1. On the Lampedusa hotspot
Good news from Lampedusa: following a joint report by the Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CILD), the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) and IndieWatch on the terrible living conditions and systematic violations of human rights at the hotspot, the centre has been temporarily shut down. The Italian Ministry of the Interior made the decision in order to begin renovation work on the centre. Human Rights Watch has collected some of the stories from the detainees: from the family detained in degrading conditions for seven weeks, to the 8-year-old girl who was hit with a police baton, to the anger of the refugees who set fire to one of the dormitories. Following the closure of the hotspot, Marco De Ponte, secretary of ActionAid Italia, spoke on the conditions in migrant centres and urged Italian MPs to visit them: “the rights of migrants are our own rights, the quality of our democracy, our ability to welcome, to participate, the very rule of the law, are at stake”. Al Jazeera has also covered this story in a long interview with CILD attorney Gennaro Santoro.
2. A 22-year-old Eritrean has died in Pozzallo
The young man was rescued at sea by the Spanish NGO ProActiva Open Arms, but it was too late: on Monday March 12, after disembarking at Pozzallo, he died of malnutrition. Writing for Reuters, Steve Scherer highlighted the link between his death and the dire conditions in Libyan camps. Only one day after the young man death, John Dalhuisen, former European director of Amnesty International, and Gerald Knaus, president of the European Stability Initiative, defended in an op-ed for Refugees Deeply Minniti’s “humane” plan of containment of arrivals from Libya. Meanwhile, in that country, despite the enthusiastic tones of the UN agencies saluting the thousands of “voluntary repatriations” (from detention camps to the migrants’ origin countries that they had fled), return operations are running slow, and Niger has halted refugee evacuations from Libya after EU resettlement promises were not kept. Meanwhile, some are profiting from the return operations of migrants from Italy.
3. A ProActiva Open Arms ship was barred from docking
Last Thursday, the very same ProActiva Open Arms ship that carried the young Eritrean man who died of malnutrition, reported on its Facebook page a showdown with the Libyan Coast Guard, threatening to open fire unless they handed over 218 people they had rescued. The operation was eventually called off, but by Friday morning Pro Activa Open Arms had been still denied entry to European harbours. Read the summary in Repubblica. On Friday evening, the Coast Guard Command in Rome allowed the ship to dock in the port of Pozzallo, after 48 hours at sea. The ship has been now been seized. According to the prosecutors, by failing to turn the migrants over to the Libyan Coast Guard, the rescuers violated the law and the international agreements: the prosecutors in Catania have charged them with conspiracy to abet illegal immigration. A few days ago, a few operators from the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy had joined the crew of ProActiva Open Arms to assist in the rescue operations.
4. A forensic analysis of the charges against the Iuventa
Speaking of NGOs carrying out rescue operations at sea, April will bring new light on the investigation into the Iuventa, the ship operated by German NGO Jugend Rettet that was seized by the Italian judiciary. Meanwhile, the NGO provided the Forensic Architecture Agency at the University of London with footage and other materials. Combined with simulations and geolocation data, this documentation can help reconstruct the context of the episodes in which the Iuventa is accused of colluding with smugglers. The analysis is still incomplete and does not address all the charges, but it still helped to clear some of the ambiguity surrounding the case. Read a summary in Famiglia Cristiana and watch the video by the Forensic Architecture Agency here.
5. Florence after the murder of Idy Diene
“Va’ pensiero”, a film directed by Dagmawi Yimer, tells the story of two racist attacks in Milan and Florence, in 2009 and 2011 respectively. In the wake of the murder of 54-year-old Senegalese Idy Diene, the documentary is more relevant than ever. Last Saturday, thousands of people took to the streets to commemorate Idy Diene. On the day of the march, Open Migration’s Laura Cappon met with some prominent members of the city’s Senegalese community. Meanwhile, in Madrid, following the death of Mmame Mbaye, a Senegalese man fleeing yet another police raid on street vendors, a large anti-racist protest was held in the Lavapiés neighbourhood.
6. More on the collection of migrants’ personal data
Does gathering data on refugees and migrants actually lead to improved living conditions? According to Chatham House, the answer is no: increased data collection introduces serious risks to people’s privacy and security – and there is no reason to think it will automatically improve policy.
7. Macron – Merkel: a dialogue on refugees
Now that Angela Merkel is once again the head of the German government, the Chancellor and French President Macron have met in France. Priorities on their common agenda include a reform of the Dublin regulation (which we explained here) and refugee quotas.
8. News from the United Kingdom
Private companies managing asylum accommodation in the UK are facing urgent calls to protect LGBTI individuals, many of whom say they are being physically, verbally and sexually assaulted in shared homes. An official inspection report into Harmondsworth (Europe’s largest immigration removal centre), near Heathrow, says that the Home office is keeping torture victims in detention despite accepted evidence of torture. Fifteen anti-deportation activists are facing potentially lengthy sentences for blocking the takeoff of an immigration removal flight at Stansted due to transport 50 passengers to Nigeria last year. Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid has pledged to expand the teaching of English for immigrants: there are 770,000 people in England unable to speak English well, with 70 per cent of them being women and children. Meanwhile, there has been a sharp rise in the number of applications for UK citizenship by EU nationals.
9. Good practices
Kante is a 22-year-old from Mali and he is entitled to subsidiary protection. Els is Belgian and she lives in Rome, where she made her apartment available to the Open Homes project, a collaboration between Refugees Welcome Italia and Airbnb.
10. News from the United States
According to the Atlantic, the US is expanding the immigration detention system thanks to a few decisions by the Supreme Court that set a grim precedent for civil rights. Since the beginning of his mandate, Trump has been rattling against “sanctuary” jurisdictions – cities where undocumented migrants can live and work without fear of deportations – but despite the attacks, the movement is getting stronger. Even so, according to Luis Mancheno, a refugee living in the US, attempts to come to America are not worth the risks, because the country is not safe anymore. Last, follow Katy Long as she journeys across America, tracing the history of newcomers to the country across two centuries.
Foto di copertina via Stefaan Vermeulen (CC BY-NC 2.0)