UNHCR: Libyan Transit Points To Deter Risky Migrants Crossings

November 30, 2017 – The United Nations, through its refugee agency says it welcomes the decision by the Libyan authorities to set up a “transit and departure facility” in Tripoli for refugees and migrants in need of international protection – an initiative that offers viable alternatives to their dangerous journeys along the Central Mediterranean route.

UNHCR Roberto Mignone
UNHCR Roberto Mignone

According to Roberto Mignone at the Office the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Libya “We hope that thousands of the most vulnerable refugees currently in Libya will benefit from this forward-looking initiative,”

The UN News Center reports that the initiative, which is supported by the Italian Government, will facilitate the transfer of thousands of vulnerable refugees to third countries.

Mr. Mignone added that the main objective is to speed up the process of securing solutions in third countries, particularly for unaccompanied and separated children and women at risk. These solutions will include resettlement, family reunification, evacuation to UNHCR-run emergency facilities in other countries, or voluntary return.

At the facility, UNHCR staff and partners will provide registration and live-saving assistance such as accommodation, food, medical care and psychosocial support.

Political Map of Libya
Political Map of Libya

Meantime, an urgent evacuation plan has been drawn up at an African Union-European Union summit in Ivory Coast. According to the BBC, the African about 3,800 migrants will be returned to their countries, according to the plan.

Following international condemnation and outcry after the release of a video which purportedly showed African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya, the meeting of European and African leaders in Ivory Coast called for urgent help/

The UN-backed administration in Libya says it supports the agreement. However, with fractured political control, it remains to be seen how the agreement will be implemented.

Migrants from several African countries have been returned home in the last two months with help from the International Organization on Migration (IOM) and include, Gambia, Sierra Leon, Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  joined the agreement, but has only limited control over the territory, raising questions about how it will work in practice.

The French President at the European- African Summit  called the slave auctions a “crime against humanity”.

African migrants are making the perilous crossing through the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea on their journey to Europe for a better life.

West African Journal and International Wire Services

 

 

Amnesty International Statement On Ogoni Land Murder in Nigeria

Oil giant Shell has a case to answer for its role in human rights violations including murder, rape and torture committed by the Nigerian military government in the 1990s.

Shell_logo
Shell Logo

The victims were the Ogoni people, whose land has been devastated by pollution from Shell’s operations. When the Ogonis organized in peaceful protest, the Nigerian government unleashed a campaign of appalling violence against them.

Despite a raft of evidence linking Shell with the government’s actions, no company executive has ever been made to answer for its involvement.

The fact that Shell has never been held to account for this is an outrage, and one that sends a terrible message: if companies are rich and powerful enough, they can get away with anything.

So, for the first time, Amnesty International has brought together the available evidence to paint a damning picture of Shell’s role.

From 1990 onwards, Shell knew that its requests for the security forces to intervene in the Niger Delta were likely to result in human rights violations.

In 1990, Shell requested the assistance of a paramilitary police unit to deal with peaceful protesters at one of its facilities in Umuechem. The police attacked the village with guns and grenades, killing 80 people and torching 595 houses.

Despite this atrocity, Shell went back to the Nigerian government for help in dealing with community protests. A clear pattern began to emerge: over and over again, Shell asked the government to intervene, and these requests were soon followed by violence and death. For example:

A Shell memo shows that on 18 March 1993, Shell staff “pleaded” with the governor of Rivers State for a military guard while its contractors laid a pipeline.

On 30 April, the army responded to community protests against the new pipeline by shooting and wounding 11 villagers at Biara village.

Days later, on 4 May, Shell again asked the governor for “assistance”. That same day, troops opened fire on community protests at Nonwa village, killing one man.  Once again, a direct request from Shell led to human rights violations.

Then, a memo from 11 May 1993 shows that Shell managers met senior government and security officials in Abuja “to mobilise support at top government levels”. The head of the security service assured Shell that the Ogoni situation “would be over soon”.

Two months later, the military incited and participated in a new wave of armed attacks on Ogonis.

