Tag Archives: Rights and Society

Kenya, you’ve upped your own game and you’re going to have to follow through

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Well, thanks Kenya. It wasn’t enough that you guys haven’t let anyone else win a prize-money marathon in decades? Or that you genetically Barack, like, Obama’d? No, you had to go and effectively Arab-Spring the rest of Africa with your High Court ruling and your election second-attempt. My goodness, what divas. The entire world has […]

Burundi: Target for ICC?

Bujumbura (Burundi) – The UN Commission of Inquiry released a report on Monday (September 4th). It requests the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes against humanity committed in Burundi. The Commission refers to “an organized plan in the pursuit of a common policy.” This is a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population.

This suggests that crimes against humanity have been committed in Burundi since April 2015. The commission’s report mentions extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and sexual violence. The list of abuses is long.

According to the commission, “major decisions, including those leading to serious violations of human rights, would be taken not by the government but by the President of the Republic and a handful of generals.”

The president of the commission, Fatsah Ouguergouz, also targets officials at the highest level of the state, senior officers and agents of the defense and security forces as well as the youth of the ruling party Cndd-Fdd, the Imbonerakure. According to him, these alleged perpetrators are aware of this plan, given their functions in the state security apparatus or their indoctrination within Cndd-Fdd. Targets were especially members of Msd and Fnl parties as well as soldiers of the former army Ex FAB.

Bujumbura dismisses a “biased” report

In order to reach the conclusions of its report, the commission visited Burundi’s neighboring countries. More than 500 interviews were conducted. However, it calls for more cooperation so far refused by the government.

Among the recommendations of the commission are individual sanctions against the main perpetrators presumed by the Security Council. To this end, the commission produced a secret and non-exhaustive list of these suspects which will be confided to the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The International Criminal Court is called on to launch an investigation into the crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015, a date that marks the start of protests against the candidacy of President Nkurunziza.

The failed coup as well as the attacks on four military camps are decisive factors in the escalation of violence in 2015.

The Burundian government rejected this report. The Minister of Human Rights, Martin Nivyabandi spoke of a biased report that does not take into account the obvious improvement in the country’s situation. The Minister of Justice, Aimé-Laurentine Kanyana, said the ICC cannot do anything better than the Burundian jurisdiction. The National Assembly, for its part, decided to set up a commission to investigate the allegations in the report.

In any case, if the prosecution is to take place, the ICC has only one month to get started. Burundi withdrew from the International Criminal Court on 27 October 2016. Its final withdrawal will take place on 27 October.

Read reactions to the report

By Pierre Emmanuel Ndgendakumana 

Burundi: Target for ICC?

Bujumbura (Burundi) – The UN Commission of Inquiry released a report on Monday (September 4th). It requests the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes against humanity committed in Burundi. The Commission refers to “an organized plan in the pursuit of a common policy.” This is a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population.

This suggests that crimes against humanity have been committed in Burundi since April 2015. The commission’s report mentions extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and sexual violence. The list of abuses is long.

According to the commission, “major decisions, including those leading to serious violations of human rights, would be taken not by the government but by the President of the Republic and a handful of generals.”

The president of the commission, Fatsah Ouguergouz, also targets officials at the highest level of the state, senior officers and agents of the defense and security forces as well as the youth of the ruling party Cndd-Fdd, the Imbonerakure. According to him, these alleged perpetrators are aware of this plan, given their functions in the state security apparatus or their indoctrination within Cndd-Fdd. Targets were especially members of Msd and Fnl parties as well as soldiers of the former army Ex FAB.

Bujumbura dismisses a “biased” report

In order to reach the conclusions of its report, the commission visited Burundi’s neighboring countries. More than 500 interviews were conducted. However, it calls for more cooperation so far refused by the government.

Among the recommendations of the commission are individual sanctions against the main perpetrators presumed by the Security Council. To this end, the commission produced a secret and non-exhaustive list of these suspects which will be confided to the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The International Criminal Court is called on to launch an investigation into the crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015, a date that marks the start of protests against the candidacy of President Nkurunziza.

