region:west africa

  • 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__


  • 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.


  • 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


  • Torpedoing Africa, and then complaining about ’migration’ | France | Al Jazeera
    https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/torpedoing-africa-complaining-migration-180817133759141.html

    Out of the 67 coups in 26 African countries in the last 50 years, 61 percent took place in former French colonies. Fifty percent of the monetary reserves of 14 African countries are still today under full French control: none of them has any control over its macroeconomic and monetary policy. France makes billions of euros from Africa annually under the form of “reserves”, and lend part of the same money to its owners on market rates.

    These few numbers hide one major truth: many European countries, France first and foremost, are still today shaping the lives of millions of Africans - three quarters of whom live on less than two dollars a day - determining both their present and future. They take the best out of Africa, while largely ignoring, or complaining about, much of the rest

    The Central Bank of each of these African countries is in fact compelled to maintain at least 50 percent (it was 65 percent until 2005) of its foreign exchange reserves in an “operations account” controlled by the French Treasury. Moreover, each Central Bank is required to maintain a foreign exchange cover of at least of 20 percent of its liabilities.

    It should also be mentioned that still today - despite the efforts made by ECOWAS to create a new common currency (ECO) for West African states - the CFA Francs, which are in reality two different currencies both guaranteed by the French Treasury, are the official currencies in 14 West and Central African countries.

    CFA Francs, contrary to the dollar or euro, cannot be converted into any other currency. This means that all these countries are excluded from the international foreign exchange market (FOREX), the largest and most liquid market for options of any kind in the world.

    It could be claimed that the countries that operate with these currencies might freely leave the arrangement at any time. In truth, dozens of African leaders, from Silvanus Olympio in Togo to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, have tried in recent decades to replace these tools of monetary and financial control with a new common African currency. Almost all of them - with the possible exception of Malian President Modibo Keïta (1915-77) - have been killed or overthrown the very moment in which their attempts were close to succeeding.

    Indeed, complaining about “migrants” - not dissimilarly from focusing on NGOs, or on the “financial” cost of the “migration crisis” for European countries - is a self-assuring shortcut that speaks at the gut of millions of disillusioned European citizens. Challenging and tackling the structural interests of (mainly) European businessmen, companies and governments - like Africans are doing through initiatives like the “West Africa leaks” - would be much riskier: this is why it won’t easily happen.

    Pas fan du ton mais j’ai appris des trucs que je ne savais pas sur la #Françafrique.


  • 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



  • Thousands of Sudanese fled Libya for #Niger, seeking safety. Not all were welcome

    At first, the Sudanese filtered out of the migrant ghettos and across the desert by the handful. It was December 2017 in the city of #Agadez, Niger when the first group approached UNHCR, asking for protection. The UN’s refugee agency had spent the past couple of months building up its presence in the area, but the arrival of the Sudanese was not what it expected.

    A sprawling collection of walled compounds and dusty, rutted streets in the heart of the Sahara, Agadez has long been a gateway between West and North Africa. For most of its history, the travellers passing through have been caravanning traders and people moving within the African continent in search of work. But as Libya descended into chaos following the fall of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, an unregulated route to Europe opened up from Libyan shores – and 2,000 kilometers to the south, hundreds of thousands of West Africans flocked to Agadez to join convoys of pickup trucks setting out across the desert towards the Libyan coast.

    With its expanded presence in the city, UNHCR anticipated identifying asylum cases among people following this route before they started the dangerous journey into Libya and across the sea. But the arrival of the Sudanese – most driven from their homes in the conflict-ridden region of Darfur more than a decade ago – signalled something new: instead of heading north towards Europe, this group of refugees and asylum seekers was travelling south from Libya in search of protection. And, once the first group arrived, more kept coming – by the dozens – until there were around 2,000 Sudanese asylum seekers in Agadez.

    What prompted the Sudanese to turn to the south was probably a confluence of factors: a desire to escape conflict and the abuses committed by militias and smugglers; European policies that have led to a nearly 78 percent drop in the number of people crossing the sea from Libya to Italy since July last year; and rumours of aid and protection for asylum seekers in Niger, and maybe – just maybe – the chance of a legal way to reach Europe.

    The fact that the Sudanese were compelled to venture to Agadez at all highlights a broader truth: the international refugee protection system has failed in its response to long-term displacement. The tense reception of the Sudanese by Nigerien authorities – ultimately resulting in the deportation of 132 people back to Libya – speaks to the consequences of that failure.

    By that point, there were close to 2,000 Sudanese in the town. For months, there had been a stalemate between UNHCR, which was negotiating for space to process the Sudanese cases and look for solutions, and the Nigerien government, which wanted to send people back to Chad and Libya.

    In the meantime, more Sudanese had arrived than there was space for in the UNHCR shelters, and people were spilling into the streets. Residents in the neighbourhood complained that some of the Sudanese were stealing fruit from gardens and going to the bathroom outdoors, and that they felt uncomfortable with the Sudanese men living in such close proximity to Nigerien women and girls. The escalation of those tensions appears to have triggered the arrests.

    https://www.irinnews.org/special-report/2018/07/05/destination-europe-deportation
    #Libye #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_soudanais #migrerrance #renvois #expulsions #parcours_migratoires #routes_migratoires

    –-> @_kg_ : c’est probablement la même idée que les départs vers la Tunisie ?

    instead of heading north towards Europe, this group of refugees and asylum seekers was travelling south from Libya in search of protection. And, once the first group arrived, more kept coming – by the dozens – until there were around 2,000 Sudanese asylum seekers in Agadez

    • La même idée de départ, oui selon les témoignages. Pour plus de détails sur Agagdez j’attends l’entretien MdM. Vue la Tunisie : arrêt de deportations vers la frontière d’Algérie et Libye depuis hiver 2016 selon les témoignages...mais pas assez d’informations pour le Sud : Qu’est ce que se passe dans le zone bloqué de 20km par le militaire tunisien ? Où disparaissent les personnes mis ou Centre de logement à Médenine juste après quelques jours (j’ai mal à croire que le retour volontaire de l’OIM se fait dans 2 semaines...) ?


    • Migranti:da inizio anno sbarcati 16.566,-79% rispetto a 2017

      Dall’inizio dell’anno ad oggi sono sbarcati in Italia 16.566 migranti, il 79,07% in meno rispetto allo stesso periodo dell’anno scorso, quando ne arrivarono 79.154. Dai dati del Viminale, aggiornati al 28 giugno, emerge dunque che per il dodicesimo mese consecutivo gli sbarchi nel nostro paese sono in calo: l’ultimo picco fu registrato proprio a giugno dell’anno scorso, quando sbarcarono 23.526 migranti (nel 2016 ne arrivarono 22.339 mentre quest’anno il numero è fermo a 3.136). Dal mese di luglio 2017, che ha coinciso con gli accordi siglati con la Libia dall’ex ministro dell’Interno Marco Minniti, si è sempre registrata una diminuzione. Dei 16.566 arrivati nei primi sei mesi del 2018 (la quasi totalità, 15.741, nei porti siciliani), 11.401 sono partiti dalla Libia: un calo nelle partenze dell’84,94% rispetto al 2017 e dell’83,18% rispetto al 2016. Quanto alle nazionalità di quelli che sono arrivati, la prima è la Tunisia, con 3.002 migranti, seguita da Eritrea (2.555), Sudan (1.488) e Nigeria (1.229).

      http://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/cronaca/2018/06/30/migrantida-inizio-anno-sbarcati-16.566-79-rispetto-a-2017-_30327137-364e-44bf-8

    • En Méditerranée, les flux de migrants s’estompent et s’orientent vers l’ouest

      Pour la première fois depuis le début de la crise migratoire en 2014, l’Espagne est, avant l’Italie et la Grèce, le pays européen qui enregistre le plus d’arrivées de migrants par la mer et le plus de naufrages meurtriers au large de ses côtes.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/280618/en-mediterranee-les-flux-de-migrants-s-estompent-et-s-orientent-vers-l-oue
      #routes_migratoires

    • Migratory flows in April: Overall drop, but more detections in Greece and Spain

      Central Mediterranean
      The number of migrants arriving in Italy via the Central Mediterranean route in April fell to about 2 800, down 78% from April 2017. The total number of migrants detected on this route in the first four months of 2018 fell to roughly 9 400, down three-quarters from a year ago.
      So far this year, Tunisians and Eritreans were the two most represented nationalities on this route, together accounting for almost 40% of all the detected migrants.

