Giulia Bertoluzzi

Giulia Bertoluzzi has 12 articles published.

Debate on Violence Against Women in Tunisia

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In Tunisia, the draft law “on the elimination of violence to women,” adopted by the Council of Ministers on 13 July 2016 is currently under revision by the Rights and Freedoms Committee of the Tunisian Parliament. After months of waiting, the Tunisian civil society, gathered around the Ligue des droits de l’homme and the Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates (ATFD) is still actively demanding a faster enactment of the procedure, which is dragging its heels.

Violence to women is widespread in Tunisia. In a study by the Centre d’études, de recherches, de documentation et d’information sur la femme (Credif), published in March 20161, 53.3% of the women interviewed declared having endured at least one form of violence (psychological, physical or sexual) between 2011 and 2015. According to a 2016 Amnesty International report, it is difficult for victims to obtain help from the law, health agencies or support organisations: “Few social and medical services are designed to deal with sexual and gender-related violence and they are inadequate. Rape victims have great difficulty accessing contraceptive services, psychological support or other necessary forms of health care. Furthermore, for lack of protective measures, especially in shelters for women and girls who have suffered violence, they are exposed to more assaults.”

The notorious “article of shame” No. 227a of the Penal Code, which allowed a rapist to escape punishment by marrying his victim and which the women’s defence associations have long demanded it be repealed, was finally scrapped last March. This revision came about following an umpteenth case of abuse which deeply shocked public opinion: a judge decreed that a thirteen year-old girl would be married to a twenty-year-old man who had made her pregnant.


Khadija Cherif is a historical figure in Tunisian society. Formerly vice-president of La Ligue des droits de l’homme, she was in line to be minister of women’s affairs in 2015, only to be rejected in the end on account of her feminism. In her opinion, law No. 60/2016 would be a big step forward in the struggle against violence to women. It is an umbrella law, and is triply complete, in that it covers the prevention of violence, the protection of the victim and the punishment of the guilty party and also stresses the importance of disseminating the principles of human rights and equality of the sexes. An active program of prevention would be set up, school programs would be made to conform with the principles of the law and gender stereotypes would be banned from the media as they are believed to encourage violence to women and discrimination against them. Professionals in direct contact with the victims—such as judges and police officers would receive special training.

Halini Jouini, a member of the steering committee of the Tunisian League of Human Rights, believes the draft law confirmed essential notions “by linking the issue of violence to women with the respect of universal human rights” and by taking account of economic violence. “A concept essential for an understanding of women’s actual situation, especially in rural areas” where life is very precarious and women are often subject to abuse.”2


“The examination of that law was perturbed by the political instability with a succession of six governments in as many years,” Monia Ben Jeina, prosodient of the Association tunisienne de femmes démocrates (ATFD) explains. She was one of the group of specialists who wrote the first draft of the bill under the Mehdi Jomaa government (2014-2015). At that time, the secretary of State, Neïla Caabane, was at the origin of a very ambitious draught law which located the source of gender-related violence in the practices of discrimination and was consequently aimed at doing away with all the discriminatory measures on the law books.

“In 2014, the public debate was very rich, and several cabinet members took part: the ministers of justice, education, women’s affairs, economic affairs and health,” Monia Ben Jemia remembers. That same year, at the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Tunisian Government withdrew the reservations it had formulated in 19853 , much to the chagrin of the country’s feminist associations : reservations about equality before the law, matrimonial and inheritance rights, and a mother’s right to transmit her nationality (to this day, filiation remains exclusively patrilineal).

The period seemed favourable for the passage of an umbrella law, but Neïla Chaabane who was a member of the cabinet as “an independent,” was forced to give up her struggle after the parliamentary and presidential elections of 2014 when Beji Caid Essebsi took power. “An enormous amount of work had been accomplished but the project had immediately run into many stumbling blocks,” Khadija Cherif observes. The resistance, essentially political, came from the most conservative parties like the moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, the country’s most powerful political force between 2011 and 2014, and Nidaa Tounes, the party founded by the current president.

A short time later, the draft law was revised and rewritten, then submitted to the cabinet in May 2016 by Samira Merai, Neila Chaabane’s successor as Minister of Women, Family and Children. The new minister, who could scarcely be suspected of feminism, did away with the clauses that would have upset the Islamists, such as the reforms of the Code du statut personnel (CSP) which had been in the previous version.

