Inhuman. That’s the word the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, used to describe the E.U.’s policy to assist Libyan authorities to intercept migrants crossing the Mediterranean and return them to “horrifying prisons.”
He said “the suffering of the migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to humanity” and stressed that while in Libya, “monitors were shocked by what they witnessed: thousands of emaciated and traumatized men, women and children piled on top of one another, locked up in hangars with no access to the most basic necessities.” European authorities, he said, “have done nothing so far to reduce the level of abuses suffered by migrants.”
This harsh condemnation from the United Nations is aimed first and foremost at Italy, at the Gentiloni government’s migration policies. Particularly those of our interior minister, Marco Minniti, the rising star and champion of the “return system” of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean to the so-called “Libyan authorities.”
In recent days, the tragedy of mass drownings has returned, as the Libyan coast guard wages a naval battle to snatch desperate people away from the NGO rescue ships, which nowadays are all too few. All of this after a smear campaign of judicial investigations, intelligence operations and shameful journalistic hit pieces was unleashed against the NGOs all through the summer.
The perpetrators of that campaign are committed to supporting the government in its attempt to shut out the migrants. It would be terrible for them to die at sea, but who cares if they die in the deserts or in Libyan prisons? And the “Italian-style colonialism,” the so-called Minniti Code, garnered the praise, at the end of August, of the four most weighty countries of the European Union: Germany, France, Spain and Italy, with much pushing by Mogherini, the E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs.
It cannot be said that E.U. has “done nothing” to reduce abuses — rather, it has done nothing less than authorize them. They did all of this in support of Italy, because for their part they were unable to come up with another solution with a fair distribution of refugee arrivals. And all with a particular obstinacy, with an eye to coming elections, trying to demonstrate to the public of their respective countries, at any cost, their common intention to keep as far away from the European and Western conscience as possible the defining phenomenon of our era: the migration of refugees from war, persecution and misery. In that E.U. summit, there was even more treachery on display: Angela Merkel reiterated the ill-minded distinction regarding so-called “economic migrants,” denying them and relegating them to a double hell.
And Mogherini, our HR/VP, explained that it was not necessary to promise a Marshall Plan for Africa, as we are “already spending €20 billion in development assistance, in cooperation, in trade partnerships…” Yes, we’re doing so much for a rich continent like Africa, where we are engaged in the arms trade and in so many wars, and from which we steal oil, minerals and land every day.
It was from that E.U. summit, according to which Italy had “saved the honor of Europe,” and whose decisions are now considered “inhuman” by the U.N., that the proposal to open identification centers in Africa was born, complete with the guilty acquiescence of UNHCR, which now, however, is accusing the operation of being an “outrage to humanity.” There, Europe became convinced that its border to the south — as Minniti repeated ad nauseam — needed to be with Niger, Chad and Mali. No one questioned what would happen in the immediate future with the million refugees who have been trapped in Libya for many months now.
But don’t worry. As the Minniti-Gentiloni government keeps saying, the “Libyan authorities” will take care of it. But what authorities? The many that exist over there — the warlords, the “mayors” elected by no one, the so-called Libyan “coast guard”? These empty ideas do nothing but put hundreds of armed militias on the payroll. After the ravages of the NATO war on Gaddafi, many are linked to extreme jihadism. Or perhaps the situation will be resolved by the military forces that Macron will provide in Niger and Chad.
But what is, ultimately, the true explanation for Italy’s policy? Minister Minniti has said it over and over: “If we had not done what we did in Libya, one would have to fear for the democratic stability of the country.” So turning a significant part of the African continent into a detention camp was “for democracy” after all? They did all of this assuming the politics of fear, with an eye to the polls, and while financing mafia-style militias, as important and truthful reports have revealed in the international press. The one aired on CNN on Tuesday was particularly chilling, showing how refugee-slaves are being beaten with rods in the Libyan detention centers.
Could such a shameful decision ever be “for democracy”? Now the United Nations, shocked, is finally calling it what it is: “an outrage to humanity.”