person:frontex

  • Au #Niger, l’UE mise sur la #police_locale pour traquer les migrants

    Au Niger, l’Union européenne finance le contrôle biométrique des frontières. Avec pour objectif la lutte contre l’immigration, et dans une opacité parfois très grande sur les méthodes utilisées.

    Niger, envoyé spécial.– Deux semaines après une attaque meurtrière attribuée aux groupes armés djihadistes, un silence épais règne autour du poste de la gendarmerie de Makalondi, à la frontière entre le Niger et le Burkina Faso. Ce jour de novembre 2018, un militaire nettoie son fusil avec un torchon, des cartouches scintillantes éparpillées à ses pieds. Des traces de balles sur le mur blanc du petit bâtiment signalent la direction de l’attaque. Sur le pas de la porte, un jeune gendarme montre son bras bandé, pendant que ses collègues creusent une tranchée et empilent des sacs de sable.
    L’assaut, à 100 kilomètres au sud de la capitale Niamey, a convaincu le gouvernement du Niger d’étendre les mesures d’état d’urgence, déjà adoptées dans sept départements frontaliers avec le Mali, à toute la frontière avec le Burkina Faso. La sécurité a également été renforcée sur le poste de police, à moins d’un kilomètre de distance de celui de la gendarmerie, où les agents s’affairent à une autre mission : gérer les flux migratoires.
    « On est les pionniers, au Niger », explique le commissaire Ismaël Soumana, montrant les équipements installés dans un bâtiment en préfabriqué. Des capteurs d’empreintes sont alignés sur un comptoir, accompagnés d’un scanneur de documents, d’une microcaméra et d’un ordinateur. « Ici, on enregistre les données biométriques de tous les passagers qui entrent et sortent du pays, on ajoute des informations personnelles et puis on envoie tout à Niamey, où les données sont centralisées. »
    Makalondi est le premier poste au Niger à avoir installé le Midas, système d’information et d’analyse de données sur la migration, en septembre 2018. C’est la première étape d’un projet de biométrisation des frontières terrestres du pays, financé par l’UE et le #Japon, et réalisé conjointement par l’#OIM, l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations – créatrice et propriétaire du système #Midas –, et #Eucap_Sahel_Niger, la mission de sécurité civile de Bruxelles.


    Au cœur de ce projet, il y a la Direction pour la surveillance du territoire (DST), la police aux frontières nigérienne, dont le rôle s’est accru au même rythme que l’intérêt européen à réduire la migration via le Niger. Dans un quartier central de Niamey, le bureau du directeur Abdourahamane Alpha est un oasis de tranquillité au milieu de la tempête. Tout autour, les agents tourbillonnent, en se mêlant aux travailleurs chinois qui renouvellent leur visa et aux migrants ouest-africains sans papiers, en attente d’expulsion.
    Dessinant une carte sur un morceau de papier, le commissaire Alpha trace la stratégie du Niger « pour contrôler 5 000 kilomètres de frontière avec sept pays ». Il évoque ainsi les opérations antiterrorisme de la force G5 Sahel et le soutien de l’UE à une nouvelle compagnie mobile de gardes-frontières, à lancer au printemps 2019.
    Concernant le Midas, adopté depuis 2009 par 23 pays du monde, « le premier défi est d’équiper tous les postes de frontière terrestre », souligne Alpha. Selon l’OIM, six nouveaux postes devraient être équipés d’ici à mi-2020.

    Un rapport interne réalisé à l’été 2018 et financé par l’UE, obtenu par Mediapart, estime que seulement un poste sur les douze visités, celui de Sabon Birni sur la frontière avec le Nigeria, est apte à une installation rapide du système Midas. Des raisons de sécurité, un flux trop bas et composé surtout de travailleurs frontaliers, ou encore la nécessité de rénover les structures (pour la plupart bâties par la GIZ, la coopération allemande, entre 2015 et 2016), expliquent l’évaluation prudente sur l’adoption du Midas.
    Bien que l’installation de ce système soit balbutiante, Abdourahamane Alpha entrevoit déjà le jour où leurs « bases de données seront connectées avec celles de l’UE ». Pour l’instant, du siège de Niamey, les agents de police peuvent consulter en temps quasi réel les empreintes d’un Ghanéen entrant par le Burkina Faso, sur un bus de ligne.
    À partir de mars 2019, ils pourront aussi les confronter avec les fichiers du Pisces, le système biométrique du département d’État des États-Unis, installé à l’aéroport international de Niamey. Puis aux bases de données d’Interpol et du Wapis, le système d’information pour la police de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, un fichier biométrique financé par le Fonds européen de développement dans seize pays de la région.
    Mais si le raccordement avec des bases de données de Bruxelles, envisagé par le commissaire Alpha, semble une hypothèse encore lointaine, l’UE exerce déjà un droit de regard indirect sur les écrans de la police nigérienne, à travers Frontex, l’agence pour le contrôle des frontières externes.

