Carola Rackete in addition to Europe’s Troubling Refugee Policies

the item’s been four days since Isaac, Fréderic in addition to their friends arrived inside port of Lampedusa on board the Sea-Watch 3, captained by Carola Rackete. They can hardly believe they’re definitely here. The sun can be setting in addition to the temperature has become a bit more bearable as they sit on the steps of the San Gerlando church.

the item can be shortly after 9 p.m. on This kind of Tuesday in addition to they have just received a message on their smartphones: “Carola libera.” Carola can be free.

The reference can be to Carola Rackete, the 31-year-old German captain of the Sea-Watch 3 who has become a rival to Italian Inside Minister Matteo Salvini — in addition to a figurehead for a less restrictive migration policy.

although the migrants standing in front of the church merely see her as the woman without whom none of them could have made the item to Europe. They cheer when they read the news which she has been released.

“Carola Rackete saved our lives. Without her, we could all be dead,” says Fréderic Samassi, a 24-year-old through Ivory Coast. He says he spent three years in Libya, most of the item behind bars, an ordeal during which he says he saw many terrible things. right now, he has reached the goal which he had imagined when he left his home in 2016: Europe.

Like most of those here, he spent almost 17 days on board the Sea-Watch 3, center stage in a European-wide drama. Samassi tells the story of how their vessel began taking on water two days after setting out to sea through Libya. He relates how the Sea-Watch 3 approached, how they clamored aboard in heavy swells. “The crew gave us water, we were almost dying of thirst,” says Isaac Hagan, 21, through Ghana. They then handed out food, clothes in addition to medicine. “They treated us like brothers in addition to sisters.”

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Rackete, the captain, promised to bring them to a safe harbor. although days went by in addition to the situation on board became increasingly untenable, the stench growing unbearable. At night, they could see the lights of Lampedusa in addition to some of the migrants wanted to jump overboard in addition to swim for the item. “which could have been suicide,” says Hagan.

He speaks of the desperation on board before Rackete decided to break through the port blockade, a move which transformed her into a European heroine for some, in addition to an object of loathing for others.

Hagen says he cried when he heard she had been arrested.

‘I’m Bringing Them To Safety’

Similar to the way Greta Thunberg has become a star of the movement to save the climate, Rackete has right now become an icon of the debate over refugee policy. She became famous as a result of videos in which she soberly in addition to precisely described the situation on board the ship in addition to announced her plan to head for the Lampedusa port despite the ban. Her sentence: “I’m bringing them to safety” went around the earth.

At the same time, an outpouring of hate directed at Rackete has also flooded social media networks. Salvini, meanwhile, refers to her as “lawless” in addition to as a “rich German.”

In an interview with DER NewsGerman, Rackete says the role in which she right now finds herself isn’t one which she wanted. the item’s “not about individuals like me,” she says.

although the case of Sea-Watch 3 in addition to Rackete has laid bare just how contradictory the European Union’s migrant policy can be. in addition to the item has again shone the spotlight on the brutal reality of what can be taking place inside Mediterranean. Namely, which the EU can be allowing migrants to drown in addition to can be pursuing a policy which, just a few years ago, only right-wing populists dared propose.

This kind of spring, the EU completely ceased all efforts to save refugees through the Mediterranean in addition to can be right now only monitoring the situation through the air. the item can be also cooperating with the Libyan coast guard, which has been expanding its area of responsibility since 2017. The Libyan ships intercept migrants off their coast in addition to bring them back, where they are confined in camps in addition to many are subjected to torture in addition to rape. Some are reportedly forced to take part inside country’s ongoing civil war.

At the same time, private persons who have set out to sea to save migrants through drowning have been criminalized by Italy in addition to Malta. The countries have closed their ports to such ships in addition to are pursuing charges against those who operate them.

According to a poll carried out by German public broadcaster ARD, almost three-quarters of all Germans believe which migrants should be assisted when they run into trouble at sea in addition to which those who help them should not be subject to prosecution. Sixty-three percent find the item incorrect which the EU has ceased efforts to save migrants.

The reality can be which there are hardly any private aid ships currently operating inside Mediterranean. the item used to be which up to a dozen ships were patrolling the waters at any given time, although right now, there aren’t any at all on some days. One of the few which can be still operating can be the Alan Kurdi, operated by the German organization Sea-Eye.

Almost no Mediterranean country can be willing to take in migrants who have been saved through the sea. According to the German Inside Ministry, there have already been six conflicts focusing on which EU member state could accept refugees through an aid ship. inside case of Rackete’s ship, the conflict involved France, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg in addition to Germany.