      Eastern Mediterranean
      In April, the number of irregular migrants taking the Eastern Mediterranean route stood at some 6 700, two-thirds more than in the previous month. In the first four months of this year, more than 14 900 migrants entered the EU through the Eastern Mediterranean route, 92% more than in the same period of last year. The increase was mainly caused by the rise of irregular crossings on the land borders with Turkey. In April the number of migrants detected at the land borders on this route has exceeded the detections on the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.
      The largest number of migrants on this route in the first four months of the year were nationals of Syria and Iraq.

      Western Mediterranean
      Last month, the number of irregular migrants reaching Spain stood at nearly 1100, a quarter more than in April 2017. In the first four months of 2018, there were some 4600 irregular border crossings on the Western Mediterranean route, 95 more than a year ago.
      Nationals of Morocco accounted for the highest number of arrivals in Spain this year, followed by those from Guinea and Mali.

      https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/migratory-flows-in-april-overall-drop-but-more-detections-in-greece-a
      #2018 #Espagne #Grèce

    • EU’s Frontex warns of new migrant route to Spain

      Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri has warned that Spain could see a significant increase in migrant arrivals. The news comes ahead of the European Commission’s new proposal to strengthen EU external borders with more guards.

      Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said Friday that some 6,000 migrants had entered the European Union in June by crossing into Spain from Morocco, the so-called western Mediterranean route.

      https://m.dw.com/en/eus-frontex-warns-of-new-migrant-route-to-spain/a-44563058?xtref=http%253A%252F%252Fm.facebook.com

    • L’Espagne devient la principale voie d’accès des migrants à l’Europe

      La Commission a annoncé trois millions d’euros d’aide d’urgence pour les garde-frontières espagnols, confrontés à un triplement des arrivées de migrants, suite au verrouillage de la route italienne.

      –-> v. ici :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/683358

      L’aide supplémentaire que l’exécutif a décidé d’allouer à l’Espagne après l’augmentation des arrivées sur les côtes provient du Fonds pour la sécurité intérieure et a pour but de financer le déploiement de personnel supplémentaire le long des frontières méridionales espagnoles.

      Le mois dernier, la Commission a déjà attribué 24,8 millions d’euros au ministère de l’Emploi et de la Sécurité sociale et à la Croix-Rouge espagnole, afin de renforcer les capacités d’accueil, de prise en charge sanitaire, de nourriture et de logement des migrants arrivants par la route de l’ouest méditerranéen.

      Une enveloppe supplémentaire de 720 000 euros a été allouée à l’organisation des rapatriements et des transferts depuis l’enclave de Ceuta et Melilla.

      Cette aide financière s’ajoute aux 691,7 millions que reçoit Madrid dans le cadre du Fonds pour l’asile, l’immigration et l’intégration et du fonds pour la sécurité intérieure pour la période budgétaire 2014-2020.

      https://www.euractiv.fr/section/migrations/news/avramopoulos-in-spain-to-announce-further-eu-support-to-tackle-migration

    • En #Méditerranée, les flux de migrants s’orientent vers l’ouest

      Entre janvier et juillet, 62 177 migrants ont rejoint l’Europe par la Méditerranée, selon les données de l’Agence des Nations unies pour les réfugiés. Un chiffre en baisse par rapport à 2017 (172 301 sur l’ensemble des douze mois) et sans commune mesure avec le « pic » de 2015, où 1 015 078 arrivées avaient été enregistrées.

      Les flux déclinent et se déplacent géographiquement : entre 2014 et 2017, près de 98 % des migrants étaient entrés via la Grèce et l’Italie, empruntant les voies dites « orientales » et « centrales » de la Méditerranée ; en 2018, c’est pour l’instant l’Espagne qui enregistre le plus d’arrivées (23 785), devant l’Italie (18 348), la Grèce (16 142) et, de manière anecdotique, Chypre (73).


      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/030818/en-mediterranee-les-flux-de-migrants-s-orientent-vers-l-ouest
      #statistiques #chiffres #Méditerranée_centrale #itinéraires_migratoires #parcours_migratoires #routes_migratoires #asile #migrations #réfugiés #2018 #Espagne #Italie #Grèce #2017 #2016 #2015 #2014 #arrivées

      Et des statistiques sur les #morts et #disparus :


      #mourir_en_mer #décès #naufrages

    • The most common Mediterranean migration paths into Europe have changed since 2009

      Until 2018, the Morocco-to-Spain route – also known as the western route – had been the least-traveled Mediterranean migration path, with a total of 89,000 migrants arriving along Spain’s coastline since 2009. But between January and August 2018, this route has seen over 28,000 arrivals, more than the central Africa-to-Italy central route (20,000 arrivals) and the Turkey-to-Greece eastern route (20,000 arrivals). One reason for this is that Spain recently allowed rescue ships carrying migrants to dock after other European Union countries had denied them entry.

      Toute la Méditerranée:

      #Méditerranée_occidentale:

      #Méditerranée_centrale:

      #Méditerranée_orientale:

      http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/18/the-most-common-mediterranean-migration-paths-into-europe-have-changed-

    • The “Shift” to the Western Mediterranean Migration Route: Myth or Reality?

      How Spain Became the Top Arrival Country of Irregular Migration to the EU

      This article looks at the increase in arrivals[1] of refugees and migrants in Spain, analysing the nationalities of those arriving to better understand whether there has been a shift from the Central Mediterranean migration route (Italy) towards the Western Mediterranean route (Spain). The article explores how the political dynamics between North African countries and the European Union (EU) have impacted the number of arrivals in Spain.

      The Western Mediterranean route has recently become the most active route of irregular migration to Europe. As of mid-August 2018, a total of 26,350 refugees and migrants arrived in Spain by sea, three times the number of arrivals in the first seven months of 2017. In July alone 8,800 refugees and migrants reached Spain, four times the number of arrivals in July of last year.

      But this migration trend did not begin this year. The number of refugees and migrants arriving by sea in Spain grew by 55 per cent between 2015 and 2016, and by 172 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

      At the same time, there has been a decrease in the number of refugees and migrants entering the EU via the Central Mediterranean route. Between January and July 2018, a total of 18,510 persons arrived in Italy by sea compared to 95,213 arrivals in the same period in 2017, an 81 per cent decrease.

      This decrease is a result of new measures to restrict irregular migration adopted by EU Member States, including increased cooperation with Libya, which has been the main embarkation country for the Central Mediterranean migration route. So far this year, the Libyan Coast Guards have intercepted 12,152 refugees and migrants who were on smuggling boats (more than double the total number of interceptions in 2017). In the last two weeks of July, 99.5 per cent of the refugees and migrants who departed on smuggling boats were caught and returned to Libya, according to a data analysis conducted at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI). The number of people being detained by the Libyan Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM) has continued growing (from 5,000 to 9,300 between May and July 2018), with thousands more held in unofficial detention facilities.

      So, was there a shift from the Central to the Western Mediterranean Migration route? In other words, has the decline of arrivals in Italy led to the increase of arrivals in Spain?

      First of all, while this article only analyses the changes in the use of these two sea routes and among those trying to go to Europe, for most West Africans, the intended destination is actually North Africa, including Libya and Algeria, where they hope to find jobs. A minority intends to move onwards to Europe and this is confirmed by MMC’s 4Mi data referred to below.

      The answer to the question on whether or not there has been a shift between the two routes can be found in the analysis of the origin countries of the refugees and migrants that were most commonly using the Central Mediterranean route before it became increasingly difficult to reach Europe. Only if a decrease of the main nationalities using the Central Mediterranean Route corresponds to an increase of the same group along the Western Mediterranean route we can speak of “a shift”.

      The two nationalities who were – by far – the most common origin countries of refugees and migrants arriving in Italy in 2015 and in 2016 were Nigeria and Eritrea. The total number of Nigerians and Eritreans arriving in Italy in 2015 was 50,018 and slightly lower (47,096) in the following year. Then, between 2016 and last year, the total number of Nigerian and Eritrean arrivals in Italy decreased by 66 per cent. The decrease has been even more significant in 2018; in the first half of this year only 2,812 Nigerians and Eritreans arrived in Italy.

      However, there has not been an increase in Nigerians and Eritreans arriving in Spain. Looking at the data, it is clear that refugees and migrants originating in these two countries have not shifted from the Central Mediterranean route to the Western route.

      The same is true for refugees and migrants from Bangladesh, Sudan and Somalia – who were also on the list of most common countries of origin amongst arrivals in Italy during 2015 and 2016. While the numbers of Bangladeshis, Sudanese and Somalis arriving in Italy have been declining since 2017, there has not been an increase in arrivals of these nationals in Spain. Amongst refugees and migrants from these three countries, as with Nigerians and Eritreans, there has clearly not been a shift to the Western route. In fact, data shows that zero refugees and migrants from Eritrea, Bangladesh and Somalia arrived in Spain by sea since 2013.

