News highlights: Hundreds intercepted by Libyan coastguard, Greece implicated in illegal pushback of refugees, Eritrea celebrates independence amid criticism

This week’s news highlights: Eritrean prisoners defenseless against COVID-19; Eritrea celebrates 29 years of independence amid criticism; Urban refugees face increased struggle for basic needs in East Africa; Ethiopian migrants not aware of risks moving to Saudi Arabia, says IOM; Renewed intercommunal violence South Sudan; Eritrean refugee dies in migrant detention centre in Libya; Hundreds of people intercepted by Libyan coastguard in matter of days; Mercenaries from all over the world keep pouring in Libya despite UN embargo; The story of a boat that left Libya for Europe but disappeared; Greece accused of illegal pushbacks; Malta rescues 140 migrants and refugees in Mediterranean Sea but holds them offshore; France planning to relocate 750 asylum seekers from Greece; Story of how Eritrean child refugee survived shipwreck; EPP launches migration group; Webinar on Sea Rescue; And Oxfam withdraws from 18 countries.

News Highlights: Italy civil court rules return of refugees is illegal, UNHCR accused of starving refugees and migrants in Libya, Eritrean artist attacked in Ethiopia

In this week’s news highlights: UNHCR phases out food supply Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli; Libya will not receive boats from France; Sahara migration routes becoming more dangerous; Italian civil court rules refugee return to Libya is illegal; Italian coast guard and navy officials to stand trial; EU allegedly breaks law in external funding; MEPs urge to improve the situation for refugees in Greece; Member states need consensus on responsibility sharing; migrant farmworkers in Europe exploited; Tourists help stranded refugees; Attack on Eritrean artist; Prime minister of Sudan new chair IGAD; And New programme to help refugees move out of camps in Ethiopia.

Criminalisation of Search and Rescue Operations in the Mediterranean Sea

The preamble of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, an instrument applicable to all member states of the European Union (EU) when implementing EU law, holds that “the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity,” centralising the idea that EU member states must protect human life. Yet, several Southern European Member States have criminalised search and rescue (SAR) operations in the Mediterranean Sea and charged the rescue operations with the criminal act of smuggling. Therefore, the operators face years in prison if convicted. At the same time, the EU has closed down its own SAR operations, relying on its deals with the Libyan coast guard to intercept boats.