No deportation of refugees agreement with European Union, Mali says


This video says about itself:

The Deadly Journey From Libya’s Migrant Jails

30 March 2016

Desperate to escape conflict and poverty, thousands of migrants and refugees attempt the perilous journey to Europe each year, with many crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa in rubber dinghies and wooden boats.

In the wake of the decommissioning of Mare Nostrum, a search and rescue operation run by Italy, the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched their own vessel, named the Bourbon Argos, to find those stranded at sea and save those in trouble on one of the deadliest routes to Europe.

On board the vessel, refugees and migrants are provided with medical aid, food, and shelter, then brought safely to Italian shores. Having survived life in Libya, ruthless treatment by smugglers, and horrific conditions aboard flimsy boats, once aboard the Bourbon Argos they face yet more uncertainty as they approach Europe.

VICE News teamed up with MSF to document these missions in the Mediterranean. In this extra scene, we speak with rescued refugees and migrants, where they describe the situation in Libya before embarking on one of the deadliest routes to Europe.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Mali: no agreement with Koenders about returning migrants

Today, 20:26

Mali denies that last Sunday in Mali an agreement was signed with [Dutch Foreign Affairs] Minister Koenders about the return of migrants. Diop, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mali denied that in the VPRO radio program Bureau Buitenland on NPO Radio 1.

Koenders was on behalf of the European Union in Mali and reported on Sunday that there was an agreement on facilitating the return of rejected asylum seeking Malians from countries in Europe. There are, according to Koenders, concrete agreements on repatriation, border management and legal migration.

According to Minister Diop these things have been discussed, but “we can not say that specifically an agreement has been concluded.” “We are also surprised that the situation was explained that way.”

Diop does not deny that a joint statement was issued, but that dd not involve an agreement, according to him. He expects a correction by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

More than 5,000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean in 2016: here.

Germany in 2016: Mass deportations and brutality toward refugees: here.

European Union sends refugees back to Mali war


French soldier in Mali with skull mask

This photo of a French Foreign Legion soldier, part of the invasion of Mali, shows the real face of that war.

That war is not “against Al Qaeda terrorism” (supported by the French government in Libya, and still in Syria). It is not for women’s rights, human rights or secularism.

It started in support of a military dictatorship.

It brings death, mainly to Malian civilians.

This war is a neo-colonial war.

The French Foreign Legion became infamous in the nineteenth century for its atrocities while imposing colonial rule in Algeria and elsewhere. Now, it plays a role in twenty-first century neo-colonialism as well.

While the Dutch government are preaching “austerity” to their citizens, they planned to spend lots of money on neo-colonial war in Mali.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

EU will send refugees back to war-torn Mali

Tuesday 13th December 2016

EU COUNTRIES will deport failed asylum-seekers to war-torn Mali, the bloc announced yesterday after concluding a deal with the west African country.

The agreement includes commitments by the European Union to support Mali’s economic development, the introduction of biometric passports and improving security in the country’s north.

Former colonial power France sent troops to Mali in 2013 to combat a Tuareg insurgency increasingly falling under jihadist influence following the Nato-backed overthrow of Libya’s government in 2011.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, who signed on behalf of the EU, said that “only through this kind of co-operation we can tackle the problem of migration at its roots.”

Tracking one turtle dove could help save its whole species


Titan the turtle dove was fitted with a tracking tag last year, before he began his migration to Africa. Photo: RSPB

From BirdLife:

How tracking one turtle dove could help save its whole species

By Jamie Wyver, Wed, 05/08/2015 – 08:38

In a first for UK science, a European Turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) has been tracked by satellite tagging as it travelled 11,200km from Suffolk in England to Mali, Africa, and back again.

Flying mostly under the cover of darkness, the bird, named Titan, flew 500-700 kilometres a night across epic landscapes such as the Atlas Mountains of North Africa, Sahara Desert and the Gulf of Cádiz, visiting Senegal, Morocco and Spain en route. His maximum speed was 60km per hour.

