Category Archives: UK

Statewatch Analysis: The Arab Spring and the death toll in the Mediterranean: the true face of Fortress Europe

Statewatch released an Analysis by Marie Martin entitled “The Arab Spring and the death toll in the Mediterranean: the true face of Fortress Europe.”

Excerpt: “Throughout the uprisings in North Africa, the EU has maintained a discourse of double standards: supporting calls for freedom and democracy but greeting resulting population displacement with hostility. This has contributed to a record number of people dying at Europe’s borders during the first seven months of 2011. It is all about numbers when it comes to migration; about how large a flow came in, how many people asked for protection and how many applicants were “failed” or “rejected.” Numbers quantify the “threat” (e.g. the “invasion” of irregular migrants) and serve as a bargaining tool with third countries (allowing the acceptance of the externalisation of border controls in exchange for facilitating the mobility of a specific number of nationals). Numbers demonstrate whether the target of “x” thousands of annual deportations of irregular migrants is met. Numbers released by public authorities are meant to justify the need for migration policies and to show how efficiently they are implemented. Yet hidden numbers question the legitimacy of these policies – the death toll of people dying at Europe’s borders is such an example. For several years, Gabriele del Grande has monitored the situation at the EU’s external borders and kept a record of the number of deaths occurring in the context of irregular bordercrossings [2] on the Fortress Europe website. According to the website’s latest update, the EU’s borders have never been so “murderous” [3]: there were 1,931 deaths during the first seven months of 2011. [4] In 2008, a petition was brought before the European Parliament by the ProAsyl organisation, denouncing the  deathtrap at the EU’s borders” [5]: it was a particularly “murderous” year, with 1,500 deaths. It is terrifying to realise that this toll was exceeded in the first seven months of 2011. …”

Click here for Analysis.

1 Comment

Filed under Algeria, Analysis, Egypt, European Union, France, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, UK

Transatlantic Trends: Immigration Survey 2011 / US and European Public Opinion

Transatlantic Trends has released a public opinion survey: “The results of the 2011 Transatlantic Trends: Immigration survey captures U.S. and European public opinion on a range of immigration and integration issues.  The most important highlights of this year’s survey show

  • 1) there is a remarkable stability of general immigration opinions over time,
  • 2) the public supports European Union burden-sharing on migration resulting from the Arab Spring and increasingly favors European responsibility for setting immigrant admissions numbers, and
  • 3) the public tends to favor highly educated immigrants but still prefers immigrants with a job offer.

Now in its fourth year, Transatlantic Trends: Immigration (TTI) measures public opinion on immigration and integration issues on both sides of the Atlantic. The countries included in the 2011 version of the survey were the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain…. [***]

Key Findings of the Survey – General Perceptions – Stability in Public Opinion: Basic public stances on immigration have not changed notably in the last year, even in Europe where the perceived threat of movement resulting from the Arab Spring was a central issue. Immigration remained a second order concern for the public, following the economy and unemployment. Perceptions of immigration as a problem or opportunity have changed little since 2008, the first year of the survey. In 2011, 52% of Europeans and 53% of Americans polled saw immigration as more of a problem than an opportunity, with the strongest pessimism in the United Kingdom (68%)…. [***]

Forced Migration, the Arab Spring, and Burden-sharing – Sympathy for Forced Migration for Various Reasons. The public was sympathetic to the plight of migrants forced to flee their homes for a number of reasons: to avoid persecution, armed conflict, and natural disaster. Fewer but still a majority of respondents were also in favor of accepting migrants seeking to avoid poverty. Respondents in Spain (76%), Italy (68%), and the United States (64%) were the most supportive of those fleeing poor economic conditions, compared to a European average of 58%.

Key Findings of the Survey – Forced Migration, the Arab Spring, and Burden-Sharing – Dealing with the Arab Spring:  Europeans in general were very open to helping countries in North Africa and the Middle East experiencing the turmoil and aftermath of the Arab Spring with either trade (84% in favor) or development aid (79% in favor), though they were wary of opening their labor markets to migrants from the region (47% in favor) and would prefer that migrants who were admitted stay only temporarily. Eighty percent of European respondents supported European burden-sharing to cope with the flows emanating from the region….[***]”

Click here for TTI Key Findings statement.

