region:west africa

  • #Niger, part 3 : Guns won’t win the war

    After an ambush killed four US special forces and five local soldiers in #Tongo_Tongo, a village in the northern part of the #Tillabéri region close to Niger’s border with Mali, Boubacar Diallo’s phone rang constantly.

    That was back in October 2017. Journalists from around the world were suddenly hunting for information on Aboubacar ‘petit’ Chapori, a lieutenant of #Islamic_State_in_the_Greater_Sahara, or #ISGS – the jihadist group that claimed the attack.

    Diallo, an activist who had been representing Fulani herders in peace negotiations with Tuareg rivals, had met Chapori years earlier. He was surprised by his rapid – and violent – ascent.

    But he was also concerned. While it was good that the brewing crisis in the remote Niger-Mali borderlands was receiving some belated attention, Diallo worried that the narrow focus on the jihadist threat – on presumed ISGS leaders Chapori, Dondou Cheffou, and Adnan Abou Walid Al Sahrawi – risked obscuring the real picture.

    Those concerns only grew later in 2017 when the G5 Sahel joint force was launched – the biggest military initiative to tackle jihadist violence in the region, building on France’s existing Operation Barkhane.

    Diallo argues that the military push by France and others is misconceived and “fanning the flames of conflict”. And he says the refusal to hold talks with powerful Tuareg militants in #Mali such as Iyad Ag Ghaly – leader of al-Qaeda-linked JNIM, or the Group for the support of Islam and Muslims – is bad news for the future of the region.

    Dialogue and development

    Niger Defence Minister Kalla Moutari dismissed criticism over the G5 Sahel joint force, speaking from his office in Niamey, in a street protected by police checkpoints and tyre killer barriers.

    More than $470 million has been pledged by global donors to the project, which was sponsored by France with the idea of coordinating the military efforts of Mauritania, Mali, #Burkina_Faso, Niger, and Chad to fight insurgencies in these countries.

    “It’s an enormous task to make armies collaborate, but we’re already conducting proximity patrols in border areas, out of the spotlight, and this works,” he said.

    According to Moutari, however, development opportunities are also paramount if a solution to the conflict is to be found.

    "Five years from now, the whole situation in the Sahel could explode.”

    He recalled a meeting in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, in early December 2018, during which donors pledged $2.7 billion for programmes in the Sahel. “We won’t win the war with guns, but by triggering dynamics of development in these areas,” the minister said.

    A European security advisor, who preferred not to be identified, was far more pessimistic as he sat in one of the many Lebanese cafés in the Plateau, the central Niamey district where Western diplomats cross paths with humanitarian workers and the city’s upper-class youth.

    The advisor, who had trained soldiers in Mali and Burkina Faso, said that too much emphasis remained on a military solution that he believed could not succeed.

    “In Niger, when new attacks happen at one border, they are suddenly labelled as jihadists and a military operation is launched; then another front opens right after… but we can’t militarise all borders,” the advisor said. If the approach doesn’t change, he warned, “in five years from now, the whole situation in the Sahel could explode.”

    Tensions over land

    In his home in east Niamey, Diallo came to a similar conclusion: labelling all these groups “jihadists” and targeting them militarily will only create further problems.

    To explain why, he related the long history of conflict between Tuaregs and Fulanis over grazing lands in north Tillabéri.

    The origins of the conflict, he said, date back to the 1970s, when Fulani cattle herders from Niger settled in the region of Gao, in Mali, in search of greener pastures. Tensions over access to land and wells escalated with the first Tuareg rebellions that hit both Mali and Niger in the early 1990s and led to an increased supply of weapons to Tuareg groups.

    While peace agreements were struck in both countries, Diallo recalled that 55 Fulani were killed by armed Tuareg men in one incident in Gao in 1997.

    After the massacre, some Fulani herders escaped back to Niger and created the North Tillabéri Self-Defence Militia, sparking a cycle of retaliation. More than 100 people were killed in fighting before reconciliation was finally agreed upon in 2011. The Nigerien Fulani militia dissolved and handed its arms to the Nigerien state.

    “But despite promises, our government abandoned these ex-fighters in the bush with nothing to do,” Diallo said. “In the meantime, a new Tuareg rebellion started in Mali in 2012.”

    The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (known as MUJAO, or MOJWA in English), created by Arab leaders in Mali in 2011, exploited the situation to recruit among Fulanis, who were afraid of violence by Tuareg militias. ISGS split from MUJAO in 2015, pledging obedience to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

    Diallo believes dialogue is the only way out of today’s situation, which is deeply rooted in these old intercommunal rivalries. “I once met those Fulani fighters who are the manpower of MUJAO and now of ISGS, and they didn’t consider themselves as jihadists,” he said. “They just want to have money and weapons to defend themselves.”

    He said the French forces use Tuareg militias, such as GATIA (the Imghad Tuareg Self-Defence Group and Allies) and the MSA (Movement for the Salvation of Azawad), to patrol borderlands between Mali and Niger. Fulani civilians were killed during some of these patrols in Niger in mid-2018, further exacerbating tensions.

    According to a UN report, these militias were excluded from an end of the year operation by French forces in Niger, following government requests.

    ‘An opportunistic terrorism’

    If some kind of reconciliation is the only way out of the conflict in Tillabéri and the neighbouring Nigerien region of Tahoua, Mahamadou Abou Tarka is likely to be at the heart of the Niger government’s efforts.

    The Tuareg general leads the High Authority for the Consolidation of Peace, a government agency launched following the successive Tuareg rebellions, to ensure peace deals are respected.

    “In north Tillabéri, jihadists hijacked Fulani’s grievances,” Abou Tarka, who reports directly to the president, said in his office in central Niamey. “It’s an opportunistic terrorism, and we need to find proper answers.”

    The Authority – whose main financial contributor is the European Union, followed by France, Switzerland, and Denmark – has launched projects to support some of the communities suffering from violence near the Malian border. “Water points, nurseries, and state services helped us establish a dialogue with local chiefs,” the general explained.

    “Fighters with jihadist groups are ready to give up their arms if incursions by Tuareg militias stop, emergency state measures are retired, and some of their colleagues released from prison.”

    Abou Tarka hailed the return to Niger from Mali of 200 Fulani fighters recruited by ISGS in autumn 2018 as the Authority’s biggest success to date. He said increased patrolling on the Malian side of the border by French forces and the Tuareg militias - Gatia and MSA - had put pressure on the Islamist fighters to return home and defect.

    The general said he doesn’t want to replicate the programme for former Boko Haram fighters from the separate insurgency that has long spread across Niger’s southern border with Nigeria – 230 of them are still in a rehabilitation centre in the Diffa region more than two years after the first defected.

    “In Tillabéri, I want things to be faster, so that ex-fighters reintegrate in the local community,” he said.

    Because these jihadist fighters didn’t attack civilians in Niger – only security forces – it makes the process easier than for ex-Boko Haram, who are often rejected by their own communities, the general said. The Fulani ex-fighters are often sent back to their villages, which are governed by local chiefs in regular contact with the Authority, he added.

    A member of the Nigerien security forces who was not authorised to speak publicly and requested anonymity said that since November 2018 some of these Fulani defectors have been assisting Nigerien security forces with border patrols.

    However, Amadou Moussa, another Fulani activist, dismissed Abou Tarka’s claims that hundreds of fighters had defected. Peace terms put forward by Fulani militants in northern Tillabéri hadn’t even been considered by the government, he said.

    “Fighters with jihadist groups are ready to give up their arms if incursions by Tuareg militias stop, emergency state measures are retired, and some of their colleagues released from prison,” Moussa said. The government, he added, has shown no real will to negotiate.

    Meanwhile, the unrest continues to spread, with the French embassy releasing new warnings for travellers in the border areas near Burkina Faso, where the first movements of Burkinabe refugees and displaced people were registered in March.

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/special-report/2019/04/15/niger-part-3-guns-conflict-militancy
    #foulani #ISIS #Etat_islamique #EI #Tuareg #terrorisme #anti-terrorisme #terres #conflit #armes #armement #North_Tillabéri_Self-Defence_Militia #MUJAO #MOJWA #Movement_for_Oneness_and_Jihad_in_West_Africa #Mauritanie #Tchad

    @reka : pour mettre à jour la carte sur l’Etat islamique ?
    https://visionscarto.net/djihadisme-international

  • Africapolis

    http://www.africapolis.org/home

    Produced by the OECD Sahel and West Africa Club, Africapolis.org is the only comprehensive and standardised geospatial database on cities and urbanisation dynamics in Africa. Combining demographic sources, satellite and aerial imagery and other cartographic sources, it is designed to enable comparative and long-term analyses of urban dynamics - covering 7 500 agglomerations in 50 countries.

    #afrique #urban_matter

  • Sahel violence displaces another million people

    Rising conflict and insecurity are accelerating forced displacement across the Sahel, and a new upsurge of violence along the Mali-Niger border has left 10,000 people in “appalling conditions” in improvised camps in Niger’s #Tillabéri region. The UN says IDP numbers in Mali have tripled to around 120,000. The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, or CERF, has allocated $4 million to assist 70,000 people who have fled their homes in just two months in Burkina Faso. Around 4.2 million people – a million more than a year ago – are currently displaced across the Sahel due to a combination of armed attacks by extremist militants, retaliation by regional militaries, and inter-communal violence.

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news/2019/03/08/local-ngo-risks-white-saviours-and-sahel-s-million-new-displaced

    #IDPs #déplacés_internes #violence #conflit #Mali #Niger #frontières #camps #conflits #réfugiés #migrations

  • UN envoy fears ’new crisis’ for Rohingya Muslims if moved to remote Bangladesh island

    A United Nations human rights investigator on #Myanmar has voiced deep concern at Bangladesh’s plan to relocate 23,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island, saying it may not be habitable and could create a “new crisis”.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-12/un-envoy-fears-new-crisis-for-rohingya-muslims/10890932
    #réfugiés #îles #île #Bangladesh #rohingya #réfugiés_rohingya #asile #migrations #Birmanie

    • Polly Pallister-Wilkins signale sur twitter (https://twitter.com/PollyWilkins/status/1105366496291753984) le lien à faire avec le concept de #penal_humanitarianism (#humanitarisme_pénal)

      Introducing the New Themed Series on Penal Humanitarianism

      Humanitarianism is many things to many people. It is an ethos, an array of sentiments and moral principles, an imperative to intervene, and a way of ‘doing good’ by bettering the human condition through targeting suffering. It is also a form of governance. In Border Criminologies’ new themed series, we look closer at the intersections of humanitarian reason with penal governance, and particularly the transfer of penal power beyond the nation state.

      The study of humanitarian sentiments in criminology has mainly focused on how these sensibilities have ‘humanized’ or ‘civilized’ punishment. As such, the notion of humanism in the study of crime, punishment, and justice is associated with human rights implementation in penal practices and with normative bulwark against penal populism; indeed, with a ‘softening’ of penal power.

      This themed series takes a slightly different approach. While non-punitive forces have a major place in the humanitarian sensibility, we explore how humanitarianism is put to work on and for penal power. In doing so, we look at how muscular forms of power – expulsion, punishment, war – are justified and extended through the invocation of humanitarian reason.

      In the following post, Mary Bosworth revisits themes from her 2017 article and addresses current developments on UK programmes delivered overseas to ‘manage migration’. She shows that through an expansion of these programmes, migration management and crime governance has not only elided, but ‘criminal justice investment appears to have become a humanitarian goal in its own right’. Similarly concerned with what happens at the border, Katja Franko and Helene O.I. Gundhus observed the paradox and contradictions between humanitarian ideals in the performative work of governmental discourses, and the lack of concern for migrants’ vulnerability in their article on Frontex operations.

      However, in their blog post they caution against a one-dimensional understanding of humanitarianism as legitimizing policy and the status quo. It may cloud from view agency and resistance in practice, and, they argue, ‘the dialectics of change arising from the moral discomfort of doing border work’. The critical, difficult question lurking beneath their post asks what language is left if not that of the sanctity of the human, and of humanity.

      Moving outside the European territorial border, Eva Magdalena Stambøl however corroborates the observation that penal power takes on a humanitarian rationale when it travels. Sharing with us some fascinating findings from her current PhD work on EU’s crime control in West Africa, and, more specifically, observations from her fieldwork in Niger, she addresses how the rationale behind the EU’s fight against ‘migrant smugglers’ in Niger is framed as a humanitarian obligation. In the process, however, the EU projects penal power beyond Europe and consolidates power in the ‘host’ state, in this case, Niger.

      Moving beyond nation-state borders and into the ‘international’, ‘global’, and ‘cosmopolitan’, my own research demonstrates how the power to punish is particularly driven by humanitarian reason when punishment is delinked from its association with the national altogether. I delve into the field of international criminal justice and show how it is animated by a humanitarian impetus to ‘do something’ about the suffering of distant others, and how, in particular, the human rights movement have been central to the fight against impunity for international crimes. Through the articulation of moral outrage, humanitarian sensibilities have found their expression in a call for criminal punishment to end impunity for violence against distant others. However, building on an ethnographic study of international criminal justice, which is forthcoming in the Clarendon Studies in Criminology published by Oxford University Press, I demonstrate how penal power remains deeply embedded in structural relations of (global) power, and that it functions to expand and consolidate these global inequalities further. Removed from the checks and balances of democratic institutions, I suggest that penal policies may be more reliant on categorical representations of good and evil, civilization and barbarity, humanity and inhumanity, as such representational dichotomies seem particularly apt to delineate the boundaries of cosmopolitan society.

      In the next post I co-wrote with Anette Bringedal Houge, we address the fight against sexual violence in conflict as penal humanitarianism par excellence, building on our study published in Law & Society Review. While attention towards conflict-related sexual violence is critically important, we take issue with the overwhelming dominance of criminal law solutions on academic, policy, and activist agendas, as the fight against conflict-related sexual violence has become the fight against impunity. We observe that the combination of a victim-oriented justification for international justice and graphic reproductions of the violence victims suffer, are central in the advocacy and policy fields responding to this particular type of violence. Indeed, we hold that it epitomizes how humanitarianism facilitates the expansion of penal power but take issue with what it means for how we address this type of violence.

      In the final post of this series, Teresa Degenhardt offers a discomforting view on the dark side of virtue as she reflects on how penal power is reassembled outside the state and within the international, under the aegis of human rights, humanitarianism, and the Responsibility to Protect-doctrine. Through the case of Libya, she claims that the global north, through various international interventions, ‘established its jurisdiction over local events’. Through what she calls a ‘pedagogy of liberal institutions’, Degenhardt argues that ‘the global north shaped governance through sovereign structures at the local level while re-articulating sovereign power at the global level’, in an argument that, albeit on a different scale, parallels that of Stambøl.

      The posts in this themed series raise difficult questions about the nature of penal power, humanitarianism, and the state. Through these diverse examples, each post demonstrates that while the nation state continues to operate as an essential territorial site of punishment, the power to punish has become increasingly complex. This challenges the epistemological privilege of the nation state framework in the study of punishment.

      However, while this thematic series focuses on how penal power travels through humanitarianism, we should, as Franko and Gundhus indicate, be careful of dismissing humanitarian sensibilities and logics as fraudulent rhetoric for a will to power. Indeed, we might – or perhaps should – proceed differently, given that in these times of pushback against international liberalism and human rights, and resurgent religion and nationalism, humanitarian reason is losing traction. Following an unmasking of humanitarianism as a logic of governance by both critical (leftist) scholars and rightwing populism alike, perhaps there is a need to revisit the potency of humanitarianism as normative bulwark against muscular power, and to carve out the boundaries of a humanitarian space of resistance, solidarity and dignity within a criminology of humanitarianism. Such a task can only be done through empirical and meticulous analysis of the uses and abuses of humanitarianism as an ethics of care.

      https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2019/03/introducing-new

    • Most Rohingya refugees refuse to go to #Bhasan_Char island – Xchange survey

      Nearly all Rohingya refugees asked about relocating to a silt island in the Bay of Bengal refused to go, a new survey reveals.

      According to a new report published by the migration research and data analysis outfit Xchange Foundation, the vast majority of their respondents (98.4%) ‘categorically refused’ to go to Bhasan Char, while 98.7% of respondents were aware of the plan.

      From the over 1,000 respondents who expressed their opinion, concerns were raised about their safety, security and placement in a location further from Myanmar.

      Decades long limbo

      The findings obtained by the recent Xchange Foundation Report entitled ‘WE DO NOT BELIEVE MYANMAR!,’ chart the protracted living conditions and uncertain future of almost three quarters of a million recent Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh. Accumulated together with previous generations of Rohingya, there are approximately 1.2m living across over a dozen camps in the region.

      This is the sixth survey carried out by the Xchange Foundation on the experiences and conditions facing Rohingya refugees.

      The region has been host to Rohingya refugees for just over the last three decades with the recent crackdown and massacre by the Myanmar military in August 2017 forcing whole families and communities to flee westward to Bangladesh.

      While discussions between the Bangladeshi and Myanmar government over the repatriation of recent Rohingya refugees have been plagued by inertia and lukewarm commitment, the Bangladeshi government has been planning on relocating over 100,000 Rohingya refugees to the silt island of Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal. This process was expected to take place in the middle of April, according to a Bangladeshi government minister.

      State Minister for Disaster and Relief Management Md Enamur Rahman, told the Dhaka Tribune ‘Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has instructed last week to complete the relocation 23,000 Rohingya families to Bhashan Char by Apr 15.’

      Is it safe?

      Numerous humanitarian organisations including Human Rights Watch, have expressed their concerns over the government’s proposals, saying there are few assurances that Rohingya refugees will be safe or their access to free movement, health, education and employment will be secured.