The failed coup as well as the attacks on four military camps are decisive factors in the escalation of violence in 2015.

The Burundian government rejected this report. The Minister of Human Rights, Martin Nivyabandi spoke of a biased report that does not take into account the obvious improvement in the country’s situation. The Minister of Justice, Aimé-Laurentine Kanyana, said the ICC cannot do anything better than the Burundian jurisdiction. The National Assembly, for its part, decided to set up a commission to investigate the allegations in the report.

In any case, if the prosecution is to take place, the ICC has only one month to get started. Burundi withdrew from the International Criminal Court on 27 October 2016. Its final withdrawal will take place on 27 October.

Read reactions to the report

By Pierre Emmanuel Ndgendakumana 

For future disaster preparedness, Sierra Leone could look to Cuba

On August 14th, Mudslides in Freetown, Sierra Leone killed 1,000 people, mostly inhabitants of the urban slums in the hills above the capital. Despite its portrayal as a natural disaster caused by days of heavy rain, “the tragedy was entirely man-made,” as writer Lansana Gberie states bluntly. The result of environmental degradation, lack of disaster preparedness and substandard housing for the poor, these deaths could have been avoided.

Much like the Ebola epidemic that killed 4,000 Sierra Leoneans in 2014, the deep roots of this disaster are the neocolonial structures and neoliberal policies that govern Sierra Leone. They assure, as Joshua Lew McDermott, the President of the African Socialist Movement International Support Committee, argues in Jacobin: that “… the levers of the Sierra Leonean state that could have checked the wealth extraction and bolstered domestic industries and social services were done away with in the name of fiscal austerity, debt repayment, and incentivizing foreign investment.”

While poverty constrains the resources available for disaster response, not all governments in poor countries are equally ineffective. The difference in government response is highlighted every time there is a major hurricane in the Caribbean, and many more die in Haiti than in Cuba. For example, Hurricane Matthew killed 546 in Haiti and only four in Cuba despite being of similar intensity in both locations (it also killed 47 Americans).

The government of Cuba, unlike Haiti’s, invests in meteorology, with dozens of weather stations to monitor, predict and track incoming storms. The victims in Sierra Leone sadly had no similar warning system. In Cuba, there are annual preparations and drills in May at the beginning of hurricane season. The military and police make plans for evacuations. In “areas identified as vulnerable,” authorities provide “electrical generators, drinking water and additional medical personnel in advance of the storm’s approach, as members of the community are bestowed with the responsibility of providing such essential services.”

Furthermore, the Cuban government provides its citizens with health care and education. “Compared to their Caribbean neighbors, Cubans are far better prepared for emergencies. Not only do they benefit from better infrastructure and housing, as well as a highly effective risk communication system, but more importantly, Cuba is populated by the most educated population in the developing world.” A more educated population better understands the risks posed by hurricanes and how to respond to them.

Although many dismiss Cuba’s success at minimizing the number of deaths due to hurricanes and other natural disasters as possible only in one-party state, “there’s little about its hurricane program that rests on authoritarianism.” While, “the hurricane response may be directed from the top down… it’s carried out by ordinary Cubans in their local communities, building on the regular training they receive.” There is no technical reason why Sierra Leone could not follow such a model of “total mobilization.” The problem is political will.

The real impediment is that neocolonialism and neoliberalism deprive the Sierra Leonean government of the fiscal capacity and policy space to solve the problems of substandard housing and lack of disaster preparedness. Many NGOs are doing an admirable job of replying to the crisis, but disaster relief is a core government function and the Sierra Leonean government is simply too small and disorganized to handle such crises.

Continue reading on Africa is a country

By Francisco Perez

For future disaster preparedness, Sierra Leone could look to Cuba

On August 14th, Mudslides in Freetown, Sierra Leone killed 1,000 people, mostly inhabitants of the urban slums in the hills above the capital. Despite its portrayal as a natural disaster caused by days of heavy rain, “the tragedy was entirely man-made,” as writer Lansana Gberie states bluntly. The result of environmental degradation, lack of disaster preparedness and substandard housing for the poor, these deaths could have been avoided.