Reluctantly, the associations representing the civil society, when consulted, ended up rejecting the law: “We wanted this law to pass and we realised that certain measures were over-ambitious, the conservatives and the Islamists would never have approved the draft as it stood,” Monia Ben Jemia explains. In her opinion, “there are priorities which simply cannot wait, such as the creation of shelters for battered women.”


With this last revision, all the reforms of discriminatory measures, especially those contained in the CSP, were removed.

Promulgated by Habib Bourguiba on 13 August 1956—which became National Women’s Day in Tunisia—the CSP was a visionary text in its day. Among other things it abolished polygamy and the possibility for a husband to divorce at his sole discretion. Today, however, many legal experts accuse it of being out of date and call attention to the contradictions with the Penal Code and with the recognition of gender equality by the 2014 Constitution and the Cedaw Convention.

Concerning conjugal rape, for example, the CSP is in total contradiction with the recent legislative advances in the matter. It stipulates that sexual relations in marriage are an obligation at that once the wife’s dowry has been paid the husband may consummate the marriage. Thus the lot of a woman who has suffered conjugal rape and lodges a complaint will depend largely on the interpretation of this or that court. Similarly, inheritance procedures as defined by the Code are biased against women who are thus financially disadvantaged in comparison with their male siblings and denied the custody of their children.

“In spite of the gaps in the draft law it is vital for us to see it passed,” Khadija Cherif concludes . . . and then adds, “many men still believe it’s normal to educate their wives by beating them. So from their point of view, to admit the abusive character of violence is to endanger the family institution.”


2See La violence fondée sur le genre dans l’espace public en Tunisie, op. cit., p. 33.

3To read the declaration in its entirety, see Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, UN Treaty Collection.

The eight thousand migrants saved at Easter: logbook of a rescue mission

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During the four days of the Easter weekend, 8,300 people were rescued in the Mediterranean: 1,300 by Frontex (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency) and the others by several NGOs in coordination with the Italian Coast Guard. The small Iuventa ship alone assisted 2,147 people, both taking them on board and with its life jackets and rafts. The Iuventa is a small fishing boat that has been adapted for rescue missions by the German NGO Jugend Rettet, one of the smallest organisations involved in humanitarian operations in the search areas of the Mediterranean. While much of the media and some politicians echoed the generic accusations of Catania’s prosecutor according to whom NGOs “attract” and sometimes even collaborate with smugglers controlling the flow of migrants, thousands of lives were saved from certain death by drowning, hypothermia, hunger, and thirst on the open sea. Our reporter Giulia Bertoluzzi was on board the Iuventa and kept a logbook for Open Migration.

10 April 2017, Port of Zarzis, south of Tunisia, near the Libyan border

“The first time I saw a migrant vessel?” Anis, a fisherman from Zarzis, raises his eyebrow. He moves his hand backwards, which means a long, long time ago. “Maybe 2002 or 2003, back when illegal immigration from Libya started.” Tarek Ahmed, who owns a tuna boat, adds: “We’ve found so many corpses – when you see children entangled in your fishing nets… there’s no humanity in that.”

Over the last five days, a lot of boats have been crowding the Port of Zarzis because of a violent storm raging along the coast. Even the NGOs Jugend Rettet, Sea Watch, and MSF have dropped anchor in the small Tunisian harbour for safety reasons. A concerned José Pastor, head of missions on the Iuventa, explains: “No one sails in this weather, but as soon as the sea calms down, there’ll be a lot of boats going out at the same time”. In 2015, after seeing the umpteenth picture of dead bodies in the Mediterranean, a group of Berliners decided to launch a fundraising campaign; they repaired an old fishing boat and founded the NGO Jugend Rettet to begin their missions. “We want to show Europe that if it does nothing to put an end to this slaughter, as normal citizens we will,” says Wilco Holmes, second mate on the Iuventa.

11 April 2017, first day at sea on the Sebastian Kurz Mission

(named after the Austrian politician who accused private NGOs of collaborating with smugglers in March 2017)

Zarzis wakes up with the sun and comes back to life while our boat gets ready to sail. That same night the Libyan Coast Guard announces that a rubber dinghy has sunk within the 12 nautical miles limit: “It seems that there are around a hundred victims,” José says, knowing there is nothing he can do. But what is the 12-mile limit? “It’s the coastal area that stretches from Zuwara to Tripoli, the area from which the migrant boats usually leave,” explains Kai Kaltegärtner, captain of the Iuventa. The Libyan SAR zone, the International Search and Rescue area, begins just in front of it and spreads between 12 and 24 nautical miles, i.e. up to the limit of Libyan territorial waters. “Beyond the 12 miles, according to the non-refoulement principle, you can’t take people back against their will,” Kai clarifies, “so if we find a boat in distress beyond this limit, we cannot return its passengers to Libya and must take them to a safe and suitable place.” The harbour at Zarzis is not an option since Tunisia does not presently have any asylum law.

