Thursday

1st Dec 2022

More and more Africans risk sea crossing to EU

UN figures indicate a big leap in the number of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean to the EU, with people increasingly willing to take the risk in winter as well as summertime.

Over 35,000 African migrants landed in Italy in 2008 compared to some 20,000 in 2007, according to fresh figures from the UN refugee centre, the UNHCR, cited by The Guardian on Tuesday (30 December).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Migrants put their lives at risk when crossing the Mediterranean to the EU (Photo: Wikipedia)

"We can no longer consider summer the only season when people arrive. Now they are coming all year round," UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini said. "That is more dangerous because the sea conditions are apt to change more abruptly in the colder months."

The remarks come after 2,400 people arrived on the small Italian islands of Lampedusa and Linosa over two days last week. The Maltese coastguard picked up another 139 migrants on Monday.

Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus are planning to discuss a joint strategy on the issue on 13 January ahead of an EU home affairs ministers meeting in Prague two days later.

The latest landings in Italy have caused political controversy, with the left-wing opposition saying Silvio Berlusconi's immigration crackdown has failed and that Libya has reneged on promises to help.

Right wing interior minister Roberto Maroni said on national radio that the migrants will be swiftly thrown out. "We need to let it be known that those who land in Lampedusa will be repatriated within a few days ...Tomorrow or maximum the day after tomorrow the first repatriation flights will begin."

The UNHCR and NGOs such as Arci have warned that any group deportations may violate asylum rights, however. In the past, most of the people trafficked to Europe have been economic migrants from Maghreb states. But a significant proportion were also fleeing conflict zones, such as Somalia and Eritrea.

Meanwhile, local authorities in Linosa have promised to shelter people in schools and churches, while flying others to an already-overcrowded holding pen in Lampedusa.

Malta recently passed a law to automatically detain illegal migrants for 18 months, while around 4,000 African settlers live in squalour in open camps on the island, the Guardian reports.

"These people come from terrible places and are running from the extremes of human behaviour - torture, rape and violence - and deep poverty. It cannot be right to treat them with contempt, detain or house them in horrible conditions in Europe," Jesuit Refugee Service activist, Father Joseph Cassar, told the paper.

Fortresseurope - a blog charting local news reports - says that since 1988 at least 9,400 people have died at sea trying to get to Europe, on top of those who actually arrive.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

French official accused of conflict over EU fish lobby job

A senior French official is being accused of conflicts of interest for spearheading a leading role in Europeche, a fishing-industry lobby group based in Brussels. The hire comes as the EU Commission threatens a lawsuit against France over fishing.

Catalan spyware victims demand justice

Victims of the widening spyware scandal in Spain are demanding justice and reparations, following the revelations that journalists, lawyers, civil society and politicians had been targeted.

Investigation

EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths

The EU Commission has watered-down a broad political initiative —but now governments of member states hold the key to what the EU should do. Some member states and regions have adopted asbestos strategies of some kind, from Poland to Flanders.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  2. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  3. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  4. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?
  5. Why the EU asbestos directive revision ... needs revising
  6. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  7. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  8. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us