Much like the Ebola epidemic that killed 4,000 Sierra Leoneans in 2014, the deep roots of this disaster are the neocolonial structures and neoliberal policies that govern Sierra Leone. They assure, as Joshua Lew McDermott, the President of the African Socialist Movement International Support Committee, argues in Jacobin: that “… the levers of the Sierra Leonean state that could have checked the wealth extraction and bolstered domestic industries and social services were done away with in the name of fiscal austerity, debt repayment, and incentivizing foreign investment.”

While poverty constrains the resources available for disaster response, not all governments in poor countries are equally ineffective. The difference in government response is highlighted every time there is a major hurricane in the Caribbean, and many more die in Haiti than in Cuba. For example, Hurricane Matthew killed 546 in Haiti and only four in Cuba despite being of similar intensity in both locations (it also killed 47 Americans).

The government of Cuba, unlike Haiti’s, invests in meteorology, with dozens of weather stations to monitor, predict and track incoming storms. The victims in Sierra Leone sadly had no similar warning system. In Cuba, there are annual preparations and drills in May at the beginning of hurricane season. The military and police make plans for evacuations. In “areas identified as vulnerable,” authorities provide “electrical generators, drinking water and additional medical personnel in advance of the storm’s approach, as members of the community are bestowed with the responsibility of providing such essential services.”

Furthermore, the Cuban government provides its citizens with health care and education. “Compared to their Caribbean neighbors, Cubans are far better prepared for emergencies. Not only do they benefit from better infrastructure and housing, as well as a highly effective risk communication system, but more importantly, Cuba is populated by the most educated population in the developing world.” A more educated population better understands the risks posed by hurricanes and how to respond to them.

Although many dismiss Cuba’s success at minimizing the number of deaths due to hurricanes and other natural disasters as possible only in one-party state, “there’s little about its hurricane program that rests on authoritarianism.” While, “the hurricane response may be directed from the top down… it’s carried out by ordinary Cubans in their local communities, building on the regular training they receive.” There is no technical reason why Sierra Leone could not follow such a model of “total mobilization.” The problem is political will.

The real impediment is that neocolonialism and neoliberalism deprive the Sierra Leonean government of the fiscal capacity and policy space to solve the problems of substandard housing and lack of disaster preparedness. Many NGOs are doing an admirable job of replying to the crisis, but disaster relief is a core government function and the Sierra Leonean government is simply too small and disorganized to handle such crises.

Continue reading on Africa is a country

By Francisco Perez

Floods, Hurricanes, Droughts… When Climate Sets the Agenda

Rome – When officials and experts from all over the world started the first-ever environmental summit hosted by China, they were already aware that climate and weather-related disasters were already seriously beginning to set the international agenda – unprecedented floods in South Asia, strongest ever hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and catastrophic droughts striking the Horn of Africa, among the most impacting recent events.

In fact, Ordos, China has been the venue of the 13th summit of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which has been focusing over the period 6-16 September on ways to further mitigate and prevent the steadily advancing desertification and land degradation worldwide.

Officials and experts from 196 countries attending the UNCCD 13th session –known as COP 13- are now expected to agree on a 12-year Strategy to contain runaway land degradation that is threatening global food and water security.

Countries are also expected to announce their targets for land restoration, to agree on measures to address the related emerging threats of forced migration, sand and dust storms, and to agree on actions to strengthen the resilience of communities to droughts.

Desertification Everywhere

No wonder—globally, as many as 169 countries are affected by desertification, with China accounting for the largest population and area impacted, UNCCD warns.

Desertification is not just photogenic images of oceans of sand and dunes – it is a silent, invisible crisis that is destabilising communities on a global scale, according to UNCCD.

