Tag Archives: Mediterranean

“Mediterranean flows into Europe: Migration and the EU’s foreign policy” – Analysis by European Parliament DG for External Policies

The EP’s Directorate-General for External Policies just released an Analysis, “Mediterranean flows into Europe: Migration and the EU’s foreign policy,” in which it reviews the EU’s external policies and instruments relating to migration in the Mediterranean, including the Mediterranean Task Force established after 3 October 2013 tragedy at Lampedusa in which over 350 people died.

The Analysis describes the serious shortcomings of the security-driven approach that has been taken by the EU. Noting, for example, that “it is unclear whether the militarisation of EU border management (resulting from a tighter relation between the CSDP and Frontex) will actually save lives or create even more danger for migrants” and that “[t]he increasing militarisation of the issue of irregular migration was underscored in December 2013, when the European Council called for the establishment of an EU Maritime Security Strategy by June 2014 as well as for increased synergies between the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and freedom/security/justice actors to tackle illegal migration.”

The Analysis discusses possible ways in which the European Parliament might play a more significant role in the shaping of future policies:

“The coming months – which will include the European elections and the June 2014 Council – present an important opportunity for the EP to engage politically with the topic of migration in the Mediterranean. As outlined above, numerous EU external policies and instruments deal with migration in the region; […]

All should incorporate respect for human rights as a central concern and pursue the overall goals of prevention, protection and solidarity. The EP has tools at hand to contribute effectively to those objectives. The EP should use its co-decision powers to ensure the inclusion of human rights provisions in all migration-related legislation, and its power of consent to guarantee that international agreements contain effective human rights guarantees. The EP’s budgetary powers also allow the institution to link assistance to third countries to proper human rights monitoring mechanisms.

Most pressingly, the EP should advocate the implementation of the actions recommended by the Mediterranean Task Force set up by the Commission. The EP should also use the opportunities generated by inter-parliamentary relations (such as the 27th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in March and the EU-Africa summit in April) to engage in a dialogue about migration with third countries. This dialogue should foster cooperation in the management of regular migration and in the fight against irregular migration and trafficking networks, with special emphasis on the need to prevent migrants from embarking on dangerous journeys to the EU.

The dialogue should also seek to frame Mediterranean migration within a wider perspective, possibly in the following ways:

  • Steer away from excessively militarised and security-centred approaches. The EP should ensure that strict human rights standards are respected in the fight against organised crime and smugglers’ networks, and that a clear distinction is drawn between criminal networks and their victims. The EU should prevent the criminalisation of migrants and of humanitarian organisations supporting migrants.
  • Highlight the importance of good governance, and of good migration governance more specifically. By reinforcing the EU’s Regional Development and Protection Programmes, for example, the Union can develop a comprehensive and long-term framework to develop and enhance the capacities of migration management and national asylum systems in Mediterranean countries.
  • Demand full respect for humanitarian law, refugee protection and human rights (including the rights of non-nationals) in crisis situations, and stress that humanitarian access must be guaranteed to provide life-saving supplies.
  • Recognise the importance and challenges that South-South and intra-African migration represent for countries in the southern Mediterranean, rather than focussing solely on the (much smaller) flows towards the EU.
  • Encourage further research on the migration-development nexus and explore the positive impact of human mobility on socioeconomic development.
  • Encourage EU Member States to facilitate and speed up their procedures to grant asylum and EU protected status, whilst better differentiating between refugees and irregular migrants. The EP should respect the competence of the Member States in this regard, but could also encourage Member States – in cooperation with the UNHCR – to increase their quotas for resettling refugees not adequately protected in third countries. The EP should support the Mediterranean Task Force’s proposed feasibility study on the joint processing of protection claims outside the EU, and the Commission’s proposal to move towards a common approach for humanitarian permits and visas.

All these actions would contribute to reshaping the EU’s external action related to migration, notably in the Mediterranean. They would also enhance the EU’s credibility vis-à-vis those third countries that accept significant number of migrants and refugees, and that most directly bear the consequences of their neighbours’ conflicts. (This is the case today for Lebanon and Turkey, as a result of the Syrian civil war). A modified EU approach could also project a more nuanced and positive view of migration – a change that might, in turn, influence the way migration is perceived more broadly within the EU.”

Click here or here for the Analysis.

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Frontex FRAN Report for Q3 2012

In January of this year, the Frontex Risk Analysis Unit (RAU) released its 2012 Third Quarter Report (July – September 2012). (Frontex has since released Reports for Q4 2012 and Q1 2013; we will post summaries of these more recent Reports shortly.)  As in past quarters, the 70-page report provided in-depth information about irregular migration patterns at the EU external borders. The report is based on data provided by 30 Member State border-control authorities, and presents results of statistical analysis of quarterly variations in eight irregular migration indicators and one asylum  indicator.

FRAN Q3 2012 CoverDuring 2012 Q3 several FRAN indicators varied dramatically compared with previous reports, including a significant reduction in detections of illegal border-crossing compared with previous third quarters. In fact, there were fewer detections of illegal border-crossing than in any third quarter since data collection began in early 2008. Additionally, this quarter reported the largest number of applications for asylum since data collection began in early 2008, with Syrians ranking first among nationalities.

