Refugee Crisis

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Spain vows to restore order after thousands swim into Ceuta from Morocco
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Jon Nazca and Mariano Valladolid
Publishing date:May 18, 2021 • 21 hours ago • 2 minute read • Join the conversation
Spanish legionnaires attend to a Moroccan citizen on El Tarajal beach, near the fence between the Spanish-Moroccan border, after thousands of migrants swam across this border on Monday, in Ceuta, Spain, May 18, 2021.
Spanish legionnaires attend to a Moroccan citizen on El Tarajal beach, near the fence between the Spanish-Moroccan border, after thousands of migrants swam across this border on Monday, in Ceuta, Spain, May 18, 2021. PHOTO BY JON NAZCA /REUTERS
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CEUTA — A sudden influx of migrants swimming into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in northern Africa is a serious crisis for Europe, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday, vowing to re-establish order promptly amid heightened diplomatic tensions with Morocco.

Spain deployed troops to Ceuta to patrol the border with Morocco after around 8,000 migrants, many from Sub-Saharan Africa and including 1,500 minors, entered the enclave on Monday and Tuesday by swimming in or climbing over the fence.


Armored vehicles were guarding Ceuta’s beach on Tuesday, and soldiers and police used batons to clear migrants from the beach and threw smoke bombs to discourage others from crossing.

A Reuters reporter on the ground said the number of arrivals by sea had slowed, and some migrants were voluntarily returning to Morocco. A few others could be seen being carried away by soldiers. Footage of the beach at around 8 p.m. local time showed nearly all migrants had been cleared.

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Spain said approximately 4,000 migrants had already been sent back to Morocco, under a readmission deal.


The regional leader of Ceuta criticized what he described as Morocco’s passivity in the face of Monday’s surge, and some independent experts said Rabat had initially allowed it as a means of pressuring Madrid over its decision to admit a rebel leader from the Western Sahara to a Spanish hospital.

The Spanish government did not make that connection, with Sanchez calling the north African nation a friend of Spain and the interior ministry citing cooperation over the readmissions, although Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told Morocco’s ambassador Spain rejected and disapproved of the mass arrivals.

Rabat recalled its ambassador to Madrid for consultations, said a diplomatic source who declined to be named, adding that relations with Spain needed a moment of “contemplation.” Moroccan authorities did not respond to requests for comment.

Moroccan TV footage showed authorities setting up barriers on Tuesday afternoon to prevent people from crossing into Ceuta, but footage filmed from the Spanish side earlier showed a Moroccan soldier or policeman waving dozens of running migrants through a gate to no-man’s land without any checks.

“This sudden arrival of irregular migrants is a serious crisis for Spain and Europe,” Sanchez said in a televised address before his arrival in Ceuta.

European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas tweeted that the enclave’s frontier was a European border, expressing his “full solidarity with Spain.”

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Ceuta, with a population of 80,000, is on the northern tip of Morocco across from Gibraltar. Along with another Spanish enclave, Melilla, it has long been a magnet for African migrants seeking a better life in Europe. Morocco has a claim on both.

WESTERN SAHARA DISPUTE

The spike in arrivals took place after Rabat expressed its anger last month when Spain discreetly admitted Brahim Ghali, the leader of Western Sahara’s rebel Polisario Front to hospital. Madrid said it acted on purely humanitarian grounds.

Morocco’s Foreign Ministry criticized what it said was Spain’s decision to admit Ghali under a false identity without informing Morocco, warning of repercussions.

The Polisario Front wants the Western Sahara to be an independent state rather than part of Morocco. Algeria, Morocco’s regional rival, backs the Polisario Front.

The United States in December recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara territory.
 

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German army officer on trial for planning attack posing as Syrian refugee
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Publishing date:May 20, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 2 minute read • Join the conversation
Lawyer Johannes Hock talks to defendant Franco A. at a regional court in Frankfurt, Germany, May 20, 2021.
Lawyer Johannes Hock talks to defendant Franco A. at a regional court in Frankfurt, Germany, May 20, 2021. PHOTO BY BORIS ROESSLER /Pool via REUTERS
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BERLIN — A young German army officer went on trial on Thursday accused of planning to attack one or more politicians while posing as an Syrian asylum seeker to try to whip up anger against migrants.

