1. Libyan SAR zone approved, 163 drowned
The Libyan Coast Guard announced on Friday that 100 migrants may have drowned near Tripoli. On Sunday, IOM and UNHCR announced that 63 people drowned in yet another shipwreck.
Libya had just formally obtained its own SAR zone, an exclusive search and rescue area that it had never had till last Thursday.
During his first visit to Libya, Italian Interior Minister Salvini got a no from Tripoli to his proposed hotspots in the south of the country; Libya also rejected the donation of 12 more patrol boats from Italy for its Coast Guard, under whose watch the number of deaths at sea has risen from a year ago. Read here our analysis of the data from IOM Libya, with infographics.
Salvini’s call to “dismantle the rhetoric of torture” on Libya’s detention centres where migrants are being returned, was met with rebuttals in the media: read this article in l’Espresso (another one here); Doctors Without Borders in Vanity Fair, about a man from Togo who was recognised as a victim of torture in Libya, and a reaction from International Red Cross.
Repubblica responded to Salvini with a simple fact-checking to the viral circulation of a doctored picture who led people to believe that the photos of three children who drowned in last Friday’s shipwreck were a fake.
2. Rescue operations at sea are becoming impossible
Rescue operations in the Mediterranean are effectively becoming impossible. The Aquarius – which was denied entry to Malta territorial waters for routine resupply operations, as was the Open Arms – had to reach Marseille, far away from rescue zones. The small cargo ship Maersk, which had to wait out at sea with 113 migrants on board, was eventually allowed to dock at Pozzallo. After six days of sailing – during which a reporter from SkyTG24 and a EU delegation came on board to monitor conditions – the small vessel Lifeline was allowed to dock in Malta, where the migrants on board, all of them disembarked, are expected to be divided among 8 EU countries. The ship and crew, however, were then held by Maltese authorities and subjected to an investigation. Sea Watch tweeted on Monday morning that the ship was being hindered from leaving Malta with no legal explanation provided.
Annalisa Camilli wrote in Internazionale a bitter think piece on the failure to rescue, where she wonders about the silence of the Italian Coast Guard, once so proud of its rescue operations: “The press liaison has been unavailable on the phone for months, the corps is no longer sending out press releases on the activities of its men, or the footage from the GoPros worn by the rescuers”. No reassurance came from the statements from Coast Guard commander Pettorino, who described this migrant flow as a “biblical exodus” – a concept contradicted by studies and data, as Patrick Kingsley wrote in the New York Times.
In a letter to l’Espresso, Oscar Camps from Spanish NGO Open Arms expressed heavy criticism: during the events of June 24, when Libya wanted to prove that it was in charge of rescue operations, at least 10 people may have drowned and 120 may be missing at sea. No details or denial came from the Italian and Libyan authorities. Meanwhile, a rescue worker from the Seefuchs wrote in The New Statesman that on June 18, under orders from Italy not to approach and not to interfere with the Libyan Coast Guard, the crew of his ship gave up trying to rescue a boat with 120 people on board. Upon returning to land, he found no mention of them in news articles or the UNHCR reports from the week, as they had simply vanished.
During their show in Rome, on the Italian leg of their tour, rock band Pearl Jam played John Lennon’s “Imagine” while projecting the logo of a campaign to reopen the ports on their stage screens.
“Imagine all the people sharing all the world”. Allo stadio Olimpico di Roma i #PearlJam cantano Imagine di John Lennon e sullo schermo proiettano #apriteiporti #saveisnotacrime pic.twitter.com/X0wbQJ6Qp3
— GUS (@gus_italia) June 26, 2018
3. European Council reaches ambiguous agreement on immigration
A much anticipated meeting of the European Council was held on June 28 and 29. We had prepared on issues of immigration thanks to this guide from ISPI, and our own analyses of the EU budget 2021-2027 curated by Paolo Riva. The European Council reached what Il Post has described as a “semi-failed deal”. Italian Prime Minister Conte and the other EU leaders have called it a victory, but the Guardian reminds us how little we know about the details, and of the many concerns over the tightening of external EU borders. Read this article by Michele Luppi explaining what is new in this agreement.