Click here for TTI Report.

Click here for TTI Topline Data.

1 Comment

Filed under Analysis, Data / Stats, European Union, France, Germany, Italy, News, Reports, Spain, UK, United States

Follow-Up Report and Analysis Regarding Failure to Rescue Disabled Migrant Boat Resulting in 61 Deaths

UNHCR today released more information from three Ethiopian survivors of the migrant boat that left Tripoli on 25 March with 72 passengers and which, after becoming disabled and running out of food and water, washed ashore in Libya over two weeks later with only nine survivors.

Additionally, the Bruxelles2 blog in a recent post, “Un navire de réfugiés non secouru ? Retour sur un drame non élucidé,” has provided detailed analysis regarding the possible identities of the helicopter and warships that failed to render assistance to the migrant boat after it had become disabled.  (See more on this below.)

From UNHCR’s statement:

“[One surviving] refugee said that military vessels twice passed their boat without stopping, and that a military helicopter dropped food and water onto the boat at some point during the journey. The first boat refused their request to board. The second only took photos, he said. The man was not able to identify where the vessels came from.

UNHCR staff met with the three in Shousha camp in Tunisia. One spoke Arabic, while the others spoke Oromo. UNHCR interviewed the Arabic speaker. He said that they paid smugglers US$800 to make the journey. The passengers were expected to operate the boat on their own.

According to the refugee, when water ran out people drank sea water and their own urine. They ate toothpaste. One by one people started to die. He said that they waited for a day or two before dropping the bodies into the sea. There were 20 women and two small children on board. A woman with a two-year-old boy died three days before he died. The refugee described the anguish of the boy after his mother’s death.

After arrival on a beach near Zliten, between Tripoli and the Tunisian border, a woman died on the beach from exhaustion. The remaining 10 men walked to the town of Zliten where they were arrested by the Libyan police. They were taken to a hospital and then to a prison where they were given some water, milk and dates. After two days another survivor died.

After begging jail staff to take the remaining survivors back to hospital, they were taken to a hospital in al-Khums city. Doctors and nurses were said to have given the group water and told them to leave. They were returned to the prison and then taken to Twesha jail near Tripoli. Finally Ethiopian friends in Tripoli paid the prison US$900 to release the men. UNHCR is now providing them with assistance in Tunisia.”

Bruxelles2 notes that the survivors’ reports that the helicopter that dropped supplies had an “Army” marking on it would tend to suggest that the helicopter did not belong to France (“Marine”), Italy (“Marina”), the U.S. Navy (“Navy”), or the Royal Navy (“UK Navy”).  Bruxelles2 believes it is plausible that an “army” helicopter belonging to the US or UK could have been operating in the area, but US Army helicopters tend to be marked “United States.”  According to Bruxelles2 some British army helicopters do carry the “Army” marking.  (One other possibility I would note is that the survivors could simply be mistaken about the marking – they recall clearly that a military helicopter hovered over them and dropped supplies, but incorrectly remember, misread, or assumed that the marking on the side of the helicopter said “Army”.)

Bruxelles2 also suggests that there are other warships that might appear to be an aircraft carrier, especially when viewed from a small migrant boat.  Bruxelles2 points in particular to “the USS Kearsarge (LHD3), [an] amphibious ship [that] regularly hosts (and welcomed during the operations – which the U.S. Navy confirms) AV-8B Harrier vertical takeoff [aircraft].”

Bruxelles2 also notes that the time period when the migrant boat was disabled and drifting was a period when there was a shifting of commands for the multiple European and US naval and air forces operating off Libya.  NATO took command of the maritime embargo on 23 March; the no fly zone and the air attacks were initially under the control of an ad hoc coalition (France, UK, USA, Canada, Belgium, Denmark); full command did not shift to NATO until 31 March and even then it took several days for the transfers of command to occur; and some military vessels continued (and continue to this day) to operate under independent national command.

In short, NATO may be fully correct when it says that a vessel under its command during the time period in question did not encounter the disabled migrant boat.  Further investigation into responsibility is needed.

Click here for UNHCR statement.

Click here for Bruxelles2 post. (FR)

Leave a comment

Filed under Analysis, France, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, UK, United States

Royal Navy Destroys Mine Outside Misrata Harbour

A Royal Navy mine counter-measures vessel, the HMS Brocklesby, last week located and destroyed a mine containing 100 kg of high explosives outside of the Misrata harbour.

