50.50 People on the Move https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/7309/all cached version 12/06/2018 10:27:08 en How women migrant workers defy ‘social control’ with everyday resistance https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kimaya-de-silva/how-women-migrant-workers-defy-social-control-with-everyday-resistance <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women migrant workers face extreme forms of social control in Saudi Arabia. One Sri Lankan woman shares her story of everyday resistance despite serious constraints.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/15155262768_9671fd8d80_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Riyadh, Saudi Arabia"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/15155262768_9671fd8d80_k.jpg" alt="Riyadh, Saudi Arabia." title="Riyadh, Saudi Arabia" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Stephen Downes/Flickr. Creative Commons. (CC BY-NC 2.0). Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>“I couldn’t even speak with anyone else at that house! They wouldn’t let us!” said Lasanthi*, in Sinhala, the most-widely spoken language in Sri Lanka. </p><p dir="ltr">The migrant labourer used to talk to another domestic worker, through a window, while doing laundry for employers in Saudi Arabia. She told me that they “would be looking to see who I was talking to! They don’t let you speak to anyone and they hit you if you do!”</p><p dir="ltr">Despite this, Lasanthi continued to communicate secretly with her neighbour, who was also from Sri Lanka. She would “write a little note on a small piece of paper and scrunch it up and throw it over the wall to her house. And then she would write her note and throw it back over onto the roof!” </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">"They don’t let you speak to anyone and they hit you if you do!”</p><p dir="ltr">“We would ask each other: 'How are you?' and so on.... They wouldn’t let us talk normally so this was the only way!” said Lasanthi, who described having “to wait till Madam went into the bathroom to throw it over. If not they would be watching me.” </p><p dir="ltr">“That’s how much they watched me always… When we finished talking I would put [the papers] in the bin so no one would find them,” she said. </p><p dir="ltr">Lasanthi got her first job abroad in 1986, in Kuwait, through a friend who was also working in the small Gulf state. The family she worked for treated her well, and she was fond of them. She cooked and cared for their child, and moved with them from Kuwait to Egypt to the US. </p><p dir="ltr">In 1993, Lasanthi returned to Sri Lanka to be with her children, whom she had left in the care of her mother. They pleaded with her to stay, and she obliged. Once they had grown up, in the early 2000s, she decided to travel abroad for work again. </p><p dir="ltr">Again, a friend helped her find a job. But this time, it was with a family in Saudi Arabia, where she found harsh conditions and strict, verbally abusive employers. </p><p dir="ltr">Lasanthi told me that she was not allowed to speak with anyone outside the home, leave the premises alone, or make phone calls. She was not given enough food to eat. There was so much cooking and cleaning to do that she sometimes had only 2 hours of sleep.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">'She was not given enough food to eat. There was so much cooking and cleaning to do that she sometimes had only 2 hours of sleep.'</p><p dir="ltr">Her story reflects forms of social control and restrictions faced by Sri Lankan migrant women working as domestic labourers in the Middle East, as well as some of the everyday forms of resistance used to overcome these. </p><p dir="ltr">Lasanthi described how everyday friendship and acts of resistance enabled her to survive her two-year contract in Saudi Arabia.</p><p dir="ltr"> She looked forward to talks with the domestic worker next door. When her employers discovered this, she was told to stop. But she persisted, via secret notes.</p><p dir="ltr">The two women continued to share their thoughts and feelings about daily happenings, and their hopes and fears for the future. They provided each other with emotional support at a time when Lasanthi says she had no one else to confide in.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/4567471177_02505133bb_b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Clothes drying on a line."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/4567471177_02505133bb_b.jpg" alt="Clothes drying on a line." title="Clothes drying on a line." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Clothes drying on a line. Photo: Chiot's Run/Flickr. Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0). Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>According to 2013 data from Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Employment, <a href="http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&amp;page=article-details&amp;code_title=112890">94% of the country’s female citizens working abroad are domestic workers in the Middle East</a>, often occupied with ‘housework' including cooking, cleaning, and caring for children and the elderly.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.migrant-rights.org/campaign/end-the-kafala-system/">Most workers</a> who migrate to Gulf countries do so under the <em>kefala</em> sponsorship system, which ties their legal residency to their employer. <a href="https://www.migrant-rights.org/campaign/end-the-kafala-system/">Qatar and Bahrain claim to have abolished this system</a> and other Gulf countries say they have implemented some reforms. But for the most part <a href="https://www.migrant-rights.org/campaign/end-the-kafala-system/">hugely imbalanced power structures remain in place</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Workers usually live with their employers and may also be isolated within their homes. Migrant women in this system are dependent on their employers for residence, wages and access to essential services including healthcare. Their work, lives and livelihoods are inextricably linked.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">‘Migrant women in this system are dependent on their employers for residence, wages and access to essential services including healthcare.’</p><p dir="ltr">Such forms of live-in employment have been described by sociologists <a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=17330">Rhacel Parrenas and Eileen Boris</a> as 'intimate labour', involving the sharing of personal space and interaction. Such work is often transnational and it is often precarious, unregulated, and unstructured. </p><p dir="ltr">The living experience of domestic workers abroad usually depends on the nature of their employers, with limited or no support from job agencies that find them work, or from public institutions and laws.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/23499194588_6fdbea4edb_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A female migrant worker. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/23499194588_6fdbea4edb_k.jpg" alt="A female migrant worker. " title="A female migrant worker. " width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Many female migrant workers face exploitation and abuse. Photo: Anna Dubuis/DFID/Flickr. Creative Commons. (CC BY-NC 2.0). Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Along with augmented surveillance and isolation of the worker, precarious, intimate labour can also systematically obstruct their mobility. </p><p dir="ltr">Anthropologist <a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=24887">Pardis Mahdavi</a> coined the term “intimate im/mobility” to reflect and emphasise “the ways in which the intimate lives of migrants enforce and challenge their mutually constitutive mobility and immobility.” </p><p dir="ltr">A migrant women may choose to remain in hostile working conditions (social/economic/physical immobility), for example, in order to create more opportunities for herself and her family (socio-economic mobility). </p><p dir="ltr">It must be remembered: a migrant woman may choose a form of immobility (not necessarily physical) in order to create another for herself or others she cares about. Such decisions are no doubt difficult to take.</p><p dir="ltr">Workers in intimate spaces must learn to read social dynamics closely and tread carefully in their workplaces, which may be dangerous. Their ability to do this and to survive in this system is in itself an important form of resistance. </p><p dir="ltr">In Lasanthi’s story I see a cycle of im/mobility: how she used secret communication with another domestic worker to create mobility for herself (in the form of company from a friend) within a living and working situation that rendered her physically and socially immobile in every other way. </p><p dir="ltr">The bond between the two women helped Lasanthi to get through two tough years in Saudi Arabia. Such everyday, creative and resourceful acts pose an important challenge to dominant discourses on power and resistance. This is the exercise of women’s agency despite serious constraints.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* Names have been changed to protect identities.</em></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> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy 50.50 People on the Move women and power gendered migration gender 50.50 newsletter women's work Kimaya de Silva Tue, 02 Jan 2018 14:41:28 +0000 Kimaya de Silva 115476 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Reproductive rights on the move: refugee women in Greece struggle to access contraception https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zoe-holman/reproductive-rights-refugees-Greece <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Half of female asylum-seekers in Europe are aged 18-34. With little control over their environments, how can they retain control over their bodies?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/ZH 1 PA-30133046.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Refugees in a camp outside Athens."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/ZH 1 PA-30133046.jpg" alt="Refugees in a camp outside Athens." title="Refugees in a camp outside Athens." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Refugees in a camp outside Athens. Photo: Nikolas Georgiou/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Marwa (a pseudonym) lifts her trousers to show me the varicose veins and bruises that cover her calves. The 34 year-old Syrian woman says these became worse from daily trekking over rocky, uneven ground at a refugee camp outside Athens where she lived for five months.</p> <p>When we met in June, Marwa had moved to a private house, was nine months pregnant, and struggling to walk. The baby she was expecting would be her sixth. The pregnancy, she explained, was unexpected – and undesired.</p> <p>Globally, millions of refugee women must grapple with issues of reproductive control outside their home environments. Despite clear needs, access to contraception has remained a relatively&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/jul/25/refugees-family-planning-health-syria">low-ranking priority</a>&nbsp;among governments and NGOs in refugee response.</p> <p>United Nations estimates suggest that half a million&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/jul/25/refugees-family-planning-health-syria">displaced Syrian women</a>, like Marwa, will become pregnant this year. Originally from Homs, she and her family fled Syria last year after her husband was injured by a barrel-bomb. </p> <p>Upon arriving in Greece – which is struggling to accommodate <a href="https://www.rescue.org/country/greece">60,000 refugees</a> amid ongoing economic crisis – the couple and their five young children tried to cross into Macedonia, just as the border was being sealed with the controversial&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/the-eu-turkey-deal-europes-year-of-shame/">EU-Turkey agreement</a>.</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-26076804.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Men try to climb a fence at the Macedonia-Greece border in 2016."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-26076804.jpg" alt="Men try to climb a fence at the Macedonia-Greece border in 2016. " title="Men try to climb a fence at the Macedonia-Greece border in 2016." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Men try to climb a fence at the Macedonia-Greece border in 2016. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Marwa told me that her two older children (then aged 8 and 10) slipped across the border in the chaos before it closed. She has not seen the pair since – though has been in regular contact with them since they reached a home for unaccompanied minors in Germany.</p><p>The rest of the family lived in a refugee camp in northern Greece until it closed and they were moved to a camp outside Athens late last year. Exhausted, Marwa says she fainted and vomited on this journey. </p><p>Several weeks later, she realised that she was pregnant. “Our situation was so bad...I thought ‘I cannot do this’,” Marwa told me. But her husband “was very anxious because we feared God, so we decided to have the baby".</p><p>When we met, Marwa was also anxious for the birth as it was preventing her onward journey "to Germany, to be reunited with our children". It was, she said, simply "too dangerous" to travel in her condition.</p><h2><span>Reproductive rights on the move</span></h2><p>Marwa's story reflects practical, cultural and social factors that&nbsp;can limit refugee women’s control over their bodies. </p> <p>Outside of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4264828/">localised academic</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.rescue.org/article/why-refugee-women-want-contraception">NGO studies</a>, there is little data on these issues. But existing research echoes what aid and healthcare workers say they’re seeing on the ground: low and sometimes decreasing rates of contraceptive use amid movement and uncertainty.</p> <p>While almost&nbsp;<a href="http://www.who.int/gho/countries/syr.pdf">60% of women</a>&nbsp;reportedly used some form of family planning in pre-war Syria, a recent study found that this figure was only&nbsp;<a href="https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/resource-pdf/UNFPA-FACTSANDFIGURES-5%5B4%5D.pdf">37% among married Syrian women</a> living as refugees in Lebanon. </p> <p>In Greece, Lia&nbsp;Motska, manager of sexual and reproductive health at the NGO Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), told me that common forms of contraception available in the country are not suitable for refugee women.</p> <p>Many of women seen by MSF, Motska explains, have used injectable contraceptives and implants which she describes as “for people on the move...some of the best options”. But, she says: “these methods are just not available in Greece. This is the main problem”.</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-15961716.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Injectable contraceptives"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-15961716.jpg" alt="Injectable contraceptives have become common in some developing countries." title="Injectable contraceptives" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Injectable contraceptives have become common in some developing countries. Photo: Berliner Verlag/Archiv/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Greek women primarily use condoms, pills and intrauterine devices (IUD). But Motska explains that religious norms and everyday chauvinism can make condoms an unrealistic option and pills can be impracticable for women whose routines and environments are in a continual state of flux.&nbsp;</p><p>MSF does promote and administer IUDs, but these require a medical procedure to be inserted. As a perhaps less familiar form of contraception, some women may also have reservations about using them.</p><p>Injectable contraceptives have become a mainstay for&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/datablog/2016/mar/08/contraception-and-family-planning-around-the-world-interactive">women across the developing world</a>. They are, for example,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/family/trendsContraceptiveUse2015Report.pdf">the leading form of contraception</a>&nbsp;for women in Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia. But their import and sale is illegal in Greece. </p><p>MSF is the largest provider of sexual and reproductive health services to refugees in the country, and has tried –&nbsp;unsuccessfully&nbsp;– to lobby the Ministry of Health to change this.</p><p>“We now have a big community of refugee and migrant women who need these,” said Motska, “but we have to tell them in consultations that we can provide limited methods...and often they say no, they do not want them”. </p><p>She shared the story of one young Afghan woman who requested a follow-up dose of an injectable contraceptive and, when told this was unavailable, refused alternatives. Three months later, she returned looking to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.</p><p>In Athens, some volunteer healthcare providers and midwives working in squats that house and support refugees have illegally imported injectables and independently administered them to women who request follow-up doses.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p><strong></strong>For some of the hundreds of refugee women who live in these squats, this might provide a short-term solution. For others, this practice merely reflects the challenges they face in exercising reproductive control.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-31728730.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A refugee woman and her daughters at a refugee camp north of Athens."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-31728730.jpg" alt="A refugee woman and her daughters at a refugee camp north of Athens." title="A refugee woman and her daughters at a refugee camp north of Athens." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A refugee woman and her daughters at a refugee camp north of Athens. Photo: Marios Lolos/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Regardless of the method, Motska adds, refugee women often do not tell their partners that they are using contraception and there must be strict confidentiality in the provision of these services – as well as in abortion care.</p><p dir="ltr">Abortion is legal in Greece though it can still be an intimidating and logistically-fraught prospect. “Imagine being a woman living in a camp far outside Athens and the only person who you can move around with is your husband,” says Motska. “She is afraid because her husband doesn’t know, unsure about the decision, and often also has parents looking over her shoulder”.</p> <p>Such constraints mean that some women undergo unsafe abortions in the camps, she adds. “We have had cases where women came to us bleeding and we know it is because they tried it the unsafe way...They don’t dare to say it, but we know it is happening”.</p><h2>'A constant risk of sexual violence'</h2><p>Rape and sexual violence – committed by people smugglers, authorities or other migrants – is not uncommon on journeys to Europe. Studies of specific migration routes,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/07/refugees-and-migrants-fleeing-sexual-violence-abuse-and-exploitation-in-libya/">for example through Libya</a>, suggest that some women take contraceptives before travelling specifically with this risk in mind.</p> <p>The director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://eirr.org/">Eritrean Initiative on Refugee Rights</a>, Meron Estinfanos, told me that women setting out from Eritrea can expect to be raped at least twice before reaching Europe. “Women are now taking potent contraceptives before they leave to avoid the added risk of pregnancy,” she said, warning that this can also leave them “with long-term damage and reproductive problems”.</p> <p>In Greece,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/rrdp-women-fear-violence-rape-refugee-camps-170123180556027.html">a study</a>&nbsp;of nine refugee camps found that insecure conditions left many women at constant risk of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, forced prostitution, forced marriage and trafficking. Perpetrators, it said, have included volunteers and fellow refugees. &nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br />At MSF, Motska says "pregnancy from sexual violence is a big risk, especially crossing borders”.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">pregnancy from sexual violence is a big risk, especially crossing borders</span>There have been vocal demands at the international level – including from&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/may/30/refugee-women-sexual-healthcare-lakshmi-puri">UN Women</a>&nbsp;– for more to be done to increase access to safe contraception and sexual healthcare for refugee and migrant women. Yet such efforts remain under-resourced.</p><p>The UN’s refugee agency has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.unhcr.org/403a0f6c8.pdf">itself noted</a>&nbsp;that reproductive health is “crucial for the mental and social well-being of any individual”. But areas affected by conflict still&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/jul/25/refugees-family-planning-health-syria">receive 50%</a>&nbsp;less funding for such services, compared to non-conflict zones.