1. Informal refugee camp evacuation leaves dozens in the street
Early in the morning on November 13th, the Baobab informal refugee camp in Rome was evacuated again; it’s the twenty-second eviction since the camp on Via Cupa was cleared in 2015. The absence of an official plan for migrants (which we wrote about in this article) and “measures for decorum” targeting the homeless had made Baobab a lifeline for hundreds of people. Not only migrants, but also homeless Italians, as Annalisa Camilli wrote in Internazionale.
The eviction order had been anticipated for weeks and materialised on Tuesday when bulldozers and police vans surrounded the area and drove away about 120 to a police station for identification.
And as Interior Minister Salvini tweeted triumphantly: “Enclaves, where the state and legality are absent, are no longer tolerated. We promised it, we are doing it. And it’s just the beginning”, the municipalities and the volunteers clashed over the number of relocated people.
“Out of 180 people registered with the Social operating hall, only 125 have been placed in first reception centres, while 75 were offered no alternative, and to our knowledge there are no more places left”, Giovanna Cavallo from Baobab’s legal team explained during the press conference held two days after the evacuation.
Left without a shelter, the men and women cut off from the reception system ended up sleeping in the streets.
+++IL PRESIDIO È CIRCONDATO DA BLINDATI. HANNO CHIUSO I CANCELLI E NON CONSENTONO A NESSUNO DI ENTRARE NÉ USCIRE. +++ pic.twitter.com/vEykuX7Ni3
— Baobab Experience (@BaobabExp) November 13, 2018
2. ANCI voices concerns over dismantled SPRAR network
Over 1,800 towns, 37,000 migrants, more than 2,000 families and 4,500 foreign minors: these are the data collected in the SPRAR Atlas, which was presented last in Rome last Thursday.
Operated by local institutions, the System for the Protection of Asylum Seekers and Refugees is considered by most as the only public integration system that works, and under the new measures it might be replaced by the CAS (Extraordinary Reception Centres) supported by Interior Minister Salvini.
“Everything good that has been done over the years thanks to the SPRAR system might be erased by the government’s security and immigration bill, and as mayors we will be held accountable to citizens”, said Matteo Giffoni, the mayor of Prato and the ANCI (National Association of Italian towns) delegate for immigration.
ANCI is hoping that at least a part of the amendments rejected in the Senate, such as those that would allow disabled and vulnerable individuals to access SPRAR, will be accepted.
The network has generated economic development especially in small centres (read this article about a local union in the province of Benevento) and it has also produced more integration. Among language, training and vocational course, more than 9,000 people, 70% from last year’s SPRAR network, have successfully achieved integration and autonomy.
3. Italian High Council of Judiciary rules new security and immigration bill unconstitutional
Italy’s immigration and security bill is likely be remembered for its adverse effects. Ending humanitarian protection might lead to an increase in the number of illegal immigrants. According to ISPI researcher Matteo Villa, there will be 60,000 more by 2020, with the attending costs in terms of real and perceived security. In Redattore Sociale you can read the story of Issahaka, a refugee from Chad who has been legally living in Italy for 10 years. His successful integration might be might be erased after the latest changes to the immigration bill.
Meanwhile, the VI Commission of the Italian High Council of Judiciary has ruled that the bill’s section on migrants and asylum seekers is unconstitutional.
4. Among the migrants who refuse to disembark in Libya
14 people agreed to leave the ship on November 15 – among them was a 4-month-old baby – and were transferred to a detention camp, but at least 79 refused to disembark.
We don’t want to go back to hell, they said – many of them having suffered violence at the hands of people smugglers and militias – while conditions on board the Nivin are quickly deteriorating.
“The protest on board the ship now docked in Misratah gives a clear indication of the horrifying conditions refugees and migrants face in Libya’s detention centres where they are routinely exposed to torture, rape, beatings, extortion and other abuse”, Amnesty International said, urging “European governments and Panama to work with Libyan authorities to find a solution for the people on board to ensure they do not end up indefinitely detained in Libyan detention centres where torture is rife”.