Titan was fitted with a small, lightweight satellite tag in Suffolk in summer 2014 by the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. Since then, Titan is playing a vital role in solving a serious conservation problem: how to prevent the rapid loss of his species from across Europe.

Turtle doves have recently been up listed to ‘Vulnerable’ status on the 2015 European red list, with their population plummeting by 77% across the continent since 1980. In fact, the disappearance of these birds is happening so rapidly that their numbers in the UK are halving every six years. If the decline continues at this rate, the species may be lost as a breeding bird in the UK within the next couple of decades.

In the UK, the number of breeding attempts per turtle dove pair halved between the 1960s and the late 1990s, which on its own can explain the population decline of UK breeding turtle doves. The RSPB is working on the premise that due to changes in agricultural practices, the availability of favoured weed seeds has declined, leading to reduced annual productivity. We are working with farmers to make the most of agri-environment schemes that support provision of hedges and scrub for nesting, and turtle-dove foraging plots: areas sown and managed specifically for the birds.

After being fitted with the tag, Titan remained in Suffolk until the end of September, when he headed through France into Spain and finally into Africa, going from Mauritania to Senegal and settling in Mali, where he spent the winter.

On migration, many turtle doves fly over the Mediterranean, a danger zone because of the hunting of turtle doves here. When Titan first entered this region, the legal hunting seasons in France and Spain were in full swing. Estimates suggest that around one million birds are killed across the western European flyway each autumn.

But this is only one of many challenges migratory birds face, and not all make it. RSPB researchers fitted two turtle doves with satellite tags in 2014. However, only Titan made it successfully to the wintering grounds in Africa and back again.

There are many factors in Africa that could play a part in the alarming decline of turtle doves as well, such as a lack of reliable sources of food and water and limited suitable roosting sites. Africa has seen significant agricultural expansion and intensification, as well as desertification, in recent decades.

Tracking Titan on his journey has given the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science valuable information, including the route taken, resting points and lengths of stays at those points, which will help understand where to target conservation efforts.

To encourage international collaboration on a plan to save turtle doves, the RSPB helped organise a symposium and round table event at the European Ornithologists Union conference this August to bring together academics and conservationists from across the species’ range at a flyway scale. Add to that, BirdLife International launched a new three-year EU LIFE+ funded project in April 2015 to identify the conservation needs of turtle doves (along with another 15 species) and to develop an International Species Action Plan.

There are also widespread efforts to ‘regreen’ the Sahel belt where turtle doves overwinter, which may bring back some of the roosting sites they need.

Titan finally left Mali on 19 May, and made swift progress through Mauritania and Algeria, arriving in Morocco on 24 May. Having just crossed the 2,000 km of the Sahara, he spent about two weeks resting in Morocco before crossing into Europe on 6 June. Passing through Spain and France, he finally returned to the UK, ending his journey very close to the spot he was first tagged a year earlier.

Breeding biology of sympatric Laughing (Streptopelia senegalensis) and Turtle (Streptopelia turtur) Doves in NE Algeria: here.

Determinants of nesting success in Turtle doves (Streptopelia turtur) in a North-African agricultural area. Determining the effects of environmental factors on nesting success of migrant and breeding game birds is paramount especially in man-made environments. Using Poisson regression, we investigated the influence on the number of chicks fledged per nest (N = 207) of nest placement, proximity of cereal crops and water sources, taking into account possible phenological and spatial differences between the five studied orchards. The best model, selected by Akaike criterion, shows positive linear effects of distance from the nest to the trunk, to closest cereal crops and a quadratic effect of nest height (with an optimum at 1.6m). In Guelma’s orange groves, nest placement and proximity to cereal crops have a direct impact on the productivity of Turtle doves. Further researches on other tree species (fruit and forest ones) are necessary to: (i) assess their importance for breeding Turtle doves and (ii) determine the effect of environmental variables on the maintenance of the species: here.

