Libya to send 10,000 immigrants home

Up to 10,000 migrants stranded in Libya will be flown back to their home countries this year, but the returns can only play a limited role in tackling migrant flows toward Europe, the head of the U.N. migration agency’s Libyan office said.

The International Organization for Migration program is one of the few ways EU states can fund action inside lawless Libya, which has become the main migration departure point for Europe, as they scramble to stem record flows across the central Mediterranean.

Other plans have been held up by poor security, political resistance and a lack of government control in Libya, where powerful militias and smuggling networks act with impunity.

The IOM scheme is meant to offer a way out to those stuck in Libya without money, work, or a means to move on, said Othman Belbeisi, the agency’s chief of mission for Libya. It is voluntary, with each migrant interviewed individually and able to change their mind at any time.

“This program provides a window or an option for these people to go back home and start a new life,” Belbeisi told Reuters.

“It is a contribution to a solution, mainly for the migrants. We don’t believe in closing borders, stopping movement or stopping migration.”

Some of those who opt to return have been intercepted by the Libyan coastguard at sea and sent to detention centers. Some leave without trying to reach Europe. Most do not have documents.

The IOM flew 2,775 migrants back last year, and is expecting to increase that number to between 7,000 and 10,000 in 2017, with new European funding.

This year, 1,795 migrants have already been sent back, and another 5,000 are seeking assistance to return. The agency has received a higher rate of requests since late 2016, something Belbeisi attributed to worsening conditions inside Libya.

Most are flown to West Africa, with Nigeria, Senegal and Mali topping the list. There have also been returns to East Africa and Bangladesh.

Because returning can be seen as a failure, the IOM supports reintegration in home communities, Belbeisi said, with half those returned last year receiving such help.

The average cost of returning and assisting a migrant is about 2,000 euros ($2,135). Funding for the program comes mainly from European states.

The agency still faces challenges interviewing migrants, checking their identity, and transporting them across and out of Libya. It plans to raise awareness about the returns program in the coming months, without actively promoting it.

“We are not promoting a return home because we know sometimes the situation back home can be even worse … and we do not want to promote shifting a problem from one side, or country, to another,” said Belbeisi.

“That’s why we don’t advertise the program or promote it as a solution for migration to Europe.”


Source: Reuters

5 corpses found, hundreds feared dead as migrant boats sink off Libya.

Five migrants were found dead in the sea off Libya on Thursday after the boats they were travelling in sank, likely carrying hundreds more to their deaths, an aid organisation said.

Proactiva Open Arms, one of several groups operating in the area, said it was notified that an inflatable boat was sinking and found another going down shortly afterwards.

“We brought on board five corpses recovered from the sea, but no lives. It is a harsh reality check of the suffering here that is invisible in Europe’’, the group wrote on Facebook.

Given the size of the boats, which are often packed with people by smugglers in Libya, there were probably more than 100 people in each, Proactiva spokeswoman Laura Lanuza said.

A spokesperson for Italy’s coast guard, which coordinates and participates in rescues, confirmed the five bodies were on board Proactiva’s ship, the Golfo Azzurro, which he said would remain in the area in case of any emergency calls.

A rising number of migrants are attempting to cross the central Mediterranean this year after a deal between the European Union and Turkey largely shut down a route to Greece.

A total of 559 deaths have been recorded in the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the International Organisation for Migration. About 5,000 were recorded for the whole of 2016.


Source: Reuters/NAN

Outrage as Ben Carson refers to African slaves as “immigrants”.

President Donald Trump’s housing secretary provoked a firestorm Monday by saying slaves brought from Africa were “immigrants” who dreamed of success for their families in the United States.

Ben Carson, who is black, made the stunning remarks during an address to employees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Washington.

“That’s what America is about: a land of dreams and opportunity,” said Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who grew up poor in a Detroit ghetto.

“But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

The comments provoked an instantaneous backlash.

“Immigrants???” tweeted the NAACP, the nation’s largest civil rights organisation aimed at ending racial discrimination.

The remarks were condemned as “tragic, shocking and unacceptable” by the US office of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, a social justice group named after the Jewish girl whose diary, written before she was killed in the Holocaust, became a globally respected account of discrimination and hope.