</p><p>In Athens, Marwa's sixth child, a baby girl, was born last month. We have stayed in touch and she told me she is happy and recovering from the birth, trying to prepare herself to travel to Germany to be reunited with her other children.</p><p>Across Europe, meanwhile, half of the women seeking asylum are of prime reproductive age, between <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics">18 and 34</a>&nbsp;years old.&nbsp;With so little control over their environments, how can they retain control over their bodies? For many, this is yet another matter of life, death and painfully restricted choices.</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/ritu-mahendru/afghan-women-london-racism-sexism-unwanted-pregnancies">Too many Afghan women in London face racism, sexism – and unwanted pregnancies</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"> Greece </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 Greece 50.50 People on the Move women's human rights women's health bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Zoe Holman Tue, 15 Aug 2017 10:44:40 +0000 Zoe Holman 112563 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Stop blaming the rescuers https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller-lorenzo-pezzani/stop-blaming-mediterranean-rescuers <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Attacks against rescue efforts in the Mediterranean must stop. The recent Italian and EU proposals are just the last steps of an ongoing de-legitimisation campaign that is putting the lives of thousands of migrants at risk.</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/548777/FB-event-pic.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/FB-event-pic.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Iuventa of the NGO Jugend Rettet rescues several migrants in distress during the Easter weekend 2017. Due to continuing inadequacy of state rescue operations, NGOs present in the area are often working at the limit of their capacities. Credit: Moonbird Airborne Operation / www.sea-watch.org, www.hpi.swiss</span></span></span>It has been spreading like a trail of powder. A <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39686239">heinous argument</a> blaming rescue efforts in the Mediterranean for colluding with smugglers, encouraging more migrants to attempt the perilous sea crossing and ultimately endangering their lives, has, over the past few months, broken out of the small circles of far-right conspiracy theories to reach the headlines of prominent newspapers and become the official position of European states and institutions. The latest proposal by the Italian government to block its ports to nongovernmental rescue vessels and the subsequent <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/03/anger-at-rules-plan-for-migrant-charities-in-mediterranean">EU-endorsed plan</a> to impose a <a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/jul/italy-eu-sar-code-of-conduct.pdf">code of conduct</a> to limit their activities are only the most recent outcomes of months of virulent attacks. These proposals disturbingly converge with the initiative of far-right groups which are chartering <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/03/far-right-raises-50000-target-refugee-rescue-boats-med">their own vessel</a> to stop NGOs at sea. Should these different initiatives succeed in blocking or hindering rescue efforts, the consequences for migrants would be disastrous.</p> <p>The accusation that rescue efforts would be the cause of the soaring numbers of crossings and deaths at sea is far from new. Already in 2014, the Italian military-humanitarian Mare Nostrum operation, which had for a year deployed unprecedented means to rescue migrants at sea, was accused of constituting a “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/27/uk-mediterranean-migrant-rescue-plan">pull-factor</a>” that endangered migrants’ lives. The termination of Mare Nostrum, however, did not lead to less crossings, only to a staggering rise in the number of deaths at sea. It was precisely to fill the lethal gap in rescue capabilities left by the EU and its member states that NGOs courageously stepped in with their own vessels. During recent months, they have repeatedly given proof of their fundamental life-saving role, often operating at the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/21/refugees-stranded-mediterranean-dinghy">limit of their capacities</a> to make up for the lack of state rescue means. Despite this, it is their activities which are today threatened by a campaign of criminalisation and de-legitimisation. </p> <p>While the most heinous accusations of collusion with the smugglers have been revealed to be <a href="http://www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2017/05/16/news/migranti_commissione_difesa_stop_a_corridoi_ong-165587838/">baseless</a> and receded from mainstream discourse, a subtler but no less grave accusation initially formulated by Frontex, the European Union border and coast guard agency, and reminiscent of that formulated against Mare Nostrum, has proven remarkably resilient. A recent <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/14/world/europe/migrant-rescue-efforts-deadly.html">article</a> by the <em>New York Times </em>titled “Efforts to Rescue Migrants Caused Deadly, Unexpected Consequences” offers the latest example of this argument. After showing through data visualisation and cartography that in the past few years rescue operations have moved closer to Libyan coasts, the NYT authors uncritically voice the concerns raised by Frontex that this shift would have “introduced a deadly incentive for more migrants to risk the journey and for smugglers to launch more boats”. </p> <p>They also claim that the presence of rescue vessels would have encouraged smugglers to use even more dangerous tactics, such as using “flimsy boats and provide just enough fuel to reach the edge of Libyan waters”. In sum, while admitting that “rescuing migrants closer to the Libyan coast saved hundreds of people at sea”, the article casts a dark shadow over rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, claiming that, despite themselves, “strategies to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea […] have pushed desperate migrants into even more desperate situations”. With a cunning sleight of hand, the rescuers are turned here into the culprits for the growing numbers of deaths at sea.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/iuventa (56 di 81).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/iuventa (56 di 81).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rescued migrants on the deck of the Iuventa of the NGO Jugend Rettet during the Easter weekend 2017. Despite a nominal capacity of no more than 100 people, the Iuventa had to take on board hundreds of people to make up for the absence of state-led rescue assets. Credit: Giulia Bertoluzzi</span></span></span>As humanitarian actors know all too well, they must always confront the possibility that their intervention may unwillingly amplify the problem&nbsp;they set out to alleviate. But today, there is solid evidence that these arguments are fundamentally mistaken and that rehearsing them uncritically only contributes to legitimising a dangerous policy.</p> <p>As we have demonstrated in <a href="https://blamingtherescuers.org/report/">a recently published report</a>, rescue efforts were not the main driver of increasing arrivals over 2016. Data collected by Frontex itself provides evidence that the overall increase during that year was mainly due to more crossings by migrants from several West and Central African nationalities which predated the deployment of NGO vessels. Furthermore, a 46% increase in the number of arrivals was registered in the western Mediterranean for 2016, while no proactive rescue operation was deployed in that area. Faced with political and economic crises in several countries on the African continent and with appalling conditions in Libya, migrants have little choice but to attempt the sea crossing, with or without resuce means.</p> <p>We also demonstrate that rescue efforts by NGOs were not the main cause of worsening conditions of crossing but a life-saving response to evolving smuggling practices that predated their intervention. For instance, the shift from larger and more solid wooden boats to rickety and smaller rubber boats, which has been acknowledged as a major factor in the increasing deaths at sea, occurred already in late 2015, when the presence of NGOs was still marginal. </p> <p>One of the most important factors leading to this trend was the EU’s anti-smuggling <a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/jul/uk-hol-op-sophia.htm">Operation Sophia</a>, which, by destroying smugglers’ vessels once migrants had been rescued, prevented the re-use of wooden boats. Another crucial factor has been the increasing attempts by the Libyan Coast Guard to (selectively) intercept migrant boats. These and other factors converged to push even further the downward spiral in the conditions of crossing offered by smugglers. While it cannot be ruled out that NGO rescue efforts contributed to consolidate specific tactical shifts in the practices of smugglers, it is wrong, we show, to claim that they were driving them. </p> <p>Finally, and most importantly, our statistical analysis indicates that there is a strong negative correlation between the migrant mortality rate and the deployment of NGOs’ rescue vessels. In short, over the course of 2016, the more NGO vessels were deployed, the safer the crossing became for migrants. This provides the strongest demonstration of the life-saving role played by rescue efforts and a forceful empirical rebuttal of their supposed “deadly consequences”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/Untitled_1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/Untitled_1.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="350" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Monthly migrant mortality rates for 2016 (based on IOM and UNHCR data) and number of deployed NGO rescue vessels, showing a striking negative correlation: the more vessels are present, the safer the crossing becomes for migrants. Credit: Forensic Oceanography</span></span></span></p><p>The ending of Mare Nostrum was recognised too late by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, as a “serious mistake” that “<a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-15-4896_en.htm">cost human lives</a>”. Today EU institutions and members states are on a course to repeat this same “mistake”, with a wicked twist. This time they are not simply persisting in their resolve to <em>not</em> provide adequate rescue means in the aim of deterring migrants from crossing, but they are also actively seeking to stop those who made up for their lethal absence and continue to remind the EU of the unacceptable deaths at its shores. </p> <p>The only "rescue" activities European policy makers wish to see are those operated by the EU funded and equipped <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur30/6319/2017/en/">Libyan Coast Guard</a>, regardless of the proven collusion of its agents with smugglers, the repeated deaths their intervention has caused and the horrendous conditions migrants face once pulled-back to Libya. This is the cynical and lethal policy of containment implemented today by the EU.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/D16MedSea1021SeaWatch2-031232.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/D16MedSea1021SeaWatch2-031232.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>In the night of 21 October 2016, the Coast Guard of Zawiya, Libya, violently interrupted a rescue operation that had been started by the rescue vessel of the NGO Sea-Watch. This led to the death of at least 25 people. Credits: Christian Ditsch. </span></span></span>NGOs themselves are acutely aware that rescue at sea cannot be <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/auralie-ponthieu/migrants-europe-crisis-sea_b_7088986.html">the “solution”</a> to the death of migrants in the Mediterranean. Only a fundamental shift towards policies enabling the passage of migrants through safe and legal means will bring an end to the daily reality of thousands of migrants in distress, and with it the need to rescue them. But as long as migrants are forced to resort to smugglers for lack of legal pathways, and while states continue to refuse to deploy their own proactive rescue operations, the presence of NGOs close to the Libyan coast will remain both a humanitarian necessity and a much-needed expression of the refusal to silently accept the ongoing carnage at sea.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://blamingtherescuers.org/">Blaming the rescuers (2017)</a> a report by Forensic Oceanography (Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani)</p> </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"> Libya </div> <div class="field-item even"> 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"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Libya Conflict Democracy and government International politics 50.50 People on the Move Lorenzo Pezzani Charles Heller Tue, 18 Jul 2017 15:21:44 +0000 Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani 112332 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Art and the refugee ‘crisis’: Mediterranean blues https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/iain-chambers/art-and-refugee-crisis-mediterranean-blues <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Artists are mapping new itineraries of the Mediterranean, throwing into relief an incurable colonial wound that continues to bleed into the present.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_02-2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Saidou: Mali to Italy. &quot;I came to Europe because of the war. I went to Algeria and from there I took a boat without knowing "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_02-2.jpg" alt="" title="Saidou: Mali to Italy. &quot;I came to Europe because of the war. I went to Algeria and from there I took a boat without knowing " width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Saidou: Mali to Italy. "I came to Europe because of the war. I went to Algeria and from there I took a boat without knowing where I was going. It happened this way, that’s destiny." Photo ©Kate Stanworth.</span></span></span>The so-called contemporary migrant ‘emergency’ in the Mediterranean is the deliberate political and juridical construction of Europe. Refusing Article 13 of the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/">Universal Declaration of Human Rights</a> (1948), all European states have decided that not everyone has the right to move and migrate. This violent exercise of European and First World power reopens a profound colonial wound. Migrants rendered objects of <em>our</em> legislation and laws signal once again the asymmetrical relations of power that produced the colonial world and its ongoing fashioning of the present.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">Today, the evocation of&nbsp; ‘<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35703467">emergency</a>’ and ‘<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34131911">crisis</a>’ in the Mediterranean, signalled in the brutal <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necropolitics">necropolitics</a> of leaving some to drown, others to be turned back, and all to be forced to suffer horrendous journeys over desert, sea and increasingly fortified barriers, clearly draws on altogether deeper geographies of regulation and possession.</p> <p class="Body">European colonial power was established, affirmed and secured by control of the seas. Just as in 1800, when Napoleon and Nelson were fighting for global hegemony around its shores and on its waters, the Mediterranean remains an exclusively European matter (with Israel and Turkey as subcontractors). It is part and parcel of the geometry of the colonial present, where our security invariably secures someone’s else’s death. There is a beautiful <a href="https://vimeo.com/114849871">short film</a> by the Ethiopian activist and film make Dagmawi Yimer (<em>Asmat/Names</em>) that seeks to rescue from the anonymity of the depths those who have drowned by restoring their names to memory, transforming the sea into a vital archive for us condemned ‘to listen to these screams’. Yimer was himself an ‘illegal’ migrant who made it across the sea.</p> <p class="Body">In this situation, although consistently sidestepped and avoided for embarrassing the hollow claims of European humanism, a number of contemporary visual artists insist that we return to the scene of the crime. Here we explore the terrible gap between the arbitrary violence of the law and the insistence of social and historical justice.&nbsp; </p><p class="Body">On April 12 this year, in the context of an AHRC financed programme ‘<a href="https://respondingtocrisis.wordpress.com/">Responding to Crisis: Forced Migration and the Humanities in the Twenty-First Century</a>’, involving Keele and Royal Holloway universities and the University of Naples, ‘Orientale’, a workshop entitled <em>Sea Crossings: The Mediterranean and its Others’</em> was held in Naples in a former squat ‘L’Asilo’. This structure is among the several occupied buildings in the city recognised by the town council as cultural centres. An intensive day of debate and discussion was punctured by three artistic instances involving Zineb Sedira, Kate Stanworth and Giacomo Sferlazzo. In different ways, the photographic work exhibited by Kate Stanworth, the discussion of her own work by Zineb Sedira and the performance by Giacomo Sferlazzo, proposed a radical realignment of the usual coordinates for registering and discussing migration in today’s Mediterranean.</p> <p class="Body">Kate Stanworth’s <a href="http://www.katestanworth.com/where-we-are-now">photographic exhibition</a> of diverse migrants dislocated in European cities – ‘Where we are now’ – rightly played on the ambivalence of ‘we’. If, most obviously, the collective noun refers to relocated migrants in unfamiliar lands and cities, forced to re-negotiate their way in the world robbed of domestic referents, the insidious undertow is that the ‘we’ is also us and our responsibility for such situations. In the translation of transit we discover not simply that migrants, often under dramatic duress, are forced to transform themselves continually in order to engage with unplanned situations, but also that the very contexts of European culture and home are being translated. It is this mutual process, no matter how sharply asymmetrical the powers involved, that unleashes the slow but profound remaking of home, citizenship, culture and belonging… for all; not, and most obviously, only for the unexpected stranger. The narratives sustained in Stanworth’s photographs and the brief captions provided by the migrants cut up ready explanations and the flat maps of our understanding with rougher, often difficult to assimilate, interrogations. The latter leave no one really feeling at home.</p><p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_05.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=": Salma: Syria to Germany. &quot;I still have this dream to come back to Syria. If I complete my studies I can make radical change th"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_05.jpg" alt="" title=": Salma: Syria to Germany. &quot;I still have this dream to come back to Syria. If I complete my studies I can make radical change th" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Salma: Syria to Germany. "I still have this dream to come back to Syria. If I complete my studies I can make radical change there, I can give benefit for the people and the country." Photo ©Kate Stanworth.</span></span></span>In her <a href="http://zinebsedira.com/">visual and mixed media work</a>, the Franco-Algerian artist Zineb Sedira draws us into the slippage and the translation that accompanies the transit of contemporary ‘<a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/136001547/Traveling-cultures">traveling cultures</a>’: women in white veils who oscillate in the interval of Islam and Christianity: perhaps Muslim or the Madonna (<em>Self Portrait or the Virgin Mary</em>, 2000). Elsewhere, between rusting hulks of ships bobbing in the sea waters of Mauritania (<em>Shipwreck series</em>, 2008), derelict colonial buildings on the Algerian coast (<em>Haunted </em>House, 2006) and the glances northwards from the African shore, maritime horizons promotes desire and dreams of a better life.</p> <p class="Body">Here the sea, as a troubled archive, constructed as a site of multiple crossings, is transformed from a presumably dumb accessory to the political life and histories occurring on land to become a historical interrogation. If occidental modernity depended on its marine mastery to realise a colonial appropriation of the globe, a maritime reasoning (<em>Floating Coffins</em>, 2009) today insists on the transit of other narrations on and over its waters. The ambivalence of the sea as both bridge and barrier reveals the deeper political economy of migration and its long term centrality to the making of the modern world. The ruins of a European colonial past here haunt the configurations of the present.