Tag Archives: North Africa

Spain: Morocco migrant tactic

Brussels 18.05.2021 Some 6,000 undocumented migrants arrived illegally in the Spanish exclave city of Ceuta in North Africa on Monday 17 and Tuesday May 18, according to the central government’s delegate in the city. Government sources told Spanish news agency Efe that around 1,500 of the migrants may be minors, although their age still needs to be confirmed. Most of the arrivals were recorded between 4.30pm and 7pm yesterday.

The migrants reached Ceuta by swimming from the neighboring city of Fnideq, which is on the border of the breakwater that demarks the exclave city from Morocco. Other migrants used rudimentary swimming boards to make it to from the Moroccan city, also known as Castillejos, and which is home to around 7,000 people. The migrants entered via Tarajal beach and the area of Benzú. One person died in the crossing, according to the Cadena SER radio station and confirmed by this newspaper. Moroccan authorities made no effort to stop the wave of arrivals and the Moroccan government remained silent on the issue on Monday, May 17.

In response to the situation, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said via Twitter that Spain “will defend the integrity” of Ceuta “against any challenge. My priority right now is restoring normality in Ceuta. Its citizens must know that they have the absolute support of the Spanish government and our utmost resolve to protect their security,” he wrote.

The Doctor of Philosophy and teachter of International Relations of the Universidad Comillas ICADE, Elsa Aimé González, points out that after an arrival of these unusual characteristics is the “use of migrants as a bargaining chip within a political pulse between two governments. “” It is not something that cannot be foreseen, “ she said.

“What we have been seeing not only now but since recent months with the increase in the arrival of migrants to the Canary Islands is that Morocco is using the migration issue as an instrument of political pressure to obtain compensation from Spain and the EU and achieve alignment with their own political project “, highlights the professor.

The fact that there are 6,000 people who have arrived in this way to Spanish territory really has to call our attention because of the way and the ways they have to migrate,” he adds. “You have to abandon a logic that is based on emergency and in punctual responses and seek policies that seek to respond to the structural dimension of the migratory reality “.

European Council President Charles Michel expressed “full solidarity” with Spain after holding urgent talks with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who canceled a trip to Paris to deal with what he termed a “serious crisis” for both his country and the EU.

European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told the European Parliament that the influx on Monday was unprecedented. About 1,500 of the recent arrivals are reported to be minors.

Banksy rescue vessel on errand

British street artist Banksy has financed a rescue boat to transport migrants trying to reach Europe crossing Mediterranean from North African coasts.

Named Louise Michel after a 19th-century French anarchist, the 31-metre motor yacht is decorated by some of Banksy’s trademark art with a fire extinguisher depicting a girl in a life jacket reaching out to a heart-shaped lifebelt.
The artwork is similar in style to Banksy’s famous “Girl with Baloon” stencil murals.

On its website, the Louise Michel project annouces that it aims to “uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice.”

On August 27 the vessel had succeeded in its first mission in the Mediterranean and boarded 89 people who were travelling to Europe from North Africa, including 14 women and 4 children.

According to the organization’s Twitter page, the rescued refugees traveled from Libya and are “safe onboard.”
“After dealing with dehydration, fuel burns and injuries from the torture they suffered in Libya, they have a moment of respite,” the organization announced.

The vessel started navigation on August 18 with 10-person crew and now is in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Twitter micro blog of Louise Michel, looking for a port of safety for the passengers, or to transfer them to a European coastguard ship.

Banksy has been continuously supporting migration in his art, reminind that Steve Jobs was a son of a Syrian migrant. In 2015 two Banksy murals appeared in Calais, France.
The first one showed late Apple founder Steve Jobs — the son of a Syrian migrant — carrying a sack over his shoulder.

The reception of migrants represents increasing challenge for the EU Mediterranean coutries in absence of the relevant common stragegy towards migration from Africa. At present the economic situation in Africa has degraded rapidly as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, forcing more people to leave their homes in search for solution of their problems in Europe.

