Master of the Seas

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/DAKAR/TRIPOLI | | libyenspanienitalien

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/DAKAR/TRIPOLI (Own report) - The escalating hunt for refugees along the coasts of Africa, with German participation, is encountering resistance. The governments of Senegal and Libya, indicating inhumane practices by the European states, are refusing to place their territorial waters at the disposal of EU "border commandos". Despite the lack of an accord with Senegal, EU border control circles announced on Wednesday, Aug. 9, that they were dispatching a patrol boat to the territorial waters off the coast of Dakar - an open affront to this West African nation. Frontex, the EU border control agency, which is steering the project, is also active, in the meantime, on the Italian island, Lampedusa, and on Malta. Recently the first rebellions in a European refugee camp occurred on Malta. As EU interior commissioner Franco Frattini confirms, Berlin expresses "great interest" in the development of the Frontex special forces (the "Rapid Border Intervention Teams") and has made "an extraordinarily generous offer concerning its participation".

Bound Hand and Foot

The official opening of the EU's refugee hunt along the West African coast, announced already for July, continues to be postponed. Whereas the Warsaw resident, border control agency, Frontex, lets it be known, that the delay is due to problems of budgetary consolidation of posts, it is in fact because of the resistance encountered by Brussels in Senegal. The government of this West African nation had originally made itself available for measures against the influx of refugees and had permitted landings of Spanish flights. The machines arriving from the Canary Islands were supposed to be deporting people who had gotten stranded there. According to reports, Dakar became upset, when Senegalese officials discovered African migrants onboard, who were bound hand and foot. At the same time it was also discovered that the authorities of the EU member state, Spain, was giving a special treatment to refugee children. These youth were being torn from their parents, allegedly because they lacked identification papers. The Senegalese government has since refused a carte blanche being demanded by Brussels for actions of European executive bodies, on its territory in their fight against migration.

Ships, Planes, Helicopters

Then, Senegal was demanded permission to deploy of an EU patrol boat, for hunting fleeing Africans in its maritime border areas. In spite of an explicit rejection of this demand - issued as an ultimatum - EU authorities announced Aug. 9, that they were dispatching a ship to this West African nation.[1] At the same time, ships, planes and helicopters are also to set cap for Mauritania and Cape Verde. Both countries have given assurances that they would tolerate activities of EU executive bodies on their territory. These deployments are supported by the German government, which has already made available German personnel for a Frontex contingent on the Canary Islands. Since July 17, the unit has been devoting its attention to the identification of refugees and, thereby, creating the prerequisites for their deportation.[2] The Frontex troops, still in the process of being finalized, is placing the entire West African coast up to the 13° Parallel, as well as, wide ranging areas of the Atlantic (Cape Verde) under German/European control. It is being counted upon that Senegal will soon withdraw its opposition. This nation, a focal point of so-called German development assistance, surpasses the norm in its dependence upon western payments.

Jason 1

Frontex troops in the meantime are also active on the Italian Mediterranean island of Lampedusa as well as on Malta. On Lampedusa, the EU agency is preparing patrols at sea, to prevent refugees from continuing to come ashore. At the end of July, the German Minister of the Interior offered his Italian counterpart to send additional German federal police officers to the island.[3] On several occasions over the past three months, Frontex representatives were on Malta to prepare an "auxiliary plan" with Maltese authorities. Malta, like Lampedusa and the Canary Islands, has registered a dramatic increase in the number of refugees and several weeks ago was the scene of the first mass rebellion in European refugee camps (reported by German foreign[4] On Malta the Frontex contingent is also handling the identification of migrants, in order to enforce their deportation. In a few weeks this island state is slated to be integrated into the maritime patrols intended for Lampedusa. The execution of the Frontex operation ("Jason 1"), covering wide areas of the Mediterranean, has been transferred predominantly to the Italian, Maltese and Greek forces. For this deployment the use of warships is also planned.[5] German hi-tech components, used also in hunting refugees in Eastern Europe, are being made available.

