Tag Archives: North Africa

Statewatch Analysis: The Arab Spring and the death toll in the Mediterranean: the true face of Fortress Europe

Statewatch released an Analysis by Marie Martin entitled “The Arab Spring and the death toll in the Mediterranean: the true face of Fortress Europe.”

Excerpt: “Throughout the uprisings in North Africa, the EU has maintained a discourse of double standards: supporting calls for freedom and democracy but greeting resulting population displacement with hostility. This has contributed to a record number of people dying at Europe’s borders during the first seven months of 2011. It is all about numbers when it comes to migration; about how large a flow came in, how many people asked for protection and how many applicants were “failed” or “rejected.” Numbers quantify the “threat” (e.g. the “invasion” of irregular migrants) and serve as a bargaining tool with third countries (allowing the acceptance of the externalisation of border controls in exchange for facilitating the mobility of a specific number of nationals). Numbers demonstrate whether the target of “x” thousands of annual deportations of irregular migrants is met. Numbers released by public authorities are meant to justify the need for migration policies and to show how efficiently they are implemented. Yet hidden numbers question the legitimacy of these policies – the death toll of people dying at Europe’s borders is such an example. For several years, Gabriele del Grande has monitored the situation at the EU’s external borders and kept a record of the number of deaths occurring in the context of irregular bordercrossings [2] on the Fortress Europe website. According to the website’s latest update, the EU’s borders have never been so “murderous” [3]: there were 1,931 deaths during the first seven months of 2011. [4] In 2008, a petition was brought before the European Parliament by the ProAsyl organisation, denouncing the  deathtrap at the EU’s borders” [5]: it was a particularly “murderous” year, with 1,500 deaths. It is terrifying to realise that this toll was exceeded in the first seven months of 2011. …”

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Malmström: Europe Failed Refugees in 2011

Commissioner Cecilia Malmström wrote an opinion article in The Times of Malta of 19 January:  “Refugees: How Europe failed- European promises of solidarity with people in need were tested in 2011. It is worrying to note that Europe, collectively, did not pass the test. Now, all member states of the European Union must take responsibility and make sure that 2012 will be a better year for asylum matters. … In the first half of 2011, over 75 per cent of all asylum applications were made in only six EU member states. That leaves a long row of European countries that can and must do more. And as over 700,000 people were forced to flee the violence in Libya, many ended up in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. Of the 8,000 people identified by the UN as being in particular need of help, all EU member states only managed to promise to receive 400. Norway, a non EU-country, accepted nearly as many by itself.  Meanwhile, more than 50,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean in rickety vessels to the EU. Far too many died trying. Others arrived at the Italian island of Lampedusa and Malta and, at a pledging conference last spring, European countries had the chance to show their solidarity. The result? A mere 300 refugees being relocated from Malta to other member states. …”

Click here for full article.

 

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Amnesty International Report: Year of Rebellion – The State of Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa

Amnesty International this morning released a report entitled “Year of Rebellion – The State of Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa” focusing on the events of 2011 in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, and Iraq.  Additional chapters in the Report address the “International response”, the “Failure to put human rights first”, “Protection of displaced people”, and “Arms transfers”, among other topics.

Excerpts:

“This report describes the events of this historic, tumultuous year, one which saw so much suffering and sadness but also spread so much hope within the region and beyond, to countries where other people face repression and everyday abuse of their human rights. Amnesty International too was challenged, as never before, to respond to the events by documenting the violations that were committed and, most of all, by mobilizing its members and supporters to extraordinary lengths in support and solidarity with the people in the streets of Cairo, Benghazi, Sana’a, Manama, Dera’a and elsewhere who were truly “in the frontline” in demanding reform, accountability and real guarantees for human rights. This report is dedicated to them, their suffering and their momentous achievements.”