</p> <p class="Body">Giacomo Sferlazzo <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1aFhJC9R28">recounts in song and storytelling</a> a history of Lampedusa. Once again, this is an oblique narrative. It refuses to tow the line. It transforms this tiny island of desert scrub (once covered in woods and full of wild life until charcoal burning brought about an ecological disaster) that lies 200 km south of Tunis and Algiers into another tale. As an outreach of Europe in Africa, at least geographically speaking, the island has in recent decades notoriously become a ‘hot spot’ for ‘illegal’ migration. A lost out island far to the south of Sicily, once home to Muslim, Christians, pirates, sponge divers and fishermen, Lampedusa has been transformed into a border outpost and militarised zone, a juridical fortress with a detention centre.</p> <p class="Body">Sferlazzo’s words and music unpack the arbitrary rigidity of this existing situation. The sedimented histories, resistance and refusals of a homogenous and static representation, stamped by the authority of Italy and Europe, falls apart. Crossed by multiple bodies and histories, the island escapes reduction to a frontier settlement and becomes the laboratory for questions and processes that neither Italy nor Europe seem capable of answering. Contrary to unilateral definitions of the Mediterranean and of Lampedusa’s role in policing and protecting its borders, Sferlazzo’s songs and stories rescue from the archives sustained by this island and the surrounding sea a humanism that exceeds the limits of European and Occidental sovereignty.</p> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_08.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Bourak: Syria to Germany. &quot;I wanted to make the journey like an adventure, discovering new places and cities. We called it an ad"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_08.jpg" alt="" title="Bourak: Syria to Germany. &quot;I wanted to make the journey like an adventure, discovering new places and cities. We called it an ad" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bourak: Syria to Germany. "I wanted to make the journey like an adventure, discovering new places and cities. We called it an adventure and something to remember. It was only when we saw families and children on our journey that we thought about the suffering." Photo ©Kate Stanworth. </span></span></span>Tracing itineraries that commence from the south – from south of the Sahara, from the south of the Mediterranean, of Italy, of Europe – the work of all three artists disorientate and reorientate our mapping of the modern world. Here we confront the journeys induced by music and the visual arts: their invitation to look, and to look and listen again, that is always accompanied by the grit in the eye, the dissonance in the ear, that scratches the conventional framing and figuration of the world. This produces a slash in our habitual tempo-spatial coordinates. As such it leaves a potential trace, the after-life of a disturbance, an interrogation.</p> <p class="Body">In an important sense, art in its concentrated attention and affects is always about matter out of place. The figuration of the migrant in the contemporary field of vision deepens and disseminates this unhomely quality. For the modern migrant is not only the reminder of a colonial past that powerfully and unilaterally made the world over in a certain fashion. She also shadows present artistic practices with what the prevailing sense of modernity structurally seeks to avoid or negate, precisely in order to secure its particular sense of home and belonging. </p> <p class="Body">On the other side of the canvas, in the margins of the frame, throwing a constant shadow across the visual field and disturbing our ears, those other histories fester as an incurable wound that continues to bleed into the present. Reopening the archive of a modernity whose art seemingly revolves around itself, the critical pace here quickens, threatening to spin out of the regulated order of its institutional reception in order to dirty the whiteness of its walls and the rationality of its knowledge with the dirt, death, despair, destitution and desires of an other worldly order.</p><p class="Body"><em>This article is part of the series</em><em>&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/forced-migration-and-humanities">Forced Migration&nbsp;and the Humanities</a>. This dialogue is an editorial partnership with openDemocracy 50.50 led by Mariangela Palladino (Keele University) and Agnes Woolley (Royal Holloway University of London).&nbsp;</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/jerome-phelps/refugee-crisis-art-weiwei">Why is so much art about the ‘refugee crisis’ so bad? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karolina-follis/reflections-on-post-humanitarianism-in-dark-times">Reflections on post-humanitarianism in dark times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mariangela-palladino-agnes-woolley/borderlands-words-against-walls">Borderlands: words against walls</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/arts-and-humanities-tackling-challenges-of-mass-displacement"> The arts and humanities: tackling the challenges of mass displacement</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/migrationsreconstructing-britishness-in-art">Migrations:reconstructing &#039;Britishness&#039; in art</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jane-freedman-vasiliki-touhouliotis/fleeing-europe"> Fleeing Europe?</a> </div> <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> </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"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <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 Culture Ideas International politics People Flow Forced Migration and the Humanities 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick Iain Chambers Mon, 10 Jul 2017 08:44:37 +0000 Iain Chambers 112037 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Too many Afghan women in London face racism, sexism – and unwanted pregnancies https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ritu-mahendru/afghan-women-london-racism-sexism-unwanted-pregnancies <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">Recent research on Afghan immigrant women in London has revealed a multi-layered crisis. What can be done to address this, and to empower them?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Houses PA-5591012.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Houses in north London."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Houses PA-5591012.jpg" alt="Houses in north London. " title="Houses in north London." width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Houses in north London. Photo: Andrew Parsons/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Afghan immigrant women in London seem to be suffering from a slow and hidden epidemic of unwanted pregnancies. The government has failed to give an exact picture of what is happening on the ground. However, at South Asian Sexual Health (SASH) we have conducted <a href="http://www.sash-uk.org/sexual-health-knowledge-and-attitudes-of-afghans-living-in-london/">research that suggests</a> a lack of awareness about sexual health is endemic among first generation immigrant families. </p><p dir="ltr">We interviewed more than 40 Afghans (women and men) in four&nbsp;boroughs of west and north-east London. Their testimonies reflected how racism and sexism have combined to produce numerous unintended pregnancies. Women are being denied basic human rights by male members of their families and the British government must do more to help them and address the sexual health burden they carry.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">‘Shockingly, moving to Britain seems to have done little to help Afghan women transform their lives’</p><p dir="ltr">Afghanistan has been described as one of the most <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jun/15/worst-place-women-afghanistan-india">dangerous countries in the world to be a woman</a>. In the UK, the diaspora has grown significantly since 1997 when the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban seized control of the country. Under their rule, <a href="http://www.rawa.org/rules.htm">women were kept as caged birds</a> deprived of basic human rights such as access to education and the right to marry who they chose. </p><p>Shockingly, moving to Britain seems to have done little to help Afghan women transform their lives. Twelve of the 20 women we interviewed were married, and most of these married women were unemployed – but not because of a lack of qualifications. Most were university graduates, including doctors. But they weren’t&nbsp;“allowed to go outside,” as several respondents put it. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Recruiting Afghan women to participate in research like this is extremely difficult as they often live in secluded communities that are hard for researchers to reach, in part because of language issues. Our in-depth discussions – in Dari and Pashtu – were intimate and emotional.</p><p dir="ltr">Rabia*, 41 and a mother of four, was a medical doctor in Afghanistan. She moved to London 17 years ago to live with her husband. She expressed little or no control over her sexuality. Rather, her testimony reflected how her body is bound by cultural assumptions that women’s duty is to submit to men’s demands. She said, for example, that she “never wanted to wear Hijab” but that her “husband gets upset” when she doesn’t.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“I'm not allowed to go out without my husband’s permission”</p><p dir="ltr">Nasrin*, 32, had an arranged married with a 43 year old Afghan man when she was 17. Her husband sought asylum in the UK after 9/11, after which she joined him. “I suffer from constant depression,” she told us. “I am not allowed to go out without my husband’s permission. If I do, he doesn’t talk to me and throws food. He sometimes hits me. I have four kids. I am busy cooking and cleaning. Afghan culture is like that”.</p><p dir="ltr">Women we interviewed described issues of culture, religion and gender as key barriers to accessing sexual health services as well as public places in general. They expressed finding it difficult to be part of broader social life because they can’t engage with mainstream society <span class="st">–</span> as if their lives were hermetically-sealed, guarded by virtual, community fences. &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/563303/BrickLane.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="East London"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BrickLane.JPG" alt="East London is home to many South Asian communities including members of the Afghan diaspora." title="East London" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>East London is home to many South Asian communities including members of the Afghan diaspora. Photo: Ritu Mahendru. </span></span></span>These women also revealed that they don't associate sex with female pleasure <span class="st">–</span> and that they often unwillingly bear the consequences of unprotected sex. </p><p dir="ltr">For Rabia, an inability to negotiate safe sex with her husband led to unintended pregnancies. She said: “Sometimes I don’t feel like having sex but he tells me that I am an educated woman and I should know that men have more sexual desires than women. Sometimes he doesn’t even care if the children are sleeping next to us”.</p><p dir="ltr">Knowledge of contraception is also shaped by myths and lack of trust in modern methods. One woman said pills are “not good for [one’s] health”. Another claimed: “I am breastfeeding and most pills aren't compatible”. A third woman said, similarly: “I do not want to take pills. I have heard that they have side effects”.</p><p dir="ltr">Many of the women we interviewed said it is ultimately their husband’s decision which form of contraception is used. Several said that Afghan men prefer ‘traditional’ methods to prevent pregnancies, specifically ‘early withdrawal.’ This is concerning as <a href="https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/withdrawal-pull-out-method/how-effective-is-withdrawal-method-pulling-out">1 in 4 women will get pregnant</a> if ‘early withdrawal’ is the only form of contraception used.</p><p dir="ltr">“It’s my husband’s decision,” said one woman who told us her husband had insisted she use an IUD even though she hated it. Nasrin said, about her husband: “There is a whole bag of condoms in the cupboard. He has never used them”. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">“There's a whole bag of condoms in the cupboard. He's never used them” </p><p dir="ltr">Each of the women we spoke to said that while they should have the right to accept sex, they may not have the right to dissent. From my experience over the last seven years, working with Afghan women in South Asia and in the UK, including as an activist and with NGOs, this is not uncommon: refusing to have sex and displeasing your husband could lead to violence, and in some cases it could be seen ‘un-Islamic’ too. &nbsp;</p><p>Some women said they had made joint decisions with their husbands to seek family planning advice. But even in these cases they said their GP appointments were almost always led by their husbands who acted as interpreters and had the final say. </p><p dir="ltr">One 34-year old woman, Samia*, complained of “a lack of interpretation services”. Nasrin said: “I know a lot of women… [for whom] their husbands do the translation. I am not sure if women are able to convey their sexual health problems to their GPs, out of fear, or out of being shy”.</p><p dir="ltr">All of the married women we interviewed complained that family planning programmes assumed that they were in charge, when in reality it is their husbands who govern their bodies and their choices. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">‘The overall message is that no help is available’</p><p dir="ltr">The government’s <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/210726/Service_Specification_with_covering_note.pdf">integrated sexual health plan</a> does not give any specific consideration to inequalities faced by minority women. Too much is left to the discretion of local NHS commissioners who are given no specific guidance on the needs of migrant women or how to monitor and address inequalities. </p><p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/rayah-feldman/pregnant-women-bear-brunt-of-government-s-clampdown-on-migrant-nhs-care">Rayah Feldman, at the charity Maternity Action, has also warned that</a> women asylum-seekers and those with insecure immigration statuses are particularly impacted by ever-harsher discourse and legislation around their access to health care. Migrant women in the UK are currently required to pay 150% of routine tariffs for services if they haven't already paid a visa ‘health surcharge’.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/IMG_0485.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="South Asian clothes shop where Afghan women buy traditional clothing"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/IMG_0485.JPG" alt="South Asian clothes shop in London where Afghan women may buy traditional clothing." title="South Asian clothes shop where Afghan women buy traditional clothing" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>South Asian clothes shop in London where Afghan women may buy traditional clothing. Photo: Ritu Mahendru.</span></span></span>The women we spoke to emphasised that they are unable to even leave their homes to access basic health services without their husbands. This exclusion is amplified by the British government which emboldens a hyper-masculine religious agenda, and allows <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/14/sharia-courts-family-law-women">Sharia courts to run in the UK</a>, while <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/04/theresa-may-british-values-muslims-terror-threat">rebuking refugees from the Muslim world in the mainstream media</a>. The overall message is that no help is available.</p><p dir="ltr">Health service professionals are failing to respond to minority women’s specialist needs. Rights to privacy and informed consent are being undermined by gender and racial stereotypes. Although sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics exist, they are not necessarily a one-stop shop for all services. Most of the women we interviewed did not know how to access them.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">‘To empower women, sexual health programmes need to be integrated with other services’</p><p dir="ltr">London is also home, however, to positive models of secular organisation fighting racial and gender equality. I have been active for example with the group <a href="http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/">Southall Black Sisters</a> that has defended Black and minority women from harsh judgments and racism from the outside while remaining critical of fundamentalism and sexism within their communities. </p><p>As human rights defenders and activists, we can learn from examples like this to help address the multi-layered challenges faced by Afghan immigrant women in London too. A key lesson is this: To empower women, sexual health programmes need to be integrated with other services. They must be linked to efforts challenging the lower status of women, as well as religious fundamentalism,&nbsp;in the Afghan diaspora. </p><p><em>* Names have been changed to protect identities. </em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> England </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </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 London England 50.50 People on the Move women's human rights women's health gender 50.50 newsletter Ritu Mahendru Tue, 27 Jun 2017 11:02:05 +0000 Ritu Mahendru 111850 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What could a multi-million euro arts festival offer struggling communities in Greece? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zoe-holman/documenta-art-Greece-crisis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">The world-class €37 million Documenta arts festival comes to Athens <span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">–</span> and brings challenging questions about art’s relevance amid economic and humanitarian crises.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/D14 PA-30886277.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Documenta 14 at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/D14 PA-30886277.jpg" alt="Documenta 14 at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens." title="Documenta 14 at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Documenta 14 at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. Photo: Aristidis Vafeiadakis/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On a sunny afternoon in May, a group of Syrian and Iraqi refugees assembled in the grounds of Athens Polytechnic University, dressed in drag. They shook their booties and then stole a piece of art from one of the world’s premiere festivals – a two-metre large <a href="http://www.documenta14.de/en/calendar/21544/the-place-of-the-thing">replica of the so-called ‘Oath Stone’</a> at which the trial of Socrates took place more than two millennia ago.</p><p dir="ltr">The replica had been commissioned for the equally epic European arts exhibition <a href="http://www.documenta14.de/en/">Documenta 14</a> (D14), which is in Athens until 16 July. Under the direction of Spanish artist Roger Bernat, the stone toured the city over the preceding fortnight, being ‘blessed’ by various groups. It was then supposed to be flown to Documenta headquarters in Kassel, Germany, and buried. </p><p dir="ltr">Among the groups invited to ‘interact’ with the sculpture was an Athens-based <a href="https://www.facebook.com/lgbtqirefugeesingreece/?pnref=story">support group for LGBTQI+ refugees</a>. They were asked to stage a mock funeral ceremony involving the replica, receive €500 for their participation, and then return artwork so that it could continue on its voyage – supposed to signify the ease with which objects, unlike people, can cross European borders. </p><p dir="ltr">Yet the stone’s travels were short lived. Members of the LGBTQI+ refugee support group absconded with it, releasing a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/lgbtqirefugeesingreece/videos/263576050783139/?pnref=story">sassy online video message</a> instead. Under the counter-title ‘#rockumenta’, it disparaged the ‘fetishisation’ of refugees and the lavish expenditure on the festival while thousands of migrants languished invisibly across Greece and the continent.</p><p dir="ltr"><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Flgbtqirefugeesingreece%2Fvideos%2F263576050783139%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true" width="448" height="252" frameborder="0"></iframe>Within 24 hours, it had received over 25,000 views. Bernat responded with a <a href="http://rogerbernat.info/general/lets-put-things-in-its-place/">hurried press release</a>, claiming that the group had not technically “stolen” the work and stating that they were “no heroes”. He said they should “check their political agenda or their artistic parameters” and “as an artist and as a refugee, you are doomed to be a victim if victimism is your only political weapon”.