13 April 2017, SAR zone off Sabrata: the exodus begins

At five o’clock in the morning, a deafening siren sounds and the 16 crew members all leap out of their beds. A rubber dinghy emerges in the pale light. Maggy, the ship’s interpreter, flings herself onto the RIB–the rigid inflatable boat–with Julian and Laurah, and hands out life jackets to the 120 people on the vessel so that they can board the Iuventa.

So many heads sticking out from the orange life jackets, bare legs astride the grey boat. Smugglers always force migrants to take off their shoes so they can reduce the weight and carry more passengers. “Make sure they’re not wet with fuel!” the Spanish nurse Marina reminds everyone as the combination of petrol and water causes severe skin burns. There are just two barrels of fuel left on the keel, not even enough to cover the 24 miles of territorial waters. “These boats are not meant to go anywhere, traffickers just send these people out to their deaths, with or without NGOs,” says José Pastor, scanning the horizon with his binoculars in hand.

Daniel, with his Greek centaur’s figure, works to establish some order amidst the chaos spreading across the ship while the cry of a two-week-old baby accompanies the other 120 people coming on board. “The worst is over,” the child’s mother repeats while holding him tight as Laura, an Italian doctor, examines him. Many girls were travelling alone and got pregnant during the journey, meaning they could be victims of trade or sexual violence. A 17-year-old Nigerian girl cries uncontrollably, she just cannot stop.

Un neonato curato a bordo della Iuventa

A newborn is examined aboard the Iuventa.

It takes hours before she can look Marina in the eyes. “It’s the first time I’ve seen the light in such a long time. The first time I tried to cross the sea, the Libyan Coast Guard caught us and locked us up, they put chains around my legs and hips and then hung me by the arms,” she says, displaying the signs of torture on her body. “Libya is hell, real hell,” she keeps saying. A man is covered in dried blood. “One of the smugglers did this to me with his rifle butt,” he explains, showing the large open wound on his head.

After 5 hours of rescue operations, the Aquarius of SOS Méditerranée and MSF, the MOAS, and the Dattilo ship of the Italian Coast Guard take up the last people and set sail for Italy.

Saturday 15 April 2017, 5.30 a.m.

The sea is teeming with rubber dinghies, and there are only two small NGOs. Somalian and Eritrean boys climb aboard the Iuventa from the first boat. Aged between 15 and 20, they are fleeing war and one of the cruellest dictatorships in the world, not to mention the terrible famine that is striking the Horn of Africa. They all are tall and thin, their heads far too large above their necks and skeletal arms. They have just been rescued when the Sea Eye, another German ship, sends an alarm: there are eight rubber dinghies and a fishing boat with at least 900 people on board in their area.

una delle decine di gommoni avvistati all'alba nei giorni di Pasqua 2017

One of the many rubber boats sighted at dawn during Easter.

It is an apocalyptic scene: the blue above, below and all around them, the orange of the life jackets and rafts, people screaming in the distance. This is the sound of catastrophe. The passengers of the fishing boat throw themselves into the sea, shouting and struggling “heeelp!” “Most of them cannot swim,” José explains, “they drown in a matter of seconds, I have seen them disappear underwater in front of my own eyes.” It is even worse with Bengalis because “they don’t understand what we are saying when we reach them with our RIBs,” Maggy remarks. They are oil platform workers, most of them hired as low-cost workers directly from Bangladesh by European companies operating in Libya.

But for José the worst part is descending to the lower levels of the boat where the poorest have been crowded together without any air. Despite his long experience in humanitarian emergencies and all the things he has witnessed, he says: “The eyes I have seen down there is something I’ve never seen anywhere else.”

Someone is able to swim to the Iuventa.

“Scissooors!” Marina yells, while she tries to rip off the wet clothes of an unconscious boy. “Can you hear me, my friend?” It takes twenty minutes and two people to warm him, then he bursts into tears. “Akhui, fin akhui?” – “Brother, where is my brother?”

Next to him, some women are trying to reassure their babies among the shouts. “We went from Homs to Damascus and then caught a flight to Sudan,” Maai tells me. She has travelled from Syria with those members of her family who are still alive: her two children with their long blonde ringlets, her second husband (the first one was killed in Syria), and her grandfather. She pulls a tablet out of the Barbie-pink schoolbag of her little girl and shows me a number beginning with +963. “Please, whenever you can, send a message to my mother and tell her the children are alive,” she asks me kindly.

