November 2, 2021Human-Trafficking / Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / Weapons TraffickingEastern Mediterranean flashpoint Eastern Mediterranean is a crossroads between continents. The complexity of the region and tensions between countries make the area a dangerous flashpoint. All kind of destabilization and maritime issues monitored seem to be linked to one actor, the president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Where is Eastern Mediterranean? Eastern Mediterranean is a meeting point between Southeast Europe, Western Asia and Northeast Africa. Sometimes considered as the cradle of humanity, it is now composed of several countries: Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Libya. The region has been a crossroads for cultural, economic and political exchanges over millennia. Nevertheless, the geopolitical situation made this maritime region a flashpoint based on maritime issues and the disrespect of international law, agreement and convention. A transit route for migrants and refugees The civil war in Syria, started in 2011, has been a major change for countries relationships. The flow of refugees, crossing Turkey to Greece through the Aegean Sea led to a European Union (EU)-Turkey joint action plan in 2015. The agreement was that every person arriving irregularly to the Greek Islands would be returned to Turkey. In exchange, EU would take one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian returned from Greece. However, it became for the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan a way to conduct a hybrid warfare against EU. Turkish government threated several times the Member States to “open the gates” to migrants into Europe in case of disagreement (such as what is now observed in Belarus). With the return of Talibans in Afghanistan, it is expected to have an increase of refugees trying to cross the sea through the Aegan route but also from Syria or Lebanon to Cyprus. The last route is getting more and more used, especially because of the strong economic and social crisis hitting Lebanon after the dramatic explosion in the port in Beirut in 2020. Oil and gas dispute In the early 1970s, exploration discovered oil and gas fields in south of Cyprus. But the invasion of the island by Turkey in 1974 froze the possibility of exploitation. Then, two large natural gas fields were discovered in the region: Leviathan in 2010 in Israel Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) and Zohr in 2015 in Egypt EEZ. In 2018, tensions increased between Cyprus and Turkey when the Turkish foreign minister announced the intention to carry out gas exploration in Cyprus EEZ. Turkey sent several times exploration ship, such as RV Oruc reis, escorted by frigates creating huge concerns for EU, which Cyprus is a member States. In reaction, the European Council decided to suspend several negotiations. Egypt, which had an agreement with Cyprus to exploit some of its gas fields, reduced also its relations with Turkey. Arms trafficking from Turkey The last factor of destabilization in Easter Mediterranean is the arm trafficking from Turkey to Libya. Libya faced a civil war since 2011 and the United Nations Security Council voted the Resolution 1973 to impose an arms embargo over the country. To enforce this resolution, mainly ineffective, the European Union launch in March 2020 the operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, using aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In that framework, the EU linked the merchant vessel Cirkin, now re-named Guzel, to transport military material to Libya between May and June 2020. According to the press agency Reuters, the ship was escorted by three Turkish vessels, preventing all cargo inspection. In September 2020, EU imposed sanctions on the Turkish shipping company Avrasya Shipping accused of breaking the U.N. embargo on Libya. The president Erdogan never recognised to conduct this kind of operation. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 20, 2021Human-Trafficking / Newsafghan refugees Because of the Taliban’s power seizure in Afghanistan, EU expects a humanitarian crisis and a large-scale migratory movement towards Europe. In that case, Afghan refugees will probably use on the three Mediterranean routes to find safety and peace, even with all dangers they can encountered. People crossing the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea has been a migratory crossroads for thousands of years, linking people and civilization together. Nevertheless, the civil war in Syria and the insecurity in Sahel dramatically increased the number of people trying to reach Europe by any means. During their journey, refugees and migrants, two different terms, are victims of human smugglers who push them to cross the sea on small inflatable boats. Many of them died when boat capsizes or because of rough sea and weather conditions. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a peak of people crossing the Mediterranean sea happened in October 2015 with 221 721 . In July 2021, 11 449 people were monitored. Afghani refugees expected to cross the Mediterranean Sea The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, FRONTEX, reported that 747 Afghans crossed Eastern Mediterranean since January 2021. Because of the Taliban’s rapid seizure of power in Afghanistan, the European Union expect to see more and more Afghan refugees crossing its borders. Joseph Borrel Fontelles, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, declared that EU “has to ensure that the new political situation created in Afghanistan by the return of the Taliban does not lead to a large-scale migratory movement towards Europe”. Mr Borrel Fontelles added that EU “will have to get in touch with authorities in Kabul, the Taliban, in order to engage in a dialogue as soon as necessary to prevent a humanitarian and a potential migratory disaster, but also a humanitarian crisis”. Which maritime routes? There are three main routes to cross the Mediterranean sea: Western, Central and Eastern. Western route is located between Marocco and Spain, which seems too far to reach for Afghan refugees. The Central Route, which linked Tunisia and Libya to Italy, is the shortest and the usual route used by refugees and migrants, especially for people from Sahel and Sub-Africa. Nevertheless, it is also the most dangerous. Migrants need to cross Libya, a failed country destroyed by over 10 years of civil war, where armed group and smugglers use them frequently as slaves or fighters. The sailing conditions are also usually bad with rough sea between Sicily and African coast. Then, the last option remains the Eastern route. It goes from Turkey to Greece and will be probably used by Afghans. It is likely that the European Union will discuss with Turkey once again in order to find an agreement in case of a large-scale migratory movement. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 10, 2021Human-Trafficking / NewsMozambique insurgency Mozambique insurgency is getting struggled by a coalition of Rwandan and Mozambican troops. The port of Mocimboa da Praia was the last rebel’s stronghold and was retaken in April 8, by government forces. Nevertheless, the conflict caused a dramatic humanitarian crisis and the presence of terrorists with amphibious capacity in the region remains a threat for the shipping industry. ISIS in Mozambique From mid-2018, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) launch an insurgency and became active in the province of Cabo Delgado, North East of Mozambique. ISIS used to settle a local jihadist fundamentalist group called AL Shabaab. The terrorists launched several attack and committed mass beheadings. They seized in August 2020 the town of Mocimboa da Praia, one of the most important ports on the northern coast, attacking by land and sea. A threat to shipping The insurgents have shown a real capability to conduct amphibious attacks, causing a real issue for navigation along Mozambique coasts. Cabo Delgado is the north gate to the Mozambique Channel. It is more than 30 % of the world’s tanker traffic transiting through this area. There is a true risk to see the region becoming a safe place for piracy, a good opportunity for terrorists get funds. Furthermore, the area is also known to be one of Africa’s biggest gas fields. The attacks from the Mozambique insurgency forced Total, a French company, to resume its project of LNG offshore planned closed to the town of Palma. A big loss for the local government and the company. Mozambique insurgency caused a humanitarian crisis Since the beginning of the conflict, over 2 800 people died and more than 800 000 tried to escape from the region by any means, including boats and ships. The non-governmental organization (NGO) Human Rights Watch reported several testimonial of dramatic condition on board of these boats. One of them is from Hadja,22, who was seven months pregnant during her journey: “ the boat owner charged 3.000 meticals (US$48) for each person. We spent 12 days at sea, moving from island to island, before reaching Pemba. On the sixth day, I started to feel a lot of pain and bleeding. The woman in the boat helped me deliver my baby, who was very weak and small. He died.” Like this:Like Loading... [...]