Kompass-newsletter No. 117 - 09/2023


Record number of arrivals on Lampedusa +++ Urgent Warning - Declaration on Rescue at Sea +++ On 17 September in Calais: Demonstration against new deportation prison +++ Darmstadt: Church asylum successfully defended - 40 years of church asylum +++ Dublin regulation: In 2023 so far no deportations back to Italy +++ Anti Frontex Action Days in Dakar +++ Evros: the brutal face of the European border regime - Report of the Alarm Phone +++ Moving on - Echoes No. 7 +++ Medico Expertise: Turkey not a safe third country +++ Review: One year after the Melilla massacre of 24 June 2022: CommemorActions in Melilla and Tanger; Noborder Camp Netherlands; 1 - 3 September in Leipzig: Meeting of Welcome United ++ Outlook: 3 and 11 October: 10 years after the 2013 shipwrecks; 27 - 29 October in Bologna: Next meeting of the Transnational Social Strike Platform

Dear friends.

On Friday, 25 August 2023, 65 boats from Tunisia and Libya arrived in Lampedusa, and the following day there were another 53 landings. These are new record figures, bringing the total number of arrivals in Italy in 2023 to around 115,000 refugees and migrants. This means that by the end of August, more people had already arrived than in the whole of 2022. In spite of and against Meloni and her post-fascist government! Despite and against the trillion euros with which the EU under von der Leyen's leadership wants to buy off the Tunisian autocrat Kais Saied for even more brutal migration control! 

In view of this, the current attempts by the Italian Interior Minister Piantedosi and his subordinate Infrastructure Minister Salvini to harass and criminalise the civilian fleet of rescue ships with ever new instructions and decrees seem almost desperate. They know full well that only five to seven percent of arrivals are made by civilian rescue ships; the vast majority are picked up by the Italian coast guard a few kilometres off Lampedusa or they land on the coast entirely autonomously. But on the one hand, it is obviously a matter of pretending to one's own voters that one is capable of acting, at least in the confrontation with the NGOs, and on the other hand, it is a matter of weakening the important function of monitoring and publicly documenting permanent human rights violations at sea.

In an Urgent Warning, a broad civil society alliance calls for an end to the renewed repression. Quote: "While every rescue ship is urgently needed to prevent further loss of life on the world's deadliest migration route, EU member states - first and foremost Italy - are actively obstructing civilian search and rescue efforts.(...) All civilian rescue ships must be released immediately and all related fines must be dropped. The Italian law restricting the search and rescue activities of non-governmental organisations in the central Mediterranean must be repealed immediately. Instead, the applicable international law of the sea and human rights must be the framework for all actors at sea.(...) " Speaking of Civil Fleet: For all those who want to gain an overview: on https://civilmrcc.eu/ there is a map with all active sea rescue organisations in the central Mediterranean.

Because the arrivals are still being channelled through the at times completely overcrowded hot spot, the closed camp on Lampedusa, unbearable situations occur time and again. In addition, there are reports that immediately after the transfers to Sicily, Tunisian nationals in particular are singled out and detained for planned deportation. However, the undignified reception system and individual deportations should not obscure the fact that the vast majority of People on the Move have been making it through this dangerous passage faster than ever in recent weeks and months. Some report making it from Sfax to Marseille or Paris in five days.

For all those arriving in Italy who want to travel on to other countries within the EU, there is additional good news owed to the contradictions with right-wing governments in the EU. Meloni refuses to accept deportations back to Italy, Dublin-Italy has thus effectively collapsed. A quote from the Tagesspiegel: "According to the Interior Ministry spokesperson, no more than nine Dublin transfers to Italy took place this year until July. According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf), these were transfers in which the persons concerned travelled to Italy voluntarily and independently."

Even if there are no Dublin deportations to Italy for the time being, the Dublin regulation as a whole is far from being invalidated. On the contrary, there are sometimes new aggressive measures by the authorities to deport people with initial registration and fingerprints in Bulgaria, Croatia or Austria. Recently, there was even an attempt to force a Syrian protection seeker in a church asylum in Darmstadt to leave for Malta. But broad civil society solidarity prevented this bureaucratic-racist attempt in the first place.

While at Italy's southern borders migration movements have achieved some breakthrough, the situation in the Aegean Sea is persistently more blocking. At sea in the Greek rescue zones and even after landings on the Greek islands, as well as on the Evros, the border river with Turkey: along the entire border, the most brutal push-backs by the Greek border troops dominate everyday life. With all, often deadly force, people seeking protection are beaten back along the river or abandoned at sea. Since the big shipwreck of Pylos, in which more than 600 people lost their lives, there seems to be an effort on the part of the Greek coast guard to present rescues now and then. Thus, there are more arrivals in Greece again and the overall arrival figures are higher in recent months than in the same period in 2022, but still at a very low level. It remains to be seen in which direction further developments will go, and this will certainly also depend on how pressure continues to be built up to put an end to the inhuman violence at the borders. An important actor here remains the Alarm Phone, which documents the permanent human rights violations and supports the people in their sometimes weeks-long struggles for access to the asylum system.

Finally, the western route from and via Morocco. Here, the arrival figures are roughly on a par with the previous year, and more than 10,000 people made it to the Canary Islands via the long and dangerous Atlantic route in the first eight months of 2023. However, boats keep disappearing here, and the number of unreported drownings and missing persons remains particularly high. Against the backdrop of the racist massacre at Melilla in June 2022 - see also the link to the commemorative actions below - far fewer people have attempted to cross the national borders of the two Spanish enclaves this year. 

As is well known, the EU border regime in western Africa reaches as far as Senegal: by means of surveillance and visa measures as well as charter deportations, all of which are coordinated by Frontex. All the more significant that in mid-August the anti-racist group Boza Fii organised local action days in Dakar under the title "Push Back Frontex". 

In this spirit, with transnational solidarity greetings,

the Kompass team