      HRW reported in March that the Bangladeshi authorities had issued assurances that there wouldn’t be forcible relocation but that the move was designed to relieve pressure on the refugee camps and settlements across Cox’s Bazar.

      The move would see the relocation of 23,000 Rohingya families to a specially constructed complex of 1,440 housing blocks, equipped with flood and cyclone shelter and flood walls. The project is estimated to have cost the Bangladeshi government over €250 million.

      To prepare the island, joint efforts of British engineering and environmental hydraulics company HR Wallingford and the Chinese construction company Sinohydro, have been responsible for the construction of a 13km flood embankment which encircles the island.

      When asked by the Xchange survey team one Male Rohingya of 28 years old said, ‘We saw videos of Bhasan Char; it’s not a safe place and also during the raining season it floods.’ An older female of 42 said, ‘I’m afraid to go to Bhasan Char, because I think there is a risk to my life and my children.’

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM8wlvLddnw

      Threat of flooding

      Bhasan Char or ‘Thengar Char,’ didn’t exist 20 years ago.

      The island is understood to have formed through gradual silt deposits forming a island around 30km from the Bangladeshi mainland. Until now, human activity on the island has been very minimal with it being largely used for cattle and only reachable by a 3.5 hour boat trip.

      But, the island is subject to the tides. It is reported that the island loses around 5,000 square acres of its territory from low to high tide (15,000 – 10,000 acres (54 square kilometres) respectively).

      This is worsened by the threat of the monsoon and cyclone season which according to HRW’s testimony can result in parts of the island eroding. This is recorded as being around one kilometre a year, ABC News reports.

      Golam Mahabub Sarwar of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Land, says that a high tide during a strong cyclone could completely flood the island. This is exemplifed by the 6 metre tidal range which is seen on fellow islands.

      New crisis

      The UN Envoy Yanghee Lee has warned that the Bangladesh government goes through with the relocation, it could risk creating a ‘new crisis’.

      Lee warned that she was uncertain of the island was ‘truly habitable’ for the over 23,000 families expected to live there.

      The Special Rapporteur to Myanmar made the comments to the Human Rights Council in March, saying that if the relocations were made without consent from the people it would affect, it had, ‘potential to create a new crisis.’

      She stressed that before refugees are relocated, the United Nations, ‘must be allowed to conduct a full technical and humanitarian assessment’ as well as allowing the beneficiary communities to visit and decide if it is right for them.

      https://www.newsbook.com.mt/artikli/2019/05/07/most-rohingya-refugees-refuse-to-go-to-bhasan-char-island-xchange-survey/?lang=en

    • Rohingya Refugees to Move to Flood-Prone Bangladesh Island

      Thousands of Rohingya living in Bangladesh refugee camps have agreed to move to an island in the #Bay_of_Bengal, officials said Sunday, despite fears the site is prone to flooding.

      Dhaka has long wanted to move 100,000 refugees to the muddy silt islet, saying it would take pressure off the overcrowded border camps where almost a million Rohingya live.

      Some 740,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in August 2017 in the face of a military crackdown, joining 200,000 refugees already in makeshift tent settlements at Cox’s Bazar.

      Relocations begin soon

      Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner, Mahbub Alam, said officials overseeing the relocation would be posted to #Bhashan_Char_island in the next few days.

      Approximately 6,000-7,000 refugees have expressed their willingness to be relocated to Bhashan Char, Alam told AFP from Cox’s Bazar, adding that “the number is rising.”

      He did not say when the refugees would be moved, but a senior Navy officer involved in building facilities on the island said it could start by December, with some 500 refugees sent daily.

      Bangladesh had been planning since last year to relocate Rohingya to the desolate flood-prone site, which is an hour by boat from the mainland.

      Rights groups have warned the island, which emerged from the sea only about two decades ago, might not be able to withstand violent storms during the annual monsoon season.

      In the past half-century, powerful cyclones have killed hundreds of thousands of people in the Meghna river estuary where the island is located.

      Rohingya leaders would be taken to Bhashan Char to view the facilities and living conditions, Alam said.

      Safety facilities built on the island include a 9-feet (3 meter) high embankment along its perimeter to keep out tidal surges during cyclones, and a warehouse to store months’ worth of rations, he added.

      Overcrowding in camp

      Rohingya father-of-four Nur Hossain, 50, said he and his family agreed to relocate to #Bhashan_Char after they were shown video footage of the shelters.

      “I have agreed to go. The camp here (at Leda) is very overcrowded. There are food and housing problems,” the 50-year-old told AFP.

      There was no immediate comment from the U.N., although Bangladeshi officials said they expect a delegation would visit the island in the next few weeks.

      https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/rohingya-refugees-move-flood-prone-bangladesh-island

    • Bangladesh : des réfugiés rohingyas acceptent de partir sur une île

      Des milliers de Rohingyas vivant dans des camps de réfugiés au Bangladesh ont accepté de partir pour une île isolée du golfe du Bengale, ont annoncé dimanche les autorités, en dépit des risques d’inondations.

      Dacca a depuis longtemps fait part de son intention de transférer 100.000 réfugiés musulmans rohingyas des camps de réfugiés surpeuplés, près de la frontière birmane, vers un îlot de vase boueux et isolé du golfe du Bengale.

      Le gouvernement du Bangladesh y voit une solution pour résoudre le problème des camps de réfugiés surpeuplés où vivent près d’un million de Rohingyas.

      Environ 740.000 Rohingyas ont fui la Birmanie pour le Bangladesh en 2017 pour échapper à une répression militaire massive. Ils ont rejoint les quelque 200.000 réfugiés vivant déjà dans le district bangladais frontalier de Cox’s Bazar (sud-est).

      Le commissaire bangladais aux réfugiés, Mahbub Alam, a indiqué que des fonctionnaires seront détachés, dans les prochains jours, afin de superviser cette installation.

      « Environ 6.000 à 7.000 réfugiés ont déjà exprimé leur volonté d’être réinstallés à Bhashan Char », a déclaré Alam à l’AFP depuis Cox’s Bazar, affirmant que « leur nombre est en augmentation ».

      Il n’a cependant pas donné de chiffres sur le nombre de réfugiés qui seront ainsi déplacés.

      Selon un officier supérieur de la marine qui participe à la construction d’installations sur l’île, cette opération pourrait débuter en décembre et environ 500 réfugiés seraient envoyés quotidiennement sur cette île située à une heure de bateau de la terre ferme la plus proche.

      Des groupes de défense des droits affirment que Bhashan Char est susceptible d’être submergée lors des moussons.

      Au cours des cinquante dernières années, de puissants cyclones ont fait des centaines de milliers de morts dans l’estuaire de la rivière Meghna, où l’île se situe.

      Des responsables rohingyas seront conduits à Bhashan Char afin d’y découvrir les installations et leurs conditions de vie, a affirmé M. Alam.

      Des responsables locaux ont assuré qu’une digue de trois mètres a été construite autour de l’île pour la protéger de la montée des eaux en cas de cyclone.

      Nur Hossain, un réfugié rohingya, père de quatre enfants, a déclaré que sa famille et lui ont accepté de partir pour Bhashan Char après avoir vu des images vidéo des abris.

      « Le camp ici (à Leda) est très surpeuplé. Il y a des problèmes de nourriture et de logement », a déclaré à l’AFP cet homme de 50 ans.

      L’ONU n’a jusqu’à présent pas fait de déclaration à ce sujet. Des responsables bangladais ont cependant déclaré qu’une délégation des Nations unies se rendra sur l’île au cours des prochaines semaines.

      https://www.courrierinternational.com/depeche/bangladesh-des-refugies-rohingyas-acceptent-de-partir-sur-une

    • Rohingya: il Bangladesh vuole trasferirli su un’isola sperduta e pericolosa

      Le violenze dell’esercito del Myanmar avevano costretto centinaia di migliaia di Rohingya a rifugiarsi in Bangladesh nel 2017. E quando ancora un rientro nelle loro terre d’origine sembra lontano, Dacca cerca di mandarne 100 mila su un’isola remota e pericolosa nel Golfo del Bengala

      Non sono bastate le violenze dell’esercito del Myanmar e degli estremisti buddisti, che nell’agosto 2017 hanno costretto centinaia di migliaia di Rohingya a rifugiarsi in Bangladesh. E non bastano neanche le condizioni precarie in cui vivono nei fatiscenti campi profughi gestiti da Dacca. Il dramma di questa popolazione, che secondo le Nazioni Unite è una delle minoranze più perseguitate al mondo, non sembra avere fine.

      La scorsa settimana il governo del Bangladesh ha annunciato che alla fine di novembre inizierà il trasferimento di 100 mila rifugiati Rohingya a Bhasan Char, una remota isola nel Golfo del Bengala. Per le autorità questa mossa sarebbe necessaria a causa del «disperato sovraffollamento» nei campi di Cox’s Bazar, una città al confine con la ex-Birmania, che ora ospita oltre 700 mila sfollati. Ma la scelta della nuova collocazione ha sollevato una serie di preoccupazioni per la salute e la sicurezza dei Rohingya che verranno trasferiti.

      Rohinghya in Bangladesh: l’isola in mezzo al nulla

      Yanghee Lee, relatore speciale delle Nazioni Unite sulla situazione dei diritti umani in Myanmar, che ha visitato l’isola nel gennaio 2019, ha espresso seri dubbi e preoccupazioni sul fatto che «l’isola sia davvero abitabile». Bhasan Char, infatti, è soggetta frequentemente ad inondazioni e cicloni. Lee ha anche avvertito che «un trasferimento mal pianificato e senza il consenso degli stessi rifugiati, creerebbe una nuova crisi per i Rohingya».

      Il governo di Dacca ha spiegato che tutte le ricollocazioni a Bhasan Char saranno rigorosamente volontarie e che oltre 7 mila rifugiati hanno già accettato di trasferirsi. Non sappiamo, però, se questi Rohingya siano effettivamente consapevoli dell’isolamento e della pericolosità del contesto in cui andranno a vivere. L’isola, infatti, è a ore di navigazione dalla terraferma e le condizioni del mare non sono delle migliori. Durante il periodo dei monsoni i pochi residenti sono bloccati in mezzo alle acque per lunghi periodi.

      Rohingya a rischio sussistenza

      Sebbene le autorità abbiano migliorato le infrastrutture a Bhasan Char, per cercare di contrastare i rischi di inondazioni e costruito più di 1.400 edifici per ospitare gli sfollati, l’isola non ha un adeguato sistema di agricoltura e le attività commerciali sono quasi inesistenti. Inoltre vanno aggiunte le difficoltà per quanto riguarda l’istruzione e la sanità. Problematiche già presenti nei campi di Cox’s Bazar, che nei mesi scorsi avevano anche lanciato l’allarme del radicalismo islamico.

      Nell’ultimo periodo, infatti, nelle strutture dove hanno trovato rifugio i Rohingya scappati dal Myanmar sono proliferate centinaia di scuole coraniche gestite da Hefazat-e-Islam, un gruppo estremista locale fondato nel 2010, che in passato ha organizzato numerose proteste di piazza. Questa organizzazione, finanziata da alcuni Paesi del Golfo, ha di fatto riempito il vuoto educativo imposto da Dacca, che ha vietato alla minoranza musulmana di frequentare gli istituti locali.

      Chi sono i Rohingya e perché sono perseguitati

      I Rohingya sono un popolo invisibile. Di fede musulmana, dall’ottavo secolo vivono nel Nord-Ovest del Myanmar, ma non vengono considerati ufficialmente un’etnia dal governo. Proprio per questo non hanno alcun diritto e la maggior parte di loro non ha cittadinanza nel paese guidato dal premio Nobel per la pace Aung San Suu Kyi. Senza il diritto di avere cure mediche e istruzione, non possono possedere nulla e non possono avere più di due figli.

      Si è tornato a parlare della loro drammatica situazione nell’agosto di due anni fa, a causa delle persecuzioni dei militari birmani, che li hanno costretti ad un esodo nel vicino Bangladesh. Le poche testimonianze di prima mano arrivate in quei giorni del 2017 parlavano di brutalità inaudite e quotidiane: centinaia di morti, stupri, mine, sparizioni, villaggi dati alle fiamme e torture.

      Rohingya: il difficile ritorno in Myanmar

      Negli ultimi due anni, il governo del Myanmar ha negato la sua colpevolezza per le atrocità commesse e ha vietato alle organizzazioni e agli osservatori internazionali, incluso il relatore speciale delle Nazioni Unite Lee, di accedere nello stato Rakhine, dove la maggior parte dei Rohingya viveva prima dello spargimento di sangue del 2017.

      Proprio per queste ragioni, un ritorno in sicurezza in patria per la popolazione musulmana sembra, per ora, molto difficile. Lo stesso Lee, a settembre, ha dichiarato che il Paese della Suu Kyi «non ha fatto nulla per smantellare il sistema di violenza e persecuzione contro i Rohingya».

      https://www.osservatoriodiritti.it/2019/10/31/rohingya-myanmar-bangladesh-perseguitati

  • 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

  • Cape Verde seizes record cocaine haul from Russian ship | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/capeverde-drugs-idUSL5N1ZW4BD

    Police in Cape Verde seized nearly ten tonnes of cocaine and arrested 11 people on a Russian vessel docked in the capital, the police said on Friday, in the largest single drug haul in the island country’s history.

    An Atlantic archipelago of 500,000 people off Africa’s west coast, Cape Verde has long tried to tackle gangs trafficking Latin American cocaine to Europe via West Africa.

    The 9.5 tonnes of cocaine were seized overnight after the ship, which was travelling to Morocco from South America, docked at the port of Praia for legal reasons following the death of a crew member, the judiciary police said in a statement.
    […]
    Global cocaine production reached 1,125 tonnes in 2015, said the UNODC, of which a record of 864 tonnes were seized that year.

  • Beware ! Les hordes asiatiques vont déferler sur l’Occident !
    Il s’agit de produits intermédiaires (diesel) raffinés en Chine.

    Armada of Giant New Tankers Lines Up to Ship Diesel Out of Asia - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-24/armada-of-giant-new-tankers-lines-up-to-ship-diesel-out-of-asia


    Photographer : Tim Rue/Bloomberg

    • Maintenance season in Europe seen pulling cargoes West
    • New China refineries, weak local demand seen driving shipments

    A fleet of giant newly built oil tankers is gearing up to ship diesel out of East Asia.

    Five very large crude carriers, which typically carry about 2 million barrels of oil each, are currently positioned in the seas off China’s eastern and southern coasts, according to shipping intelligence and tracking company Kpler. Two more newbuilds are set to swell that fleet shortly. If all were fully loaded, they would haul a total approaching what is currently held in independent storage in Europe’s key trading hub of the Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp ports.

    It’s a large volume coming at once,” said Olivier Jakob, director at Petromatrix GmbH in Zug, Switzerland.

    China is boosting output, with more refinery capacity coming online, while weak local demand for middle distillates is helping to push products west, said Jakob. The start of refinery maintenance season in Europe also stoking Western demand for the fuel. China’s first round of export quotas also signaled an increase in diesel exports at the start of the year, while independent gasoil/diesel stocks in ARA are at their lowest seasonally since 2014.

    Three of the seven VLCCs highlighted by Kpler — the San Ramon Voyager, Ascona and Olympic Laurel — have already taken on board a combined 3.5 million barrels of diesel, according to a Bloomberg calculation from Kpler data, but are not yet fully loaded. Of the remaining four, one is currently loading, one is en route to Singapore where it may take on product, and two have yet to fully leave their construction yards.

    We expect the majority of these cargoes to head west around the Cape of Good Hope,” said Eli Powell, a Kpler analyst. Discharging is likely in northwest Europe, with possible partial discharges in West Africa.

    European demand conditions are quite favorable,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, global head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas in London. “It would make sense to try to move a lot of volume into Europe in short order to meet that demand.

    The surge in Asian exports mirrors an increase in shipments of oil products, much of it diesel, from India and the Middle East into Europe in recent weeks. January’s monthly arrivals from India are set to hit their highest since at least 2017, and shipments from the Persian Gulf will be at their highest since July last year.

  • USA trekker seg ut, Russland rykker inn – NRK Urix – Utenriksnyheter og -dokumentarer

    https://www.nrk.no/urix/usa-trekker-seg-ut_-russland-rykker-inn-1.14342752

    Alors que les États-unis semblent réduire peu à peu leur présence en Afrique, la Russie a signé des accords de coopération militaire avec au moins la moitié des pays africains.

    USA trekker seg ut, Russland rykker inn

    Afrika består av 54 selvstendige stater. Russland har i løpet av de fire siste årene inngått et militært samarbeid med over halvparten av dem.
    Russiske og egyptiske spesialstyrker under en øvelse i Egypt i august 2018.

    Det handler om å lære moderne krigføring. Hvordan nedkjempe og utslette militsgrupper som ikke følger vanlige regler som gjelder for krigføring ?

    I tillegg trekker supermakten USA seg ut av Afrika. Mange av landene på det afrikanske kontinentet ser seg om etter en ny samarbeidspartner og militær støttespiller.

    –---------

    U.S. Prepares to Reduce Troops and Shed Missions in Africa - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/01/world/africa/us-withdraw-troops-africa.html

    STUTTGART, Germany — Hundreds of American troops in Africa would be reassigned and the number of Special Operations missions on the continent would be wound down under plans submitted by a top military commander, a response to the Trump administration’s strategy to increasingly focus on threats from China and Russia.

    Defense Department officials said they expected most of the troop cuts and scaled-back missions to come from Central and West Africa, where Special Operations missions have focused on training African militaries to combat the growing threat from extremist Islamist militant groups.

    The plan by Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the leader of United States Africa Command, follows an ambush in Niger last fall that killed four American soldiers and an attack in southwestern Somalia that killed another in June.

