The General Report 2009 provides selective information regarding the six major Joint Operations conducted at the sea borders. With only one exception, no information or data is provided regarding the specific numbers of intercepted migrants or vessels.
Instead of numbers, the Report provides various descriptive terms which could mean almost anything. For example, Operation Hera led to a “drastic decrease of migrants,” during Operation Nautilus there was a “remarkable decrease” in migrants, and during Operation Hermes, the numbers of migrants arriving and dying at sea “decreased dramatically.” The one exception is for Operation Indalo where the Report states that 750 irregular migrants and 10 facilitators were detected.
When desired, the Report provides details and numbers. For example, Operation Poseidon utilized 4 open sea vessels, 6 coastal patrol vessels, 13 coastal patrol boats, six airplanes, 4 helicopters, and 152 experts who delivered 2680 man days of operational activities, but no data regarding the total number of irregular migrants intercepted at sea is provided.
Here is a summary of the information provided in the Report for each of the six major Joint Operations:
Poseidon 2009, Eastern Mediterranean (365 Days)
Poseidon was conducted along land borders as well as at sea. Interpreters were deployed on board ships to facilitate the identification process of intercepted migrants. Less than 10% of the interviewed migrants claimed their original nationality. There was an overall reduction in migrant flow of 16% (land and sea) compared to 2008. “The main operational objectives of the joint operation were achieved but there is a clear need for closer cooperation between local authorities.”
Hera 2009, Atlantic Ocean waters between North Western African countries and Canary Islands (365 Days)
Due to the permanent implementation of Joint Operation Hera and better cooperation from “involved African countries”, there was a notable reduction in migrants reaching the Canary Islands, 2280 in 2009 compared with 9200 in 2008. Aerial and maritime surveillance conducted close to the territory of Senegal and Mauritania and local cooperation from police led to the decrease in migrants. “Despite these clear successes, participation of more member States would greatly increase effectiveness and outcomes.” [NF- While the Report does provide migrant arrival data for the Canary Islands, it is silent on the number of migrants intercepted at sea or within Senegal or Mauritania.]
Nautilus 2009, Central Mediterranean (172 Days)
There was a remarkable decrease in migrant arrivals in Malta. A “significant obstacle to the effectiveness of the Joint Operation lay in the contrasting interpretations of the International Law of the Sea by Member States….” The effectiveness of the operation compared with 2008 was not improved.
Hermes 2009, Central Mediterranean (184 Days)
“Due to the bilateral agreement between Italy and Libya, the number of people arriving from Libya, as well as the number of migrants died at sea, decreased dramatically….” “In addition, the first examples of co-operation with Algeria should also be considered as promising.” As with Nautilus, “differing interpretations of the International Law of the Sea led to a limited contribution by the Member States to the joint operation by maritime surface means.” The effectiveness of the operation compared with 2008 can be considered as increased.
Minerva 2009, Western Mediterranean (39 Days)
The launch of the operation was delayed in 2009. Its effectiveness compared with 2008 has remained the same.
Indalo 2009, Western Mediterranean (50 Days)
The lack of cooperation from Algeria is an obstacle for operational activities. 10 Facilitators and 750 irregular migrants were identified.
And as I noted in my earlier post, Frontex continued to devote the biggest single portion of its expenditures to maritime enforcement. Almost 40% of Frontex’s total budget, over € 34 million, was spent on sea operations in 2009, constituting 55% of the operational budget.
This chart from the Report (p 23) shows the breakdown of expenditures within the 2009 Operational Budget (which was 71% of the total 2009 Frontex budget).
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Click here for the Frontex General Report 2009.