• The potential of unused small-scale water reservoirs for climate change adaptation: A model- and scenario based analysis of a local water reservoir system in Thuringia, Germany

    The 6th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (2021) stated that hot extremes have become more frequent and intense across most land regions in the past decades. It is projected that the changing climatic conditions in Germany and Thuringia in particular will lead to a higher frequency of drought events. Thus, it is vital to develop local adaptation strategies to mitigate the effects of droughts on agriculture to ensure future crop production. Water resource infrastructure has a critical role in planning future climate change adaptation measures that are sustainable. As the construction of new dams and reservoirs is controversial, it is preferable to use existing infrastructures, if they are suitable. Small-scale water management reservoirs built in Thuringia during the GDR (German Democratic Republic) and decommissioned after the German reunification were examined in this study to determine whether their reuse could be considered as a potential adaptation strategy. For this purpose, three reservoirs in Thuringia were selected. The impact of climate change on soil moisture, water availability and crop production, and the use of water from the reservoirs to meet future irrigation needs were modeled using the #Water_Evaluation_and_Planning_system (#WEAP). The modeled climatic changes have direct effects on the soil moisture status, leading to a higher water demand of the local agriculture. The results show that the crop water needs could double between near future (2020–2040) and distant future (2071–2100). However, predicted declines in yields can be mitigated by irrigation; modeling results indicate that supplemental irrigation with reservoir water mitigates projected losses and even allows 6.2–13.5% more crop production. Hence, the reuse of the reservoirs is worth to be considered as an adaptation strategy by policymakers. In addition to a cost-benefit analysis for future evaluation of the reservoirs, local user interests and demands need to be included avoiding conflicts about water. In general, WEAP as a modeling tool and the findings of the study show, that this research approach could be used to investigate the potential adaptive capacity of other small-scale water infrastructures.

    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frwa.2022.892834/full

    #eau #réservoirs #micro-réservoirs #réservoirs_d'eau #changement_climatique #adaptation #aménagement_du_territoire #irrigation

  • Le pouvoir du son : un entretien avec Juliette Volcler
    On a parfois le sentiment que la pensée critique tourne en rond. Que chaque petit détail de notre quotidien comme toute méga-structure institutionnelle ont déjà été décortiqués, analysés et contextualisés dans les régimes de pouvoir qui nous enserrent, nous calibrent, nous tiennent. Juliette Volcler vient justement prouver le contraire. Depuis plusieurs années, la chercheuse s’intéresse à une dimension du réel à la fois proche et omniprésente mais impensée : le son. Le son comme arme et ses usages policiers et militaires, le son comme dispositif de contrôle et de manipulation et plus récemment dans son dernier ouvrage paru à La Découverte , le son comme orchestration du quotidien. De la musique d’ascenseur, aux annonces de la SNCF, des publicités au maintien de l’ordre, Juliette Volcler raconte et explique comment nos oreilles sont elles aussi un champs de bataille.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVDNg5P70yU

    • Le son comme arme. Les usages policiers et militaires du son

      « Lalafalloujah », tel est le surnom donné par les GI’s à la ville irakienne de Falloujah en 2004, alors qu’ils bombardaient ses rues de hard rock à plein volume. « C’était comme envoyer un fumigène », dira un porte-parole de l’armée états-unienne. Les années 2000 ont en effet vu se développer un usage répressif du son, symptomatique de la porosité entre l’#industrie_militaire et celle du divertissement, sur les champs de bataille et bien au-delà. Rap, metal et même chansons pour enfants deviennent des instruments de #torture contre des terroristes présumés. Des alarmes directionnelles servent de technologies « non létales » de #contrôle_des_foules dans la bande de Gaza comme lors des contre-sommets du G20, à Toronto et à Pittsburgh. Des #répulsifs_sonores éloignent des centres-villes et des zones marchandes les indésirables, adolescents ou clochards.
      L’enrôlement du son dans la #guerre et le #maintien_de_l’ordre s’appuie sur plus d’un demi-siècle de recherches militaires et scientifiques. La généalogie des #armes_acoustiques, proposée ici pour la première fois en français, est tout autant celle des échecs, des fantasmes et des projets avortés, que celle des dispositifs bien réels qui en ont émergé. Aujourd’hui, l’#espace_sonore est sommé de se plier à la raison sécuritaire et commerciale. Souvent relégué au second plan au cours du XXe siècle, celui de l’image, il est devenu l’un des terrains d’#expérimentation privilégiés de nouvelles formes de #domination et d’#exclusion. Et appelle donc de nouvelles résistances.

      https://www.editionsladecouverte.fr/le_son_comme_arme-9782707168856
      #livre #son #weaponization #police #armée #Juliette_Volcler #le_son_comme_arme #son_comme_arme

    • L’orchestration du quotidien. Design sonore et écoute au 21e siècle

      Qu’ont en commun le « taa dam tâ-dâm » d’une annonce de la SNCF, le « ting » de validation d’un titre RATP, le « tu-tû-du dûûûû » d’un certain opérateur de télécoms, mais aussi le « pop » d’ouverture d’un jus de fruit, le « clic » d’un tube de mascara de luxe ? Tous ces sons et environnements qui font partie de notre quotidien partagent le fait d’avoir été composés. Derrière leur grande disparité, ils relèvent de ce que l’on nomme le design sonore. Sous ses formes commerciales dominantes, ce dernier agit comme un révélateur des évolutions récentes du capitalisme. Lorsqu’il se fonde, bien plus rarement, sur une exigence d’utilité sociale, il peut en revanche devenir un outil d’émancipation.
      Pour appréhender les spécificités du design sonore, Juliette Volcler entrecroise des cultures industrielles généralement étanches les unes aux autres et tire des fils entre des époques, des pratiques, des secteurs ou des objets auparavant isolés. Optant pour une approche littéraire et subjective, elle applique l’exercice de la critique sonore à l’espace urbain comme à des boissons gazeuses, à des alarmes autant qu’à des installations artistiques. À travers le design sonore et son développement actuel comme outil d’ingénierie sociale se pose plus largement la question politique de l’écoute au 21e siècle. Cet ouvrage invite ainsi les lectrices et lecteurs à opérer un déplacement dans leur manière d’entendre le quotidien et à éveiller une écoute critique.

      https://www.editionsladecouverte.fr/l_orchestration_du_quotidien-9782348064715
      #design_sonore

      voir aussi :
      « Le design sonore rend désirable la malbouffe auditive », entretien avec Juliette Volcler
      https://seenthis.net/messages/965119

  • Plateforme « drift-backs » en mer Egée

    Une enquête de #Forensic_Architecture et Forensis menée avec une grande rigueur –recoupements de photos et de vidéos, géolocalisations, recoupements de témoignages- révèle que, entre mars 2020 et mars 2020, 1018 opérations de refoulement -la plupart par la méthode dite ‘#drift-back’- ont été menées en mer Egée, impliquant 27.464 réfugiés. Remarquez que ce chiffre concerne uniquement les refoulements en Mer Egée et non pas ceux effectués d’une façon également systématique à la frontière terrestre d’Evros.


    https://forensic-architecture.org/investigation/drift-backs-in-the-aegean-sea

    –—

    Présentation succincte des résultats de l’enquête parue au journal grec Efimérida tôn Syntaktôn (https://www.efsyn.gr/ellada/dikaiomata/352169_pano-apo-1000-epanaproothiseis).

    Plus de 1 000 opérations de refoulements en mer Egée répertoriés et documentés par Forensic Architecture 15.07.2022, 10:26

    Dimitris Angelidis

    L’enquête des groupes Forensic Architecture et Forensis est très révélatrice. ● De mars 2020 à mars 2022, 1 018 cas de refoulement d’un total de 27 464 réfugiés ont été enregistrés, dont 600 ont été recoupés et documentés de façon qui ne laisse aucune place au doute ● « Des preuves d’une pratique assassine qui s’avère non seulement systématique et généralisée, mais aussi bien planifiée émergent », rapportent les deux groupes.

    Plus de 1 000 opérations illégales de refoulement de réfugiés dans la mer Égée, de mars 2020 à mars 2022, ont été enregistrées et documentées par le célèbre groupe de recherche Forensic Architecture et l’organisation sœur Forensis (fondée à Berlin, 2021).

    Les résultats de leurs enquêtes depuis plus d’un an sont aujourd’hui publiés en ligne (https://aegean.forensic-architecture.org ), sur une plateforme électronique qui constitue l’enregistrement le plus complet et le plus valide des refoulements grecs en mer Égée, alors que sa mise à jour sera effectuée régulièrement.

    « Des preuves d’une pratique de meurtre systématique, étendue et bien planifiée émergent », rapportent les deux groupes, notant que le déni des refoulements par le gouvernement grec manque tout fondement.

    Les preuves qu’ils ont croisées et documentées avec des techniques de géolocalisation et d’analyse spatiale proviennent de réfugiés et d’organisations telles que Alarm Phone et l’organisation Agean Boat Report, la base de données Frontex, le site Web des garde-côtes turcs et des recherches open source.

    Il s’agit de 1 018 cas de refoulement d’un total de 27 464 réfugiés, dont 600 ont été recoupés et documentés d’une façon si complète que leur existence ne peut pas être mise en doute. Il y a aussi 11 morts et 4 disparus lors de refoulements, ainsi que 26 cas où les garde-côtes ont jeté des réfugiés directement à la mer, sans utiliser les radeaux de sauvetage (life-rafts) qu’ils utilisent habituellement pour les refoulements, depuis mars 2020. Deux des personnes jetées à l’eau mer ont été retrouvées menottées.

    Dans 16 cas, les opérations ont été menées loin de la frontière, dans les eaux grecques, soulignant « un degré élevé de coopération entre les différentes administrations et autorités du pays impliquées, ce qui indique un système soigneusement conçu pour empêcher l’accès aux côtes grecques », comme le note l’ enquête.

    Frontex est directement impliquée dans 122 refoulements, ayant été principalement chargée d’identifier les bateaux entrants et de notifier leurs présences aux autorités grecques. Frontex a également connaissance de 417 cas de refoulement, qu’elle a enregistrés dans sa base de données sous le terme trompeur « dissuasion d’entrée ».

    Lors de trois opérations le navire de guerre allemand de l’OTAN FGS Berlin a été présent sur les lieux.

    https://www.efsyn.gr/ellada/dikaiomata/352169_pano-apo-1000-epanaproothiseis

    voir aussi la vidéo introductive ici : https://vimeo.com/730006259

    #architecture_forensique #mer_Egée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #push-backs #chiffres #statistiques #Grèce #Turquie #refoulements #gardes-côtes #life_rafts #abandon #weaponization #géolocalisation #recoupement_de_l'information #contrôles_frontaliers #base_de_données #cartographie #carte_interactive #visualisation #plateforme

    –—

    pour voir la plateforme :
    https://aegean.forensic-architecture.org

  • Missing in #Brooks_County: A tragic outcome of U.S. border and migration policy

    Since the 1990s, tens of thousands of migrants have died painful deaths, usually of dehydration and exposure, on U.S. soil. Their remains are only occasionally found. The migrants began taking ever more hazardous routes after the Clinton and subsequent administrations started building up border-security infrastructure and #Border_Patrol presence in more populated areas.

