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Migrant Influx Shifting but No Let-Up

© AFP/File / by Michel VIATTEAU | As ever greater numbers of migrants risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean from Africa, the European Union has beefed up its border agency Frontex to try and check the mass influx.

© AFP/File / by Michel VIATTEAU | As ever greater numbers of migrants risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean from Africa, the European Union has beefed up its border agency Frontex to try and check the mass influx.

WARSAW (AFP) – The migrants pouring into Europe have changed routes: the crossing between Turkey and Greece is practically closed, but ever greater numbers are risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy.

A criminal industry has flourished, while the European Union has beefed up its border agency Frontex to try to check the mass migration.

Frontex is at once both good cop and bad cop, rescuing migrants from sinking boats but also dropping them off at welcome centres where they risk being sent back home.

Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri summed up the situation in an interview with AFP.

– Who are the migrants? –

On the shores of Greece there are now “80 or 100 people who arrive every day, whereas we had 2,500 a day” before the agreement with Turkey, said Leggeri.

Among those who arrive from Africa via the central Mediterranean and Libya, whose number is up by more than 40 percent, most come from west Africa. They are Senegalese, Guineans, Nigerians. In 2016 they totalled 180,000.

They are mainly economic migrants and include many young men but also families and young women. Nigerian women are often exploited as prostitutes in Europe.

“It’s not the poorest who leave, because they have to be able to pay the smugglers,” said Leggeri.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), of the more than one million people who made it to Europe in 2015, 850,000 crossed into Greece via the Aegean Sea. More than half came from Syria and most of the rest from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Following a landmark EU-Turkey accord in March 2016, the total number arriving in Europe by sea fell that year to around 363,000, IOM figures show.

But as the number of arrivals in Greece dropped, the figures arriving from north Africa started to grow.

By mid-April 2017, “some 36,000 migrants had arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year, or an increase of 43 percent over the same period last year,” according to Frontex.

– Who are the smugglers? –

At the beginning of the most dangerous leg of the trip across the Sahara, the migrants are transported by Tuareg or Tebu nomads, for whom it is a traditional commercial activity, Leggeri said.

The Mediterranean crossing however is run by criminal networks, both big and small, as well as lone smugglers.

At the bottom of the ladder there are petty crooks, sometimes migrants themselves, who become the skippers of the small overloaded boats to pay for their own crossing, according to Leggeri. Read the rest of this entry »

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NARRATIVE, INTERRUPTED: U.S. Becoming Safer Compared to Europe in Both Fatalities and Frequency of Mass Public Shootings

US Now Ranks 11th in Fatalities and 12th in Frequency.

“But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close. And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal.” 

– President Obama, announcing his new executive orders on guns, January 7, 2016

This claim is simply not true.  Between January 2009 and December 2015, there are 11 European countries with a higher frequency of these mass public shootings than the US, andliberal-huh 10 European countries with a higher rate of deaths from these attacks.

Indeed, over that same period of time, the European Union (EU) suffered 303 deaths from mass public shootings, while the US had 199.  In terms of injuries from these attacks the gap was even much greater, with EU countries facing 680 versus just 197 for the US.  However, given the EU’s larger population, the per million people fatality rate for the US and the EU as a whole are virtually identical (0.62 for the US and 0.60 for the EU).  By contrast, the injury rate in the EU is much higher (0.61 for the US and 1.34 for the EU).

This past year was a particularly bad one for Europe, with 8 Mass Public Shootings versus only 4 for the United States.  Indeed, these 8 Mass Public Shootings for Europe in 2015 count for one-third of all their attacks over the entire seven year period of time…(read more)

Annual Death Rate from MPS Europe and US 2009 to 2015

Even if one puts it in terms of frequency, the president’s statement is still false, with the US ranking 12th compared to European countries.

Frequency of Mass Public Shootings in Europe and US 2009 to 2015

Click on tables to enlarge them.

EU and Europe MPS 2009 to 2015 Read the rest of this entry »


‘Faux Passeport Syrien’: Paris Stadium Attacker Got to Europe Using Fake Syrian Passport 

Greece’s migration minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, during a news conference in Athens on Sunday. Greek authorities say the man posing as Ahmad AlMohammad took a ferry to the port of Piraeus, arriving on Oct. 8, before traveling north through the Balkans. Photo: angelos tzortzinis/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

ATHENS — Marcus Walker and Noemie Bisserbe report: Mystery deepened over a Paris attacker who traveled to Europe via Greece and the Balkans, after French officials said Monday that the Syrian passport he had used was indeed a fake.

“Greek authorities on islands such as Leros, Lesbos and Chios have confronted thousands of arrivals every day in recent months as refugees and other migrants make the short sea crossing from Turkey in inflatable boats.”

Authorities in France and Greece have said that fingerprints taken from the remains of a suicide bomber outside France’s national sports stadium, the Stade de France, match the prints of a man who entered Europe via the Aegean island of Leros on Oct. 3.

“Short of staff and equipment, Greek police carry out only a simple procedure that involves taking people’s data and fingerprints, and sometimes asking them a few questions, before giving them permission to travel onward, deeper into Europe.”

Police on Leros registered the man under the identity in the passport he showed them: Ahmad AlMohammad, 25, from Syria. The same passport was found near the man’s body outside the stadium on Friday night.

[Read the full story here, at the WSJ]

Whoever the man was, he posed as one of the many refugees fleeing Syria’s war—including the violence of Islamic State—to enter Europe through its lightly controlled frontier in the Aegean Sea. Read the rest of this entry »


Controversial EU ‘Refugee’ Relocations from Front-Line States Starts Friday 

BRUSSELS – The EU said a controversial program to relocate 40,000 refugees within the bloc from overstretched front-line states would formally start on Friday when a group of Eritreans will travel to Sweden from Italy.