    Frontex a en effet choisi le Niger comme partenaire privilégié pour le contrôle migratoire sur la route dite de la Méditerranée centrale. En août 2017, l’agence y a déployé son unique officier de liaison en Afrique et a lancé, en novembre 2018, la première cellule d’analyse de risques dans le continent. Un projet financé par la coopération au développement de l’UE : 4 millions d’euros destinés à ouvrir des cellules similaires dans huit pays subsahariens.
    L’agence n’a dévoilé à Mediapart que six documents sur onze relatifs à ses liens avec le Niger, en rappelant la nécessité de « protéger l’intérêt public concernant les relations internationales ». Un des documents envoyés concerne les cellules d’analyse de risques, présentées comme des bureaux équipés et financés par Frontex à l’intérieur des autorités de contrôle des frontières du pays, où des analystes formés par l’agence – mais dépendants de l’administration nationale – auront accès aux bases de données.
    Dans la version intégrale du document, que Mediapart a finalement pu se procurer, et qui avait été expurgée par Frontex, on apprend que « les bases de données du MIDAS, PISCES et Securiport [compagnie privée de Washington qui opère dans le Mali voisin, mais pas au Niger – ndlr] seront prises en considération comme sources dans le plan de collecte de données ».
    En dépit de l’indépendance officielle des cellules par rapport à Frontex, revendiquée par l’agence, on peut y lire aussi que chaque cellule aura une adresse mail sur le serveur de Frontex et que les informations seront échangées sur une plateforme digitale de l’UE. Un graphique, également invisible dans la version expurgée, montre que les données collectées sont destinées à Frontex et aux autres cellules, plutôt qu’aux autorités nationales.
    Selon un fonctionnaire local, la France aurait par ailleurs fait pression pour obtenir les fichiers biométriques des demandeurs d’asile en attente d’être réinstallés à Paris, dans le cadre d’un programme de réinstallation géré par le UNHCR.
    La nouvelle Haute Autorité pour la protection des données personnelles, opérationnelle depuis octobre 2018, ne devrait pas manquer de travail. Outre le Midas, le Pisces et le Wapis, le Haut Commissariat pour les réfugiés a enregistré dans son système Bims les données de presque 250 000 réfugiés et déplacés internes, tandis que la plus grande base biométrique du pays – le fichier électoral – sera bientôt réalisée.
    Pendant ce temps, au poste de frontière de Makalondi, un dimanche de décembre 2018, les préoccupations communes de Niamey et Bruxelles se matérialisent quand les minibus Toyota laissent la place aux bus longue distance, reliant les capitales d’Afrique occidentale à Agadez, au centre du pays, avec escale à Niamey. Des agents fouillent les bagages, tandis que les passagers attendent de se faire enregistrer.
    « Depuis l’intensification des contrôles, en 2016, le passage a chuté brusquement, explique le commissaire Ismaël Soumana. En parallèle, les voies de contournement se sont multipliées : si on ferme ici, les passeurs changent de route, et cela peut continuer à l’infini. »
    Les contrôles terminés, les policiers se préparent à monter la garde. « Car les terroristes, eux, frappent à la nuit, et nous ne sommes pas encore bien équipés », conclut le commissaire, inquiet.

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/280219/au-niger-l-ue-mise-sur-la-police-locale-pour-traquer-les-migrants
    #migrations #réfugiés #asile #traque #externalisation #contrôles_frontaliers #EU #UE #Eucap #biométrie #organisation_internationale_contre_les_migrations #IOM

    J’ajoute à la métaliste :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749

    • Biometrics: The new frontier of EU migration policy in Niger

      The EU’s strategy for controlling irregular West African migration is not just about asking partner countries to help stop the flow of people crossing the Mediterranean – it also includes sharing data on who is trying to make the trip and identifying to which countries they can be returned.