    The crisis is particularly acute in a sparsely populated county in south #Texas, about 70 miles north of the border, where migrants’ smugglers encourage them to walk around a longstanding Border Patrol highway checkpoint. Many of them get lost in the hot, dry surrounding ranchland and go missing.

    The WOLA Podcast discussed the emergency in Brooks County, Texas in October 2020, when we heard from Eddie Canales of the South Texas Human Rights Center.

    Eddie features prominently in “Missing in Brooks County,” a new documentary co-directed and produced by Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemiss. Molomot and Bemiss visited the county 15 times over 4 years, and their film shows the crisis from the perspective of migrants, family members, Border Patrol agents, ranchers, humanitarian workers like Eddie, and experts trying to help identify remains and help loved ones achieve closure.

    One of those experts, featured in some of the most haunting scenes in “Missing in Brooks County,” is anthropologist Kate Spradley of Texas State University, who has sought to bring order to a chaotic process of recovering, handling, and identifying migrants’ remains.

    In this episode of the podcast, Lisa Molomot, Jeff Bemiss, and Kate Spradley join WOLA’s Adam Isacson to discuss the causes of the tragedy in Brooks County and elsewhere along the border; why it has been so difficult to resolve the crisis; how they made the film; how U.S. federal and local government policies need to change, and much more.

    https://www.wola.org/analysis/missing-in-brooks-county-a-tragic-outcome-of-u-s-border-and-migration-policy
    #USA #Etats-Unis #décès #morts #mourir_aux_frontières #Mexique #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #contrôles_migratoires #désert #déshydratation #weaponization #frontières_mobiles #zones_frontalières #checkpoints #chiens #statistiques #chiffres #chasse #propriété_privée #prevention_through_deterrence #mortalité
    #podcast #audio

  • Woman’s grocery list for husband goes viral and sparks conversation about men’s ’strategic incompetence’
    https://eu.usatoday.com/story/life/health-wellness/2021/09/15/men-weaponize-incompetence-avoid-housework-caring-kids/8336253002

    The grocery list was beautiful, meticulous, a combination of text and photos painstakingly organized. Each item featured a cut-out photograph, so there could be no mistaking it for a similar item, and included accompanying lines for quantity, aisle and price. The list came with a hand-drawn map of the store. Perfect, some education experts say, for a child working on gaining independence during their first time grocery shopping.

    Except this list wasn’t for a child. It was posted by a woman on the social media platform TikTok with the onscreen text, “When I have to send my husband to the store.”

    Some people thought the video was a joke, and while it may have been intended as hyperbole, many users on the platform cited it as an example of what gender experts call “strategic incompetence,” a tactic used by men – sometimes consciously, sometimes not – to avoid equitable division of family work. It is also referred to as “weaponized incompetence” or “performative incompetence,” in which men pretend they are unable to perform certain tasks so women will do them instead.

    On TikTok, the term #weaponizedincompetence has 3.5 million views.

    “Incompetence has its rewards. It allows men to justify the gender-based distribution of domestic labor,” said Francine M. Deutsch, Professor Emerita of Psychology at Mount Holyoke College and author of “Creating Equality at Home: How 25 couples around the world share housework and childcare.”

    Men in heterosexual relationships who fake incompetence at home or blame their poor performance on women’s unreasonable standards (ones sociologists say women have been socialized to maintain in order to be viewed as “good mothers” and “good wives”), harm women by placing the disproportionate burden of family work on their shoulders.

    According to the Pew Research Center:

    74% of mothers say they do more to manage their children’s schedules and activities than their spouse. Only 3% say their husband or partner does more.
    59% say they do more household chores than their spouse, with 6% saying their spouse does more.
    Just 39% of fathers say they were doing a “very good job” raising their children, compared with 51% of mothers.

    “There’s this assumption that women have the skills needed to complete childcare and housework, which means that we then stereotype men as having fewer skills or greater incompetence in this arena, but the reality is that no one is born knowing how to get a stubborn stain out of a shirt in the laundry or to scrub a pot effectively,” said Caitlyn Collins, a sociology professor at Washington University. “We learn how to do this. We are socialized from a very young age into learning what men and women can and should be responsible for.”
    Ruining the laundry, ignoring the children

    More than two decades ago, Deutsch interviewed hundreds of couples for her book, “Halving it All: How Equally Shared Parenting Works,” and found men employed many strategies of resistance to avoid participating equally at home. They included strategic incompetence, passive resistance – where men sit back while women repeatedly ask, nag and cajole – and praise, which may be sincere, but which Deutsch said also has the “insidious effect of keeping the work within women’s domain.”

    ’No’: The one word women need to be saying more often

    Deutsch said one husband she interviewed told her, “It would be a struggle for me to do the laundry. I don’t do it as well as Robin. I think she’s better with that sort of peasant stuff of life.”

    Strategic incompetence can look like a man ruining the laundry, leaving grease on the dishes or ignoring the children. It can sound like a husband who says, “I’m just not very good in the kitchen,” or that his daughter’s shirt buttons are too tiny to fasten himself.

    Collins said she once interviewed a successful working mom in Washington, D.C., married to a man who also worked full-time. The woman told Collins one night she asked her husband to take steak out of the freezer to thaw so she could cook it when she got home. He didn’t.

    “She said ’Caity, I’m embarrassed to say this out loud, but my husband works from home. He’s home all day long, and he could have taken the meat out of the freezer at any point in the day while I’m out at the office, so I can come home and cook, and he couldn’t even do that.’ She was embarrassed to tell me this because her husband was a very, very successful white-collar professional in D.C.” Collins said. “These are smart, capable men, and they weren’t really successful in helping their partners feel less stressed at home.”
    The problem with saying, ’but men were never taught’

    Deutsch said some of her detractors argue incompetence is not a strategy. It’s simply that men weren’t taught how to perform these tasks.

    “If you think about it for five minutes, you’ll realize that’s ridiculous,” she said. “Many women today, my husband and I, neither of us had ever held a newborn baby before our child was born. We both were novices.”

    Deutsch said she once interviewed a machinist who couldn’t figure out how to do the laundry. She’s talked to men who are employed in high-level management who did not contribute to the overall management of their homes.

    Analysis: What your mom actually needs

    “It’s one of the most intractable gendered things. And the men constantly said to me things like, ’She’s just more organized than I am.’ Well, some of these men were managers at work,” she said. “It’s not an issue of competence. It’s motivation. If you want to learn how to cook, do the laundry, take care of children, manage the household chores, certainly most men are capable of doing this.”
    Why women are sometimes unwilling to let go of the work

    Deutsch said some men are likely consciously manipulative, while others have simply learned there are benefits to doing less. And many women continue to do the lion’s share of managing their homes, Collins said, because they have been socialized to believe it is their responsibility.

    “It makes sense that women are unwilling to just let these tasks drop completely, like the laundry, changing diapers, helping with homework, scheduling doctor’s appointments,” Collins said. “Women aren’t really willing to let those things fall by the wayside and so they step in when their partners fumble to do the work, but there is no safety net for them when they don’t do those tasks.”

    That feeling you can’t name?: It’s called emotional exhaustion

    A woman who runs her household well is viewed as a “good woman,” which is why so many women have high standards for family work. It’s an authentic pressure but can have a backfire effect, leading to what gender experts call “maternal gate-keeping,” when some women prevent partners from helping because they don’t think they can complete the tasks as well.

    There are times, Deutsch said, when women must relax standards in order to achieve equity at home. Men also can’t blame their lack of participation on those standards, especially because some are non-negotiable.

    “Some standards are really important,” Deutsch said. “If the kid’s in the swimming pool, somebody has got to be watching them.”
    ’It’s a lot of work to try and be equal’

    Getting men to participate equally at home is its own kind of labor, in some ways more daunting than household tasks.

    “It’s a lot of work to try and be equal,” Collins said.

    Collins says the popularity of these videos on TikTok shows women have found an outlet for expressing frustration with their partners. They have also captivated an audience that’s encouraged them to demand better.

    “We do not teach women to express anger or rage at all in their lives and certainly not in the context of their families and in their relationships. We socialize women to put up with a lot that isn’t acceptable,” Collins said. “What you’re seeing on TikTok is a way women have found to express themselves with a veiled, kind of loving humor. But what you’re also seeing is people saying, ’that’s pretty messed up. You can expect more.’”

    Deutsch said some men won’t change. Other men can and will. But developing more empathy for their spouses may not be the right catalyst. Some degree of appreciation is likely already there, and the increased help a husband provides a burnt-out spouse at her wit’s end is not likely to last. For work to be shared at home, men need to believe equality matters. Women need to recognize they deserve it.

    “Equality is more straightforward than helping,” Deutsch said. “Helping is very ambiguous. How much help is required? When you commit to equality, it’s not ambiguous. It’s very clear what equality is. Maybe you’ll negotiate about a particular thing, but it’s a principle that you can always look to and ask, ’are we equal now?’”

    #domination_masculine #technique d’ #oppression #masculinisme #discrimination #hétérosexualité #incompétence_stratégique

  • Weaponizing a River

    The Dam

    On the 10th of March, news reports emerged suggesting that Bulgaria had released water downstream from the Ivaylovgrad Dam on the Ardas, a tributary of the Evros (also Meriç, and Maritsa),
    and flooded the river border at the request of the Greek government. This intentional flooding of the border was subsequently denounced as fake news by the Bulgarian authorities and remains unverified. Yet due to the increasing severity of spring floods, including as recently as 2018, the release of water from Bulgarian dams has been a subject of friction between Greece, Turkey, and their upstream riparian neighbor. On the 27th of February, Turkey decided to effectively suspend the 2016 EU-Turkey deal and in doing so directed thousands of asylum seekers to the border with Greece. In the context of Greece’s military response, the recent reports have revealed a hidden violence designed into the environment of the Evros river. In the weeks since, there have been two confirmed casualties from the use of either live or rubber rounds—Muhammad al Arab and Muhammad Gulzar.

    The alleged opening of the dam and these shootings are not distinct but are in continuity with the long-term, albeit previously low intensity, weaponization of the river. These exceptional events prove the more insidious use of the Evros as an ecological border infrastructure extending to its entire floodplain.

