1. Forced returns to Libya have surpassed sea arrivals
For the first time in recent history, the number of migrants who are being returned to Libya by the country’s Coast Guard has surpassed the number of sea arrivals in Italy. The announcement was made by Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean situation, on his Twitter profile: from January 1st to September 30th 2018, 12,543 people arrived in Italy from Libya by sea, while 14,500 were intercepted by Libyan units. It is a disturbing development, as Spokeswoman at UNHCR South Europe Carlotta Sami said, since Libya is not a safe country. “If there is an emergency,” Sami added, “it is a humanitarian one, right there in the Mediterranean (1,778 dead).”
E’ un punto di svolta. Il numero di persone intercettate dalla GC libica (14.500) ha superato quello di chi è riuscito ad approdare in Italia (12.543). Riportati in Libia, paese di transito, non sicuro. Se c’è un’emergenza è quella umanitaria lì e nel Mediterraneo (1.778 morti). https://t.co/MsdcgWAyz0
— Carlotta Sami (@CarlottaSami) October 16, 2018
The drop in sea arrivals is likely the product of the agreements between Libya and Italy, a policy that was established by former Italian interior minister Marco Minniti and then carried out by his successor Matteo Salvini. The UNHCR has also released data on the presence of refugees in Europe. Italy is one of the countries with the fewest refugees: only 2.8 per 1,000 inhabitants
2. Malta takes migrants after Italy refuses them
44 migrants rescued south of Lampedusa by a merchant vessel on Monday have been taken to Malta following Italy’s refusal to accept them. The migrants had been rescued by the merchant vessel Just Fitz III in the Maltese SAR zone, some 60 nautical miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Valletta said that they should be taken to the nearest safe port, on Lampedusa, but Italian authorities refused to let the ship enter Italian ports.
The ensuing standoff, which was also reported by the Mediterranea mission, left the ship in limbo for two days. It only ended on Wednesday night when Malta agreed to take the migrants.
3. The support system for refugees and asylum seekers benefits the local economy
What are the effects of the SPRAR network on the local economy? Francesco Amodio, Angelo Martelli and Maria Chiara Paoli have analysed the data provided by ANCI, SPRAR, ISTAT and the Ministry of Economy and Finance to calculate the income generated by reception centres. The analysis has shown that the relationship between SPRAR presences and income growth is a positive one: hosting an additional refugee or asylum seeker as part of the SPRAR systems leads to additional growth in per capita taxable income.
NEW Policy Brief @GGLab_McGill : The Effect of the Italian Support System for Refugees and Asylum Seekers on the Local Economy @fscoamodio : https://t.co/D5QqYeZXUQ …#GGLab #ISID_McGill pic.twitter.com/BMSacuVszE
— GlobalGovLab_McGill (@GGLab_McGill) October 16, 2018
4. Beyond Riace: a journey into the Italian asylum system
“The support system for refugees and asylum seekers in Italy is ahead of those of other European countries such as France, Spain or Greece.” These were the words of UNHCR Special Envoy Vincent Cochetel following his visit to several apartments hosting asylum seekers in Bologna. But as Annalisa Camilli wrote in Internazionale, the system is threatened everywhere by bureaucracy and budget cuts.
Despite this, more and more towns and cities have decided to follow the “Riace model.” Roviano, a small town in the Lazio region, is about to open a new reception centre within the SPRAR network with the help of the Italian Council for Refugees, while Montesilvano, a town in Abruzzo with a right-wing administration, has been praised in the French press as a model for integration.
5. Sea-Watch 3 has been cleared to leave Malta
After 3 months of detention in the port of Malta, the Sea Watch 3 has been cleared to leave and return to sea. The rescue ship, flying under the Dutch flag, had been blocked from leaving since July 2nd, due to an investigation into alleged irregularities. “We are ready to return to sea, to be where no one else should be,” the crew announced. The Sea-Watch 3 is now bound for Spain to undergo regular maintenance and resume its rescue operations.
🔴 #SeaWatch è libera e in navigazione.
Sea-Watch 3 è stata finalmente autorizzata a lasciare #Malta e riprenderà la sua attività di testimonianza e soccorso dopo uno scalo tecnico.
Grazie a chi in questi lunghi mesi ha continuato a supportarci. pic.twitter.com/LutDUqeUgc
— Sea-Watch Italy (@SeaWatchItaly) October 20, 2018
6. The caravan of hope heading to the USA
“The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!”
These words by President Trump were not enough to stop the hundreds of men, women and children who have left Honduras with the intention reaching the US. They are still on the move and their numbers have grown constantly along the way, to roughly 5,000.
The migrants began their march last Friday in the northern town of San Pedro Sula. They are fleeing violence and poverty, on foot or riding makeshift vehicles. They have crossed Guatemala heading north, beyond two police checkpoints and they were stopped at Esquipulas to resume their journey on Tuesday morning and cross into Mexico.
Trump doubled down saying that he would deploy military along the border to stop the migrants. Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador adopted a more welcoming stance, promising to provide people with work permits as soon as he takes office on December 1st.
7. Mixed signals on immigration in Australia
Controversy is growing over the remote Pacific island of Nauru, which has been used by Australian authorities as an offshore detention camp for irregular migrants. Just two weeks after Doctors Without Borders said they were asked to cease activities on the island, another doctor, Nicole Montana, was removed from her duties and placed on a flight back to Australia.
Meanwhile, under mounting pressure from the media and the international community, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signalled he might accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle the refugees confined on Nauru.
8. Ombudsperson for the Rights of Detainees finds critical issues in return detention centres
The National Ombudsperson for the Rights of Persons Detained has visited the CPRs (return detention centres) at Brindisi-Restinco, Palazzo San Gervasio (Potenza), Bari and Turin, and found “seriously critical issues”.
Among the more critical issues that were included in the report to the Interior Ministry were poor material conditions in the facilities, lack of activities, and failure to open the centres to organised civil society groups.
The Interior Ministry replied through the Head of the Immigration Department, Gerarda Pantalone, who blamed the issues on the detainees: “every effort that has been made, with considerable expense, has been undone by repeated violent behaviour from the detainees against the facilities and the furnishings, with direct negative consequences on their own living conditions.”
Previously, the Ombudsperson had also voiced its concerns over the new security bill during a Senate hearing.
9. Italy and France clashing over migrants, again
Tensions have mounted again between Matteo Salvini and French interior minister Christophe Castaner, this time over the migrant drop-offs on Italian soil at the hands of the French gendarmerie at Claviere. The Italian interior minister announced the dispatch of police officers along the border: “We will continue to patrol the border, Italy will stand up,” he said. “There can be no solution without cooperation. Unilateral decisions cannot take us forward,” Castaner replied.
Associazione Carta di Roma also commented on the incident and the subsequent coverage: “We are talking about people, not goods. Let’s try to replace dehumanising words with more appropriate ones. Instead of “dumped”, let’s say “abandoned” or “sent back”, and let’s see how that goes.”
10. Swedish student who stopped deportation flight of Afghan asylum seeker to be prosecuted
On July 23, Elin Ersson, a 21-year-old student in Sweden, single-handedly managed to stop the deportation of a 52-year-old Afghan asylum seeker on a flight from Gothenburg to Istanbul. Footage of her defiant stand in defence of the Afghan man, with some of the passengers voicing their support of her protest, has notched up 13 million views online and earned her international praise. Now the Swedish prosecutor’s office have announced that Ersson will be charged with “violations of aviation law”. For disobeying the captain’s commands while onboard the plane, she faces up to six months in jail and a fine.
Foto di copertina via Twitter