Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Channelling Mediterranean Migrants to England

"Calais is a necessary evil for migrants trying to reach Britain, which for many has become a kind of promised land. They believe the country wholeheartedly welcomes newcomers, and that living standards there are the best in Europe. It is a notion the British government is trying to dispel."

"Migrant camp on French coast grows more permanent" by ELAINE GANLEY Associated Press  August 08, 2015

CALAIS, France — The kitchen is a rustic grill under a tarpaulin in a fetid-smelling camp teeming with migrants — but for Zubair Nazari it means survival.

The teen, who ended up in this port city after a perilous escape from the Taliban, sticks with a group of fellow Afghans who do their best to recreate the tastes of home — a stew of eggs, onions, and tomatoes — amid a stretch of squalor known as ‘‘the jungle.’’

‘‘We don’t eat like this every day,’’ said Nazari of the simple meal that was, in fact, a special treat cooked up for visitors. ‘‘The jungle is not a place for humans. It’s just for animals.’’

An estimated 2,500 migrants are at the wind-swept camp surrounded by sand dunes that sprang up in early April when a state-approved day center for migrants was opened nearby. Unlike the others, this refuge far from the Calais city center — and more than a two-hour walk to the Channel tunnel — has mushroomed into a veritable village.

A mosque, church, and myriad shops, all built by migrants from plastic tarp and plywood, convey a sense of people settling in.

It’s a sign that, while most migrants are desperate to leave Calais, they appear increasingly resigned to the long haul in a city that is groaning under the strain of the migrant load.

Maya Konforti of Auberge des Migrants — Migrants’ Shelter — an NGO that helps supply food, tents, and blankets, says the camp’s building binge is due in part to its far-flung location, with no nearby grocery stores. But another reason is that some 30 percent of the camp population is seeking political asylum in France — and these people know they are in for a prolonged wait.

Squalor is the only constant between this new ‘‘jungle’’ and the makeshift encampments bulldozed by authorities. ‘‘There is no water, no food, no clothing,’’ Nazari said. ‘‘Where are the human rights?’’

Piles of garbage putrefy in the sun. The rare spigots of water and a line of portable toilets are difficult to access for many living at the site. One migrant said he last washed his pants in Hungary, weeks ago.

Yet this appears to be the place where France’s government is encouraging migrants to huddle, out of sight for most Calais residents and from the Channel tunnel. For the first time since the 2002 destruction of a huge migrant camp outside Calais, Konforti said, ‘‘the government says, ‘Go there. You will be tolerated.’ ’’


Vincent Cochetel, Europe director for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on Friday deplored the ‘‘appalling’’ conditions in the camp and called for ‘‘proper reception centers.’’

I wasn't going to say concentration camp, but....

Fear follows migrants fleeing war, famine, human rights abuses, or poverty — and pervades the camp.

Zubair has been in Calais for a month, and cannot shake his fear of the Taliban. He said threatening letters from the Afghan militants drove him to leave his studies and his country.

‘‘My life was in danger in Afghanistan,’’ he said. He refused to provide details, but some other Afghan residents in the camp said they left for similar reasons, and remain fearful of being targeted inside the ‘‘jungle.’’

‘‘We will feel safe in England,’’ said Zubair. ‘‘Maybe when we pass to England the fear will go away from us.’’

Calais is a necessary evil for migrants trying to reach Britain, which for many has become a kind of promised land. They believe the country wholeheartedly welcomes newcomers, and that living standards there are the best in Europe. It is a notion the British government is trying to dispel.

One Afghan, Khan Tarakhil, is proof that Britain’s arms are hardly wide open. At 14, he sneaked into Britain on a ferry, hiding in a truck loaded with boxes of biscuits. He spent seven years in Manchester, only to be refused political asylum when he was no longer a minor — forcing him into a life in hiding.

At 24, unable to apply for asylum elsewhere under European rules, he is trying to sneak back to Britain ‘‘to open my case again.’’

