Category Archives: Turkey

Frontex Quarterly Reports for 2011 Q1 and Q2

The Frontex Risk Analysis Unit (RAU) released its 2nd Quarter Report (April-June) for 2011 on 4 October.  The 1st Quarter Report (Jan-March 2011) was released on 21 July.  As always, while the information is a few months old, the reports contain a significant amount of information, graphs, and statistical tables regarding detections of illegal border crossings, irregular migration routes, detections of facilitators, detections of illegal stays, refusals of entry, asylum claims, and more.

Here are extensive excerpts from the Q2 Report:

“Executive summary

In Q2 2011, all Frontex irregular-migration indicators increased compared to the previous quarter. The most important indicator, detections of illegal border-crossing, increased to a level not seen since Q3 2008 and correspondingly asylum applications are now at nearly the highest level since data collection began. What’s more, migration pressure at the border from migrants attempting to enter and stay in the EU increased even more than EU-level figures suggest, as they are offset against extensive reductions in Albanian circular migration.

In 2011 there were major and extensive developments in irregular-migration pressure at the external border of the EU, resulting from two simultaneous but independent hotspots of illegal border-crossings: the first was seasonally increased activity at the Greek land border with Turkey, where a wide variety of migrants continued to be detected at very high levels. The second, and the undeniable hotspot for illegal border-crossing into the EU in Q2 2011, was in the Central Mediterranean, where vast numbers of sub-Saharan migrants landed in Italy and Malta mostly having been forcibly expelled from Libya. [***]

4. Main points Q2 2011

  • All irregular migration indicators increased relative to the previous quarter
  • Compared to a year ago, there were significant EU-level increases in several irregular migration indicators, such as detections of illegal border-crossing, clandestine entries, and refusals of entry. There were also increased asylum applications
  • Despite detections of Afghan migrants falling by a third compared to last year, they were still the most common nationality detected illegally crossing the EU external border. Most were previously resident as refugees in Iran
  • In contrast, detections of all the other highly-ranked nationalities (Tunisians, Nigerians, Pakistanis, Ghanaians) increased massively relative to the same period last year
  • In total there were over 40 000 detections of illegal border-crossings, a 50% increase compared to Q2 2010. These were the result of two simultaneous but independent routes of irregular migration: the Eastern Mediterranean and the Central Mediterranean routes:

1. In the Eastern Mediterranean:

– There were over 11 000 detections of illegal border-crossing, almost exclusively at the Greek land border with Turkey, which is comparable with the same period in 2010

– This flow currently attracts migrants from north Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia

– Groups of Dominicans were detected travelling to Turkey to enter the EU via the Greek land border

– Secondary movements are assumed from detections of (i) illegal border-crossings in the Western Balkans, (ii) false documents on flights to major EU airports from Turkey as well as Greece, and (iii) landings in southern Italy from Greece, Turkey and Albania

2. In the Central Mediterranean:

– Following a bilateral return-agreement between Italy and Tunisia, the massive influx of Tunisians to Lampedusa reported in the previous quarter decreased, but remained significant

– A very wide range of sub-Saharan Africans were detected on this route, some having been forcibly departed from Libya

– Italy reported more detections of illegal border-crossing in Sicily than ever before, a three-fold increase compared to the previous quarter; the increased flow was composed of migrants from Côte d’Ivoire as well as Tunisia and a range of other nationalities

– There were also increased detections of Egyptian migrants and facilitators landing in Sicily and Southern Italy from Egypt

– Italy and Malta reported huge increases in the number of asylum applications submitted by sub-Saharan African migrants. In Italy increases were particularly marked for Nigerians and Ghanaians

  • Following their new visa-free status, fewer Albanians were detected illegally crossing the EU border, and illegally staying within the EU (both mainly in Greece). Instead they were increasingly refused entry to Greece and they were also increasingly detected at the UK border, either as clandestine entry or using false documents
  • There was an increased flow of Georgian migrants towards Belarus (air and land), with increased illegal entries and asylum applications in Poland and Lithuania
  • In Q2, Libya was the most significant source of irregular migration to the EU. However, more recently the ability of the Gaddafi regime to forcibly expel its migrant population to the EU has become compromised; the situation remains dynamic and uncertain[.]

