1. Riace shaken over arrest of mayor
Domenico Lucano, the mayor Riace, has been placed under house arrest by the Italian Guardia di Finanza, as part of an operation called ‘Xenia‘, for allegedly aiding illegal immigration and mishandling of contracts for waste disposal.
Valigia Blu has written a report on the accusations; the initial charges of criminal conspiracy, abuse of office and aggravated fraud have been dropped. The Locri prosecutor himself, Domenico di Croce, has criticised some aspects of the investigation: the handling of funds may have been chaotic, but there are no irregularities and no one has been bribed.
Mimmo Lucano is well known around the world for the hospitable policy of Riace a village abandoned by locals and given new life through the successful integration of migrants and asylum seekers.
Reactions to the arrest have been swift. While the Interior Minister celebrated with a tweet, more than 5,000 people gathered on Saturday afternoon in support of the Riace model and calling for the mayor’s release. Messages of solidarity were also prominently displayed during the Peace March from Perugia to Assisi.
2. A new rescue ship sails in the name of civil obedience
Two vessels sailing under Italian flag, the tug boat Mare Ionio and the ship Burlesque, left the port of Augusta on Wednesday night and headed to the Libyan coast as part of the first all-Italian rescue mission in international waters and called Mediterranea.
A “non-governmental action”, as the organisers call it, of moral disobedience and civil obedience, to raise awareness of what is happening along one of the world’s most dangerous route, from Libya to Italy. This is the aim of the mission, promoted by several NGOs including Sea-Watch and Open Arms, as well as by associations such as ARCI and Ya Basta, politicians such as Erasmo Palazzotto, Nicola Fratoianni and Nichi Vendola and by da Banca Etica which granted a 460,000 euro loan, as president Ugo Biggeri told Vita.
The ship will be carrying out rescue as well as monitoring operations, and is suitably equipped. “If we find a boat in distress, we will follow the law: lives at sea must always be saved. We hope that political institutions will do the same”.
3. Among the migrants trapped in Libya
Libya is the major gateway for Africans en route to Europe, and since violence re-erupted in the country, fighting between rival militias have killed more than 100 people in Tripoli alone. The already precarious situation has worsened, against human traffic, detention and violence. Writing for PBS, Christopher Livesay and Alessandro Pavone documented the plight of an estimated 700,000 migrants now caught in the Libyan crossfire.
Why should #refugees & #migrants be evacuated out of #Libya? A new & harrowing video report from PBS @NewsHour provides a glimpse into some of the appalling conditions these vulnerable people are confronted with everyday. https://t.co/rFGGuuU3Us | @cLivesay & @AlesPavone
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) October 4, 2018
Similar conditions were found by the Corriere della Sera correspondent in Tripoli, Lorenzo Cremonesi, at the Khoms detention camp, one of the places where the Libyan Coast Guard sends migrants intercepted at sea.
4. Salvini threatens to close Italy’s airports to prevent repatriation of migrants from German
Soon after the approval on President Mattarella – who nonetheless cautioned against violating the Constitution when legislating the rights on foreigners – on his decree on security and immigration, Italian interior minister Salvini is ready for yet another fight.
On the issue of the so-called secondary movements, Salvini reacted poorly to Germany’s plan to return to Italy all the migrants who applied for asylum there, who are estimated to exceed 20,000.
“If someone in Berlin or Brussels is thinking of dumping dozens of immigrants in Italy on unauthorised charter flights, they need to know that there will be no airports available to them”, the Minister said. After the closing of the ports, airports could be next, but according to reports from Il Fatto Quotidiano, the first flight from Germany is already scheduled for Tuesday, October 9th.
According to many observers, the crackdown on repatriation follows great pressures on Merkel to act up on immigration in the run-up to Bavarian elections next week.
5. The shipwreck of Lampedusa, a forgotten tragedy
5 years have passed since October 3rd 2013, when 368 migrants drowned off the coast of the Isola dei conigli in Lampedusa (read Arianna’s Ciccone report based on Alessandro Leogrande’s book La frontiera here). Most conspicuous on October 3rd, which in 2016 was declared National Day in Remembrance of the Victims of Immigration, was the absence of government figures, who for the first time did not participate to the ceremony on the island. Politicians seem to have forgotten the shipwreck, but it still matters, tragically: 5 years on, deaths at sea are at an all-time high.
6. Italian who shot at Africans in Macerata jailed for 12 years
After being tried for shooting and wounding six African migrants in a racially motivated attack, Luca Traini has been sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Macerata court.
“I wanted to bring justice to drug dealers after I was bombarded with news on immigrants selling drugs”, Traini said during the trial
On February 3rd Traini, while driving his car, went on a shooting spree against Ghanaian, Malian and Nigerian (here you can read our interview with Wilson, one of the six injured migrants). After ditching his car, he stopped to give a fascist salute, with an Italian flag resting on his shoulders.
7. Myths about migrants and disease in the press
A woman and her baby from Bangladesh have been hospitalised in Naples after displaying symptoms of cholera, following a trip to their native country. According to the doctors who treated them, their conditions are stable and the situation is under control, but that didn’t stop the daily newspaper Libero from running the headline “Immigrants bring cholera back to Naples”.
Associazione Carta di Roma has contacted the scientific director of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani, who assured that there is no ongoing epidemic, adding: “It’s not a question of Italian citizens versus foreigners. It can happen to anyone who travels abroad, as is often the case with malaria”.
It is not the first time that the press has written about a supposed health emergency caused by migrants. The foreigner as a bringer of disease is a recurring myth that is used to justify fears and crackdowns on asylum, as Claudia had Torrisi explained in her fact checking on migrants and diseases.
8.“Better to drown the appalling living conditions at the Moria camp
Around 9,000 people living in a space designed for just 3,100, where squalid conditions and an inscrutable bureaucracy, including the asylum process, have led to what aid groups describe as “a mental health crisis”.
Inside the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, 60% of the refugees assessed by psychosocial workers have considered suicide, and just under a third have actually attempted it. The damage has not spared the 3,000 children who live in the camp, as Lorenzo Tondo wrote in the Guardian.
9. Council of Europe wants Croatia to investigate migrant abuse
In a letter to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic said there should be an extensive investigation into allegations of police abuse on migrants in the country.
“Particularly worrisome are allegations of systemic violence used by Croatian law enforcement officials against those persons, including pregnant women and children,” wrote Mijatovic in the letter in September.
Croatian interior minister Davor Bozinovic denied the accusations, adding that Croatian has “crossings” and that no cases of violence have been established.
Violations, thefts and pushbacks are also at the centre of “The Game” project, a report from the border between Bosnia and Croatia, documenting the plight of migrants in limbo while playing “the game”, their nearly impossible attempt to reach Europe.
10. 34 dead in a shipwreck off the coast of Spain
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported that at least 34 migrants have died off the coast of Morocco, while 26 more have been rescued by the Moroccan Coast Guard.
According to the Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras, the operations were delayed: the migrants “awaited rescue for 24 hours and were left to die slowly”, said activist Helena Maleno.
Meanwhile, new data released by IOM show hoe sea arrivals to Spain currently account for 45 per cent of all Mediterranean arrivals, also due to the reduced numbers of migrants arriving in Italy and Greece. According to the organisation, the situation remains under control and does not constitute an emergency.
Foto di copertina via Mediterranea Saving Humans