      Take Niger, a key transit country for migrants arriving in Europe via Libya.

      European money and technical assistance have flowed into Niger for several years, funding beefed-up border security and supporting controversial legislation that criminalises “migrant trafficking” and has led to a sharp fall in the registered number of people travelling through the country to reach Libya – down from 298,000 in 2016 to 50,000 in 2018.

      Such cooperation is justified by the “moral duty to tackle the loss of lives in the desert and in the Mediterranean”, according to the EU’s head of foreign policy, Federica Mogherini. It was also a response to the surge in arrivals of asylum seekers and migrants to European shores in 2015-16, encouraging the outsourcing of control to African governments in return for development aid.

      In April, as a further deterrent to fresh arrivals, the European Parliament passed a tougher “Regulation” for #Frontex – the EU border guard agency – authorising stepped-up returns of migrants without proper documentation to their countries of origin.

      The regulation is expected to come into force by early December after its formal adoption by the European Council.

      The proposed tougher mandate will rely in part on biometric information stored on linked databases in Africa and Europe. It is a step rights campaigners say not only jeopardises the civil liberties of asylum seekers and others in need of protection, but one that may also fall foul of EU data privacy legislation.

      In reply to a request for comment, Frontex told The New Humanitarian it was “not in the position to discuss details of the draft regulation as it is an ongoing process.”

      Niger on the frontline

      Niger is a key country for Europe’s twin strategic goals of migration control and counter-terrorism – with better data increasingly playing a part in both objectives.

      The #Makalondi police station-cum-immigration post on Niger’s southern border with Burkina Faso is on the front line of this approach – one link in the ever-expanding chain that is the EU’s information-driven response to border management and security.

      When TNH visited in December 2018, the hot Sunday afternoon torpor evaporated when three international buses pulled up and disgorged dozens of travellers into the parking area.

      “In Niger, we are the pioneers.”

      They were mostly Burkinabès and Nigeriens who travelled abroad for work and, as thousands of their fellow citizens do every week, took the 12-hour drive from the Burkina Faso capital, Ouagadougou, to the Niger capital, Niamey.

      As policemen searched their bags, the passengers waited to be registered with the new biometric #Migration_Information_and_Data_Analysis_System, or #MIDAS, which captures fingerprints and facial images for transmission to a central #database in Niamey.

      MIDAS has been developed by the International Organisation for Migration (#IOM) as a rugged, low-cost solution to monitor migration flows.

      “In Niger, we are the pioneers,” said Ismael Soumana, the police commissioner of Makalondi. A thin, smiling man, Soumana proudly showed off the eight new machines installed since September at the entry and exit desks of a one-storey prefabricated building. Each workstation was equipped with fingerprint and documents scanners, a small camera, and a PC.
      Data sharing

      The data from Makalondi is stored on the servers of the Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DTS), Niger’s border police. After Makalondi and #Gaya, on the Benin-Niger border, IOM has ambitious plans to instal MIDAS in at least eight more border posts by mid-2020 – although deteriorating security conditions due to jihadist-linked attacks could interrupt the rollout.

      IOM provides MIDAS free of charge to at least 20 countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Its introduction in Niger was funded by Japan, while the EU paid for an initial assessment study and the electrical units that support the system. In addition to the border posts, two mobile MIDAS-equipped trucks, financed by #Canada, will be deployed along the desert trails to Libya or Algeria in the remote north.

      MIDAS is owned by the Nigerien government, which will be “the only one able to access the data,” IOM told TNH. But it is up to Niamey with whom they share that information.

      MIDAS is already linked to #PISCES (#Personal_Identification_Secure_Comparison_and_Evaluation_System), a biometric registration arm of the US Department of State installed at Niamey international airport and connected to #INTERPOL’s alert lists.

      Niger hosts the first of eight planned “#Risk_Analysis_Cells” in Africa set up by Frontex and based inside its border police directorate. The unit collects data on cross-border crime and security threats and, as such, will rely on systems such as #PISCES and MIDAS – although Frontex insists no “personal data” is collected and used in generating its crime statistics.

      A new office is being built for the Niger border police directorate by the United States to house both systems.

