position:coast guard

  • Italie : La capitaine Pia Klemp menacée de 20 ans de prison - Secours Rouge
    https://secoursrouge.org/Italie-La-capitaine-Pia-Klemp-menacee-de-20-ans-de-prison


    Pia Klemp

    Pia Klemp a participé au sauvetage de réfugiés dans la méditerranée avec l’association Sea-Watch. Elle est maintenant accusée par la justice italienne d’aide à l’immigration illégale. Le parquet exige une peine de prison de 20 ans. Pour ses investigations, le parquet a eu recourt à des écoutes téléphoniques et à des agents infiltrés. Dans le cadre de ses six missions en tant que capitaine des bateaux de sauvetage Sea-Watch 3 et Iuventa, Pia Klemp dit avoir pu sauver les vies de 5000 personnes.

    • German boat captain Pia Klemp faces prison in Italy for migrant rescues

      Pia Klemp stands accused of aiding illegal immigration after she saved people from drowning in the Mediterranean. The Bonn native has accused Italian authorities of organizing “a show trial.”

      Nearly 60,000 people had signed a petition by Saturday afternoon demanding that Italy drop criminal proceedings against German boat captain Pia Klemp and other crew members who have rescued thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

      In an interview with the Basler Zeitung daily on Friday, Klemp said that a trial against her was due to begin soon after she and some of her compatriots were charged in Sicily with assisting in illegal immigration.

      She said that she was told by her Italian lawyer that she could be looking at “up to 20 years in prison and horrendous fines.”

      Klemp added, however, that she intended to fight the case up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, if she had to.

      The 35-year-old Bonn native has been under investigation in Italy since her ship, the Iuventa, was impounded in the summer of 2017, and the government has moved to ban her from sailing around the Italian coast. According to German public broadcaster WDR, through the work on that ship and the Sea-Watch 3, Klemp has personally assisted in the rescue of more than 1,000 people at risk of drowning in unsafe dinghies as they attempted to cross to Europe in search of a better life.

      Read more: Italy’s Matteo Salvini wants hefty fines for migrant rescue vessels

      Salvini’s crackdown

      An already immigrant-unfriendly government in Rome became even more so in June 2018, when newly appointed Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini of the far-right League party promised a crackdown the likes of which modern Italy had never seen.

      Since assuming office, Salvini has sought to put a stop to migrant rescue ships docking on Italian shores and allowing refugees to disembark. In January, the nationalist leader made headlines with the forced evacuation of hundreds of asylum-seekers from Italy’s second-largest refugee center and his refusal to clarify where the people, many of whom had lived in Castelnuovo di Porto for years and become integrated into town life, were being taken.

      Shortly thereafter, Sicilian prosecutors ruled that Salvini could be charged with kidnapping more than 177 migrants left stranded on a ship he had ordered impounded.

      ’A yearslong show trial’

      What frustrates Klemp the most, she told the Basler Zeitung, is that the costs — amounting to hundreds of thousands of euros — that she has had to prepare to cover from her own savings and some new donations “for what is likely to be a yearslong show trial” require money that could have been spent on rescue missions.

      “But the worst has already come to pass,” she said. “Sea rescue missions have been criminalized.”

      For this, the captain blames not only the Italian government but what she sees as a failure of the European Union “to remember its avowed values: human rights, the right to life, to apply for asylum, and the duty of seafarers to rescue those in danger at sea.”

      Klemp added that “demagogues” such as Salvini, former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer were effectively allowing thousands to perish in the Mediterranean each year.

      She pushed back at criticism that rescue missions encouraged more people to attempt the highly dangerous crossing. “There are scientific studies that disprove the idea that sea rescues are a so-called pull factor,” she said. “The people come because, unfortunately, there are so many reasons to flee.” And if countries close their borders, “they come via the Mediterranean because there is no legal way to get here,” she added.

      To cover her potentially exorbitant legal costs, a bar in Bonn has announced a fundraising campaign to help Klemp. Cafe Bla has announced that for every patron who orders the “Pia beer,” 50 euro cents will be donated to their former waitress.


      https://www.dw.com/en/german-boat-captain-pia-klemp-faces-prison-in-italy-for-migrant-rescues/a-49112348?maca=en-Twitter-sharing

    • Mobilisation pour la capitaine d’un navire humanitaire

      L’ancienne capitaine du « #Iuventa », immobilisé depuis 2017, encourt vingt ans de prison en Italie. Accusée de complicité avec les passeurs, elle affirme n’avoir fait que respecter le droit international, qui impose de porter secours à toute personne en détresse.

      https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2019/06/11/mobilisation-pour-la-capitaine-d-un-navire-humanitaire_1732973

    • I Helped Save Thousands of Migrants from Drowning. Now I’m Facing 20 Years in Jail | Opinion

      In today’s Europe, people can be sentenced to prison for saving a migrant’s life. In the summer of 2017, I was the captain of the rescue ship Iuventa. I steered our ship through international waters along the Libyan coastline, where thousands of migrants drifted in overcrowded, unseaworthy dinghies, having risked their lives in search of safety. The Iuventa crew rescued over 14,000 people. Today, I and nine other members of the crew face up to twenty years in prison for having rescued those people and brought them to Europe. We are not alone. The criminalization of solidarity across Europe, at sea and on land, has demonstrated the lengths to which the European Union will go to make migrants’ lives expendable.

      Two years ago, Europe made renewed efforts to seal the Mediterranean migrant route by draining it of its own rescue assets and outsourcing migration control to the so-called “Libyan Coast Guard”, comprised of former militia members equipped by the EU and instructed to intercept and return all migrants braving the crossing to Europe. NGO ships like the Iuventa provided one of the last remaining lifelines for migrants seeking safety in Europe by sea. For European authorities, we were a critical hurdle to be overcome in their war against migration.

      In August 2017, the Iuventa was seized by the Italian authorities and the crew was investigated for “aiding and abetting illegal immigration.” Thus began an ongoing spate of judicial investigations into the operation of search and rescue vessels. Sailors like myself, who had rallied to the civil fleet when it seemed no European authority cared people were drowning at sea, were branded as criminals. The ensuing media and political campaign against us has gradually succeeded in removing almost all NGOs from the central Mediterranean, leaving migrants braving the sea crossing with little chance of survival.

      We sea-rescuers have been criminalized not only for what we do but for what we have witnessed. We have seen people jump overboard their frail dinghies on sighting the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, preferring death at sea over return to the slavery, torture, rape and starvation that awaits them in EU-funded Libyan detention centers. We have also seen what becomes of those who are found too late. For days, I steered our ship through international waters with a dead two-year-old boy in the freezer. No European country had wanted to save him when they had the chance. His mother lived, and after days of drifting in wait of an open port, our ship brought her to Europe—when it no longer mattered to her. We rescuers know that those who drown at Europe’s doorstep are not unlucky casualties of the elements. The transformation of the Mediterranean into a mass grave for migrants is a European political project.

      Over the past year, Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini has provided a useful alibi for centrist European political forces–those avowedly committed to “European values” of human rights. His persistent targeting of rescue NGOs and his decision to seal Italian ports to ships carrying rescued migrants has seen him cast as the “rotten egg” of an otherwise largely liberal European Union. But Matteo Salvini is neither the architect of Fortress Europe, nor its sole gatekeeper.

      Alongside Italy’s ostentatious prosecution of sea rescuers, other European nations have adopted shrewder, subtler tactics, revoking their flags or miring ships’ crews in unnecessary and lengthy bureaucratic procedures. When Salvini sealed Italian ports, other member states expressed righteous indignation—but not one of them offered its own ports as havens for later rescues. One of two remaining rescue ships, Sea-Watch 3, has since spent weeks motoring along the European coast line with hundreds of refugees on board, pleading for an open port, only to find that their “cargo” was not wanted anywhere in Europe.

      In the coming months, as the conflict in Libya intensifies, thousands more will be forced to brave the sea crossing. I know from experience that without rescue, the majority of them will die. Common sense tells me that with humanitarian vessels barred from saving lives and European commercial and military and Coast Guard ships instructed to avoid migrant routes, their chances of rescue are shrinking. I suspect European leaders share my common sense.

      Meanwhile, we sea rescuers are not alone in facing charges for “crimes of solidarity.” On land across Europe, hundreds of men and women stand trial for having offered food, shelter or clothing to migrants. Among us are countless migrants criminalized for having helped other migrants in need, whose faces will likely not appear in esteemed publications.

      None of us has been prosecuted for helping white Europeans. The simple truth is that in intimidating and punishing those of us who have offered their solidarity to migrants, Europe has worked systematically and with precision to segregate, humiliate and isolate its weakest members—if not based on race and ethnicity de jure, then certainly de facto.

      None of us facing charges for solidarity is a villain, but neither are we heroes. If it is alarming that acts of basic human decency are now criminalized, it is no less telling that we have sometimes been lauded by well-intentioned supporters as saints. But those of us who have stood in solidarity with migrants have not acted out of some exceptional reserve of bravery or selfless compassion for others. We acted in the knowledge that the way our rulers treat migrants offers a clue about how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it. Politicians who target, scapegoat and exploit migrants, do so to shore up a violent, unequal world—a world in which we, too, have to live and by which we, too, may be disempowered.

      The criminalization of solidarity today is not only about stripping Europe’s most precarious of their means of survival. It is also an effort at foreclosing the forms of political organization that alliances between Europeans and migrants might engender; of barring the realization that in today’s Europe of rising xenophobia, racism, homophobia and austerity, the things that migrants seek—safety, comfort, dignity—are increasingly foreclosed to us Europeans as well.

      And in hounding migrants and those standing in solidarity with them, Europe is not only waging a brutal battle of suppression. It is also belying its fear of what might happen if we Europeans and migrants made common cause against Fortress Europe, and expose it for what it is: a system that would pick us off one by one, European and migrant alike, robbing each of us in turn of our freedoms, security and rights. We should show them that they are right to be afraid.

      Captain Pia Klemp is a vegan nature-lover, animal-rights and human-rights activist. Before joining search and rescue missions, Captain Pia Klemp was an activist for maritime conservation with Sea-Shepherd. Chloe Haralambous, a researcher and fellow rescue crew member, contributed to this op-ed.

      The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.​​​​​

      https://www.newsweek.com/refugees-mediterranean-sea-rescue-criminalization-solidarity-1444618

    • European Border and Coast Guard: Launch of first ever joint operation outside the EU

      Today, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, in cooperation with the Albanian authorities, is launching the first ever joint operation on the territory of a neighbouring non-EU country. As of 22 May, teams from the Agency will be deployed together with Albanian border guards at the Greek-Albanian border to strengthen border management and enhance security at the EU’s external borders, in full agreement with all concerned countries. This operation marks a new phase for border cooperation between the EU and its Western Balkan partners, and is yet another step towards the full operationalisation of the Agency.

      The launch event is taking place in Tirana, Albania, in the presence of Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Edi Rama, Albanian Prime Minister and Sandër Lleshaj, Albanian Interior Minister.

      Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: "With the first ever deployment of European Border and Coast Guard teams outside of the EU, we are opening an entirely new chapter in our cooperation on migration and border management with Albania and with the whole Western Balkan region. This is a real game changer and a truly historical step, bringing this region closer to the EU by working together in a coordinated and mutually supportive way on shared challenges such as better managing migration and protecting our common borders.”

      Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, said: “Today we mark a milestone for our agency and the wider cooperation between the European Union and Albania. We are launching the first fully fledged joint operation outside the European Union to support Albania in border control and tackling cross-border crime.”

      While Albania remains ultimately responsible for the protection of its borders, the European Border and Coast Guard is able to lend both technical and operational support and assistance. The European Border and Coast Guard teams will be able to support the Albanian border guards in performing border checks at crossing points, for example, and preventing unauthorised entries. All operations and deployments at the Albanian border with Greece will be conducted in full agreement with both the Albanian and Greek authorities.

      At the start of the operation, the Agency will be deploying 50 officers, 16 patrol cars and 1 thermo-vision van from 12 EU Member States (Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland and Slovenia) to support Albania in border control and tackling cross-border crime.

      Strengthened cooperation between priority third countries and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will contribute to the better management of irregular migration, further enhance security at the EU’s external borders and strengthen the Agency’s ability to act in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood, while bringing that neighbourhood closer to the EU.

      http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-2591_en.htm
      #externalisation

    • Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos in Albania at the official launch of first ever joint operation outside the EU

      Ladies and Gentlemen,

      We are here today to celebrate an important achievement and a milestone, both for Albania and for the EU.

      Only six months ago, here in Tirana, the EU signed the status agreement with Albania on cooperation on border management between Albania and the European Border and Coast Guard. This agreement, that entered into force three weeks ago, was the first agreement ever of its kind with a neighbouring country.

      Today, we will send off the joint European Border and Coast Guard Teams to be deployed as of tomorrow for the first time in a non-EU Member State. This does not only mark a new phase for border cooperation between the EU and Western Balkan partners, it is also yet another step towards the full operationalisation of the Agency.

      The only way to effectively address migration and security challenges we are facing today and those we may be confronted with in the years to come is by working closer together, as neighbours and as partners. What happens in Albania and the Western Balkans affects the European Union, and the other way around.

      Joint approach to border management is a key part of our overall approach to managing migration. It allows us to show to our citizens that their security is at the top of our concerns. But effective partnership in ensuring orderly migration also enables us, as Europe, to remain a place where those in need of protection can find shelter.

      Albania is the first country in the Western Balkans with whom the EU is moving forward with this new important chapter in our joint co-operation on border management.

      This can be a source of pride for both Albania and the EU and an important step that brings us closer together.

      While the overall situation along the Western Balkans route remains stable with continuously low levels of arrivals - it is in fact like night and day when compared to three years ago - we need to remain vigilant.

      The Status Agreement will help us in this effort. It expands the scale of practical, operational cooperation between the EU and Albania and hopefully soon with the rest of the Western Balkan region.

      These are important elements of our co-operation, also in view of the continued implementation of the requirements under the visa liberalisation agreement. Visa-free travel is a great achievement, which brings benefits to all sides and should be safeguarded.

      Together with Albanian border guards, European Border and Coast Guard teams will be able to perform border checks at crossing points and perform border surveillance to prevent unauthorized border crossings and counter cross-border criminality.

      But, let me be clear, Albania remains ultimately responsible for the protection of its borders. European Border and Coast Guard Teams may only perform tasks and exercise powers in the Albanian territory under instructions from and, as a general rule, in the presence of border guards of the Republic of Albania.

      Dear Friends,

      When it comes to protecting our borders, ensuring our security and managing migration, the challenges we face are common, and so must be our response.

      The European Border and Coast Guard Status Agreement and its implementation will allow us to better work together in all these areas. I hope that these agreements can be finalised also with other Western Balkans partners as soon as possible.

      I wish to thank Prime Minister Edi Rama, the Albanian authorities, and the Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Fabrice Leggeri and his team for their close cooperation in bringing this milestone achievement to life. I also want to thank all Member States who have contributed with staff and the personnel who will be part of this first deployment of European Border and Coast Guard teams in a neighbouring country.

      With just a few days to go before the European Elections, the need for a more united and stronger European family is more important than ever. We firmly believe that a key priority is to have strong relations with close neighbours, based on a clear balance of rights and obligations – but above all, on genuine partnership. This includes you, fellow Albanians.

      Albania is part of the European family.Our challenges are common. They know no borders. The progress we are witnessing today is another concrete action and proof of our commitment to bring us closer together. To make us stronger.

      http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-19-2668_en.htm

    • Externalisation: Frontex launches first formal operation outside of the EU and deploys to Albania

      The EU has taken a significant, if geographically small, step in the externalisation of its borders. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, has launched its first Joint Operation on the territory of a non-EU-Member State, as it begins cooperation with Albania on the border with Greece.

      After the launch of the operation in Tirana on 21 May a deployment of 50 officers, 16 patrol cars and a thermo-vision van started yesterday, 22 May (European Commission, link). Twelve Member States (Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland and Slovenia) have contributed to the operation.

      New agreements

      The move follows the entry into force on 1 May this year of a Status Agreement between the EU and Albania on actions carried out by Frontex in that country (pdf). Those actions are made possible by the conclusion of operational plans, which must be agreed between Frontex and the Albanian authorities.

      The Status Agreement with Albania was the first among several similar agreements to be signed between the Agency and Balkan States, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and North Macedonia.

      The nascent operation in Albania will give Frontex team members certain powers, privileges and immunities on Albanian territory, including the use of force in circumstances authorised by Albanian border police and outlined in the operational plan.

      Frontex does not publish operational plans whilst operations (which can be renewed indefinitely) are ongoing, and documents published after the conclusion of operations (usually in response to requests for access to documents) are often heavily-redacted (Ask the EU, link).

      Relevant articles

      Article 4 of the Status Agreement outlines the tasks and powers of members of Frontex teams operating in Albanian territory. This includes the use of force, if it is authorised by both the Frontex team member’s home Member State and the State of Albania, and takes place in the presence of Albanian border guards. However, Albania can authorise team members to use force in their absence.

      Article 6 of the Status Agreement grants Frontex team members immunity from Albanian criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction “in respect of the acts performed in the exercise of their official functions in the course of the actions carried out in accordance with the operational plan”.

      Although a representative of Albania would be informed in the event of an allegation of criminal activity, it would be up to Frontex’s executive director to certify to the court whether the actions in question were performed as part of an official Agency function and in accordance with the Operational Plan. This certification will be binding on the jurisdiction of Albania. Proceedings may only continue against an individual team member if the executive director confirms that their actions were outside the scope of the exercise of official functions.

      Given the closed nature of the operational plans, this grants the executive director wide discretion and ensures little oversight of the accountability of Agency team members. Notably, Article 6 also states that members of teams shall not be obliged to give evidence as witnesses. This immunity does not, however, extend to the jurisdiction of team members’ home Member States, and they may also waive the immunity of the individual under Albanian jurisdiction.

      Right to redress

      These measures of immunity alongside the lack of transparency surrounding documents outlining team members’ official functions and activities (the operational plan) raise concerns regarding access to redress for victims of human rights violations that may occur during operations.

      Human rights organisations have denounced the use of force by Frontex team members, only to have those incidents classified by the Agency as par for the course in their operations. Cases include incidents of firearm use that resulted in serious injury (The Intercept, link), but that was considered to have taken place according to the standard rules of engagement. This opacity has implications for individuals’ right to good administration and to the proper functioning of accountability mechanisms.

      If any damage results from actions that were carried out according to the operational plan, Albania will be held liable. This is the most binding liability outlined by the Status Agreement. Albania may only “request” that compensation be paid by the Member State of the team member responsible, or by the Agency, if acts were committed through gross negligence, wilful misconduct or outside the scope of the official functions of the Agency team or staff member.

      Across the board

      The provisions regarding tasks, powers and immunity in the Status Agreements with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia are all broadly similar, with the exception of Article 6 of the agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina. This states:

      “Members of the team who are witnesses may be obliged by the competent authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina… to provide evidence in accordance with the procedural law of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

      The Status Agreement with Serbia, an early draft of which did not grant immunity to team members, is now consistent with the Agreement with Albania and includes provisions stating that members of teams shall not be obliged to give evidence as witnesses.

      It includes a further provision that:

      “...members of the team may use weapons only when it is absolutely necessary in self-defence to repel an immediate life-threatening attack against themselves or another person, in accordance with the national legislation of the Republic of Serbia”.

      http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/may/fx-albania-launch.htm

    • La police des frontières extérieures de l’UE s’introduit en Albanie

      Frontex, l’agence chargée des frontières extérieures de l’Union européenne, a lancé mardi en Albanie sa première opération hors du territoire d’un de ses États membres.

      Cette annonce de la Commission européenne intervient quelques jours avant les élections européennes et au moment où la politique migratoire de l’UE est critiquée par les candidats souverainistes, comme le ministre italien de l’Intérieur Matteo Salvini ou le chef de file de la liste française d’extrême droite, Jordan Bardella, qui a récemment qualifié Frontex d’« hôtesse d’accueil pour migrants ».

      Cette opération conjointe en Albanie est « une véritable étape historique rapprochant » les Balkans de l’UE, et témoigne d’une « meilleure gestion de la migration et de la protection de nos frontières communes », a commenté à Tirana le commissaire chargé des migrations, Dimitris Avramopoulos.

      L’Albanie espère convaincre les États membres d’ouvrir des négociations d’adhésion ce printemps, ce qui lui avait été refusé l’an passé. Son premier ministre Edi Rama a salué « un pas très important dans les relations entre l’Albanie et l’Union européenne » et a estimé qu’il « renforçait également la coopération dans le domaine de la sécurité ».

      À partir de 22 mai, Frontex déploiera des équipes conjointes à la frontière grecque avec des agents albanais.

      La Commission européenne a passé des accords semblables avec la Macédoine du Nord, la Serbie, le Monténégro et la Bosnie-Herzégovine, qui devraient également entrer en vigueur.

      Tous ces pays sont sur une des « routes des Balkans », qui sont toujours empruntées clandestinement par des milliers de personnes en route vers l’Union européenne, même si le flux n’est en rien comparable avec les centaines de milliers de migrants qui ont transité par la région en quelques mois jusqu’à la fermeture des frontières par les pays de l’UE début 2016.

      Ce type d’accord « contribuera à l’amélioration de la gestion de la migration clandestine, renforcera la sécurité aux frontières extérieures de l’UE et consolidera la capacité de l’agence à agir dans le voisinage immédiat de l’UE, tout en rapprochant de l’UE les pays voisins concernés », selon un communiqué de la Commission.