“Protection of Displaced People- … Many of those who fled Libya sought safety in neighbouring countries, mainly in Egypt and Tunisia. However, around 5,000 sub-Saharan refugees and asylum-seekers remain stranded in desert camps in Tunisia and makeshift tents in Saloum, a remote border point in Egypt. When Amnesty International visited the camps in June and July, poor conditions and insecurity prevailed, making life extremely challenging for those living there. Unlike the thousands of migrants who were repatriated during the initial stages of the conflict, these people cannot return to their home countries because they would then be at risk of persecution. Nor can they remain in Egypt and Tunisia, which have been unwilling to offer long-term solutions to refugees. Returning to Libya is also not an option, despite the fall of the al-Gaddafi regime, as Libya cannot currently offer a safe haven for refugees. The only solution is for other countries where they would be safe to resettle them. How many are resettled and how quickly this happens depends on the speed and extent with which the international community fulfils its responsibility to them. So far, the international community’s response has been miserably poor, with European countries offering fewer than 800 resettlement places between them in response to a refugee crisis unfolding on Europe’s doorstep. Many of those who fled Libya attempted the dangerous sea-crossing to Europe, often in overcrowded and barely sea-worthy boats. Among them were people who initially fled from Libya to Tunisia, but then crossed back into Libya frustrated at the lack of durable solutions for refugees in the camps. At least 1,500 men, women and children are estimated to have drowned while attempting this journey. The true total was probably far higher. Governments and institutions failed to put in place effective mechanisms to prevent such deaths at sea, including by increasing search and rescue operations, and by ensuring that rescue operations comply fully with human rights and refugee law….”

Click here for Report.

Click here for AI Press Release.

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ICMC Europe Report: “MAYDAY! Strengthening responses of assistance and protection to boat people and other migrants arriving in Southern Europe”

ICMC has released a 150+ page report entitled “MAYDAY! Strengthening responses of assistance and protection to boat people and other migrants arriving in Southern Europe.”  I have just started reading the report and may post some additional excerpts in the coming days.  Here is an excerpt from the Foreword and Introduction:

“In the first months of 2011 alone, more than 2,000 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea. More than 2,500 unaccompanied children arrived just on Italian shores. Tragic, chronic figures like these are urgent and continuous reminders of the need for another approach to human mobility that goes far beyond simple enforcement and fundamentally recognises the rights to life and protection for all.

It is not so much the arrivals of migrants and refugees that should be put to question, but rather the response mechanisms which very often fail as much in the fields of prevention and rescue as in the processes deciding where and how people are permitted to move, disembark, stay or return. Protection today is provided only for a limited number of boat people who need it, and governed by systems of access and identification that are far too limited. Correct identification, differentiation and referral systems are needed for all migrants in distress and from the very moment of their arrival, not only because they are human beings, but also because such approaches reflect the quality of our societies….”

Scope of this report – Gathering the results of nearly a half thousand surveys of first responders and other actors as well as the migrants themselves, this report examines what happens—or does not happen— to identify migrants in need of protection and assistance upon their arrival in Europe. In particular, it sheds light on the mechanisms developed, and gaps both in practice and in policy in responses to boat people and other migrants arriving in mixed migratory movements in four countries at Europe’s Southern door: Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain.

Although rescue at sea at one end and voluntary or enforcement-related return at the other are highly relevant topics and areas of research per se, DRIVE has focused on the situation of migrants at point of arrival. As such, the project and this report look at first responses in the phase immediately upon and surrounding arrival, and then to identification, differentiation and referral mechanisms for legal protection and/or further assistance in subsequent phases following arrival.

The principal focus of the project was on boat arrivals, but the shift in routes in Greece during the project period and the sharp increase in land border crossings there compelled reflection upon responses to migrants crossing land borders as well as those arriving by sea. While the project maintained its focus on arrivals by sea, one of its findings is that most of the laws, policies, procedures and responses applicable to boat people pertain equally to those arriving across land borders—in particular, steps on identification, differentiation and referral for protection and assistance.

