Recently, I watched a documentary titled Why We Can’t See Disabled People [in Korea]. It chronicled how disabled people fought for their right to mobility throughout the past 20 years—and how the public has turned a blind eye to them time and time again. South Korea is an incredibly unkind country when it comes to […]
By Joseph Chamie
PORTLAND, USA, Jul 4 2022 – It is time for countries, especially those with slow growing and ageing human populations, to welcome androids, i.e., humanoid robots with human-like appearance and behavior, including speech, sight, hearing, mobility, and artificial intelligence.
Androids would not only complement and broaden a country’s labor supply, but they would also increase productivity, lower costs, raise profits, offer instruction, reduce accidents, assist in disasters, and provide safety, policing, firefighting, and security.
The introduction of androids into human societies would be especially beneficial for slow growing and ageing populations. Following the rapid population growth of the 20th century, demographic growth rates are slowing down, and populations are ageing globally.
Whereas world population was growing at an annual rate of 1.3 percent at the start of the 21st century, by midcentury the rate is expected to decline to 0.5 percent. The annual population growth rates of major regions are expected to decline over that period, with Europe’s population growth rate projected to decline to -0.3 percent (Figure 1).
With respect to population ageing, countries worldwide are becoming older than ever before. The proportion aged 65 years and older for the world, for example, is expected to more than double during the first half of the 21st century from approximately 7 percent in 2000 to 16 percent by 2050.
Among the major regions, the populations of Europe and Northern America are the most aged. During the first half of the 21st century, their proportions aged 65 years and older are expected to nearly double, reaching 28 and 23 percent by 2050, respectively (Figure 2).
Over the past decades various types of androids, or humanoid robots, have appeared in films, books, video games, and futuristic exhibitions. However, technology firms have been comparatively slow in bringing to market the latest research and progress in androids, including robotics, artificial intelligence, conversation, bipedal locomotion, and related technologies.
The only notable exception to the use of androids has been the sex industries. Those firms have jumped ahead with the rapid development of “sexbots”. Those androids are lifelike robots or dolls with humanoid form, body movements, artificial intelligence, hearing, sight, speech, and designed to have sexual relations with humans.
While certain jobs will be reduced and workers displaced, employment opportunities are expected to increase in other areas of the economy. For example, while the global number of the robots in manufacturing in 2021 had grown to 126 per 10,000 employees, or nearly double the level in 2015, employment opportunities have continued to expand
The market for sexbots is believed to be huge, with some convinced they are the future of sex. The realistic looking sexbots have artificial intelligence for simple conversation, are programmed to imitate basic human emotions, and can perform sexual acts with humans.
A recent study in the United States, for example, found that 40 percent of adults would have sex with a sexbot at least once to try it. Men were 21 percent more likely than women to say that they would have sex with a sexbot.
Most people are well accustomed to interacting with artificial intelligence on their cellphones, computers, and other electronic devices. Today most of those communications, which are provided both orally and by text, center on providing directions, information, explanations, purchases, games, music, entertainment, social activities, and various sorts of data.
Like the use of robotics to manufacture goods and provide services, androids could be utilized to perform a wide range of activities and services, including tasks that are boring, repetitive, hazardous, and dangerous. Already robotic devices have driven millions of miles autonomously, participated actively in space exploration, and reduced boredom and injuries to humans by carrying out dull, difficult, and dangerous tasks.
Androids could perform a variety of jobs, such as receptionist, salesclerk, guard, attendant, translator, and informant. Androids could answer basic questions, direct people to offices and individuals, remember names and faces, translate languages, log entry information, make phone calls, assist in rescues, monitor people’s health, provide caregiving, and alert authorities when human intervention is needed.
For example, the android, Nadine, is a receptionist at a Singapore university welcoming visitors and answering questions. The android, Erica, is a newscaster on Japanese television reporting the daily news and events and Sophia is the first android to be granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia.