      Pour éviter de revivre le chaos de 2015, l’Union a acté un renforcement considérable de Frontex. Elle disposera notamment d’ici 2027 d’un contingent de 10 000 garde-frontières et garde-côtes pour aider des pays débordés.


      https://www.lapresse.ca/international/europe/201905/21/01-5226931-la-police-des-frontieres-exterieures-de-lue-sintroduit-en-albani

    • European Border and Coast Guard Agency began to patrol alongside the Albanian-Greek border in late May (https://www.bilten.org/?p=28118). Similar agreements have recently been concluded with Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina but Albania is the first country to start implementing programs aimed at blocking refugees entering the EU. Bilten states that Frontex employees can carry arms and fight “against any kind of crime, from” illegal migration “to theft of a car or drug trafficking”. Frontex’s mission is not time-bound, i.e. it depends on the EU’s need. The Albanian authorities see it as a step forward to their membership in the Union.

      Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa dobrodosli, le 10.06.2019

      L’article original:
      Što Frontex radi u Albaniji?

      Nakon što je Europska unija službeno zatvorila “balkansku migrantsku rutu”, očajni ljudi počeli su tražiti nove puteve. Jedan od njih prolazi kroz Albaniju, a tamošnja se vlada odrekla kontrole nad vlastitom granicom u nadi da će time udobrovoljiti unijske dužnosnike.

      Agencija za europsku graničnu i obalnu stražu, Frontex, počela je krajem prošlog mjeseca patrolirati uz albansko-grčku granicu. Već prvog dana, raspoređeno je pedesetak policajaca iz različitih zemalja članica EU koji bi se u suradnji s albanskim graničarima trebali boriti protiv “ilegalne migracije”. Iako je slične dogovore Unija nedavno sklopila sa zemljama poput Srbije, Sjeverne Makedonije, Crne Gore te Bosne i Hercegovine – a sve s ciljem blokiranja mogućnosti izbjeglica da uđu na područje EU – Albanija je prva zemlja u kojoj je počela provedba tog programa. Zaposlenici Frontexa ne samo da smiju nositi oružje, već imaju i dozvolu da se bore protiv bilo koje vrste kriminala, od “ilegalnih migracija” do krađe automobila ili trgovine drogom. Također, njihova misija nije vremenski ograničena, što znači da će Frontexovi zaposlenici patrolirati s albanske strane granice dok god to Unija smatra potrebnim.

      Unatoč nekim marginalnim glasovima koji su se žalili zbog kršenja nacionalne suverenosti prepuštanjem kontrole nad granicom stranim trupama, javnost je reagirala bilo potpunom nezainteresiranošću ili čak blagom potporom sporazumu koji bi tobože trebao pomoći Albaniji da uđe u Europsku uniju. S puno entuzijazma, lokalni su se mediji hvalili kako su u prva četiri dana Frontexovi zaposlenici već ulovili 92 “ilegalna migranta”. No to nije prvo, a ni najozbiljnije predavanje kontrole nad granicom koje je poduzela albanska vlada. Još od kasnih 1990-ih i ranih 2000-ih jadranskim i jonskim teritorijalnim vodama Republike Albanije patrolira talijanska Guardia di Finanza. Tih se godina albanska obala često koristila kao most prema Italiji preko kojeg je prelazila većina migranata azijskog porijekla, ne samo zbog blizine južne Italije, već i zbog slabosti državnih aparata tijekom goleme krize 1997. i 1998. godine.

      Helikopteri Guardije di Finanza također kontroliraju albansko nebo u potrazi za poljima kanabisa i to sve u suradnji s lokalnom državnom birokracijom koja je sama dijelom suradnica dilera, a dijelom nesposobna da im se suprotstavi. No posljednjih godina, zbog toga što su druge rute zatvorene, sve veći broj ljudi počeo se kretati iz Grčke preko Albanije, Crne Gore i BiH prema zemljama EU. Prema Međunarodnoj organizaciji za migracije, granicu je prešlo oko 18 tisuća ljudi, uglavnom iz Sirije, Pakistana i Iraka. To predstavlja povećanje od sedam puta u odnosu na godinu ranije. Tek manji dio tih ljudi je ulovljen zbog nedostatka kapaciteta granične kontrole ili pak potpune indiferencije prema ljudima kojima siromašna zemlja poput Albanije nikada neće biti destinacija.
      Tranzitna zemlja

      Oni koje ulove smješteni su u prihvatnom centru blizu Tirane, ali odatle im je relativno jednostavno pobjeći i nastaviti put dalje. Dio njih službeno je zatražio azil u Albaniji, ali to ne znači da će se dulje zadržati u zemlji. Ipak, očekuje se da će ubuduće albanske institucije biti znatno agresivnije u politici repatrijacije migranata. U tome će se susretati s brojnim pravnim i administrativnim problemima: kako objašnjavaju lokalni stručnjaci za migracije, Albanija sa zemljama iz kojih dolazi većina migranata – poput Sirije, Pakistana, Iraka i Afganistana – uopće nema diplomatske odnose niti pravne predstavnike u tim zemljama. Zbog toga je koordiniranje procesa repatrijacije gotovo nemoguće. Također, iako sporazum o repatrijaciji postoji s Grčkoj, njime je predviđeno da se u tu zemlju vraćaju samo oni za koje se može dokazati da su iz nje došli, a većina migranata koji dođu iz Grčke nastoji sakriti svaki trag svog boravka u toj zemlji.

      U takvoj situaciji, čini se izvjesnim da će Albanija biti zemlja u kojoj će sve veći broj ljudi zapeti na neodređeno vrijeme. Prije nekih godinu i pol dana, izbila je javna panika s dosta rasističkih tonova. Nakon jednog nespretnog intervjua vladinog dužnosnika njemačkom mediju proširile su se glasine da će se u Albaniju naseliti šesto tisuća Sirijaca. Brojka je već na prvi pogled astronomska s obzirom na to da je stanovništvo zemlje oko tri milijuna ljudi, ali teorije zavjere se obično šire kao požar. Neki od drugorazrednih političara čak su pozvali na oružanu borbu ako dođu Sirijci. No ta je panika zapravo brzo prošla, ali tek nakon što je vlada obećala da neće primiti više izbjeglica od onog broja koji bude određen raspodjelom prema dogovoru u Uniji. Otad zapravo nema nekog osobitog antimigrantskog raspoloženja u javnosti, unatoč tome što tisuće ljudi prolazi kroz zemlju.
      Europski san

      Odnos je uglavnom onaj indiferencije. Tome pridonosi nekoliko stvari: činjenica da je gotovo trećina stanovništva Albanije također odselila u zemlje Unije,1 zatim to što ne postoje neke vjerske i ultranacionalističke stranke, ali najviše to što nitko od migranata nema nikakvu namjeru ostati u zemlji. No zašto je albanska vlada tako nestrpljiva da preda kontrolu granice i suverenitet, odnosno zašto je premijer Edi Rama izgledao tako entuzijastično prilikom ceremonije s Dimitrisom Avramopulosom, europskim povjerenikom za migracije, unutrašnje poslove i državljanstvo? Vlada se nada da će to ubrzati njezin put prema članstvu u Europskoj uniji. Posljednjih pet godina provela je čekajući otvaranje pristupnih pregovora, a predavanje kontrole nad granicom vidi kao još jednu ilustraciju svoje pripadnosti Uniji.

      S druge strane, stalna politička kriza koju su izazvali studentski protesti u prosincu 2018., te kasnije bojkot parlamenta i lokalnih izbora od strane opozicijskih stranaka, stavlja neprestani pritisak na vladu. Očajnički treba pozitivan znak iz EU jer vodi političku i ideološku borbu protiv opozicije oko toga tko je autentičniji kulturni i politički predstavnik europejstva. Vlada naziva opoziciju i njezine nasilne prosvjede antieuropskima, dok opozicija optužuje vladu da svojom korupcijom i povezanošću s organiziranim kriminalom radi protiv europskih želja stanovništva. Prije nekoliko dana, Komisija je predložila početak pristupnih pregovora s Albanijom, no Europsko vijeće je to koje ima zadnju riječ. Očekuje se kako će sve ovisiti o toj odluci. Ideja Europe jedno je od čvorišta vladajuće ideologije koja se desetljećima gradi kao antipod komunizmu i Orijentu te historijska destinacija kojoj Albanci stoljećima teže.

      Neoliberalna rekonstrukcija ekonomije i društva gotovo je uvijek legitimirana tvrdnjama kako su to nužni – iako bolni – koraci prema integraciji u Europsku uniju. Uspješnost ove ideologije ilustrira činjenica da otprilike 90% ispitanih u različitim studijama podržava Albansku integraciju u EU. U toj situaciji ne čudi ni odnos prema Frontexu.

      https://www.bilten.org/?p=28118

  • European Border and Coast Guard: The Commission welcomes agreement on a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027

    Today, the Council green-lighted the political agreement reached last week to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard, giving it the right level of ambition to respond to the common challenges Europe is facing in managing migration and borders.

    The centre piece of the reinforced Agency will be a standing corps of 10,000 border guards – ready to support Member States at any time. The Agency will also have a stronger mandate on returns and will cooperate more closely with non-EU countries, including those beyond the EU’s immediate neighbourhood. Agreed in the record time of just over 6 months, the new European Border and Coast Guard represents a step-change in the EU’s ability to collectively better protect Europe’s external borders.

    Welcoming the agreement, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “In an area of free movement without internal border controls, strengthening and managing Europe’s external borders is a shared responsibility. I am glad to see that a 10,000-strong standing corps with the necessary equipment will help Member States to better protect our borders and our citizens. By working together constructively and swiftly, we can create a safer Europe.”

    Commissioner for Home Affairs, Migration and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos added: “From now onwards, the European Border and Coast Guard will have the full operational capacity and powers needed to effectively and fully support Member States on the ground, at all times. Better controlling our external borders, fighting irregular migration, carrying out returns and cooperating with third countries – we can only succeed if we do this together. Ultimately, this will also help preserve the long-term viability of the Schengen area of free movement.”

    The Agency supports Member States and does not replace their responsibilities in external border management and return. The reinforced European Border and Coast Guard Agency will be equipped with more resources and capabilities including:

    A standing corps of 10,000 border guards: A standing corps of 10,000 border guards will be set up by 2027 and will ensure that the Agency can support Member States whenever and wherever needed. The standing corps will bring together Agency staff as well as border guards and return experts seconded or deployed by Member States, who will support the over 100,000 national border guards in their tasks. In addition, the Agency will have a budget to acquire its own equipment, such as vessels, planes and vehicles.

    Executive powers: The standing corps will be able to carry out border control and return tasks, such as identity checks, authorising entry at the external borders, and carrying out borders’ surveillance – only with the agreement of the host Member State.
    More support on return: In addition to organising and financing joint return operations, the Agency will now also be able to support Member States at all stages of return process with Member States remaining responsible for taking return decisions. This support will include for example by identifying non-EU nationals with no right to stay or acquiring travel documents.
    Stronger cooperation with non-EU countries: The Agency will be able – subject to prior agreement of the country concerned – to launch joint operations and deploy staff outside the EU, beyond countries neighbouring the EU, to provide support on border and migration management.
    Antenna offices: The Agency will be able to set up antenna offices in Member States and in a non-EU country (subject to a status agreement) to support logistically its operational activities and guarantee the smooth running of the Agency’s operations.

    Next steps

    The European Parliament’s LIBE Committee still has to confirm the political agreement reached in trilogues on 28 March. Then both the European Parliament and the Council will have to formally adopt the Regulation. The text will then be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and the European Border and Coast Guard’s enhanced mandate will enter into force 20 days later. The new European Border and Coast Guard standing corps will be available for deployment starting from 2021, once it becomes fully operational and will reach its full capacity of 10,000 border guards by 2027.

    Background

    The European Border and Coast Guard was established in 2016, building on existing structures of Frontex, to meet the new challenges and political realities faced by the EU, both as regards migration and internal security. The reliance on voluntary Member States’ contributions of staff and equipment has however resulted in persistent gaps affecting the efficiency of the support the European Border and Coast Guard could offer to Member States.

    In his 2018 State of the Union Address President Juncker announced that the Commission will reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard even further. The objective of this upgrade was to equip the Agency with a standing corps of 10,000 operational staff and with its own equipment to ensure that the EU has the necessary capabilities in place — constantly and reliably. On 28 March, the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the Commission’s proposal, which was confirmed by the Council.

    http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-1929_en.htm
    Après #Frontex, #Frontex_plus (https://seenthis.net/tag/frontex_plus)
    Après Frontex plus, #Frontex_plus_plus

    #renvois #expulsions #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #business

  • EU to end ship patrols in scaled down Operation Sophia

    The European Union will cease the maritime patrols that have rescued thousands of migrants making the perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing from North Africa to Europe, but it will extend air missions, two diplomats said on Tuesday (26 March).

    A new agreement on the EU’s Operation Sophia was hammered out after Italy, where anti-migrant sentiment is rising, said it would no longer receive those rescued at sea.

    Operation Sophia’s mandate was due to expire on Sunday but should now continue for another six months with the same aim of deterring people smugglers in the Mediterranean. But it will no longer deploy ships, instead relying on air patrols and closer coordination with Libya, the diplomats said.

    “It is awkward, but this was the only way forward given Italy’s position, because nobody wanted the Sophia mission completely shut down,” one EU diplomat said.

    A second diplomat confirmed a deal had been reached and said it must be endorsed by all EU governments on Wednesday.

    The tentative deal, however, could weaken Operation Sophia’s role in saving lives in the sea where nearly 2,300 people perished last year, according to United Nations figures.

    From the more than one million refugees and migrants who made it to the bloc during a 2015 crisis, sea arrivals dropped to 141,500 people in 2018, according to the United Nations.

    Still, Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, has said his country would no longer be the main point of disembarkation for people trying to cross the Mediterranean by boat and rescued by Sophia’s patrol ships.

    Rome called for other countries to open up their ports instead, but no other EU states came forward. Diplomats said countries including Spain, France and Germany signalled they were not willing to host more rescued people – most of whom are fleeing wars and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

    However, EU governments did want the mission to continue because they felt it had been effective in dissuading smugglers.

    The compromise discussion in Brussels did not discuss military aspects of the role of air patrols. But the new arrangement will involve more training of the coast guard in Libya, where lawlessness has allowed smugglers to openly operate sending people to Europe by sea.

    But it would be in line with the EU’s policy of turning increasingly restrictive on Mediterranean immigration since the surge in 2015 and discouraging people from risking their lives in the sea in trying to cross to Europe where governments do not want them.

    The bloc has already curbed operations of EU aid groups in the part of the Mediterranean in question and moved its own ships further north where fewer rescues take place.

    https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/eu-to-end-ship-patrols-in-scaled-down-operation-sophia
    #opération_sophia #méditerranée #asile #réfugiés #sauvetage #missions_aériennes #migrations #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #mer_Méditerranée #sauvetages

    • Commissioner calls for more rescue capacity in the Mediterranean

      I take note of the decision taken by the EU’s Political and Security Committee with regards to Operation Sophia. I regret that this will lead to even fewer naval assets in the Mediterranean, which could assist the rescue of persons in distress at sea. Lives are continuing to be lost in the Mediterranean. This should remind states of the urgency to adopt a different approach, one that should ensure a sufficiently resourced and fully operational system for saving human lives at sea and to safeguard rescued migrants’ dignity.

      Whilst coastal states have the responsibility to ensure effective coordination of search and rescue operations, protecting lives in the Mediterranean requires concerted efforts of other states as well, to begin with the provision of naval assets specifically dedicated to search and rescue activities, deployed in those areas where they can make an effective contribution to saving human lives. Furthermore, I reiterate my call to all states to refrain from hindering and criminalising the work of NGOs who are trying to fill the ever-increasing gap in rescue capacity. States should rather support and co-operate with them, including by ensuring that they can use ports for their life-saving activities.

      Finally, the decision to continue only with aerial surveillance and training of the Libyan Coast Guard further increases the risks that EU member states, directly or indirectly, contribute to the return of migrants and asylum seekers to Libya, where it is well-documented, in particular recently by the United Nations, that they face serious human rights violations. So far, calls to ensure more transparency and accountability in this area, including by publishing human rights risk assessments and setting up independent monitoring mechanisms, have not been heeded. The onus is now on EU member states to show urgently that the support to the Libyan Coast Guard is not contributing to human rights violations, and to suspend this support if they cannot do so.

      https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/commissioner-calls-for-more-rescue-capacity-in-the-mediterranean
      #droits_humains #gardes-côtes_libyens #Libye

    • EU to end ship patrols in scaled down migrant rescue operation: diplomats

      The European Union will cease the maritime patrols that have rescued thousands of migrants making the perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing from North Africa to Europe, but it will extend air missions, two diplomats said on Tuesday.
      A new agreement on the EU’s Operation Sophia was hammered out after Italy, where anti-migrant sentiment is rising, said it would no longer receive those rescued at sea.

      Operation Sophia’s mandate was due to expire on Sunday but should now continue for another six months with the same aim of detering people smugglers in the Mediterranean. But it will no longer deploy ships, instead relying on air patrols and closer coordination with Libya, the diplomats said.

      “It is awkward, but this was the only way forward given Italy’s position, because nobody wanted the Sophia mission completely shut down,” one EU diplomat said.

      A second diplomat confirmed a deal had been reached and said it must be endorsed by all EU governments on Wednesday.

      The tentative deal, however, could weaken Operation Sophia’s role in saving lives in the sea where nearly 2,300 people perished last year, according to United Nations figures.

      From the more than one million refugees and migrants who made it to the bloc during a 2015 crisis, sea arrivals dropped to 141,500 people in 2018, according to the United Nations.

      Still, Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, has said his country would no longer be the main point of disembarkation for people trying to cross the Mediterranean by boat and rescued by Sophia’s patrol ships.

      Rome called for other countries to open up their ports instead, but no other EU states came forward. Diplomats said countries including Spain, France and Germany signaled they were not willing to host more rescued people - most of whom are fleeing wars and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

      However, EU governments did want the mission to continue because they felt it had been effective in dissuading smugglers.

      The compromise discussion in Brussels did not discuss military aspects of the role of air patrols. But the new arrangement will involve more training of the coast guard in Libya, where lawlessness has allowed smugglers to openly operate sending people to Europe by sea.

      But it would be in line with the EU’s policy of turning increasingly restrictive on Mediterranean immigration since the surge in 2015 and discouraging people from risking their lives in the sea in trying to cross to Europe where governments do not want them.

      The bloc has already curbed operations of EU aid groups in the part of the Mediterranean in question and moved its own ships further north where fewer rescues take place.

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-sophia/eu-weighs-up-awkward-migration-compromise-on-mediterranean-mission-idUSKCN1

    • En Méditerranée, l’UE retire ses navires militaires qui ont sauvé 45.000 migrants

      Les États membres de l’Union européenne ont décidé, mercredi 27 mars, de retirer leurs navires militaires engagés en Méditerranée dans le cadre de l’opération militaire dite « Sophia », au moins temporairement. Depuis 2015, ces bateaux ont pourtant permis de sauver 45 000 migrants environ.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/280319/en-mediterranee-l-ue-retire-ses-navires-militaires-qui-ont-sauve-45000-mig

    • #EUNAVFOR_MED Operation Sophia : mandate extended until 30 September 2019

      The Council today extended the mandate of EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia until 30 September 2019.

      The Operation Commander has been instructed to suspend temporarily the deployment of the Operation’s naval assets for the duration of this extension for operational reasons. EU member states will continue to work in the appropriate fora on a solution on disembarkation as part of the follow-up to the June 2018 European Council conclusions.

      The Operation will continue to implement its mandate accordingly, strengthening surveillance by air assets as well as reinforcing support to the Libyan Coastguard and Navy in law enforcement tasks at sea through enhanced monitoring, including ashore, and continuation of training.

      The operation’s core mandate is to contribute to the EU’s work to disrupt the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean. The operation has also supporting tasks. It trains the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and monitors the long-term efficiency of the training and it contributes to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya. In addition, the operation also conducts surveillance activities and gathers information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from Libya, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. As such, the operation contributes to EU efforts for the return of stability and security in Libya and to maritime security in the Central Mediterranean region.

      EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia was launched on 22 June 2015. It is part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to migration. The Operation Commander is Rear Admiral Credendino, from Italy. The headquarters of the operation are located in Rome.

      Today’s decision was adopted by the Council by written procedure.

      https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/03/29/eunavfor-med-operation-sophia-mandate-extended-until-30-september-2

  • La liste des incidents du USCG Polar Star continue à s’allonger. Les capacités polaires des garde-côtes états-uniens sont à la merci d’un incident…

    FIRE IN ANTARCTIC OCEAN Aboard USCG’s Last Heavy Icebreaker – gCaptain
    https://gcaptain.com/fire-in-antarctic-ocean-uscg-icebreaker-mcmurdo


    The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, with 75,000 horsepower and its 13,500-ton weight, is guided by its crew to break through Antarctic ice en route to the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station, Jan. 15, 2017. The ship, which was designed more than 40 years ago, remains the world’s most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker.
    U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley

    The 150-member crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sta_r fought a fire at approximately 9 p.m. PST Feb. 10 that broke out in the ship’s incinerator room about 650 miles north of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.

    After initial response efforts using four fire extinguishers failed, fire crews spent almost two hours extinguishing the fire. Fire damage was contained inside the incinerator housing, while firefighting water used to cool exhaust pipe in the surrounding area damaged several electrical systems and insulation in the room.

    Repairs are already being planned for the Polar Star’s upcoming maintenance period. The incinerator will need to be full functional before next year’s mission.
    […]
    “_It’s always a serious matter whenever a shipboard fire breaks out at sea, and it’s even more concerning when that ship is in one of the most remote places on Earth,
    ” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Pacific Area.
    […]
    The Feb. 10 fire was not the first engineering casualty faced by the Polar Star crew this deployment. While en route to Antarctica, one of the ship’s electrical systems began to smoke, causing damage to wiring in an electrical switchboard, and one of the ship’s two evaporators used to make drinkable water failed. The electrical switchboard was repaired by the crew, and the ship’s evaporator was repaired after parts were received during a port call in Wellington, New Zealand.

