Spain is shifting its foreign policy towards Africa while lobbying the EU and NATO for support to address migration from the continent, aggravated by the Ukraine invasion, two senior government officials and two diplomatic sources told Reuters.
They were trying to reach Europe, and some paid with their lives.
The deaths of at least 23 people as they tried to cross into Spain’s North African enclave Melilla on Friday (June 24) is a grim reminder of the perils of migration, that also include dangerous sea crossings.
However Spain is hoping a new strategy will help keep migrants from danger, says foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares.
“We cannot allow the Mediterranean, through Libya, Morocco and other countries, the Atlantic, the route between Africa and the Canary Islands, to become enormous tombs where every year thousands of human beings die when all they aspire to is a better life.”
Parts of Africa are facing a hunger crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, which has disrupted grain exports.
Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions.
Two diplomatic sources said Spain, its southern neighbors, and EU officials are increasingly worried the situation will trigger chaotic migration from the Sahel and sub-Saharan regions.
They say numbers are already on the rise.
Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a “special military operation”, Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had revived a policy mothballed by previous governments, according to two officials close to him.
It centers on working with African partners to contain migration and to tackle root causes such as instability and climate change.
“We are looking for good relations with all the neighbours around us and jointly managing phenomena that no one, not even the most powerful state on the planet, can deal with on its own.”
The two diplomatic sources said Spain will use a NATO summit in Madrid this week to press its case and is likely to ask for increased intelligence sharing, including on issues related to migration.
It also wants to secure a commitment for better policies on “hybrid threats” including the possibility that irregular migration is used as a political pressure tactic by hostile actors.
The government has also sent a bill to parliament that would mark a significant expansion of existing funding for migration control to eight African countries.
However, human rights groups and migration advocates say Spain’s quest to outsource enforcement has put vulnerable people in the hands of security forces in countries with a history of abuses and heavy-handed policing.
The deaths on Friday, which were protested in Madrid at the weekend, came after clashes with Moroccan security forces when around 2,000 people tried to cross into Melilla.
A Moroccan official said security personnel had not used undue force.
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights and Spanish migration charity Walking Borders said on Saturday (June 25) the incident was a “tragic symbol of European policies of externalizing borders of the EU”.
Sanchez’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Judge sides with Trump in Mar-a-Lago investigation
A United States Federal Judge has sided with former President Donald Trump amid the ongoing Mar-a-Lago investigation
In a move that will likely come as a relief to Donald Trump, a federal judge has ruled that the former president does not have to provide a sworn declaration regarding claims the FBI “planted” evidence in his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Previously, Trump had been required to provide the declaration as part of the review process for the investigation.
But Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the Mar-a-Lago investigation, has now pushed back several key deadlines, extending the final date of completion from November to December.
This means that Trump will not have to confirm, under oath, his recent claims the FBI manufactured evidence against him
These are assertions which could be used against him if he is charged with any crimes.
Trump’s lawyers had argued that the president should not be required to provide a declaration, and it seems Judge Cannon has sided with them.
For now, Trump will not have to put his claims on the record.
Ian carves path of utter destruction
After devastating Florida, Hurricane Ian is headed for Carolinas, Georgia
A grim picture of Hurricane Ian’s horrific wreckage emerged Thursday, as millions of people in Florida faced destroyed homes, completely flooded streets and power outages.
The storm’s power turned out to be worse than many had predicted.
Unfortunately, families who did not evacuate have been left stranded as rising water tore through their homes.
So far, hundreds have been rescued from floodwaters, and emergency crews are still struggling to reach some of the most devastated areas.
According to the National Hurricane Center, a storm surge of 12-18 feet hit as destructive waves struck the coast.
Officials say the hurricane knocked out power to more than 2.6 million customers, mainly in southwest and central Florida.
Meanwhile, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) says that the next 72 hours will certainly be the most critical when it comes to rescue missions.
President Biden said there were ‘early reports of what may be substantial loss of life’ saying, that the numbers are still unclear but there are early reports of fatalities.
The President added, “water rescue is critical—Coast Guard deployed 16 rescue helicopter, six fixed wing aircraft and 18-rescue boats and crews. That’s just one element of the many federal search and rescue teams that were pre-staged in Florida.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis detailed the state’s “monumental effort” to help aid recovery and eventually rebuild.
“Those were really difficult images to see but we’re committed to restoring the infrastructure as needed. That is not going to be an overnight task. That is going to require a lot of love and care—it’s going to require a lot of resources, but we’re going to do it because we understand how important it is.”
Hurricane Ian could be Florida’s deadliest storm
Hurricane Ian could be Florida’s deadliest storm as it continues north towards South Carolina
U.S. President Joe Biden says Hurricane Ian could be the deadliest storm in the region’s history, with early reports suggesting substantial loss of life.
Biden spoke at an afternoon briefing at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).
Ian made landfall on Wednesday local time near the city of Fort Myers. It has led to severe flooding, high winds and storm surges.
Several areas remain submerged, and more than 2.5 million homes are without power.
Many residents are trapped in their homes and unable to escape. Search and rescue teams are working around the clock to provide assistance where they can.
5,000 Florida National Guard troops and 2,000 Guardsman from surrounding states have been deployed.
Eight teams with 800 members are carrying out search and rescue operations.
More than 200 public shelters have now been opened, housing around 34,000 people.
The National Hurricane Centre has downgraded Ian to a tropical storm for now but warns it will likely become a hurricane again later.
The entire coast of South Carolina is just the latest region to be placed on high alert as the storm continues north on its path of destruction.
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