      The #West_African_Police_Information_System, a huge criminal database covering 16 West African countries, funded by the EU and implemented by INTERPOL, could be another digital library of fingerprints linking to MIDAS.

      Frontex programmes intersect with other data initiatives, such as the #Free_Movement_of_Persons_and_Migration_in_West_Africa, an EU-funded project run by the IOM in all 15-member Economic Community of West African States. One of the aims of the scheme is to introduce biometric identity cards for West African citizens.

      Frontex’s potential interest is clear. “If a European country has a migrant suspected to be Ivorian, they can ask the local government to match in their system the biometric data they have. In this way, they should be able to identify people,” IOM programme coordinator Frantz Celestine told TNH.

      The push for returns

      Only 37 percent of non-EU citizens ordered to leave the bloc in 2017 actually did so. In his 2018 State of the Union address, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged a “stronger and more effective European return policy” – although some migration analysts argue what is needed are more channels for legal migration.

      Part of the problem has been that implementing a returns policy is notoriously hard – due in part to the costs of deportation and the lack of cooperation by countries of origin to identify their citizens. Europe has had difficulty in finalising formal accords with so-called third countries unwilling to lose remittances from those abroad.

      The Commission is shifting to “informal arrangements [that] keep readmission deals largely out of sight” – serving to ease the domestic pressure on governments who cooperate on returns, according to European law researcher, Jonathan Slagter.

      The new Frontex regulation provides a much broader mandate for border surveillance, returns, and cooperation with third countries.

      It contains provisions to “significantly step up the effective and sustainable return of irregular migrants”. Among the mechanisms is the “operation and maintenance of a platform for the exchange of data”, as a tool to reinforce the return system “in cooperation with the authorities of the relevant third countries”. That includes access to MIDAS and PISCES.

      Under the new Frontex policy, in order to better identify those to be deported, the agency will be able “to restrict certain rights of data subjects”, specifically related to the protection and access to personal data granted by EU legislation.

      That, for example, will allow the “transfer of personal data of returnees to third countries” - even in cases where readmission agreements for deportees do not exist.

      Not enough data protection

      The concern is that the expanded mandate on returns is not accompanied by appropriate safeguards on data protection. The #European_Data_Protection_Supervisor – the EU’s independent data protection authority – has faulted the new regulation for not conducting an initial impact study, and has called for its provisions to be reassessed “to ensure consistency with the currently applicable EU legislation”.

      “Given the extent of data sharing, the regulation does not put in place the necessary human rights safeguards."

      Mariana Gkliati, a researcher at the University of Leiden working on Frontex human rights accountability, argues that data on the proposed centralised return management platform – shared with third countries – could prove detrimental for the safety of people seeking protection.

      “Given the extent of data sharing, the regulation does not put in place the necessary human rights safeguards and could be perceived as giving a green light for a blanket sharing with the third country of all information that may be considered relevant for returns,” she told TNH.

      “Frontex is turning into an #information_hub,” Gkliati added. “Its new powers on data processing and sharing can have a major impact on the rights of persons, beyond the protection of personal data.”

      For prospective migrants at the Makalondi border post, their data is likely to travel a lot more freely than they can.

      https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2019/06/06/biometrics-new-frontier-eu-migration-policy-niger
      #empreintes_digitales #OIM #identification #renvois #expulsions #échange_de_données

      ping @albertocampiphoto @karine4 @daphne @marty @isskein

  • Vu sur Twitter :

    M.Potte-Bonneville @pottebonneville a retweeté Catherine Boitard

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

    Les olympiades de la honte 2018 promettent de beaux records

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

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

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

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

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

      Par Marina Rafenberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

      #Sarah_Mardini

    • The volunteers facing jail for rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean

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

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

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

      The Trial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The deterrence effect

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

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

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

      They don’t see any ships the following day. Nor the next; a whole week goes by without contact to the outside world. But then, somewhere between 3 and 5 April, a military vessel appears on the horizon. It moves in on the migrants and circle their boat.

      The migrants, exhausted and on the brink of despair, wave and signal distress. But as suddenly as it arrived, the military vessel turns around and disappears. And all hope with it.

      On April 10, almost a week later, the migrant vessel lands on a beach south of Tripoli. Of the 72 passengers who left 2 weeks ago, only 11 make it back alive. Two die shortly hereafter.