    The ship also experienced a leak from the shaft that drives the ship’s propeller, which halted icebreaking operations to send scuba divers into the water to repair the seal around the shaft. A hyperbaric chamber on loan from the U.S. Navy aboard the ship allows Coast Guard divers to make external emergency repairs and inspections of the ship’s hull at sea.

    The Polar Star also experienced ship-wide power outages while breaking ice. Crew members spent nine hours shutting down the ship’s power plant and rebooting the electrical system in order to remedy the outages.

    The U.S. Coast Guard maintains two icebreakers – the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, which is a medium icebreaker, and the Polar Star, the United States’ only heavy icebreaker. If a catastrophic event, such as getting stuck in the ice, were to happen to the Healy in the Arctic or to the Polar Star near Antarctica, the U.S. Coast Guard is left without a self-rescue capability.

    By contrast, Russia currently operates more than 40 icebreakers – several of which are nuclear powered.

    nouvel épisode après https://seenthis.net/messages/754347 il y a 6 semaines.

  • Europe’s deadly migration strategy. Officials knew EU military operation made Mediterranean crossing more dangerous.

    Since its creation in 2015, Europe’s military operation in the Mediterranean — named “#Operation_Sophia” — has saved some 49,000 people from the sea. But that was never really the main objective.

    The goal of the operation — which at its peak involved over a dozen sea and air assets from 27 EU countries, including ships, airplanes, drones and submarines — was to disrupt people-smuggling networks off the coast of Libya and, by extension, stem the tide of people crossing the sea to Europe.

    European leaders have hailed the operation as a successful joint effort to address the migration crisis that rocked the bloc starting in 2015, when a spike in arrivals overwhelmed border countries like Greece and Italy and sparked a political fight over who would be responsible for the new arrivals.

    But a collection of leaked documents from the European External Action Service, the bloc’s foreign policy arm, obtained by POLITICO (https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/OperationSophia.pdf), paint a different picture.

    In internal memos, the operation’s leaders admit Sophia’s success has been limited by its own mandate — it can only operate in international waters, not in Libyan waters or on land, where smuggling networks operate — and it is underfunded, understaffed and underequipped.

    “Sophia is a military operation with a very political agenda" — Barbara Spinelli, Italian MEP

    The confidential reports also show the EU is aware that a number of its policies have made the sea crossing more dangerous for migrants, and that it nonetheless chose to continue to pursue those strategies. Officials acknowledge internally that some members of the Libyan coast guard that the EU funds, equips and trains are collaborating with smuggling networks.

    For the operation’s critics, the EU’s willingness to turn a blind eye to these shortcomings — as well as serious human rights abuses by the Libyan coast guard and in the country’s migrant detention centers — are symptomatic of what critics call the bloc’s incoherent approach to managing migration and its desire to outsource the problem to non-EU countries.

    “Sophia is a military operation with a very political agenda,” said Barbara Spinelli, an Italian MEP and member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament. “It has become an instrument of refoulement, legitimizing militias with criminal records, dressed up as coast guards.”

    Now the operation, which is managed by Italy and has been dogged by political disagreements since it began, is coming under increasing pressure as the deadline for its renewal approaches in March.

    Italy’s deputy prime minister, far-right leader Matteo Salvini, has said the operation should only be extended if there are new provisions to resettle rescued people across the bloc. Last month, Germany announced it would be discontinuing its participation in the program, claiming that Italy’s refusal to allow rescued migrants to disembark is undermining the mission.

    Named after a baby girl born on an EU rescue ship, Sophia is the uneasy compromise to resolve a deep split across the bloc: between those who pushed for proactive search-and-rescue efforts to save more lives and those who favored pulling resources from the sea to make the crossing more dangerous.

    The naval operation sits uncomfortably between the two, rescuing migrants in distress at sea, but insisting its primary focus is to fight smugglers off the coast of Libya. The two activities are frequently in conflict.

    The operation has cycled through a number of strategies since its launch: a campaign to destroy boats used by smugglers; law-enforcement interviews with those rescued at sea; extensive aerial surveillance; and training and funding a newly consolidated Libyan coast guard.

    But the success of these approaches is highly disputed, and in some cases they have put migrants’ lives at greater risk.

    The EU’s policy of destroying the wooden boats used by smugglers to avoid them being reused, for example, has indeed disrupted the Libyan smuggling business, but at a substantial human cost.

    As Libyan smugglers lost their wooden boats, many started to rely more heavily on smaller, cheaper rubber boats. The boats, which smugglers often overfill to maximize profit, are not as safe as the wooden vessels and less likely to reach European shores. Instead, Libyan smugglers started to abandon migrants in international waters, leaving them to be pulled out of peril by European rescue ships.

    Sophia officials tracked the situation and were aware of the increased risk to migrants as a result of the policy. “Smugglers can no longer recover smuggling vessels on the high seas, effectively rendering them a less economic option for the smuggling business and thereby hampering it,” they wrote in a 2016 status report seen by POLITICO.

    The report acknowledged however that the policy has pushed migrants into using rubber boats, putting them in greater danger. “Effectively, with the limited supply and the degree of overloading, the migrant vessels are [distress] cases from the moment they launch,” it said.

    These overfilled rubber boats, which officials described as shipwrecks waiting to happen, also present a problem for the EU operation.

    International maritime law compels vessels to respond to people in distress at sea and bring the rescued to a nearby safe port. And because European courts have held that Libya has no safe port, that means bringing migrants found at sea to Europe — in most cases, Italy.

    This has exacerbated political tensions in the country, where far-right leader Salvini has responded to the influx of new arrivals by closing ports to NGO and humanitarian ships carrying migrants and threatening to bar Sophia vessels from docking.

    Meanwhile, Sophia officials have complained that rescuing people from leaking, unseaworthy boats detracted from the operation’s ability to pursue its primary target: Libyan smugglers.

    In a leaked status report from 2017, Sophia officials made a highly unusual suggestion: that the operation be granted permission to suspend its rescue responsibilities in order to focus on its anti-smuggling operations.

    “Consideration should be given to an option that would allow the operation to be authorized for being temporarily exempt from search and rescue when actively conducting anti-smuggling operations against jackals in international waters,” the report read.

    The EU has also wilfully ignored inconvenient aspects of its policies when it comes to its collaboration with Libya’s municipal coast guard.

    The intention of the strategy — launched one year into the Sophia operation — was to equip Libyan authorities to intercept migrant boats setting off from the Libyan coast and bring people back to shore. This saved Europe from sending its own ships close to coast, and meant that people could be brought back to Libya, rather than to Europe, as required by international maritime law — or more specifically, Italy.

    Here too, the EU was aware it was pursuing a problematic strategy, as the Libyan coast guard has a well-documented relationship with Libyan smugglers.

    A leaked report from Frontex, the EU’s coast guard, noted in 2016: “As mentioned in previous reports, some members of Libya’s local authorities are involved in smuggling activities.” The report cited interviews with recently rescued people who said they were smuggled by Libyans in uniform. It also noted that similar conclusions were reported multiple times by the Italian coast guard and Operation Sophia.

    “Many of [the coast guard officers] were militia people — many of them fought with militias during the civil war" — Rabih Boualleg, Operation Sophia translator

    In Sophia’s leaked status report from 2017, operation leaders noted that “migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks remain well ingrained” throughout the region and that smugglers routinely “pay off authorities” for passage to international waters.

    “Many of [the coast guard officers] were militia people — many of them fought with militias during the civil war,” said Rabih Boualleg, who worked as a translator for Operation Sophia in late 2016 on board a Dutch ship involved in training the coast guard from Tripoli.

    “They were telling me that many of them hadn’t gotten their government salaries in eight months. They told me, jokingly, that they were ‘forced’ to take money from smugglers sometimes.”

    The coast guards talked openly about accepting money from smuggling networks in exchange for escorting rubber boats to international waters instead of turning them back toward the shore, Boualleg said.

    “If the [on-duty] coast guard came,” Boualleg added, “they would just say they were fishermen following the rubber boats, that’s all.”

    Frontex’s 2016 report documents similar cases. Two officials with close knowledge of Sophia’s training of the Libyan coast guard also confirmed that members of the coast guard are involved in smuggling networks. A spokesperson for the Libyan coast guard did not return repeated requests for comment.

    EU governments have, for the most part, simply looked the other way.

    And that’s unlikely to change, said a senior European official with close knowledge of Operation Sophia who spoke on condition of anonymity. For the first time since the start of the operation, Libyan authorities are returning more people to Libya than are arriving in Italy.

    “If Italy decides — since it is the country in command of Operation Sophia — to stop it, it is up to Italy to make this decision" — Dimitris Avramopoulos, immigration commissioner

    “Europe doesn’t want to upset this balance,” the official said. “Any criticism of the coast guards could lead to resentment, to relaxing.”

    Two years into the training program, leaked reports also show the Libyan coast guard was unable to manage search-and-rescue activities on its own. Sophia monitors their operations with GoPro cameras and through surveillance using ships, airplanes, drones and submarines.

    The operation is limited by its mandate, but it has made progress in difficult circumstances, an EEAS spokesperson said. Operation Sophia officials did not respond to multiple interview requests and declined to answer questions via email.

    “The provision of training the Libyan coast guard and navy, as well as continued engagement with them have proven to be the most effecting complementary tool to disrupt the activities of those involved in trafficking,” the EEAS spokesperson said in an email.

    The spokesperson maintained that Libyan coast guards who are trained by Operation Sophia undergo a “thorough vetting procedure." The spokesperson also stated that, while Operation Sophia does advise and monitor the Libyan coast guard, the operation is not involved “in the decision-making in relation to operations.”

    *

    With the March deadline for the operation’s renewal fast approaching, pressure is mounting to find a way to reform Sophia or disband it altogether.

    When Salvini closed Italy’s ports to NGO and humanitarian ships last July, the country’s foreign minister turned to the EU to negotiate a solution that would ensure migrants rescued as part of Operation Sophia would be resettled among other countries. At the time, Italy said it expected results “within weeks.” Six months later, neither side has found a way through the impasse.

    “The fate of this operation is not determined yet,” European Commissioner for Immigration Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters last month, adding that discussions about allowing migrants to disembark in non-Italian ports are still underway among member countries.

    “If Italy decides — since it is the country in command of Operation Sophia — to stop it, it is up to Italy to make this decision.”

    The political fight over the future of the operation has been made more acute by an increase in criticism from human rights organizations. Reports of violence, torture and extortion in Libyan detention centers have put the naval operation and EEAS on the defensive.

    A Human Rights Watch report published in January found that Europe’s support for the Libyan coast guard has contributed to cases of arbitrary detention, and that people intercepted by Libyan authorities “face inhuman and degrading conditions and the risk of torture, sexual violence, extortion, and forced labor.” Amnesty International has also condemned the conditions under which migrants are being held, and in an open letter published earlier this month, 50 major aid organizations warned that “EU leaders have allowed themselves to become complicit in the tragedy unfolding before their eyes.”

    These human rights violations have been well documented. In 2016, the U.N. Human Rights Office said it considered “migrants to be at high risk of suffering serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, in Libya and thus urges States not to return, or facilitate the return of, persons to Libya.”

    Last June, the U.N. sanctioned six men for smuggling and human rights violations, including the head of the coast guard in Zawiya, a city west of Tripoli. A number of officials under his command, a leaked EEAS report found, were trained by Operation Sophia.

    An EEAS spokesperson would not comment on the case of the Zawiya coast guards trained by Operation Sophia or how the officers were vetted. The spokesperson said that none of the coast guards “trained by Operation Sophia” are on the U.N. sanctions list.

    The deteriorating human rights situation has prompted a growing chorus of critics to argue the EU’s arrangement with Libya is unsustainable.

    “What does the EU do in Libya? They throw money at projects, but they don’t have a very tangible operation on the ground" — Tarek Megerisi, Libyan expert

    “Returning anyone to Libya is against international law,” said Salah Margani, a former justice minister in Libya’s post-civil war government. “Libya is not a safe place. They will be subject to murder. They will be subjected to torture.”

    “This is documented,” Margani added. “And [Europe] knows it.”

    Sophia is also indicative of a larger, ineffective European policy toward Libya, said Tarek Megerisi, a Libya specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

    “What does the EU do in Libya? They throw money at projects, but they don’t have a very tangible operation on the ground. They really struggle to convert what they spend into political currency — Operation Sophia is all they’ve got,” he said.

    The project, he added, is less a practical attempt to stop smuggling or save migrants than a political effort to paper over differences within the EU when it comes to migration policy.

    With Sophia, he said, Europe is “being as vague as possible so countries like Italy and Hungary can say this is our tool for stopping migration, and countries like Germany and Sweden can say we’re saving lives.”

    “With this operation, there’s something for everyone,” he said.

    https://www.politico.eu/article/europe-deadly-migration-strategy-leaked-documents

    Commentaire ECRE :

    Leaked documents obtained by @POLITICOEurope show that the #EU knew its military operation “Sophia” in the Mediterranean made sea crossing more dangerous.

    https://twitter.com/ecre/status/1101074946057482240

    #responsabilité #Méditerranée #mourir_en_mer #asile #migrations #réfugiés #mer_Méditerranée #Frontex #EU #UE
    #leaks #sauvetage #externalisation #frontières

    –-----------------------------------------

    Mise en exergue de quelques passages de l’article qui me paraissent particulièrement intéressants :

    The confidential reports also show the EU is aware that a number of its policies have made the sea crossing more dangerous for migrants, and that it nonetheless chose to continue to pursue those strategies. Officials acknowledge internally that some members of the Libyan coast guard that the EU funds, equips and trains are collaborating with smuggling networks.

    Named after a baby girl born on an EU rescue ship, Sophia is the uneasy compromise to resolve a deep split across the bloc: between those who pushed for proactive search-and-rescue efforts to save more lives and those who favored pulling resources from the sea to make the crossing more dangerous.
    The naval operation sits uncomfortably between the two, rescuing migrants in distress at sea, but insisting its primary focus is to fight smugglers off the coast of Libya. The two activities are frequently in conflict.

    The report acknowledged however that the policy has pushed migrants into using rubber boats, putting them in greater danger. “Effectively, with the limited supply and the degree of overloading, the migrant vessels are [distress] cases from the moment they launch,” it said.

    In a leaked status report from 2017 (https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ENFM-2017-2.pdf), Sophia officials made a highly unusual suggestion: that the operation be granted permission to suspend its rescue responsibilities in order to focus on its anti-smuggling operations.

    “Consideration should be given to an option that would allow the operation to be authorized for being temporarily exempt from search and rescue when actively conducting anti-smuggling operations against jackals in international waters,” the report read.

    A leaked report from #Frontex (https://theintercept.com/2017/04/02/new-evidence-undermines-eu-report-tying-refugee-rescue-group-to-smuggl), the EU’s coast guard, noted in 2016: “As mentioned in previous reports, some members of Libya’s local authorities are involved in smuggling activities.” The report cited interviews with recently rescued people who said they were smuggled by Libyans in uniform. It also noted that similar conclusions were reported multiple times by the Italian coast guard and Operation Sophia.

    In Sophia’s leaked status report from 2017, operation leaders noted that “migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks remain well ingrained” throughout the region and that smugglers routinely “pay off authorities” for passage to international waters. “Many of [the coast guard officers] were militia people — many of them fought with militias during the civil war,” said Rabih Boualleg, who worked as a translator for Operation Sophia in late 2016 on board a Dutch ship involved in training the coast guard from Tripoli. The coast guards talked openly about accepting money from smuggling networks in exchange for escorting rubber boats to international waters instead of turning them back toward the shore, Boualleg said.

    Frontex’s 2016 report documents similar cases. Two officials with close knowledge of Sophia’s training of the Libyan coast guard also confirmed that members of the coast guard are involved in smuggling networks. A spokesperson for the Libyan coast guard did not return repeated requests for comment.

    Two years into the training program, leaked reports (https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ENFM-Monitoring-of-Libyan-Coast-Guard-and-Navy-Report-October-2017-January-2018.pdf) also show the Libyan coast guard was unable to manage search-and-rescue activities on its own. Sophia monitors their operations with GoPro cameras and through surveillance using ships, airplanes, drones and submarines.

    A Human Rights Watch report (https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/01/21/no-escape-hell/eu-policies-contribute-abuse-migrants-libya) published in January found that Europe’s support for the Libyan coast guard has contributed to cases of arbitrary detention, and that people intercepted by Libyan authorities “face inhuman and degrading conditions and the risk of torture, sexual violence, extortion, and forced labor.” Amnesty International has also condemned (https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/LY/DetainedAndDehumanised_en.pdf) the conditions under which migrants are being held, and in an open letter published earlier this month, 50 major aid organizations warned that “EU leaders have allowed themselves to become complicit in the tragedy unfolding before their eyes.”

    “Returning anyone to Libya is against international law,” said Salah Margani, a former justice minister in Libya’s post-civil war government. “Libya is not a safe place. They will be subject to murder. They will be subjected to torture.”

    “This is documented,” Margani added. “And [Europe] knows it.”
    Sophia is also indicative of a larger, ineffective European policy toward Libya, said Tarek Megerisi, a Libya specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
    “What does the EU do in Libya? They throw money at projects, but they don’t have a very tangible operation on the ground. They really struggle to convert what they spend into political currency — Operation Sophia is all they’ve got,” he said.

    With Sophia, he said, Europe is “being as vague as possible so countries like Italy and Hungary can say this is our tool for stopping migration, and countries like Germany and Sweden can say we’re saving lives.”
    “With this operation, there’s something for everyone,” he said.

    #flou

  • Report to the EU Parliament on #Frontex cooperation with third countries in 2017

    A recent report by Frontex, the EU’s border agency, highlights the ongoing expansion of its activities with non-EU states.

    The report covers the agency’s cooperation with non-EU states ("third countries") in 2017, although it was only published this month.

    See: Report to the European Parliament on Frontex cooperation with third countries in 2017: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-report-ep-third-countries-coop-2017.pdf (pdf)

    It notes the adoption by Frontex of an #International_Cooperation_Strategy 2018-2020, “an integral part of our multi-annual programme” which:

    “guides the Agency’s interactions with third countries and international organisations… The Strategy identified the following priority regions with which Frontex strives for closer cooperation: the Western Balkans, Turkey, North and West Africa, Sub-Saharan countries and the Horn of Africa.”

    The Strategy can be found in Annex XIII to the 2018-20 Programming Document: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-programming-document-2018-20.pdf (pdf).

    The 2017 report on cooperation with third countries further notes that Frontex is in dialogue with Senegal, #Niger and Guinea with the aim of signing Working Agreements at some point in the future.

    The agency deployed three Frontex #Liaison_Officers in 2017 - to Niger, Serbia and Turkey - while there was also a #European_Return_Liaison_Officer deployed to #Ghana in 2018.

    The report boasts of assisting the Commission in implementing informal agreements on return (as opposed to democratically-approved readmission agreements):

    "For instance, we contributed to the development of the Standard Operating Procedures with #Bangladesh and the “Good Practices for the Implementation of Return-Related Activities with the Republic of Guinea”, all forming important elements of the EU return policy that was being developed and consolidated throughout 2017."

    At the same time:

    “The implementation of 341 Frontex coordinated and co-financed return operations by charter flights and returning 14 189 third-country nationals meant an increase in the number of return operations by 47% and increase of third-country nationals returned by 33% compared to 2016.”

    Those return operations included Frontex’s:

    “first joint return operation to #Afghanistan. The operation was organised by Hungary, with Belgium and Slovenia as participating Member States, and returned a total of 22 third country nationals to Afghanistan. In order to make this operation a success, the participating Member States and Frontex needed a coordinated support of the European Commission as well as the EU Delegation and the European Return Liaison Officers Network in Afghanistan.”

    http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-report-third-countries.htm
    #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers
    #Balkans #Turquie #Afrique_de_l'Ouest #Afrique_du_Nord #Afrique_sub-saharienne #Corne_de_l'Afrique #Guinée #Sénégal #Serbie #officiers_de_liaison #renvois #expulsions #accords_de_réadmission #machine_à_expulsion #Hongrie #Belgique #Slovénie #réfugiés_afghans

    • EP civil liberties committee against proposal to give Frontex powers to assist non-EU states with deportations

      The European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) has agreed its position for negotiations with the Council on the new Frontex Regulation, and amongst other things it hopes to deny the border agency the possibility of assisting non-EU states with deportations.

      The position agreed by the LIBE committee removes Article 54(2) of the Commission’s proposal, which says:

      “The Agency may also launch return interventions in third countries, based on the directions set out in the multiannual strategic policy cycle, where such third country requires additional technical and operational assistance with regard to its return activities. Such intervention may consist of the deployment of return teams for the purpose of providing technical and operational assistance to return activities of the third country.”

      The report was adopted by the committee with 35 votes in favour, nine against and eight abstentions.

      When the Council reaches its position on the proposal, the two institutions will enter into secret ’trilogue’ negotiations, along with the Commission.

      Although the proposal to reinforce Frontex was only published last September, the intention is to agree a text before the European Parliament elections in May.

      The explanatory statement in the LIBE committee’s report (see below) says:

      “The Rapporteur proposes a number of amendments that should enable the Agency to better achieve its enhanced objectives. It is crucial that the Agency has the necessary border guards and equipment at its disposal whenever this is needed and especially that it is able to deploy them within a short timeframe when necessary.”

      European Parliament: Stronger European Border and Coast Guard to secure EU’s borders: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20190211IPR25771/stronger-european-border-and-coast-guard-to-secure-eu-s-borders (Press release, link):

      “- A new standing corps of 10 000 operational staff to be gradually rolled out
      - More efficient return procedures of irregular migrants
      - Strengthened cooperation with non-EU countries

      New measures to strengthen the European Border and Coast Guard to better address migratory and security challenges were backed by the Civil Liberties Committee.”