“No, Secretary Carson. Slaves didn’t immigrate to America,” the group’s executive director Steven Goldstein wrote.

“This is as offensive a remark as it gets.”

The HUD department pushed back, saying on Twitter that the flurry of US media reports on Carson was “the most cynical interpretation” of his remarks.

“No one honestly believes he equates voluntary immigration with involuntary servitude,” the department added.

It was not the first such controversy for Carson, a former Trump rival for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and someone who routinely blasts political correctness.

He once said Joseph, the Biblical figure, built Egypt’s pyramids in order to store grain, and not as tombs for the pharaohs.

In 2013, he blasted the health care reforms of Trump’s presidential predecessor Barack Obama as “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”


Source: The Guardian

White House: Report that National Guard may round up immigrants is false.

The White House on Friday denied it was considering mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up non-citizens who are in the country illegally.


The Associated Press, citing a draft memo it obtained, reported earlier on Friday that the Trump administration was considering utilizing the military reserve branch in 11 states to target people who are in the United States illegally.


It was not immediately clear who authored the memo AP cited.


Source: Reuters

Buhari frowns at high illegal migration of Nigerians to Europe

President Muhammadu Buhari has frowned at the high rate of illegal migration of Nigerian youths to European countries through the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr. Buhari made this known at the 32rd Annual Meeting of the Sahel and West Africa also to mark its week, organised by the Food Crisis Protection Network in Abuja on Monday.

The president, who was represented by Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, called for an immediate stop to the action by Nigerians, saying it was unfair to European countries.

He said that agriculture revitalisation was a solution to the migration issue, while expressing the readiness of his administration to support farmers in order to boost local production in the country.

“We are pained when we see our youth across West and North Eastern Africa in a desperate attempt to cross the desert; get to Libya and cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

“We consider it as something that must stop as fast as possible because it is unfair to Europe.”

Data from the European Union indicate that an average of 83 Nigerians crossed illegally from Nigeria to Europe, daily, via the Mediterranean in the first nine months of 2016.

The daily figure was extrapolated from the 22,500 illegal Nigerian migrants that the EU said crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe between January and September this year.

Nigeria, however, said it hopes to use agriculture to stem the tide of illegal migration.

“We think that if we reorganise our agriculture better, many of these youths will earn a decent living at home rather than become an embarrassment to their host countries and to us here in Africa,” the president said.

“We are not unmindful of our youths population here, hence the need to ensure that the agriculture sector is revitalised as soon as possible.

“We have decided that we will no longer rely on rainfall, we will create dams, water reservoirs and insist on harvesting food at least three times in a year,” he added.

On food crisis in the West African region, he described the threat as real, saying that urgent steps were necessary to address the challenge.

According to him, there are 800 million hectares of agricultural land across the world yet to be cultivated and Africa owns half of them.

The president, appealed to Sahel and West African agricultural stakeholder to devise ideas that would guarantee better management in cattle breeding through artificial insemination.

Mr. Buhari, however, said his administration was aggressively tackling humanitarian crisis of the Internally Displaced Persons by attending to issues of food and nutrition, especially for women and children in the North East.

Marcel De Souza, the President of ECOWAS Commission, said that no fewer than 4 million Nigerians were internally displaced as a result of the insecurity in the North eastern region.

He listed some of the developmental challenges of the Sahel and West African regions to include economic and political governance.

Mr. De Souza called on governments of the regions to invest toward addressing unemployment and food crisis, which he described as bane to development.

Kassoum Denon, the Malian Minister of Agriculture, appealed to various countries in the Sahel and West Africa to share ideas and success stories with a view to addressing food crisis in the regions.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Food Crisis Protection Network is an international network created in 1984 as part of regional system for the prevention of food crisis.

It brings together Sahelian and West African expertise of the humanitarian and development spheres by mobilising available resources for social protection, livelihoods, nutrition, agricultural development, natural resources management to benefit the most vulnerable populations.

It aims to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2030 in the regions.

Libya’s coastal cities are ‘making millions from people smuggling’.

Libya’s coastal cities are making up to €325m (£272m) in revenue each year from people smuggling, the commander of a EU military task force in the Mediterranean Sea says in a confidential report.

