Vicki Squire https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/21853/all cached version 09/02/2019 03:12:21 en “I never thought to come in Europe”: unpacking the myths of Europe’s ‘migration crisis’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/vicki-squire/i-never-thought-to-come-in-europe-unpacking-myths-of-europe-s-migration-c <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Europe’s failure to listen to people on the move has left it blind to why many people end up going there.</p> </div> </div> </div> <style> .squire {margin-left:25px;padding-left:10px;border-left:6px solid #0e63bc;color:#53514e;font-style:italic;line-height:150%;} </style> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/PA-30962501.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Men and women wait to disembark a navy transport at the port of Messina, on the island of Sicily, on 17 April 2017. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</p> <p><em>With the so-called European ‘migration crisis’ showing no signs of abating, a <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/ctm_final_report_4may2017.pdf">new report</a> and <a href="https://crossing-the-med-map.warwick.ac.uk/">interactive story map</a> by the project <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/">Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat</a> unpacks some of the myths on which policy-making is based, and demonstrates the need for a new approach based on an appreciation of the journeys, experiences and testimonies of people on the move.</em></p> <h2>An on-going European ‘migration crisis’</h2> <div style="width:230px;float:right;padding-left:15px;margin-top:15px;margin-bottom:15px;"><a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/ctm_final_report_4may2017.pdf"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/SquireReport.jpg" width="230" style="border:1px solid black;" /></a><span class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;"><strong><a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/ctm_final_report_4may2017.pdf">Download the full project report as a PDF</a></strong></span></div> <p>As people on the move <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-migrants-asylum-seekers-mediterranean-see-libya-italy-ngos-smugglers-accusations-a7696976.html">continue to make the dangerous journey</a> across the Mediterranean Sea, and as <a href="https://theconversation.com/europe-needs-to-learn-how-to-work-with-turkey-while-keeping-democracy-alive-74640">EU-Turkey relations</a> face imminent meltdown, fears of a European Union ‘flooded’ with desperate refugees and with migrants seeking a better life continue to abound. A key assumption driving this fear is that Europe serves as a place of destination for large swathes of displaced populations. </p> <p>However, research documented in a <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/ctm_final_report_4may2017.pdf">new report</a> by the project <em><a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/">Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat</a> </em>indicates that this assumption is a myth. Written by researchers from the Universities of Warwick and Malta and the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, the report is based on 257 in-depth qualitative interviews conducted across two periods and two migratory routes. Interviews were <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/output/crossing_the_med_evidence_brief_i.pdf">first</a> carried out in Kos, Malta and Sicily from September-November 2015 (with additional interviews in Malta until March 2016), and <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/output/crossing_the_med_evidence_brief_ii.pdf">subsequently</a> in Athens, Bern, Istanbul and Rome from May-July 2016.</p> <h2>The myth of ‘destination Europe’</h2> <p>While some people do of course leave countries of origin in order to reach <a href="http://www.fmreview.org/destination-europe/contents.html">‘destination Europe’</a>, many do not. Indeed, what is striking in our research is that many people we interviewed did not even know anything about the EU states prior to their arrival, let alone planned their journey with Europe as a destination point. As one man from the Ivory Coast told us when we spoke to him in Sicily: </p> <div class="squire">&quot;My idea was not to reach Italy. I didn’t know Italy if not for the football. I never thought to come in Europe, because here I have not family. My family is only in Ivory Coast and Burkina. But is my family who pushed me to go to Mali. In Mali there was a war, then I moved to Algeria, otherwise I would have stayed there. I wasn’t lucky enough to stay in Algeria, if not I would have to stay there. I didn’t want to go in Libya, the situation is too crazy to go there. It [..was..] really hard …to stay in Libya… all these circumstances pushed me to reach here. I went in Algeria and I failed… I went in Libya and there was the death.&quot; </div> <p>Indeed, unsustainable living situations were reported by many people who travelled to Italy via Libya, as a Palestinian Syrian who had been born in Libya told us when we interviewed him in Rome:</p> <div class="squire">“At first I didn’t want to come to Europe, I wanted to go to another Arabic country… I thought about doing some business in Libya, but then I discovered that there is no security, I can’t be free over there. There is always danger, for everybody. I have discovered a different reality from what I initially imagined in Libya… They treat everyone like slaves.” </div> <p>This man’s testimony resonates with recent reports of people being <a href="https://euobserver.com/tickers/137570">sold as slaves</a> or prostitutes in Libya. However, it is not only on the central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy that our interviewees report <a href="http://www.fmreview.org/destination-europe/okello.html">problems <em>en route</em></a> as the main reason for onward movement to the EU. As an Afghan man told us when we spoke to him in Athens: </p> <div class="squire">“I didn’t care about borders. All I cared about was to save my life, seriously. I thought I could find a safe place and find work and that’s all. Maybe in Turkey. Turkey is a good place. But if they find you are illegal in Turkey they will deport you back to Kabul. This is the reason I came here [to Europe].” </div> <p>In sum, rather than ‘destination Europe’ being a ‘pull factor’ as is so often assumed in political and public debates about the European ‘migration crisis’, our research indicates that if we want to understand why people on the move are willing to risk their lives in unsafe boats heading for Europe, much more attention needs to be paid to the drivers of flight and the <a href="http://www.fmreview.org/destination-europe/gidron-bueno.html">protections that these demand</a>. </p> <h2>Intersecting drivers of flight </h2> <p>People on the move experience various dangers or harms from which they need to escape, not only in countries of origin but also throughout the migratory journey. For example, many people we spoke to fled from situations of war/conflict; from the threat of terrorist/cult groups; from kidnapping and torture; from violence by authorities or by local populations; from governmental exclusion of non-nationals; and from being targeted by governments for conscription or for punishment. </p> <p>People also fled from family problems; societal ostracism; extreme discrimination and exploitation; as well as from situations marked by the absence of employment; by limited prospects of integration and access to education; and by language difficulties. A woman from Cameroon who we interviewed in Rome expresses the significance of drivers of flight most succinctly:</p> <div class="squire">“It is because of insecurity in our countries that there are many illegal refugees [sic] coming into Europe. Total insecurity is pushing us to migrate… I only want to live in security, I live in fear.” </div> <p>What is particularly striking in our research is that differing drivers of flight are often connected rather than separate, and often accumulate over the course of the migratory journey. For example, one woman we spoke to in Rome was a mother of six who had fled the war in Eritrea. As a half-Eritrean, half-Ethiopian Christian in Sudan, she faced discrimination and threats and all her documents were taken from her. She eventually escaped for Europe with her three youngest children, but left without her husband due to religious persecution by family members. She explains how despite her long search for safety, Europe was the only place where she found protection:</p> <div class="squire">“Europe is the only place that has the power to protect me, and help me. For me being a refugee is very tiring, because for each of us [it] is better staying in our country, our roots. But here [in Europe] there is a freedom, whereas from where I am from there are dictators, and I don’t have the freedom.” </div> <p>What this woman’s story indicates is that we need a different language from that of <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/uk/mixed-migration.html">‘mixed migration flows’</a>, which implies that people who flee for differing reasons come together along the same migratory routes. Instead, a language of intersecting drivers of flight is more appropriate in clarifying how individual migratory journeys result from multiple cross-cutting drivers, which render people precarious in ways that compound one another over time. The challenge, then, is how to respond to such a complex challenge most effectively.</p> <h2>The failure of a deterrent approach</h2> <p>Although an approach focused on measures to address the <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/regions/africa/eu-emergency-trust-fund-africa_en">‘root causes’</a> of migration has again <a href="https://theconversation.com/eu-leaders-seek-to-share-responsibility-for-migration-in-malta-50542">come to the fore</a> of policy debates, such measures are set to fail where they are rooted in <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration_en"><em>A</em> <em>European Agenda on Migration</em></a> that remains tied to an agenda of deterring migration to the EU. This is because people on the move are often unaware of deterrent policies, and even where they are the drivers of migration are often more pressing than deterrence. </p> <p>Indeed, <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/ctm_final_report_4may2017.pdf">our report</a> goes further to show how deterrent policies risk lives while perpetuating further harms against people who experience intersecting drivers of flight, as discussed above. For example, this is evident in the statement by a Syrian man who we interviewed in Athens, who reflected on the sub-standard living conditions he became trapped within as borders closed to deter onward migration through the EU:</p> <div class="squire">“European policy is like subjection. Honestly, subjection. They opened the door of refuge to us and subjected us to coming. Why did they close it on our face as soon as we arrived?” </div> <p>Yet perhaps the most damning evidence against a deterrent approach predicated on the attraction of ‘destination Europe’ lies in the evidence we found of people arriving to the EU without a solid understanding of what was about to happen, and even against their wishes. As one Nigerian woman who we interviewed in Sicily told us, she was forcibly deported from Libya against her will by somebody who she trusted and considered a friend or protector: </p> <div class="squire">“…in the midnight like that her husband put me inside his car… the next day after they drive in the night I see myself near the sea. I don’t even know that sea… He said: ‘Just look at people, if I see people enter inside the boat I should enter’. I start crying, I say: ‘No!’ Because the sea is very big, I was afraid! I say: ‘No, take me back! Take me back!’ The man say: ‘Stay here! …That is the way I enter the boat.” </div> <h2>Moving forward </h2> <p>Current EU policies are grounded in misplaced assumptions about the migratory journey and experience, which lead to policies that are at best ineffective and at worst damaging for people on the move. Indeed, what emerges from our <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/ctm_final_report_4may2017.pdf">new report</a> and <a href="https://crossing-the-med-map.warwick.ac.uk/">interactive story map</a> is a picture characterised by the systematic failure of rights provision and the institutionalisation of measures that perpetuate harm.