Displaying items by tag: migrants
Speaking on the Greek island of Lesbos, Pope Francis said the migrants there were being used for political propaganda. He urged people to focus on the causes of migration, such as ‘forgotten wars’, instead of punishing those suffering from their effects. He criticised building walls to keep people out. Saying that there are people persisting in treating the problem as something that doesn’t concern them, history teaches us ‘narrow self-interest and nationalism lead to disastrous consequences.’ The pandemic showed that major challenges must be confronted together and there were some signs of this in climate change, but little sign of such an approach to migration. He spoke in front of refugees but aimed all comments at European political leaders. His words betrayed frustration at ‘the failure of politicians to adequately address the migrant issue’.
Pregnant women and three children were among 27 Kurds from Iraq and Iran who drowned trying to cross the Channel. Two male survivors are being treated for exhaustion and hypothermia in a Calais hospital. A criminal investigation has been opened; five men are suspected of direct involvement in the attempted crossing. The bodies were brought by boat and helicopter to Calais, where volunteers with local migrant aid associations lit candles and held aloft placards reading ‘How many more?’ Despite the terrible loss of life, crossings have continued. The next morning forty migrants were brought to Dover by a lifeboat. It is windy on the water and extremely cold, but the determination to get to the UK remains as strong as ever. Boris Johnson said that there are ‘difficulties’ persuading France ‘to do things in a way that the situation deserves’; it was clear French attempts to stop the migrant boats leaving ‘haven't been enough’.
Last weekend Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki met his counterparts from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, also hit by migrant pressure in recent months. During the week he has travelled to other European countries, which he did not name. Morawiecki said on Facebook that it is a ‘very serious geopolitical situation’ which requires a lot of diplomatic effort as many migrants remain in Belarus and continue attempting to enter Poland. ‘This is why I set out on a journey to other European countries, to talk about the international crisis provoked by the actions of Alexander Lukashenko. Unfortunately, there are numerous signs suggesting that this geopolitical crisis will continue for many months, even years’, Morawiecki said. Poland is pushing the migrants back to protect the border for all of Europe and has received words of support from the EU, NATO and the USA.
On 17 November Belarus provided temporary shelter for 1,000 freezing hungry migrants camping on its border with Poland, wanting to enter the EU. For months, thousands of men, women and children have been amassing at Belarus's western borders. Belarus has been accused of pushing migrants, mostly from Iraq, to the border to destabilise the EU. Belarus's long-time authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, has denied luring migrants to the border in revenge for EU sanctions. Iraqi Airways confirmed it would send a plane to Belarus on 18 December to take its citizens home. The EU has asked Middle Eastern countries to stop flights to Belarus; several have agreed. Poland, with EU backing, is determined not to let the migrants into the bloc and warned that the border and humanitarian crisis may go on for months. The situation will not be resolved quickly. See also
Flights carrying Haitian migrants from the US back to their homeland continue daily. The ongoing mass expulsion comes in response to a growing humanitarian crisis at the US/Mexico border. Over 12,000 migrants, mainly from Haiti, camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after wading across the Rio Grande from Mexico. Activity at the border has increased significantly in recent years. Border agents stopped nearly 200,000 people last month, a significant increase from the 50,684 arrests in 2019. UN officials say almost a million people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras have fled to Mexico. Mexico may top 100,000 new asylum claims this year, breaking a new record. Recently a federal judge decided officials could not use Title 42 law to deport migrant families from the US to Mexico. Lawyers serving the Biden administration immediately appealed the ruling. Mission Cry is sending 25,000 Spanish Bibles to migrants all over Mexico and hope to reach 2 million people.
Andalusia in Spain attracts foreigners flocking to beautiful beaches, and migrants flocking to harvest fruit and vegetables. While holidaymakers stay at expensive apartments, hundreds of fruit-pickers live in poverty-stricken, plastic shantytowns. ‘People come and say they are going to save us,’ says Ayoub. ‘They take our picture, but nothing changes. Nothing is ever going to change.’ 600 immigrants live in hovels, dust alleys are strewn with garbage, a dried-up riverbed is the toilet, and electricity is stolen from overhead lines. Ayoub works in hot greenhouses sprawling for miles, unseen by tourists enjoying long lunches, blissfully unaware of the harsh reality behind their salads.
Women with babies and very young children alongside significant numbers of teenage and young adult men were among 56 migrants held in a cramped room with thin mattresses covering the floor at a unit in Dover. Members of the home affairs committee have expressed their shock and serious concern after observing this during a visit. It was wholly inappropriate and a clear Covid risk, with some migrants held longer than legal limits. The Home Office said services were pressurised by ‘unacceptable numbers of people’ crossing the Channel by traffickers. Almost 600 migrants crossed last weekend. Yvette Cooper wrote to Priti Patel saying that the holding room facility where migrants first arrive was clearly unfit for purpose. Meanwhile a 14-year-old is among 26 migrants under the age of 16 accommodated in a requisitioned hotel.
Five Albanians who smuggled migrants through the Channel Tunnel were arrested and held in London; two more arrests were in Surrey and Oxfordshire. Migrants are concealed behind furniture in vehicles hired specially for illegal smuggling, using a network of connections across Europe. Migrants paid as much as £25,000, believing they will go on to work in the illegal economy once in Britain. Commander Richard Harrison said the gang had risked the safety of the migrants and threatened the security of the UK border. Pray for these arrests to lead to further dismantling of criminal tunnel networking. Recently 430 migrants crossed the English Channel in one day. The Home Office has said it was taking substantial steps to tackle the unacceptable problem of illegal migration. A bill is currently being considered by MPs which would mean that migrants entering without permission could face up to four years in prison.
Thousands of migrants have swum into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta after border controls were relaxed in Morocco. In 24 hours, 6,000 people had paddled in inflatable boats, swum with rubber rings, or walked through the shallows at low tide. 1,500 were thought to be teenagers. Spanish troops were deployed to Ceuta to patrol the border. Moroccan migrants have crossed land and sea borders to Spain by the hundreds for weeks. Adults were transferred to a football stadium and returned to Morocco, minors went to an industrial building. Spanish / Moroccan tensions are high after the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, was admitted to a Spanish hospital without informing Morocco. The Polisario Front fights for the independence of Western Sahara and contests all Morocco's claims. Many believe lax Moroccan border control, facilitating easy access to Spain, was in retaliation for Spain treating Brahim Ghali.
The Catholic-run welcome centre, the last stop for migrants before crossing the border into the USA, offers meals, clothing, medical and legal assistance. It has become a waiting room. The group running the welcome centre attributes lengthened stays (300+ days) to the pandemic and Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. Many who get into America are ejected by Border Patrol after a few days - creating a revolving population, returning to the welcome centre on a weekly or daily basis. Women give birth, children miss two years of education, girls can’t have a quinceañera (celebration of a girl's 15th birthday). US authorities found 19,000 children traveling alone across the Mexican border in March. It is a major test for Joe Biden as he reverses many of his predecessor's hard-line immigration tactics.