Androids at a field hospital in Wuhan, China, perform services, measure temperatures, disinfect devices, deliver food and medicine, and entertain patients. And the android, Kime, is a beverage and food server in Spain that in addition to serving food can pour 300 glasses of beer per hour.
In addition to performing routine tasks and providing services, androids could be utilized to reduce feelings of loneliness, which has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those individuals suffering serious loneliness, including older persons limited by dementia and illness, androids could offer conversation and also provide companionship to those lacking a partner. Androids could also offer entertainment as well as facilitate social interaction.
Furthermore, the presence and interactions with androids can help to reduce feelings of stress, encourage wellbeing activities, and improve mental functioning. Androids could also monitor human behavior and health status.
Androids can also be available 24/7. Moreover, unlike humans, androids do not become frustrated, impatient, or angry. And as androids are not judgmental, prejudiced, or biased toward human behavior or appearance, people may feel freer to express their true feelings and thoughts.
In addition, androids could assist people with functional limitations. With speech, sight, hearing, location, and movement, androids can aid and help those with limited or lacking certain functions for daily living.
Despite androids potentially being able to contribute and enhance workplaces and households, concerns, fears, and reluctance persist about their use. For example, some are concerned that androids would replace workers as has been the case with the increased use of robotics in manufacturing, especially by the auto industry.
However, while certain jobs will be reduced and workers displaced, employment opportunities are expected to increase in other areas of the economy. For example, while the global number of the robots in manufacturing in 2021 had grown to 126 per 10,000 employees, or nearly double the level in 2015, employment opportunities have continued to expand.
Also, the numbers of robots per 10,000 employees in many advanced countries have reached substantially higher levels, such as 932 for South Korea, 605 for Singapore, 390 for Japan, and 371 for Germany. Nevertheless, demand for labor in those countries remains high and unemployment levels are comparatively low (Figure 3).
Ethical questions have also been raised concerning the introduction of androids into human societies. For example, given that their appearance, intelligence, speech, and behavior will resemble humans, some have asked whether androids should be endowed with personhood that would entail certain rights, duties, and special laws.
While such ethical questions are not immediate concerns, similar questions are now being raised about the responsible use of artificial intelligence, such as facial recognition technology. However, some have suggested that androids rather than being feared may become allies of humans.
Still others have expressed fears that androids with artificial intelligence could revolt and harm humans. Those fears, which have been the plots in some popular science fiction films and books, tend to be highly exaggerated. Artificial intelligence achieving self-awareness or becoming sentient is unlikely any time soon and software safeguards could shut down an android.
Nevertheless, some continue to stress dangers and express warnings about the possibly imminent development of androids with machine intelligence greater than that of humans. Sentient machines, they contend, pose a greater likely threat to human societies than climate change, nuclear proliferation, or pandemics.
Proto-type androids have been introduced in various countries, including China, Germany, Iran, India, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, and Spain, and the United Kingdom. Many of the leaders in those countries have recognized the vital functions that androids could perform for societies and the market for androids is believed set for rapid expansion.
It’s time for countries to facilitate and promote the inclusion of androids in business establishments, government offices, public places, and personal households. Welcoming androids into human societies will advance the technological futures of countries as well as contribute to addressing slow growing and ageing populations.
Joseph Chamie is a consulting demographer, a former director of the United Nations Population Division and author of numerous publications on population issues, including his book, “Births, Deaths, Migrations and Other Important Population Matters.”
By Juliet Morrison
Toronto, Jul 4 2022 – Africa’s unique natural capital assets were the center of conversation at the 2022 Africa Green Economy Conference. Held in a hybrid format from June 27 to 30, participants gathered to discuss the value of nature in Africa’s economy and call for more nature-positive ventures in development.
Hosted by the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP), Capitals Coalition, Green Economy Coalition (GEC), and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the conference featured virtual opening and closing plenary sessions and themed in-person national conversations around the continent. These sessions took place in South Africa, Uganda, Gabon, and Mozambique.