4.1 Detections of illegal border-crossing

At the EU level, in Q2 2011 there were more detections of illegal border-crossing since Q3 2008. The total of 41 245 detections during this reporting period is a 25% increase compared the previous quarter and a 53% increase compared to the same period last year (Fig. 2). Without question there were major and extensive developments in illegal migration pressure at the external border of the EU, resulting from two simultaneous but independent hotspots of illegal border-crossings. The first was increased activity at the Greek land border with Turkey, where a range of Asian, north African and sub-Saharan African migrants were increasingly detected at very high levels. The second, and the undisputed hotspot for illegal border-crossing into the EU in Q2 2011, was at the Italian islands in the Central Mediterranean, where vast numbers of Tunisians, Nigerians and other sub-Saharan migrants landed in small sea vessels, the majority of which in Q2 had been forcibly departed from Libya.

Figure 2 shows the evolution of the FRAN indicator 1A – detections of illegal border-crossing, and the proportion of detections between the land and sea borders of the EU per quarter since the beginning of 2008. In Q2 2011 there were more detections of illegal border-crossing since the peak of Q3 2008 nearly three years ago. Compared to a year ago, detections at the EU land border decreased by 42% to 13 742 in Q2 2011, almost exclusively due to fewer detections of Albanian nationals following their new visa-free status; elsewhere at the land border (including Greece) trends were roughly stable. In contrast, at the sea border detections increased nine-fold to some 27 500 detections (Fig. 2), the vast majority of which (95%) were in the central Mediterranean, forming the major development in irregular migration to the EU in 2011.

[***]

At the EU level, detections of illegal border-crossing increased by 53% compared to a year ago (Fig. 3). However, this level masks a lot of variation among Member States. First, and most importantly to the current situation, was a 4 200% increase in detections of almost exclusively African migrants in Italy. Related to this central Mediterranean flow, was a concurrent and massive increase in detections reported from Malta (from 0 to 710), and also increases further west into Spain (+61%). As a result, all these countries have seen increases in other indicators such as asylum applications of the most common nationalities (see relevant sections). [***]

Routes

As illustrated in Figure 4, for just the second time since records began in early 2008, in Q2 2011 detections of illegal border-crossings on the Central Mediterranean route, which comprises the blue borders of Italy and Malta, exceeded those reported from both the (i) Eastern Mediterranean route of the land and sea borders of Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus, and (ii) circular migration from Albania to Greece.

Without question, in Q2 2011 the single most important irregular-immigration route in terms of detections of illegal border-crossing was the Central Mediterranean route, where detections increased in the beginning of 2011 to previously unprecedented levels (Fig. 4). In the first quarter of 2011, and uniquely compared to previous surges of illegal immigration, this flow was restricted to a single nationality – Tunisian, most of whom were responding to civil unrest in their home country by leaving towards the Italian Island of Lampedusa. In response to this almost unmanageable influx of irregular migration at a single and isolated location, a bilateral return agreement was signed between Italy and Tunisia, which allowed for the accelerated repatriation of newly arrived individuals. Hence, during the current reporting period, the flow of Tunisian migrants fell from over 20 200 in the previous quarter to 4 300 in Q2 2011.