Europe More Divided Than Ever over Migrants

Yet Europe can be more divided than ever when the item comes to finding a joint political solution to the migrant question. The only area of agreement seems to be on allowing Libyan militias to do the dirty work. The primary EU goal appears to be deterrence. the item’s effectiveness can be read inside last semi-annual report compiled by the EU Mediterranean operation Sophia.

According to which confidential report, which DER NewsGerman has obtained, migration across the central Mediterranean has dropped by 83 percent within one year. Part of which reduction can be the result of expanded support for the Libyan coast guard, with the report noting which a different 325 members have been trained. The “deterrent presence” has led to a reduction inside smuggling of humans, weapons in addition to oil, wrote Italian Rear Admiral Enrio Credendino, leader of the Sophia operation, in a letter to the EU in January. The “reduced presence of NGO ships,” he added, allows the Libyan coast guard to “act more effectively.”

The numbers make the item look as though the EU has been successful in reducing migration. although there hasn’t just been a reduction inside number of migrants risking the crossing, there has also been an increase inside death rate among those who do try. the item can be more than twice as high as the item was three years ago.

in addition to there are still a lot of people who are unwilling to accept the situation as the item can be. People like Carola Rackete.

Standing Up To Salvini

Ekkehart Rackete can be sitting in his garden swing inside Lower Saxony town of Hambühren in addition to trying to make sense of the item all — the ship’s captain through the news in addition to Carola, his daughter, who still has her own room inside white, single-story home.

The streets inside neighborhood are named Hedgehog, Badger in addition to Rabbit in addition to most of the neighboring homes have carefully tended lawns, in contrast to the overgrown yard of the Racketes. Ekkehart Rackete, 74, can be wearing a blue T-shirt to match his blue shorts. He served for a time inside military before a career in “defense technology,” as he describes the item. He’s right now retired.

When asked how the item can be which his daughter decided to stand up to someone like Matteo Salvini, he responds: “which’s just how she can be.”

After she finished high school, she chose to study nautical science. Her father says he doesn’t definitely know why she went which route. “Carola always knew what she wanted, in addition to she went out in addition to did the item.” Rackete says which his daughter overcomes all obstacles — “which explains her weakness for icebreakers.” He says which when she could call home via satellite telephone through a job she had inside polar region, she could speak excitedly about the meter-thick ice the ship had to fight through.

An acquaintance told Carola Rackete about the organization Sea-Watch in 2015. She has since taken part in six missions in addition to captained her own vessel as early as 2016. Even back then, her focus was on saving lives, says Sea-Watch spokesman Ruben Neugebauer, adding which she could ignore the rules in addition to take refugees onboard rather than putting them on life rafts alongside the ship.

Still, she hadn’t initially been assigned to the mission which made her famous. A fellow captain told Sea-Watch which he was unavailable, so Rackete jumped in to replace him.

On the Saturday before her departure, she had lunch with her parents. “We were surprised,” Rackete’s mother says. “After her first mission, she had said which the item was too much responsibility for her.” Her parents say they didn’t try to talk Rackete out of the mission, even though they knew which Italy no longer intended to allow NGO ships into its ports.

A Welcome Contrast

Ekkehart Rackete says he doesn’t definitely know where his daughter stands politically, adding which she can be leftist, although not at all militant about the item. Carola Rackete’s contribution to the book “Neuland,” in which Sea-Watch activists write about their experiences, provides more of a clue. She describes how she ended up with the organization. “If you can’t find anyone else who can be better qualified, then I’ll do the item,” she said, according to her account. in addition to they couldn’t, in fact, find anyone who can be “stupid or crazy enough to take on responsibility for a mission for which nobody could predict how the item could go.”

inside piece, she argues which there needs to be an EU mission to help save migrants who run into trouble inside Mediterranean — or, at least, more funding should be made available to private organizations. Plus, she writes, a possibility for applying for asylum in embassies overseas must be established. The text sounds pragmatic, just like she sounds in conversation, a welcome contrast in a debate where screaming has become the norm.

There can be almost no government in Europe which wants to take responsibility for the conditions inside Mediterranean. in addition to the Continent’s political leaders are in a difficult position: Most voters don’t want people to drown, although they also aren’t interested in open-border policies of the kind which some refugee activists are demanding.

The problematic situation inside Mediterranean can be less the product of a master plan in addition to more the result of failure: For years, the EU has been unable to agree on a joint migration policy. Leaders can’t agree on brand new rules for the distribution of refugees or for border protection. in addition to the seven-part asylum package remains stuck inside European Council, the powerful EU body which represents the leaders of the member states, with no agreement in sight.

The German government left Italy alone with the migrants for several years. Two years ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel even expressed her regret which the EU, Germany included, didn’t do enough to support member states on the external EU border. Since then, though, little has changed.