On Wednesday night, ‘‘I got over the last fence, dropped down, then the dogs came and they stopped me,’’ Tarakhil said, referring to the dogs used by some security units as part of the effort to block migrants.


And for those lucky enough to make it:

"Migrants seeking English soil halted at Channel Tunnel; French officials say thousands are being turned back" by Stephen Castle New York Times  July 30, 2015

LONDON — They have reached Europe after treacherous journeys, usually across the Mediterranean. They have dodged the authorities as they made their way northward toward their ultimate goal, Britain.

But now, thousands of illegal migrants, refugees from war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, find themselves bottled up at one final choke point in northern France: the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.

Thank you, Obama!

Over two nights this week, their desperation and frustration have flared to new levels as they have tried in far larger numbers than normal to breach the security around the tunnel and hide themselves amid the trucks and freight being shuttled by rail from Calais to southern England.

French police said there had been about 2,100 attempts by migrants to gain access to the tunnel Monday, and Eurotunnel, the company that operates the 31-mile English Channel crossing, put the number for Tuesday night at about 1,500.

At least one migrant, believed to be a Sudanese man, died in the attempts this week. An unknown number slipped through, authorities said.

Most of those who tried were caught and turned backfree, by and large, to try again, leaving the governments of France and Britain scrambling to shore up defenses around the tunnel and deal with the political and economic reverberations from the latest flash point in Europe’s escalating migrant crisis.

Looks like the Mexican border.

The French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, sent 120 additional police officers to Calais on Wednesday and described the city, a port on the English Channel, as “a mirror of the conflicts and crises that are tearing some of the world’s regions apart.”

In London, British ministers and other officials held emergency talks as pressure mounted for a more robust response to a situation that has disrupted trade and tourism and put two of the world’s wealthiest nations at the center of the debate over how to cope with a seemingly unstoppable tide of migrants seeking a better life.

Mattia Toaldo, policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, a research institute, said there would “be more of these flash points, because the number of migrants is growing, and to much higher numbers than in the past.”

Calais has joined other spots in Europe that are becoming synonymous with the Continent’s inability to halt the flow of migrants into its territory and agree on a way to handle those who make it.

They include the islands of Lampedusa in Italy and Lesbos in Greece, where many migrants first land; the fence that Hungary is erecting along its border with Serbia, the latest effort to stop them from migrating northward; and towns like Ventimiglia, Italy, on the border with France, where the authorities are making it harder for them to proceed.

“What we are seeing is the result of the European Union not being able to handle the migration crisis in the way that they should,” said Camino Mortera-Martinez, a research fellow at the Center for European Reform, a research institute.

“Everyone is blaming each other for not handling the crisis properly,” she said. “The Italians and Greeks are blaming everyone else for not helping them. France is blaming Italy for giving documents to asylum-seekers, without checking them properly, so they can move on.”

The English Channel is a focus of the broader European crisis because many migrants are trying to travel to Britain, where they believe they will find it easier to secure work. The country also appears more attractive because Britain does not operate an identity card system and because many migrants speak some English.

They spy on their population, but don't care about illegals?

Calais is certainly feeling the strain. Eurotunnel said in a statement Wednesday that it had intercepted more than 37,000 migrants since January.

Emmanuel Agius, deputy mayor of Calais, said in an interview Wednesday that the city would like help from the United Nations to deal with the migrants, and he called for a summit meeting with the leaders of Britain and France to address the situation.

“The city is continuing to suffer from this issue, economically and tourism-wise,” he said. Like other French officials, he suggested that Britain needed to do more to make itself a less appealing destination and to control the migrant flow on its side of the English Channel.

That sentiment has provoked a political reaction in Britain, where the government’s ability to police its frontiers has been questioned and where frustration with what many see as an insufficient response by France is growing.


I would say send them all to Germany, but....

"Attacks on refugees tempered by strong support in Germany" by Frank Jordans Associated Press  August 15, 2015

BERLIN — The apparent rise in hostility toward refugees has been countered by an outpouring of sympathy and support for people seen as desperate victims of poverty or violence.