However, civil uprising commonly referred to as the Arab Spring, and its effects on migration in the area, was not limited to Tunisia. For example according to multiple sources, in next-door Libya, migrants from sub-Saharan countries were in Q2 2011 being coerced to move towards the EU by the Gaddafi regime in response to the NATO Operation Unified Protector which commenced on March 27 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. Thus, in Q2 2011, besides some continued departures from Tunisia, the flow in the central Mediterranean was composed of a single flow of large numbers migrants from sub-Saharan countries departing Libya in small vessels. [***]

4.1.1 Eastern Mediterranean route

Detections of illegal border-crossings on this route increased seasonally and in line with previous years, from 6 504 in Q1 2011 to 11 137 in Q2 2011, almost exclusively due to a massive increase in detections at the Greek land border with Turkey, where detections increased from 6 057 to 10 582. [***]

4.1.2 Central Mediterranean route

In Q2 2011 there were 26 167 detections of illegal border-crossings on the Central Mediterranean route, a 10% increase even compared to the ‘peak’ reported during the previous quarter, and evidently a massive increase compared to the negligible detections throughout all of 2010. The vast majority of detections on this route were reported from Italy (25 500) where detections increased by 13% even compared to the ‘influx’ of migrants reported during Q1 2011. In Italy, Central African, Tunisian, Nigerian and Ghanaian were the mostly commonly detected nationalities, 90% of which were detected in the Pelagic Islands (14 300), most notably Lampedusa (Fig. 7). However, in Q2 2011 there were also more detections of illegal border-crossing reported from Sicily (2 260) than ever before; this figure is nearly three times bigger than that reported in the previous quarter and more than twenty times higher than during the same period last year (100). Compared to the previous quarter, in Sicily there were more detections of migrants from a very wide range of countries such as Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia. There were also over 710 detections reported from Malta, which is a sustained peak from the previous quarter (820) and extremely high compared to the negligible detections throughout 2010. In Malta there were much fewer detections of Somalis and Eritreans but there were increased detections of Nigerians and migrants from Côte d’Ivoire. However, migrants from Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt often claim to originate from sub-Saharan Africa in an attempt to appear as refugees, a fact which may render such comparisons of nationalities somewhat misleading.

In the previous FRAN Quarterly (Q1 2011) it was reported a surge of irregular immigration (20 000 detections) on the Central Mediterranean route that was almost entirely restricted to a single nationality: Tunisian (Fig. 8). As a result of this influx, on 20 February the JO EPN-Hermes Extension 2011 commenced in the central Mediterranean, and a bilateral agreement was reached between Italy and Tunisia on 5 April 2011, which resulted in the strengthening of police surveillance along the Tunisian coast and regular repatriations of Tunisian nationals from Italy. For example, according to data collected under JO Hermes 2011, some 1 696 Tunisians were repatriated between 5 April and 23 August 2011. The repatriation agreement is probably an effective deterrent, combining as it does, returns and surveillance, however some migrants have reported their boats being spotted by military patrols that did not take any action. According to the FRAN data, in Q2 2011 some 4 286 Tunisian migrants were still detected illegally crossing the border into Italy. Although a massive reduction, this still represents a very large and significant flow of irregular migrants into the EU.

In comparison to the reduction in flow from Tunisia, in Q2 2011 there was a large increase in migrants who had departed from Libya (Fig. 9). The migrants departing from Libya were mostly nationals from countries in the Horn of Africa, the sub-Saharan and Central African regions and, to a lesser extent, Asia. According to intelligence collected during JO EPN-Hermes Extension 2011, most of these migrants had already been in Libya for over a year, originally heading to Tripoli via the traditional routes for sub-Saharan and Central African migrants. In Q2 2011, migrants tended to reach Italy on large fishing vessels that had departed directly from Tripoli or the nearby ports of Medina and Janzour. Most of these deported African nationals did not want to leave the country as their standard of living in Libya was high compared to their home countries. Several even stated that they would choose to return to Libya after the war. In Q2 2011 reports suggest that some migrants were instructed to reach embarkation areas on their own but had been caught by the military or police and then detained in camps or disused barracks until they were transported to embarkation areas and onto vessels bound for Italy. In each case the migrants were searched by the military before boarding and all their belongings were confiscated. According to reports, nationals of the sub-Saharan and Central African regions as well as from Horn of African countries have been recruited by the Libyan army/police to manage their compatriot migrants at gathering places or camps. In some cases the destination of vessels from Libya was Sicily, where the flow was characterised by waves of landings. For example there were around 11 landings on 13 May and 7 between 11 and 29 June, with the majority of boats arriving from Libya and Egypt. [***]