      See: REPORT on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Council Joint Action n°98/700/JHA, Regulation (EU) n° 1052/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EU) n° 2016/1624 of the European Parliament and of the Council: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/ep-libe-report-frontex.pdf (pdf)

      The Commission’s proposal and its annexes can be found here: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/sep/eu-soteu-jha-proposals.htm

      http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/ep-new-frontex-libe.htm

  • European Border and Coast Guard: Agreement reached on operational cooperation with Montenegro

    Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos and Minister of the Interior of Montenegro Mevludin Nuhodžić, initialled a status agreement that will allow European Border and Coast Guard teams to be deployed in Montenegro.

    Once the agreement enters into force, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will be able to assist Montenegro in border management and carry out joint operations with Montenegro, in particular in the event of a sudden change in migratory flows.

    Today’s agreement is the fifth agreed with a partner country in the Western Balkans, marking yet another step towards the full operationalisation of the Agency.

    https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/news/european-border-coast-guard-agreement-reached-operational-cooperation-mont

    #Frontex #Monténégro #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #partenariat #accord
    ping @isskein

    • Border management: EU signs agreement with Montenegro on European Border and Coast Guard cooperation

      Today, the European Union signed an agreement with Montenegro on border management cooperation between Montenegro and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). The agreement was signed on behalf of the EU by Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior of Finland and President of the Council and Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, and on behalf of Montenegro by Minister of the Interior, Mevludin Nuhodžić.

      The objective of this agreement is to allow Frontex to coordinate operational cooperation between EU Member states and Montenegro on the management of the borders that the European Union and Montenegro have in common. The signing of this agreement is yet another demonstration of the deepening and expanding cooperation with Montenegro. It will bring benefits for both parties, in particular in enhancing border management activities.
      Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior of Finland

      Today, we are further strengthening our border cooperation with Montenegro, taking yet one more step towards bringing the Western Balkan region closer to the EU. The migratory and security challenges we face are common and our response must be joint too.
      Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship

      This agreement allows Frontex to assist Montenegro in border management, carry out joint operations and deploy teams in the regions of Montenegro that border the EU, subject to Montenegro’s agreement.

      These activities aim at tackling illegal immigration, in particular sudden changes in migratory flows, and cross-border crime, and can involve the provision of increased technical and operational assistance at the border.

      Strengthened cooperation between priority third countries and Frontex will contribute to tackling illegal immigration and further enhance security at the EU’s external borders.
      Next steps

      The draft decision on the conclusion of the agreement was sent to the European Parliament, which needs to give its consent for the agreement to be concluded.
      Background

      Today’s status agreement is the second such agreement to be concluded with a partner country, after a similar agreement was signed with Albania in October 2018. Negotiations with Montenegro were concluded on 5 July 2018 and the draft status agreement was initialled by Commissioner Avramopoulos and Montenegro Interior Minister Mevludin Nuhodžić in February 2019. The Council then authorised the signature of the agreement on 19 March 2019.

      Similar status agreements have also been initialled with North Macedonia (July 2018), Serbia (September 2018) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (January 2019) and are pending finalisation.

      Frontex launched the first-ever joint operation on the territory of a neighbouring non-EU country in Albania on 22 May this year.

      Frontex can carry out deployments and joint operations on the territory of neighbouring non-EU countries, subject to the prior conclusion of a status agreement between the European Union and the country concerned.

      Earlier this year, following a proposal by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council agreed to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard. This will allow for joint operations and deployments to take place in countries beyond the EU’s immediate neighbourhood.

      Cooperation with third countries is an important element of the European integrated border management concept. This concept is applied through a four-tier access model which includes: measures in third countries, measures with neighbouring third countries, border control measures and measures within the Schengen area.

      https://www.consilium.europa.eu/fr/press/press-releases/2019/10/07/border-management-eu-signs-agreement-with-montenegro-on-european-bo

    • On October 7, the European Union signed an agreement (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/de/press/press-releases/2019/10/07/border-management-eu-signs-agreement-with-montenegro-on-european-bo) with Montenegro on border management. The agreement was signed between Montenegro and Frontex (EU Border and Coast Guard Agency), allowing Frontex to support Montenegro in the border management process, conducting joint operations and recruiting teams in the region to monitor the border. The aim of the agreement is to curb illegal migration, as the EU itself states “in the wake of sudden changes in migrant flows”. The role of Frontex’s mission has never been completely clear, and it remains unclear what the specific role of Frontex officers will be in this case - what their responsibilities and the scope of their activities will be. The presence of Frontex is always justified by the EU’s argument for strengthening security, but the only security we see strengthened in this aspect is the security of Fortress Europe, but not the security of people - both those trying to cross the border and access the asylum system and those living in border areas. Let’s not forget about the cages (https://www.telegram.hr/politika-kriminal/ovo-na-slici-su-migranti-koje-je-policija-u-bih-zatvorila-u-kaveze) in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, with migrants in them, awaiting deportation to Montenegro.

      Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, le 14.10.2019

  • Surprise ! l’industrie pétrolière bénéficie d’une dérogation au shutdown : les employés du service fédéral spécialisé viennent d’être autorisés à reprendre leur travail d’instruction et de délivrance de concessions offshore.

    Senate Democrats question offshore drilling work amid #shutdown | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-shutdown-drilling-idUSKCN1PH2RT

    U.S. Senate Democrats are questioning the legal basis of the Trump administration’s move to continue work on its five-year offshore drilling plan during the partial federal government shutdown.

    In a letter sent on Tuesday to David Bernhardt, the Department of Interior’s acting secretary, and Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the senators asked them to address why the BOEM’s contingency plan was updated in January to allow 40 employees to work on the offshore leasing program.

    It specifically asked on what legal basis the department changed its treatment of offshore oil and gas activities between Dec. 22, when the shutdown began, and January, when it recalled the employees. The letter requested a response by Feb. 1.

    • Pendant ce temps-là, les garde-côtes se serrent la ceinture…

      Admiral Schultz : Coast Guard Members Should Not ’Shoulder Burden’ of Government Shutdown – gCaptain
      https://gcaptain.com/admiral-schultz-coast-guard-members-should-not-shoulder-burden-of-governme

      U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz says it is “unacceptable” that Coast Guard servicemembers must rely on food pantries and donations amid the ongoing partial government shutdown, now in its 32nd day.

      On Friday, Coast Guard members and employees will miss their second paycheck of the shutdown.

      The shutdown has impacted pay to some 42,000 service members and 8,000 civilian employees.

      To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation’s history that servicemembers in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in appropriations,” wrote Admiral Schultz in a tweet on January 15.

      As the only military service falling under the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard has been uniquely impacted by the shutdown. Since many of the Coast Guard’s operations are deemed essential for national security and protection of life and property, service members and employees continue to work without pay during the lapse in appropriations.

  • Germany pulls out of Mediterranean migrant mission Sophia

    Germany is suspending participation in Operation Sophia, the EU naval mission targeting human trafficking in the Mediterranean. The decision reportedly relates to Italy’s reluctance to allow rescued people to disembark.
    Germany will not be sending any more ships to take part in the anti-people smuggling operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea, according to a senior military officer.

    The decision means frigate Augsburg, currently stationed off the coast of Libya, will not be replaced early next month, Bundeswehr Inspector General Eberhard Zorn told members of the defense and foreign affairs committees in the German parliament.

    The 10 German soldiers currently working at the operation’s headquarters will, however, remain until at least the end of March.

    The European Union launched Operation Sophia in 2015 to capture smugglers and shut down human trafficking operations across the Mediterranean, as well as enforce a weapons embargo on Libya. Sophia currently deploys three ships, three airplanes, and two helicopters, which are permitted to use lethal force if necessary, though its mandate also includes training the North African country’s coast guard. The EU formally extended Operation Sophia by three months at the end of December.

    The Bundeswehr reported that, since its start, the naval operation had led to the arrest of more than 140 suspected human traffickers and destroyed more than 400 smuggling boats.

    But Operation Sophia’s efforts have largely focused on rescuing thousands of refugees from unseaworthy vessels attempting to get to Europe. According to the Bundeswehr, Operation Sophia has rescued some 49,000 people from the sea, while German soldiers had been involved in the rescue of 22,534 people.

    European impasse

    The operation has caused some friction within the EU, particularly with Italy, where the headquarters are located, and whose Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has threatened to close ports to the mission.

    Salvini, chairman of the far-right Lega Nord party, demanded on Wednesday that the mission had to change, arguing that the only reason it existed was that all the rescued refugees were brought to Italy. “If someone wants to withdraw from it, then that’s certainly no problem for us,” he told the Rai1 radio station, but in future he said the mission should only be extended if those rescued were distributed fairly across Europe. This is opposed by other EU member states, particularly Poland and Hungary.

    Italy’s position drew a prickly response from German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who accused Sophia’s Italian commanders of sabotaging the mission by sending the German ship to distant corners of the Mediterranean where there were “no smuggling routes whatsoever” and “no refugee routes.”

    “For us it’s important that it be politically clarified in Brussels what the mission’s task is,” von der Leyen told reporters at the Davos forum in Switzerland.

    Fritz Felgentreu, ombudsman for the Bundestag defense committee, told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that Italy’s refusal to let migrants rescued from the sea disembark at its ports meant the operation could no longer fulfill its original mandate.

    The EU played down Germany’s decision. A spokeswoman for the bloc’s diplomatic service, the EEAS, told the DPA news agency that Germany had not ruled out making other ships available for the Sophia Operation in future, a position confirmed by a German Defense Ministry spokesman.

    Decision a ’tragedy’

    The decision sparked instant criticism from various quarters in Germany. Stefan Liebich, foreign affairs spokesman for Germany’s socialist Left party, called the government’s decision to suspend its involvement a “tragedy.”

    “As long as Sophia is not replaced by a civilian operation, even more people will drown,” he told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

    The Green party, for its part, had a more mixed reaction. “We in the Green party have always spoken out against the military operation in the Mediterranean and have consistently rejected the training of the Libyan coast guard,” said the party’s defense spokeswoman, Agnieszka Brugger. But she added that Wednesday’s announcement had happened “for the wrong reasons.”

    Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, defense policy spokeswoman for the Free Democratic Party (FDP), called the decision a sign of the EU’s failure to find a common refugee policy.

    Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), meanwhile, defended the decision. “The core mission, to fight trafficking crimes, cannot currently be effectively carried out,” the party’s defense policy spokesman, Henning Otte, said in a statement. “If the EU were to agree to common procedure with refugees, this mission could be taken up again.”

    Otte also suggested a “three-stage model” as a “permanent solution for the Mediterranean.” This would include a coast guard from Frontex, the European border patrol agency; military patrols in the Mediterranean; and special facilities on the North African mainland to take in refugees and check asylum applications.

    https://www.dw.com/en/germany-pulls-out-of-mediterranean-migrant-mission-sophia/a-47189097
    #Allemagne #résistance #Operation_Sophia #asile #migrations #réfugiés #retrait #espoir (petit mais quand même)

    • EU: Italy’s choice to end or continue Operation Sophia

      The European Commission says it is up to Italy to decide whether or not to suspend the EU’s naval operation Sophia.

      “If Italy decides, it is the country in command of operation Sophia, to stop it - it is up to Italy to make this decision,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration, told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (23 January).

      The Italian-led naval operation was launched in 2015 and is tasked with cracking down on migrant smugglers and traffickers off the Libyan coast.

      It has also saved some 50,000 people since 2015 but appears to have massively scaled back sea rescues, according to statements from Germany’s defence minster.

      German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen was cited by Reuters on Wednesday saying that the Italian command had been sending the Germany navy “to the most remote areas of the Mediterranean where there are no smuggling routes and no migrant flows so that the navy has not had any sensible role for months.”

      Germany had also announced it would not replace its naval asset for the operation, whose mandate is set to expire at the end of March.

      But the commission says that Germany will continue to participate in the operation.

      “There is no indication that it will not make another asset available in the future,” said Avramopoulos.

      A German spokesperson was also cited as confirming Germany wants the mission to continue beyond March.

      The commission statements follow threats from Italy’s far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini to scrap the naval mission over an on-going dispute on where to disembark rescued migrants.

      Salvini was cited in Italian media complaining that people rescued are only offloaded in Italy.

      The complaint is part of a long-outstanding dispute by Salvini, who last year insisted that people should be disembarked in other EU states.

      The same issue was part of a broader debate in the lead up to a renewal of Sophia’s mandate in late December.

      https://euobserver.com/migration/143997

    • #Operazione_Sophia

      In riferimento alle odierne dichiarazioni relative all’operazione Sophia dell’UE, il Ministro degli Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale Enzo Moavero Milanesi ricorda che «L’Italia non ha mai chiesto la chiusura di Sophia. Ha chiesto che siano cambiate, in rigorosa e doverosa coerenza con le conclusioni del Consiglio Europeo di giugno 2018, le regole relative agli sbarchi delle persone salvate in mare». Infatti, gli accordi dell’aprile 2015 prevedono che siano sbarcate sempre in Italia, mentre il Consiglio Europeo del giugno scorso ha esortato gli Stati UE alla piena condivisione di tutti gli oneri relativi ai migranti.

      https://www.esteri.it/mae/it/sala_stampa/archivionotizie/comunicati/operazione-sophia.html

  • Coast Guard Chief Slams ‘Unacceptable’ Shutdown As Members Set To Miss Pay Again | HuffPost
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/karl-schultz-coast-guard-government-shutdown_us_5c47bf3de4b083c46d63

    The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday it was “unacceptable” that members of the service branch had been forced to work without pay during the ongoing partial government shutdown.

    “Thank you for continuing to stay on the watch,” Adm. Karl Schultz said in a Twitter video posted Tuesday, just days before hundreds of thousands of federal workers are expected to miss their second paychecks of the year. “We’re five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay. You, as members of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden.”

    #trump #shut_down - Je ne comprendrai jamais la logique sur laquelle ce pays fontionne

  • Despite Challenges, USCGC Polar Star Arrives in Antarctica – gCaptain
    https://gcaptain.com/despite-challenges-uscgc-polar-star-arrives-in-antarctica


    The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star breaks ice in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.
    U.S. Coast Guard Photo

    The 150 crewmembers of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star have arrived in Antarctica along with a resupply vessel as part of Operation Deep Freeze, the annual mission to resupply U.S. interests in Antarctica.

    The icebreaker’s arrival comes after the crew experienced multiple mechanical issues, including ship-wide power outages, and against the backdrop of the partial government shutdown that has left Coast Guard servicemembers without pay.

    Homeported in Seattle, the 42-year-old Coast Guard cutter is the United States’ only operational heavy icebreaker.
    […]
    The ship also experienced a leak from the shaft that drives the ship’s propeller, which halted icebreaking operations so divers could repair the seal around the shaft. A hyperbaric chamber on loan from the U.S. Navy aboard the ship allows Coast Guard divers to make external emergency repairs and inspections of the ship’s hull.


    Colmatage de fuites sur la ligne d’arbre d’hélice…

    Protecting national interests in the Polar regions is essential to ensure the Coast Guard’s national defense strategy and search and rescue capabilities are ready for action, but in order to do so, the icebreaker fleet requires modernization,” the Coast Guard said in a press release.

    If a catastrophic event were to happen, such as getting stuck in the ice, the Coast Guard would left without a self-rescue capability. By contrast, Russia currently operates more than 40 icebreakers, including several of which are nuclear powered, the Coast Guard noted.

    While we focus our efforts on creating a peaceful and collaborative environment in the Arctic, we’re also responding to the impacts of increased competition in this strategically important region,” said Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. “Our continued presence will enable us to reinforce positive opportunities and mitigate negative consequences today and tomorrow.

    Présence #arctique de plus en plus symbolique,… s’il y a un pépin en Arctique maintenant, il n’y a plus qu’à attendre que le Polar Star revienne du pôle sud, en espérant que ses moteurs et auxiliaires tiennent le coup, mieux que pour le voyage aller, p. ex. !

  • This Senseless Government #Shutdown Is Harming Coast Guard Families | U.S. Naval Institute
    https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2019-01/senseless-government-shutdown-harming-coast-guard-families

    By Admiral Thad Allen, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)

    Today, with the government shutdown in its third week, it is beyond troubling that Coast Guard men and women are being unnecessarily subjected to financial hardship while enduring the operational, mission-related circumstances that are accepted as part of their compact with their country.
    […]
    I am the son of a Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer and brother of a Coast Guard spouse. Our family’s life has revolved around the service my parents revered. A part of the “Greatest Generation”, they emerged from the depression and World War II to raise a family that moved frequently and fearlessly. They were tough and resilient.

    I will turn 70 shortly and have had 47 addresses in my life. And while my parents and later my wife and I treated each new transfer as an adventure, there were tests and challenges. In the early 1950s my father got a no-notice transfer from Mobile, Alabama to Ketchikan, Alaska after it became clear our family was not a good fit in the segregated South. My father left immediately but it took our family months to catch up. We arrived in Ketchikan from a nearby island that had an airport, making the final leg by Coast Guard small boat with our luggage. Despite these and other challenges my mother and father believed until the day they died that the Coast Guard was the best thing that ever happened to our family.
    […]

    I never believed it would be necessary to remind the leaders of all branches of government of their constitutional responsibilities, but it appears they have subordinated the “general welfare” of their fellow citizens to parochial interests. While this political theater ensues, there are junior Coast Guard petty officers, with families, who are already compensated at levels below the national poverty level, who will not be paid during this government shutdown. There is no reasonable answer as to why these families have to endure this hardship in the absence of a national emergency. These leaders should ponder how they would tell a spouse at Arlington that his or her survivor benefits might be at risk—again, for no reason. I’m glad my mother and father are not alive to see it.

  • Employer Sues Glassdoor Over Identity of Anonymous Former Employee | Clear View Post
    https://clearviewpost.com/employer-sues-glassdoor-over-identity-of-anonymous-former-employee

    Think anonymous reviews in crowd-sourced forums like Yelp and Glassdoor are protected by the First Amendment?

    A former employee who posted a critical review of New York oil barge operator Bouchard Transportation is about to find out.

    So far, Bouchard is winning.

    A California judge in June sided with Bouchard and ordered the job search site Glassdoor to reveal the name of the anonymous former employee who wrote in a 2015 review that the company had “no safety culture.

    Bouchard and its president, Morton Bouchard III, say they need the person’s name to pursue a defamation lawsuit. The company’s complaint states that Bouchard has “diligently worked to ensure that BTC (Bouchard Transportation Company) has a reputation for operating safely.

    But in new arguments filed in November, the former employee, known in court records as John Doe 1, claims that his comments were constitutionally protected opinion.

    Doe also claims that events over the past three years support his criticism.

    Among the events was the explosion of Bouchard’s Barge 255 off the coast of Texas in 2017, killing the vessel’s two deckhands. Testimony about Bouchard’s safety culture figured in a two-week public hearing in 2018 into the cause of the accident held by the U.S. Coast Guard.

    Further reading: Bouchard Transportation Lawsuit: Safety Record Not Relevant in Deadly Explosion Investigation
    Bouchard was so concerned about the impact of the testimony on its reputation that the company filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Houston midway through the Coast Guard inquiry seeking unsuccessfully to shut down the hearings.

    Doe’s lawyer, First Amendment lawyer Henry Kaufman of New York City, in a petition filed in November to stop Doe’s unmasking, asked the judge to consider what he called “Bouchard’s bad faith claims about their allegedly fine reputation for safety and environmental concern.

    A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2019, in the Superior Court of California in Marin County.

    With the number and popularity of online anonymous review forums growing, courts across the country increasingly are being asked to balance the public’s right to free speech under the First Amendment with the right of business to challenge statements that it claims are defamatory.

    Case law on the protection of anonymous reviewers’ identities is an evolving work in progress.

    The U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has held that anonymous speech is protected speech.

    Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority,” the court wrote in the 1995 case of McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission.

    In the modern era of online publication, internet companies rather than pamphleteers increasingly are having to fight to protect the identities of their writers.

    Glassdoor offers tips on its website on writing a review to avoid defamation.

    You are entitled to post your anonymous opinions about your company or C-suite executives on Glassdoor and your speech should be protected under the First Amendment. However, you should be aware that statements of provable facts are subject to legal claims of defamation if your company and/or executives allege your statements are false,” Glassdoor’s website states.

    A key issue is whether the reviewer posts opinions or statements of fact which can be proven true or false.

    #opinion_anonyme
    #anonymat

  • Le porte container Yantian Express (Hapag-Lloyd ) en feu avec ses 7500 containers à 1000 Km de la cote est du Canada

    https://gcaptain.com/hapag-lloyd-containership-yantian-express-on-fire-off-east-coast-of-canada
    https://www.hapag-lloyd.com/en/press/releases/2019/01/containers-caught-fire-on-board-the-yantian-express.html

    A fire has broke out aboard a Hapag-Lloyd containership in the North Atlantic off the east coast of Canada.

    In a statement posted to its website, Hapag-Lloyd said the fire started January 3 in one container on the deck of the Yantian Express and has spread to additional containers.

    Efforts to extinguish the fire were launched immediately but were suspended due to a significant deterioration of weather conditions.

    At the time of the update, the ship was located approximately 650 nautical miles off the coast of Canada.

    The crew of 8 officers and 15 seafarers are unharmed, Hapag-Lloyd said.

    The ship was sailing from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Halifax, via the Suez Canal, where it was expected to arrive on January 4, according to AIS ship tracking data. 

    The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday afternoon that it is coordinating the response efforts to ensure the safety of the crew.

    Another commercial vessel, Happy Ranger, was just 20 miles from the position of the Yantian Express and has diverted to provide assistance. A commercial tugboat is also en route.

    The Coast Guard said it is monitoring the situation. 

    The 7,510 TEU vessel 320-meters-long and is flagged in German flag. The ship operates in the East Coast Loop 5 (EC5) service. It was built in 2002.

