Libyan oil war endangers refugees


This 25 February 2019 British TV video says about itself:

European Union immigration: Tortured for trying to enter Europe

New evidence of how Libyan authorities are tackling the “common challenge” of migration. Footage from inside camps in Libya shows migrants living in shocking conditions.

This video was edited on 6th March 2019 following a disputed date/origin.

And there are disturbing signs that some migrants are being tortured … This report contains images that some viewers will find distressing.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 24 April 2019:

The United Nations refugee organization has evacuated 325 refugees from a prison camp south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. According to the UNHCR, this was necessary because the safety of the refugees was at stake due to fighting in the neighborhood.

The refugees have been taken from the Qaser Ben Gashir camp to a detention camp near the village of Azzawya, some 50 kilometers west of Tripoli. According to UNHCR, it is safer there.

Yes, maybe less lethal fights nearby. But still, from one torture camp to another torture camp. While these refugees are not ‘guilty’ of any ‘crime’ worse than fleeing wars in Mali, in South Sudan, etc.

The immediate reason for the UNHCR decision was an incident yesterday, in which twelve migrants were injured when they protested against the conditions in the detention center where they were staying. What exactly happened is unclear, but the migrants had to go to the hospital for treatment. Amnesty International wants an investigation into whether there was a war crime.

“It has never been so dangerous for refugees and migrants in Tripoli as it is today,” says Matthew Brook of the UNHCR mission in Libya. “It is vital that refugees who are in danger are released and evacuated.”

Fear

At another detention camp in the Tajoura suburb, on the east side of Tripoli, Libyans have opened the doors so that refugees who are detained can flee. But according to Reuters news agency nobody dared to leave the camp.

“We can’t go anywhere,” a 20-year-old man told a reporter from the news agency. According to Reuters, most people in the camp do not dare to leave for fear of ending up in battles around the capital.

Offensive

At the beginning of this month the Libyan warlord Haftar started an offensive. He wants to overthrow the … government in Tripoli. Since then, there has been frequent fighting in the Libyan capital.

The UNHCR has already relocated 825 refugees and migrants in the last two weeks because of the fighting. The UN organization wants the 3,000 people still trapped in camps to be released.

Italy has asked the European Union to draw up a plan of action for if a flow of refugees might start due to fighting in Libya.

So, the Italian right-wing Salvini government is much more scared of Libyan and other African refugees fleeing to European countries than of those refugees being killed in the French-Italian proxy oil war in Libya. In this, Emmanuel Macron, French right-wing president and supporter of Libyan warlord Haftar, thinks just like Salvini, his enemy in the proxy oil war in Libya.

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Harsh German refugee camps


This 16 April 2019 video says about itself:

Harsh Conditions in German Refugee Camps

In Germany, there’s growing criticism of the so-called ‘holding and processing centres’ where migrants are sent when they first arrive in the country. Migrants say that conditions inside are horrific.

Stop deporting refugees, German demonstrators demand


This 6 October 2018 music video from Bochum in Germany shows local musicians at a big Seebrücke Bochum demonstration against governmental anti-refugee xenophobia and other racism.

From the World Socialist Web Site in Germany:

Thousands protest against German government’s brutal deportation policy

By our reporters

2 April 2019

In Berlin and other German cities, including Nuremberg and Cologne, more than 5,000 people protested on Saturday against Interior Minister Horst Seehofer’s plans to further deprive refugees of their rights, treat them like criminals and criminalize their supporters. At the same time, they demanded the resumption of maritime rescues.

The demonstration had been called by the pan-European initiative “Seebrücke” (“Sea bridge”). Its petition against Seehofer’s bill “No ‘Orderly Return Law’ but Seehofer’s resignation!” has already received more than 15,000 signatures.

The demonstrators made their protest against these right-wing politics clear with self-made posters. “Stop deportations”, “Deport Seehofer”, “Life-saving is not a crime, but failing to is!” and “Refugees Welcome” were some of the slogans.

Part of the rally in Berlin

The so-called orderly return law provides for legal penalties if rejected asylum seekers and refugees given a temporary stay do not prove the veracity of their identity information and actively participate in their own deportation.