4.1.3 Western Mediterranean route

In Q1 2011 there were 1 569 detections of illegal border-crossings on this route to Southern Spain, which is nearly double compared to the previous quarter (890), and more than a 50% increase compared to a year ago (973). Some of this increase is due to better weather conditions at this time of year, but irregular migration pressure on this route is clearly higher than it was at the same time last year. [***]

In the longer-term, irregular immigration to southern Spain has been consistently decreasing since the beginning of 2006. Commonly cited reasons are Frontex Joint Operations in the area, effective bilateral agreements and more recently rising unemployment in Spain, particularly in sectors typified by migrants.* Nationalities traditionally associated with this route were Algerian, Moroccan and Ghanaian. [***]

4.1.4 Western African route

The cooperation and bilateral agreements between Spain and the rest of the Western African countries (Mauritania, Senegal and Mali) are developing steadily. They are one of the main reasons for the decrease in arrivals on this route over the last year, as are the presence of patrolling assets near the African coast. In Q4 2010 Frontex reported a slight increase in the number of detections of illegal border-crossing at the Canary Islands, from a maximum of 50 during each of the previous 4 quarters, to 113 in Q4 2010. This increased level of detections persisted into the first quarter of this year (154), exclusively due to Moroccan nationals (152) displaced after the dismantling of migrant camps near the dispute Western Saharan region. However, during the current reporting period detections on this route decreased massively to a negligible 24 detections. [***]”

Click here for 2011 Q2 Report.

Click here for Frontex Statement regarding 2011 Q2 Report.

Click here for 2011 Q1 Report.

Click here for Frontex Statement regarding 2011 Q1 Report.

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HRW Report: Frontex Exposes Migrants to Abusive Conditions in Greece

Human Rights Watch yesterday issued a report entitled “The EU’s Dirty Hands: Frontex Involvement in Ill-Treatment of Migrant Detainees in Greece” which “assesses Frontex’s role in and responsibility for exposing migrants to inhuman and degrading detention conditions during four months beginning late in 2010 when its first rapid border intervention team (RABIT) was apprehending migrants and taking them to police stations and migrant detention centers in Greece’s Evros region. … ‘Frontex has become a partner in exposing migrants to treatment that it knows is absolutely prohibited under human rights law,’ said Bill Frelick, Refugee Program director at Human Rights Watch. ‘To end this complicity in inhuman treatment, the EU needs to tighten the rules for Frontex operations and make sure that Frontex is held to account if it breaks the rules in Greece or anywhere else.’ … ‘It’s a disturbing contradiction that at the same time that the European Court of Human Rights was categorically ruling that sending migrants to detention in Greece violated their fundamental rights, Frontex, an EU executive agency, and border guards from EU states were knowingly sending them there,’ Frelick said. … ‘As new migration crises emerge in the Mediterranean basin and as Frontex’s responsibilities expand, there is an urgent need to shift EU asylum and migration policy from enforcement-first to protection-first.’ Frelick said. ‘This is not only legally required, but the EU, its agencies, and member states can and should respect and meet the EU’s own standards.’”

As the HRW report notes, the humanitarian crisis on the Greece-Turkey land border was many years in the making, but among the contributing factors to the increased flow of migrants seeking to enter the EU at this location, which by November 2010 accounted for 90% of the detected illegal crossings at EU borders, were the enhanced migration control measures in the Central Mediterranean and West Africa, specifically the bi-lateral push-back practice being implemented at the time by Italy and Libya and Spain’s bi-lateral agreements with West African countries.  Increased sea patrols along Greece’s maritime borders also contributed to the shifting of the flow to the land border.