Ogoni land protest
Ogoni land Protest

Despite these violations, it was Shell’s policy to provide security forces with logistical support.

A 1995 statement from Shell Nigeria’s then-chair Brian Anderson explained that it was company policy at the time to provide the Nigerian government with logistical support – including the use of its boats, buses and helicopters.

Sometimes Shell’s assistance directly facilitated human rights violations. For example, in October 1993 the company provided the army’s transport to Korokoro village, when troops opened fire on protesters.

Shell had no qualms about repeatedly offering logistical support to security forces it knew were committing human rights violations.

Shell even paid money to a military unit responsible for violence.

In December 1993, shortly after a military coup, Shell wrote to the new military administrator of Rivers State, highlighting the economic consequences of protests and naming communities, including in Ogoniland, where protests had occurred.

One month later, the military administrator created the new Internal Security Task Force (ISTF), under the command of Major Paul Okuntimo.

The ISTF began carrying out human rights violations almost immediately. On 21 February 1994, soldiers under Major Okuntimo’s command shot at thousands of people who were peacefully demonstrating outside Shell’s main compound.

Then, on 3 March 1994, Shell paid Major Okuntimo and 25 of his men an “honorarium”. An internal Shell memo explained that the payment was a “show of gratitude and motivation for a sustained favourable disposition towards [Shell] in future assignments”.

Shortly afterwards, the ISTF began a campaign of brutal raids in Ogoniland – killing, raping and torturing villagers.

Shell knew all about these human rights violations.

Major Okuntimo boasted of these raids on television, and they were widely reported. In July that year, the Dutch ambassador told Shell that the army had killed some 800 Ogonis.

Shell also had insider knowledge. Company executives met regularly with top government officials, and discussed the government strategy for dealing with the Ogoni protests.

Shell raised the Ogoni and Ken Saro-Wiwa as a “problem”.

Map of Nigeria
Map of Nigeria

The Ogoni crisis culminated in the executions of the “Ogoni Nine” by the Nigerian state. Among them was Ken Saro-Wiwa, a famous writer and leader of protests by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).

Evidence shows that, at the peak of the crackdown in Ogoniland, Shell provided encouragement and motivation to the military authorities to stop the MOSOP protests, and specifically named Ken Saro-Wiwa.

A memo describes how, at a meeting with President Sani Abacha on 30 April 1994, Brian Anderson raised “the problem of the Ogonis and Ken Saro-Wiwa”.

Anderson reported that he came away from the meeting with the sense that Abacha “will intervene with either the military or the police.”

Indeed, within a month Ken Saro-Wiwa and other MOSOP leaders had been arrested, unfairly accused of involvement in murder, and held without charge.

The men were tortured and ill-treated in detention, before being found guilty in a sham trial and executed on 10 November 1995. The detailed records show that Shell knew the trial would be unfair and Ken Saro-Wiwa found guilty; but there is no indication in the available evidence of Shell trying to persuade the Nigerian military government to follow a less violent path in Ogoniland.

Conclusion:

Shell’s conduct amounts to encouraging, and, at times, facilitating the horrific crimes and abuses committed by the Nigerian security forces in Ogoniland in the mid-1990s. The company, knowing that violence against local communities was almost certain to occur, asked for the security forces to deal with community protests. Shell provided logistical support to the army and police, repeatedly underlined to the Nigerian government how the country was financially dependent on oil, and even paid money to the security forces.

More Ogoni land Protestors in Nigeria
More Ogoni land Protestors in Nigeria

Shell has always strongly denied these allegations. But the evidence paints a shocking picture of a corporation putting its interests above all else. The key question is: if Shell had not acted as it did, and had not pushed the Nigerian military and government, would so many people have been beaten, tortured, raped and killed?

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Nigeria, and Shell’s home states, the Netherlands and the UK, to launch a criminal investigation into the company’s role in the human rights violations committed by the Nigerian security forces.