Participants stressed that the conference was coming at a unique moment in the face of several global economic shocks affecting Africa: climate change, biodiversity loss, and geopolitical challenges.
“The failure of the current system’s existing global cooperation mechanism to meet these challenges equitably and sustainably is leading to the current calls for the review of the global system,” moderator Kevin Urama, Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, African Development Bank said.
Most countries are falling short of the climate action needed to meet their 2015 Paris Agreement emission reduction targets. Climate finance to help developing countries meet targets is also lagging.
Oliver Greenfield, Convenor, Green Economy Coalition, argued that the limited progress on environmental action resulted from policymakers’ continual emphasis on economic gains above all else.
“We accept that development is the priority and environment is the trade-off. That’s largely what’s happened for 50 years […] Avoidance of crisis is not the best investment model for most finance ministers, we know that,” he said.
Greenfield suggested policymakers consider investments that contribute to the best outcome in multiple areas—environmental, social, and economic.
Considering the environment alongside the economy would be very beneficial for Africa, stressed Dr Mao Amis, Co-founder and Executive Director of the African Center for Green Economy.
He added that in most African countries, natural capital accounts for 30-50 percent of their total wealth. In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 70 percent of people depend on forests and woodlands for their livelihoods.
“The value of nature in the economy is undisputed. We are so intricately linked to nature that we cannot disassociate our relationship with nature, and the more we recognize that, the more we can make strides in achieving the role of nature in the economy,” he said.
Tapping into nature—and pursuing nature-positive investments—is seen as an avenue for wealth creation by policymakers.
Ligia Noronha, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Head of UNEP, New York Office, views nature-positive investments as a great risk mitigation instrument and a key investment strategy for the continent.
“This is absolutely obvious, but it has perhaps not been invested in sufficiently. Africa has a tremendous amount of natural capital stocks both in minerals and biodiversity, and this can be a tremendous asset for the growth of Africa,” she said.
She added that natural capital could also create many green jobs for Africa’s population.
Multi-stakeholder engagement, however, is needed to center nature’s place in national economic development.
Dr Gabi Teren, Programme Manager, Endangered Wildlife Trust, highlighted that greater skills and communication across sectors are needed to drive action on environmental targets.
“Ultimately, without the companies being involved at all levels, there aren’t enough experts necessarily to have the skills to apply these tools. […] To really have a truly green economy, we have to have far better communication between the private sector, between [small medium enterprises], between environmental practitioners, and between policymakers,” she said.
The involvement of the finance sector, in particular, is crucial.
According to a presentation by the World Resources Institute, access to financing and the limited participation of the private sector are two of the biggest challenges to implementing nature-based solutions (NBS) in Africa.
Nature-based solutions are initiatives involving nature that solve societal challenges while building up natural ecosystems and biodiversity. For example, conserving mangrove forests can protect homes from the impacts of storms and provide nurseries for fish.
NBS can help fulfill critical infrastructure needs, explained Lizzie Marsters, Environmental Finance Manager, World Resources Institute. According to her, NBS can meet 12 percent of Africa’s 90 trillion US dollar infrastructure needs by 2035.
Marsters situated NBS as pivotal to incorporating sustainability and resilience into infrastructure investments.
“When we think about NBS, we think that there’s tremendous opportunity here to re-evaluate how we think about public budgets, how they are spent, and increased private sector participation,” Marsters said.
Closing the conference, moderator Kevin Urama emphasized Africa’s integral relationship with nature.
“Africa can and should take the lead on this … Africa’s culture has always been nature sensitive,” he said.
Natural capital ought to be intertwined in most development planning, he added.
“Let’s work on natural capital, how to invest in natural capital, how to value natural capital and factor it into our decision making, into our national development planning,” he said.
IPS UN Bureau Report
By Orlando Milesi
QUINTERO, Chile, Jul 4 2022 – A health crisis that in 20 days left 500 children poisoned in the adjacent municipalities of Quintero and Puchuncaví triggered the decision to close the Ventanas Smelter, in a first concrete step towards putting an end to a so-called “sacrifice zone” in Chile.