      Lorenzo Pezzani, lecturer at Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths University of London, was stunned when he read about the case. In 2011, he was still a PhD student developing new spatial and aesthetic visual tools to document human rights violations. Concerned with the rising number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, Lorenzo Pezzani and his colleague Charles Heller founded Forensic Oceanography, an affiliated group to Forensic Architecture. Their first project was to uncover the events and policies leading to a vessel left adrift in full knowledge by international rescue operations.

      It was the public outrage fuelled by the 2013 Lampedusa shipwreck which eventually led to the deployment of Operation Mare Nostrum. At this point, the largest migration of people since the Second World War, the Syrian exodus, could no longer be contained within Syria’s neighbouring countries. At the same time, a relative stability in Libya after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011 descended into civil war; waves of migrants started to cross the Mediterranean.

      From October 2013, Mare Nostrum broke with the reigning EU-policy of non-interference and deployed Italian naval vessels, planes and helicopters at a monthly cost of €9.5 million. The scale was unprecedented; saving lives became the political priority over policing and border control. In terms of lives saved, the operation was an undisputed success. Its own life, however, would be short.

      A critical narrative formed on the political right and was amplified by sections of the media: Mare Nostrum was accused of emboldening Libyan smugglers who – knowing rescue ships were waiting – would send out more migrants. In this understanding, Mare Nostrum constituted a so-called “pull factor” on migrants from North African countries. A year after its inception, Mare Nostrum was terminated.

      In late 2014, Mare Nostrum was replaced by Operation Triton led by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, with an initial budget of €2.4 million per month. Triton refocused on border control instead of sea rescues in an area much closer to Italian shores. This was a return to the pre-Mare Nostrum policy of non-assistance to deter migrants from crossing. But not only did the change of policy fail to act as a deterrence against the thousands of migrants still crossing the Mediterranean, it also left a huge gap between the amount of boats in distress and operational rescue vessels. A gap increasingly filled by merchant vessels.

      Merchant vessels, however, do not have the equipment or training to handle rescues of this volume. On 31 March 2015, the shipping community made a call to EU-politicians warning of a “terrible risk of further catastrophic loss of life as ever-more desperate people attempt this deadly sea crossing”. Between 1 January and 20 May 2015, merchant ships rescued 12.000 people – 30 per cent of the total number rescued in the Mediterranean.

      As the shipping community had already foreseen, the new policy of non-assistance as deterrence led to several horrific incidents. These culminated in two catastrophic shipwrecks on 12 and 18 April 2015 and the death of 1,200 people. In both cases, merchant vessels were right next to the overcrowded migrant boats when chaotic rescue attempts caused the migrant boats to take in water and eventually sink. The crew of the merchant vessels could only watch as hundreds of people disappeared in the ocean.

      Back in 1990, the Dublin Convention declared that the first EU-country an asylum seeker enters is responsible for accepting or rejecting the claim. No one in 1990 had expected the Syrian exodus of 2015 – nor the gigantic pressure it would put on just a handful of member states. No other EU-member felt the ineptitudes and total unpreparedness of the immigration system than a country already knee-deep in a harrowing economic crisis. That country was Greece.

      In September 2015, when the world saw the picture of a three-year old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a beach in Turkey, Europe was already months into what was readily called a “refugee crisis”. Greece was overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Syrian war. During the following month alone, a staggering 200.000 migrants crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to reach Europe. With a minimum of institutional support, it was volunteers like Salam Aldeen who helped reduce the overall number of casualties.

      The peak of migrants entered Greece that autumn but huge numbers kept arriving throughout the winter – in worsening sea conditions. Salam Aldeen recalls one December morning on Lesbos.

      The EU-Turkey deal

      And then, from one day to the next, the EU-Turkey deal changed everything. There was a virtual stop of people crossing from Turkey to Greece. From a perspective of deterrence, the agreement was an instant success. In all its simplicity, Turkey had agreed to contain and prevent refugees from reaching the EU – by land or by sea. For this, Turkey would be given a monetary compensation.

      But opponents of the deal included major human rights organisations. Simply paying Turkey a formidable sum of money (€6 billion to this date) to prevent migrants from reaching EU-borders was feared to be a symptom of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude pervasive among EU decision makers. Moreover, just like Libya in 2015 threatened to flood Europe with migrants, the Turkish President Erdogan would suddenly have a powerful geopolitical card on his hands. A concern that would later be confirmed by EU’s vague response to Erdogan’s crackdown on Turkish opposition.