Amnesty International Statement

Switzerland Imposes Sanctions on Individuals, Groups in Mali

Reports say the the Swiss government has imposed sanctions against various individuals and groups in conflict-riven Mali in line with a September United Nations Security Council resolution.

Map of Mali
Map of Mali

According to Swissinfo website quoting a Swiss Government statement, the measures include the freezing of assets of as yet unnamed people and a ban on travel for individuals or entities acting to undermine peace, security and stability in Mali.

The Government of Switzerland in its statement said “At present there are no entries on the list of persons and entities targeted by these measures.”

:Mali has been in a state of crisis since Islamic rebels took control of the north of the country between 2012 and 2013 following a coup d’état in March 2012.  A Swiss missionary worker Beatrice Stöckli is still being held hostage in the West African nation by extremists after her kidnap  in January, 2016 by the Group to Support Islam and Muslims”, the Swiss Government said.

UN Peacekeepers in Mali
UN Peacekeeping Mission In Mali

The Swiss government noted in its statement that “efforts to restore order to Mali have included elections in 2013 and 2016 and the signing of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali in 2015. Despite these measures, difficulties persist in the implementation of the agreement due to government instability, social dissatisfaction and terrorist attacks in the north of the country.”

The sanctions have been imposed in an effort to push forward the peace and reconciliation agreement, the statement added.

There are more than 11,000 UN troops deployed in Mali as part of its Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission which was established in 2013.

Even UN peacekeepers have come under targeted attacks by armed insurgents. In August, eight people died in an attack on a UN facility in Timbuktu.

West African Journal Magazine and Swissinfo

Sub-Saharan African “Slave” Migrants Being Repatriated From Libya

Following revelation and an outcry against the purported  “slave auctions” of mostly black African migrants in the North African nation of Libya, several African countries have begun receiving their repatriated nationals.

Migrants
Migrants in Libya

With assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) the Government of Sierra Leone  on Wednesday received 164 of its citizens.

The Journal du Cameroun website quotes IOM officials as saying the the returnees which included men, women and children were flown to Freetown in the early hours of Wednesday with the help of the IOM.

According to IOM officials,  the returnees had voluntarily asked to be flown back home after going through  what they described as “difficult experiences”.

IOM
IOM

The European Union (EU) and the Government of Libya provided tickets for the Sierra Leonen returnees while the IOM is providing financial assistance packages to facilitate reintegration in their various communities.

The returnees are being temporarily accommodated  at the National Stadium in the capital Freetown.

Meantime, the Government of Burkina Faso has recalled its Ambassador to Libya over reports of the “auction” of black African migrants in the north African nation.

About 135 Burkinabe migrants were recently repatriated with assistance from the IOM.

Gambian Migrants
Gambia Migrants

In the Gambia, about 1500 returnees who were repatriated from Libya have begun receiving packages from the IOM for resettlement.

As part of its Freedom Project, CNN recently uncovered a ” slave auction market” of black African migrants in Libya in multiple locations in the country.

The Government of National Unity (GNA) of Libya, while announcing an investigation, responded to the report saying, “We affirm again that the practical solution is to address the real reasons that drive people to leave their home countries, treat them and develop final solutions for them.”

The Chairman of the African Union and Guinean Presidnet Alpha Conde has condemned the auction of Africans as slaves.

Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

Italy Holds Funeral For 26 Nigerian Women Drowned In Mediterranean

A Roman Catholic bishop and a Muslim imam both said prayers at the simple ceremony in the southern city of Salerno, with 26 wooden coffins laid out on a stone dais. A single white rose was placed on the lid of each.

“It is very likely that these girls were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation,” said Federico Soda, director UN migration agency IOM for the Mediterranean.

A recent IOM report had estimated that 80 percent of Nigerian girls arriving in Italy by sea might be trafficking victims.

The 26 bodies were retrieved from the sea on Nov. 3 by a Spanish rescue ship, while some 64 people were unaccounted for and feared lost, bringing the total dead to around 90, said Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesman.

Survivors found on nearby rubber boats said the women were all Nigerian and had left Libya hoping to make it to Italy.

