Photo credit: Rex/Shutterstock on The Economist's website.

The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean keeps rising: so does the risk of death

13 April, 2017

The 16-year-old Gambian who was discovered by a Spanish naval ship as he clung to a fuel tank in open seas will doubtless be haunted by his experience for the rest of his days. But he was also exceptionally fortunate—the only survivor, by his account, among more than 140 people who left the Libyan port of Sabratha on a large rubber dinghy on March 26th or 27th. It began taking on water a few hours later, he told UN officials from his hospital bed on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

“Details of sinkings in the central Mediterranean are often sketchy and sometimes unconfirmed. The Libyan Red Crescent said no bodies had been found from the disaster the young Gambian reported. But it is clear from figures kept by international organisations that both the risks of setting out from Libya and the numbers reaching Europe are growing.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, 24,513 people had landed in Italy this year by April 2nd. That was an increase of about 30% compared with the first three months of last year. Yet UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, calculates that the death rate per 100 arrivals climbed from 1.8 in 2015 to 3.4 in the first three months of 2017. One in 30 migrants in the central Mediterranean now dies en route.”

“As the numbers make clear, the risk of death is not enough to stop them”. All the repression arsenal deployed by most global north states is in part an enormous waste, of human life and of tax-payers dollars. Governing such migration would be a lot more productive than resisting it. States could take over the mobility market from the hands of the smugglers, provide migrants with many more diversified visa options, concentrate their repression on the minute number of criminals and funnel their investments into access to labour market, support for entrepreneurship, language courses, integration strategies and anti-discrimination policies. All this would be directed towards wealth creation and social cohesion, while present policies are divisive, costly and inefficient.

To read the full article in The Economist, please click here.

  A vineyard during the off season in San Giorgio Ionico, Italy. The death of a worker at a vineyard in southern Italy led to an investigation of what has been termed a system of modern-day slavery. Photo credit: Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times.

A Woman’s Death Sorting Grapes Exposes Italy’s ‘Slavery’

Article in The New York Times
11 April, 2017

“Her husband can still recall how Paola Clemente used to set two alarms to make sure she woke in the middle of the night — 1:50 a.m. — to catch the private bus that would take her and dozens of other women to the vineyards.

There, she would pick and sort table grapes up to 12 hours, taking home as little as 27 euros a day, about $29, after middlemen skimmed her pay. Sometimes she was so exhausted, she fell asleep in the midst of conversation.

Her death of a heart attack at 49 in the fields has set off nearly two years of soul-searching in Italy over what the authorities, labor experts and union organizers described as an elaborate system of modern-day slavery — involving more than 40,000 Italian women, as well as migrant and seasonal laborers — that remains at the core of Italy’s agricultural economy, especially here at the country’s jagged heel.

After months of investigation, this year the authorities arrested six people, accusing them of using their recruiting and transportation agencies to extort wages from women so poor and desperate they dared not speak up and worked under extreme conditions.”

A cynic might ask whether this story is newsworthy only because the victim is Italian, and not a migrant worker.

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IOM and the UN: Unfinished Business

11 April, 2017

Please see this excellent analysis of the relationship between IOM and the UN by Elspeth Guild, Stephanie Grant and Kees Groenendijk:

IOM and the UN: Unfinished Business

“In July 2016 the UN and IOM entered into an agreement whereby the IOM became a related organisation within the UN system. In September of that year, the UN commenced negotiations towards the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to be adopted in Summer 2018. This paper examines the place of UN human rights obligations regarding migrants and the IOM Member states’ position that it should remain a ‘non-normative’ agency even after its inclusion in the UN system. We question whether the primacy given to national law, and the lack of any reference to international law or human rights in the IOM Constitution are compatible with the substantial role assigned to the organisation in the development of the Global Migration Compact which the UN General Assembly has determined is a human rights driven project.”

To download and read the article, please click here. 

  The relationship between the doctor or health professional and a patient relies on respect and trust. Photo credit: Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images on The Guardian's website.

Passport checks for patients is an abandonment of NHS principles

Article in The Guardian
7 April, 2017

“Rather than use World Health Day to draw attention to global health priorities, this year, healthcare providers are being asked to implement racist government policies and compromise our professional values. Earlier this year, health minister Jeremy Hunt announced that, from April 2017, NHS trusts would be legally obliged to check patients’ eligibility for NHS services upfront, and to demand payment before providing care.

These checks lead to racial profiling and will prevent those most in need of care from getting the treatment they need. This is already evident with pregnant women delaying or avoiding seeking necessary medical advice or treatment because of fears they will be unable to pay or will be reported to the Home Office.”

The UK seems to be constantly destroying existing firewalls between immigration enforcement and public services. The contrary of what is needed for a better governance of migration.

To read the full atricle, please click here

U.S. Officials Chastise Judge Who Complained of Agents ‘Stalking’

Article in The New York Times
31 March, 2017

“Top law enforcement officials from the Trump administration chastised California’s chief judge this week, saying that it was “troubling” that she described federal immigration agents as “stalking” local courthouses in order to arrest undocumented immigrants.

The response suggested there would be no quick end to the feud between California and federal officials over how immigration laws are enforced and arrests are made.

Two weeks ago, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the chief justice of California, wrote a letter to Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, and John F. Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security, after several judges and lawyers in California and elsewhere began complaining about seeing ICE agents in and around courthouses.

Ms. Cantil-Sakauye, a Republican, wrote that she worried that the practice would erode the public’s trust of the court system and stop crime victims from seeking justice.”

The Chief Justice of California understands the concept of firewall and the importance of implementing one between immigration enforcement and the justice system. The stalking of undocumented migrants by ICE agents in and around courthouses “could erode the public’s trust of the court system and stop crime victims from seeking justice”.

To read the full article, please click here.