Italy and IOM signed an agreement last week pursuant to which IOM will facilitate the voluntary returns of up to 600 migrants from Italy. The agreement will be in place until the end of 2011. The agreement is focused on assisting with the returns of migrants who have recently arrived in Italy from North Africa to their various countries of origin.
Click here for IOM statement on the programme. (IT).
Click here for statement from the Dipartimento della Protezione Civile. (IT).
Click here for article. (IT).
The International Organization for Migration has interviewed migrants who reached Lampedusa who witnessed the migrant boat carrying 500-600 people that sank just off the Libyan coast this past Thursday or Friday. IOM reports that persons who were preparing to leave Libya on a second migrant boat witnessed the accident involving the first boat. “Migrants … told IOM that after seeing what had happened to the first boat, many of them who had been waiting on land [preparing to board the second boat] changed their mind about making the sea journey to Italy. However, they claim that Libyan soldiers and officials forced them onto a waiting boat by firing their guns indirectly. Although this is the first time that IOM has been told of migrants being forced by Libyan officials to get on a boat, many have told IOM that they did not have to pay for their passage to Lampedusa while others say they have paid a nominal fee. However, they say that they been stripped by officials and soldiers of their savings and possessions, including mobile phones….”
Click here for IOM press briefing.
Click here for article.
Commissioner Malmström writes her own blog, Cecilia Malmström Mitt Europa (My Europe). Here is her most recent posting regarding her trip to Libya (translated from Swedish with Google Translate). There are several points worth noting – and worrying about. She notes that Libya is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or 1967 Protocol. (Though Libya is a signatory to the OAU Refugee Convention.) She suggests that the new migration agreement between the EU and Libya will involve the UNHCR, but no insight is offered regarding whether or how the UNHCR might return to Libya. She concedes that the European Commission does not know all of the details of the bi-lateral agreement between Italy and Libya which has resulted in the current push-back practice in the central Mediterranean. And she seems to say that she was greatly troubled by what she saw when she visited one of the southern migrant detention centres in Libya during her official trip.
“Just returned from Libya … I have been there to try to initiate a dialogue between the EU and Libya on issues relating to asylum, migration and international protection. … I believe it is necessary to have a dialogue with Libya.
Libya has not signed the Geneva Convention and the concept of asylum is not in Libyan law. … Since Italy and Libya signed an agreement, which we unfortunately do not know everything about, it has basically been that case that no boats are crossing the Mediterranean.
Against this background, I see it as progress that the first time we have agreed a text with Libya, a version of a plan for cooperation, which deals with issues of asylum and international protection… Our aim is to identify people in need of international protection, while helping Libya to raise standards in the detention centres in order to provide decent conditions to people. We also address the issues of border control, labor migration and human smuggling in this plan for cooperation. From the EU side, we are prepared to put up 50 million euros over three years to support reforms. These will obviously not be given as a blank check to Libya but will be provided using the guidelines of the European Commission. For example, we support specific projects by various organizations, including the UNHCR.
Besides holding talks with Libyan ministers, I also visited Libya’s southern border in the middle of the desert, observed International Organisation for Migration activities in Libya, and visited one of the detention centres where many migrants have ended up. I had the opportunity to talk to some of the people there. Several of these stories that I heard have kept both me and my staff awake at night. …”
Click here for the full posting.
Saba, the Yemen News Agency reported that an 18 month € 2 million EU-funded project implemented by IOM will begin this month.
“The IOM-suggested project has been designed in response to humanitarian and security challenges caused by migration into Yemen, mainly through the Gulf of Aden, directly linked to organized crime, trading in human and instability in the region and Yemen, [project manager Fawzi al-Zayood] said. The [project] outcomes are expected to include a framework for legislation and policies for migration management, training about 800 employees working at the migration authority and Border Guard and establishing a fund to provide services for trafficking-victimized migrants under the supervision of the IOM.”
Click here for article.