Britain deports 22 Albanians for ‘illegal’ migration

Britain deports 22 Albanians for ‘illegal’ migration
A smuggler fixes the boat’s engine on the beach of Gravelines, near Dunkirk, northern France in an attempt to cross the English Channel. (File/AFP)
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Updated 11 November 2022

Britain deports 22 Albanians for ‘illegal’ migration

Britain deports 22 Albanians for ‘illegal’ migration
  • Since the beginning of the year, 38,000 people have used small boats to cross the Channel into Britain
  • Braverman last week caused fury by calling the Channel crossings an “invasion”

LONDON: The UK has deported 22 Albanians via a chartered flight, amid reports in the British press that they were “illegal migrants” and “criminals.”

The heavily guarded flight was personally authorized by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, the Daily Mail said. Most on board were transferred to the plane via what the newspaper described as “secure vans” from closed deportation centers where they had been held as criminals or for “illegal immigration.”

Some were vetted at the Manston migrant processing center in Kent. The short-term holding facility was designed for a maximum of 1,600 people. However, the population has swelled to almost three times that number as the government fails to process the asylum claims of thousands of people crossing from France in small boats.

Migrant charities have described conditions at the center as appalling, with reports of outbreaks of diphtheria. Braverman was last month accused of ignoring advice that those inside were being detained for unlawfully long periods.

At least one person who was due to be deported on the Wednesday flight was given a reprieve after a lawyer fought the case, saying “more consideration” was needed by the Home Office.

The plane landed at Tirana’s Mother Teresa airport on Wednesday and those onboard were transferred to an on-site police station that had been partially paid for by the UK.

All those deported had their passports stamped by Albanian authorities banning them from entering the Schengen area of Europe for three years, meaning they cannot travel to France or Belgium to attempt to cross the English Channel again.

Since the beginning of the year, 38,000 people have used small boats to cross the Channel into Britain. Ministers say that Albanians now make up about 60 percent of Channel-crossers, and the government has used several deportation flights in the last few months to send hundreds back to their home country.

Braverman, who was sacked by the former Prime Minister Liz Truss for compromising security only to be reappointed days later by Rishi Sunak under a new government, last week caused fury by calling the Channel crossings an “invasion.”


High time to emphasize positive side of migration, IOM chief Antonio Vitorino tells Arab News

High time to emphasize positive side of migration, IOM chief Antonio Vitorino tells Arab News
Updated 32 min 1 sec ago

High time to emphasize positive side of migration, IOM chief Antonio Vitorino tells Arab News

High time to emphasize positive side of migration, IOM chief Antonio Vitorino tells Arab News
  • Benefits of human flows often overlooked amid polarizing debate, according to director general of International Organization for Migration
  • Vitorino made the comments on the occasion of International Dialogue on Migration, a contribution of IOM to the upcoming 2023 SDG Summit

NEW YORK CITY: Migration is as old as humanity itself. Like birds, human beings are said to be a migratory species. Across all eras of human history, they have been inclined to wander away from home, driven by various motives, but always with some idea of a better life.

While migration has emerged as a prominent international and national policy issue, the public discourse on migrants has increasingly become polarized. The toxicity of the migration debate has intensified over the past few years, with the politics of fear and division setting the tone for discussions.

Extremist politicians around the world deploy disruption and disinformation as tools to retain power, exploiting migrants for far-right xenophobic agendas.

Migrants from the Middle East and Asia receiving provisions at a migrant camp operated by the International Organization for Migrations near the Bosnian town of Bihac
in 2021. (AFP file)

Amid often negatively skewed discussions on migration and migrants, the many ways in which migrants contribute to societies is often overlooked. One can lose sight of the dynamism of migrants globally. They are overrepresented in innovation and patents, arts and sciences awards, start-ups and successful companies.

Antonio Vitorino aimed to bring these contributions to the forefront at the International Dialogue on Migration, or IDM, a biannual event that took place in New York on March 30-31, as part of the International Organization for Migration’s contribution to the 2023 SDG Summit in September.