Because the situation can be so complicated, Brussels in addition to Berlin are still hoping which countries in North Africa will solve the problem for them. Several years ago, the Inside Ministry developed a plan for sending those saved through the Mediterranean to places like Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria or Egypt — where the United Nations could then take care of them.

The African countries, though, are not particularly inclined to take the problem off of Europe’s hands.

The Effects of EU Policy

The case of Umar, a Sudanese man whose name has been changed because of This kind of story, goes a long way toward explaining the effects of the EU’s present-day migration policies.

Shortly before his story of flight, torture in addition to death began, Umar relates, he experienced a day of happiness. The day was July 20, 2016, when he married his wife Hala. More than 100 guests came to their village in Janub Kordofan in addition to the newlyweds set aside the cash gifts they received to finance their brand new lives. the item was to pay for the migrant smugglers.

Six weeks later, they set out for Libya on their way to Europe. Umar didn’t know at the time which the journey could take almost a year in addition to which his wife wouldn’t survive the item.

Umar told his story inside Paris bureau of DER NewsGerman. One reason he wants to share his ordeal can be which the item’s part of a case which the International Criminal Court inside Hague has opened in response to the conditions in Libya’s prison camps. National prosecutors in Europe have already filed cases alleging crimes against humanity in Libya.

Since early June, the European Union has been a defendant inside case, brought by a team of lawyers under the leadership of the Paris-based jurists Omer Shatz in addition to Juan Branco. The key element of their 241-page brief can be the accusation which the EU can be partly to blame for the crimes in Libya because Brussels works together with the Libyan coast guard, which, according to the legal brief, participates in torturing, abusing in addition to killing refugees.

Human-traffickers organized Umar’s in addition to Hala’s trip, in addition to in September 2016, they crossed the Sahara in a pickup, driving for a day-in addition to-a-half without stopping. The Sudanese couple was then handed over to Libyan smugglers, who separated them through each various other in addition to put them in a camp.

They lived in containers inside camp with very little daylight. Umar didn’t know where his wife was or how she was doing. He heard which refugee women were raped by the guards. Frequently, he was told by various other prisoners, drunk guards could rape the women in front of others to humiliate them.

Umar himself says he was beaten in addition to more, although he declines to offer additional details.

After two weeks, Umar in addition to Hala were sold to a farmer as laborers because they had no money to buy their freedom. Umar says his wife broke down in tears when he asked her what had happened to her inside camp.

‘Concentration Camp-Like Conditions’

Even then, in January 2017, the German Embassy in Niger reported to the Chancellery in addition to several Berlin government ministries on the conditions in Libya’s refugee camps. “Authentic mobile phone photographs in addition to videos document the concentration camp-like conditions.” The paper continues: “Executions of migrants who can’t pay, torture, rape, extortion in addition to people getting abandoned inside desert are daily occurrences.”

After several months, Umar in addition to Hala were able to escape in addition to in Sabratha, a town on Libya’s Mediterranean coast, they Yet again put their fates inside hands of migrant smugglers. One night, they in addition to 80 various other migrants climbed into a fishing boat for the journey to Italy. After an hour, the smugglers headed back in a dinghy in addition to not long after which, a Libyan coast guard ship turned up. On deck were men armed with machine guns in addition to two men in uniforms jumped onto the fishing boat in addition to ordered them to turn around.

Such incidents are hardly a rarity on the Mediterranean Sea between Libya in addition to Italy. In Umar’s case, there can be no indication which Europeans had anything to do with the item. although the lawyers Shatz in addition to Branco have documented numerous various other cases in addition to claim which the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) , based in Rome, has repeatedly directed ships operated by private organizations away through refugee boats to ensure the Libyan coast guard can intercept them in addition to bring them back to Libya.

Dire Conditions

According to their documents, the situation at sea can be bordering on lawless: coast guard boats have forced away NGO ships in addition to refugees have been threatened at gunpoint. One incident, again involving Sea-Watch, grabbed international headlines in 2017. The Libyan coast guard spent hours preventing a Sea-Watch ship through taking 150 passengers through a refugee vessel onboard. Only after several hours was the Sea-Watch ship able to save 59 people, with more than 20 migrants drowning, including a child.

Forty-seven of them were brought back to Libya, with some reporting dire conditions after their forced return to Libya. They say they were locked into cells along with hundreds of various other prisoners — a fate which was also awaiting Umar in addition to Hala, when they were brought back to a camp in Libya. Umar says they only got one glass of drinking water each day.