</p><p dir="ltr">A week later, views of the stunt had crept to 50,000. It received international<a href="https://www.trouw.nl/home/37-miljoen-voor-documenta-expo-is-te-veel-vinden-vluchtelingen-~a425b8b1/"> media coverage</a> and sent a ripple of controversy through the D14 and activist communities. Bernat returned to Germany where he proudly proclaimed that he had two more replica stones ready to be buried in Kassel. The support group returned as well, to their core work advocating for basic material, social and political rights of LGBTQI+ refugees.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“I refuse to exoticise myself to increase your cultural capital”. </p><p dir="ltr">The unusual episode encapsulated <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/may/14/documenta-14-athens-german-art-extravaganza">ongoing and acrimonious debates</a> that began with the decision to stage the exhibition in crisis-wrought Greece in the first place, under the banner “Learning from Athens”. Founded after the Second World War, Documenta's original purpose was to bring modern art to a German public who had been deprived such culture under the Third Reich. It has since evolved into a world-class multi-million euro extravaganza. (Documenta said it prefers to describe itself as an 'quincennial exhibition').</p><p dir="ltr">This year, for the first time, it’s being held in a ‘guest’ city – Athens, as well as in Kassel. Greece has the highest <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Unemployment_statistics">unemployment rate</a> in the European Union, some of the continent’s <a href="http://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/03/31/eurostat-three-greek-regions-rank-among-the-20-poorest-in-eu/">poorest regions</a> and it is struggling to accommodate more than 50,000 refugees. Staging the €37 million Documenta festival here has prompted questions about the relevance of art amid social, economic and humanitarian crises. What can something like this offer struggling communities?</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/D14 2 PA-31640498.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Documenta 14 exhibition in Kassel."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/D14 2 PA-31640498.jpg" alt="Documenta 14 exhibition in Kassel." title="Documenta 14 exhibition in Kassel." width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Documenta 14 exhibition in Kassel. Photo: Boris Roessler/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>As the festival opened in April, Athens' streets flooded with an under-sunned, over-styled tide of aesthetes from Northern Europe and beyond. Meanwhile, graffiti slogans began to appear around the city: “crapumenta14” and “I refuse to exoticise myself to increase your cultural capital”. Counter events and critique, including <a href="http://www.art-agenda.com/reviews/we-come-bearing-gifts%E2%80%94iliana-fokianaki-and-yanis-varoufakis-on-documenta-14-athens/">from Greece’s former finance minister Yianis Varoufakis</a>, accused the festival of economic exploitation, crisis tourism, cultural essentialism and neo-colonialism. There were complaints that Greece’s meagre arts funding had been diverted from local grassroots artists, curators and cultural producers – who said they were simultaneously <a href="http://theartnewspaper.com/reports/documenta-munster-2017/documenta-opens-in-athens-with-emphasis-on-performance-politics-and-little-known-artists/">excluded</a> from the festival as well. <br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />Others have condemned it for failing to engage in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/may/14/documenta-14-athens-german-art-extravaganza">the social realities</a> it claimed to want to “mirror” and “witness”. A <a href="https://conversations.e-flux.com/t/open-letter-to-the-viewers-participants-and-cultural-workers-of-documenta-14/6393">widely-circulated</a> open letter by local activists supporting refugee squats in Athens challenged the festival’s curators and artists: “By staying silent [you assist] in the eradication of spaces for the thousands of bodies who inhabit this city in autonomous units. In these buildings, artists and activists coexist together with thousands of refugees, who have come here from war-torn countries to seek new lives with dignity and freedom. The silence of Documenta is not acceptable and only goes further to accommodate… the State, the Church and NGOs who stand against us and force thousands into segregated concentration camps, ready for the very bodies your director says he’s trying to protect”.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" /><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/D14 3 PA-31193163.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Installation entitled &quot;The disasters of war&quot; at documenta 14 in Athens."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/D14 3 PA-31193163.jpg" alt="Installation entitled "The disasters of war" at documenta 14 in Athens." title="Installation entitled &quot;The disasters of war&quot; at documenta 14 in Athens." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Installation entitled "The disasters of war" at documenta 14 in Athens. Photo: PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On the surface, the Documenta 14 programme did not shy away from issues of conflict, exile and marginalisation. One of its most celebrated artworks was a marble-sculpted refugee tent nestled alongside antiquities on a slope overlooking the Acropolis. Other works by artists from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere explored themes of exile, war, migration and poverty, as did a series of open seminars in the festival’s public programme. </p><p dir="ltr">But, however earnest the content or intention of these costly works, the reality is that most of those who have suffered as a result of Greece’s current economic upheaval – not to mention conflict and displacement – will never see or hear them, let alone influence them. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“art at our expense—art which has nothing to do with refugees”</p><p dir="ltr">The festival's seemingly unguarded elitism angered members of the LGBTQI+ refugee support group. “[Bernat] talked down to us from the beginning,” Lawrence Alatash, a 23 year-old gay Syrian who has been in Greece for over a year, told me shortly after the Athens stunt. </p><p dir="ltr">“He thought we were not smart enough to understand what his project was about or not artistic enough to do something like this. We showed him that he should think twice before talking like that to anyone. But his response was totally racist – if he was a real artist, he would think what we did was amazing: dancing, singing, humour. This is art”.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Zoe1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="LGBTQI+ refugee support group with the &#039;Oath Stone&#039;. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Zoe1.jpg" alt="LGBTQI+ refugee support group with the 'Oath Stone'. " title="LGBTQI+ refugee support group with the &#039;Oath Stone&#039;. " width="460" height="264" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>LGBTQI+ refugee support group with the 'Oath Stone'. Photo: LGBTQI+ Refugees in Greece</span></span></span>Alatash said D14 was “art at our expense – art which has nothing to do with refugees”. He said: “They do not really care about our situation...If they really wanted to help, they could do something to actually involve us – not simply to make money. Instead, they want to take a stone to Germany and bury it, like Europe is burying the knowledge of us as refugees”.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />Nonetheless, the festival’s proponents argued that its political content helped open debates, and minds, in what they presented as a socially and artistically conventional country. “I saw many things from different voices that I have not seen before in the&nbsp;existing conservative art scene,” said <a href="http://www.angeloplessas.com/">Angelo Plessas</a>, a Greek artist who took part in Documenta 14.</p><p dir="ltr">He told me: “We need to see new brave methodologies and open new discussions... We are fed up with the existing art world energy that is repetitive, self-serving and speculative. Greece is very conservative country even in its so called "radicality". There is so much nationalism and individualism in some of the criticisms [of D14]”.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">“It is utopian and even naïve to expect an art festival will represent everybody.”</span></p><p dir="ltr">Plessas also suggested: “It is utopian and even naïve to expect an art festival will represent everybody or act as a charity festival”. He said: “I would have loved to have seen these activists first: to have the freedom or even courage to show their faces too in a deeper conversation and I would make a proposal&nbsp;to the group to think to return the stone as a symbolic goodwill gesture".&nbsp;<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />Such a proposal reflects the wider disconnect of the arts world from the precarious lives of struggling and marginalised communities. It may be unrealistic or unfair to demand radical engagement from individuals and institutions whose primary goals are cultural. But it may be equally naïve for these artists to expect to be taken seriously or considered relevant by all.</p><p dir="ltr">Hundreds of thousands of people exist invisibly on the margins of Greek and European society – not in stone or artwork, but in flesh and bone. At the very least, it seems important that arts producers acknowledge that they will forever be surrounded by experiences that outdo, transcend or undermine their own authoritative claims to cosmopolitanism and worldliness – whether or not they choose to learn from them. &nbsp; <br class="kix-line-break" /></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/jerome-phelps/refugee-crisis-art-weiwei">Why is so much art about the ‘refugee crisis’ so bad? </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"> Greece </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </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 Greece Culture Forced Migration and the Humanities 50.50 People on the Move gendered migration gender 50.50 newsletter Zoe Holman Thu, 22 Jun 2017 09:52:55 +0000 Zoe Holman 111796 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Theresa May and the love police https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/theresa-may-and-love-police <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In Theresa May’s “One Nation” we are all border guards. Her vision of the Big Society will make us all shrink.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>I heard the news of Ahmed’s* death over email. 24 years old, he had been deported from the UK, his home of eight years, in the days before. I had received an email from him in which he warned me that he “could be dead” accompanied by a scanned copy of his Home Office deportation order, a suicide note of sorts. A colleague responded to my concern with the devastating news: “sadly I believe him to be dead. He had been completely let down and ground down by this country”. The final words Ahmed said to my colleague were haunting, "I have been released forever".</p> <p>The news of Ahmed’s likely suicide followed an email that I’d received earlier in the week from another colleague which documented the suicide attempt of another young migrant. It has left him hospitalized for the second time in weeks. Meanwhile, Bilal* a successful engineer who grew up for most of his life in Britain tells me that as he awaits the outcome of his asylum appeal that could see him deported to a country he barely knows he has started to cut himself with a knife.</p> <p>Self-harm, anxiety and depression are <a href="https://www.pre-school.org.uk/news/2016/05/refugee-children-are-vulnerable-poor-mental-health-study-claims">well documented</a> among migrant refugee populations as a result of past and present traumas, yet I hadn’t anticipated this kind of occurrence in my University research ethics application when I began my PhD. Quite simply, you don’t expect your research participants to die, and especially not if they are youth or children. Responding to the ‘reflexivity’ we as researchers are encouraged to display, I sat down on the floor of my home and I wept. I wept for Ahmed’s life and for the family who – having been multiply displaced in Afghanistan’s <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2016/06/30/asia/afghanistan-violence/">ongoing</a> war – would not even know to mourn for their son.</p> <p>Our country has failed Ahmed and many like him. And in one of the most worrying developments of all, there is increasingly little we can do about it. In recent years in a Europe-wide trend known as the ‘<a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/536490/IPOL_STU(2016)536490_EN.pdf">criminalization of solidarity</a>’, we as <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nando-sigona/uk-migration-policy-we-need-to-talk-about-citizens">ordinary citizens</a> have lost our right to care about and help other people like him. In a seismic shift that has barely made the morning papers, we have lost our <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/campaigns/defend-the-right-to-love">right to love</a> certain categories of migrants.</p> <p>Home Secretary Theresa May who this week announced her <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/30/theresa-may-launches-tory-leadership-bid-with-pledge-to-unite-country">leadership bid</a> for the direction of the Tory Party and our country has been at the helm of this moral devolution. And in the coming months and years, her election could usher in the so-called “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/daniel-trilling/inside-theresa-mays-hostile-environment">hostile environment</a>” <em>writ large</em>.</p> <p>openDemocracy 50.50’s migration platform, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/5050-people-on-move">People on the Move</a>, has documented in detail the violent legacy of Theresa May, the longest serving Home Secretary in recent British history and self-styled creator of the deterrence regime. I invite you to read it: unprecedented <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anonymous-interviewee-and-jennifer-allsopp/death-at-yarl’s-wood-women-in-mourning-women-in-fear">deaths</a> in – and the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jerome-phelps/crisis-of-harm-in-immigration-detention">expansion of</a> – immigration detention without time limit, widespread <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/amanda-gray/poverty-human-rights-abuse-in-uk">destitution</a> among new refugees, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/anna-dixie/double-standards-dispersal-and-pregnant-asylum-seekers-in-britain">dispersal of pregnant women</a> away from their partners, the deportation of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lisa-matthews/young-afghans-in-uk-deportations-in-dead-of-night-to-war-zone">former care leavers</a> to war zones, <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/anti-deportation-campaigns-‘what-kind-of-country-do-you-want-this-to-be’">dawn raids</a>, migrant children traumatized by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sarah-campbell/uk-immigration-control-children-in-extreme-distress">enforced separation</a> from their parents, racism sparked by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/welcome-to-britain-go-home-or-face-arrest">“Go Home” vans</a>, the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sarah-campbell/yarl’s-wood-legal-black-hole">harassment</a> of refugee survivors of sexual violence…</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/hhh_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Drawing by Sylvie, 8 years old, whose father is in immigration detention. Source: BID"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/hhh_0.png" alt="Drawing by Sylvie, 8 years old, whose father is in immigration detention. Source: BID" title="Drawing by Sylvie, 8 years old, whose father is in immigration detention. Source: BID" width="393" height="453" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Letter by Sylvie, 8 years old written while her father was in immigration detention. Source: BID</span></span></span>Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, marred by scandal, stands as a legacy of May's enduring obstinacy and devastatingly cool composure in the face of human suffering.</p> <p>Moments of empathy pierce this landscape on the part of bureaucrats who have been implementing May’s new regime. At an asylum tribunal in 2015 a Home Office representative expresses grief to me over the suffering of a child who was paralyzed when a lorry ran him over on the M40. He’d just escaped from the truck in which he had been smuggled when it hit him. “They’ll build an underpass for badgers but not asylum seekers”, he tells me. “Poor guy”.</p> <p>Having argued passionately for the deportation of a refused asylum seeking teenager fearing FGM, another Home Office official whispers to me, “God, I’m glad it’s not my daughter”.</p> <p>Bureaucrats outside of the immigration system are also uncomfortable with the shifting tone of the debate ushered in by May and largely uncontested by her political peers. Landlords are <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/forced-evictions-racist-attacks-meet-new-landlord-security-company-g4s">weary</a> of being coerced into racial profiling of would-be tenants, and University Professors <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/02/universities-border-police-academics">lament</a> having to police their foreign students like proxy border guards. For May’s <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/30/theresa-may-sets-out-one-nation-conservative-pitch-for-leadership">One Nation</a> is one with rigidly policed boundaries and borders that cut right into the private lives of its citizens. Rob Lawrie may have been <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/rob-lawrie-former-soldier-who-smuggled-afghan-girl-out-of-calais-refugee-camp-spared-jail-a6813121.html">spared jail</a> earlier this year for his “crime of compassion” in seeking to reunite a Syrian refugee girl with her family in Britain, but the ordeal, he commented, “has ruined my life”. The stress of the trial and consequences on his own family life drove Rob to attempt suicide. It’s a deterrent to the most soft-hearted of us who seek to do the right thing in a system that feels at times to be so deeply wrong.</p> <p>May’s stubborn reign has cost us multiple freedoms and marked an unprecedented attack on civil liberties, most commonly referenced in relation to the so-called ‘<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/12194441/Snoopers-Charter-Parliamentary-vote-on-the-investigatory-powers-bill-live-updates.html">Snooper’s Charter’</a>. But it is <a href="https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/what-are-human-rights/human-rights-act/article-8-right-private-and-family-life">Article 8</a> of the much beleaguered ECHR – the right to family and private life – where her most enduring legacy lies and will no doubt grow in the coming years if she can weather this final storm. In her 2011 speech at the Conservative Conference, she launched her attack by declaring that the right had been ‘perverted’ before seeking to bully the courts into reducing its effect through parliamentary pressure and the 2012 Immigration Act. “In the interests of the economy, or controlling migration or public order, those sort of issues, the state has a right to qualify the right to a family life” she asserted. Remember, human rights were then reduced to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15160326">#catgate</a> for a while: "We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act... about the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because, and I am not making this up, he had a pet cat."</p> <p>Under other measures the private and family lives of citizens have also been curtailed. Rules introduced under May to restrict immigration mean that half of the women in the UK have lost their right to live in the UK with a foreign spouse because they <a href="https://www.jcwi.org.uk/blog/2016/01/27/over-half-british-women-would-be-blocked-bringing-non-eea-spouse-partner-uk-under">do not earn</a> over the economic threshold of £18,600.