In a report to the EU’s 28 nations, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino warns “migrant smuggling, originating far beyond Libyan borders, remains a major source of income among locals in Libyan coastal cities”.

The report, which was issued to EU member nations on Wednesday and seen by The Associated Press, provides no details as to how the figure was calculated.

Tens of thousands of refugees leaving Libya in unseaworthy boats have been picked up in the Mediterranean this year, often telling aid workers of the hundreds or thousands of euros they had to pay smugglers.

The report assesses the work of Operation Sophia, a naval mission intended to stop the flow of refugees to Europe

Mr Credendino also notes that Islamic extremist groups are among those involved in the smuggling business, which sometimes begins far south in Africa’s Sahel zone.

“Al-Qaida and al-Qaida AQIM [al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb], aligned with the Tuareg tribe in southwestern Libya, are assessed to be financially exploiting these smuggling routes,” he says.

However, he adds that there was no evidence extremists were trying to enter Europe via the dangerous Central Mediterranean route that passes from Libya to Italy.

Before risking their lives to cross the sea, refugees and migrants are frequently kidnapped by gangs and forced into “modern slavery”.

Others are detained in labour camps or forced into prostitution until they can pay their way out.

With routes out of Libya controlled by militias and many borders closed, the only option open for escape open to refugees are the flimsy rubber boats sent into the Mediterranean Sea by smugglers.

A day rescuing refugees from the Mediterranean Sea

The treacherous passage across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy has become the dominant route after the controversial EU-Turkey deal aimed to close the shorter and comparatively safer path across the Aegean Sea.

It has claimed the vast majority of over 4,600 lives of refugees lost in attempted sea crossings so far this year — making 2016 the deadliest year for refugees trying to reach Europe.

Charities have also raised concerns over reports of partner authorities in Libya intercepting migrant boats, shooting refugees and beating and torturing those detained.

Libya’s internationally recognised government has pledged to tackle people smuggling in the Mediterranean.

Last week, authorities in Italy they had recorded a record number of arrivals by sea this year, with one month still to go in 2016.

Over 171,000 migrants have arrived, which beats the previous annual record of 170,100 from 2014.

NIS urges Plateau residents to report illegal immigrants

Mr Lipdo Nangwang, Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in Plateau, has called on Nigerians to promptly report suspicious illegal immigrants and aliens living in their midst to the relevant authorities.


He said in Jos on Friday, that immigrants who do not possess relevant documents were the people usually being used to undertake nefarious activities in the state.


“It is very risky to allow aliens live in your area without reporting them; such persons usually avail themselves for nefarious acts.

“You will observe those who indulge in acts of destruction during crises are usually not from Nigeria.


“Since Nigeria is not their country, they have nothing at stake,” Nangwang said.


He said that if the residents avail the relevant authorities with information on illegal immigrants in their midst, they would be arrested and dealt with appropriately.


He called on illegal immigrants and aliens living in the state to ensure that they get resident permits to enable them go about their businesses without fear of prosecution.

Amid fears of heightened racism & hate crimes, New Yorkers are volunteering to escort fearful commuters

After President-elect Donald Trump’s election win, and amid fears of heightened bigotry and hate crimes, a Brooklyn woman has set up an online form where citizens can volunteer to accompany vulnerable commuters who are worried about being harassed on their way to school or work.