      However, the data tells a different story when it comes to West African refugees and migrants. Between 2015 and 2017, the West African countries of Guinea, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia and Senegal were also on the list of most common origin countries amongst arrivals in Italy. During those years, about 91 per cent of all arrivals in the EU from these five countries used the Central Mediterranean route to Italy, while 9 per cent used the Western Mediterranean route to Spain.

      But in 2018 the data flipped: only 23 per cent of EU arrivals from these five West African countries used the Central Mediterranean route, while 76 per cent entered used the Western route. It appears that as the Central Mediterranean route is being restricted, a growing number of refugees and migrants from these countries are trying to reach the EU on the Western Mediterranean route.

      These finding are reinforced by 3,224 interviews conducted in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso between July 2017 and June 2018 by the Mixed Migration Monitoring Mechanism initiative (4Mi), which found a rise in the share of West African refugees and migrants stating their final destination is Spain and a fall in the share of West African refugees and migrants who say they are heading to Italy.[2]

      A second group who according to the data shifted from the Central Mediterranean route to the Western route are the Moroccans. Between 2015 and 2017, at least 4,000 Moroccans per year entered the EU on the Central Mediterranean route. Then, in the first half of this year, only 319 Moroccan refugees and migrants arrived by sea to Italy. Meanwhile, an opposite process has happened in Spain, where the number of Moroccans arriving by sea spiked, increasing by 346 per cent between 2016 and last year. This increase has continued in the first six months of this year, in which 2,600 Moroccans reached Spain through the Western Mediterranean route.

      On-going Political Bargaining

      The fact that so many Moroccans are amongst the arrivals in Spain could be an indication that Morocco, the embarkation country for the Western Mediterranean route, has perhaps been relaxing its control on migration outflows, as recently suggested by several media outlets. A Euronews article questioned whether the Moroccan government is allowing refugees and migrants to make the dangerous sea journey towards Spain as part of its negotiations with the EU on the size of the support it will receive. Der Spiegel reported that Morocco is “trying to extort concessions from the EU by placing Spain under pressure” of increased migration.

      The dynamic in which a neighbouring country uses the threat of increased migration as a political bargaining tool is one the EU is quite familiar with, following its 2016 deal with Turkey and 2017 deal with Libya. In both occasions, whilst on a different scale, the response of the EU has been fundamentally the same: to offer its southern neighbours support and financial incentives to control migration.

      The EU had a similar response this time. On August 3, the European Commission committed 55 million euro for Morocco and Tunisia to help them improve their border management. Ten days later, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights reported that Moroccan authorities started removing would-be migrants away from departure points to Europe.

      Aside from Morocco and Libya, there is another North African country whose policies may be contributing to the increase of arrivals in Spain. Algeria, which has been a destination country for many African migrants during the past decade (and still is according to 4Mi interviews), is in the midst of a nationwide campaign to detain and deport migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

      The Associated Press reported “Algeria’s mass expulsions have picked up since October 2017, as the European Union renewed pressure on North African countries to discourage migrants going north to Europe…” More than 28,000 Africans have been expelled since the campaign started in August of last year, according to News Deeply. While Algeria prides itself on not taking EU money – “We are handling the situation with our own means,” an Algerian interior ministry official told Reuters – its current crackdown appears to be yet another element of the EU’s wider approach to migration in the region.
      Bargaining Games

      This article has demonstrated that – contrary to popular reporting – there is no blanket shift from the Central Mediterranean route to the Western Mediterranean route. A detailed analysis on the nationalities of arrivals in Italy and Spain and changes over time, shows that only for certain nationalities from West Africa a shift may be happening, while for other nationalities there is no correlation between the decrease of arrivals in Italy and the increase of arrivals in Spain. The article has also shown that the recent policies implemented by North African governments – from Libya to Morocco to Algeria – can only be understood in the context of these countries’ dialogue with the EU on irregular migration.

      So, while the idea of a shift from the Central Mediterranean route to the Western route up until now is more myth than reality, it is clear that the changes of activity levels on these migration routes are both rooted in the same source: the on-going political bargaining on migration between the EU and North African governments. And these bargaining games are likely to continue as the EU intensifies its efforts to prevent refugees and migrants from arriving at its shores.

      http://www.mixedmigration.org/articles/shift-to-the-western-mediterranean-migration-route
      #Méditerranée_centrale #Méditerranée_occidentale

    • IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 80,602 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2018 through 23 September, with 35,653 to Spain, the leading destination this year. In fact, with this week’s arrivals Spain in 2018 has now received via the Mediterranean more irregular migrants than it did throughout all the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined.

      The region’s total arrivals through the recent weekend compare with 133,465 arrivals across the region through the same period last year, and 302,175 at this point in 2016.

      Spain, with 44 per cent of all arrivals through the year, continues to receive seaborne migrants in September at a volume nearly twice that of Greece and more than six times that of Italy. Italy’s arrivals through late September are the lowest recorded at this point – the end of a normally busy summer sailing season – in almost five years. IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo on Monday reported that Italy’s 21,024 arrivals of irregular migrants by sea this year represent a decline of nearly 80 per cent from last year’s totals at this time. (see chart below).

      IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths of 1,730 people on the Mediterranean in 2018. Most recently, a woman drowned off the coast of Bodrum, Turkey on Sunday while attempting to reach Kos, Greece via the Eastern Mediterranean route. The Turkish Coast Guard reports that 16 migrants were rescued from this incident. On Saturday, a 5-year-old Syrian boy drowned off the coast of Lebanon’s Akkar province after a boat carrying 39 migrants to attempt to reach Cyprus capsized.

      IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported Monday that total arrivals at sea in 2018 have reached 35,594 men, women and children who have been rescued in Western Mediterranean waters through 23 September (see chart below).

      IOM notes that over this year’s first five months, a total of 8,150 men, women and children were rescued in Spanish waters after leaving Africa – an average of 54 per day. In the 115 days since May 31, a total of 27,444 have arrived – or just under 240 migrants per day. The months of May-September this year have seen a total of 30,967 irregular migrants arriving by sea, the busiest four-month period for Spain since IOM began tallying arrival statistics, with just over one week left in September.

      With this week’s arrivals Spain in 2018 has now received via the Mediterranean more irregular migrants than it did throughout all the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined (see charts below).

      On Monday, IOM Athens’ Christine Nikolaidou reported that over four days (20-23 September) this week the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) units managed at least nine incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Farmakonisi.

      The HCG rescued a total 312 migrants and transferred them to the respective islands. Additional arrivals of some 248 individuals to Kos and some of the aforementioned islands over these past four days brings to 22,821 the total number of arrivals by sea to Greece through 23 September (see chart below).

      Sea arrivals to Greece this year by irregular migrants appeared to have peaked in daily volume in April, when they averaged at around 100 per day. That volume dipped through the following three months then picked up again in August and again in September, already this year’s busiest month – 3,536 through 23 days, over 150 per day – with about a quarter of the month remaining. Land border crossing also surged in April (to nearly 4,000 arrivals) but have since fallen back, with fewer than 2,000 crossings in each of the past four months (see charts below).

      IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 2,735 deaths and disappearances during migration so far in 2018 (see chart below).

      In the Americas, several migrant deaths were recorded since last week’s update. In Mexico, a 30-year-old Salvadoran man was killed in a hit-and-run on a highway in Tapachula, Mexico on Friday. Another death on Mexico’s freight rail network (nicknamed “La Bestia”) was added after reports of an unidentified man found dead on tracks near San Francisco Ixhuatan on 15 September.

      In the United States, on 16 September, an unidentified person drowned in the All-American Canal east of Calexico, California – the 55th drowning recorded on the US-Mexico border this year. A few days later a car crash south of Florence, Arizona resulted in the deaths of eight people, including four Guatemalan migrants, on Wednesday. Two others killed included one of the vehicles’ driver and his partner, who authorities say had been involved with migrant smuggling in the past.

      https://reliefweb.int/report/spain/mediterranean-migrant-arrivals-reach-80602-2018-deaths-reach-1730

    • Analyse de Matteo Villa sur twitter :

      Irregular sea arrivals to Italy have not been this low since 2012. But how do the two “deterrence policies” (#Minniti's and #Salvini's) compare over time?


