Tag Archives: Mediterranean

EU Council adopts measures for migration control

European Council addressed the implementation of its approach to migration, which combines more effective control of the EU’s external borders, increased external action and the internal aspects.

European Council notes that the number of detected illegal border crossings has been brought down to pre-crisis levels, and that the overall downward trend is continuing. This is the result of the external migration policy of the Union and its Member States, based, in particular, on control of the external borders, the fight against smugglers and cooperation with countries of origin and transit, which has been intensified in recent months. This policy should therefore be continued, further developed and fully implemented.

Vigilance on all existing and emerging routes should be maintained, in particular in view of recent increases on the Western and Eastern Mediterranean Routes.

As regards the internal policies, the European Council invites the co-legislators to rapidly conclude negotiations on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG).

It welcomes the agreement reached at the level of the Council on 6 December 2018 with regard to enhancing the EBCG’s mandate in the area of return and cooperation with third countries. It also calls for further efforts to conclude negotiations on the Return Directive, on the Asylum Agency and on all parts of the Common European Asylum System, respecting previous European Council conclusions and taking into account the varying degree of progress on each of these files.

 

Malta demands Aquarius to clarify its status

Fifty-eight migrants aboard the #Aquarius NGO rescue vessel will be trasported to Malta and from there to France, Germany, Portugal and Spain, after a deal was reached to share the responsibility for the arrivals among EU member-states.

The migrants will “disembark in international waters”, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted from the UN General Assembly in New York.

However he urged Aquarius vessel to clarify its status. Since February 2016 the vessel operates as major transport for NGO SOS Mediterranée and Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors without borders) to search and rescue illegal migrants from African coasts, mainly Libya, assisting their safe sea crossing to  reach European shores.

Panama authorities have begun procedures to revoke the registration of the Aquarius illegal  migrants rescue ship operating in the central Mediterranean. Charities say the Italian government is to blame for the move.

ANSA agency award for illegal migrants newswire

Italian  news agency ANSA received one of two 2018 Mediterranean Caravel journalism prizes at the 10th Journalists of the Mediterranean Festival in Otranto for its newswire Infomigants, a multi-language service for migrants.

The main Italian news  production service supplies Infomigrants through ANSAmed, together with France Media Monde and Deutsche Welle.

ANSA Deputy Editor and Infomigrants coordinator Stefano Polli received the award for Infomigrants, while the other Caravel prize went to Paolo Messa, founder of Formiche magazine. Infomigrants is published in four languages – English, French, Arabic and Pashtun – and aims to give accurate information to illegal migrants and refugees determined to reach Europe, in countries of origin, transit countries, and arrival countries.
The news sites offer stories on political, economic, and cultural relationships between Europe and southern Mediterranean countries, the Middle East, and Africa.

The Journalists of the Mediterranean Festival is organised by the Terra del Mediterraneo Association, in partnership with the City of Otranto, the Region of Puglia, the University of Bari Aldo Moro, and the Consular Corps of Puglia, Basilicata and Molise.
The winner for reporting was Alessio Lasta of channel La7 with “Dreaming France – The Snow Route of Migrants in the Alps”.

*ANSA news agency receives funds from European Commission.

Salvini refueses Aquarius access to Italian ports

Italian Interior  Minister Matteo Salvini said that the NGO migrant search-and-rescue ship Aquarius will not be allowed access to Italy’s ports, ANSA news agency reports.

“Aquarius NGO ship with another 141 immigrants on board: German owned, rented by French NGO, foreign crew, in Maltese waters, flying the flag of Gibraltar,” Salvini wrote in his Twitter microblog.

“It can go where it wants, but not to Italy! Stop human being traffickers and accomplices, #portsclosed and #openhearts”.

Salvini, the leader of the League party, has been promoting the new Italian government’s tough stance on illegal migration which was seen NGO search-and-reascue vessels denied access to Italy’s ports. The Aquarius, rented by the SOS Mediterranee NGO and managed in partnership with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was at the centre of international dispute in June when Italy and Malta both refused to lot it dock.
The unwanted vessel with illegal migrants navigated to Spain with over 600 migrants it rescued next to Libyan coast

https://twitter.com/ansa_english/status/1028987192763445248.

UN reports numbers of illegal migrants to EU

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 51,782 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through 18 July 2018. That total compares to 110,189 at this time last year, and 244,722 at this time in 2016.

Arrivals to Spain (see chart below) this month have overtaken those to Italy. To date just over 36 per cent of all Mediterranean irregular migrants have come via the Western Mediterranean route, whose irregular migration volume has nearly tripled those registered at this time last year.

