boat in Tripoli due to shelling

      The plight of 280 migrants trapped on a boat in Tripoli harbour due to shelling has shown that EU states and other regional powers needed “a comprehensive approach to the situation in the central Mediterranean,” the International Organisation for Migration, a UN agency, has said. The Libyan coast guard intercepted the migrants en route to Europe, but port authorities refused to let them disembark due to the intensity of fighting.


    • The Covid-19 Excuse: Non-Assistance in the Central Mediterranean becomes the Norm

      The Covid-19 pandemic has allowed states to enact emergency measures which curtail the right and freedom to move, within Europe and beyond. While some measures seem justified in order to contain the spread of a dangerous virus, European authorities have used this health crisis to normalise the already existing practice of non-assistance at sea. In the central Mediterranean, the consequences are particularly devastating. These measures, implemented in the name of ‘saving lives’, have the opposite effect: people are left at serious risk of dying in distress at sea. Under the veil of the health crisis, European authorities are carrying out racist border security policies that make sea crossings even more dangerous and deadly.
      Over 1,000 people try to escape Libya in one week

      In only one week, 5-11 April 2020, over 1,000 people on more than 20 boats have left the Libyan shore. The Alarm Phone was alerted to 10 boats in total, two of which were rescued by Alan Kurdi on 6 April. Over 500 people are reported to have been returned to Libya within merely three days. Some of the survivors have informed us that six people drowned. Many of those returned were kept imprisoned on a ship at Tripoli harbour. Moreover, the fate of some boats remains unclear. At the same time, we have also learned of several other boats that reached Italy autonomously, arriving in Lampedusa, Sicily, Linosa and Pantelleria.

      At the time of writing, 14.30h CEST on 11 April, four boats are still in severe distress at sea. The Armed Forces of Malta refuse to rescue a boat in the Maltese Search and Rescue (SAR) zone. The people on board tell us: “People are without water, the pregnant woman is so tired, the child is crying, so thirsty. Please if you don’t want to save us give us at least water.”
      Creating a deadly Rescue Gap

      In the central Mediterranean, a dangerous rescue gap is actively being created. European coastguards and navies, as well as the so-called Libyan coastguards are stating that they will not engage in SAR activities. One civil rescue boat, the Alan Kurdi, was able to rescue two boats in the current good weather period. However, with 150 people now on board, they are searching for a Port of Safety and cannot carry out further operations. All other rescue NGOs are not allowed or unable to carry out SAR operations.

      For the Alarm Phone, the greatest challenge is the systematic withdrawal of European authorities from the central Mediterranean area. We have documented several scandalous delays and even acts of sabotage at sea. One of the boats that reached out to us was rescued by Italian authorities to Lampedusa only after it had fully crossed the Maltese SAR zone, with the Armed Forces of Malta refusing to intervene. Another boat already in the Maltese SAR zone with 66 people on board was rescued only after about 40 hours. The people on board told us that the Armed Forces of Malta tried to cut the cable of the engine, telling them: “I leave you to die in the water. Nobody will come to Malta.”

      We have experienced irresponsible behaviour by European authorities in all distress cases that have reached the Alarm Phone. Routinely, the so-called “Rescue Coordination Centres” hang up the phone, refuse to take down new information, or are not reachable for hours.
      “Libya is worse than the Corona virus”

      We call on all European authorities to cease endangering the lives of people who seek to escape torture, rape, and war in Libya. Despite the Covid-19 crisis, Europe is still safe compared to Libya and has the resources to carry out vital SAR operations. People trying to flee from Libya are aware of the danger of crossing the sea and the spread of Covid-19 within Europe. Still, as they tell Alarm Phone: “Libya is worse than the Corona virus.”