    “It is still too early to make a precise estimate of any damage to the vessel or its cargo. Hapag-Lloyd is closely cooperating with all relevant authorities,” Hapag-Lloyd said.

    Both the Yantian Express and Happy Ranger are participating in the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) program. 

    “Thanks to the participation of mariners in the AMVER system, we were able to coordinate a quick response,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly Badal, operations unit watchstander at the Fifth District command center. “This system is crucial to coordinating nearby vessels to provide assistance when an emergency arises far from Coast Guard assets.”

    No pollution or injuries have been reported. 

  • And Yet We Move - 2018, a Contested Year

    Alarm Phone 6 Week Report, 12 November - 23 December 2018

    311 people escaping from Libya rescued through a chain of solidarity +++ About 113,000 sea arrivals and over 2,240 counted fatalities in the Mediterranean this year +++ 666 Alarm Phone distress cases in 2018 +++ Developments in all three Mediterranean regions +++ Summaries of 38 Alarm Phone distress cases

    Introduction

    “There are no words big enough to describe the value of the work you are doing. It is a deeply human act and it will never be forgotten. The whole of your team should know that we wish all of you health and a long life and the best wishes in all the colours of the world.” These are the words that the Alarm Phone received a few days ago from a man who had been on a boat in the Western Mediterranean Sea and with whom our shift teams had stayed in touch throughout the night until they were finally rescued to Spain. He was able to support the other travellers by continuously and calmly reassuring them, and thereby averted panic on the boat. His message motivates us to continue also in 2019 to do everything we can to assist people who have taken to the sea because Europe’s border regime has closed safe and legal routes, leaving only the most dangerous paths slightly open. On these paths, over 2,240 people have lost their lives this year.

    While we write this report, 311 people are heading toward Spain on the rescue boat of the NGO Proactiva Open Arms. The travellers called the Alarm Phone when they were on a boat-convoy that had left from Libya. Based on the indications of their location, Al-Khums, the civil reconnaissance aircraft Colibri launched a search operation in the morning of the 21st of December and was able to spot the convoy of three boats which were then rescued by Proactiva. Italy and Malta closed their harbours to them, prolonging their suffering. Over the Christmas days they headed toward their final destination in Spain. The successful rescue operation of the 313 people (one mother and her infant child were flown out by a helicopter after rescue) highlights the chain of solidarity that activists and NGOs have created in the Central Mediterranean Sea. It is a fragile chain that the EU and its member states seek to criminalise and tear apart wherever they can.

    Throughout the year of 2018, we have witnessed and assisted contested movements across the Mediterranean Sea. Despite violent deterrence policies and practices, about 113,000 people succeeded in subverting maritime borders and have arrived in Europe by boat. We were alerted to 666 distress situations at sea (until December 23rd), and our shift teams have done their best to assist the many thousands of people who saw no other option to realise their hope for a better future than by risking their lives at sea. Many of them lost their lives in the moment of enacting their freedom of movement. Over 2,240 women, men, and children from the Global South – and probably many more who were never counted – are not with us anymore because of the violence inscribed in the Global North’s hegemonic and brutal borders. They were not able to get a visa. They could not board a much cheaper plane, bus, or ferry to reach a place of safety and freedom. Many travelled for months, even years, to get anywhere near the Mediterranean border – and on their journeys they have lived through hardships unimaginable for most of us. But they struggled on and reached the coasts of Northern Africa and Turkey, where they got onto overcrowded boats. That they are no longer with us is a consequence of Europe’s racist system of segregation that illegalises and criminalises migration, a system that also seeks to illegalise and criminalise solidarity. Many of these 2,240 people would be alive if the civil rescuers were not prevented from doing their work. All of them would be alive, if they could travel and cross borders freely.

    In the different regions of the Mediterranean Sea, the situation has further evolved over the course of 2018, and the Alarm Phone witnessed the changing patterns of boat migration first hand. Most of the boats we assisted were somewhere between Morocco and Spain (480), a considerable number between Turkey and Greece (159), but comparatively few between Libya and Italy (27). This, of course, speaks to the changing dynamics of migratory escape and its control in the different regions:

    Morocco-Spain: Thousands of boats made it across the Strait of Gibraltar, the Alboran Sea, or the Atlantic and have turned Spain into the ‘front-runner’ this year with about 56,000 arrivals by sea. In 2017, 22,103 people had landed in Spain, 8,162 in 2016. In the Western Mediterranean, crossings are organised in a rather self-organised way and the number of arrivals speaks to a migratory dynamism not experienced for over a decade in this region. Solidarity structures have multiplied both in Morocco and Spain and they will not be eradicated despite the wave of repression that has followed the peak in crossings over the summer. Several Alarm Phone members experienced the consequences of EU pressure on the Moroccan authorities to repress cross-border movements first hand when they were violently deported to the south of Morocco, as were several thousand others.

    Turkey-Greece: With about 32,000 people reaching the Greek islands by boat, more people have arrived in Greece than in 2017, when 29,718 people did so. After arrival via the sea, many are confined in inhumane conditions on the islands and the EU hotspots have turned into rather permanent prisons. This desperate situation has prompted renewed movements across the Turkish-Greek land border in the north. Overall, the number of illegalised crossings into Greece has risen due to more than 20,000 people crossing the land border. Several cases of people experiencing illegal push-back operations there reached the Alarm Phone over the year.

    Libya-Italy/Malta: Merely about 23,000[1] people have succeeded in fleeing Libya via the sea in 2018. The decrease is dramatic, from 119,369 in 2017, and even 181,436 in 2016. This decrease gives testament to the ruthlessness of EU deterrence policies that have produced the highest death rate in the Central Mediterranean and unspeakable suffering among migrant communities in Libya. Libyan militias are funded, trained, and legitimated by their EU allies to imprison thousands of people in camps and to abduct those who made it onto boats back into these conditions. Due to the criminalisation of civil rescuers, a lethal rescue gap was produced, with no NGO able to carry out their work for many months of the year. Fortunately, three of them have now been able to return to the deadliest area of the Mediterranean.

    These snapshots of the developments in the three Mediterranean regions, elaborated on in greater detail below, give an idea of the struggles ahead of us. They show how the EU and its member states not only created dangerous maritime paths in the first place but then reinforced its migrant deterrence regime at any cost. They show, however, also how thousands could not be deterred from enacting their freedom of movement and how solidarity structures have evolved to assist their precarious movements. We go into 2019 with the promise and call that the United4Med alliance of sea rescuers has outlined: “We will prove how civil society in action is not only willing but also able to bring about a new Europe; saving lives at sea and creating a just reception system on land. Ours is a call to action to European cities, mayors, citizens, societies, movements, organisations and whoever believes in our mission, to join us. Join our civil alliance and let us stand up together, boldly claiming a future of respect and equality. We will stand united for the right to stay and for the right to go.”[2] Also in the new year, the Alarm Phone will directly engage in this struggle and we call on others to join. It can only be a collective fight, as the odds are stacked against us.

    Developments in the Central Mediterranean

    In December 2018, merely a few hundred people were able to escape Libya by boat. It cannot be stressed enough how dramatic the decrease in crossings along this route is – a year before, 2,327 people escaped in December, in 2016 even 8,428. 2018 is the year when Europe’s border regime ‘succeeded’ in largely shutting down the Central Mediterranean route. It required a combination of efforts – the criminalisation of civil search and rescue organisations, the selective presence of EU military assets that were frequently nowhere to be found when boats were in distress, the closure of Italian harbours and the unwillingness of other EU member states to welcome the rescued, and, most importantly, the EU’s sustained support for the so-called Libyan coastguards and other Libyan security forces. Europe has not only paid but also trained, funded and politically legitimised Libyan militias whose only job is to contain outward migratory movements, which means capturing and abducting people seeking to flee to Europe both at sea and on land. Without these brutal allies, it would not have been possible to reduce the numbers of crossings that dramatically.

    The ‘Nivin case’ of November 7th exemplifies this European-Libyan alliance. On that day, a group of 95 travellers reached out to the Alarm Phone from a boat in distress off the coast of Libya. Among them were people from Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Eritrea. Italy refused to conduct a rescue operation and eventually they were rescued by the cargo vessel Nivin. Despite telling the rescued that they would be brought to a European harbour, the crew of the Nivin returned them to Libya on November 10th. At the harbour of Misrata, most of the rescued refused to disembark, stating that they would not want to be returned into conditions of confinement and torture. The people, accused by some to be ‘pirates’, fought bravely against forced disembarkation for ten days but on the 20th of November they could resist no longer when Libyan security forces stormed the boat and violently removed them, using tear gas and rubber bullets in the process. Several of the protestors were injured and needed treatment in hospital while others were returned into inhumane detention camps.[3]

    Also over the past 6 weeks, the period covered in this report, the criminalisation of civil rescue organisations continued. The day that the protestors on the Nivin were violently removed, Italy ordered the seizure of the Aquarius, the large rescue asset operated by SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières that had already been at the docs in France for some time, uncertain about its future mission. According to the Italian authorities, the crew had falsely labelled the clothes rescued migrants had left on the Aquarius as ‘special’ rather than ‘toxic’ waste.[4] The absurdity of the accusation highlights the fact that Italy’s authorities seek out any means to prevent rescues from taking place, a “disproportionate and unfounded measure, purely aimed at further criminalising lifesaving medical-humanitarian action at sea”, as MSF noted.[5] Unfortunately, these sustained attacks showed effect. On the 6th of December, SOS Med and MSF announced the termination of its mission: “European policies and obstruction tactics have forced [us] to terminate the lifesaving operations carried out by the search and rescue vessel Aquarius.” As the MSF general director said: “This is a dark day. Not only has Europe failed to provide search and rescue capacity, it has also actively sabotaged others’ attempts to save lives. The end of Aquarius means more deaths at sea, and more needless deaths that will go unwitnessed.”[6]

    And yet, despite this ongoing sabotage of civil rescue from the EU and its member states, three vessels of the Spanish, German, and Italian organisations Open Arms, Sea-Watch and Mediterranea returned to the deadliest area of the Mediterranean in late November.[7] This return is also significance for Alarm Phone work in the Central Mediterranean: once again we have non-governmental allies at sea who will not only document what is going on along the deadliest border of the world but actively intervene to counter Europe’s border ‘protection’ measures. Shortly after returning, one of the NGOs was called to assist. Fishermen had rescued a group of travellers off the coast of Libya onto their fishing vessel, after they had been abandoned in the water by a Libyan patrol boat, as the fishermen claimed. Rather than ordering their rapid transfer to a European harbour, Italy, Malta and Spain sought out ways to return the 12 people to Libya. The fishing boat, the Nuestra Madre de Loreto, was ill-equipped to care for the people who were weak and needed medical attention. However, they were assisted only by Proactiva Open Arms, and for over a week, the people had to stay on the fishing boat. One of them developed a medical emergency and was eventually brought away in a helicopter. Finally, in early December, they were brought to Malta.[8]

    Around the same time, something rare and remarkable happened. A boat with over 200 people on board reached the Italian harbour of Pozzallo independently, on the 24th of November. Even when they were at the harbour, the authorities refused to allow them to quickly disembark – a irresponsible decision given that the boat was at risk of capsizing. After several hours, all of the people were finally allowed to get off the boat. Italy’s minister of the interior Salvini accused the Maltese authorities of allowing migrant boats to move toward Italian territory.[9] Despite their hardship, the people on the Nuestra Madre de Loreto and the 200 people from this boat, survived. Also the 33 people rescued by the NGO Sea-Watch on the 22nd of December survived. Others, however, did not. In mid-November, a boat left from Algeria with 13 young people on board, intending to reach Sardinia. On the 16th of November, the first body was found, the second a day later. Three survived and stated later that the 10 others had tried to swim to what they believed to be the shore when they saw a light in the distance.[10] In early December, a boat with 25 people on board left from Sabratha/Libya, and 15 of them did not survive. As a survivor reported, they had been at sea for 12 days without food and water.[11]

    Despite the overall decrease in crossings, what has been remarkable in this region is that the people escaping have more frequently informed the Alarm Phone directly than before. The case mentioned earlier, from the 20th of December, when people from a convoy of 3 boats carrying 313 people in total reached out to us, exemplifies this. Detected by the Colibri reconnaissance aircraft and rescued by Proactiva, this case demonstrates powerfully what international solidarity can achieve, despite all attempts by EU member states and institutions to create a zone of death in the Central Mediterranean Sea.
    Developments in the Western Mediterranean Sea

    Over the past six weeks covered by this report, the Alarm Phone witnessed several times what happens when Spanish and Moroccan authorities shift responsibilities and fail to respond quickly to boats in distress situations. Repeatedly we had to pressurise the Spanish authorities publicly before they launched a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation. And still, many lives were lost at sea. On Moroccan land, the repression campaign against Sub-Saharan travellers and residents continues. On the 30th of November, an Alarm Phone member was, yet again, arrested and deported towards the South of Morocco, to Tiznit, along with many other people. (h https://alarmphone.org/en/2018/12/04/alarm-phone-member-arrested-and-deported-in-morocco/?post_type_release_type=post). Other friends in Morocco have informed us about the deportation of large groups from Nador to Tiznit. Around the 16th of December, 400 people were forcibly removed, and on the 17th of December, another 300 people were deported to Morocco’s south. This repression against black residents and travellers in Morocco is one of the reasons for many to decide to leave via the sea. This has meant that also during the winter, cross-Mediterranean movements remain high. On just one weekend, the 8th-9th of December, 535 people reached Andalusia/Spain.[12]

    Whilst people are constantly resisting the border regime by acts of disobedience when they cross the borders clandestinely, acts of resistance take place also on the ground in Morocco, where associations and individuals are continuously struggling for the freedom of movement for all. In early December, an Alarm Phone delegation participated at an international conference in Rabat/Morocco, in order to discuss with members of other associations and collectives from Africa and Europe about the effects of the outsourcing and militarisation of European borders in the desire to further criminalise and prevent migration movements. We were among 400 people and were impressed by the many contributions from people who live and struggle in very precarious situations, by the uplifting atmosphere, and by the many accounts and expressions of solidarity. Days later, during the international meeting in Marrakesh on the ‘Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration’, the Alarm Phone was part of a counter-summit, protesting the international pact on migration which is not meant to reduce borders between states, but to curtail the freedom of movement of the many in the name of ‘legal’ and ‘regulated’ migration. The Alarm Phone delegation was composed of 20 activists from the cities of Tangier, Oujda, Berkane, Nador and Fes. One of our colleagues sums up the event: “We have expressed our ideas and commitments as Alarm Phone, solemnly and strongly in front of the other organisations represented. We have espoused the vision of freedom of movement, a vision without precedent. A vision which claims symbolically all human rights and which has the power to help migrants on all continents to feel protected.” In light of the Marrakesh pact, several African organisations joined together and published a statement rejecting “…the wish to confine Africans within their countries by strengthening border controls, in the deserts, at sea and in airports.”[13]

    Shortly after the international meeting in Marrakesh, the EU pledged €148 million to support Morocco’s policy of migrant containment, thus taking steps towards making it even more difficult, and therefore more dangerous for many people on the African continent to exercise their right to move freely, under the pretext of “combating smuggling”. Making the journeys across the Mediterranean more difficult does not have the desired effect of ending illegalised migration. As the routes to Spain from the north of Morocco have become more militarised following a summer of many successful crossings, more southern routes have come into use again. These routes, leading to the Spanish Canary Islands, force travellers to overcome much longer distances in the Atlantic Ocean, a space without phone coverage and with a heightened risk to lose one’s orientation. On the 18th of November, 22 people lost their lives at sea, on their way from Tiznit to the Canary Islands.[14] Following a Spanish-Frontex collaboration launched in 2006, this route to the Canary Islands has not been used very frequently, but numbers have increased this year, with Moroccan nationals being the largest group of arrivals.[15]
    Developments in the Aegean Sea

    Over the final weeks of 2018, between the 12th of November and the 23rd of December, 78 boats arrived on the Greek islands while 116 boats were stopped by the Turkish coastguards and returned to Turkey. This means that there were nearly 200 attempts to cross into Europe by boat over five weeks, and about 40 percent of them were successful.[16] Over the past six weeks, the Alarm Phone was involved in a total of 19 cases in this region. 6 of the boats arrived in Samos, 3 of them in Chios, and one each on Lesvos, Agathonisi, Farmkonisi, and Symi. 4 boats were returned to Turkey (3 of them rescued, 1 intercepted by the Turkish coastguards). In one distress situation, a man lost his life and another man had to be brought to the hospital due to hypothermia. Moreover, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 2 cases along the Turkish-Greek land border. While in one case their fate remains uncertain, the other group of people were forcibly pushed-back to Turkey.

    Thousands of people still suffering in inhuman conditions in hotspots: When we assist boats crossing the Aegean Sea, the people are usually relieved and happy when arriving on the islands, at least they have survived. However, this moment of happiness often turns into a state of shock when they enter the so-called ‘hotspots’. Over 12,500 people remain incarcerated there, often living in tents and containers unsuitable for winter in the five EU-sponsored camps on Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos, and Leros. In addition to serious overcrowding, asylum seekers continue to face unsanitary and unhygienic conditions and physical violence, including gender-based violence. Doctors without Borders has reported on a measles outbreak in Greek camps and conducted a vaccination campaign.[17] Amnesty International and 20 other organizations have published a collective call: “As winter approaches all asylum seekers on the Aegean islands must be transferred to suitable accommodation on the mainland or relocated to other EU countries. […] The EU-Turkey deal containment policy imposes unjustified and unnecessary suffering on asylum seekers, while unduly limiting their rights.”

    The ‘humanitarian’ crisis in the hotspots is the result of Greece’s EU-backed policy of containing asylum seekers on the Aegean islands until their asylum claims are adjudicated or until it is determined that they fall into one of the ‘vulnerable’ categories listed under Greek law. But as of late November, an estimated 2,200 people identified as eligible for transfer are still waiting as accommodation facilities on the mainland are also severely overcrowded. Those who are actually transferred from the hotspot on Lesvos to the Greek mainland are brought to far away camps or empty holiday resorts without infrastructure and without a sufficient number of aid workers.

    Criminalisation along Europe’s Eastern Sea Border: A lot has been written about the many attempts to criminalise NGOs and activists carrying out Search and Rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Much less publicly acknowledged are the many cases in which migrant travellers themselves become criminalised for their activist involvement, often for protesting against the inhuman living conditions and the long waiting times for the asylum-interviews. The case of the ‘Moria 35’ on Lesvos was a case in point, highlighting how a few individual protesters were randomly selected by authorities to scare others into silence and obedience. The Legal Centre Lesvos followed this case closely until the last person of the 35 was released and they shared their enquiries with “a 15-month timeline of injustice and impunity” on their website: “On Thursday 18th October, the last of the Moria 35 were released from detention. Their release comes one year and three months – to the day – after the 35 men were arbitrarily arrested and subject to brutal police violence in a raid of Moria camp following peaceful protests, on July 18th 2017.” While the Legal Centre Lesbos welcomes the fact that all 35 men were finally released, they should never have been imprisoned in the first place. They will not get back the 10 to 15 months they spent in prison. Moreover, even after release, most of the 35 men remain in a legally precarious situation. While 6 were granted asylum in Greece, the majority struggles against rejected asylum claims. Three were already deported. One individual was illegally deported without having exhausted his legal remedies in Greece while another individual, having spent 9 months in pre-trial detention, signed up for so-called ‘voluntary’ deportation.[18] In the meantime, others remain in prison to await their trials that will take place with hardly any attention of the media.

    Humanitarian activists involved in spotting and rescue released after 3 months: The four activists, Sarah Mardini, Nassos Karakitsos, Panos Moraitis and Sean Binder, were released on the 6th of December 2018 after having been imprisoned for three months. They had been held in prolonged pre-trial detention for their work with the non-profit organization Emergency Response Center International (ERCI), founded by Moraitis. The charges misrepresented the group as a smuggling crime ring, and its legitimate fundraising activities as money laundering. The arrests forced the group to cease its operations, including maritime search and rescue, the provision of medical care, and non-formal education to asylum seekers. They are free without geographical restrictions but the case is not yet over. Mardini and Binder still face criminal charges possibly leading to decades in prison.[19] Until 15 February the group ‘Solidarity now!’ is collecting as many signatures as possible to ensure that the Greek authorities drop the case.[20]

    Violent Pushbacks at the Land Border: During the last six weeks, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two groups at the land border separating Turkey and Greece. In both situations, the travellers had already reached Greek soil, but ended up on Turkish territory. Human Right Watch (HRW) published another report on the 18th of December about violent push-backs in the Evros region: “Greek law enforcement officers at the land border with Turkey in the northeastern Evros region routinely summarily return asylum seekers and migrants […]. The officers in some cases use violence and often confiscate and destroy the migrants’ belongings.”[21] Regularly, migrants were stripped off their phones, money and clothes. According to HRW, most of these incidents happened between April and November 2018.[22] The UNHCR and the Council of Europe’s Committee for Prevention of Torture have published similar reports about violent push backs along the Evros borders.[23]
    CASE REPORTS

    Over the past 6 weeks, the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone was engaged in 38 distress cases, of which 15 took place in the Western Mediterranean, 19 in the Aegean Sea, and 4 in the Central Mediterranean. You can find short summaries and links to the individual reports below.
    Western Mediterranean

    On Tuesday the 13th of November at 6.17pm, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a relative to a group of travellers who had left two days earlier from around Orán heading towards Murcia. They were around nine people, including women and children, and the relative had lost contact to the boat. We were also never able to reach the travellers. At 6.46pm we alerted the Spanish search and rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo (SM) to the distress of the travellers. For several days we tried to reach the travellers and were in contact with SM about the ongoing rescue operation. We were never able to reach the travellers or get any news from the relative. Thus, we are still unsure if the group managed to reach land somewhere on their own, or if they will add to the devastating number of people having lost their lives at sea (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1085).