      Why start from July 15th each year? That’s when the drop in sea arrivals in 2017 kicked in, and this allows us to do away with the need to control for seasonality. Findings do not change much if we started on July 1st this year.
      Zooming in, in relative terms the drop in sea arrivals during Salvini’s term is almost as stark as last year’s drop.

      In the period 15 July - 8 October:

      Drop during #Salvini: -73%.
      Drop during #Minniti: -79%.

      But looking at actual numbers, the difference is clear. In less than 3 months’ time, the drop in #migrants and #refugees disembarking in #Italy under #Minniti had already reached 51,000. Under #Salvini in 2018, the further drop is less than 10,000.


      To put it another way: deterrence policies under #Salvini can at best aim for a drop of about 42,000 irregular arrivals in 12 months. Most likely, the drop will amount to about 30.000. Under #Minniti, sea arrivals the drop amounted to 150.000. Five times larger.

      BOTTOM LINE: the opportunity-cost of deterrence policies is shrinking fast. Meanwhile, the number of dead and missing along the Central Mediterranean route has not declined in tandem (in fact, in June-September it shot up). Is more deterrence worth it?

      https://twitter.com/emmevilla/status/1049978070734659584

      Le papier qui explique tout cela :
      Sea Arrivals to Italy : The Cost of Deterrence Policies


      https://www.ispionline.it/en/publication/sea-arrivals-italy-cost-deterrence-policies-21367


  • In Britain, Austerity Is Changing Everything - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/world/europe/uk-austerity-poverty.html


    #austérité #pauvreté

    Britain’s Big Squeeze
    In Britain, Austerity Is Changing Everything

    After eight years of budget cutting, Britain is looking less like the rest of Europe and more like the United States, with a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty.

    Raised in the Liverpool neighborhood of Croxteth, Emma Wilde has lost the welfare benefits she depended on to support herself and her two children.CreditAndrea Bruce for The New York Times

    By Peter S. Goodman

    May 28, 2018

    PRESCOT, England — A walk through this modest town in the northwest of England amounts to a tour of the casualties of Britain’s age of austerity.

    The old library building has been sold and refashioned into a glass-fronted luxury home. The leisure center has been razed, eliminating the public swimming pool. The local museum has receded into town history. The police station has been shuttered.

    Now, as the local government desperately seeks to turn assets into cash, Browns Field, a lush park in the center of town, may be doomed, too. At a meeting in November, the council included it on a list of 17 parks to sell to developers.

    “Everybody uses this park,” says Jackie Lewis, who raised two children in a red brick house a block away. “This is probably our last piece of community space. It’s been one after the other. You just end up despondent.”

    In the eight years since London began sharply curtailing support for local governments, the borough of Knowsley, a bedroom community of Liverpool, has seen its budget cut roughly in half. Liverpool itself has suffered a nearly two-thirds cut in funding from the national government — its largest source of discretionary revenue. Communities in much of Britain have seen similar losses.

    For a nation with a storied history of public largess, the protracted campaign of budget cutting, started in 2010 by a government led by the Conservative Party, has delivered a monumental shift in British life. A wave of austerity has yielded a country that has grown accustomed to living with less, even as many measures of social well-being — crime rates, opioid addiction, infant mortality, childhood poverty and homelessness — point to a deteriorating quality of life.

    When Ms. Lewis and her husband bought their home a quarter-century ago, Prescot had a comforting village feel. Now, core government relief programs are being cut and public facilities eliminated, adding pressure to public services like police and fire departments, just as they, too, grapple with diminished funding.

    By 2020, reductions already set in motion will produce cuts to British social welfare programs exceeding $36 billion a year compared with a decade earlier, or more than $900 annually for every working-age person in the country, according to a report from the Center for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University. In Liverpool, the losses will reach $1,200 a year per working-age person, the study says.

    “The government has created destitution,” says Barry Kushner, a Labour Party councilman in Liverpool and the cabinet member for children’s services. “Austerity has had nothing to do with economics. It was about getting out from under welfare. It’s about politics abandoning vulnerable people.”

    Conservative Party leaders say that austerity has been driven by nothing more grandiose than arithmetic.

    “It’s the ideology of two plus two equals four,” says Daniel Finkelstein, a Conservative member of the upper chamber of Parliament, the House of Lords, and a columnist for The Times of London. “It wasn’t driven by a desire to reduce spending on public services. It was driven by the fact that we had a vast deficit problem, and the debt was going to keep growing.”

    Whatever the operative thinking, austerity’s manifestations are palpable and omnipresent. It has refashioned British society, making it less like the rest of Western Europe, with its generous social safety nets and egalitarian ethos, and more like the United States, where millions lack health care and job loss can set off a precipitous plunge in fortunes.

    Much as the United States took the Great Depression of the 1930s as impetus to construct a national pension system while eventually delivering health care for the elderly and the poor, Britain reacted to the trauma of World War II by forging its own welfare state. The United States has steadily reduced benefits since the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s. Britain rolled back its programs in the same era, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher. Still, its safety net remained robust by world standards.

    Then came the global financial panic of 2008 — the most crippling economic downturn since the Great Depression. Britain’s turn from its welfare state in the face of yawning budget deficits is a conspicuous indicator that the world has been refashioned by the crisis.

    As the global economy now negotiates a wrenching transition — with itinerant jobs replacing full-time positions and robots substituting for human labor — Britain’s experience provokes doubts about the durability of the traditional welfare model. As Western-style capitalism confronts profound questions about economic justice, vulnerable people appear to be growing more so.

    Conservative Party leaders initially sold budget cuts as a virtue, ushering in what they called the Big Society. Diminish the role of a bloated government bureaucracy, they contended, and grass-roots organizations, charities and private companies would step to the fore, reviving communities and delivering public services more efficiently.

    To a degree, a spirit of voluntarism materialized. At public libraries, volunteers now outnumber paid staff. In struggling communities, residents have formed food banks while distributing hand-me-down school uniforms. But to many in Britain, this is akin to setting your house on fire and then reveling in the community spirit as neighbors come running to help extinguish the blaze.

    Most view the Big Society as another piece of political sloganeering — long since ditched by the Conservatives — that served as justification for an austerity program that has advanced the refashioning unleashed in the 1980s by Mrs. Thatcher.

    “We are making cuts that I think Margaret Thatcher, back in the 1980s, could only have dreamt of,” Greg Barker said in a speech in 2011, when he was a Conservative member of Parliament.

    A backlash ensued, with public recognition that budget cuts came with tax relief for corporations, and that the extensive ranks of the wealthy were little disturbed.

    Britain hasn’t endured austerity to the same degree as Greece, where cutbacks were swift and draconian. Instead, British austerity has been a slow bleed, though the cumulative toll has been substantial.

    Local governments have suffered a roughly one-fifth plunge in revenue since 2010, after adding taxes they collect, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.

    Nationally, spending on police forces has dropped 17 percent since 2010, while the number of police officers has dropped 14 percent, according to an analysis by the Institute for Government. Spending on road maintenance has shrunk more than one-fourth, while support for libraries has fallen nearly a third.

    The national court system has eliminated nearly a third of its staff. Spending on prisons has plunged more than a fifth, with violent assaults on prison guards more than doubling. The number of elderly people receiving government-furnished care that enables them to remain in their homes has fallen by roughly a quarter.

    In an alternate reality, this nasty stretch of history might now be ending. Austerity measures were imposed in the name of eliminating budget deficits, and last year Britain finally produced a modest budget surplus.

    But the reality at hand is dominated by worries that Britain’s pending departure from the European Union — Brexit, as it is known — will depress growth for years to come. Though every major economy on earth has been expanding lately, Britain’s barely grew during the first three months of 2018. The unemployment rate sits just above 4 percent — its lowest level since 1975 — yet most wages remain lower than a decade ago, after accounting for rising prices.

    In the blue-collar reaches of northern England, in places like Liverpool, modern history tends to be told in the cadence of lamentation, as the story of one indignity after another. In these communities, Mrs. Thatcher’s name is an epithet, and austerity is the latest villain: London bankers concocted a financial crisis, multiplying their wealth through reckless gambling; then London politicians used budget deficits as an excuse to cut spending on the poor while handing tax cuts to corporations. Robin Hood, reversed.

    “It’s clearly an attack on our class,” says Dave Kelly, a retired bricklayer in the town of Kirkby, on the outskirts of Liverpool, where many factories sit empty, broken monuments to another age. “It’s an attack on who we are. The whole fabric of society is breaking down.”

    As much as any city, Liverpool has seen sweeping changes in its economic fortunes.