      As immigration dwindled in Greece, the flow of migrants and refugees continued and increased in the Central Mediterranean during the summer of 2016. At the same time, disorganised Libyan militias were now running the smuggling business and exploited people more ruthlessly than ever before. Migrant boats without satellite phones or enough provision or fuel became increasingly common. Due to safety concerns, merchant vessels were more reluctant to assist in rescue operations. The death toll increased.
      A Conspiracy?

      Frustrated with the perceived apathy of EU states, Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) responded to the situation. At its peak, 12 search and rescue NGO vessels were operating in the Mediterranean and while the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) paused many of its operations during the fall and winter of 2016, the remaining NGO vessels did the bulk of the work. Under increasingly dangerous weather conditions, 47 per cent of all November rescues were carried out by NGOs.

      Around this time, the first accusations were launched against rescue NGOs from ‘alt-right’ groups. Accusations, it should be noted, conspicuously like the ones sounded against Mare Nostrum. Just like in 2014, Frontex and EU-politicians followed up and accused NGOs of posing a “pull factor”. The now Italian vice-prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, went even further and denounced NGOs as “taxis for migrants”. Just like in 2014, no consideration was given to the conditions in Libya.

      Moreover, NGOs were falsely accused of collusion with Libyan smugglers. Meanwhile Italian agents had infiltrated the crew of a Save the Children rescue vessel to uncover alleged secret evidence of collusion. The German Jugendrettet NGO-vessel, Iuventa, was impounded and – echoing Salam Aldeen’s case in Greece – the captain accused of collusion with smugglers by Italian authorities.

      The attacks to delegitimise NGOs’ rescue efforts have had a clear effect: many of the NGOs have now effectively stopped their operations in the Mediterranean. Lorenzo Pezzani and Charles Heller, in their report, Mare Clausum, argued that the wave of delegitimisation of humanitarian work was just one part of a two-legged strategy – designed by the EU – to regain control over the Mediterranean.
      Migrants’ rights aren’t human rights

      Libya long ago descended into a precarious state of lawlessness. In the maelstrom of poverty, war and despair, migrants and refugees have become an exploitable resource for rivalling militias in a country where two separate governments compete for power.

      In November 2017, a CNN investigation exposed an entire industry involving slave auctions, rape and people being worked to death.

      Chief spokesman of the UN Migration Agency, Leonard Doyle, describes Libya as a “torture archipelago” where migrants transiting have no idea that they are turned into commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value.

      Migrants intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) are routinely brought back to the hellish detention centres for indefinite captivity. Despite EU-leaders’ moral outcry following the exposure of the conditions in Libya, the EU continues to be instrumental in the capacity building of the LCG.

      Libya hadn’t had a functioning coast guard since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011. But starting in late 2016, the LCG received increasing funding from Italy and the EU in the form of patrol boats, training and financial support.

      Seeing the effect of the EU-Turkey deal in deterring refugees crossing the Aegean Sea, Italy and the EU have done all in their power to create a similar approach in Libya.
      The EU Summit

      Forty-two thousand undocumented migrants have so far arrived at Europe’s shores this year. That’s a fraction of the more than one million who arrived in 2015. But when EU leaders met at an “emergency summit” in Brussels in late June, the issue of migration was described by Chancellor Merkel as a “make or break” for the Union. How does this align with the dwindling numbers of refugees and migrants?

      Data released in June 2018 showed that Europeans are more concerned about immigration than any other social challenge. More than half want a ban on migration from Muslim countries. Europe, it seems, lives in two different, incompatible realities as summit after summit tries to untie the Gordian knot of the migration issue.

      Inside the courthouse in Mytilini, Salam Aldeen is questioned by the district prosecutor. The tropical temperature induces an echoing silence from the crowded spectators. The district prosecutor looks at him, open mouth, chin resting on her fist.

      She seems impatient with the translator and the process of going from Greek to English and back. Her eyes search the room. She questions him in detail about the night of arrest. He answers patiently. She wants Salam Aldeen and the four crew members to be found guilty of human smuggling.