    On Thursday the 22nd of November, at 5.58pm CET, the Alarm Phone received news about a boat of 11 people that had left Nador 8 hours prior. The shift team was unable to immediately enter into contact with the boat, but called Salvamento Maritimo to convey all available information. At 11.48am the following day, the shift team received word from a traveler on the boat that they were safe (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1088).

    At 7.25am CET on November 24, 2018, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 70 people (including 8 women and 1 child) that had departed from Nador 3 days prior. The shift team was able to reach the boat at 7.50am and learned that their motor had stopped working. The shift team called Salvamento Maritimo, who had handed the case over to the Moroccan authorities. The shift team contacted the MRCC, who said they knew about the boat but could not find them, so the shift team mobilized their contacts to find the latest position and sent it to the coast guard at 8.55am. Rescue operations stalled for several hours. At around 2pm, the shift team received news that rescue operations were underway by the Marine Royale. The shift team remained in contact with several people and coast guards until the next day, when it was confirmed that the boat had finally been rescued and that there were at least 15 fatalities (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1087).

    On Friday the 7th of December 2018, we were alerted to two boats in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea. One boat was brought to Algeria, the second boat rescued by Moroccan fishermen and returned to Morocco (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1098).

    On Saturday, the 8th of December 2018, we were informed by a contact person at 3.25pm CET to a boat in distress that had left from Nador/Morocco during the night, at about 1am. There were 57 people on the boat, including 8 women and a child. We tried to establish contact to the boat but were unable to reach them. At 4.50pm, the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) informed us that they were already searching for this boat. At 8.34pm, SM stated that this boat had been rescued. Some time later, also our contact person confirmed that the boat had been found and rescued to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1099).

    On Monday the 10th of December, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to three boats in the Western Med. Two had left from around Nador, and one from Algeria. One boat was rescued by the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo, one group of travellers returned back to Nador on their own, and the boat from Algeria returned to Algeria (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1101).

    On Wednesday the 12th of December the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted two boats in the Western Med, one carrying seven people, the other carrying 12 people. The first boat was rescued by the Spanish search and rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo (SM), whilst the second boat was intercepted by the Moroccan Navy and brought back to Morocco, where we were informed that the travellers were held imprisoned (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1102).

    On December 21st, 2018, we were informed of two boats in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea. The first had left from Algeria and was probably rescued to Spain. The other one had departed from Tangier and was rescued by the Marine Royale and brought back to Morocco (for full report, see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1110).

    On the 22nd of December, at 5.58pm CET, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 81 people (including 7 women) that had left the previous day from Nador. The motor was not working properly. They informed that they were in touch with Salvamiento Maritimo but as they were still in Moroccan waters, Salvamiento Maritimo said they were unable to perform rescue operations. The shift team had difficulty maintaining contact with the boat over the course of the next few hours. The shift team also contacted Salvamiento Maritimo who confirmed that they knew about the case. At 7.50pm, Salvamiento Maritimo informed the shift team that they would perform the rescue operations and confirmed the operation at 8.15pm. We later got the confirmation by a contact person that the people were rescued to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1111).

    On the 23rd of December 2018, at 1.14am CET, the Alarm Phone received an alert of a boat with 11 men and 1 woman who left from Cap Spartel at Saturday the 22nd of December. The Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to this rubber boat in the early hours of Sunday the 23rd of December. The shift team informed the Spanish Search and Rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 4:50am CET about the situation and provided them with GPS coordinates of the boat. SM, however, rejected responsibility and shifted it to the Moroccan authorities but also the Moroccan Navy did not rescue the people. Several days later, the boat remains missing (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1112).
    Aegean Sea

    On Saturday the 17th of November the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two boats in the Aegean Sea. The first boat returned back to Turkey, whilst the second boat reached Samos on their own (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1086).

    On the 19th of November at 8.40pm CET the shift team was alerted to a boat of 11 travelers in distress near the Turkish coast on its way to Kos. The shift team called the Turkish Coastguard to inform them of the situation. At 9.00pm, the Coastguard called back to confirm they found the boat and would rescue the people. The shift team lost contact with the travelers. At 9.35pm, the Turkish coast guard informed the shift team that the boat was sunk, one man died and one person had hypothermia and would be brought to the hospital. The other 9 people were safe and brought back to Turkey (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1090).

    On the 20th of November at 4.07am CET, the shift team was alerted to a boat with about 50 travelers heading to Samos. The shift team contacted the travelers but the contact was broken for both language and technological reasons. The Alarm Phone contacted the Greek Coastguard about rescue operations. At 7.02am, the shift team was told that a boat of 50 people had been rescued, and the news was confirmed later on, although the shift team could not obtain direct confirmation from the travelers themselves (see:http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1089).

    On the 23rd of November at 7.45pm CET, the Alarm Phone was contacted regarding a group of 19 people, (including 2 women, 1 of whom was pregnant, and a child) who had crossed the river Evros/ Meric and the Turkish-Greek landborder 3 days prior. The shift team first contacted numerous rescue and protection agencies, including UNHCR and the Greek Police, noting that the people were already in Greece and wished to apply for asylum. Until today we remained unable to find out what happened to the people (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1091).

    On the 26th of November at 6:54am CET the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a group of 30 people (among them 7 children and a pregnant woman) who were stranded on the shore in southern Turkey, close to Kas. They wanted us to call the Turkish coastguard so at 7:35am we provided the coastguard with the information we had. At 8:41am we received a photograph from our contact person showing rescue by the Turkish coastguard (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1092).

    On the 29th of November at 4am CET the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat carrying 44 people (among them 19 children and some pregnant women) heading towards the Greek island of Samos. Shortly afterwards the travellers landed on Samos and because of their difficulties orienting themselves we alerted the local authorities. At 9:53am the port police told us that they had rescued 44 people. They were taken to the refugee camp (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1093).

    On Monday, the 3rd of December 2018, the Alarm Phone was alerted at 5.30am CET to a boat in distress south of Chios, with 43 people on board, among them 14 children. We were able to reach the boat at 5.35am. When we received their position, we informed the Greek coastguards at 7.30am and forwarded an updated GPS position to them ten minutes later. At 8.52am, the coastguards confirmed the rescue of the boat. The people were brought to Chios Island. On the next day, the people themselves confirmed that they had all safely reached Greece (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1095).

    On Tuesday the 4th of December 2018, at 6.20am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat in distress near Agathonisi Island. There were about 40 people on board. We established contact to the boat at 6.38am. At 6.45am, we alerted the Greek coastguards. The situation was dangerous as the people on board reported of high waves. At 9.02am, the Greek coastguards confirmed that they had just rescued the boat. The people were brought to Agathonisi (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1096).

    On Wednesday the 5th of December 2018, at 00:08am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a contact person to a boat in distress near Chios Island, carrying about 50 people. We received their GPS position at 00.17am and informed the Greek coastguards to the case at 00.30am. At 00.46am, we learned from the contact person that a boat had just been rescued. The Greek authorities confirmed this when we called them at 00.49am. At around 1pm, the people from the boat confirmed that they had been rescued (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1097).

    On Friday the 7th of December 2018, the Alarm Phone was contacted at 5.53am CET by a contact person and informed about a group of 19 people who had crossed the Evros river to Greece and needed assistance. We assisted them for days, but at some point contact was lost. We know that they were returned to Turkey and thus suspect an illegal push-back operation (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1109).

    On Thursday the 13th of December the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two boats in the Aegean sea. In both cases we were not able to reach the travellers, but we were in contact with both the Turkish and Greek coast guard and were in the end able to confirm that one boat had arrived to Lesvos on their own, whilst the others had been rescued by Turkish fishermen (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1100).

    On the 17th of December, 2018, at 6.39am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 60 travellers. Water was entering the boat, and so the travelers were in distress. Though the shift team had a difficult time remaining in contact with the boat, they contacted the Greek Coastguard to inform them of the situation and the position of the boat. Although the team was not able to remain in contact with the travelers, they received confirmation at 8.18am that the boat had been brought to Greece (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1103).

    On the 18th of December at 2.11am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two boats. The first, of 29 travellers, had landed on the island of Symi and needed help to exit the place of landing. The second was a boat of 54 travellers (including 16 children, and 15 women) that was rescued by the Greek Coastguard later (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1104).

    On the 21st of December, our shift teams were alerted to 2 boats on the Aegean. The first boat was directed to Chios Island and was likely rescued by the Greek Coastguard. The second boat was in immediate distress and after the shift team contacted the Greek Coastguard they rescued the boat (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1105).

    On the 23rd of December 2018 at 6am CET, the Alarm Phone received information about a boat in distress heading to Samos with around 60 travellers (including 30 children and 8 women, 4 pregnant). The shift team made contact with the boat and was informed that one of the women was close to giving birth and so the situation was very urgent. The shift team then called the Greek Coast Guard. At 8.07am, the shift team received confirmation that the boat had been rescued (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1106).
    Central Mediterranean

    On Monday the 12th of November at 6.57pm, the Alarm Phone was called by a relative, asking for help to find out what had happened to his son, who had been on a boat from Algeria towards Sardinia, with around 11 travellers on the 8t of November. Following this, the Alarm Phone was contacted by several relatives informing us about missing people from this boat. Our shift teams tried to gain an understanding of the situation, and for days we stayed in contact with the relatives and tried to support them, but it was not possible to obtain information about what had happened to the travellers (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1094).

    On November 23rd at 1.24pm CET, the Alarm Phone shift team was called by a boat of 120 travelers that was in distress and had left the Libyan coast the night before. The shift team remained in touch with the boat for several hours, and helped recharge their phone credit when it expired. As the boat was in distress, and there were no available NGO operations near the boat, the shift team had no choice but to contact the Italian Coast Guard, but they refused to engage in Search and Rescue (SAR) activities, and instead told the Libyan Coastguard. The boat was intercepted and returned to Libya (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1107).

    On December 20th, 2018, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two cases in the Central Mediterranean Sea. The first was a boat of 20 people that was intercepted and brought back to Libya. The second concerned 3 boats with 300 people in total, that were rescued by Open Arms and brought to Spain (for full report see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1108).

    https://alarmphone.org/en/2018/12/27/and-yet-we-move-2018-a-contested-year/?post_type_release_type=post

  • Greece seizes big drugs haul from Syrian freighter sailing for Libya | Reuters
    https://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKBN1OD1RK


    Cargo ship “Noka” is seen moored following an operation of the Hellenic Coast Guard, in which cannabis and super-strength amphetamine pills worth more than 100 million euros were confiscated, at the port of Ierapetra on the island of Crete, Greece. December 5, 2018. Hellenic Coast Guard /Handout via REUTERS

    Greece has seized drugs worth more than 100 million euros ($113 million) after intercepting a Syrian ship sailing for Libya, the coast guard said on Friday.

    Officials found about six tonnes of processed cannabis and 3 million super-strength “Captagon” amphetamine pills hidden aboard the Syrian-flagged “Noka”, it said in a statement.

    The freighter, with a crew of 11, was en route from the Syrian port of Latakia to Benghazi when it was intercepted by Greek authorities off the southeastern coast of Crete on Dec. 5.

    The Noka was escorted to Heraklion port on the Greek island on Dec. 8, where the authorities unloaded its entire cargo.

  • U.S. Coast Guard to Tackle MC20 Oil Spill Containment Fourteen Years After the Leak Likely Began – gCaptain
    https://gcaptain.com/u-s-coast-guard-to-tackle-mc20-oil-spill-containment-fourteen-years-after-

    The U.S. Coast Guard has partially assumed federal control over the operation to contain an oil dishcarge from the site of MC20 platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that has likely been leaking since the platform toppled back in 2004.

    The platform, owned by Taylor Energy, LLC, was located in Mississippi Canyon Block 20, approximately 11 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It toppled in September 2004 during Hurricane Ivan after storm surge triggered an underwater mudslide. The incident left the platform well conductor pipes buried in more than 100 feet of mud and sediment, impacting 25 of 28 connected wells. The spill went unnoticed for years until 2008 when it was identified as the source of daily sheen reports.

    Now more fourteen years after the hurricane, crude oil continues to discharge from the site and surface on the Gulf waters.

    IN 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement estimated that oil continues to leak at a rate of approximately 1 to 55 barrels of oil per day. Satellite imagery and overflights have shown oil slicks on the surface varying in size, sometimes ranging up to 30 miles in length.

    Even still, the specific source, or sources of the discharge at the MC20 site are not fully known.

    Federal officials have directed Taylor Energy, as the Responsible Party, to remove the platform deck, remove sub-sea debris, decommission the oil pipeline, attempt to contain the leaking oil, and plug nine of the 25 impacted wells that were deemed highest risk.

    Following several scientific studies conducted over several years by federal and industrial experts, the Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) issued Taylor Energy an administrative order back in October requiring it to propose a final viable plan to install a containment system. Last month, however, the FOSC ultimately issued Taylor Energy a Notice of Federal Assumption, and assumed authority for containing the oil.
    […]
    As the Responsible Party, Taylor Energy, which is now defunct, is required to pay for oil spill recovery and response costs under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA). It also has a continuing legal obligation to respond to the ongoing oil discharge and also must comply with the Coast Guard Administrative Orders.

  • Le 5 octobre 2018, l’Union européenne a signé un accord sur la coopération en matière de gestion des frontières entre l’#Albanie et l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes (#Frontex).

    On 5 October 2018, the European Union signed an agreement with Albania on cooperation on border management between Albania and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). The agreement was signed on behalf of the EU by Herbert Kickl, Minister of the Interior of Austria and President of the Council, and Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, and on behalf of Albania Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj.

    This agreement allows the European Border and Coast Guard Agency to coordinate operational cooperation between EU member states and Albania on the management of the EU’s external borders. The European Border and Coast Guard will be able to take action at the external border involving one or more neighbouring member states and Albania. This can include intervention on Albanian territory, subject to Albania’s agreement.

    The activities included by the agreement are aimed at tackling illegal migration, in particular sudden changes in migratory flows, and cross-border crime, and can involve the provision of increased technical and operational assistance at the border. For each operation, a plan has to be agreed between the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and Albania.

    http://www.europeanmigrationlaw.eu/fr/articles/actualites/controle-des-frontieres-accord-cooperation-albanie-corps-europe
    #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #réfugiés #contrôles_frontaliers #EU #UE

    ping @daphne @marty @albertocampiphoto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • US to transfer Coast Guard ships to #Ukraine amid Russia tensions - CNNPolitics
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/25/politics/us-transfer-coast-guard-ships-ukraine/index.html


    La photo représente le WPB 1326 Monomoy, de même classe que les Drummond et Cushing, ceux-ci portant les numéros de coque 1323 et 1321.

    The US Coast Guard plans to transfer two former 110-foot Coast Guard ships to Ukraine during a ceremony on Thursday in Baltimore.

    Coast Guard Vice Adm. Michael McAllister and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko are expected to attend the transfer ceremony.

    The transfer of the two armed Coast Guard cutters come as tensions between Ukraine and Russia in the Sea of Azov have increased in recent weeks, with Kiev and the US accusing Moscow of interfering with Ukrainian shipping in the region.

    The United States condemns Russia’s harassment of international shipping in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement late last month.

    Russia has delayed hundreds of commercial vessels since April and in recent weeks has stopped at least 16 commercial ships attempting to reach Ukrainian ports,” she added.

    A US defense official told CNN that the cutters Drummond and Cushing were purchased by Ukraine from the Pentagon’s Excess Defense Articles program.
    PUBLICITÉ
    The Island-class cutters are typically armed with a 25 mm machine gun mount and four .50-caliber machine guns.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island-class_patrol_boat

    #poussière_navale

    Note : le fait d’armes du Drummond est d’avoir patrouillé dans le Détroit de Floride et d’y avoir intercepté (au moins) 550 immigrants cubains illégaux depuis 2004 (source : WP)…

  • Autour des #gardes-côtes_libyens... et de #refoulements en #Libye...

    Je copie-colle ici des articles que j’avais mis en bas de cette compilation (qu’il faudrait un peu mettre en ordre, peut-être avec l’aide de @isskein ?) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/705401

    Les articles ci-dessous traitent de :
    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Méditerranée #push-back #refoulement #externalisation #frontières

    • Pour la première fois depuis 2009, un navire italien ramène des migrants en Libye

      Une embarcation de migrants secourue par un navire de ravitaillement italien a été renvoyée en Libye lundi 30 juillet. Le HCR a annoncé mardi l’ouverture d’une enquête et s’inquiète d’une violation du droit international.

      Lundi 30 juillet, un navire battant pavillon italien, l’Asso Ventotto, a ramené des migrants en Libye après les avoir secourus dans les eaux internationales – en 2012 déjà l’Italie a été condamnée par la Cour européenne des droits de l’Homme pour avoir reconduit en Libye des migrants secourus en pleine mer en 2009.

      L’information a été donnée lundi soir sur Twitter par Oscar Camps, le fondateur de l’ONG espagnole Proactiva Open Arms, avant d’être reprise par Nicola Fratoianni, un député de la gauche italienne qui est actuellement à bord du bateau humanitaire espagnol qui sillonne en ce moment les côtes libyennes.

      Selon le quotidien italien La Repubblica, 108 migrants à bord d’une embarcation de fortune ont été pris en charge en mer Méditerranée par l’Asso Ventotto lundi 30 juillet. L’équipage du navire de ravitaillement italien a alors contacté le MRCC à Rome - centre de coordination des secours maritimes – qui les a orienté vers le centre de commandement maritime libyen. La Libye leur a ensuite donné l’instruction de ramener les migrants au port de Tripoli.

      En effet depuis le 28 juin, sur décision européenne, la gestion des secours des migrants en mer Méditerranée dépend des autorités libyennes et non plus de l’Italie. Concrètement, cela signifie que les opérations de sauvetage menées dans la « SAR zone » - zone de recherche et de sauvetage au large de la Libye - sont désormais coordonnées par les Libyens, depuis Tripoli. Mais le porte-parole du Conseil de l’Europe a réaffirmé ces dernières semaines qu’"aucun navire européen ne peut ramener des migrants en Libye car cela serait contraire à nos principes".

      Violation du droit international

      La Libye ne peut être considérée comme un « port sûr » pour le débarquement des migrants. « C’est une violation du droit international qui stipule que les personnes sauvées en mer doivent être amenées dans un ‘port sûr’. Malgré ce que dit le gouvernement italien, les ports libyens ne peuvent être considérés comme tels », a déclaré sur Twitter le député Nicola Fratoianni. « Les migrants se sont vus refuser la possibilité de demander l’asile, ce qui constitue une violation des accords de Genève sur les sauvetages en mer », dit-il encore dans le quotidien italien La Stampa.

      Sur Facebook, le ministre italien de l’Intérieur, Matteo Salvini, nie toutes entraves au droit international. « La garde-côtière italienne n’a ni coordonné, ni participé à cette opération, comme l’a faussement déclarée une ONG et un député de gauche mal informé ».

      Le Haut-Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR) a de son côté annoncé mardi 31 juillet l’ouverture d’une enquête. « Nous recueillons toutes les informations nécessaires sur le cas du remorqueur italien Asso Ventotto qui aurait ramené en Libye 108 personnes sauvées en Méditerranée. La Libye n’est pas un ‘port sûr’ et cet acte pourrait constituer une violation du droit international », dit l’agence onusienne sur Twitter.

      http://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/10995/pour-la-premiere-fois-depuis-2009-un-navire-italien-ramene-des-migrant

    • Nave italiana soccorre e riporta in Libia 108 migranti. Salvini: «Nostra Guardia costiera non coinvolta»

      L’atto in violazione della legislazione internazionale che garantisce il diritto d’asilo e che non riconosce la Libia come un porto sicuro. Il vicepremier: «Nostre navi non sono intervenute nelle operazioni». Fratoianni (LeU): «Ci sono le prove della violazione»

      http://www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2018/07/31/news/migranti_nave_italiana_libia-203026448/?ref=RHPPLF-BH-I0-C8-P1-S1.8-T1
      #vos_thalassa #asso_28

      Commentaire de Sara Prestianni, via la mailing-list de Migreurop:

      Le navire commerciale qui opere autour des plateformes de pétrole, battant pavillon italien - ASSO 28 - a ramené 108 migrants vers le port de Tripoli suite à une opération de sauvetage- Les premiers reconstructions faites par Open Arms et le parlementaire Fratoianni qui se trouve à bord de Open Arms parlent d’une interception en eaux internationales à la quelle a suivi le refoulement. Le journal La Repubblica dit que les Gardes Cotes Italiennes auraient invité Asso28 à se coordonner avec les Gardes Cotes Libyennes (comme font habituellement dans les derniers mois. Invitation déclinés justement par les ong qui opèrent en mer afin de éviter de proceder à un refoulement interdit par loi). Le Ministre de l’Interieur nie une implication des Gardes Cotes Italiens et cyniquement twitte “Le Garde cotes libyenne dans les derniers heures ont sauvé et ramené à terre 611 migrants. Les Ong protestent les passeurs font des affaires ? C’est bien. Nous continuons ainsi”

    • Départs de migrants depuis la Libye :

      Libya : outcomes of the sea journey

      Migrants intercepted /rescued by the Libyan coast guard

      Lieux de désembarquement :


      #Italie #Espagne #Malte

      –-> Graphiques de #Matteo_Villa, posté sur twitter :
      source : https://twitter.com/emmevilla/status/1036892919964286976

      #statistiques #chiffres #2016 #2017 #2018

      cc @simplicissimus

    • Libyan Coast Guard Takes 611 Migrants Back to Africa

      Between Monday and Tuesday, the Libyan Coast Guard reportedly rescued 611 migrants aboard several dinghies off the coast and took them back to the African mainland.

      Along with the Libyan search and rescue operation, an Italian vessel, following indications from the Libyan Coast Guard, rescued 108 migrants aboard a rubber dinghy and delivered them back to the port of Tripoli. The vessel, called La Asso 28, was a support boat for an oil platform.