Studies of niche partitioning among Columbidae species have mainly addressed food habits and foraging activities, while partitioning in relation to nest-niche differentiation has been little studied. The recent expansion of Laughing dove Streptopelia senegalensis distribution throughout Morocco has raised concerns regarding its effects on native species, particularly Turtle doves S. turtur. The study, conducted in May 2008 and 2009, attempted to determine the factors that may play a role in nest-niche differentiation among the two sympatric dove species in the Tadla’s agricultural area (central Morocco). I used Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) to test the relevance of nest placement and human presence variables in the nest distribution of the two species. The results show substantial niche segregation in the olive nest-trees selected by Turtle and Laughing doves, with selection depending primarily on human presence and, to a lesser extent, the vertical distribution of nests. Observed nest-niche partitioning may diminish the potential for competition between these species and enhance opportunities for their coexistence. I further suggest guidelines for future studies that seek to understand the spatio-temporal dynamics of Laughing and Turtle dove coexistence in the region: here.

French neo-colonial war in Central African Republic


This video says about itself:

The Central African Empire was a monarchial regime that existed between 1976 and 1979 in what had been the Central African Republic. It came about when the President Jean-Bedel Bokassa declared himself Emperor in Napoleonic fashion and then staged a massive coronation for himself, all done in French Napoleonic style.

The world was somewhat shocked at this, some countries playing along and others dismissing the self-proclaimed Emperor as a mad man. Bokassa argued that, as an empire, the country would be more stable, more glamorous and attract more attention. That, it certainly did, but stability was not forthcoming and in due time Bokassa was driven out and the republic restored.

Central African emperor-dictator Bokassa meets French President Giscard d'Estaing

On this photo, Central African emperor-dictator Bokassa meets a close ally, French President Giscard d’Estaing. Bokassa gave Giscard gifts of diamonds and ivory. This corruption scandal with that dictator contributed to Giscard losing his re-election bid in the 1981 elections.

By Kumaran Ira in France:

French war in Central African Republic intensifies humanitarian crisis

16 December 2013

On Friday, French Defense Minister Jean Yves Le Drian visited the Central African Republic (CAR) to hold talks with the country’s interim leaders amid the ongoing French intervention and escalating violence in the country. He spoke with French soldiers and also with CAR President Michel Djotodia, who is supported by the Seleka militia.

France’s Operation Sangaris began after the UN Security Council voted a France-sponsored resolution on December 5, authorizing French and African intervention ostensibly to prevent humanitarian crises and halt rising sectarian violence. Some 2,500 African Union (AU) troops functioning as French proxies have been deployed—a number slated to increase to 6,000.

Speaking to French soldiers in the CAR capital, Bangui, Le Drian said that the “spiral of confrontation has seriously worsened,” producing a “humanitarian crisis” and the risk of “anarchy” in the region if it attracted criminal and terrorist groups.

Le Drian’s statement was a tacit admission that the basis of the French intervention in CAR is a political fraud. Supposedly launched to halt violence between majority Christians and minority Muslims, France’s war in its resource-rich, strategically located former colony is fuelling violence between Christian militias and the Muslim Seleka forces backed by Paris.

Le Drian’s visit came after French President François Hollande’s December 10 visit and the death of two French soldiers on December 9 amid heavy clashes with militias in Bangui.

French military spokesman Colonel Gilles Jaron explained, “The two soldiers had been part of a team inspecting an area east of Bangui’s airport close to midnight on Monday before a disarmament operation.” According to Jaron, “gunmen fired on the French patrol, which returned fire.” Both soldiers subsequently died at the hospital.

Speaking in the CAR, Hollande claimed that his administration’s policy of disarming warring groups and restoring stability is essential to avoiding more bloodshed: “France knew it would be dangerous, but it is necessary to avoid carnage.”

