Over 7,200 migrant deaths recorded in 2016

PICUM Bulletin - 23 December 2016
23 December, 2016

“According to the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrant project, as of 19 December 2016, a total of 7,277 migrants and refugees have died or remain missing on world migratory routes in 2016. This is the highest yearly number IOM has ever recorded. It represents an average of 20 deaths per day. By comparison, the total number of deaths of migrants and refugees recorded in 2015 was 5,740. The number of deaths in the Mediterranean accounted for over 60 percent of all deaths of migrants and refugees worldwide.”

Almost 5000 deaths in the Mediterranean. When the Merkel-Erdogan deal was announced in February, we all knew that the reduction of the number of migrants going through Turkey and Greece would mean an increase in the numbers going through Libya and Italy, a much more deadly route. These deaths result from interdiction and deterrence policies: a change of policy could considerably reduce their numbers. Yet, European politicians choose to increase the human cost of undocumented migration in the hope of deterring passage. As this deterrence effect remains totally unproven, the policy has little justification, apart from allowing European politicians proclaim that they are “tough on crime”, an excellent rallying cry in electoral times. It is tragic to see that it is now almost official European policy to increase the number of deaths at sea in order to try to stem populist agendas.

See the full report on the PICUM’s website.

Italy Overwhelmed: A Piece of Good News from Three Citizens

Article in The New York Times
22 December, 2016

Just before the Holidays, a comforting piece of news: some people keep a moral compass despite the toxic political environment.

“The Aegean route is mostly closed, but the migrants keep coming, from Eritrea, Ethiopia and elsewhere. They cross the Mediterranean to Italy, a country struggling to deal with the influx. A political crisis is blooming, and the country’s institutions are straining to keep up.

The Italian Coast Guard has its hands full responding to the barrage of calls for rescue placed over satellite phones by distressed migrants at sea. Local municipalities have no housing for the migrants who try to keep moving north, and the police face the gruesome task of identifying the waterlogged bodies of those who die before they reach shore.

The European Union’s flailing response to the migrant crisis is driving political upheaval in Italy, where voters are taking a critical look at the country’s membership in the union. Anti-European parties like the Five Star Movement and the Northern League led the opposition to a package of measures endorsed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi that voters rejected in a referendum on Dec. 4, prompting Mr. Renzi to resign.

Still, some Italians refuse to give up trying to help the migrants, seeing the humanity in their plight. These videos explore the overwhelmed Italian institutions, and the individuals fighting for the migrants.”

See the videos on the NY Times’ website, here.

  A Syrian and five Afghan boys leave Calais for Britain in October. ‘We’d learned from lawyers that for the children with family in Britain, there might just be a legal route to safety.’ Photo credit: Thibault Camus/AP on The Guardian's website.

There are still 1,000 children from Calais in refugee centres. They need sanctuary.

Article in The Guardian
20 December, 2016

“On our way back home, on the same train those children would be trying to board that night, we asked for the first time what it must have been like for the brave people who organised the Kindertransport in the 1930s. This led us to the terrible question that has driven us ever since – if this were the 1930s, who today would be organising those critical efforts that saved the lives of nearly 10,000 Jewish children?

Communities in Calais stuck together. Walking around the camp it took us an hour to find “little Syria” and then just 20 minutes to gather 40 Syrians for our first conversation. We asked why they were there, and not in Germany, Sweden or France, and heard for the first time that each and every one was trying to reach someone. They needed aid, and thanks to our amazing friends at the charity Help Refugees, they got it. What they needed most of all, though, was safe passage.”

This is the Rule of Law in action. It shows how access to justice – in the form of access to lawyers, interpreters, human rights defenders, administrative procedures and legal recourses – can change lives. This belief in the rule of law as a check on pure executive power is one of the things that nationalists populists hate most, as it deprives them of the electoral benefit of making political decisions. Yet, as we have learned from the Thirties, access to justice is a key tool for the effective protection of the human rights of each individual, regardless of status, against the oppression of the majority.

Read the full article in The Guardian here

  The human rights of EU nationals living in the UK should not be used as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations, the committee has warned. Photo credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA on The Guardian's website.

Brexit: UK can’t deport millions of EU nationals, report warns

Article in The Guardian
19 December, 2016

Joint parliamentary committee says human rights should be safeguarded and calls on government to take firm position on residence rights. 

“Mass deportations of the estimated 2.9 million EU nationals living in the UK would be impractical and they should not be used as a “bargaining chip” in Brexit negotiations, the government is being warned.” 

The government […] will continue to have obligations under Article 8 of the European convention on human rights which guarantees the right to privacy, home and family life. “Any dilution of human rights standards would be extremely undesirable ”” 

A remarkable call to reason in a context of utter uncertainty and a welcome reminder of human rights principles. Kudos!

  The prime minister is being urged to guarantee right to remain for EU migrants in Britain. Photo credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA on The Guardian's website.

TUC and businesses urge Theresa May to act on rights of migrants

Article in The Guardian
18 December, 2016

“British business and the trade union movement have made an unprecedented joint demand to Theresa May to guarantee immediately the rights of European Union migrants to remain in the UK, warning that further uncertainty will inflict serious damage on the British economy.

In a strongly worded letter to the prime minister, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), representing companies with a combined workforce of 5 million employees, and the TUC say that more delays will be bad for business, families, local communities, and public services, such as the NHS.”

Hopefully, the business community will wake up and help actively fight nationalist populist migration policies. They know how mobility and diversity are good for creativity and productivity. They want mobility and diversity in their boardrooms as well as in their work force, and see them as preconditions for a business-friendly economic, political and social environment. Even if taking a stand might mean involving themselves with politics (something they don’t do easily, at least not overtly), their bottom line is at stake and they are in a position to convince governments to change course. An alliance between business and unions would mean a powerful voice.

To read the full article, please click here.