Frontex issued a statement (or click here) responding to the HRW report in which it welcomed the report and said it was “satisfied to note that its comments on the original draft were taken on board. The report now highlights an issue, which we agree, is of great importance. We would like to recall that Frontex fully respects and strives for promoting Fundamental Rights in its border control operations which, however, do not include organisation of, and responsibility for, detention on the territory of the Member States, which remains their exclusive remit. … Frontex was receiving signals of concern from national officers deployed to the region. The Agency has been extremely concerned with the conditions at the detention centres – a point which we raised on several occasions both with the Greek authorities and with the European Commission. Nevertheless, we continue to stress that at the practical level abandoning emergency support operations such as RABIT 2011 is neither responsible, nor does it do anything to help the situation of irregular migrants on the ground….”

Here is Cecilia Malmström’s comment from her blog on the HRW report (translated from Swedish by Google translate):

“I also had a long meeting [on 21 September] with Human Rights Watch who has published a highly critical report on the asylum system in Greece . They argue that the EU agency Frontex, by its presence legitimizes the poor conditions at the border of Greece. We are well aware of the totally unacceptable situation at the reception centres in Greece and I am very frustrated that the situation is so slow to improve, especially in Evros. But probably the situation would have been even worse if Frontex had not been in place. We continue to put pressure on Greece and the new regulatory framework for Frontex, which I have proposed and was adopted by Parliament last week to strengthen its work on human rights significantly. The report will also be discussed in the FRONTEX Agency board meeting next week.”   (“Jag hade också ett långt möte med Human Rights Watch som har publicerat en mycket kritisk rapport om asylsystemet i Grekland . De menar att EU-organet Frontex genom sin närvaro legitimerar de usla förhållandena vid gränsen i Grekland. Vi är väl medvetna om den helt oacceptabla situationen vid mottagningscentren i Grekland och jag är väldigt frustrerad över att det går så långsamt att förbättra situationen särskilt i Evros. Men troligen hade situationen varit ännu värre om inte Frontex hade varit på plats. Vi fortsätter att sätta press på Grekland och i det nya regelverk för Frontex som jag har föreslagit och som Europaparlamentet antog förra veckan stärks arbetet med mänskliga rättigheter väsentligt. Rapporten skall också diskuteras på Frontex styrelsemöte nästa vecka.”)

Excerpts from the HRW Report:

Key Recommendations

To the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council

  • Amend the Frontex Regulation to make explicit, and thereby reinforce, the obligation not to expose migrants and asylum seekers to inhuman and degrading detention conditions.
  • Amend proposed Frontex Regulation Art. 26a to empower the Fundamental Rights Officer to refer Frontex to the Commission for investigation and where appropriate infringement proceedings in the event that the Frontex executive director fails to suspend operations despite persistent and serious violations of the Charter and/or in the event that members states and their agents persistently violate the Charter during Frontex operations.

To Participating European States 

  • Suspend any participation in Frontex operations that fail to adhere to binding international human rights standards.
  • Instruct border guards deployed on Frontex missions on their obligations under international law. Ensure that border guards are trained and conversant regarding all rules and standards pertaining to the transfer and treatment of detainees.

To the Frontex Management Board

  • Suspend the deployment of EU border guards to Greece unless migrant detainees can be transferred to facilities elsewhere in Greece (or outside of Greece) that meet EU and international standards or until the conditions of detention in the Evros region where migrants are currently detained are improved and no longer violate European and international standards.
  • Intervene with Greek officials and monitor compliance to ensure that migrants apprehended by guest guards are transferred to detention facilities that comply with European and international standards.
  • Conduct thorough assessments of the risk that human rights violations may occur before engaging in joint operations or deploying RABIT forces.

To Greece

  • Implement the recently adopted asylum reform package as fully and as quickly as possible.
  • Ensure access to asylum procedures at the border and in the border region.
  • Reduce overcrowding by using alternative facilities and alternatives to detention as much as possible.
  • Immediately improve detention conditions, and immediately create open reception centers for asylum seekers and members of vulnerable groups, such as children.”