Here are some highlights from the Report focusing on the sea borders:

  • “There were 22,093 detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU level, which is considerably lower than expected based on previous reporting periods.”
  • “The majority of detections were at the EU external land (66%), rather than sea border, but this was the lowest proportion for some time due to an increase in detections at the Greek sea border with Turkey [***]. Nevertheless, the Greek land border with Turkey was still by far the undisputed hotspot for detections of illegal border-crossing.”
  • “Overall, in Q3 2012 there were fewer detections of illegal border-crossing than in any previous third quarter, following the launch of two Greek Operations: Aspida (Shield) …  and Xenios Zeus…. Perhaps somewhat predictably, there were increased detections of illegal border-crossing at both the Turkish sea border with Greece and land border with Bulgaria, indicative of weak displacement effects from the operational area.”
  • “[T]here were more than 3 500 reported detections of illegal border-crossing on the main Central Mediterranean route (Italian Pelagic Islands, Sicily and Malta), a significant decrease compared to the same reporting period in 2011 during the peak associated with the Arab Spring, but still the highest reported so far in 2012, and higher than the pre-Arab Spring peak of 2010.”
  • “[D]etections in Italy still constituted more than a fifth of all detections at the EU level. Detections in Apulia and Sicily were actually higher than in the Arab Spring period, and doubled in Lampedusa compared to the previous quarter.”
  • “In July 2012 the facilitation networks targeted Sicily instead of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, as it is harder for the migrants to reach the Italian mainland from the small islands. Migrants claim that the facilitators may start to focus on the southern coast of Sicily, as they expect lower surveillance there.”
  • “[T]here were some significant increases of various nationalities such as Tunisians and Egyptians departing from their own countries, and Somalis and Eritreans departing from Libya.”
  • “Several reports included details of how sub-Saharan migrants were often deceived, over-charged or even left to drown by their facilitators during the embarkation process.”
  • “For some time there has been a steady flow of Afghans and, to a lesser extent, Pakistanis arriving in the southern Italian blue borders of Calabria and Apulia with some very large increases observed during Q3 2012. In fact, according to the FRAN data there were more detections in this region than ever before.”
  • “JO EPN Aeneas 2012 started on 2 July. The operational plan defines two operational areas, Apulia and Calabria, covering the seashore along the Ionian Sea and part of the Adriatic Sea.”
  • “JO EPN Indalo 2012 started in [the Western Mediterranean] on 16 May covering five zones of the south-eastern Spanish sea border and extending into the Western Mediterranean.”
  • “Increased border surveillance along the Mauritanian coast generated by the deployment of joint Mauritanian-Spanish police teams and also joint maritime and aerial patrols in Mauritanian national waters has reduced departures towards the Canary Islands but also may have resulted in a displacement effect to the Western Mediterranean route from the Moroccan coast.”
  • “The good cooperation among the Spanish, Senegalese and Mauritanian authorities and the joint patrols in the operational sea areas and on the coastline of Senegal and Mauritania have resulted in a displacement of the departure areas of migrant boats towards the Canary Islands, with the reactivation of the Western African route (from north of Mauritania to the Western Sahara territory) used by the criminal networks operating in Mauritania.”

Here are excerpts from the Report focusing on the sea borders:

“Overall, in Q3 2012 there were fewer detections of illegal border-crossing than in any previous third quarter, following the launch of two Greek Operations: Aspida (Shield), which involved the deployment of ~1 800 Greek police officers to the Greek land border with Turkey, and Xenios Zeus, which focused on the inland apprehension of illegally staying persons. The much-increased surveillance and patrolling activities at the Greek-Turkish land border, combined with the lengthening of the detention period to up to 6 months, resulted in a drastic drop in the number of detections of irregular migrants from ~2 000 during the first week of August to below ten per week in each of the last few weeks of October. Perhaps somewhat predictably, there were increased detections of illegal border-crossing at both the Turkish sea border with Greece and land border with Bulgaria, indicative of weak displacement effects from the operational area….

Despite the clear impact of the Greek operational activities on the number of detections of illegal border-crossing, there is little evidence to suggest that the absolute flow of irregular migrants arriving in the region has decreased in any way. In fact, document fraud on flights from Istanbul increased once the Greek operations commenced. Hence, there remains a very significant risk of a sudden influx of migrants immediately subsequent to the end of the operations.”

[***]

4.1 Detections of Illegal border-crossing

“Overall, in Q3 2012 there were 22 093 detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU level, which is considerably lower than expected based on detections during previous quarters. In fact, there were fewer detections of illegal border-crossing than in any third quarter since data collection began in early 2008. The particularly low number of detections was due to vastly increased operational activity at the Greek land border with Turkey since 30 July 2012, and also to the overlapping effects of the end of the Arab Spring in its initial countries (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia) and far fewer detections of circular Albanian migrants illegally crossing the border into Greece.

The majority of detections were at the EU external land (66%), rather than sea border, but this was the lowest proportion for some time due to an increase in detections at the Greek sea border with Turkey – probably the result of a weak displacement effect from the land border. Nevertheless, the Greek land border with Turkey was still by far the undisputed hotspot for detections of illegal border-crossing.”

