Week in Review – 28 October 2018

The death toll

IOM:  Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 95,909 in 2018; Deaths Reach 1,969

2018 Migrant Deaths in Western Mediterranean More than Double those Recorded in 2017

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) team estimates that since the beginning of 2018, 547 people are estimated to have died in the Western Mediterranean / Alboran Sea.  This is more than double the 224 deaths documented in all of 2017.  The Andalusian Association for Human Rights has documented the deaths of over 6,000 people on this route since 1997.  Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Data Analysis Centre, “noted, ‘the increase in recorded deaths in 2018 is linked to the increase in attempted sea crossings from North Africa to Spain compared with the past five years, as well as the number of fatalities in each shipwreck.’ Of the 547 deaths and disappearances recorded so far in 2018, more than half (289) occurred in seven shipwrecks in which more than 20 people died or were lost at sea. Between 2014 and 2017, two or fewer such incidents were recorded each year.”

Junker: EU North African Disembarkation Camps “No Longer on the Agenda”

Reuters reported that “European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday [in Tunis] that a suggestion that the European Union might try to set up migrant camps in North Africa was no longer on the agenda. …In June, a summit of all EU leaders asked the Commission to study ways to set up ‘regional disembarkation platforms’ in North African countries, including Tunisia, for migrants rescued [i.e. intercepted] by European vessels in the Mediterranean….’This [proposal] is no longer on the agenda and never should have been,’ Juncker told a news conference in Tunis with Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.”

Somali man returned to Libya under Italian policy sets himself on fire in Libyan detention centre

The Irish Times reported on “a Somali man [who] set himself on fire in a Libyan detention centre on Wednesday…  The man, who is in his late 20s, reportedly doused himself in petrol from a generator in the centre and lit it, after telling friends he had lost hope of being relocated to a safe country. … IOM spokesman Joel Millman said the detainee had set himself on fire as an ‘act of protest’. …This would be the eighth death in Triq al Sikka [detention] centre this year, according to [another] detainee. Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants have been returned to Libya since February 2017, when the country’s UN-backed government entered into a deal with Italy to prevent migration to Europe. Italian politicians have called the deal a success, because it has reduced the number of people arriving on their shores. However, for the men, women and children returned to Libya, the situation is bleak.”

Report that Morocco Exchanged Coast Guard Mediterranean Staff with Atlantic Staff in Effort to Disrupt Cooperation with Smuggling Organisations

The German tabloid Bild reported on a BND (German Federal Intelligence Service) report on smuggling operations in Morocco. The report noted that many African nationals are able to enter Morocco without visas.  And while in 2018, “Morocco claims to have prevented 54000 departures from the country, broken up 74 trafficker networks, confiscated 1900 boats, and brought charges against 230 traffickers …, [a]ccording to information available to the BND [certain smugglers] have connections with collaborators within the national authorities. …

Allegedly, the string pullers even receive information about the coast guards’ patrols for a bribe and can thus avoid them. That is why, this summer, the Moroccan government exchanged the coast guard staff in the Mediterranean with that in the Atlantic.”

Morocco Unleashes a Harsh Crackdown on Sub-Saharan Migrants

The New York Times and Voice of American reported on “a widespread crackdown [on] sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco [who] are facing arbitrary arrest, banishment to remote sections of the country and, lately, outright expulsion… Rights advocates contend that the raids, which government officials acknowledge, began in the summer and were coordinated with Spain and the European Union to stem the tide of migrants to the Continent.”

EU and Moroccan officials agreed last week on a $160 million emergency funding package, making the North African country the third largest recipient of EU funds earmarked for that purpose.  Much of that money will go to stepped up border security, according to Morocco’s chief government spokesman, Mustapha El Khalifi. About $50 million will be spent to secure the sea routes to Spain and the extensive desert borders with Algeria and Mauritania. Morocco says it already has 13,000 security personnel deployed to deal with the growing flow of migrants seeking to reach Spain.”

Statewatch Viewpoint by Yasha Maccanico: Morocco: Wherever EU immigration policy rears its ugly head, violence and abuses follow

Statewatch Viewpoint: “In the summer of 2018, after concerted efforts since 2014 by the EU and its Member States to block off the eastern (Turkey to Greece) and central (Tunisia and Libya to Italy) routes across the Mediterranean used by migrants and refugees to reach Europe, there was an increase in crossings using the western route (Morocco, and sometimes Algeria, to Spain). This was accompanied by an increase in deaths at sea and, in Morocco, extensive police operations to remove black African migrants from the north of the country, based on racial profiling and flagrant breaches of human rights….”

New Book: The Jungle: Calais’s Camps and Migrants (La Jungle de Calais) by Michel Agier

Available in November (en francais):  “For nearly two decades, the area surrounding the French port of Calais has been a temporary staging post for thousands of migrants and refugees hoping to cross the Channel to Britain. It achieved global attention when, at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, all those living there were transferred to a single camp that became known as ‘the Jungle’. Until its dismantling in October 2016, this precarious site, intended to make its inhabitants as invisible as possible, was instead the focal point of international concern about the plight of migrants and refugees. This new book is the first full account of life inside the Jungle and its relation to the global migration crisis. Anthropologist Michel Agier and his colleagues use the particular circumstances of the Jungle, localized in space and time, to analyse broader changes under way in our societies, both locally and globally.”

Libyan Coast Guard Receives New Italian Patrol Boat and Visegrád Four States Promise EUR 35 million for Reinforcement of Libyan Coast Guard

Libya’s Coast Guard last week received its newest Italian-made patrol boat which according to the Libyan Coast Guard will be used “for patrols, surveillance, and combating illegal and unlicensed activities at sea.”

Last week the Visegrád Four states committed to using “EUR 35 million intended for North Africa for the reinforcement of the Libyan coast guard in order to stop the flow of illegal migration heading for Europe.”

EUBAM Libya and ICMPD sign MOU

A strategic Partnership Memorandum of Understanding between the European Union Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) was signed to promote a long-term partnership in support of migration governance and integrated border management actions in Libya.”

1 Comment

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One response to “Week in Review – 28 October 2018

  1. clement jourdain

    As you have all probably heard of, the last ship that was still sailing in the Mediterranean, trying to save migrants in distress (while all European army boats have stopped to help) was the AQUARIUS, handled by the NGO « SOS Méditerranée ». It is now stuck in the port of Marseilles, as Panama has taken back the flag authorization they were giving (probably, some “friendly pressure” from the international community…).
    We have a way to do something : send a letter to the pope, asking for the Vatican (a nation like any other one in respect of the International Marine laws) to grant a flag to the AQUARIUS. And so, it will navigate again and try to save the thousands of children, women and men still in danger to die in the Mediterranean sea, while trying to reach Europe.
    Please sign the petition and forward the link.


    Thanks for them.

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