European Union returns refugees to Libyan slavery


This November 2017 video is called SLAVE TRADE IN LIBYA | SHOCKING DOCUMENTARY.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Sunday, February 2, 2020

EU refugee policy condemned on the 3rd anniversary of Libyan Coastguard deal

Around 40,000 people have been intercepted at sea and brought back to war-torn Libya since the EU’s 2017 Malta Declaration

MONDAY marks the third anniversary of a deal struck between the European Union and Libya which has caused tens of thousands of refugees to be pushed back to a war zone — in contravention of international human-rights law.

At a meeting in Valletta, Malta, on February 3 2017, EU leaders met to discuss human trafficking and “measures to stem the flow of irregular migrants from Libya to Italy.”

The result of the meeting was the Malta Declaration, part of which states that “priority will be given to … training, equipment and support to the Libyan national coastguard and other relevant agencies.”

According to analysis by migrant researcher Matteo Villa at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, “around 40,000 people have been intercepted at sea and brought back to Libya” since the 2017 agreements with Libya.

The civil refugee-rescue fleet — a small collection of NGOs that have been the main actors carrying out search-and-rescue missions in the central Mediterranean since April 2019 — condemned the EU’s support for the Libyan Coastguard.

Sophie Beau, international vice-president of SOS Mediterranee — which, along with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), operates the rescue ship Ocean Viking — said that the declaration “laid the foundation for a massive breach of international law, financed by European taxpayers’ money.

“While the European Union pulled back from saving lives at sea over the past years,” Ms Beau said, “they simultaneously financed, trained and equipped the Libyan Coastguard to intercept people fleeing the country.

“They are returning them to a cycle of violence and abuse in war-torn Libya.

“Rescued people on board endlessly report to us shocking experiences of torture, rape, slavery and even executions, and most of the survivors are hurt or traumatised.”

Axel Steier, co-founder of the German refugee rescue charity Mission Lifeline, told the Morning Star that Europe’s interests are clear: keep refugees away.

“Europe’s incantations of ‘We fight the smugglers’ are of no use,” Mr Steier said.

“As long as there are no legal entry routes, people will continue to flee across the sea.”

Article 33 of the 1951 Refugee Convention, of which all EU member states are signatories, states: “No contracting state shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where [their] life or freedom would be threatened on account of [their] race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

Alarm Phone, an activist network providing support to people attempting to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, was equally damning.

“We do not doubt that Italy and Europe will continue to be the major collaborator with the cruel practices of the so-called Libyan Coastguard, thereby financing human-rights violations, making sea crossings even more dangerous, and forcibly pushing people back to a war zone and torture,” an Alarm Phone spokesperson told the Star.

“Italy and Europe are therefore fully responsible for the violence, deaths at sea and human-rights violations. By delegating to Libya they hide and deny their responsibility.

“But people on the move do not have a choice. In January alone, despite bad weather conditions, thousands of people made the deadly journey across the sea to flee war and violence.

“They do not have a voice in the conferences and deals between the EU and Libya, but many still bravely succeed in reaching Europe.

“We listen to them calling us in their hardest moments, struggling at sea in unseaworthy boats. We will continue to organise ourselves as part of the civil fleet for freedom of movement.”

Oxfam has accused the EU of using its aid money to Africa, particularly its emergency trust fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa, as a policy tool to lower migration to Europe.

“Since July 2017,” a report released last week states, “nearly €90 million [£75.6m] has been released through the EUTF for Africa to train, equip and support the capacity of the Libyan coastguard to intercept migrants at sea and land borders …”

European Union returns refugees to Libyan slavery


This 23 January 2018 video says about itself:

New videos expose torture of African refugees in Libya

New videos have emerged showing African refugees being abused in Libya. Illegal detention centres, extortion and slavery have become common as many people trying to reach Europe are either caught or returned to Libya.

Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid reports.

By Ben Cowles:

Monday, December 2, 2019

Europe suggests NGO rescuers hand refugees back to Libya’s ‘criminal groups’

THE European maritime authorities are ducking their responsibility for refugees crossing the Mediterranean and, worse, are referring NGO rescue ships to “criminal groups”, the refugee rescue fleet has told the Star.

