Tag Archives: Africa

COVI19: Italian military to control migrants

The Italian government will send soldiers to Sicily to stop recently arrived migrants leaving holding centers after a raft of breakouts in recent days, including some by people who had been quarantined to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The government ensured citizens and toursists none of the escapees had tested positive for the virus and that most had been caught soon after breaking out of the facilities.

But the breakouts are adding to unease over rising numbers of migrants who have made their way across the Mediterranean in recent weeks. Italy largely tamed the virus after one of the longest and strictest lockdowns among Western countries. Everyday life is returning to something approaching normalcy. A requirement to wear masks in enclosed places is one of the few hints the virus is still circulating.

So far in July, 5,583 migrants have arrived in Italy, almost five times as in the same month last year, though fewer than in the crush who came during the height of the European migrant crisis. So far this year, around 12,500 have arrived, compared with about 180,000 who came in 2016 alone.

The government now plans to make it all but impossible for new migrants to break free from their initial quarantine by confining them for two weeks on a large ship that will lie off the southern coast of Sicily before transferring them to migrant centers on land. It isn’t yet clear when the ship will be in place and, meanwhile, migrants centers have filled beyond their capacity in recent days. Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese has promised to transfer 500 migrants from Sicily to other parts of Italy by July 28.

The government has assigned soldiers to prevent migrants leaving the holding centers. The first soldiers were due to arrive in the area on Tuesday and their numbers will eventually reach about 400, according to an Interior Ministry official.

Italy eventually slowed the initial flow of migrants by striking an agreement with authorities in Libya, the main point of departure, to fund and train the Libyan coast guard along with the European Union.

From January to July this year, 4,537 Tunisians reached Italy, more than five times the number by the same timline last year.

EU-China Summit videoconference

European Union and China held their 22nd bilateral Summit via videoconference on 22 June 2020. President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, accompanied by High Representative Josep Borrell, hold the Summit meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang followed by exchanges with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

EU-China relations have evolved in recent years. Our economic interdependency is high, and we must work together on global challenges like climate action, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals or dealing with COVID-19. Engaging and cooperating with China is both an opportunity and necessity. But, at the same time, we have to recognise that we do not share the same values, political systems, or approach to multilateralism. We will engage in a clear-eyed and confident way, robustly defending EU interests and standing firm on our values” President Michel said.

The COVID-pandemic and a number of major bilateral and multilateral challenges show clearly the EU – China partnership is crucial, be it in terms of trade, climate, technology, and the defence of multilateralism. But for our relations to develop further, they must become more rules-based and reciprocal, in order to achieve a real level playing-field” President von der Leyen said.

The EU-China summit had a comprehensive agenda addressing bilateral relations; regional and international issues, the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery.

The EU recalled the important commitments made at the 2019 EU-China Summit and stressed the need for the implementation of these commitments in a dynamic and result oriented manner as progress today is limited.

The EU strongly emphasised the need to advance negotiations for an ambitious EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement that addresses the current asymmetries in market access and ensures a level playing field.. Urgent progress is needed in particular on behaviour of State-Owned Enterprises, transparency on subsidies and rules tackling forced transfers of technology.

On economic and trade issues, the EU recalled the joint commitment to work constructively and expeditiously towards the resolution of a number of market access and regulatory issues. The EU welcomed confirmation by China that the recent China-US “phase 1” deal will be implemented in full compatibility with World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations and without discrimination against EU operators. The EU recalled its expectation that European exporters immediately benefit from trade facilitating measures in the agri-food sector.

The EU reiterated the urgent need for China to engage in future negotiations on industrial subsidies in the WTO, and address overcapacity in traditional sectors such as steel as well as high-tech areas.

The EU is looking forward to the signature of the EU-China Agreement on Geographical Indications in coming weeks and entry into force in nearest future.

The Summit was also an opportunity to discuss the importance of the digital sector to economies and societies worldwide. The EU stressed that the development of new digital technologies must go hand in hand with the respect of fundamental rights and data protection. The EU also raised outstanding issues on cybersecurity, disinformation.

Leaders had a substantive discussion on climate change. China is the EU’s partner under the Paris Agreement, but needs to commit to decisive and ambitious domestic action to reduce emissions in the short term and to set a goal of climate neutrality at the earliest possible date.

The EU called on China to assume greater responsibility in dealing with global challenges through the rules-based international system, promoting international peace and security, and adhering to international standards to support sustainable development, especially in Africa.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU underlined the shared responsibility to participate in global efforts to stop the spread of the virus, boost research on treatments and vaccines, and support a green and inclusive global recovery. The EU stressed the need for solidarity in addressing the consequences in developing countries, notably as regard debt relief. The EU also called on China to fully participate in the independent review of lessons learned from the international health response to COVID-19, mandated by the resolution adopted at the last World Health Assembly. The EU also called on China to facilitate the return of EU residents in China.