[***]

2012 Q3 Illegal Border Crossings“Figure 4 shows the evolution of the FRAN Indicator 1A – detections of illegal border- crossing, and the proportion of detections between the land and sea borders of the EU per quarter since the beginning of 2008. The third quarter of each year is usually influenced by weather conditions favourable for both approaching and illegally crossing the external border of the EU. Moreover, good conditions for illegal border-crossing also make it easier to detect such attempts. The combination of these two effects means that the third quarter of each year is usually the one with very high, and often the highest number of detections.”

[***]

4.2 Routes

“… As illustrated in Figure 8, in the third quarter of 2012 the most detections of illegal border-crossings were reported on the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes, which is consistent with the overall trend for most third quarters in the past. However, on the Eastern Mediterranean route the summer peak of detections, which has been remarkably consistent over recent years, was much lower than expected following increased operational activity in the area resulting in far fewer detections during the final month of the quarter.

In the Central Mediterranean, increased detections of several nationalities illegally crossing the blue border to Lampedusa and Malta, as well as increased landings in Apulia and Calabria from Greece and Turkey, combined to produce the highest number of detections both before and after the prominent peak reported during the Arab Spring in 2011.

In Q3 2012, there were 11 072 detections of illegal border-crossing on the Eastern Mediterranean route, a 75% reduction compared to the same period in 2011, and most other third quarters (Fig. 8). Nevertheless this route was still the undisputed hotspot for illegal entries to the EU during the current reporting period, mostly because of vastly increased detections of Syrian nationals.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 1.45.32 PM[***]

4.2.1 Eastern Mediterranean Route

“…Italian Ionian coast: For some time there has been a steady flow of Afghans and, to a lesser extent, Pakistanis arriving in the southern Italian blue borders of Calabria and Apulia with some very large increases observed during
Q3 2012. In fact, according to the FRAN data there were more detections in this region than ever before. The most commonly detected migrants were from Afghanistan, which is a significant but steady trend. In contrast detections of migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Syria have increased very sharply since the beginning of 2012.

JO EPN Aeneas 2012 started on 2 July. The operational plan defines two operational areas, Apulia and Calabria, covering the seashore along the Ionian Sea and part of the Adriatic Sea. As mentioned in previous FRAN Quarterlies,
the detections at the Greek-Turkish land border are directly correlated with detections in the Ionian Sea. In 2011, it was estimated that more than 15% of migrants reported at the Greek-Turkish land border were afterwards detected in Apulia and Calabria.”

[***]

4.2.2 Central Mediterranean Route

“… According to FRAN data, in Q3 2012 there were just 3 427 reported detections of illegal border-crossing on the main Central Mediterranean route (Italian Pelagic Islands, Sicily and Malta), a significant decrease compared to the same reporting period in 2011. However, this figure was still the highest reported so far in 2012, and was higher than the peak in 2010. Additionally, there were some significant increases in various nationalities.

On the Central Mediterranean route, detections of migrants from Tunisia continued to in crease from 82 during the last quarter of 2011 to over 1 000 in Q3 2012. Tunisians were not the only North African nationality to feature in the top five most detected nationalities in the Central Mediterranean region, as Egyptians were also detected in significant and increasing numbers (287). The fact that fewer Egyptians than Tunisians were detected in the Central Mediterranean should be interpreted in light of Egypt being eight times more populous than Tunisia, which shows that irregular migration pressure from Egypt is proportionally much lower than that from Tunisia.

Also significant in the Central Mediterranean during the third quarter of 2012 were detections of Somalis (854) and, following recent increases, also Eritreans (411). Somalis have been detected in similarly high numbers during previous reporting periods (for example over 1 000 in Q2 2012) but there were more Eritreans detected in Q3 2012 than ever before.

Some Syrian nationals were also detected using the direct sea route from Turkey to Italy but these tended to arrive in Calabria…..”

[***]

4.2.3 Western Mediterranean Route

“In 2011, irregular migration in the Western Mediterranean region increased steadily from just 890 detections in Q1 2011 to 3 568 detections in the third quarter of the year. A year later in Q3 2012, detections dropped to just over 2 000 detections, which was, nevertheless, the highest level so far in 2012.

As has been the case for several years, most of the detections involved Algerians (859) followed by migrants of unknown nationality (524, presumed to be sub-Saharan Africans). Algerians were mostly detected in Almeria
and at the land border with Morocco, the migrants of unknown nationality were mostly reported from the land borders.

JO EPN Indalo 2012 started in this region on 16 May covering five zones of the south-eastern
Spanish sea border and extending into the Western Mediterranean.

In Q3 2012, there were far fewer Moroccan nationals detected (79) compared to Q3 2011. Most were detected just east of the Gibraltar Strait, between Tangiers and Ceuta. According to the migrants’ statements, the area between Ksar Sghir and Sidi Kankouche is the most popular departing area among Moroccans who want to cross the Gibraltar strait (10.15 NM distance). The boats used for the sea crossing were toy boats bought by the migrants in a supermarket for EUR ~100….

Increased border surveillance along the Mauritanian coast generated by the deployment of joint Mauritanian-Spanish police teams and also joint maritime and aerial patrols in Mauritanian national waters has reduced departures towards the Canary Islands but also may have resulted in a displacement effect to the Western Mediterranean route from the Moroccan coast.”

