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

Gaza protests : 4 killed, 618 injured

Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

Published

on

Gaza protests

Jerusalem, June 9 (IANS) Four Palestinian protesters were killed and 618 others wounded by Israeli soldiers on Friday during clashes near the Israel-Gaza border, officials said.

Ashraf al-Qedra, the Health Ministry spokesman in Gaza, said Zeyad al-Briem, 25, and Haytham al-Jammal, 15, were killed in east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, while Emad Darabieh, 26, was shot dead in east of Jabalia in northern Gaza.

Meanwhile, Yousef al-Faseeh, 29, was killed in east of Gaza City, Xinhua reported.

Among the injured Palestinians, 117 were hit with live gunshots, 60 with tear gas inhalation, and 77 by bullets shrapnels or tear gas canisters, said al-Qedra.

The clashes, which broke out on Friday afternoon, were part of the 11th Friday “Great March of Return” held by Palestinians in Gaza since March 30. More than 120 Palestinians have been killed so far.

Related image

The Palestinian organisers called the latest rally “the Friday of the One-million-men March for Jerusalem”.

Local media reported that thousands of Palestinian demonstrators joined the protests at five different spots in eastern Gaza.

Hundreds of kites carrying Molotov cocktails flown by demonstrators landed on Israeli agricultural fields and caused large fires.

Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

Five journalists were injured, including AFP photographer Mohamed al-Baba, who was shot in his right foot, and a cameraman working for the al-Aqsa Radio of Hamas, who was hit with a tear gas canister in his back, the Health Ministry in Gaza said.

The Ministry also accused Israeli soldiers of firing tear gas at the medical workers who were treating the injured protesters.

Continue Reading

Middle East

Israel begins building marine barrier with Gaza

Israel claims Hamas constructs these tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

Published

on

Avigdor Liberman

Jerusalem, May 28 (IANS) Israel’s Defence Minister on Sunday announced that construction had begun on a marine barrier with the Gaza Strip extending into the Mediterranean Sea.

Avigdor Liberman said in a statement that the barrier aimed to prevent any attempts by Palestinians in Gaza to enter Israeli territory through the sea, Efe news reported.

“This is an additional setback for Hamas, which has lost another strategic capability that it has invested massive amounts in developing. We will continue to protect the citizens of Israel with might and sophistication,” Liberman said.

The barrier is to consist of three layers, one of which is to be underwater, and is expected to be completed within a year, the statement added.

During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, members of the military wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that governs the Gaza Strip, managed to swim to Israeli territory and launch an attack on a Israeli army installation before being killed.

Israeli authorities are also constructing an underground barrier beneath the Gaza-Israel boundary to stop Hamas from digging tunnels into Israeli territory.

Israel claims Hamas constructs these tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

An independent inquiry into the 2014 war in Gaza by the UN Human Rights Council concluded that “the tunnels were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF (Israeli army) positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line, which are legitimate military targets.”

Continue Reading

Middle East

US drone strikes kill 11 IS militants in Afghanistan

The drone strikes were launched on Sunday. Two IS militants were also wounded and three vehicles were destroyed after the raids.

Published

on

drone-strike

Kabul, May 28 : At least 11 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed after US and NATO-led coalition forces launched airstrikes in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, authorities said on Monday.

“The drone strikes were launched on Sunday. Two IS militants were also wounded and three vehicles were destroyed after the raids,” an Army statement said.

Also on Sunday, Afghan Army helicopters struck and destroyed two heroin factories in Khogyani district, reports Xinhua news agency.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Most Popular