</p> <p>Bourdieu famously said that Sociology is a martial art. Researching the lives of migrants and refugees in the UK feels like we are fighting a war with no arms. For Theresa May’s Go Home Office has proven itself to be particularly immune to evidence. The ‘Go Home’ vans have been shown to have fostered <a href="https://mappingimmigrationcontroversy.com/page/3/">more fear</a> and distrust than reassurance among even the most anti-immigrant voters; the ‘hostile environment’ has increased racism, and done all but nothing to <a href="http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-social-sciences/social-policy/iris/2014/working-paper-series/IRiS-WP-1-2014.pdf">deter</a> would-be fellow citizens from seeking sanctuary on our shores. Meanwhile, while all other European countries have heeded the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/jerome-phelps/crisis-of-harm-in-immigration-detention">evidence</a> that indefinite detention is ineffective, exorbitantly expensive and causes severe suffering and harm, the UK continues to <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/sun-sandand-indefinite-detention">expand</a> its estate. Yes, often our research falls on doggedly deaf ears. </p> <p>We try to give the little dignity we can to our fellow human beings in documenting their struggles and successes in the hope that evidence may change the state of things or even the way that history remembers this moment of our making. As my colleague writes upon telling me the news of Ahmed, “For me, I tell myself doing this sort of work you know that however hard you try you can't always find a solution and the blame for that lies squarely with our hostile government, but if someone feels a bit less alone and a bit more supported along the way then I feel something has been achieved, however small. Sorry for the sad news.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Theresa May <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/30/theresa-may-launches-tory-leadership-bid-with-pledge-to-unite-country">boasted</a> in the launch of her leadership campaign yesterday that she had flown to Jordan to seek guarantees that radical cleric Abu Qatarda would not face torture. But her well-oiled deportation regime means that there are no such guarantees for young men like Ahmed. The UK will make no record of Ahmed’s suicide because it didn’t happen on British soil; but rather – we believe – once the plane touched down in the war-torn landscape of Afghanistan’s capital. The UK government does nothing to monitor the fate of returnees or deportees, though external evidence reveals that some deportees to Sri Lanka have faced <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/29/uk-suspend-deportations-tamils-sri-lanka">torture</a> and that hundreds of those returned to the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq face no choice upon arrival but to <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-migrants-insight-idUSKCN0T50E020151116">re-migrate</a> at great risk.</p> <p>Unlike the dozens of migrants and refused asylum seekers who have taken their lives in detention centres at alarming rates in recent years, Ahmed spent the night on the phone to a volunteer at a local charity who tried to calmly talk him through his fears. We need to hold onto this love that May seeks to police. Otherwise in May’s “One Nation” we will all be border guards; and her vision of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Society">Big Society</a> will make us all shrink.</p><p> <em>*The individuals’ names have been changed to protect anonymity.</em></p><p>This article was first published in July 2016.<em><br /></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="/shinealight/anonymous-interviewee-and-jennifer-allsopp/death-at-yarl-s-wood-women-in-mourning-women-">Death at Yarl’s Wood: Women in mourning, women in fear</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/beatrice-botomani/refugee-women-in-uk-pushing-stone-into-sea-0">Refugee women in the UK: Pushing a stone into the sea</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/jerome-phelps/crisis-of-harm-in-immigration-detention">A crisis of harm in immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/seeking-liberation-seeking-comfort-women-migrants-in-uk">Seeking liberation, seeking comfort: women migrants in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/sarah-campbell/uk-immigration-control-children-in-extreme-distress">UK immigration control: children in extreme distress</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nando-sigona/uk-migration-policy-we-need-to-talk-about-citizens">UK migration policy: we need to talk about citizens</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/georgia-cole/refugee-or-economic-migrant-join-dots-theresa-may">Refugee or economic migrant? 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</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jerome-phelps/lonely-death-of-jimmy-mubenga">The lonely death of Jimmy Mubenga</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-matthews/young-afghans-in-uk-deportations-in-dead-of-night-to-war-zone">Young Afghans in the UK: deportations in the dead of night to a war-zone </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"> UK </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"> Equality </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 UK Democracy and government Equality 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change gendered migration 50.50 newsletter Jennifer Allsopp Mon, 29 May 2017 11:27:33 +0000 Jennifer Allsopp 103535 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The refugee crisis: demilitarising masculinities https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/refugee-crisis-demilitarising-masculinities <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Photos emerging from the borders of Europe weave a new narrative around what it means to be vulnerable, to be a man, to say no to war and to be a refugee.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Three photographs of the refugee crisis unfurling at Europe’s borders have resonated particularly strongly with us from behind our tablets and TV screens as consumers of news, drawing empathetic gasps and a profound disquiet. </p> <p>The first is a modern day rendering of the Madonna and child: Syrian <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-story-behind-the-heartbreaking-photo-of-refugee-family-shared-by-thousands-20150820-gj3yi0.html">Laith Majid</a> clasps tightly his two children as he is brought ashore to the island of Kos in Greece after their tiny boat capsized; his face distorts in a look of abject desperation, his lip heaves over gritted teeth and tears stream from his eyes. Photographer Daniel&nbsp;Etter&nbsp;who took the photo <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-story-behind-the-heartbreaking-photo-of-refugee-family-shared-by-thousands-20150820-gj3yi0.html">explained</a> on Facebook that while he may not be “the most emotional person…the father,&nbsp;Laith&nbsp;Majid, and his reaction when he and his family reached Greece still makes me cry."</p> <p>The second and third photos document the tragic death of a small Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi. Laying face down in the sand as the tide washes over his tiny frame, his image has been replicated around the world: in graffiti on the London underground and in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.inspirefusion.com/sand-sculpture-depicting-drowned-syrian-boy-aylan-kurdi/">sand sculptures</a> on the coast of India. </p> <p>The third related photo that has become iconic of the crisis is that of <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/father-dead-syrian-boy-returns-kobane-bury-family-075847227.html">Aylan’s father</a>, Abdullah. Standing in a freshly dug grave in his native town of Kobane he holds his son’s body in a white shroud. A man to his left offers his own arms to support the little body. Abdaullah’s pained expression suggests he could collapse with grief at any moment, leaving the small boy to fall through his arms a second time. </p> <p>These photos have mounted an attack on Europe’s political conscience and with effect. Some argue that it was these photos that finally prompted a response from British Prime Minister David Cameron who has in recent days visited refugee camps and committed more aid, further promising to welcome some <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/07/uk-will-accept-up-to-20000-syrian-refugees-david-cameron-confirms">20,000</a> Syrian refugees to Britain. </p> <p>Besides depicting Syrians forced to flee, the photos share another fundamental characteristic: they p<span>icture men. For it is men who are the protagonists of the current refugee crisis. Together these photos do not just document facts but they have begun to weave a new narrative around what it means to be vulnerable, to be a man and to be a refugee. They depict new masculinities of war that challenge the militarised assumptions that are now resurgent on the Hungarian border.</span></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/541754/8406512 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Men bury casualty of refugee crisis on Lesbos (Demotix/John Rudoff)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8406512 (1).jpg" alt="Men bury casualty of refugee crisis on Lesbos (Demotix/John Rudoff)" title="Men bury casualty of refugee crisis on Lesbos (Demotix/John Rudoff)" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Men bury casualty of refugee crisis on Lesbos (Demotix/John Rudoff)</span></span></span></span></p><p><strong>Militarised masculinities</strong></p> <p>In common narratives of war it is the women and children who are the victims. The history books tell us that while the men stay and fight heroically, the women and children flee. ‘Woman and children first!’ From the historic Titanic to the contemporary flotilla of migrant boats with distress flares aflame in the Mediterranean sea, it is a common refrain. Despite the popularity of the trope of ‘man at war’ and ‘woman refugee’, the UN Refugee Agency <a href="http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/refugees/">reports</a> that children constitute about 41 percent of the world’s refugees, and about half of all refugees are women. That means, of course, that the other half are men like Laith and Abdaullah.</p> <p>Men’s experiences of war – and their ability to be victims of war&nbsp;<span>–</span><span>&nbsp;has long been neglected in the media and in research. It is only in recent years that the international community has begun to recognise the extent to which sexual violence is used as a weapon against </span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/jul/17/the-rape-of-men">men</a><span> as well as women, for example. Meanwhile, the high levels of post-traumatic stress experienced by veterans returning to the US and the UK from Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade have been well documented but ill treated, despite the US government spending over</span><a href="http://time.com/2904783/ptsd-iraq-va/"> $3 billion</a><span> in 2012 alone on rehabilitation. For many men, whether civilians caught up in the fighting or soldiers on the frontline, suffering remains a taboo.</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/2967053_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ziad Muhammad, 33 from Deiv Azzour who was tortured by the Assad regime (Demotix/Matthew Aslett)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/2967053_0.jpg" alt="Ziad Muhammad, 33 from Deiv Azzour who was tortured by the Assad regime (Demotix/Matthew Aslett)" title="Ziad Muhammad, 33 from Deiv Azzour who was tortured by the Assad regime (Demotix/Matthew Aslett)" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ziad Muhammad, 33 from Deiv Azzour who was tortured by the Assad regime (Demotix/Matthew Aslett)</span></span></span></p><p>The images of the two fathers depict a vulnerability rarely associated with men in times of war. In fac<span>t the dominance of images of men suffering on our screens has marked something fundamentally new in the way in which war is reported. This is something that has the power to radically alter our ideas about masculinities in both war and peace time.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong>Fleeing war to meet war</strong></p> <p>A more traditional militarised vision of masculinity nevertheless appeared yesterday on our screens as fighting broke out between mostly male Hungarian border police and groups of mostly male refugees who have been barred from crossing the border from Serbia. The men once cast as vulnerable sea victims were swiftly and conveniently re-depicted as belligerent fighters who, by virtue of their sex alone, posed a security threat. Their protests to cross were met with tear gas and water canons. As one BBC reporter said, ‘it looks like a war zone on the edge of the European Union’. A Hungarian spokesman on the BBC spoke of ‘an armed mob of hundreds of thousands of people’, meanwhile Serbia strongly condemned the violent retaliation and <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/refugees-migrants-hungary-syria-croatia-1.3230033">"brutual treatment"</a> from the Hungarian authorities. </p> <p>The footage reminds me of the way in which protests and riots in immigration detention centres have long been portrayed in the UK media: desperate men, resorting to desperate measures are cast <a href="https://www.google.pt/search?q=opendemocracy.net+melanie+griffiths&amp;oq=opendemocracy.net+melanie+griffiths&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57.2874j0j4&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;es_sm=93&amp;ie=UTF-8">as anarchic</a> threats as they try to survive having been forced to flee, the force used against them disproportionate and inhumane. What fails to be shown in either case are the peaceful tactics being used: hunger strikes rarely make good TV. As Chloe Lewis has argued on 50.50, the refugee man is ‘<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/chlo%C3%A9-lewis/invisible-migrant-man-questioning-gender-privileges">invisible’</a> and as such, a vessel for convenient securitised state discourses. In the ‘mob’, the suffering individual disappears.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8555818 (2).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The Hungarian border (Demotix/Beata Zawrzel)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8555818 (2).jpg" alt="The Hungarian border (Demotix/Beata Zawrzel)" title="The Hungarian border (Demotix/Beata Zawrzel)" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Hungarian border (Demotix/Beata Zawrzel)</span></span></span></p><p>I glance up from writing now and in one screen shot a baby who has been caught in a cloud of tear gas is screaming, its eyes stream with tears. ‘Look at this!’ shouts the father to the news camera, a situation that leads a representative of the Hungarian government to accuse the refugees of using their children as human shields. In another clip a man who has tried to cross is forced into an ambulance as he chokes with respiratory problems; his hands are cable tied. The refugees are now cast as bandits, with scarves over their faces to protect them from the tear gas; using force to try and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/16/first-refugees-head-for-croatia-after-hungarys-border-crackdown-live-updates">break down the fence</a> which was, until just recently, open. </p> <p>Faced with increasingly restrictive and securitized borders, the conflict they fled has chased them here. </p> <p>The human face of the refugees has dissipated; border crossing has become a combat sport, for ‘real men’ once more. While boat arrivals are met with a humanitarian response, the land border is governed by law and order. ‘The young men’, the BBC reports as I write, ‘decided to keep up their fight well into the night’.</p> <p><strong>‘Fighting like a real man’</strong></p> <p>The cynics who have already advanced the argument that the men fleeing are weak and should go back and fight for their countries find, in today’s footage, fuel for their fire. ‘If they came here to fight, why don’t they go home and fight the regime instead of running away!’ comments someone on Facebook. ‘It will now be <em>our </em>men who risk their lives trying to save <em>their</em> women and children’. </p> <p>But for many, saving <em>their</em> woman and children is the point of their migration. For many male migrants, whether from Syria or Afghanistan, fleeing is a response to an economic war ravaging their families. Many war victims die at the hands of related food shortages, not bullets. The act of migrating, they believe, is a more productive contribution to peace than to stay and fight and perpetuate the violence. Through fleeing they seek to contribute money back home and perhaps to bring their families to a position of safety from their exile. As BBC reporter Lyse Doucet has commented, in some of these cultures, it is traditional for the men to leave first and establish themselves, meanwhile sending money to enable the family to survive back home. Border crossing is a great risk and families seek to spread risks evenly. ‘What other option do I have?’ says one migrant.&nbsp; </p> <p>Some, having decided against militarism, will seek to continue their political struggle from exile. It is well documented that exiled communities can play a huge role in post-conflict reconstruction and in economic development. In exile refugees are able to stage opposition to the repressive factions and work towards peace from a position of safety. As a student I used to accompany hundreds of Zimbabweans to the embassy in London where week in, week out, they would petition for an end to human rights atrocities alongside allies from a position of strength and safety. Other more famous examples of the roles of refugees in bringing political change include the resistance fostered from exile against the oppressive Guatemalan regime. Led by Nobel Peace prize laureate, Rigoberta Menchu, refugees <a href="http://207.112.105.217/PEN/1993-03/donais3.html">mobilised</a> for a peaceful solution to the conflict and to secure the safe return of some 100,000 refugees. Many of the thousands of Eritrean refugees who make up the flows coming to Europe now will also remember the <a href="http://sirclund.se/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/conference-report-2006.pdf#page=97">crucial role</a> of Eritrean refugees in winning independence through referendum in 1993. They know that exile is a place of sanctuary but also a site for a new kind of fighting and politics; for peaceful mobilisation. For many refugees, the decision to flee is a decision to fight on without violence.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8520071.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Refugees stuck between Hungary and Serbia (Demotix/Geovien So)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8520071.jpg" alt="Refugees stuck between Hungary and Serbia (Demotix/Geovien So)" title="Refugees stuck between Hungary and Serbia (Demotix/Geovien So)" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Refugees stuck between Hungary and Serbia (Demotix/Geovien So)</span></span></span></p> <p>How do you fight ISIS? The truth is I do not know, but I do know that Abdullah and Laith wanted the very best for their children and thought that the best way to achieve that was not to go to war. Meanwhile, as another day begins and there is little hope of a diplomatic solution at Hungary’s border, the men who rub their eyes with water and tend to their wounds are still trying to flee it.&nbsp; </p> <p>The explosion of violence on the border is a response to an increasingly desperate situation. But our news anchors, in their obsession with ‘these groups of men’ would do well to remember the famous portraits which elicited a very different reaction. Men cannot be cast as either victims or soldiers: they can be at once vulnerable and agentic too. </p><p><em><strong>Read more articles on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/people-on-move">People on&nbsp;</a><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/people-on-move">the Move</a>, 50.50's migration, gender and social justice dialogue. </strong><br /></em></p> <p>This article was first published in September 2015.</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/chlo%C3%A9-lewis/invisible-migrant-man-questioning-gender-privileges">The invisible migrant man: questioning gender privileges </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/philosophies-of-migration">Philosophies of migration</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lea-sitkin/borders-of-punishments-criminology-and-migration-control">Borders of punishments: criminology and migration control</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leanne-weber/death-at-global-frontier">Death at the global frontier </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/tribunal-12-migrants%E2%80%99-rights-abuses-in-europe">Tribunal 12: migrants’ rights abuses in Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/saskia-sassen/immigration-control-vs-governance">Immigration: control vs governance</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/500-eritreans">500 Eritreans</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/child-soldiers-child-wives-wounded-for-life">Child soldiers, child wives: wounded for life</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruben-andersson/mare-nostrum-and-migrant-deaths-humanitarian-paradox-at-europe%E2%80%99s-frontiers-0">Mare Nostrum and migrant deaths: the humanitarian paradox at Europe’s frontiers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/gillian-brock/migration-and-global-justice-realistic-options-for-here-and-now">Migration and global justice: realistic options for here and now</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/whos-afraid-of-global-poor">Who&#039;s afraid of the &#039;global poor&#039;?