1. EU ministers come to Vienna to discuss security and migration
In the same week that saw the European Parliament take action against Hungary – over Orbán’s anti-immigration policies – several EU ministers gathered in Vienna. The Conference on security and migration was also attended by delegates from African countries. Topics included a joint proposal by Austria and Italy to process refugees on ships.
Also on the table was the renewed deal between Germany and Italy on the so-called secondary movements of migrants. A final agreement has not been reached yet. According to German interior minister Horst Seehofer, a solution is near, whereas Italy’s interior minister Salvini is insisting on Germany changing the rules of the Sophia mission.
The term “secondary movements” refers to asylum seekers travelling between EU countries, especially from those where the asylum application was filed. The draft agreement between Italy and Germany proposes that, for every migrant sent back to Italy from Germany, the latter should take in a migrant from Italy.
With the fate of the agreement still uncertain, the Vienna summit will be remembered mostly for the war of words between Italian interior minister Salvini and Luxembourg’s foreign affairs minister, Asselborn.
2. Instant returns for migrants in Lampedusa?
184 migrants disembarked in Lampedusa on September 14, with nearly all of them already transferred to Trapani. The interior minister has promised “instant returns”, reigniting tensions with neighbouring Malta: “There is a EU member state that is ignoring its obligations, with multiple cases of ships in distress in Maltese waters being ignored or escorted to Italy. So much for solidarity.”
Writing in Il Fatto Quotidiano, Lorenzo Bagnoli also discussed solidarity between EU member states. From relocation to redistribution, he reminds us how no EU country, including Italy, has kept its promises on migration.
3. More than 100 dead in a shipwreck off the coasts of Libya
It happened over a week before, but there was no news it till last Tuesday. We are talking about yet another shipwreck off the coasts of Libya, which caused more than 100 deaths according to Doctors Without Borders. A group of 276 people, including survivors from the shipwreck, was taken back to the port town of Khoms by the Libyan Coast Guard.
Meanwhile, the situation in Libya remains tense, to the point that the Italian ambassador has returned to Rome.
4. Diciotti case: the Court of Audit launches an investigation for damage to the treasury
The show of force has paid off. According to Italian interior minister Salvini, closing the ports, the standoff with the NGOs and the Diciotti case have borne fruit, causing a drop in the number of migrant arrivals. This might be true, but as AGI pointed out in this fact checking, it could be due to other factors, such as the fresh violence in Tripoli or the role of the Libyan Coast Guard.
Beyond the human costs of such operations, the debate is currently focused on the financial aspects: the Italian Court of Audit has opened an investigation into the costs of the standoff. In his article for Open Migration, Matteo Civillini estimated that escorting the Aquarius all the way to Spain cost at least 290,000 euro.
5. Italian interior minister Salvini interviewed for Time magazine cover story
“The new face of Europe” is the title of the cover story in the current issue of Time magazine, with an extensive interview with the Italian interior minister. The interview touched upon several topics, from his relationship with former Trump aide Steve Bannon to the crackdown on migration and accusations of racism: “If I could reduce the number of these crimes and the presence of illegal immigrants they can call me racist as much as they want”.
Meanwhile, Annalisa Camilli wrote again in Internazionale about the “Salvini bill” which is expected to be passed in late September, and will include the end of humanitarian protection for asylum seekers and a crackdown on citizenship rights.
6. Malta still preventing Sea Watch vessel from departing
Despite a positive inspection by the Netherlands – its flag state – concluding that the Sea Watch 3 fulfills and exceeds safety requirements according to its use, the NGO vessel is still being detained.
While the ship’s crew wrote to Maltese PM, Joseph Muscat, “to end a politically motivated detention that was never supported by official documents”, the NGO is still monitoring the situation in the Central Mediterranean and has reported yet another case of failed rescue.
7. Resettling: Canada may outpace the USA
Despite Trump’s promise to protect them, there is now evidence that Christian refugees are struggling to enter the USA: under his administration, their number has fallen by more than 40 per cent. Not only are newcomers from Middle Eastern Christian minorities struggling, but some long-time residents are now being threatened with detention and deportation.
Among other shifts already happening under the trump administration, Canada may soon outpace the USA in refugee admissions.
8. Conditions at Moria refugee camp still “shameful”
While the international press is focusing on the charges against 3 workers from ERCI – an NGO working to rescue migrants on Lesbos – conditions on the island’s Moria refugee camp are once again the subject of media coverage.
Upon finding broken sewage pipes, overflowing bins, stagnant water, 18 NGOs have decried conditions at the camp as “shameful” and called on Greek authorities to take immediate actions.
Even so, as the Guardian wrote, Greece has the funds to help refugees on Lesbos – but does it have the will?
9. Record numbers of migrants worldwide, but Europe is not the main destination
Over 250 million people are living outside their country of birth. They will exceed – according to the World Migration Report 2018 – 400 million by 2050. As Nigrizia reminds us, only 35% of them have travelled from South to North, that is, from developing countries toward the industrialised North. A comparison between Europe and Africa reveals a gap: over the same period of time, 19 million Africans migrated to other countries within the continent, while 186,768 i migrants arrived in Europe.
These figures shed light on the dynamics of migration and illustrate a global phenomenon. Speaking of which, the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration is now a reality, and Marta Foresti wrote for us about its political importance.
10. UK offers ‘Calais leave’ to children denied asylum
When the Calais camp was dismantled in October 2016 (here an article by Emanuela Barbiroglio for OM), 549 children were transferred to the UK to be reunited with family members. Under strict immigration rules, a few of them did not qualify for refugee status. They are now going to granted leave to remain in the country.
Foto di copertina via Martin Leveneur