Category Archives: Immigration

Belgium government turmoil over Migrant Compact

Belgium Interior Minister Jan Jambon of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) confirmed on Sunday (9/12/2018) that he, along with the party’s other ministers would resign over disagreement with Prime minister Charles Michel over signature of Global Comapact on migration in Marrakesh, Morocco, at UN-led conference scheduled for Monday, December 10.

It’s clear,” he told to RTBF, following hours of uncertainty.

The decision means Charles Michel will lead a minority government for the five months before parliamentary elections scheduled for late May.

He will now have to appoint ministers to replace those held by the N-VA — which had been the largest of the coalition’s four parties — including the interior, finance, defence and migration portfolios.

In power for four years, the coalition has often been riven over the N-VA’s anti-migration positions.

Party leader Bart De Wever issued an ultimatum to Michel on  Saturday night, suggesting the N-VA would leave the coalition if the Prime minister flew to a UN conference in Marrakesh on Sunday to endorse the pact.

Michel stood firm, saying he would represent Belgium in Marrakesh as the “head of state of a responsible coalition”.

A ‘last attempt’ cabinet meeting was held late Saturday, but failed to overcome the differences between the parties.

The non-binding UN accord, which would promote a common global approach to migrant flows, has become notorious  for European anti-immigration parties.

It was initially supported by all four parties in Belgium‘s coalition, but the N-VA changed its position in late October.

The crisis had been going on for several weeks before bursting into the open when Prime minister Michel, a Liberal, turned to parliament after failing to unite his government behind the pact.

The N-VA and the far-right Vlaams Belang party voted against the accord.

The draft UN pact lays down 23 objectives, claiming to open up legal migration and better management of a global flow of 250 million people in need.

The United States refused the talks on the pact last year, joined by a number of European countries like  Hungary, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Australia, and Croatia.

Sophia operation might end

EU’s Sophia naval mission saving illegal migrants in the Mediterranean might end when its current mandate expires at the end of the year unless the rules of the operation are changed, Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini said. The government explains that as the result of the operation an unfair burden to take care  of rescued migrants crossing the sea falls on shoulders of Italians, who are hosting the arrived.

Sophia opearation
We are staying firm in our unwillingness to accept landing procedures that involve dockings only in Italian ports,” Salvini told a Schengen committee hearing. “Unless there is convergence on our positions, we do not consider it opportune to continue the mission“.

Swiss cabinet against EU immigration referendum

The Swiss government said  it opposed curbing immigration from the European Union as suggested in a planned referendum because it  could harm exports to the country’s biggest trade partner.

“Cancelling the free movement of people would fundamentally call into question the bilateral path for Switzerland and Europe,” Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga  said at a press conference in Bern.

The 500-million strong EU insists its citizens be admitted to live and work freely in non-member Switzerland in exchange for enhanced Swiss access to the bloc’s Single market.

Anti-immigration members of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest party in parliament, have pushed to end that free movement on the grounds that it leaves the country without adequate tools to manage its growing population and encroaches on its sovereignty.

A referendum must be held on the matter as the required number of signatures has been gathered, but it remains unclear how much support such a proposal might garner in a nationwide vote. No date for the vote has been set yet.

The seven-member cabinet  said approving of the proposal at referendum would hurt Swiss efforts to attract qualified workers, stunt economic growth by crimping exports and raise the prices consumers pay for EU imports.

 

Slovak top diplomat resigns over Global Compact

Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak has decided to resign in protest at Parliament’s decision to reject a UN pact on the perception of migration #GlobalCompact, his office said.

Lajcak was President of the United Nations General Assembly when the migration pact was adopted and had earlier warned he would quit if his country did not support it.

“Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak has decided, following today’s vote (in parliament)… to resign,” the ministry said, details will follow after Lajcak meets Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini and President Andrej Kiska the office added.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was approved in July by all 193 member UN nations except the United States, which backed out last year, and is due to be ratified formally in December.

EU believes in Migration Compact while Austria abstains

We regret the decision the Austrian government has taken. We continue to believe that migration is a global challenge where only global solutions and global responsibility-sharing will bring results” a Commission spokesperson said at press-briefing in Berlaymont, while commenting on Austria’s abstention from UN migration Global Compact signature.

Previously the Austrian government said it will not sign a global pact to promote safe and orderly migration.

It cited concerns of national sovereignty while  joining neighboring Hungary refusing the concept of migration as a “human right

 

“We have decided that we will not join the pact,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said to Austrian public broadcaster ÖRF. . The step is one of the measures of coalition government in harnessing the illegal immigration, keeping electoral promise made by both conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and Freedom Party (FPÖ) sharing responsibilities in the government.

Austria will not send an envoy to the pact’s signing in December in Morocco, mainstream media reported.

We will, therefore, abstain in the vote at the UN General Assembly in the year 2019,” Kurz added.

So far only the European Parliament leader of ALDE group Guy Verhofstadt gave openly negative assessment of the Austrian government’s decision, pointing at alliance between Chancellor and Hungary‘s Prime minister Victor Orban, which ‘undermines common work” to find a solution for illegal migration, wrote MEP in his micro blog.

Migrants siege at Croatia border

Croatian police clarified the situation blaming circulation of false information that the authorities  would open its borders letting  in hundreds of illegal migrants and refugees gathering at crossings in Serbia and Bosnia, hoping to enter the EU via Croatia.

Some 400+ migrants gathered this week on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s border with Croatia, with a similar number accumulating on Serbian  border with Croatia, local media reported.

Croatian police continues to announce that misinformation had been spread that the EU state would open its borders, however it has no effect on waiting crowds.

Among the migrant populations on the territory of Bosnia and Serbia, false information is spreading that the Republic of Croatia will allow their entry into its territory as well as further passage to the countries of Western Europe,” a police statement said.

Local police and members of Bosnia’s border units were deployed to the Maljevac border crossing in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, where hundreds illegal migrants attempted to enter Croatia. At present no major incidents or escalation reported, but migrants continue to camp, awaiting for their chance, and small groups have already  attempted to break through this morning.

There is a general public concern about the current developments in view of accumulating crowds of illegal migrants. An opinion prevails that without the EU assistance Croatian border control units will not be able to respond to the scale of the challenge.

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Hundreds of Africans stormed Spanish border

One African illegal migrant died and three others were injured when a crowd of more than 300 people stormed the border fence separating Spanish enclave Melilla from Morocco, the local authorities informed.

Hundreds of illegal migrants managed to scale the seven-meter high metal barrier and were taken to a reception center in Melilla where officials started the process of identifying them.

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