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/bridget-anderson/migration-controlling-unsettled-poor">Migration: controlling the unsettled poor</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/foreigners-victims-or-villains-a-political-debate">Foreigners: victims or villains?- a political debate</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lampedusa-never-again">Lampedusa: Never again</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"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Hungary </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </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 Hungary Syria Conflict Borderland crisis 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy temp 50.50 Editor's Pick patriarchy gendered migration gender 50.50 newsletter Jennifer Allsopp Sat, 20 May 2017 08:24:33 +0000 Jennifer Allsopp 96060 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why is so much art about the ‘refugee crisis’ so bad? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jerome-phelps/refugee-crisis-art-weiwei <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Even at a celebrity art gala you can don an emergency blanket and feel good about yourself. Hard political questions, not required.</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/563303/PA-24136557.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ai Weiwei"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-24136557.jpg" alt="Artist Ai Weiwei" title="Ai Weiwei" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Artist Ai Weiwei (centre-left) carrying a blanket symbolising refugee needs, in London 2015. PA Images/Frantzesco Kangaris. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/feb/01/ai-weiwei-poses-as-drowned-syrian-infant-refugee-in-haunting-photo">famous artist</a> lies face-down on a Lesvos beach.&nbsp; <strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p>The beach, the pose, seem familiar from the initially shocking, now iconic image of the drowned boy Alan Kurdi. But the dead Syrian toddler is nowhere to be seen. Instead – look! – it’s Ai Weiwei!</p> <p>Ai’s undoubtedly sincere gesture has been much mocked: <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2016/may/03/ai-weiwei-feature-film-refugee-crisis">Jonathan Jones</a> called it a "crass, unthinking selfie". Once again, a celebrity sees a humanitarian crisis and realises that what the world needs is an image of himself. </p><p>Ai’s own corporate supporters inadvertently skewer the grandiloquence of the whole misguided enterprise. According to Sandy Angus, co-owner of the India Art Fair: “It is an iconic image because it is very political, human and involves an incredibly important artist like Ai Weiwei. The image is haunting and represents the whole immigration crisis and the hopelessness of the people who have tried to escape their pasts for a better future.”</p> <p>But what does this unfortunate collision of "an incredibly important artist" and the "hopelessness of the people" tell us about the difficulties of looking at refugees? If Ai is less than successful in representing "the whole immigration crisis", where does his failure leave the possibility of such a project?</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Powerful: <a href="https://twitter.com/aiww">@aiww</a> recreates scene of dead Syrian toddler. <a href="https://t.co/2pWf5cKs3G">https://t.co/2pWf5cKs3G</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SyrianRefugees?src=hash">#SyrianRefugees</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/IOM_news">@IOM_news</a> <a href="https://t.co/lEAiu5B5wo">pic.twitter.com/lEAiu5B5wo</a></p>— David Beard (@dabeard) <a href="https://twitter.com/dabeard/status/693708916396560385">31 January 2016</a><br /></blockquote><h2>The performance of empathy</h2> <p>"There is no refugee crisis," Ai <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidalm/2017/02/27/ai-weiwei-to-release-epic-film-that-humanizes-global-refugee-crisis/#26e2708b3c1e">has said</a>, "but only a human crisis".&nbsp; His <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jan/01/ai-weiwei-sets-up-studio-on-greek-island-of-lesbos-to-highlight-plight-of-refugees">artistic project</a> is "to relate to humanity’s struggles", his Lesvos image a straightforward attempt to embody this suffering humanity.&nbsp; </p> <p>Ai has faith in the gesture of empathy as antidote to the inhumanity of politics. Unfortunately, the gesture of the empathiser has a tendency to occlude the object of empathy. The performance of empathy has become something of a cultural trope, from students sleeping out in support of the homeless to campaigners undertaking the challenge of living on the financial resources of destitute asylum-seekers. In each case, the position in all this of the hypothetical recipient of empathy is rather unclear. By displacing the victim from the visual field, Ai’s image has the virtue of literalising this problematic.</p> <p>The other thing that is displaced in the performance of empathy is politics. Ai’s focus on that great abstraction "humanity" lifts his gaze far above the humdrum political decision-making that actually cost Alan Kurdi his life. The crisis becomes the existential one of death, the great sea that awaits us all.&nbsp; </p> <p>But this is not at all the nature of the 'refugee crisis'. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/agnes-woolley/arts-and-humanities-tackling-challenges-of-mass-displacement">As has been observed</a>, it is in fact a crisis of values and politics. Crudely, refugees only get to be a 'crisis' when they start coming 'here', to our world of privilege. The moment of crisis is a political decision, in this case to refuse to organise Europe’s ample resources to respond in a coherent and responsible way to the perfectly manageable flows of refugees and migrants.&nbsp; </p> <p>Empathy with humanity can be a way to avoid this attribution of political responsibility – even European leaders have wept crocodile tears over the dead, whilst seeking ways to save them by preventing them from setting out for Europe in the first place.&nbsp; </p> <p>Ai purveys an empathy that is accessible and democratic, neutralising political crisis into a (passing) crisis of feeling: even at a celebrity art gala you can <a href="https://news.artnet.com/art-world/ai-weiwei-cinema-for-peace-berlin-427484">don an emergency blanket</a> and feel good about yourself. Hard political questions, of your country’s leaders or yourself, not required.&nbsp; </p> <h2>Looking at refugees</h2> <p>Part of the difficulty of representing the 'refugee crisis' may lie in the very ubiquity of its representations. This may be the most photographed humanitarian crisis in history: the tragedies playing out on Lesvos beaches can be recorded by anyone with a smartphone and a cheap flight ticket. The very endlessness of images of disaster can numb. The only limitations on the flood of images are the media taboos on what degree of horror can be shown. The power of the Alan Kurdi images derive partly from the decision of Western newspaper editors to allow through these particular images of a dead child.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">This may be the most photographed humanitarian crisis in history...</p> <p>Ai seems to be grappling with these difficulties of representation. He sees the inadequacy of the passive contemplation of yet more images of refugees. Instead, he goes there, he sets up camp in Lesvos, he enacts Alan Kurdi’s death. His willingness to engage is praiseworthy. But the result is bad art, in that we just end up with another glossy image to contemplate, the helplessness of the refugee victim doubled in the helplessness of the artist.</p> <p>In its very failures, Ai’s work points obliquely to the key political content of the 'crisis': the collapsing of distinctions between the 'here' of comfortable Western lives and the 'there' of humanitarian catastrophe and war. This disruption of our beaches and Eurostar journeys is immensely unsettling, and goes to the heart of the political construction of Europe itself. Apparently hardened war correspondents found working on the Greek islands <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jun/12/refugee-crisis-news-organisations">unexpectedly traumatic</a>, as being 'here' in Europe prevented them from putting in place the usual psychological defence mechanisms.&nbsp; </p> <p>This struggle over the shifting space of globalisation is key to the politics of the 'refugee crisis', just as it is to Trump’s projected wall. The European 'here' must be protected from the alien 'there', if necessary by militarising the Aegean and turning Greece into a vast borderland of camps.</p> <p>Images cannot capture this respatialisation of our political geography, as they are always already locationless and floating. They can register disjunctures (tourists sunning themselves as boats arrive), but they cannot move past this shock reaction to articulate where we are when 'here' and 'there' collide.</p> <p>One of the places we end up is nowhere – the non-places of the refugee camps documented by <a href="https://www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=19949">Richard Mosse</a> in the sublime black-and-white of his heat-seeking military cameras. Mosse’s extraordinarily beautiful panoramic hells have undeniable power, and relish the uncomfortable irony of redeploying cutting edge military gadgetry to aesthetic ends. But they arguably do not go beyond registering this nowhere as military-industrial sublime to the more difficult questions of our relationship to these non-places.&nbsp; </p> <h2>Representing here, there and nowhere</h2> <p>If our predicament is to be lost in these disjunctures and nowheres, contemporary art is in general poorly equipped for any project of spatial reorientation. The art world is itself a globalised nowhere, with the same elite artists exhibiting in similar galleries around the world. Indeed, the Ai beach photo was produced for a feature in an Indian art magazine. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">The art world is itself a globalised nowhere...</p> <p>By contrast, the most powerful and exciting document of the 'crisis' that I have seen is not the work of an artist. It is a simple sketch map, posted on Facebook by an anonymous Iraqi and disseminated by journalist <a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n19/ghaith-abdul-ahad/some-tips-for-the-long-distance-traveller">Ghaith Abdul-Ahad</a>. In a few sweeping arrows, prices in various currencies and cartoonish boats and buses, it describes how you get from the Turkish coast to destination Germany (signified by flag-waving stick man). Its exuberance conveys that extraordinary period in 2015 when migrants themselves were actively refiguring Europe’s political geography, on foot, communally, in great numbers. Critically, it sees ‘here’ from ‘there’, it is a tool for action rather than an object of contemplation – and the migrant is doing the seeing.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Picture1_11.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Drawing by Iraqi migrant. Disseminated by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Picture1_11.png" alt="Drawing by Iraqi migrant. Disseminated by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad." title="Drawing by Iraqi migrant. Disseminated by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad." width="366" height="513" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Drawing by Iraqi migrant. Disseminated by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad.</span></span></span>I don’t mean to claim that only refugees themselves can represent this crisis, and that artists can have no role (which would be particularly unfair on Ai, given his own experience of political persecution). But this map may be a clue to the kinds of approaches that could be productive in grappling with our current disorientations. If the old hierarchical spatial configurations are no longer sustainable, or are only sustainable with the violence of walls and razor wire, then there is a role for art to set out alternative ways of mapping our predicament.</p><p>Last week, I was sitting in a conference room at a workshop for experienced NGO leaders by the <a href="http://www.detentionaction.org.uk/freed-voices">Freed Voices</a> group of experts-by-experience of immigration detention. The format should have been familiar: stories of personal experiences of detention that will inform our work as we return to ‘our’ space of advocacy. Instead, within seconds I have my eyes shut and am instructed to think of an experience of trusting someone. Then, we are writing our questions on the walls – and the migrants have barely spoken yet, beyond a sparse few instructions. Later, they are staging media interviews between themselves, no (white European) interviewer in sight.</p><p>The Freed Voices (who are campaigners rather than artists) specialise in these disruptive spatial interventions. They have previously produced <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/freed-voices-mapping-detention">maps</a> of the UK’s detention centres, non-places devoid of maps for security reasons, according to the experiences and emotional associations of the different rooms and wings. The Freed Voices are resolutely here, not images in someone’s art project but living amongst us with (mostly) irregular immigration status, liable to be redetained at any time. Telling us to shut our eyes and think of our childhoods.</p> <p><em>This article is part of the series</em><em>&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/forced-migration-and-humanities">Forced Migration&nbsp;and the Humanities</a>. This dialogue is an editorial partnership with openDemocracy 50.50 led by Mariangela Palladino (Keele University) and Agnes Woolley (Royal Holloway University of London).&nbsp;</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/karolina-follis/reflections-on-post-humanitarianism-in-dark-times">Reflections on post-humanitarianism in dark times</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/arts-and-humanities-tackling-challenges-of-mass-displacement"> The arts and humanities: tackling the challenges of mass displacement</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <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 even"> <a href="/guardians-of-culture-tradition-and-stability-of-home">The depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago: guardians of culture, tradition and the stability of the home</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mariangela-palladino-agnes-woolley/borderlands-words-against-walls">Borderlands: words against walls</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/kate-alexander/like-chicken-surrounded-by-dogs">Like a chicken surrounded by dogs</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/warsan-shire/conversations-about-home-at-deportation-centre">Conversations about home (at a deportation centre)</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"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </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 Conflict Ideas Forced Migration and the Humanities 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Jerome Phelps Thu, 11 May 2017 08:15:04 +0000 Jerome Phelps 110756 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Locked in limbo: the prolonged detention of stateless people in Europe must end now https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/chris-nash/locked-limbo-detention-stateless-europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western"> Some stateless people are detained for months, even years, without any real prospect of their cases being resolved. This must change. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="western"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/210315it-34.jpg" alt="Detention centre gates." title="Detention centre in Europe." width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Detention centre gates. Photo: Greg Constantine for European Network on Statelessness.</span></span></span>A consensus is building in Europe that the current use of immigration detention is unsustainable, harmful, and, in many cases, unlawful. </p> <p class="western">Today, a <span><a class="western" href="http://www.statelessness.eu/news/lockeinlimbo-detention-statement">statement</a></span> signed by civil society organisations, lawyers and academics from over 30 European countries, published as part of a new campaign <span><a class="western" href="http://www.statelessness.eu/protecting-stateless-persons-from-detention">#LockedInLimbo</a>,</span> calls on European governments to comply with their international human rights obligations which strictly prohibit arbitrary detention. </p> <p class="western">It highlights the fact that hundreds of stateless people are detained for months, even years, without any real prospect of their cases being resolved. This is because immigration systems do not have appropriate procedures in place to identify those who are left without nationality and to protect stateless people. </p> <p class="western">Stateless people are not recognised as a citizen by any state. As such they are denied basic rights that most people take for granted. Statelessness is a legal anomaly, with devastating consequences on the lives of those caught up in it. </p><p class="western"><span class="mag-quote-right">Statelessness is a legal anomaly, with devastating consequences...</span></p> <p class="western">Stateless people are particularly vulnerable to finding themselves deprived of their liberty and locked up in immigration detention while authorities attempt to deport them. But because there is no country that will accept them, authorities will rarely actually be able to do so. In such cases, where deportation is impossible, the prolonged and repeated detention of stateless people is not only pointless, but also most likely unlawful. </p> <p class="western">Statelessness affects more than 10 million people around the world and at least 600,000 in Europe. Statelessness occurs in Europe both among recent migrants and people who have lived in the same place for generations. While these numbers give an indication of the scale of statelessness in the region, more precise data is sparse and often incomplete. </p> <p class="western">In Ukraine, for instance, there is no reliable data on the size of the stateless population and estimates range from 6,500 to close to 50,000, while in Bulgaria people in detention are often simply assigned a nationality by the authorities according to where they are deemed to have come from, making official statistics unreliable. </p> <p class="western">Worryingly, new <a class="western" href="http://www.statelessness.eu/sites/www.statelessness.eu/files/attachments/resources/ENS_LockeInLimbo_Detention_Agenda_online.pdf"><span>r</span><span>esearch and analysis</span></a> by the European Network on Statelessness and its member organisations, based on over 60 interviews across six European countries points to a small number of stateless people exposed to prolonged and repeated detention because their statelessness is invisible to the authorities, or their stories are not believed. </p> <p class="western">Muhammed, one of the people interviewed in the UK, told us: “Detention made my mental health worse. It started when I got into detention. There, they do not care if you cry.” </p><p class="western"><span class="mag-quote-right">There, they do not care if you cry...</span></p> <p class="western">Muhammed is a Sahrawi – from Western Sahara in north-west Africa – in his late thirties, who came to the UK as a minor. He was refused asylum and has been detained several times for a total of nearly four of the last 18 years. He also applied for status as a stateless person but, as per UK rules, his application was refused because he has a past criminal offence. </p> <p class="western">The authorities did accept that he was Sahrawi, making deportation impossible. However, he still spent 15 months in detention in 2015-2016 alone. </p> <p class="western">Angela is an ethnic Armenian from Azerbaijan. She fled to the Netherlands seeking asylum with her family in her early teens, but they were refused protection. Countless efforts to obtain new travel documents failed. </p> <p class="western">In 2012, Angela was detained during an attempt to forcibly remove her family, which had a huge emotional impact on her. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan refused to facilitate their deportation. A Dutch court ruled her detention unlawful and suspended forced return – but even this did not end her limbo. </p><p class="western"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/080414ho-23.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Man in detention."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/080414ho-23.jpg" alt="Man in detention." title="Man in detention." width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Man in detention. Greg Constantine for European Network on Statelessness.