The event brought together governments, youth representatives, civil society, local authorities and community representatives, UN agencies and experts to assess how the positive impacts of human mobility can be harnessed to attain the SDGs.

FASTFACTS

Currently, there are about 281 million living in a country other than their countries of birth, or 3.6 percent of the global population — that is, only 1 in 30 people.

More than 100 million of those were forcibly displaced by conflict, persecution, poverty, climate disaster.

Most frequently, reasons underpinning migration are a complex combination of altered rainfall, armed conflict and a failure of government institutions and support.

Out of the 15 most vulnerable countries to climate change, 13 are witnessing an armed conflict.

“Migration is a fact of life. There have always been migrants everywhere,” Vitorino, a Portuguese lawyer and politician who took over as the director-general of IOM in October 2018, said during an interview with Arab News in New York City.

“We are very much used to seeing migration as a problem. There are challenges to migration, I don’t deny that. But I think the time has come for us to be more adamant in emphasizing the positive side of migration.”

The list of contributions of migrants is long indeed.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, who was on the front line?” Vitorino said. “Who was delivering the services and the food while many societies were locked out? Migrants were there on the front line.

“Look to the health system. Even in the developed world, many of the health care workers are migrants or of migrant origin.

“And I do believe that migrants have a key role to play as entrepreneurs. You know, when someone migrates, there is a strong will of winning, of confronting the new environment and making the best for the migrant, for the family, but also for the society in which they are working.

“They are workers. They are consumers. They pay taxes. And this positive side of migration is not very often highlighted.”

Money sent home by migrants is a significant part of international capital flows. Remittances compete with international aid as one of the largest financial inflows to developing countries.

According to the World Bank, they are playing a large role in contributing to economic growth and to the livelihoods of many countries.

About $800 billion are transferred by migrants each year directly to families or communities in their countries of origin. This number does not capture unrecorded flows, so the magnitude of global remittances is likely to be much larger. They are often a lifeline for the poorest households, allowing them to meet their basic needs.

“There are countries where 10 percent, 20 percent, even 30 percent of their GDP depend on the remittances from the migrants and the diaspora,” said Vitorino.

“And now with the war in Ukraine and the (resultant) rise in food prices, remittances are used by the families in the countries of origin, mainly to buy food, (and pay for) education and housing.”

“So, it’s a contribution to the social stability and to the development of the countries of origin.

“But we are not just talking about money. We’re talking about something much, much more important, which is the link between the diaspora and the countries of origin: Family relations, friends. Migrants that come back to the country of origin, even for a limited period of a few months, transfer knowledge to their countries, expertise, and sometimes even technology.

“And that two-way flow is very positive also for the development of the countries of origin.”

IOM is attempting to make the case for integrating migrants into host societies. Vitorino acknowledges the complexity of the issue, which requires public policies, the engagement of civil society and local authorities. It involves the workplace, the school for the children, access to health and social security services.

“That is always challenging,” he said, “but that is where you win integration, and you take the best of migrants to the development of the host communities.”

Economic impacts vary across countries. And while migration brings challenges, there is broad consensus among economists that immigration is also a catalyst for economic growth and confers net benefits on destination countries as well.

In 2015, people on the move contributed more than 9 percent, or $6.7 trillion, to global GDP.

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic, involving drastic restrictions on freedom of movement all around the world, has resulted in an unprecedented decrease in world trade and economic growth.

That demonstrated that “if there is no human mobility, there will be a negative impact on economic growth. That’s why migration is very much aligned with different SDGs.”

The potential role of migrants in achieving the UN SDGs cannot be underestimated, IDM says.

Leaving no one behind being key to it, the 2030 SDGs agenda represented a major leap forward for migration where the latter figured not merely as a core development issue on its own, but also as a cross-cutting one that is intricately related to all other goals.

