Connect with us
Migrants Migrants

Middle East

EU sticks to Libya strategy on migrants, despite human rights concerns

After more than two years struggling to stem the flow of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa, the EU is now showing signs of optimism that it is finally in control.

FILE PHOTO: Migrants are seen at the centre of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Authority in Tripoli, Libya September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Hani Amara/File Photo

Published

on

BRUSSELS  – The European Union is determined to go on preventing migrants setting off from the coast of Libya, interior ministers said on Thursday, despite criticism from rights advocates who say the strategy is aggravating human suffering.

After more than two years struggling to stem the flow of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa, the EU is now showing signs of optimism that it is finally in control.

A 2016 deal with Turkey effectively closed one major migratory route and this year Italy has led the EU’s efforts to curb sea crossings from Libya, supplying money, equipment and training for Libya’s border and coast guard, and striking deals with local groups in control on the ground in a country still largely lawless after the 2011 death of Muammar Gaddafi.

Mediterranean crossings have dropped from nearly 28,000 people in June to below 10,000 in August, according to U.N. data. Sources told Reuters late last month a new armed group on Libya’s coast was stopping migrant boats from leaving.

Image result for Libya’s coast was stopping migrant boats from leaving

Armed group on Libya’s coast was stopping migrant boats from leaving.

Human rights groups decry the EU’s support for Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez Seraj and allied militias who run migrant detention centers they have compared to concentration camps.

The top U.N. human rights official said the EU strategy was “very thin on the protection of the human rights of migrants inside Libya and on the boats, and silent on the urgent need for alternatives to the arbitrary detention of vulnerable people.”

To offset that, the bloc has stepped up financing for the U.N. agencies for migration (IOM) and refugees (UNHCR) to have them try to improve conditions for migrants inside Libya.

“We also need to redouble our efforts to provide assistance to the migrants stranded in Libya and …. exposed to unacceptable, inhumane treatment and human rights violations,” EU’s migration chief, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told journalists.

But the EU is not changing tack on keeping them there.

“If we look at the flows of migrants across the Mediterranean a few months ago and now, the decrease in illegal migration has been big in numbers,” Estonia’s Interior Minister Andres Anvelt said ahead of talks in Brussels with his EU peers.

“We’ll have a discussion about how to have this success story going on.”

Image result for Migrants are seen at the centre of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Authority in Tripoli, Libya September 10, 2017.

FILE PHOTO: Migrants are seen at the centre of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Authority in Tripoli, Libya September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Hani Amara/File Photo

Avramopoulos said the bloc’s executive European Commission backed a U.N. call to resettle a further 40,000 refugees from Libya, Egypt, Niger, Ethiopia and Sudan, an effort to offer legal ways into the EU instead of smuggling or trafficking.

“TRUST IN ITALY”

Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters: “I‘m happy that the number of people sent across the Mediterranean by the smugglers to Italy has really fallen in the last two months … These developments need to be carried on.”

“We really need to work to ensure that many people simply do not make the trip across the desert to Libya. The neighborhood policy with Africa is very important for a sustainable decline in migrants coming to Italy.”

Struggling to come up with a plan, the EU has increasingly let Libya’s former colonial power Italy take the lead.

Image result for Interior Minister Marco Minniti

File Photo : Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti speaks during a press conference after a security meeting.

Interior Minister Marco Minniti has sponsored those efforts, curbing the sea operations of non-governmental aid groups and striking deals with Libyan mayors to fight people-trafficking, among other moves.

Rome has also played a central role in training the Libyan coast guard, which has been accused of abuses, including shooting at aid workers trying to rescue migrants.

The EU has denied that any of its funding goes to the militia in the coastal city of Sabratha, which has often prevented migrants from departing for Europe by locking them up.

But a senior EU diplomat said the EU’s strategy was complex.

“It is hard to know exactly what is going on in Libya. We have increasingly entrusted Italy with doing the job there, we give them money. There would never be any proof of EU money going directly to some armed group somewhere,” the person said.

“Some of the methods may seem controversial. But there is also preventing loss of life at the sea and political stability in Italy to consider. We shouldn’t be too judgmental.”

Source : Reuters

Middle East

Khashoggi’s private WhatsApp messages may offer new clues

Published

on

journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Washington, Dec 3 : Slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in over 400 WhatsApp messages that he sent to a fellow Saudi exile before he was murdered in October, described Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as a “beast” and a “pac-man” who would devour all in his path, even his supporters, a media report said.