[***]

4.2.4 Western African Route

“In the third quarter of 2012, there were just 40 detections of illegal border-crossing in this region, almost exclusively of Moroccan nationals but with an influx of Senegalese nationals….

The good cooperation among the Spanish, Senegalese and Mauritanian authorities and the joint patrols in the operational sea areas and on the coastline of Senegal and Mauritania have resulted in a displacement of the
departure areas of migrant boats towards the Canary Islands, with the reactivation of the Western African route (from north of Mauritania to the Western Sahara territory) used by the criminal networks operating in Mauritania.”

[***]

——————-

Click here or here here for Frontex FRAN Report for Q3 2012.

Click here for previous post summarizing Frontex FRAN Report for Q2 2012.

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Filed under Algeria, Analysis, Data / Stats, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, EU and EU Organizations, European Union, Frontex, General, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Mediterranean, Morocco, Reports, Senegal, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey

UNHCR: “Mediterranean takes record as most deadly stretch of water for refugees and migrants in 2011”

Full Text of UNHCR Briefing Note, 31 January:

“This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Sybella Wilkes – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 31 January 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

According to UNHCR estimates, more than 1,500 people drowned or went missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe in 2011. This makes 2011 the deadliest year for this region since UNHCR started to record these statistics in 2006. The previous high was in 2007 when 630 people were reported dead or missing.

Last year is also a record in terms of the massive number of arrivals in Europe via the Mediterranean, with more than 58,000 people arriving. The previous high was in 2008 when 54,000 people reached Greece, Italy and Malta. During 2009 and 2010, border control measures sharply reduced arrivals in Europe. The frequency of boat arrivals increased in early 2011 as the regimes in Tunisia and Libya collapsed.

Our teams in Greece, Italy, Libya and Malta, warn that the actual number of deaths at sea may be even higher. Our estimates are based on interviews with people who reached Europe on boats, telephone calls and e-mails from relatives, as well as reports from Libya and Tunisia from survivors whose boats either sank or were in distress in the early stages of the journey.

Survivors told UNHCR staff harrowing stories of being forced onboard by armed guards, particularly during April and May in Libya. The actual journey took place on unseaworthy vessels with refugee and migrant passengers often forced into having to skipper boats themselves. In addition, some survivors told UNHCR that fellow passengers beat and tortured them. Judicial investigations are ongoing in Italy following these reports.

The majority of last year’s arrivals by sea landed in Italy (56,000, of whom 28,000 were Tunisian) while Malta and Greece received 1,574 and 1,030 respectively. The vast majority arrived in the first half of the year. Most were migrants, not asylum-seekers. Only three boats landed from mid-August to the end of the year. In addition, according to Greek government figures, some 55,000 irregular migrants crossed the Greek-Turkish land border at Evros.

We are disturbed that since the beginning of 2012, despite high seas and poor weather conditions, three boats have attempted this perilous journey from Libya, with one going missing at sea. This boat, carrying at least 55 people raised the alarm on 14 January, warning of engine failure. Libyan coast guards informed UNHCR that 15 dead bodies, all identified as Somali, were found washed up on the beaches last week, including 12 women, two men and a baby girl. On Sunday, three more bodies were recovered. It was confirmed later that all those that perished were Somali residents of the makeshift site in Tripoli known as the Railway Project.

The other two boats that made it to Malta and Italy in January required rescuing. The first rescue of 72 Somali nationals by the Italian coast guard took place on 13 January. Those rescued included a pregnant woman and 29 children.

The second boat was rescued by the Maltese Armed Forces on 15 January with the support of the US Navy and a commercial vessel. In total 68 people were rescued from a dinghy found drifting some 56 nautical miles from Malta. A baby girl was born on one of the rescue vessels. Another woman reported a miscarriage during the voyage.

UNHCR welcomes the ongoing efforts of the Italian, Maltese and Libyan authorities to rescue boats in distress in the Mediterranean. We renew our call to all shipmasters in the Mediterranean, one of the busiest stretches of water in the world, to remain vigilant and to carry out their duty of rescuing vessels in distress.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

In Rome: Laura Boldrini on mobile +39 33 55 403 194

In Valetta: Fabrizio Ellul on mobile +356 99 69 0081

In Geneva: Sybella Wilkes on mobile +41 79 557 91 38”

Click here for link to statement.

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Expert Meeting on Asylum Seekers and Migrants in Distress at Sea Begins in Djibouti

From an IOM press statement:

“IOM is taking part in a three-day meeting organized by UNHCR and the Government of Djibouti on how best to respond to the needs of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees who find themselves in situations of distress at sea. The meeting, which opens today [8 November] in Djibouti, brings together government representatives and academics alongside experts from UNHCR, IOM, the International Maritime Organization, the ICRC and IFRC….

‘Despite the tightening of existing Conventions to reinforce the global Search and Rescue regime, gaps remain when it comes to putting these principles into practice,’ says IOM’s Irena Vojackova-Sollorano. ‘Cooperative approaches that bring together governments, the shipping industry, NGOs and international organizations are therefore urgently needed if we are to ensure the safety and protection of all people rescued at sea.’…”

Click here for full press statement.