    In an interview with The New York Times, General Waldhauser said his plan would help streamline the military’s ability to combat threats around the world — but not retreat from Africa.

    –-----

    Russia to increase military presence in Central African Republic | Central African Republic News | Al Jazeera
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/russia-increase-military-presence-central-african-republic-18111909031651
    /mritems/images/2018/11/19/665003303001_5968862195001_5968848897001-th.jpg

    Russia to increase military presence in Central African Republic

    With an arms embargo in place on the Central African Republic, Russia is ready to send military trainers to the country.

    #afrique #russie #états-unis #armement #présence_militaire

  • Accelerated remittances growth to low- and middle-income countries in 2018

    Remittances to low- and middle-income countries grew rapidly and are projected to reach a new record in 2018, says the latest edition of the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief, released today.

    The Bank estimates that officially recorded remittances to developing countries will increase by 10.8 percent to reach $528 billion in 2018. This new record level follows robust growth of 7.8 percent in 2017. Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, are projected to grow by 10.3 percent to $689 billion.

    Remittance flows rose in all regions, most notably in Europe and Central Asia (20 percent) and South Asia (13.5 percent), followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (9.8 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (9.3 percent), the Middle East and North Africa (9.1 percent), and East Asia and the Pacific (6.6 percent). Growth was driven by a stronger economy and employment situation in the United States and a rebound in outward flows from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Russian Federation.

    Among major remittance recipients, India retains its top spot, with remittances expected to total $80 billion this year, followed by China ($67 billion), Mexico and the Philippines ($34 billion each), and Egypt ($26 billion).

    As global growth is projected to moderate, future remittances to low- and middle-income countries are expected to grow moderately by 4 percent to reach $549 billion in 2019. Global remittances are expected to grow 3.7 percent to $715 billion in 2019.

    The Brief notes that the global average cost of sending $200 remains high at 6.9 percent in the third quarter of 2018. Reducing remittance costs to 3 percent by 2030 is a global target under #Sustainable_Development_Goals (SDG) 10.7. Increasing the volume of remittances is also a global goal under the proposals for raising financing for the SDGs.

    https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2018/12/08/accelerated-remittances-growth-to-low-and-middle-income-countries-in-2018

    #remittances #migrations #statistiques #chiffres #2018 #coût #SDGs

    • #Rapport : Migration and Remittances

      This Migration and Development Brief reports global trends in migration and remittance flows. It highlights developments connected to migration-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators for which the World Bank is a custodian: increasing the volume of remittances as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) (SDG indicator 17.3.2), reducing remittance costs (SDG indicator 10.c.1), and reducing recruitment costs for migrant workers (SDG indicator 10.7.1). This Brief also presents recent developments on the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) and proposes an implementation and review mechanism.


      https://www.knomad.org/publication/migration-and-development-brief-30

      Pour télécharger le rapport :
      https://www.knomad.org/sites/default/files/2018-12/Migration%20and%20Development%20Brief%2030%20advance%20copy.pdf

    • International Remittances Headline ACP-EU-IOM Discussions in #Ghana

      In Sub-Saharan Africa, the flow of remittances is on the rise, but the cost to transfer these funds is far higher than the global average, making the region the most expensive place in the world to send money.

      The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and partners focused on improving the use of migrant remittances, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa at a three-day regional thematic meeting starting today (19/02) in Accra, Ghana.

      International remittances have been taking on increasing weight in the global policy agenda in recent years according to Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa, who is speaking at the event.

      “This in part reflects the growing understanding that improving and harnessing the flow of remittances can have a substantial impact on development,” he said.

      Remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa grew from USD 34 billion in 2016 to USD 38 billion in 2017, an increase of over 11 per cent. Despite this increase – a trend which is expected to continue through 2019 – Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive place in the world to send money with an average cost of 9.4 per cent of the transfer amount, a figure that was 29 per cent above the world average in 2017. This is far short of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target 10.C.3 to reduce the transaction costs of migrant remittances to less than 3 per cent by 2030.

      “Almost 75 per cent of remittances are spent on consumption which greatly benefit the receiving households and communities,” said Claudia Natali, Regional Specialist on Labour Mobility and Development at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa.

      “But more could be done to maximize the remaining 25 per cent. Fostering financial inclusion and promoting initiatives that help people manage the funds can go a long way to harness development impacts of remittances,” she added.

      The meeting, which runs through Thursday (21/02), is providing a platform for communication, exchange and learning for 80 participants involved in IOM’s “ACP-EU Migration Action", including migration experts and representatives from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) governments, regional organizations, the European Union (EU), UN agencies and NGOs working in remittances and diaspora mobilization.

      Given that remittances are at the heart of the joint ACP Group of States and European Union Dialogue’s recommendations on migration, discussions also aim to generate thematic recommendations for the Sub-Saharan region and establish links between the outcomes of the ACP-EU Migration Action programme, and processes relevant to the ACP-EU Dialogue on Migration and Development at the regional and global levels.

      The meeting is organized by IOM’s country office for Ghana and the IOM Regional Office in Brussels in partnership with the African Institute for Remittances (AIR) and Making Finance Work for Africa Partnership (MFW4A).

      IOM’s ACP-EU Migration Action, launched in June 2014, provides tailored technical support on migration to ACP countries and regional organizations. To date it has received 74 technical assistance requests from 67 ACP governments and 7 regional organizations, a third of which directly concern remittances.

      The programme is financed by the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and supported by the ACP Secretariat and the EU. For more information on the ACP-EU Migration Action, go to: www.acpeumigrationaction.iom.int.

      https://www.iom.int/news/international-remittances-headline-acp-eu-iom-discussions-ghana

    • The cost of cross-border payments needs to drop

      FOR MOST of human history, sending money across borders has cost the earth. Thankfully for globetrotters and e-shoppers in the rich world, that has changed in the past decade. A shift from cash and travellers’ cheques towards digital payments has cut the cost of moving funds around. And a new generation of fintech firms has broken the stranglehold that big banks used to have on money transfers (see article). As a result, fees have fallen. The cost of a transfer between consumers or small firms who are both in G7 countries can now cost 2% or less. This year some $10trn will pass across borders. As prices fall further, the sums will grow.


      https://amp.economist.com/leaders/2019/04/13/the-cost-of-cross-border-payments-needs-to-drop
      #paywall

  • How Borders Are Constructed in West Africa

    The E.U. has led an expensive and often contradictory effort to modernize African borders. Author #Philippe_Frowd looks at the gap between policy and outcomes.

    Over the past 15 years there has been a surge in E.U. spending on borders outside Europe. The impact of this funding on West Africa has received little attention until recently.

    A new book by Philippe M. Frowd, an expert on the politics of borders, migration and security intervention, seeks to correct this. In “Security at the Borders: Transnational Practices and Technologies in West Africa,” Frowd details both the high politics and everyday culture clashes that have shaped European interventions and the way they have been received in countries like Senegal.

    An assistant professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa, Frowd coins the term “border work” to denote how everything from training to technology to migration deals work in combination with each other. Here in conversation with Refugees Deeply, he shares some of his main observations.

    Refugees Deeply: You talk about tracing the “who” of border work in West Africa. Can you explain your findings?

    Philippe Frowd: One of my book’s points is to use the term “border work” to identify how seemingly disparate practices such as negotiating migrant readmission agreements, deploying citizen identification technologies, funding border management projects and routine police cooperation actually combine. To try and make sense of what seems to be a bewildering but also often opaque set of actors operating at the intersection of these fields in West Africa specifically.

    One of the most striking developments of the past 10-15 years has been the phenomenal growth of E.U. border security-related spending, much of it in “third countries,” mainly in Africa. This has gone hand in hand with a growing salience of “border security” on the part of many African states as a way of understanding flows at borders.

    One of my main findings was the sheer diversity of actors involved in determining policies, experiences and practices of borders in the region. The African Union is the successor to the Organisation of African Unity which accepted Africa’s inherited borders in 1964, and the A.U. continues to provide assistance for demarcation of borders and dispute resolution. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is one of the guarantors of free movement in the region and generally pursues an ambitious agenda of greater harmonization (e.g., of visa policy).

    Yet other actors, such as the E.U. and U.N. specialized agencies (such as the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime), tend to have agendas driven by primarily Western security concerns. Then there are the more immediately visible police and gendarmeries who directly enact border controls. More recently, the G5 Sahel force consistently invokes border security and transnational crime.

    Beyond simply tracing who does what, there is tracing the interconnections and tensions between these different institutions. Looking sociologically at the diverse range of actors, we can see how knowledge is a crucial part of the equation: What is the vision of borders, security and migration each actor puts forward? On one hand, institutions like ECOWAS are focused on legal mobility rights while those such as Interpol envision mobility as a regulated, digitally legible practice. The range of actors who contribute to this border work is often a patchwork in which uneasy bedfellows co-exist. E.U. funding, for instance, goes to supporting free movement projects at the ECOWAS level but also to train and equip the security forces of states like Niger to crack down on irregular migration routes. West African borders are the product of the balance of forces between this range of competing visions.

    Refugees Deeply: Can you talk us through the way in which border practices move between different regions. Is there a model for the process of emulation?

    Frowd: Border security is made up of everyday routines but also of various digital and other technologies, both of which are potentially mobile. I point to a couple of ways that these tools of doing border security can travel: One of these is emulation of existing (often Western) methods and standards, but this also goes alongside what I describe as “pedagogy” and the role of exemplars.

    “West African borders are the product of the balance of forces between this range of competing visions.”

    All of these interact in some way. As an example, a border management project led by the IOM [International Organization for Migration] might include training sessions during which members of the local police and gendarmerie learn about key principles of border management illustrated by best practices from elsewhere. Emulation is the desired outcome of many of these trainings, which are the backbone of international border security assistance. The EUCAP Sahel missions, for example, put a heavy emphasis on training rather than equipping so there is a strong faith that mentalities matter more than equipment.

    Equipment also matters and plays its part in shaping how border security works. Biometrics, which aim to verify identification using some kind of body measurement, require ways of reading the body and storing data about it. Senegal adopted, in one decade, a range of biometric technologies for national I.D. cards and controls at borders. There is a very obvious mobility of technology here (a Malaysian company providing e-Passport infrastructure, a Belgian company providing visa systems) but movement of border practices is also about ideas. The vision of biometrics as effective in the first place is one that I found, from interviews with Senegalese police commanders, was strongly tied to emulating ideals of modern and selective borders found elsewhere.

    Refugees Deeply: In your work you identify some of the gaps between policy goals and to actual outcomes and practices. Can you talk us through the greatest discrepancies?

    Frowd: Some of the discrepancies I found showed some interesting underlying factors. One of these was the shifting role of global private sector companies in frustrating public policy goals. Not through deliberate sabotage or state capture, but rather through the diverging incentives around doing border work. In the case of Senegal’s biometric systems, the state has been keen to make as coherent an infrastructure as possible, with connections between various elements such as biometric passport issuance, automated airport arrivals for holders of this passport and systems such as the national I.D. card. Given the need for private companies to compete based on technological advantage, rival systems made by rival companies could not interconnect and share data without sharing of valuable corporate information.

    Another underlying factor for the discrepancies I point to is that, once again, the sociological dynamics of the people doing the border work come into play. Many border management projects bring together a diverse range of actors who can have competing visions of how security is to be performed and achieved. For instance the ways police and gendarmerie competed over border post data in Mauritania leading to separate databases. It can also happen at a larger scale through the lack of integration across the donor community, which leads to a huge amount of duplication.

    Refugees Deeply: You spent a section of your book on Spanish-African police cooperation to show the limits of European knowledge and technology. You mention a clash of cultures, can you elaborate?

    Frowd: This is a particularly salient point today for two reasons. First because we are hearing more elite (e.g., Frontex) discourse about the “reopening” of a migration route to Spain. Second because Spain itself is increasingly active in E.U. projects across the Sahel. My book tells some of the story of Spanish security ambitions in Africa. But these ambitions, and those of other Western partners, have hard limits. Some of these limits are quite straightforward: Climate is often a barrier to the functioning of surveillance technologies and some countries (like Mauritania) are harder to recruit international experts for if they cannot or do not bring their families along.

    In terms of Spanish-African cooperation, much of the narrative about clashes of cultures comes down to perceptions. One of the elements of the clash is a temporal one, with Spanish security officials often considering local partners as existing at a completely different stage of progress.

    More broadly in terms of the limits of knowledge itself, the ambitions of experts to implicitly recreate aspects of European best practice are flawed. Part of this form of border security knowledge involves supporting technological solutions to make African mobility more legible to states. This comes up against the reality that movement in West Africa is already quite free but highly informalized. European experts are well aware of this reality but seek to formalize these flows. A police expert I spoke to recently suggested co-located border posts, and many international funders are supportive of specific I.D. cards for residents of border regions. This is not to impede movement, but rather to rationalize it – in much the same way that common I.D. standards and databases underpin free movement within Europe.

    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2018/07/18/how-borders-are-constructed-in-west-africa
    #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Mauritanie #Sénégal

  • Why Spain is a Window into the E.U. Migration Control Industry

    Spain’s migration control policies in North Africa dating back over a decade are now replicated across the E.U. Gonzalo Fanjul outlines PorCausa’s investigation into Spain’s migration control industry and its warning signs for the rest of Europe.

    There was a problem and we fixed it.” For laconic President José María Aznar, these words were quite the political statement. The then Spanish president was speaking in July 1996, after 103 Sub-Saharan migrants who had reached Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, were drugged, handcuffed and taken to four African countries by military aircraft.

    President Aznar lay the moral and political foundations of a system based on the securitization, externalization and, increasingly, the privatization of border management. This system was consolidated by subsequent Spanish governments and later extended to the rest of the European Union, setting the grounds for a thriving business: the industry of migration control.

    Between 2001 and 2010, long before Europe faced the so-called “refugee crisis,” Spain built two walls in its North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, signed combined development and repatriation agreements with nine African countries, passed two major pieces of legislation on migration, and fostered inter-regional migration initiatives such as the Rabat Process. Spain also designed and established the Integral System of External Surveillance, to this day one of the most sophisticated border surveillance mechanisms in the world.

    The ultimate purpose of these efforts was clear: to deter irregular migration, humanely if possible, but at any cost if necessary.

    Spain was the first European country to utilize a full array of control and cooperation instruments in countries along the migration route to Europe. The system proved effective during the “cayuco crisis” in 2005 and 2006. Following a seven-fold increase in the number of arrivals from West Africa to the Canary Islands by boat, Spain made agreements with several West African countries to block the route, forcing migrants to take the even riskier Sahel passage.

    Although the E.U. questioned the humanitarian consequences of these deals at the time, less than a decade later officials across the continent have replicated large parts of the Spanish system, including the E.U. Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and agreements between the Italian and the Libyan governments.

    Today, 2005 seems like different world. That year, the E.U. adopted its Global Approach on Migration and Mobility, which balanced the “prevention of irregular migration and trafficking” with promising language on the “fostering of well-managed migration” and the “maximization” of its development impact.

    Since then, the combined effect of the Great Recession – an institutional crisis – and the increased arrival of refugees has diluted reformist efforts in Europe. Migration policies are being defined by ideological nationalism and economic protectionism. Many politicians in Europe are electorally profiting from these trends. The case of Spain also illustrates that the system is ripe for financial profit.

    For over a year, Spanish investigative journalism organization porCausa mapped the industry of migration control in Spain. We detailed the ecosystem of actors and interests facilitating the industry, whose operations rely almost exclusively on public funding. A myriad private contractors and civil society organizations operate in four sectors: border protection and surveillance; detention and expulsion of irregular migrants; reception and integration of migrants; and externalization of migration control through agreements with private organisations and public institutions in third countries.

    We began by focusing on securitization and border management. We found that between 2002 and 2017 Spain allocated at least 610 million euros ($720 million) of public funding through 943 contracts related to the deterrence, detention and expulsion of migrants. Our analysis reached two striking conclusions and one question for future research.

    Firstly, we discovered the major role that the E.U. plays in Spain’s migration control industry. Just over 70 percent of the 610 million euros came from different European funds, such as those related to External Borders, Return and Internal Security, as well as the E.U. border agency Frontex. Thus, Spanish public spending is determined by the policy priorities established by E.U. institutions and member states. Those E.U. institutions have since diligently replicated the Spanish approach. With the E.U. now driving these policies forward, the approach is likely to be replicated in other European countries.

    Secondly, our data highlights how resources are concentrated in the hands of a few businesses. Ten out of the 350 companies included in our database received over half of the 610 million euros. These companies have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Spanish government in other sectors such as defence, construction and communications, and are now gaining a privileged role in the highly sensitive areas of border surveillance and migration control.

    Our research also surfaced a troubling question that has shaped the second phase of our inquiry: to what extent are these companies influencing Spanish migration policy? The capture of rules and institutions by elites in an economic system has been documented in sectors such as defence, taxation or pharmaceuticals. That this could also be happening to borders and migration policy should alarm public opinion and regulators. For example, the key role played by private technology companies in the design and implementation of Spain’s Integral System of External Surveillance demonstrates the need for further investigation.

    Spain’s industry of migration control may be the prototype of a growing global phenomenon. Migration policies have been taken over by border deterrence goals and narratives. Meanwhile, border control is increasingly dependent on the technology and management of private companies. As E.U.-level priorities intersect with those of the highly-concentrated – and possibly politically influential – migration control industry, Europe risks being trapped in a political and budgetary vicious circle based on the premise of migration-as-a-problem, complicating any future reform efforts towards a more open migration system.