</p> <a href="https://crossing-the-med-map.warwick.ac.uk"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Squiremap.jpg" width="565" height="469" alt="Squiremap.jpg" /></a> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Crossing The Med <a href="https://crossing-the-med-map.warwick.ac.uk">online interactive story map</a></p> <p>Misplaced assumptions are not only detrimental for people on the move – they also perpetuate anxieties on the part of host communities. One of the misplaced assumptions that our research highlights is the myth that ‘destination Europe’ is a ‘pull factor’ for people on the move. Such a myth needs to be rejected in order that policy-making and wider public debate can move beyond a <a href="https://theconversation.com/academics-collaborate-with-artists-to-ask-who-are-we-to-fear-refugees-and-migrants-74404">politics of fear</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/"><em>Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat</em></a> highlights the importance of taking into account the journeys and experiences, as well as the understandings, expectations, concerns and demands of people on the move in the formation and implementation of policy initiatives. To date such insights have been largely disregarded. 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href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/safepassages/cameron-thibos-sarowat-binte-islam/leaving-home-to-become-domestic-worker">Leaving home to become a domestic worker</a><br />SAROWAT BINTE ISLAM<hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/safepassages/aur-lie-ponthieu/call-for-safe-passage">The call for ‘safe passage’</a><br />AURÉLIE PONTHIEU<hr /> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicki-squire-bern-o-donoghue/5083-boats-dead-reckoning">5,083 boats: a dead reckoning</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/vicki-squire/humanitarian-corridors-beyond-political-gesture">Humanitarian Corridors: beyond political gesture</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jane-freedman-vasiliki-touhouliotis/fleeing-europe"> Fleeing Europe?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/vicki-squire/city-plaza-way-forward-for-european-migration-crisis">City Plaza: a way forward for the European ‘migration crisis’?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/vicki-squire/hotspot-stories">Hotspot stories from Europe&#039;s border</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery North-Africa West-Asia Vicki Squire Searching for safe passage Wed, 31 May 2017 07:47:24 +0000 Vicki Squire 111294 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 5,083 boats: a dead reckoning https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicki-squire-bern-o-donoghue/5083-boats-dead-reckoning <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new installation at the Tate Gallery in London combines scholarship and art to inspire empathy with those crossing the Mediterranean.</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/IMG_1934.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;"><a href="http://www.bernodonoghue.com/dead-reckoning">Dead Reckoning</a>. Bern O’Donoghue/All rights reserved.</p> <p><em>The dialogue below emerges from a collaboration between artist, Bern O’Donoghue, and scholar, Dr Vicki Squire. Their installation, Dead Reckoning / Crossing the Med, will be free to visit at Tate Exchange on 14-16 March 2017. It forms part of <a href="http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/workshop/tate-exchange/who-are-we">Who Are We?</a>, a week of participatory installations, conversations and learning labs curated by Tate Exchange Associates: Counterpoints Arts, The Open University, University of Warwick and Loughborough University from 14-19 March 2017.</em></p> <p><em>Linked to the Dead Reckoning / Crossing the Med installation, there will be a symposium dialogue between academics, artists, community and faith group activists on 15 March from 12-2pm, exploring how art and interactive media help us to think and feel migration differently. You can register for the Symposium <a href="https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dead-reckoning-crossing-the-med-thinking-and-feeling-migration-differently-tickets-32255381715">here</a>, and find out more about the Who are We? programme&nbsp;here.</em></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Vicki Squire:</strong> Hi Bern. I’d like to start our dialogue with a personal question for you, so as to understand more about your installation, <a href="http://www.bernodonoghue.com/dead-reckoning/"><em>Dead Reckoning</em></a>, and what it means to you. Who is Bern O’Donoghue, and why does she care that people are dying at sea in boats?</p> <p><strong>Bern O’Donoghue:</strong> I am a visual artist based in East Sussex who makes socially engaged work. The more I explore societal issues, the clearer it is to me that lives and actions across this planet are interconnected. It follows that we could all benefit from understanding and engaging with events in the wider world, as well as those within our immediate community. It’s my belief that how we choose to respond to what’s happening outside our own bubble, including to desperate people risking their lives in flimsy boats, is a measure of how emotionally healthy society is and that’s something I care about deeply. </p> <div style="width:230px;float:right;padding-left:10px;"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/vbimage1.jpg" width="230" /><br /><span class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Athens, Piraeus Port camp, May 2016: Vicki Squire, <em>Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat</em></span></div> <p><strong>VS:</strong> That reminds me of Martin Luther King’s statement that “justice is indivisible”. He says that we cannot think about justice for ourselves without paying attention to justice for others. I find this insight very important and it has been background inspiration for our research on the project <em><a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/">Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat</a></em>, which looks at the struggles of people who are moving under precarious conditions.</p> <p>For me, producing work with a view to justice for all is critical because it disrupts the tendency for us to perceive our lives in isolation from others. This tendency could be understood as a root cause of xenophobia, which I see as closely connected with an economic rationality and a colonial tradition that divides people from each other and discards those deemed to be unworthy. Scholars like Achille Mbembe talk about this in terms of ‘disposable lives’. Is this a helpful way to describe what the boats in the <a href="http://www.bernodonoghue.com/dead-reckoning/"><em>Dead Reckoning</em></a> installation represent for you?</p> <p><strong>BOD:</strong> ‘Disposable lives’ is a very apt term if we look at the collective ambivalence that is shown to the deaths of refugees and migrants at the borders we’ve created around Europe. Each boat in <a href="http://www.bernodonoghue.com/dead-reckoning/"><em>Dead Reckoning</em></a> 2016 represents an individual who has been recorded as drowned last year in the Mediterranean Sea en route to Europe. I use data collected by IOM in their <a href="https://missingmigrants.iom.int/"><em>Missing Migrants Project</em></a>. Every one of the 5,083 paper boats symbolises a loss of someone significant: a daughter, son, neighbour or friend.</p> <div style="width:230px;float:left;padding-right:10px;"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/vbimage2.jpg" width="230" /><br /><span class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Marbling and drying paper in the corner of my family kitchen before turning them into <em>Dead Reckoning</em> boats: Bern O’Donoghue</span></div> <p>I’ve deliberately chosen to work on the project in my kitchen, where my own family gathers most, using water and fragile materials to construct a work which identifies some of the most basic similarities we share with refugees and migrants. Throughout 2016 I hand marbled and dried hundreds of pieces of A4 paper, before turning them into tiny origami boats. I used twelve different colour combinations to marble the paper to more clearly depict the loss of life month by month, highlighting how changes such as weather, season or policies surrounding migration in Europe might affect the number of people who have died.</p> <p><strong>VS:</strong> So, you literally make your work in your kitchen to draw connections between your daily life and relationships, and those of the people on the move whom your artwork represents? That is really interesting because it brings the experiential dimension ‘back home’, so to speak. Academics examining migration and more broadly working across the social sciences have done a lot of analysis of the meaning and significance of home over recent years, and have also increasingly paid attention to the importance of understanding the experiential dimensions of migratory journeys.</p> <p>This is also something that our project seeks to draw attention to – the experiences of people on the move. By focusing on these experiences, we seek to re-humanise people making the journey across the Mediterranean Sea in the face of dehumanising policies and media coverage that so often dominate. This is not only a driving concern of <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/"><em>Crossing the Med</em></a>, but also another project I am working on, called <em><a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/humandignity">Human Dignity and Biophysical Violence</a>.</em></p> <p>This looks at the ways that border deaths are tolerated – and even produced – by policy and the collective ambivalence that you mention. I am particularly concerned here in the ways that, despite occasional rhetoric to the contrary, respect for the dignity of each person’s life is wholly disregarded in Europe’ current agenda on migration. So, what was the driving force for you to carry out <a href="http://www.bernodonoghue.com/dead-reckoning/"><em>Dead Reckoning</em></a> in its current form?</p> <div style="width:230px;float:right;padding-left:10px;"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/vbimage3.jpg" width="230" /><br /><span class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Lampedusa, ‘Boat cemetery’, September 2015: Vicki Squire, <em>Human Dignity and Biophysical Violence</em></span></div> <p><strong>BOD:</strong> I originally began this project mid April 2015, when two news reports six days apart showed that boats carrying refugees had capsized off the Libyan coast. I was stopped in my tracks by the fact that 1200 people had drowned. It was so shocking and distressing that such a huge number of people had died in this way, but equally troubling was the pejorative language used by certain politicians and sections of the media in response to the accidents.</p> <p>I found it disturbing to see numbers used as a means of distancing people living in safety from the human tragedy and felt compelled to make some work to bridge that distance and began researching the refugee crisis. As the crisis continued to unfold, living and dead seemed to be afforded little dignity or compassion. The language was coarsening by the day, which was frequently overwhelming.</p> <p>I started marbling paper with no clear idea of how to it might be used, other than I intended to make something reconnecting the viewer to the humans hidden behind statistics. Folding the paper into boats came from thinking about how vulnerable people were in the sea. As summer approached and deaths increased, thousands of boats amassed around our home and discussion in the news became ever more polarised. All I could think was, ‘these are all someone’s son or daughter’ and began marking each boat with a relationship to another person. By this time I realised that I wanted to campaign for safe passage and to use my work to challenge myths surrounding the refugee crisis. </p> <p><strong>VS:</strong> That resonates a lot with our concerns. In <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/"><em>Crossing the Med</em></a> we also wanted to challenge the assumptions that misrepresent the journeys, lives and aspirations of people on the move. We decided to carry out in-depth interviews with people making the journey across the sea so that the complexity of different stories could be documented. More than this, we also wanted to give people arriving to the European Union the chance to share their stories in a way that could in some way counter the dehumanising treatment the faced along the journey and on arrival.