NATO accuses Russia in violation of Nuclear Forces Treaty

NATO Foreign Ministers are meeting December 4 to begin two days of talks on critical issues for the Alliance’s shared security. Ministers will discuss NATO’s cooperation with Georgia and Ukraine, transatlantic security, and the Alliance’s approach to the Middle East and North Africa. The Western Balkans and the security situation in Afghanistan will also be high on the agenda.

During the first day of the discussions the allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a new missile system in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a key arms control agreement which has been crucial in upholding NATO’s security for over 30 years. At a meeting  NATO Foreign Ministers called on Russia to urgently return to full and verifiable compliance, saying: “it is now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty.” Allies expressed firm commitment to preserving effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

Intense illegal migrants flows to Spain

Almost 400 migrants have been rescued in the Mediterranean this weekend as they attempted to make the crossing from Morocco to Spain, Spanish rescue services confirmed.

Spain faces a steady increase in sea arrivals which surged in recent months, especially after Italy started to close its ports for illegals.

On Saturday all together 395 people were rescued from nine boats in the Strait of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea, the two major sea crossings to Spain, the Spanish coastguard official said.

Two more people were rescued from a small boat on Sunday, they added.

Spain, which for the first time in years has overtaken Italy as the preferred destination for refugees, has registered almost 21,000 migrants so far this year, almost more than in the whole of last year, according to figures compiled by the International Organisation for Migration.

The mortality rate for the crossing from Morocco is around one in 70, the IOM said, which is considerably lower than that between Libya and Italy, which is one in 19.

Shamwari: home for orphan leopards

These leopards were found motherless, by soldiers in Sudan, North Africa.  When the soldiers realised they couldn’t care for the un-weaned cubs, they packaged them up in a box and sent them to the offices of Lundin Oil.

The cubs were in a very poor condition but staff at Lundin Oil nursed them back to health.  Virginia Lundin contacted Born Free, asking if we could find a home for the cubs.  With the facilities available, Shamwari offered to take in the triplets at the Julie Ward Centre and so the young leopards arrived at Shamwari Game Reserve on July,  3 2001.

It would be unusual if you don’t catch sight Alam and Sami at our Southern Born Free Sanctuary.  These leopards were hand-reared and still very much enjoy human company. This is a legacy many hand-reared animals are left with. On some lion-breeding farms, or in circuses, for example, cubs are deliberately removed from their mother at a few days old, to make them safe to handle by tourists and by their trainers.  Many are then discarded when they grow older and more dangerous.

Unfortunately, it was not possible to return the cubs to the wild in the reserve here.  Shamwari would not be given permission and as the cubs are too human-friendly they could become a danger.  We recognise captivity is second-best for these wild-born animals – but at Shamwari they are offered an excellent home.

The young leopards were all neutered to stop sexual aggression and territorial behaviour developing, and they remain affectionate playmates.

On some lion-breeding farms, or in circuses, for example, cubs are deliberately removed from their mother at a few days old, to make them safe to handle by tourists and by their trainers.  Many are then discarded when they grow older and more dangerous.

 

Lavrov for 'true union' against ISIS

lavrov-munich

“Unprecedented terrorist aggression has been seen in Europe, the United States, and the countries that are our allies under the Collective Security Treaty Organisation in Asia – all this presents a serious threat to international security”, said Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov addressing MunichSecurity conference. (The full text of the speech here: http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2086892)

Russian minister expressed concern over the overall degradation of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa after ‘Arab Spring’, and migrant crisis in Europe, pointing at  the threat of terrorism to expand in Middle East, North Africa.

Lavrov claimed a  “certain success” in the fight against ISIS, al-Nusra Front, and the other terroristic groups, however he underlined that the international community has failed so far to create a “truly efficient anti-terrorist front”, blaming  “inability” to put aside nonentity matters, and curb geopolitical ambitions.

Lavrov called for a “true union” of the leading nations against international terrorism,  and also to prevent the collapse of Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan, infiltrated by ISIS, using the lack of unified strategy to their advantage.