    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2018/05/21/why-spain-is-a-window-into-the-e-u-migration-control-industry
    #Afrique_du_Nord #externalisation #modèle_espagnol #migrations #contrôles_migratoires #asile #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #asile #réfugiés #histoire

  • Detainees Evacuated out of Libya but Resettlement Capacity Remains Inadequate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Libya: evacuations to Niger resumed – returns from Niger begun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The lucky few

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      ‘Time is just running from my life’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      A stop-start process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Lien vers la #vidéo :

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

      https://vimeo.com/323299304

      ping @isskein @karine4

  • Is Germany facing a mental health crisis among refugees and migrants?

    Whenever a migrant or refugee is the perpetrator of a violent crime, questions asked seem to revolve around their background and whether being a migrant has somehow predisposed them to commit the crime.

    What can mental health professionals add to the debate?

    In the German city of Freiburg, a student was gang-raped by several men, many of them of Syrian origin, spurring once again a debate in German society over a possible predisposition of migrants to committing violent acts.

    For health professionals, such acts require a different approach - one that is focused on the psychological risks of migrant journeys.

    Professor Dr. Thomas Elbert, a research professor in neuropsychology at the University of Konstanz, says that a mental health crisis among migrants is looming. As one of the authors of a new study for the Leopoldina (The German National Academy of Science), he calls for immediate action. “This [kind of violent incident] is something we have predicted.“

    Elbert warns that violent acts will occur more frequently if nothing is done to create conditions where, “young men in particular, but in general people who are seeking protection here in Germany, have the opportunity to acquire social status.”

    For Elbert, social status is key. Social status is the thing which stops many more people from committing crimes like rape or murder, he says. The loss of social status, which happens when you are sent to prison and excluded from society, is more of a barrier to crime than the actual punishment. But if you have nothing to lose then it is much easier to graduate to crime.

    That is not to say that refugees or migrants are naturally predisposed to commit such crimes because of their background or ethnicity, he adds.

    Risk factors, stress

    However, a greater proportion of migrants are exposed to risk factors which increase the likelihood of committing crimes, Elbert explains. This is due to the reasons which led them to flee or what they experienced on the road to Europe. People who have made it to Europe are often laboring under huge amounts of stress. “They feel under permanent threat,” he says.

    “We have asked refugees who have crossed the Sahara desert, how did you get here? And they told us: ’We had to commit crimes; we were attacked, people robbed us, so we also had to start attacking.’” From his research, Elbert found that out of 10 boys who leave West Africa, only two make it to the Mediterranean coast and only one actually crosses to Europe. He thinks that these people, in spite of their traumas, can be integrated successfully. They have, after all, already learnt to survive, but their traumas need to be treated, a key point of his study “Traumatized refugees –immediate response required.”

    Research conducted for the study has found that as many as half of migrants and refugees could have psychiatric problems or post-traumatic stress. The effects of these traumas can be worse for society in men than in women. And the majority of the migrants who arrived in 2015 were young men.

    Migrants abandoned in the Sahara desert Photo Sylla Ibrahima Sory


    Elbert found that one-third of men who experience a violent upbringing will turn to crime, whereas only one in 20 or 50 women will do so. However, women who have undergone trauma might be more prone to suicide or self-harm. All these things will cost society huge amounts of money – hence the call for therapy and more intensive screening.

    Treating #trauma

    Virginia Edwards-Menz is a registered nurse with 30 years experience working in mental health and more than 13 years counseling refugees and migrants on a volunteer basis near Freiburg.

    She agrees with a recent study by the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg which found that at least one in three people coming from Syria are laboring under some kind of mental health issue. However, the German system is not equipped to invest the amount of time needed to really assess each individual’s psychiatric needs, she says.


    She points out that most new arrivals are on welfare which means that only the most acute cases are even dealt with. Most social workers have more than 100 people to attend to. There is no way they can even begin to tackle the effects that violence may have had on the refugees. In addition, many refugees are not even aware that they might need that kind of help, says Edwards-Menz.

    Can trauma lead to gang-rape?

    Elbert does not see a correlation between trauma and rape. Rape he thinks is usually caused by problems of socialization and can also be the result of a continual witnessing of violence. “Once you have lost your moral barriers, what is allowed, what is not allowed, then rape is one of your options. We see that in war-like regions where there is no state or monopoly of power. Young men begin to rape. They do so in gangs, to show and test who is the most terrible cruel and dominant guy in the group.”

    Gender, attitude towards women

    Can crimes like the gang-rape in Freiburg be attested to having grown up in a different culture where the role of women is defined much differently than in Western cultures?

    Elbert and Edwards-Menz agree that there is no simple explanation. “It’s not a justification to say we have not learnt that the situation in Germany is maybe different [to the country of origin.]," Elbert says. But he also says that limits of what is OK and not OK “are learnt within a cultural context.” If the moral barriers you grew up with (for instance certain dress codes and behavior) are no longer present, then it can be easy to think that you do not have to respect the person who appears to be flouting the codes you learnt.


    As a volunteer, Edwards-Menz has often come across men from countries like Afghanistan who do adhere to Islamic codes of behavior and believe that European society should change to their way of thinking. She advocates talking to gradually shift mentalities and continually repeating the message of what is acceptable, and what is not in Germany. She notes that quite a lot of them arrive illiterate. This creates a barrier to integration and can also go some way to explaining sometimes entrenched attitudes. With no access to other ways of thinking or being, their opinions can take a long time to shift.

    The government and agencies who work with refugees and migrants are already doing this, she says. The main problem is time and resources, as in enough translators to work with people and enough time to devote to each individual and understand each separate biography. Only then, can these traumas really be overcome and people integrated successfully.

    Full assessment necessary

    Both experts agree that German society as a whole is facing a problem and that the solution cannot be to deport people and thereby push the problem onto another society.

    What both experts want is a proper assessment of the extent of the problem so that the trauma that many people are carrying can be digested. The problem is that this involves a long process and no simple answers, but it is only that which will aid better integration in the future.

    http://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/13164/is-germany-facing-a-mental-health-crisis-among-refugees-and-migrants
    #Allemagne #santé_mentale #réfugiés #asile #migrations #crime #criminalité #stress #traumatisme #viol #statut_social

  • It Takes a Village: Despite Challenges, Migrant Groups Lead Development in Senegal

    For generations, migrants have emigrated from Senegal, particularly from in and around the Senegal River Valley along the country’s borders with Mauritania and Mali. Young people from the Peul (particularly its Toucouleur subgroup) and Soninké ethnic groups first left to pursue economic opportunities around West Africa and Central Africa. Later, migration to France became a popular method for supporting families and improving social status in origin communities, and migrants today contribute a substantial amount in social and financial capital to development in Senegal. Remittances are essential to livelihoods, making up almost 14 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017—the fifth-highest share in Africa.

    Widespread Senegalese migration to France first began with temporary workers. As their stays became more permanent, they brought their families to live with them, typically in communities on the outskirts of Paris and other major cities. Once settled in their new communities, they established hometown associations (HTAs), largely to support development back in Senegal.

    Increasing barriers to free movement for current and former French colonial subjects that began in the 1970s—and further restrictions on migration more recently—have made life for West African migrants and would-be migrants more difficult. As a result, migrants and their HTAs have been forced to adapt. Meanwhile, in the face of shrinking income flows, some HTAs have begun to professionalize their operations and work more strategically, moving beyond construction projects to ones that seek to foster economic development.

    This article, based on the author’s Fulbright-funded research in Senegal in 2016-17, explores the impact of policy changes in France on Senegalese migrants and the activities of HTAs, and how these shifts influence development and quality of life in migrants’ origin communities in the Senegal River Valley. As the European Union incorporates support for development into migration partnerships with African countries, in hopes of reducing spontaneous migration to Europe, the work of HTAs holds important lessons for actors on both sides.

    From Colonial Ties to Migrant Arrivals

    France, which colonized large swaths of West Africa starting in the late 1800s, first became a destination for economic migrants from modern-day Senegal during and after the colonial period. For example, West Africans fought for France in both world wars and many remained in France afterwards. After World War II, France recruited migrants from its colonial empire to reconstruct the country and work in its factories. These pull factors, coupled with droughts in the Sahel region during the 1970s and 1980s, accelerated the number of young, low-skilled West Africans migrating to France during the mid- and late 20th century. As of mid-2017, about 120,000 Senegalese lived in France, according to United Nations estimates. France is the top destination for Senegalese migrants after The Gambia, and it is also the top origin for formal remittances arriving in Senegal.

    Economically motivated migration became an important source of income in rural eastern Senegal, with France frequently seen as the ideal destination. Even though migrants in Europe often worked in factories, construction, security, or sanitation, their salaries were substantial compared to those of family members back in Senegal, who generally worked as subsistence farmers or animal herders. As result of remittances, families were able to construct larger, more durable homes, afford healthier diets, and increase their consumption of other goods, particularly electronics such as cellphones, refrigerators, fans, and televisions.

    In addition, from the 1960s onward, Senegalese migrants in France began to form HTAs to support their origin communities. HTAs are formal or informal organizations of migrants from the same town, region, or ethnic group living outside their region or country of origin. These organizations sponsor cultural activities in destination communities, foster solidarity among migrants, and/or finance development projects in hometowns. HTA leadership or traditional authorities in the origin community then manage these funds and related projects on the ground. While migrants from many countries form HTAs, West Africans maintain particularly close social, political, and financial ties with their hometowns through these organizations.

    For West African migrants, social pressures compel HTA participation and members are also traditionally required to pay dues toward a communal fund. Once enough money has been amassed, the organization funds a public goods project in the hometown, such as the construction of a school, mosque, cemetery, health center, post office, or water system. These migrant-led development projects have been crucial to communities across the Senegal River Valley, which are often far from urban centers, markets, or infrastructure such as paved roads, and rarely receive contact from the central government or assistance from local government actors. As a result, migrant projects often fill the void by providing most of the public goods enjoyed by these communities.

    Senegalese HTAs thus contribute immensely to human development and quality of life in communities in this region. The impact of this work, as well as of household-level support provided by remittances, continued motivating young people to leave eastern Senegal for France, as well as regional destinations, during the mid-20th century.

    Policy Changes Drive Migration Shifts

    Beginning in the early 1980s, France began to enact a series of restrictive policies limiting low-skilled economic immigration and creating barriers to naturalization and family reunification. These changes have continued in recent decades, raising questions about the future of the migration and development cycle now cemented in the Senegal River Valley.

    Prior to the mid-1970s, Senegalese migrants freely circulated into and out of France as current, and eventually former, colonial subjects, following independence in 1960. France first introduced limits to Senegalese immigration in 1974 with a law requiring residence permits for all migrant workers.

    Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, a series of laws including the Bonnet and Pasqua Laws restricted entry, family reunification, and naturalization for many immigrants. Although some of these provisions were later abolished, they led to several high-profile deportation operations targeting West Africans and laid the groundwork for future restrictive French immigration legislation.

    Several bilateral accords between France and Senegal over the years also focused on limiting economic migration and facilitating return for irregular migrants already in France. The evolution of these policies reflects a shift from promoting low-skilled economic immigration to satisfy labor shortages, to emphasizing high-skilled and temporary immigrants such as students.

    During the author’s fieldwork, interviewees cited many of these policies as having substantial effects on migration and development in their communities. The 1990s, the turn of the 21st century, and the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy were the most common turning points identified when migration and development in eastern Senegal first began to shift (see Table 1). Participants emphasized the introduction of French visas and residence permits for Senegalese immigrants as the first major barriers to migration. Subsequent important political moments for participants included deportation operations in the 1980s and then-Interior Minister Sarkozy’s famous 2005 speech on immigration choisie, the government’s policy of carefully selecting immigrants who would best integrate and contribute to the French economy and society.

    At the same time, external political changes were not the only factors influencing these phenomena in the Senegal River Valley. Many participants also cited social and economic events in France as having negative consequences for Senegalese migrants and their development activities. The global economic crisis beginning in 2008 led to the disappearance of employment opportunities, including across Europe. This downturn thus decreased incomes and the ability of migrants to send money back to families and contribute to HTA projects.

    Participants reported that the mechanization of automobile production and other manufacturing, a source of employment for many West Africans for decades, compounded these effects. In cities such as Paris, with tight and expensive housing markets, these economic conditions created additional challenges to saving money. Individuals in eastern Senegal had traditionally seen France as a promised land offering easy income and employment opportunities to anyone who made the journey, regardless of French skills or education level. However, this view changed for many as challenges became more frequent.

    Beyond economic changes, shifts in attitudes within French society also affected the Senegalese diaspora. Participants noted an increase in Islamophobia and a growing climate of mistrust and intolerance toward migrants in recent years, which have only exacerbated difficulties for West Africans in France.

    Further, political and economic changes in Senegal also affected diaspora-led projects and migration patterns in the region. The administration of President Macky Sall, who took office in 2012, has decentralized development and other administrative responsibilities, delegating them to regional and local authorities. In addition, Sall’s national development scheme, Plan Sénégal Émergent (PSE), aims to provide alternatives to irregular migration from a country with high youth unemployment and a legacy of emigration. Participants cited these domestic shifts as significant, although many agreed it was too early to judge their influence on the quality of life in their communities.

    Migration and Development: Perceptions and Reality

    Study participants said they view these international and domestic political, economic, and social shifts as affecting migration flows and development efforts in their communities. Though views on whether emigration is rising or falling varied, many participants agreed that irregular migration was on the rise. Further, most participants predicted continued interest in migration among young people absent alternative employment options in the Senegal River Valley.

    Whether because of limits on authorized entry into France, difficulties upon arrival, or other motivations, migrants from eastern Senegal have diversified their destinations in recent years. Some migrants have eschewed traditional receiving countries throughout West and Central Africa or France in favor of destinations such as Italy, Spain, the United States, and even several South American countries including Argentina and Brazil.

    Limits on economic migration to France and elsewhere in Europe also impacted migrant-led development in Senegalese municipalities. Interviewees held diverse opinions on whether HTA activities were as frequent or as effective as they had been several years or even decades ago. Some said they observed consistent support for community-wide projects and noted innovative strategies used to combat potential lack of purchasing power or access to funding. However, many study participants who indicated a decrease in HTA support for their villages said they believed that migrants contributed less frequently to community-level projects, instead prioritizing maintaining household remittance levels.

    When asked about specific migrant-funded development activities, many cited completed and ongoing public goods initiatives led by their village’s HTA. When HTAs in this region began their work in the mid-20th century, mosques and water systems were frequent initial projects, with water access evolving from simple manual wells to electric- or solar-powered deep-drill wells connected to taps throughout the municipality. Today, many basic needs have been fulfilled thanks to years of HTA support, and some migrants have more recently turned to renovating and expanding these structures.

    Some HTAs have stagnated in recent years, while others have moved beyond a public goods focus to new innovative strategies of promoting development in their hometowns. Many interviewees cited a need for income- and job-generating projects to promote local economic growth and incentivize young people to remain in their home communities.

    Several HTAs in the author’s study sites piloted this type of project, including the construction of a bakery in one community and a carpentry training center in another. The bakery, built in early 2017 thanks to funds from migrants in France and their French donors, promised to provide the town with affordable, high-quality bread and employment for several people. Meanwhile, the carpentry center offered young men the opportunity to train with experienced carpenters on machines provided by a French donor. This model not only provided professional skills to young people, but also produced locally built furniture for the surrounding community to purchase.

    Within migrant households, participants noted that remittances continued to support consumption and home construction. Beyond the purchase of food, electronics, and health care, remittances also defrayed children’s educational costs, including school supplies and fees. Household members, particularly migrants’ wives, perceived both positive and negative impacts of migration on household-level development. On the one hand, remittances finance the purchase of tools and animals, the construction of irrigation infrastructure, or the hiring of employees to expand the scale of the household’s work and thus its earnings. However, the loss of the migrant’s labor to tend to animals or fields also hurts households without enough adolescents, adult children, or other family members to maintain these activities.

    Nonmigrant households had their own ideas about changes in migrant-led development. Though they did not receive remittances, individuals in these households largely perceived that community-wide development activities benefited them, as public structures built with HTAs’ support were accessible to everyone. However, despite receiving occasional financial gifts from migrant neighbors or friends, some nonmigrant households expressed feeling dissatisfied with or excluded from development happening around them.

    Effective HTA Adaptations and Development Strategies

    Certain HTAs and individual migrants have been able to overcome challenges due to decreased income or barriers to authorized employment in France and other host countries. Individuals in origin communities perceived strategies modifying HTA structures, funding sources, and project types as most effective in continuing development efforts.

    One particularly effective change was the professionalization of these organizations. HTAs that moved from traditional leadership hierarchies and divisions of labor to more formal, structured ones were better able to form financial and logistical partnerships and expand the scope of their projects. Associations with clearly defined goals, leadership, project plans, and project evaluation were able to attract the cooperation of French government entities such as the Program to Support Solidarity Initiatives for Development (PAISD for its French acronym) or other international donors. Thus, despite a potential decrease in income from individuals, many HTAs began supplementing member dues with larger funding sources. Formalized structures also promoted better project management, evaluation, and long-term sustainability.

    Another key HTA adaptation was the idea of becoming community or village associations, as opposed to migrant associations. The frequent use of the term association de migrants can have a top-down connotation, implying that the diaspora unilaterally provides ideas, support, and manpower for development efforts without important input about living conditions from communities in Senegal. For HTAs that started conceptualizing themselves as a unified development organization with a branch abroad and a branch in Senegal, this strategy seemed to improve communication and promote inclusion, thus responding better to current needs and giving the local community more of a stake in projects.

    A gradual trend toward more investment- and training-focused projects has also seen success. The basic human development needs of many communities have been satisfied after decades of hard work; still, conditions are not sufficient to keep the next generation from leaving. While the bakery and the carpentry center are key examples of productive initiatives, more support and focus on this type of project could bring meaningful change to local economies and markets. Many local organizations and collectives are already doing quality work in agriculture, herding, or transportation, and increased funding from HTAs could greatly expand the scale of their existing activities.