</p> <p>Of course, we don’t want to overstate this, yet giving people time and space – not only to share their stories but also to voice their concerns and demands – has proven very powerful in various ways. Rather than numbers, our research is about stories, and not the stories of victims but the stories of people. Those who can and <em>do</em> speak back to policy makers and ‘host’ societies to challenge some of the assumptions that lead to detrimental policies and negative societal responses in the first place.</p> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/vbimage4.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Dead Reckoning 2015 on display at the British Museum as part of Moving Stories, Counterpoint Arts Refugee Week 2015 event: Jeremy Johnston</p> <p>It’s not a comfortable process to go through, to sit face-to-face with the people that we interview or to look at the data that our research is producing, but we still think it is important. Can you say a bit more about how making and installing the paper boats help you to deal with the horror of increasing numbers of border deaths – not only at sea but also across other sites across and beyond Europe? </p> <p><strong>BOD:</strong> That’s a hard question. There are times when I don’t feel it helps me at all! Looking at deaths in the Mediterranean has produced so much work so far, I feel as if I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. It’s very wearing to think continuously about trauma so drawing for it’s own sake in the studio can sometimes seem incredibly tempting, but I have a sense that watching terrible events unfold and feeling anger or sadness and not using that energy to help in some way is a waste of that experience. So, I make <a href="http://www.bernodonoghue.com/dead-reckoning/"><em>Dead Reckoning</em></a> and engage in widening the debate.</p> <p>As an artist, I’m in the privileged position of being able to look at challenging ideas and present information in a manageable way. It seems reasonable that if I ask my audience to engage with the installation and experience difficult feelings, I too must be prepared to feel some of those difficult emotions, else how can I expect them to? How I feel, how someone terrified in a boat feels, how someone unwilling to help refugees feels, – these can all be imagined and channelled alongside presentation of the facts to interrogate and understand the overlap of ‘us’ and ‘them’. These are the components of the creative toolkit I use in <em><a href="http://www.bernodonoghue.com/dead-reckoning/">Dead Reckoning</a></em> in an attempt to foster connection, so that empathy and nuanced discourse might follow. </p> <p><strong>VS:</strong> That’s very interesting. This question of how to engage emotions – not avoiding the discomfort it involves but mobilising and productively transforming pain and anger – is an idea I started exploring in my last book, <em><a href="http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9781137395887">Post/Humanitarian Politics Between Mexico and the US</a></em>.</p> <p>I was looking at different humanitarian responses to migrant deaths in the desert in the US, and I found the work of scholars such as Miriam Ticktin on the politics of care, and Claudia Aradau on the politics of pity, very important as critiques of humanitarian politics. Since humanitarianism involves an unequal relation between people who are privileged (that is, humanitarian actors) and those who are not (people actually undertaking the precarious journey through the Sonoran Desert), it is highly problematic.</p> <p>But I was also interested in the ways that some humanitarian actions involved anger rather than pity, or simply respect for the life and demands of another. Does this involve a different type of politics, one that acknowledges a position of privilege while also challenging it by taking partial responsibility for or responding to border deaths?</p> <p>This is an important political and ethical question, as it asks what compassion means when it is orientated to empathy and respect, rather than to sympathy and pity. Through your work, what have you discovered that helps you to make sense of the inhumane European response to people moving in precarious conditions, and how? </p> <p><strong>BOD:</strong> I’ve found there’s a huge problem with the kind of ‘news’ that’s churned out about refugees and migration. This has become obvious from my own research on the issue and how some members of the public have discussed the installation. Basic facts are just not getting through often enough in the mainstream media. Though real information is out there, too many politicians and outlets present biased or inaccurate perspectives as truth.</p> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/vbimage5.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Dead Reckoning 2016 Migration Awareness Day, October 2016, Attenborough Centre, University of Sussex: Bern O’Donoghue</p> <p>I enlist help from members of the public to build the installation and as we work I ask participants about their experience of and thoughts on migration. Many of the negative things I hear come from people quoting incorrect or misleading articles, which reinforce their own worldview. We touch on the possibility that if we needed to escape death, precarious living or poverty, how without doubt we’d all make the same decisions as refugees or migrants. That hard for some people to acknowledge when they feel anxious about their own situation.</p> <p>The west has been insulated for quite some time from problems in other parts of the world. Now, as we struggle to deal with the impact of our own financial issues and so many arrive on our shores asking for help, it’s easy to see how the needs of outsiders can feel too much to take on. Politicians are both role models and set the tone for the electorate, so if they choose to reinforce borders and be economical with the truth about migration as opposed to presenting a balanced picture or defending the rights of refugees, it’s hardly surprising that public opinion hardens too.</p> <p>It is a very normal response to push away other people’s misfortune and focus on self-interest when under pressure, but legitimate concerns about employment and the pressures locally are not the fault of migration or refugees. Too often there is a lack of political courage to say this or to speak out against populism, which emboldens the far right groups to exploit anxiety and conflate refugees with terrorism.</p> <p><strong>VS:</strong> That’s a good point. There is now a long history of approaching migration as a security issue linked to terrorism. In my PhD – which I did a long time ago now! – I looked at the ways that asylum seeking in the UK and across Europe was presented as a security problem post-9/11. But even at that time I was struck by the work of international relations scholars such as Jef Huysmans, who point to a longer history of what is called in political science ‘the securitisation of migration’.</p> <p>I think that we can see the legacy of this history today in policies such as Trump’s recent attempt to ban the entrance of refugees to the US, as well as in EU efforts to prevent migrants from entering the territory of states within the EU. Of course, we have also seen this in Brexit debates in the UK, highlighting the problematic legacy of irresponsible linkages of migration, terrorism and more general concerns about ‘foreigners’ as ‘threatening others’ over a number of decades. When you have dialogue with people through <a href="http://www.bernodonoghue.com/dead-reckoning/"><em>Dead Reckoning</em></a>, what sort of responses do you get? What is the most negative/positive reaction that the exhibit provoked and how did you deal with this? </p> <div style="width:230px;float:left;padding-right:10px;"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/vbimage6.jpg" width="230" /><br /><span class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Lampedusa, ‘Hotspot’, September 2015: Vicki Squire, <em>Human Dignity and Biophysical Violence</em></span></div> <p><strong>BOD:</strong> Generally very good, unless I’m deliberately working in a community where people are hostile to migration. Children are always more emotionally open than adults, often showing empathy, and I believe this is because they are encouraged to practice values led thinking. I get a mixed response from adults, partly because we have learned to control our responses and also because adult values are often conflicted by the compromises that we make.</p> <p>In terms of the most positive response, there have been lots, but one that stands out is a conversation with the deputy headmistress following workshops with year five pupils in a school. The children had been making welcome boats with me to share locally, discussing language and how to be welcoming. In the class was a Syrian child who had joined the school a few months previously and who had been very reserved.</p> <p>A few days after our workshop, he began to talk with his classmates for the first time about some of his experiences as a refugee and the children were in turn very supportive. Staff said this was very good progress for the boy, convinced that the workshops had promoted a safer environment and that all the children benefitted as a result.</p> <p>I think the most challenging example was when I expressed concern about language government ministers had been using on the refugee crisis and migration with a Conservative MP. He attempted to distance himself and to identify as an MP with a real interest in helping refugees yet who also needed to respond to his constituents…</p> <p><strong>VS:</strong> It is really interesting hearing you talk about this. As a research team we often feel a pressure to make an ‘impact’ on the audiences of our research – and of course, policy makers are often a prime audience for social scientists. <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/"><em>Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat</em></a> has taken its particular point of departure from the European policy agenda, and we have done a lot of work to try to point to the problems of the assumptions that this involves.</p> <p>For example, our evidence does not support the assumption that deterrent policies work, and rejects the divide between political and economic migrants. This resonates a lot with what you are talking about, and from the start we wanted to reach wider audiences to challenge the assumptions that inform bad policies – in particular by raising awareness of the impact of such policy on the experiences of people on the move.</p> <p>We emphasise that without taking these experiences seriously, policies will continue to fail. It is serendipitous for us that this opportunity to collaborate with <em><a href="http://www.bernodonoghue.com/dead-reckoning/">Dead Reckoning</a></em> arose, because it helps us to reach wider publics as we have always wanted to do with this research. We have developed an online story map to facilitate this, where people can follow individual journeys to understand more about the complexity and challenges of migratory experiences. The map will be available to pre-view at the Tate Exchange installation.</p> <p><strong>BOD:</strong> I’m looking forward to using the interactive map with the installation. It will be interesting to see how visitors respond to the stories of real people when confronted with the thousands of boats. It’s a gentle reminder again that every one of those people who’ve died have a story about why they leave and why they’re significant. </p> <p>Collaborating with <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/"><em>Crossing the Med</em></a> as part of <a href="http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/workshop/tate-exchange/who-are-we"><em>Who are we?</em></a> feels like a very natural fit for many reasons. As a starting point, we both look at border deaths and want to see change. I want to draw attention to our ambivalence in Europe towards refugees and migrants. What does that mean for us as civilised human beings? Your work attempts to make sense of how of death has become a normalised dimension of border control in privileged regions.