Category Archives: Eastern Atlantic

Frontex Deployment, Repatriation Practices, and Diplomacy Are Responsible For Halting Migrant Arrivals in Canary Islands

From Europa Press: Juan Martinez, Chief Inspector of the Spanish National Police’s  Illegal Immigration Network and False Document Unit (UCRIF – Unidad Contra las Redes de Inmigración Ilegal y Falsedades Documentales), attributes the significant decline in the arrival of migrant boats in the Canary Islands to the deployment of Frontex, diplomatic management in the countries of origin, and repatriation policies.  The article notes the first migrant boat arrival in the Canaries in 1994, the peak years of 2006-2008, and the ensuing practices which have halted further migrant arrivals.

Click here (ES) for article.

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EJML Article, Stefanie Grant: “Recording and Identifying European Frontier Deaths”

The latest edition of the European Journal of Migration and Law, Volume 13, Number 2, contains an article by Stefanie Grant, University of Sussex, entitled “Recording and Identifying European Frontier Deaths.”

Abstract: “Migrant deaths at EU maritime borders have more often been seen in the context of national border control, than in terms of migrant protection and human rights. The 2009 Stockholm Programme accepted the need for action to avoid tragedies at sea, and to `record’ and `identify’ migrants trying to reach the EU. But it did not specify how this should be done. There are parallels between these migrant deaths, and deaths which occur in conflict and humanitarian disaster. The principles of human rights and humanitarian law which apply in these situations should be developed to create legal and policy frameworks for use in the case of migrants who are missing or who die on EU sea frontiers. The purpose would be to enable evidence of identity to be preserved, to protect the rights of families to know the fate of their relatives, and to create common national and international procedures.”

“This article draws on publications by the author, including: ‘Migration and frontier deaths: a right to identity’, in Marie Bénédicte-Dembour and Tobias Kelly (eds.), Are Human Rights for Migrants?: Critical Reflections on the Status of Irregular Migrants in Europe and the United States, Abingdon, Routledge, 2011 [in press]; ‘The Legal Protection of Stranded Migrants’, in Ryszard Cholewinski, Richard Perruchoud and Euan Macdonald (eds.), International Migration Law: Developing Paradigms and Key Challenges, The Hague, T.M.C. Asser Press, 2007, pp. 29–48; and ‘International Migration and Human Rights’; expert paper for the Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM), 2005.”

Click here for link.  (Subscription or payment required.)

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600+ Migrants Reach Andalusian Coast in 2011

A total of 612 migrants in 24 different boats have reached the Andalusian coast of Spain (Almeria, Granada, Cadiz and Huelva) from Morocco and Algeria so far in 2011.

Click here for article (ES).

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Europol 2011 Organised Crime Threat Assessment – Illegal Immigration and THB

Europol just issued its 2011 Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA) (OCTA_2011-1).  The report contains Europol’s assessments regarding “current and expected trends in organised crime affecting the European Union.”  Among the topics discussed are the facilitation of illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings.

The report notes that the increased control of the external borders of the EU, combined with other immigration controls, has resulted in irregular migrants turning to organised crime groups to facilitate their entry to the EU.  The report notes that increased enforcement activities which successfully reduce illegal immigration in certain areas may result in substantial increases in illegal immigration in other areas.

The report indicates that organised criminal groups are exploiting and will continue to exploit the social and political unrest in North Africa and that organised crime groups are responsible for facilitating the movement of the thousands of Tunisians who have entered Italy.

The report notes that the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen zone “may yield increased illicit traffic through these countries and the possible displacement of illegal immigration flows from the Turkish-Greek border.”

Excerpts from the 38 page report pertaining to the facilitation of illegal immigration:

“[I]ncreasing control of external borders, the introduction of higher quality travel documents and other protective measures implemented by destination countries are making illegal immigration more difficult for individual migrants, forcing them to seek the services of organised crime groups.

International agreements and coordinated law enforcement activities have a significant impact on the flows of illegal immigrants along established routes. In 2010, a sharp reduction in the use of sea routes was accompanied by a substantial increase in illegal overland entries, overwhelmingly concentrated on the Turkish-Greek border.

Besides being the natural gateway for immigrants from the Middle East and Asia, Turkey is now the final step towards the EU for migrants with many other origins, including North and West Africans. Its geographical position, the presence of historical smuggling routes and the comparative ease with which entry visas may be obtained have transformed Turkey into the main nexus point for illegal immigrants on their way to Europe.