The measure was supported by President Gabriel Boric who reiterated his determination to move towards a green government.
The decision by the state-owned National Copper Corporation (Codelco), the world’s leading copper producer, was announced on Jun. 17, following a temporary stoppage of the plant eight days earlier, and was opposed only by the powerful Federation of Copper Workers.
The union reacted by calling a strike, which ended after two days, when the leaders agreed to discuss an organized closure of the smelter, which will take place within a maximum of five years. The smelting and refining facility will be replaced by another modern plant at a site yet to be determined.
The smelter is an outdated facility that has suffered repeated episodes of sulfur dioxide pollution, one of the chemicals causing the deteriorating health of the inhabitants of Quintero, a city of 26,000, and Puchuncaví, population 19,000.
In the last three years Codelco invested 152 million dollars to modernize the smelter but without success, admitted Codelco’s president, Máximo Pacheco.
Pacheco argued that the closure was due to “the climate of uncertainty that has existed for decades, which is very bad for the workers, their families and the community.”
Sara Larraín, executive director of the non-governmental organization Sustainable Chile, said the definitive closure of the plant does justice.
“It is the first step for Quintero and Puchuncaví to get out of the category of damage that is called a ‘sacrifice zone’ where for decades the emission standards have been exceeded,” she told IPS.
“Sacrifice zones” are areas that have suffered excessive environmental damage due to industrial pollution. Residents of poor communities in these areas bear a disproportionate burden of pollution, toxic waste and heavy industry.
The two adjacent municipalities, 156 kilometers west of Santiago, qualify as a sacrifice zone, as do Mejillones, Huasco and Tocopilla, in the north, and Coronel in southern Chile, because the right to live in a pollution-free environment is violated in these areas.
In Quintero and Puchuncaví the main source of sulfur dioxide is the Ventanas Smelter, responsible for 61.8 percent of emissions of this element, causing widespread health problems.
Fisherman-diver forced to move away returns to Quintero
Carlos Vega, a fishermen’s union leader in Quintero, is the third generation of divers in his family.
“My grandfather, a fisherman, taught me how to make fishing nets. He had a restaurant on the coast,” he told IPS, visibly moved, adding that his two brothers are also fishermen and divers, who catch shellfish among the rocks along the coast.
“Fishing was profitable here. We were doing well and making money,” he said.
He added that people are well-organized in the area. “At one time we were the largest producer” of seafood and fish for central Chile, “because we had management and harvesting areas. But they had to close because of the pollution,” he said, describing the poverty that befell the local fishers in the late 1980s.
Then the health authorities found copper, cadmium and arsenic in the local seafood and banned its harvest. As a result, the small fishermen’s bay where they keep their boats and sell part of their catch lost their customers.
The crisis forced him to move to the south where he worked for 15 years as a professional diver in a salmon company.
Today, back in Quintero, with two sons who are engineers and a daughter who is a teacher, he continues to dive, albeit sporadically. He participates along with 27 fishermen in the management area granted to the north of the sacrifice zone, where they extract shellfish quotas two or three times a year.
“The social fabric was broken down here, that is the hardest thing that has happened to us,” said Vega.
Codelco is not the only polluter
Codelco is the main exporter in Chile, a long narrow country of 19.1 million people sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains where the big mines are located. In 2021 it produced 1.7 million tons of copper and its pre-tax income totaled nearly 7.4 billion dollars.
“Chile is the leading global copper producer and the world is going to become more electric every day,” said Pacheco. “And copper is the conductor par excellence, there is no substitute. We have to be ready for copper to be increasingly in demand in this energy transition.”
The president of Codelco emphasized that the wealth does not lie in exporting concentrate, which has 26 percent copper, but anodes with 99 percent purity, “and for that we need a smelter and a refinery.”
