Category Archives: Immigration

Italy receives hundreds of migrants

A vessel with 363 migrants on board, operated by Spanish charity Open Arms has received the permission to dock in Sicilian port of Pozzallo. (Image above: illustration).

Earlier on February 1, the charity announced that they have storage of food for another two days as it remained stranded in the Mediterranean hundreds of migrants on board.

Italian media outlet Rai later reported that they would be distributed across the EU, as laid out in an EU agreement on settling migrants and refugees rescued in the Mediterranean, however there were no further details provided about the countries who agreed to receive them.

Boats operated by non-profit groups have transported over 600 migrants in the Mediterranean within a week. The 403 migrants rescued by the Ocean Viking have disembarked in Italy.

The migrants aboard the Ocean Viking disembarked in Taranto, southern Italy. Among them were 216 men, 38 women and 149 children, mostly from Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea, according to the two organizations that run the ship, SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF). Twelve of the women were pregnant, government officials reported.

The Ocean Viking had picked up the migrants in five different rescue operations in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast since end January. One woman and her three children had already been evacuated to Malta because of medical issues.

Europol: Migrant smugglers arrests

The French Border Guard together with the French National Police (Police nationale) and the Dutch Royal Marechaussee (Koninklijke Marechaussee), supported by Europol and Eurojust, dismantled a large criminal network involved in migrant smuggling.

On the action day, law enforcement authorities arrested 23 suspected members of the criminal network (19 in France and 4 in the Netherlands), carried out five searches and seized firearms and vehicles. Irregular migrants discovered during the searches were brought to safety.

The criminal network is suspected of having facilitated the transportation of around 10 000 Afghan, Iranian, Iraqi-Kurdish and Syrian migrants from the French areas of Le Mans and Poitiers to the United Kingdom. The migrants were transported in life-threatening conditions, concealed in refrigerated – often-overcrowded – lorries (up to 20 migrants in a lorry).

The migrants paid up to €7 000 for the dangerous journey. The payments were collected via an undercover hawala banking system run by a suspect established in the Netherlands.

In total, the criminal gang is suspected to have gained around €70 million in profit from their illegal activities.

Europol supported this high-priority case by organising two operational meetings, facilitating the information exchange and providing tailored analytical support. On the action day, Europol deployed two experts on-the-spot, one in France and one in the Netherlands, to cross-check operational information in real-time. This case was also developed as part of EMPACT JOT Dunqett operational action.

Image: Europol courtesy

Japan aims at solution of Kuril Islands issue

The Japanese government is determined to achieve a solution to the territorial issue and sign a peace treaty with Russia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his programme speech, addressing the Parliament on January 20.

Step-by-step, the agreements, which we reached with Russian President [Vladimir] Putin are being implemented,” Abe said. “Former residents of the [Southern Kuril] Islands go on a pilgrimage tour by plane to their relatives’ graves and joint economic activity is being cultivated on the four islands.

We will speed up talks based on the 1956 Joint Declaration, solve the territorial problem and sign a peace treaty,” Abe continued. “We are moving towards this without any hesitation. I’m fully determined to achieve this goal together with President [Vladimir Putin],” Prime Minister underlined.

Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership issue over the Southern Kuril Islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan.

After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands has been challenged by Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly said that Russia’s sovereignty over these islands, which is committed to paper in international documents, cannot be called in question.

Spain: Cupid fraud for migrants

On 10 December 2019, the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), supported by Europol, dismantled an organised crime group involved in the facilitation of illegal immigration by arranging sham unmarried partnerships in Spain. The partnerships of convenience were set up to ensure legal permanent permits of residence for irregular migrants.

The operation led to 11 searches of properties and companies, 30 arrests and the seizures of a luxury car, over €10 000 in cash and a high number of documents. Solid evidence of facilitation of illegal immigration and document fraud was found during the searches.

The organised crime group recruited Spanish women willing to be part of unmarried partnerships. Non-EU migrants, wanting to migrate or formalise their stay in Europe, acquired similar rights of EU citizens through the fraudulent partnerships with the Spanish women. Each migrant had to pay between €8 000 and €12 000 for this service. The woman in these pretend partnerships were paid €3 000 for their “I do” as a pretend partner.

The members of this highly complex organised crime group owned several shell companies and were Moroccan and Spanish nationals. The women, also members of the crime group, were registered as employees in these companies. Their employment contracts allowed them to justify their revenues and gave the companies a legitimate legal appearance. A money laundering component was also detected during the investigation.