Vitorino said that the pandemic, for instance, demonstrated that excluding migrants from health coverage — SDG 3 being ensuring health and well-being for all — creates a problem for the entire community because the virus will tend to proliferate in those marginalized migrant communities.

“Therefore, I think that the SDGs are a key guideline for us all. (On) the question of health coverage, it is very important that we guarantee that wherever they are, in countries of origin or countries of destination, migrants have access to health care. This is a fundamental right. It is inherent to the dignity of human beings irrespective of their legal status.”

Despite IOM’s efforts, “unfortunately, there is still a very uneven panorama about vaccination. The developed world has rates of vaccination around 70 percent and the low-income countries are still around 20 percent. This is an issue of concern to us. And this definitely something that does not help to fulfill the objectives of the 2030 agenda,” said Vitorino.

He visited Turkiye to oversee the organization’s operations following the Feb. 6 twin earthquakes; he said he had never seen anything like it.

“Nothing I’ve been in, theaters of war, even recently in Ukraine, (compares with) the degree of destruction and devastation that I witnessed in Turkiye.

“I see a city of 200,000 people totally smashed by the fury of the earthquake. The fury of nature should make us think very carefully about the frequency and the intensity of these natural hazards that are also related to climate change.”

It is difficult to isolate climate factors from other social, economic, political and security ones underpinning migration.

Climate change intersects also with conflict and security. The Syrian civil war, where exceptional drought contributed to population movements toward urban areas that were not addressed by the political regime, illustrates this connection.

The World Bank estimates that 143 million people could be moving within their own countries by 2050 because of extreme weather events in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America, in the absence of urgent global and national climate action.

Researchers highlight that an increase in temperatures could lead to growing asylum applications to the EU.

Drought and desertification, heat waves and sea-level rise will cause depletion of ecosystems ranging from water shortages to loss of arable land, leading to conflicts over scare natural resources. The threats to human security might in turn drive people to migrate in search of alternative income and ways to meet their basic needs.

“Sometimes you have people displaced because of drought, and (others) because of floods, at the same time, in the same country,” said Vitorino.

“Look to Central America where the El Nino is changing the production of coffee and cocoa and people are deprived of their traditional agricultural means. They move to the cities. And if they don’t find solutions in the cities, they go on moving, usually toward the United States.

“My theory is to say we need to act to build the adaptation and resilience of those communities because they do not want to move. They are forced to move. And we need to support them to find the means of adapting to climate change.

“And also if they are forced to move, such as, for instance, in some Pacific islands that are going to unfortunately disappear because of sea-level rise, we need to make it safe, orderly and regular.”

IOM estimates that since 2014, about 55,000 migrants have died or disappeared. Of those, about 8,000 were en route to the US. They perished in accidents or while traveling in subhuman conditions.

The fire that killed dozens of people at an immigration processing center in Ciudad Juarez on the border with Texas on the night of March 27 was only the latest chapter in a continuing tragedy. A surveillance video has shown immigration agents walking away from the trapped detainees as the flames were engulfing them.

In 2022, 2,062 migrants died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Between 2014 and 2018, for instance, the bodies of about 12,000 people who drowned were never found.

Vitorino laments the recent increase seen in the number of irregular migrants moving around the world.

“We need to have a holistic approach to these movements and understand that you cannot just deal with one of the reasons without taking into consideration the other reasons,” he said, adding that “the need to preserve human lives and prevent deaths is a priority.”

IDM, he said, will provide conclusions that will feed into the report of the secretary general next year about the implementation of the Global Compact on Migration.

“We need evidence-based policies based on reliable and effective data. We need to guarantee the role of youth, particularly in the fight against climate change. We need to make sure that migrants are fully included in the health coverage, a critical issue to succeed in the SDGs.

“And we need to mobilize the diaspora to the development of the countries of origin.

“Those are the key messages that I hope from the IDM.”

