The Sea Watch is still without a port
Since last Saturday, 47 migrants and refugees rescued by the Sea Watch 3 have been waiting to disembark safely. Italian ports continue to be closed to NGO rescue ships, and statements from Italian authorities have been consistent with their recent policies, as the ship awaits permission to dock off the port of Syracuse.
In a joint statement, UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM have called for the ship to be immediately allowed to bring its passenger to shore, expressing particular concern for the unaccompanied minors on board.
With the mayor of Syracuse in favour to opening the port, and hundreds of citizens expressing solidarity with the migrants, more and more politicians are coming forward in support of the ship.
On Sunday, a delegation of Italian MPs including Nicola Fratoianni (Leu), Riccardo Magi (Più Europa) and Stefania Prestigiacomo (Forza Italia were able to visit the ship and inspect the migrants’ conditions.
A delegation of MPs from the Democratic Party is also planning to visit the Sea Watch, which has been isolated by the port authority.
2. On the closing of the refugee centre in Castelnuovo di Porto
Castelnuovo di Porto, a small town close to Rome, has been thrust into the spotlight after the Italian interior ministry decided to close the local refugee reception centre (CARA) and evict more than 500 people at a moment’s notice.
Why was this decision made? What will happen to the hundreds of people living in the CARA? Valigia Blu has an article on the history of the centre and the future that awaits the evicted migrants.
The timing of the decision was surprising, and as Annalisa Camilli wrote in Internazionale, the measure seems to go against the direction set by the immigration and security bill that was recently voted into law.
The closure might spell the end of many successful integration stories, like that of Anszou Cissé, the centre-forward in the local soccer team, as well as jeopardising 120 jobs.
3. Debate over extension shows limitations of Operation Sophia
News started circulating last week that Germany was about to pull out of Operation Sophia, over Italy’s migration policies.
“The Italian command has sent our navy to the most far-flung corners of the Mediterranean Sea over the past nine months”, said German defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, adding that the German deployment “has had no sensible task for months.” “Since it has the command and the headquarters of the mission, if Italy doesn’t want Sophia, we are willing to shut it down”, said Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs. To this day, Operation Sophia – named after a child born on a German ship, the Schleswig-Holstein – appears to have been extended. However, as Lorenzo Bagnoli wrote for us, the discussions on the nature of the mission are starting to show its limitations.
4. European golden visas for the wealthy
More than a million people have sought refuge in Europe over the past few years; some will eventually become citizens. Still more have moved for work and the promise of ultimately securing a permanent place. But a select group does something else entirely: they pay, a lot.
The super rich can invest a few thousand euros (250,000 in in Lithuania and Greece) to obtain passports allowing them to freely move and invest within the Schengen area. The so-called golden visas have made some member states millions of euros (with Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria operating schemes that offer citizenship), attracting criticism from the European Commission.
5. Diciotti case, Salvini faces kidnapping charges
“For abusing his powers in his capacity as ministry of interior, for depriving persons of their liberty, in violation of international conventions on sea rescue and the attending Italian regulations…»
Prosecutors in Catania, Sicily, ruled on Thursday that Matteo Salvini can be charged with kidnapping after he preventing refugees from disembarking the Diciotti last summer.
“I am ready and I don’t have a problem” Salvini said, while his coalition partners in the Five Star Movement seem open to allow him to go to trial.
The charges relate to the events that took place between August 14 and 19 2018,when 177 people rescued by the Italian Coast Guard vessel Diciotti were refused permission to land in Italy.
6. GRETA publishes second report on Italy
Italian authorities have taken positive steps to combat human trafficking, but other areas require urgent action, according to the second report on Italy published by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA). Welcome developments include amendments to the Criminal Code and the adoption of a law strengthening the protection of unaccompanied children, including child victims of trafficking.
GRETA is concerned about the lack of adequate measures to prevent unaccompanied children from going missing and to increase their outreach work to identify child victims of trafficking, as well as recently adopted legislation excluding asylum seekers from access to reception centres, which risks leaving possible victims of trafficking without assistance.
7. Spain proposes increase in deportations
The Spanish government of Pedro Sanchez has announced plans to expel 9,000 irregular migrants in 2019. They also intend to create new foreigner detention centres (CIEs). The country’s budget proposal for 2019, still to be approved in April, was presented on January 11. If the interior ministry’s estimated figures on undocumented migrants were confirmed, the measure would double their number from last year.
8. This week’s fact-checking: France and Italy spat over fuelling migration
Italy’s deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, accused France of fuelling migration through neo-colonial policies in Africa. The statement caused the French authorities to call in the Italian ambassador in Paris. So what’s behind Di Maio’s statements?
Emma Wallis answered this this question in Infomigrants, while Andrea Zitelli and Angelo Romano, wrote in Valigia Blu about another recurring falsehood: NGOs as a pull factor for migrants.
9. An honest, less partisan debate on mixed migration
Irregular migrants represent less than 1 percent of the annual global total of those living outside their birth country. The majority of people with irregular status arrived by regular means, normally by plane. Even though mixed migration flows they represent a small proportion of human mobility, they have seriously disrupted migration and refugee policy as well as politics worldwide. We need a sober, forward-looking discussion of the issues. Read the op-ed by Mixed Migration Centre analyst Chris Horwood in Refugee Deeply.
10. More evidence of horrors in Libyan detention centres
Conditions in Libyan detention centres in Misrata and Kohms are rapidly deteriorating due to a ‘sharp increase’ in the number of people held, including pregnant women and children. Increasing violence and deaths have also been related to fighting in Tripoli, with EU policies are contributing to a cycle of extreme abuse against migrants in Libya, according to reports released by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the World Health Organization and Human Rights Watch.
In the 70-page Human Rights Watch report, “No Escape from Hell’: EU Policies Contribute to Abuse of Migrants in Libya”, you can also read how the EU and Italy’s support for the Libyan Coast Guard contributes significantly to the interception of migrants and asylum seekers and their subsequent detention in arbitrary, abusive detention in Libya.
According to MSF, 200 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year, while vulnerable refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers were intercepted or rescued at sea and brought back to Libya in violation of international law and locked in crowded centres in dire conditions, with a lack of food and water.
Foto di copertina via Twitter/Mediterranea Saving Humans