Click here for HRW Report.

Click here for HRW Press Release.

Click here or here for Frontex response.

Click here (EN) and here (EN) and here (FR) for articles.

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NATO Warship Rescues 100 Migrants from Boat Off Libya; Where Will Migrants Be Disembarked?

A Spanish Navy frigate, the Almirante Juan de Borbón, participating in NATO’s Operation Unified Protector, on Sunday rescued approximately 100 migrants who were in a disabled boat that reportedly left Zawiyah, Libya several days ago.  The migrants have been without food and water for at least two days.  Among the rescued persons are pregnant women and children.

It is not clear where the migrants will now be taken.  Some reports indicate that the Spanish Defence Ministry is hoping that Tunisia, Malta, or Italy will receive the migrants.  NATO is reportedly seeking a country to accept the migrants.  The migrants are reportedly from Libya, Tunisia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Hopefully the migrants will be disembarked quickly (assuming it has not already happened) in an appropriate location where any claims for international protection can be properly considered.  It would be problematic if the migrants are required to remain on the Spanish warship for an extended period and if nearby countries refuse to permit the disembarkation.

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

Click here and here for Spanish Defence Ministry and Navy press statements.  (ES)

These photos were released by the Ministerio de Defensa de España.

Photo Credit: Ministerio de Defensa de España (mde.es)

Photo Credit: Ministerio de Defensa de España (mde.es)

 

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Italy Surpasses Greek-Turkish Border as Main Entry Point to EU for Irregular Migrants

Frontex Deputy Executive Director Gil Arias announced today at a press conference that during the first quarter of 2011 most irregular migrants have entered the EU through Italy, primarily at Lampedusa.  In 2010 the Greek-Turkish border was the main entry point for irregular migrants.

A total of 32,906 irregular migrants were detected at the EU borders during the 1st Quarter 2011 compared with a total of 14,857 during the 1st Quarter of 2010.  Of the 32,906, 22,000 entered through Italy during the 1st Quarter, mostly at or around Lampedusa, and 7,200 entered the EU through Greece.

So far this year, January 1 to present, approximately 41,000 irregular migrants have entered the EU in the area around Lampedusa and other nearby islands.

Click here (EN), here (EN), here (IT), and here (IT) for articles.

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Interview with Frontex Spokesperson Michal Parzyszek

Frontex spokesperson Michal Parzyszek was interviewed by the Sofia News Agency on 27 May.  Here are some excerpts:

Current Frontex sea operations: “Operation Hera, which is in the territorial waters of Senegal and Mauritania; Operation Indalo in Spanish waters; Operation Hermes in Italian waters; Operation Aeneas in Italian waters; Operation Poseidon in Greek waters.”

Frontex operations in Italy: “The help on part of Frontex in the southern waters, including in Italy, is more on providing risk analysis – to give a better idea of what is going on, and what can happen.  …  So in terms of [Frontez] assets, there are just two airplanes and two boats which are deployed there under Frontex in the waters south of Sardinia and south of Lampedusa.  …  There are 10-15 Frontex experts that are identifying the migrants once they reach the reception facilities there. They are deployed to Caltanissetta, Catania, Trapani, Crotone, and Bari….”

Arrivals to Lampedusa:  “It varies every day. You have days when you have no arrivals, and then suddenly you have 1 000 people arriving to Lampedusa. Since the start of the operation on February 20, 2011, there have been almost 31 000 people that arrived to Lampedusa.”

Irregular migrants prefer entering Greece rather than Bulgaria: “… In the case of Greece, a readmission agreement with Turkey doesn’t truly work; in the case of Bulgaria, the cooperation with Turkey is much better so the Turkish authorities – if they receive proper documentation and justification – they accept people back.  This is a very important element – potential migrants know that if they cross the border between Turkey and Bulgaria, there is high probability that they will be sent back to Turkey so they don’t choose that way….”