</p> <p>We both want to see this transformed and through collaboration we might find a way of communicating the benefits gained by this. I want to develop work with <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/"><em>Crossing the Med</em></a> which explores the mutual value of connection and empathy outside our immediate circles. I’m looking forward to finding ways of bringing to a wider audience the stories the project has collected and show the benefits of interdependence. When I first started this project, I envisaged a year’s work, maybe two, but the more I uncovered, the more I felt this might be the focus of my work for many years to come. Now Brexit, Trump and the rise of the far right are amplifying tensions felt around the world, there’s even more need continue tackling myths and presenting data in accessible forms. </p> <p><strong>VS:</strong> Yes – difficult times, but the project is really important and exciting. Watch this space!!! Thank you very much, Bern!</p> <p><strong>BOD:</strong> My pleasure, I look forward to working together in the future!</p> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Bern O’Donoghue Vicki Squire Mon, 13 Mar 2017 11:03:11 +0000 Vicki Squire and Bern O’Donoghue 109349 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Humanitarian Corridors: beyond political gesture https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/vicki-squire/humanitarian-corridors-beyond-political-gesture <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Around 300 people have entered Italy from Lebanon via safe and legal routes pioneered by faith groups. This pilot project holds great potential as an innovative approach to the so-called ‘refugee crisis’.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Events such as the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Lampedusa_migrant_shipwreck">horrific shipwreck of 3 October 2013</a> off the coast of Lampedusa are now commonplace in the Mediterranean. With <a href="https://euobserver.com/tickers/135342">over 6,000</a> people reported to have been rescued on 3 October 2016, a new approach is long overdue. This is why a programme of safe and legal passage, already underway in Italy, is so important. In pressing for an effective response to <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/humandignity">deaths at sea</a>, <a href="http://www.santegidio.org/pageID/11676/langID/it/Cosa-sono-i-corridoi-umanitari-per-i-rifugiati.html">Corridoi Umanitari</a> – <a href="http://www.mediterraneanhope.com/corridoi-umanitari-0">humanitarian corridors</a> – appears to provide a new way forward for Europe’s so-called ‘refugee crisis’.</p> <p><strong><em>Corridoi Umanitari</em></strong><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>Humanitarian Corridors is the result of an ecumenical collaboration between Catholics and Protestants. This includes <a href="http://www.santegidio.org/index.php?&amp;idLng=1064">Community of Sant Egidio</a>, the <a href="https://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches/europe/italy/fcei">Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy</a><span> (FCEI)</span>, and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches. While many states are moving <a href="https://euobserver.com/tickers/135327">against European efforts to relocate</a> people seeking refuge, the Corridoi Umanitari programme strives to put a more human and humane approach into action. It does so by facilitating the direct movement of people from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe.</p> <p>As a pilot initiative which began earlier this year, this programme is the first of its kind in Europe. It aims to prevent border deaths at sea by providing a safe flight to Italy, and it therefore also aims to combat smuggling and trafficking networks. Specifically, the programme seeks to support people in so called “vulnerable conditions” to enter Italy legally on the Article 25 Schengen <a href="http://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-types/">Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) visa</a> . This means that people are able to make a claim to international protection once they have safely arrived to Europe, rather than making dangerous journeys without visa authorisation in order to claim territorial asylum.</p> <p>The Italian government has agreed to support a total of 1,000 arrivals via this mechanism over two years. Italy appears keen to demonstrate political leadership in this area, and recent indications suggest the programme will be extended further. Indeed, the programme comes at a relatively low price. The Humanitarian Corridoors programme is funded by the Waldensian Church via the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_per_thousand">eight per thousand tax system</a>, as well as by fundraising efforts. Hence, it does not present any costs to the Italian government.</p> <p>People are chosen to participate in the programme through visits made directly by programme organisers to camps in Lebanon. There, interviews are held with potential beneficiaries to assess whether their situation meets one or more vulnerability criteria. These criteria include: (a) those who have experienced conflict, warfare and persecution; (b) women, particularly pregnant women and single mothers; (c) unaccompanied minors; (d) those who have been identified in a first stage of assessment as <a href="https://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/files/publications/working-paper-series/wp55-prima-facie-determination-refugee-status-2010.pdf"><em>prima facie</em> refugees</a>; and (e) those who have serious medical needs that cannot be treated where they are.</p> <p>Once programme organisers have identified a list of people who qualify on one or more of these bases, the list is forwarded to the Italian Embassy for approval. To date, around 300 people had entered Italy from Lebanon via this route. It was recently reported at a Mediterranean Hope (FCEI) press conference that another 100 are due to arrive on 20 October. Plans to extend the project to Morocco and Ethiopia and to introduce the initiative to European states beyond Italy are already underway.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong>A new way forward?</strong></p> <p>So, can Humanitarian Corridors provide a way forward from the so-called refugee crisis? Two points are worth noting here. First, the initiative is important because it <em>broadens</em> the understanding of who counts as a person in a vulnerable situation. It does not rely on distinctions that have been questioned&nbsp; by <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/output/evidence_paper.pdf">recent research</a> such as those between political and economic or between forced and voluntary migration.</p> <p>Second, the initiative also <em>deepens</em> protection by providing a <a href="http://www.unhcr.ie/news/irish-story/unhcr-calls-for-safe-and-legal-routes-for-refugees-as-mediterranean-death-r">safe and legal route</a> for those seeking safety in Europe, and by initiating support and integration measures immediately on arrival. This is critical in order that international protection measures are not <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Refugee-Protection-and-the-Role-of-Law-Conflicting-Identities/Kneebone-Stevens-Baldassar/p/book/9780415835657">diluted</a> through the reduction of rights in practice, and in order to mitigate against policies of <a href="https://theconversation.com/eu-leaders-seek-to-share-responsibility-for-migration-in-malta-50542">externalised measures of control</a> that have become integral to European policies over recent years.</p> <p>The importance of this initiative is highlighted by a man I spoke with from Syria, who arrived to Italy with his wife via this programme in June 2016. He described his journey as “incomparable” with that of his brother, whom travelled via the Balkan route to Turkey last year. Moreover, he explained how his brother was surprised that when the couple arrived in Turin they had a house, a flat key, and freedom to come and go. His brother spent four months in a camp like a prison when he first came to Europe. “He was not dealt with as a human being” my new <em>amico</em> (friend) tells me.</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture2_2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Beneficiaries of the scheme attend a press conference in Lampedusa on 3 October 2016 (Author photo)."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture2_2.png" alt="Beneficiaries of the scheme attend a press conference in Lampedusa on 3 October 2016 (Author photo)." title="Beneficiaries of the scheme attend a press conference in Lampedusa on 3 October 2016 (Author photo)." width="400" height="534" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Beneficiaries of the scheme attend a press conference in Lampedusa on 3 October 2016 (Author photo).</span></span></span>Beyond political gesture</span></p> <p>Despite the importance of this programme, questions remain as to the limited scope of this project. In particular, an issue emerges here about the challenges of an initiative that does not involve legal duty on the part of the state. While some legal opinion asserts that <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2014/509986/IPOL_STU(2014)509986_EN.pdf">states should be obliged</a> under international and European law to provide humanitarian visas for people who request them, there does not seem to be indication to suggest that states see any obligation to provide safe and legal routes. As such there is a risk that the programme is reduced to a political gesture on the part of governments that seek to present an image to the wider community that they are ‘doing their bit’.</p> <p>Moreover, there are also problems in the linkage of this initiative to formal procedures of applying for asylum, especially where existing visa frameworks remain unchallenged. While the definition of vulnerability that the programme employs is important in expanding the definition of international protection, it does not fully free itself from existing categorisations of protection along with hierarchies embedded in the provision of refugee status, subsidiary protection and temporary protection. Critically, it does not go so far as to challenge the grossly unequal visa policies that lead to the irregular movements to Europe in the first place. Without this, there is a risk that the initiative could simply provide a soft edge to an essentially brutal system.</p> <p>Finally, there is also an issue here about civil society organisations taking responsibility for the provision of protection needs in place of the state. Professor Paolo Naso from Universita di Roma, Sapienza, who is responsible for the programme, highlighted this at a press conference in Lampedusa on 3 October 2016. He asked: “Is it only by chance that the only real experiment [in safe and legal routes] comes from two small independent churches and not from authorities or big institutions?”</p> <p>As a pilot project, Corridoi Umanitari holds great potential as an innovative approach to the so-called ‘refugee crisis’. It also needs further development in order that it is not reduced to political gesture, and in order that the safe and legal routes it opens up are part of a wider transformation of the conditions under which border deaths so frequently occur.</p> <p>Yet the significance of Humanitarian Corridors is readily evident on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. Here, 3 October is a head-on confrontation with the realities of increasing border deaths; tragedies which local residents have now faced for many years. Each year commemoration events are organised by the group <a href="http://www.comitatotreottobre.it/">Comitato Tre Ottobre</a>, involving survivors of the 3 October shipwreck, family members of the deceased, NGOs and the local community at large.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture1_4.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Survivors and officials board boats in preparation for the 3 October memorial at sea (Author provided) "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture1_4.png" alt="Survivors and officials board boats in preparation for the 3 October memorial at sea (Author provided) " title="Survivors and officials board boats in preparation for the 3 October memorial at sea (Author provided) " width="400" height="534" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Survivors and officials board boats in preparation for the 3 October memorial at sea (Author provided).