      Salam Aldeen’s lawyer, Mr Fragkiskos Ragkousis, an elderly white-haired man, rises before the court for his final statement. An ancient statuette with his glasses in one hand. Salam’s parents sit with scared faces, they haven’t slept for two days; the father’s comforting arm covers the mother’s shoulder. Then, like a once dormant volcano, the lawyer erupts in a torrent of pathos and logos.

      “Political interests changed the truth and created this wicked situation, playing with the defendant’s freedom and honour.”

      He talks to the judge as well as the public. A tragedy, a drama unfolds. The prosecutor looks remorseful, like a small child in her large chair, almost apologetic. Defeated. He’s singing now, Ragkousis. Index finger hits the air much like thunder breaks the night sounding the roar of something eternal. He then sits and the room quiets.

      It was “without a doubt” that the judge acquitted Salam Aldeen and his four colleagues on all charges. The prosecutor both had to determine the defendants’ intention to commit the crime – and that the criminal action had been initialised. She failed at both. The case, as the Italian case against the Iuventa, was baseless.

      But EU’s policy of externalisation continues. On 17 March 2018, the ProActiva rescue vessel, Open Arms, was seized by Italian authorities after it had brought back 217 people to safety.

      Then again in June, the decline by Malta and Italy’s new right-wing government to let the Aquarious rescue-vessel dock with 629 rescued people on board sparked a fierce debate in international media.

      In July, Sea Watch’s Moonbird, a small aircraft used to search for migrant boats, was prevented from flying any more operations by Maltese authorities; the vessel Sea Watch III was blocked from leaving harbour and the captain of a vessel from the NGO Mission Lifeline was taken to court over “registration irregularities“.

      Regardless of Europe’s future political currents, geopolitical developments are only likely to continue to produce refugees worldwide. Will the EU alter its course as the crisis mutates and persists? Or are the deaths of thousands the only possible outcome?

      https://theferret.scot/volunteers-facing-jail-rescuing-migrants-mediterranean

  • Rassemblement #PasEnNotreNom #Réfugiés #RefugeesDignity

    Plus de 3000 personnes, hommes, femmes, enfants, sont mortes ces derniers mois en essayant de rejoindre nos côtes, nos pays, nos villes.

    Simples citoyens ne pouvant rester indifférents à une tragédie humaine qui déshonore la France et l’Europe, nous promettons de nous retrouver chaque semaine Place de la République :

    Pour montrer notre solidarité et marquer notre indignation.

    Pour demander l’accueil des réfugiés et le respect de la dignité humaine de tous les migrants.

    Pour dire que l’Europe ne peut se hérisser de murs et transformer ses mers en charniers sans perdre son âme. Notre âme.

    Pour affirmer que pareilles politiques répressives menant à tant de drames humains ne sauraient être menées en notre nom. Pas en notre nom !

    Pour partager notre honte, mais aussi nos espoirs.

    Les disparus de Méditerranée et les morts d’EuroTunnel, les noyés de la Mer Egée et les asphyxiés d’Autriche ont des noms et des destins.

    Par-delà nos clivages politiques, nos divergences idéologiques ou nos choix religieux, laissons parler notre humanité et retrouvons-nous ce samedi 5 septembre à 17h Place de la République à Paris.

    Signons, commentons, reprenons, partageons, et surtout descendons dans la rue samedi..

    https://www.facebook.com/events/115934458759304
    #solidarité #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Paris #France #rassemblement #manifestation
    signalé par @reka

    • Et à #Genève :
      Nous relayons un appel à rassemblement lancé par quelques citoyennes sur Facebook :

      « Sur une plage de Bodrum, un tout petit garçon de trois ans et son frère de cinq ans ont été retrouvés morts hier matin. Ils essayaient de rejoindre l’Europe, afin de trouver un moyen de se rendre au Canada, où leur tante les attendait, car leur pays d’origine, la Syrie, est en guerre.
      Ils auraient pu prendre un paquebot, un train ou un avion, et arriver sains et saufs, si les frontières de l’Europe n’avaient pas été fermées pour eux.
      Ils auraient pu déposer une demande d’asile auprès de l’Ambassade de Suisse en Turquie, si la procédure d’ambassade suisse n’avait pas été abrogée par la dernière révision de la Loi sur l’asile.
      Nous nous rassemblerons vendredi à 18h30 à la place Neuve, devant l’entrée du parc des Bastions, dans le calme et le recueillement, afin de signifier que nous, citoyennes et citoyens, en avons assez d’être complices de ces politiques migratoires meurtrières.
      Joignez-vous à nous avec une bougie, un poème, un dessin ou une banderole. »