    The intentional flooding of the valley, and its entanglement with border defense strategies, testifies to Evros as an arcifinious space. Derived from the legal heredity of international border law, according to legal scholar John W. Donaldson, the term “arcifinious” is the territorial concept whereby a state is bounded by geophysical limits with defensive capabilities, or “natural” boundaries “fit to keep the Enemy out,” such as seas, rivers, deserts, and mountains.
    According to eighteenth-century Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius and his followers, rivers are “part of ’arcifinious’ or ’natural’ military frontier zones that are ‘indetermined,’ and flexible based on the application of force.” While rivers shift of their own volition, they are also manipulated, like straightening. Perhaps more tellingly, the very flexibility of a river—its interstitial condition between water and sediment—is useful in the production of an “indeterminate” space that is materially porous, shifting, and thus difficult for trespassers to cross. This material ambiguity also makes river boundaries unstable in the eyes of international jurisprudence. The hostile characteristics of arcifinious boundaries are mobilized in naturalizing processes central to sovereign claims to territory in a practice that enables states to obscure their agency in relation to border deaths.Some days before the 10th, word had been circulating inside the Fylakio registration and pre-removal detention center in the north of the Evros region that the dam would be opened to make the river more difficult to cross. The dam being discussed by border guards as part of a border defense strategy emphasizes the river not as “natural” but, to the contrary, always flexible to force. Fylakio, also located near the Ardas river, would be one the first villages reached when onrushing water from the dam crosses the Bulgarian-Greek border. Before these waters arrive at the “Karaağaç Triangle,” the Ardas serves as the Greek-Turkey border for one kilometer, after which it meets the Evros/Meriç between the Greek villages of Marasia and Kastanies. This is the northwestern point of the Karaağaç Triangle, which was the only segment of the Greece-Turkey border not originally delimited by the Evros/Meriç river in the 1926 Athens Protocol, an annex to the 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty. Instead, it is today a stretch of deforested land with an eleven-kilometer-long deterrent fence. Proposed in 2011 and completed in 2012, the fence directs border crossers to more dangerous routes across the river, and to deadlier maritime crossing routes in the Aegean sea. Fittingly, the fence is mentioned as a “technical obstacle” in FRONTEX Serious Incident Reports (SIR).The Karaağaç Triangle is where refugees were directed by the Turkish government on the 27th of February, and where they found themselves trapped between Greek forces who would not let them cross and Turkish forces who prevented them from returning to Istanbul and the Turkish mainland. It is where Muhamad Gulzar, a young man from Pakistan, was shot dead, and five more were injured on the 4th of March. During our visit to the Evros in early March, we witnessed trucks carrying fencing towards strategic—yet unfortified—parts of the river. The fence is currently being elongated by forty kilometers, particularly along parcels of Greek land that sit on the Turkish side of the river, and vice versa.In the war of words exchanged by the two sides, the Greek government and far right Twitter has been using the term “hybrid war” to describe what they perceive as a Turkish attempt to “intrude” on Greek territory through indirect means, here with refugee bodies instead of bullets. In response to Turkey’s weaponization of refugees, Greece and the EU are also employing a form of hybrid warfare explicitly incorporating the river ecology itself. Where so many people were—and still are—trapped in spaces along the frontier, like at Karaağaç, they are exposed to a hybrid form of border violence involving farmers spraying pesticides onto refugees across the fence, the deployment of large fans to direct teargas back to the Turkish side, and the use of water cannons to spray blue liquid across the fence so those who make it onto the Greek side can be easily identified. In addition to these assembled elements, on the night of the 26th of March, the impromptu camp that had been set up in Pazarkule, on the Turkish side of the border, caught fire. In videos that were circulated, witnesses claim that the fires were lit by Turkish authorities (jandarma) in their attempts to remove asylum seekers from the border (a measure supposed to counter the spread of COVID-19).Authors in critical border studies refer to the mobilization of geophysical and environmental features either as a hybrid collectif, an assemblage of actants, landscape as space of moral alibi,

    or what we call border natures. The border’s ecology of exception is made possible by both the river’s adaptability to force and flexibility, and contributes to the production of an ambiguous space in which multiple modes of violence are perpetrated with impunity. Methods of hybrid warfare are unambiguously mobilizing environmental elements. As such, “nature” can no longer be an alibi but is directly incorporated in the production of death at the border.

    What is the role of water in the politics of death at the border? Here river waters stand at the intersection of connection-division, and life-death.
    The fluvial frontier is a complex and nuanced territorial condition braiding together multiple elements including conservation, transboundary river management, military technology, the geopolitics of resource logistics, and the divergently visible and opaque politics of border crossing. Thinking against material and discursive reproductions of both rivers and borders as “natural” phenomena, the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa river is the result of multiple organizational technologies of territorial sovereignty. Primary amongst these is the mobilization of major infrastructure: the dam and the contingent release of waters downstream would be a direct threat to the lives of asylum seekers attempting to enter the EU. If Bulgaria, as a member state, had opened the dam, this would have been premised on its contribution to the fortification of the external borders of fortress Europe.

    2. A Shifting Border

    The Evros/Meriç/Maritsa has its source in the Rila mountains. It runs for 310 of its 528 kilometers through Bulgaria, with the final 210 kilometers forming a border, initially between Bulgaria and Greece, and then for the last 192 kilometers between Greece and Turkey before reaching its delta and emptying into the Thracian Sea in the Aegean. The river is fast, with a mean annual flow rate of 103 cubic meters per second (a rate which can increase twofold between December and April). Its course flows over sandy and malleable soil, and annually discharges approximately 3.2 million tons of sediment and 9.5 billion cubic meters of freshwater into the sea.
    This results in frequent erosion that alters its banks. Capricious shifts of the river produce islands of stranded land; there are expanses of “Turkish” earth on the “wrong” side of the river, and elsewhere, land has been ceded by the river to Greece. These stranded territories are also points where fatalities become concentrated. Pavlos Pavlidis, coroner at the University Hospital of Alexandroupolis, capital of the Evros prefecture, and Maria-Valeria Karakasi have identified a particular parcel of land near Feres, the entry point to the Delta, as the location where seventy-two bodies were recovered between 2000 and 2014. This is also where refugees were recently directed by geographers aligned with Turkish authorities,

    and where a young man from Aleppo, Muhammad al Arab, was shot dead by Greek soldiers standing inside the dry river bed of the 1926 border, which now acts as little more than a trench. Within the above calculations of river flow and sediment transportation is concealed a deadly politics of bordering that incorporates the full spectrum of the Evros’s hydrology and manipulates the ambiguities produced by rivers.

    The river’s movements occupy a central role in the territorial disputes between the riparian states of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, and compound what is already a militarized terrain. Due to these shifts, and the river’s own agency, many have considered rivers as inadequate political boundaries. Donaldson words it thus: “the presence of water makes a boundary river unstable, forceful, and risky; incompatible with the legal fiction of a fixed boundary line that would prefer the stability of land over the dynamism of water.”
    This instability lies behind the fantasies of territorial control implied by the international committee assembled in 1926 with the task of determining the precise course of the border between Greece and Turkey at the end of the Ottoman Empire.The 1926 committee, headed by Dutch colonel J. Backer, deemed that the border follow the median line between the banks throughout the course of the river, or its main “branch,” when the river splits. The border was marked with red ink on ten maps that were attached as annexes to the protocol, and the first twenty-six demarcation “pyramids” were installed. Delimited in such an inflexible way, like many river borders, it could not respond to shifts in the median line and changes in the course of the river. Instead, the demarcation of the protocol fixed the river in time and to an abstract line. Consequently, efforts to enforce the demarcation of the border have long been hampered by the agency of the river itself. As early as 1965, markers installed to designate part of the border along the Evros/Meriç by a joint Greek-Turkish committee were quickly carried away by the river. Similarly, in 2015, parts of the fence were carried away by flood waters released from the Ivaylovgrad dam. As recently as October 2017, Turkish authorities dug trenches underneath the fence to prevent flooding.

    There is now almost 100 years of geomorphological variation between the drawn border and the current course of the river. Islands that used to be there are no longer; banks have moved and canalizations have directed the river in divergent ways. Two rivers and two borders exist at the Evros/Meriç: the cartographic border of the old median line (featuring now almost unmoving oxbow lakes) and the water of the new trespass line. It comes with little surprise then that stabilizing the river banks to the 1926 condition has been a concern of both Greece and Turkey. Since 1936, the two countries have made efforts to draft plans for common flood defense, most notably the study undertaken in 1953 by the Chicago-based Harza Engineering Company. None of these plans were fully implemented, and after the 1970s, bilateral communication ceased for decades.

    In addition to the proposal of the fence in 2011, the Hellenic Army General Staff planned an unfulfilled project to dig a “120-kilometer-long, thirty-meter-wide, and seven-meter-deep” “moat.”

    Officially an “anti-tank trap” functioning primarily as a defense against Turkish invasion, in the context of increased crossings in 2011, the “moat” would have only been a further technical barrier for border crossers.

    Where rivers appear at first glance as “natural,” they are, to greater and lesser extents, the result of centuries of small and large-scale engineering interventions. In Stefan Helmreich’s concept of “infranature,” second nature—that which is always produced as socio-technical—is “folded” back into first or organic nature.
    What appears as “natural” or “organic” is therefore actually a mask for the production of techno-natural infrastructures. Helmreich echoes a famous passage in Michel Serres’s The Natural Contract where he describes the birth of geometry emerging from the calculations of Nile floods. Out of the “chaos” and “disorder” of flood events, Serres proposes that measurements made by surveyors, for irrigation purposes, reordered nature to give “it a new birth into culture.”

    Such culture, however, may itself produce violent effects. The measurements that reorder the river waters of the Evros are born into a culture that takes the form of a hybrid military-natural assemblage.

    Understanding the often intentionally ambiguous calculations of infranature in its combative applications helps to clarify how rivers are technologized through overt human interventions, such as dams and other large engineering projects, as well as in less overt ways. Rivers and their flows respond to assemblages of smaller scale and almost invisible interventions or those that occur far up river, like the opening of a dam. In these ways, the very speed at which water travels, or the amount of sediment that accumulates in the muddy delta, are part of the measurements of the infrantural technology of the arcifinious river. In these border environments, the river itself is potentially armed and dangerous.

    The river and its imagined doubling as a moat instrumentalizes the already treacherous route for asylum seekers beyond the scale of a “deterrent” into an engineered space unconcerned with fatalities. Stepping back from the Hellenic Army General Staff’s imagination, the Evros already performs the arcifinious role of a moat at the EU’s fluvial frontier. The drawing of a fixed, yet imaginary line along the central course of the river effectively produced the river as a frontier, whereby its movements and muds become spaces where sovereign territorial imaginaries are projected with horrifyingly real effects.

    3. Flood

    The risk of major flood events has long been one of the primary transboundary concerns in the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa. Such events have increased in frequency over the last twenty-five years, leading to a once in a thousand-year flood in 2005, severe events in 2006, 2007, 2011, 2014, and 2015, and a “state of emergency” announced by the Greek Government in March and April 2018.
    Flooding in the region is closely tied to the politics of hydro-electric infrastructure. The majority of large dams and reservoirs in the basin are concentrated on Bulgarian territory (as many as 722), while Turkey has built sixty, and Greece just five (mainly for irrigation purposes, as opposed to energy production). Flow variability is central to many transboundary agreements whereby upstream riparian nations either force or allow downstream riparians to adapt to seasonal changes in both wet and dry conditions.

    This is a concern for hyrdrodiplomatic relations between Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria.