 


Republicans defend Trump by attacking criminal justice system

Republicans defend Trump by  attacking criminal justice system
Updated 01 April 2023

Republicans defend Trump by attacking criminal justice system

Republicans defend Trump by  attacking criminal justice system
  • Critics warn the present partisan rhetoric could shake public trust in courts

WASHINGTON: Many Republicans in the US Congress have responded to Donald Trump’s looming Tuesday arraignment by characterizing the criminal justice system as corrupt, in accusations that parallel their earlier broadsides against the nation’s elections after the former president’s 2020 defeat.

Trump and his allies in the House of Representatives and Senate have used rhetoric that echoed his false claims of widespread election fraud in the build-up to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the US Capitol by his supporters.
Critics warn that the present partisan rhetoric could shake public trust in courts by undermining the institutional legitimacy of the criminal justice system.
“Trump’s indictment is the culmination of six years of the Democrats weaponizing law enforcement to target and persecute their political enemies. Dictatorships operate like this – the US is supposed to be different,” tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz, a hard-line Republican who voted to overturn 2020 election results.

FASTFACT

Most Democrats have warned against challenging the legitimacy of the institutions of government in defense of Trump, who routinely pushed up against the guard rails of democracy during his four years in the White House and was twice impeached by Congress.

Trump says he is innocent of the expected New York charges — which revolve around hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign. Details of the charges are as yet unclear.
He says the investigation and three other probes involving his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat and his retention of classified documents after leaving the White House are all politically motivated.
Most Democrats have warned against challenging the legitimacy of the institutions of government in defense of Trump, who routinely pushed up against the guard rails of democracy during his four years in the White House and was twice impeached by Congress.
“Political leaders ought to stand up for the American system of government,” said Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren, a member of the House Judiciary Committee who also served on the congressional investigation of the Jan. 6 attack.
“Undercutting the system of government is a serious matter and a threat to our future,” she said in an interview.
Trump has been unrestrained in his rhetoric in recent weeks, calling for protests and warning of potential “death & destruction” if he were to be charged.
He used fiery language hours before his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, in a bid to overturn his election defeat. Five people including a police officer died during or shortly after that riot and more than 140 police officers were injured. The Capitol suffered millions of dollars in damage.
Most Republicans have trained their invective on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, accusing the prosecutor of mounting a politically motivated investigation aimed at preventing Trump from being reelected to the White House in 2024.
After Trump on March 18 announced that he expected to be arrested in days, the Republican-controlled House launched its own probe of Bragg’s grand jury investigation, seeking documents and testimony. They have called Bragg’s move “an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority” and said the indictment followed years of the office searching for any basis on which to bring charges.
Democrats questioned whether Congress has the authority to investigate a state-level investigation, particularly one conducted under secretive grand jury rules.
Bragg, a Democrat, on Friday warned Republican Representatives Jim Jordan, James Comer and Bryan Steil, who are leading the probe, against attacking the criminal justice system.
“You and many of your colleagues have chosen to collaborate with Mr. Trump’s efforts to vilify and denigrate the integrity of elected state prosecutors and trial judges,” the Manhattan prosecutor wrote.
House Republicans continued to push back. Firebrand Marjorie Taylor Greene said she planned to protest against Trump’s court appearance on Tuesday, while Brian Mast went further and told CNN he would not accept the outcome of a jury trial, saying “I don’t have a trust that a jury will make a fair assessment of this.”
Not all Republicans were so quick to cast doubt on the courts.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement that called for patience and underscored the legal principle that Trump, as a defendant, should be presumed innocent.
“We need to wait on the facts and for our American system of justice to work like it does for thousands of Americans every day,” said Hutchinson, who is considering his own 2024 White House run.
Historians including Princeton University professor Julian Zelizer said Republican statements about Bragg and the criminal justice system follow a long-established partisan line.
“The party has invested a great deal in attacking the legitimacy of institutions, which is why Trump fit well into the party and continues to be popular,” Zelizer said in an email.
Nicole Hemmer, director of the Rogers Center for the American Presidency at Vanderbilt University, warned that Republican attacks on the US criminal justice system could ultimately have dire consequences for courts and juries.
“This is the end-game of the ‘deep state’ rhetoric that Donald Trump has deployed since 2016 to sow those seeds of distrust in institutions of accountability,” Hemmer said.
“We haven’t yet seen a cataclysmic moment in this rejection of the courts. But we are starting to see the steps toward it, as we saw the steps toward Jan. 6 coming from a long way off.”