</span></span></span>While 3 October is an event that brings the survivors to the fore, it is haunted by those that are not present. This not only includes those who died on the journey, but also those who cannot join the event as their status does not permit legal travel. Let’s not forget the many who are immediately detained on being rescued at sea, as well as those who are deported from European territories such as the most recent targets of such policies: <a href="https://euobserver.com/migration/135349">people returned to Afghanistan</a>.</p> <p>Indeed, it is not only the tragedy of border deaths, but also the criminalisation of migration that needs to stop. Humanitarian Corridoors present one partial, yet nevertheless very important, step in this direction.</p> <p><em>&nbsp;A <a href="//theconversation.com/flights-to-italy-for-refugees-offer-a-humanitarian-way-forward-for-europe-66451">shorter version</a> of this article was published in the Conversation on 5 October 2016.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/qusay-loubani/small-illegal-refugee-paradise">Small, illegal refugee paradise</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jerome-phelps/arresting-mass-detention-of-migrants-build-trust-not-walls">Arresting the mass detention of migrants: ‘Build trust, not walls’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jane-freedman-vasiliki-touhouliotis/fleeing-europe"> Fleeing Europe?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/charles-heller-lorenzo-pezzani/mourning-dead-while-violating-living"> Mourning the dead while violating the living</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">Lampedusa: red letter days</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/vicki-squire/hotspot-stories">Hotspot stories from Europe&#039;s border</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/qusay/idomeni-devil-s-game">Idomeni: a devil’s game </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/alexandra-embiricos/back-way-to-europe-gambia-s-forgotten-refugees">The back way to Europe: Gambia’s forgotten refugees </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jerome-phelps/eu-must-not-leave-greece-to-solve-migration-crisis">The EU must not leave Greece to solve the migration crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nando-sigona-and-jennifer-allsopp/mind-gap-why-are-unaccompanied-children-disappearing-in-thous">Mind the gap: why are unaccompanied children disappearing in their thousands?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 EU Democracy and government International politics europe 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Vicki Squire Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:28:06 +0000 Vicki Squire 105972 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fleeing Europe? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jane-freedman-vasiliki-touhouliotis/fleeing-europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Europe’s<strong> </strong>dire politics of deterrence<strong> </strong>is leaving people in a social and legal limbo while others consider escaping what they had previously believed to be a place of safety and rights.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/20160619_193602.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Workshop in Zeytinburnu, Istanbul (collected by Crossing the Mediterranean Boat by Sea, with authorisation from the anonymous ph"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/20160619_193602.jpg" alt="Workshop in Zeytinburnu, Istanbul (collected by Crossing the Mediterranean Boat by Sea, with authorisation from the anonymous ph" title="Workshop in Zeytinburnu, Istanbul (collected by Crossing the Mediterranean Boat by Sea, with authorisation from the anonymous ph" width="448" height="336" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Workshop in Zeytinburnu, Istanbul (collected by Crossing the Mediterranean Boat by Sea, with authorisation from the anonymous photographer)</span></span></span>In the summer of 2015 there were many people preparing to go to Europe in Istanbul. This year, a local interpreter explains, things are different. Some consider alternative routes to Europe in light of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/elif-mendos-ku-konmaz/what-can-we-expect-from-eu-turkey-deal-over-lives-of-syrian">changing visa regulations for Syrians</a>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/04/first-moves-to-deport-refugees-from-greece-to-turkey-underway">intensified border controls</a>, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/09/balkans-refugee-route-closed-say-european-leaders">Balkan route closure</a>, the <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-963_en.htm">EU-Turkey agreement</a>, and the development of hotspots on <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/04/greece-refugees-detained-in-dire-conditions-amid-rush-to-implement-eu-turkey-deal/">Greek islands</a>. Others are stuck in Turkey, with the Turkey-Greece sea crossing no longer an option open to them. </p> <p><span>The conditions that people experience in fleeing to Europe and </span><a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/">Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat</a><span> are dire in many respects. People are often escaping </span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/bill-frelick/why-don%E2%80%99t-syrians-stay-in-turkey">situations of violence, conflict, repression and extreme poverty</a><span>. Moreover, individuals often experience further violence, conflict, repression and poverty </span><em>en route</em><span>, in transit or neighbouring regions. </span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/emma-sinclair-webb/no-eu-turkey-is-not-safe-for-everyone">Turkey</a><span> is one of these places. Many people arriving are either unable to find work, or face labour exploitation due to their </span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/lucy-williams/turkey-is-doing-dirty-work-of-europe-s-immigration-control">precarious irregular or temporary status</a><span>. </span><a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/GBerAWK5vy5M4D8UHm5U/full">Recent research</a><span> has highlighted how a range of </span><a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/06/eus-reckless-refugee-returns-to-turkey-illegal/">basic rights are not being met in Turkey</a><span>.</span></p><p><span></span><span>One 21 year-old Afghan woman told us of how she had fled an abusive husband and escaped the oppression of Afghans in Iran, along with her brother and sister. She came to Turkey just before the EU-Turkey agreement on the assumption that she would find someone to pay her passage – or a smuggler who would let her go for free. She is now struggling to make ends meet. Her brother has turned to drugs, she works very long hours in a factory, and she feels she won't be able to continue much longer without being involved in sex work.</span></p> <p>Then there is the Syrian Kurdish family who arrived in Istanbul in early 2015. They managed to send their eldest son to Germany in 2015, but the rest of the family remains in Turkey. They seriously considered being smuggled in the winter of 2016 when prices for smuggling fell due to the weather conditions. Nonetheless, mostly for financial reasons but also for safety concerns, they were unable to make the crossing. Their economic situation is very difficult in Turkey. They live in a basement apartment in Istanbul's working class suburbs and the whole family works – including the small children – cutting sleeves of t-shirts or assembling toys. The wages are extremely low—they told us that for every pile of about 30 shirts they get 3 TYL (about 1 dollar).&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Dire conditions</strong></p> <p>These testimonies stand as powerful evidence that support existing <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/20/eu-refugee-deal-turkey-condemned-council-of-europe">condemnations</a> of the EU-Turkey agreement. They also raise questions about how far Europe is willing to go to fulfil its deterrent migration agenda. It is important to highlight the dire conditions in Turkey, particularly in light of an agreement that implicates Europe in people’s experience of enduring such conditions. However, it is also important to emphasise that the EU is creating dire conditions of its own.</p> <p>Though recent reports have drawn attention to the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicki-squire/city-plaza-way-forward-for-european-migration-crisis">situation in Greek camps</a>, conditions are appalling across the EU much more broadly. From northern France, to Germany and across the continent at large, people on the move in precarious situations face <a href="http://refugeerights.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/RRDP_TheLongWait.pdf">various risks</a> to their personal safety and to their <a href="http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2015/10/calais-migrant-camps-.aspx">health</a> in camps that are not equipped for long term residents. Again: how far is Europe willing to go to fulfil a deterrent agenda on migration? And how long will it take to acknowledge that a new agenda is needed?</p> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/20160619_193522.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Workshop in Zeytinburnu, Istanbul (collected by Crossing the Mediterranean Boat by Sea, with authorisation from the anonymous ph"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/20160619_193522.jpg" alt="Workshop in Zeytinburnu, Istanbul (collected by Crossing the Mediterranean Boat by Sea, with authorisation from the anonymous ph" title="Workshop in Zeytinburnu, Istanbul (collected by Crossing the Mediterranean Boat by Sea, with authorisation from the anonymous ph" width="448" height="336" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Workshop in Zeytinburnu, Istanbul (collected by Crossing the Mediterranean Boat by Sea, with authorisation from the anonymous photographer)</span></span></span>Akbar’s story</strong></p> <p>“Europe is no longer a good place for refugees”, Akbar [chosen name], a young Afghan man who lives in Istanbul tells us. He goes on to explain how a friend who made it to Sweden called him recently to say that he wished he had stayed in Istanbul after all. Akbar arrived in Turkey as an unaccompanied minor in 2012. On his first attempt to cross to Europe via the Evros river he was caught and detained in Turkey along with his friend who eventually made it to Sweden, and two others. Akbar has attempted to get to Europe several times.</p> <p>Akbar’s most recent attempt to make the crossing was in the autumn of last year. He became frustrated after many years of waiting for access to the asylum process, while working long hours of work with little pay. Following a similar passage by one of his friends who is now in Germany, Akbar decided to captain a boat across the Aegean Sea to Greece. However, when Akbar’s friends in Istanbul found out what he was doing, they persuaded him to return to the city due to their fears that the crossing was too dangerous. He has now decided to stay in Istanbul to make the most of his life there.</p> <p><strong>The limitations of deterrence</strong></p> <p>Akbar’s story sheds important light on the <a href="https://theconversation.com/migration-evidence-shows-how-badly-the-eu-needs-to-rethink-its-strategy-55774">limitations of Europe’s deterrent policies</a>. He had no legal route to Europe and, despite working in Istanbul, Akbar could not fund his travel via smugglers. In light of this, he felt he had no choice but to turn to smugglers and captain the boat in order to fund his journey to Greece. Deterrence here breeds smuggling, and perpetuates the dire conditions experienced by people like Akbar. Far from an effective policy mechanism deterring people from crossing borders, it becomes an endless game that further embeds precariousness into migratory journeys and experiences.</p> <p>But what about Akbar’s decision to stay and make a life in Istanbul? Does this suggest that deterrence may be working to prevent so-called ‘illegal migration’ in the ways that some policy-makers hope it can? Certainly, Akbar explained to us that he is now striving to build a life for himself in Istanbul in a way that some of his friends are telling him is not possible in Europe. Yet this does not suggest that anything has changed either in the quality of Akbar’s life in Istanbul or in the situation of those who experience multiple pressures to migrate. Instead, it shines a light on the way in which deterrence operates in the most devastating of terms, by rendering conditions in Europe even more horrendous as a means to keep people out.