Asylum seekers, whose deportation is not possible for the time being according to the authorities, should not receive a temporary stay, but an “invitation to leave”. Linked to this are harsher work prohibitions and the exclusion of integration possibilities. Only accommodation, food and toiletries should be provided.

At the same time, the European Union decided last week to end its “Operation Sophia” in the Mediterranean.

At the start of the demonstration in Berlin, WSWS reporters spoke with Kathrin, who, as head of operations on the “Iuventa”, a ship that is part of the “Jugend Rettet” (“Youth saves”) initiative, actively participated in the rescue of refugees on the Mediterranean.

The “Iuventa” had saved around 14,000 people from distress between 2016 and 2017, reported Kathrin. The ship was seized in Italy in 2017 and has since been held in the port of Trapani in Sicily. The 10 crew members confront a criminal investigation in Italy for “aiding illegal immigration,” and face up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

Kathrin

Kathrin condemned the prosecution as a “bureaucratic legal measure” that serves to “condemn men to death with open eyes”. Although “only a handful are being charged, it affects us all. It is something that endangers the freedom of democratic society.”

The Italian investigation into the crew of the “Iuventa” had not started under Interior Minister Matteo Salvini (Lega), infamous for his refugee policy begun in mid-2018, Kathrin clarified. Months before, a bug had been installed on the ship, telephone calls had been intercepted, and undercover agents had been deployed on other ships.

The escalation of reprisals against refugee aid workers is not a national phenomenon. “In fact, this strategic criminalization of solidarity and humanitarian aid is currently happening across Europe”, Kathrin said. Everywhere, people are prosecuted, for example those who had helped refugees with a place to sleep, something to eat or a shower. “Providing life-sustaining measures is to be penalized if it is given to those with the wrong passport”, she said.

Kathrin was participating in the protests because “this inhuman policy is supported by the German government.” To date, the government had still not made a statement on the charges against the crew. On the contrary, “Seehofer was one of those who demanded that the crew of the rescue boats should be prosecuted.”

Ruben, a maritime rescuer for Sea Watch, also stressed that anti-refugee politics were a European problem.

Ruben

Not only right-wing, but also supposedly left-wing governments, were implementing this policy, according to Ruben. “For example, you can see it in Spain, where the so-called socialists rule and Sanchez also prevents rescue ships from leaving port.”

Referring to the ending of “Operation Sophia”, Ruben noted that the European Union was deliberately deploying Libya to do their “dirty work”. “They know you can’t take people back to Libya with their own warships, because it’s clear human rights crimes are commonplace there. There are court rulings prohibiting European ships from returning people there.” Therefore, he said, the Libyan militia were used, which could not be held legally responsible for its actions.

Asked by the WSWS reporters about his perspective for the fight against right-wing government policies, Ruben replied, “We are building a solidary Europe from below.” 50 cities had already joined the sea-bridge movement and declared themselves to be safe havens.

Ruben found it particularly interesting that “suddenly people no longer talk only about migration, but also about climate change and article 13.” Since all these topics are being discussed, “the [neofascist] AfDis falling in the polls”. he said.

SGP candidate Markus Klein with Arnoud at the SGP's stall

Arnoud, who is visiting Berlin for several weeks, discussed the current developments in EU policy and parallels between Germany and France with Markus Klein, a Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party, SGP) candidate for the European elections. In France, too, the asylum laws are being tightened up.

At the same time, popular resistance is growing in the form of the yellow-vest movement. Arnoud explained how Macron was increasingly trying to suppress the protests and to mobilize the military against them.

Asked about the need for an international policy against this turn to the right, Arnoud agreed: “In times of globalization, this seems to be the only option.”

‘European Union condemning refugees to death’


This 15 November 2018 video says about itself:

🇮🇹 🇱🇾 Rescue at Sea: Migrants in the Mediterranean | People and Power

As long as there is war, poverty and insecurity in Africa and the Middle East, migrants and refugees will try and seek a better life in Europe.