Legislation aimed at safeguarding certain inalienable individual or social rights is manipulated by organised crime groups with specialist expertise. Political asylum requests, and family reunions following marriages of convenience with EU citizens, are among the most frequently abused procedures. In addition, a prevalent tactic is to exploit loopholes and the lack of harmonisation in current legislation.


Criminal Groups

Organised crime groups involved in the facilitation of illegal immigrants tend to be structured in loose networks of smaller groups with ethnic or other cultural connections to customers. By the same token, illegal immigrants tend to be recruited by, or approach facilitators from, the same ethnic background. However, few criminal groups have the capacity to manage all stages from source to destination country. The further migrants get from their country of origin, the greater the chance that their facilitators will be of an ethnic origin different from their own. Along the route, small local criminal groups receive and house transiting illegal immigrants, facilitating their passage to the next stage. In the often extended time between stages, transiting migrants are frequently exploited in illicit labour, thus marking a point of contact between illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings (THB).

Organised crime groups in destination countries play a fundamental role in the smuggling of migrants. Criminals, often legitimately resident in the EU, facilitate the last step of the migrants’ journey, in some cases collecting final instalments of transportation fees, and are in an ideal position to profit from newly arrived migrants, sometimes employing forms of exploitation typical of THB.

The most widely reported organised crime groups involved in the facilitation of illegal immigration are of Chinese, Turkish, Albanian, Indian, Iraqi, and Russian origin. Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, and some West African groups are among the most capable, managing all successive phases of illegal immigration from source to destination countries. Although these groups may sub-contract part of the transportation or the production of falsified documents, they maintain effective control over the illegal immigrants throughout.

The growing importance of Turkey as a nexus point for migrants is likely to be further exploited by Turkish organised crime groups already extremely skilled in managing routes for illicit commodities and will make the most of their resources and contacts in the EU to maximise profits from this lucrative criminal market….


Criminal hubs

Political and legislative initiatives impact on regional dynamics, resulting in frequent shifts between hubs and preferred nexus points outside the EU.

Migrant flows across the Mediterranean Sea and illicit entries at the Eastern land borders have both significantly decreased. Greece is now the focus for illegal entry to the EU, and while levels of illegal migration connected with seasonal work patterns between Albania and Greece have decreased in the last year, illicit entries of migrants from Turkey have increased by over 500 per cent between 2009 and 2010

The South East criminal hub is therefore under the heaviest pressure. As a result also of its proximity to the Western Balkans, the hub’s centre of gravity for this criminal problem is currently Greece.


The Southern criminal hub is a landing zone for many immigrants who have entered the EU through Greece, and who either remain in Italy or proceed to other MS. Illegal immigrants are often exploited or employed by organised crime groups active in the hub.

Emerging and Future Issues

The social and political unrest pervading North Africa since January 2011 is likely to have a significant impact on the internal security of Southern Europe. By exploiting the present political vacuum and the diminution of police capability to maintain public order and combat criminal activity, organised crime groups are facilitating several thousands of illegal immigrants, mainly of Tunisian origin, in their attempt to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe. This carries an inherent risk to the internal security of the EU.

The large and growing number of illegal immigrants from countries and regions in which Islamist terrorist groups are active – such as Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia – raises the possibility that channels for illegal immigration will be used increasingly by those seeking to engage in terrorist activity in the EU.

In the absence of any significant harmonisation of standards with regards to visa issue for a variety of purposes (including settlement for marriage and family reunions) a further increase in the abuse of legitimate migration procedures is likely.

The possible accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen Zone will greatly widen the Eastern green and blue borders. This has the potential to release the pressure on the Turkish-Greek border, and lead to increased targeting of Bulgaria and the Black Sea coast by illegal immigrants and their facilitators.

Turkish organised crime groups, currently in a dominant position at the biggest nexus point for migrants, will exploit further opportunities for delivering illegal immigrants to the EU by means of the Black Sea and the flourishing Turkish diaspora in Bulgaria….


… The role of the Western Balkans as a logistical hub will be sustained and may even grow further, while the proposed accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen zone may yield increased illicit traffic through these countries and the possible displacement of illegal immigration flows from the Turkish-Greek border. In this event, Member States in South East Europe may require additional operational support. In light of the continued prominence throughout the EU of Albanian speaking criminal groups, strategic and operational partnerships with authorities in the Western Balkans will be increasingly important.

