Daily Archives: April 23, 2015

Special meeting of the European Council, 23 April 2015 – statement

1. The situation in the Mediterranean is a tragedy. The European Union will mobilise all efforts at its disposal to prevent further loss of life at sea and to tackle the root causes of the human emergency that we face, in cooperation with the countries of origin and transit. Our immediate priority is to prevent more people from dying at sea.

2. We have therefore decided to strengthen our presence at sea, to fight the traffickers, to prevent illegal migration flows and to reinforce internal solidarity and responsibility. Given that instability in Libya creates an ideal environment for the criminal activities of traffickers, we will actively support all UN-led efforts towards re-establishing government authority in Libya. We will also step up efforts to address conflict and instability as key push factors of migration, including in Syria.

3. We today commit to:

Strengthening our presence at sea

a) rapidly reinforce EU Operations Triton and Poseidon by at least tripling the financial resources for this purpose in 2015 and 2016 and reinforcing the number of assets, thus allowing to increase the search and rescue possibilities within the mandate of FRONTEX. We welcome the commitments already made by Member States which will allow to reach this objective in the coming weeks;

Fighting traffickers in accordance with international law

b) disrupt trafficking networks, bring the perpetrators to justice and seize their assets, through swift action by Member State authorities in co-operation with EUROPOL, FRONTEX, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and EUROJUST, as well as through increased intelligence and police-cooperation with third countries;

c) undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers;

d) at the same time, the High Representative is invited to immediately begin preparations for a possible CSDP operation to this effect;

e) use EUROPOL to detect and request removal of internet content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees, in accordance with national constitutions;

Preventing illegal migration flows

f) increase support to Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Niger among others, to monitor and control the land borders and routes, building on current CSDP operations in the region, as well as on regional cooperation frameworks (Rabat and Khartoum processes); step up dialogue with the African Union at all levels on all these issues;

g) reinforce our political cooperation with African partners at all levels in order to tackle the cause of illegal migration and combat the smuggling and trafficking of human beings. The EU will raise these issues with the African Union and the key countries concerned, with whom it will propose the holding of a summit in Malta in the coming months;

h) step up cooperation with Turkey in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq;

i) deploy European migration liaison officers in key countries to gather information on migratory flows, co-ordinate with national liaison officers, and co-operate directly with the local authorities;

j) work with regional partners in building capacity for maritime border management and search and rescue operations;

k) launch Regional Development and Protection programmes for North Africa and the Horn of Africa;

l) invite the Commission and the High Representative to mobilise all tools, including through development cooperation and the implementation of EU and national readmission agreements with third countries, to promote readmission of unauthorised economic migrants to countries of origin and transit, working closely with the International Organisation for Migration;

m) while respecting the right to seek asylum, set up a new return programme for the rapid return of illegal migrants from frontline Member States, coordinated by FRONTEX;

Reinforcing internal solidarity and responsibility

n) rapid and full transposition and effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System by all participating Member States, thereby ensuring common European standards under existing legislation;

o) increase emergency aid to frontline Member States and consider options for organising emergency relocation between all Member States on a voluntary basis;

p) deploy EASO teams in frontline Member States for joint processing of asylum applications, including registration and finger-printing;

q) set up a first voluntary pilot project on resettlement across the EU, offering places to persons qualifying for protection.

4. The EU institutions and the Member States will work immediately on the full implementation of these orientations. The Presidency and the Commission will present next week a roadmap setting out work up to June.

5. The European Council looks forward to the Commission Communication on a European Agenda for Migration, in order to develop a more systemic and geographically comprehensive approach to migration. The European Council will remain seized of the situation and will closely monitor the implementation of these orientations. The Council and the Commission will report to the European Council in June.

Montreal school struggles to explain why its students chose to join ISIS

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RadicalizationMontreal school struggles to explain why its students chose to join ISIS

Published 24 April 2015

Just months after five students at Montreal’s Collège de Maisonneuveleft Canada to join the Islamic State in Syria, a young couple, El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djaermane, who attended the same school, were arrested last Tuesday for what police allege were plans to commit terrorist acts. Since the arrest, school officials have met with terrorism and extremism experts to help analyze if the school itself had been a breeding ground for extremists. Some locals familiar with the school have pointed fingers at Adil Charkaoui, an Islamic leader in Montreal who rents the school’s facilities for a weekend Muslim youth group, and was once probed by federal agents as a suspected al-Qaeda sleeper agent.