Click here for Royal Navy press statement.

Leave a comment

Filed under Libya, Mediterranean, News, UK

Annual number of asylum applications in select countries, 2004-2009

From Migration Policy Institute’s MPI Data Hub: annual number of asylum applications in select countries.  I copied the data for years 2004-2009 below.  Click here for the data for the years 1980-2009, footnotes, and source information.

Countries of destination 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Australia 3,201 3,204 3,515 3,980 4,771 6,170
Austria 24,634 22,461 13,349 11,921 12,841 15,830
Belgium 15,357 15,957 11,587 11,114 12,252 17,190
Canada 25,750 20,786 22,868 27,865 34,800 33,250
Denmark 3,235 2,260 1,918 1,852 2,360 3,750
Finland 3,861 3,574 2,324 1,505 4,016 5,910
France 58,545 49,733 30,748 29,387 35,404 41,980
Germany 35,613 28,914 21,029 19,164 22,085 27,650
Greece 4,469 9,050 12,267 25,113 19,884 15,930
Ireland 4,765 4,325 4,315 3,985 3,866 2,690
Italy 9,722 9,548 10,348 14,057 30,324 17,600
Netherlands 9,782 12,347 14,465 7,102 13,399 14,910
Norway 7,945 5,402 5,320 6,528 14,431 17,230
Spain 5,535 5,254 5,297 7,662 4,517 3,000
Sweden 23,161 17,530 24,322 36,373 24,353 24,190
United Kingdom 40,620 30,815 28,335 27,880 31,315 29,840
United States 44,972 39,240 41,101 40,449 39,362 38,968

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, Belgium, Data / Stats, Denmark, European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK, United States

WikiLeaks 2009 US Cable: EU-Libya Framework Agreement Hangs on ICC, Trade, Migration

This cable provides the views of the US Embassy in Tripoli as of July 2009 regarding the EU-Libya Framework Agreement negotiations.  A round of EU-Libya negotiations took place on 13-14 July 2009.  The cable was written by the US Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires at the time, Joan Polaschik, and is titled:  “EU FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT HANGS ON ICC, TRADE, MIGRATION.”

According to the cable, Libyan negotiator Mohammed Siala “railed against language stating that the [EU and Libya] agreed to discuss crimes against humanity in an international context, angrily stating that any mention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or text similar to that of the Rome Statute would cause a total breakdown of the framework negotiations.”  Negotiations on migration issues however went more smoothly according to the cable: “the chief EC negotiator told EU diplomats that the negotiations [on migration] were a ‘step forward’ and that more progress was made than expected with no major objections from either side on the draft as presented….”

Excerpts from the cable:

“1.(C/NF) Summary: The latest round of EU-Libya Framework Agreement negotiations hit snags over sensitive political issues and were slowed by Libya’s inefficient technical bureaucracy. The Libyans denounced the International Criminal Court and decreed that any language similar to the Rome Statute was off limits. Trade talks stalled when the Libyans announced that they had not examined the draft paper (presented in early 2009) and were unable to produce trade statistics from 2007/2008 or provide data on the Libyan tariff system. Talks on migration went more smoothly than expected, but significant issues remain before the agreement could be given to member states for approval. EU diplomats in Tripoli are skeptical that the EC will be able to get an agreement that can be implemented by both sides within the remaining two rounds of talks….


2.(C/NF) Representatives of the European Commission (EC) based in Brussels conducted the latest round of Framework Agreement negotiations July 13-14 in Tripoli with sessions focused on political dialogue, trade and commerce, and migration. Diplomats from EU member states — participating as observers to the EC-Libya negotiations — said that discussions on the political framework were particularly heated. Libyan negotiator Mohammed Siala railed against language stating that the two parties agreed to discuss crimes against humanity in an international context, angrily stating that any mention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or text similar to that of the Rome Statute would cause a total breakdown of the framework negotiations. According to the UK embassy, nothing in the political dialogue paper is binding on either party and is merely agenda-setting for future discussions. EC negotiators were not/not pushing for Libya to accede to the ICC….


