Asylum Convention from Colonial era

Anna van Densky OPINION European suggestion to arrange illegal migrant ‘disembarkation platforms‘ outside the EU is a stillbirth, rejected by all Maghreb countries, insisting that the creation of migrant camps in not a solution for existing problems of Africa ravaged by conflict and poverty, but a translation of an existing difficulties into another form of challenge – ever-growing refugee agglomerations. Meanwhile European leaders insist on delivery upon ‘obligations‘ given by their ancestors towards asylum-seekers, however they prefer to ignore the fact that the entire international legislation on refugees dates from Colonial era – Geneva Conventions on Asylum 1951.

Looking at Kenya, one can imagine a scale of a problem of mass migration of population in modern Africa – huge numbers of people spending day after day,  year after year “camping” in tents. #Dadaab is an example of the failure even of the UN CHR to resolve problems of suffering from a conflict population through construction of permanent camps – the site hosting 300 000 Somalia refugees became an ever-growing hub attracting new arrivals, but failing to ensure return policies.

Refugee Convention 1951 is a genuine Colonial era document in the times when Africa had no single independent state, and the population of the entire continent was a half of European. Endorsing  Asylum Convention back in 1951 no one could imagine the entire populations of Africans would be moved to Europe, using the document created after the WWII for the devastated European continent. It was amended only once with a Protocol, declaring Convention ‘universal‘, but nobody outlined how the developed part of the world would host all asylum-seekers of the planet.

Refugee Convention 1951 remains a key legal document that forms the basis of international action. Ratified​ by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.

The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.

However with the spread of radical Islamic terrorism, and subsequently the threat to ‘life and freedom’ menacing the entire populations of African countries, opens a broad gate to migrant flows, claiming right to shelter in Europe.

Today African populations are the fastest growing, representing a huge challenge for the young states themselves, where deprivation is massive – half of the Africans live in poverty, without access to basic human needs, such as nutrition, clean water, shelter.

However the intense work of different aid, development, and charities, infant mortality is declining, leading to demographic explosion. With current trends – on average five children per woman – Africa will become the most populated continent, home to six billion people by the end of the century. The EU concept of hosting ‘all in need‘ is a total illusion, even with reforming the EU Dublin regulation, and relocation migrants all over Europe – the simple arithmetics shows that 500 million European have no capacity to deliver in accordance to obligations of their ancestors: African population has been growing from 221 million in 1950 to one billion in 2009.

Nowadays realties indicate to the only possible direction to resolve problems of Africa – in Africa, not outside. In cooperation with African governments, but not in waging wars against them, as it happened in Libya, where the Western “lesson of democracy” caused an ongoing tragedy, destabilising life of the continent.

#Dadaab, Kenya

Dadaab arial

Brussels to explore reception of migrants outside EU

European Council calls  the Commission to “swiftly” explore the concept of “regional disembarkation platforms”, in close cooperation with relevant third countries as well as UNHCR and IOM. Such platforms should operate distinguishing individual situations, in full respect of international law and without creating a pull factor, the conclusions of the meeting of heads of states and governments read.

In order to “definitively break” the business model of the smugglers, preventing tragic loss of life, the EU Council considers necessary to eliminate the incentive to embark on dangerous journeys along Mediterranean. The new approach to the problem is based on shared or complementary actions among the Member States to the disembarkation of those who are saved in Search And Rescue operations.

The new strategy of reception of illegal migrants outside the EU territory reminds experts an Australian systems, functioning both direction – saving lives of illegal migrants in sea, and the same time protecting national borders.

However Italian Interior minister Matteo Salvini announced his interest to see the EU passing for concrete actions, namely against those NGOs who help  smuggling illegal migrants in Europe: “STOP human traffic, stop helping accomplices! #stopinvasion!”, he wrote in his microblog.

The discussion over the text of conclusions about migration went through the last night, representing a challenge to reconcile positions of Italy, and southern European countries at forefront of migration flows, and Visegrad Four group, supported by Austrian upcoming presidency, insisting that instead of the change of Dublin regulation and relocation of migrants through the EU, the support and solidarity among member-states can be introduced on goodwill basis. The reform of Dublin is left to next EU Presidency to deal with. Austria Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has already announced a number of initiatives to curb illegal migration.

Anna van Densky, from EU Council, Brusssels

Mogherini ignores Sophia mission failure

The EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini ignores the obvious Sophia operation failure in Mediterranean, in spite of the clear will of Belgium to cancel the participation of their vessel in sea rescue mission. Mogherini also pretends to be unaware of the assessment of the House of Lords, openly stating the EU mission has failed to prevent massive migrant smuggling to Europe.

Ahead of the Council meeting the Foreign minister of Belgium Theo Francken clearly stated during a national TV programme that his country has the intention to end Louise-Marie frigate participation in the Mediterranean operation, because of the double message it sends inspiring more migrants to undertake the risky journey in a hope to be saved and transported to European coasts, thus not only saving lives but also  increasing flows of the ‘illegal migrants” eager to gamble.

The UK House of Lords report on Sophia mission is even more eloquent in its assessment, entitled: “Failed Mission”. The major recommendation is to disrupt the business model of smuggling networks through required ‘concerted action’ at Libya’s southern land border.

The Council agenda foresees discussion on migration, focusing on the situation on the Central Mediterranean route. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and William Lacy Swing, Director-General of the International Organisation Migration will both take part in the discussion.
Grandi is also known for his criticism of the ‘xenophobic climate’ in Europe vis-à-vis mass migration from Africa and Middle East.