Between May 24 and May 27 around 400 migrants and refugees have been picked up by the Libyan coastguard and returned to Libya. Two of them drowned during the operation. An additional 90 migrants and refugees have been stopped by a commercial ship and have been returned to Libya as well. The pushback operations are funded and supported by the European Union (EU) and individual member states like Malta and Italy. While Libya has been an unsafe place from the start of the EU’s so called externalized border policy, COVID-19 brings even more risks as detention camps in Libya are high-risk areas for the spread of the virus and rescue operations on the Mediterranean Sea have been minimized. An additional element of danger is the intense civil war in Libya, which has turned into a geopolitical conflict and a proxy war between Russia and The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the one hand and Turkey on the other. The war takes its toll on the civilian population; on June 1 another 5 civilians were killed and 11 wounded in a rocket attack near Tripoli.
In this week’s news highlights: EU presents Greece action plan of €700 million; Greece reacts to the situation at the border with Turkey; MSF requests Italy to stop quarantining rescue ships over coronavirus; Professor reflects on 10 years of human trafficking research; Record number of migrants arrive in Malta; Turkey promised Bulgaria that its borders will stay calm; The Netherlands pays fines due to slow asylum procedures; UN bodies to meet on Eritrea in Nairobi on 9 and 10 March – Eritrean diaspora calls for re-assessment of relations; Canadian mining company in Eritrea can be sued in Canada; Troops amass on the Kenya-Somalia border; Refugees prevented from speaking about situation in Sudanese refugee camp; British parliament questions EU’s road project in Eritrea; UN condemns lack of reform in Eritrea; UN urges for protection 56.000 displaced Somalis; Eritrean man dies in Libyan detention centre; Renewed fighting in Libya; And UN’s Ghassan Salamé resigns.
In this week’s news highlights: Eritrean football players flee during tournament in Uganda; Businessman involved in corruption scandal in South Sudan; 4000 displaced people are missing in South-Sudan; New Food Price List set by the Eritrean government; Only three additional countries participate in relocation system; EU officials visit Turkey, followed by Turkish invasion of Northern-Syria; UN warns of setbacks in battle against statelessness; Italian coast guard finds 13 bodies in the Mediterranean Sea; Asylum process to be cut down to four months in Italy; Human trafficker participated in migration meeting in Italy; Protests against detention centres in Libya supported by Swiss MPs; and EU delegation pushes for closures of detention centres in Libya.