The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health ::
Holistic Development :: Sustainable Resilience
Week ending 29 August 2015

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
Editor &
Founding Managing Director
GE2P2 – Center for Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

pdf version: The Sentinel_ week ending 29 August 2015

blog edition: comprised of the 35+ entries to be posted below on 30 August 2015

Lamenting Recent Migrant, Refugee Deaths, Secretary-General Appeals to Governments for Bolstered Efforts Ahead of Global Meeting at UN Headquarters 28 August 2015

Lamenting Recent Migrant, Refugee Deaths, Secretary-General Appeals to Governments for Bolstered Efforts Ahead of Global Meeting at UN Headquarters
28 August 2015
The following statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was issued today:

I am horrified and heartbroken at the latest loss of lives of refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean and Europe. Yesterday saw the grim discovery of the bodies of more than 70 people inside a truck abandoned near the Austrian border with Hungary. Reports indicate that many of the victims were Syrian asylum seekers — including children.

Recent days have brought yet more news of hundreds of refugees and migrants drowning in perilous journeys on the sea. Earlier this year, I visited search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Despite the concerted and commendable efforts of the joint European search and rescue operation, which has saved tens of thousands of lives, the Mediterranean Sea continues to be a death trap for refugees and migrants.

These repeated tragedies underscore the ruthlessness of people smugglers and traffickers whose criminal activities extend from the Andaman Sea to the Mediterranean to the highways of Europe. It also highlights the desperation of people seeking protection or a new life.

A large majority of people undertaking these arduous and dangerous journeys are refugees fleeing from places such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. International law has stipulated — and States have long recognized — the right of refugees to protection and asylum. When considering asylum requests, States cannot make distinctions based on religion or other identity nor can they force people to return to places from which they have fled if there is a well-founded fear of persecution or attack. This is not only a matter of international law; it is also our duty as human beings.

I commend those leaders and communities who have stepped up to our shared responsibilities and obligations. But much more is required. I appeal to all Governments involved to provide comprehensive responses, expand safe and legal channels of migration and act with humanity, compassion and in accordance with their international obligations.

Let us also remember: the high number of refugees and migrants are a symptom of deeper problems — endless conflict, grave violations of human rights, tangible governance failures and harsh repression. The Syrian war, for example, has just been manifested on a roadside in the heart of Europe.

In addition to upholding responsibilities, the international community must also show greater determination in resolving conflicts and other problems that leave people little choice but to flee. Failing that, the numbers of those displaced — more than 40,000 per day — will only rise.

This is a human tragedy that requires a determined collective political response. It is a crisis of solidarity, not a crisis of numbers. I am encouraged that these issues will be an area of focus and priority when world leaders gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York next month for the opening of the General Assembly. I am organizing a special meeting devoted to these global concerns on 30 September.

Migrant crisis: “Let’s not pretend Europe’s response is working” – UN rights expert warns [UN OHCHR]

UN OHCHR Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights [to 29 August 2015]

Migrant crisis: “Let’s not pretend Europe’s response is working” – UN rights expert warns
8/28/2015 Press Releases
GENEVA (25 August 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, today called on the European Union to establish a human rights-based, coherent and comprehensive migration policy* which makes mobility its central asset. “It is the only way in which the EU can reclaim its border, effectively combat smuggling and empower migrants,” he said.

“Let’s not pretend that what the EU and its member states are doing is working. Migration is here to stay,” Mr. Crépeau stressed. “Building fences, using tear gas and other forms of violence against migrants and asylum seekers, detention, withholding access to basics such as shelter, food or water and using threatening languagee or hateful speech will not stop migrants from coming or trying to come to Europe.”

“Territorial sovereignty is about controlling the border, knowing who comes in and who leaves. It has never been about sealing the border to migration,” the expert said. “Democratic borders are porous by nature. Providing migrants and asylum seekers with legal and safe mobility solutions will ensure such a control.”

The Special Rapporteur urged Europeans to start focusing on regaining control of their external border from the smugglers by increasing mobility solutions available to most migrants, investing in integration measures – especially through supporting the action of cities – and developing a strong public discourse on diversity and mobility as cornerstones for contemporary European societies.

“If Europeans want their governments to regain control of their borders, then they must urge them to bank on mobility and offer migrants and asylum seekers official channels to enter and stay in Europe,” the human rights expert said.