Ongoing political instability in countries close to the borders of the EU and transit areas for illicit commodities has the potential to alter trafficking routes and create new illegal migration flows. In countries such as Tunisia and Egypt the process by which serving regimes are replaced may result in power and investment vacuums in both the public and private sectors. Some of these could be filled by those with sufficient resources to exploit the instability for criminal ends, including EU organised crime groups. In politically fragile environments organised crime can also prosper by providing essential services such as transport infrastructure, and food and fuel supply. The effects of illegal immigration as a result of instability in North Africa – already experienced by Italy – are likely to spread if levels of unrest persist or increase. Should living conditions deteriorate in the longer term, the EU is likely to see an increase also in victims of THB from this region….


Click on this link OCTA_2011-1 for OCTA report.

Click here for Europol press release.

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Spain’s Security Secretary Visited Mauritania to Strengthen Bilateral Immigration Cooperation

Spanish Secretary of State for Security, Antonio Camacho, travelled last week to Mauritania, Niger, and Mali to strengthen bilateral cooperation on illegal immigration and organised crime.

Spain and Mauritania agreed to strengthen their cooperation on immigration control and to expand cooperation to include efforts to combat drug smuggling using the same joint cooperation model currently being used for illegal migration.  Camacho said Spain is committed to continue providing material resources to the Mauritanian security forces to “further improve the tools at their disposal to deal with security threats and to strengthen their border control mechanisms.”  Camacho thanked Mauritania for its efforts to block illegal migration towards Spain and noted that only one boat (cayuco) reached the Canary Islands from Mauritania in 2010 and that no boats had so far reached the Canary Islands in 2011.  Spain and Mauritania began their close cooperation on immigration control in March 2006.

While in Mauritania, Camacho visited the 50 members of the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard who are stationed in Nouadhibou as part of Spain’s extraterritorial immigration control measures.

Click here (ES), here (ES), and here (FR) for articles.

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IMO: Final Link in Africa SAR Cover – Multi-lateral Agreement on North and West African Sub-regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre

From IMO: “Complete search and rescue cover around Africa’s coast was secured on Thursday (3 March 2011) with the signing, in the presence of representatives from Cape Verde, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Morocco and Senegal, of an ad-hoc multi-lateral co-operative agreement on the North and West African sub-regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), which establishes a new Morocco MRCC near Rabat, with its associated sub-centres.  The Morocco sub-regional MRCC, located at Bouznika, a seaside area 20 Km from Rabat, will join those already commissioned in Mombasa, Kenya, in 2006; in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2007; in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2008; and in Monrovia, Liberia, in 2009, thus completing the final link in the chain of sub-regional African MRCCs, each with its own network of associated sub-centres….”  IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said “The sharing of information derived from the centres we establish will also play an important role in the fight against piracy, kidnap and ransom on the high seas – something, which IMO, and the whole maritime community, has pledged to tackle with renewed vigour during 2011 in line with this year’s World Maritime Day theme “Piracy: Orchestrating the response”.

Click here for link to IMO statement.

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Prof. Goodwin-Gill: ‘The Right to Seek Asylum: Interception at Sea and the Principle of Non-Refoulement’

On 16 February Professor Guy S. Goodwin-Gill presented the inaugural lecture of the Fondation Philippe Wiener – Maurice Anspach, Chaire W. J. Ganshof van der Meersch.  The lecture was entitled ‘The Right to Seek Asylum: Interception at Sea and the Principle of Non-Refoulement’.  The complete text of the lecture is available at this link: Goodwin-Gill: The Right to Seek Asylum-Interception at Sea and the Principle of Non-Refoulement.  The complete text also contains a helpful reference list.

I have reproduced several excerpts below:

“Looking at the interception and return measures adopted in the Mediterranean and off the west coast of Africa … one may rightly wonder what has happened to the values and principles considered fundamental to the Member States of the European Union….  [***]

… [I]t is all the more surprising when [European] governments, ministers and officials either pretend that the rules [- including Article 78(1) of the TFEU which requires the Union to develop a common asylum policy with regard to ‘any third country national requiring international protection and ensuring compliance with the principle of non-refoulement’ – policy which ‘must be in accordance with the Geneva Convention… and other relevant treaties’-] do not apply, or seek ways to avoid their being triggered.