But the smelter, he explained, must be modern and not like Ventanas, which only captures 95 percent of the gases released. In the last three years, Codelco has lost 50 million dollars in the Ventanas smelter, which has a production scale of 420,000 tons. A modern Flash furnace produces 1.5 million tons and captures 99.8 percent of the gases.
The Ventanas Smelter employs 348 people and another 400 in associated companies. Half of them do not live in the area but in Viña del Mar, Villa Alemana or Quilpué, towns that are also in the region of Valparaíso, but are located far from the pollution.
The smelter is part of an industrial cluster that includes 16 companies.
After the latest health crisis, the authorities decreed contingency plans in plants and maritime terminals of six companies for emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and applied an Atmospheric Prevention and Decontamination Plan.
Four coal-fired thermoelectric plants also pollute the area, one of which was definitively closed in December 2020 and another that was to be closed last May, although the measure was postponed.
According to environmentalist Larraín, when the smelter and the four thermoelectric plants are closed “better standards can be achieved, at least with respect to sulfur dioxide and heavy metals,” in Quintero and Puchuncaví.
The plan to continue decontaminating
Kata Alonso, spokeswoman for the Mujeres en Zona de Sacrificio en Resistencia (Women in Sacrifice Zone in Resistance) collective, told IPS that “the prevention plan is good so that people don’t continue to be poisoned, so that they can breathe better, and so that the companies that pollute can close their doors, instead of the schools.
“There are companies that were built before the environmental law was passed that have not taken health measures. So what we are asking is for each company to be evaluated, and those that do not comply with the regulations must leave,” she said.
The repeated crises occur despite the fact that Chile’s environmental standards are below those of the World Health Organization (WHO).
For level 10 particulate matter, the mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air, the ceiling in Chile is 150 milligrams per cubic meter (m3) and the WHO ceiling is 50.
For particulate matter 2.5 (fine inhalable particles), in Chile the limit is 50 milligrams per m3, while the WHO guideline is 25. And the Chilean ceiling for sulfur dioxide is 250 milligrams per m3 compared to the WHO’s limit of 20.
Three years ago, the Chilean Pediatric Society and the Chilean Medical Association requested that Chile raise its emission standards to WHO levels.
Alonso the activist said that “my two neighbors died of cancer, whoever you ask in Puchuncaví has relatives who died of cancer. Today people are dying younger, breast and uterine cancer have increased in young women, and there are so many miscarriages.
“The statistic we have is that one in four children in Puchuncaví are born with severe neurological problems, down syndrome, autism. Here in Quintero there are two special education schools and many children with learning disabilities,” she said.
Larraín called for “government support for those who have been affected by irreversible diseases, asthma, lung cancer and others that have been proven to be caused by coal combustion and heavy metals.”
The Catholic University conducted a study using data on hospitalizations and mortality in Tocopilla, Mejillones, Huasco, Quintero and Puchuncaví.
“The rates for cardiovascular disease associated with industrial processes are clear. In some cases they are 900 percent higher. Calling them sacrifice zones is real, it refers to impacts that are occurring today,” said Larraín.
The environmentalist said it would be difficult to revive Quintero Bay “because it has a gigantic layer of coal at the bottom, dead phyto and zooplankton because water is used for cooling in industrial processes and is dumped back out with antialgaecides that kill marine life.”
She believes, however, that “over the years, the capacity for regeneration is possible, even in agriculture that has been lost due to sulfur dioxide emissions. There may also be a recovery in fishing and tourism.”
But Larraín demanded “a just transition that restores healthy levels and regenerates ecosystems so that local communities can sustain their economy in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment.”
By Jan Servaes
BRUSSELS, Jul 4 2022 – A mass attempt on June 24, 2022, of about 2000 African migrants to scale the border fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla left at least 37 people dead.
Several human rights organizations call for an investigation into what ranks as the deadliest day in recent memory along this section of the EU’s only land border with Africa. Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, congratulated the coordinated action of the Spanish Civil Guard and the Moroccan security forces. He blamed the mafias and smugglers for the deaths.