Europol provided coordination and analytical support and facilitated the information exchange. On the action day, Europol also deployed experts on-the-spot to cross-check operational information in real time against Europol’s databases and to provide technical expertise.

Swiss referendum on EU migrants

More than 325,000 cross-border workers from Germany, Italy, and France and travel to Switzerland each day to work. However, convinced that foreigners take jobs away from the Swiss, the People’s Party (SVP) party intends to step out from the free-movement accord, which guarantees the rights of EU and EFTA (Norway and Iceland) nationals to enter Swiss Labor market and reside in Switzerland.

The Swiss SVP has launched a campaign to end the “uncontrolled and disproportionate immigration” from the EU, a proposal that will be voted on in a nationwide referendum on May 17th.

The SVP is one of Switzerland’s major parties with over 30% of seats in the parliament, has been campaigning to diminish the influx of labor migrants, being convinced that the rapprochement with the European Union is not conducive to public good.

Bern and the Brussels entered argument in 2014 when Swiss voters backed another SVP-initiated referendum ‘against mass immigration’, designed to frame migrants from EU bloc, aiming in protection of the Swiss workers.

The parliament decided to endorse a the softer version of the mass immigration initiative, fearing the retaliation of the EU – the attempt of compromise caused the SVP indignation.

At present Tamedia’s survey indicated that of about 11,000 people across Switzerland 58% of respondents were against SVP’s idea, 35% approved it, and 7% have not decided yet on the referendum in May.

Italy faces uninterrupted migrant flows

The ship Ocean Viking has docked in the Italian port of Messina, carrying 213 migrants collected at sea.The operation happened in parallel with the efforts of the other NGOs, also transporting groups of migrants to Italy from African coast. (Imqge: illustration).

A charity rescue NGO vessel brought 213 migrants to coast to Italy after being granted permission to dock in the port of Messina, motivating request by the poor weather conditions.
The migrants had been boarded by the Ocean Viking in three acts rescue operation.A pregnant woman with twins had already been evacuated from the ship by helicopter.

Taking into consideration the situation of the migrant flows to Italy, the government, long with Germany, France and Malta jointly applied to the European Commission to initiate the relocation of these migrants, according to the Italian Interior Ministry.

Italian authorities have also agreed to grant another NGO vessel – the Open Arms – access to a port to disembark 62 African migrants, the founder of the Spanish rescue mission said .

https://www.dw.com/en/key-eu-countries-agree-on-sea-migrant-redistribution-scheme/a-50549610

In spite of the seaosn rough conditions at sea, the flow of migrants from Africa has a steady growth.

“The NGOs orders and the Interior Ministry obeys: 62 immigrants land in Taranto and 78 others in Pozzallo. Government of incapable and calabraghe! With the ports open, more landings, more departures, more deaths at sea and more business for traffickers. Shame! #portichiusi” Matteo Salvini wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

After Lega leqder Matteo Salvini has left the government, the NGOs expericend a great releif, and dobouled their efforts to transport migrnats from Libyan coasts to Europe. According to the existing Dublin rules, the country which hosts the migrants first has full responsibility to provide for them in accordqnce with international obligations and standards.

MEPs debate situation in Greek migrant camps

Members of Euorpean Parliament expressed concern of to the dire conditions in the refugee camps on the Greek islands, more worrying as the winter approaches, and complained for the lack of solutions. (Image above: illustration).

“In a debate with Commissioner Avramopoulos and the Finnish Presidency, many speakers stressed that this will be the fourth winter with thousands of asylum-seekers living in unacceptable conditions on European soil. MEPs described the situation in places such as the Moria camp as “explosive” and “shameful”, and urged the Greek authorities to speed up transfers to the mainland, giving priority to the most vulnerable people.

The lack of solidarity of EU member states with Greece was also raised during the discussion. Some MEPs blamed the Council of the EU for not being able to reach an agreement for a new common European asylum legislation, which should contribute to alleviate the pressure on Greece.

In a separate debate, MEPs referred to the difficult conditions in which asylum-seekers are living at the Bosnian camp of Bihać, close to the border with Croatia. They underlined that the overcrowded facility lacks minimum services, such as running water, sanitation and electricity, demanded its immediate closure and the transfer of the refugees and migrants to adequate reception centres.

Many of the speakers also denounced illegal pushbacks of asylum-seekers at the Croatian border and called on the European Commission to investigate the numerous allegations of violence by the Croatian police against those attempting to request asylum in their territory.

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