(HT to Euro-Police.)

Click here for full interview.

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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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Turkey Considers Use of “Safe Havens” Within Syrian Territory If Faced With Massive Influx of Asylum Seekers

Turkey is reportedly preparing contingency plans for a possible worsening of conditions within Syria and an influx of Syrian refugees.  According to the Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey wants to avoid a repeat of the situation it faced when hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fled Iraq for Turkey in the 1990s.  250 Syrians crossed into Turkey last Friday and are seeking asylum.

“Turkey is considering establishing safe havens on the Syrian side of the border to cope with a potential massive influx of refugees from the unrest-hit neighboring country, the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review has learned. … This plan envisions the establishment of some safe havens on the Syrian side of the border whose security and humanitarian needs would be provided by Turkey. This would keep Turkey from permanently hosting tens of thousands of people who could return to their homes after the tension in Syria is defused. … As a sovereign state, Syria would likely oppose the idea of forming such safe havens, which would be protected by Turkish troops, within its territory. ‘Unless the United Nations Security Council demands such interventions, this move could be interpreted as an attempt at occupation,’ an expert on international migration told the Daily News on Sunday….”

(HT to UNHCR @refugees)

Click here for full article.

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Update from Today’s LIBE Committee’s Discussions re Central Mediterranean

The Hungarian Presidency and LIBE have released summaries regarding today’s LIBE Committee meeting.  Here are some points from the two summaries:

  • Commissioner Malmström emphasized that, so far, migrants had not started coming to Europe from Libya, but the EU had to prepare for this possibility;
  • Frontex Director Laitinen made it clear that the region should not be seen as a whole, but as separate countries with separate problems;
  • Laitinen underlined that from Tunisia only economic migration could be seen so far, but for the moment, as Tunisian authorities have regained control of the migration flow, this had stopped, as well. Since 26 February, no migrants had arrived to Lampedusa.
  • Laitinen also stressed that Italy was not the only entry point for migrants from North-Africa. Greece should not be forgotten in this context.  Low-cost flights from North-Africa to Istanbul were operating, bringing many migrants who then were trying to enter the Schengen area through the Greek-Turkish border;
  • Laitinen said that the possibility of extending Hermes to address Malta’s needs was being examined. More money and staff might be needed if the current emergency persists;
  • MEPs urged Member States to accelerate work on the “asylum package” and stressed the need for solidarity as regards relocating migrants;
  • Malmström said that most of the current migration from Tunisia to Lampedusa appears to be for economic reasons;
  • Malmström said that “Frontex and Member States may not push away people in need of international protection”;
  • MEP Simon Busuttil (EPP, MT) said the three main priorities in Libya are halting violence, sending humanitarian aid and planning for a possible immigration emergency. “What if a mass influx turns into Europe, is there a plan in the drawer to be pull out if this happens?” “Member States show no appetite for relocation.”

Click here and here for the two articles.

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JHA Council Meets 24-25 Feb – Meeting Topics Include North African Migrants, EASO, Greek Asylum Reform, EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement, and Frontex 2011 Work Programme

The two day JHA Council meeting begins today in Brussels.  According to the Background Note, “ministers will discuss the major influx of migrants from Northern Africa, particularly from Tunisia, to Southern EU member states, especially Italy. They will also look at the state of play on three other important internal border and migration issues:  the implementation of Greece’s National Action Plan on Migration Management and Asylum Reform; [and] the EU-Turkey readmission agreement. In this context, the Communication will present an evaluation and future strategy for EU readmission agreements;…  Ministers will then have exchange of views with the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as well as with the Executive Director of the recently established European Asylum Support Office (EASO).”  Additionally, “FRONTEX will present to the committee its work programme for 2011.”

Click here for Background Note and here for Agenda.