“As the effects of climate change undermine livelihoods, inter-ethnic clashes are breaking out within and across states and fragile states are turning to militarisation to control the situation.”

“If we are to restore peace, security and international stability in a context where changing weather events are threatening the livelihoods of more and more people, survival options are declining and state capacities are overburdened, then more should be done to combat desertification, reverse land degradation and mitigate the effects of drought. Otherwise, many small-scale farmers and poor, land-dependent communities face two choices: fight or flight.“

Famine in Africa, Again

Meanwhile, the most impacted continent by climate change and weather induced disasters – Africa, which contributes only 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – is now experiencing a scenario in its Eastern region of consecutive climate shocks causing back-to-back droughts that have left at least 8.5 million people in Ethiopia in dire need of food aid.

At the same time, severe drought has deepened in Somalia with the risk of famine looming on about half the population.

The death of livestock in the impacted areas has caused a breakdown in pastoral livelihoods, contributing to soaring hunger levels and alarming increases in malnutrition rates.

This is just a quick summary of the dramatic situation facing these two East African countries, which are home to a combined population of 113 million people (101,5 million in Ethiopia and 11,5 million in Somalia), and which are in need of additional urgent resources to prevent any further deterioration.

The situation has rapidly deteriorated, and the heads of the three Rome-based United Nations food agencies, at the conclusion of a four-day visit to the affected areas, called for greater investment in long-term activities that strengthen people’s resilience to drought and the impacts of climate shocks.

“This drought has been going on for a long time and we have lost much of our livestock… If we didn’t get food assistance, we would be in big trouble – but this is still not enough to feed us all,” Hajiji Abdi, a community elder, last week said to José Graziano da Silva, director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Gilbert F. Houngbo, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

Continue reading on IPS

By Baher Kamal

Floods, Hurricanes, Droughts… When Climate Sets the Agenda

Rome – When officials and experts from all over the world started the first-ever environmental summit hosted by China, they were already aware that climate and weather-related disasters were already seriously beginning to set the international agenda – unprecedented floods in South Asia, strongest ever hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and catastrophic droughts striking the Horn of Africa, among the most impacting recent events.

In fact, Ordos, China has been the venue of the 13th summit of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which has been focusing over the period 6-16 September on ways to further mitigate and prevent the steadily advancing desertification and land degradation worldwide.

Officials and experts from 196 countries attending the UNCCD 13th session –known as COP 13- are now expected to agree on a 12-year Strategy to contain runaway land degradation that is threatening global food and water security.

Countries are also expected to announce their targets for land restoration, to agree on measures to address the related emerging threats of forced migration, sand and dust storms, and to agree on actions to strengthen the resilience of communities to droughts.

Desertification Everywhere

No wonder—globally, as many as 169 countries are affected by desertification, with China accounting for the largest population and area impacted, UNCCD warns.

Desertification is not just photogenic images of oceans of sand and dunes – it is a silent, invisible crisis that is destabilising communities on a global scale, according to UNCCD.

“As the effects of climate change undermine livelihoods, inter-ethnic clashes are breaking out within and across states and fragile states are turning to militarisation to control the situation.”

“If we are to restore peace, security and international stability in a context where changing weather events are threatening the livelihoods of more and more people, survival options are declining and state capacities are overburdened, then more should be done to combat desertification, reverse land degradation and mitigate the effects of drought. Otherwise, many small-scale farmers and poor, land-dependent communities face two choices: fight or flight.“

Famine in Africa, Again

Meanwhile, the most impacted continent by climate change and weather induced disasters – Africa, which contributes only 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – is now experiencing a scenario in its Eastern region of consecutive climate shocks causing back-to-back droughts that have left at least 8.5 million people in Ethiopia in dire need of food aid.

At the same time, severe drought has deepened in Somalia with the risk of famine looming on about half the population.

The death of livestock in the impacted areas has caused a breakdown in pastoral livelihoods, contributing to soaring hunger levels and alarming increases in malnutrition rates.

