Category Archives: Immigration

Mauritania: 40 migrants drowned off coast

A boat carrying around 40 migrants has sunk off the coast of Mauritania, leaving only one survivor, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said on August 6.

The sea passage from West Africa to the Canary Islands was once a major route for migrants seeking prosperity in Europe until Spain intensified patrols in the mid-2000s, but it has been activated again in spite of the dangerous sea currents.

“New shipwreck off the coast of Nouadhibou #Mauritania of approximately 40 persons on board, there is one survivor (from Guinea),” tweeted UNHCR special envoy Vincent Cochetel.

UNHCR “along with authorities & partners are trying to step up efforts to prevent such tragedies, but traffickers keep lying to their clients,” he said.

The boat was carrying migrants and refugees, the UNHCR spokesman said.

Nearly 2,800 illegal migrants arrived by boat in the Canary Islands between Jan. 1 and July 14, Spanish Interior Ministry data show, five times as many as in the same period in 2019.

Late last year, at least 62 people drowned off the Mauritanian coast and around 80 had to swim for shore after the boat carrying them northwards from Gambia sank – one of the deadliest incidents along the route in recent years.

Borrell enhances efforts to protect refugees

«A new report by @Refugees shows that thousands of refugees and migrants continue to be victims of widespread and extreme abuses. The EU will enhance further its efforts to address these dramatic situations and protect these persons from the criminal bands that prey on them» the European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell tweeted via his micro blog.

The spokesperson of the European Commission has clarified that the Tweet refered to the «dramatic sitution» caused by activities of the criminal bands, meaning the reiteration of the engagement, and underlining the will to increase the efforts «until the problem is solved».

«Fighting the human traffickers, and smugglers is not the only way, because there are several layers to support people, and prevent them from making this dangerous journeys, and we have been discussing this too, that we need to tackle the root causes of the migration, we need to cooperate with the countries of origin, and transit, and this is ongoing, and we are willing to enhance the cooperation even more to achieve results in terms of reducing the numbers of people, who are embarking on this journeys, reducing the number of people, who are forced to leave their homes, and make sure that those who leave are not exposed to this disgraceful and outrageous treatment, and exploitation by the smugllers and traffickers» the spokesperson has underlined.

The EU has already made the steps before, the spokesperson has reminded, mentioning the operation IRINI, to cut the flow of weapons to Libya, to enhance the UN arms embargo, but this opeation is also has a secondary task to deal with migration and fight against the smugglers. The EU has been undertaking measures, and taking steps, and is determined to continue fighting this “dramatic” situation of the refugees and migrants, the spokesperson concluded.

Image: Josep BORRELL

Tripoli-Malta to fight human trafficing

Malta Prime Minister Robert Abela surprise visit to Tripoli evoked keen attention of all parties concerned with the ongoing migrant crisis, related to Libyan conflict, especially in view of the Memorandum of understanding signed on May 28 in the Libyan capital between the head of Maltese government and chair of Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj. The content of document has not been revealed yet, however the European Commission has already expressed the support of attempts of the archipelago state to deal with persisting migrant flows in a country of transit.

When it comes to migration and related challenges in general, we share the determination expressed by Malta to address migration in a comprehensive way, supporting actions in countries of origin and transit” the spokesperson of the European Commission said, responding to the Africa Diplomatic Magazine request of reaction.

During the visit the Maltese head of government reiterated the firm position on the need to address and defeat the human trafficking in Africa, underlining that Malta is facing unprecedented and disproportionate flows of irregular migratiion, on the scale it has no capacity to deal with alone. In spite of the repeated calls for solidarity to the European partners, there was hardly any response, especially recently, in the pandmeic context.

Previously on multiple occasions Valletta has been requesting the EU member-states for an adequate funding to secure Libyan borders, and also equal redistribution across Europe of constantly arriving irregular migrants. However in the actual context of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, causing the European governments to close borders, Malta demands became increasingly difficult to fulfil. In the meantime the summer departures from Libya and arrivals have continued, causing mounting pressure on Valletta, but also the other Mediterranean countries like Spain, and Italy, facing almost weekly disembarkments.

Abela, as the preceding heads of Maltese government, has underlined that is spite of its limited resources, Valletta has always respected its international obligations on a humanitarian grounds. In the obvious absence of relevant resources, the successive governments have been looking for the EU support to resolve the increasing problem of human trafficking in Africa. Malta has been asking for stronger Tripoli GNA controls on human trafficking networks.

The Libyan southern border, and costal line should be focus of monitoring operation to counter human trafficking, rather than focusing on the consequences of these criminal activities, to avoid risky Mediterranean Sea crossing. Recently various reports of NGOs indicated there are more than a half a million migrants on Libyan territory, in search of possibility to reach the European coasts. However not all of them are from sub-Saharan Africa, some come from Asian countries, as distant as Bangladesh.