Arrivals to Italy are nearly identical, but still trail Spain by just over 800 arrivals. Greece counts about 29 per cent of all arrivals. Significantly, Greece’s arrivals thus far in 2018 are running almost 5,000 ahead of last year’s totals on this date, an increase of better than 50 per cent. Arrivals to Italy, on the other hand, are down over 80 per cent compared to 2017 data.

IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported Thursday that the number (3,136) of irregular migrant arrivals to Italy by sea in June this year was the lowest recorded by Italian authorities since 2014.

Nonetheless, in the month of June, the Central Mediterranean route linking Italy to North Africa recorded the highest number of deaths along this channel in the past four years. In June 2018, some 564 migrants were reported drowned or missing in the waters between North Africa and Sicily. That compares with 529 in 2017, with 388 in 2016, five in 2015 and 314 in 2014. Through 18 July, 153 additional fatalities have been recorded on this route.

In spite of the slightly lower numbers of illegal migrants arriving this year in comparison with the last year, the numbers of arrivals remain high, causing criticism of politicians insisting Europe has no capacity to host “all in need around the globe”. “EU can not accept all the migrants from the planet” – Czech Prime minister Andrej Babiš  said, commenting situation with illegal migration.

 

 

V4 declines EU attempts to reach informal deal on migration

Today in Brussels the leaders from 17 member states have attended an  informal Summit on Migration, while  Hungary’s Prime minister, Viktor Orbán, announced his country and three other Visegrad (V4) Four members would boycott the meeting. With the decision of V4 countries to deny EU their support in migrants relocation policy, the European crisis on the issue of illegal migration reached a new low.

Although the meeting is informal, without any press-conferences, trading barbs took place ahead of the event between Italy and France, while new Italian government was accusing French President Emmanuel Macron of “arrogance”.

The Italian government assessed France proposal on migration “out of reality”, including a suggestion to apply  financial sanctions on EU states that refuse migrants.

The Visegrad group decided not to attend the informal Summit called by president Juncker, because they “believe that it is not the Commission’s task to organise any summit for heads of government: that is the duty of the Council and the President of the Council”.

“We want to make it absolutely clear that the prime ministers of the four Visegrád states have agreed that they will not attend it (Informal Summit on Sunday – ed) because it would be improper to attend a meeting with a status which is unclear in terms of the European Union’s internal practices and rules. We shall therefore state our position on migration and other issues at the Brussels summit next Thursday” – Hungarian Prime Minister Orban said, explaining the position of V4.

“The future of a prosperous continent that will always be open for those in need,
but that will also deal with the challenge of migration together,
and not leave some to cope alone,” – Juncker wrote in a paper produced by the institution he leads for the occasion of migrants Summit.

Apparently the traditional President Juncker’s call for unity, solidarity and “more Europe” does not serve as a remedy for the mass-migration crisis, taking into consideration the situation in Southern Europe, where Italy alone receive more than half-a-million illegal migrants crossing Mediterranean with the help of NGOs vessels.

(Image: MSF courtesy).

 

 

 

Lifeline crew accused of piracy and human trafficking

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini warns about the arrest of the crew, and NGO vessel Lifeline transporting over two hundred illegal migrants from Libyan coasts to Italy, accusing them of piracy.

Formally Salvini is difficult to reproach. Acting within the international regulations,  Salvini orders stay in line with the UN frame document – the Law of Sea 1982, indicating that a  sovereign state is in its right to to establish and practise legislation over its aquatorium, similar way as over its territorium. The Law gives unequivocal powers to a state to fight illegal migration, and repel any vessel, suspected in migrant trafficking.

On contrary the Lifeline vessel has hardly any legitimacy after Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli accused it of “operating in Libyan waters outside all rules, outside international law” amid confusion over where the ship was de jure  registered.

This week the Netherlands denied reports that the Lifeline and another NGO-run migrant-rescue ship, the Seefuchs, are sailing under Dutch flags. “The Seefuchs and Lifeline are not sailing under Dutch flag as per UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) flag state responsibility,” the Netherlands representation at the EU said via Twitter.

In response Mission Lifeline confirmed in a tweet that its ship has been registered in the Netherlands since September 2017, attaching a photograph of the registration document to show it. It also said the rescue operation took place in international waters.

Amid clarifications Salvini informed that for “the safety of the crew and passengers Italy had asked Malta to open its ports for Lifeline vessel.

It is clear that the ship will then have to be impounded and the crew members arrested. No more trafficking by sea,” Salvini underlined.

Valletta accused the Lifeline crew of ignoring Italian instructions, and denied any responsibility for the mission, but made a gesture of goodwill, offering humanitarian supplies to illegal migrants.

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