</p> <p><strong>Reverse smuggling</strong></p> <p>As Europe’s so-called ‘migration crisis’ deepens, a deterrent agenda is entering a new stage. People are considering new routes, others are becoming stuck in transit (as is Akbar in Turkey), while others still are <a href="http://www.ekathimerini.com/209529/article/ekathimerini/community/hope-lost-in-greece-some-syrians-pay-smugglers-to-get-home">attempting to flee Europe</a>. Paradoxically, many who seek to flee Europe cannot be returned, because the conditions of ‘safe countries’ such as Turkey are not guaranteed. Surely when people start to consider escaping Europe in order to return to these conditions or conflict zones such as Syria, a deterrent approach must be questioned?</p> <p>In <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/">our research</a> on European responses to the ‘migration crisis’ we have heard various stories of people suggesting that they are considering returning to conditions of conflict, violence or repression rather than remaining stuck in disastrous conditions in Europe. People repeatedly tell us that the safety and rights they were expecting to find in Europe are lacking. As it enters a new stage, deterrence is therefore also creating the conditions for a new stage in the smuggling industry, one characterised by ‘reverse smuggling’ out of Europe. Far from dismantling smuggling networks, a deterrent European agenda risks driving a two-way flow of people whose <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/news/unauthorised_migration_to_the_eu.pdf">precariousness multiplies</a> over time.</p> <p>How far is Europe willing to go to fulfil its deterrent migration agenda? If the aim is to create such dire conditions that people are forced to take flight in the opposite direction, Europe may finally be succeeding with its otherwise failing approach. Yet success and failure are hard to disentangle in this context. Where deterrence fails it can still have productive effects for an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/vicki-squire/hotspot-stories">architecture of coercion</a> that thrives on precariousness. And where it succeeds, deterrence fails so many people in so many ways. Driving people away or leaving them in a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/oleg-kucheryavenko-mihai-p-tru/waiting-in-limbo-human-security-perspective-on-refugee">social and legal limbo</a> is not an answer to Europe’s so-called ‘migration crisis’. A new agenda on migration is long overdue, and needs to be grounded in an appreciation of each person’s inherent potential rather than in a drive to deter ‘unwanted’ people.</p><p><em><strong>Read more articles on our platform </strong></em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/5050-people-on-move">People on the Move</a></strong><em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/5050-people-on-move"> </a>showcasing the voices and analyses that are marginalised in the public debate on migration, most importantly those of migrants and refugees themselves.</strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/qusay-loubani/from-border-to-harbour-greek-tragedy-goes-on">From the border to the harbour: the Greek tragedy goes on </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/charles-heller-lorenzo-pezzani/mourning-dead-while-violating-living"> Mourning the dead while violating the living</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/theresa-may-and-love-police">Theresa May and the love police </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/vicki-squire/city-plaza-way-forward-for-european-migration-crisis">City Plaza: a way forward for the European ‘migration crisis’?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">Lampedusa: red letter days</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/vicki-squire/hotspot-stories">Hotspot stories from Europe&#039;s border</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/qusay/idomeni-devil-s-game">Idomeni: a devil’s game </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/alexandra-embiricos/back-way-to-europe-gambia-s-forgotten-refugees">The back way to Europe: Gambia’s forgotten refugees </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nando-sigona-and-jennifer-allsopp/mind-gap-why-are-unaccompanied-children-disappearing-in-thous">Mind the gap: why are unaccompanied children disappearing in their thousands?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Can Europe make it? EU International politics 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick gendered migration Vasiliki Touhouliotis Vicki Squire Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:27:33 +0000 Vicki Squire and Vasiliki Touhouliotis 104436 at https://www.opendemocracy.net City Plaza: a way forward for the European ‘migration crisis’? https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicki-squire/city-plaza-way-forward-for-european-migration-crisis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A novel migration and refugee accommodation project in Athens organised by refugee, student, and solidarity activists is offering crucial assistance where governments and international agencies are not.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/ghgh.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Author: Hotel City Plaza "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/ghgh.jpg" alt="Author: Hotel City Plaza " title="Author: Hotel City Plaza " width="400" height="400" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hotel City Plaza (Photo: Author)</span></span></span>The situation for people on the move in precarious situations is getting worse in Greece. As the summer heat intensifies, people’s lives are put at further risk as they are stranded in camps with inadequate conditions. The limits of protection have never been more clear. There are currently around </span><a href="http://www.rescue.org/press-releases/idomeni-irc-concerned-over-humanitarian-standards-some-new-sites-31108">55,000 people stranded</a><span> as a result of </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/migration-evidence-shows-how-badly-the-eu-needs-to-rethink-its-strategy-55774">Europe’s failed response</a><span> to precarious migrations.</span></p><p><span>Although Greece is an extreme case, it is not alone in the inadequate provision of protection and support for people on the move in precarious situations. Despite attempts by some European partners to </span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/jerome-phelps/eu-must-not-leave-greece-to-solve-migration-crisis">isolate</a><span> it within the European Union, and despite a history of poor reception conditions that led to the longer-standing </span><a href="http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/Greece/asylum-procedure/procedures/dublin">suspension of returns</a><span> to the country under the Union’s Dublin regulation, Greece merely represents a more extreme example of the current European situation.</span></p><p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/tt_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Entrance to Elliniko arrivals hall (Photo: Author)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/tt_1.jpg" alt="Entrance to Elliniko arrivals hall (photo: Author)" title="Entrance to Elliniko arrivals hall (Photo: Author)" width="400" height="353" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Entrance to Elliniko arrivals hall (Photo: Author)</span></span></span>The limits of protection</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.unhcr.org/">UNHCR</a><span> has a clear </span><a href="http://www.unhcr.org/legal-protection.html">mandate</a><span> to protect and support refugees. This includes the protection and support of people who are uprooted more broadly, and over recent years has involved categories such as </span><a href="http://www.unhcr.org/research/working/455993882/refugee-status-subsidiary-protection-right-granted-asylum-under-ec-law.html">humanitarian and subsidiary protection</a><span>, in order that the most vulnerable experience the support that they need. Nevertheless, as the UNHCR increases its activities within Greece, the number and proportion of those who are excluded from protection paradoxically also appears to be increasing. This reflects the international refugee agency’s involvement with a wider European approach to migration, including the </span><a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2015/jul/eu-com-hotsposts.pdf">hotspot approach</a><span> and related </span><a href="http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/proposal-implementation-package/docs/20160518/communication_third_report_on_relocation_and_resettlement_en.pdf">relocation</a><span> mechanism, as well as the </span><a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-963_en.htm">EU-Turkey agreement</a><span>.</span></p><p><span>The systematic registration of new arrivals at hotspot centres on the </span><a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/04/greece-refugees-detained-in-dire-conditions-amid-rush-to-implement-eu-turkey-deal/">Greek Islands</a><span> has been tied to reports of </span><a href="https://www.hrw.org/print/290051">dire conditions</a><span>, and is coupled with plans for the pre-registration screening of all those on the mainland. The hotspot approach forms part of a broader </span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/vicki-squire/hotspot-stories">architecture of coercion</a><span>, which not only involves attempts to streamline mechanisms of protection and support, but also of detention and return. Indeed, this divisive logic is integral to </span><a href="http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/proposal-implementation-package/docs/20160518/communication_third_report_on_relocation_and_resettlement_en.pdf">relocation</a><span>, through which people qualify based on their nationality. Only those coming from a state with an EU-wide asylum recognition rate of </span><a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5596_en.htm">75% or higher</a><span> qualify for the programme. This excludes many people, including those from Afghanistan, which is currently the </span><a href="http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/documents.php?page=1&amp;view=grid">second highest nationality</a><span> arriving to Greece.</span></p><p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/po.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Entrance to Elliniko arrivals hall (photo: Author)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/po.jpg" alt="Entrance to Elliniko arrivals hall (photo: Author)" title="Entrance to Elliniko arrivals hall (photo: Author)" width="400" height="534" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Entrance to Elliniko arrivals hall (photo: Author)</span></span></span>Life in camps</strong></p><p><span>UNHCR works with local partners in Athens and across the country in order to accommodate those who have declared their intent to join the relocation programme. However,</span><strong> </strong><span>when people don’t qualify for relocation, or when they refuse to participate in this scheme, they are often left stranded in camps, official or unofficial. Although authorities have relocated people away from the notorious </span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/24/idomeni-greek-riot-police-move-in-before-dawn-to-clear-out-refugee-camp">Idomeni</a><span> camp over recent years, there are plenty more sites where it seems that “</span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/qusay/idomeni-devil-s-game">nobody cares</a><span>”. Camps such as </span><a href="http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/country.php?id=83">Pireaus Port</a><span> and the arrivals hall at </span><a href="http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/country.php?id=83">Elliniko</a><span> (at the disused city airport) are also dire, and do not meet humanitarian and protection standards. Women, men, and children live side by side with limited toilets and washing facilities. Security does not offer protection and there have been reports of child trafficking at Elliniko.