    Meanwhile, women’s associations in rural Senegal do not always receive HTA support, representing a potential area for expansion. West African HTAs are traditionally dominated by men, with male leadership at origin and abroad. In Senegal, economic activity is frequently divided by gender and women run many of their own associations, often focused on agriculture or microsavings. However, these structures do not receive much or any support from female migrants in France, who are less likely to be in the labor force than male Senegalese and thus might not be able to send money back to Senegal. Given these conditions, many well-organized and highly motivated women’s agricultural collectives would greatly benefit from increased migrant support.

    Finally, the federalization of community-level HTAs into larger regional organizations is an increasingly common strategy. This approach allows migrants to pool their resources and knowledge to tackle larger-scale development questions, despite economic or administrative challenges they may individually face in their host communities.

    The Future of Migrant-Led Development in Eastern Senegal

    Understanding the complex relationship among emigration, HTA development activities, and political, economic, and social changes in both France and at home is essential to the future of development in eastern Senegal. This study suggests that while HTA activities may be affected by political shifts domestically and abroad, economic changes on the sending and receiving sides are equally important and may be felt more immediately by the population at origin.

    Senegalese HTAs can no longer depend on traditional fundraising and project management strategies. These organizations must adapt to current and emerging economic and political conditions hindering legal employment and income accumulation among migrants in France and across Europe. Inclusive project planning that considers the needs and perspectives of the local population, as well as openness to productive investments and collaboration with outside partners are key steps to sustaining the work of HTAs.

    Current European efforts such as the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) are incorporating development support into partnerships with countries including Senegal to try to stem migration. While the efficacy of migrant-driven projects and even state-led development activities in preventing emigration remains to be seen—particularly given the social pressures and cycle of dependence at play in this region—harnessing the power, expertise, and motivation of the diaspora is essential for the interests of actors on both continents. EU projects and dialogues that do not include African diasporas and their HTAs may not adequately address the phenomena occurring in regions such as rural Senegal. Building on migrant-led development work is a crucial step in changing conditions that contribute to emigration from this region.

    https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/it-takes-village-despite-challenges-migrant-groups-lead-development
    #Sénégal #développement #migrations #remittances #France #politique_migratoire #associations_locales

  • Trade War ‘Totally Stopped’ U.S. Crude Oil Shipments To China | OilPrice.com
    https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Trade-War-Totally-Stopped-US-Crude-Oil-Shipments-To-China.html

    Meanwhile, China is looking to replace U.S. crude oil because of the trade war, and is buying crude from West Africa at the highest level in seven years, according to Bloomberg data. Chinese refiners have purchased 1.71 million bpd of crude oil from West Africa for October loadings, the highest since at least August 2011 when Bloomberg started to compile the data.

    Oil prices steady after stock markets plunge
    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/25/oil-markets-market-sell-off-looming-us-sanctions-on-iran-in-focus.html

    Bowing to pressure from Washington, Chinese oil majors Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) have yet to buy any oil from Iran for November because of concerns that sanctions violations could hurt their operations.

    #pétrole #énergie #Chine #Etats-Unis

  • The Vulnerability Contest

    Traumatized Afghan child soldiers who were forced to fight in Syria struggle to find protection in Europe’s asylum lottery.

    Mosa did not choose to come forward. Word had spread among the thousands of asylum seekers huddled inside Moria that social workers were looking for lone children among the general population. High up on the hillside, in the Afghan area of the chaotic refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, some residents knew someone they suspected was still a minor. They led the aid workers to Mosa.

    The boy, whose broad and beardless face mark him out as a member of the Hazara ethnic group, had little reason to trust strangers. It was hard to persuade him just to sit with them and listen. Like many lone children, Mosa had slipped through the age assessment carried out on first arrival at Moria: He was registered as 27 years old. With the help of a translator, the social worker explained that there was still time to challenge his classification as an adult. But Mosa did not seem to be able to engage with what he was being told. It would take weeks to establish trust and reveal his real age and background.

    Most new arrivals experience shock when their hopes of a new life in Europe collide with Moria, the refugee camp most synonymous with the miserable consequences of Europe’s efforts to contain the flow of refugees and migrants across the Aegean. When it was built, the camp was meant to provide temporary shelter for fewer than 2,000 people. Since the European Union struck a deal in March 2016 with Turkey under which new arrivals are confined to Greece’s islands, Moria’s population has swollen to 9,000. It has become notorious for overcrowding, snowbound tents, freezing winter deaths, violent protests and suicides by adults and children alike.

    While all asylum systems are subjective, he said that the situation on Greece’s islands has turned the search for protection into a “lottery.”

    Stathis Poularakis is a lawyer who previously served for two years on an appeal committee dealing with asylum cases in Greece and has worked extensively on Lesbos. While all asylum systems are subjective, he said that the situation on Greece’s islands has turned the search for protection into a “lottery.”

    Asylum claims on Lesbos can take anywhere between six months and more than two years to be resolved. In the second quarter of 2018, Greece faced nearly four times as many asylum claims per capita as Germany. The E.U. has responded by increasing the presence of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and broadening its remit so that EASO officials can conduct asylum interviews. But the promises that EASO will bring Dutch-style efficiency conceal the fact that the vast majority of its hires are not seconded from other member states but drawn from the same pool of Greeks as the national asylum service.

    Asylum caseworkers at Moria face an overwhelming backlog and plummeting morale. A serving EASO official describes extraordinary “pressure to go faster” and said there was “so much subjectivity in the system.” The official also said that it was human nature to reject more claims “when you see every other country is closing its borders.”

    Meanwhile, the only way to escape Moria while your claim is being processed is to be recognized as a “vulnerable” case. Vulnerables get permission to move to the mainland or to more humane accommodation elsewhere on the island. The term is elastic and can apply to lone children and women, families or severely physically or mentally ill people. In all cases the onus is on the asylum seeker ultimately to persuade the asylum service, Greek doctors or the United Nations Refugee Agency that they are especially vulnerable.

    The ensuing scramble to get out of Moria has turned the camp into a vast “vulnerability contest,” said Poularakis. It is a ruthless competition that the most heavily traumatized are often in no condition to understand, let alone win.

    Twice a Refugee

    Mosa arrived at Moria in October 2017 and spent his first night in Europe sleeping rough outside the arrivals tent. While he slept someone stole his phone. When he awoke he was more worried about the lost phone than disputing the decision of the Frontex officer who registered him as an adult. Poularakis said age assessors are on the lookout for adults claiming to be children, but “if you say you’re an adult, no one is going to object.”

    Being a child has never afforded Mosa any protection in the past: He did not understand that his entire future could be at stake. Smugglers often warn refugee children not to reveal their real age, telling them that they will be prevented from traveling further if they do not pretend to be over 18 years old.

    Like many other Hazara of his generation, Mosa was born in Iran, the child of refugees who fled Afghanistan. Sometimes called “the cursed people,” the Hazara are followers of Shia Islam and an ethnic and religious minority in Afghanistan, a country whose wars are usually won by larger ethnic groups and followers of Sunni Islam. Their ancestry, traced by some historians to Genghis Khan, also means they are highly visible and have been targets for persecution by Afghan warlords from 19th-century Pashtun kings to today’s Taliban.

    In recent decades, millions of Hazara have fled Afghanistan, many of them to Iran, where their language, Dari, is a dialect of Persian Farsi, the country’s main language.

    “We had a life where we went from work to home, which were both underground in a basement,” he said. “There was nothing (for us) like strolling the streets. I was trying not to be seen by anyone. I ran from the police like I would from a street dog.”

    Iran hosts 950,000 Afghan refugees who are registered with the U.N. and another 1.5 million undocumented Afghans. There are no official refugee camps, making displaced Afghans one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world. For those without the money to pay bribes, there is no route to permanent residency or citizenship. Most refugees survive without papers on the outskirts of cities such as the capital, Tehran. Those who received permits, before Iran stopped issuing them altogether in 2007, must renew them annually. The charges are unpredictable and high. Mostly, the Afghan Hazara survive as an underclass, providing cheap labor in workshops and constructions sites. This was how Mosa grew up.

    “We had a life where we went from work to home, which were both underground in a basement,” he said. “There was nothing (for us) like strolling the streets. I was trying not to be seen by anyone. I ran from the police like I would from a street dog.”

    But he could not remain invisible forever and one day in October 2016, on his way home from work, he was detained by police for not having papers.

    Sitting in one of the cantinas opposite the entrance to Moria, Mosa haltingly explained what happened next. How he was threatened with prison in Iran or deportation to Afghanistan, a country in which he has never set foot. How he was told that that the only way out was to agree to fight in Syria – for which they would pay him and reward him with legal residence in Iran.

    “In Iran, you have to pay for papers,” said Mosa. “If you don’t pay, you don’t have papers. I do not know Afghanistan. I did not have a choice.”

    As he talked, Mosa spread out a sheaf of papers from a battered plastic wallet. Along with asylum documents was a small notepad decorated with pink and mauve elephants where he keeps the phone numbers of friends and family. It also contains a passport-sized green booklet with the crest of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a temporary residence permit. Inside its shiny cover is the photograph of a scared-looking boy, whom the document claims was born 27 years ago. It is the only I.D. he has ever owned and the date of birth has been faked to hide the fact that the country that issues it has been sending children to war.

    Mosa is not alone among the Hazara boys who have arrived in Greece seeking protection, carrying identification papers with inflated ages. Refugees Deeply has documented the cases of three Hazara child soldiers and corroborated their accounts with testimony from two other underage survivors. Their stories are of childhoods twice denied: once in Syria, where they were forced to fight, and then again after fleeing to Europe, where they are caught up in a system more focused on hard borders than on identifying the most damaged and vulnerable refugees.

    From Teenage Kicks to Adult Nightmares

    Karim’s descent into hell began with a prank. Together with a couple of friends, he recorded an angsty song riffing on growing up as a Hazara teenager in Tehran. Made when he was 16 years old, the song was meant to be funny. His band did not even have a name. The boys uploaded the track on a local file-sharing platform in 2014 and were as surprised as anyone when it was downloaded thousands of times. But after the surprise came a creeping sense of fear. Undocumented Afghan refugee families living in Tehran usually try to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Karim tried to have the song deleted, but after two months there was a knock on the door. It was the police.

    “I asked them how they found me,” he said. “I had no documents but they knew where I lived.”

    Already estranged from his family, the teenager was transported from his life of working in a pharmacy and staying with friends to life in a prison outside the capital. After two weeks inside, he was given three choices: to serve a five-year sentence; to be deported to Afghanistan; or to redeem himself by joining the Fatemiyoun.

    According to Iranian propaganda, the Fatemiyoun are Afghan volunteers deployed to Syria to protect the tomb of Zainab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad. In reality, the Fatemiyoun Brigade is a unit of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, drawn overwhelmingly from Hazara communities, and it has fought in Iraq and Yemen, as well as Syria. Some estimates put its full strength at 15,000, which would make it the second-largest foreign force in support of the Assad regime, behind the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah.

    Karim was told he would be paid and given a one-year residence permit during leave back in Iran. Conscripts are promised that if they are “martyred,” their family will receive a pension and permanent status. “I wasn’t going to Afghanistan and I wasn’t going to prison,” said Karim. So he found himself forced to serve in the #Fatemiyoun.

    His first taste of the new life came when he was transferred to a training base outside Tehran, where the recruits, including other children, were given basic weapons training and religious indoctrination. They marched, crawled and prayed under the brigade’s yellow flag with a green arch, crossed by assault rifles and a Koranic phrase: “With the Help of God.”

    “Imagine me at 16,” said Karim. “I have no idea how to kill a bird. They got us to slaughter animals to get us ready. First, they prepare your brain to kill.”

    The 16-year-old’s first deployment was to Mosul in Iraq, where he served four months. When he was given leave back in Iran, Karim was told that to qualify for his residence permit he would need to serve a second term, this time in Syria. They were first sent into the fight against the so-called Islamic State in Raqqa. Because of his age and physique, Karim and some of the other underage soldiers were moved to the medical corps. He said that there were boys as young as 14 and he remembers a 15-year-old who fought using a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

    “One prisoner was killed by being hung by his hair from a tree. They cut off his fingers one by one and cauterized the wounds with gunpowder.”

    “I knew nothing about Syria. I was just trying to survive. They were making us hate ISIS, dehumanizing them. Telling us not to leave one of them alive.” Since media reports revealed the existence of the Fatemiyoun, the brigade has set up a page on Facebook. Among pictures of “proud volunteers,” it shows stories of captured ISIS prisoners being fed and cared for. Karim recalls a different story.

    “One prisoner was killed by being hung by his hair from a tree. They cut off his fingers one by one and cauterized the wounds with gunpowder.”

    The casualties on both sides were overwhelming. At the al-Razi hospital in Aleppo, the young medic saw the morgue overwhelmed with bodies being stored two or three to a compartment. Despite promises to reward the families of martyrs, Karim said many of the bodies were not sent back to Iran.

    Mosa’s basic training passed in a blur. A shy boy whose parents had divorced when he was young and whose father became an opium addict, he had always shrunk from violence. He never wanted to touch the toy guns that other boys played with. Now he was being taught to break down, clean and fire an assault rifle.

    The trainees were taken three times a day to the imam, who preached to them about their holy duty and the iniquities of ISIS, often referred to as Daesh.

    “They told us that Daesh was the same but worse than the Taliban,” said Mosa. “I didn’t listen to them. I didn’t go to Syria by choice. They forced me to. I just needed the paper.”

    Mosa was born in 2001. Before being deployed to Syria, the recruits were given I.D. tags and papers that deliberately overstated their age: In 2017, Human Rights Watch released photographs of the tombstones of eight Afghan children who had died in Syria and whose families identified them as having been under 18 years old. The clerk who filled out Mosa’s forms did not trouble himself with complex math: He just changed 2001 to 1991. Mosa was one of four underage soldiers in his group. The boys were scared – their hands shook so hard they kept dropping their weapons. Two of them were dead within days of reaching the front lines.

    “I didn’t even know where we were exactly, somewhere in the mountains in a foreign country. I was scared all the time. Every time I saw a friend dying in front of my eyes I was thinking I would be next,” said Mosa.

    He has flashbacks of a friend who died next to him after being shot in the face by a sniper. After the incident, he could not sleep for four nights. The worst, he said, were the sudden raids by ISIS when they would capture Fatemiyoun fighters: “God knows what happened to them.”

    Iran does not release figures on the number of Fatemiyoun casualties. In a rare interview earlier this year, a senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard suggested as many as 1,500 Fatemiyoun had been killed in Syria. In Mashhad, an Iranian city near the border with Afghanistan where the brigade was first recruited, video footage has emerged of families demanding the bodies of their young men believed to have died in Syria. Mosa recalls patrols in Syria where 150 men and boys would go out and only 120 would return.

    Escaping Syria

    Abbas had two weeks left in Syria before going back to Iran on leave. After 10 weeks in what he describes as a “living hell,” he had begun to believe he might make it out alive. It was his second stint in Syria and, still only 17 years old, he had been chosen to be a paramedic, riding in the back of a 2008 Chevrolet truck converted into a makeshift ambulance.

    He remembers thinking that the ambulance and the hospital would have to be better than the bitter cold of the front line. His abiding memory from then was the sound of incoming 120mm shells. “They had a special voice,” Abbas said. “And when you hear it, you must lie down.”

    Following 15 days of nursing training, during which he was taught how to find a vein and administer injections, he was now an ambulance man, collecting the dead and wounded from the battlefields on which the Fatemiyoun were fighting ISIS.

    Abbas grew up in Ghazni in Afghanistan, but his childhood ended when his father died from cancer in 2013. Now the provider for the family, he traveled with smugglers across the border into Iran, to work for a tailor in Tehran who had known his father. He worked without documents and faced the same threats as the undocumented Hazara children born in Iran. Even more dangerous were the few attempts he made to return to Ghazni. The third time he attempted to hop the border he was captured by Iranian police.

    Abbas was packed onto a transport, along with 23 other children, and sent to Ordugah-i Muhaceran, a camplike detention center outside Mashhad. When they got there the Shia Hazara boys were separated from Sunni Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group, who were pushed back across the border. Abbas was given the same choice as Karim and Mosa before him: Afghanistan or Syria. Many of the other forced recruits Abbas met in training, and later fought alongside in Syria, were addicts with a history of substance abuse.

    Testimony from three Fatemiyoun child soldiers confirmed that Tramadol was routinely used by recruits to deaden their senses, leaving them “feeling nothing” even in combat situations but, nonetheless, able to stay awake for days at a time.

    The Fatemiyoun officers dealt with withdrawal symptoms by handing out Tramadol, an opioid painkiller that is used to treat back pain but sometimes abused as a cheap alternative to methadone. The drug is a slow-release analgesic. Testimony from three Fatemiyoun child soldiers confirmed that it was routinely used by recruits to deaden their senses, leaving them “feeling nothing” even in combat situations but, nonetheless, able to stay awake for days at a time. One of the children reiterated that the painkiller meant he felt nothing. Users describe feeling intensely thirsty but say they avoid drinking water because it triggers serious nausea and vomiting. Tramadol is addictive and prolonged use can lead to insomnia and seizures.

    Life in the ambulance had not met Abbas’ expectations. He was still sent to the front line, only now it was to collect the dead and mutilated. Some soldiers shot themselves in the feet to escape the conflict.

    “We picked up people with no feet and no hands. Some of them were my friends,” Abbas said. “One man was in small, small pieces. We collected body parts I could not recognize and I didn’t know if they were Syrian or Iranian or Afghan. We just put them in bags.”

