clandestina

Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘Mediterranean’

“Excuse me, Mr. Minister – she said – what difference is there between dying at sea and dying in Libya?”

Posted by clandestina on 16 July 2009

source: fortresseurope.blogspot

The massacre continues: 459 deaths in the first 6 months of 2009

gommoneROME, 2 July 2009 – The number of deaths at the border fell for the first time over the last three years. In the first semester of 2009, the victims reported by the international press along the routes of emigration in the Mediterranean have been 434, to which the 25 people who disappeared along land borders must be added, including the three boys who ended up under lorries in the Italian Adriatic harbours. Last year, over the same period, there had been 985 documented deaths. The figures –based on news from the international press- were divulged by the Fortress Europe observatory. The main reason for the decrease in shipwrecks is the objective decrease in the number of arrivals, particularly in Italy and Spain. Since the start of returns to Libya on 7 May, arrivals by boat in Sicily can be counted on one hand. And in the Canary islands in Spain, there has not been any arrival by boat in the months of April and May, and very few boats arrived in the archipelago in June. This is an effect of the returns in the high seas and joint patrol operations enacted by Frontex in Senegal and Mauritania. However, it is still too early to compare data. In fact, very little news arrives from the press in countries to the south of the Mediterranean on this issue. For this reason, it cannot stated with any certainty whether the deaths have decreased or whether the shipwrecks occur further away from the gaze of our cameras, off the Libyan coast or in the high seas.

In detail, according to the data collected from the international press by Fortress Europe, there were 339 victims along the route towards Malta and Lampedusa in the first semester of 2008 (compared with 650 in the same period of 2008), 87 off the Spanish coast (compared with 136 in 2008) and 8 in the Aegean Sea (compared with 199 in 2008), between Turkey and Greece. There is only news of one victim on the way between Algeria and Sardinia. A corpse that was fished out of the water near to the Cavoli island in the Cagliari region, whose origin may lie in a shipwreck about which there are no available details. Other three emigrants, most probably Afghan refugees, lost their lives under lorries that disembarked in the Italian Adriatic harbours after the crossing from Greece. In Egypt, three refugees were killed after being shot by the Egyptian police at the border with Israel. Two people died in Ceuta, the Spanish enclave in Morocco, as they tried to climb over the six-metre barrier that seals that border. There were also two victims in Calais, in France, where the harbour and Channel Tunnel represent an obligatory passage to enter England illegally. Finally, there were supposedly at least 14 victims of the crossing of the Sahara during the first half of the year, according to the very few pieces of information arriving from Saharan countries.

June has also been a month in which deaths were counted: 29 in the Gibraltar Strait, off the Spanish coasts; 3 in Egypt, shot by the police at the Israeli border; and one in Italy, who was called Amir Rohol, was 19 years old and an Afghan asylum seeker. He died after falling off an articulated lorry that had disembarked in Ancona, along the junction between Clearway 76 and the A14 motorway.

Many are likely to use this data to justify the returns to Libya. Joseph St. John, an official from the Maltese interior ministry also stated this during a seminar in which I took part on 17 June in Malta. Refuse entry to save human lives. From the audience, an Ethiopian woman refugee raised her hand to intervene. “Excuse me, Mr. Minister – she said – what difference is there between dying at sea and dying in Libya?”. I don’t feel that there is much more to add about this.

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UN criticises Italian, Greek asylum policies

Posted by clandestina on 15 July 2009

UN criticises Italian, Greek asylum policies

By Judith Crosbie
14.07.2009 / 13:29 CET
Refugee agency warns of maltreatment, failure to accept asylum applications and changes to legal system.

The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, today (14 July) criticised Italy’s treatment of would-be asylum-seekers and Greece’s decision to close down a camp housing asylum-seekers and change its laws on asylum.

The UNHCR said it feared that Italy’s new policy of intercepting migrants at sea may has resulted in failures to honour its obligations to asylum-seekers and in maltreatment of migrants. It says that, since May, Italy has picked up 900 people at sea and returned them to the north African coast from which they sailed.

In a statement, the UNHCR said it had “expressed serious concerns about the impact of this new policy which, in the absence of adequate safeguards, can prevent access to asylum and undermines the international principle of non-refoulement”, which is intended to prevent refugees being returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened.

The UNHCR cited a case on 1 July when the Italian navy picked up 82 people 30 miles from the southern island of Lampedusa. A “significant number” of the group wanted to claim asylum but were sent back to Libya on a Libyan ship and placed in detention centres, the UNHCR said. It has asked the Italian authorities to provide information on those sent back to Libya.