This is just a quick summary of the dramatic situation facing these two East African countries, which are home to a combined population of 113 million people (101,5 million in Ethiopia and 11,5 million in Somalia), and which are in need of additional urgent resources to prevent any further deterioration.

The situation has rapidly deteriorated, and the heads of the three Rome-based United Nations food agencies, at the conclusion of a four-day visit to the affected areas, called for greater investment in long-term activities that strengthen people’s resilience to drought and the impacts of climate shocks.

“This drought has been going on for a long time and we have lost much of our livestock… If we didn’t get food assistance, we would be in big trouble – but this is still not enough to feed us all,” Hajiji Abdi, a community elder, last week said to José Graziano da Silva, director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Gilbert F. Houngbo, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

Continue reading on IPS

By Baher Kamal

Migration: Civipol, the French multinational that sells security in Africa

The terrorism fever and the migrant crisis have contributed to change the international cooperation of the European Union. No longer only an instrument to close the gap with inequality, to build new commercial opportunities and for growth, the money allocated for international cooperation has also been invested to “instruct”, with lots of money, the countries with strong migratory pressure in order to stop the migrants before they cross the Mediterranean.

Security beats development. Forgetting, according to some observers, the respect of human rights. In this process of transformation, new mixed agencies have been created, far from being non-governmental, but neither public agencies. They are private companies with public funds, at whose command sit statesmen.

The projects of the Trust Fund for Civipol

After a year and a half from its inauguration,  the European Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has an allocation of 2.8 billion. The principal scope, for which it was created, is to accelerate the intervention to fight the roots of the migratory phenomenon. The Sahel is an area in which some of the principal projects supported by the Trust Fund are concentrated. Here, the fourth most financed organization, after the UN organization against migration IOM and the German GIZ and Spanish FIAPP, public agencies of cooperation, is Civipol, French giant of formation and consultation in the field of security, with projects worth 44 million euro. To these, the French company adds a portion of the 46 million euro that the Trust Fund has allocated for “Border Migration Management,” a detailed project for the control of the frontiers in the Horn of Africa, headed by the German agency GIZ.

What is Civipol?

Civipol was created in 2001 as a supplier of services (audit, consultation, technical support and formation) for the French Ministry of the Interior. However, from 2006 onward, it has always had a more international vocation, obviously concentrated in the former French colonies. From a  “state company,” Civipol has become an international player of cooperation, almost as a totally private player. This way, the company becomes always more independent of public support, strong in its ability to be awarded projects outside of France.

Civipol knew how to make space for itself in a very competitive market; in 2016 it bought the Belgian Transtec, a company well known in the sector of consultation for projects of a humanitarian nature and cooperation for development, two of the fields among which the French were weakest. Furthermore, Civipol has a client portfolio which includes Michelin, the naval transport company CMA CGM and the communication company Data4. 40% publicly held by the Ministry of the Treasury, the rest is divided among Airbus DS and Thales with over 12%, then Morpho and Défense Conseil International (DCI – group tied to the Ministry of Defense) with about 10% and minor shareholders Allianz France and the company of the French airports, with just over 1%.

Furthermore, on the board of directors sit managers from large state agencies that participate in the capital of Civipol, the crème of the French industry. At the beginning of 2016, it had 59 projects in course for commissions of a total value of 94 million euro. The field “internal security,” that calls for the cooperation of Civipol with law enforcement, is what produces almost two thirds of the commissions, one fourth comes from projects of civil protection and the remaining 6% is derived from administrative consultation.

Violated Human Rights?

Is Civipol’s securitarian mission compatible with the prerogatives of international cooperation, like the promotion of human rights? Benoit Muracciole, formerly responsible for the campaign for arms control by Amnesty International France, now director of ASER (Action Sécurité Ethique Républicaines), association for disarmament, claims “we believe that in the matter of security there has been a regression; private entities which are involved do not have the faintest clue about human rights.”