    Abbas did not make it to the 12th week. One morning, driving along a rubble-strewn road, his ambulance collided with an anti-tank mine. Abbas’ last memory of Syria is seeing the back doors of the vehicle blasted outward as he was thrown onto the road.

    When he awoke he was in a hospital bed in Iran. He would later learn that the Syrian ambulance driver had been killed and that the other Afghan medic in the vehicle had lost both his legs. At the time, his only thought was to escape.

    The Toll on Child Soldiers

    Alice Roorda first came into contact with child soldiers in 2001 in the refugee camps of Sierra Leone in West Africa. A child psychologist, she was sent there by the United Kingdom-based charity War Child. She was one of three psychologists for a camp of more than 5,000 heavily traumatized survivors of one of West Africa’s more brutal conflicts.

    “There was almost nothing we could do,” she admitted.

    The experience, together with later work in Uganda, has given her a deep grounding in the effects of war and post-conflict trauma on children. She said prolonged exposure to conflict zones has physical as well as psychological effects.

    “If you are chronically stressed, as in a war zone, you have consistently high levels of the two basic stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol.”

    Even after reaching a calmer situation, the “stress baseline” remains high, she said. This impacts everything from the immune system to bowel movements. Veterans often suffer from complications related to the continual engagement of the psoas, or “fear muscle” – the deepest muscles in the body’s core, which connect the spine, through the pelvis, to the femurs.

    “With prolonged stress you start to see the world around you as more dangerous.” The medial prefrontal cortex, the section of the brain that interprets threat levels, is also affected, said Roorda. This part of the brain is sometimes called the “watchtower.”

    “When your watchtower isn’t functioning well you see everything as more dangerous. You are on high alert. This is not a conscious response; it is because the stress is already so close to the surface.”

    Psychological conditions that can be expected to develop include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Left untreated, these stress levels can lead to physical symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME) to high blood pressure or irritable bowel syndrome. Also common are heightened sensitivity to noise and insomnia.

    The trauma of war can also leave children frozen at the point when they were traumatized. “Their life is organized as if the trauma is still ongoing,” said Roorda. “It is difficult for them to take care of themselves, to make rational well informed choices, and to trust people.”

    The starting point for any treatment of child soldiers, said Roorda, is a calm environment. They need to release the tension with support groups and physical therapy, she said, and “a normal bedtime.”

    The Dutch psychologist, who is now based in Athens, acknowledged that what she is describing is the exact opposite of the conditions at #Moria.

    Endgame

    Karim is convinced that his facility for English has saved his life. While most Hazara boys arrive in Europe speaking only Farsi, Karim had taught himself some basic English before reaching Greece. As a boy in Tehran he had spent hours every day trying to pick up words and phrases from movies that he watched with subtitles on his phone. His favorite was The Godfather, which he said he must have seen 25 times. He now calls English his “safe zone” and said he prefers it to Farsi.

    When Karim reached Greece in March 2016, new arrivals were not yet confined to the islands. No one asked him if he was a child or an adult. He paid smugglers to help him escape Iran while on leave from Syria and after crossing through Turkey landed on Chios. Within a day and a half, he had passed through the port of Piraeus and reached Greece’s northern border with Macedonia, at Idomeni.

    When he realized the border was closed, he talked to some of the international aid workers who had come to help at the makeshift encampment where tens of thousands of refugees and migrants waited for a border that would not reopen. They ended up hiring him as a translator. Two years on, his English is now much improved and Karim has worked for a string of international NGOs and a branch of the Greek armed forces, where he was helped to successfully apply for asylum.

    The same job has also brought him to Moria. He earns an above-average salary for Greece and at first he said that his work on Lesbos is positive: “I’m not the only one who has a shitty background. It balances my mind to know that I’m not the only one.”

    But then he admits that it is difficult hearing and interpreting versions of his own life story from Afghan asylum seekers every day at work. He has had problems with depression and suffered flashbacks, “even though I’m in a safe country now.”

    Abbas got the help he needed to win the vulnerability contest. After he was initially registered as an adult, his age assessment was overturned and he was transferred from Moria to a shelter for children on Lesbos. He has since been moved again to a shelter in mainland Greece. While he waits to hear the decision on his protection status, Abbas – like other asylum seekers in Greece – receives 150 euros ($170) a month. This amount needs to cover all his expenses, from food and clothing to phone credit. The money is not enough to cover a regular course of the antidepressant Prozac and the sleeping pills he was prescribed by the psychiatrist he was able to see on Lesbos.

    “I save them for when it gets really bad,” he said.

    Since moving to the mainland he has been hospitalized once with convulsions, but his main worry is the pain in his groin. Abbas underwent a hernia operation in Iran, the result of injuries sustained as a child lifting adult bodies into the ambulance. He has been told that he will need to wait for four months to see a doctor in Greece who can tell him if he needs another operation.

    “I would like to go back to school,” he said. But in reality, Abbas knows that he will need to work and there is little future for an Afghan boy who can no longer lift heavy weights.

    Walking into an Afghan restaurant in downtown Athens – near Victoria Square, where the people smugglers do business – Abbas is thrilled to see Farsi singers performing on the television above the door. “I haven’t been in an Afghan restaurant for maybe three years,” he said to explain his excitement. His face brightens again when he catches sight of Ghormeh sabzi, a herb stew popular in Afghanistan and Iran that reminds him of his mother. “I miss being with them,” he said, “being among my family.”

    When the dish arrives he pauses before eating, taking out his phone and carefully photographing the plate from every angle.

    Mosa is about to mark the end of a full year in Moria. He remains in the same drab tent that reminds him every day of Syria. Serious weight loss has made his long limbs – the ones that made it easier for adults to pretend he was not a child – almost comically thin. His skin is laced with scars, but he refuses to go into detail about how he got them. Mosa has now turned 18 and seems to realize that his best chance of getting help may have gone.

    “Those people who don’t have problems, they give them vulnerability (status),” he said with evident anger. “If you tell them the truth, they don’t help you.”

    Then he apologises for the flash of temper. “I get upset and angry and my body shakes,” he said.

    Mosa explained that now when he gets angry he has learned to remove himself: “Sometimes I stuff my ears with toilet paper to make it quiet.”

    It is 10 months since Mosa had his asylum interview. The questions he expected about his time in the Fatemiyoun never came up. Instead, the interviewers asked him why he had not stayed in Turkey after reaching that country, having run away while on leave in Iran.

    The questions they did ask him point to his likely rejection and deportation. Why, he was asked, was his fear of being persecuted in Afghanistan credible? He told them that he has heard from other Afghan boys that police and security services in the capital, Kabul, were arresting ex-combatants from Syria.

    Like teenagers everywhere, many of the younger Fatemiyoun conscripts took selfies in Syria and posted them on Facebook or shared them on WhatsApp. The images, which include uniforms and insignia, can make him a target for Sunni reprisals. These pictures now haunt him as much as the faces of his dead comrades.

    Meanwhile, the fate he suffered two tours in Syria to avoid now seems to be the most that Europe can offer him. Without any of his earlier anger, he said, “I prefer to kill myself here than go to Afghanistan.”

    #enfants-soldats #syrie #réfugiés #asile #migrations #guerre #conflit #réfugiés_afghans #Afghanistan #ISIS #EI #Etat_islamique #trauma #traumatisme #vulnérabilité

    ping @isskein

  • L’Afrique, du #Sahel et du #Sahara à la #Méditerranée : intégrations, #circulations et #fragmentations

    Catherine Fournet-Guérin et Géraud Magrin
    L’Afrique, du Sahel et du Sahara à la Méditerranée : intégrations, circulations et fragmentations [Texte intégral disponible en juillet 2019]
    Africa, from the Sahel and the Sahara to the Mediterranean Sea. Integrations, circulations and fragmentations
    Alexis Gonin

    Le #foncier_pastoral au Sahel, des #mobilités fragilisées [Texte intégral disponible en juillet 2019]
    Pastoral land tenure in Sahel : jeopardized mobilities)
    #pastoralisme
    Ronan Mugelé

    La #Grande_muraille_verte au Sahel : entre ambitions globales et ancrage local [Texte intégral disponible en juillet 2019]
    The great green wall in Sahel : from global to local ambitions
    Géraud Magrin et Christine Raimond

    La région du lac #Tchad face à la crise #Boko_Haram : interdépendances et vulnérabilités d’une charnière sahélienne [Texte intégral disponible en juillet 2019]
    The Lake Chad region and Boko Haram crisis : links and vulnerability of a sahelian hinge
    Anne Bouhali

    Les places marchandes du #made_in_China au #Caire et à# Oran : #mondialisation et transformations des espaces et des pratiques de consommation [Texte intégral disponible en juillet 2019]
    The marketplaces of made-in-China goods in Cairo and Oran : globalization and transformations of consumption spaces and practices
    Nora Mareï et Olivier Ninot
    #Chine #Chinafrique

    Entre Afrique du Nord et de l’Ouest, les #relations_transsahariennes à un moment charnière [Texte intégral disponible en juillet 2019]
    Between north Africa and west Africa : trans-Saharan relations at a key moment
    Alice Franck

    L’échec de la partition d’un État à la charnière entre monde arabe et Afrique subsaharienne : le cas du #Soudan [Texte intégral disponible en juillet 2019]
    The failure of the partition of a pivotal State between the arab world and sub-saharan Africa : the case of Sudan
    Raphaëlle Chevrillon-Guibert et Géraud Magrin

    Ruées vers l’#or au #Soudan, au #Tchad et au Sahel : logiques étatiques, mobilités et contrôle territorial [Texte intégral disponible en juillet 2019]
    Gold rushes in Sudan, Chad and the Sahel : state logic, mobility, territorial control
    Laurent Gagnol
    #extractivisme #mines_d'or #mines

    Marginalité, spécificités et instabilité du #tourisme saharien [Texte intégral disponible en juillet 2019]
    Marginality, specificities and instability of Saharan tourism
    Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy

    Du #kif au #haschich : évolution de l’industrie du #cannabis au #Maroc [Texte intégral disponible en juillet 2019]
    From kif to hashish. the evolution of the cannabis industry in Morocco

    #drogues


    https://journals.openedition.org/bagf/2953
    #revue

  • C.I.A. Drone Mission, Curtailed by Obama, Is Expanded in Africa Under Trump

    The C.I.A. is poised to conduct secret drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State insurgents from a newly expanded air base deep in the Sahara, making aggressive use of powers that were scaled back during the Obama administration and restored by President Trump.

    Late in his presidency, Barack Obama sought to put the military in charge of drone attacks after a backlash arose over a series of highly visible strikes, some of which killed civilians. The move was intended, in part, to bring greater transparency to attacks that the United States often refused to acknowledge its role in.

    But now the C.I.A. is broadening its drone operations, moving aircraft to northeastern Niger to hunt Islamist militants in southern Libya. The expansion adds to the agency’s limited covert missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan, and in southern Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen.

    Nigerien and American officials said the C.I.A. had been flying drones on surveillance missions for several months from a corner of a small commercial airport in Dirkou. Satellite imagery shows that the airport has grown significantly since February to include a new taxiway, walls and security posts.

    One American official said the drones had not yet been used in lethal missions, but would almost certainly be in the near future, given the growing threat in southern Libya. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive operations.

    A C.I.A. spokesman, Timothy Barrett, declined to comment. A Defense Department spokeswoman, Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, said the military had maintained a base at the Dirkou airfield for several months but did not fly drone missions from there.

    The drones take off from Dirkou at night — typically between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. — buzzing in the clear, starlit desert sky. A New York Times reporter saw the gray aircraft — about the size of Predator drones, which are 27 feet long — flying at least three times over six days in early August. Unlike small passenger planes that land occasionally at the airport, the drones have no blinking lights signaling their presence.

    “All I know is they’re American,” Niger’s interior minister, Mohamed Bazoum, said in an interview. He offered few other details about the drones.

    Dirkou’s mayor, Boubakar Jerome, said the drones had helped improve the town’s security. “It’s always good. If people see things like that, they’ll be scared,” Mr. Jerome said.

    Mr. Obama had curtailed the C.I.A.’s lethal role by limiting its drone flights, notably in Yemen. Some strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere that accidentally killed civilians, stirring outrage among foreign diplomats and military officials, were shielded because of the C.I.A.’s secrecy.

    As part of the shift, the Pentagon was given the unambiguous lead for such operations. The move sought, in part, to end an often awkward charade in which the United States would not concede its responsibility for strikes that were abundantly covered by news organizations and tallied by watchdog groups. However, the C.I.A. program was not fully shut down worldwide, as the agency and its supporters in Congress balked.

    The drone policy was changed last year, after Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director at the time, made a forceful case to President Trump that the agency’s broader counterterrorism efforts were being needlessly constrained. The Dirkou base was already up and running by the time Mr. Pompeo stepped down as head of the C.I.A. in April to become Mr. Trump’s secretary of state.

    The Pentagon’s Africa Command has carried out five drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Libya this year, including one two weeks ago. The military launches its MQ-9 Reaper drones from bases in Sicily and in Niamey, Niger’s capital, 800 miles southwest of Dirkou.

    But the C.I.A. base is hundreds of miles closer to southwestern Libya, a notorious haven for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that also operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria. It is also closer to southern Libya than a new $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, 350 miles west of Dirkou, where the Pentagon plans to operate armed Reaper drone missions by early next year.

    Another American official said the C.I.A. began setting up the base in January to improve surveillance of the region, partly in response to an ambush last fall in another part of Niger that killed four American troops. The Dirkou airfield was labeled a United States Air Force base as a cover, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential operational matters.

    The C.I.A. operation in Dirkou is burdened by few, if any, of the political sensitivities that the United States military confronts at its locations, said one former American official involved with the project.

    Even so, security analysts said, it is not clear why the United States needs both military and C.I.A. drone operations in the same general vicinity to combat insurgents in Libya. France also flies Reaper drones from Niamey, but only on unarmed reconnaissance missions.

    “I would be surprised that the C.I.A. would open its own base,” said Bill Roggio, editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal, which tracks military strikes against militant groups.

    Despite American denials, a Nigerien security official said he had concluded that the C.I.A. launched an armed drone from the Dirkou base to strike a target in Ubari, in southern Libya, on July 25. The Nigerien security official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program.

    A spokesman for the Africa Command, Maj. Karl Wiest, said the military did not carry out the Ubari strike.

    #Ubari is in the same region where the American military in March launched its first-ever drone attack against Qaeda militants in southern Libya. It is at the intersection of the powerful criminal and jihadist currents that have washed across Libya in recent years. Roughly equidistant from Libya’s borders with Niger, Chad and Algeria, the area’s seminomadic residents are heavily involved in the smuggling of weapons, drugs and migrants through the lawless deserts of southern Libya.

    Some of the residents have allied with Islamist militias, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates across Algeria, Mali, Niger and Libya.

    Dirkou, in northeast Niger, is an oasis town of a few thousand people in the open desert, bordered by a small mountain range. For centuries, it has been a key transit point for travelers crossing the Sahara. It helped facilitate the rise of Islam in West Africa in the 9th century, and welcomed salt caravans from the neighboring town of Bilma.

    The town has a handful of narrow, sandy roads. Small trees dot the horizon. Date and neem trees line the streets, providing shelter for people escaping the oppressive midday heat. There is a small market, where goods for sale include spaghetti imported from Libya. Gasoline is also imported from Libya and is cheaper than elsewhere in the country.

    The drones based in Dirkou are loud, and their humming and buzzing drowns out the bleats of goats and crows of roosters.

    “It stops me from sleeping,” said Ajimi Koddo, 45, a former migrant smuggler. “They need to go. They go in our village, and it annoys us too much.”

    Satellite imagery shows that construction started in February on a new compound at the Dirkou airstrip. Since then, the facility has been extended to include a larger paved taxiway and a clamshell tent connected to the airstrip — all features that are consistent with the deployment of small aircraft, possibly drones.

    Five defensive positions were set up around the airport, and there appear to be new security gates and checkpoints both to the compound and the broader airport.

    It’s not the first time that Washington has eyed with interest Dirkou’s tiny base. In the late 1980s, the United States spent $3.2 million renovating the airstrip in an effort to bolster Niger’s government against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then the leader of Libya.

    Compared with other parts of Africa, the C.I.A.’s presence in the continent’s northwest is relatively light, according to a former State Department official who served in the region. In this part of Niger, the C.I.A. is also providing training and sharing intelligence, according to a Nigerien military intelligence document reviewed by The Times.

    The Nigerien security official said about a dozen American Green Berets were stationed earlier this year in #Dirkou — in a base separate from the C.I.A.’s — to train a special counterterrorism battalion of local forces. Those trainers left about three months ago, the official said.

    It is unlikely that they will return anytime soon. The Pentagon is considering withdrawing nearly all American commandos from Niger in the wake of the deadly October ambush that killed four United States soldiers.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/09/world/africa/cia-drones-africa-military.html
    #CIA #drones #Niger #Sahel #USA #Etats-Unis #EI #ISIS #Etat_islamique #sécurité #terrorisme #base_militaire

    • Le Sahel est-il une zone de #non-droit ?

