After waiting outside the harbour of Lampedusa for a whole day, the ship Mare Jonio of the Mediterranea project was allowed to disembark the rescued migrants. On Monday, it rescued a boat with 49 migrants on board, including one in critical conditions and 12 minors. The ship is flying the Italian flag; its captain reported an emergency, and the mayor of Lampedusa said he was willing to help, but its port remains closed. According to Italian interior minister Salvini, “This is not a rescue operation, but abetting illegal immigration.” Authorities had ordered the rescue ship to be seized as an investigation is launched into allegations of aiding and abetting human trafficking.
1. EU asylum applications fall to pre-2015 levels
In 2018, 580 800 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union, marking a return to levels recorded in 2014, before the peak year 2015, when 1 256 600 first-time asylum applicants were registered. These data on asylum applicants in the EU are issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
More generally, EU asylum applications were down 11% compared to 2017.
The sharpest drop was registered in Italy, 61% down from the previous year, followed by Austria (down 49% or 1,100 fewer applications), Sweden (-19% or 4,100 fewer) and Germany (-18 or 36,400 fewer).
Germany remains the prime destination, accounting for 28% of all applications, followed by France (19%) and Greece (11.2%), while Spain only accounted for 9.1% of all applicants.
Italy was the fifth country of destination, with 49,200 applications registered (or 8% of the EU total), 77,400 fewer than the previous year.
2. On the drop in migrant arrivals in Italy
Migrant arrivals in Italy have dropped by 94%.
According to data released by the country’s Interior Ministry, only 335 migrants arrived between January 1 and March 15 this year, while the number for the same period in 2018 was 5,945.
“Fewer migrants leaving means fewer deaths. 2018 was a year when the number of dead and missing dropped, and I hope 2019 will be the same,” said interior minister Salvini, speaking during question time in the Parliament on the effects of the security and immigration decree.
That migrant arrivals have stopped altogether is, however, only half true. According to a report in La Repubblica, migrant boats are still coming to Lampedusa: 9 since the beginning of the year. Lampedusa mayor Salvatore Martello said: “When the government says such things, it is hiding the situation on Lampedusa from other Italians. Here on the island, the arrivals never stopped; the government has simply erased it. Even the port authorities no longer notify me of landings. If it weren’t for citizens spotting them, I would never know.”
Furthermore, the minister said while speaking on a TV show, the body of only one dead migrant has been retrieved in 2019.
These numbers are contradicted by the data released by the International Organization for Migration, according to which 234 people died in the Mediterranean, 153 along the Central Mediterranean route alone, mainly used to reach Italy from Libya.
As Nextquotidiano wrote, the dramatic drop in arrivals is essentially linked with the controversial deals with Libya, where about 15,000 were sent back in 2018, after being intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard.
Speaking of cooperation and agreements with North African countries, the Italian government said it has delivered 50 off-road vehicles to the Tunisian National Guard, to fight irregular migration in the country.
3. The actual statistics on humanitarian protection in Italy
The data released by the Italian Ministry of Interior on the number of humanitarian visas issued in February showed that the number of permits granted rose from 2% to 28% within a month. Was it because of the territorial committees failing to implement the Salvini decree, or were we witnessing the first effects of the Court of Cassation’s ruling on the non-retroactivity of the new legislation?
The Ministry itself promptly answered the question: it had mistakenly released data from February 2018 (see the actual statistics for 2019 here).
As for the actual data, Eleonora Camilli wrote in Redattore Sociale, the percentages in February 2019 were still very low: “On a total of 6,274 applicants, 630 (10%) were granted asylum, 356 (6%) were granted subsidiary protection and 112 (2%) were granted humanitarian protection. 82% of applications were denied. These figures are perfectly consistent with those of January, when on a total of 7,469 applicants, 9% (670) were granted asylum, 6% were granted subsidiary protections, 2% were granted humanitarian protection and 83% were denied.”
4. Spain’s PP proposes delaying deportation of pregnant migrants who opt for adoption
The conservative Popular Party (PP) has come up with a policy that would see pregnant undocumented migrants in Spain spared expulsion from the country during their term if they opt to give up their child for adoption. In a controversial proposal for a so-called “support for maternity law,” the opposition party has linked together issues of abortion, immigration and economic resources.
Spanish law already protects undocumented pregnant women, whether or not they are going to give their child up for adoption. Marcelo Belgrano, an expert in immigration issues, explains that the PP proposal is based on two false premises: “Pregnant women are not expelled from Spain and there is no exchange of data so that a woman who starts the process of putting her child up for adoption has to fear that she will be deported when she supplies her name.”