On the other hand, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the head of the African Union Commission, expressed “my deep shock and concern at the violent and degrading treatment of African migrants attempting to cross an international border from Morocco into Spain.”
Also Esteban Beltrán, director of Amnesty International Spain, stated: “It is time to put an end to this policy which allows and encourages serious human rights violations. A ‘business as usual’ approach is no longer valid amid the blood and shame”. It is essential “to understand our double standards and ensure that all refugees have the opportunity – as Ukrainians have had – to escape war and repression by seeking asylum through legal and safe channels”.
Mixed Migration Centre
The Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) is a global network engaged in mixed migration data collection, research, analysis, and policy and program development. Their June 2022 report, entitled “Security costs: How the EU’s exclusionary migration policies place people on the move toward Italy and Greece at greater risk – a quantitative analysis”, puts the migration issues in perspective.
The MMC report clearly documents the main protection risks faced by Asian and African migrants and refugees as they travel to Europe along the Central Mediterranean Route (CMR), the Eastern Mediterranean Route (EMR) and the Western Balkans Route (WBR).
The report confirms that a ‘securitized approach’—one that often criminalizes refugees and migrants— coupled with a lack of legal and safe mobility pathways is reducing the protection space for people moving along the main migration routes to and through Europe.
Since its inception in 2014 and through early 2021 MMC’s 4Mi survey has conducted more than 75,000 interviews (that’s about 1,000 interviews per month). The refugees and migrants who took part in the surveys feel that their journey to Europe poses serious risks, including detention, physical and sexual violence, robbery, bribery/extortion and even death.
Children are also exposed to similar protection risks, including detention. The three routes each pose their own specific protection risks, but also share common challenges. Militias are most prevalent on the CMR, and ‘state’ actors on the EMR and the WBR, while criminal gangs are frequently reported across all three routes.
Smugglers are a concern among respondents but are rarely considered to be the main perpetrators of abuse. The CMR—and Libya in particular—is more often reported as dangerous. On the EMR and the WBR routes, migrants and refugees often indicate Turkey, Iran, and Greece as locations where protection incidents are more likely to occur.
Refugees and migrants use a number of strategies to mitigate the risks they expect to face, such as traveling in groups and carrying cash. The latter to prevent them from having to work (under lousy exploitative conditions) to pay for their travels, or to buy themselves ‘free’ and avoid other problems.
The EU’s externalization policies have worsened rather than improved the situation.
Opinions on protection risks are in line with what other studies and reports have noted: that abuse, violence and death are common when migrants and refugees travel through the countries where European externalization policies are implemented — most notably Libya, Niger and Mali across the CMR, and Turkey in the EMR.
Against this background, the externalization policies of the EU and its Member States, and their partnerships with authorities in third countries, remain a major concern in terms of their ethical and financial costs and their impact on the protection of people on the move. Only for the EU does this policy seem effective because arrivals in Europe along various migration routes have been reduced.
In fact, however, it is very likely that the current approach increases the protection risks of migrants and refugees. Indeed, studies have confirmed how these measures violate international and human rights standards set for the protection of people on the run.
A case in point is Europe’s ongoing collaboration with the Libyan coast guard to intercept and return large numbers of migrants and refugees to Tripoli, the city most often considered to be dangerous by the migrants, and one that human rights groups and international organizations have often mentioned in connection to severe forms of violence against, and the unlawful detention of migrants and refugees.
A 2021 report by Amnesty International, for example, highlighted that physical violence and other abuses in Libya had shown no indication of diminishing over the past decade.
The awareness of migrants and refugees of the protection risks in the CMR also points to something else: that there is a feeling that such risks are inevitable on these migration journeys to Europe. One explanation could be that increasingly restrictive border controls and the lack of legal routes mean that migrants and refugees seeking to enter Europe have no other options. Greece is a case in point.
Numerous reports and studies have demonstrated how the EU-Turkey Statement and tighter border controls across the WBR have stemmed the flow of people and exposed migrants to considerable protection risks by forcing them to take highly perilous routes.