The starkly differing reactions to the influx of refugees points to an increasing polarization in Germany, with growing acceptance of outsiders by a majority but a persistent and possibly radicalized minority fearful of all things foreign less than half a century after the defeat of the Nazis.

Reflecting the national angst, German weekly Der Spiegel recently asked ‘‘Is the Ugly German Back?’’ atop an article about racist attacks against refugees. The Munich-based daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung warned that Germany could be on the verge of ‘‘exploding’’ again.

Experts say it would be wrong to downplay any violence against foreigners, but point to another figure that puts the racist incidents in context: for every 1,000 refugees there was one incident.


Meanwhile, the majority of Germans have been openly supportive of refugees. In Buch, a downscale suburb of Berlin, one Eritrean asylum seeker said the only time he had witnessed any hostility was when a far-right protest occurred outside the gates of his refugee shelter.

‘‘But there were many, many more people protesting for the refugees,’’ said the 32-year-old, who gave his name only as Mehari out of concern for his family in Eritrea.

How times have changed, huh?

Hajo Funke, a professor of political science at Berlin’s Free University, said, the attitude of most Germans toward foreigners nowadays is profoundly different from what it was a couple of decades ago, when immigrants were considered temporary residents only and citizenship was still tied to blood lineage.

‘‘There has been an immense change in society. Germany has become a more open, liberal country,” said Funke, an expert on Germany’s far-right movement....

That's weird when told anti-Semitism on rise, etc, etc. 

That's where the print ended.

When hundreds of asylum seekers were camped outside Berlin’s central reception center for refugees last week in searing August temperatures, locals spontaneously used social media to organize deliveries of water, ice cream, and toys for children.

Refugee supporters say there’s no cause for complacency, however. Robert Kusche, who runs a counseling service serving for victims of hate crimes in the eastern city of Dresden, said many attacks don’t show up in official statistics because refugees don’t believe it’s worth reporting minor incidents such as spitting or shoving in the street.

Kusche said groups such as PEGIDA, which stands for ‘‘Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West,’’ had tapped into a lingering fear of foreigners among some parts of German society. 

Notice they never mention law-and-order in this "debate" regarding Obama's illegal war refugees?

While PEGIDA’s weekly protests have dwindled to several thousand from their peak of 25,000 in January, its supporters have been actively setting up Facebook pages opposing the opening of refugee shelters and flooding the comment pages of news websites with derogatory messages about foreigners.

‘‘We need a strong sign that this won’t be tolerated,’’ said Kusche. 

Shut down the web (Germany has already criticized any questioning of the Holocaust™)!

Last week, Anja Reschke, a journalist for Germany’s public broadcaster ARD, delivered just that, receiving widespread applause for an on-air comment slamming what she called the ‘‘little racist nobodies’’ who express hatred of refugees online. The video was watched almost 8.7 million times on Facebook alone. 

Where is the concern for Palestinians then?

Despite the current support for refugees, some are nervous. ‘‘Far-right extremists are exploiting concerns among parts of the population and this is leading to violence,’’ said Funke. ‘‘The danger is that this will take the shape of terrorism.’’

For now, most refugees appear to feel secure in Germany.

Hassan Salameh, a 30-year-old pharmacist who fled Aleppo with his mother and two sisters, said he considers himself lucky to be in Germany.

‘‘Actually it’s the second homeland for us. The people are very lovely, very helpful,’’ he said at a refugee shelter in Spandau, on the outskirts of Berlin.

Still, one incident stuck in his mind.

‘‘We were walking together with my family and someone made like this,’’ said Salameh, making a cutting gesture across his neck. ‘‘But they don’t try to make action, it’s just a sign. We ignored this and continued our walk in the park.’’


Time to drop the opposition and move along....

"Austrian police stopped a small truck that appeared overloaded and found 86 refugees crammed inside during sweltering heat. The Austria Press Agency reported that the truck was halted Saturday at a rest area near St. Poelten. Among the refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan were 16 children and a woman who was eight months pregnant. The truck’s driver fled and was being sought (AP)."