 

NATO in stalemate

nato-meeting

NATO Defence Ministers began two days of talks in Brussels on Wednesday,15 February 2017, focusing on ensuring NATO’s strength and flexibility in the face of evolving challenges. Ministers will review progress in deploying NATO’s deterrent forces in the eastern part of the Alliance and assess what NATO can do in the fight against terrorism, says the official announcement of the Alliance.

In his debut trip to Europe as Pentagon chief, Mattis is set to continuity of previous U.S. calls for European allies to invest more on defense, the message the U.S. defense secretaries under Republican and Democratic administrations have done in decades.

President Trump has moderated his criticism of NATO since taking office, but has maintained messaging  to some allies for failing to make “full and proper financial contributions.”

“Many of them have not been even close,” Trump said commenting on European defense spending. “And they have to do that,” Trump told U.S. troops in Florida earlier this month. This financial request makes some of the allies feel unease, especially Italy, struggling to come out from financial crisis.

The finance debate has overshadowed at least to some extend the major issue of the NATO, it’s raison d’être – the relations with Russia.

The ‘holy war’ of the Democrats against president Trump and his administration in attempt to block any of his electoral promises implementation, including the anticipated by many moderation of policy towards Russia,  does not allow NATO’s reform,  and moreover the alliance with Kremlin to defeat Islamic State. The defeat of the “radical Islamic terrorism” is of the priorities of Trump’s foreign policy.

The NATO as the  product of the cold war era was called “obsolete” by present Trump during the election campaign, however the US internal political confrontation does not allow him to start any reforms at the moment. The issue of NATO-Russia relations is not expected to be resolved as long as the political stalemate in Washington stays, delaying the defeat of Islamic State, profiting from the policy of confrontation between the West and Russia to expand its powers to North Africa.

 

Stoltenberg: NATO focus on budget

 

jens-stoltenbergSecretary General Jens Stoltenberg press-conference on upcoming meeting of NATO Defense ministers in Brussels HQ, opening remarks:

‘Over the next two days, NATO Defence Ministers will address the Alliance’s response to a more challenging security environment.

This is a pivotal time for NATO. We face great security challenges. But the strength and the unity of our Alliance are greater.

NATO is founded on the bond between North America and Europe, and in good times and bad, that bond has been unbreakable.  We stand together. We defend each other. And that is good both for Europe, and for North America. I’m confident that Defence Ministers at our meeting tomorrow and the day after tomorrow once again are going to reconfirm the enduring importance of the Transatlantic bond.

NATO has responded to global challenges by adapting to meet them. We are now delivering on the decisions we took at the Warsaw Summit in July. We are in the process of deploying four multinational battlegroups to the eastern part of our Alliance to strengthen our deterrence and our defence. We are also stepping up our ability to anticipate and respond to crises in the South in order to project stability in our neighbourhood.

NATO’s continuous adaptation requires responsibilities to be shared fairly among Allies. Fair burden-sharing and increased defence spending underpins the transatlantic Alliance. So we will at our meeting stress the importance of fair burden-sharing and higher defence spending for the Alliance.

After many years with steep cuts in defence spending, we have turned a corner. Today, I can present to you new updated figures for 2016. Defence spending in real terms has  increased by 3.8% among European Allies and Canada. This is significantly higher than what we had originally foreseen. And it amounts to roughly 10 billion dollars more for our defence. This makes a difference but it is absolutely vital that we keep up the momentum.

During this ministerial, we will also focus on the fight against terrorism, and threats stemming from the Middle East and North Africa. NATO is providing support to the Counter-ISIL Coalition and working to train partners like Iraq, Jordan and Tunisia. But we can and should do more.

We will also launch a review of the NATO Command Structure, to ensure we have the right tools to deal with the challenges we face. And we will agree further steps to resist hybrid war fair, hybrid threats, including with strengthened cyber defences.

We will conclude the ministerial with a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission, where we will discuss the security situation in the region and Georgia’s reforms, which are bringing the country closer to NATO.”

14 february 2017