1) The Libyan agreements are more and more disturbing
The most important story on immigration this week is undoubtedly the in-depth investigation by Associated Press published in the Washington Post: the Italian government has struck a direct financial agreement with two Libyan militias once involved in the very migrant smuggling operations which they are now being hired to stop on behalf of the EU. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied the reports, but one of the militias has confirmed it.
However, the detention business has already begun: “The promise to stop human trafficking in Sub-Saharan Africa from 60 clan chiefs and mayors of Southern cities is the first step, a gesture of goodwill, towards the allocation of funds from Europe and rebuilding in Libya”, Fabrizio Gatti wrote in his report for L’Espresso. A six billion euro plan, announced by the President of the European Parliament Tajani in an interview (part of the funds would be destined to Niger and Chad in order to close the Sahel route, Tajani said).
Detention camps for migrants in Libya are some of the most underreported places of suffering in the world. Among the rare documents, MSF released on September 1st its much-anticipated report “Human suffering” on the detention centres in Tripoli. Medical staff from MSF has provided assistance in the camps for over a year, and they describe the situation thus: arbitrary and inhuman detention, no chance for appeals, no access to the outside world, physical and mental suffering and a total lack of documentation, including those on transfers and overnight disappearances of migrants.
Meanwhile, an article in Vita reports the terrifying tale of a young man from Cameroon who spoke with Sophie Beau, vice president of SOS Méditerranée, while Nello Scavo writes in Avvenire about the black hole of Libya’s secret prisons: according to local IOM sources, the authorities in Tripoli have counted about 400,000 refugees, but according to unofficial estimates that have been confirmed by Italian intelligence sources, “there are between 800,000 and 1 million more trapped in the country”.
2) Merkel and the Dublin Regulation
On the occasion of the Paris summit between France, Italy and Germany, with representatives from Sudan, Nigeria and Libya that praised the Minniti strategy (though with some reservations), Die Welt has published an interview with Angela Merkel (translated by Repubblica), elaborating the German point of view. Merkel also admitted that the Dublin Regulation is now obsolete, a sentiment echoed by several experts interviewed by Judy Dempsey on the EU immigration policy.
3) Minniti is doing nothing to appease concerns
Interior Minister Minniti, with his hard line on immigration and a deal with Libya and the Sahel countries under his belt, said on August 29 that two months earlier, when “12,5000 migrants arrived in 36 hours on 25 boats”, he “feared for the democratic capacity” of the country, a statement that many found dangerous and bombastic. The day after, Justice Minister Orlando, from the same party, replied thus: “I see the return of a form of fascism that no flux of migrant could justify. I don’t think that democracy is in question because of a few immigrants, compared to the number of our people. We must not believe the narrative of an emergency, that allows those who would bring back fascism to speculate.” But perhaps it is already too late to keep those dangers at bay.
4) Tensions mount in Rome with no solution in sight
The small delegation of Eritreans who were evicted from via Curtatone in Rome and who held an authorised sit-in has not yet received an answer to the question of housing for families without a home. On Friday September 1st, the Mayor of Rome Raggi met with Interior Minister Minniti in an attempt to finds solutions to the housing crisis, but still in the total absence of an official plan. Only a few hours earlier, near the Red Cross humanitarian centre on via del Frantoio in the Tiburtino III neighbourhood, a young Eritrean man with mental disabilities had been wounded by an Italian resident: read the account by the Baobab volunteers who were on the scene. Their version was later confirmed by the police.
Writer Igiaba Scego explains why we cannot ignore the historic context of Italy and the Horn of Africa in the light of the evacuations on via Curtatone and the sit-in on piazza Indipendenza.
5) The private guards employed on NGO vessels do not deny reporting to the secret service
Do you remember the private guards on board of the Save the Children ship Von Hestia, whose statements formed the basis of the charges brought by the Public Prosecutor in Trapani against the German ship Iuventa? It appears that the 3 guards were reporting to the Italian secret service, in some cases shortly after being employed; read the detailed article in Il Fatto Quotidiano.
6) More news from the desert: the routes of death
Last week we told you about the rising number of deaths in the desert on the Sahel route, since Libya stopped migrants from leaving by boat.
In Foreign Affairs, Jérome Tubiana reported from Agadez on the dangers of the crossing, while researcher Luca Raineri explained how crucial human smuggling is to the economy of Niger, where the military is hunting refugees who are now seeking more dangerous routes where there is no water, as shown in Giacomo Zandonini’s photo report.
7) A new route on the Black Sea?
Over the last two weeks, residents from the Romanian coast of the Black Sea have reported unprecedented of arrivals of migrants on rubber boats. They are mostly Syrians and Iraqis who can no longer take the Balkan route from two summers ago. The Black Sea is very dangerous, and it takes two days to reach the Romanian cities of Mangalia and Constanța from Turkey by boat.
8) Meanwhile, in Britain…
As the implementation of Brexit draws near, EU citizens living and working in the UK are increasingly concerned about their future, and it is not only a matter of perception. Last week the Guardian commented on the rising number of EU citizens detained on British soil, while the Observer revealed emails showing that the Home Office secretly used data and maps created by the Greater London Authority to identify and track down homeless individuals and then proceed to deport them under a new regulation. On September 1st, it was also revealed that the Home Office also makes profits up to 800% on immigration applications from families, many of whom are eligible to live in the UK but are turned down and forced to reapply – and pay again.
9) A temporary victory for sanctuary cities in Texas
Perhaps marvelling at the grassroots solidarity effort displayed by his native Texas during the recent flood, Federal District Court Judge Orlando Garcia has blocked Senate Bill 4 advanced by Trump and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who were seeking to resume their crackdown on the so-called sanctuary cities in Texas. The same cities had sought to block the law. In sanctuary cities, undocumented immigrants are allowed to work and stay close to their families without fear of being deported, contributing to their integration and participation to public services. Trump’s hard line on the Mexican border has already caused an increase in the number of migrants on the other side of the border, in Tijuana.
10) 8.500 deaths in the Mediterranean since the death of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi
Since the world was touched by the pictures of little Aylan – or so we thought – 8,500 more migrants have died in the Mediterranean. Inspired by the 3-year-old child’s death, The Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini has made a VR animated short story.