      Italian mainstream media have echoed complaints of NGOs claiming that in taking migrants back to Libya the Italian vessel would have violated international law that guarantees the right to asylum and does not recognize Libya as a safe haven.

      In recent weeks, a spokesman for the Council of Europe had stated that “no European ship can bring migrants back to Libya because it is contrary to our principles.”

      Twenty days ago, another ship supporting an oil rig, the Vos Thalassa, after rescuing a group of migrants, was preparing to deliver them to a Libyan patrol boat when an attempt to revolt among the migrants convinced the commander to reverse the route and ask the help of the Italian Coast Guard. The migrants were loaded aboard the ship Diciotti and taken to Trapani, Sicily, after the intervention of the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella.

      On the contrary, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has declared Tuesday’s operation to be a victory for efforts to curb illegal immigration. The decision to take migrants back to Africa rather than transporting them to Europe reflects an accord between Italy and Libya that has greatly reduced the numbers of African migrants reaching Italian shores.

      Commenting on the news, Mr. Salvini tweeted: “The Libyan Coast Guard has rescued and taken back to land 611 immigrants in recent hours. The NGOs protest and the traffickers lose their business? Great, this is how we make progress,” followed by hashtags announcing “closed ports” and “open hearts.”

      Parliamentarian Nicola Fratoianni of the left-wing Liberi and Uguali (Free and Equal) party and secretary of the Italian Left, presently aboard the Spanish NGO ship Open Arms, denounced the move.

      “We do not yet know whether this operation was carried out on the instructions of the Italian Coast Guard, but if so it would be a very serious precedent, a real collective rejection for which Italy and the ship’s captain will answer before a court,” he said.

      “International law requires that people rescued at sea must be taken to a safe haven and the Libyan ports, despite the mystification of reality by the Italian government, cannot be considered as such,” he added.

      The United Nations immigration office (UNHCR) has threatened Italy for the incident involving the 108 migrants taken to Tripoli, insisting that Libya is not a safe port and that the episode could represent a breach of international law.

      “We are collecting all the necessary information,” UNHCR tweeted.

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/santiago-anti-abortion-women-stabbed-chile-protest-a8469786.html
      #refoulements #push-back

    • Libya rescued 10,000 migrants this year, says Germany

      Libyan coast guards have saved some 10,000 migrants at sea since the start of this year, according to German authorities. The figure was provided by the foreign ministry during a debate in parliament over what the Left party said were “inhumane conditions” of returns of migrants to Libya. Libyan coast guards are trained by the EU to stop migrants crossing to Europe.

      https://euobserver.com/tickers/142821

    • UNHCR Flash Update Libya (9 - 15 November 2018) [EN/AR]

      As of 14 November, the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) has rescued/intercepted 14,595 refugees and migrants (10,184 men, 2,147 women and 1,408 children) at sea. On 10 November, a commercial vessel reached the port of Misrata (187 km east of Tripoli) carrying 95 refugees and migrants who refused to disembark the boat. The individuals on board comprise of Ethiopian, Eritrean, South Sudanese, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Somali nationals. UNHCR is closely following-up on the situation of the 14 individuals who have already disembarked and ensuring the necessary assistance is provided and screening is conducted for solutions. Since the onset, UNHCR has advocated for a peaceful resolution of the situation and provided food, water and core relief items (CRIs) to alleviate the suffering of individuals onboard the vessel.

      https://reliefweb.int/report/libya/unhcr-flash-update-libya-9-15-november-2018-enar
      #statistiques #2018 #chiffres

    • Rescued at sea, locked up, then sold to smugglers

      In Libya, refugees returned by EU-funded ships are thrust back into a world of exploitation.

      The Souq al Khamis detention centre in Khoms, Libya, is so close to the sea that migrants and refugees can hear waves crashing on the shore. Its detainees – hundreds of men, women and children – were among 15,000 people caught trying to cross the Mediterranean in flimsy boats in 2018, after attempting to reach Italy and the safety of Europe.

      They’re now locked in rooms covered in graffiti, including warnings that refugees may be sold to smugglers by the guards that watch them.


      This detention centre is run by the UN-backed Libyan government’s department for combatting illegal migration (DCIM). Events here over the last few weeks show how a hardening of European migration policy is leaving desperate refugees with little room to escape from networks ready to exploit them.

      Since 2014, the EU has allocated more than €300 million to Libya with the aim of stopping migration. Funnelled through the Trust Fund for Africa, this includes roughly €40 million for the Libyan coast guard, which intercepts boats in the Mediterranean. Ireland’s contribution to the trust fund will be €15 million between 2016 and 2020.

      Scabies

      One of the last 2018 sea interceptions happened on December 29th, when, the UN says, 286 people were returned to Khoms. According to two current detainees, who message using hidden phones, the returned migrants arrived at Souq al Khamis with scabies and other health problems, and were desperate for medical attention.


      On New Year’s Eve, a detainee messaged to say the guards in the centre had tried to force an Eritrean man to return to smugglers, but others managed to break down the door and save him.

      On Sunday, January 5th, detainees said, the Libyan guards were pressurising the still-unregistered arrivals to leave by beating them with guns. “The leaders are trying to push them [to] get out every day,” one said.

      https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/rescued-at-sea-locked-up-then-sold-to-smugglers-1.3759181

    • Migranti, 100 persone trasferite su cargo e riportate in Libia. Alarm Phone: “Sono sotto choc, credevano di andare in Italia”

      Dopo l’allarme delle scorse ore e la chiamata del premier Conte a Tripoli, le persone (tra cui venti donne e dodici bambini, uno dei quali potrebbe essere morto di stenti) sono state trasferite sull’imbarcazione che batte bandiera della Sierra Leone in direzione Misurata. Ma stando alle ultime informazioni, le tensioni a bordo rendono difficoltoso lo sbarco. Intanto l’ong Sea Watch ha salvato 47 persone e chiede un porto dove attraccare

      https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2019/01/21/migranti-100-persone-trasferite-su-cargo-e-riportate-in-libia-alarm-phone-sono-sotto-choc-credevano-di-andare-in-italia/4911794

    • Migrants calling us in distress from the Mediterranean returned to Libya by deadly ‘refoulement’ industry

      When they called us from the sea, the 106 precarious travellers referred to their boat as a white balloon. This balloon, or rubber dinghy, was meant to carry them all the way to safety in Europe. The people on board – many men, about 20 women, and 12 children from central, west and north Africa – had left Khoms in Libya a day earlier, on the evening of January 19.

      Though they survived the night at sea, many of passengers on the boat were unwell, seasick and freezing. They decided to call for help and used their satellite phone at approximately 11am the next day. They reached out to the Alarm Phone, a hotline operated by international activists situated in Europe and Africa, that can be called by migrants in distress at sea. Alongside my work as a researcher on migration and borders, I am also a member of this activist network, and on that day I supported our shift team who received and documented the direct calls from the people on the boat in distress.

      The boat had been trying to get as far away as possible from the Libyan coast. Only then would the passengers stand a chance of escaping Libya’s coastguard. The European Union and Italy struck a deal in 2017 to train the Libyan coastguard in return for them stopping migrants reaching European shores. But a 2017 report by Amnesty International highlighted how the Libyan authorities operate in collusion with smuggling networks. Time and again, media reports suggest they have drastically violated the human rights of escaping migrants as well as the laws of the sea.

      The migrant travellers knew that if they were detected and caught, they would be abducted back to Libya, or illegally “refouled”. But Libya is a dangerous place for migrants in transit – as well as for Libyan nationals – given the ongoing civil conflict between several warring factions. In all likelihood, being sent back to Libya would mean being sent to detention centres described as “concentration-camp like” by German diplomats.

      The odds of reaching Europe were stacked against the people on the boat. Over the past year, the European-Libyan collaboration in containing migrants in North Africa, a research focus of mine, has resulted in a decrease of sea arrivals in Italy – from about 119,000 in 2017 to 23,000 in 2018. Precisely how many people were intercepted by the Libyan coastguards last year is unclear but the Libyan authorities have put the figure at around 15,000. The fact that this refoulement industry has led to a decrease in the number of migrant crossings in the central Mediterranean means that fewer people have been able to escape grave human rights violations and reach a place of safety.
      Shifting responsibility

      In repeated conversations, the 106 people on the boat made clear to the Alarm Phone activists that they would rather move on and endanger their lives by continuing to Europe than be returned by the Libyan coastguards. The activists stayed in touch with them, and for transparency reasons, the distress situation was made public via Twitter.

      Around noon, the situation on board deteriorated markedly and anxiety spread. With weather conditions worsening and after a boy had fallen unconscious, the people on the boat expressed for the first time their immediate fear of dying at sea and demanded Alarm Phone to alert all available authorities.

      The activists swiftly notified the Italian coastguards. But both the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, and in turn the Maltese authorities, suggested it was the Libyan coastguard’s responsibility to handle the distress call. And yet, eight different phone numbers of the Libyan coastguards could not be reached by the activists.

      In the afternoon, the situation had come across the radar of the Italian media. When the Alarm Phone activists informed the people on board that the public had also been made aware of the situation by the media one person succinctly responded: “I don’t need to be on the news, I need to be rescued.”

      And yet media attention catapulted the story into the highest political spheres in Italy. According to a report in the Italian national newspaper Corriere della Sera, the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, took charge of the situation, stating that the fate of the migrant boat could not be left to Alarm Phone activists. Conte instructed the Italian foreign intelligence service to launch rapid negotiations with the Libyan coastguards. It took some time to persuade them, but eventually, the Libyans were convinced to take action.

      In the meantime, the precarious passengers on the boat reported of water leaking into their boat, of the freezing cold, and their fear of drowning. The last time the Alarm Phone reached them, around 8pm, they could see a plane in the distance but were unable to forward their GPS coordinates to the Alarm Phone due to the failing battery of their satellite phone.
      Sent back to Libya

      About three hours later, the Italian coastguards issued a press release: the Libyans had assumed responsibility and co-ordinated the rescue of several boats. According to the press release, a merchant vessel had rescued the boat and the 106 people would be returned to Libya.

      According to the survivors and Médecins Sans Frontières who treated them on arrival, at least six people appeared to have drowned during the voyage – presumably after the Alarm Phone lost contact with them. Another boy died after disembarkation.

      A day later, on January 21, members of a second group of 144 people called the Alarm Phone from another merchant vessel. Just like the first group, they had been refouled to Libya, but they were still on board. Some still believed that they would be brought to Europe.

      Speaking on the phone with the activists, they could see land but it was not European but Libyan land. Recognising they’d been returned to their place of torment, they panicked, cried and threatened collective suicide. The women were separated from the men – Alarm Phone activists could hear them shout in the background. In the evening, contact with this second group of migrants was lost.

      During the evening of January 23, several of the women of the group reached out to the activists. They said that during the night, Libyan security forces boarded the merchant vessel and transported small groups into the harbour of Misrata, where they were taken to a detention centre. They said they’d been beaten when refusing to disembark. One of them, bleeding, feared that she had already lost her unborn child.

      On the next day, the situation worsened further. The women told the activists that Libyan forces entered their cell in the morning, pointing guns at them, after some of the imprisoned had tried to escape. Reportedly, every man was beaten. The pictures they sent to the Alarm Phone made it into Italian news, showing unhygienic conditions, overcrowded cells, and bodies with torture marks.

      Just like the 106 travellers on the “white balloon”, this second group of 144 people had risked their lives but were now back in their hell.
      Profiteering

      It’s more than likely that for some of these migrant travellers, this was not their first attempt to escape Libya. The tens of thousands captured at sea and returned over the past years have found themselves entangled in the European-Libyan refoulement “industry”. Due to European promises of financial support or border technologies, regimes with often questionable human rights records have wilfully taken on the role as Europe’s frontier guards. In the Mediterranean, the Libyan coastguards are left to do the dirty work while European agencies – such as Frontex, Eunavfor Med as well as the Italian and Maltese coastguards – have withdrawn from the most contentious and deadly areas of the sea.

      It’s sadly not surprising that flagrant human rights violations have become the norm rather than the exception. Quite cynically, several factions of the Libyan coastguards have profited not merely from Europe’s financial support but also from playing a “double game” in which they continue to be involved in human smuggling while, disguised as coastguards, clampdown on the trade of rival smuggling networks. This means that the Libyan coastguards profit often from both letting migrant boats leave and from subsequently recapturing them.

      The detention camps in Libya, where torture and rape are everyday phenomena, are not merely containment zones of captured migrants – they form crucial extortion zones in this refoulement industry. Migrants are turned into “cash cows” and are repeatedly subjected to violent forms of extortion, often forced to call relatives at home and beg for their ransom.

      Despite this systematic abuse, migrant voices cannot be completely drowned out. They continue to appear, rebelliously, from detention and even from the middle of the sea, reminding us all about Europe’s complicity in the production of their suffering.

      https://theconversation.com/migrants-calling-us-in-distress-from-the-mediterranean-returned-to-

    • Libya coast guard detains 113 migrants during lull in fighting

      The Libyan coast guard has stopped 113 migrants trying to reach Italy over the past two days, the United Nations said on Wednesday, as boat departures resume following a lull in fighting between rival forces in Libya.

      The western Libyan coast is a major departure point for mainly African migrants fleeing conflict and poverty and trying to reach Italy across the Mediterranean Sea with the help of human traffickers.

      Smuggling activity had slowed when forces loyal to military commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to take the capital Tripoli, home to Libya’s internationally recognized government.

      But clashes eased on Tuesday after a push by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) back by artillery failed to make inroads toward the center.

      Shelling audible in central Tripoli was less intense on Wednesday than on previous days. Three weeks of clashes had killed 376 as of Tuesday, the World Health Organization said.

      The Libyan coast guard stopped two boats on Tuesday and one on Wednesday, carrying 113 migrants in all, and returned them to two western towns away from the Tripoli frontline, where they were put into detention centers, U.N. migration agency IOM said.

      A coast guard spokesman said the migrants were from Arab and sub-Saharan African countries as well as Bangladesh.

      Human rights groups have accused armed groups and members of the coast guard of being involved in human trafficking.

      Officials have been accused in the past of mistreating detainees, who are being held in their thousands as part of European-backed efforts to curb smuggling. A U.N. report in December referred to a “terrible litany” of violations including unlawful killings, torture, gang rape and slavery.

      Rights groups have also accused the European Union of complicity in the abuse as Italy and France have provided boats for the coast guard to step up patrols. That move has helped to reduce migrant departures.

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security/libya-coast-guard-detains-113-migrants-during-lull-in-fighting-idUSKCN1S73R

    • Judgement in Italy recognizes that people rescued by #Vos_Thalassa acted lawfully when opposed disembarkation in #Libya. Two men spent months in prison, as Italian government had wished, till a judge established that they had acted in legitimate defence.
      Also interesting that judge argues that Italy-Libya Bilateral agreement on migration control must be considered illegitimate as in breach of international, EU and domestic law.

      https://dirittopenaleuomo.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/GIP-Trapani.pdf

      Reçu via FB par @isskein :
      https://www.facebook.com/isabelle.saintsaens/posts/10218154173470834?comment_id=10218154180551011&notif_id=1560196520660275&n
      #justice

    • The Commission and Italy tie themselves up in knots over Libya

      http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-344-Commission-and-Italy-tie-themselves-up-in-knots-over-libya.pdf

      –-> analyse de #Yasha_Maccanico sur la polémique entre Salvini et la Commission quand il a déclaré en mars que la Commission était tout a fait d’accord avec son approche (le retour des migrants aux champs logiques), la Commission l’a démenti et puis a sorti la lettre de Mme. Michou (JAI Commission) de laquelle provenaient les justifications utilisées par le ministre, qui disait à Leggeri que la collaboration avec la garde côtière libyenne des avions européennes était legale. Dans la lettre, elle admit que les italiens et la mission de Frontex font des activités qui devrait être capable de faire la Libye, si sa zone SAR fuisse authentique et pas une manière pour l’UE de se débarrasser de ses obligations légales et humanitaires. C’est un acte de auto-inculpation pour l’UE et pour l’Italie.

  • 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

  • For an open migration policy to end the deaths and crises in the Mediterranean

    The current crisis surrounding migration is not one of numbers – migrants’ crossings of the sea are at their lowest since 2013 – but of policies. The drive towards closure and the politicisation of migration are so strong after years of tension that the frail bodies of a few thousand migrants arriving on European shores are triggering a major political crisis throughout the EU.

    One epicentre of this crisis is in Italy, where Matteo Salvini, the country’s new far-right Interior Minister, is preventing NGOs from disembarking rescued migrants. Such was the case with the 629 people on board the Aquarius.

    Another is Germany, where the governing coalition led by Angela Merkel is at risk as the hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has threatened to turn back refugees at the German borders. The European Council summit on 28 June 2018 promises to be rife with tensions. As EU member states will most probably continue to prove unable to offer a common response to migrants once they have arrived on European shores, they will reinforce the policy they have implemented since 2015: preventing migrants from crossing the sea by outsourcing border control to non-European countries.
    The consensus of closure

    This policy of closure has had horrendous consequences for migrants – such as the subjection to torture of those who are intercepted at sea by the Libyan coast guard, which has been equipped, trained and coordinated by Italy and the EU. Despite this, it has gathered growing consensus. Faced with the politicisation of migration which has fuelled the rise of far-right populist parties across Europe and threatens the EU itself with disintegration, even humanists of the centre left and right ask whether these inhumane policies are not a necessary evil.

    Would it not be better for migrants to “stay home” rather then reach a Europe which has turned its back on them and which they threaten in turn? Whispering or shouting, reluctantly or aggressively, European citizens increasingly wish migrants would simply disappear.

    Powerful forces driving migration, failed policies

    This consensus towards closure is delusional. Policies of closure that are completely at odds with the dynamics of migration systematically fail in their aim of ending the arrivals of illegalised migrants, as the record of the last 30 years demonstrates.

    Ever since the European states consolidated freedom of movement for European citizens in the 1990s all the while denying access to most non-European populations, the arrival of “undesirable” migrants has not stopped, but only been pushed underground. This is because as long as there are strong “push factors” – such as wars and economic crisis, and “pull factors” – such as work and welfare opportunities as well as respect for human rights, and that these continue to be connected by migrants’ transnational networks, state policies have little chance of succeeding in durably stemming the migration they aim to restrict.

    Over the last 30 years, for every route states have succeeded in closing, it has only been a matter of time before migrants opened several new ones. Forced to use precarious means of travel – often controlled by criminal networks, migrants’ lives were put at growing risk. More than 30,000 migrants are recorded to have died at sea since the beginning of the 1990s. A sea which has connected civilisations for millennia has become a mass grave.

    Fear breeds more fear: the vicious cycle

    These policies of closure, often implemented by centre governments allegedly in the aim of preventing the further rise of anti-immigrant sentiments, ultimately contributed to them. Despite the spectacular military means deployed by states to police borders, illegalised migration continued, giving European populations a sense that their states had “lost control” – a feeling that has only been heightened in the wake of the Arab uprisings.

    Migrants’ illegalisation has led to unjustifiable status inequality within European societies, allowing employers to pull salaries down in the sectors in which precaritized migrants are employed. This has lent to working classes the impression that migrants constitute an unfair competition.

    Policies of closure and discrimination thus only generate more fear and rejection of migrants. The parties which have mobilised voters on the basis of this fear have left unaddressed – and in fact diverted attention from – the rising unemployment, social insecurity, and inequality amongst Europe’s “losers of globalisation”, whose resentment has served as a fertile ground for anti-immigrant sentiments.

    In this way, we have become trapped in a vicious cycle that has fuelled the rise of the far-right.
    Towards an open migration policy, de-escalate the mobility conflict

    Over the years, the Mediterranean has become the main frontline of a mobility conflict, which has intensified in the wake of the 2011 Arab uprisings and European debt crisis. Since then, both the factors spurring migrants’ movement towards Europe and those leading to the drive to exclude them have been heightened.

    The lack of solidarity within the EU to respond to arrivals in so-called “frontline states” in southern and eastern Europe have further fuelled it. As long as the same policies continue to be applied, there is no end in sight to the political tensions and violence surrounding migration and the worrying political trends they are nurturing.

    A fundamental paradigm shift is necessary to end this vicious cycle. European citizens and policy makers alike must realise that the question is not whether migrants will exercise their freedom to cross borders, but at what human and political cost.

    State policies can only create a legal frame for human movement to unfold and thereby partly organise it, they cannot block it. Only a more open policy would allow migration to unfold in a way that threatens neither migrants themselves nor European citizens.

    With legal access to Europe, migrants would no longer need to resort to smugglers and risk their lives crossing the sea. No longer policed through military means, migration could appear as a normal process that does not generate fear. States could better detect individuals that might pause a threat among migrants as they would not be pushed underground. Migrants’ legal status would no longer allow employers to push working conditions down.

    Such a policy is however far from being on the European agenda. For its implementation to be even faintly imaginable in the medium term, the deep and entangled roots of the mobility conflict must addressed.
    Beyond the EU’s incoherent and one-sided “global approach”

    Today, the EU claims to address one side of the mobility conflict. Using development aid within its so-called “global approach to migration”, it claims to tackle the “root causes” that spur migration towards Europe. Researchers however have shown that development does not automatically lead to less migration. This policy will further have little effect as long as the EU’s unfair trade policies with the global south are perpetuated – for example concerning agriculture and fishing in Africa.

    In effect, the EU’s policy has mostly resulted in the use of development aid to impose policies of migration control on countries of the global south. In the process, the EU is lending support to authoritarian regimes – such as Turkey, Egypt, Sudan – which migrants are fleeing.