 


Burkina Faso Muslims and Christians back unity amid insurgency

Burkinabe Muslims and Christians chant the national anthem while they gather to break the fast together. (Reuters)
Burkinabe Muslims and Christians chant the national anthem while they gather to break the fast together. (Reuters)
Updated 01 April 2023

Burkina Faso Muslims and Christians back unity amid insurgency

Burkinabe Muslims and Christians chant the national anthem while they gather to break the fast together. (Reuters)
  • Thousands have been killed and over 2 million displaced across the Sahel region south of the Sahara, where militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda and Daesh have exploited ethnic and religious divides to fuel violence

OUAGADOUGOU: Scores of young Burkinabe Muslims and Christians gathered in Ouagadougou’s public square as the sun set to break fast together, promoting religious tolerance during Ramadan and Lent as Burkina Faso grapples with a violent insurgency.
Organized by a local interfaith youth group, the event saw Muslims and Christians sharing food and prayers in a symbolic act against militant forces seeking to exploit ethnic and religious divisions, participants said.
“If two groups from different religions manage to live together, many evils in the society will be totally over,” said Wenkouni Damien Ouedraogo, a Catholic and one of the event’s chief organizers.
“We must go beyond our religions to be able to embrace the other as really a part of oneself,” he added.
Burkina Faso is one of several West African countries battling an insurgency that took root in neighboring Mali and has spread across the region in the past decade.
Thousands have been killed and over 2 million displaced across the Sahel region south of the Sahara, where militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda and Daesh have exploited ethnic and religious divides to fuel violence.
Around 64 percent of Burkinabes adhere to Islam, while around 24 percent identify as Christians, according to a 2019 government census.
“To those who unfortunately took up arms against the country, we hope that our message of hope can soften their hearts,” said Mamadi Ouedraogo, one of the event’s Muslim organizers. “This is for our well-being, our development and for peace and security in our country.”

 


India regulator probes Adani offshore deals for possible rule violations

India regulator probes Adani offshore deals for possible rule violations
Updated 01 April 2023

India regulator probes Adani offshore deals for possible rule violations

India regulator probes Adani offshore deals for possible rule violations
  • The probe comes after US short-seller Hindenburg Research’s Jan. 24 report alleging improper use of tax havens and stock manipulation by Adani Group

MUMBAI: India’s market regulator is investigating possible violation of “related party” transaction rules in the Adani Group’s dealings with at least three offshore entities that have links to the brother of the conglomerate’s founder, two people said.

The three entities allegedly entered into several investment transactions with unlisted units of the ports-to-power conglomerate founded by billionaire Gautam Adani over the last 13 years, said the sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Vinod Adani, Gautam Adani’s brother, is either a beneficial owner, director or has links with those three offshore entities, said the two sources, adding the regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, also known as SEBI, is probing if lack of that disclosure violated “related party transaction” rules.

Under Indian laws, direct relatives, promoter groups and subsidiaries of listed companies are considered related parties. A promoter group is defined as an entity that has a large shareholding in a listed company and can influence company policy.

Transactions between such entities have to be disclosed in regulatory and public filings and require shareholder approval above a specified threshold. Violations typically attract monetary fines.

An Adani Group spokesperson said Vinod Adani is a member of the Adani family and is part of the promoter group, but he does not hold any managerial position in any of the listed Adani entities or their subsidiaries.

“This fact, like all other material information required to be reported, has been disclosed to the regulatory authorities in the past and also as and when required,” the spokesperson added, without commenting on the regulatory probe into offshore entities.

