02 January 2007

December 2006

114 migrants died along Eu border during the last month, 108 of them off Senegal and Canary island, 1 in Malta and 3 off Turkey, then 2 people asphyxiated on a truck where they were hidden on a ferry sailing to Italy. From 1988 at least 5,856 people have died trying to emigrate illegally to European Countries

ROME - The last month of 2006 gave only tears to the relatives of at least 114 young people left to Europe and drowned with their illegal hope. So many people – according to Fortress Europe – died along the Eu borders at December. Sailing from Senegal to the Canary islands 108 migrants lost their life, one victim in Malta and 3 off Turkey, then 2 people asphyxiated on a truck in which they were hidden on a ferry sailing to Italy. Four others people died in 3 different migrants detention centers in Italy, France and Russia. According to our press review at least at least 5,856 migrants have died along Eu frontiers from 1988, among them 1,949 are missing in the sea.

One hundred and eight ghosts. 17th Decembers. Yoff beach, near Dakar, Senegal. 25 ghosts come out from the night of the sea on a pirogue. They are the only survivors among 127 adventuriers who left Casamance, at the border with Guinea Bissau, two weeks before sailing to Canary islands. A longer but safer route, because of the sea patrollings off Dakar and Saint Louis. A storm capsized two times the wood and the waves swallowed who were not able to swim. Then other people died after two weeks to the drift without any provisions aboard. The grigri which the villages marabù gave them to assure themselves spirits protection, failed against the sea might. A week before Dakar counted others 4 victims after another pirogue shipwreck, while the 7th December two young people died for hypothermia, after their arrival in Canary islands. 108 deaths in thirty days is not little. From 1988 at least 1,726 migrants drowned trying to reach Spain and Canary, 868 only during 2006. Spanish government speaks of about 6,000 victims. Alarming figures which shout the responsibilities of the European and Africans Governments, deaf to thousands of illegal migrants reasons, always accused of an invasion that simply doesn’t exist.

The invasion that is not. Madrid insists on the 31,000 arrivals to Canary during 2006, a record comparing with the only 5,000 of 2005. But behind the alarmism a different truth is hidden. In 2005 Spain regularized 690,000 illegal immigrates: 20% were Ecuadoregni, 17% Rumanians and 12% Moroccans, followed by Colombians, Bolivians and Bulgarians. Sub-Saharian Africa - from which everyone would fear the invasion - did not exceed 4% of the demands. The same happened in Italy. In the 2002 regularization 134,000 of the 646,000 demands were from Rumanians people, them 101,000 from Ucrainans, 48,000 from Moroccans and Albanians and 34,000 from Ecuador.

Italian Internal Affairs Ministry figures help to solve the problem. In 2006 the 63% of immigrate without any residence permit entered in Italy with a tourist visa then expired, and then another 24% arrived from other Schengen Countries profiting of open inner Eu frontiers. The 20,000 arrived by boat in Sicily in 2006 (they were 19,000 in 2005) so represent no more than 13% of all the illegal entries. Actually the mechanisms of legal entry for job reasons doesn’t work. But differently from the others Countries, in Africa the possibilities to obtain a tourist visa are almost null for the candidates to immigration. This is the reality, but Europe prefers keep on speaking about “pressure without previous” and spending millions euro for the repression of an invasion that there isn’t.

$$$$$$$$$$ One billion and 820 million euro are not little. This is the budjet for the next seven years in order to control the external frontiers of the European Union. It is nearly one half of all migration resources of the budget just approved by the European Parliament. In the game Frontex, the European agency for the control of the frontiers, won a double income for 2007, 34 millions euro (19 millions in 2006), with the declared goal to create a permanent system of coast patrolling in the south of Europe. This is the goal of the 6 month extension of Hera mission in Senegal, operating from the 7 september 2006, as of the pressures on Tripoli for a joint operation along Libyan coasts the next summer.

Diplomatic relations. Spain, which spent 45 millions euro in 2006 in order to repatriate by flight about 4,400 Senegaleses, has just reached an agreement with Morocco for children repatriation. On the same time Italy has renewed the cooperation with Tunisia for Sicily Channel patrolling. Similar agreements by now are part of all the diplomatic relations of Europe with the belt of Countries from Turkey to Gambia, passing for all the Maghreb, Mauritania and Senegal. Aids in exchange for patrolling the European external frontiers. A engagement that is often translated in arbitrary detention and collective deportations, many times in degrading conditions.