    When a tri-lateral working group met in October 2006 in Alexandroupolis, Turkey made a written demand, supported by Greece, that the reservoir storage capacity of large dams situated on the Ardas tributary in Bulgaria be regulated to “minimize water discharges downstream and reduce flow at Edirne,” a densely populated area, near to the border fence, and a major confluence where the Ardas and another tributary, the Tundzha, meet the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa. The Bulgarian delegation refused to respond and cancelled future working groups. Bulgaria is resistant to such regulation because of the role that the private sector plays in managing hydro-electric infrastructure.
    To maximize energy productivity and profits, their primary interest is to maintain the highest possible water level in the dam reservoirs all year round. Under previous conditions, this would have been in direct opposition to the interests of the downstream nations who want to regulate reservoir storage in wet seasons so they have the capacity to accommodate potential increases in volume that risk overtopping dams and result in flooding. The events of the past month, however, show that within the context of Bulgaria’s entrance into the EU in 2007, upstream storage of high levels of water is also part of military contingency planning to flood the valley and safeguard what is now a common European frontier.

    Recent attempts at hydrodiplomacy in the region include the 2016 “Joint Declaration Between the Government of the Hellenic Republic and the Government of the Republic of Turkey” signed by Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Ahmet Davutoglu.

    This agreement incorporated multiple political and hydrographical issues that fold onto the frontier, including a Joint Action Plan to “stem migration flows,” with the implied proviso that Greece will support Turkey in EU visa liberalization dialogue. While this proviso has since been forgotten, the lubrication of one form of movement was unambiguously exchanged for the curtailment of another. This is followed by a section on flooding, acknowledging the damage caused each year and expressing a joint commitment to adhering to the centralized European Water Directive. As downstream nations, Greece and Turkey agreed and welcomed faintly veiled “goodwill and cooperation” from the “other relevant parties,” intimating Bulgaria, to whom they direct much of the blame.

    The overlaps between a river that regularly floods and a territory where border crossers are at the mercy of systematic violence resonates troublingly with nationalist media and governmental rhetoric of “flows,” “floods,” or “surges” and the “stemming” of migrants.”
    Naturalizing metaphors such as these emerge wherever border regimes are discursively or materially constructed to ensure the illegality of movement across borders, and in doing so, racially “other” border crossers. Indeed, hydrologic metaphors are evoked to draw a distinction between those who do not belong and those who do within a sedentary notion of territory. In light of the events of March 2020, the material movement of water out of place is not perceived as a threat that must be contained to prevent it seeping into discourses that legally and culturally ground the nation-state. Instead, the movement of these waters are deployed in the very efforts to exclude others from the space of the nation-state.Joint Operation Poseidon Land, EU border agency Frontex’s Evros operation, began in 2011. The name conjures a pathologic mythology, casting border crossers as mortals committing the hubris of seeking refuge in Europe, while Frontex claims the role of chastising deity. Here Poseidon, god of both the sea and rivers, intervenes at the land-water divide. In mythology, where his trident struck, land quakes and flooding and drowning ensues. Echoing a crude sketch of the hydrologic cycle, Operation Poseidon Land transposes border violence in liquid form from the Aegean—where Operation Poseidon Sea is enacted—to the headwaters of the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa and back down along its course. The rumored intentional flooding of the valley from the Ivaylovgrad dam brings Frontex’s troubling mythological sensibility into reality.

    4. Anachoma

    A week before the flooding made the headlines, and a day after Muhammad al Arab’s killing, the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen visited Evros, along with three EU leaders and the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Following the visit, they gave a joint statement in which der Leyen thanked Greece for being Europe’s aspida, using the Greek word for “shield” (ασπίδα).

    Der Leyen’s choice of vocabulary uncannily echoes local military discourse, in which the region is often called Greece’s ανάχωμα (anachoma), or embankment, against Turkish invasion, and more recently against asylum seekers. The landscape of the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa is entirely sculpted to either contain or facilitate movement, be it of military personnel, people, or water. The berm, a versatile and ambiguous military-ecological technology, is the physical embodiment of the ανάχωμα. There are multiple types of berms, each of which is designed to perform distinct functions. There are surpassable/summer berms, main berms, tertiary berms for flood defense, raised rail lines and roads enabling movement during flood periods, irrigation, and, most explicitly in the delta, anti-tank installations. A hierarchy is designed into the system of flood control to allow water, armies, and people to penetrate the frontier space to varying degrees.

    The military imaginary of Evros as an ανάχωμα also refers to a more nuanced politics of demographic engineering. The delimitation of the border in the 1920s coincided with the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, a process which created imagined communities that the river division helped crystalize. The process intended to produce a Greek Christian population along the border as a demographic buffer—or embankment—against invasion. This began with the transfer of Greek-speaking populations from what became Turkish territory on the shores of the Aegean and the Anatolian peninsula, as well as Pontic Greeks from the shores of the Black Sea. In return, Turkish-speaking and other Muslim populations from Greek territory were moved to Turkey, although significant minority populations still remain in western Thrace. In the century since, Turkish, Pomak, Bektashi, and other Muslim minorities in western Thrace have been the focus of multiple marginalizing practices. A system of checkpoints (barres) was put in place in 1936 to isolate these communities, the last of which were removed as recently as 1995.
    When we visited the Bektashi villages of Roussa and Goniko in Evros, we saw the check point still standing, an abandoned yet powerful reminder of the state as an ambient presence.

    As embankments of wet earth, berms are concentrations of these politics of demographic engineering and territorial control. They are ground engineered in excess. They are routes of control through the floodplain for the police, military, and local farmers, and they figure within the imaginary of the moat as obstacles for invading forces. The berms reveal the border regime’s deployment of the environment as defensive “infranatural” technology.

    Corresponding to the engineered limits of the floodplain, berms are often placed along the edge of the military buffer zone that runs along the Greek side of the Evros border, also known as ZAP (Zoni Asfaleias Prokalypsis). As human rights reports have been claiming for years, where the floodplain/buffer zone broadens, the river becomes a site where human rights violations occur. These include the failure to rescue and illegal pushbacks of border crossers back to Turkey.
    A case on May 8, 2018 involving a group of fourteen people attempting to cross during a flood event speaks directly to the overlapping of flooding with the operations of the border. The attempt failed and resulted in one fatality. Once the group returned to Turkey, they attempted to contact Greek authorities with a picture of the ID card and the GPS location of the body. Greek police stated that the flooding was too severe to attempt a recovery, and over the next few days, no confirmation of the recovery of the body was received. In other examples, the police have refuted the possibility of pushbacks because the water is too high or the geomorphology makes it impossible. In this way, the behavior of water in excess is co-opted as an obviatory device; a mask in the construction of denial. The flood is an alibi for border violence. Consequently, the berm infrastructure marks the limit of the flood and acts as a container for this riverine geography of exception.

    5. The Delta

    The Evros Delta, where the river meets the Thracian Sea, covers a surface area of 111,937 square kilometers. A protected conservation area designated as a wetland of international importance by the 1971 Ramsar treaty, the delta’s saline waters, ponds, and islands are home to a number of migratory bird species. Since last month, however, it has hosted a different kind of migration, with army and police units operating side by side with local, self-proclaimed “frontiersmen,” “guardians of the border,” and hunting clubs from all over Greece arriving to prevent what they understand to be an “intrusion” of “illegal aliens” (“lathrometanastes”) into Greece. Joining them are far-right and neo-nazi militants from Europe and the US who have flocked there to demonstrate their support, and “safeguard Europe’s borders.” Showing little regard for human life, they describe their operations as “hunting” for refugees. The ongoing dehumanization of asylum seekers using both language and physical force permeates the region. Detainees in the recently exposed border guard center at Poros, have described guards treating them “like animals.”
    The violent events of the past month, including the killings of Muhammad al Arab inside the Evros delta and Muhamad Gulzar in the Karaağaç Triangle, as well as the reports of the opening of the Ivaylovgrad dam, are punctuating moments that bring to the fore the slower environmental processes mobilized against asylum seekers at the border. The Evros catchment basin is currently a densely braided space of border violence and death, incorporating military personnel, nationalist and neo-nazi paramilitaries, local farmers and hunters, as well as the very ecology of this deltaic marshland, such as temperature and meteorological conditions. Indeed, rather than being a “natural” border, the Evros is an exemplary case of a borderized nature, where environmental elements, which are not deadly on their own, are made deadly by forcing people to traverse them under treacherous conditions. We have spoken with asylum seekers who have described the fog that hangs above the Evros. Fog, like clothes sodden from swimming across the river, and combined with freezing winter temperatures, contribute to the threat of hypothermia for border crossers, which, after drowning, is the second highest cause of death at Evros. As reported in the media, paramilitaries who have been recently drawn to the area to hunt people who cross “at night and in the fog,” are transposing the old Nazi directive for disappearing bodies “Nacht und Nebel” (“Night and Fog”) onto the Evros Delta.Through the waters of the river, amongst the impacted earth of the berms, and under the veil of the heavy airs of teargas and pesticides, complex forces are deployed and emerge from the fog of the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa. Understanding the complexity of the river as a weaponized border ecology is crucial to reveal the ongoing and intensifying violence that unfolds across different scales in this region. To confront the far-right that is currently assembling its forces rhetorically, environmentally, and in person in the Evros delta and all along the fluvial frontier, and to counter the obfuscating tactics long deployed by the police in their use of the river as alibi, requires understanding how this border is constructed. When considering the Evros border, we must learn to perceive the entire floodplain as a border technology. This, in turn, involves striving to see the river as a spectrum, from freezing fog in the valley, dew in the field, and mud in the floodplain as clearly as it sees water flowing between the riverbanks themselves.To assist migrants in defending their rights, and to resist the far-right seeping out of border regions into increasingly xenophobic societies, the very concept of “nature” needs to be reframed to encompass the ways it is deployed within the military imaginary of borderized environments. Practices must be developed to perceive how border regimes harness environmental processes. Such practices reveal the varying watery states of the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa as what they are: the riverine arsenal of a deadly defense architecture. The border regime operates as an expanded or “dispersed” territorial technology: an entire region designed as a violent ανάχωμα.

    https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/at-the-border/325751/weaponizing-a-river

    #weaponization #Evros #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Thrace #Grèce #Turquie #architecture_forensique #Forensic_Architecture #rivière

    • GEOGRAPHY OF EVROS/MERIÇ RIVER PUSHBACKS

      Across January, BVMN collected testimonies
      documenting pushbacks over the Evros/
      Meriç river on the Greek-Turkish border,
      impacting over 500 people-on-the-move.
      These incidents validate a pattern identified
      by BVMN of Greek authorities using small
      islands in the river to stage pushbacks, often
      leaving groups stranded there for indefinite
      periods. Beyond inhumane treatment –
      pregnant women have been left without food,
      water or shelter – several reports indicate
      that people are placed at direct risk of
      drowning (see 8.4) in the river.
      Ironically, Greece has cited flooding as a
      reason not to mount rescue operations or
      recover the bodies of those who have
      drowned, while using the riverʼs water level
      and challenging geomorphology to refute the
      possibility of pushbacks.
      One testimony (see 8.5) offers a compelling
      example of the dangers associated with this
      practice. It describes how eight North African
      men were driven into the middle of the Evros
      river and ordered to jump in. With “water
      reaching their chests ”, the men were forced
      to wade to an island from where they could
      swim to Turkish shores. While attempting the
      crossing, however, one man was swept away
      by the overwhelming current, only managing
      to survive by grabbing onto a fallen tree.
      Witnessing this scene, the remaining men on
      the island feared to cross as they could not
      swim. With soaking wet clothes, they were
      stuck there for three days in sub-zero
      temperatures, until they were eventually
      retrieved by Greek police and pushed back to
      Turkey.
      Perhaps most unsettling is that the officers
      allegedly watched this scene unfold and took
      over 72 hours to intervene. Hypothermia is
      the second highest killer of transit groups in
      the Evros region. Reminiscent of the triborder
      area between Bulgaria, Greece and
      Turkey, which is being used to stage indirect
      chain pushbacks, this phenomenon
      represents a weaponization of geography, or
      as one commentator eloquently wrote, ʻa
      form of hybrid border violence that explicitly
      incorporates the river ecology itselfʼ.

      https://www.borderviolence.eu/balkan-region-report-january-2021
      –-> pp.7-8

  • How the Pandemic Turned Refugees Into ‘Guinea Pigs’ for Surveillance Tech

    An interview with Dr. Petra Molnar, who spent 2020 investigating the use of drones, facial recognition, and lidar on refugees

    The coronavirus pandemic unleashed a new era in surveillance technology, and arguably no group has felt this more acutely than refugees. Even before the pandemic, refugees were subjected to contact tracing, drone and LIDAR tracking, and facial recognition en masse. Since the pandemic, it’s only gotten worse. For a microcosm of how bad the pandemic has been for refugees — both in terms of civil liberties and suffering under the virus — look no further than Greece.