Numeri di telefono di parenti di una persona soccorsa dalla Iuventa.

Phone numbers of the relatives of one person rescued by the Iuventa.

War, famine, violence. Some of them thought they would find a better future and instead ended up among corpses, endured torture, and had to beg their relatives for money to pay the traffickers who kept them in check. After travelling like this for months or sometimes years, much as we call them economic migrants, they find themselves in the same condition of those fleeing from wars, facing the impossibility of going back.

The Iuventa is not equipped to take them to Italy, it is only able to transfer them to bigger ships like the MOAS or other Navy ships that are in the same area for Operation Sophia. This operation–which includes the Libyan Coast Guard–follows the Italian operation Mare Nostrum and the EU’s Operation Triton of 2014 and was launched in 2015 with the aim of neutralizing Libyan networks in the Mediterranean. Within a few hours, a German Navy ship responds to the alarm and takes all of the rescued migrants, a grotesque scene with two soldiers searching barefoot and half-naked people on the open sea before allowing them on board.

Almost 3,000 migrants have been rescued in just one day. It is late at night when 240 more people come aboard. The two emergency life rafts are full, with water coming up to people’s knees. At 2 a.m., a fishing boat rushes around the Iuventa at a speed of 4 knots and the captain is forced into making a dangerous U-turn to avoid collision. Dozens of people jump into the pitch-black sea. It is chaos. They try to climb onto the Iuventa. All the crew mobilises to contain the confusion. But by now our ship is over capacity with 309 people on board.

16 April 2017, waiting for assistance

Over the last two days the sea has been a millpond with a light wind blowing from the south: the most favourable days to sail from Libya. A Nigerian boy tells us that smugglers asked him for an extra 150 euros to put him on one of the first boats, ensuring him that they would save him. Maggy listens indignantly. “Did you hear that? Traffickers take advantage of anything and anyone just to make money.”

“I paid 2,000 euros; a Libyan smuggler gave me a false employment contract,” Mohamed, from Agadir, in the south of Morocco, reveals. For a young man or woman aged between 18 and 40 without a European ‘pedigree’ or a bank account containing millions, obtaining a visa for Europe is impossible; however, with a European passport, you can get a visa for Morocco in five minutes at the airport, for free. “For all that money I thought I was going to travel on a safe boat, I’m not crazy!” he adds in exhaustion, his lips chapped from dehydration.

Una delle persone salvate dalla Juventa nei giorni di Pasqua 2017.

One of the people rescued by the Iuventa during Easter.  

But today the sea turns rough. The waves have reached two metres when the captain sends out a Mayday, together with two more NGOs. “The Sea Eye is packed with people and they have some corpses on board,” Maggy explains. The Italian Coast Guard is busy with a massive operation and take several hours to respond. Meanwhile, the Iuventa–with 309 people on board and surrounded by big waves–finds itself at the mercy of the wind, waiting for help.

Everything sways dreadfully, women at the bow sing loudly to fight back their fear. But as much as they try to keep calm, seasickness soon strikes. Everyone vomits, but after three days at sea on an empty stomach, only bile fills the bags. Mohamed, Anouar, and Taher relentlessly help those who need to use the bathroom and have to zigzag between heaps of bodies to get there.

Wrapped up in space blankets, which make a terrible noise as they shake in the wind, Jan carries a Nigerian girl who is three months pregnant and had collapsed in the hospital cabin. “She was passing away before our eyes,” Caterina says, her hands still trembling, “we couldn’t find a vein, she was so thin.”

Couscous and water are distributed with the utmost frugality. “The worst enemy on a boat is chaos,” Kai explains, “any panicky movement could make us sink.”

“I cannot eat,” a boy from Ghana says with an empty look of malnutrition in his eyes. “He took two!” screams a Nigerian, causing a tense and terrifying hum before Daniel leaps in to restore order.

After 30 hours of cold, hunger, fear, vomit, and water thrown on board by the waves, the Italian Coast Guard manages to organise a rescue operation that looks like something out of a movie. A 250-metre tanker stops 20 metres away from the Iuventa to protect it from the waves and allow the Save the Children ship to transfer the 309 people on board. Everyone is excited: the crew of Save the Children as well as the Iuventa, and all the passengers who can finally say “I survived.”