Valletta and Tripoli will be setting up joint coordination units the to deal with the migration crisis, according to MaltaToday. Sources close to the talks indicated that the coordination units would ensure regular communication between Maltese government and GNA when addressing migrant rescues in the Mediterranean.

https://twitter.com/maltatoday/status/1266747709559410690?s=21

Al-Sarraj and Abela discussed Operation IRINI, and agreed that this should consider both Malta and Libya’s reservations about mission.

Meetings were held with al-Sarraj, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala and Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga, in presence of the heads of the Libyan coast guard and navy. Abela led the delegation of Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri and OPM head of secretariat Clyde Caruana.

Image above: courtesy of Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna

Urbi et Orbi: Pontifex preys for Africa

Africa, in particular South Sudan and the problems of migration to Europe, have been at the heart of Pope Francis’ urbi et orbi message this Christmas 2019.

The situqtion in South Sudan has given rise to a new initiative with the broadcast, on the morning of December 25, of an international appeal notably co-signed by Pope Francis, Justin Welby, leader of the Anglican communion.

“We wish to formulate for you, they write, and for the people of South Sudan, our best wishes for peace and prosperity, by assuring you of our proximity to your efforts for the rapid implementation of the peace agreements”. They also ask that “the way of reconciliation and fraternity” be able to “make possible our desired visit to your dear country”.

Last November 13, Justin Welby and François had publicly expressed their desire to go to South Sudan together in 2020 if the political situation, which should lead to the establishment of a transitional government of national unity, allowed it.

Pontifex expressed closeness to people of Africa who are often forced to migrate because of persistent unjust social and political situations.

“May the Son of God, come down to earth from heaven, protect and sustain all those who, due to these and other injustices, are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life. It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries. It is injustice that forces them to endure unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps. It is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have hope for a dignified life, but instead find themselves before walls of indifference.

In particular Pope Francis mentioned the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, “torn by continuing conflicts.”

May the Redeemer, he said, “bring consolation to all who suffer because of violence, natural disasters or outbreaks of disease. And may He bring comfort to those who are persecuted for their religious faith, especially missionaries and members of the faithful who have been kidnapped, and to the victims of attacks by extremist groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.”

Senegal anti-trafficking measures

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Senegal and the Ministry of Justice, represented by National Unit for Combatting Trafficking in Persons (CNLTP) and the Directorate of Criminal Affairs and Amnesty (DACG), has united efforts to consolidate the country’s first human trafficking case law database, the Système de suivi de la traite, known as Systraite.

https://twitter.com/dev_discourse/status/1187767501456842755?s=21

Senegal is an origin, transit, and destination country for the flows of migrants in West and Central Africa who are the risk group, exposed for various abuses, including human trafficking.

Forced begging is the most common way of exploitation, but also to the other forms as domestic servitude, forced labour in gold mines, and sex slavery. In 2018, 1,100 Senegalese migrants who intended to reach Europe were identified as vulnerable to trafficking in Libya.

Despite Senegal’s considerable efforts to identify and assist trafficking survivors, the country’s taskforce against trafficking in persons (TiP) experiences deficiency of data on survivors, crimes, and traffickers. At present the rudimentary networking and information sharing among local authorities and other means of coordination of efforts across Senegal are impaired.

EU allocates funds to rescue migrants

The European Commission has taken stock of all work strands of Progress report of Migration agenda. The Report highlighted the EU efforts for rescuing lives – 760,000 in Mediterranean Sea and over 23,000 in the Nigerien desert since 2015.

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Unprecedented funding worth €9.7 billion has been mobilised mainly through the EU Trust Fund for Africa. 

The creation of the Joint AU-EU-UN Taskforce to address the migrant situation in Libya has proven to be successful in achieving results on the ground and represents a unique framework for cooperation.

Over the past years “we have developed new partnerships and strengthened the old ones, starting with the African Union and the United Nations”, said the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini.

Together we are saving lives and protecting those in need by enabling legal migration channels, addressing the drivers of migration, and fighting against smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings”, Mogherini said. 

Together with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) the EU helped over 48,000 migrants to return safely to their homes and evacuated more than 4,000 people in need of international protection from Libya or through Niger for further resettlement. 

Libyan Coast Guard intercepts 493 migrants

 Libyan Coast Guard informed on September 19 that it had intercepted 493 migrants on six inflatable boats in six operations in a week in areas northeast and northwest of Tripoli. (Image: illustration)

The migrants, including 28 women and five children, are from sub-Saharan, Arab and Asian countries. They were all moved to detention centers run by the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord, Coast Guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said.

A Sudanese man was shot and killed as he and other migrants returned to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard tried to resist being sent back to detention, the UN said.
The International Organization for Migration strongly condemned the incident and demanded that Libyan authorities investigate and bring those responsible to justice.