The dirty job. The Migreurop net reported that in the dawn of 23 December about 300 migrants were arrested in a police raid in different quarters of Rabat, in Morocco. The same happened the 25 December in Nador, at the doors of Melilla Spanish enclave. Migrants were then deported to the frontier with Algeria, at Oujda. Among them there were also asylum seekers and refugees under the protection of United Nation High Commissariat for Reefugees in Morocco, which did nothing to stop these collective deportations, going on since Ceuta and Melilla repression the last year. Also in Algeria deportations to Mali border are going on and hundreds of migrants are abandoned in Tinzanwatin village, in the middle of the Sahara desert. In Libya, already accused of arbitrary detention and tortures from Human Rights Watch and Afvic (Amis Et familles Des victimes de l’immigration clandestin), collective deportations are continuing. According to an official notice of Habeshia Agency, 400 Eritreans citizens detained in Al-Kufrah prison, a structure at the border with Sudan financed by Italy, would risk to being expelled and then emprisoned at their arrival in Eritrea. Some of them would risk also the death “for the political role which they had”. In 2003 Tripoli deported to Asmara 181 persons, upon request of the Eritrean president Iseya Afewerki, “there is no news of these persons until now”, according to Habeshia and Amnesty International.

If Ankara say no. Turkey situation is different. Ankara threats not to be of the game if Athens will continue to expel in Turkey irregular migrants found in Greece and if Eu does not participate to expenses, told Mehmet Terzioglu from the Turkish Ministry of the Interior, maybe referring to Karaburun case, when to the dawn of the 26 september 8 people drowned 400 meters from the seaside of the Turkish city, after Greek Armed Forces – which arrested them in Hiyos Greek island – threw them in the sea. It is not the first time. According to Ankara the Greek Coastgard would have abandoned in Turkish territorial waters at least 5,800 illegal migrants from 2003 to 2006. On the routes between Turkey and Greece, in the Aegean sea, at least 452 persons have lost the life, last 2 Decembers, 3 people were missing off Edremit after a shipwreck.

Death penalty. Two days later in Marseilles, in France, a turkish guy, Kazım Kustul, 22 years old, committed suicide in a migrants detention centre. He used to live in France from 2003 and was arrested to be deported. Its is not an isolated case. The 9th December, a forty-years old Bulgarian detained in Italy, in the Lamezia Terme (Catanzaro) center hung himself. And the 2nd December in Russia Manana Dzhabelia, 51 years, Georgian, arrested as illegal migrant, died of infarct. She suffered from diabetes, and probably would have been saved if helped in time, denounced the associations that remember a similar case in the month of October. Collaterals effects of administrative detention. The 28th December 1999 six people died after Trapani detention centre, in Italy, took fire. The Prefect Leonardo Cerenzia was acquitted. In the seventh anniversary of the tragedy, Sicily antiracist forum demonstrated in front of the detention center in order to remember, because memory doesn’t vanishe.

Remember. They are still there instead the ghosts of the 283 victims of 1996 Christmas shipwreck. In the tenth anniversary of the greatest tragedy of the Mediterranean of the post-war period their rests remain buried under 106 meters of sea 20 miles off Porto Palo (Sicily), blocked in the F-174 hold, sank with its passengers after a crash with traffickers boat Yohan that made it sink. Traffickers than escaped in Greece with few survivors. Melting Pot dedicates a special report to a crime that thanks to the witness of the survivors, the evidence of a fisherman and the investigation of a journalist came out from the oblivion in 2001 when Giovanni Maria Bellu showed the images of the boat at the bottom of the Sicily Channel. The trial is still open. The shipowner and the captain are accused of voluntary manifold homicide.

Please don't touch. There will be justice? Difficult to say it in a Country, Italy, where boat helping Sicily Channel shipwrecked risk to be arrested rather than traffickers, as sadly teachs Cap Anamur case, a humanitarian german boat which in July 2004 rescued 37 people from the sea and today is accused in a trial of agravated abetting of illegal migration