People in a detention center in Tripoli. Photo Credit: Ismail Zitouny/Reuters on The Guardian's website

UK-funded camps in Libya ‘indefinitely detaining asylum seekers’

Article in The Guardian
10 March, 2017

“British-funded refugee camps in Libya are implementing the indiscriminate and indefinite detention of asylum seekers in the conflict-riven country, the UK government’s official aid watchdog has warned.

In a report published on Friday, the UK’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact expresses concern that UK aid to Libya risks causing unintended harm to migrants and could prevent them from reaching a place of safety. It also criticises ministers for apparently decided on the funding plan without studying the human rights implications in a country struggling to contain its long-running civil war.

The UK is spending roughly £10m this year in Libya to stem the flow of migrants from north Africa to Europe, including cash for the Libyan coastguard and to improve the appalling conditions in the camps where many people are now ending up.”

This is the European strategy to reduce migration pressure for the coming years. It’s good however to see a government watchdog advocate for ex ante and ex post human rights impact assessments of immigration assistance programmes abroad.

To read the full article, please click here

  There were dozens of local authority/Home Office operations involving rough sleepers across London last year. Photo credit: Souvid Datta for the Guardian.

Charities referring rough sleepers to immigration enforcement teams

Article in The Guardian
8 March, 2017

“Leading homelessness charities whose remit is to protect vulnerable rough sleepers have been passing information about some of them to the Home Office, leading to their removal from the UK.

A report from Corporate Watch, The Round Up, reveals concerns about homelessness charities’ links to immigration enforcement and comes at a time of increasing disquiet about the involvement of landlords, schools and the NHS with immigration enforcement. 

Civil liberties campaigners have accused the government of having a toxic “border on every street” policy.”

We knew that “firewalls” between social services and immigration enforcement are key to ensuring access of migrants to rights and benefits without fear of detention and deportation, whatever their status and circumstances. It seems that homelessness “charities” – instituted to help the neediest in our societies – need firewalls as well.

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A World Without Borders

By Nathan Smith, in Foreign Affairs
3 March, 2017

This article by Nathan Smith is an excellent response to the article by George Borjas in the NYT of Monday 27 February. Many thanks to Ray whom I quote below and who in turn quotes Adam Smith.

“An economist invoking the need for moral sentiments in economic calculations of migration – reminds me of Adam Smith, who in his Theory of Moral Sentiments (1790) explains our natural proclivity for empathy that leads to compassion and sympathy, but where he also states: “There are some passions of which the expressions excite no sort of sympathy, but before we are acquainted with what gave occasion to them, serve rather to disgust and provoke us against them. The furious behaviour of an angry man is more likely to exasperate us against himself than against his enemies. As we are unacquainted with his provocation, we cannot bring his case home to ourselves, nor conceive anything like the passions which it excites. But we plainly see what is the situation of those with whom he is angry, and to what violence they may be exposed from so enraged an adversary. We readily, therefore, sympathize with their fear or resentment, and are immediately disposed to take part against the man from whom they appear to be in so much danger. … [The] disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least to neglect, persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.” With these passages, I think of Donald Trump…..”

To read the full article by Nathan Smith, in Foreign Affairs, please click here

  The border fence gate between US and Mexico is opened for a few hours to allow separated families to embrace as part of Universal Children’s Day on 19 November 2016. Photo credit: Mike Blake/Reuters on the Guardian's website

US considers separating women and children who cross illegally into US

Article in The Guardian
3 March, 2017

“Women and children crossing together illegally into the United States could be separated by US authorities under a proposal being considered by the Department of Homeland Security, according to three government officials.

Part of the reason for the proposal is to deter mothers from migrating to the United States with their children, said the officials, who have been briefed on the proposal.

The policy shift would allow the government to keep parents in custody while they contest deportation or wait for asylum hearings. Children would be put into protective custody with the Department of Health and Human Services, in the “least restrictive setting” until they can be taken into the care of a US relative or state-sponsored guardian.”

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  We have seen the government fail to honour its commitment to take in 3,000 lone children.’ Photo Credit : Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

Demolishing the Calais camp has just made refugees’ lives harder

Article in The Guardian
3 March, 2017

The demolition of the Calais refugee camp last October did nothing to improve the lives of so many desperate refugees, who now find themselves living destitute on the streets of France and are arriving back in Calais every day. These refugees, many unaccompanied minors, are now living in far worse conditions – the latest punishment inflicted on those living in the streets being the ban on the distribution of food.”

How can the law – under penalty of a fine or even prison – ban the charitable giving of food to people who are hungry? On what ground can we prevent anyone from giving a piece of bread to children or families with children who are hungry? Are we still in Dickens’ “David Copperfield”, where horror met David’s request for “more”?

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