4. Algeria is abandoning migrants in the desert
Last week opened with some shocking footage from Associated Press, detailing how Algerian authorities are pushing back migrants and abandoning them in the desert. An estimated 13,000 migrants have been left to walk 15 km in the desert before reaching a small outpost at the Nigerian border, in the last 14 months alone. Survivors tell of many who didn’t make it, too many to count. Read an indictment by Human Rights Watch.
5. Protests across the US against detention of migrant families
The signing of the executive order to end the separation of migrant families is starting to produce its effects, in part because border officials are no longer handing migrant families over to prosecutors. However, many families report that they are still being threatened with separation. ProPublica has created a map of immigrant children shelters, available in English as well as Spanish. In the New Yorker, read the story of a woman organising separated mothers inside an ICE detention centre.
On Thursday, calls to civil disobedience by women outside a Senate building in Washington (see a video here) and outside the Department of Justice attracted large numbers – with 525 arrested by the police Meanwhile, according to a poll, 75 per cent of Americans view immigration favourably and think it is good for the country. The ACLU has also warned that ICE plans on destroying the records of immigrant detention and abuse.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has upheld President Trumpìs travel ban, ruling that the measures included in the so-called “Muslim ban” are constitutional. Justice Sotomayor delivered a sharp dissent and refused to vote with the majority. Questions over the political leanings of the Supreme Court, which is meant to protect constitutional values, have become more urgent after the news that Justice Kennedy is retiring. Read here about the actual consequences of the travel ban from certain countries.
6. Soumaila Sacko is finally resting in Mali
The body of Soumaila Sacko – the Malian union leader who was murdered in San Calogero on June 2 giugno – was finally laid to rest with his family in Sambacanou, in the Kayes region. Awaiting in nearby Bamako, where Sacko had grown up, were his wife, daughter, mother and his uncles from France. Fellow union leader Aboubakar Soumahoro detailed the 11,000 km journey in a heartfelt Twitter journal.
7. Selam Palace, the “invisible city”, is Rome’s largest occupied building
It has been 12 years since a group of about 300 refugees and asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa occupied the former Faculty of Letters and Philosophy of Tor Vergata University: Selam Palace is now the largest refugee housing occupation in Rome. The ensuing situation has led representatives from the association Cittadini del Mondo, who have provided legal and healthcare services to the occupants since 2008, and who have just published their second report on Selam, to call it a failure of the asylum system. The 800 occupants are all entitled to some form of international protection. We told you about Rome’s largest refugee housing occupations here.
8. UNICEF courses for volunteer tutors start in Messina
Volunteer tutors were created under the 2017 Zampa law as supporting figures for unaccompanied foreign minors, but in Messina – Italy’s third port by number of migrant arrivals – there are only 20 of them for 27 reception centres. Working in collaboration with UNHCR, the CIRs and coordinated by Sicily’s Authority for Children and Adolescents, UNICEF has started training courses in the Sicilian city.
9. Refugee integration in Danish rural stores
Rural municipalities in northern Denmark are characterized by an ageing and reducing population, declining job opportunities and the closure of local businesses as well as welfare institutions such as schools and hospitals. Refugees Deeply writes how the opening of new migrant centres has boosted the local economy and created new opportunities for all.
10. Tumaranké: the lives of 38 young migrants told through a smartphone
It’s small, easy to carry, indispensable to call help and get in touch with those who are in Europe, and can store the many memories from life before migrating. In Tumaranké (a collective documentary filmed by migrants) the smartphone is also a window into the lives of 38 young migrants who have just arrived in Sicil.
Cover image: a photo posted by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on June 25, portraying him in Tripoli, Libya, with the crew of Italian military ship Caprera.