In my view, the problems begin at the beginning, just as they commonly do also at the national level. A policy or goal is identified – in this case, reducing the number of irregular migrants, including asylum seekers, leaving the north African coast and heading for Europe – and then belatedly some attempt is made to bend implementation of the policy to fit in with principle and rule. A better approach, in my view, would be to begin with a clear understanding of the applicable law – the prohibition of discrimination, of refoulement, of inhuman or degrading treatment – and then to see what can be done by working within the rules.

Of course, this approach is premised on the assumption that States generally seek to work within the rule of law. It will not likely influence the State determined to deal with the migrant and the asylum seeker arbitrarily, and without reference to principle. Such cases must be confronted head-on, by way of judicial and political mechanisms of control.  [***]

… The problem, though, lies not in formal recognition of protection principles but, as ever, in operationalising the rules – in making protection a reality at the point of enforcement. On the plus side stands a substantial body of legislation: the Frontex regulation itself; the RABIT amendment, with its express insistence on compliance with fundamental rights and conformity with Member States’ protection and non-refoulement obligations; and the Schengen Borders Code, Article 3 of which requires the Code to be applied, ‘without prejudice to the rights of refugees… in particular as regards non-refoulement’. Add to this the April 2010 Council Decision supplementing the Code and dealing specifically with the surveillance of maritime borders and Frontex operations; it is currently being challenged by the Parliament on vires grounds, and it was also objected to by Malta and Italy, mainly for its proposal that in the last resort, rescue cases should be disembarked in the State hosting the Frontex operation. The Decision’s formulation of the applicable law in the matter of protection, however, is unremarkable, restating the principle of non-refoulement and the need to avoid indirect breach, but also providing for those intercepted to have an opportunity to set out reasons why they might be at risk of such a violation of their rights….  [***]

What do we know about either unilateral or Frontex-led interception operations so far? Not as much as we might expect as citizens of a democratic Union bounded by the rule of law and basic principles of good governance, such as transparency and accountability….  [***]

Exactly what Frontex does in an interception context has been questioned. Human Rights Watch has claimed that Frontex has been involved in facilitating interception, though this has been denied. Amnesty International and ECRE note that Frontex has stated that it does not know whether any asylum applications were submitted during interception operations, as it does not collect the data. How, then, should we approach what appears to be wilful ignorance? In the Roma Rights Case in 2004, discrimination on racial grounds was alleged in the conduct of immigration procedures by British officials at Prague Airport, which were intended to prevent potential asylum seekers leaving for the United Kingdom. There, too, the authorities did not keep any records of the ethnic origin of those they interviewed. Finding on the evidence that the government had acted in violation of relevant legislation, the House of Lords called attention to the importance of gathering information, ‘which might have helped ensure that this high-risk operation was not being conducted in a discriminatory manner…’

Given the secrecy attaching to interception operations, and the fact that no data are gathered or retained, it is reasonable to infer that some level of Frontex involvement has occurred, and that, absent evidence to the contrary, the relevant principles of international and EU law have not been observed.  [***]

… The object and purpose of EU operations in maritime areas, therefore, should be first and foremost to ensure protection, and secondarily to manage and prevent irregular migration….

In the absence of effective and verifiable procedures and protection in countries of proposed return, the responsibility to ensure protection remains that of the EU agency or Member State. In practice, this will require that they identify all those intercepted, and keep records regarding nationality, age, personal circumstances and reasons for passage. Given protection as the object and purpose of interception operations, an effective opportunity must be given for objections and fears to be expressed; these must then be subject to rational consideration, leading to the formulation of written reasons in explanation of the next steps. Where this entails return to or disembarkation in a non-EU State, a form of judicial control is required as a necessary safeguard against ill-treatment and the abuse of power – exactly what form of judicial control calls for an exercise of juristic imagination. In the nature of things, such oversight should be prompt, automatic, impartial and independent, extending ideally to the monitoring of interception operations overall….”

Click here or on the following link for complete text: Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, ‘The Right to Seek Asylum: Interception at Sea and the Principle of Non-Refoulement’

I thank Prof. Goodwin-Gill for permitting me to post the text of his lecture.




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Interactive Map: Deaths at Europe’s Borders

From  an interactive map showing the 14,000 persons who have died trying to reach Europe since 1988.  “[A]n interactive map as an electronic memorial for these tragedies.”

