1. In Italy election, anti-immigrant views pay off for far right and populists
The strong results of M5S and the League in the March 4 election, combined with the losses suffered by the Democratic Party and the centre, will complicate the chances of a government coalition, and they seem to send a clear message: millions of Italians have embraced populist, anti-EU and anti-immigration views. The League has won in Macerata; Luca Traini, who shot and injured several of the town’s asylum seekers on February 3, was a former candidate. Outgoing Interior Minister Marco Minniti, who masterminded the smear campaign against the NGOs and the agreement to stem the flow of migrants from Libya, only came third in his constituency. The Washington Post describes a vote fuelled by anger toward migrants, while according to the New York Times, “The most likely result will be a government in Italy — a founding European Union nation and the major economy of the Mediterranean — that is significantly less invested in the project of a united Europe”. Furthermore, as Jason Horowitz reminds us, “Italy pleaded with other countries in Europe to help share the burden, both by patrolling the waters and accepting a portion of the migrants sheltered in reception centres. But its neighbours, including France, locked their doors and the migrants, many of whom felt stuck in Italy, became an open political nerve.” According to the Guardian, voters ditched the Democratic Party despite an improved economy and the “strong and controversial measures” to contain immigration. Politico.eu writes that a strong showing by the League would force the issue of immigration even higher up the political agenda. For CNN, “Italians support anti-immigrant, anti-establishment parties,” while the French newspapers have focused on the anti-EU message sent by Italian voters.
2. The political climate in Italy in the lead-up to the election
Smashed windows and a broken door: only a few days from the election, the town Macerata witnessed a new episode of violence. The offices of Gruppo Umana Solidarietà – an association working for refugees, including one of Luca Traini’s victims – was attacked with bricks by unknown assailants. The Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) had had collected here the programmes on immigration from each political party. Carta di Roma explained here the impact of media on anti-immigrant narratives. Meanwhile, in Rimini, a work of guerrilla art by Sardinian photographer Gianluca Vassallo popped up among the campaign posters. Just before the election, Christian Raimo published his report on Italian TV. Meanwhile, a few deputies from Liberi e Uguali announced an appeal to the Constitutional Court against the memorandum of understanding with Libya, while LaVoce.info did some fact checking on Minniti’s statements on the political talk show Piazzapulita on the number of remaining NGOs carrying out rescue operations in the Mediterranean in the aftermath of the Libya deal, exposing a few untruths. Some very human surprises came from the prefect’s inspectors sent to examine the situation in Riace, where the mayor and the citizens have been practicing an unprecedented model of integration for a while, despite threats and difficulties. You can now read the inspectors’ report.
3. Europe’s bitter cold, snow falling on migrant camps
4. Between Calais and Dunkirk, where Gynaecology Without Borders is helping migrant women
A journey to Calais, in one of the many informal settlements that developed after the evacuation of the “Jungle”, where Gynaecology Without Borders is providing urgent care for women in need. Volunteer work is also proving vital in Grande-Synthe, outside Dunkirk. Read the report by our own Emanuela Barbiroglio, as Macron prepares for a new crackdown on immigration.
5. Italy’s smuggling prosecutions ruin lives while real criminals go free
The Italian courts’ approach to the “scafisti” (smugglers who pilot boats) is being called into question, from the case of mistaken identity during the Mered trial to the prosecution of migrants who are given the helm of boats and dinghies. Read the article by Ilaria Sesana for Refugees Deeply.
6. Italy and Libya
Albeit very slowly, the UNHCR is implementing the human corridors from Libya to Italy (in addition to those already opened in the last few months thanks to a memorandum of understanding with the Community of Sant’Egidio, operating mostly from Syria via Lebanon). A few hundreds of people will benefit from them in the short term, but thousands are estimated to be trapped in Libya. Meanwhile, there are growing concerns for the thousands of Tawergha citizens who are barred from returning home by the militias in Misrata.
7. Dreamers and bond hearings: the US Supreme Court rules on migrants
Two contrasting decisions from the USA: in one case, the Supreme Court won’t hear Trump’s bid to end the DACA programme (which we covered here). This ruling would give DACA recipients respite for a few months. However, in a separate decision, the Supreme Court ruled that detained immigrants have no right to a bail hearing, which could mean that immigrants can be detained indefinitely. As the New York Times wrote, even the hundreds of thousands of cities living and working in the so-called sanctuary cities are no longer safe from deportation.
8. Refugees: what is happening in Europe?
There is a new agreement with Albania within the context of migrant control in the Western Balkans: EU Frontex provide assistance in the field of external border management and will enable European Border and Coast Guard Agency teams to be swiftly deployed on Albanian territory in case of a sudden shift in migratory flows. Control of the outer borders of the EU is still a volatile issue: there are reports pushbacks and improper detentions in Poland and violations of human rights at the Bulgarian and Greek borders with Turkey. Last, the AIDA reports on France and Switzerland say that asylum access in the two countries is being restricted.
9. Global Compact: two opinions
The Global Compact on Refugees is being heavily criticised: read a defence by UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Turk, who is leading the compact process for the agency, while here Camila Barretto Maia, Diego Morales and Raisa Ortiz Cetra pick it apart, looking at it from the Global South.
10. The UK, after Brexit
At Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, in the UK, 120 detainees have begun an indefinite hunger strike in protest at the conditions of their detention. British immigration officials will continue to seek confidential non-clinical data from NHS patients to trace potential immigration offenders, amid fears that it will stop migrants from seeking medical help. Meanwhile, Theresa May has announced that a concession on the EU migrants’ residency rights during the Brexit transition. Last, a group of architects has designed a pop-up kitchen as a base for the Refugees and Befriending Project run by the British Red Cross in London.
Foto di copertina via BB (CC BY-NC 2.0)