    In the 17th century, the city enriched itself on human misery. Local shipping companies sent vessels to West Africa, transporting slaves to the American colonies and returning bearing the fruits of bondage — cotton and tobacco, principally.

    The cotton fed the mills of Manchester nearby, yielding textiles destined for multiple continents. By the late 19th century, Liverpool’s port had become the gateway to the British Empire, its status underscored by the shipping company headquarters lining the River Mersey.

    By the next century — through the Great Depression and the German bombardment of World War II — Liverpool had descended into seemingly terminal decline. Its hard luck, blue-collar station was central to the identity of its most famous export, the Beatles, whose star power seemed enhanced by the fact such talent could emerge from such a place.

    Today, more than a quarter of Liverpool’s roughly 460,000 residents are officially poor, making austerity traumatic: Public institutions charged with aiding vulnerable people are themselves straining from cutbacks.

    Over the past eight years, the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, which serves greater Liverpool, has closed five fire stations while cutting the force to 620 firefighters from about 1,000.

    “I’ve had to preside over the systematic dismantling of the system,” says the fire chief, Dan Stephens.

    His department recently analyzed the 83 deaths that occurred in accidental house fires from 2007 to 2017. The majority of the victims — 51 people — lived alone and were alone at the time of the deadly fire. Nineteen of those 51 were in need of some form of home care.

    The loss of home care — a casualty of austerity — has meant that more older people are being left alone unattended.

    Virtually every public agency now struggles to do more with less while attending to additional problems once handled by some other outfit whose budget is also in tatters.

    Chief Stephens said people losing cash benefits are falling behind on their electric bills and losing service, resorting to candles for light — a major fire risk.

    The city has cut mental health services, so fewer staff members are visiting people prone to hoarding newspapers, for instance, leaving veritable bonfires piling up behind doors, unseen.

    “There are knock-on effects all the way through the system,” says Chief Stephens, who recently announced plans to resign and move to Australia.

    The National Health Service has supposedly been spared from budget cuts. But spending has been frozen in many areas, resulting in cuts per patient. At public hospitals, people have grown resigned to waiting for hours for emergency care, and weeks for referrals to specialists.

    “I think the government wants to run it down so the whole thing crumbles and they don’t have to worry about it anymore,” says Kenneth Buckle, a retired postal worker who has been waiting three months for a referral for a double knee replacement. “Everything takes forever now.”

    At Fulwood Green Medical Center in Liverpool, Dr. Simon Bowers, a general practitioner, points to austerity as an aggravating factor in the flow of stress-related maladies he encounters — high blood pressure, heart problems, sleeplessness, anxiety.

    He argues that the cuts, and the deterioration of the National Health Service, represent a renouncement of Britain’s historical debts. He rattles off the lowlights — the slave trave, colonial barbarity.

    “We as a country said, ‘We have been cruel. Let’s be nice now and look after everyone,’” Dr. Bowers says. “The N.H.S. has everyone’s back. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are. It’s written into the psyche of this country.”

    “Austerity isn’t a necessity,” he continued. “It’s a political choice, to move Britain in a different way. I can’t see a rationale beyond further enriching the rich while making the lives of the poor more miserable.”

    Wealthy Britons remain among the world’s most comfortable people, enjoying lavish homes, private medical care, top-notch schools and restaurants run by chefs from Paris and Tokyo. The poor, the elderly, the disabled and the jobless are increasingly prone to Kafka-esque tangles with the bureaucracy to keep public support.

    For Emma Wilde, a 31-year-old single mother, the misadventure began with an inscrutable piece of correspondence.

    Raised in the Liverpool neighborhood of Croxteth, Ms. Wilde has depended on welfare benefits to support herself and her two children. Her father, a retired window washer, is disabled. She has been taking care of him full time, relying on a so-called caregiver’s allowance, which amounts to about $85 a week, and income support reaching about $145 a month.

    The letter put this money in jeopardy.

    Sent by a private firm contracted to manage part of the government’s welfare programs, it informed Ms. Wilde that she was being investigated for fraud, accused of living with a partner — a development she is obliged to have reported.

    Ms. Wilde lives only with her children, she insists. But while the investigation proceeds, her benefits are suspended.

    Eight weeks after the money ceased, Ms. Wilde’s electricity was shut off for nonpayment. During the late winter, she and her children went to bed before 7 p.m. to save on heat. She has swallowed her pride and visited a food bank at a local church, bringing home bread and hamburger patties.

    “I felt a bit ashamed, like I had done something wrong, ” Ms. Wilde says. “But then you’ve got to feed the kids.”

    She has been corresponding with the Department for Work and Pensions, mailing bank statements to try to prove her limited income and to restore her funds.

    The experience has given her a perverse sense of community. At the local center where she brings her children for free meals, she has met people who lost their unemployment benefits after their bus was late and they missed an appointment with a caseworker. She and her friends exchange tips on where to secure hand-me-down clothes.

    “Everyone is in the same situation now,” Ms. Wilde says. “You just don’t have enough to live on.”

    From its inception, austerity carried a whiff of moral righteousness, as if those who delivered it were sober-minded grown-ups. Belt tightening was sold as a shared undertaking, an unpleasant yet unavoidable reckoning with dangerous budget deficits.

    “The truth is that the country was living beyond its means,” the then-chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, declared in outlining his budget to Parliament in 2010. “Today, we have paid the debts of a failed past, and laid the foundations for a more prosperous future.”

    “Prosperity for all,” he added.

    Eight years later, housing subsidies have been restricted, along with tax credits for poor families. The government has frozen unemployment and disability benefits even as costs of food and other necessities have climbed. Over the last five years, the government has begun transitioning to so-called Universal Credit, giving those who receive benefits lump sum payments in place of funds from individual programs. Many have lost support for weeks or months while their cases have shifted to the new system.

    All of which is unfortunate yet inescapable, assert Conservative lawmakers. The government was borrowing roughly one-fourth of what it was spending. To put off cuts was to risk turning Britain into the next Greece.

    “The hard left has never been very clear about what their alternative to the program was,” says Neil O’Brien, a Conservative lawmaker who was previously a Treasury adviser to Mr. Osborne. “Presumably, it would be some enormous increase in taxation, but they are a bit shy about what that would mean.”

    He rejects the notion that austerity is a means of class warfare, noting that wealthy people have been hit with higher taxes on investment and expanded fees when buying luxury properties.

    Britain spends roughly the same portion of its national income on public spending today as it did a decade ago, said Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    But those dependent on state support express a sense that the system has been rigged to discard them.

    Glendys Perry, 61, was born with cerebral palsy, making it difficult for her to walk. For three decades, she answered the phones at an auto parts company. After she lost that job in 2010, she lived on a disability check.

    Last summer, a letter came, summoning her to “an assessment.” The first question dispatched any notion that this was a sincere exploration.

    “How long have you had cerebral palsy?” (From birth.) “Will it get better?” (No.)

    In fact, her bones were weakening, and she fell often. Her hands were not quick enough to catch her body, resulting in bruises to her face.

    The man handling the assessment seemed uninterested.

    “Can you walk from here to there?” he asked her.

    He dropped a pen on the floor and commanded her to pick it up — a test of her dexterity.

    “How did you come here?” he asked her.

    “By bus,” she replied.

    Can you make a cup of tea? Can you get dressed?

    “I thought, ‘I’m physically disabled,’” she says. “‘Not mentally.’”

    When the letter came informing her that she was no longer entitled to her disability payment — that she had been deemed fit for work — she was not surprised.

    “They want you to be off of benefits,” she says. “I think they were just ticking boxes.”

    The political architecture of Britain insulates those imposing austerity from the wrath of those on the receiving end. London makes the aggregate cuts, while leaving to local politicians the messy work of allocating the pain.

    Spend a morning with the aggrieved residents of Prescot and one hears scant mention of London, or even austerity. People train their fury on the Knowsley Council, and especially on the man who was until recently its leader, Andy Moorhead. They accuse him of hastily concocting plans to sell Browns Field without community consultation.

    Mr. Moorhead, 62, seems an unlikely figure for the role of austerity villain. A career member of the Labour Party, he has the everyday bearing of a genial denizen of the corner pub.

    “I didn’t become a politician to take things off of people,” he says. “But you’ve got the reality to deal with.”

    The reality is that London is phasing out grants to local governments, forcing councils to live on housing and business taxes.

    “Austerity is here to stay,” says Jonathan Davies, director of the Center for Urban Research on Austerity at De Montfort University in Leicester, England. “What we might now see over the next two years is a wave of bankruptcies, like Detroit.”