For many years now, one of the principle transit routes has been the dangerous sea crossing over the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy. Images of anxious people crammed into small and manifestly unsafe boats … have become sadly familiar around the world, as have the stories of sinkings and drownings that tragically are regularly attendant on these journeys. As a result, and against a background of hardening anti-migrant sentiment in Europe, the problem of how to best respond to and control this phenomenon – and reduce the number of fatalities – has become ever more hotly debated.

For the last five years, EU navies have maintained a presence in the area to discourage people from making the journey. And since 2017, the Libyan coastguard, with the active support of the Italian government, has also become more active, mounting aggressive patrols off its long coastline. … their methods, focused mainly on deterrence, policing and security are increasingly at odds with those of other groups operating in the area since 2014 – NGOs running maritime search and rescue (SAR) missions to aid migrants in peril.

In August 2017, Italy asked all NGOs working in the area to sign a code of conduct, which in effect put strict legal and logistical constraints on their ability to operate. As a result, by mid-2018, only four NGOs were left pursuing SAR missions in the Mediterranean and there had been a number of highly charged stand-offs with the authorities.

In March for example, after a tense altercation between Libyan coastguards and a vessel from Proactiva Open Arms involving 218 migrants and refugees, the NGO’s ship was impounded in a Sicilian port for a month, with the crew held under investigation by the Italian authorities for allegedly “conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration”.

Then in June 2018, Italy refused to let the Aquarius – a ship run by SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) – disembark 600 rescued migrants in Italian ports. When Malta also declined to accept them it became a Europe-wide dispute. Eventually, the migrants were off-loaded in Spain, but this and other incidents had a chilling effect on NGOs and for a time left the Libyan coastguard as almost the only rescue option in Central Mediterranean waters.

Much of the opposition to the NGOs’ activities seems to stem from a belief that their presence encourages migrants to embark on journeys they would otherwise avoid, or even, in the words of Italy’s controversial new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, that they act as a “taxi service”.

The NGOs reject this claim entirely, but it highlights the fundamental differences between humanitarian groups seeking to save lives on the open seas and those focused on trying to dissuade people from making the treacherous crossing in the first place.

It also raises serious questions about the way that long-standing international maritime norms on nautical rescue are allegedly being ignored – with sometimes fatal consequences. What is clear is that when no-one is available to help those in peril, lives will be lost.

In November 2018, the UNHCR said that more than 2,000 refugees and migrants have died on the Mediterranean route this year and that the number of drownings has escalated sharply. In September alone, the refugee agency said one of every eight people making the dangerous journey towards Italy had been killed.

This, it said, was due in part to the “legal and logistical restrictions that have been placed on a number of NGOs wishing to conduct search and rescue (SAR) operations.” … it added that any vessel with the capability should be allowed to come to the aid of those in need. Moreover, anyone rescued in international waters should not be taken back to Libya where conditions are not safe. With access to both sides, we sent filmmaker Paula Palacios to investigate the background to this complex debate and what may happen next.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Stopping rescuing boat migrants is “very disturbing news”, says Sea-Watch

Sea-Watch rescue organization is concerned about the fate of boat migrants who will soon make the crossing from Libya to Europe. “The chance of death increases for them”, says spokesperson Jelle Goezinnen.

It was announced today that the European Union will no longer pick up migrants from the Mediterranean from Monday on. The two ships that are still part of Operation Sophia are going back to the port. A few helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft will remain available to search for smugglers from the air.

The only question is who the crew should then notify if a migrant boat in trouble is spotted. There is nothing about this in the new mission agreements. “They can’t call anyone, so people are going to drown. Something else is not possible”, Goezinnen expects.

“Libya does not have capacity”

He strongly rejects the suggestion that the Libyan coast guard can help. “I always call it the ‘so-called’ coast guard.

It is more like a corrupt paramilitary gang, extorting, torturing and killing refugees and selling them into slavery.

In a country like Libya, where there is no central authority, you can’t speak of a real coast guard. They also have no capacity at all.” In addition, the circumstances under which migrants are jailed in Libya are terrible.

Private organizations such as Sea-Watch also have too few options to save more migrants, Goezinnen admits. “We will do what we can, but this is really an issue for the European Union.”