      La CIA a posé ses valises dans la bande sahélo-saharienne. Le New-York Times l’a annoncé, le 9 septembre dernier. Le quotidien US, a révélé l’existence d’une #base_de_drones secrète non loin de la commune de Dirkou, dans le nord-est du Niger. Cette localité, enclavée, la première grande ville la plus proche est Agadez située à 570 km, est le terrain de tir parfait. Elle est éloignée de tous les regards, y compris des autres forces armées étrangères : France, Allemagne, Italie, présentes sur le sol nigérien. Selon un responsable américain anonyme interrogé par ce journal, les drones déployés à Dirkou n’avaient « pas encore été utilisés dans des missions meurtrières, mais qu’ils le seraient certainement dans un proche avenir, compte tenu de la menace croissante qui pèse sur le sud de la Libye. » Or, d’après les renseignements recueillis par l’IVERIS, ces assertions sont fausses, la CIA a déjà mené des opérations à partir de cette base. Ces informations apportent un nouvel éclairage et expliquent le refus catégorique et systématique de l’administration américaine de placer la force conjointe du G5 Sahel (Tchad, Mauritanie, Burkina-Faso, Niger, Mali) sous le chapitre VII de la charte des Nations Unies.
      L’installation d’une base de drones n’est pas une bonne nouvelle pour les peuples du Sahel, et plus largement de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, qui pourraient connaître les mêmes malheurs que les Afghans et les Pakistanais confrontés à la guerre des drones avec sa cohorte de victimes civiles, appelées pudiquement « dégâts collatéraux ».

      D’après le journaliste du NYT, qui s’est rendu sur place, les drones présents à Dirkou ressembleraient à des Predator, des aéronefs d’ancienne génération qui ont un rayon d’action de 1250 km. Il serait assez étonnant que l’agence de Langley soit équipée de vieux modèles alors que l’US Air Force dispose à Niamey et bientôt à Agadez des derniers modèles MQ-9 Reaper, qui, eux, volent sur une distance de 1850 km. A partir de cette base, la CIA dispose donc d’un terrain de tir étendu qui va de la Libye, au sud de l’Algérie, en passant par le Tchad, jusqu’au centre du Mali, au Nord du Burkina et du Nigéria…

      Selon deux sources militaires de pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest, ces drones ont déjà réalisé des frappes à partir de la base de Dirkou. Ces bombardements ont eu lieu en Libye. Il paraît important de préciser que le chaos existant dans ce pays depuis la guerre de 2011, ne rend pas ces frappes plus légales. Par ailleurs, ces mêmes sources suspectent la CIA d’utiliser Dirkou comme une prison secrète « si des drones peuvent se poser des avions aussi. Rien ne les empêche de transporter des terroristes de Libye exfiltrés. Dirkou un Guantanamo bis ? »

      En outre, il n’est pas impossible que ces drones tueurs aient été en action dans d’autres Etats limitrophes. Qui peut le savoir ? « Cette base est irrégulière, illégale, la CIA peut faire absolument tout ce qu’elle veut là-bas » rapporte un officier. De plus, comment faire la différence entre un MQ-9 Reaper de la CIA ou encore un de l’US Air Force, qui, elle, a obtenu l’autorisation d’armer ses drones (1). Encore que…

      En novembre 2017, le président Mahamadou Issoufou a autorisé les drones de l’US Air Force basés à Niamey, à frapper leurs cibles sur le territoire nigérien (2). Mais pour que cet agrément soit légal, il aurait fallu qu’il soit présenté devant le parlement, ce qui n’a pas été le cas. Même s’il l’avait été, d’une part, il le serait seulement pour l’armée US et pas pour la CIA, d’autre part, il ne serait valable que sur le sol nigérien et pas sur les territoires des pays voisins…

      Pour rappel, cette autorisation a été accordée à peine un mois après les événements de Tongo Tongo, où neuf militaires avaient été tués, cinq soldats nigériens et quatre américains. Cette autorisation est souvent présentée comme la conséquence de cette attaque. Or, les pourparlers ont eu lieu bien avant. En effet, l’AFRICOM a planifié la construction de la base de drone d’Agadez, la seconde la plus importante de l’US Air Force en Afrique après Djibouti, dès 2016, sous le mandat de Barack Obama. Une nouvelle preuve que la politique africaine du Pentagone n’a pas changée avec l’arrivée de Donald Trump (3-4-5).

      Les USA seuls maîtres à bord dans le Sahel

      Dès lors, le véto catégorique des Etats-Unis de placer la force G5 Sahel sous chapitre VII se comprend mieux. Il s’agit de mener une guerre non-officielle sans mandat international des Nations-Unies et sans se soucier du droit international. Ce n’était donc pas utile qu’Emmanuel Macron, fer de lance du G5, force qui aurait permis à l’opération Barkhane de sortir du bourbier dans lequel elle se trouve, plaide à de nombreuses reprises cette cause auprès de Donald Trump. Tous les présidents du G5 Sahel s’y sont essayés également, en vain. Ils ont fini par comprendre, quatre chefs d’Etats ont boudé la dernière Assemblée générale des Nations Unies. Seul, le Président malien, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, est monté à la tribune pour réitérer la demande de mise sous chapitre VII, unique solution pour que cette force obtienne un financement pérenne. Alors qu’en décembre 2017, Emmanuel Macron y croyait encore dur comme fer et exigeait des victoires au premier semestre 2018, faute de budget, le G5 Sahel n’est toujours pas opérationnel ! (6-7) Néanmoins, la Chine a promis de le soutenir financièrement. Magnanime, le secrétaire d’Etat à la défense, Jim Mattis a lui assuré à son homologue, Florence Parly, que les Etats-Unis apporteraient à la force conjointe une aide très significativement augmentée. Mais toujours pas de chapitre VII en vue... Ainsi, l’administration Trump joue coup double. Non seulement elle ne s’embarrasse pas avec le Conseil de Sécurité et le droit international mais sous couvert de lutte antiterroriste, elle incruste ses bottes dans ce qui est, (ce qui fut ?), la zone d’influence française.

      Far West

      Cerise sur le gâteau, en août dernier le patron de l’AFRICOM, le général Thomas D. Waldhauser, a annoncé une réduction drastique de ses troupes en Afrique (9). Les sociétés militaires privées, dont celle d’Erik Prince, anciennement Blackwater, ont bien compris le message et sont dans les starting-blocks prêtes à s’installer au Sahel (10).


      https://www.iveris.eu/list/notes_danalyse/371-le_sahel_estil_une_zone_de_nondroit__

  • 15 personnes poursuivies pour avoir tenté d’empêcher le décollage d’un charter de 57 expulsés (Ghana et Nigeria) en se couchant sur le tarmac (voir End Deportation latest newsletter : https://us16.campaign-archive.com/?u=ae35278d38818677379a2546a&id=6be6b043c3)
    –-> reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop par Claire Rodier.

    #Stansted_15 : Amnesty to observe trial amid concerns for anti-deportation activists

    Amnesty considers the 15 to be human rights defenders

    ‘We’re concerned the authorities are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut with this case’ - Kate Allen

    Amnesty International will be observing the trial of 15 human rights defenders set to go on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court next week (Monday 1 October) relating to their attempt to prevent what they believed was the unlawful deportation of a group of people at Stansted airport.

    The protesters - known as the “#Stansted 15” - are facing lengthy jail sentences for their non-violent intervention in March last year.

    Amnesty is concerned that the serious charge of “endangering safety at aerodromes” may have been brought to discourage other activists from taking non-violent direct action in defence of human rights. The organisation has written to the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney General calling for this disproportionate charge to be dropped.

    The trial is currently expected to last for approximately six weeks.

    Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

    “We’re concerned the authorities are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut with this case.

    “Public protest and non-violent direct action can often be a key means of defending human rights, particularly when victims have no way to make their voices heard and have been denied access to justice.

    “Human rights defenders are currently coming under attack in many countries around the world, with those in power doing all they can to discourage people from taking injustice personally. The UK must not go down that path.”

    https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/stansted-15-amnesty-observe-trial-amid-concerns-anti-deportation-activis

    #avion #déportation #renvois #expulsions #UK #Angleterre #résistance #procès #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières

    • The Stansted protesters saved me from wrongful deportation. They are heroes

      The ‘Stansted 15’ face jail for stopping my flight from taking off. They helped me see justice – and the birth of my daughter

      I’ll never forget the moment I found out that a group of people had blocked a charter deportation flight leaving Stansted airport on 28 March 2017, because I was one of the people that had a seat on the plane and was about to be removed from Britain against my will. While most of those sitting with me were whooping with joy when they heard the news, I was angry. After months in detention, the thought of facing even just one more day in that purgatory filled me with terror. And, crucially, I had no idea then of what I know now: that the actions of those activists, who became known as the Stansted 15, would help me see justice, and save my life in Britain.
      Stansted 15 convictions a ‘crushing blow for human rights in UK’
      Read more

      I first arrived in Britain in 2004 and, like so many people who come here from abroad, built a life here. As I sat in that plane in Stansted last year I was set to be taken “back” to a country that I had no links to. Indeed there is no doubt in my mind that had I been deported I would have been destitute and homeless in Nigeria – I was terrified.

      Imagine it. You’ve lived somewhere for 13 years. Your mum, suffering with mobility issues, lives there. Your partner lives there. Two of your children already live there, and the memory of your first-born, who died at just seven years old, resides there too. Your next child is about to be born there. That was my situation as we waited on the asphalt – imagining my daughter being born in a country where I’d built a life, while I was exiled to Nigeria and destined to meeting my newborn for the first time through a screen on a phone.

      My story was harsh, but it’s no anomaly. Like many people facing deportation from the United Kingdom, my experience with the immigration authorities had lasted many years – and for the last seven years of living here I had been in a constant state of mental detention. A cycle of Home Office appeals and its refusal to accept my claims or make a fair decision based on the facts of my case saw me in and out of detention and permanently waiting for my status to be settled. Though the threat of deportation haunted me, it was the utter instability and racial discrimination that made me feel like I was going mad. That’s why the actions of the Stansted 15 first caused me to be angry. I simply didn’t believe that their actions would be anything more than a postponement of further pain.

      My view isn’t just shaped by my own experience. My life in Britain has seen me rub along with countless people who find themselves the victims of the government’s “hostile environment” for migrants and families who aren’t white. Migration and deportation targets suck humanity from a system whose currency is the lives of people who happen to be born outside the UK. Such is the determination to look “tough” on the issue that people are rounded up in the night and put on to brutal, secretive and barely legal charter flights. Most take off away from the public eye – 60 human beings shackled and violently restrained on each flight, with barely a thought about the life they are dragged away from, nor the one they face upon arrival.
      Stansted 15 activists vow to overcome ‘dark, dark day for the right to protest’
      Read more

      I was one of the lucky few. My removal from the plane gave me two life-changing gifts. The first was a chance to appeal to the authorities over my deportation – a case that I won on two separate occasions, following a Home Office counter-appeal. But more importantly the brave actions of the Stansted 15 gave me something even more special: the chance to be by my partner’s side as she gave birth to our daughter, and to be there for them as they both needed extensive treatment after a complicated and premature birth. Without the Stansted 15 I wouldn’t have been playing football with my three-year-old in the park this week. It’s that simple. We now have a chance to live together as a family in Britain – and that is thanks to the people who lay down in front of the plane.

      On Monday the Stansted 15 were found guilty of breaching a barely used terror law. Though the jury were convinced that their actions breached this legislation, there’s no doubt in my mind that these 15 brave people are heroes, not criminals. For me a crime is doing something that is evil, shameful or just wrong – and it’s clear that it is the actions of the Home Office that tick all of these boxes; the Stansted 15 were trying to stop the real crime being committed. As the Stansted 15 face their own purgatory – awaiting sentences in the following weeks – I will be praying that they are shown leniency. Without their actions I would have missed my daughter’s birth, and faced the utter injustice of being deported from this country without having my (now successful) appeal heard. My message to them today is to fight on. Your cause is just, and history will absolve you of the guilt that the system has marked you with.

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/10/stansted-15-protesters-deportation

    • Regno Unito, quindici attivisti rischiano l’ergastolo per aver bloccato la deportazione di migranti

      La criminalizzazione della solidarietà non riguarda solo l’Italia, con la martellante campagna contro le Ong che salvano vite nel Mediterraneo. In Francia sette attivisti rischiano 10 anni di carcere e 750mila euro di multa per “associazione a delinquere finalizzata all’immigrazione clandestina”. Nel Regno Unito altri quindici rischiano addirittura l’ergastolo per aver bloccato nella notte del 28 marzo 2017 nell’aeroporto di Stansted la deportazione di un gruppo di migranti caricati in segreto su un aereo diretto in Nigeria.

      Attivisti appartenenti ai gruppi End Deportations, Plane Stupid e Lesbian and Gays Support the Migrants hanno circondato l’aereo, impedendone il decollo. Come risultato della loro azione undici persone sono rimaste nel Regno Unito mentre la loro domanda di asilo veniva esaminata e due hanno potuto restare nel paese. Nonostante il carattere nonviolento dell’azione, il gruppo che ha bloccato l’aereo è finito sotto processo con accuse basate sulla legge anti-terrorismo e se giudicato colpevole rischia addirittura l’ergastolo. Il verdetto è atteso la settimana prossima.

      Membri dei movimenti pacifisti, antirazzisti e ambientalisti si sono uniti per protestare contro l’iniquità delle accuse. Amnesty International ha espresso la preoccupazione che siano state formulate per scoraggiare altri attivisti dall’intraprendere azioni dirette nonviolente in difesa dei diritti umani. Il vescovo di Chelmsford, la cittadina dove si tiene il processo, si è presentato in tribunale per esprimere il suo appoggio agli imputati. La primavera scorsa oltre 50 personalità, tra cui la leader dei Verdi Caroline Lucas, la scrittrice e giornalista Naomi Klein, il regista Ken Loach e l’attrice Emma Thompson hanno firmato una lettera in cui chiedono il ritiro delle accuse contro i “Quindici di Stansted” e la fine dei voli segreti di deportazione.

      Nel Regno Unito questa pratica è iniziata nel 2001. Molte delle persone deportate hanno vissuto per anni nel paese; vengono portate via dai posti di lavoro, in strada o dalle loro case, rinchiuse in centri di detenzione, caricate in segreto su voli charter notturni e inviate in paesi che spesso non conoscono e dove rischiano persecuzioni e morte. Alcuni non vengono preavvisati in tempo per ricorrere in appello contro la deportazione. “Il nostro è stato un atto di solidarietà umana, di difesa e resistenza contro un regime sempre più brutale” ha dichiarato un’attivista.


      https://www.pressenza.com/it/2018/12/regno-unito-quindici-attivisti-rischiano-lergastolo-per-aver-bloccato-la-
      #UK #Angleterre #solidarité #délit_de_solidarité #criminalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #expulsions

    • Activists convicted of terrorism offence for blocking Stansted deportation flight

      Fifteen activists who blocked the takeoff of an immigration removal charter flight have been convicted of endangering the safety of Stansted airport, a terrorism offence for which they could be jailed for life.

      After nearly three days of deliberations, following a nine-week trial, a jury at Chelmsford crown court found the defendants guilty of intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act, a law passed in response to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

      The court had heard how members of the campaign group End Deportations used lock-on devices to secure themselves around a Titan Airways Boeing 767 chartered by the Home Office, as the aircraft waited on the asphalt at the airport in Essex to remove undocumented immigrants to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

      The prosecution argued that their actions, which led to a temporary shutdown of Stansted, had posed a grave risk to the safety of the airport and its passengers.

      The verdict came after the judge Christopher Morgan told the jury to disregard all evidence put forward by the defendants to support the defence that they acted to stop human rights abuses, instructing jurors to only consider whether there was a “real and material” risk to the airport.

      In legal arguments made without the jury present, which can now be reported, defence barristers had called for the jury to be discharged after Morgan gave a summing up which they said amounted to a direction to convict. The judge had suggested the defendants’ entry to a restricted area could be considered inherently risky.

      Human rights organisations and observers had already expressed concerns over the choice of charge, which Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty International, likened to “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”. Responding to the verdict on Monday, Gracie Bradley, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, called the verdict a “grave injustice” and a “malicious attack” on the right to peaceful protest.

      Dr Graeme Hayes, reader in political sociology at Aston University, was one of a team of academics who observed the trial throughout. The only previous use of the 1990 law he and colleagues were able to find was in 2002 when a pilot was jailed for three years after flying his helicopter straight at a control tower.

      “This is a law that’s been brought in concerning international terrorism,” he said. “But for the last 10 weeks [of the trial], we’ve heard what amounts to an extended discussion of health and safety, in which the prosecution has not said at any point what the consequences of their actions might have been.”

      In a statement released by End Deportations after the verdict, the defendants said: “We are guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm. The real crime is the government’s cowardly, inhumane and barely legal deportation flights and the unprecedented use of terror law to crack down on peaceful protest.

      The protest took place on the night of 28 March 2017. The activists cut a hole in the airport’s perimeter fence, the court heard. Jurors were shown footage from CCTV cameras and a police helicopter of four protesters arranging themselves around the front landing gear of the aircraft and locking their arms together inside double-layered pipes filled with expanding foam.

      Further back, a second group of protesters erected a two-metre tripod from scaffolding poles behind the engine on the left wing on which one of them perched while others locked themselves to the base to prevent it from being moved, the videos showed. In the moments before police arrived, they were able to display their banners, one of which said: “No one is illegal.”

      Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Joseph McGahan, Benjamin Smoke, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Alistair Temlit, Edward Thacker, Emma Hughes, May McKeith, Ruth Potts and Melanie Stickland, aged 27 to 44, had all pleaded not guilty.

      They will be sentenced at a later date.


      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/dec/10/activists-convicted-of-terror-offence-for-blocking-stansted-deportation

    • Stansted 15: no jail for activists convicted of terror-related offences

      Judge says group ‘didn’t have a grievous intent as some may who commit this type of crime’.

      Fifteen activists convicted of a terrorism-related offence for chaining themselves around an immigration removal flight at Stansted airport have received suspended sentences or community orders.

      The judge decided not to imprison them after he accepted they were motivated by “genuine reasons”.

      Amid an outcry over what human rights defenders branded a heavy-handed prosecution, the group, who have become known as the Stansted 15, were convicted last December of endangering the safety of an aerodrome.