“When they ask me what it was like, what should I say?” Laura asks herself. “If I hear a conspiracy theory or a racist remark, will I be able to control myself?” Caterina wonders, but she has already made up her mind: this will certainly not be her last mission.


Translation by Lucrezia De Carolis. Proofreading by Alex Booth.
Cover photo: an overloaded Iuventa in rough seas is approached by the tanker that will assist the transfer of passengers.
All photos in the article are by Giulia Bertoluzzi for Open Migration.

Frontiera Melilla, per i siriani un nuovo muro prima dell’Europa – REPUBBLICA

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Taglieggiati per poter fare richiesta d’asilo, costretti a mescolarsi tra i frontalieri o a nascondersi in vani motore delle auto, ricattati e sempre a rischio di espulsione. Anche per molti africani il limbo sul confine Marocco-Algeria è diventato una prigione, cui ormai si preferisce il viaggio mortale attraverso la Libia


Nel 2015, i primi cento chilometri di muro tra l’Algeria e il Marocco sono stati costruiti e altri 500 sono in cantiere. Una nuova barriera fisica che non sembra però intaccare l’economia di frontiera. Lungo il confine, i commerci di benzina algerina di contrabbando continuano a lucrare, così come il passaggio di persone, dall’Africa Subsahariana e dalla Siria, che transitano in Marocco con il sogno di entrare in Europa.

Tutta la rete è scandita da piccole porticine metalliche che i passeurs conoscono a menadito per connettere la città di Oujda in Marocco con quella di Maghnia in Algeria, i due grandi snodi per i migranti. Come spiega Mohamed Kerzazi dell’AMDH (Associazione marocchina per i diritti umani) di Oujda “il flusso è per lo più in direzione del Marocco, ma sempre più persone utilizzano il passaggio a ritroso, per tornare in Algeria e da lì dirigersi verso la Libia”.

In senso contrario, sempre più siriani entrano in Marocco illegalmente dall’Algeria. Entrambi i paesi hanno introdotto il visto obbligatorio per i siriani rispettivamente ad agosto e a gennaio di quest’anno, rendendo l’unica rotta possibile quella illegale. Abderazak Ouiam segretario della sezione Oujda di OMDH, ONG partner di UNHCR per la registrazione dei rifugiati, spiega che “la maggioranza arrivano dalla Turchia o dal Libano da dove prendono un volo per il Sudan, uno per la Mauritania e da lì si mettono in marcia per Mali e Algeria via terra e clandestinamente”. Anche le cifre parlano, in Marocco sono solo 834 i richiedenti asilo siriani, nella sola Melilla più di 2000.

“Con la mia famiglia, abbiamo provato in tutti i paesi. Siamo stati in Libano, Turchia, Egitto, Tunisia, Algeria e Marocco. Da nessuna parte abbiamo trovato un rifugio, un posto in cui poter vivere senza minacce o soprusi” racconta Lilia, giovane diciottenne damascena, di cui tutta la famiglia, compresa la figlia di due mesi, è in Europa, mentre lei da sola lotta per la liberazione del marito, in prigione per aver tentato d’immolarsi davanti al confine con Melilla.

La maggioranza dei siriani, stanchi di molte procedure e zero efficacia, si dirigono direttamente alle frontiere, bypassando le istituzioni e tentando l’ultima chance in Europa. Ma nonostante l’apertura di un nuovo ufficio UNHCR per richiedenti asilo sulla frontiera di Beni-Enzar, tutti i richiedenti sono obbligati a pagare il “biglietto” per riuscire ad arrivare fino all’ufficio. I militanti dell’AMDH di Nador da mesi denunciano la corruzione delle guardie di confine (sia marocchine che spagnole) che obbligano i siriani a pagare fino a 1200 euro per poter passare la frontiera e deporre la propria domanda d’asilo. La “difficoltà più grande è far passare i bambini”, spiega Omar Naji, AMDH, “perché se gli adulti riescono a nascondersi tra i lavoratori transfrontalieri marocchini, i bambini devono essere nascosti” e in tanti casi si traduce in una mazzetta più grande sia ai passeurs che alle autorità.

IMG_5555-23Per un migrante africano, avvicinarsi alla frontiera è diventato impossibile. Stéphane Julinet, giurista di GADEM (groupe anti raciste de défence des étrangers et migrants), spiega che “per 6 mesi, nessun africano è riuscito ad entrare a Ceuta o Melilla”, e dei pochi africani che ci sono riusciti, i rischi e i prezzi sono diventati insostenibili. Pagano fino a 3000 euro per essere nascosti nei posti più impensabili di macchine e camion: incastrati dentro i cruscotti e in anfratti sotto i sedili e comunque venendo intercettati e espulsi.