Writing for La Repubblica, Marco Mensurati and Fabio Tonacci have described the Libyan SAR zone, “a farce, an alibi for unscrupulous politicians, where police operation are often conducted with brutal methods”.
5. Fifty one migrants from Niger transferred to Italy thanks to humanitarian corridor
After escaping the hell of Libyan prisons, 51 migrants from Niger, all of them entitled to international protection, have been transferred to Italy thanks to the UNHCR and will be relocated soon. The Italian Ministry of Interior tweeted: “they will no longer reach Italy on board criminal boats”.
All aboard! 51 @refugees are safely on their way to Italy on a humanitarian flight. We thank Italy & the many other countries working in #solidarity with UNHCR to provide futures for the most vulnerable. pic.twitter.com/r38gJ7gYT7
— UNHCR Niger (@UNHCRNiger) November 14, 2018
For every migrant who reached our country safely, thousands have suffered “violent pushbacks and obstacles to their asylum application”. Centro Astalli has released a new report, “Dimenticati ai confini dell’Europa”, a collection of the European efforts to stop migrants and refugees from entering Europe.
6. Bureaucracy and the “hostile environment” approach
The UK National Health System is denying treatment for hundreds of migrant patients who cannot afford upfront charges. According to the Guardian, a patient with advanced stage cancer died after she went a year without treatment because an HNS hospital demanded £30,000 upfront to provide chemotherapy.
Advance payments have been required since October 2017 as part of the government’s “hostile environment” approach to immigration, especially targeting migrants who are ruled ineligible for free healthcare. Examples of this strategy have also been reported in The Independent After the local immigration service closed in October, asylum seekers living in Stoke-On-Trent are forced to make weekly five-hour journeys to compulsory Home Office reporting sessions.
7. Integration or segregation?
Are we sure that exclusive programmes or integration courses designed just for refugees are not neglecting to address the newcomers’ different backgrounds? An article in Refugee Deeply wonders whether the Western obsession for integration can lead to segregation instead of inclusion. Read these thoughts from Tamim Nashed, a Syrian refugee in Austria
8. More migrant deaths from the Susa Valley to the Strait of Sicily
Two people died and 8 are missing after a small boat shipwrecked off Isola del Toro, near Sant’Antioco in south-western Sardinia. It is the latest incident along Italian borders. In the same days, 10 migrants who were attempting to reach France through the Susa Valley were rescued by mountain rescue officers, while 4 are still missing (we told you here about the migrants braving the Alpine route).
One death was recorded in the Strait of Sicily. A rubber boat from Libya was adrift for 2 days before help came from a fishing boat. 41 people were rescued.
9. A day in the life of the asylum seekers in Madrid
Until last May, one could make an appointment to collect the paperwork over the phone, but the new procedures introduced by the Spanish Minister of Interior mean one has to show up at the offices, and only 99 people per day can be received. Hundreds of refugees are braving the long cold nights waiting outside the Aluche police station in Madrid to submit their asylum applications. El Pais spent one night with them.
Meanwhile, there was a new shipwreck off the coasts of Spain, with 22 migrants leaving Tiznit, Morocco, heading for the Canary Islands, now missing
10. The case of mistaken identity in the Mered trial now in The New Yorker
On October 2013 3rd, 368 migrants drowned off the coasts of Lampedusa. Outrage over the tragedy was followed by the creation of Operation Mare Nostrum, debates on the lateness of rescue efforts and investigations into the boatmen. One story in particular, on the human trafficker Mered, became prominent in Operation Sophia. Meanwhile, with the sighting of the real Mered in Uganda and the DNA test on the man jailed in Italy, more and more evidence points to a case of mistaken identity. Thanks to the investigative work of Lorenzo Tondo – author of the book “Il Generale” – the story of Medhanie Tesfamarian Behre’s trial is now in The New Yorker.
In copertina: il presidio Baobab il giorno dello sgombero (foto di Andrea Oleandri)