“Safeguarding human rights” is not a vague formula states Muracciole, but it is necessary to follow procedures that have been ratified at the level of the United Nations and Europe. They foresee principles sanctioned by international conventions, like proportionality, use of force as extrema ratio and the possibility of investigating police forces, untouchable in autocratic countries. “We have no idea if Civipol and other private agencies that do formation in the field of security in France and in the world follow these directives,” he adds, “In the documents one only frequently reads ‘human rights’ but it is not clear what it means.”

In 2015, the Cash Investigation program on France2 conducted an investigation on the repression of the protests against the regime in Manama, Bahrain – alimented by the Arab Spring – where, between 2011 and 2014, a strong opposition by the Shiite majority was born against the Sunni minority which supports the Al-Khalifa royal family.

From 2001, France has an agreement  of cooperation in the emirate with law enforcement. In particular, in 2008, companies like Civipol and DCI conducted courses of formation for the “democratic management of crowds.” However, those same law enforcement groups trained by the French killed dozens of demonstrators. Not only this, following the formation, France increased the sale of arms and security material, from 3 million euro to 27 million euro in 2011 when the protests erupted. A fact that raises different questions. Especially because Civipol is the organizer of Milipol, an international arms trade fair, in which private entities, governments and international agencies meet to reach new agreements.

It is one of the most important arms trade fair in the world. There are three trade fairs: in Paris, Doha and Singapore. Singapore hosted Milipol for the first time from the 4th to the 7th of April 2017; on its website, Civipol explains that 266 exhibitors from 36 countries, 4 thousand visitors and 70 delegates from 11 countries attended. However, in its FAQ section, the company states that it does not promote the sale of “equipment” nor security “materials.” Not even weapons.

Agreements in Libya

The public shareholding of Civipol renders it a unique company. In fact, it has the French State as a great promoter. The best testimonial possible. For example, in Libya, since 2013, at every meeting between Libyan and French diplomats there has been talk of the services of Civipol within the negotiations. After all, every European government tries (rightfully so) to show off its industrial jewels abroad. And for France, Civipol is part  of this category. An obvious case goes back to May 2014, when, in Paris, the French Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve proposed to his Libyan counterpart Saleh Mazeg Abderrahim al-Barassi a formation program for the Libyan military forces conducted by Civipol.

It was the time during which France was trying to become the most influential European power with the newly created Libyan government. Three months after the effective entry of Transtec in the French group during the autumn of 2016, Civipol is still in Libya supporting the NTC, the government of national unity, for the formation of new Libyan institutions through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). “As of October 2013,” reports Africa Intelligence, “it has signed a contract for the formation of one thousand policemen and 64 Libyan officials.”

The project with the Janjaweed in Sudan

Over 65% of Civipol’s foreign commissions are in Africa. Of the 40 countries outside of the EU where Civipol is present, 35 are in Africa. Among them, there is one that has already raised much discussion in Europe. It is the agreement for the formation of border guards between Libya and Sudan, that has as its leaders GIZ, the German cooperative agency, the French equivalent Expertise France, the British Council, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNODC, the UN office for the fight against drugs.

The project is called “Border Migrations Management” and is worth 46 million euro. According to the magazine Africa Intelligence and the report published by a group of four euro-parliamentarians of the GUE (Group for the European United Left) after a visit to Khartoum, former Janjaweed militia received formation to become policemen of the new Sudan, the same who massacred civilians during the war in Darfur. One of these ex-combatants Mohamed Hamdan Dalgo, alias Hemiti, has said to have stopped over 300 migrants at the border between Sudan and Libya.

Hemiti, along with his militia, has been accused by Human Rights Watch to have conducted attacks against civilians in Darfur. Nevertheless, he has been placed at the head of the Border Guards. Not only, on August 3, 2016, Italy signed an agreement with the Sudanese police forces to expedite the procedures for forced repatriation. The two projects have yielded parliamentary inquiries, both in Rome and Brussels, because Sudan is not considered a country that respects human rights.

By Lorenzo Bagnoli

This investigation report – Diverted Aid – has been funded by the European Journalism Centre (EJC) via its “Innovation in Development Reporting Grant“.

