1. The Aquarius has docked in Valencia
The SOS Méditerranée ship Aquarius and the Dattilo ship from the Italian Coast Guard reached Spain on Sunday morning, followed by the Italian Navy the Orione, which docked in Valencia later in the evening. It was the end of an ordeal for the 629 people who had been rescued on June 9 by Italian military vessels and subsequently moved on board the Aquarius, and then divided back again among the Aquarius, the Dattilo and the Orione after the Italian government refused them permission to dock. They have spent nine nights out at sea, after escaping the terrible living conditions in Libya’s detention camps.
On the long journey to Valencia, the Aquarius and the Dattilo were forced to circumnavigate Sardinia to avoid rough seas, which caused a lot of discomfort on board. The long trip also meant that the ship had to spend several days away from the Central Mediterranean SAR, where others have shipwrecked. At least 12 of those were rescued by the US military vessel Trenton, which took in 40 survivors from the same shipwreck; after waiting in vain for Rome to authorise transport on board the Sea Watch 3, following a request from the US embassy the migrants will be transferred on board a few Coast Guard boats, then taken to an Italian port.
The military ship Diciotti regularly docked in Catania with 932 rescued migrants, including hundreds of children and minor. Among them were the bodies of a man and a woman, who were found lying on the bottom of a rubber boat, still holding each other.
Criticism on the way the Aquarius crisis was handled came from Admiral Vittorio Alessandro, who spoke to Il Fatto Quotidiano to say that closing the ports to people rescued by Italian boats is absurd, since they are technically already on Italian soil: “Diplomatic tables exist to change the rules. Interfering with an ongoing rescue operation is contrary to every practice.”
After stating that the migrants sailing to Spain were “on a cruise”, Matteo Salvini expressed his satisfaction with the outcome, saying that Spain should take in 66,000 more migrants. The Interior Minister then added: “This week, I have been working to limit arrivals. In the coming weeks, I will begin working on more deportations.”
2. Reporters cover life on board the Aquarius
During the ordeal of the NGO rescue ship, many stories came through in real time from the four Spanish reporters on board, among whom was Sara Alonso Esparza, who tweeted out news and pictures.
En @LasMananas_rne en unos minutos, contamos la relajación en el #aquarius tras zarpar. Los humanitarios respiran y recuperan ritmo normal. Los migrantes buscan sus espacios y recuperan la cotidianeidad y en la medida de lo posible la intimidad. pic.twitter.com/WdLfG13oNv
— SaraAlonsoEsparza (@SAlonsoEsparza) June 13, 2018
3. Reactions to the Aquarius standoff, in Italy and abroad
The events surrounding the Aquarius have been covered extensively abroad – read in Internazionale about the first reactions from the European press; also read an op-ed by Refugees Deeply’s Daniel Howden in the Guardian, and the article in the New York Times. In Italy, several news outlets, including Il Post, have begun responding to statements by Interior Minister Salvini using data and fact-checking, while ISPI has collected some important figures in a series of infographics. Also read Simon McMahon’s thoughts in The Conversation.
Last Friday’s meeting between Italian PM Conte and Macron marked the end of the diplomatic crisis sparked by the French President, who had called Italy “nauseating” for rejecting the Aquarius. Meanwhile, Oxfam reported that border French police cut the soles off migrant children’s shoes to prevent them from escaping detention camps where they await to be returned to Italy.
Doctors Without Borders, who are giving medical care to the people on board the Aquarius, have never stopped calling for a safe port in Italy, while SOS Méditerranée vice president Sophie Beau explained explained that civil society extends to the sea and search and rescue NGOs.
Author and journalist Gabriele del Grande posted an open letter to Salvini on Facebook on what should be done to avoid dangerous crossings in the Mediterranean.
Read here a firm condemnation by the Council of Europe, a joint statement by Maltese NGOs in the wake of the standoff, an opinion by legal expert Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo on the illegitimacy of closing the ports, and a rebuttal by the Italian Bar Council of the inaccuracies of Salvini’s statements on asylum lawyers and the percentages of asylum applications granted by Italy.
4. Demonstrations across Italy calling for ports to be reopened to migrants rescued at sea
From the hundreds in Palermo to the 5,000 in Milan’s Piazza della Scala, Italy has seen a number of demonstrations in solidarity with NGO rescue boats, calling for ports to be opened. Online, the hashtag #umanitaaperta (“open humanity”) has beaten #chiudiamoiporti (“let’s close harbours”), launched by Italy’s Interior Minister Salvini.
5. Pep Guardiola donates 150,00 euros mila to the Open Arms
Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola, has donated about 150,000 euros to Proactiva Open Arms for the repair of their boat, which was impounded for several weeks before charges against the NGO were officially dropped. Meanwhile, a film is coming out on the lives of the volunteers of another ship, the Iuventa, which is still impounded – read an interview by Daniele Biella with director Michele Cinque here. Out in British theatres on June 20, Sea Of Sorrow is a refugee movie directed by actress Vanessa Redgrave.
6. The failure of the Dublin regulation reform is a defeat for Italy
MEP Elly Schlein, who has fought harder than anyone else for the reform of the Dublin regulation that fell through two weeks ago, has explained in an interview what the reform was supposed to do, why Italy was wrong to tank it and how Salvini’s League has always been absent from the meetings to discuss it.
7. What’s behind the surge in departures from Libya?
The recent surge in departures from Libya, following a sudden drop in the last few months, appears to be linked to requests for further negotiations with Italy from Libyan militias, writes Fiorenza Sarzanini. Meanwhile, you can read the report from a conference held in Milan on 3 NGOs working in the government prison camp of Tarek al Matar, in Libya.
8. Marches across the USA protest the separation of migrant families, and reporters enter for the first time a shelter for migrant children
The first group of American journalists has been granted access to a former Walmart in Texas that is now a shelter for the children of immigrant families who have crossed illegally. Among them was MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff, who related his first impressions in this Twitter thread before the NBC report, which was then followed by the New York Times. Last Thursday, marches were held across the USA to protest the separation of migrant families, and more protests have been planned for Junel 30. Outrage over this measure adopted by Trump last May has grown esponentially on Monday, when ProPublica published an audio recored inside one the migrants detention centres in which you can hear small children desperately crying and calling for their parents they have been taken from.
9. Among the LGBT refugees in Turkey who refuse to be forgotten
Since war broke out in Syria, more than 3 million refugees arrived in Turkey. The processing times for asylum requests and to receive refugee status have stretched enormously. Within this context, the New Yorker tells the story of Ali, who fled Iran as a gay man. His story is similar to that of many LGBT refugees, who in the midst of a migrant crisis, find themselves at a low place in the hierarchy of compassion. Our own Luna Liboni had written about the impact of the EU-Turkey deal on the lives of LGBT refugees.
10. The Rwandan entrepreneur who employs 160 people
The story of Marie Terese Mukamitsindo in Italy began in 1996 when she landed in Fiumicino. Fleeing the horrors of the Rwandan war with three children to support, she faced the worst of the Italian asylum system, from the makeshift reception centre outside Rome to a deportation order. Today, the Karibu cooperative, which she founded in 2004 at Sezze, is employing 159 people and won her an award for immigrant entrepreneur of the year.
Foto di copertina di copertina via Twitter/Sos Mediterranée