    Finally, when it has not worsened conflicts through its own military intervention as in Libya, the EU has proven unable of acting as a stabilizing force in the face of internationalised civil conflicts. These are bound to multiply in a time of intense competition for global hegemony. A true commitment to global justice and conflict resolution is necessary if Europe wishes to limit the factors forcing too many people onto the harsh paths of exile from their countries and regions, a small share of whom reach European shores.
    Tackling the drivers of migrant exclusion

    Beyond its lack of coherence, the EU’s so-called “global approach” suffers from one-sidedness, focused as it is on migration as “the problem”.

    As a result, it fails to see migration as a normal social process. Furthermore, it does not address the conditions that lead to the social and political drive to exclude them. The fact that today the arrival of a few thousand migrants is enough to put the EU into crisis clearly shows the limits of this approach.

    It is urgent for policy makers – at the national and local levels, but also researchers, cultural producers and social movements – to not only morally condemn racism and xenophobia, but to tackle the deep forces that shape them.

    What is needed is a more inclusive and fair economic system to decrease the resentment of European populations. In addition, a positive vision for living in common in diverse societies must be affirmed, so that the tensions that arise from the encounter between different people and cultures can be overcome.

    Crucially, we must emphasise the commonality of fate that binds European citizens to migrants. Greater equality and solidarity between migrants and European citizens is one of the conditions to defend all workers’ conditions.

    All in the same boat

    Addressing the entangled roots of the mobility conflict is a challenging agenda, one which emerges from the realisation that the tensions surrounding migration cannot be resolved through migration policies only – and by policy makers on their own for that matter.

    It charts a path worth following collectively as it points in the direction of a more open migration policy, but also a more just society. These are necessary to bring an end to the unbearable deaths of migrants at sea and end the vicious cycle of closure, violence, and politicisation of migration.

    Policies of closure have failed to end illegalised migration and only fuelled the rise of the far-right and the disintegration of Europe. If Europe is to stop sinking, it must end the policies that lead to migrants’ mass drowning in the Mediterranean. The NGOs being criminalised and prevented from disembarking migrants in Italy are not only saving migrants, but rescuing Europe against itself. Whether we like it or not, we are all in the same boat.

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller/for-open-migration-policy-to-end-deaths-and-crises-in-mediterranea

    #tribune #Charles_Heller #solution #alternatives #migrations #asile #frontières #fermeture_des_frontières #fermeture #ouverture_des_frontières #décès #morts #mourir_en_mer

    • Une politique migratoire plus ouverte pour moins de morts en Méditerranée

      La fermeture des frontières a coûté la vie à plus de 30 000 migrants qui tentaient de parvenir en Europe. Cette vision politique a favorisé la montée de l’extrême droite qu’elle prétendait combattre. Il est donc temps de changer de paradigme et d’adopter une nouvelle approche.

      Le sommet du Conseil européen du 28 juin n’aura que confirmé ce que tous savaient déjà. Face à la montée des partis d’extrême droite et à la menace de désintégration d’une Union européenne (UE) incapable d’offrir un accueil solidaire aux migrants arrivés sur le sol européen, la seule solution envisageable semble être de les empêcher à tout prix de pouvoir y mettre pied en externalisant le contrôle des migrations (1). Malgré la documentation de nombreux cas de tortures parmi les migrants interceptés par les gardes-côtes libyens financés, équipés, et coordonnés par l’Italie et l’Union européenne, ce soutien a été réitéré (2). Des ONG, qui ont courageusement déployé leurs bateaux pour combler le vide mortel laissé par le retrait des secours étatiques, sont sommées de laisser les Libyens faire le sale boulot, criminalisées, et interdites d’accès aux ports italiens. Chaque jour, la mer charrie son lot de corps sans vie.

      Il serait illusoire de penser que cette énième crise pourra être résolue par les mêmes politiques de fermetures qui échouent depuis plus de trente ans. Celles-ci n’ont pas mis un terme aux arrivées des migrants désignés comme indésirables, mais les ont seulement illégalisées. Tant qu’existeront des facteurs qui poussent les populations du Sud global sur les chemins de l’exil - guerres, crises économiques - et des facteurs d’attraction vers l’Europe - travail, Etat social, respect des droits humains - et que les réseaux transnationaux de migrants relient les continents, les politiques de fermetures ne parviendront pas à réduire durablement les migrations (3). Pour chaque route que les Etats ferment, plusieurs nouvelles voies seront bientôt ouvertes. La liste répertoriant plus de 30 000 migrants morts en mer depuis le début des années 90 ne cessera de s’allonger (4).

      Ces politiques de fermeture, souvent mises en œuvre par des gouvernements prétendant lutter contre la montée de sentiments anti-immigrants, n’ont fait que les renforcer. En dépit des moyens militaires spectaculaires déployés par les Etats pour contrôler les frontières, la migration illégale s’est poursuivie, confortant chez les populations européennes le sentiment que leurs gouvernements avaient « perdu le contrôle ». L’illégalisation des migrants permet aux employeurs de baisser les salaires dans les secteurs où sont employés des migrants précarisés, et des ouvriers en ont tiré la conclusion que les migrants sont une concurrence déloyale. Les partis, qui ont mobilisé les votants sur la base de sentiments anti-immigrés, n’ont offert aucune réponse à la hausse du chômage, de l’insécurité sociale et des inégalités qui ont généré un profond ressentiment parmi les « perdants de la globalisation » en Europe (5). Ceux-ci ont été d’autant plus réceptifs aux discours haineux. Nous sommes ainsi prisonniers d’un cercle vicieux qui a encouragé la montée de l’extrême droite et qui a perpétué les politiques de fermetures.

      Au fil des ans, la Méditerranée est devenue la principale ligne de front d’un conflit de mobilités qui s’est intensifié à la suite des « printemps arabes » de 2011 et de la crise de la dette européenne. Depuis, tant les facteurs qui amènent les migrants à venir vers l’Europe que ceux qui poussent à leur exclusion se sont intensifiés. Le manque de solidarité entre Etats européens a attisé le rejet des migrants. Tant qu’on appliquera les mêmes politiques de fermeture, il n’y aura pas d’issue aux tensions politiques et à la violence qui entourent les migrations, et aux inquiétantes tendances politiques qu’elles nourrissent. Le seul horizon de sortie de cette crise permanente est une politique migratoire ouverte (5).

      Citoyens et dirigeants européens doivent se rendre compte que la question n’est pas de savoir si les migrants vont exercer leur liberté de mouvement en franchissant les frontières, mais quel en sera le coût humain et politique. Les politiques des Etats ne peuvent que créer le cadre légal pour les mouvements humains, donc les organiser en partie, mais en aucun cas les bloquer. S’il existait des voies d’accès légales à l’Europe, les migrants n’auraient plus besoin de recourir aux passeurs et de risquer leur vie. En l’absence d’une gestion militarisée, la migration apparaîtrait pour ce qu’elle est : un processus normal qui n’engendre aucune peur. Les migrants disposant d’un statut légal, les employeurs n’auraient plus les mains libres pour dégrader les conditions de travail. Une telle politique est bien loin d’être à l’agenda européen, et suscite de nombreuses peurs. Pour qu’à moyen terme sa mise en place soit envisageable, il faut s’attaquer aux racines profondes et enchevêtrées du conflit de mobilité.

      Si l’Europe veut limiter les raisons qui poussent de trop nombreux êtres humains sur les chemins de l’exil, elle doit s’engager fermement en faveur d’une justice globale et de la résolution des conflits. C’est-à-dire réformer complètement la prétendue « approche globale de la migration » (6) de l’Union européenne qui, prétextant s’attaquer aux « causes profondes » des migrations, a surtout imposé aux pays du Sud l’externalisation des contrôles migratoires en leur faisant miroiter l’aide au développement. Bien plus, obsédée par la migration comme « problème », elle n’apporte aucune réponse aux conditions qui mènent à l’exclusion des migrants par l’Europe. Un système économique plus juste et inclusif permettrait de désamorcer le ressentiment des populations européennes. Une vision positive de la vie en commun dans des sociétés marquées par la diversité, de vaincre les tensions nées de la rencontre entre peuples et cultures. Il est vital d’insister sur la communauté de destin qui lie les citoyens européens aux migrants : plus d’égalité et de solidarité entre eux est l’une des conditions pour défendre les droits de tous les travailleurs.

      Une politique migratoire ouverte ne suffira ainsi pas à elle seule à surmonter les tensions entourant les migrations, elle devra être accompagnée d’une transformation profonde de notre monde. Mais pour se sauver du naufrage, l’Europe doit urgemment abandonner les politiques de fermeture qui sont la cause des dizaines de milliers de noyades en Méditerranée et ont attisé la montée de l’extrême droite. Les ONG aujourd’hui criminalisées font bien plus que sauver des migrants, elles sauvent l’Europe d’elle-même. Que nous le voulions ou non, nous sommes tous dans le même bateau.

      http://www.liberation.fr/debats/2018/07/03/une-politique-migratoire-plus-ouverte-pour-moins-de-morts-en-mediterranee
      #économie #illégalisation #extrême_droite #populisme #politique_migratoire #capitalisme #libéralisme #fermeture_des_frontières #ouverture_des_frontières #Charles_Heller

  • It’s 34,361 and rising: how the List tallies Europe’s migrant bodycount.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/20/the-list-europe-migrant-bodycount

    30/04/18 2 N.N. (2 men) unknown bodies recovered in Gasr Garabulli (aka Castelverde) (LY) IOM Libya
    30/04/18 1 N.N. (woman) unknown body recovered on Tajoura beach (LY) IOM Libya
    30/04/18 6 N.N. (1 baby; 5 men) unknown bodies recovered in Zuwara (LY) IOM Libya
    30/04/18 1 N.N. (man) Algeria drowned trying to swim across the Kolpa River on Croatian-Slovenian border; 7 intercepted by police IOM Slovenia/TotSloveniaNews
    29/04/18 19 N.N. (1 man) Africa 16 drowned in shipwreck off Cap Falcon, Oran (DZ) on way to Spain; 3 missing, 19 rescued ObsAlgerie/Caminando/EFE/Réf/QUOTI/IOM
    25/04/18 17 N.N. Sub-Saharan Africa 5 drowned afer boat sank between Morocco and Spain near Alboran Island; 12 missing, 17 rescued ElDiario/Caminando/SalvaM/EuroPress
    22/04/18 11 N.N. (1 boy; 10 men) unknown drowned when rubber dinghy overturned in the Mediterranean Sea near Sabratha (LY); 83 rescued MEE/Reu./IOM Libya/JapanTimes
    20/04/18 1 N.N. (boy, 6 months) Eritrea strangled by desperate mother who hanged herself afterwards in Eckolstädt asylum centre (DE) Berliner Ztg/FR-th/OTZ
    20/04/18 1 Snaid Tadese (woman, 19) Eritrea suicide, strangled her baby and hanged herself out of despair in Eckolstädt asylum centre (DE) Berliner Ztg/FR-th/OTZ
    20/04/18 1 N.N. (man, 30) unknown electrocuted when he climbed on roof of freight train in depot outside Thessaloniki (GR) AP/NYTimes/MailOnline
    19/04/18 2 N.N. unknown died in accident in Horasan (TR) when smuggler driving their truck saw control point and panicked HurriyetDN/PrensaLat
    14/04/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown died of cardiac arrest, body found near border fence in Anyera in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta (ES) FaroCeuta/APDHA/CeutaTV/IOM
    13/04/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown died of cardiac arrest, body found near border fence in Anyera in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta (ES) FaroCeuta/APDHA/IOM/CeutaTV
    10/04/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown drowned in the Kolpa River near Črnomelj (SI) on border with Croatia IOM Slovenia/AFP
    09/04/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown drowned in the Kolpa River near Črnomelj (SI) on border with Croatia DELO/IOM Slovenia
    09/04/18 36 N.N. unknown 6 presumed drowned off coast of Houara 20 km south of Tangiers (MA); 30 missing, 10 survived EFE/Caminando/El Diario/IOM
    06/04/18 1 Omar “Susi” (boy, 16) Maghreb deliberately crushed by truck near Port of Ceuta (ES) after driver chased after refugees El Faro de Ceuta/Ceuta Actualidad/IOM
    06/04/18 1 N.N. (woman) unknown drowned, found on Jabonera beach in Tarifa, Cádiz (ES) Diario de Cádiz/IOM/EPress/EFE
    02/04/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown presumed drowned, body found 6 nautical miles northwest of Port of Bouzedjar in Ain Témouchent (DZ) Liberté/Ouest Tribune/IOM
    01/04/18 11 N.N. (1 man) unknown 4 drowned after boat capsized between Tangier (MA) and Tarifa (ES); 7 missing, 1 rescued Watch TheMed/IOM Spain/SalvaM/HinduTimes
    01/04/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown presumed drowned, body found near Habibas Islands off coast of Ain Témouchent (DZ) Réf/DK/OuestT/IOM
    01/04/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown presumed drowned, body found off coast of Al Hoceima (MA) EFE/IOM/YABI
    31/03/18 1 N.N. unknown presumed drowned, body found west of Sbiaat beach in Ain Témouchent (DZ) Réf/DK/OuestT/IOM
    30/03/18 17 N.N. unknown died in vehicle accident in province of Igdir province (TR) near border with Armenia; 33 survivors Reu./LV/IOM
    29/03/18 7 N.N. (7 men) unknown presumed drowned, unspecified location in the Strait of Gibraltar between Morocco and Spain Caminando/IOM
    28/03/18 1 N.N. (boy, 16) Eritrea died in hospital in Lille after jumping from truck on motorway near Port of Calais (FR) CMS/Parisien/VoixDuNord/IOM
    24/03/18 1 N.N. (woman) unknown died of lack of access to medicines in hospital in Turin (IT) after being turned away on Italian-French border CDS/FrSoir/IOM
    22/03/18 1 N.N. (man, 22) Algeria stowaway, got stuck between 2 vehicles at Zeebrugge port (BE) while trying to get to Great Britain CMS
    20/03/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown presumed drowned, body found on shore of Tripoli (LY) IOM Libya
    18/03/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown drowned, body recovered on beach in Rota, Cádiz (ES) GuardiaCivil/EPress/IOM
    17/03/18 2 N.N. unknown died in vehicle acccident on highway near Xanthi (GR) near Bulgarian border; 7 survivors Reu./AP/IOM/ChNewsAsia
    17/03/18 19 N.N. (9 children) Afghanistan, Iraq 16 drowned after migrant boat capsized off coast of Agathonisi (GR); 3 missing, 3 rescued HellCoastG/IOM Greece/Reu./AP/ChNewsAsia
    16/03/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown presumed drowned, body found on beach in Tinajo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (ES) EFE/La Provincia/IOM/VozDeL
    15/03/18 1 Mame Mbaye Ndiaye (man, 35) Senegal died of heart attack after police chased street vendor through Madrid (ES) until he collapsed LocalES/AfricaNews/TeleSur
    14/03/18 1 N.N. unknown went missing during rescue operation in the sea near Tangiers (MA); 9 rescued Watch TheMed
    13/03/18 1 Tesfalidet “Segen” Tesfon (man, 22) Eritrea died of tuberculosis and malnutrition after being rescued from boat; had been trapped in Libya for 18 months Proactiva/IOM/ANSA/Reu./LocalIT/HRW
    12/03/18 1 N.N. (man, ±30) unknown found dead in delta of the Evros River on Turkish-Greek border AP/MENAFN/IOM
    12/03/18 12 N.N. unknown found dead on sinking boat in the Alboran Sea between Morocco and Spain; 22 rescued Caminando Fronteras/IOM
    08/03/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown drowned, body recovered on beach in Rota, Cádiz, (ES) Guardia Civil/EPress/IOM
    06/03/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown drowned in the Evros River near Edirne (TR) near Greek border IOM Turkey/HurriyetDN
    03/03/18 23 N.N. (2 babies; 4 women; 17 men) Sub-Saharan Africa 2 found dead on boat, presumed drowned off coast of Libya; 21 missing, 30 survivors SOSMed/IOM/Reu.
    03/03/18 3 N.N. (2 women; 1 man) unknown drowned, bodies found off coast of Benzú in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta (ES); 2 survivors UNHCR/Caminando Fronteras/IOM/El Periódico
    01/03/18 1 Lamin (man, 20) Sierra Leone died due to lack of medical care in Passau (DE), had previously been deported to Italy despite severe illness Matteo
    28/02/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown found dead by coast guard near Bouzedjar beach in Ain Témouchent (DZ) RadioAlg/IOM
    27/02/18 6 N.N. (4 children; 1 woman; 1 man) unknown died of hypothermia near the Mergasur River (IQ) close to Turkish border; 4 survivors Kurdistan24/DailySabah/IOM/Rudaw
    26/02/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown died of cardiac arrest, body found in Tarifa, Cádiz (ES) EPress/IOM/JuntaAndalucía
    25/02/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown presumed drowned, body found at Levante beach in Cádiz (ES) EPress/AndalucíaInfo/IOM/CostaCádiz
    21/02/18 2 N.N. (1 woman; 1 man) unknown presumed drowned, bodies found 25 nautical miles north of Béni-Saf in Ain Témouchent (DZ) SoirAlgerie/Algérie360/IOM/Réf
    18/02/18 2 N.N. unknown presumed drowned, bodies found 8 nautical miles north of Bouzedjar beach in Ain Témouchent DZ) Réflexion/IOM Algeria
    17/02/18 1 N.N. unknown drowned, body found 10 km off coast of Benabdelmalek Ramdane in Mostaganem (DZ) IOM Algeria/TheHuff
    16/02/18 1 N.N. unknown presumed drowned, body retrieved in Zawiyah (LY) IOM Libya
    16/02/18 1 N.N. unknown presumed drowned, body retrieved in Tripoli (LY) IOM Libya
    16/02/18 1 N.N. unknown presumed drowned, body found on Madagh beach, Aïn El Kerma, west of Oran (DZ) ElW/Réf/IOM
    15/02/18 11 N.N. unknown presumed drowned, bodies retrieved in Zuwara (LY) IOM Libya
    15/02/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown presumed drowned, body found on Bouzedjar beach in Ain Témouchent (DZ) AlgériePresse/QUOTI/Réf/IOM
    15/02/18 2 N.N. (2 men) unknown presumed drowned, bodies found on Andalouses beach, Bousfer, west of Oran (DZ) ElW/Réf/IOM
    14/02/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown presumed drowned, body found on Sbiaat beach in El Messaid, Ain Témouchent (DZ) RadioAlg/QUOTI/Réf/IOM
    14/02/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown presumed drowned, body found on Sassel beach near Ouled Boudjemaa, Ain Témouchent (DZ) RadioAlg/QUOTI/Réf/IOM
    14/02/18 19 N.N. (4 children; 1 woman; 14 men) Somalia, Eritrea died in vehicle accident 60 km southeast of Bani Walid (LY); 159 survivors DTM/NationalAE/Reu./MENAFN/IOM Libya
    13/02/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown drowned, body found at Sidi Mejdoub beach, west of Mostaganem (DZ) Alg24/IOM Algeria
    13/02/18 1 Ayse Abdulrezzak (woman, 37) Turkey drowned when boat sunk in the Evros River on Turkish-Greek border; teacher fleeing crackdown in Turkey Reu./TDEMD/IOMTurkey/TurkeyPurge/TRMinute
    13/02/18 1 Ibrahim Selim (boy, 3) Turkey missing after boat sunk in the Evros River on Turkish-Greek border; was fleeing post-coup crackdown in Turkey Reu./TDEMD/IOM Turkey/TurkeyPurge/TRMinute
    13/02/18 1 Aslı Doğan (woman, 27) Turkey missing after boat sunk in the Evros River on Turkish-Greek border; was fleeing post-coup crackdown in Turkey Reu./TDEMD/IOM Turkey/TurkeyPurge/TRMinute
    13/02/18 1 Fahrettin Dogan (man, 29) Turkey missing after boat sunk in the Evros River on Turkish-Greek border; was fleeing post-coup crackdown in Turkey Reu./TDEMD/IOM Turkey/TurkeyPurge/TRMinute
    13/02/18 1 Ugur Abdulrezzak (man, 39) Turkey missing after boat sunk in the Evros River on Turkish-Greek border; was fleeing post-coup crackdown in Turkey Reu./TDEMD/IOM Turkey/TurkeyPurge/TRMinute
    13/02/18 1 Halil Munir Abdulrezzak (boy, 3) Turkey drowned when boat sunk in the Evros River on Turkish-Greek border; son of teacher fleeing crackdown in Turkey Reu./TDEMD/IOM Turkey/TurkeyPurge/TRMinute
    13/02/18 1 Enes Abdulrezzak (boy, 11) Turkey drowned when boat sunk in the Evros River on Turkish-Greek border; son of teacher fleeing crackdown in Turkey Reu./TDEMD/IOM Turkey/TurkeyPurge/TRMinute
    12/02/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown drowned, body found near Port of Cabopino in Málaga (ES) Hoy/LV/Onda/IOM
    12/02/18 1 N.N. (girl) unknown presumed drowned, unspecified location in the Strait of Gibraltar between Morocco and Spain Caminando/IOM
    11/02/18 5 N.N. unknown drowned, bodies found 22 miles off Cape of Three Forks in Nador (MA); 29 survivors Caminando/EPress/IOM
    11/02/18 1 N.N. unknown drowned, body found off Bahara beach, Ouled Boughalem, 90 km east of Mostaganem (DZ) ElW/AlgériePresse/IOM
    10/02/18 1 N.N. (man) unknown drowned, body found at Zeralda beach, near Algiers (DZ) Alg24/IOMAlgeria
    09/02/18 3 N.N. (3 men) unknown died of hypothermia, 27 miles off Alboran Island in Alboran Sea between Morocco and Spain; 32 survivors SalvaM/Caminando/IOM
    09/02/18 7 N.N. unknown presumed drowned, bodies retrieved in Zuwara (LY) IOM Libya
    08/02/18 1 N.N. unknown drowned, body found off Kaf Lasfer beach, between Sidi Lakhdar and Hadjadj, 36 km east of Mostaganem (DZ) ElW/Réf/IOM