Cover picture: EUCAP Sahel Mali. Training activity for civil police in the region. Credits: EU

Africa: EU uses development funds for migration control

Military equipment, police tranining, centers for repatriated migrants and computerized systems for the collection of digital fingerprints that will guarantee, in Europe, the identification of the country of origin of migrants therefore making easier their expulsion. The objective: control the migrations from Africa and reinforce for this scope the governments of the countries of origin and transit of those who would want to cross the Mediterranean.

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After more than a year from its creation, the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has allocated over 600 million euro for these types of projects. The Trust Fund has been criticized because it finances projects in countries with dictatorship and regimes accused of crimes against humanity, like Sudan and Eritrea. Following the mobilization of Ngo’s like Oxfam and Concord, the European Parliament also denounced that the Trust Fund – 2.8 million as of today – has been filled up with money funded by the Union for the fight against poverty. Which, this way, risks to be emptied.

The Relocation of the Funds

One of the first acts of the European Agenda on migration was the convocation of a Euro-African summit, in October 2015 at Valletta. In such occasion, the leaders of the European countries created the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, an instrument outside of the control of the European Parliament, with the objective of rapidly financing initiatives to “confront the deep-seated causes of irregular migration.”

Today, the Trust Fund has an endowment of 2.8 billion euro, almost 95% taken from instruments of the Union devoted to cooperation and humanitarian aid, in particular, from the European Development Fund, while only 152 million euro are from funds freshly added by the countries of the Union. The 2016 Report of the Trust Fund lists 106 projects approved to date for almost 1.6 billion euro. They are principally managed by public agencies of cooperation for the development of European countries and international organizations like IOM and UNHCR, but also in some cases, by private agencies like the subsidiary of the French Ministry of the Interior, Civipol.

The refusal of the Community of Sant’Egidio

In Mali, country in which development is so tied to the remittances of migrants (800 million dollars arrived solely in 2016 through official channels) to have a ministry for Malians abroad, the Trust Fund has approved a project of 25 million euro to consolidate the civil status registry that anticipates the creation of a computer archive of biometric data, or in other words digital fingerprints and other biological characteristics “to be used – one reads in the action document – for the identification of Malian migrants abroad in irregular situations.”

That is, to favor repatriation. The same project will be realized in Senegal with 28 million euro. In both countries, the funds will be managed by the Belgian development cooperatin agency and by Civipol, which will take care of the computerization of the archive. The Community of Sant’Egidio, which initially had agreed to work as a consultant for the two projects, told us that they have withdrawn their adhesion. This happened because the initiative for the creation of the civil status registries, presented for various African countries, was only approved for Mali and Senegal, where Sant’Egidio does not have a sufficient presence on the territory, and not in Burkina Faso where the program for free child registration of the Community would have need of a new impulse.

We do not know why the project was approved by the Trust Fund in Mali and Senegal and not in Burkina Faso where Sant’Egidio would need the money to continue its work in favor of the protection of children’s rights against violations such as child marriages. We know, however, that unlike Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal are (together with Nigeria, Ethiopia and Niger) countries considered a priority by the EU for the  stipulation of agreements within the Migration Partnership Framework.

The critics of the European Parliament

“This way, one risks concentrating the aid towards the countries geographically interested by the routes towards Europe, forgetting the poorer countries”: Elly Schlein, Italian member of the European Parliament, claims in regard to the Trust Fund. “The objective of the cooperation for development is only one: the elimination of poverty and the reduction of inequality. I would like to understand how projects that are all aimed towards border management can reduce poverty and inequality. It seems to me that vice versa they risk further growth”, she says Schlein, who leads a working group on Migration and Refugee in the Development Committee of the European Parliament, adds. 7

Schlein’s affirmations are shared by the European Parliament, which has criticized the Commission for having “subtracted allocations for the objectives and the principles of the fundamental acts in order to distribute them through the Trust Fund,” denouncing how this represents “a violation of the financial rules and compromises the long term strategies of the Union.” In essence, the Trust Fund, though handling several billion euro of public funds, is not subject to the control of the democratically elected organ of the Union.