5. Climate change is the prime cause of migration
Thousands of young people marched around the world on March 15 against climate change. But rising temperatures, melting glaciers and higher sea levels are not the only dangerous consequences. As Linkiesta reminded, a World Bank report from March 2018 warned of the worsening impacts of climate change on migration: according to the researchers, such changes might force over 140 million to migrate within countries by 2050.
However, as Rebecca Buxton and Theophilus Kwek explained in Open Migration, the focus on the more pressing instances of forced migration is freezing the voices of today’s climate refugees out of the debate.
6. New raids targeting migrant relief in France
A new raid from French police officers against people who are helping migrants on the Italian border: 7 people, including members of the “Roya citoyenne” collective – were taken into custody by the Gendermerie last Thursday and held for 24 hours. They were then released without charges.
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“The feeling is that they want to target and intimidate those who are offering spontaneous solidarity,” Elisabetta Pannelli, a volunteer who lives in Saorge, said to Il Fatto Quotidiano. “It is particularly significant that they chose to intervene at a moment of absolute peace, targeting those who have been most active, and most renowned for their work in the Valley.”
Last week’s raid was hardly the first. For months, Nice prosecutor Alexandre Julien has been looking to charge individuals with “abetting illegal immigration”, and a famous resident of the Roya Valley is Cédric Herrou himself, who was interviewed for Open Migration by Marco Cacioppo.
7. Oxfam and 24 other NGOs say Greece situation is unsustainable
The situation for migrants in Greece is “unsustainable”, according to an open letter to EU leaders signed by Oxfam and 24 other NGOs ahead of the third anniversary of the European Union’s deal with Turkey to control migration and return irregular migrants.
“Currently, around 12,000 people are still forced to live in inadequate reception and identification centers built for a maximum capacity of half this population: sleeping in unheated tents or overcrowded containers with limited access to running water and electricity, and often exposed to ongoing violence, harassment and exploitation, amid high tensions, lack of security and minimal protection.” These terrible conditions are due to the European policy of trapping asylum seekers in EU “hotspots” in the Greek islands, rather than hosting them in locations on the European mainland.
The situation of migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos was the subject of an article by Enrico Di Pasquale, a researcher with the Fondazione Leone Moressa, one of the partners with the “SCIREA” project on the island.
8. Unlawful returns, Italy still under scrutiny
Between March 12 and 14, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe examined the measures adopted by States to implement the ECHR’s judgments, and rejected the Italian government’s request to dismiss the supervision process which followed decisions Khlaifia and Others v. Italy – in which the ECHR condemned Italy for arbitrary detention of foreign nationals with no access to effective recourse – and Sharifi and Others v. Italy – relating to unlawful returns from the port of Ancona and lack of access to asylum procedure. The Committee has asked Italy to provide further information on the measures adopted by May 31, the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) reported. As part of the project In Limine, of which CILD is also a part, ASGI has sent two notes to the Committee of Ministers concerning the detention of foreign nationals in the so-called hotspots, and the lack of efficient monitoring of access to asylum and combating unlawful returns.
9. Tales of resistance among exploited farm workers
No access to running water, precarious housing, at the mercy of organised crime and exploited for a few euros. Such is life for the farm workers in the plain of Gioia Tauro, where only a third of them has a regular job contract. As well as for the thousands of migrants who live in the rural ghettos near Foggia, where a 350-kg box of tomatoes only earns 3-4 euros, and for the thousands of Sikh labourers who are exploited in the Pontine Marshes.
However, over the last ten years, migrant labourers in Italy have gone on three strikes, started 2 anti-Mafia riots and blocked a multinational corporation’s production. Antonello Mangano wrote in Jacobin Italia about their fights for the rights of all.
10. Will Brexit produce another Windrush generation?
Thousands of children could become undocumented after Brexit, said UK children’s legal charity Coram.
Children in foster care, in care homes, and others from vulnerable families might not be able to apply for citizenship in the UK.
According to Coram, thousands of children of EU nationals in the UK – an estimated 900,000 – might become undocumented in the same way as the “Windrush generation”, the Caribbean children who came to the UK decades ago only to suffer at the hands of the Home Office’s hostile environment decades later. “If just 15% of the current population of EU national children fail to ‘regularise’ their status before the cut-off point, 100,000 children would be added to the UK’s undocumented child population overnight, nearly doubling it,” said Kamena Dorling, group head of policy and public affairs at Coram.
Immagine di copertina: alcuni migranti ospiti di Cedric Herrou si rallegrano alla notizia di un atteggiamento distensivo da parte del governo francese. Foto di Laurent Carre