Italy’s government plans to throw more resources into its fight against boat migrants, an official said on Tuesday, as the number of new arrivals gathers speed, putting pressure on Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Some 47 migrants were brought to shore before dawn by an Italian police patrol vessel, while a charity ship rebuffed by Italy picked up 44 people in the central Mediterranean and said they would be transferred to Malta later in the day. After a sharp fall in migrant arrivals in recent months, numbers have picked up since June, with people-smugglers increasingly towing packed boats deep into international waters to escape especially the Italian-funded Libyan coastguard. Previously, the underpowered, rubber dinghies were pushed to sea from local beaches, making it relatively easy for the Libyans to stop them before they left their territorial waters. To clamp down on this, Italy is planning to boost its own sea and air patrols to try to spot traffickers before they leave local waters, and will give 10 motorboats to the Libyan coastguard. Salvini, who has built much of his political credibility on a drive to halt migrant flows, also wrote to his Tunisian counterpart urging him to do more to stop departures from Tunisia and to accept back swiftly those caught fleeing. Over the past 18 months, the largest number of migrants entering Italy have come from Tunisia, a change from previous years when the new arrivals came mainly from sub-Saharan Africa. TUNISIANS TOP MIGRANT LIST Since the start of 2019,
They are trapped in squalid detention centers on Libya’s front lines. They wash up on the banks of the Rio Grande. They sink without a trace — in the Mediterranean, in the Pacific or in waterways they can’t even name. A handful fall out of airplanes’ landing gear. As their choices narrow on land and at sea, migrants are often seen as a political headache in the countries they hope to reach and ignored in the countries they flee. Most live in limbo, but recent tragedies have focused attention on the risks they face and the political constraints at the root of them. A record 71 million people were forcibly displaced around the world in 2018, according to a report last month by the U.N. refugee agency, in places as diverse as Turkey, Uganda, Bangladesh and Peru. Many are still on the move in 2019, or trapped like thousands in detention in Libya, where an airstrike on Tuesday killed at least 44 migrants and refugees locked away in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura. Most of those in Tajoura and other Libyan detention centers have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard, which has become the go-to border force for the European Union, which can’t get 28 governments to agree about migration. Despite the rhetoric about migration crises in Europe and the U.S., the top three countries taking in refugees are Turkey, Pakistan and Uganda. Germany comes in a distant fifth. A 20-year-old who fled war in his homeland in sub-Saharan
Controversy broadsided the embattled U.S. Border Patrol agency Monday, as a high-profile U.S. Congresswoman touring detention facilities called conditions “horrifying” and as current and former agency staffers were alleged to have posted offensive comments about the lawmaker and migrants on a private Facebook page. Migrants held at a border patrol station in Texas were subjected to psychological abuse and told to drink out of toilets, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said after a visit with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to the main border patrol facility in El Paso. The tour, which also included a visit to a Clint, Texas, facility, followed reports from a government watchdog that immigrants were being housed in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. “After I forced myself into a cell with women and began speaking to them, one of them described their treatment at the hands of officers as “psychological warfare,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a first-term New York Democrat, wrote on Twitter after leaving the El Paso border patrol station. “This has been horrifying so far.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which oversees Border Patrol, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on her statements about the visit. The Border Patrol also came under fire on Monday following a report by the non-profit news site ProPublica that offensive content had been posted on a private Facebook group for current and former CBP officers. Posts included jokes about the deaths of migrants and sexually explicit comments referencing Ocasio-Cortez, the news outlet said. Reuters did not independently
The German captain of a humanitarian rescue ship with 40 migrants aboard has been arrested after she rammed her vessel into an Italian border police motorboat while docking at a tiny Mediterranean island Saturday in defiance of Italy’s anti-migrant interior minister. Jeering onlookers shouted “handcuffs, handcuffs” as Carola Rackete, the 31-year-old captain, was escorted off the boat at Lampedusa, which is closer to north Africa than to the Italian mainland. The migrants, meanwhile, hugged personnel of the German Sea-Watch charity who helped them during their 17 days at sea. Some kissed the ground after disembarking from Sea-Watch 3 at dawn’s break. The migrants had been rescued from an unseaworthy vessel launched by Libya-based human traffickers but Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had refused to let them disembark on Lampedusa until other European Union countries agreed to take them. Five nations pledged to do so on Friday: Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal. The humanitarian rescue operation ended dramatically and violently when Rackete decided she could no longer wait for permission to dock given the odyssey of the migrants aboard. “It’s enough. After 16 days following the rescue, #SeaWatch3 enters in port,” the organization tweeted early Saturday shortly before the ship started heading dockside. The captain steered her vessel toward the island before dawn, ramming the much smaller police boat, which was blocking Sea-Watch 3?s path to the dock. In past years, Lampedusa had won international praise for its generous welcome to many of the hundreds of thousands of rescued migrants.