According to United Nations statistics through early June, more than 2,300 people have been intercepted on the Mediterranean by the Libyan coast guard This kind of year in addition to put into camps where conditions are abominable. Only when Umar in addition to Hala paid ransom with money sent by their families back home were they set free. Two weeks later, they were back on the very same wooden boat on which they had previously tried to get to Italy. They were escorted by two dinghies in addition to a Libyan coast guard ship.

“the item was the same men in uniform who had sent us back before,” says Umar. “I am sure of the item.” If which can be true, the item could prove the lawlessness of the Libyan coast guard in addition to which they work together with migrant smugglers. Umar says the Libyans accompanied the refugee boat as the item sailed for Italy in addition to which at 4 a.m., they were transferred to the NGO ship Aquarius, which brought them to Sicily.

On July 27, 2017, they were finally in Italy in addition to were examined by doctors inside Trapani camp. Umar says Hala had been four or several months pregnant in addition to which she fell ill on the second day inside camp in addition to was taken to the hospital. She died there 48 hours later. Umar says she died of exhaustion, in addition to he buried her in Sicily in an unnamed grave. He said he’ll be able to find his way back to the grave for the rest of his life.

Umar right now lives in a refugee hostel in Paris. He filed for asylum on Feb. 11 in addition to can be right now waiting for the item to be approved.

After which, he says, he’ll have to learn to live with the feeling of guilt he has. although the question can be: Who else bears guilt for everything which Umar has been forced to endure? in addition to why should people like Carola Rackete be treated as criminals for pulling people like Umar out of the water?

A ‘Coalition of the Willing’

Gerald Knaus has been thinking about such questions, in addition to about how to improve European asylum policy, for years — in addition to he could like to see a pragmatic approach. Originally through Austria, Knaus heads up the Berlin-based think tank European Stability Initiative in addition to played a significant role in refugee agreement signed between the EU in addition to Turkey. He says which a serious debate can be needed along with realistic goals, adding which the EU hasn’t pursued the latter for years.

He believes which the idea of distributing migrants across the EU according to a quota system never had a chance of succeeding. The first step, he says, can be putting together a “coalition of the willing” which could set a not bad example. Knaus recommends establishing “common asylum centers inside locations where people are arriving — places where human rights are respected in addition to rapid, fair proceedings can take place.” The goal, Knaus says, should be which nobody who can be denied protection inside EU seeks to come across the sea.

He believes which Germany, France, Spain in addition to Greece, all of whom have felt the effects of irregular migration, could form an immediate cooperation. Only very few countries, he argues, have an interest in an EU-wide distribution system without of a policy of return through asylum centers to the external borders.

Knaus can be convinced which once a few willing countries have demonstrated how viable European asylum centers are, others will follow suit. “The first places where we need to immediately establish rapid proceedings are the Greek islands — in addition to for those in Malta or Corsica who were saved through the Mediterranean.”

Lampedusa, by contrast, can be a not bad place to see — once the news cameras have gone — just how cynical migration policy functions in reality. Refugees on rafts arrive almost every day. inside first two weeks of June, around 400 people managed to complete the journey without the assistance of organizations like Sea-Watch.

Salvatore Martello can be the left-wing mayor of Lampedusa. “I’m a fisherman,” he says. “We fishermen have a creed: Those in distress must be saved.” repeatedly inside last two years, he has written to the government in Rome to ask for assistance in addition to to invite Salvini to the island. He has never received a response. “Lampedusa doesn’t exist for the Italian government,” Martello says. He says which Salvini can be only using the closed ports for election propaganda.

Martello has set up two maritime cemeteries in Lampedusa, one through 2018 in addition to the various other through 2019. They are full of washed up refugee vessels, little mountains of rafts in addition to boats, each of which bears witness to private tales of flight in addition to suffering. “Those who believe which no migrants are coming anymore should see them,” says the mayor.

The refugees brought ashore by the Sea-Watch left Lampedusa on Thursday for Sicily, where they can apply for asylum. None of them definitely knows what they plan to do after which. Isaac Hagan of Ghana wants to become a professional football player. His friend Fréderic Samassi, who says Carola Rackete saved his life, wants to go to school in addition to then to university. “Without an education, you’re not a real person,” he says.

in addition to Rackete? She can be scheduled to appear in court again on Tuesday, after which she hopes to leave Italy. Not by air though — she’s concerned about the climate.


By Markus Becker, Markus Feldenkirchen, Lucia Heisterkamp, Frank Hornig, Martin Knobbe, Steffen Lüdke, Milena Pieper, Mathieu von Rohr, Britta Sandberg, Fidelius Schmid, Carolina Torres in addition to Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt

Carola Rackete in addition to Europe’s Troubling Refugee Policies

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