“Le grandi retate contro i migranti che avvenivano in tutto il paese si sarebbero dovute arrestare con la grande regolarizzazione del 2014 in cui 18.000 persone (tra cui anche europei e americani e i rifugiati siriani) ottennero il permesso di soggiorno” continua Stéphane.  Ma lungo tutti i confini settentrionali, la così chiamata “caccia al migrante” resta una prassi. Nei quartieri come Bukhalef a Tangeri, e nei boschi in cui i migranti subsahariani si rifugiano in tende di plastica intorno a Ceuta, a Melilla e nella città di Oujda, la polizia visita regolarmente per bruciare gli accampamenti e deportare in zone più interne del paese tutti gli uomini.

Questa tecnica s’iscrive all’interno della lotta contro la migrazione clandestina, capitolo importante del patto di mobilità firmato da Marocco e 9 stati europeigiugno 2013, “un capitolo molto strumentalizzato” spiega Elsa, volontaria a GADEM, “per cui sotto la bandiera della lotta alla tratta, le autorità marocchine giustificano tutte le azioni di frontiera. Un paragone naturale è quello dei bombardamenti europei ai trafficanti in Libia, in cui la guerra all’immigrazione clandestina viene fatta passare come una lotta contro i trafficanti”.  IMG_5555-19

Con la Spagna da un lato che blocca l’entrata e i flussi di finanziamenti europei per la gestione dei migranti dall’altro, il Marocco ha abilmente giocato le sue carte. Ha accettato di buona lena di diventare un guardiano delle frontiere europee, ma non senza ottenere buoni accordi a livello commerciale, politico e sociale.

Migliaia di africani si sono quindi ritrovati bloccati in Marocco da anni, senza soldi, lavoro, né alloggio, vivendo nei boschi alla mercé del freddo e della polizia. “Alcuni fratelli, non sapendo che altro fare” racconta Theo, giovane camerunense che ha tentato tre volte la traversata senza successo “mi hanno scritto che erano riusciti ad arrivare in Italia, passando dalla Libia”.

“Ormai sono tre mesi che gli africani hanno iniziato a partire verso la Libia” spiega Stéphane Julinet, “da Oujda verso l’Algeria, il Mali, il Niger e riattraversando il deserto verso la Libia”. Questo tragitto è il più pericoloso dell’intero viaggio. Stipati sui pick-up, senza spazio nemmeno per sedersi. “Se cadi sei morto” racconta Theo, “la macchina non si ferma e tu sei destinato a morire nel deserto. Ma qual è l’alternativa?”.


(Français) Vierges au Masculin – Choisir

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Alors que le film « Vierges Sous Serments » de Laura Bispuri1 vient de sortir dans les salles de cinéma francophones. Que reste-t-il de cette ancienne tradition albanaise où “elle” devient “il” pour échapper à un patriarcat étouffant? Qui sont ces femmes qui ont fait serment de virginité pour obtenir les mêmes droits que leurs frères ? Guilia Bertoluzzi et Costanza Spocci deNawart Press a rencontré deux d’entre elles en Albanie.


(Français) Vierges au Masculin – Choisir

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Alors que le film « Vierges Sous Serments » de Laura Bispuri1 vient de sortir dans les salles de cinéma francophones. Que reste-t-il de cette ancienne tradition albanaise où “elle” devient “il” pour échapper à un patriarcat étouffant? Qui sont ces femmes qui ont fait serment de virginité pour obtenir les mêmes droits que leurs frères ? Guilia Bertoluzzi et Costanza Spocci deNawart Press a rencontré deux d’entre elles en Albanie.


(Français) Lesbos, l’autre porte de l’Europe pour des réfugiés en perdition – OrientXXI

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À seulement 10 kilomètres des côtes turques, les 89 000 habitants de Lesbos ont vu leur île devenir la plus importante porte d’entrée dans l’Union européenne pour les réfugiés, juste après l’Italie. Dans les six premiers mois de 2015, 63 000 migrants ont rejoint les côtes grecques.

La traversée depuis la Turquie est nettement moins risquée que celle depuis l’Égypte ou la Libye. Une fois débarqués sur l’île, les réfugiés restent le moins longtemps possible sur place afin de se mettre en route vers l’ouest ou le nord de l’Europe en passant par la Macédoine. S’ils parviennent à échapper aux bandes criminelles organisées ainsi qu’à la police, ils prendront le chemin de la Serbie puis de la Hongrie pour enfin rejoindre l’Allemagne qui semble être la destination privilégiée pour la majorité des réfugiés.