To the question posed to the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, his spokesperson answered affirming that “the European Union recognizes a tie between security and development” and that the support, as of now, concretizes in different ways, including the formation of law enforcement and their equipment “with the exclusion of lethal equipment.” In reference to the relocation of the funds, he objects, “The operation Trust Fund is in line with our procedures” and he lays claim to the transparency of the Trust Fund, citing the annual published report.

The Discrepancies in the Report of the Trust Fund

The interventions of the Trust Fund are distinguished on the basis of four priorities: the first two, or rather “economic development” and “resilience,” require actions linked to the fight against poverty, like the creation of jobs and the offer of aid to the populations in difficulty, but the objectives 3 “management of migration” and 4 “governance” – that absorb almost 40% of the resources of the approved projects – refer to interventions in favor of repatriation and the fight against irregular migration. Analyzing the 2016 Report of the Trust Fund, we noticed that the total per objective of the projects’ amounts, according to our calculations, did not correspond to the tables published in the first part.

Underlining this discrepancy to the team of the Trust Fund, we were told that this happens because the funds destined to projects having more than one objective have been considered by the authors of the report as corresponding wholly to the first objective cited; this way, in the report, the total of objectives 3 and 4 on migration management, results lower in respect to the results that we obtained dividing equally among the objectives.

The Trust Fund and the new routes

Philippe Renault, director of the French agency of cooperation (AFD) – that in Niger manages along with Civipol the project “Support to justice, security and the management of the frontiers” worth 30 million euro – wants to underline what distinguishes the actions of the cooperative agency from those of the private company, “We work towards the strengthening of the Nigerian agency for the fight against irregular migration while Civipol supports the police and law enforcement.”

“Unlike Civipol,” he adds, “we put our funds at the disposition of the Nigerian government through the responsible ministry.” The project, that allocates 20 million euro to the government as “support to the budget”, 6 to AFD and 4 to Civipol, aims to apply law 36/2015 against human trafficking. Issued by the Nigerian government, after pressure from Europe, this law in the last months, on one side, has resulted in a reduction of departures towards Libya from the Nigerian region of Agadez, also called the “door of the desert” for its strategic position along the routes of the Sahara, on the other, in the establishment of dangerous alternatives that pass through Mali and Chad.

“The alternative routes, created after the closing of the traditional passages, avoid urban centers and are therefore more dangerous,” adds Olivier Neola, head of EUCAP Sahel Niger, the mission of the European Commission to assist and sustain the security forces in the country. “Thanks to the experience we have accumulated on the territory, we collaborate on the projects of the Trust Fund for security,” Neola affirms. This happened for the project worth 41.6 million euro for the creation of “rapid response units” within the law enforcement  of five countries of the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad) managed by the Spanish cooperative agency FIIAPP. According to the tentative budget that was published, 28 million euro are destined for the equipment of law enforcement.

Meanwhile, the recommendation of the Parliament on the necessity of not changing the scope of the funds already allocated seems to have been ignored by the Commission, that in September presented the project of a European Fund for Sustainable Development, to promote private investments in the countries with whom there is an interest in signing agreements, to facilitate migration control and repatriation. It is a fund of 1 billion euros managed by the European Investment Bank, that would receive a contribution from the European Union of 750 million in cash for the guarantee. Of the 750 million euro in cash expected to form it, 400 of which should to be taken, once more, from the European Development Fund. This way, the Fund established in 1957 to favor the escape from poverty of the ex colonies, which has become the principal European instrument for the fight against poverty (30.5 billion euro in the period 2014-2020), is always more often used to keep citizens of these countries away from the European Fortress.

By Ludovica Jona

This investigation report – Diverted Aid – has been funded by the European Journalism Centre (EJC) via its “Innovation in Development Reporting Grant“.