The only two identified were named as Marian Shaka, who was married, and Osato Osaro. Both were pregnant. Some of those who died were believed to have been as young as 14.

Map of Italy
Map of Italy

Almost 115,000 migrants, mainly African men, have reached Italy so far this year, according to government data released on Friday, against just over 167,000 in the same period last year.

IOM said at least 2,925 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean from Jan 1.-Nov. 5 against 4,302 last year.

The Italian government has worked with Libyan authorities to block migrants from leaving the north African state, leading to a sharp fall in new arrivals since the summer.

The government says its policy has cut the number of sea deaths, while critics say it has left thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in appalling conditions in Libya.

AP

Photos: Angela Caponetto/AFP

Joint Statement by the European Union Delegation to Liberia and the Embassies of EU Member States present in Liberia (France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom)

As close partners of Liberia the European Union and its Member States have been and continue to follow the 2017 Presidential and House of Representative elections with high interest.

WFL_074
EU Flag

Peace and security, together with democracy, good governance and human rights, are some of the shared values at the heart of the EU-Africa partnership. We congratulate both the Liberian people and Liberian political parties for the commitment they have shown to these values through the peaceful conduct of the electoral process so far, including through the use of the appropriate legal mechanisms to address any concerns.

Map of Liberia
Map of Liberia

Over the last twelve years the European Union has worked closely with Liberia to support both post-conflict reconstruction and long term development.  We would like to stress the importance of a smooth democratic transition for Liberia’s stability and economic growth.  We therefore encourage all concerned to work constructively and in good faith to conclude the current complaints process without unnecessary delay, so that the electoral process can be completed in accordance with Constitutional timelines regarding the assumption of power by the next administration.

The European Union is looking forward to continuing our cooperation with Liberia’s new President and new government.  The Liberian people demonstrated their commitment to democracy through the high turnout of voters on 10 October who cast their ballots in a peaceful atmosphere.  It is now the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that the electoral process continues in a manner which respects the will of the people, thereby putting Liberia’s interests first. We trust that this will continue to be the case.

Press Statement of EU Delegation to Liberia

Guinea’s Defence Minister Urges Fight Against Radicalism

Guinea’s Minister of National Defense Mohamed Diané Tuesday in Dakar urged “tackling the seeds of radicalization, if we want to eradicate terrorism. ”

Guinea Defense Minister Dr. Mohamed Diane
Guinea Defense Minister Dr. Mohamed Diane

“Social inequality, poverty and underemployment of youth are the seeds of terrorism that need to be addressed. If we win the battle for the development and equitable distribution of our resources, we will win this battle imposed on us by terrorists,” Diané said.

The website Journal du Cameroun reports that Minister Diane was speaking during a panel discussion on “terrorism and violent extremism”, on the second and final day of the 4th edition of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa.

The Guinean minister added that the response against terrorism must be adapted to the situation on the ground.

“We must also fight for drying up the sources of terrorism financing,” he went on, adding that Guinea has, thanks to the support from Morocco, trained 500 imams and preachers to combat radicalization.

According to MINUSMA head Mahamat Saleh Annadif, terrorism is a challenge for Africa and the world, and everyone agrees that it needs a global response.

“In doing so, it is important to look at its real causes of social injustice, underdevelopment, poverty and unemployment. Prevention is extremely important in the fight against terrorism,” he said at the forum.

According to the organizers, this 4th edition has registered nearly 700 participants, comprising regional and international actors, political and military authorities, experts and academics, diplomats, representatives of international organizations, civil society and the private sector.

Forum du Darkar
Forum du Darkar

The two-day meeting focused on the need for integrated approaches, promoting exchanges, sharing experiences, synergies at the national, sub-regional, regional or regional level.

The Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa was born at the Elysée Summit on Peace and Security in Africa held in 2013 in Paris, where African heads of state planned to deepen reflection on the framework of the Forum.

The holding of a high-level panel, shortly after Monday’s opening ceremony, is major innovation of the 2017 edition, which is being held at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Centre in Diamniado just outside Dakar.