Covering up French imperialism’s predatory interests in the region, Hollande cynically added: “France is not here in the Central African Republic out of any self-interest… France has come to defend human dignity.”

Hollande’s comment epitomizes the Orwellian propaganda of his Socialist Party (PS). Rather, French imperialism—having intervened in Syria to support criminal and terrorist forces linked to Al Qaeda, that Le Drian claims to be fighting in CAR—is intervening yet again in an impoverished former colony where it has a long history of reactionary intrigue.

This history includes French support to the dictatorship of Jean-Bédel Bokassa, whom French imperialism ousted in the 1979 coup codenamed Operation Barracuda; the 2002 installation in Operation Boali of Bozizé, whom it defended with 2006 bombings aimed at Djotodia’s forces; and finally France’s latest swing behind the Seleka forces.

While Hollande tries to wrap his wars in the tattered mantle of “human rights,” other political representatives of French imperialism make no bones about the strategic interests Paris is advancing. Christian Jacob, who heads the right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) group in France’s National Assembly, told a radio interviewer on Wednesday: “The CAR military operation is essential, given the country’s strategic location in the heart of Africa.”

The humanitarian crisis and sectarian violence devastating the CAR are primarily the result of Paris’ bloody pursuit of its imperialist interests in its former colony, backing Seleka’s ouster of CAR President François Bozizé in March. Paris aimed to seize the strategically located country in the centre of the African continent and destroy China’s rising influence in Bangui. China had made several key deals with the CAR under Bozizé, including on oil contracts and military cooperation.

France’s direct intervention into the CAR has intensified the violence. More than 600 people have been killed in the last week and over 160,000 people had fled their homes in Bangui alone, according to UN reports.

CAR Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye acknowledged, “Religious communities that have always lived together in perfect harmony are now massacring each other. The situation must be stopped as soon as possible.”

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Adrian Edwards said: “There are frequent reports of indiscriminate attacks against civilians, recruitment of child soldiers, sexual and gender-based violence, looting and destruction of property.” He added that 160 people were also reported to have been killed in other parts of CAR.

Sectarian clashes were also reported in several towns, including Bouca, Bossangoa and Bozoum, with 27 Muslims reported to have been killed by Christian self-defence militias, known as anti-balaka, in the village of Bohong on December 12.

Contacts have reportedly begun between Djotodia and the “anti-balaka” militias in an effort to negotiate some type of truce. Djotodia told RFI radio that “he was ready to extend his hand” to rival Christian forces.

France’s intervention is supported by Britain and the United States. Britain’s Royal Air Force has offered two large C-17 transport planes to help deploy French troops and armoured cars to the CAR.

Washington is deploying two aircraft and a command team to nearby Uganda in support of French operations in the CAR. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has authorized military transport aircraft to carry troops from Burundi to the CAR.

On December 9, a US official told Reuters the Pentagon has received requests for logistical support to bolster French and AU troops. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said US military support would likely resemble the assistance that the Pentagon has provided France during its war in Mali. That included airlift assistance and intelligence sharing.

Yesterday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that France would ask for more help from European Union (EU) member states to help it wage war in CAR. “That is a real, big problem,” Fabius told Europe1 radio. “Tomorrow, I’ll go to the Council of Foreign Ministers and I will ask for stepped-up, more robust aid, including on the ground.”

When it launched its military intervention in the CAR a week ago, the Hollande administration claimed that it would only last about six months. However, analysts pointed out that it could last far longer.

African specialist Roland Marchal of the Paris-based National Centre for Scientific Research said “It’s an illusion—as it was an illusion in Mali to declare the war was over, that French soldiers would be back home soon… We have more than 2,000 soldiers [still in Mali], though Francois Hollande promised that only 1,000 would be there by the end of the year.”

EMILE SCHEPERS examines the French history of meddling in central Africa: here.

Le « Dossier noir » de l’armée française en Afrique: here.

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