It added that it had been told “disturbing accounts” of Italian personnel using force to transfer the migrants onto the Libyan ship, resulting in six people needing medical attention. Their belongings, including documents, were taken from them and have not yet been returned. “Those interviewed spoke of the distress they were in after four days at sea and said that the Italian navy did not offer them any food during the 12-hour operation to return them to Libya,” UNHCR said.

Of the group of 82, 76 were from Eritrea, including nine women and at least six children. A recent report by Human Rights Watch said Eritrea was “one of the most closed and repressive states in the world”, and the government stands accused of repression and abuse of its citizens, including detention, torture, forced labour and restrictions of freedom of movement and expression.

Greece was similarly criticised on a number of counts, including its decision to close down a makeshift camp in Patras on 12 July, which left many of its residents, including registered asylum-seekers, without a roof over their heads.

An unknown number of undocumented residents of the camp were arrested and taken to a police station in Patras, where, according to the UNHCR, translation and interpretation services may be inadequate. The organisation also voiced concern about the decision to transfer 44 unaccompanied minors to a special reception centre in Konitsa, northern Greece.

The statement was issued just after Greece adopted a law decentralising asylum decisions to over 50 police directorates and abolishing the existing appeals process in favour of a judicial review that will address only points of law. “These new developments are likely to make protection even more elusive for those who need it in Greece,” it warned in a statement.

Almost 20,000 applications for asylum in Greece were lodged in 2008. During that year, Greece awarded international protection to just 379 people.

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Spain and Greece pledge to continue anti-immigrant terror in the Mediterranean

Posted by clandestina on 14 July 2009

source

Spain and Greece to cooperate against illegal immigration

Europe News

Jul 13, 2009, 14:46 GMT

Madrid – Spain and Greece on Monday pledged to jointly renew efforts to fight illegal immigration into the European Union.

Spain will intensify such measures when it takes over the EU presidency in the first half of 2010, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis in Madrid.

Spain will focus on strengthening the European frontier control agency Frontex and on seeking repatriation agreements with undocumented immigrants’ countries of origin, Zapatero said.

The agreements should also include cooperation programmes to promote the social and economic development of the countries in question, in order to discourage their citizens from seeking better lives abroad, Zapatero said.

Karamanlis proposed a European coast guard to improve maritime surveillance.

Spain and Greece were among the European countries most concerned by the influx of immigrants across the Mediterranean, Zapatero said.

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Fortress Europe’s “dissuasion effects” – FRONTEX predicts decrease in immigrants numbers

Posted by clandestina on 10 July 2009

source

FRONTEX: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION DOWN, -25% EXPECTED IN 2009

(ANSAmed) – ROME – In 2009 illegal immigration into Europe could fall by as much as 20 – 25% compared to 2008, says Gil Arias-Fernandez, deputy executive director of EU border agency, Frontex. Today he presented figures on illegal immigration in Europe regarding the first three months of 2009. Compared to the first quarter of 2008, there has been a 16% drop in the number of illegal immigrants arriving in Europe, and a 20% drop in Italy.
Overall in this period 20,200 illegal immigrants are thought to have arrived in Europe, 2,586 (13%) of whom arrived in Italy. The amount of people entering Europe by land or air has fallen particularly, considering that 8% of illegal immigrants arrived by boat.
The total number of illegal immigrants in the EU in January, February and March 2009 was 90,800 (11,080 in Italy), 16% fewer (12% for Italy) than in the first quarter of 2008. Last year 145 thousand illegal immigrants came to Europe. Italy had the greatest number of immigrants arriving by boat, 37 thousand, or 41% of the total.
In 2009, Frontex is expecting to see trends change. ”The trends of the last few months, along with forecasts,” the deputy director said, ”show that illegal immigration could fall by as much as 20-25%. If sea routes change, it could remain stable at 16% or drop to 10%.”
Arias-Fernandez believes that numbers have fallen due to the economic crisis and the fact that some countries have been repatriating illegal immigrants, as well as the agreements made between Italy and Libya.
Meanwhile, the arrival of illegal immigrants in Sicily and Sardinia has fallen by 54% and 56% respectively. The decrease in the number of arrivals, according to Arias-Fernandez, was also influenced by the agreements made between Italy and Libya.
”From January 1 2009 to July 5,” he affirmed, ”there were 333 illegal arrivals according to our people in the field. For the same period last year there were 776.
As for Sicily, including Lampedusa, the figure passed from last year’s 14,806 to 6,760 this year. From May 15 on, that is from when the agreements became effective, our agents noticed even more of a decrease.
The decrease in this last month and a half may have even reached -70%.” A positive vote therefore for the agreements between Italy and Libya. ”Based on our statistics,” Arias-Fernandez concluded, we are able to say that the agreements have had a positive impact.
On the humanitarian level, fewer human lives have been put at risk, due to fewer departures. But our agency does not have the ability to confirm if the right to request asylum as well as other human rights are being respected 3in Libya.” The arrivals from sea on Italy’s shores from the Mediterranean represent around 5% of the total of illegal migrants, while the other 95% come from the East, often carrying tourist visas (ANSAmed).