Click here for link.  The map copied below is not the new Interactive Map.  Click on link for the Interactive Map

Mourir aux portes de l’Europe (carte d’Olivier Clochard)

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España ha destinado al menos un 5% de la ayuda en África Occidental a control de fronteras e intereses comerciales

A new report from Entreculturas and Alboan:

“Casi 25 millones de euros de un total de 466 es la Ayuda Oficial al Desarrollo destinada a países de África Occidental cuestionada por contribuir más a intereses de la política de migraciones que al desarrollo humano y lucha contra la pobreza durante el periodo 2004-2008. Es una de las conclusiones del informe “Políticas de control migratorio y de cooperación al desarrollo entre España y África Occidental durante la ejecución del primer Plan África” presentado por Entreculturas y Alboan….”

Resumen: “En el marco de la coherencia de políticas a favor del desarrollo, y con el objetivo de investigar si la cooperación bilateral española está condicionada por intereses de control de los flujos migratorios, las ONG Alboan y Entreculturas presentan el informe Políticas de control migratorio y de cooperación al desarrollo entre España y África Occidental durante la ejecución del primer Plan África que analiza el destino de la ayuda oficial al desarrollo (AOD). España  durante los años 2004 – 2008 ha destinado 25 millones de euros de AOD a proyectos que tienen más relación con el control de fronteras e intereses comerciales que con el desarrollo humano y lucha contra la pobreza. Esto supone un 5,2% de del total de la ayuda de AOD bilateral en África Occidental.”

Click here (ES) or here (ES) for full report.

Click here (ES) for news article.

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Frontex 3rd Quarter Report

On 16 January the Frontex Risk Analysis Unit released its Report for the Third Quarter of 2010 (July-Sept.).  The report contains data, charts, and graphs detailing detections of migrants, asylum seekers, false document use, detections of facilitators, and other information.  The deployment of Frontex’s RABIT force to the Greek-Turkey border did not begin until 2 November 2010, so the effects of the RABIT deployment do not appear in the Third Quarter.

The Report notes that the “unprecedented peak in illegal border-crossings at the Greek land border with Turkey is the result of a shift from the sea to the land border” coupled with a “large increase in the absolute number of migrants” using Turkey as an EU entry point.  The Report states that there has been an eight-fold increase in the number Maghreb nationals detected at the Greek land border which “is thought to be the result of a displacement effect from the West Africa and Western Mediterranean routes.”

The Report also notes an increase in the number of detections on the Central and Western Mediterranean sea routes compared to Q2 which may be attributable to seasonal variations or “may be indicative of reorganized modi operandi in these areas in response to Frontex Joint Operations, more effective border controls and bilateral agreements implemented in 2008.”  See Figure 3 below.

Excerpts from the Report:

“Detections of illegal border-crossing”

“…  Fig. 2 [see below] shows quarterly detections at the land and sea borders of the EU since the beginning of 2008. The 30% increase in the number of detections between the previous and present quarters is comprised of a 60% increase at the sea borders (although from a lower base) and a 23% increase at the land borders. This means that the shift from sea to land borders has not continued to same extent as in the previous quarters.  Nevertheless in Q3 2010, there were some 29 000 detections of illegal border-crossing at the external land border of the EU, which constitutes 85% of all the detections at the EU level, and the highest number of detections at the land border since data collection began in early 2008….”

“Eastern Mediterranean route”

The Report observes that there has been a shift in illegal crossings from the Greece-Turkey maritime border to the Greece-Turkey land border and notes an increase in the number of nationals from Maghreb countries apprehended at the Greece-Turkey land border.  “This route [being taken by Maghreb nationals] is very indirect, but is thought to be the result of a displacement effect from the West Africa and Western Mediterranean routes….”

See Figure 4 below which shows that detections of illegal border crossers at the land border of Greece have exceeded detections at the sea border since Q1 of 2010.

“Central Mediterranean route”

“There were 2 157 detections of illegal border-crossing during Q3 2010. This is more than a three-fold increase compared to the previous quarter and a third higher than the same period last year. However despite this apparently large increase, detections still remain massively reduced compared to the peak of around 16 000 during the same period in 2008 (Fig. 3)….”

“The JO Hermes 2010 which was operational between June and October 2010, focused on illegal migratory flows departing from Algeria to the southern borders of the EU, specifically to Sardinia. In 2010, there were fewer detections than in previous years….”