    Greek refugee camps are among the largest in Europe, and they are overpopulated, with scarce access to water, food, and basic necessities, and under constant surveillance. Researchers say that many of the surveillance techniques and technologies — especially experimental, rudimentary, and low-cost ones — used to corral refugees around the world were often tested in these camps first.

    “Certain communities already marginalized, disenfranchised are being used as guinea pigs, but the concern is that all of these technologies will be rolled out against the broader population and normalized,” says Petra Molnar, Associate Director of the Refugee Law Lab, York University.

    Molnar traveled to the Greek refugee camps on Lesbos in 2020 as part of a fact-finding project with the advocacy group European Digital Rights (EDRi). She arrived right after the Moria camp — the largest in Europe at the time — burned down and forced the relocation of thousands of refugees. Since her visit, she has been concerned about the rise of authoritarian technology and how it might be used against the powerless.

    With the pandemic still raging and states more desperate than ever to contain it, it seemed a good time to discuss the uses and implications of surveillance in the refugee camps. Molnar, who is still in Greece and plans to continue visiting the camps once the nation’s second lockdown lifts, spoke to OneZero about the kinds of surveillance technology she saw deployed there, and what the future holds — particularly with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Molnar says, adding “that they’ve been using Greece as a testing ground for all sorts of aerial surveillance technology.”

    This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

    OneZero: What kinds of surveillance practices and technologies did you see in the camps?

    Petra Molnar: I went to Lesbos in September, right after the Moria camp burned down and thousands of people were displaced and sent to a new camp. We were essentially witnessing the birth of the Kara Tepes camp, a new containment center, and talked to the people about surveillance, and also how this particular tragedy was being used as a new excuse to bring more technology, more surveillance. The [Greek] government is… basically weaponizing Covid to use it as an excuse to lock the camps down and make it impossible to do any research.

    When you are in Lesbos, it is very clear that it is a testing ground, in the sense that the use of tech is quite rudimentary — we are not talking about thermal cameras, iris scans, anything like that, but there’s an increase in the appetite of the Greek government to explore the use of it, particularly when they try to control large groups of people and also large groups coming from the Aegean. It’s very early days for a lot of these technologies, but everything points to the fact that Greece is Europe’s testing ground.

    They are talking about bringing biometric control to the camps, but we know for example that the Hellenic Coast Guard has a drone that they have been using for self-promotion, propaganda, and they’ve now been using it to follow specific people as they are leaving and entering the camp. I’m not sure if the use of drones was restricted to following refugees once they left the camps, but with the lockdown, it was impossible to verify. [OneZero had access to a local source who confirmed that drones are also being used inside the camps to monitor refugees during lockdown.]

    Also, people can come and go to buy things at stores, but they have to sign in and out at the gate, and we don’t know how they are going to use such data and for what purposes.

    Surveillance has been used on refugees long before the pandemic — in what ways have refugees been treated as guinea pigs for the policies and technologies we’re seeing deployed more widely now? And what are some of the worst examples of authoritarian technologies being deployed against refugees in Europe?

    The most egregious examples that we’ve been seeing are that ill-fated pilot projects — A.I. lie detectors and risk scorings which were essentially trying to use facial recognition and facial expressions’ micro-targeting to determine whether a person was more likely than others to lie at the border. Luckily, that technology was debunked and also generated a lot of debate around the ethics and human rights implications of using something like that.

    Technologies such as voice printing have been used in Germany to try to track a person’s country of origin or their ethnicity, facial recognition made its way into the new Migration’s Pact, and Greece is thinking about automating the triage of refugees, so there’s an appetite at the EU level and globally to use this tech. I think 2021 will be very interesting as more resources are being diverted to these types of tech.

    We saw, right when the pandemic started, that migration data used for population modeling became kind of co-opted and used to try and model flows of Covid. And this is very problematic because they are assuming that the mobile population, people on the move, and refugees are more likely to be bringing in Covid and diseases — but the numbers don’t bear out. We are also seeing the gathering of vast amounts of data for all these databases that Europe is using or will be using for a variety of border enforcement and policing in general.

    The concern is that fear’s being weaponized around the pandemic and technologies such as mobile tracking and data collection are being used as ways to control people. It is also broader, it deals with a kind of discourse around migration, on limiting people’s rights to move. Our concern is that it’ll open the door to further, broader rollout of this kind of tech against the general population.

    What are some of the most invasive technologies you’ve seen? And are you worried these authoritarian technologies will continue to expand, and not just in refugee camps?

    In Greece, the most invasive technologies being used now would probably be drones and unpiloted surveillance technologies, because it’s a really easy way to dehumanize that kind of area where people are crossing, coming from Turkey, trying to claim asylum. There’s also the appetite to try facial recognition technology.

    It shows just how dangerous these technologies can be both because they facilitate pushbacks, border enforcement, and throwing people away, and it really plays into this kind of idea of instead of humane responses you’d hope to happen when you see a boat in distress in the Aegean or the Mediterranean, now entities are turning towards drones and the whole kind of surveillance apparatus. It highlights how the humanity in this process has been lost.

    And the normalization of it all. Now it is so normal to use drones — everything is about policing Europe’s shore, Greece being a shield, to normalize the use of invasive surveillance tech. A lot of us are worried with talks of expanding the scope of action, mandate, and powers of Frontex [the European Border and Coast Guard Agency] and its utter lack of accountability — it is crystal clear that entities like Frontex are going to do Europe’s dirty work.

    There’s a particular framing applied when governments and companies talk about migrants and refugees, often linking them to ISIS and using careless terms and phrases to discuss serious issues. Our concern is that this kind of use of technology is going to become more advanced and more efficient.

    What is happening with regard to contact tracing apps — have there been cases where the technology was forced on refugees?

    I’ve heard about the possibility of refugees being tracked through their phones, but I couldn’t confirm. I prefer not to interact with the state through my phone, but that’s a privilege I have, a choice I can make. If you’re living in a refugee camp your options are much more constrained. Often people in the camps feel they are compelled to give access to their phones, to give their phone numbers, etc. And then there are concerns that tracking is being done. It’s really hard to track the tracking; it is not clear what’s being done.

    Aside from contact tracing, there’s the concern with the Wi-Fi connection provided in the camps. There’s often just one connection or one specific place where Wi-Fi works and people need to be connected to their families, spouses, friends, or get access to information through their phones, sometimes their only lifeline. It’s a difficult situation because, on the one hand, people are worried about privacy and surveillance, but on the other, you want to call your family, your spouse, and you can only do that through Wi-Fi and people feel they need to be connected. They have to rely on what’s available, but there’s a concern that because it’s provided by the authorities, no one knows exactly what’s being collected and how they are being watched and surveilled.

    How do we fight this surveillance creep?

    That’s the hard question. I think one of the ways that we can fight some of this is knowledge. Knowing what is happening, sharing resources among different communities, having a broader understanding of the systemic way this is playing out, and using such knowledge generated by the community itself to push for regulation and governance when it comes to these particular uses of technologies.

    We call for a moratorium or abolition of all high-risk technology in and around the border because right now we don’t have a governance mechanism in place or integrated regional or international way to regulate these uses of tech.

    Meanwhile, we have in the EU a General Data Protection Law, a very strong tool to protect data and data sharing, but it doesn’t really touch on surveillance, automation, A.I., so the law is really far behind.

    One of the ways to fight A.I. is to make policymakers understand the real harm that these technologies have. We are talking about ways that discrimination and inequality are reinforced by this kind of tech, and how damaging they are to people.

    We are trying to highlight this systemic approach to see it as an interconnected system in which all of these technologies play a part in this increasingly draconian way that migration management is being done.

    https://onezero.medium.com/how-the-pandemic-turned-refugees-into-guinea-pigs-for-surveillance-t

    #réfugiés #cobaye #surveillance #technologie #pandémie #covid-19 #coroanvirus #LIDAR #drones #reconnaissance_faciale #Grèce #camps_de_réfugiés #Lesbos #Moria #European_Digital_Rights (#EDRi) #surveillance_aérienne #complexe_militaro-industriel #Kara_Tepes #weaponization #biométrie #IA #intelligence_artificielle #détecteurs_de_mensonges #empreinte_vocale #tri #catégorisation #donneés #base_de_données #contrôle #technologies_autoritaires #déshumanisation #normalisation #Frontex #wifi #internet #smartphone #frontières

    ping @isskein @karine4

    ping @etraces

  • La Croatie coupe ses forêts pour « protéger » ses frontières

    24 mai - 14h : Pour lutter contre l’entrée de migrants et de réfugiés sur son territoire, la Croatie procède à des #coupes claires dans ses forêts, afin de « #dégager_le_terrain » le long de sa frontière avec la Bosnie-Herzégovine. Ces derniers temps, des #bois ont été abattus sur les versants de la #montagne #Plješivica et aux abords de l’ancien aérodrome militaire de #Željava. Des pratiques similaires avaient été signalées aux alentours de #Hravtska_Kostajnica, en janvier 2019.

    La ministre des Affaires étrangères de Bosnie-Herzégovine, Bisera Turković, a demandé des explications aux autorités croates, déclarant que si elle comprenait le besoin de surveiller les frontières, elle attendait de ces dernières qu’elles informent leurs voisins avant de prendre de telles initiatives.

    De leur coté, les ONG dénoncent une infraction aux droits de l’homme et à la protection de l’environnement, et l’association écologiste #Zelena:Akcija a signalé ces coupes à l’Inspection nationale, afin de vérifier qu’elles étaient conformes aux directives prévues dans cette zone par l’Office des eaux et forêts.