    Indeed, the council of Northamptonshire, in the center of England, recently became the first local government in nearly two decades to meet that fate.

    Knowsley expects to spend $192 million in the next budget year, Mr. Moorhead says, with 60 percent of that absorbed by care for the elderly and services for children with health and developmental needs. An additional 18 percent will be spent on services the council must provide by law, such as garbage collection and highway maintenance.

    To Mr. Moorhead, the equation ends with the imperative to sell valuable land, yielding an endowment to protect remaining parks and services.

    “We’ve got to pursue development,” Mr. Moorhead says. “Locally, I’m the bad guy.”

    The real malefactors are the same as ever, he says.

    He points at a picture of Mrs. Thatcher on the wall behind him. He vents about London bankers, who left his people to clean up their mess.

    “No one should be doing this,” he says. “Not in the fifth-wealthiest country in the whole world. Sacking people, making people redundant, reducing our services for the vulnerable in our society. It’s the worst job in the world.”

    Now, it is someone else’s job. In early May, the local Labour Party ousted Mr. Moorhead as council leader amid mounting anger over the planned sale of parks.


  • Niger : Europe’s Migration Laboratory

    “We share an interest in managing migration in the best possible way, for both Europe and Africa,” Mogherini said at the time.

    Since then, she has referred to Niger as the “model” for how other transit countries should manage migration and the best performer of the five African nations who signed up to the E.U. #Partnership_Framework_on_Migration – the plan that made development aid conditional on cooperation in migration control. Niger is “an initial success story that we now want to replicate at regional level,” she said in a recent speech.

    Angela Merkel became the first German chancellor to visit the country in October 2016. Her trip followed a wave of arrests under Law 36 in the Agadez region. Merkel promised money and “opportunities” for those who had previously made their living out of migration.

    One of the main recipients of E.U. funding is the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which now occupies most of one street in Plateau. In a little over two years the IOM headcount has gone from 22 to more than 300 staff.

    Giuseppe Loprete, the head of mission, says the crackdown in northern Niger is about more than Europe closing the door on African migrants. The new law was needed as networks connecting drug smuggling and militant groups were threatening the country, and the conditions in which migrants were forced to travel were criminal.

    “Libya is hell and people who go there healthy lose their minds,” Loprete says.

    A side effect of the crackdown has been a sharp increase in business for IOM, whose main activity is a voluntary returns program. Some 7,000 African migrants were sent home from Niger last year, up from 1,400 in 2014. More than 2,000 returns in the first three months of 2018 suggest another record year.

    The European Development Fund awarded $731 million to Niger for the period 2014–20. A subsequent review boosted this by a further $108 million. Among the experiments this money bankrolls are the connection of remote border posts – where there was previously no electricity – to the internet under the German aid corporation, GIZ; a massive expansion of judges to hear smuggling and trafficking cases; and hundreds of flatbed trucks, off-road vehicles, motorcycles and satellite phones for Nigerien security forces.

    At least three E.U. states – #France, Italy and Germany – have troops on the ground in Niger. Their roles range from military advisers to medics and trainers. French forces and drone bases are present as part of the overlapping Barkhane and G5 Sahel counterinsurgency operations which includes forces from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania. The U.S., meanwhile, has both troops and drone bases for its own regional fight against Islamic militants, the latest of which is being built outside Agadez at a cost of more than $100 million.

    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2018/05/22/niger-europes-migration-laboratory
    #Niger #asile #migrations #réfugiés #laboratoire #agadez #frontières #externalisation #externalisation_des_frontières #modèle_nigérien #cartographie #visualisation
    #OIM #IOM #retours_volontaires #renvois #expulsions #Libye #développement #aide_au_développement #externalisation #externalisation_des_contrôles_frontaliers #G5_sahel #Italie #Allemagne #IMF #FMI

    Intéressant de lire :

    ❝As one European ambassador said, “Niger is now the southern border of Europe.”
    #frontière_européenne #frontière_mobile

    Il y a quelques mois, la nouvelles frontière européenne était désignée comme étant la frontière de la #Libye, là, elle se déplace encore un peu plus au sud...
    –-> v. mon post sur seenthis :


    https://seenthis.net/messages/604039

    Voilà donc la nouvelle carte :

    • Europe Benefits by Bankrolling an Anti-Migrant Effort. Niger Pays a Price.

      Niger has been well paid for drastically reducing the number of African migrants using the country as a conduit to Europe. But the effort has hurt parts of the economy and raised security concerns.

      The heavily armed troops are positioned around oases in Niger’s vast northern desert, where temperatures routinely climb beyond 100 degrees.

      While both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have branches operating in the area, the mission of the government forces here is not to combat jihadism.

      Instead, these Nigerien soldiers are battling human smugglers, who transport migrants across the harsh landscape, where hundreds of miles of dunes separate solitary trees.

      The migrants are hoping to reach neighboring Libya, and from there, try a treacherous, often deadly crossing of the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

      The toll of the military engagement is high. Some smugglers are armed, militants are rife and the terrain is unforgiving: Each mission, lasting two weeks, requires 50 new truck tires to replace the ones shredded in the blistering, rocky sand.

      But the operation has had an impact: Niger has drastically reduced the number of people moving north to Libya through its territory over the past two years.

      The country is being paid handsomely for its efforts, by a Europe eager to reduce the migrant flow. The European Union announced at the end of last year it would provide Niger with one billion euros, or about $1.16 billion, in development aid through 2020, with hundreds of millions of that earmarked for anti-migration projects. Germany, France and Italy also provide aid on their own.

      It is part of a much broader European Union strategy to keep migrants from its shores, including paying billions of euros to Turkey and more than $100 million to aid agencies in Sudan.

      Italy has been accused of paying off militias in Libya to keep migrants at bay. And here in Niger, some military officials angrily contend that France financed a former rebel leader who remains a threat, prioritizing its desire to stop migration over Niger’s national security interests.

      Since passing a law against human trafficking in 2015, Niger has directed its military to arrest and jail migrant smugglers, confiscate their vehicles and bring the migrants they traffic to the police or the International Organization for Migration, or I.O.M. The migrants are then given a choice whether to continue on their journey — and risk being detained again, or worse — or given a free ride back to their home country.

      The law’s effect has been significant. At the peak in 2015, there were 5,000 to 7,000 migrants a week traveling through Niger to Libya. The criminalization of smuggling has reduced those numbers to about 1,000 people a week now, according to I.O.M. figures.

      At the same time, more migrants are leaving Libya, fleeing the rampant insecurity and racist violence targeting sub-Saharan Africans there.

      As a result, the overall flow of people has now gone into a notable reverse: For the last two years, more African migrants have been leaving Libya to return to their homelands than entering the country from Niger, according to the I.O.M.

      One of Niger’s biggest bus companies, Rimbo, used to send four migrant-filled buses each day from the country’s capital in the south, Niamey, to the northern city of Agadez, a jumping off point for the trip to the Libyan border.

      Now, the company has signed a two-year contract with the I.O.M. to carry migrants the other way, so they can be repatriated.

      On a recent breezy evening in Niamey, a convoy of four Rimbo buses rolled through the dusty streets after an arduous 20-hour drive from Agadez, carrying 400 migrants. They were headed back home to countries across West Africa, including Guinea, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

      For leaders in Europe, this change in migrant flows is welcome news, and a testament to Niger’s dedication to shared goals.

      “Niger really became one of our best allies in the region,” said Raul Mateus Paula, the bloc’s ambassador to Niger.

      But the country’s achievement has also come with considerable costs, including on those migrants still determined to make it to Libya, who take more risks than ever before. Drivers now take routes hundreds of miles away from water points and go through mined areas to avoid military patrols. When smugglers learn the military is in the area, they often abandon migrants in the desert to escape arrest.

      This has led to dozens of deaths by dehydration over the past two years, prompting Niger’s civil protection agency and the I.O.M. to launch weekly rescue patrols.

      The agency’s head, Adam Kamassi, said his team usually rescues between 20 to 50 people every time it goes out. On those trips, it nearly always finds three or four bodies.

      The crackdown on human smuggling has also been accompanied by economic decline and security concerns for Niger.

      The government’s closure of migrant routes has caused an increase in unemployment and an uptick in other criminal activity like drug smuggling and robbery, according to a Niger military intelligence document.

      “I know of about 20 people who have become bandits for lack of work,” said Mahamadou Issouf, who has been driving migrants from Agadez to southern Libya since 2005, but who no longer has work.