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Migreurop Report: European borders- Controls, detention and deportations

Migreurop has released its second report on Europe’s borders: “European borders- Controls, detention and deportations.”  Migreurop describes the report as a “[denunciation of] the « externalization » process of the European union migratory policy [which] shows how third countries are obliged, through the threat of the reconsideration of cooperation agreements and development aid, not only to readmit the migrants chased from Europe, but also to keep them on their own territory from travelling towards its doors.   From Calais area in France to the edge of Turkey and the Adriatic sea, from the surroundings of Gibraltar to the Sahel Saharan desert and the new member states of eastern Europe, a subcontracting of migratory control is carried out in series, sometimes very far away from the Union but also within its territory, especially when it deals with sending asylum seekers from country to country considered as unwanted. A large population of exiles, from both sides of the European borders, is subjected to arbitrary incarceration, wandering, and the constant humiliation of a hostile environment….”

Here is the Table of Contents:

Introduction

  • What have migrants become 3

Ceuta, a gilded prison

  • A murderous border 7
  • A legal limbo 8
  • The situation of migrants in detention 8
  • The situation of migrants in the CETI (open centre) 9
  • Deportations and expulsions 12
  • Surviving without resources 14

Sahel-Saharan countries, Europe’s new sentries

  • I – European interference in inter-African migrations – the case of Mauritania 18
    • The “crisis of the cayucos” 18
    • 1. Cooperation instigated by Europe 18
    • 2. Mauritania tramples on its own principles and conforms 21
    • 3. Subcontracting repression and endangering foreigners 22
  • II – Bargaining between Libya and Europe: migrants as an exchange currency –the case of Niger 33
    • 1. A reciprocal exploitation 34
    • 2. An increasingly repressive control of borders 37
    • 3. Arrests and detention in Libyan territory 39
    • 4. A deadly expulsion policy 42
  • Conclusion: the real face of Kadhafi’s pan-Africanism 44

Poland, Romania: how to be good state members in the enlarged EU

  • I – At the new frontiers: the screening of migration 47
    • 1. Reducing the transit and deserving Schengen 48
    • 2. The border police, Frontex and cooperation with other European states 48
  • II – Reception and detention centres 52
    • 1. The detention of foreigners 52
    • 2. Reception centres: isolating asylum seekers 60
    • 3. “Dublinized” asylum seekers 61
  • III – Returns 63
  • IV – Intolerance towards migrants and refugees 66
  • V – Embryonic mobilizations 70

The Ionian and Adriatic seas: forced returns between Italy and Greece

  • A new migration route at Europe’s gates 73
  • I – Controlling and blocking 75
    • 1. Controls in Greece 75
    • 2. Controls at sea 77
    • 3. Controls in Italian ports 78
  • II – Turning back and readmission 82
    • 1. Arbitrary practices and violation of rights 82
    • 2. The port of Venice: collective returns 83
    • 3. The port of Ancona 86
    • 4. Forced return to Greece 86
  • III – Detention 88
    • 1. At the borders and at sea: areas beyond legality 88
    • 2. Detention in Italy 89
    • 3. Detention in Greece 90
  • IV – Some cruel situations 93
    • 1. In Greece 93
    • 2. In Italy 96
  • V – Mobilizations 97
    • 1. In Venice 97
    • 2. In Ancona 97
    • 3. In Greece 98

Ping-pong at the Greco-Turkish border

  • Selective expulsions and random readmissions 106
  • Reactions to a degrading and sometimes murderous situation 107
  • Assistance, support, resistance 108

Dismantling the Calais jungle: a deceptive operation

  • I – The declared objectives of the 22 September 2009 operation 112
  • II – The real objectives of dismantling the jungle 113
  • III – The Modus Operandi: brutality and trickery 115
  • IV – What next? 116

Migreurop network 121

Annexes 122

  • Knocking down walls and defending the right to migrate 122
  • UNHCR-Libya : the bid is rising, migrants pay the price 124
  • All for the closure of camps for migrants, in Europe and beyond 125
  • Italia and Libya: hand in hand 127
  • Roma people victims of the French government xenophobia 128

Click here for the report (EN), or  here (FR), or here (ES).

Click here for article (ES) in Periodismo Humano about the report.

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DIIS Working Paper: Sovereignty at Sea: The Law and Politics of Saving Lives in the Mare Liberum

DIIS (Danish Institute for International Studies) has published a paper by Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen and Tanja Aalberts, Sovereignty at Sea: The Law and Politics of Saving Lives in the Mare Liberum (DIIS Working Paper 2010:18).

The paper addresses “the complicated politics and law of ‘rescue at sea’, and the legal duty to render assistance to migrants in distress at sea that falls upon all sovereign states. Yet, exactly because this takes in international waters, the precise division and content of this sovereign responsibility remains contested and subject to varying interpretations. As a result, ‘the drowning migrant’ finds herself subject to an increasingly complex field of governance, in which participating states may successfully barter off and deconstruct responsibility by reference to traditional norms of sovereignty and international law. …  The … paper was presented at the first international workshop in this framework titled ‘Sovereignty, Territory and Emerging Geopolitics’ held at DIIS, 3-4 May 2010.”