</span></span></span>Angela and Mohamed’s stories are not unique and we heard numerous stories of suffering, and of great human cost. People’s lives are put on hold while authorities try to deport them at the expense of their mental health and wellbeing. </p> <p class="western">It doesn't need to be this way. As part of the #LockedInLimbo campaign, the European Network on Statelessness has published a clear <span><a class="western" href="http://www.statelessness.eu/sites/www.statelessness.eu/files/attachments/resources/ENS_LockeInLimbo_Detention_Agenda_online.pdf">agenda for change</a></span> which can help end this travesty. </p> <p class="western">The experiences of the people we interviewed point to broken systems characterised by mistrust, lack of awareness, and a failure to apply established legal standards put in place to protect them. Authorities are neglecting their obligations to protect people’s basic rights, exposing them to arbitrariness, discrimination, and systemic exclusion. Their ‘crime’? Having no place to call home and no identity papers to prove it. <span class="mag-quote-center">Their ‘crime’? Having no place to call home and no papers to prove it.</span></p> <p class="western"> Such failings push stateless people onto the margins of Europe’s communities, towards isolation, exploitation and petty ‘survival’ criminality, which in turn can lead to apprehension and detention. Breaking this vicious and discriminatory cycle requires urgent law and policy reform to align national law and practice with regional and international human rights standards. </p> <p class="western">It is time for European states to fulfil their obligations towards stateless people. The answer is a simple one: identification. </p> <p class="western">States must urgently put in place effective procedures to identify statelessness within their immigration and international protection systems. If we can effectively identify who is stateless (or at risk of statelessness), then steps can be taken to protect them from unlawful and arbitrary detention, and free them from legal limbo without a nationality to begin to rebuild their lives. </p> <p class="western">Immigration detention should not be used as a tool to implement states’ migration policies. It has severe and long-lasting effects on the mental health of people detained. While this is even more likely to be the case for the stateless, for whom the prospects of being deported are usually minimal, this only adds to the overall case for a systemic overhaul of immigration detention and Europe’s approach to migration. </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> 50.50 50.50 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 newsletter Chris Nash Thu, 04 May 2017 08:44:19 +0000 Chris Nash 110598 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Reflections on post-humanitarianism in dark times https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/karolina-follis/reflections-on-post-humanitarianism-in-dark-times <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG ></o> <o:PixelsPerInch>96</o:PixelsPerInch> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> 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<w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Contemporary" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Elegant" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Professional" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Balloon Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="Table Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Theme" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 9" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Placeholder Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Revision" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" QFormat="true" Name="Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Bibliography" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="41" Name="Plain Table 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="42" Name="Plain Table 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="43" Name="Plain Table 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="44" Name="Plain Table 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="45" Name="Plain Table 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="40" Name="Grid Table Light" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="List Table 1 Light" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="List Table 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="List Table 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="List Table 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="List Table 5 Dark" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="List Table 6 Colorful" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="List Table 7 Colorful" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="List Table 1 Light Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="List Table 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="List Table 3 Accent 1" ></w> 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mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} --> <!--[endif] --> <!--StartFragment--> <!--EndFragment--></p><p>British opposition to search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean and Polish pseudo-theological justifications not to help refugees exploit the insecurities of the humanitarian movement.</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/flight-of-the-swallows-1913-2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="&#039;Flight of the Swallows&#039; by Giacomo Ball (1913). Photo: Wikipedia. Some rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/flight-of-the-swallows-1913-2.jpg" alt="'Flight of the Swallows' by Giacomo Ball (1913). Photo: Wikipedia. Some rights reserved." title="&#039;Flight of the Swallows&#039; by Giacomo Ball (1913). Photo: Wikipedia. Some rights reserved." width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'Flight of the Swallows' by Giacomo Ball (1913). Photo: Wikipedia. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>As the Mediterranean <a href="http://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/mediterranean">death toll</a> shows no signs of abating, humanitarians involved in addressing the crisis are having a difficult time. <a href="http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-anthro-102313-030403">Recent academic critiques</a> have pointed out the flaws of contemporary international humanitarianism, noting humanitarians’ white saviour complex, their complicity with the forces of militarism and capitalism, the ways in which they deprive the people they are ostensibly helping of agency, and the ways they trap them in a condition of perpetual depoliticised victimhood. Equally recently humanitarian activities of various kinds have been the target of political undermining and outright assault coming from the political right. <span>One striking example is the official British position to oppose search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean because, as the subsequent Tory governments have claimed, such activities act as a “</span><span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ruben-andersson/mare-nostrum-and-migrantdeaths-%20humanitarian-paradox-at-europe%E2%80%99s-frontiers-0" target="_blank">pull factor</a></span><span>” that simply tempts more migrants into risking their lives.</span>&nbsp;This claim has circulated also elsewhere in Europe. Meanwhile in the United States the concern of the new administration has been not so much with repelling refugees as with outright banning their arrival.</p> <p>Humanitarianism may be defined at its most basic as “concern for human welfare as a primary or pre-eminent moral good; action, or the disposition to act, on the basis of this concern rather than for pragmatic or strategic reasons” (OED online). This broadest definition applies to anyone acting on the grounds of a moral commitment to the alleviation of suffering. This includes members of the humanitarian establishment in well-funded international organizations as well as activists in start-up NGOs who would likely bristle at being called ‘humanitarians’ precisely because they are so keenly aware of the dubious track record of some of the biggest humanitarian players.</p> <p>If the field is so full of tensions, why lump very different actors together? After all they enter the scene with differential power, resources and political commitments. But to consider them together in this context makes strategic sense. The other side, the anti-humanitarian right, is not making distinctions in attacking humanitarians. It bashes UN envoys for being naïve just as it ridicules the “leftists” and “anarchists” who protest border fences and migrant detention. Such attacks (which are not linked here so as not to raise traffic to the sites that host them) afford us a moment of clarity, to ask what humanitarianism means at its most basic. Still, in recognition of tensions that animate the field, I am inclined to join <a href="https://link.springer.com/book/10.1057%2F9781137395894">others</a> who argue that today it might be better to speak of <em>post</em>-humanitarianism. This would not be to distance ourselves from the original moral claim but to capture its specific temporality. Wendy Brown has <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/walled-states-waning-sovereignty">written</a> that the “prefix ‘post’ signifies a formation that is <em>temporally after but not over</em> that to which it is affixed. ‘Post’ signifies a very particular condition of afterness in which what is past is not left behind, but, on the contrary, relentlessly conditions, even dominates a present that nevertheless also breaks in some way with this past.”</p> <p>This brings me to the other concept in the title. Hannah Arendt borrowed the phrase “dark times”, from Brecht’s 1939 poem “<a href="http://harpers.org/blog/2008/01/brecht-to-those-who-follow-in-our-wake/">To Posterity</a>” (linked here in a different translation). She <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Men_in_Dark_Times.html?id=_Bt9OWQlke8C&amp;redir_esc=y">wrote</a> of the 1930s that “the disorder and the hunger, the massacres and the slaughterers and the outrage over injustice … All this was real enough as it took place in public … and still, it was by no means visible to all … for until the very moment when catastrophe overtook everything and everybody, it was covered up not by realities but by the <em>highly efficient talk and double-talk of nearly all official representatives who, without interruption and in many ingenuous variations explained away unpleasant facts and justified concerns</em>” (emphasis added). &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Our contemporary version of Arendt’s “efficient talk” is the discourse of border control that relies on the rationalities of security, economic interest and military technology to hide from view violence perpetrated against hundreds of thousands of people. And so we hear persistently of the need for a “crackdown on human smuggling” as <a href="http://heindehaas.blogspot.it/2015/04/let-their-people-drown-how-eu.html">politicians scapegoat the smugglers</a> to conceal their own responsibility for the unending deaths at sea. The pinnacle of Arendtian double-talk here has to be decision to name the EU naval mission to tackle human smuggling out of Libya “Operation Sophia” <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36283316">after a baby</a> born to a Somali mother on a German ship that rescued her mother off the coast of Libya in August 2015.</p> <p>The UK is of course parting ways with the EU and its government <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-38918317">no longer even pretends</a> to care for migrant children. The former Home Secretary and now Prime Minister Theresa May has disavowed search and rescue, whether it be state-sponsored as in the case of Mare Nostrum, or carried out by NGOs or other independent actors. Statements by border control “experts” asserting that trafficking gangs conspire with the Coast Guard to smuggle migrants into the EU under the pretext of humanitarian rescue operations enjoy broad credibility in the UK, printed in broadsheets and tabloids and circulated on the Internet. One such expert took aim at UNHCR in <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/11540547/Trafficking-gangs-tip-off-Italian-officials-so-that-rescue-services-can-pick-up-people-smuggling-boats.html">his comments</a> for the Telegraph, when he opined that “The UN’s idea that one is obliged morally to take in people coming across in boats is a dangerous one … Some of these people are desperate, but a good proportion are economic migrants, and either way, you shouldn’t be encouraging people to risk their lives in a boat.” The insidious effects of the phrase “economic migrants” are <a href="https://weblog.iom.int/false-dichotomy-between-%E2%80%98economic-migrants%E2%80%99-and-refugees">well known</a>, so there is no need to rehash them here. Instead it merits noting how the “moral obligation to take in people coming across on boats” becomes a fanciful “idea of the UN” rather than a description of a fairly uncontroversial moral principle that constitutes a response to the inherent dangers of maritime escapes. People may of course <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-ethics-of-immigration-9780199933839?cc=it&amp;lang=en&amp;">legitimately disagree</a> on the extent of hospitality owed to those who arrive, but those questions cannot be meaningfully resolved through democratic deliberation if the passengers of the boats are consistently and deliberately dehumanized. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>A different example of how humanitarian responses to the Mediterranean crossings can be effectively discredited comes from Poland. In 2015, at the time when the number of people arriving in Europe reached its highest level, Poland’s centre-right government reluctantly agreed to take part in the European Union’s solidarity mechanism for resettling refugees arriving in Italy and Greece. Based on that mechanism Poland would have accepted up to 12,000 refugees by 2017, but the new right wing government, which came into power following the October 2015 election, rescinded the deal. Jarosław Kaczynski, Poland’s <em>de facto</em> leader who holds no elected office but rules from behind scenes as the head of the Law and Justice party made headlines in late 2015 when he claimed that migrants must be stopped at the border because they <a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/migrants-asylum-poland-kaczynski-election/">carry parasites and disease</a> into Europe. Less well known is the fact that he grounds his refusal to accept to refugees in the principle of <em>ordo caritatis</em>, which he translates as the “order of mercy,” and which he claims derives from Aquinas. According to this principle, as rendered by Kaczynski, the faithful are obliged to first show mercy to those closest to them, that is the family, then to their compatriots and only in the last instance to foreign strangers. I will set aside here the quarrels that theologians <a href="http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/ethics-aquinas">might raise</a> with Kaczynski’s interpretations of Aquinas. The important point is that the phrase <em>ordo caritatis </em>entered popular discourse in this predominantly Catholic country. It now serves as a rebuttal as much to the so-called “leftist radicals” who support welcoming refugees as to those Catholics who interpret the Christian duty to help the needy more in the spirit of Pope Francis than Kaczynski.</p> <p>I propose that the hard-headed British embrace of anti-humanitarian rationales and the Polish pseudo-theological justifications of the refusal to help not only represent extreme cynicism but also exploit the insecurities of the humanitarian movement which has been scarred by its past failures and overreach. Disappointed humanitarians may retreat or further compromise their principles by letting themselves be co-opted for the agendas of border securitarians. Nonetheless an opportunity lurks within the post-humanitarian landscape to re-embrace the most basic commitment to human welfare and the alleviation of suffering and to insist on its status as the moral horizon in our dark times.</p><p><em>This article is part of the series <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/forced-migration-and-humanities">Forced Migration&nbsp;and the Humanities</a>. This dialogue is an editorial partnership with openDemocracy 50.50 led by Mariangela Palladino (Keele University) and Agnes Woolley (Royal Holloway University of London).&nbsp;</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/jennifer-allsopp/very-british-tug-of-war-over-europe-s-child-refugees">A very British tug of war over Europe’s child refugees</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mariangela-palladino-agnes-woolley/borderlands-words-against-walls">Borderlands: words against walls</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/vicki-squire/humanitarian-corridors-beyond-political-gesture">Humanitarian Corridors: beyond political gesture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/arts-and-humanities-tackling-challenges-of-mass-displacement"> The arts and humanities: tackling the challenges of mass displacement</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="/5050/emmanuel-blanchard/eu-forcing-politics-of-inhospitality-on-its-neighbours"> The EU and its neighbours: enforcing the politics of inhospitality </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"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </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 Civil society Democracy and government Ideas International politics Forced Migration and the Humanities 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick Karolina Follis Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:05:52 +0000 Karolina Follis 110204 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What does justice mean for migrant women workers? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/priyanka-borpujari/justice-women-migrant-workers-choice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Those who want to help migrant women access justice must listen to them, and their concerns and priorities.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-4174273.jpg" alt="Arrivals at Heathrow" title="Arrivals at Heathrow" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arrivals at Heathrow. PA/Tim Ockenden. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">How do migrant workers access justice when their rights are violated? And who decides what that justice looks like? </p><p dir="ltr">Too often, and particularly when the migrant worker is a woman, her own choices in travelling and working abroad are overlooked. This happens, for example, when government agencies make blanket statements that exploited workers should be sent home.</p><p dir="ltr">In late 2016, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (<a href="http://www.gaatw.org/">GAATW</a>) organised a gathering in Bangkok, Thailand, where the issue of how to define justice was centre-stage in conversations with lawyers, NGOs, and others working to support migrant workers. </p><p dir="ltr">There, speakers emphasised that for justice to be real, migrant workers must feel that their needs and desires are heard and understood.</p><p dir="ltr">Lawyer Eleanor Taylor-Nicholson has worked on migration and trafficking issues in Australia, southeast Asia and the United States. She remarked how, a decade ago, prosecution was seen as the only route to achieve justice. Now, she said, other avenues to seek compensation are receiving more attention. </p><p dir="ltr">She said: “Some people want to see criminals prosecuted, some want policy change, some want to protect other women in their communities from being trafficked. Every woman’s individuality should be respected by laying before her options before we decide what justice is.”</p><p dir="ltr">For more than 20 years, Renu Adhikari has been lobbying for the rights of migrant women and survivors of trafficking. She founded the Women’s Rehabilitation Center-Nepal (<a href="http://www.worecnepal.org/">WOREC</a>) to support women survivors of trafficking and HIV/AIDS. </p><p dir="ltr">She stressed that NGOs too often overlook the needs and desires of the women they are trying to help. As an example, she described how, in the 1990s, her organisation asked a group of girls who had been removed from brothels in Mumbai what justice meant to them. </p><p dir="ltr">She said: “Not a single girl wanted to file a trafficking complaint. Today we ask the same question to women who have migrated or have been trafficked within Nepal. Their response continues to be the same.”</p><p dir="ltr">She summarised their perspective like this: “If I can live a free life, without being judged or stigmatised for what I do, or the place where I come from or the way I look, or the caste I belong to; if I have the opportunity to work, that is justice for me.”</p><p dir="ltr">For women migrating abroad to work, the process can be long and include middlemen, with opportunities for exploitation at every step. These middlemen can include relatives or neighbours that help facilitate travel along with exploitative employment “agents.” </p><p dir="ltr">Even when a woman wants to exercise her agency, she may be restricted from doing so. A migrant worker may not be able to read her contract, for example, and must have someone else to explain the terms to her. </p><p dir="ltr">Adhikari said, in cases of exploitation: “Women are often able to pinpoint the person who deceived them, yet they are not keen on pursuing a legal case because of lack of trust in the legal system.” </p><p dir="ltr">She added: “Besides, they also feel that no monetary amount is enough compensation for their suffering. They want to be treated as equals without being looked down upon and want opportunities to thrive. Instead of wanting to be rescued, women ask us what are we doing to enable better working conditions for them.