Just months after five students at Montreal’s Collège de Maisonneuve left Canada to join the Islamic State in Syria, a young couple, El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djaermane, who attended the same school, were arrested last Tuesday for what police allege were plans to commit terrorist acts. Since the arrest, school officials have met with terrorism and extremism experts to help analyze if the school itself had been a breeding ground for extremists.

Some locals familiar with the school have pointed fingers at Adil Charkaoui, an Islamic leader in Montreal who rents the school’s facilities for a weekend Muslim youth group, and was once probed by federal agents as a suspected al-Qaeda sleeper agent.

When school officials learned that five Maisonneuve students traveled to Syria to join ISIS, they immediately encouraged faculty to take courses on identifying signs of radicalization in an effort to prevent other students from being radicalized. “It’s an attempt to give some meaning to what has happened. If we don’t have that it would be a total depression. It’s powerlessness,” said Brigitte Desjardins, a spokesperson for Maisonneuve.

According to the Toronto Star, school officials consulted with police and radicalization experts in order to find out if the school had a terrorist recruiter at work on campus or if school faculty could have foreshadowed the actions of the five students. “There were no signs at all,” Desjardins concluded.

Some locals still believe Charkaoui played a role in the students’ departure, after revelations that several of them had enrolled in Arabic-language and Islamic instruction courses which he operates. Maisonneuve initially suspended its rental contract with Charkaoui, but then allowed him to resume courses under the supervision of an Arab-language observer.

Collège Rosemont, another Montreal school at which Charkaouri operated youth kickboxing and karate courses, canceled its rental contract with him last week, because it found that links on Charkaouri’s Web site led to extremist material.

Of the five Maisonneuve students who left, two were girls — Shayma Senouci and Ouardia Kadem; and another two were their boyfriends, Desjardins revealed. Imad Rafai, one of the students, wanted to become a doctor. His social media profile revealed that he had been moved by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and admired the work of Doctors Without Borders, the humanitarian group working on the front lines against the Ebola outbreak. On 23 October 2014, Rafai shared on his social media profile, a story about Canadian Muslim leaders paying tribute to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was killed at the National War Memorial in Ottawa by homegrown terrorist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

On social media, Jamali, who was arrested last week, frequently mentioned the plight of Muslims around the world. “Mali, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma … murders by the thousands and we don’t care,” he wrote on his Facebook page on 15 April 2013, referring to conflicts around the world where Muslims were dying in large numbers. “But Boston, Oh-la-la, a few injured. Get out of here you hypocrites.”

A number of Canadians who traveled to Syria to join ISIS appeared to have been searching for a cause, said Desjardins. “What we know of those who left is that they left to save the world. They didn’t leave to wage war. It was with good intentions,” she said.

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First Mandela Washington Fellowship Conference Reunites Fellows in Accra

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2015 / PRNewswire – Over 150 young leaders from 21 West African countries will gather in Accra, Ghana next week to share their expertise and engage on issues they have defined as critical for the future of Africa. In support of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), USAID and IREX are organizing the 1st Annual West Africa Regional Conference for Mandela Washington Fellows in Accra from April 26-28, 2015. The Fellows include tech and social entrepreneurs, public servants, human rights activists, lawyers, doctors and youth activists who are bringing changes to their home countries and communities with support from USAID and IREX. In addition to this impressive group of Fellows, the conference will bring together leaders from the private sector, the U.S. Government, and international and local organizations.

The conference will highlight issues and ideas for promoting entrepreneurship, growth sectors, inclusive development, energy, women in technology, and philanthropy in Africa. Event speakers include Deputy Minister of Education in Ghana, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa; Founder of the Future Africa Project, Chude Jideonwo; CEO of the African Women’s Development Fund, Theo Sowa; U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Gene A. Cretz; and the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship brings 500 young African professionals from across the continent to U.S. universities for six weeks of leadership training in the areas of business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, or public management. Competitively selected for this prestigious flagship program, the Fellows represent the continent’s emerging generation of business CEO’s, community leaders, and public officials.

The West African Fellows include participants from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, São Tome and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

USAID and IREX support Mandela Washington Fellows with continuing professional development opportunities in Africa. This is done with coordination support from the West Africa Civil Society Institute based in Accra, Ghana. To find out more about the Mandela Washington Fellowship visit: https://www.irex.org/projects/yali/. Participation in the conference is by invitation only.

Media Contact: Erin Powell, newsroom@irex.org, Tel: +233 20 681 9394