In the desert of western Libya, hundreds of African migrants were held for months in a hangar filled with maggot-covered garbage and sewage. They shared a couple of buckets of water between them and barely survived on one meal a day. More than 20 died from disease and hunger, they said. The migrants and their advocates accused U.N. aid agencies of turning a blind eye or responding too slowly to their plight. The U.N refugee agency, or UNHCR, denies it’s been unresponsive, saying it has been unable to access parts of the facility, run by one of Libya’s many militias. The commander in charge of the facility denied there was any lack of access. Internal memos and emails leaked to The Associated Press also show disagreement among the UNHCR and other aid agencies over conditions at the site in the town of Zintan, with one NGO working on behalf of UNHCR denying there was lack of food, even as it acknowledged it hadn’t been able to see the majority of migrants held there. The suffering of the migrants held in Zintan underscores the impact of the European Union’s effective yet much-criticized policy of blocking Africans from sailing across the Mediterranean to its shores and keeping them in Libya. Funded and trained by the EU, Libyan border guards have been stepping up efforts to stop migrants from crossing. As a result, thousands of migrants are trapped in a country thrown into chaos by war. At least 6,000 are locked up in
“If they are going to open the program up in these numbers and they can’t even manage the influx facility that they have in a humane way, then compounding that is going to be disastrous,” said Holly Cooper, an attorney at the Immigration Law Clinic at University of California, Davis who represents detained youth.
More than 40,000 people have been intercepted in the Mediterranean and taken to detention camps and torture houses under a European migration policy that is responsible for crimes against humanity, according to a legal document asking the International Criminal Court to take the case Monday. Citing public European Union documents, statements from the French president, the German chancellor and other top European Union officials, the document alleges that European Union officials are knowingly responsible for deaths of migrants at land and sea, and their widespread rape and torture at the hands of a Libyan coast guard funded and trained at the expense of European taxpayers. It names no EU official but cites an ongoing ICC investigation into the fate of migrants in Libya. “We leave it to the prosecutor, if he dares, if she dares, to go into the structures of power and to investigate at the heart of Brussels, of Paris, of Berlin and Rome and to see by searching in the archives of the meetings of the negotiations who was really behind the scenes trying to push for these policies that triggered the death of more than 14,000 people,” said Juan Branco, a lawyer who co-wrote the report and shared it with The Associated Press. The ICC is a court of last resort that handles cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide when other countries are unwilling or unable to prosecute. Germany’s government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, rejected any responsibility for conditions in Libya and said any
Young migrants in New Jersey who are seeking legal status in the United States after allegedly suffering abuse or neglect in their home countries sued the Trump administration on Monday, saying it is unfairly denying their claims.
It is the fourth such lawsuit of its kind around the country filed since last year over rejections of so-called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petitions, which have increasingly been denied to migrants as President Donald Trump’s administration tightens immigration policy.
Monday’s lawsuit was filed on behalf of four anonymous people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who say they were victims of family abuse and gang violence in their home countries but that their applications for immigration status were unfairly denied because they are between the ages of 18 to 21.
“It doesn’t matter what rules (Trump’s) government imposes we cannot go back to our countries. I have a bullet in my arm and another in my shoulder. If I go back home, it’d be better for me to go with a casket,” said 30 year-old Julio Caesar from Honduras, who declined to give his last name.