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One more immigration aversion business-plan by Italy and partners…

Posted by clandestina on 6 May 2009

 

 

This is what is going on in the Mediterranen daily: states and police forces try to sell on the highest price possible their capacity for rendering migration a life – threatening venture.  The pretext of “rescuing” the refugees is only miserable.  Here is where the original post appeared. 

clandestinenglish 

Italy, Malta spar on rescues again

Maltese premier ‘disgust’, Italian boat called in

(ANSA) – Rome, ay 6 – Italy and Malta were involved in a fresh spat on immigrant rescues on Wednesday after two boats carrying 136 migrants appeared near the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.

Italy says it has carried out 670 rescues in Maltese waters since the start of 2007.

Mifsud Bonnici has said 3,800 immigrants landed in Malta last year, adding that ”3,800 on a tiny island like Malta is the equivalent of 400,000 arriving in Italy”.

The boats contacted the Coast Guard on satellite phone and the alert was relayed to Maltese authorities who called in an Italian tanker, the closest vessel to the migrants.

The Italian Coast Guard said the boats were in waters where Malta should step in but Maltese Premier Lawrence Gonzi appeared to dispute this, voicing ”disgust” at what he called ”Italy’s intransigence where human lives are at stake”.

Italian Foreign Undersecretary Stefania Craxi said she was ”stunned” by Gonzi’s claim.

”The Italian Coast Guard is the only one that picks up stranded migrants in non-territorial waters and it does so with great humanity and spirit of service, carrying out work that other countries in the Mediterranean don’t do”.

Last month saw a four-day stand-off between Italy and Malta on rescuing a Turkish freighter, the Pinar, carrying 140 migrants and the dead body of a pregnant woman.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi eventually ordered the migrants to be rescued on humanitarian grounds, but Interior Minister Roberto Maroni took the case to Brussels.

At a meeting with European Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot on April 24, Maroni and his Maltese counterpart Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici received assurances that the rest of the European Union would give them more help in dealing with illegal immigration.

Barrot said the EC was ready to offer financial help to the two countries, which bear the brunt of immigrants leaving the North African coast for Europe, and would also propose measures that would mean other member states would share the burden of illegal immigration.

He said that sooner or later other EU countries would have to cope with immigrants who arrive on the Italian and Maltese coasts arriving on their territory.

Maroni meanwhile called on the EU to reinforce the role of its border agency Frontex, suggesting that it should be made responsible for the creation and management of ”EU repatriation centres”.

If Europe shared the burden of arrivals in this way, ”the problem would resolve itself” and cases like that of the 140 stranded migrants ”would never happen”, he said.

Italy presented a dossier to the EC that Maroni said ”clearly” showed it had been Malta’s responsibility to receive the migrants, since they were rescued in Maltese waters by the freighter, the Pinar.

Malta admitted the Pinar was in Maltese waters but said international law dictated the freighter should head for the nearest port, which was allegedly Lampedusa.

Following the meeting with Mifsud Bonnici and Barrot, Maroni said the ”Pinar case was closed” but the wider issue of rescue competence remained ”because there are various interpretations”.

Three days later, on April 24, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini urged the European Commission to draw up new measures before its five-year mandate expires this year.

He said other EU countries bordering the Mediterranean – Malta, Greece, Spain, Portugal and France – support a seven-point plan outlined by Italy.

If adopted, these measures must become binding for other EU members because southern European countries can no longer be left alone to bear the brunt of the immigration emergency, he added.

The plan would outline clear-cut rules to help immigrants stranded at sea, avoiding disputes between countries over whose responsibility it is to assist them.

It would also propose shared responsibility among the 27-member states for providing hospitality for the migrants; set up a pan-European network of holding centres; provide concrete incentives to non-EU countries promoting legal immigration; agree to joint sea and coast patrols with non-EU countries in a bid to stem illegal immigration; and work with Libya to organise radar and satellite systems to monitor its southern frontiers.

With almost 800 kilometres of coastline, Libya has become a key stepping-stone for African migrants seeking to enter Europe, most of them through Malta, Sicily and Lampedusa.

Italy is ready to finance 50% of the cost of these monitoring systems but believes the EU should do its bit in covering the rest, Frattini said.

According to the Italian interior ministry, around 37,000 people landed on Italian coasts in 2008 – a 75% increase on 2007.

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