Two NGO-operated ships, the Alan Kurdi and the Ocean Viking, saved over 100 people from unseaworthy boats during three separate missions in the central Mediterranean last Thursday after the refugees had fled human rights abuses in Libya.

Both ships contacted the Libyan maritime authorities, as international law dictates, but their calls were ignored.

Maltese and Italian authorities have been asked to provide the rescue ships with a port of safety, but none had been offered by the time the Star went to press.

Conditions on board the Alan Kurdi — operated by German charity Sea Eye and named after a three-year-old Syrian-Kurdish boy whose dead body washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015 — have deteriorated dramatically since it rescued 84 people last week.

“It’s insane. No-one is taking responsibility for this,” Sea Eye’s head of communication Julian Pahlke told the Star.

Sea Eye's crew pull refugees from an unseaworthy boat in the central Mediterranean

This photo shows Sea Eye’s crew pulling refugees from an unseaworthy boat in the central Mediterranean.

“Four people collapsed on board the ship on Sunday. Two people have collapsed today. A woman tried to kill herself on Saturday by jumping overboard. She was evacuated to Malta.

“Everyone on board is exhausted. It’s cold and it’s windy and people are sleeping on deck covered in blankets. Our team is so stressed that it’s getting hard for them to look after the rescued.”

When the Alan Kurdi’s crew contacted the maritime rescue co-ordination centres in Malta, Rome and even Bremen in Germany, the latter suggested that the ship should contact the Libyan coastguard.

“We are not going to do that,” Mr Pahlke said. “We are not going to break international law by handing refugees over to criminal groups and back to a war zone.”

The Ocean Viking — jointly operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) — was in international waters between Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa with 60 refugees on board as the Star went to press. Its crew also refused to break international law.

Libya cannot be considered a place of safety,” SOS Mediterranee director of operations Frederic Penard told the Star.

“Everybody says this every day, including European leaders and their governments. The situation in the country is very well documented.

“But at the same time, European leaders refuse to accept responsibility for the co-ordination of some of our cases, including the designation of a port of safety, and they keep referring us back to the Libyan coastguard, which is unable to provide a place of safety because their country is not safe.

“The European Union’s policies here are grossly incoherent. On the one hand, they clearly acknowledge that the situation in Libya is a problem, which clearly disqualifies the country as being safe. But on the other hand they refuse to abide by international maritime conventions.”

The EU withdrew all of its search and rescue ships in April after pressure from Italy’s then far-right … coalition government. Since then, a small number of NGO ships have been the only vessels in the Mediterranean carrying out the humanitarian work formerly done by the bloc.

Many NGO activists have been persecuted for their efforts and charities such as Sea Watch, Mediterranea Saving Humans, Mission Lifeline and Jugend Rettet have had their ships seized by the Italian and Maltese authorities.

MSF UK humanitarian representative Liz Harding warned that despite the EU’s extremely limited dedicated search and rescue presence in the Mediterranean, people continue to attempt to cross the world’s deadliest migration route.

Ms Harding told the Star: “MSF calls on EU member states, including the UK, to urgently provide proactive and sufficient search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as to end punitive actions against NGOs trying to provide life-saving assistance.

“Additionally, there must be sustainable, reliable and predictable disembarkation mechanism for survivors in safe places where they will be treated humanely and will be able to seek asylum. Libya is not, and cannot be considered, a place of safety.”

You can follow the Star’s coverage of the civil refugee rescue fleet here.

A FIVE-DAY standoff that left over 100 refugees stranded at sea finally came to an end today when the EU authorities allowed two NGO rescue ships to dock in Italy. The Alan Kurdi, operated by German charity Sea Eye, and the Ocean Viking, crewed jointly by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), saved the lives of 144 refugees last Thursday in three separate missions. It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon, however, when the Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando responded to the Alan Kurdi’s plea for shelter on Twitter that the two ships were granted a port of safety: here.

‘It shouldn’t be civil society versus European governments’. SOS Mediterranee’s DAVID STARKE tells the Star how EU member states have abandoned their commitments to international maritime and refugee laws when it comes to rescues carried out by the civil rescue fleet.

German Protestant Church raising funds to join civil refugee rescue fleet in the Mediterranean: here.