Click here for the Paper.

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CARIM Mediterranean Migration 2008-2009 Report

Noted recently in the Newsletter of the Real Instituto Elcano:

CARIM MEDITERRANEAN MIGRATION 2008-2009 REPORT, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, San Domenico di Fiesole (FI): European University Institute, October 2009, Edited by Philippe Fargues

MIGRATIONS MÉDITERRANÉENNES, RAPPORT 2008-2009, Octobre 2009, Sous la direction de Philippe Fargues

An excerpt:

“The period covered in this latest report, the years 2007 and 2008, is characterised by the accentuation of the migratory trends described in previous reports1: emigration from South and East Mediterranean countries (SEM) is continuing at a steady rate, while immigration to these countries is increasing, particularly in various irregular forms. [***]

Transit Migrants

Transit migrants in the SEM countries are people who cannot reach the destination of their choice (Europe) for lack of the required visa. They are waiting to find a way to reach this destination and over time their transit becomes stay. All the SEM countries, from Mauritania in the west to Turkey in the East, have, over the course of the last two decades, been transformed into transit countries for those travelling to Europe.

How many transit migrants are there in the SEM countries? The statistics in this area are even more inadequate than those for de facto refugees or irregular migrant workers. Aggregating figures provided by the police and various NGOs allows for a maximum estimation of 200,000 transit migrants in the region (Table 7).

Table 7: Transit migrants present in SEM countries around 2005

Country                        Estimated number

Algeria                           > 10,000

Turkey                           > 50,000

Libya                              > 10,000

Mauritania                   ± 30,000

Morocco                      > 10,000

Egypt, Israel, Jordan,

Lebanon, Palestine,

Syria, Tunisia              Not available

Total SEM                     < 200,000

Sources: CARIM, Irregular Migration Series http://www.carim.org/index.php?areaid=8&contentid=235&callTopic=7

According to data collected by an Italian NGO on deaths and disappearances at sea (Table 8), it would seem that the number of clandestine sea crossings from SEM countries to Europe is not increasing (in fact it may even have decreased in 2008) but the routes are changing. The most ancient route across the Straits of Gibraltar is being used less and less and has been successively replaced by that from Mauritania, or even Senegal, to the Canary Islands (on which traffic peaked in 2006), from Turkey to the Greek Islands of the Dodecanese (on which traffic peaked in 2007) and lastly from Libya to Italy on which traffic peaked in 2008).

How many transit migrants are there who attempt (sometimes successfully) the crossing to Europe? And for how many does transit in the SEM countries become a more long period of stay? The rare surveys carried out in the Maghreb or in Turkey do not allow us to assess this. With the extension of their stay in countries initially seen as a place of transit, transit migrants soon become mixed up with the more significant mass of migrant workers in irregular situation. On the other hand, it is not always possible to distinguish them from refugees. The two groups exist side by side in what the HCR calls flows of “mixed migration” where transit migrants and refugees, sometimes from the same countries of provenance, resort to the same smugglers and find themselves in the same circumstances.

Table 8: Dead and missing persons on sea routes of irregular migration from SEM to Europe 2000 – 2008

Year\ Route      Sicily +             Gibraltar +

Sardinia           Ceuta & Melilla

2000                   0                           127

2001                     8                           157

2002                     236                     106

2003                     413                     108

2004                     206                    64

2005                     437                    146

2006                     302                    215

2007                     621                    142

2008                     702                    216

Total                     2,925                1,281

Year\ Route      Canary              Aegean Sea

Islands

2000                   16                         32

2001                     40                        102

2002                     39                        94

2003                     130                      81

2004                     232                      103

2005                     185                      98

2006                     1,035                  73

2007                     745                      257

2008                      136                      181

Total                       2,558                 1,021

Year                Total All Routes

2000                 175

2001                   307

2002                   475

2003                   732

2004                   605

2005                   866

2006                   1,625

2007                   1,765

2008                   1,235

Total                  7,785

Source : http://fortresseurope.blogspot.com/

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Click here for link to full Report in both English and francais.

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EU-Med Relations: “North Africa a Transit Region for International Migration”

An interesting post on the EU-Med Relations Blog:

“In the year 2009 the European continent saw a decrease of 17 percent in irregular border crossings from the Southern Mediterranean rim. This sharp drop of the immigration flow heading to the “privileged” shores of the European Union is caused by the EU’s border control and externalisation policy against irregular immigration. In the consequence, the northern African states and Turkey are confronted with an increasing migration pressure which their authorities are unable to cope efficiently and according to international human rights rules.”

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EMHRN Recommendations to the Incoming Spanish EU Presidency

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) has conveyed a series of recommendations to the new Spanish EU Presidency regarding the Union for the Mediterranean and the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Relevant excerpts include:

“Migration and Asylum

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In relation to asylum, the EMHRN wishes to underline the following elements:

Refugees and asylum seekers face great difficulties when trying to reach safe havens in the EU.  Due to push back operations and severe, indiscriminate border control policies, including EU supported operations in third countries, asylum seekers often find themselves trapped in North Africa and in the Middle East (MENA), that do not offer them any sort of protection despite the presence of the UNHCR.