Khashoggi had sent the texts to Montreal-based activist Omar Abdulaziz, the CNN report said on Monday.

The messages shared by Abdulaziz, which include voice recordings, photos and videos, paint a picture of a man deeply troubled by what he regarded as the petulance of the Crown Prince.

“The more victims he eats, the more he wants,” says Khashoggi in one message sent in May, just after a group of Saudi activists had been rounded up.

“I will not be surprised if the oppression will reach even those who are cheering him on.”

In almost daily exchanges between October 2017 and August 2018, Khashoggi and Abdulaziz conceived plans to form an electronic army to engage young Saudis back home and debunk state propaganda on social media, leveraging Khashoggi’s establishment profile and the 27-year-old Abdulaziz’s 340,000-strong Twitter following.

“(Jamal]) believed that MBS (the Crown Prince) is the issue, is the problem and he said this kid should be stopped,” Abdulaziz said in an interview with CNN on Sunday.

But in August, when he believed their conversations may have been intercepted by Saudi authorities, a sense of foreboding descends over Khashoggi.

“God help us,” he wrote.

Two months later, he was dead.

Abdulaziz on Sunday launched a lawsuit against an Israeli company that invented the software he believes was used to hack his phone.

“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” Abdelaziz told CNN. “The guilt is killing me.”

Abdulaziz began speaking out against the Saudi regime as a college student in Canada. His pointed criticisms of government policies drew the attention of the Saudi state, which cancelled his university scholarship.

Canada granted him asylum in 2014 and made him a permanent resident three years later.

Abdulaziz first spoke publicly about his contact with Khashoggi last month after researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab reported his phone had been hacked by military-grade spyware.

IANS

Continue Reading

Middle East

U.S.-led coalition fires missiles at Syria’s military positions in eastern country

According to the report, the missiles targeted some military positions south of the town of Sukhneh in central Syria

Published

on

breaking

Damascus, Dec 3 : The US-led coalition fires several missiles on military sites in central Syria on Sunday evening, causing damages only, state-run SANA news agency reported.

According to the report, the missiles targeted some military positions south of the town of Sukhneh in central Syria, Xinhua news agency reported.

It said the attack left material losses only.

 

Continue Reading

Middle East

US sanctions 17 Saudi officials over killing of Khashoggi

The sanctions were handed down after Saudi Arabia’s attorney general, Saud al-Mojeb, said Thursday that he would seek the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged in connection with the journalist’s death.

Published

on

journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Washington, Nov 16 (IANS) The United States’ government on Thursday sanctioned 17 Saudi Arabian officials for their alleged role in the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul early last month.

Among those sanctioned by the US Treasury Department is Saud al-Qahtani, one of the chief advisers to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Efe reported.

“The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi (on October 2). These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was quoted as saying in a press release.

“The government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists,” he added.

The US Treasury Department accused al-Qahtani of helping to plan and execute the operation that led to the killing of Khashoggi.

The other people hit with sanctions are Saudi Arabia’s consul general, Mohammed al-Otaibi; al-Qahtani’s subordinate, Maher Mutreb, who allegedly coordinated and executed the operation; and 14 others who purportedly participated in the crime.

“As a result of these designations, any property or interests in property of the individuals designated today within or transiting US jurisdiction is blocked,” Thursday’s press release said.

“Additionally, US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with blocked persons, including entities 50 percent or more owned by designated persons.”

The sanctions were handed down after Saudi Arabia’s attorney general, Saud al-Mojeb, said Thursday that he would seek the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged in connection with the journalist’s death.

In a press conference in Riyadh, the top prosecutor said the crown prince had not had any prior knowledge of the operation.

Al-Mojeb said the investigation had shown that Khashoggi, a government critic and Washington Post columnist, died after being restrained and injected with a tranquilizer following a fight inside the consulate.

His body was then dismembered and handed over to a Turkish collaborator, the attorney general said.

Al-Mojeb said the then-deputy head of intelligence, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, had masterminded the operation that was intended to get Khashoggi back to the kingdom.

He added that the order for the killing was given by the head of the delegation of agents that had traveled to Turkey, although he did not name that individual.

Khashoggi, long a part of the Saudi establishment, became estranged from Riyadh as a result of his criticism of the crown prince and had been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2017.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Most Popular