And look what they did to the pregnant woman when they processed her:

"Amnesty International says migrant rights in Austria violated" Associated Press  August 14, 2015

VIENNA — More than 1,000 people, including unaccompanied children, are camping in the open at Austria’s main migrant collection center, just one example of massive human rights violations because of overcrowding, Amnesty International said Friday.

Only problem is AI is for sexual slavery.

The rights watchdog also described inadequate conditions in the number of beds, health care, and other services, particularly for unaccompanied children, at the Traiskirchen center south of Vienna.

Members of the Amnesty team that visited the center Aug. 6 spoke of migrants seeking out shady areas of the center’s grounds to escape relentless heat, and of showers without curtains shared by both sexes.

That must be offending Muslim sensibilities.

They said four doctors and three psychologists are responsible for the care of more than 4,000 people at Traiskirchen.

I sure hope they are not being tortured.

“Showers for women were organized like a peep-show,” Amnesty Austria head Heinz Patzelt said. “I am unspeakably angry.”

He told reporters the conditions represent a failure to care for refugees fleeing wars, and violate UN conventions.


I'd say move on to Hungary, but there is a fence there now.

Where are they all coming from?!

"Greek city is offered aid to cope with immigrants" by Nicholas Pathitis and Dalton Bennett Associated Press  August 13, 2015

KOS, Greece — Locked in a sun-baked football stadium without food, drinking water, or sanitation, about 1,000 refugees queued for hours Wednesday to register with Greek authorities on the island of Kos, which is now at the forefront of a humanitarian crisis sweeping the country.

After sending police reinforcements, the financially strapped government promised to charter a commercial ship to house up to 2,500 immigrants on the island, where authorities have been overwhelmed by a spike in arrivals.

Alekos Flambouraris, an aide to the prime minister, said the ship would be used for shelter and to check documents.

The order to charter the ship was given after violence broke out in front of a police station on the holiday island, where migrants were lining up to receive temporary residence documents. A football stadium is being used to provide shelter for about 1,000 people.

Greece has become the main gateway to Europe for tens of thousands of refugees and economic migrants, mainly Syrians fleeing war, as fighting in Libya has made the route from north Africa to Italy increasingly dangerous. Nearly 130,000 people have arrived since January on the eastern Aegean Sea islands from Turkey.

Tourism-reliant Kos, which received 7,000 migrants last month and has seen tourist arrivals drop by 7 percent this year, is a study in contrasts.

As if their economy could afford that.

Boatloads of refugees arrive at dawn, while the last revelers straggle out of night clubs and joggers run along the seafront. Mega yachts anchor just off the detention center, refugees sleep on bicycle lanes, and bikini-clad visitors stroll along next to a man in a traditional Iraqi dress.


Related: World War III: Returning to the Mediterranean

Gateway from Africa to Europe, as proven in WWII:

Lure of Islamic State proving to be strong in southern Tunisia

As tourists flee Tunisia, forces kill five suspected extremists

Tunisia plans to build a really long wall to keep out terrorists

If Trump or anyone here suggests it he's ridiculed. 

I say it worked for China, and if it's good enough Israel, it's good enough for us.

Fences rise across Middle East as jihadi threat rattles leaders

Construction, meanwhile, comes at a price, while little has been done to end economic marginalization and protests demanding change have been met with police repression.

But they are an ally, so....

Tunisia overwhelmingly passes anti terror law

 Tunisia extends state of emergency

And they are supposed to be the Arab Spring model!!

Meanwhile, next door in Libya:

Tripoli leaders left out of Libya deal

Hifter holding out, is he?

Officials rescue 367 migrants off Libya; 25 bodies found

I know where they can be sent:

"Cranes topple onto Dutch homes" Associated Press  August 04, 2015

AMSTERDAM — Rescuers pulled a survivor from beneath the wreckage of apartments and shops flattened Monday shortly after two cranes being used to restore a bridge in a central Dutch city toppled onto a row of buildings, a Fire Department spokesman said.