On Hong Kong, the EU reiterated its grave concerns at steps taken by China to impose national security legislation from Beijing and considers those steps not in conformity with the Hong Kong Basic Law and China’s international commitments, and put pressure on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the population protected by the law and the independent justice system.

The EU raise its concerns on the deteriorating human rights situation, including the treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, and of human rights defenders, as well as restrictions on fundamental freedoms. The EU also underlined its expectation that the Human Rights Dialogue will take place in China later in the year once the COVID-19 restrictions are eased. EU Leaders raised a number of individual cases, including the reports on citizens who have disappeared after reporting/expressing their views on the handling of the Coronavirus outbreak, as well as the continued arbitrary detention of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai and two Canadian citizens – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The EU and China exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues, including Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal), Afghanistan as well as situation on the Korean Peninsula. The EU expressed concerns about the escalation of other regional conflicts and the importance of upholding international law in the maritime domain. We agreed to continue contacts in the future

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.

Lifeline NGO imposes migrants on Malta

Italy‘s interior minister Matteo Salvini is refusing a German NGO rescue ship #Eleonore carrying 100 migrants an opportunity of docking. Matteo Salvini continues an effective policy of protection of Italy maritime border, as well as a strategy of the imposition of solidarity on the other EU member-states, leaving Rome for too long alone to resolve the problem of exodus of Africans from Sahel, the other conflict zones, and failed states of the continent.

According to the NGO the dingy 100 passengers were taken aboard “sinking” roughly 50 kilometers (30 miles) off the Libyan coast on August 26. (Image below: illustration).Migrants boat Libya coast

Captain Claus-Peter Reisch claims that the rescue had taken place “literally in the last second.” However, he added, “we still haven’t received a positive response from EU states.”

The charity Lifeline, which operates the 20-meter (65-foot) ship, Eleonore, has urged German government to assist in finding a safe harbor. However they warned that in case of an “emergency”, the boat will have to dock somewhere without a permission.

The politicians should deal with it quickly,” Lifeline spokesperson Axel Steier informed Germany’s Catholic news agency, KNA, “Otherwise, we’ll have to deal with it.

There are about 30 people who claim that they are minors, however in absence practice of birth certificate issuing in Africa, this information can not be verified. According to the World Bank 500 million Africans have no birth certificate, neither passport or identity card.

At present the vessel is next to Malta coast, which also refuses the docking, but delivered supply to the boat. The vessel is being supplied with water, couscous, apples, disinfectant and other basic necessities, as well as toys for children.

Film-maker Jonathan Schörnig reports on difficult conditions on the Eleonore. There is not enough space for all rescued people to sleep, however they try to cheer up with songs.

In two letters addressed to the Armed Forces of Malta (and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Interior Minister Michael Farrugia) and the other to the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Mr Avramopoulos, Lifeline says that following yesterday’s rescue, they would hope for a ‘swift and humane solution for the 101 people on board.’

So far the EU has not offered a plan of sharing the migrants, claiming asylum, among the member-states.

There were about 134,000 migrant arrivals to Europe in 2018, which is a decrease from 180,000 arrivals in previous year. Spain was the biggest destination in 2018, having received some 60,000 migrants. This compares to nearly 46,000 in Greece and 23,000 in Italy, according the the European Commission report monitoring the Mediterranean sea route.

 

Italy ends NGO planes search operations

Italy has stopped two planes used by NGOs to search for migrant boats navigating from African coast to Europe in the Mediterranean.

The planes – Moonbird and Colibri – have been used by the German NGO Sea-Watch and the French NGO Pilotes Volontaires respectively and have been undertaking reconnaissance missions over the Mediterranean since 2017.

Lately neither aircraft could take off because the Italian civil aviation authority said they could “only be used for recreational and non-professional activities”.

‘Ocean Viking’ migrants enter EU

The Ocean Viking vessel which has been navigating in the Mediterranean for fortnight with migrants from Libyan coast on board will dock in Malta after six EU countries reached an agreement, France‘s interior minister said on August 23.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said France would receive 150 out of the 356 migrants from board of the Norwegian-flagged ship. He added Germany, Portugal, Romania, Luxembourg and Ireland were taking part in the agreement.

Ocean Viking, was stranded at sea for fortnight awaiting port access after being denied entry by Malta and requests to Italy did not receive any response.

Castaner announces the arrival of 150 migrants from the #OceanViking boat. He is Minister of the Interior: his duty is to protect our borders, not to help the illegals to cross them!” wrote Nicals Bay (France, RN), Member of European Parliament in his Twitter micro blog.