</span></p><p><span>At Pireaus, people are living in tents that overheat during the day and drop to uncomfortably low temperatures at night. Elliniko arrivals hall is crammed with tents, creating a breeding ground for disease as temperatures raise. People have been living in both of these sites for several months, many having returned after a miserable trip to Idomeni. Camps cost people their dignity, their hope, their health, and much more. Yet they are part and parcel of a </span><a href="http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/background-information/docs/summary_european_agenda_on_migration_en.pdf">European agenda on migration</a><span> that seeks to relocate some at the expense of others, as well as of a humanitarian agenda that paradoxically broadens its scope while limiting the provision of protection. Protection mechanisms and an architecture of coercion go hand in hand in Europe today.</span></p><p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/uut_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Piraeus Port (Photo: Author)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/uut_0.jpg" alt="Piraeus Port (Photo: Author)" title="Piraeus Port (Photo: Author)" width="400" height="499" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Piraeus Port (Photo: Author)</span></span></span>Alternative arrangements</strong></p><p><span>It is in the context of witnessing first-hand the implications of this extended architecture of coercion in Greece that I visited </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/sol2refugeesen/?fref=nf">City Plaza</a><span>. A disused hotel that was closed for several years, City Plaza has been squatted by a collective of refugee, student and solidarity activists since 22 April 2016. The project is supported by various European activists, with approximately twenty local and twenty visiting European activists living on-site. From 2nd May, City Plaza has been hosting refugees who arrived prior to the EU/Turkey Deal of March 2016. When I visited in late May 2016, 380 refugees were living in the reused hotel.</span></p><p><span>There are several things that make City Plaza unique. It is not funded by the state or by NGOs, but is self-funded and self-run. On her </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&amp;v=Zi5EFUOfWcY">recent visit</a><span> to the site, the scholar Judith Butler described it as a democratic project of importance in a context of increased European racism. Indeed, City Plaza is collectively organised in its daily operation, with all those living at the site involved in decision making through various cross-represented assemblies. The people living on site participate in ensuring the collective living arrangements run smoothly, and there is a rota to cover all the cooking, cleaning, and additional activities required to ensure that everyone experiences comfortable living conditions. There is a store room for donations and supplies, a fully operational kitchen, a medical room and a school room. In effect, it is a fully operational collective site and community, which meets all the immediate daily needs of those living there.</span></p><p><span>A key point that renders City Plaza distinct from the accommodation provision of UNHCR and its partners is that people within the centre are not chosen on the basis of their status or nationality. The people accommodated on-site were purposefully chosen </span><em>not</em><span> according to whether they qualified for relocation or not. Questions about why people migrated were not a factor that was considered in identifying those to be accommodated. Instead, attention was paid to ensuring a mix of nationalities, a gender balance, and a combination of religious beliefs. When I visited there were around twenty single parents, six single men, ten unaccompanied minors, four people with extreme disabilities, several pregnant women as well as three new-born babies on site. Inclusion within the community requires agreement to abide by a basic set of rules to ensure safety of residents, as well as agreement to participate in the daily activities of the collective and to show respect and solidarity toward others.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Though clearly the process of including and excluding people to be accommodated at City Plaza was a difficult one, activists involved in setting up the site purposefully sought to get a combination of people who required additional support and those that could provide it – the latter of which includes people such as teachers and translators. This reflects a broader ethos within City Plaza, which involves recognition of people’s precarious situations without defining a person’s existence according to their vulnerability. By contrast with the charitable and sometimes victimising ethos of many organisations working in the area, the aim is to build a culture of mutual respect that supports people to go out from City Plaza and find their own way forward in the city. “We don’t want to make a ghetto within the city – even if it is a nice ghetto”, a long-standing resident of the city and refugee from Afghanistan, Nasim Lomani, tells me. Uniquely, City Plaza is a place where people on the move in precarious situations can begin to rebuild their lives without being constrained by their status or vulnerabilities.</span></p><p><strong>Moving forward</strong></p><p><span>Clearly City Plaza is just one site and does not meet the needs of the up to 55,000 stranded people in Greece. Indeed, this is precisely why the activist collective seeks more than simply provide support to those within the reused hotel – members of the collective also connect with and initiate mobilisations beyond City Plaza in order to effect wider change. “We can’t solve the problem”, Nasim tells me, “but we can be ready [to act in solidarity with refugees] when we are needed”. Indeed, City Plaza has already inspired projects elsewhere, including a temporary residential facility, HOOST, in the east of Amsterdam. In this sense, it’s effects are already more far-reaching than for the 380 people that City Plaza directly supports.</span></p><p><span>So can sites such as City Plaza offer an alternative to the architecture of coercion that Europe in collaboration with international agencies is currently constructing? Clearly it already does – and it appears to be incredibly effective for those whose lives it touches. Certainly City Plaza does not provide an acceptable mechanism by which to further develop a European agenda that divides and rejects many, while relocating and protecting the few. Yet when we consider the limits of protection that this involves, and the squalid camps to which it gives rise, the question has to be asked as to whether the European agenda is the best one to follow. If an alternative vision is engaged, it would seem that City Plaza has found an effective way forward where governments and international agencies have not.</span></p><p><span><em>Read more articles on the <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/5050-people-on-move">People on the Move</a></strong> platform <br /></em></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/qusay/idomeni-devil-s-game">Idomeni: a devil’s game </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">Lampedusa: red letter days</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/vicki-squire/hotspot-stories">Hotspot stories from Europe&#039;s border</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/alexandra-embiricos/back-way-to-europe-gambia-s-forgotten-refugees">The back way to Europe: Gambia’s forgotten refugees </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/tiffany-page/self-immolation-and-asylum-in-australia-this-is-how-tired-we-are">Self-immolation and asylum in Australia: ‘This is how tired we are’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jerome-phelps/eu-must-not-leave-greece-to-solve-migration-crisis">The EU must not leave Greece to solve the migration crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nando-sigona-and-jennifer-allsopp/mind-gap-why-are-unaccompanied-children-disappearing-in-thous">Mind the gap: why are unaccompanied children disappearing in their thousands?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-matthews/on-edge-of-nation-sitting-on-border">On the edge of a nation, sitting on the border</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> Greece </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Athens </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Can Europe make it? Athens Greece EU Civil society People Flow 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Vicki Squire Tue, 14 Jun 2016 08:03:27 +0000 Vicki Squire 102907 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Hotspot stories from Europe's border https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/vicki-squire/hotspot-stories <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A response to testimony from an unaccompanied minor whose long journey culminated in a perilous boat journey, the author discusses Europe’s failure to address the rights of those it renders precarious.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This article is a response to Gabriel’s story, '<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">Lampedusa: Red Letter Days'.</a></em></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/IMG_1432.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Lampedusa hotspot. Photo: author."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/IMG_1432.jpg" alt="Lampedusa hotspot. Photo: author." title="Lampedusa hotspot. Photo: author." width="460" height="315" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Lampedusa hotspot. Photo: author.</span></span></span><span>I met the author of </span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">this story</a><span> in September 2015, just a few days after he had arrived to the notorious European island ‘entry point’, </span><a href="http://www.focaalblog.com/2016/01/11/vicki-squire-12-days-in-lampedusa-the-potential-and-perils-of-a-photo-essay/">Lampedusa</a><span>. It was also a few days after I arrived for first time to the island.</span></p><p>I was visiting the island to begin research for my project <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/humandignity"><em>Human Dignity and Biophysical Violence: Migrant Deaths across the Mediterranean Sea</em></a><em>. </em>We initially met on opposite sides of a wire fence that contains the people within the centre in which he was staying. We clumsily attempted to shake hands through wire that is designed precisely to prevent any movement beyond its confines. Since that time, we have worked closely together to write his <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">story</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>I was not granted authorisation to go inside the first aid and reception centre (<a href="http://www.interno.gov.it/it/temi/immigrazione-e-asilo/sistema-accoglienza-sul-territorio/centri-limmigrazione">CPSA</a>) in Lampedusa, despite my request for access in order to undertake interviews with people recently&nbsp;<a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/">crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boat</a>. During fieldwork, our team has found that the denial of access to such centres is an increasing challenge for many researchers, as well as for activists and others that are not integrated within the official reception process.</p><p>Nevertheless, I wanted to get a sense of the situation for those inside the centre regardless of these challenges. Although I was not aware of it at the time, on 17 September the Lampedusa CPSA began informally operating as the first centre branded with the label <a href="http://www.cir-onlus.org/it/comunicazione/news-cir/45-ultime-news-2/1847-lampedusa-aperto-il-1-degli-hotspot-la-posizione-del-cir">European ‘hotspot’</a>. My decision on 28 September to observe the conditions at the centre ‘from a distance’ could not have been more timely, with it being formally designated as a hotspot just a few days later.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The hotspot approach</strong></p><p>The ‘<a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2015/jul/eu-com-hotsposts.pdf">hotspot approach</a>’ was initiated in 2015 as part of a developing European agenda on migration. It is integral to the relocation mechanism also initiated in 2015, and is described as involving an intensification of activities along sections of the external EU border marked by increased arrivals. The stated aim of the approach is to coordinate intelligence and monitoring as well as to facilitate the effective management of ‘mixed migratory flows’.