Week in Review– 7 October 2018

Italy’s migration deterrence policies under Salvini sharply increase deaths at sea

New ISPI Commentary by Matteo Villa: “Sea Arrivals to Italy: The Cost of Deterrence Policies”: “We can now compare the two periods of [Italian migration] deterrence policies, moving from [former Interior Minister Marco] Minniti to [current Interior Minister Matteo] Salvini. [T]hese two periods show very different trends, in particular with regards to the number of dead or missing at sea. The period of Minniti policies coincided with a drop in migrants dead or missing at sea that was more or less in line with the drop in irregular sea arrivals to Italy. On the other hand, the period of Salvini policies was marked by a further decrease in sea arrivals (-48%), but also by a sharp increase in the number of dead or missing at sea (+147%, i.e. more than double the previous period). [***] To conclude, Salvini policies of further deterrence at sea have coincided with a drop in arrivals of around 28,000 units, which is equivalent to less than 20% if compared to the drop of 150,000 arrivals recorded during the Minniti period. At the same time, Salvini policies coincided with a strong increase in the number of migrants dying or going missing at sea, which reversed the previous declining trend. When evaluating public policies, it is important to consider the opportunity-cost of each decision. Four months after the tightening on sea rescues, in the light of the numbers available, the usefulness of deterrence policies appears questionable to say the least, when a relatively modest reduction in sea arrivals in Italy, has coincided with a sharp increase in the number of dead or missing.”

UN Security Council renews authorisation for inspection of vessels on high seas off Libya

Pursuant to Resolution 2437 (2018), adopted on 3 October 2018, the Council renewed the authorisation for member states to inspect vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya that they have reasonable grounds to suspect are being used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking: The Council “…. Decides, for a further period of twelve months from the date of adoption of this resolution, to renew the authorisations as set out in paragraphs 7, 8, 9 and 10 of resolution 2240 (2015),reaffirms paragraph 11 thereof and otherwise reiterates its resolutions 2240 (2015), 2312 (2106) and 2380 (2017) and its Presidential Statement S/PRST/2015/25;…”

Libyan Coast Guard pull backs / interceptions in 2018 near 14,000

Per the UNHCR, as of 4 October, “the Libyan Coast Guard rescued/intercepted 13,898 refugees and migrants (9,560 men, 2,118 women and 1,364 children) at sea during 104 operations. This is an increase of 12.3% compared to the same period in 2017. Since the beginning of the year, 99 bodies were recovered in Libyan waters while 608 lives were lost at sea. Most of the individuals disembarked [in Libya] were Nigerian (1,830 individuals), Sudanese (1,765 individuals) and Eritrean (1,532 individuals).”

2018 migrant arrivals to Spain exceed arrival totals for 2015, 2016, 2017 combined

According to IOM, as of 28 September 2018, “total land and sea arrivals in the first nine months of this year have surpassed the arrival totals of 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined, but signalled that despite the higher number of arrivals the situation remains manageable. Migrant arrivals to Spain via the Western Mediterranean and Western African routes have reached a total of 36,654 this year. Another 4,820 migrants reached the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla by land. Sea arrivals to Spain currently account for 45 per cent of all Mediterranean arrivals this year given the reduced numbers of migrants arriving in Italy and Greece by sea….”

Moroccan FM reiterates Morocco’s refusal to host EU “disembarkation platforms”

Reported by DW: Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said “‘Morocco is generally opposed to all kinds of centers. That is part of our migration policy and a national sovereign position … [it is] too easy to say that this is a Moroccan issue.’ ‘Migration comprises three percent of the world’s population, 80 percent of which is legal … So we are only talking about 20 percent of these three per cent.’ ‘Are we real partners or just a neighbor you’re afraid of?’ questioning Europe’s attitude towards Morocco. ‘The EU can’t ask Morocco to help with migration and the fight against terrorism and treat the country like an object.’”  Government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi reiterated Morocco’s categorical refusal to host disembarkation platforms: “The creation of reception centres for migrants is only an attempt to externalize the problem and is not a solution.”

Dwindling search and rescue capabilities in the Med

UNHCR expresses concern over lack of search and rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean: “This time last year, five NGOs were conducting search and rescue operations on the Central Mediterranean. In 2017, NGOs saved over 46, 000 lives according to the Italian Coast Guard. The de-registration of the Aquarius is deeply worrying and would represent a dramatic reduction of search and rescue capacity at precisely the moment when it needs to be stepped up.” “UNHCR continues to call strongly for increasing search and rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean and for leaving space for NGOs to contribute in a coordinated manner to these efforts. This is a collective responsibility, with saving lives as its primary concern.”

The death toll

IOM: Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 84,345 in 2018; Deaths Reach 1,777

Egypt, immigration detention, human rights abuses, and also an important EU partner

The Global Detention Project released an Egypt Country Report: “Immigration Detention in Egypt: Military Tribunals, Human Rights, Abysmal Conditions, and EU Partner” reporting on, among things, “intensified EU-Egyptian cooperation in ‘migration management,’ leading to a comprehensive crackdown on irregular migration on Egypt’s north coast.”

EU migration control policies enrich Libyan militias

The EUObserver reported on how on how “Libyan militia cash in on EU’s anti-smuggling strategy”. “Senior officials at the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have all shed doubt on some aspects of the EU’s grand anti-business smuggler plan, issued in mid-2015. ‘When we say we want to disrupt the smuggler business model, we talk about destroying boats in Libya, we talk about destroying the boats, all this makes the smuggler richer,’ Eugenio Ambrosi, the IOM’s EU regional director told this website.”

Deplorable conditions in EU’s largest refugee camp

Patrick Kingsley, now with the New York Times, formerly with The Guardian (and author of The New Odyssey: The Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis, 2016), writes in depth on the deplorable conditions in Camp Moira, the EU’s biggest refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos – ‘a camp of around 9,000 people living in a space designed for just 3,100, where squalid conditions and an inscrutable asylum process have led to what aid groups describe as a mental health crisis.”

Royal Moroccan Navy opens fire on migrant boat

Samia Errazzouki, a former journalist and current PhD student at the University of California at Davis, writes about the killing of Hayat Belkacem who was killed when the Royal Moroccan Navy open fire on a migrant boat trying to reach Spain. Errazzouki writes about the dissent and disenchantment in Morocco pushing many people to risk the journey to Europe.

Dozens dead in shipwreck in Moroccan waters – Moroccan authorities reportedly delayed rescue efforts

At least 34 refugees died in a shipwreck in the western Mediterranean.  Salvamento Marítimo de España reportedly the alert and offered collaboration to Morocco “no response was received” from Moroccan authorities. The boat and survivors drifted for 24 hours.

60 dead in boat accident off West Africa

The Guinea-Bissau coast guard commander reported that up to sixty people drowned after their boat sank.  The boat was believed to be trying to reach the Canary Islands.

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