Réfugiés à Lesbos – YouTube
© Giulia Bertoluzzi, Costanza Spocci, Nawart Press

«  L’hiver passé nous avons observé beaucoup d’arrivées mais rien de comparable à maintenant  », explique Eleni Velivasaki, avocate au sein de l’ONG Pro-Asyl qui apporte une assistance juridique aux réfugiés. «  Chaque mois nous atteignons un nouveau record. Cinq mille nouvelles arrivées pour le seul mois de mai et maintenant que l’été est là, on les compte par centaines chaque jour  ».

Parmi la foule de réfugiés de différentes nationalités qui s’agglutinent devant le portail du bureau portuaire des gardes côtes de Mytilène, la capitale de Lesbos, Vahab, un jeune Afghan qui parle anglais couramment, émerge et se fait porte-parole de son groupe. «  Quand nous avons débarqué, nous avons dû marcher plus de 50 kilomètres pour atteindre cette ville. Nous dormons maintenant dans la rue depuis 5 jours, sans eau, sans nourriture ni toilettes  ».


Dans un ballet quasiment ininterrompu de petits Zodiac, chacun chargé de 30 à 40 personnes, les côtes septentrionales de l’île, près du village de Molyvos, voient défiler des centaines de personnes débarquant chaque jour. Au milieu des ruelles bondées de touristes de Molyvos, des nombreux restaurants de poisson et des excursions de plongée sous-marine, les réfugiés posent pour la première fois le pied sur le sol européen.

«  Lorsque tout a commencé, beaucoup de locaux les harcelaient et les insultaient, affirmant que leurs maladies allaient faire fuir tous les touristes  », se souvient Kimon Kosmetos qui travaille au restaurant Captain’s Table de Molyvos. À l’arrière de son restaurant, la propriétaire a monté un petit kiosque pour que les réfugiés puissent se reposer en attendant, parfois jusqu’à deux ou trois jours, que le bus des gardes-côtes les emmènent au bureau de Mytilène afin de se faire enregistrer. «  Quand la situation a commencé à dégénérer, un réseau civil s’est créé pour faire face à cette catastrophe  », raconte Kosmetos  ; «  il y a ceux qui apportent à manger, ceux qui récupèrent des vêtements ou encore des couvertures  ».

Néanmoins, la majorité d’entre eux débarquent sur les plages situées entre Skala Sykaminias et Molyvos sans la possibilité de rejoindre cette dernière. Quelques maisons de bergers et une simple route non goudronnée serpentant le long de la côte, c’est tout ce qu’il y a ici. Ce spectacle effrayant des Zodiac se déroule en pleine journée sous le regard ahuri des quelques habitants qui leur donnent les indications sommaires pour rejoindre la route principale. Avant de finir par démonter les Zodiac échoués et de s’emparer des moteurs qu’ils revendront plus tard.


Nombreux sont ceux qui demandent leur route pour Athènes sans se douter qu’ils se trouvent sur une île. Tous connaissent cependant parfaitement la procédure à suivre : d’abord se faire arrêter par les gardes-côtes, puis par la police. «  C’est une procédure très stricte  », insiste Eleni Velivasaki. «  Les gardes-côtes doivent être les premiers à enregistrer les réfugiés. S’ils ne sont pas interceptés en mer, ils doivent tout de même se rendre auprès des gardes côtes pour être enregistrés et ensuite être arrêtés par les policiers qui les ramènent enfin au seul centre de détention de l’île, dans le village de Moria  ».

«  La situation est totalement hors de contrôle  », explique Zoe Levaditou, de la Hellenic Rescue Team  ; «  sur l’île il n’y a pas assez de moyens, les gardes-côtes ne disposent que d’un seul bus pour récupérer les personnes à Molyvos  ».

Les habitants craignent de transporter les réfugiés dans leur voiture car selon la législation locale ils pourraient être accusés de trafic d’êtres humains et condamnés jusqu’à 10 ans de prison. La route entre Molyvos et Mytilène n’est plus qu’un flux interrompu d’enfants, de jeunes, de femmes, de personnes âgées et de familles entières ayant tout abandonné et en marche vers un futur incertain. «  J’étais photographe à Kaboul  », raconte Nassim dans le port de Mytilène, «  j’étais en train de travailler sur les zones rurales d’Afghanistan mais j’ai dû tout arrêter et m’enfuir car j’étais en danger  », conclut-il, le regard vide d’espoir.