“Departures from Libya also remained low. In June 2010, a new law was implemented to serve more severe punishments for facilitating illegal immigration. Ambassadors of the countries of origin were called into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tripoli to be informed about the consequences of the new law, which suggests that this may be a serious implementation.”

“Western Mediterranean route”

“In general, irregular immigration to southern Spain has decreased massively since the beginning of 2006. However, in Q3 2010 there were 2 200 detections of illegal border crossing in the Western Mediterranean, more than twice that of the previous quarter and around a third higher than the same period in 2009. There is growth in the number of detections of a wide range of African nationalities, nine of which more than doubled in number between Q2 and Q3 2010. The most detected nationalities were Algerian, Moroccan, Cameroonian and Guinean.”

“Western Africa route”

“The cooperation and bilateral agreements between Spain and the rest of the Western African countries (Mauritania, Senegal and Mali) are developing steadily, and are one of the main reasons for the decrease in arrivals, as is the presence of patrolling assets near the African coast.”

“According to data collected during JO Hera, the numbers of arrivals in the Canary Islands and detections in West Africa are very low compared to the same time last year. The main nationality and place of departure is from Morocco, to where migrants are returned within a few days.”

Click here for the 3rd Quarter 2010 Report.

Click here for the 2nd Quarter 2010 Report.

Click here for the 1st Quarter 2010 Report.

Click here for my previous post regarding the 2nd Quarter Report.





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Frontex Signs Cooperation Agreement with Cape Verde

2006 BBC Map of Frontex Deployment

Frontex and Cape Verde signed a “Working Arrangement” on 14 January.  According to the Frontex press release, “the arrangement aims at promoting the development of broad cooperation on operational and technical border security/management matters between the Agency and the competent authorities of Cape Verde, with a view to working toward sustainable partnership. The intended cooperation in areas related to border security and management include exchange of best practices and strategic information, training, capacity-building and collaboration on relevant technologies as well as participation in joint operations. Information sharing regarding people-smuggling and trafficking in human beings is also foreseen as part of the arrangement.”

Frontex has coordinated operations with Cape Verde for many years pursuant to the provisions of bi-lateral agreements between Spain and Cape Verde.  In a September 2010 interview with EurAsylum, Frontex Director Laitinen said:  “In West Africa, Senegal, Mauritania and Cape Verde have all been integrated into Frontex operations for many years with good results, always demonstrating a willingness and capacity to work for the same aims and goals as their European colleagues. Although we do not have formal working arrangements in place yet with these countries, we are able to work together on the basis of their existing bi-lateral provisions with Spain. This cooperation has had measurable results in reducing people smuggling via the Canary Islands and in preventing the loss of human lives at sea.”

Click here for Frontex Press Release.

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Frontex Map: Current Situation at the External Borders (JANUARY – SEPT 2010)

Frontex has released an updated Third Quarter map, January-September 2010, showing data regarding the situation at the external borders.   Note the information on the map pre-dates the deployment of the Frontex RABIT forces to the Greek border in October/November.  The data shows a 369% increase in detected irregular crossings along the Greek-Turkey land border over the first three quarters of 2010 compared to 2009.

The significant reduction in migrants detected at maritime borders continues:

  • Jan-Sept 2010:   11.163 (estimated preliminary data)
  • Jan-Sept 2009:   39.084
  • 71% reduction

Data by route:

Central Mediterranean route

  • Italy:
    • Jan-Sept 2010:     2.866
    • Jan-Sept 2009:    8.289
    • 65% reduction
  • Malta:
    • Jan-Sept 2010:    29
    • Jan-Sept 2009:    1.289
    • 98% reduction

Western Mediterranean route

Spain (land border):

  • Jan-Sept 2010:   1.089
  • Jan-Sept 2009:   1.369
  • 20% reduction

Spain (sea border excluding Canary Islands):

  • Jan-Sept 2010:   2.592
  • Jan-Sept 2009:   3.540
  • 27% reduction

West African route – Canary Islands (Spain):

  • Jan-Sept 2010:   16
  • Jan-Sept 2009:   2.212
  • 99% reduction

Eastern Mediterranean route

Greece (TUR land border):

  • Jan-Sept 2010:   31.021 (estimated preliminary data)
  • Jan-Sept 2009:   6.616
  • 369% increase

Greece (sea borders):

  • Jan-Sept 2010:   5.606 (estimated preliminary data)
  • Jan-Sept 2009:   23.735
  • 76% decrease

Click here to view Jan-Sept 2010 Map.