Also, the widespread tendency to indiscriminately incarcerate migrants entering the country for lengthy periods of time, in line with the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal, as well as the practice of pushbacks by the Greek coast guard might have led migrants and refugees to opt for the more dangerous, yet more available, paths to Europe.
Bangladeshis, for example, for whom it seems “easier” and safer to use the EMR route, have chosen to try the dangerous crossing via the CMR from Libya to Italy. The question is therefore: why do respondents in the survey continue to use certain routes and locations, despite the many known and very real risks?
The tightening of border controls increases the reliance on smugglers to evade border controls, with smugglers decreasing the chances of arrest by employing increasingly dangerous strategies, ultimately increasing the risks to refugees and migrants.
Such strategies include departing on longer and therefore more dangerous sea and desert routes, choosing unsafe embarkation and boarding points and dumping people on ‘boats’ in rough seas.
The findings of this study regarding the most common perpetrators of abuse across the three routes raise questions about the implications of the EU approach to protecting people on the move.
The prominence of militias and armed gangs are the main perpetrators of abuse reported by respondents who have traveled the CMR. In addition, they traverse areas marked by ongoing political instability, conflict and insecurity, and the collapse of the rule of law.
Nevertheless, the role played by militias and gangs in the protection risks faced by migrants and refugees cannot be separated from the EU’s externalization policies or its interaction with local political economies.
Libya and Niger have been systematically engaged by the EU to stem migratory flows and fight migrant smuggling and human trafficking. Local militias have sometimes even become involved in fighting smuggling groups and/or intercepting refugees and migrants at sea and returning them to Libya.
In summary, while it would be simplistic to argue that EU border policy alone creates all the protection risks faced by migrants and refugees, there seems to be a worrying alignment between the perpetrators the migrants fear most and the actors who secured the funding mobilized by the EU for migration management and the fight against people smuggling.
While the data shows that smugglers remain a major concern for people fleeing to Europe, respondents say they are rarely among the most common perpetrators of violence. These findings indicate that an EU approach mainly focused on ‘securitisation’ and the fight against people smuggling – an approach based on the argument that breaking the so-called business model of smuggling would ensure the safety of refugees and migrants by ending making their perilous crossing of the Mediterranean — may not be as effective as portrayed in political and policy circles.
The Center for Mixed Migration calls on policy makers and authorities to improve European migration management policies, in particular the full implementation of the objectives set out in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees. The EU and its Member States should:
• Provide detailed and evidence-based analyzes of the impact of EU cooperation with third country partners on both human rights and local economies affected by the implementation of EU externalization measures. These analyzes should be performed on a case-by-case basis for all affected communities in each partner country;
• Support the sharing of information on perpetrators of human rights violations between law enforcement actors at national and international level, including outside Europe, while ensuring that all cooperation is in line with international human rights and refugee law;
• Expanding cooperation with the Government of Turkey to increase its capacity in all provinces to properly implement refugee status and provide international protection, taking into account age-, gender- and diversity-specific vulnerabilities and protection challenges (e.g. Afghans, single women with children and young men);
• All aid that contributes to the interception, return and often detention of refugees and migrants in shutting down Libya, as it is not a safe place. Also ensure that no one is at risk of inhumane and degrading treatment in Libya and support humanitarian programs that respond to the needs of the people;
• Improving the monitoring of deaths along migration routes to Europe by including more details in the data systems on deaths along the route;
• Open new channels of legal entry and strengthen existing ones by granting humanitarian visas, creating humanitarian corridors between transit countries and Europe, expanding Member States’ resettlement programs and facilitating alternative legal routes, such as family reunification, university scholarships and training programmes.
Jan Servaes is editor of the 2020 Handbook on Communication for Development and Social Change ( https://link.springer.com/referencework/10.1007/978-981-10-7035-8 ) and co-editor of the 2021 Palgrave Handbook of International Communication and Sustainable Development. ( https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030697693)
IPS UN Bureau