1. New evidence of torture in Libya
The new reports from migrant hell in Libya are coming from the detention centres of Triq al Sikka in Tripoli and Bani Walid.
In about 26 hellish Libyan detention centres, migrants are forced to live in unsanitary conditions, overcrowded rooms, without sufficient food supplies. In addition, they are regularly subjected to abuse and violence.
According to the website Open, on Thursday February 26, about 500 residents staged a protest against the living conditions. The jailers’ response was swift: according to the reports, about 50 people, including minors, were brought to an underground cell where they were locked and subjected to torture.
At a second detention centre in Bani Walid, Piazza Pulita correspondents Nello Trocchia and Adib Fatehali were able to report systematic violations of human rights being committed just south of Italian shores.
Detention centres are officially under the control of the Libyan Ministry of the interior. According to the EU, they should be closed, but migrants intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard are still being sent there.
2. Two prosecutors investigating the failure to disembark migrants on board the Sea Watch
First the standoff near the port of Syracuse, then the nightly transfer to Catania, escorted by Coast Guard and Guardia di Finanza: an investigation has been launched into the events surrounding the German migrant rescue ship between January 19 and 31.
According to a report by Nello Scavo and Massimiliano Perna in Avvenire, at least two prosecutors, in Rome and Syracuse, are examining the failure of disembarking the 15 minors on board the ship, and how the authorities erected a wall of silence around the chain of command.
Furthermore, according to the newspaper, the investigations do not involve only the Sea Watch “but other instances of rescue ships held out at sea for days before being allowed to bring safely to shore the migrants saved from Libyan camps and the storms”.
To this day, there is no way of knowing how the ship was blocked, and under whose orders: the Italian interior ministry has classified all documents related to the Sea Watch, while the Ministry of transport has not responded within 30 days (as mandated by law) to formal request for access by Associazione Diritti e Frontiere.
The city of Syracuse is willing to see it through and appear before a court to report all the anomalies observed in January: “These were all politically motivated decisions”.
3. San Ferdinando migrant shanty town dismantled in Calabria
Bulldozers and policemen, an entire area cordoned off by law enforcement officers: on Wednesday, the shanty town of San Ferdinando was dismantled. Hundreds of migrants had been living there in extremely precarious conditions, with three of them dying in three separate fires over the last few years.
While the interior ministry rejoiced on Twitter, saying “From words to facts”, and the Bari prefect said he was “pleased by an operation which was both humane and legal”, many former residents will have to face a lack of alternative housing.
According to La Repubblica, not everyone has been provided with accommodation, and a new shanty town is already being built next to the old one.
Stories of exclusion and “disappeared” migrants: from those who did not agree to transferring in the CAS and former SPRAR centres, to those who have not found a place in the new, and already crowded, shanty town (which they cannot access with their working visa). According to data from the Ministry, about 460 people have been left out; Antonio Mira wrote about them in Avvenire.
4. Bosnia, new tensions along the Balkan Route
Despite the 2016 EU-Turkey deal, the Balkan route is still being used, however by fewer migrants. Most of the pressure is now on Bosnia, but political decisions at the local level and a tightening of police checks might lead the migrants to move elsewhere. Recently, local media have reported that the authorities in the Republika Srpska (a Serbian-marjority entity Bosnia) prevented a number of migrants from entering Banja Luka, forcing them to continue their hourney towards Bihaća.
Last week we wrote about the growing tensions in Bosnia. Michele Luppi went to Bihać in the Una-Sana canton, on the Croatian border, a town which has become a European hotspot over the last 12 months.
5. A solidarity fund for those left out by the asylum system
In order to help migrants affected by the new security decree pushed by Italian deputy PM Matteo Salvini, a “Solidarity fund for those excluded from the system” has been set up in Milan.
Conceived by Caritas Ambrosiana, which has already allocated 500,000 euro, the fund will be used primarily on projects aimed at those who will see their integration process cut short under the new legislation, despite having a resident permit and having previously benefited from localized reception initiatives.
“We know,” said the director of Caritas Ambrosiana, Luciano Gualzetti, “that one action is not going to solve the problem, but we wanted to respond in the interest, first and foremost, of our guests, but also of the communities that would have to deal with young people who would easily fall prey to the illegal job market.”
