The humane management of mixed migration flows from Libya to Italy poses a complex challenge. File photo: AP
The European Union Tries to Prevent a Wave of Migrants from Libya
Malta – The Economist: Although he was not there, it was hard to escape Donald Trump at the European Union’s latest summit. Held in Malta on February 3rd, the day-long event focused on new plans for handling migration, particularly for stemming the flow of people making their way towards Europe from sub-Saharan Africa through Libya and across the Mediterranean. It also touched upon broader (and slightly wonky) questions of what the EU means 60 years on from the Rome treaty.
But it was Mr Trump who dominated proceedings. François Hollande, the French president, called his American counterpart’s comments earlier this month denigrating the EU “unacceptable”. Describing the new migration plans, Federica Mogherini, the union’s foreign policy chief, said “we do not believe in bans and walls”, a slap at Mr Trump’s executive order on refugees and his plans for a wall on America’s Mexican border. Yet the EU’s new plans could be just as chaotic and ineffective as Mr Trump’s.
After the EU struck a deal with Turkey in March 2016 to crack down on people-smuggling in the Aegean sea, the flow of migrants from Turkey to Greece dropped dramatically, from 57,000 in February 2016 to about 3,400 in August. But the numbers making their way from Libya have not decreased. Some 180,000 arrived in Italy last year, with more than 4,000 dead or missing on the crossing. Many of them are economic migrants, not refugees. The largest proportion came from Nigeria, which has very low asylum acceptance rates. Most experienced extreme hardship on the route: reports of beatings, rapes and torture in Libya are common.
The EU is now attempting to implement a version of the EU-Turkey deal in Libya in order to stem the tide.
Refugees in America
United States – The New Yorker: The Pulitzer Prize-winning Viet Thanh Nguyen tells stories about people poised between their devastated homeland and their affluent adopted country, writes Joyce Carol Oates.
Nguyen evokes a world of death-haunted precarity. Illustration: Jun Cen.
Consider the distinctions between the words "expat," "immigrant," "refugee." "Expat" suggests a cosmopolitan spirit and resources that allow mobility; to be an "immigrant" suggests some measure of need. A "refugee" is, by definition, desperate: he has been displaced from his home, has been rendered stateless, has few or no resources. The expat retains an identity as he retains his citizenship, his privileges; the refugee loses his identity amid the anonymity of many others like him. In the way that enslaved persons are truncated by the term "slaves," defined by their condition, there’s a loss of identity in the category term "refugees." It might seem to be more humane, and accurate, to give someone who is forced to seek refuge a more expansive designation: "displaced person."
Viet Thanh Nguyen, one of our great chroniclers of displacement, appears to value the term "refugee" precisely for the punitive violence it betrays. Born in 1971, he is, by self-description, the son of Vietnamese refugees, and he has been a refugee himself; he has married a refugee, a fellow-writer named Lan Duong. In the acknowledgments of "The Refugees" (Grove), his beautiful and heartrending new story collection, he speaks of his son, Ellison: "By the time this book is published, he will be nearly the age I was when I became a refugee."
The United Nations Orchestra will perform on Saturday, 25th March at 8pm in Victoria Hall, Geneva. Tickets will benefit IOM's appeal for USD 234 million to help displaced Syrians. Read more | See IOM appeal
A global database tracking data on deceased and missing migrants along migratory routes. Please visit: MissingMigrants.iom.int
Khairi: "When asking me why I live in this city, I think you should ask why this city lives in me."
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"It is clear that migration needs to be well managed in order to realize its potential. In the short term migration may cost; in the long term it will pay dividends." – Khalid Koser, Executive Director, Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund. Read more here.