The DRIVE project set out to promote protection of the rights of all migrants in these situations, especially the most vulnerable, regardless of their immigration status. Nevertheless, the project has highlighted four groups whose members have come to be defined to a varying extent as having specific rights or special needs under international and European legal instruments: asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, children, and victims of torture. It merits emphasising however, that other migrants also have special needs because of particular vulnerabilities,- notably people with serious health problems, disabled people, elderly people, pregnant women, single parents with minor children and persons who have been subjected to or witnessed torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence.

Structure of this report – The report is composed of four main parts, plus annexes:

Part 1: Building policy responses to boat people and others arriving in mixed migration flows – Within this first part, Chapter 1 provides a brief history of the policy evolution and the organizations involved in the area of mixed migration. Chapter 2 gives an overview of legal obligations relating to the rights of the migrants composing these arrivals. The third chapter provides an analysis of the EU policy and legal framework with regards to mixed migration arrivals at its borders.

Part 2: A focus on post-arrival identification, differentiation and referral for assistance and protection – The first chapter explains what is meant and implied by “identification, differentiation and referral”in mixed migration contexts, the concept at the core of the DRIVE study. The second chapter seeks to focus on the legal obligations of member states to conduct identification of people in need of protection at the border, with in-depth legal analysis of the rights and state obligations that international and EU law articulate for asylum seekers, children, and victims of human trafficking and torture.

Part 3: What happens to people arriving irregularly by boat in Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain? – The first chapter gives a snapshot of the trends and figures of arrivals in the Mediterranean region. In Chapter 2, the summaries of the four country reports (each presented in its entirety in an annex) then provide a look at the procedures and practices on the ground for first reception, identification and referral. The third chapter presents the results of the extensive migrants surveys that the DRIVE project conducted in the four countries in an effort to give voice to the beneficiaries themselves. Chapter 4 concludes with a comparative analysis identifying the main gaps and challenges in those countries.

Part 4: Conclusions and recommendations – The focus on the four countries enabled consideration of practices and procedures which could either improve the quality of the process or prevent people from accessing protection and assistance. Recommendations therefore seek to address how identification, differentiation and referral can be improved in the Mediterranean, including how the international and European legal and policy framework can address this question in a more comprehensive manner.

Annexes: Detailed mapping of the situation in Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain are attached in the annexes, as well as a presentation of some relevant tools and guidelines….”

Click here for Report.

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EJML Article, B Nascimbene and A Di Pascale: “The ‘Arab Spring’ and the Extraordinary Influx of People who Arrived in Italy from North Africa”

The latest edition of the European Journal of Migration and Law, Volume 13, Number 4, contains an article by Bruno Nascimbene, Professor of European Union Law, Faculty of Law, University of Milan, and Alessia Di Pascale, Research Fellow, European Union Law, Faculty of Law, University of Milan, entitled “The ‘Arab Spring’ and the Extraordinary Influx of People who Arrived in Italy from North Africa”.

Abstract: “The ‘Arab spring’ which spread in early 2011 and the consequent exceptional influx of people that arrived on the Italian coasts from North Africa put the national reception and asylum systems under particular pressure, also raising the debate on the status to be attributed to these people. Faced with a situation out of the ordinary, Italy immediately addressed a request for help to the European Union, which has revealed the difference of views and mistrust existing between Member States in relation to these issues. This episode also calls into question the scope and effectiveness of the EU migration management framework, particularly in case of strong and unexpected pressure, and its implementation in a true spirit of solidarity.”

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Filed under Analysis, European Union, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, Tunisia, UNHCR

DIIS Seminar: “The Lesser Evil”? Policy Logics and Practices of Removal and Detention in the Euro-Mediterranean Area (Copenhagen, 6 Oct)

The Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) will hold a seminar (English) in Copenhagen on 6 October 2011, 14.00-17.00.  Advance registration is required.  Registration deadline is Wednesday, 5 October 2011 at 12.00 noon.  Click here for more information.