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Les-dernieres-infos-Refugies-Balkans-Bosnie-Herzegovine-un-nouvea
    #forêt #frontières #weaponization #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Croatie #Zeljava

  • Afghanistan investigates reports Iran guards forced migrants into river

    Afghanistan is investigating reports Afghan migrants drowned after being tortured and pushed into a river by Iranian border guards.

    The migrants were caught trying to enter Iran illegally from the western Herat province on Friday, according to local media.

    The migrants were beaten and forced to jump into a river by Iranian border guards, the reports said. Some of them are said to have died.

    Iran has dismissed the allegation.

    A foreign ministry spokesman said the incident took place on Afghan territory, not Iranian, and security guards denied any involvement.

    The number involved in the incident is unconfirmed but officials said dozens of migrants crossed the border, and at least seven people died with more still missing.

    A search party has been sent to retrieve the bodies of migrants from the river.
    The Afghan Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said local officials told it “Iranian security forces arrested a number of Afghan migrants seeking work who wanted to enter Iran”.

    “They were made to cross the Harirud river [at the Afghan-Iranian border], as a result a number of them drowned and some survived,” it added.

    Shir Agha, a migrant who witnessed the incident, told Reuters the Iranian guards “warned us that if we do not throw ourselves into the water, we will be shot”.

    Another Afghan migrant, Shah Wali, alleged that the Iranian guards “beat us, then made us do hard work”.

    “They then took us by minibus near to the river, and when we got there, they threw us into the river,” he added.

    About three million Afghans live in Iran, including refugees and wage labourers. Hundreds of Afghans cross into Iran every day to find work.

    There was a mass exodus of migrants returning to Afghanistan after the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, which has recorded almost 100,000 cases of the disease to date. Many are suspected to have brought coronavirus back across the border with them.

    But as Iran seeks to ease restrictions, Afghan migrants in search of work are crossing the country’s border in greater numbers again.

    Afghan officials have expressed concern over the incident in Herat province, risking a diplomatic row at a time of already strained relations over the coronavirus pandemic.

    In a tweet to Iranian officials, Herat’s governor Sayed Wahid Qatali wrote: “Our people are not just some names you threw into the river. One day we will settle accounts.”

    https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-asia-52523048?__twitter_impression=true
    #Iran #frontières #rivière #Herat #Iran #hostile_environment #weaponization #enviornnement_hostile #migrations #asile #réfugiés #décès #morts #mourir_aux_frontières #morts_aux_frontières

    • Afghanistan Probes Reports Iranian Guards Forced Migrants Into River

      Afghan officials were hunting on Sunday for Afghan migrants in a river bordering Iran after reports that Iranian border guards tortured dozens and threw them into the water to keep them out of Iran.

      Authorities in western Herat province said they retrieved 12 bodies from the Harirud river and at least eight other people were missing.

      The incident could trigger a diplomatic crisis between Iran and Afghanistan at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has seen an exodus of Afghan migrants from Iran, with many testing positive. Up to 2,000 Afghans cross the border from Iran, a coronavirus hotspot, into Herat each day.

      Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said on Saturday an inquiry had been launched. A senior official in the presidential palace in Kabul said initial assessments suggested at least 70 Afghans trying to enter Iran from Herat were beaten and pushed into the Harirud river on Saturday.

      Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, said the “incident” took place on Afghan soil.

      “Border guards of the Islamic Republic of Iran denied the occurrence of any events related to this on the soil of our country,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

      Abdul Ghani Noori, governor of Herat’s Gulran district, said dozens of Afghan migrant workers were thrown into the river by members of the Iranian army.

      “Iranian armymen used shovels and gunshots to injure Afghan workers and threw them in water,” Noori told Reuters, adding that some of the injured workers were being treated in a hospital.

      Doctors at Herat District Hospital said they had received the bodies of Afghan migrants.

      “So far, five bodies have been transferred to the hospital. Of these bodies, it’s clear that four died due to drowning,” said Aref Jalali, head of the hospital. He added that two injured men were brought to the hospital on Sunday evening.

      The Taliban militant group, fighting to oust the Afghan government, said Iran should launch an investigation into the killings and “strictly punish the perpetrators”.

      “We have learnt that 57 Afghans on their way to the Islamic Republic of Iran for work were initially tortured by Iranian border guards and 23 of them later brutally martyred,” the Taliban said in a statement.

      Noor Mohammad said he was one of the Afghans caught by Iranian border guards as they were trying to cross into Iran in search of work.

      “After being tortured, the Iranian soldiers threw all of us in the Harirud river,” Mohammad told Reuters.

      Shir Agha, who said he also survived the violence, said at least 23 people thrown into the river were dead.

      Afghan officials that it was not the first time that Afghans had been killed by Iranian police guarding the 920-km (520-mile) border.

      As of Sunday, at least 541 coronavirus-infected people in Afghanistan were from Herat province, which recorded 13 deaths, with the majority of cases Afghan returnees from Iran, said Rafiq Shirzad, a health ministry spokesman in Herat.

      https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/05/03/world/middleeast/03reuters-afghanistan-iran-migrants.html?searchResultPosition=3
      #noyade #torture #gardes-frontière #Harirud #armée

    • Afghanistan probes report Iran guards forced migrants into river

      Survivors say at least 23 of 57 people thrown by Iranian border guards into Harirud River drowned.

      Afghanistan has begun retrieving bodies of Afghan migrants from a river in a western province after reports that Iranian border guards tortured and threw Afghans into the river to prevent their entry into Iran.

      Afghanistan’s foreign ministry in a statement on Saturday said an inquiry had been launched and a senior official in the presidential palace in Kabul said initial assessments suggested that at least 70 Afghans who were trying to enter Iran from bordering Herat province were beaten and pushed into Harirud River.

      The Harirud River basin is shared by Afghanistan, Iran and Turkmenistan.

      Doctors at Herat District Hospital said they had received the bodies of Afghan migrants, some of whom had drowned.

      “So far, five bodies have been transferred to the hospital, of these bodies, its clear that four died due to drowning,” said Aref Jalali, head of Herat District Hospital.

      The Iranian consulate in Herat denied the allegations of torture and subsequent drowning of dozens of Afghan migrant workers by border police.

      “Iranian border guards have not arrested any Afghan citizens,” the consulate said in a statement on Saturday.

      Noor Mohammad said he was one of 57 Afghan citizens who were caught by Iranian border guards on Saturday as they tried to cross into Iran in search of work from Gulran District of Herat.

      “After being tortured, the Iranian soldiers threw all of us in the Harirud river,” Mohammad told Reuters News Agency.

      Shir Agha, who said he also survived the violence, said at least 23 of the 57 people thrown by Iranian soldiers into the river had died.

      “Iranian soldiers warned us that if we do not throw ourselves into the water, we will be shot,” said Agha.
      ’We will settle accounts’

      Local Afghan officials said it was not the first time Afghans had been tortured and killed by Iranian police guarding the 920km (520 mile) long border.

      Herat Governor Sayed Wahid Qatali in a tweet to Iranian officials said: “Our people are not just some names you threw into the river. One day we will settle accounts.”

      The incident could trigger a diplomatic crisis between Iran and Afghanistan at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has seen a mass exodus of Afghan migrants from Iran with many testing positive for COVID-19.

      Up to 2,000 Afghans daily cross the border from Iran, a global coronavirus hotspot, into Herat.

      As of Sunday, at least 541 infected people are from Herat province, which recorded 13 deaths, with the majority of positive cases found among Afghan returnees from Iran, said Rafiq Shirzad, a health ministry spokesman in Herat.

      https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/afghanistan-probes-report-iran-guards-forced-migrants-river-2005030926238

  • Monitoring being pitched to fight Covid-19 was tested on refugees

    The pandemic has given a boost to controversial data-driven initiatives to track population movements

    In Italy, social media monitoring companies have been scouring Instagram to see who’s breaking the nationwide lockdown. In Israel, the government has made plans to “sift through geolocation data” collected by the Shin Bet intelligence agency and text people who have been in contact with an infected person. And in the UK, the government has asked mobile operators to share phone users’ aggregate location data to “help to predict broadly how the virus might move”.

    These efforts are just the most visible tip of a rapidly evolving industry combining the exploitation of data from the internet and mobile phones and the increasing number of sensors embedded on Earth and in space. Data scientists are intrigued by the new possibilities for behavioural prediction that such data offers. But they are also coming to terms with the complexity of actually using these data sets, and the ethical and practical problems that lurk within them.

    In the wake of the refugee crisis of 2015, tech companies and research consortiums pushed to develop projects using new data sources to predict movements of migrants into Europe. These ranged from broad efforts to extract intelligence from public social media profiles by hand, to more complex automated manipulation of big data sets through image recognition and machine learning. Two recent efforts have just been shut down, however, and others are yet to produce operational results.

    While IT companies and some areas of the humanitarian sector have applauded new possibilities, critics cite human rights concerns, or point to limitations in what such technological solutions can actually achieve.

    In September last year Frontex, the European border security agency, published a tender for “social media analysis services concerning irregular migration trends and forecasts”. The agency was offering the winning bidder up to €400,000 for “improved risk analysis regarding future irregular migratory movements” and support of Frontex’s anti-immigration operations.

    Frontex “wants to embrace” opportunities arising from the rapid growth of social media platforms, a contracting document outlined. The border agency believes that social media interactions drastically change the way people plan their routes, and thus examining would-be migrants’ online behaviour could help it get ahead of the curve, since these interactions typically occur “well before persons reach the external borders of the EU”.

    Frontex asked bidders to develop lists of key words that could be mined from platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The winning company would produce a monthly report containing “predictive intelligence ... of irregular flows”.

    Early this year, however, Frontex cancelled the opportunity. It followed swiftly on from another shutdown; Frontex’s sister agency, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), had fallen foul of the European data protection watchdog, the EDPS, for searching social media content from would-be migrants.

    The EASO had been using the data to flag “shifts in asylum and migration routes, smuggling offers and the discourse among social media community users on key issues – flights, human trafficking and asylum systems/processes”. The search covered a broad range of languages, including Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Urdu, Tigrinya, Amharic, Edo, Pidgin English, Russian, Kurmanji Kurdish, Hausa and French.

    Although the EASO’s mission, as its name suggests, is centred around support for the asylum system, its reports were widely circulated, including to organisations that attempt to limit illegal immigration – Europol, Interpol, member states and Frontex itself.

    In shutting down the EASO’s social media monitoring project, the watchdog cited numerous concerns about process, the impact on fundamental rights and the lack of a legal basis for the work.

    “This processing operation concerns a vast number of social media users,” the EDPS pointed out. Because EASO’s reports are read by border security forces, there was a significant risk that data shared by asylum seekers to help others travel safely to Europe could instead be unfairly used against them without their knowledge.

    Social media monitoring “poses high risks to individuals’ rights and freedoms,” the regulator concluded in an assessment it delivered last November. “It involves the use of personal data in a way that goes beyond their initial purpose, their initial context of publication and in ways that individuals could not reasonably anticipate. This may have a chilling effect on people’s ability and willingness to express themselves and form relationships freely.”