“The EU formally agreed the plan last month despite the opposition of some Eastern European states worried about a popular backlash to migrants.”

“First relocations within EU take place on Friday” following an agreement by interior ministers in September, the EU’s home affairs office said in a tweet. “Eritrean refugees will be relocated from Italy to Sweden.”

An EU source told AFP that a flight will leave Roma Ciampino airport in the morning and take the first refugees to Sweden.

“First relocations within EU take place on Friday…Eritrean refugees will be relocated from Italy to Sweden.”

EU Migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is expected to give a press conference in Rome.

The number of refugees being moved on Friday was not revealed, but Sweden agreed on July 20 to take 821 refugees from Italy and 548 from Greece as part of the commission’s plan to relocate 40,000 refugees from the two front-line states over two years. Read the rest of this entry »


Europe’s Refugee Chaos: Hungary’s Army Authorized to Use Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas

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Hungry’s parliament has authorised its army to shoot rubber bullets, pyrotechnical devices, (flashbangs), net guns and tear gas grenades at migrants.

They say that the use of the so-called non-lethal weapons will help Hungary’s military handle the migrant crisis.

As Hungary rushes to finish building a fence along its border with Croatia, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the police needed the army’s help to secure Hungary’s borders with Serbia and Croatia.

“The migrants are not only banging on our doors but they are breaking them down. Not a few hundred, not a few thousand but hundreds of thousands, even millions besiege the borders of Hungary and the European Union,” said Orban before lawmakers voted on the controversial measures. “We cannot see where the end is. There are plenty more coming, millions are setting out on the journey.”

hungary_migrants

Amnesty International said in a statement that “Hungary is violating the human rights of refugees by blocking their access to a meaningful asylum procedure on its territory. Amendments of the law criminalizing the ‘illegal’ entry of refugees and migrants and intended to shift Hungary’s responsibility towards those in need of international protection must be repealed.”

Meanwhile, in a bid to stop the flow of migrants, EU member state Croatia has blocked trucks from entering from neighbouring Serbia. Read the rest of this entry »


35 Million Migrants Heading to Europe, Says Hungary as it Builds Second Fence

Estimates predict up to 35 million refugees could head for Europe due to hugely unstable situations across the world.

Rob Virtue and Agnes Kegel report:The huge figure was revealed today by Hungary’s minister for foreign affairs and trade Peter Szijjártó.

Speaking as the country begins work on its second fence to stop migrants heading across its border he predicted the current crisis will continue for years.

Mr Szijjártó told the Hungarian Times: “The name of the fence is ‘Temporary Security Border Fence’ but I think there is no question that in this case temporary means years.

“It’s a self delusion to call this situation a migration crisis; it is a massive migration of nations, with inexhaustible reserves.

“I don’t think that the analysis results, stating that 30-35 million people out there could possibly become migrants, would be an exaggeration.

“Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are all countries with a huge population and an extremely unstable situation.”

The Hungarian government also defended itself from criticism over its fences.

It comes as a ten-year-old migrant boy with a severe lung condition died in Hungary.

His mother and siblings successfully made the journey to Germany but his father stayed behind with the poorly youngster, who was buried on Friday.

The first barrier was put up at its border with Serbia but, after migrants changed their route, they have now begun erecting a 41 kilometre fence at Croatia. Read the rest of this entry »


Germany: Backlash for Welcoming Migrants 

Merkel-WSJ

Domestic, international criticism follows open-arms policy

Bertrand Benoit in Berlin and Nicholas Winning in London report: Praise for Germany’s handling of the thousands of refugees pouring into the country is giving way to domestic and international criticism of Berlin’s open-arms policy.

“A welcoming culture is an expression of naive and illusory thinking. What we need, instead, is realism and a sense of proportion. We shouldn’t go beyond providing the basics for asylum seekers, like food and shelter, because it will attract more people.”

—  A spokesman for Alfa, a recently founded opposition party in Germany

The criticism, though still muted, could spell trouble for German Chancellor Angela Merkel once the outpouring of sympathy that has greeted the migrants since late last week subsides and Berlin resumes its push to distribute them more broadly across Europe.

The chancellor’s decision on Friday night to let thousands of migrants traveling through Hungary into the country “sends a completely wrong signal in Europe,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told public television Saturday. “This must be corrected.”

“Germany has a heavy responsibility for inciting at the level of the European Union a passive acceptance of this crisis. Germany is probably thinking about its declining demography. It is probably looking to lower salaries again and recruit slaves through mass immigration.”

— National Front leader Marine Le Pen

Leaders of the Christian Social Union, Bavaria’s ruling party and an ally of Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats, unanimously criticized the decision as wrongheaded during a telephone conference on Saturday, Andreas Scheuer, the party’s secretary-general said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seen here in Brussels in July, could face trouble when the sympathy that has greeted migrants since late last week subsides and Berlin resumes its push to distribute them more broadly across Europe.Photo: Reuters
[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Anti-immigration politicians in Germany, France and the U.K. also assailed the policy, saying that it was pulling even more refugees toward the continent and that German plans to divert some to other countries in Europe should be resisted. By Sunday afternoon, some 13,000 migrants had crossed from Hungary into Austria in the 36 hours since German and Austrian authorities bowed to pressure to grant entry to the crowds of asylum seekers stranded in Hungary. Read the rest of this entry »