Dramatic amateur video aired by national broadcaster NOS showed the towering orange cranes on a pontoon on the Rijn river carrying a large section of the bridge, when they begin to sway and then topple onto houses, slamming through the buildings and sending a cloud of dust into the air. ....



Going back the other way now.

"Pressed by Islamic State, Libya appeals for air raids" Associated Press  August 17, 2015

TUNIS — Libya’s internationally recognized government appealed to Arab countries to carry out airstrikes against the local Islamic State affiliate, which is expanding its hold on the coastal city of Sirte.

Sirte was/is a Khadafy stronghold, meaning that the ISIS label is being applied to anyone who stands against US policy or wherever there is an excuse needed for military action.

The statement late Saturday came after the affiliate seized control of a new neighborhood in Sirte. The militants shelled the area, killed a senior cleric, and hung the bodies of prisoners over bridges.

‘‘The Libyan government, unable to ward off these terrorist groups because of the arms embargo, and out of its historic responsibility toward its people, calls on brotherly Arab countries . . . to launch airstrikes against specific targets of [Islamic State] locations in Sirte in coordination with our concerned bodies,’’ the statement said.

The government also condemned the failure of the international community to take action against the group’s rise in Libya. The Arab League said it will hold an emergency meeting on Libya on Tuesday.

Take action against? After they helped create and fund them?

Egypt has joined Libya’s government in calls for international intervention there. Egypt has carried out airstrikes inside Libya, including in February after Islamic State militants killed 21 Egyptian hostages there....


Better start sailing:

"Migrants find path to Greece less risky" by Ceylan Yeginsu New York Times   August 17, 2015

BODRUM, Turkey — The human tide has overwhelmed the island of Kos, leading its mayor, George Kiritsis, to predict that if he does not get help from Athens, “blood will be shed.” And it has left Greece — for now, foremost in Europe — struggling to balance how to humanely accommodate the refugees against the risk of encouraging still more.

For those who make the trip, seeking safety, opportunity, and a new life, the welcome has been less than hoped for.

“In Istanbul, they let us use the toilets for free,” said Ayman Almotlak, 31, a Syrian who teaches Arabic and made the crossing to Kos, speaking of the local merchants. “Here not. Why do the Greeks hate us?”

His traveling companion, a veterinarian, Nour Hamad, 31, said, “They throw bottles at us.”

Part of the reason is the sheer magnitude of the wave of migrants and refugees, which the Greek government has said is too much for such a crisis-ridden country — let alone an island such as Kos — to handle.

Doctors Without Borders complained that the Greek authorities were “abusing” the refugees by, at one point last week, forcing them into a stadium, where they remained without proper hygiene, food, or water.

The International Organization for Migration, based in Geneva, said Friday that nearly 250,000 migrants had crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, already more than for all of 2014.

That's a quarter of a million.


Singling out the strain on Greece, the United Nations has called for urgent action to address the crisis. 

I notice the issue is starting to surface once more in my propaganda pre$$.

For many refugees, Greece is seen as a stepping-stone to Western Europe. Although Turkey is hosting nearly 2 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country, many Syrians say they do not see a future there.

To get to Europe, they depend on a vast illegal migrant smuggling operation that has grown over the past year as the Syrian civil war grinds on.

All that spying and surveillance means nothing, and note not a bit of concern regarding possible terrorists hidden in the boats.

“A year ago people were still hopeful that the war might end, but now, with no end in sight, people want to leave and build a new life,” said Bashar, 32, a Syrian refugee in Bodrum, who did not want to give his last name. He spent the last year in Turkey getting surgery after he was wounded by a barrel bomb.


Why don't they send them to Cyprus?


"Greek authorities said Sunday they have started resettling migrants living in tents in a park in the capital to a settlement of 90 containers in the Athens district of Votanikos. Each container can house six to eight people and has air conditioning, running water, and a toilet. The government has said the place is not a detention center and everyone is free to come and go. However....

They are shipping containers, folks, and what do you think American?