“Opening up the regular labour markets through smart visas allowing people to come to look for work and incentivise them to return if they don’t find the job in question would allow for a much better regulated and controlled official labour market,” Mr. Crépeau noted.

However, he cautioned, such measures must be supported with sanctions against employers who exploit irregular migrants in underground labour markets (in agriculture, construction, care or hospitality). “This would considerably reduce the pull factor they exercise on irregular migrants and further reduce the market for recruiters, smugglers and exploitative employers,” the expert said.

“In addition, there is an obvious urgent need for Europe to create, jointly with other Global North countries, a massive resettlement programme for refugees like Syrians and Eritreans that could offer protection to 1.5 or 2 million of them over the next five years,” he said, highlighting that such a programme would impact the market for smugglers and allow European countries to decide who comes and make appropriate preparations.

The Special Rapporteur recalled that, last year, saving lives of migrants and asylum seekers at sea was seen as a moral imperative by the international community, which then put pressure on the EU to intervene and save the lives of those on the boats. The expert welcomes the positive steps taken by the EU and its member states in rescuing migrants and asylum seekers at sea. “However, rescuing people who arrive by sea and then turning a blind eye to their plight leaving them vulnerable to human rights violations is irresponsible,” the expert said.

“Talking about ‘flows’, ‘marauders’, and ‘swarms’ is an unsubtle way of dismissing the legitimacy of the asylum seekers and migrants’ claim to human rights, by creating images linking them to toxic waste or natural disasters” he noted. “We are talking about men, women, children and even babies, who have faced traumatic experiences. These are people just like you and me, and none of us have the moral high ground to say that we would never do the same if we were in their shoes.”

The UN Special Rapporteur warned that the political and popular discourse in Europe has seen a race to the bottom in the anti-migrant sentiments and use of inappropriate language which is often linked to criminalising migrants. “Migrants are human beings with rights. When we dehumanise others, we dehumanise ourselves,” he underscored.

Mr. Crépeau called on European political leaders “to show moral and political leadership in fighting much more vigorously racism, xenophobia and hate crime, in consolidating the common human rights culture that is now framing the evolution of all traditions, in strengthening the free movement of persons throughout the EU while developing regulated mobility solutions at its external borders, and in celebrating the diversity of cultures and religions as enrichment for everyone, citizens and foreigners alike.”

IOM / International Organization for Migration [to 29 August 2015]

IOM / International Organization for Migration [to 29 August 2015]

Selected Press Releases
IOM on Latest Austrian Truck Tragedy
Austria – IOM condemns the shameful act of neglect that the Austrian authorities say resulted in the suffocation of some 71 migrants in the back of a truck in Austria.

IOM Monitors Migrant Flows into Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
An estimated 1,500-2,000 migrants are crossing from Greece to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and on into Serbia every 24 hours.

Displacement Escalates in Iraq
Iraq – IOM Iraq’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) updated figures, released yesterday, identified 3,176,946 internally displaced Iraqis (529,491 families) across Iraq from January 2014 to 13 August 2015.

IOM Aids Colombian Deportees from Venezuela
Colombia – IOM has joined a humanitarian team of government entities and international agencies assisting the over 1,000 Colombians who have been deported from Venezuela in the last few days.

IOM Highlights Psychosocial Needs of Displaced People in Eastern Nigeria
Nigeria – IOM, with financial support from the US, French and German governments, has released a report based on a psychosocial needs assessment of internally displaced persons (IDPs) carried out in Yola, Adamawa State, in eastern Nigeria in April 2015.

IOM Seoul Hosts Counter Trafficking Policy Seminar
Republic of Korea – The lack of effective indicators to identify trafficking victims in the Republic of Korea (ROK) is resulting in a situation where victims are sometimes treated as criminals, according to IOM.

IOM Resumes Evacuation of South Sudanese Refugees in Ethiopia
Ethiopia – IOM Ethiopia this week resumed its emergency evacuation of South Sudanese refugees from the border, which had been halted since late July 2015 as all receiving camps had reached their maximum capacity.