EU blames Libya Al Khoms shipwreck tragedy

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic news of a shipwreck off the coast of Al Khoms where over 100 persons may have lost their lives. This is a terrible reminder of the risks still faced by those making this dangerous journey to Europe. Every life lost is one too many. Our aim has always been to prevent lives being lost at sea and we will continue our work to prevent these perilous journeys taking place in the first place” , wrote in a joint statement EU top diplomat Federica Mogerini, and Commissioners Johannes Hahn and Dimitris Avramopoulos on the shipwreck off the coast of Libya. (Image above: illustration).

“Our EU Delegation is in contact with the Libyan authorities, UN agencies and the NGOs to make sure that those rescued and disembarked receive protection and direct emergency assistance” the statement continues.

“Ensuring adequate search and rescue capacity, providing safe and dignified alternatives to dangerous sea-crossings to EU in the form of resettlements and voluntary returns out of Libya are essential to prevent further losses of lives and must be accelerated. At the same time, predictable and sustainable solutions for search and rescue are urgently needed in the Mediterranean”, the EU top executives said.

However the current situation in Libya is the direct result of the “Operation Freedom Falcon” led by  NATO armed forces, conducting in March 2011 the overthrowing of the four decades ruler Colonel Gaddafi. The assassination of Gaddafi degenerated  the statehood,  fueled the protracted conflict, and  threw nation into chaos.

A big round of applause for Obama, Hillary, McCain, Cameron and Sarkozy for plunging Libya into chaos and turning a once prosperous and stable country into a human trafficking hub and war-torn failed state where roving terrorists operate open air slave markets” wrote in her Twitter micro blog Sarah Abdallah, an ndependent Lebanese geopolitical commentator.

 

Mogherini “shocked” by Tajoura attack

The shocking attack on the Tajoura detention centre that caused the death of dozens of refugees and migrants and injured many more, including children and women, is a stark reminder of how the war in Libya is affecting civilians. We condemn it in the strongest terms. All violence against civilians is unacceptable. We welcome any fact finding mission undertaken by the UN and look forward to its results” says the text of the Declaration issued by the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini on behalf of the bloc on the latest developments in Libya.

We call for an immediate de-escalation and for an end to the fighting, and we urge actors to refrain from the systematic use of incitement to violence and promptly return to the UN led mediation process. We reiterate that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Libya and we call on all UN Member States to fully respect their obligations to contribute to Libya’s peace and stability, prevent destabilizing arms shipments, safeguard Libya’s oil resources and protect its infrastructure in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The ongoing conflict is destabilising Libya and the entire region and has increased the risk of terrorism and of the tragic loss of human lives, also at sea.

“We fully support UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ghassan Salamé in his efforts to restore confidence, achieve a cessation of hostilities, promote inclusive dialogue and create the conditions for the resumption of the UN led political process. It is indispensable to relaunch the UN led mediation process to promote an inclusive government representing all Libyans, prepare for credible parliamentary and presidential elections, ensure a fair and transparent distribution of national wealth and advance the reunification of all Libyan sovereign institutions.

We remind all Libyan parties and institutions of their responsibility to protect civilians, safeguard civilian infrastructure, allow full humanitarian access and ensure protection for humanitarian workers under International Humanitarian Law. The EU stands ready to urgently step up collective efforts to address the situation, and in particular, to improve protection and assistance to migrants and refugees. In this regard, we welcome the UNHCR and IOM work in Libya and reiterate our full support to their mission and activities.”

Tajoura held at least 600 migrants and refugees—including women and children. The airstrike that left scores dead, also left dozens injured. The casualty toll from an air strike on a detention camp for migrants near the Libyan capital Tripoli has climbed to 53 dead and 130 wounded, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported.

 

 

 

Florence African candidate Mayor

Antonella Bundu (49) – born in Florence to an Italian mother and a native of Sierra Leone father, she is the mayor candidate of the Florentine left-wing coalition that includes the lists Florence Open City, Italian Left and Power to People.

A civil rights activist, she has never been part of a political competition in Florence before. “My commitment was born in the popular neighborhoods of Liverpool in the late 1980, where I lived with my family and where riots broke out following the economic crisis and discrimination against blacks. There I began to actively participate in the political struggle, “she explains.

At the center of his commitment is the “struggle for an inclusive multicultural Italy, for the rights of women and migrants.

Bundu promises to undertake urgent policies to address the housing emergency for the most vulnerable communities in town. Among extraordinary measures to undertake, she intends to ask the prefect to suspend evictions for a year, apply an emergency program to purchase empty apartments at construction prices and block the sale of public real estate assets in favor of recovery and re-use policies for social housing and purposes. She is also convinced that homeless need a great deal of attention, offering them an opportunity to shelter in municipal residences, including address registration to open an access to the rights and services, starting from accommodation, to the basic income of citizenship and to an effective paths of integration.
If elected Bundu will also restructure mobility in Florence, improving public transport system.

Focusing on public housing and integrating the most vulnerable inhabitants of town, she is against the developed of a network of extra-luxury hotels or accommodations, attracting rich tourists, instead Bundu is eager to focus on defeating poverty, establishing multiculturalism and inclusion.

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