Click here for link to Jan-June 2010 Map.

Click here for link to 2009 Map.

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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:


  • 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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Filed under Aegean Sea, Eastern Atlantic, English Channel / La Manche, European Union, France, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Mauritania, Mediterranean, Morocco, Niger, Reports, Spain, Turkey, UNHCR

Frontex 2nd Quarter Report

The Frontex Risk Analysis Unit has released its Report for the Second Quarter of 2010 (April-June).  It is a 30+ page report containing data, charts, and graphs detailing entry routes, detections of migrants, detections of facilitators, and other information.

Excerpts from the Report’s Executive Summary:

Illegal migration pressure in the EU underwent a foreseeable seasonal increase during the second quarter of 2010, but is still clearly in a period of decline.…

The widespread decline in illegal migration pressure is probably due to two key factors. The first is decreased employment opportunities in the EU …  [and the] second is stricter migration and asylum policies in Member States, supported by much more effective collaboration with key third countries. For example, stricter migration and asylum policies in Norway and the UK have reduced the number of applications in these Member States…. Similarly, bilateral agreements between Italy and Libya, and between Spain and both Senegal and Mauritania, continue to control, for the time being at least, most illegal migration via the Central Mediterranean and West African routes, respectively.

Notwithstanding the general decline in detections, there were two emerging trends in the second quarter (Q2) of 2010: a continued and intensified shift from the Greek sea border to the Greek land border with Turkey….  In the beginning of 2009 illegal crossings of the EU external border between Greece and Turkey were divided roughly equally between the land and sea borders.  However, there has been a gradual and recently intensified shift to the land border. Reasons for this shift from sea to land borders are linked to the effectiveness of the Frontex activities in the Aegean Sea, combining surveillance activities with identification of illegal migrants, and opening the possibility of return to origin countries for detected migrants. ….

Main trends:

  • There is a general decline in illegal migration to the EU compared to a year ago;
  • For the time being, Turkey is the main transit country for illegal migration to the EU….;
  • In the Eastern Mediterranean route, there has been a gradual and recently intensified shift from the Greek-Turkish sea border to the land border, where 90% of detections were made….   At the Greek-Turkish land border around 60% of detections were made at the Border Control Unit (BCU) Orestiada which is under the biggest pressure. Air connections to Turkey are increasingly used by migrants from North Africa, who then illegally cross the EU external border with Turkey. As well as effective Frontex-coordinated joint operations at the sea border, potential explanations for this shift include cheaper facilitation costs, a lower risk crossing, lower detection rates…;
  • There were increased detections on the Central Mediterranean route, probably due to the recent re-organisation of criminal groups in response to effective bilateral agreements in the area. In June 2010 Libya expelled the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with whom 9,000 refugees and 4,000 asylum-seekers were registered and who, in the absence of protection, may now attempt entry to the EU.

Click here for the 2nd Quarter Report.

Click here for the 1st Quarter Report.


Filed under Aegean Sea, Analysis, Data / Stats, Eastern Atlantic, European Union, Frontex, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Mediterranean, News, Reports, Senegal, Spain, Turkey

Frontex: Current Situation at the External Borders (JANUARY – JUNE 2010)

Frontex posted this map to its web site this week.  According to Frontex, “[t]he map describes the current migratory situation at the external borders of the EU, including the main entry routes of irregular migration into the European Union.”

Note the significant reductions in migrants detected at all maritime borders:

  • Jan-June 2010 – 6.557
  • Jan-June 2009 – 26.398
  • Decrease of 75%

This 75% decrease over the first six months of 2010 compared with the first six months of 2009 is on top of the 43% reduction in migrants detected at maritime borders in 2009 relative to 2008:

  • 2009 – 48.700
  • 2008 – 84.900
  • Decrease of 43%

Note the further breakdown of the figures in the Legends of the two maps.  You probably need to click on the links to view higher quality images of the maps.

Click here for link to Jan-June 2010 Map.

Click here for link to 2009 Map.

Current Situation at the External Borders (January - June 2010)

Current Situation at the External Borders (January - June 2010)

Situation at the External Borders (2009)

Situation at the External Borders (2009)

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Filed under Aegean Sea, Data / Stats, Eastern Atlantic, European Union, Frontex, Mediterranean, News