*Update: Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez has announced that his country will welcome the migrants on the Aquarius for humanitarian reasons: “We don’t want any more deaths in the Mediterranean”.
1. Interior Minister Salvini closes Italian ports and dares Malta to take in 629 on board of the Aquarius, who were rescued by the Italian Navy and Coast Guard
Italian ports will remain closed. Interior Minister Salvini announced yesterday – in the midst of regional elections – that the safest docking harbour for the ship Aquarius, with 629 (123 minors) rescued migrants from North Africa, is Malta, and Rome will offer no alternative.
Maltese authorities have refused, and Prime Minister Muscat has accused Italy: “they go against international rules, and risk creating a dangerous situation”. Even the Maltese ambassador in Italy, Vanessa Frazier, speaking over the phone with The Post Internazionale, said, “There is no possibility that the migrants will dock in Malta”. Awaiting instructions and fearing imminent shortage of food, the ship loaded with migrants is still waiting 35 miles off the coasts of Sicily.
Besides violating international laws on human rights and the protection of refugees, Salvini’s decision undermines some of the most fundamental tenets of solidarity at sea, as Marta Serafini explained in the Corriere della Sera quoting CILD’s Guidance on rescue operation in the Mediterranean: The SAR Centre overseeing the rescue operations will be responsible for the identification of the place of safety unless the rescue operations are conducted in territorial waters, in which case the relevant coastal State will be. The place of safety is not always the closest State to where rescue operations are carried out.
As the deadlock continues, news broke out before 3pm that Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez offered to take in the 629 rescued migrants: “It is our obligation to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people“. The Aquarius should head to the port of Valencia.
The standoff over the Aquarius comes after a week of ominous statements: “No more migrants in the streets, reception centres will be closed”, “Sicily will no longer be Europe’s refugee camp”, “We will cut down the immigration business”: Salvini’s new role in the government does not seem to have changed his rhetoric, who had also promised more deportations and CIEs in every region to curtail “illegal immigration” during one of his first public statements as Interior Minister.
These measures certainly appear extreme upon looking at the statistics, as Avvenire did: arrivals have been dropping for 11 months and have decreased by 78 per cent from a year ago. These measures have already been adopted by other governments to disappointing results, and they carry a high price in terms of human rights and in economic terms too. Furthermore, as Annalisa Camilli wrote in Internazionale, they are simply not feasible.
2. Closing of the ports: the first responses to the Italian government’s decision
The closing of Italian ports to the Aquarius has been covered in the foreign press: journalists from El Pais who are on board the ship have reported the standoff, while La Vanguardia has cited a statement from Defence Minister Margarita Robles, whose priority is first and foremost must be to save human lives. AFP and the BBC have also covered the events extensively, while the Guardian wrote about the mayor of Palermo’s decision to take in the 629 rescued migrants, quickly followed by the mayors of Naples, Messina and Barcellona.
Grazie sindaco. Anche Barcellona è pronta per salvare vite. Gli stati europei devono organizzarsi per accogliere o altrimenti sarà tutta l’Europa a naufragare https://t.co/PRCuOEMO8z
— Ada Colau (@AdaColau) June 10, 2018
The UNHCR and the IOM were quick to respond, while author Roberto Saviano, warned in L’Espresso: “No respite to racists“.
3. Charges against Open Arms ship dropped, Sea Watch 3 adrift for days with no docking port and hundreds on board
Before the Aquarius standoff on Sunday, the rescue ship Sea Watch 3, flanked by Seefuchs and caught in rough sea, carried 232 dehydrated migrants for 80 hours because the command in Rome asked Malta to let them dock, and Malta refused as it always does. Only on Thursday evening did Sea Watch 3 received support from the Italian Coast Guard. Only on Friday was it assigned a safe port, Reggio Calabria, for Saturday morning. The captain was questioned for four hours upon arrival (read the update by Sea Watch here) and reporters on board were ordered to hand over all their footage, otherwise their cameras would be confiscated.
Failure to ask for permission to dock in Malta (which, as we told you, never lets rescued migrants dock except for individual medical emergencies) was one of the grounds for the prosecution of the Spanish NGO ship Open Arms. The investigation was officially closed on June 7, even if the Italian press did not mention it.
Meanwhile, Tunisia’s Interior Minister has been sacked by the Prime Minister in the wake of the migrant boat disaster that claimed at least 68 lives and left dozens missing last week.
4. The reform of the Dublin regulation has hit another impasse
Even though the principal negotiator of the Dublin regulation reform, Elly Schlein, was optimistic to the last, no agreement has been reached yet among EU countries, and as Il Post wrote, this is not good news. Italy is one of the countries responsible for the deadlock, even though it would have benefited from the reform, which would prevent migrant from being stuck in the first EU country they entered (mostly Italy and Greece). We wrote at length on the proposed reform here.
According to Belgium’s Secretary for Asylum, Policy and Migration, Theo Francken, Europe should be able to push migrants back by circumventing Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the article that forbids torture. Francken has responded to criticism by accusing the EU of hypocrisy.
And even Spain’s much-lauded new government has denied that fundamental human rights are being violated in the CIEs.
5. Sanctions against human traffickers in Libya approved by the UN Security Council
We had announced it here and it was approved unanimously: it is the UN black list of human traffickers in Libya, a Dutch to sanction six leaders from criminal networks by freezing their bank accounts. They are two Eritreans and four Libyans; one of them, Abd al Rahman al Milad, leads a unit of the Libyan Coast Guard, to whom Italy has outsourced pushbacks at sea to send migrants back to the terrible conditions of Libyan detention camps. His inclusion in the list confirms the criminal involvement of the Libyan Coast Guard that we have been telling you about for months.
6. Soumaila Sacko and the new slaves: a journey into Italy’s makeshift migrant camps
The life of exploitation and poverty that Soumaila Sacko was fighting is sadly similar to that of many other farm workers who are forced to live in many of Italy’s makeshift camps. In Rosarno, at least 2,500 are living in inhuman condition, and facing daily episodes of racism, humiliation and beatings. Meanwhile, in Gioia Tauro, Soumaila’s fellow workers have gone on strike to protest their working and living conditions, and demanding justice for the murdered migrant and union leader. Exploitation of migrant workers is not exclusive to Southern Italy: from Apulia to Piedmont, Avvenire has mapped the news slaves of Italy. Further proof of this hostile environment, a building that was being converted into a temporary migrant shelter was set on fire in Pescolanciano, in the province of Isernia.
7. Five myths about the “migrant crisis” in Europe
After covering the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean and along the Balkan route in 2014 and 2015, the Guardian has compiled a list of five myths on issues of migration in Europe.
8. How the Windrush Generation influenced British musical culture
The Specials, Ashley Beedle, Roni Size, Carl Cox: many of the artists who helped make the British music scene among the world’s most innovative are children of the Windrush Generation. Following the scandal that led to British Home Secretary Amber Rudd to resign, DJ Mag talks to some of the black and mixed-race foundation DJs about their parents, racism, culture, and being pioneers.
9. Melted snow is revealing dead migrants in the Alpine woods at the Italian-French border
Just as solidarity groups in the Alps feared, the melted snow is revealing the bodies of young migrants who got lost in the mountain woods last winter in their attempt to cross into France.
10. A new report explains how the military industry derives benefit from the externalisation of borders
The Transnational Institute has just released a new report shedding light on how arms manufacturers and biometric security companies are profiting from the EU’s border externalisation programme. Sara Prestianni wrote about it for us this week.
Foto di copertina via Facebook/Sos Mediterranée