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Video of Yesterday’s EP Plenary Session Addressing Common EU Asylum System and the Italian Migration Emergency

Of possible interest to a few, here are two links to the portions of yesterday’s plenary session of the European Parliament where the Common EU Asylum System and the migration emergency in Italy were discussed by a few MEPs and Commissioner Malmström.  As you can see from my screen shot below of the debate regarding the migration emergency, very few MEPs were in attendance.

Click here (Common EU Asylum System) and here (migration emergency) for link to the BBC’s Democracy Live site with the video.

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COE Seminar: Human rights dimensions of migration in Europe (Istanbul, 17-18 Feb)

Thomas Hammarberg, COE Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Turkish Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers are holding a migration and human rights seminar in Istanbul, 17-18 February.  From the Commissioner’s web site:  The seminar “aims to exchange views on the most important discrepancies between European migration laws and practices and human rights standards, as well as on optimal ways to provide assistance to states in reflecting on and revisiting their migration policies.”

Three general topics will be addressed: Human rights challenges of migration in Europe, Unaccompanied migrant children, and Smuggling of migrants.  Scheduled speakers and participants include:

  • Karim Atassi, UNHCR Deputy Representative to Turkey;
  • Tina Acketoft, PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population;
  • Emily Logan, Irish Ombudsman for Children;
  • Rebecca O’Donnell, Save the Children, Brussels;
  • Elisabet Fura, ECtHR Judge;
  • Martin Fowke, Unit on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants, UNODC;
  • Richard Ares Baumgartner, Frontex Senior External Relations Officer ;
  • Professor Dr. Nuray Ekşi, Chair of Private International Law Department at the Law Faculty of ĺstanbul Kültür University;
  • Professor Theodora Kostakopoulou;

Click here for draft programme.

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COE CPT Completes Ad Hoc Mission to Greece

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) released a statement yesterday that it had completed a one week (20-27 Jan.) ad hoc mission to Greece “to assess the concrete steps taken by the Greek authorities to implement long-standing recommendations, in particular those contained in the reports on the CPT’s visits of September 2005, February 2007, September 2008 and September 2009.   In the course of the visit, the CPT’s delegation examined the treatment and conditions of detention of migrants held in aliens detention centres and in police and border guard stations, particularly in the Attica and Evros regions….”  The CPT report to the Greek government is scheduled to be delivered in March 2011.

Among the detention centres visited by the CPT were several Border Guard stations in Evros and the “Filakio Special holding facility for illegal immigrants” where many of persons apprehended along the land border of Greece and Turkey are being detained in deplorable conditions.  Doctors Without Borders released a press statement last week describing the conditions at the Greek detention centres in Evros as unbearable, inhumane, and having reached an emergency situation.

Click here for CPT Press Release.

Click here for Doctors Without Borders Press Release.

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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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Greece requests 2d extension of Frontex RABIT deployment due to events in Egypt

Kathimerini reported on 1 February that Greece requested an additional extension of the Frontex RABIT deployment in Greece due to the situation in Egypt and a fear that there may be a surge in migration towards Greece.  The current RABIT deployment is scheduled to end on 3 March.  The deployment was originally scheduled to end in November 2010 and was extended until March 2011.  The Kathimerini article said that Frontex’s initial informal response to the requested extension was positive.

Click here (EL) and here (EN) for articles.

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Greece May Use Dutch “Ships” to Detain Migrants

Following its announcement that it was considering building a wall along portions of its land border with Turkey, Greek officials announced earlier this month that they are considering the acquisition of two floating migrant detention centres from the Netherlands.  The two vessels would be leased and would have the capacity to hold approximately 1000 persons.  Greece reportedly was considering using passenger ships to detain migrants, but decided that floating detention centres used by Dutch authorities in Rotterdam are a better option.  The floating detention centres would be used in conjunction with prefabricated detention facilities that are being constructed on land to detain the large numbers of migrants being detained by Greek and Frontex authorities along the Greek-Turkish land border.

Click here and here for articles. (EL)  (Read with Google translate)

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