4.(C) … On migration, the chief EC negotiator told EU diplomats that the negotiations were a “step forward” and that more progress was made than expected with no major objections from either side on the draft as presented….”

Click here or here for the full Cable.

Click here for a post regarding an earlier US cable discussing the state of EU-Libya framework negotiations in 2008.

Leave a comment

Filed under European Union, Libya, Mediterranean, News, UK, United States

DIIS Seminar on Political Asylum in the 21st Century (19 October, Copenhagen)

DIIS (Danish Institute for International Studies) is holding a seminar on 19 October: Political Asylum in the 21st Century.

The seminar will be conducted by Carol Bohmer, Visiting Associate Professor at the Department of Government at Dartmouth, and Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen, DIIS Project Researcher, external lecturer in international refugee law at the University of Copenhagen, and author of the forthcoming book entitled “Access to Asylum: International Refugee Law and the Globalisation of Migration Control” (April 2011).

Description: Few issues have remained as politicized as asylum in the past few decades. Most nations recognize the moral and legal obligation to accept people fleeing from persecution, but political asylum applicants in the twenty-first century face restrictive policies and cumbersome procedures. Competing discourses of protection and control are predominant in present day asylum rhetoric. Governments need to address the conflicting needs of the state to protect their citizens from terrorists and the influx of hordes of unwelcome economic migrants, while at the same time adhering to their legal, moral and treaty obligations to provide safe haven for those fleeing persecution. Satisfying these conflicting goals at the same time may ultimately prove impossible, yet states continue to struggle to find ways to appear to meet both. How do they do it?  This seminar will attempt to answer that question and illustrate the sometimes absurd effects of this process. The seminar will further compare different policy approaches, notably the cases of the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Denmark.

Participation is free of charge, but registration is required. Register online no later than Monday, 18 October 2010 at 12.00 noon.

Click here for more information.

1 Comment

Filed under Colloques / Conferences, Denmark, European Union, UK, United States

MEPs Lambert and Iacolino on CEAS

MEP Jean Lambert (Green – UK) writes in New Europe in regard to the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) that  the Greens “want to see a fair and efficient system which will deliver consistent and high quality decisions for those in need of protection. Amongst the major challenges at present are the inconsistencies across the EU in both the practical delivery of Member State’s asylum systems and the outcomes of their decisions. It would be fair to refer to the ‘European Asylum lottery’ when faced with statistics on the divergences in protection rates between Member States – 73.2 % of Iraqi applicants were granted subsidiary protection at first instance in Sweden in the first quarter of 2007 compared with 0% in Greece.”

Click here for full article.

MEP Salvatore Iacolino, Vice Chair of LIBE, (Christian Democrat – Italy) writes “we must ensure, on the one hand, access to efficient and streamlined procedures for persons seeking international protection, and, on the other, consistent application of rules in order to build mutual trust between Member States.  We cannot just think of a national dimension for the strategies for immigration and asylum, but it is essential to create a mechanism for equitable sharing of responsibilities.”

Click here for full article.

1 Comment

Filed under European Union, Italy, News, UK

Daily Mail: from Kabul to the UK by way of Samos

The Daily Mail has a special report detailing the experiences and routes of irregular Afghan migrants traveling from Afghanistan to the UK by way of Turkey and Greece.

Click here for the full article.

Leave a comment

Filed under Aegean Sea, Greece, News, UK

Oxford Refugee Studies Centre: International Summer School in Forced Migration

International Summer School in Forced Migration: 5 – 23 July 2010

The Refugee Studies Centre’s International Summer School fosters dialogue between academics, practitioners and policymakers working to improve the situation of refugees and other forced migrants. It provides the time and space for them to reflect on their experiences and to think critically about some of the aims and assumptions underlying their work.

Who is the summer school for?

Policy makers and practitioners involved with humanitarian assistance and policy making for forced migrants. Participants typically include host government officials, intergovernmental and non-governmental agency personnel engaged in planning, administering and co-ordinating assistance.

Researchers specialising in the study of forced migration.

Click here for link.

Leave a comment

Filed under General, UK

Thatcher Wanted to Buy Island for Vietnamese Boat People in 1979

Documents released under the UK’s 30 year rule (requiring many Government documents to be turned over to the National Archives after 30 years) reveal that former PM Margaret Thatcher considered the possibility of buying an Indonesian or Philippine island not only for the staging and screening of Vietnamese boat people, but also as a place of resettlement for the Vietnamese.