      Earlier this year, the army caught him driving 31 migrants near a spot in the desert called the Puit d’Espoir, or Well of Hope. While the army released him in this case, drivers who worked for him have been imprisoned and two of his trucks impounded.

      The military intelligence document also noted that since the crackdown, towns along the migrant route are having a hard time paying for essential services like schools and health clinics, which had relied on money from migration and the industries feeding it.

      For example, the health clinic in Dirkou, once a major migrant way station in northern Niger, now has fewer paying clients because the number of migrants seeking has dwindled. Store owners who relied on the steady flow of people traveling through have gone bankrupt.

      Hassan Mohammed is another former migrant smuggler who lost his livelihood in the crackdown.

      A native of Dirkou, Mr. Mohammed, 31, began driving migrants across the desert in 2002, earning enough in the process to buy two Toyota pickup trucks. The smuggling operation grew enough that he began employing his younger brothers to drive.

      Today, Mr. Mohammed’s brothers are in prison, serving the six-month sentences convicted smuggler drivers face. His two pickup trucks are gathering dust, along with a few dozen other confiscated vehicles, on a Niger army base. With no income, Mr. Mohammed now relies on the generosity of friends to survive.

      With Europe as a primary beneficiary of the smuggling crackdown, the European Union is eager to keep the effort in place, and some of the bloc’s aid finances a project to convert former smugglers into entrepreneurs. But the project is still in its pilot stage more than two years after the migrant crackdown began.

      Ibrahim Yacouba, the former foreign minister of Niger, who resigned earlier this year, said, “There are lots of announcements of millions of euros in funding, but in the lived reality of those who are in the industry, there has been no change.”

      The crackdown has also raised security concerns, as France has taken additional steps to stop migration along the Niger-Libya border that go beyond its asylum-processing center.

      From its military base in the northern Nigerien outpost of Madama, France funded last year an ethnic Toubou militia in southern Libya, with the goal of using the group to help stop smugglers, according to Nigerien security officials.

      This rankled the Nigerien military because the militia is headed by an ex-Nigerien rebel, Barka Sidimi, who is considered a major security risk by the country’s officials. To military leaders, this was an example of a European anti-migrant policy taking precedent over Niger’s own security.

      A French military spokesperson said, “We don’t have information about the collaboration you speak of.”

      Despite the country’s progress in reducing the flow of migrants, Nigerien officials know the problem of human smugglers using the country as a conduit is not going away.

      “The fight against clandestine migration is not winnable,’’ said Mohamed Bazoum, Niger’s interior minister.

      Even as Libya has experienced a net drop in migrants, new routes have opened up: More migrants are now entering Algeria and transiting to Morocco to attempt a Mediterranean crossing there, according to Giuseppe Loprete, who recently left his post after being the I.O.M.’s director in Niger for four years.

      But despite the drawbacks that come with it, the smuggling crackdown will continue, at least for now, according to Mr. Bazoum, the interior minister. Migrant smuggling and trafficking, he said, “creates a context of a criminal economy, and we are against all forms of economic crime to preserve the stability and security of our country.”

      For Mr. Mohammed, the former smuggler, the crackdown has left him idle and dejected, with no employment prospects.

      “There’s no project for any of us here,” he said. “There’s nothing going on. I only sleep and wake up.”


      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/25/world/africa/niger-migration-crisis.html#click=https://t.co/zSUbpbU3Kf


  • New web maps tell full story of climate change - Geographical
    http://geographical.co.uk/places/mapping/item/2684-new-web-maps-tell-full-story-of-climate-change

    New interactive maps combine precipitation and temperature to show climate change in more detail, and can be used to compare climates worldwide

    Climate change maps usually fall into one of two categories: maps that show changes in precipitation, and maps that show changes in temperature. Unfortunately, focusing on one of these factors only tells half of the story. For example, a map of global temperature increase would show a warming Arctic, but it would not show the decrease in rainfall predicted to impact West Africa. Now, researchers at the University of Cincinnati have created a map that shows both.

    #climat #cartographie #impact_climatique


  • Nouveau manuel d’histoire pour l’#Afrique_de_l’ouest

    Aujourd’hui est lancé à Banjul (Gambie) un nouveau manuel d’histoire pour les élèves anglophones ouest-africains qui passent l’examen du certificat de fin d’études secondaires d’Afrique de l’Ouest (WASSCE). Que ce soit en Gambie, au Ghana, au Liberia, au Nigeria ou en Sierra Leone, tous les élèves ont en commun la moitié du programme scolaire d’histoire, l’autre partie étant réservée à l’histoire nationale de chaque pays.

    http://libeafrica4.blogs.liberation.fr/2018/03/25/nouveau-manuel-dhistoire-pour-lafrique-de-louest

    #manuel_d'histoire #histoire #éducation #historicisation #Afrique

    • History #Textbook. West African Senior School Certificate Examination

      This website hosts a textbook aimed at West African students taking West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) History Paper 1, “West Africa and the Wider World from Earliest Times to 2000”. This free resource covers all the current syllabus, as well as including two chapters (11. Women, Gender and Political Authority; 12. The Environment in West African History) which – it is hoped – might be later added. The authors hope that this content will allow secondary school students to gain a good overview of West African history as their syllabus defines it, and at the same time contribute to new debates.


      https://wasscehistorytextbook.wordpress.com


  • The Point of Men’s Cults - Facts So Romantic
    http://nautil.us/blog/the-point-of-mens-cults

    Men’s cults are not universal, but they recur throughout history and across cultures. Does their pervasiveness tell us something important about evolution and human behavior?From The Cassowary’s Revenge (1997) by Donald TuzinOne surprising thing about secret societies is how visible they are. In the ethnographic record, they can be found almost everywhere. They’re particularly well documented across Melanesia,1 the Amazon,2 and West Africa.3 There are mixed-sex,4 and all female,5 secret societies, but the ones that physically coerce, ritually deceive, and violently punish outsiders and taboo-violators are often entirely made up of males.6,7 These all-male secret societies are best described as “men’s cults,” because of their exclusionary nature and strong connection to male sex roles. They can be (...)


  • Shifting relationships, growing threats: Who’s who of insurgent groups in the Sahel

    In the six years since a separatist rebellion broke out in northern #Mali in January 2012, armed groups in West Africa’s Sahel region have grown considerably in both number and the complexity of their ever-evolving relationships with one another.


    http://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2018/02/15/Sahel-militant-groups-Mali-Niger-threat
    #Sahel #Niger #Nigeria #Burkina_Faso #Tchad #ISIS #Etat_islamique #EI #boko_haram #djihadisme
    cc @reka


  • Saudi preacher shot dead in Guinea village | News24
    https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/saudi-preacher-shot-dead-in-guinea-village-20180117

    A Saudi Arabian preacher was shot dead in Guinea’s east after organising a prayer service that angered some villagers in the majority-Muslim West African country, local sources said on Wednesday.

    The man, who was a member of a mission building mosques in Upper Guinea, was killed on Tuesday night in the village of Kantebalandougou, between the towns Kankan and Kerouane.

    […]

    Saudi Arabia has long faced accusations of exporting Wahhabism, its ultra-conservative form of Islam, which has been gaining popularity across West Africa.


  • « Elf, rien à foutre ! » - Romuald Hazoumé, 2005, Benin.

    J’aime beaucoup l’œuvre et le titre de l’œuvre de cet artiste béninois

    Global Art in Global Amsterdam 2013 in The Netherlands.

    http://httpmyblogtzina.blogspot.com/2013/07/global-art-in-global-amsterdam-2013-in.html

    One of these the artist Romuald Hazoume from Republic of Benin ( in Africa ) who became famous through his masks in the style of traditional West Africa masks.