Kayla Santosuosso, the deputy director of the Arab American Association of New York, created the online signup sheet on Thursday evening, after being contacted about a Muslim woman in Harlem who, in the two days since the election, had twice been harassed and threatened on her train journey to college.
“I got a direct message from someone in my network asking me if I knew somebody who could help accompany her,” Santosuosso said.
“She had notified the police but she was still facing the prospect of having to go to school in the morning on her own and she was scared.”
Santosuosso immediately wrote a public Facebook post to see if anyone was available to help.
“We ended up finding someone within five minutes to accompany her,” she said.
But the offers of assistance kept flooding in.
“I had 25 people, mostly who I know, emailing me or direct messaging me on Facebook and being like, oh hey, if her ride falls through then please put me on the list as a backup,” she said.
To keep track of them all, Santosuosso, 26, decided to create a public Google doc for potential volunteers.
“This is for New Yorkers who are willing to accompany their neighbors on their commute in light of recent harassment and threats toward people of color, LGBTQ folks and Muslims,” reads the form, before asking users to fill in simple details about their neighborhood and commute start and end point.
“I created it, posted it on Facebook, closed my computer and went to sleep,” Santosuosso said.
“I woke up the following morning and it had gotten up to 50 people. And I was like, oh, a little bigger than I thought. I head into work, where I sat in a meeting dealing with a lot of these questions related to Trump’s proposed policies, especially around things like immigration or Muslim registries. Then, at 12:30 p.m., I sat at my desk, opened up the form and it had already gone up to 1,200 responses. And it kept growing.”
At the time this story was written, 5,600 people had volunteered to accompany vulnerable commuters. And word was spreading across state lines.
“I’ve had about 200 emails at this point from California, Washington state, Oregon, Boston, D.C., New Orleans, you name it. People have been reaching out to me from all throughout the country,” said Santosuosso, a registered Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton.
The overwhelming interest speaks, she theorized, to the extent to which “people are feeling personally responsible for the results of this election.”
“This is clearly an illustration that there is a massive amount of energy and motivation, post the election. Folks are ready to show up for their neighbor in ways that are potentially harmful to themselves. They may be putting their bodies on the line by offering to accompany somebody who may be harassed,” Santosuosso said.
“The feedback has been overwhelming in the sense that it’s been many people saying thank you. Thank you for helping me do something. Thank you for the opportunity,” she added.

Canada needs 300,000 immigrants to drive it’s economy.

To replenish its aging workforce, the Liberal government in Canada, will from next year, increase the intake of immigrants to 300,000. The move, according to investigation, was to help drive economic growth.

The previous target from 2011 to 2015 was 260,000 and the increase followed what Minister of Immigration, McCallum, called the “special circumstances” of the Syrian refugee crisis. That number will now be the permanent base.

The government’s economic growth council had recommended raising immigration levels to 450,000 over the next five years, but McCallum rejected the target.

There has been much debate over the targeted immigration level at a time when Canada struggles with high unemployment. There have also been questions about the country’s ability to smoothly integrate newcomers into communities.

The minister said other measures would be announced at a later date to streamline the process for economic applicants and to improve the process for permanent residency for international students. He further reinstated that students were among the best candidates to become Canadians, yet they had been “shortchanged” by the system in the past.

Kevin Lamoureux, the parliamentary secretary to the House Leader, said immigrants not only fill jobs that would otherwise remain vacant and help to develop provincial economies, but they also contribute to the character and social fabric of communities. If not for immigration, population of his province of Manitoba would have declined in the last decade.

On Elections eve, Trump attacks US Somali community.

US Republican party presidential candidate Donald Trump has accused the Somali community in the state of Minnesota of “spreading extremist views all over the country”.


He used a knife attack by a Somali immigrant in September in St. Cloud city as an example, saying the people of Minnesota have “suffered enough”.


Mr Trump, who was on a whirlwind campaign trip before Tuesday’s election, said that if he became president he would ensure that local communities were consulted before refugees settled.


Like his Democratic party rival Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump was upbeat about winning the contest to replace President Barack Obama.


Tuesday’s election could hinge on about a dozen so-called ‘swing states’ where the contest between the two leading candidates was particularly tight.

Migrant Crisis: Pope Francis Calls On All Catholic Parishes In Europe To Take In Refugees

Pope Francis in his last Sunday address called on every European parish to host one refugee family each in a goodwill gesture that will begin in the Vatican state.

“I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe to take in one family of refugees,” he said.

The Pontiff added that it is not enough to say “have courage, hang in there” to the refugees making the dangerous journey into Europe. He also said that two parishes in the Vatican will each take in a family of refugees in the coming days.

Pope Francis said the call to action is a “concrete gesture” to prepare for the extraordinary Holy Year on the theme of mercy, which will begin on December 8.

The call goes out to tens of thousands of Catholic parishes in Europe. There are more than 25,000 parishes in Italy alone, and more than 12,000 in Germany, where many of the refugees are hoping to settle. His Sunday’s comments come as Europe battles the worst refugee crisis since World War 11.

Over 350,000 refugees have already crossed into Europe and around 200,000 more are expected to arrive.

