In a letter sent to Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, the EU’s human rights watchdog has once again asked Italy to suspend its collaboration activities with Libya’s controversial coast guard.
Council of Europe Commissioner for human rights Dunja Mijatovic has called on Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio to “suspend co-operation activities” with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard. In the letter addressed to Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Mijatovic urged the Italian government to “introduce human rights in the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya.”
The government in Rome responded immediately through its permanent representative in the French city of Strasbourg, and said Italy is “fully conscious that the 2017 accord with Libya can be improved.”
It said, however, that the decrease in deaths in the Mediterranean, which has dropped by roughly 60% — from over 5,000 in 2017 to under 2.000 in 2019 –, “tells us that we must continue to work in this direction rather than disengage ourselves from this country,” the government said.
Italy should suspend co-operation activities with Libyan Coast Guard and introduce #HumanRights safeguards in future #migration co-operation
Read my letter to #Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs @luigidimaio https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/commissioner-urges-italy-to-suspend-co-operation-activities-with-libyan-coast-guard-and-introduce-human-rights-safeguards-in-future-migration-co-opera …
Commissioner urges Italy to suspend co-operation activities with Libyan Coast Guard and introduce…
In early February, Italy and Libya renewed the controversial 2017 agreement governing migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea for a period of three years. Under the terms of the new agreement, Italy will provide financial assistance to the Libyan authorities in order that Libya’s coast guard is trained in rescue operations.
Despite its record of abuses, Libya’s coast guard which receives training and funding from the EU continues to be the bloc’s preferred partner to prevent migrants from reaching European soil.
‘Serious violations in Libya’
In the letter, dated February 13, Mijatovic asked that Italy above all “fully acknowledge the current realities on the ground in Libya and the time it will necessarily take for any changes that may be secured to have an impact.”
In light of the “great amount of evidence pointing to serious human rights violations faced by migrants and asylum seekers returned there,” Mijatovic called for the suspension of all cooperation activities in place with Libya’s coast guard that affect the return to Libya of persons intercepted at sea.
The EU’s human rights chief also highlighted the need, as part of the procedure of renewing said accord, to “conduct thorough human rights risk assessments” of the impact cooperation activities may have on the right to life of migrants and asylum seekers.
At the same time, the commissioner assured she would “continue to call for more solidarity from Council of Europe member states with those countries which, like Italy, are on the frontline of migration movements to Europe.”
Just last week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) called on EU states to ensure that migrants rescued at sea are not sent back to Libya. In a statement, IOM said over 2,000 migrants “remain detained in deplorable conditions” in Libya.
‘Confident that amended accord can be reached’
Italy “is confident that an amended accord with improved terms of cooperation can be reached in a timely matter,” the Italian government said in its response through its permanent representative in Strasbourg.
It further said the objective of the accord was to guarantee “better protection of migrants and asylum seekers in Libya and gradually replacing the current system of detention centers with new models that adhere to the principles of the rule of law” in the framework of respect for human rights.
“Today, Italy is the only European country that carries out in Libya the humanitarian evacuation of hundreds of refugees to ensure them integration and well-being in Italian society,” the statement read.
IOM launches open South America portal
Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Open South America, available in Spanish, English and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.
The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.
The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.
Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.
“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.
“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.
29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM
The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.
About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.
Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.
He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.
Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.
“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”
Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.
“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.
Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.
The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.
FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK
The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.
Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.
Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.
Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.
“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.
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