Several countries of the region have not yet ratified the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees and none of the countries from the region has a proper asylum system. Refugees and asylum seekers face extreme vulnerability and are often prevented from accessing their most basic rights. …

In relation to border control, the EU and its member states are keen on promoting cooperation with third countries with the purpose of better controlling migratory flows. It remains that the EU has, until now, failed to properly integrate a human rights dimension to such cooperation policies.

Most countries of the region criminalize irregular migration. Migrants are being arbitrarily arrested and put in detention, with no possibility of appeal. They may face ill treatment and unlawful deportation.

The conclusion of readmission agreements is promoted by the EU and its members. Negotiations have been ongoing for several years between the EU and Morocco to conclude such an agreement. A mandate has also been given by the Member states to negotiate an agreement with Algeria.

The EMHRN believes that returning migrants to countries other than their own, or to countries where they have no anchor and no legal residency, may put them in danger.

Push back and interception operations, including at sea, are other policy instruments promoted by the EU and its member states. Several of these operations have resulted in endangering the security of migrants and asylum seekers and may have resulted in a violation of the ‘non refoulement’ principle.

The EMHRN acknowledges the right of a state to control its borders. However, the EMHRN calls on the Spanish Presidency to actively promote policies ensuring that

  • • cooperation with third countries from the region does not endanger migrants and refugees.
  • •cooperation policy in the field of border management considers the impact of such measures on the access of refugees to international protection mechanisms, including in Europe.
  • • the EU member states strictly respect the principle of ‘non refoulement’ as well as their obligation under article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
  • no person is returned to a country other than its own or where he/she has no legal residency.”

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African migrants and their desperate ploy for a better life – Times Online

From The Sunday Times Magazine, 22 November 2009:

“Meet the survivors, bereaved families from Gambia and Senegal, and a man who smuggles the people — at a colossal price.”

“… The routes [African migrants] take are many and varied. From west Africa, migrants trek through the pitiless Sahara to Libya, from there to brave the Mediterranean — or, more perilous yet, strike out for the Canary Islands in fragile canoes known as ‘pirogues’.  If they then cross to the Spanish mainland they will probably do so in tiny, open Spanish fishing boats. An estimated one in every eight migrants who try to travel across the ocean to Europe don’t make it, their bodies carried out into the cold Atlantic. Those who perish are identified only by chance, their skeletons dredged from the sea by Italian and Spanish trawlers, or their bodies washed on to beaches used by holidaymakers…”

Full article:  African migrants and their desperate ploy for a better life – Times Online.

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Libya’s Selective Immigration Enforcement and Italy’s Foreign Policy Concessions

Dr Emanuela Paoletti, a junior research fellow at Somerville College, Oxford, has an article in the electronic journal Pambazuka News discussing “Libya’s selective enforcement of restrictive immigration policies as a means of gaining foreign policy concessions from Italy.”

“Since the late 1990s, immigration from Libya to Italy had increased significantly, from less than 5,000 in 2000 to 30,000 in 2008. In May 2009, Gaddafi made his first trip to Italy, which was followed by a second visit on the occasion of the meeting of the G20. Concomitant with these visits, there was a drastic reduction in migration from Libya. From 1 May 2008 to 31 August 2008, 15,000 people arrived to Italy from Libya; in the same period in 2009 only 1,400 have landed on Italian shores. The Italian minister of interior, Roberto Maroni could recently announce, immigration from Libya in 2009 has decreased by 90 per cent compared to 2008. What explains the drastic decrease in ‘illegal’ migration from Libya to Italy?”

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Migrant Arrivals in Malta Lowest in 5 Years

Di-ve.com reports that migrant arrivals in Malta in 2009 were the lowest since 2004.

“Sources close to Frontex … believe that a number of factors helped …  Frontex’s Nautilus patrols, the strengthening of border controls in the Central Mediterranean and tighter inland measures in member states certainly discouraged movement of migrants. … The agreement between Italy and Libya for migrants to be returned to Libya also had an impact but …there are also agreements in place with Algeria and Tunisia, while Libya also reached an agreement with Niger, which is another popular transit country for migrants heading towards Europe. There has been a shift towards the eastern Mediterranean, with Turkey and the Aegean islands seeing numbers increase, the sources said.”

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Boats 21 12 53 48 57 68 84 17
Migrants 1686 502 1388 1822 1780 1702 2775 1475

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JRS Malta – “Do They Know? Asylum Seekers Testify to Life in Libya”

The Jesuit Refugee Service Malta released a report entitled “Do They Know? Asylum Seekers Testify to Life in Libya.”

“Since May 2009, some 1409 migrants, attempting to reach a place where they could obtain protection or the possibility to live in safety and dignity, were pushed back to Libya.  These actions were widely criticised and held by many to be a violation of international law, as Libya does not have the mechanisms in place to grant protection to those who need it and there is evidence that those returned would be at risk of harm.”

“JRS Malta believes that returning migrants to Libya, where they cannot obtain effective protection if they need it and where they face a real risk of serious harm, violates international law. We therefore call upon the government to:

• Ensure that all asylum seekers within Malta’s effective jurisdiction are allowed to apply for protection.