According to UN refugee organization UNHCR, more than 2,200 people drowned in the Mediterranean last year. Goezinnen: “That is 2,200 too many. Quite the contrary, much more rescue capacity must come from the EU.”

An additional problem is that there are hardly any aid organizations active on the Libyan coast. Currently it is only one: the Sea-Eye ship Alan Kurdi

called after the Syrian refugee little boy drowned near the Turkish coast

has been in the area since yesterday. There, the rescue workers look for the 41 people on a rubber boat from whom nothing has been heard for three days.

Sea-Watch would also like to leave for the area again, but according to Goezinnen the Dutch government does not allow that. He says that the Sea-Watch 3, which sails under the Dutch flag, cannot sail due to new rules announced by Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen. …

Sea-Watch would also like to leave for the area again, but according to Goezinnen this is not allowed by the Dutch government. He says that the Sea-Watch 3, which sails under the Dutch flag, cannot sail due to new rules announced by Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen.

Merchant ships are left for possible rescue at sea. According to international maritime law, captains are obliged to save people in need or people who are drowning. But there is not that much shipping traffic off the Libyan coast, trackers show on the internet. Also, ships regularly pass by migrants deliberately, Médecins Sans Frontières said last year, because they are not sure that they can land the people in Europe.

Soldiers in military fatigues with machine guns, balaclavas and bulletproof vests stride across the deck of the tanker El Hiblu 1. They confront frightened, unarmed migrants, including women and children, whose only possessions are what they can carry. This description of the tanker arriving at port in the Maltese capital La Valletta paints in graphic detail the inhumanity of the merciless European migration policy, which uses violence against refugees and makes their lives hell: here.

Let refugees drown, European Union decides


This 3 July 2015 British ITV TV video says about itself:

The migrant baby saved from death in the Mediterranean

ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy spends three days saving migrants from the sea with a privately funded rescue operation.

That was three years ago. Since then, Italian governments, both the present far-right one and the preceding ‘centrist’ one, and the other European Union governments, have branded privately funded rescue ships in the Mediterranean as supposedly ‘criminal’ and have forcibly stopped them.

And now …

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Europe stops picking up refugees in the Mediterranean

The European Union is no longer going to save refugees in the Mediterranean. The so-called Operation Sophia will be temporarily stopped. The decision still needs to be approved by the member states today. The current agreement will expire on 1 April. …

Operation Sophia started in the summer of 2015, after a large number of rickety boats had sunk at sea in a short time. The EU intervened at the time, because the Italians had stopped their own rescue operation (Mare Nostrum) because of the high costs (€ 9 million per year).

€ 9 million.

Total government spending in Italy then was € 82355 million.

So, 0,01% of total government spending for saving the lives of the refugees from the NATO regime change wars. That seemed to be too much … really?!

Operation Sophia was primarily intended to disrupt human smuggling. Boats had to be confiscated and destroyed. Later on the training of the Libyan coast guard was added, so that the refugees would no longer leave the African continent. ….

So that the Libyan coast guard, of one of the rival governments in Libya killing each other’s paramilitary men and civilians, would be able to kill, torture and/or sell into slavery the refugees.

France has doubts about scaling down the operation and the Netherlands is also not enthusiastic about stopping the patrols at sea. However, it is expected that nobody will object now, because they have been difficult negotiations.

A few months ago, there was already a hint that this would happen.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 23 January 2019:

There are a different opinions within the European Union about the ‘Sophia’ military mission, which is intended to stop the smuggling routes in the Mediterranean. It was the idea that warships, in addition to rescuing shipwrecked people, would gather information about the networks of human smugglers and possibly disable their equipment. In practice, according to the Germans, very little of this happens and the ship is mainly used for picking up migrants.

According to international law, all ships, warships or civilian, are obliged to rescue human beings from drowning. The German government illegally sabotages this.

Stefan Liebrich, member of the Die Linke [Left] party, calls the recent German decision a tragedy. “As long as Sophia is not replaced by another mission, it will mean more people drowning.” …

The German frigate that was supposed to replace the [frigate] Augsburg will soon be used for NATO war games, according to the Germans more important work than sailing the Mediterranean.

