1. More tensions between NGO rescue vessels and the Libyan coast guard in the Mediterranean
Last weekend was another tough one for NGOs operating in the Mediterranean. The Proactiva ship Astral rescued 105 people, but was not assigned a port for many hours, with the buck being passed between the Italian and the British MRCCs (the ship was flying the UK flag). Riccardo Magi from Più Europa, the first MP to board one of the NGO vessels, has been tweeting about the events. This is the situation at the time of writing: La Repubblica’s Paolo Brera wrote that the authorization to move the migrants from the Astral to the Aquarius, (a ship operated by SOS Méditerranée), came on Monday at 4am, but a formal written one is still required to commence transfer.
Colazione per i #migranti sulla #Astral, tra un'oretta li trasferiremo su #Aquarius di #SosMediterranee, più grande e attrezzata. Trasferimento autorizzato alle 4 di notte dalle autorità di soccorso marittimo inglesi in accordo con quelle italiane @openarms_fund pic.twitter.com/2nRxgzEPzS
— paolo g. brera (@paologbrera) May 7, 2018
Over the weekend, the Aquarius also witnessed the Libyan Coast Guard intercepting a rubber boat: the NGO’s calls to assist were ignored.
2. The Libyan Coast Guard said on national news they don’t have weapons on board, images found online show otherwise
During a segment aired on Tg1 on May 2, during a visit of the Italian Interior Minister Minniti to Tripoli, the Commander of the Libyan Coast Guard Abujella Abdul-Bari said that patrol boats have no weapons on board and that migrants aren’t being threatened or beaten. However, images found online contradict this version of the events, Annalisa Cangemi wrote in Fanpage (as we did on several occasions).
The MP and secretary of the Italian Radical Party Riccardo Magi commented: “The Italian public service broadcaster reported false claims by the Libyan Coast Guard to over 5 million viewers, without contradicting it”. Magi also announced he would bring the matter before the Parliamentary Supervisory Commission as soon as it is formed.
3. Emergency in Zuwara
The Zuwara camp in Libya is on the verge of collapse due to overcrowding: MSF has expressed concern over the fate of about 800 migrant and refugees detained in the town 100 km west of Tripoli. According to reports, detainees have had no adequate access to food and water for more than five months.
Redattore Sociale reported:
Last Tuesday the UNHCR flew 88 people entitled to international protection from Zuwara to another detention camp in Tripoli, where the most vulnerable cases will be identified for evacuation from Libya. The authorities have transferred other people to different detention camps in the attempt to reduce overcrowding, while the IOM has initiated “humanitarian voluntary return” procedures for some of the detainees. Hundreds of people, however, remain inside the camp with no solution in sight.
4. ISPI data: arrivals have dropped, but the asylum system is still clogged
Migrant arrivals in Italy have dropped since July of last year, but the country has not seized the opportunity to find long-term solutions to the management of migrant flows. The asylum system is still being managed on an emergency basis; the Minniti-Orlando reform has restricted protections for asylum seekers without speeding up procedures.
In the meantime, it is getting harder to integrate refugees into the job market (and the National Plan for Integration will not be enough if more resources are not allocated). These are some of the key points in the new fact checking published by the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI). Once again, the data clearly suggests that the NGOs are not the “taxi-service of the sea”, as many politicians claimed. Furthermore, the ISPI focussed on development aids: “the official aids to development from OECD countries to Sub-Saharan Africa have been virtually unchanged since 2010, and those from Italy even decreased by more than 70%, peaking at 1 billion euro in 2006 and falling to 297 million in 2016. The help-them-at-home approach is clearly not yielding results.
Non esiste una correlazione tra le attività di soccorso in mare svolte dalle Ong e gli sbarchi sulle coste italiane. Tutti i dati oggettivi sulle #migrazioni nel Fact Checking → https://t.co/ccIhReQyi0 pic.twitter.com/Lc1Jy9yaTw
— ISPI (@ispionline) May 7, 2018
5. Inside the vertical ghetto of Porto Recanati
A former luxury resort established in the 90s that has since become a home for the area’s many foreign workers, the Hotel House in Porto Recanati has always been described in the press as a symbol of crime and decay. “Everything that happens near the Hotel House is blamed on its occupants and is depicted as monstrous”, the residents said in their defence. Amidst difficulties and contradictions, the building, which is home to over 1,000 people from more than 40 countries, might be a great opportunity to experiment new forms of cohabitation and to envision a multi-ethnic society. Annalisa Camilli wrote about it in Internazionale.
6. The endless cycle of exploitation of migrant labour in Sicily
About 2000 refugees and migrants in Campobello di Mazara, in Western Sicily, work long hours to produce olive oil for only 2 euros per hour. Up until last week, 200 of them were living in a makeshift camp of wood and cardboard shelters next to the landowners. The camp has now being demolished by the local authorities, who deemed it too dangerous to live in due to the waste and the lack of electric power, toilets or showers, but offered no alternative. Amid the residents’ frustrations and initiatives by local groups both religious and secular, the cycle of poverty and exploitation seems to know no end. Lorenzo Tondo wrote about it in the Guardian.
7. More on the French-Italian border
What’s the price to pay to cross the French-Italian border for an undocumented migrant? 150 euros to the passeur who will escort you into the nearest French town. The human cost is measured in days spent trying to evade the police and nights spent out in the cold, failed attempts at roadblocks and the feeling of being trapped. Read the report by Filippo Ortona from Ventimiglia for Internazionale.
The same border had been crossed in April 22 by hundreds of activists marching from Montgenèvre to Briançon for the right to solidarity and in protest against the right-wing group Generation Identity at the Col de l’Échelle. Three of them were taken into custody by the Gendarmerie under charges of facilitating illegal immigration, an offense that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in jail under French law. While awaiting trial on May 31, the three activists were released, but only on parole, and they cannot leave France.
8. How tech can bring dignity to refugees
New tech is being increasingly used in the management of humanitarian crisis, and on several occasions we have told you about the risks of collecting on marginalised ethnic groups, such as the Rohingya in Bangladesh or the refugees in Uganda. When used ethically, however, tech can restore dignity and bring choice and autonomy to persecuted people. From higher education to business to 3-D printed prosthetics, here is a list compiled by The Conversation.
9. The Venezuelan crisis comes to Europe
Thousands of Venezuelans are pouring out of their country and seeking refuge in neighbouring ones. The Washington Post has compared the exodus to that of Syrian refugees in Europe or the Rohingya in Bangladesh, but it has received little attention in Europe. Things might change thanks to the Netherlands’ colonial past: the first Venezuelan migrants are reaching the islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, three constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Arrivals so far have been met with detention and expulsion, but according to local activists, the islands are bound to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights, under which governments are required to grant fundamental rights, including provisions for asylum seekers.
10. Who is Ken Isaacs, Trump’s nominee to the IOM
Trump’s pick to head of the International Office of Migration is a controversial one: Ken Isaacs, a vice president at a Christian non-profit relief organization. For decades, the IOM has deferred to the United States, one of its top benefactors, to lead the organisation. But Isaacs’ nomination left many unhappy, including the Vatican: Isaacs has expressed views that seem incompatible with the position. One example? Following the London Bridge attack in June 2017, he once tweeted “… if you read the Quran, you will know ‘this’ is exactly what the Muslim faith instructs the faithful to do” (he has since apologised). He also supported conspiracy theories and is sceptical of climate change. Not the most promising of candidates, also given that Trump announced last December that the US would pull out of the UN Global Compact on migration. The election to lead the IOM is scheduled for June. A nominee must receive the support of two-thirds of its voting members.
Foto di copertina via Duncan C