Open Arms: 27 migrants allowed ashore

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has agreed to let ashore 27 migrants from Mediterranean NGO rescue ship Open Arms, all of them claim that they are “unaccompanied teenagers”.

Those who claim they are minors were allowed to disembark on the Italian island of Lampedusa after more than sixteen days at sea, and considerable international pressure, however so far only six EU state expressed readiness to welcome some of the passengers on the vessel navigating under Spanish flag.

At present there are more than 500 million Africans without birth certificate or/and passport, according to the World Bank, subsequently their age can be estimated only approximately through medical tests in cases it is requested by prosecution.  Among those without birth certificate 494 million are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Reportedly more than 100 migrants remain on board the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, and the NGO insists on Lampedusa (Italy) landing.

 

Salvini trades barbs with Sea Watch NGO

 Italy Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has criticized the Sea-Watch NGO after it refused to take 52 migrants collected off Libya this week to Tripoli. The Sea Watch 3 vessel, which is close to the Italian island of Lampedusa, at one stage seemed to have turned towards Malta, but Salvini said it is not navigating there.

No Malta,” Salvini explained via Twitter micro blog. “The #SeaWatch NGO ship has changed route again: it is swaying in the Mediterranean playing a game on the backs of the immigrants, even though it asked for a port and obtained it in Tripoli.

We are witnessing the umpteenth show,Salvini continued his criticism of the NGO. “They say they are good, but they are kidnapping women and children in the middle of the sea”.

Sea-Watch refuses to anchor in Tripoli for safety reasons. “Forcibly taking rescued people back to a war-torn country, having them imprisoned and tortured, is a crime,” the German NGO said.

Meanwhile the Italian government, based on its right to protect sovereign sea borders the same way as land ones,  has endorsed a new decree that would apply to NGO ships with illegal migrants rescued at sea to Italy without official permission fined up to 50,000 euros.

Matteo Salvini rhetoric has hardened after his Lega party impressive victory in the European elections 2019, bringing him a approval of more than a third of the Italian electorate.

In spite of the Interior minister reluctance to accept illegal migrants, the NGO has been successfully using the combination international Conventions endorsed after the WWII dating from colonial era, and the Law of the Sea to continue imposing the flows of illegal migrants on Italy.

Migrants continue to arrive to Italy

An Italian merchant vessel, the Asso 25 that transported 62 illegal migrants to Pozzallo in Sicily. (Pictured above).

Alarm Phone NGO  wrote on social media that they the Maltese authorities did not provide any assistance when they were informed on the goings on in the search and rescue area.

According to ANSA News agency, Minister for Internal Affairs Matteo Salvini and the Pozzallo Port Authority have been informed of the transportation of migrants to Italy.

As many as eleven young people claimed they are minors. However the information given by illegal migrants is provided in the form of affidavit, their own statement about their identities. At present, according to the World Bank, there are more than 500 million people on African continent, who have no birth certificate, no passport. The status of ‘minor‘ they claim allows to profit from it, however there are no juridical mechanisms to verify the reality. Medical check of a ‘minor’, who committed a homicide in Sweden, was undertaken on prosecutors order, and revealed the “Ethiopian boy” was at least 21 instead of 15 he claimed.

UN criticizes Salvini opposition to illegal migration

The United Nations confirmed their human rights experts have reiterated criticism expressed in a letter sent to Italy over the government’s proposal for a new decree on security.

The aim of the Italian new legislation is to build on the security-and-migration decree that was approved last year and drafted by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini,  focus on stemming illegal migration and human trafficing. The UN said that the proposed decree would result in NGO-run ships fined for every person picked up at sea and transported to Italian territory, and vessels risking the loss of their licences.

The UN experts said that if the decree is approved and comes into force, it would undermine the human rights of asylum seekers and the victims of torture. The UN position is firmly based on core Refugee Convention (1951), dating the colonial era, when there was no single free state in Africa, and the population was a half of European. However, in spite of the drastic change of the context the UN experts continue to use the Convention without any adaptation to contemporary realities.
The right to life and the principle of non-refoulement should always prevail over national legislation or other measures purportedly adopted in the name of national security,” the experts said in a letter to the Italian Government.

We urge authorities to stop endangering the lives of migrants, including asylum seekers and victims of trafficking in persons, by invoking the fight against traffickers…This approach is misleading and is not in line with both general international law and international human rights law”, the letter said.
Instead, restrictive migration policies contribute to exacerbating migrants’ vulnerabilities and only serve to increase trafficking in persons“.

“The United Nations is full of bureaucrats rooting for mass immigration”, Salvini said after the UN criticised his proposed security package for fining illegal migrant transporters.
Minister and MPs elected by the Italians decide on the security and happiness of the Italians,” he said.
Unknown bureaucrats who are fans of mass immigration do not,” he added.

 

 

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