«  99 % des personnes qui débarquent à Lesbos sont des réfugiés  », explique Zoe Levaditou, «  par ordre de grandeur : des Afghans, puis des Syriens, des Pakistanais, des Africains — Somaliens et Erythréens notamment — et enfin des Bangladeshis  ». Mais la réalité sur place est que personne ne souhaite rester sur l’île ni même en Grèce. «  Le problème est que la Grèce ne donne l’asile qu’à seulement 1 ou 2 % des demandeurs  », témoigne Eleana Ianodou du Conseil d’intégration des immigrés de Thessalonique. Les réfugiés attendent, au contraire, un document d’expulsion délivré par la police au centre de détention de Moria.

Avec une capacité d’accueil de 1 000 personnes seulement, le centre de Moria déborde de tous côtés. Plus de 1 000 personnes attendent à l’extérieur du centre, dormant sous des tentes de fortune ou parfois même en plein air, sans eau, sans nourriture ni toilettes. Vahab et Nassim, qui ont été transférés au centre depuis le port, font la queue pour recevoir le verre de thé qui constituera leur seule ration pour la journée.


La bouche sèche, ils racontent à quel point ils n’auraient jamais imaginé tomber si bas. Tous répètent en boucle que les gouvernements en Europe ne comprennent pas qu’ils ne veulent pas d’argent. Ils en ont. Ils ont payé une fortune pour arriver jusqu’ici. «  Si seulement il y avait une procédure légale, tout cet argent qu’on a donné aux trafiquants, on aurait pu le payer à vos gouvernements. Ce qu’on recherche, ce n’est pas l’argent, mais de vivre en sécurité  ».

«  À Kaboul, chaque fois que je sortais de la maison je ne savais pas si j’allais rentrer vivant. Ce que je voudrais c’est vivre dans un endroit où je ne craindrais pas de mourir à chaque fois que je sors de chez moi  », insiste Vahab sous le regard approbateur des autres réfugiés l’entourant.

Au milieu de la foule, une jeune Syrienne d’Alep d’une vingtaine d’années s’approche. Elle a vécu un an et demi en Turquie avant de s’embarquer. «  En Turquie, nous les Syriens, nous sommes maltraités. Nous sommes payés trois fois moins que les autres et devons payer trois fois plus cher les loyers et la nourriture. Si j’avais su le cauchemar qu’on vivrait ici, jamais je ne serais partie  », confesse-t-elle avec amertume.

Ahmed, un jeune informaticien d’Alep, l’air totalement abasourdi, regarde autour de lui. «  Mon frère est en Allemagne, ma maison en Syrie a été détruite, j’ai perdu mes amis, ma vie, tout. Je veux seulement rejoindre mon frère et retrouver un peu de paix, c’est tout  ».


L’attente dure parfois jusqu’à une semaine avant de recevoir l’ordre d’expulsion par la police. «  C’est une véritable contradiction  », précise Velivasaki car «  ils ne peuvent pas être expulsés : en premier lieu parce qu’ils viennent de pays en guerre et que selon le droit international ils doivent être protégés. Deuxièmement, parce que la Grèce n’a tout simplement pas les moyens de les expulser. Ce papier leur permet seulement de circuler en Grèce pour une durée maximale de 30 jours — de 6 mois pour les Syriens — avec pour obligation ensuite de quitter le sol grec mais par leurs propres moyens  ». Cependant, dans le même temps, «  ils sont interdits de circuler le long de toutes les zones frontalières de la Grèce ainsi que de se rendre à Athènes, et ce dans le seul but de les empêcher de rejoindre d’autres pays européens  ».

Une semaine passée sur l’île, à dormir sur les trottoirs, sur le gazon du centre de détention ou encore dans le port. Les réfugiés attendent le ferry qui les ramènera sur la terre ferme pour ensuite reprendre leur route à travers les Balkans. Le voyage qui les mènera vers le nord de l’Europe est encore long et leur coûtera des milliers d’euros supplémentaires, sans aucune certitude d’arriver.

La proposition initiale de la Commission européenne est de réinstaller 40 000 réfugiés arrivés en Italie et en Grèce, mais «  si on considère qu’en six mois 62 000 sont arrivés en Italie et 63 000 en Grèce  », commente Velivasaki, «  il est clair que c’est un chiffre purement symbolique qui ne va rien changer à la situation de crise qu’on vit ici  ».,0981

Giulia Bertoluzzi
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