</p><p>The hotspot approach is implemented by Member States, but involves a range of European Agencies, including <a href="http://frontex.europa.eu/">Frontex</a> (European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union), <a href="https://www.easo.europa.eu/">EASO</a> (European Asylum Support Office), and <a href="https://www.europol.europa.eu/">EUROPOL</a> (The European Police Office).</p><p>While centres such as those in Lampedusa are officially branded as hotspots, the hotspot approach is better understood as an emergent architecture through which <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/juliana-wahlgren/securitisation-not-response-to-deaths-at-sea">coercive European policies</a> are now being developed. Thus, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/glenda-garelli">Glenda Garelli</a> and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/martina-tazzioli">Martina Tazzioli</a> have <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/glenda-garelli-martina-tazzioli/eu-hotspot-approach-at-lampedusa">recently argued</a>, hotspots work “as a preemptive frontier, with the double goal of blocking migrants at Europe’s southern borders, and simultaneously impeding the highest number possible of refugees from claiming asylum”.</p><p>Indeed, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/esrc-mediterranean-migration-research-programme-researchers/scholars-support-un-refugee-global-compa">as scholars increasingly argue</a> the hotspot approach is much more than a series of detention centres: it can also be seen as representing a significant development in a European architecture of coercion. The hotspot approach follows on from a European agenda that was already failing, and which continues to fail many people, in many ways, and on many levels. The author of this story is one of those people.</p><p><strong>The treatment of unaccompanied minors</strong></p><p>Having turned seventeen soon after his arrival, the author of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">this story</a> is an unaccompanied minor. In some respects, he would appear to be relatively fortunate in the sense that he has been accepted as such. During fieldwork in Sicily, our project came across several cases whereby interviewees claimed that their ages had been misrecorded on deportation documents. Recent <a href="https://theconversation.com/for-migrants-in-sicily-group-expulsion-is-the-order-of-the-day-but-is-it-legal-49611">evidence suggests</a> that the use of seven-day expulsion orders dramatically increased in Italy when the hotspot approach was initiated, and any misrecording of people’s age is a considerable worry in this context.</p><p>In addition to this, the detention of an unaccompanied minor for nearly two weeks is clearly a cause for concern. This raises questions about how effectively Europe is implementing legal rights, including Article 4 of the <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf">Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union</a> and Article 3 of the <a href="http://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf">European Convention on Human Rights</a>, which state that nobody shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It also raises questions about how far the rights to liberty and security, embedded in the <a href="http://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf">European Convention</a>, are being honored for people such as the author of this story.</p><p>Moreover, the treatment of the author also raises concerns about implementation of the <a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32003L0009">2003 Council Directive on reception</a>, particularly given that he has been fingerprinted and separated from people with whom he travelled. That the author is an unaccompanied minor is an issue for EU states as signatories of the <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx">Convention on the Rights of the Child</a>, the latter of which prohibits the detention of migrant children. For somebody who paradoxically appears to have been treated relatively ‘well’ in comparison to some of his contemporaries, the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">story</a> presented here thus emphasises how coercive tendencies dominate Europe’s emergent hotspot approach.</p><p><strong>‘At the bottom of the food chain’</strong></p><p>Currently, Gabriel is in Sicily, staying in a reception centre for unaccompanied minors. He often messages me to say he is tired of waiting there, that many of his friends have moved on, and that he wants to leave too. His <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">story</a> is thus <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nando-sigona-and-jennifer-allsopp/mind-gap-why-are-unaccompanied-children-disappearing-in-thous">similar to others</a> who feel compelled to move under similar circumstances.</p><p>Such stories reflect an additional dimension of a European architecture of coercion, which not only seeks to deter people from entering and applying for asylum, but that also makes life increasingly difficult over time for those who are forced to wait. Indeed, the longer-term prospects for unaccompanied minors who arrive in Europe are a significant a concern. For those who have undertaken a long and difficult journey and who have been separated from friends and family along the way, waiting to go nowhere further perpetuates their precarious situation.</p><p>This author’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">story</a> therefore highlights how current <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/eu-home-affairs-subcommittee/unaccompanied-minors-in-the-eu/written/30329.pdf">policies perpetuate the precarities of unaccompanied minors</a>. While the plight of unaccompanied minors who have ‘disappeared’ has recently been raised as an issue of political concern, as <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nando-sigona-and-jennifer-allsopp/mind-gap-why-are-unaccompanied-children-disappearing-in-thous">discussed</a> previously on People on the Move, <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/elaine-chase-237834">Elaine Chase</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nando-sigona-94472">Nando Sigona</a> suggest that the lack of accountability of European states such as the UK who <a href="https://theconversation.com/lost-in-the-world-the-young-people-shunted-around-a-global-asylum-system-55991">detain and deport</a> those who reach the age of eighteen serve as the institutional conditions under which such disappearances occur.</p><p>Indeed, this reflects a further on-going dimension of Europe’s architecture of coercion, namely the building into a focus on preemption or deterrence an emphasis on fostering <a href="https://theconversation.com/eu-leaders-seek-to-share-responsibility-for-migration-in-malta-50542">“return and readmission”</a>. West African states such as the Gambia, from which the author of this story comes, are precisely the sort of states targeted by Europe in this regard. As <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/alexandra-embiricos">Alexandra Embiricos</a> has <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/alexandra-embiricos/back-way-to-europe-gambia-s-forgotten-refugees">argued</a>, this is because people migrating from West Africa are “at the bottom of the food chain, most likely to be dismissed as ‘economically’ driven migrants searching for a better life”.</p><p><strong>Policy failure</strong></p><p>It is <a href="https://theconversation.com/migration-evidence-shows-how-badly-the-eu-needs-to-rethink-its-strategy-55774">policy failure</a> in a much broader sense that renders the situation of people such as the author of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">this story</a> so precarious. This story is one about a boy who decided to leave home to care for his family under conditions that he experienced as demanding flight. It is a story about a journey involving disturbing levels of violence and precarity, as well as periodic experiences of protection and care. It is, moreover, a story about his arrival to conditions that drain hope and invite ‘disappearance’, despite everything that the author has endured.</p><p>Hotspot stories such as this highlight the failure of Europe to address the rights of those it renders most precarious. It also points to the concerning treatment of unaccompanied minors and of all those who left at the ‘bottom of the food chain’ in a <a href="http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/05/09/breaking-news-there-no-migrant-crisis?utm_campaign=shareaholic&amp;utm_medium=facebook&amp;utm_source=socialnetwork">‘brutal and unjust world’</a>. No doubt there will be a proliferation of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/qusay/idomeni-devil-s-game">hotspot stories</a> in the months and years to come, and no doubt these will continue to point to the need for a <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/researchcentres/irs/crossingthemed/output/evidence_paper.pdf">radical rethink</a> of the European agenda on migration. Europe’s effective response is long overdue.</p><p><em>This article is a response to Gabriel’s story, '<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">Lampedusa: Red Letter Days'.</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">Lampedusa: red letter days</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/qusay/idomeni-devil-s-game">Idomeni: a devil’s game </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nando-sigona-and-jennifer-allsopp/mind-gap-why-are-unaccompanied-children-disappearing-in-thous">Mind the gap: why are unaccompanied children disappearing in their thousands?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jerome-phelps/fast-track-is-dead">The Fast Track is dead </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/refugee-crisis-demilitarising-masculinities">The refugee crisis: demilitarising masculinities </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lampedusa-never-again">Lampedusa: Never again</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nina-perkowski/more-frontex-is-not-answer-to-refugee-crisis">More Frontex is not the answer to the refugee crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/alexandra-embiricos/our-island-mentality">Our island mentality</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 EU Democracy and government 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick Vicki Squire Tue, 07 Jun 2016 09:44:15 +0000 Vicki Squire 102729 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Vicki Squire https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/vicki-squire <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Vicki Squire </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Vicki </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Squire </div> </div> </div> <p>Dr&nbsp;<a href="https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/people/squire/" target="_blank">Vicki Squire</a>&nbsp;is Reader in International Security at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. Her books include&nbsp;<a href="http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/?sf1=id_product&amp;st1=294349" target="_blank"><em>The Exclusionary Politics of Asylum</em></a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://mobilitypoliticsseries.com/published-works/posthumanitarian-border-politics-between-mexico-and-the-us/" target="_blank"><em>Post/Humanitarian Border Politics Between Mexico and the US: People, Places, Things</em></a>, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.routledge.com/products/9780415584616" target="_blank"><em>The Contested Politics of Mobility</em></a>. She currently leads the ESRC project,&nbsp;<a href="https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/clusters/irs/crossingthemed/" target="_blank"><em>Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat: Mapping and Documenting Migratory Journeys and Experiences</em></a>, and the Leverhulme project,&nbsp;<a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/clusters/irs/humandignity" target="_blank"><em>Human Dignity and Biophysical Violence: Migrant Deaths across the Mediterranean Sea</em></a>. She tweets <a href="https://www.twitter.com/vidkowiaksquire">@vidkowiaksquire</a>.<span></span></p><p><span></span>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Vicki Squire is Reader in International Security at the University of Warwick where she conducts research on borders, migration and citizenship. </div> </div> </div> Vicki Squire Sun, 05 Jun 2016 18:15:33 +0000 Vicki Squire 102732 at https://www.opendemocracy.net