      They had broken into Stansted airport’s “airside” area in March 2017 and chained themselves together around a Boeing 767 chartered by the Home Office to deport 60 people to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. After a 10-week trial a jury found them guilty of the charge – an offence that carries a potential life sentence.
      We in the Stansted 15 have been treated like terrorists
      Emma Hughes
      Read more

      At Chelmsford crown court on Wednesday, Judge Christopher Morgan QC, dismissed submissions in mitigation that the group should receive conditional discharges for the direct action protest, which briefly paralysed the airport, saying they did not reflect the danger that had been presented by their actions.

      He said such action would “ordinarily result in custodial sentences”, but that they “didn’t have a grievous intent as some may do who commit this type of crime”. The mood in the court had lightened considerably at the start of the hearing when Morgan said that he did not consider the culpability of any of the defendants passed the threshold of an immediate custodial sentence.

      The heaviest sentences were reserved for three of the group who had been previously convicted of aggravated trespass at Heathrow airport in 2016.

      Alistair Tamlit and Edward Thacker were sentenced on Wednesday to nine months in jail suspended for 18 months, along with 250 hours of unpaid work. Melanie Strickland was sentenced to nine months suspended for 18 months, with 100 hours of unpaid work.

      Benjamin Smoke, Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Joseph McGahan, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Emma Hughes and Ruth Potts were each given 12-month community orders with 100 hours of unpaid work, while May McKeith received a 12-month community order with 20 days of rehabilitation.

      In mitigation, Dexter Dias QC said it should be taken into account that all acted to try to help individuals they perceived to be in danger. “The reason they wanted to prevent [the flight’s] departure is that they believed the welfare and safety of some of the people on that flight was at risk,” he said.
      Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
      Read more

      “In those circumstances the court historically in this country have considered that conscientious motivations offer quite significant mitigation.”

      Dias pointed out that 11 of those who had been due to be deported to west Africa that night remain in the country, including two of whom there were reasons to believe were victims of human trafficking, and two who were subsequently found to have been victims of human trafficking. “One of them had been raped and forced into sex work in several European cities,” he said.

      Kirsty Brimelow QC, who appeared to have been specially recruited for the mitigation after not acting for any defendant during the trial, told Morgan he must balance the defendants’ rights to protest and free association against the harm their actions caused the airport.

      Brimelow last year acted for three fracking protesters whose sentences were overturned by the court of appeal as “manifestly excessive”. She continually referred to that case as she told Morgan that he must consider the “proportionality” of the sentences.

      The defendants emerged from the court to a rousing reception from hundreds of supporters who had spent the day protesting outside. Tamlit said he was “relieved that’s over”.

      “It’s been a gruelling process,” he said. “The flight that went this morning [to Jamaica] put things in perspective. We might have been in jail tonight but people could have visited us and we would have eventually been released.

      “Not going to jail is a partial victory but we are going to keep campaigning to end charter flights, immigration detention and the hostile environment.”

      McKeith’s mother, Ag, said she was pleased at the relatively lenient sentence. But, she said she felt they ought not to have been convicted at all. “Despite the judge’s stern account, it’s simply not true that they endangered anybody at the airport,” she said. “The only people who were in danger were the people on the plane. I watched the trial all the way through and watched the prosecution trying to spin straw into gold, and they didn’t convince me.”

      Graeme Hayes, reader in political sociology at Aston University, who observed the entire trial, said: “Although the defendants have not got the custodial sentence, the bringing of a terrorism-related charge against non-violent protesters is a very worrying phenomenon. It’s so far the only case [of its type] in the UK, and points to a chilling of legitimate public dissent.”

      The defendants have already filed an appeal against their convictions. Raj Chada, of Hodge, Jones & Allen, represented most of them. “We will be studying the judgment carefully to review whether there are any issues that need to be brought up in the appeal,” he said.

      “It’s striking that nowhere was there any endangerment of individuals identified.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/global/2019/feb/06/stansted-15-rights-campaigners-urge-judge-to-show-leniency?CMP=Share_An

  • Pirates kidnap 12 crew members from Swiss vessel in Nigerian waters - ship operator | Reuters
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-nigeria-piracy/pirates-kidnap-12-crew-members-from-swiss-vessel-in-nigerian-waters-ship


    © N. Nikolov
    MarineTraffic.com

    Pirates kidnapped 12 crew members from a Swiss merchant vessel on Saturday in Nigerian waters, the ship’s operator said in a statement.

    Kidnapping for ransom is a common problem in parts of Nigeria. A number of foreigners have been kidnapped in the last few years in the southern Niger Delta region, source of most of the crude oil which is the mainstay of west Africa’s biggest economy.

    Massoel Shipping, operator of MV Glarus, said the vessel carrying wheat was travelling between the southwestern commercial capital Lagos and southern Niger Delta oil hub Port Harcourt when it was boarded by pirates, who took 12 away of the 19 crew members.

    It said the attack happened around 45 nautical miles south west of Bonny Island.

    The company is working with the authorities and specialists to secure the speedy and safe release of those being held,” Massoel Shipping said in its statement. The statement did not give the nationalities of the crew members.

    Switzerland’s foreign ministry said it had learned from the company that none of the crew members were from Switzerland itself.

    Nigeria’s navy and maritime police said they were unaware of the kidnapping and would investigate.

  • 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.

  • Now you see it, now you don’t: oil surplus vanishes ahead of Iran d...
    https://diasp.eu/p/7650967

    Now you see it, now you don’t: oil surplus vanishes ahead of Iran deadline

    Source: Reuters

    “An overhang of homeless crude in the Atlantic Basin has halved in recent weeks, suggesting oil traders are bracing for a further supply loss from Iran due to U.S. sanctions and a new rally in prices. Iran’s oil exports are already dropping fast as refiners scurry to find alternatives ahead of a reimposition of U.S. sanctions in early November, which in turn has helped drain a glut of unsold oil. The millions of unsold barrels of crude that had pooled around northwest Europe, the Mediterranean and West Africa over July and August are rapidly draining. A months-long surplus in the West African market that depressed prices to their lowest in months has almost vanished.” (08/30/18) (...)

  • The U.S. Is Building a Drone Base in Niger That Will Cost More Than $280 Million by 2024
    https://theintercept.com/2018/08/21/us-drone-base-niger-africa

    A U.S. drone base in a remote part of West Africa has garnered attention for its $100 million construction price tag. But according to new projections from the Air Force, its initial cost will soon be dwarfed by the price of operating the facility — about $30 million a year. By 2024, when the 10-year agreement for use of the base in Agadez, Niger, ends, its construction and operating costs will top a quarter-billion dollars — or around $280 million, to be more precise. And that’s actually an (...)

    #CCTV #drone #aérien #surveillance #vidéo-surveillance

  • Opinion | How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’ - The New York Times
    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/opinion/sunday/genetics-race.html

    In 1942, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu published “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race,” an influential book that argued that race is a social concept with no genetic basis. A classic example often cited is the inconsistent definition of “black.” In the United States, historically, a person is “black” if he has any sub-Saharan African ancestry; in Brazil, a person is not “black” if he is known to have any European ancestry. If “black” refers to different people in different contexts, how can there be any genetic basis to it?

    Beginning in 1972, genetic findings began to be incorporated into this argument. That year, the geneticist Richard Lewontin published an important study of variation in protein types in blood. He grouped the human populations he analyzed into seven “races” — West Eurasians, Africans, East Asians, South Asians, Native Americans, Oceanians and Australians — and found that around 85 percent of variation in the protein types could be accounted for by variation within populations and “races,” and only 15 percent by variation across them. To the extent that there was variation among humans, he concluded, most of it was because of “differences between individuals.”

    In this way, a consensus was established that among human populations there are no differences large enough to support the concept of “biological race.” Instead, it was argued, race is a “social construct,” a way of categorizing people that changes over time and across countries.

    It is true that race is a social construct. It is also true, as Dr. Lewontin wrote, that human populations “are remarkably similar to each other” from a genetic point of view.

    But over the years this consensus has morphed, seemingly without questioning, into an orthodoxy. The orthodoxy maintains that the average genetic differences among people grouped according to today’s racial terms are so trivial when it comes to any meaningful biological traits that those differences can be ignored.

    The orthodoxy goes further, holding that we should be anxious about any research into genetic differences among populations. The concern is that such research, no matter how well-intentioned, is located on a slippery slope that leads to the kinds of pseudoscientific arguments about biological difference that were used in the past to try to justify the slave trade, the eugenics movement and the Nazis’ murder of six million Jews.

    I have deep sympathy for the concern that genetic discoveries could be misused to justify racism. But as a geneticist I also know that it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among “races.”

    Groundbreaking advances in DNA sequencing technology have been made over the last two decades. These advances enable us to measure with exquisite accuracy what fraction of an individual’s genetic ancestry traces back to, say, West Africa 500 years ago — before the mixing in the Americas of the West African and European gene pools that were almost completely isolated for the last 70,000 years. With the help of these tools, we are learning that while race may be a social construct, differences in genetic ancestry that happen to correlate to many of today’s racial constructs are real.

    Recent genetic studies have demonstrated differences across populations not just in the genetic determinants of simple traits such as skin color, but also in more complex traits like bodily dimensions and susceptibility to diseases. For example, we now know that genetic factors help explain why northern Europeans are taller on average than southern Europeans, why multiple sclerosis is more common in European-Americans than in African-Americans, and why the reverse is true for end-stage kidney disease.

    I am worried that well-meaning people who deny the possibility of substantial biological differences among human populations are digging themselves into an indefensible position, one that will not survive the onslaught of science. I am also worried that whatever discoveries are made — and we truly have no idea yet what they will be — will be cited as “scientific proof” that racist prejudices and agendas have been correct all along, and that those well-meaning people will not understand the science well enough to push back against these claims.

    This is why it is important, even urgent, that we develop a candid and scientifically up-to-date way of discussing any such differences, instead of sticking our heads in the sand and being caught unprepared when they are found.

    To get a sense of what modern genetic research into average biological differences across populations looks like, consider an example from my own work. Beginning around 2003, I began exploring whether the population mixture that has occurred in the last few hundred years in the Americas could be leveraged to find risk factors for prostate cancer, a disease that occurs 1.7 times more often in self-identified African-Americans than in self-identified European-Americans. This disparity had not been possible to explain based on dietary and environmental differences, suggesting that genetic factors might play a role.

    Self-identified African-Americans turn out to derive, on average, about 80 percent of their genetic ancestry from enslaved Africans brought to America between the 16th and 19th centuries. My colleagues and I searched, in 1,597 African-American men with prostate cancer, for locations in the genome where the fraction of genes contributed by West African ancestors was larger than it was elsewhere in the genome. In 2006, we found exactly what we were looking for: a location in the genome with about 2.8 percent more African ancestry than the average.

    When we looked in more detail, we found that this region contained at least seven independent risk factors for prostate cancer, all more common in West Africans. Our findings could fully account for the higher rate of prostate cancer in African-Americans than in European-Americans. We could conclude this because African-Americans who happen to have entirely European ancestry in this small section of their genomes had about the same risk for prostate cancer as random Europeans.

    Did this research rely on terms like “African-American” and “European-American” that are socially constructed, and did it label segments of the genome as being probably “West African” or “European” in origin? Yes. Did this research identify real risk factors for disease that differ in frequency across those populations, leading to discoveries with the potential to improve health and save lives? Yes.

    While most people will agree that finding a genetic explanation for an elevated rate of disease is important, they often draw the line there. Finding genetic influences on a propensity for disease is one thing, they argue, but looking for such influences on behavior and cognition is another.

    But whether we like it or not, that line has already been crossed. A recent study led by the economist Daniel Benjamin compiled information on the number of years of education from more than 400,000 people, almost all of whom were of European ancestry. After controlling for differences in socioeconomic background, he and his colleagues identified 74 genetic variations that are over-represented in genes known to be important in neurological development, each of which is incontrovertibly more common in Europeans with more years of education than in Europeans with fewer years of education.

    It is not yet clear how these genetic variations operate. A follow-up study of Icelanders led by the geneticist Augustine Kong showed that these genetic variations also nudge people who carry them to delay having children. So these variations may be explaining longer times at school by affecting a behavior that has nothing to do with intelligence.

    This study has been joined by others finding genetic predictors of behavior. One of these, led by the geneticist Danielle Posthuma, studied more than 70,000 people and found genetic variations in more than 20 genes that were predictive of performance on intelligence tests.

    Is performance on an intelligence test or the number of years of school a person attends shaped by the way a person is brought up? Of course. But does it measure something having to do with some aspect of behavior or cognition? Almost certainly. And since all traits influenced by genetics are expected to differ across populations (because the frequencies of genetic variations are rarely exactly the same across populations), the genetic influences on behavior and cognition will differ across populations, too.

    You will sometimes hear that any biological differences among populations are likely to be small, because humans have diverged too recently from common ancestors for substantial differences to have arisen under the pressure of natural selection. This is not true. The ancestors of East Asians, Europeans, West Africans and Australians were, until recently, almost completely isolated from one another for 40,000 years or longer, which is more than sufficient time for the forces of evolution to work. Indeed, the study led by Dr. Kong showed that in Iceland, there has been measurable genetic selection against the genetic variations that predict more years of education in that population just within the last century.

    To understand why it is so dangerous for geneticists and anthropologists to simply repeat the old consensus about human population differences, consider what kinds of voices are filling the void that our silence is creating. Nicholas Wade, a longtime science journalist for The New York Times, rightly notes in his 2014 book, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History,” that modern research is challenging our thinking about the nature of human population differences. But he goes on to make the unfounded and irresponsible claim that this research is suggesting that genetic factors explain traditional stereotypes.

    One of Mr. Wade’s key sources, for example, is the anthropologist Henry Harpending, who has asserted that people of sub-Saharan African ancestry have no propensity to work when they don’t have to because, he claims, they did not go through the type of natural selection for hard work in the last thousands of years that some Eurasians did. There is simply no scientific evidence to support this statement. Indeed, as 139 geneticists (including myself) pointed out in a letter to The New York Times about Mr. Wade’s book, there is no genetic evidence to back up any of the racist stereotypes he promotes.

    Another high-profile example is James Watson, the scientist who in 1953 co-discovered the structure of DNA, and who was forced to retire as head of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in 2007 after he stated in an interview — without any scientific evidence — that research has suggested that genetic factors contribute to lower intelligence in Africans than in Europeans.

    At a meeting a few years later, Dr. Watson said to me and my fellow geneticist Beth Shapiro something to the effect of “When are you guys going to figure out why it is that you Jews are so much smarter than everyone else?” He asserted that Jews were high achievers because of genetic advantages conferred by thousands of years of natural selection to be scholars, and that East Asian students tended to be conformist because of selection for conformity in ancient Chinese society. (Contacted recently, Dr. Watson denied having made these statements, maintaining that they do not represent his views; Dr. Shapiro said that her recollection matched mine.)

    What makes Dr. Watson’s and Mr. Wade’s statements so insidious is that they start with the accurate observation that many academics are implausibly denying the possibility of average genetic differences among human populations, and then end with a claim — backed by no evidence — that they know what those differences are and that they correspond to racist stereotypes. They use the reluctance of the academic community to openly discuss these fraught issues to provide rhetorical cover for hateful ideas and old racist canards.

    This is why knowledgeable scientists must speak out. If we abstain from laying out a rational framework for discussing differences among populations, we risk losing the trust of the public and we actively contribute to the distrust of expertise that is now so prevalent. We leave a vacuum that gets filled by pseudoscience, an outcome that is far worse than anything we could achieve by talking openly.

    If scientists can be confident of anything, it is that whatever we currently believe about the genetic nature of differences among populations is most likely wrong. For example, my laboratory discovered in 2016, based on our sequencing of ancient human genomes, that “whites” are not derived from a population that existed from time immemorial, as some people believe. Instead, “whites” represent a mixture of four ancient populations that lived 10,000 years ago and were each as different from one another as Europeans and East Asians are today.

    So how should we prepare for the likelihood that in the coming years, genetic studies will show that many traits are influenced by genetic variations, and that these traits will differ on average across human populations? It will be impossible — indeed, anti-scientific, foolish and absurd — to deny those differences.

    For me, a natural response to the challenge is to learn from the example of the biological differences that exist between males and females. The differences between the sexes are far more profound than those that exist among human populations, reflecting more than 100 million years of evolution and adaptation. Males and females differ by huge tracts of genetic material — a Y chromosome that males have and that females don’t, and a second X chromosome that females have and males don’t.

    Most everyone accepts that the biological differences between males and females are profound. In addition to anatomical differences, men and women exhibit average differences in size and physical strength. (There are also average differences in temperament and behavior, though there are important unresolved questions about the extent to which these differences are influenced by social expectations and upbringing.)

    How do we accommodate the biological differences between men and women? I think the answer is obvious: We should both recognize that genetic differences between males and females exist and we should accord each sex the same freedoms and opportunities regardless of those differences.

    It is clear from the inequities that persist between women and men in our society that fulfilling these aspirations in practice is a challenge. Yet conceptually it is straightforward. And if this is the case with men and women, then it is surely the case with whatever differences we may find among human populations, the great majority of which will be far less profound.

    An abiding challenge for our civilization is to treat each human being as an individual and to empower all people, regardless of what hand they are dealt from the deck of life. Compared with the enormous differences that exist among individuals, differences among populations are on average many times smaller, so it should be only a modest challenge to accommodate a reality in which the average genetic contributions to human traits differ.

    It is important to face whatever science will reveal without prejudging the outcome and with the confidence that we can be mature enough to handle any findings. Arguing that no substantial differences among human populations are possible will only invite the racist misuse of genetics that we wish to avoid.

    David Reich is a professor of genetics at Harvard and the author of the forthcoming book “Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past,” from which this article is adapted.

    #USA #eugénisme #racisme