Free navigation

Libya's consistent refusal to open its territory to the EU task force, is a source of difficulties for the Frontex planners. If Tripoli would agree, it would be legally permitted to intercept refugee boats in Libyan territorial waters and force them back to shore. But such a coordinated action outside of Libyan territory seems only possible under serious breach of international maritime law, which stipulates that coming to the aid of shipwrecked, the helpers must strive to deliver them to the nearest port. If the migrants were intercepted by the Frontex fleet in Maltese territorial waters, rather than Libyan, EU member Malta would have to accept them. But for the government in Valletta, this is out of the question, since the EU's refugee hunt is not for purposes of rescue, but to insulate the affluent European nucleus.[6] Therefore Frontex will have to intercept the migrants in international waters, where free navigation is legally guaranteed - even for refugees. At present, Italian and Maltese authorities are striving to find legal authority for their intended - obviously illegal - interference in navigation on the high seas.[7]

Five thousand Dead

The fact that their actions flagrantly violate additional principles of the right of asylum is not even a question for the EU hunters. Under reference to "sources" in the counter-refugee administration, it was reported in the Maltese press that only one percent of the boat refugees have a prospect of successfully exercising their right to asylum.[8] But it is the job of the Frontex fleet to keep even this minority at bay of the EU coastline. According to official data of international observers, the EU migration policy in the Mediterranean has currently caused the death of around 5,000 people. Other sources estimate that , alone in the Straits of Gibraltar, between 12.000 and 14,000 have lost their lives. Several, who had drowned, were washed ashore onto the Canary Islands over the past few days.

Regulation Nr. 2007/2004

With its headquarters in Warsaw, the EU border control agency Frontex, which centralizes the European measures for thwarting the arrival of refugees, is based on the European Council's EEC regulation Nr. 2007/2004, of October 26, 2004. Among their tasks are the "coordination of operational border security cooperation between EU member states", the furnishing of "assistance to member states in circumstances requiring increased technical and operational assistance", as well as, the supply of the necessary "support to member states in organizing joint return operations".[9] Frontex is also creating a personnel pool of 250 to 300 "specialists", from which a "Rapid Border Intervention Team" can be assembled to thwart refugees. According to EU interior commissioner, Franco Frattini, Berlin has made Frontex "an extraordinarily generous offer of participation".[10] As the German parliamentary undersecretary of state for the Interior Ministry, Peter Altmaier, confirmed following his visit to Frontex, Germany will also continue to participate in deployment measures, such as currently on the Canary Islands and in the Mediterranean and, during the German presidency of the EU Council, Germany will support the agency in its "operational and strategic development".[11]

Please read also Festung Europa and Auszüge aus der EG-Verordnung über Frontex.

[1] El primer avión del operativo Frontex llegará probablemente hoy a Los Rodeos; El día 09.08.2006
[2] La UE no sabe cuándo empezará el control marítimo frente a Canarias; El país 08.08.2006
[3] Agenti tedeschi a Lampedusa presto controlli internazionali; La Repubblica 27.07.2006
[4] see also Lagerrevolten
[5] Illegal migration patrols to start in four weeks' time; 06.08.2006
[6], [7] Border patrols in limbo; The Malta Times 06.08.2006
[8] Illegal migration patrols to start in four weeks' time; 06.08.2006
[9] Verordnung (EG) Nr. 2007/2004 des Rates vom 26. Oktober 2004 zur Errichtung einer Europäischen Agentur für die operative Zusammenarbeit an den Außengrenzen der Mitgliedstaaten der Europäischen Union; Amtsblatt Nr. L 349 vom 25/11/2004 S. 0001 - 0011. dokumentiert Auszüge aus der Verordnung.
[10] Deutsche Polizisten sollen Grenzen in Spanien schützen; Die Welt 20.07.2006
[11] Staatssekretär Altmaier besucht FRONTEX in Warschau; 02.08.2006