Statement by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos – European Commission

Statement by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos
European Commission – Statement
Brussels, 27 August 2015
The news of the 50 migrants found asphyxiated in the hull of a ship last night, and the lost souls of 20 or more migrants discovered abandoned in a truck on an Austrian highway today are frankly shocking. These are sinister, criminal acts, carried out by smugglers with no scruples whatsoever.

The news of the 50 migrants found asphyxiated in the hull of a ship last night, and the lost souls of 20 or more migrants discovered abandoned in a truck on an Austrian highway today are frankly shocking. These are sinister, criminal acts, carried out by smugglers with no scruples whatsoever.

The migration crisis is not somewhere far away. It is happening right in front of us.

Chancellor Faymann is right when he says we cannot go on this way.This is not an Austrian crisis. This is not an Italian, French, German or a Greek or a Hungarian crisis. This is a European crisis and it requires a collective European response.

The Commission put that European response on the table – from increasing our presence at sea, to cooperating with countries of origin and transit, to clamping down on smuggling networks, making returns more effective and implementing the recently adopted common EU asylum rules whilst showing solidarity with frontline countries – we have to address the issue from all angles. We already announced that further proposals will come soon.

Now is the moment for joint actions, and solidarity with all Member States and our partner countries in the region. That is also why we will be visiting several of the most affected Member States, starting from Calais on Monday and also Austria on 7 September, to discuss further support and joint actions.

In the meantime, some of the measures proposed by the Commission have already found support. All the others now urgently need to be taken up by the EU’s 28 Member States – even those who have until now remained reluctant to do so.

IMO’s Sekimizu issues fresh condemnation of Mediterranean people smugglers

IMO’s Sekimizu issues fresh condemnation of Mediterranean people smugglers
International Maritime Agency
Briefing – 28/08/2015
Recent incidents in which hundreds of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe have lost their lives, including dozens found dead in the holds of the ships that were carrying them, have prompted strong condemnation and refreshed calls for concerted action to tackle people smugglers from IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu.

Mr Sekimizu said that smugglers were sending people to sea in craft that were totally unsuitable for passengers and crowding them on board to levels that were completely unsafe.

“Not only are these activities illegal,” said Sekimizu, “they are also carried out with a callous disregard for human life and a total disrespect for any of the internationally accepted standards for safety of life at sea, developed and adopted by IMO. These boats should never be allowed to go to sea in the first place, and the perpetrators of these appalling crimes against humanity must be stopped.”

Mr Sekimizu praised the efforts of vessels operating under the auspices of the European Union in intercepting a number of smuggling voyages and saving thousands of lives. However, while commending the efforts of those participating in rescue operations, including navies, coast guards, merchant ships and private vessels for their role in rescuing the survivors of these potentially deadly voyages, Mr. Sekimizu called for stronger action by governments and the international community to prevent migrants undertaking risky sea passages in the first place.

“The sea is an unforgiving place. Any rescue operation is a dangerous undertaking for all concerned and places lives at risk – including those of the rescuers,” he said. “Ideally, these vessels should be prevented from taking to sea at all. I urge governments and humanitarian organizations to better manage migration ashore and authorities in the departure zones to redouble their efforts to keep overloaded, unsafe vessels from taking to sea.”

A special session of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee on unsafe mixed migration by sea was held on 9 June, when it was agreed that greater focus needs to be placed on addressing unsafe migration by sea through more safe and regular migration pathways. Addressing the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this global issue required everyone to work together with a comprehensive approach, which would protect human rights, uphold international law and recognize the benefits of migration. The Maritime Safety Committee agreed to continue to address matters pertaining to “Unsafe mixed migration by sea”, and invited IMO’s Facilitation Committee and Legal Committee to do the same.

Mr Sekimizu said the current situation was a truly humanitarian crisis and was simply not sustainable.

In July, a new inter-agency platform for information sharing on migrant smuggling by sea was launched by IMO, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in order to better understand unsafe mixed migration by sea. It is anticipated that the platform will assist in improved monitoring of incidents associated with unsafe and irregular mixed migration by sea globally, with a view to better analysis of trends and the identification of potential solutions.

The platform was initiated following the Inter-agency High-level Meeting to Address Unsafe Mixed Migration, which was held at IMO Headquarters in March, with the aim of aim of facilitating dialogue and promoting enhanced cooperation and harmonization between United Nations agencies, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, Governments and the shipping industry.