The probe comes after US short-seller Hindenburg Research’s Jan. 24 report alleging improper use of tax havens and stock manipulation by Adani Group, among other things — charges it has denied.

Hindenburg’s report eroded more than $100 billion in the value of shares in Adani group of companies.

India’s Supreme Court asked SEBI in March to investigate the Adani Group for any lapses related to public shareholding, related party rules or regulatory disclosures.

SEBI’s investigation into Adani’s possible “related party” transactions with offshore entities with links to Vinod Adani has not been reported before.

While SEBI investigations are continuing, top regulatory officials are due to give a status report to a court-appointed panel on Sunday, the two sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as investigations are private.


In Dhaka, civil society initiatives prevent Ramadan food waste

In Dhaka, civil society initiatives prevent Ramadan food waste
Updated 01 April 2023

In Dhaka, civil society initiatives prevent Ramadan food waste

In Dhaka, civil society initiatives prevent Ramadan food waste
  • During the holy month, excess food is collected from iftar events around the capital
  • Bidyanondo Foundation’s Iftar Car collects leftover items for distribution to the needy

DHAKA: Bangladeshi civil society organizations are trying to prevent food waste during Ramadan, organizing special collections of unsold items for orphanages and poor communities.

During the fasting month that teaches moderation and charity, excess food, especially from iftar events organized at hotels and restaurants in the Bangladeshi capital, is collected.

Bidyanondo Foundation, one of the largest social welfare organizations in the country, is operating a special Iftar Car to collect and distribute unsold or leftover items as well as raise awareness about food security.

“Ramadan is a month of compassion and fellowship. Any wastage of food is contradictory to the spirit of Ramadan,” Salman Khan, the foundation’s communications chief, told Arab News on Saturday.

“Our Iftar Car collects food from donors immediately and distributes it among the destitute people ... every day, we are receiving iftar food for 600-700 people.”

Iftar Car pickups take place in the early afternoon and after people break their fasts at dusk.

Donors are obliged to keep the food cool so that it remains fresh before volunteers redistribute it a few hours later.

“We need to be prudent to prevent food waste in society. Everyone should keep this in mind as this is the true lesson of Ramadan,” Khan said. “Instead of wasting food, we should share it. We believe in this spirit of sharing.”

Besides the Iftar Car, Bidyanondo is also in touch with restaurants, caterers and food delivery services. Some have regularly supported the foundation beyond the fasting month.

“Sometimes, people cancel the ordered food, which is already paid. We have a collaboration with Food Panda, and during night hours around 10 p.m., our volunteers collect food from their local hubs,” Khan said, adding that Food Panda records dozens of order cancellations every day.

“Every night, we distribute this food to the people who sleep on the streets. From Food Panda, we receive burgers, pizza, sandwiches and biryani. These sorts of dishes underprivileged people can’t even imagine affording.”

Awareness of food waste is high in Bangladeshi society, and individual restaurateurs, as well food stores, also join efforts to prevent hunger with their own local initiatives. At the White Hall Buffet in Dhaka, whose all-you-can-eat service is especially popular during iftars, staff make sure to minimize food waste.

“People take a bunch of items during the iftar period. But an empty stomach after day-long fasting can’t consume so much ... our restaurant staffers immediately sort out the leftover food and pack it for distribution,” Russel Biswas, the restaurant’s manager, told Arab News.

“We don’t need to travel far to distribute the food packets. As our restaurant is located next to a busy road of the Dhanmondi residential area, we find dozens of underprivileged children and beggars in front of our restaurant building.”

In Mohammadpur, another part of Dhaka, Sadeeq Agro, a grocery store chain, gathers unsold food and delivers it to nearby orphanages.

“Usually, our vehicles collect the unsold items from the outlets by 11:30 p.m. every night, and by the next hour, they reach the orphanages with the food,” said Salma Suraiya Asha, the company’s marketing chief.

“Any sort of food wastage is not acceptable at all. We don’t allow it.”