1. “Vade retro Salvini”
«As pastors, we offer no cheap solutions. But we are not going to turn a blind eye to what is happening, or resort to contemptuous words and aggressive behaviour. We cannot let fears and insecurities dictate our response, fuel suspicions and contempt, anger and rejection.”
Thus reads the op-ed in Famiglia Cristiana that is also the cover story of its latest issue: the headline “Vade retro Salvini” sparked controversy last week. But far from comparing the Italian Interior Minister to Satan, the magazine seized the opportunity to talk about the mobilisation of the Italian Church, and later collected some of the positive and negative reactions to the cover.
Following Roberto Saviano’s call on public figures, it appears that the Catholic world – with all its contradictions – are now in the spotlight with their attempts to oppose the new government’s policies. “Disobedience, Catholics are ahead of the left,” reads a think piece in Il Manifesto. Even the Washington Post noticed the Catholic Church’s stance, describing it as “the loudest opponent of Italy’s new anti-migrant policy” – even though many of its supporters voted for the government parties.
2. Italy to give more boats to Libya, entering talks with the USA
Debates on migration management are still focused on the relationship between Italy and Libya. Italian PM Conte is meeting with US President Trump, to propose a partnership between the two Mediterranean countries, involving the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.
Last week, an overwhelming majority in the Italian Senate voted in favour of giving more patrol boats to the Libyan Coast Guard. Only three senators voted against it, including Emma Bonino: “Mobility is global, and you won’t be the ones to stop it,” she said, speaking in the Senate. The vote reinforced the feeling of fighting for a lost cause, Umberto De Giovannangeli wrote about the reactions from groups and NGOs working on this issue (as well as the statements by Interior Minister Salvini on asylum and humanitarian protection). The decision now rests in the hands of the Chamber of Deputies, who will be voting this week.
“The EU’s efforts to block rescues and dithering on where rescued people can land, propelled by Italy’s hard-line and heartless approach, is leading to more deaths at sea and greater suffering in Libya,” wrote Judith Sunderland, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. During a visit to Libya in early July, Human Rights Watch interviewed Libyan coast guard forces, dozens of detained refugees and migrants in four official detention centres in Tripoli, Zuwara, and Misrata, and officials from international organizations.
Meanwhile, Libya has rejected a EU plan for refugee and migrant centres.
3. Ceuta: 600 migrants breach the fence and cross into Europe
According to a note from the Spanish Guardia Civil, last Thursday morning, more than 800 Sub-Saharan migrants attempted to breach the six-metre double fence separating Ceuta from Morocco, and 600 of them made it through to Spanish territory. According to the Red Cross, in the subsequent clashes with the authorities, 150 were injured. Once in Ceuta, the migrants headed for a local Temporary Immigration Detention Centre (CETI) of the Spanish town, which, as El País reported, is already 15 per cent above capacity.
— EL PAÍS (@el_pais) July 26, 2018
4. From the Mediterranean: the odysseys of the Sarost 5 and Josefa, rescued by Open Arms
On Saturday July 28, the Tunisian government announced it would allow the Sarost 5 to dock with the 40 migrants who had been on board for more than two weeks.
The migrants had left Libya on July 11 and had been rescued by the Sarost 5 on the 16, after five days spent without food or water on a fishing vessel in distress. The oil rig supply ship had been previously denied a docking port by Italy, Malta and Tunisia itself. Media coverage of the incident was limited, and the latest updates are coming mostly via social media. At the time of this writing, the situation is still unclear and the docking has not been confirmed.
The latest story of a life saved is that of Josefa, from Cameroon. She was rescued from certain death by the Open Arms volunteers. Reporter Annalisa Camilli was also on board, and she wrote about the woman and the Libyan Coast Guard’s failure to intervene. Commenting on the rescuers’ version – which led to a complaint filed against the Libyan Coast Guard and the cargo ship Triades – Interior Minister Salvini described it as fake news, promising to give evidence that would disprove it. To this day, as Claudia Torrisi reminded in a thorough reconstruction for Valigia Blu, this evidence has yet to be presented.