  • A hard row to hoe for Nigeria to reach food self-sufficiency

    On the outskirts of Nigeria’s northern city of Kano is bustling Dawanau, West Africa’s largest grain market. Fortunes change hands here daily, with sacks of millet, sorghum, and cowpeas loaded onto trucks for delivery to countries as far afield as Chad, Mali, and Senegal.


    https://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2017/12/20/hard-row-hoe-nigeria-reach-food-self-sufficiency
    #auto-suffisance_alimentaire #agriculture #Nigeria #alimentation #semences


  • Refugees Deeply | La réponse hypocrite de l’Europe face à l’esclavagisme en Libye
    https://asile.ch/2017/12/21/refugees-deeply-reponse-hypocrite-europeens-face-a-lesclavagisme-libye

    Le site d’information indépendant Refugees Deeply apporte un éclairage essentiel aux récentes révélations sur les cas de traitements dégradants infligés à des réfugiés en Libye. Son auteure Giulia Lagana démontre à quel point les responsabilités sont multiples. Dans sa ligne de mire, les politiques européennes de confinement des migrants aux frontières extérieures, au détriment de […]

    • The war on smugglers

      The “discovery” of the video has ignited the press and a consuming public in need of symbolism and scapegoats, a long-standing orientalist trope of Arab slave auctions, which European and African policy makers are now making work for their own objectives. The EU’s primary means to end the “migration crisis” remains an imperial, pink, ham-fisted attempt to militarily disrupt smuggling networks or what they call, Reagan-style, the “war on smugglers.” Watch the not-so-subtle encouragement in this direction apparent in this more recent CNN piece, reporting on France’s “urgent” demand to the UN to consider “sanctions,” and failing that, a more forceful intervention to stop migrants “being sold between human trafficking gangs.”
      To intervene (again), the European branch of NATO needs to plug into a narrative that can find legitimacy in the western press and a sub-section of first world and global middle classes. The revived “slave auctions” being stomped out through a new western moral and military show of force is a tried and tested avenue for this — a cathartic one popularized amongst others by the irrelevant tweeting of aging rapper LL Cool J (“Remove the slave holders by force”).
      Smugglers are the only ticket out of the country for the estimated half a million Nigerian migrants “stranded” in Libya and its detention centers. Except the IOM itself, a UN organization funded largely by the EU, whose renewed mission is to deflect the route to Europe by offering up anything from 400 to 7000 euros to any illegal “economic” migrants willing to be repatriated or return. This counter-payment ecosystem has even led to the rise of scammers posing as the IOM, promising “visa facilitation and transportation assistance, resettlement opportunities as well as job openings and recruitment abroad,” which in the eyes of most migrants is a better try than going back home broke with nothing to show. It also explains why more people have opted for the service of smugglers — and probably fallen for these scams — than have taken up the IOM’s offer of repatriation.
      A prominent figure of “Nigerian twitter” tweeted a Facebook post (a much more popular and less elite-laden platform in Nigeria than Twitter) written by one Ephraim Okonkwo, who reminds everyone: “If you want to help Libya slaves/immigrants, don’t bring them back home. Help them reach their destination in Europe. There’s a very good reason they left home in the first place.” The tweet is followed by a provocation of the avatar Nigerian Troll: “Please run away. Don’t let this Libya propaganda discourage you.” This is a common sentiment I encountered on the streets of Lagos and elsewhere in West Africa: “Of course I want to go to Europe,” “You must suffer for greener pastures,” “Libya is bad but not that bad,” “One merely must pass through quickly.”
      As almost no long-term, independent investigations have been possible in Libya in recent years, it is not clear if conditions have worsened. I believe my impressions from 2015 (also here) are still valid, and so is the new academic research of Paolo Campana. His research is based on the wiretapped mobile phone of heterogeneous smugglers who used the Libya route in 2013-2014. He suggests that that there is solid empirical evidence that there is a “clear separation between actors involved in the provision of smuggling services” from those involved “in kidnapping for ransom and in the ‘management’ of detention centres.” This “goes against narratives that conflate these separate sets of activities.”

      http://africasacountry.com/2018/02/the-war-on-smugglers
      #retour_volontaire


  • Humanitarian experimentation - Humanitarian Law & Policy | Humanitarian Law & Policy
    http://blogs.icrc.org/law-and-policy/2017/11/28/humanitarian-experimentation

    Humanitarian actors, faced with ongoing conflict, epidemics, famine and a range of natural disasters, are increasingly being asked to do more with less. The international community’s commitment of resources has not kept pace with their expectations or the growing crises around the world. Some humanitarian organizations are trying to bridge this disparity by adopting new technologies—a practice often referred to as humanitarian innovation. This blog post, building on a recent article in the ICRC Review, asserts that humanitarian innovation is often human experimentation without accountability, which may both cause harm and violate some of humanitarians’ most basic principles.

    While many elements of humanitarian action are uncertain, there is a clear difference between using proven approaches to respond in new contexts and using wholly experimental approaches on populations at the height of their vulnerability. This is also not the first generation of humanitarian organizations to test new technologies or approaches in the midst of disaster. Our article draws upon three timely examples of humanitarian innovations, which are expanding into the mainstream of humanitarian practice without clear assessments of potential benefits or harms.

    Cargo drones, for one, have been presented as a means to help deliver assistance to places that aid agencies otherwise find difficult, and sometimes impossible, to reach. Biometrics is another example. It is said to speed up cumbersome registration processes, thereby allowing faster access to aid for people in need (who can only receive assistance upon registration). And, in the case of responding to the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, data modelling was seen as a way to help in this response. In each of these cases, technologies with great promise were deployed in ways that risked, distorted and/or damaged the relationships between survivors and responders.


  • The Gambia is now free and democratic so Europe is pushing its migrants to go home

    Gambians were among the top nationalities leaving West Africa for Italy in 2016. In total 11,929 Gambians arrived last year. But because they have a new democratically-elected government, European countries are now looking to increase the returns of Gambian migrants. A Working Party on Integration, Migration and Expulsion has already met at the European Council to discuss a draft agreement on returns between the EU and the Gambia.

    The potentially explosive levels of frustration already hold true for returnees from Libya. Since March 2017, the International Organisation for Migration has sought to voluntarily return Gambians home from Libya. In August, it identified 1,979 Gambians living in Libya.


    https://qz.com/1114660/italy-is-pushing-gambian-migrants-to-return-now-yahya-jammeh-is-out-of-power-but

    #Gambie #migrations #asile #réfugiés #renvois #expulsions #accord #pays_sûr #réfugiés_gambiens #OIM #IOM #retour_volontaire
    cc @isskein


  • Department of Defense Press Briefing by General Dunford in the Pentagon Briefing Room > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Transcript View
    https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1351411/department-of-defense-press-briefing-by-general-dunford-in-the-pentagon-bri

    Q: Could you let us know how many U.S. forces are serving in #AFRICOM total, west and east Africa right now, maybe a potential breakdown?
     
                GEN. DUNFORD: Yes, sure I can. I can give you — I’ll give you a range. We have on the order of 6,000 — a little over 6,000 forces in Africa and they’re in about 53 different countries.

    #etats-unis #afrique


  • Remind Me Why We Have Troops in #Niger? | naked capitalism
    https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/remind-troops-niger.html

    Conclusion

    So far as I can tell, there are only two reasons for us to have a military presence in Niger:

    1) To help France hang on to its uranium supply, a vital national interest for them, and

    2) The self-licking ice cream of the Global War on Terror, or whatever we’re calling it these days.

    Since the political class seems to be lusting for war — whether with Russia or in North Korea — a war in Niger would have much to recommend it, since the only nuclear powers involved would be the United States and France (since its hard to see that China would have vital national interests involved; Niger’s uranium would constitute some fraction of one-third of China’s uranium supply).

    If the United States runs true to form (and at this point we have form) a war in Niger would:

    0) Never be declared;

    1) Last for many years;

    2) Not produce a victory (if victory be defined as parades and politicians claiming victory);

    3) Be extremely expensive;

    4) Cause enormous civilian suffering and many refugees;

    5) Destabilize West Africa;

    6) Strengthen the mercenary elements of the military-industrial complex;

    7) Produce blowback, should adversaries once again focus, as Bin-Laden did, on the “far enemy.” In this regard, it would be interesting to see the social effects if the blowback operatives were Africans, and not from the Middle East, as were Bin Laden’s.

    What could go wrong?

    #guerres #etats-unis

    • The U.S. military is conducting secret missions all over Africa – VICE News
      https://news.vice.com/story/us-military-secret-missions-africa

      “The huge increase in U.S. military missions in Africa over the past few years represents nothing less than a shadow war being waged on the continent,” said William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

      These developments stand in stark contrast to early assurances that AFRICOM’s efforts would be focused on diplomacy and aid. In the opening days of the command, the assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, Theresa Whelan, said it would not “reflect a U.S. intent to engage kinetically in Africa.” #AFRICOM, she said, was not “about fighting wars.”

      But an increasing number of AFRICOM’s missions have the appearance of just that. The command has launched 500 airstrikes in Libya in the last year alone, and U.S. forces have regularly carried out drone attacks and commando raids in Somalia.

      “When push comes to shove training missions can easily cross the line into combat operations.”

      “This military-heavy policy,” said Hartung, “risks drawing the United States more deeply into local and regional conflicts in Africa and generating a backlash that could actually aid terrorist organizations in their recruitment.”