    • Le rassemblement de samedi à Paris, Place de la République est contesté ici par le collectif "La Chapelle en Lutte" :

      Résumé de la situation : le collectif La Chapelle en Lutte, collectif de soutiens, réfugiés et migrants, occupe le lycée Guillaume Budé à Place des Fêtes. Il a été associé sans consultation en AG au rassemblement de samedi, qui est une opération de communication orchestrée par des journalistes, communiquants, personnalités médiatiques

      Le rassemblement « PAS EN NOTRE NOM » prévu, le samedi 5 septembre place de la République au nom des migrants, est une initiative relative aux réfugiées, ainsi qu’il est écrit : "Notre dénominateur commun, s’il faut en désigner un, est avant tout le respect de la dignité humaine et celui de la Convention de Genève relative au statut des réfugiés" (page Facebook de l’événement). Ce rassemblement qui doit avoir lieu toute les semaines est organisé par Raphaël Glucksmann, très proche de Bernard-Henri Lévy et fils du philosophe André Glucksmann qui, rappelons-le, a soutenu la campagne de Nicolas Sarkozy en 2007. Glucksmann fils, personnage fort douteux et influent est à l’initiative du rassemblement au coté de Tatiana F. Salomon et Natacha Quester-Simeon, entrepreneuses et consultantes média, fondatrices du club Power Girl 3.0, présenté comme une organisation « de femmes influentes, leader d’opinion » . On trouve dans la liste des organisateurs, « initiateurs », Florence Benzacar, journaliste chez Lagardère et Michèle Fitoussi, Féministe mainstream, Journaliste à ELLE.

      Il s’agit bien d’un COUP DE FORCE, et d’une récupération des luttes actuelles des migrants (qui reposent sur l’union des réfugiés et des sans-papiers), un événement poétique et politique inédit. L’opération s’appuie sur la reprise du slogan, « pas en notre nom » né lors des manifestations du 11 janvier. A première vue, cela semble être une reprise ironique, mais les organisateurs s’appuient volontairement en fins communicants sur le pouvoir mobilisateur des slogans en lettre blanche sur fond noir, qui ont fait la preuve de leur popularité avec le « JE SUIS CHARLIE ». Raphaël Glucksmann, qui cherche à percer en France, invite à une reprise du patriotisme à l’extrême droite :

      La suite ici :
      https://paris-luttes.info/surtout-en-leur-nom-3717

    • cette phrase me défrise « Pour demander l’accueil des réfugiés et le respect de la dignité humaine de tous les migrants » ; si on comprend bien, pour les réfugiés c’est l’accueil et pour les autres migrants c’est seulement le respect de leur dignité mais sans l’accueil (genre, « humanité et fermeté » ... ?)

      mais que ce n’est en aucun cas un refus de ce rassemblement ; ça m’exaspère tous ceux qui consacrent toute leur énergie à hurler à la récup de droite et à cracher sur Raphaël Glucksmann (l’un des gars qui ont lancé, mais qui a demandé à ce que son nom soit retiré pour ne pas personnaliser) sur le mode « fils de, copain de » (ce qui est aussi puant que stérile). Et qui bien sûr ne proposent rien. Misère de la radicalité...
      Quant au collectif La Chapelle en lutte, il n’y a pas d’unanimité sur la « dénonciation » citée ci-dessus (signée par deux de ses membres), certain.e.s proposent d’aller faire un point fixe dans le rassemblement où les migrants exposeraient sans médiation leurs revendications
      Occasion de rencontrer des gens sincèrement indignés et sans doute pas aussi au fait que les tenants de la juste ligne pour leur raconter des trucs : pas de tri entre « bons » réfugiés et « mauvais » migrants, responsabilité de l’UE et des Etats-membres, indécence des déclarations de Hollande et de Valls, liberté de circulation, suspension de Dublin3 et arrêt de Frontex...
      tandis qu’en Espagne partout ça reprend et ça déborde les propositions d’Ada Colau et Manuela Carmena... intelligence politique et stratégique en acte, vieille pratique des alliances et implantations locales