For the Guardian, the latest deaths at sea expose the flaws of the Italy-Libya migration pact. As Lorenzo Borga wrote in Il Foglio, besides casting the Libyan Coast Guard in a bad light, these deaths also reveal another flaw in Salvini’s strategy, the idea that fewer departures mean fewer deaths: “The Interior Minister has deployed a deterrence strategy that begins with the closing of ports to the ships Aquarius, Lifeline, Diciotti (Coast Guard) and the Danish cargo ship Maersk, Meanwhile, however, the number of departures from Libya has risen, as well as the deaths at sea, an effect that was likely unforeseen, but inevitable when the dangers of the journey multiply.”
This was confirmed by Doctors Without Borders’ Marco Bertotto, who said, “Boycotting rescue operations at sea will only result in deaths.”
5. European strategies to stop deaths at sea are doomed to fail
While crossing the Mediterranean has never been more dangerous, the number of departures is at a historic low (down 94 per cent compared to the peak in 2015). This means that migration policy-makers now have an opportunity to move on from crisis response to a search for long-term solutions. This does not seem the case with the recent proposal of “regional disembarkation platforms” outside the European Union. According to Jørgen Carling and Jessica Hagen-Zanker, these platforms are not only ineffective at dissuading smugglers, but they would also create a pull factor and, more importantly, would flout obligations enshrined in international conventions.
6. Solidarity in Italy, from Crotone to Mantua
They had sailed from Turkey in a sailboat and they reached Europe at Isola Capo Rizzuto, in the province of Crotone. 56 Syrian, Kurdish and Iraqi migrants were assisted by tourists and beachgoers, before the Red Cross stepped in. Another instance of solidarity came from the citizens of Castelbelforte in the province of Mantua. The whole town – with a League administration – mobilised to stop the deportation of Fassar Marcel Ndiaye, a Senegalese national without a residency permit since 2013. He is a very active and involved member of the community, as the parish priest noted: “He volunteers for several groups, sings in the parish choir and he is always willing to help with odd jobs in the town, especially for senior citizens.”
7. Corruption and migration: an investigation into Africa
Every year, corruption costs more than 1,000 billion dollars to the poorest countries in the world. Corruption engenders wars, violations of rights and hunger, forcing many to leave their homes. It is no coincidence that the largest migratory flows originate from the most corrupted countries. A seven-part report in Valori documents the human costs of corruption in Africa.
8. The Sudanese community on via Scorticabove is still living on the streets
“After 15 years in this country and an integration process that we have undertaken alone, with no help from the institutions, we cannot go back to reception centres.” These words from Adam – a spokesperson for the Sudanese community – were spoken after the meeting with Rome’s Councillor for Social Policies Laura Baldassarre, and they summarise the difficulties of finding proper housing for the young people who were evacuated from their building on Via Scorticabove on July 5. They have been sleeping in the streets ever since: Eleonora Camilli had told us their story and the citizens’ efforts to help them.
9. Being undocumented in the era of Trump
What is it like to be undocumented in New York in the era of Trump? The Marshall Project and New York Magazine contacted more than 100 people around the city – immigrants, lawyers and advocates – to find out: here are the stories of an estimated half-million New Yorkers. Will making an asylum claim make it harder to reunite with my kids? This is a very real dilemma in the wake of the family-separation policy on the US-Mexican border. It is not uncommon – as the New Yorker reports – for ICE agents to pressure migrants into making decisions that go against their rights. In response to U.S. federal courts giving the Trump Administration a deadline of July 26th to reunify separated families, the International Rescue Committee has launched a family reunification and recovery programme for families who have been released from immigration custody.
10. Newcomer or refugee? Why the Dutch are sensitive about labels
As the refugee crisis has intensified, words such as “immigrants”, “refugees” and “migrants” are often conflated and politicised. Geert Wilders, the far-right leader of the Netherland’s Freedom Party (PVV), has described these categories as an “Islamic invasion”. Perhaps to distance themselves from this pejorative use, several organisations, especially those working with foreign nationals, have started to use more neutral terms, such as “newcomer”. According to activists, “The word newcomer is a more positive thing”, and a label like any other to Syrian filmmaker Razan: “Newcomer or refugee or whatever it is. I don’t name you by the status you hold. I don’t call you a citizen.”
Foto di copertina via Flickr/Dani Villanueva