From the DIIS announcement:  “The arrival of more than 45,000 African boat migrants and asylum seekers in Italy this year has caused much public and political attention in Europe. One response is to call for increased sea patrols to prevent irregular crossings of the Mediterranean Sea. Another response is detention, deportation and forced removal of irregular migrants and rejected asylum seekers who have reached Europe. Such practices are already important objectives in European migration management and policies but are likely to become even more significant in coming negotiations with North African migrant sending and transit countries.

This seminar examines practices of deportation, readmission and detention from a policy and migrant perspective. It will address the following questions: What are the policy logics and readmission agreements in the Euro-Mediterranean area? How is detention and deportation of irregular migrants carried out? And how do deported migrants deal with their situation?”

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Análisis del Real Instituto Elcano: La crisis en el Norte de África y su impacto en la inmigración irregular a la Unión Europea (by Frontex Dep. ED Gil Arias)

Real Instituto Elcano has published an analysis regarding the situation in North Africa and its impact on irregular immigration to the EU.  The analysis was written by Frontex’s Deputy Executive Director Gil Arias.

Of particular interest is the analysis regarding what Frontex believes might occur in regard to migrant flows from Libya under two different scenarios: Gadafi remaining in power or ultimately being removed from power (see Google translation of excerpt below):

“… En el caso de que el régimen de Gadafi recupere el control, la UE y sus Estados Miembros no podrán reanudar la cooperación con un régimen totalmente desacreditado. Se producirá el cese en la aplicación de acuerdos de cooperación policial que en el pasado (desde mayo de 2009) sirvieron para detener los flujos de inmigración irregular desde Libia hacia Italia y Malta. La posibilidad de que ciudadanos de otros países africanos bloqueados en Libia sean obligados o “ayudados” a emigrar a la UE no debe descartarse. De hecho, Gadafi ha amenazado con “abrir la puerta” de la inmigración ilegal hacia Europa.

La OIM estima la cifra de extranjeros presentes en Libia entre 0,5 y 1,5 millones. No obstante, no todos serian candidatos a la inmigración ilegal. Se trata fundamentalmente de trabajadores empleados por empresas extranjeras asentadas en el país, por lo que su intención primaria no sería la emigración a la UE y por otra parte una buena parte de ellos ya han abandonado Libia.

En el peor de los casos, la consecuencia de ese “abrir la puerta” sería la reactivación de los flujos por vía marítima hacia Lampedusa y Malta (eventualmente también Creta, que se encuentra a 200 km de distancia de la costa libia) en un escenario similar al de 2008 (40.000 inmigrantes llegaron a Italia y Malta, con origen en las costas libias) agravado por el efecto adicional de la inestabilidad en el país. Su destino principal serían los países con presencia importante de ciudadanos norteafricanos (Italia, Francia, España, Bélgica y el Reino Unido). El destino de los nacionales de países subsaharianos se encontraría más repartido por toda la UE.

Si Gadafi es derrocado resultará clave la capacidad y rapidez de la oposición para reorganizarse. La oposición se encuentra, por el momento, bastante desorganizada y es probable que se produzcan luchas internas por el poder, especialmente por el control de los campos petrolíferos. Ello podría conducir a un estado persistente de disturbios y a una ausencia de control por un largo periodo de tiempo.

La eventual reactivación de las rutas migratorias hacia la UE dependerá de la capacidad del nuevo régimen para imponer la ley y el orden en el país así como el control efectivo sobre los 2.000 km de costas y 4.000 km de fronteras terrestres libias. En el peor de los escenarios podría darse una situación similar a la de Somalia.

En este escenario, la economía libia puede deteriorarse y elevarse los niveles de desempleo. Actualmente se desconoce la tasa de desempleo en Libia, pero se presume baja. Previsiblemente, la mayoría de los trabajadores desempleados intentará regresar a sus países, pero parte de ellos (sobre todo los nacionales de países inseguros) buscaran otras oportunidades, entre ellas la emigración clandestina a la UE.