Click here, here, and here for articles.

Leave a comment

Filed under News, Pacific Ocean, UK, Vietnam

Conference: ‘Explaining the Stockholm Programme: Changes and novelties on Immigration and Criminal Justice Cooperation and importance for the UK’ (29 Jan 2010)

“The Centre of European Law together with the generous support of the Representation of the European Commission in the UK are organising a major conference on the Stockholm Programme entitled ‘Explaining the Stockholm programme: Changes and novelties on Immigration and Criminal Justice Cooperation and importance for the United Kingdom.’

By December 2009, the European Council will have adopted the new multiannual programme on Justice and Home Affairs, better known as the Stockholm programme. This programme will have substituted the previous Hague programme adopted on 5 November 2004, which was itself a continuation of the Tampere programme adopted in 1999. The new Stockholm programme will have been adopted under the current Swedish Presidency.

The objective of this conference is to inform academics, practitioners, policy makers and the civil society in general about the Stockholm Programme. It will explore its strengths and weaknesses, particularly with regards to immigration and criminal justice co-operation, and on the role that the United Kingdom will play in these areas at a European level in the future.”

For further details of the programme click here.

“Friday 29 January 2010

Great Hall, Strand Campus, King’s College London 9.30 (registration from 9.00) Free of charge, all welcome

To Register please contact Christine Copping, Centre Manager, Centre of European Law

The conference will be accredited for CPD with the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Colloques / Conferences, European Union, UK

MEP and British National Party Leader Griffin: EU Should Sink Immigrant Boats (News)

In an interview with the program “BBC Parliament’s The Record Europe”, Nick Griffin, the leader of the extremist right-wing British National Party, and a recently elected MEP from North-West England, said:

“If there’s measures to set up some kind of force or to help, say the Italians, set up a force which actually blocks the Mediterranean then we’d support that. But the only measure, sooner or later, which is going to stop immigration and stop large numbers of sub-Saharan Africans dying on the way to get over here is to get very tough with those coming over. Frankly, they need to sink several of those boats.”

In a subsequent interview with “BNP News” after the BBC interview, Griffin said sinking migrant boats would save lives:

“Thousands of Africans drown every year in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean in their rickety unseaworthy boats. They undertake this hazardous journey because they are convinced that if they get to Europe, they will be allowed in. If they get the message very clearly that they will under no circumstances be allowed in, they will stop coming. Ultimately, it is the only solution to this ongoing problem.”

Click here for the BBC article and link to the BBC interview.

Click here for a link to the BNP website and the “BNP News” interview.

1 Comment

Filed under Mediterranean, News, UK

UK-French Summit: Declaration on immigration (Communiqués)

Following a bi-lateral meeting, the UK and French governments have released a declaration regarding actions to be taken in regard to migrants seeking to enter the UK from the Channel and North Sea coast of France.

Excerpts from the Declaration:

“At bilateral level, the French and British governments undertake to: Systematise operational co-ordination in action against illegal immigration networks, especially by exchanging information, conducting joint cross-channel police operations, and working together upstream in Europe and countries of source and transit.  A joint intelligence centre charged with the exchange and operational use of information and intelligence, and the co-ordination of its tasking, will be established in Kent (United Kingdom) with a view to becoming operational by August 2009. …

“At European level, the French and British governments will act together to: … Strengthen the operational role of Frontex, in the spirit of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, especially through developing operational co-operation between Frontex and third countries, establishing joint European return flights and ensuring adequate resources.

“Initiate innovative forms of co-operation between the European Union, transit countries and the High Commissioner for Refugees, by building on the EU’s Regional Protection Programmes. …

“Develop co-operation with third countries, of origin or transit, and with a specific focus on key North and West African countries, including through co-development and capacity-building measures as well as conclusion and implementation of readmission agreements, within the Global Approach to Migration that represents the European Union’s roadmap according to the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum….

“The administrative arrangement [is] signed today by the Minister for Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-development, for the French government, and by the Home Office Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, for the British government….”

Click here for full English text.

Click here for the French text: Déclaration franco-britannique sur l’immigration.

Leave a comment

Filed under Communiqués, English Channel / La Manche, France, UK