Climate migration will exacerbate cruelty in the Mediterranean | Immigration

In July 2018, an Italian flag oil supply vessel named Asso Ventotto encountered a rubber raft carrying 101 desperate migrants while crossing the Mediterranean. Trying to take a dangerous journey from Libya to Europe. When the supply ship rescued them, they had reached international waters. The captain chose not to take them to a safe port in Europe as required by law, but to bring them back to the Gulag of the immigrants. Other agencies have documented systematic torture, rape, extortion, forced labor and deaths in detention facilities in Libya.

In October of this year, Giuseppe Sotgiu, the captain of the supply ship, paid a heavy price for his decision: an Italian judge Sentenced He was sentenced to one year in prison for violating humanitarian law. The bitter irony of this belief is that Sotgiu will be jailed for years of larger actions by EU officials: pushing migrants back to a place where they are extremely human rights violations.

Since at least 2017, the European Union, led by Italy, has trained and equipped the Libyan Coast Guard to act as a proxy maritime force, with the core purpose of preventing migrants from reaching the European coast. Due to the aerial intelligence provided by Frontex, the EU border agency, it was very effective in this mission.

Frontex flew drones and planes across the Mediterranean to locate the migrant rafts, and then notified the Italians, who in turn notified the Libyan authorities. Once captured by the Libyan Coast Guard, these migrants will be sent to more than a dozen detention centers run by militias.

For the European Union and the captains working in the Mediterranean, the challenge of how to best deal with desperate immigrants fleeing the suffering of their own countries will only become more obvious.Climate change is expected to replace 216 million people Globally by 2050. Sea level rise, desertification, famine, etc. will drive desperate people to places such as Europe and the United States, testing the moral character and political imagination of countries that are ready to survive on overheated planets.

The big figures in this global drama, the men and women of merchant ships working in the Mediterranean, will increasingly fall into impossible dilemmas. Unlike Sotgiu, those captains who comply with humanitarian law and decide to bring immigrants to Europe may also face dire consequences.

For example, in August 2020, the crew of a Danish-flag oil tanker named Maersk Etienne Rescued 27 immigrants, Including a pregnant woman and a child, at the request of the Maltese authorities. Malta subsequently refused Maersk ships to enter its port to unload migrants, leading to a long and costly stalemate that did not end until the migrants were handed over to humanitarian NGOs.

Italian prosecutors later claimed that Maersk paid more than US$100,000 to the NGO to receive immigrants who might violate immigration laws. Maersk said the money is a donation to help non-governmental organizations pay for assistance to immigrants.

But many migrants who tried to cross the Mediterranean never boarded the merchant ship because they were captured by the Libyan coast guard. Although the Libyan Coast Guard has a deadly record in dealing with immigrants and has extensive connections with militias, it continues to receive strong support from the European Union. For example, in 2020, the European Union provided four new speedboats for its fleet to capture migrants more effectively and send them to the same detention center for crimes against humanity supported by participating countries as described by the United Nations.

During a reporting trip to Libya earlier this year, I caught a glimpse of the horror experienced by immigrants in these facilities. Although the European Union often denies funding to abuse immigrants in Libya, my investigation in The Outlaw Ocean Project, a non-profit news organization in Washington, DC, found evidence to the contrary. In fact, funds from the European Union and member states, sometimes through aid organizations, paid for most of what happened to immigrants sent through the brutal detention system in this failed country.

The money was used to purchase containers that doubled as the port office of the Libyan Coast Guard staff, and touch-screen tablets used by aid workers to count the number of migrants when they disembarked in Tripoli. It pays for the many buses used to transport migrants from the port to the detention center, as well as the blankets, winter clothes and slippers they often receive on arrival.

Bathrooms in some detention centers, as well as showers, toilets, soap, hygiene kits, and toilet paper were purchased with EU funds. The same goes for the mattresses that detained immigrants sleep on. The European Union paid for the four-wheel drive vehicles used by the Libyan immigration authorities to find migrants who escaped detention or entered southern Libya through the Sahara Desert.

When detained immigrants get sick, the ambulance that takes them to the hospital is usually purchased by the European Union. When immigrants die — washed ashore or detained — EU money is usually used to pay for body bags and training Libyans how to handle the bodies in a religiously respectful way. Most of the funds are well-intentioned and even save lives. But it is undeniable that the EU and its member states financially support Libya’s system, under which thousands of immigrants have been captured and held in dire conditions with impunity.

In Tripoli, I survey Aliou Candé, an immigrant from Guinea-Bissau, died in the notorious Al-Mabani detention center. In September 2019, Candé set off from his hometown of Sintchan Demba Gaira, where climate change brought longer droughts and unexpected floods, destroyed his crops and left his family starving.

After a long journey for several months, he arrived in Libya, hoping to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. He finally boarded a ship in February this year, but the Libyan Coast Guard seized the ship and transferred the migrants to Al-Mabani.

In April, Kander was killed when guards opened fire on immigrants trying to break free in Kander’s cell. He was buried in an overcrowded immigrant cemetery in Tripoli.

I interviewed dozens of immigrants detained in Al-Mabani with Kander. They told me that the cell was very crowded and the detainees had to sleep in shifts. They talked about a special room where immigrants were sometimes beaten when they were hung upside down on ceiling beams. They shared with me the audio message Candé recorded on his cell phone when he secretly entered the prison, where he made a final request to his family, asking him to pay a ransom for his release.

No one was punished for Kander’s death. EU officials called for an investigation, but then remained silent. All this is like yet another example of Libyan officials dealing with some of the most vulnerable people in the world with impunity.

Then I had my own experience of impunity in Libya. A week after I reported on Kander’s murder, I was kidnapped from a hotel room and held for nearly a week by the Libyan intelligence agency, which was in contact with a militia named Al-Nawasi Brigade. I was blindfolded, beaten, and forced to sign a “confession” written in Arabic. My crime? Report immigration.

Recently, some people want to hold the EU and its Libyan partners accountable. The conviction of the captain in October shows that people are increasingly uneasy about the illegality of sending migrants back to Libya. This is also true of the two landmark cases against Frontex that immigrants filed with the European Court of Justice, the chief judicial body of the European Union, this year. These cases allege that Frontex agents and officials either ignored evidence of human rights violations by EU member states or they themselves participated in the illegal deportation of asylum-seeking immigrants.

Of course, the EU is not alone in trying to outsource the dirty work of curbing immigration. In the past decade, the US government has been trying to reduce the flow of immigrants by requiring those from Central America. Stay in Mexico When applying for placement. The so-called “remote review” also enables US immigration authorities to avoid the dilemma of how to deal with people who have been denied asylum applications but come from places where there is no deportation agreement.

According to the Global Detention Project, a Geneva-based human rights non-governmental organization, people living in Mexican immigration centers face problems with insufficient food and clean water, extreme temperatures, overcrowding, illness and beatings by guards.

Of course, countries have the right and obligation to manage their own borders, but the US and EU’s approach to immigration is neither effective nor humane. Putting the captain in this crisis is hardly a solution. What’s worse is to outsource the problem to a failed country like Libya, where human rights violations are a foregone conclusion.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.

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