1. Denying school lunch subsidies to immigrant children is discrimination, court rules
On Thursday, Judge Nicola di Piotti ruled that excluding migrant children from school canteens in the city of Lodi constituted direct discrimination, following complaints filed by their parents, represented by ASGI and Naga.
The city will now have to scrap the new rules, which sparked controversy over the last few months by denying school lunch subsidies to non-European families. Immigrant parents were required to submit documentation from their countries of origin about their wealth and income, in addition to certification from the Italian authorities- an impossible request for many foreign families, which meant that many children would not qualify for subsidised school meals.
2. Open Arms accused of private violence against Salvini
A prosecutor in Ragusa has charged Proactiva Open Arms ship captain Marc Reig Creus and head of mission Ana Isabel Montes Mier of private violence against Italian interior minister Salvini and facilitating illegal immigration.
The NGO has denied all accusations, stating: “we will continue fighting so that there aren’t any more lives left adrift at sea, so that the founding principles of EU are not betrayed”.
The charges against the NGO date back to March 15th, when the ship disembarked at Pozzallo with 216 migrants on board (we wrote about it here).
Meanwhile, Josefa, one of the many woman migrants rescued by Open Arms, and whose terrified face had become a symbol in July, is now smiling again.
3. Fewer people arrived in Italy and more people left in 2018
Frontex, the European border control agency, has released its data for the year 2018: 138,000 people reached EU countries via main migratory routes, a 30% decrease from 2017. Arrivals by sea in Italy have fallen by 80% in less then a year. Meanwhile, Italy sees more and more people leaving: 28,000 graduates have left the country over the last year, a 4% increase from the previous year
4. Italian Ombudsman for detainees speaks out against forced returns
Mauro Palma, Italy’s Ombudsperson for the rights of persons detained, has commented on the recent surge in forced returns to Egypt and Nigeria, both countries without a national body for the prevention of torture: “At a time when institutional cooperation with Egypt has been suspended in the wake of the obstacles with the investigation into the murder of Giulio Regeni, we have noticed full cooperation between the two countries on the issue forced returns.”
The returns have also been criticised for a lack of notice, the generalised use of wristbands and security checks that have sometimes violated individual rights.
5. 164 countries have signed the Global Compact, Italy not among them
On December 10th,in Marrakesh, 164 governments adopted the Global Compact for migration, a UN document for shared guidelines on migration policies. Fewer than 30 governments did not ratify the Compact, including the USA, Australia and the Visegrad countries, as well as Italy.
As Italy’s withdrawal did not go unnoticed – it was the only absent country from the Mediterranean area – in Belgium the signing of the pact led to a government crisis.
6. Protesters against a deportation flight found guilty of terrorism
The British press has dubbed them “the Stansted 15“. In March 2017, they had tried to stop the forced deportation of migrants to Nigeria and Ghana at Stansted airport.
Their wholly peaceful and carefully planned protest was an attempt to protect people from harm, and to bring the issue of secretive mass deportations to public attention.
Last week, 623 days later, the Stansted 15, who that night had locked themselves on to a Titan Airways Boeing 767 secretly chartered by the Home Office, were convicted of terrorism offences. Some of them were interviewed in the Guardian.
7. Press, TV and racism: analysis of Italian media
What are the responsibilities of Italian media in the climate of increasing hostility towards foreigners? The sixth report from Carta di Roma “Notizie di chiusura” attemps to answer this question with the help of Osservatorio di Pavia.
TV has dedicated more attention to migration than the press. Furthermore, there has been a frequent overlap of media coverage and the political agenda. June, when the Aquarius case was widely covered, saw a record number of news stories on migration: 875, the highest since 2015.
Alarm, suspicion and division remain unchanged in media narratives about migration, where the only common thread is emergency, as Annalisa Camilli explained in Internazionale.
8. Cyprus is now the top EU member state for asylum requests
The island has exceeded every other EU member state in asylum claims in 2018, recording the highest number per capita with almost 6,000 applications for a population of about 1 million. By August requests were 55% higher than for the same eight-month period in 2017. Closed borders elsewhere in Europe are placing a disproportionate burden on small frontline states such as Cyprus
According to interior minister Petrides, “It’s absolutely necessary to find a holistic solution … which means distributing asylum seekers through an automatic relocation mechanism to countries throughout the EU.”
9. A 7-year-old girl has died while in the custody of the US Border Patrol
A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died last week south of Lordsburg, in New Mexico, while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They were among a group of 163 migrants detained by Border Patrol agents the night of December 6; according to officials, she spent several days without food or water. The Washington Post wrote that the child’s death is likely to intensify scrutiny of detention conditions at Border Patrol stations and CBP facilities that are increasingly overwhelmed .
Images from the border have sparked further outrage: footage release by MSNBC shows small children with identification numbers written on their arms.
10. Climate change and migration
Raima, a 30-year-old mother, was forced to leave her native island of Bhola by the erosion of its coastlines. Almost half a million others have left their homes, heading to Bangladesh’s crowded capital, Dhaka. Similar stories can be found all over the world, in the same week that saw Katowice host a conference on climate change, The IRIN News reporters have written about the communities on the front lines of climate chan.
Cover image: Pro Activa Open Arms/Twitter