    EASO told the Bureau that the ban had “negative consequences” on “the ability of EU member states to adapt the preparedness, and increase the effectiveness, of their asylum systems” and also noted a “potential harmful impact on the safety of migrants and asylum seekers”.

    Frontex said that its social media analysis tender was cancelled after new European border regulations came into force, but added that it was considering modifying the tender in response to these rules.
    Coronavirus

    Drug shortages put worst-hit Covid-19 patients at risk
    European doctors running low on drugs needed to treat Covid-19 patients
    Big Tobacco criticised for ’coronavirus publicity stunt’ after donating ventilators

    The two shutdowns represented a stumbling block for efforts to track population movements via new technologies and sources of data. But the public health crisis precipitated by the Covid-19 virus has brought such efforts abruptly to wider attention. In doing so it has cast a spotlight on a complex knot of issues. What information is personal, and legally protected? How does that protection work? What do concepts like anonymisation, privacy and consent mean in an age of big data?
    The shape of things to come

    International humanitarian organisations have long been interested in whether they can use nontraditional data sources to help plan disaster responses. As they often operate in inaccessible regions with little available or accurate official data about population sizes and movements, they can benefit from using new big data sources to estimate how many people are moving where. In particular, as well as using social media, recent efforts have sought to combine insights from mobile phones – a vital possession for a refugee or disaster survivor – with images generated by “Earth observation” satellites.

    “Mobiles, satellites and social media are the holy trinity of movement prediction,” said Linnet Taylor, professor at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society in the Netherlands, who has been studying the privacy implications of such new data sources. “It’s the shape of things to come.”

    As the devastating impact of the Syrian civil war worsened in 2015, Europe saw itself in crisis. Refugee movements dominated the headlines and while some countries, notably Germany, opened up to more arrivals than usual, others shut down. European agencies and tech companies started to team up with a new offering: a migration hotspot predictor.

    Controversially, they were importing a concept drawn from distant catastrophe zones into decision-making on what should happen within the borders of the EU.

    “Here’s the heart of the matter,” said Nathaniel Raymond, a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs who focuses on the security implications of information communication technologies for vulnerable populations. “In ungoverned frontier cases [European data protection law] doesn’t apply. Use of these technologies might be ethically safer there, and in any case it’s the only thing that is available. When you enter governed space, data volume and ease of manipulation go up. Putting this technology to work in the EU is a total inversion.”
    “Mobiles, satellites and social media are the holy trinity of movement prediction”

    Justin Ginnetti, head of data and analysis at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in Switzerland, made a similar point. His organisation monitors movements to help humanitarian groups provide food, shelter and aid to those forced from their homes, but he casts a skeptical eye on governments using the same technology in the context of migration.

    “Many governments – within the EU and elsewhere – are very interested in these technologies, for reasons that are not the same as ours,” he told the Bureau. He called such technologies “a nuclear fly swatter,” adding: “The key question is: What problem are you really trying to solve with it? For many governments, it’s not preparing to ‘better respond to inflow of people’ – it’s raising red flags, to identify those en route and prevent them from arriving.”
    Eye in the sky

    A key player in marketing this concept was the European Space Agency (ESA) – an organisation based in Paris, with a major spaceport in French Guiana. The ESA’s pitch was to combine its space assets with other people’s data. “Could you be leveraging space technology and data for the benefit of life on Earth?” a recent presentation from the organisation on “disruptive smart technologies” asked. “We’ll work together to make your idea commercially viable.”

    By 2016, technologists at the ESA had spotted an opportunity. “Europe is being confronted with the most significant influxes of migrants and refugees in its history,” a presentation for their Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems Programme stated. “One burning issue is the lack of timely information on migration trends, flows and rates. Big data applications have been recognised as a potentially powerful tool.” It decided to assess how it could harness such data.

    The ESA reached out to various European agencies, including EASO and Frontex, to offer a stake in what it called “big data applications to boost preparedness and response to migration”. The space agency would fund initial feasibility stages, but wanted any operational work to be jointly funded.

    One such feasibility study was carried out by GMV, a privately owned tech group covering banking, defence, health, telecommunications and satellites. GMV announced in a press release in August 2017 that the study would “assess the added value of big data solutions in the migration sector, namely the reduction of safety risks for migrants, the enhancement of border controls, as well as prevention and response to security issues related with unexpected migration movements”. It would do this by integrating “multiple space assets” with other sources including mobile phones and social media.

    When contacted by the Bureau, a spokeswoman from GMV said that, contrary to the press release, “nothing in the feasibility study related to the enhancement of border controls”.

    In the same year, the technology multinational CGI teamed up with the Dutch Statistics Office to explore similar questions. They started by looking at data around asylum flows from Syria and at how satellite images and social media could indicate changes in migration patterns in Niger, a key route into Europe. Following this experiment, they approached EASO in October 2017. CGI’s presentation of the work noted that at the time EASO was looking for a social media analysis tool that could monitor Facebook groups, predict arrivals of migrants at EU borders, and determine the number of “hotspots” and migrant shelters. CGI pitched a combined project, co-funded by the ESA, to start in 2019 and expand to serve more organisations in 2020.
    The proposal was to identify “hotspot activities”, using phone data to group individuals “according to where they spend the night”

    The idea was called Migration Radar 2.0. The ESA wrote that “analysing social media data allows for better understanding of the behaviour and sentiments of crowds at a particular geographic location and a specific moment in time, which can be indicators of possible migration movements in the immediate future”. Combined with continuous monitoring from space, the result would be an “early warning system” that offered potential future movements and routes, “as well as information about the composition of people in terms of origin, age, gender”.

    Internal notes released by EASO to the Bureau show the sheer range of companies trying to get a slice of the action. The agency had considered offers of services not only from the ESA, GMV, the Dutch Statistics Office and CGI, but also from BIP, a consulting firm, the aerospace group Thales Alenia, the geoinformation specialist EGEOS and Vodafone.

    Some of the pitches were better received than others. An EASO analyst who took notes on the various proposals remarked that “most oversell a bit”. They went on: “Some claimed they could trace GSM [ie mobile networks] but then clarified they could do it for Venezuelans only, and maybe one or two countries in Africa.” Financial implications were not always clearly provided. On the other hand, the official noted, the ESA and its consortium would pay 80% of costs and “we can get collaboration on something we plan to do anyway”.

    The features on offer included automatic alerts, a social media timeline, sentiment analysis, “animated bubbles with asylum applications from countries of origin over time”, the detection and monitoring of smuggling sites, hotspot maps, change detection and border monitoring.

    The document notes a group of services available from Vodafone, for example, in the context of a proposed project to monitor asylum centres in Italy. The proposal was to identify “hotspot activities”, using phone data to group individuals either by nationality or “according to where they spend the night”, and also to test if their movements into the country from abroad could be back-tracked. A tentative estimate for the cost of a pilot project, spread over four municipalities, came to €250,000 – of which an unspecified amount was for “regulatory (privacy) issues”.

    Stumbling blocks

    Elsewhere, efforts to harness social media data for similar purposes were proving problematic. A September 2017 UN study tried to establish whether analysing social media posts, specifically on Twitter, “could provide insights into ... altered routes, or the conversations PoC [“persons of concern”] are having with service providers, including smugglers”. The hypothesis was that this could “better inform the orientation of resource allocations, and advocacy efforts” - but the study was unable to conclude either way, after failing to identify enough relevant data on Twitter.

    The ESA pressed ahead, with four feasibility studies concluding in 2018 and 2019. The Migration Radar project produced a dashboard that showcased the use of satellite imagery for automatically detecting changes in temporary settlement, as well as tools to analyse sentiment on social media. The prototype received positive reviews, its backers wrote, encouraging them to keep developing the product.

    CGI was effusive about the predictive power of its technology, which could automatically detect “groups of people, traces of trucks at unexpected places, tent camps, waste heaps and boats” while offering insight into “the sentiments of migrants at certain moments” and “information that is shared about routes and motives for taking certain routes”. Armed with this data, the company argued that it could create a service which could predict the possible outcomes of migration movements before they happened.

    The ESA’s other “big data applications” study had identified a demand among EU agencies and other potential customers for predictive analyses to ensure “preparedness” and alert systems for migration events. A package of services was proposed, using data drawn from social media and satellites.

    Both projects were slated to evolve into a second, operational phase. But this seems to have never become reality. CGI told the Bureau that “since the completion of the [Migration Radar] project, we have not carried out any extra activities in this domain”.

    The ESA told the Bureau that its studies had “confirmed the usefulness” of combining space technology and big data for monitoring migration movements. The agency added that its corporate partners were working on follow-on projects despite “internal delays”.

    EASO itself told the Bureau that it “took a decision not to get involved” in the various proposals it had received.

    Specialists found a “striking absence” of agreed upon core principles when using the new technologies

    But even as these efforts slowed, others have been pursuing similar goals. The European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography has proposed a “Big Data for Migration Alliance” to address data access, security and ethics concerns. A new partnership between the ESA and GMV – “Bigmig" – aims to support “migration management and prevention” through a combination of satellite observation and machine-learning techniques (the company emphasised to the Bureau that its focus was humanitarian). And a consortium of universities and private sector partners – GMV among them – has just launched a €3 million EU-funded project, named Hummingbird, to improve predictions of migration patterns, including through analysing phone call records, satellite imagery and social media.

    At a conference in Berlin in October 2019, dozens of specialists from academia, government and the humanitarian sector debated the use of these new technologies for “forecasting human mobility in contexts of crises”. Their conclusions raised numerous red flags. They found a “striking absence” of agreed upon core principles. It was hard to balance the potential good with ethical concerns, because the most useful data tended to be more specific, leading to greater risks of misuse and even, in the worst case scenario, weaponisation of the data. Partnerships with corporations introduced transparency complications. Communication of predictive findings to decision makers, and particularly the “miscommunication of the scope and limitations associated with such findings”, was identified as a particular problem.

    The full consequences of relying on artificial intelligence and “employing large scale, automated, and combined analysis of datasets of different sources” to predict movements in a crisis could not be foreseen, the workshop report concluded. “Humanitarian and political actors who base their decisions on such analytics must therefore carefully reflect on the potential risks.”

    A fresh crisis

    Until recently, discussion of such risks remained mostly confined to scientific papers and NGO workshops. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought it crashing into the mainstream.

    Some see critical advantages to using call data records to trace movements and map the spread of the virus. “Using our mobile technology, we have the potential to build models that help to predict broadly how the virus might move,” an O2 spokesperson said in March. But others believe that it is too late for this to be useful. The UK’s chief scientific officer, Patrick Vallance, told a press conference in March that using this type of data “would have been a good idea in January”.

    Like the 2015 refugee crisis, the global emergency offers an opportunity for industry to get ahead of the curve with innovative uses of big data. At a summit in Downing Street on 11 March, Dominic Cummings asked tech firms “what [they] could bring to the table” to help the fight against Covid-19.