• Rescue migrants intercepted by the AFM if they have requested assistance, as otherwise their safety cannot be guaranteed

• Ensure that all those rescued within Malta’s Search and Rescue Area are disembarked at a safe port, where those in search of protection can seek asylum

• Refrain from actions that will result, directly or indirectly, in the return of migrants to a country where they risk suffering serious violations of their fundamental human rights.”

Click here for copy of JRS Malta statement.

Click here for the report “Do They Know? Asylum Seekers Testify to Life in Libya.”

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Frontex Warns Malta About Refugee Resettlement Consequences

MaltaToday reported last month that Frontex officials have warned Malta that resettlement agreements between Malta and the USA and other countries are being used by organised criminal smuggling organisations to market Malta as a preferred destination.

The information was provided at a “Frontex debriefing meeting held in Caltanisetta in Sicily, where military and governmental officials from EU Member States were given details about the recent Nautilus IV mission held in the Mediterranean during this summer…  Senior military sources told MaltaToday that Frontex officials spoke of intelligence that showed how criminals behind the lucrative illegal migration trade were ‘actually marketing Malta as the right destination to direct migrants,’ given that it has now become public that the US is accepting migrants from Malta.”

Over 400 refugees have been resettled from Malta to the USA, France, and other countries.

Click here for article.

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ECtHR Communicates Case of ‘Hirsi et Autres c. Italie’ Relating to Italy’s Summary Migrant Interdiction Programme

On 17 November the Second Section of the European Court of Human Rights communicated the case of Hirsi and others v Italy, Requête no 27765/09.  The case was filed on 26 May 2009 by 11 Somalis and 13 Eritreans who were among the first group of about 200 migrants interdicted by Italian authorities and summarily returned to Libya under the terms of the Libya-Italy agreement which took effect on 4 February 2009.  The Applicants were intercepted on 6 May 2009 approximately 35 miles south of Lampedusa.

The Applicants allege violations of numerous provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights including:

Protocol 4 Art. 4 Prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens;

Art. 3 Torture;

Art. 1 (1) General undertaking/HPC;

Art. 13 Effective remedy/national authority; and

Art. 3 Inhuman or degrading treatment.

The Statement of facts, complaints and questions put by the Court to the parties is currently available only in French:

GRIEFS

Invoquant l’article 3 de la Convention, lu en conjonction avec l’article 1 de la Convention, les requérants se plaignent de ce que les modalités de leur renvoi en Libye, ainsi que leur séjour dans ce pays ou leur rapatriement dans leurs pays respectifs les soumettrait au risque de subir des tortures ou des traitements inhumains et dégradants.

Invoquant l’article 4 du Protocole no 4, lu en conjonction avec l’article 1 de la Convention, ils affirment avoir fait l’objet d’une expulsion collective atypique et dépourvue de toute base légale.

Invoquant l’article 13, les requérants dénoncent l’impossibilité de contester devant les autorités italiennes leur renvoi en Libye et le risque de rapatriement dans leurs pays d’origine.

QUESTIONS AUX PARTIES ET DEMANDES D’INFORMATIONS

QUESTIONS

1.  Les faits dont les requérants se plaignent en l’espèce relèvent-ils de la juridiction de l’Italie ?

2.  La décision des autorités italiennes d’intercepter en haute mer les embarcations et de renvoyer immédiatement les requérants, compte tenu notamment des informations provenant de sources internationales et concernant les conditions des migrants clandestins en Libye, a-t-elle exposé les requérants au risque d’être soumis à des traitements contraires à l’article 3 de la Convention dans ce pays ?

3.  Compte tenu des allégations des requérants (voir formulaire de requête annexé), y a-t-il des motifs sérieux de craindre que le rapatriement dans leurs pays d’origine, soit la Somalie et l’Érythrée, les exposerait à des traitements contraires à l’article 3 ?

4.  Le renvoi des requérants en Libye de la part des autorités italiennes s’analyse-t-il en une expulsion contraire à l’article 4 du Protocole no 4 ?

5.  Les intéressés ont-ils eu accès à un recours effectif devant une instance nationale garanti par l’article 13 de la Convention pour faire valoir leurs droits garantis par les articles 3 et 4 du Protocole no 4 ?

DEMANDES D’INFORMATIONS

Le gouvernement défendeur est également invité à fournir à la Cour toute information disponible concernant :

- Le nombre de migrants irréguliers arrivés mensuellement sur les côtes italiennes, et en particulier à Lampedusa, au cours des dernières années ;

- L’entité et l’origine du phénomène migratoire en Libye ; la législation en la matière en vigueur dans ce pays ; le traitement réservé par les autorités libyennes aux migrants irréguliers arrivés en Libye directement ou suite au renvoi depuis l’Italie.

Le Gouvernement est également invité à produire à la Cour les textes des accords signés par les gouvernement italien et le gouvernement libyen les 27 décembre 2007 et 4 février 2009.

Il est enfin invité à expliquer à la Cour le rapport existant entre les opérations prévues par les accords bilatéraux avec la Libye et l’activité de l’ « Agence européenne pour la gestion de la coopération opérationnelle aux frontières extérieures des États membres de l’Union européenne (Frontex) ».

Click here for “The Statement of facts, complaints and questions put by the Court.”

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