Yeah, right. Preparing to kill all life on earth in World War III is SO much more important than saving refugees from drowning [sarcasm off].

Dutch government deports refugees to death in Afghanistan


This 22 August 2019 video says about itself:

Greece: Afghan refugees protest deportation, decry Trump’s Afghan strategy

Scores of refugees from Afghanistan rallied outside the Migration Ministry and EU offices in Athens, Tuesday, to protest against migrant deportations. They decried the European Union’s migration policies, with many of the protesters chanting “EU shame on you” and “No borders, no nations, no deportations.”

One of the refugees currently living in the city’s Elaionas camp spoke out as the group submitted to the ministry’s office a list of asylum demands for the refugees. “Afghanistan is not safe. There is no security in Afghanistan. We will continue saying this until our demands are heard. We will not give up this fight,” she said.

Translated from Dutch Nieuwsuur TV, 23 March 2019:

Afghan migration minister asks the Netherlands to stop deportations: ‘Country not safe’

The Afghan Minister of Migration, Alami Balkhi, is asking the Netherlands to stop deporting asylum seekers who have exhausted all legal remedies to Afghanistan. He says this to Nieuwsuur.

“I ask the Netherlands to look at the asylum applications in such a way that Afghans can get asylum. If that fails, I ask them to wait until they return voluntarily or to grant them a temporary residence permit.”

According to the minister, the country is not safe enough for return. “The public domain is unsafe. For example, someone was deported from Sweden who died in a bomb attack. This can happen to anyone else being deported.”

In a response, the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security says that Afghans who are being sent back can do so safely.

Yeah, right. Maybe ‘safely’ as long as the airplane has not landed at Kabul airport yet (provided the plane is not a Boeing 737 Max).

“Afghanistan is a graveyard for people like me”

One of the Afghans who was forced to leave the Netherlands lives in the Afghan capital Kabul. Zamir Zarifi was deported to Kabul with his family. “Suicide attacks, shelling, any danger that you can imagine can be found here in Kabul”, he says.

The UN recently stated that the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan has risen to record highs. …

“Do not expel them forcibly. If they are forcibly deported, then they could be recruited by terrorist groups or become unwanted citizens here. Or they will again apply for asylum in the EU. And that only helps smugglers“, [Minister] Balkhi said.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are also critical of the deportations. “The deportation of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan cannot be defended”, Amnesty writes. …

Minister Balkhi believes that his Western colleagues apply a double standard. They declare Kabul is safe in order to deport asylum seekers, but do not leave their own embassies themselves without taking serious security measures.

“When they arrive at the airport in Kabul, they immediately start wearing bulletproof vests and sitting in armoured vehicles. Kabul looks more like a militarized city than an ordinary capital where people live in peace.”

PRO-GOV FORCES KILL MOST AFGHAN CIVILIANS Afghan and international [NATO] forces were responsible for more civilian deaths in the first three months of 2019 than the Taliban and other militants, a new U.N. report said. [AP]

Uganda refugees, European Union propaganda and reality


This 12 May 2018 video from Uganda says about itself:

The plight of Somalia refugees in Kisenyi

Somali refugees living in Kisenyi, a Kampala suburb opens up about what they go through, especially the intimidation and individuals who term them as terrorists. Curthbert Kigozi tells this story.

Translated from Belgian (‘center right’) daily De Standaard, 9 March 2019, by Kasper Goethals:

The propaganda camps in Uganda

“This is hell. Here our dreams die”

An example of how successful ‘reception of refugees in the region‘ can be. That is the way the European Union likes to depict Uganda‘s policies.

Like they also depict the hellish situation for refugees in the camps in Greece in a very rose-coloured way. These are refugees from NATO-European Union wars in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. Refugees from Somalia in Uganda are also refugees from the Ugandan government; which uses its soldiers as cannon fodder to wage NATO’s war in Somalia.

In return, they [the European Union] look the other way concerning corruption and repression in the country. However, a tour through several camps leaves little to the imagination. “We want to get out of here. There is nothing here for us.”