La ausencia de ley y orden, especialmente la ausencia de control sobre las fronteras marítimas, llevará rápidamente a las mafias al tráfico de inmigrantes hacia la UE. Los candidatos serían primariamente trabajadores desempleados no deseosos de volver a sus países (mayormente de África Occidental y Oriental, pero eventualmente también libios, egipcios, argelinos y tunecinos). Esta situación impediría, por otra parte, el retorno de quienes fuesen detectados cruzando ilegalmente las fronteras exteriores de la UE.

En tales circunstancias se puede prever un flujo constante de inmigración ilegal durante meses, mayoritariamente por vía marítima, pero también por vía aérea a través de Turquía. La duración en el tiempo de este escenario dependerá de la rapidez con la que la UE o los Estados Miembros y las nuevas autoridades sean capaces de restablecer la cooperación. En este sentido, serán determinantes los acuerdos de readmisión efectivos.

Por último, ha de tenerse también en cuenta el riesgo marginal de que los vencedores realicen acciones de persecución sobre los partidarios de Gadafi, lo que provocaría la huida de éstos del país en busca de refugio….”

Google translation of the above excerpts (NB – this is only a rough translation):

“…In the case of Qaddafi’s regime  regaining control, the EU and its Member States shall not resume cooperation with a discredited regime. Termination will occur in the implementation of agreements on police cooperation in the past (May 2009) served to stop the flow of illegal immigration from Libya to Italy and Malta. The possibility for citizens from other African countries locked in Libya are forced or “helped” to migrate to the EU can not be ruled out. In fact, Gaddafi has threatened to “open the door” of illegal immigration into Europe.

The IOM estimates the number of foreigners in Libya between 0.5 and 1.5 million. However, not all candidates would be illegal immigration. These are mainly employed by foreign companies settled in the country, so that their primary intention would not be the migration to the EU and, moreover, a good portion of them have already left Libya.

In the worst case, the consequence of this “open door” would be the reactivation of the flows by sea to Lampedusa and Malta (and possibly Crete, which is 200 km away from the Libyan coast) in a scenario similar to that of 2008 (40.000 immigrants arrived in Italy and Malta, departing from the Libyan coast) aggravated by the additional effect of instability in the country. Its main destination countries would be a significant presence of North African citizens (Italy, France, Spain, Belgium and the UK). The fate of the national sub-Saharan countries would be more distributed throughout the EU.

If Gadhafi is overthrown will be key capacity and speed of the opposition to regroup. The opposition is, at present, quite disorganized and is likely to produce internal power struggles, especially for control of the oilfields. This could lead to a persistent state of unrest and a lack of control over a long period of time.

The eventual recovery of migratory routes towards the EU depends on the ability of the new regime to impose law and order in the country as well as effective control over the 2,000 km of coastline and 4,000 km of land borders Libya. In the worst case scenario could be a situation similar to Somalia.

In this scenario, the Libyan economy may deteriorate and unemployment levels rise. Currently unknown unemployment rate in Libya, but presumably low. Predictably, most unemployed workers try to return to their countries, but some of them (especially insecure country nationals) to seek other opportunities, including illegal migration to the EU.

The absence of law and order, especially the lack of control over maritime borders, whisk the trafficking mafias immigrants into the EU. Candidates would be primarily unemployed workers eager to return to their countries (mostly from West and East Africa, but also possibly Libyans, Egyptians, Algerians and Tunisians). This would prevent, on the other hand, the return of those who were detected illegally crossing the external borders of the EU.

In such circumstances, can provide a steady flow of illegal immigration for months, mostly by sea, but also by air through Turkey. The long life of this scenario depends on the speed with which the EU or the Member States and the new authorities are able to restore cooperation. In this regard, will determine the effective readmission agreements.

Finally, it must also take into account the marginal risk that the winners perform acts of persecution on Gaddafi’s supporters, causing them to flee the country in search of refuge….”

Click here for the Analysis. (ES)

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