To better report on the initiative by Caritas Ambrosiana, Marco Todarello visited Casa Abramo in Lecco, one of the centres that are still taking in migrants (despite the Salvini decree).
6. Australian Greens propose private sponsorship of refugees
A push to target three lower house seats in Melbourne has led the Australian Greens to spark a new debate on immigration in the country. The Greens followed the Labor’s proposal last December with a programme to boost Australia’s humanitarian intake by 10,000. In Canada, where private sponsorship has existed for more than 40 years, about 300,000 refugees have been taken in by civil society. Only recently did private sponsorship become more common in Europe, with Italy setting an example.
7. British MPs calling on government to take action for refugees
Cannot continue to ask the poorest countries in the world to grant refugees the right to work whilst the UK Government significantly limits asylum seekers’ right to work in the UK. A new report titled Forced Displacement in Africa: “Anchors not Walls” has been submitted by British MPs to the UK government.
The recommendations (read the complete list here) include encouraging further foreign investments in other Sub-Saharan countries and supporting local educational and economic initiatives, particularly those led by women. The document also supports the UNHCR call for UK to increase the number of annual resettlement places available to 10,000 and to lift the ban on on asylum seekers’ right to work.
THREAD 1-Today #MPs have a clear and strong message for #government-and it is not about #Brexit! The #UK cannot continue to ask the poorest countries in the world to do what's right for #refugees and other #migrants if not prepared to do the same at home. https://t.co/kjUWNg8ROO
— Marta Foresti (@martaforesti) March 5, 2019
8. UNHCR’s uncourageous vision on migration
Long-term detention in camps is still the reality for roughly a third of the world’s refugees, with most others left to struggle in urban slums with no real access to human rights. Just 10 – mostly very poor – countries now host more than 60 per cent of the world’s refugees, with the entire developed world taking in only 15 per cent of those in need of asylum. And yet those same rich countries spend at least US$20 billion each year to fund their refugee reception efforts more than four times the amount the United Nations (UN) refugee agency has available to meet the needs of the 85 per cent of refugees in poor countries.
Too often, refugees are forced to risk their lives in order to save their lives, with increasingly sophisticated barriers to access forcing them to undertake risky voyages and to rely on smugglers and even traffickers to reach safety.. The safety on offer is in any event too often illusory, and persisting with the status quo ad hoc, State-by-State approach ate by state approachis not an option. James C. Hathaway, James E. and Sarah A. Degan, wrote an op-ed for the European Council on Refugees and Exiles.
9. Calais police officers still raiding migrant camps
Tent camps are still being dismantled by police in Calais, where hundreds of migrants are waiting to attempt crossing to the UK and law enforcement officers are becoming increasingly less tolerant. As migrant aid organisations have noticed, Calais police tend to dismantle the city’s illegal tent camps in the mornings, just around breakfast time. This is a time slot when many of the migrants leave their tents to get breakfast at one of two food distribution points located a few kilometers away. Police insist there is no correlation.
With no shelter from the cold and only a few belongings, in constant fear of police raids, about a thousand migrants are still living in the north of France, exhausted from years of standstill and willing to do anything to reach the UK. An alarming number of people is stil attempting to cross the Channel, as Emanuela Barbiroglio wrote for Open Migration.
10. Is citizenship income discriminatory?
On March 6, the so-called citizenship income was introduced in Italy, as a measure from the government to support Italians and EU citizens who have been legally residing in Italy for at least 10, whose annual income does not exceed 9,360€.
According to the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration, the measure is discriminatory. A lawyer with ASGI, Alberto Guariso, brought his attention to a decision (no. 166) by the Constitutional Court in July 2018, which ruled that a 5-year or 10-year residence requirement imposed on third country citizens to access rent assistance was unconstitutional. The other requirement, for a long term resident permit, would exclude 35 percent of foreigners legally residing in Italy.
Another controversial requirement is for foreign nationals to provide extra documentation from their countries of origin, similar to the one required by the town of Lodi for access to school canteens – which was subsequently overruled by a court decision.
Immagine di copertina: resti di un gommone sulla costa di Zuwara portato a riva dalla corrente (foto: Marta Bellingreri)