    Human rights advocates worry about the longer term effects of such efforts, however. “Right now, we’re seeing states around the world roll out powerful new surveillance measures and strike up hasty partnerships with tech companies,” Anna Bacciarelli, a technology researcher at Amnesty International, told the Bureau. “While states must act to protect people in this pandemic, it is vital that we ensure that invasive surveillance measures do not become normalised and permanent, beyond their emergency status.”

    More creative methods of surveillance and prediction are not necessarily answering the right question, others warn.

    “The single largest determinant of Covid-19 mortality is healthcare system capacity,” said Sean McDonald, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, who studied the use of phone data in the west African Ebola outbreak of 2014-5. “But governments are focusing on the pandemic as a problem of people management rather than a problem of building response capacity. More broadly, there is nowhere near enough proof that the science or math underlying the technologies being deployed meaningfully contribute to controlling the virus at all.”

    Legally, this type of data processing raises complicated questions. While European data protection law - the GDPR - generally prohibits processing of “special categories of personal data”, including ethnicity, beliefs, sexual orientation, biometrics and health, it allows such processing in a number of instances (among them public health emergencies). In the case of refugee movement prediction, there are signs that the law is cracking at the seams.
    “There is nowhere near enough proof that the science or math underlying the technologies being deployed meaningfully contribute to controlling the virus at all.”

    Under GDPR, researchers are supposed to make “impact assessments” of how their data processing can affect fundamental rights. If they find potential for concern they should consult their national information commissioner. There is no simple way to know whether such assessments have been produced, however, or whether they were thoroughly carried out.

    Researchers engaged with crunching mobile phone data point to anonymisation and aggregation as effective tools for ensuring privacy is maintained. But the solution is not straightforward, either technically or legally.

    “If telcos are using individual call records or location data to provide intel on the whereabouts, movements or activities of migrants and refugees, they still need a legal basis to use that data for that purpose in the first place – even if the final intelligence report itself does not contain any personal data,” said Ben Hayes, director of AWO, a data rights law firm and consultancy. “The more likely it is that the people concerned may be identified or affected, the more serious this matter becomes.”

    More broadly, experts worry that, faced with the potential of big data technology to illuminate movements of groups of people, the law’s provisions on privacy begin to seem outdated.

    “We’re paying more attention now to privacy under its traditional definition,” Nathaniel Raymond said. “But privacy is not the same as group legibility.” Simply put, while issues around the sensitivity of personal data can be obvious, the combinations of seemingly unrelated data that offer insights about what small groups of people are doing can be hard to foresee, and hard to mitigate. Raymond argues that the concept of privacy as enshrined in the newly minted data protection law is anachronistic. As he puts it, “GDPR is already dead, stuffed and mounted. We’re increasing vulnerability under the colour of law.”

    https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2020-04-28/monitoring-being-pitched-to-fight-covid-19-was-first-tested-o
    #cobaye #surveillance #réfugiés #covid-19 #coronavirus #test #smartphone #téléphones_portables #Frontex #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #Shin_Bet #internet #big_data #droits_humains #réseaux_sociaux #intelligence_prédictive #European_Asylum_Support_Office (#EASO) #EDPS #protection_des_données #humanitaire #images_satellites #technologie #European_Space_Agency (#ESA) #GMV #CGI #Niger #Facebook #Migration_Radar_2.0 #early_warning_system #BIP #Thales_Alenia #EGEOS #complexe_militaro-industriel #Vodafone #GSM #Italie #twitter #détection #routes_migratoires #systèmes_d'alerte #satellites #Knowledge_Centre_on_Migration_and_Demography #Big_Data for_Migration_Alliance #Bigmig #machine-learning #Hummingbird #weaponisation_of_the_data #IA #intelligence_artificielle #données_personnelles

    ping @etraces @isskein @karine4 @reka

    signalé ici par @sinehebdo :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/849167

    • OPCW Will Deploy Fact-Finding Mission to #Douma, Syria
      Tuesday, 10 April 2018

      https://www.opcw.org/news/article/opcw-will-deploy-fact-finding-mission-to-douma-syria

      THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 10 April 2018 — Since the first reports of alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, were issued, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been gathering information from all available sources and analysing it. At the same time, OPCW’s Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, has considered the deployment of a Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) team to Douma to establish facts surrounding these allegations.

      Today, the OPCW Technical Secretariat has requested the Syrian Arab Republic to make the necessary arrangements for such a deployment. This has coincided with a request from the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Federation to investigate the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma. The team is preparing to deploy to Syria shortly.

      Background

      Set up in 2014, the on-going mandate of the OPCW Fact Finding Mission (FFM) is “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”. The OPCW cannot and will not release information about an on-going investigation. This policy exists to preserve the integrity of the investigatory process and its results as well as to ensure the safety and security of OPCW experts and personnel involved. All parties are asked to respect the confidentiality parameters required for a rigorous and unimpeded investigation.

      As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – and with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.

      Over ninety-six per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.

      #Syrie #OPCW

  • Prolong the trends of miniaturisation, autonomy and lower costs - the result is obviously cheap insect-like fully autonomous and lethal. Now we realize that it is no longer science-fiction but the coming environment - especially against non-state actors. It is not quite like ground combat as we now it and it is also a dimension separate from macro-scale high-altitude air combat. Now what ?

    "Using a new technological invention, the Red robots wiped out the Blue robots in the first days of the war, compelling the Blue humans to surrender. Some Blue humans tried to fight on, but the Red robots disarmed them, laughing at their slowness. The videos taken by the Red robots went viral"

    On tomorrow’s battlefields, swatting swarms of autonomous bullet-drones...
    https://balloonstodrones.com/2018/03/28/air-operations-at-the-level-of-boots-on-the-ground #weapons #robots

  • Changes to #suicide tactics in the battle for #Mosul
    http://www.armyupress.army.mil/Portals/7/military-review/Archives/English/Adaptation-and-Innovation-with-an-urban-twist.pdf #Irak #Iraq #war #weapons #guerre #armes #asymmetric_warfare #guerre_asymétrique

    Suicide bombers has always been an asymmetric response to lack of precision weapons. Once a replacement is developed, we can expect suicide bombing to recede despite its serving as a signaling function for ideology by demonstrating determination & sacrifice. (Which reminds that the coming proliferation of cheap precision guided munitions is not going to be fun)

  • The history and adaptability of the Islamic State car bomb
    https://zaytunarjuwani.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/the-history-and-adaptability-of-the-islamic-state-car-bomb #SBVIED #VIED #ISIL #Islamic_State #ISIS #suicide #weapons #armes #Irak #Iraq #Syria #Syrie #Mosul

    Let’s make a delivery !” "Why don’t YOU drive ?" - #C&C #Red_Alert 2 seventeen years ago really was visionary, but seeing SVBIED routinely used as a normal component of ground assaults is something I would not have imagined actually happening outside of a silly game.

  • US delivers rifles to #Lebanon in arms aid deal
    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/us-delivers-rifles-lebanon-arms-aid-deal

    A shipment of 1,000 light war rifles arrived in Lebanon from the United States this week as part of a deal between the American and Lebanese armies, the Lebanese military said in a statement Thursday. The rifles are part of a US aid program to Lebanon’s military. The program most recently delivered 21 military buses to the #lebanese_army in April, according to the Lebanese National News Agency. The shipment arrived exactly one month after a meeting between Lebanese army chief Jean Qahwaji and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to discuss American aid for the Lebanese army. read more

    #America #weapons

  • #turkey seizes #syria-bound arms shipment
    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/turkey-seizes-syria-bound-arms-shipment

    Turkish security forces have seized a truck laden with #weapons bound for Syria and arrested three people including a Syrian, local media reported on Thursday. Acting on a tip-off, security forces on Wednesday stopped the truck in the southern province of Hatay on the Syrian border, Hurriyet newspaper reported. A significant quantity of ammunition and weapons were discovered in the truck, whose drivers claimed they were carrying aid on behalf of the pro-Islamic Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH). But IHH dismissed the allegations as “slanderous.” read more

    #arms_shipments #Syrian_rebels #Top_News

  • Arming Egypt, by Nizar Manek - English edition blogs
    http://mondediplo.com/blogs/arming-egypt

    The #US doesn’t want to lose its access to the pyramids, nor does it want to allow its bilateral ties with #Egypt — the world’s fourth largest F-16 operator — to go limp. The two main categories under which US military equipment are sold to foreign customers — Foreign Military Sales (FMS, from the US Department of Defense stockpiles) and Direct Commercial Sales (from the manufacturers) — are a form of industrial policy, labelled an act of “rent-seeking” by a political elite and a “rent-granting” state, or a “strategic effort” by the US government to finance the growth of the defence manufacturing sector of the American economy, maintain its expertise in a global market for #weapons deals, and bolster employment levels.

  • Les USA devraient vendre pour 11 milliars de dollars d’armes à l’Arabie à Saoudite et aux Emirats Arabes Unis - Middle East Monitor

    http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/7845-america-sells-arms-to-saudi-and-the-uae-worth-11-billion

    The US Department of Defence has announced its intention to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates valued at $11 billion. Officials at the Pentagon said that they are submitting a draft contract for the deal to the US Congress this week.

    #armes #weapons

    • ’Our’ weaponized Wahhabi bastards
      http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-02-181013.html

      Machiavelli taught us that individual will is as crucial as international power play in determining foreign policy decisions. The Florentine stressed how fortuna (fortune) can be capricious, and how history can be contingent. So how does a great Prince steer his state? By deploying virtu (virtue).

      Oh no, this has nothing to do with the guilt-ridden Christian mish-mash, which also happens to be a crucial pillar of the “American exceptionalism” concept. It’s all got to do with classical values predominant in the Ancient World - from Greece to Persia. Virtue as in knowledge, strength, courage, and cunning.

      So under this gold standard, Vladimir Putin certainly qualifies as a worthy Prince. Deng Xiaoping certainly did. Hassan Rouhani in Iran may reveal himself to be of the same caliber. But what about those angry, fearful, intolerant, yet heavily weaponized Arab princes? You don’t need to be a pilgrim to Mecca-as-Disneyland to find your answer.

  • 10 Chemical Weapons Attacks Washington Doesn’t Want You to Talk About

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/62023/10-chemical-weapons-attacks-washington-doesn-t-want-you-to-talk-about

    Sur le sujet : Irak : après les feux de la guerre, les cancers - Les blogs du Diplo
    http://blog.mondediplo.net/2012-12-05-Irak-apres-les-feux-de-la-guerre-les-cancers

    Et le travail du reporter franco-irakien Feurat Alani, notamment le docu « Fajullah, a lost generation »

    #WMD #ADM #guerre #war #weapons #USA #Irak

  • Recent bloodshed underscores urgent need to halt arms transfers to Egypt | Amnesty International

    http://amnesty.org/en/news/recent-bloodshed-underscores-urgent-need-halt-arms-transfers-egypt-2013-08-

    All governments must suspend the transfer of weapons of the type used by Egypt’s security forces in violent dispersals and unwarranted lethal force against sit-ins and other protests, Amnesty International said today.

    #armes #weapons #violence