In a case that rattled the government in Berlin when it first came to light, the man, identified as Franco A., is accused of posing under a false identity in 2017 and planning an attack he hoped would be blamed on refugees and migrants.

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The prosecution says Franco A. also stole ammunition from the German military, with former justice and current Foreign Minister Heiko Maas or the parliament’s Vice-President Claudia Roth seen as possible targets of an attack.

He was arrested in Vienna in February 2017 while trying to retrieve a loaded pistol he had hidden in the airport toilets after an officers’ ball, according to the investigations.


Sporting a beard and long black hair tied in a pony tail, Franco A. denied charges he had planned an attack.

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“I can assure you I am not a far-right extremist,” he told reporters when he entered the court building in Frankfurt. “I have a clean conscience…I have never planned any actions to the disadvantage of any person.”

According to the investigations, Franco A. in 2016 submitted an asylum request under his Syrian refugee alias David Benjamin and succeeded in tricking the authorities into granting him temporary residence in Germany,

The previous year, Germany had seen an influx of 890,000 migrants mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There would have been an attack,” Ursula von der Leyen, who was German defense minister then and now heads the European Commission, said at the time, describing a “horror scenario.”

“There would have been a weapon at the site, with fingerprints on it. We’d have put the prints in the system and have got the match of a Syrian refugee.”

According to the investigations, Franco A. posed to immigration authorities as a persecuted French-speaking refugee who spoke not a word of German.


He commuted from the Illkirch barracks in France, where he was serving in a prestigious Franco-German brigade, to attend asylum hearings, where he communicated through an interpreter.

After his arrest, swastikas and memorabilia from Germany’s wartime army, the Wehrmacht, were found on the base in Illkirch, triggering a search of all German army barracks for banned Nazi memorabilia.

When the German armed forces were refounded after the Second World War, they disavowed any link to the Wehrmacht, which was complicit in many Nazi atrocities. Set up in 1955, the new Bundeswehr was to be a democratic body of “citizen soldiers” with the autonomy and confidence to reject immoral orders.

The Franco-German brigade in Illkirch where Franco A. served symbolizes the post-war rapprochement between the erstwhile foes. The army officer has been since suspended and is banned from wearing a uniform.
 

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Coast Guard suspends search for 10 Cuban migrants from capsized boat near Florida
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Kanishka Singh
Publishing date:May 31, 2021 • 8 hours ago • 1 minute read • 5 Comments
In this handout image courtesy of the US Coast Guard the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute small boat crew rescues 8 people from the water approximately 18 miles southwest of Key West, Florida, May 27,2021.
In this handout image courtesy of the US Coast Guard the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute small boat crew rescues 8 people from the water approximately 18 miles southwest of Key West, Florida, May 27,2021. PHOTO BY US COAST GUARD /AFP via Getty Images
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The U.S. Coast Guard said it has suspended the search for 10 Cuban migrants believed missing from a boat that capsized off Key West, Florida.

Two people were killed and 10 were believed missing in the incident, the U.S. Coast Guard had reported on Thursday.

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Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, Customs and Border Protection and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission air and surface asset personnel conducted multiple search patterns for more than 123 hours, covering about 8,864 square miles, the Coast Guard said in a statement on Sunday.


“The Coast Guard, partner Department of Defense and local agency crews searched continuously the past three days to locate the missing 10 people,” said Captain Adam Chamie, Commander of Sector Key West.

“The decision to suspend a search is always difficult and is made after careful consideration of all the facts. Our deepest condolences go out to the families and loved ones impacted by this tragedy,” Chamie added.

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Eight survivors from the wreck were pulled from the water 18 miles southwest of Key West by crew members of a Coast Guard cutter on patrol in the area, Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Jose Hernandez had said on Thursday.


He had also said that two bodies were recovered and that Coast Guard teams continued to search the area by aircraft and vessels for 10 people who, according to the survivors, were unaccounted for after the boat flipped.

Earlier this month, a vessel packed with 32 people capsized and broke apart off a rocky shoal near San Diego, California, in what authorities said was an ill-fated migrant-smuggling attempt from Mexico that left three dead and five hospitalized.