The Desperation Of Youths To Leave The Country Is Worrisome – Obasanjo

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, has expressed his concern over the current wave of desperate youths risking their lives to travel to Europe and the maltreatment they received from their hosts in African continent. Obasanjo in a statement he personally signed, yesterday, however, called for probe of the death of Nigerians and other immigrants in Libya, saying the incident is the direct action of Western powers which is responsible for the current anarchy in the country .

“It is thus a matter of considerable sadness for me when I witness the current wave of desperate youths risking their lives to travel to Europe and the futile efforts of European countries to deal with those who have already set sail or have even reached shores of the European continent.

“The current inflow of African refugees into Europe from Libya is a direct consequence. The government in Libya which in 2000 acted humanely and responsibly to stem the outflow of illegal migrants to Europe has been replaced by unconscionable bandits and terrorists who have forcibly seized the instruments of state to facilitate human trafficking and illegal migration for their own material benefit.

“It is time for the international community and particularly African leaders to take a good look at the factors responsible for the death and destruction with the Mediterranean by illegal migration of youths from Africa and address the causes in an honest, responsible, humane and holistic manner rather than the current futile attempt to half-heartedly deal with the symptoms rather than the cause.

“The sure way of prevention is the elimination of conflict and abject poverty and creation of employment in the countries where migrants originate. In the meantime, let AU form a bulwark to stem the spate of migrants from Africa across the Mediterranean to Europe. It can be done”.

67 Migrants Drown After Boats Capsized Off Libya, 3,000 Rescued, Including Nigerians

67 migrants are feared dead off Libya and the coastal town of Zuwara after more than 3,000 people attempted the crossing between Tuesday and Wednesday. The crew of the Swedish rescue vessel Poseidon discovered around 52 bodies in the hold of a wooden boat from which around 400 people were rescued some 30 miles north of Libya.

They were found close to the engine and are believed to have died from inhalation of engine fumes and asphyxia. Originally, rescuers counted 30 bodies but a spokesman for the Italian coastguard said the real death toll stands at 52.

In a separate incident, another 15 people are feared drowned after their boat capsized around five miles off the coastal town of Zuwara on Wednesday. A spokesman for the coastguard there said they had saved 20 people and recovered three bodies. The survivors, primarily from Nigeria and Ghana, told the coastguard they were traveling in a group of about 40 when their boat overturned in bad weather. They had only travelled some four hours after they left the shoreline.

The coastguard started the rescue at 4am and continued with the search into the afternoon but no more bodies were spotted. The tragedies came during an especially busy day in the waters outside Libya.The Italian coastguard said in a statement that around 3,000 people had been rescued in 10 different operations throughout Wednesday on the central Mediterranean route to Europe. That brings the total number of people rescued since Saturday to about 8,170 people.
Rescuers from the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Swedish coastguard and Italian Navy rescued at least 1,800 people between themselves. Most of them were picked up within a square mile some 30 miles north of Zuwara. Around 11am, rescuers from the Poseidon and MOAS were engaged with the boat in which the bodies were discovered when another wooden vessel with 600 migrants appeared on the horizon. An hour later, a dinghy with some 100 people on board was heading towards the rescue vessels.
The result is that some 150 people were left stranded on the wooden boat waiting while the Italian navy vessel Fiorillo made its way to the area because all other vessels in the area were filled to capacity. People started feeling sick provoking a chain reaction, while many more suffered from dehydration. Eventually, a doctor from MSF treated the most pressing cases and rescuers from MOAS supplied water making the wait more bearable.
According to Migrant Report, the migrants left Zuwara at around midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday. Most are from Pakistan and Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa.
Source: Migrant ReporT

Malawi Protests Against Attacks On Immigrants In SA

A diplomat at the South African High Commission in Malawi said hundreds of people protested outside the commission in the capital, Lilongwe, against anti-immigrant attacks in South Africa.

The commission’s Welcome Simelane said on Tuesday that it was a peaceful protest and demonstrators handed over a petition to High Commissioner Cassandra Mbuyane-Mokone. Malawi’s information minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said nearly 400 Malawians arrived home on Monday, travelling overnight by bus from South Africa.

Police said there was no new violence reported in Johannesburg and surrounding areas.

Credit: AP