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-29047213.jpg" alt="Hanoi, Vietnam street" title="Hanoi, Vietnam street" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hanoi, Vietnam street. PA/Gregor Fischer . All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://www.ilo.org/asia/whatwedo/projects/WCMS_304802/lang--en/index.htm">International Labour Organisation (ILO) Tripartrite Action to Protect Migrant Workers</a> project has collected complaints of migrant workers in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. </p><p dir="ltr">According to Anna Olsen at the ILO: “Migrant workers seek justice when crimes pertain to underpayment or non-payment of wages...But they would rather not seek to engage with the criminal justice system. What is desired is a sense of justness.”</p><p dir="ltr">Evelyn Probst, a GAATW board member who has worked on trafficking issues in Europe for more than 15 years, said that while punitive justice is important, what trafficked persons and migrant workers (with or without documents) seek is restorative justice that enhances their freedom and empowers them. </p><p dir="ltr">True justice for migrant workers requires the establishment of economies that work for people, instead of our current paradigm of people working for economies. This would necessitate action to address high levels of inequality and mega-trends such as climate change as well. </p><p dir="ltr">Misun Woo, deputy regional coordinator, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (<a href="http://apwld.org/">APWLD</a>), said this would mean “an end to the cheap labour and commodification of migrants.”</p><p dir="ltr">Social and gender justice for migrant workers ought to include universal social protection, access to basic healthcare, basic income security, and access to education regardless of citizenship. However, migrant workers in many countries must also contend with intolerance and extremism that increases marginalisation and foments exclusion.</p><p dir="ltr">More than ever before, it is crucial that the pursuit of justice is a unified effort, carried out in collaboration with migrant workers themselves. This also means that their work is recognised, and that their working conditions are improved.</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> 50.50 50.50 50.50 People on the Move women's human rights women and power gendered migration 50.50 newsletter Priyanka Borpujari Tue, 18 Apr 2017 09:01:26 +0000 Priyanka Borpujari 110154 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A very British tug of war over Europe’s child refugees https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/very-british-tug-of-war-over-europe-s-child-refugees <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Parliament has voted to silence the voices of local communities. Their message of European solidarity and warm welcome for refugees is an anathema to the politics of Brexit Britain.</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/c5e44b00-736b-4242-acd8-fa6f4d89267b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="An unaccompanied minor is reunited with relatives at St Pancras. Photo: Citizens UK/Safe Passage"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/c5e44b00-736b-4242-acd8-fa6f4d89267b.jpg" alt="An unaccompanied minor is reunited with relatives at St Pancras. Photo: Citizens UK/Safe Passage" title="An unaccompanied minor is reunited with relatives at St Pancras. Photo: Citizens UK/Safe Passage" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An unaccompanied minor is reunited with relatives at St Pancras. Photo: Citizens UK/Safe Passage</span></span></span>Symbolically resonant of the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36332557">Kindertransport</a> of World War II and pitched as a vote to ‘<a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/refugees-welcome-march-thousands-of-demonstrators-actors-and-politicians-join-london-protest-a3347396.html">choose love</a>’ and save more child refugees, the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39187290">Dubs amendment</a> tabled in Parliament this week proposed a small but systematic research exercise to calculate the number of spare beds that the UK’ s 418 local councils have at their disposal to put up child refugees languishing in the overcrowded camps of Greece and Italy. The census of places would have, in all probability, made a powerful case that parts of the UK are ready, willing and equipped to lighten the burden on neighboring states and offer sanctuary to more of Europe’s <a href="https://euobserver.com/investigations/132986">unprecedented</a> population of child refugees. The vote against this measure effectively shuts the door on hundreds, if not thousands of child refugees needing sanctuary.</p> <p>Having figures of available beds to hand would have put mounting pressure on the government to reinstate the short-lived child refugee resettlement programme, named after the former child refugee and Labour Lord Dubs who initiated it last year.</p> <p>After the government announced that it would resettle a total of just <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/08/dubs-scheme-lone-child-refugees-uk-closed-down">350 children</a> through the scheme before its closure, some 55,000 people signed a <a href="http://www.citizensuk.org/dubs_petition">petition</a> calling for the government to reinstate it. Their voices were echoed by a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/dubs-amendment-child-refugee-gary-lineker_uk_58a20427e4b094a129edb6bd">swathe</a> of religious, public and civil society leaders. The vote by MPs on Tuesday has effectively silenced the voices of local communities whose message of European solidarity and a warm welcome to refugees is an anathema to the strictly controlled political climate of Brexit Britain.</p> <p>As an academic I am always alarmed when policy veers away from evidence and research. As an activist, I worry when the voices of local people and civil society are silenced and ignored. The government’s near unanimous vote against the amendment (287 to 267) was a cynical vote against transparency and against local communities. Yet it reflects a deeper malaise; the baton down the hatches mentality which has come to epitomize ‘Brexit Britain’ and which is typified by cries to keep Europe and its refugees out<em> </em>of ‘our’ business. </p><p>The reasons given for shutting the door on these refugees are many: 'there’s no space’; ‘it’ll only encourage more’; 'they’re not children but teenage boys (or men) waiting to pillage our towns’; and ‘what’s wrong with them staying in Europe anyway?’</p> <h3>Push and pull&nbsp;factors</h3> <p>So far, as Labour MP Yvette Cooper, new chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, stressed on Tuesday in Parliament, the UK has welcomed just 0.002% of the total population of child refugees in Europe through a safe resettlement route. And in 2015 we welcomed just <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/7244677/3-02052016-AP-EN.pdf/">3.4%</a> (3,045) of Europe’s population of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum. This number looks more inadequate when compared with countries such as Sweden and Germany which welcomed 35,250 and 14,440 unaccompanied minors respectively in 2015. Many other countries have taken significantly more, despite their significantly smaller national populations.</p> <p>The UK can, in legal terms, shirk its responsibility as, under the EU Common Asylum law, asylum seekers are required to make their claim for asylum in the first country of arrival. The EU law does include a burden sharing provision for situations of ‘mass influx’. But despite almost <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/7244677/3-02052016-AP-EN.pdf/">90,000</a> unaccompanied minors arriving in the EU in 2015 alone, this provision was never triggered and the UK is the only EU member state to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/07/david-camerons-limited-promise-refugees-britains-impotence-outside-eu">formally opt out</a> of the relocation schemes operating in Greece and Italy.</p> <p>The UK government has frequently justified its refusal to relocate refugees from Europe because of its commitment to supporting refugees abroad in the ‘global south’. But supporting refugees outside of Europe does not absolve the UK government of its responsibility to support refugees who have fled to Europe. The international refugee regime has managed the function effectively since 1951 on a dual axes of supporting asylum seekers and refugee resettlement.</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/CvdHI2GWIAAE_ap.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Civil society welcomes Dubs refugees. Photo: Safe Passage/Help Refugees"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/CvdHI2GWIAAE_ap.jpg" alt="Civil society welcomes Dubs refugees. Photo: Safe Passage/Help Refugees" title="Civil society welcomes Dubs refugees. Photo: Safe Passage/Help Refugees" width="460" height="329" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Civil society welcomes Dubs refugees. Photo: Safe Passage/Help Refugees</span></span></span>But May’s government has another argument. Helping refugees ‘in the region’ (from which they flee), it is argued, inhibits the ‘pull’ factor that encourages children to take life-threatening journeys to reach Europe. By this same logic, the argument goes that by assisting southern European states in managing their high populations of child refugees through relocating to the UK those we can, we will encourage more to risk their lives and come.</p> <p>But rather than encouraging more children to reach out to smugglers and pursue dangerous routes, the evidence suggests that where safe and legal routes exist children are<em> less </em>not more likely to turn to irregular means. During the time the UK government agreed to take a limited number of child refugees from Calais and the legal right of unaccompanied minors to family reunification was operating more effectively, as Yvette Cooper pointed out in this week’s Parliamentary debate, irregular arrivals to the UK <em>decreased.</em> The scheme wasn’t encouraging trafficking as some have claimed, it was ‘putting traffickers and smugglers out of business’.&nbsp;</p> <p>Children calculate risks and often have a surprisingly nuanced understanding of politics and policies. And as MP Stella Creasy stressed to Parliament, we can talk until we’re blue in the face about ‘pull factors’, but for refugee kids the push factors remain the same.&nbsp;</p><h3>UK as El Dorado?</h3><p>It is simply not the case that most unaccompanied minors in Europe want to come to the UK, but some understandably do. Others end up here by accident. In the course of my Phd research with the <a href="https://becomingadult.net/">Becoming Adult</a> project I met unaccompanied minors in the UK who had risked dangerous crossings from Calais to find distant family members, having lost their close family in wars. Others were motivated to pay thousands for the perilous crossing, believing that their English language skills would help them to integrate better here rather than elsewhere in Europe. I also met individuals who had never chosen to come to the UK at all.</p> <p>Bilal*, a 17 year old Eritrean told me he never knew where he was going, just that the smuggler kept asking for more and more money which his family felt compelled to give. ‘I ended up in this city’, he tells me. ‘And I was like, where on earth is it?’ He knew nothing of the geography of Europe yet without knowing a soul he has integrated well into life and education, achieving an A in his GCSE Maths last year. Like most of the young refugees I interviewed, Bilal’s also grown a sense of local civic pride. ‘Now when people ask me where I’m from I say my city with pride!’ He jokes, ‘my friends who fled and are in other countries are now jealous, but only because some have heard of the football team!’</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_1789_3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Where am I? Geography lesson at a refugee centre. Photo: author"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/IMG_1789_3.jpg" alt="Where am I? Geography lesson at a refugee camp. Photo: author" title="Where am I? Geography lesson at a refugee centre. Photo: author" width="460" height="346" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Where am I? Geography lesson at a refugee centre. Photo: author</span></span></span>My research also took me to Italy where I also met many unaccompanied minors and former unaccompanied minors who are happy and, on the whole, doing ok. But there is a huge issue of capacity and some are really struggling. Volunteering alongside support workers battling tirelessly to support these children with scant resources, I felt utterly ashamed that my country wasn’t doing more.</p><h3><span>Teenage boys!</span></h3><p>Along with fear of the ill-evidenced ‘pull factor’, the sustained <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3849646/Mature-years-fears-real-age-child-migrants-arriving-Calais.html">onslaught</a> directed by right-wing media towards the young refugee men who have arrived through the Dubs scheme in recent months seems to have scared certain MPs away from any measures in favour of refugee children. I’ve written <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/refugee-crisis-demilitarising-masculinities">previously</a> of how young refugee men have been commonly framed in media as sexual predators and ticking time bombs, but also of their specific <a href="https://www.routledge.com/A-Gendered-Approach-to-the-Syrian-Refugee-Crisis/Freedman-Kivilcim-Baklacioglu/p/book/9781138693722">vulnerabilities and needs.</a>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/7244677/3-02052016-AP-EN.pdf/">90%</a> of unaccompanied minors who arrive in Europe are male, yes. Many of those I have interviewed for my research have endured unspeakable violence, experienced slavery on route and witnessed the deaths of fellow migrants – lynching on land and drownings at sea. One prominent international NGO has started speaking of this population behind the scenes as ‘the new vulnerable’. A friend of mine who fosters, recently welcomed an unaccompanied teenager into her home. He cried for his family most days which, his social worker commented, was unusual for a boy of his age. Not, my friend pointed out, if you think for a second about what he’s been through.</p> <p>Many of the teenagers are fleeing persecution specifically related to their gender – family blood feuds; domestic violence in polygamous families; forced conscription. Many have become orphaned by conflict and seek to reunite with distant relatives (relatives that fall outside of the strict family definitions in UK policy). For others, their flight represents a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/georgia-cole/refugee-or-economic-migrant-join-dots-theresa-may">survival stragey</a> that is able to sustain their families back in the region of origin.&nbsp;</p><h3><span>A numbers game</span></h3> <p>We know that many local councils have explicitly told the government that they want to take more of these children through the Dubs scheme. Others, such as Hammersmith &amp; Fulham, expressed their surprise to hear the announcement that the scheme had been closed because of a lack of capacity, when their own requests to resettle more children through the scheme had gone <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/10/lord-dubs-calls-home-secretary-accept-more-child-refugees">unheeded</a>. Lewisham Council, for example, has to date received just 1 child to fill the 23 places they pledged. Bristol are waiting on 10, Birmingham on 79, a majority of Scottish local authorities have voiced a desire to support more children.</p> <p>As emerging findings from the Becoming Adult research demonstrate, challenges for some local authorities in welcoming refugees shouldn’t be underestimated, nor should the difficulties for the government of managing disproportionate numbers in some regions over others. We know that when young refugees are not given the right support they can experience important threats to their wellbeing. Yet our research also demonstrates that where they are welcomed and supported, unaccompanied refugee children can thrive in our communities.</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_3366.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Unaccompanied teenager in Italy. Photo: author"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/IMG_3366.jpg" alt="Unaccompanied teenager in Italy. Photo: author" title="Unaccompanied teenager in Italy. Photo: author" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Unaccompanied teenager in Italy. Photo: author</span></span></span>So where local authorities are being explicit that the beds are ready and the community welcome is there, how can the government still claim there is no appetite or capacity to help refugees currently languishing on the street or in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/10/child-refugees-greece-camps">overstretched</a> camps in the South of Europe?</p> <h3><em>‘Europe’s’</em> child refugees<strong>&nbsp;</strong></h3> <p>The decision on Tuesday to vote against the Dubs amendment must be read alongside May’s rightly controlled Brexit/anti-refugee whip. It's important to stress the fact that the child refugees brought to Britain under the Dubs scheme are already in Europe because it’s a crucial element that has frequently been overlooked in our understanding of the popular and political backlash against them. As Heidi Allen, the Conservative MP that tabled the amendment to the&nbsp;<a href="http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2016-17/childrenandsocialwork.html">Children and Social Work Bill</a>&nbsp;stressed in her presentation to Parliament, the Dubs amendment is not just about helping child refugees, it’s about ‘European solidarity’.</p><p>While some wrongly <a href="https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/social-affairs/welfare/news/83965/theresa-may-faces-major-tory-rebellion-over-dubs-refugee">feared</a> that dozens of Tory MP’s would rebel against the whip and vote in favour of the amendment, in reality they didn’t. Spectators spoke of seeing the Prime Minister <em>physically </em>move MPs into the voting gallery; so May was able to retain her record never to have suffered a parliamentary rebellion.&nbsp;</p> <p>Post-Brexit, as the UK becomes more and more symbolic of a divided and unequal Europe, doing our small bit to assist refugees who have arrived in Europe is surely the least that is necessary to maintain our credibility in the continent?&nbsp;</p><p><em>*Name changed to protect anonymity</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/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/jane-freedman-vasiliki-touhouliotis/fleeing-europe"> Fleeing Europe?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kamena-dorling/lost-childhoods-age-disputes-in-uk-asylum-system">Lost childhoods: age disputes in the UK asylum system </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/melanie-griffiths/invisible-fathers-of-immigration-detention">Invisible fathers of immigration detention in the UK</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="/5050/ch-ramsden/no-women-s-day-without-refugee-women">No Women’s Day without refugee women</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sabine-damir-geilsdorf-martina-sabra/separation-syrian-asylum-seekers-in-germany">A separation: Syrian asylum seekers in Germany</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/georgia-cole/refugee-or-economic-migrant-join-dots-theresa-may">Refugee or economic migrant? Join the dots Theresa May</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/emmanuel-blanchard/eu-forcing-politics-of-inhospitality-on-its-neighbours"> The EU and its neighbours: enforcing the politics of inhospitality </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="/5050/500-eritreans">500 Eritreans</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"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> 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"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <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? uk EU UK Civil society Democracy and government International politics 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick gendered migration 50.50 newsletter Jennifer Allsopp Thu, 09 Mar 2017 10:03:10 +0000 Jennifer Allsopp 109335 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Will Nepal give equal citizenship rights to women? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/amal-de-chickera-catherine-harrington/will-nepal-give-equal-citizenship-rights-to-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Nepali women are treated as second-class citizens, due to discriminatory nationality law.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/6081164334_212e3b6fdc_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/6081164334_212e3b6fdc_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A Nepali woman holds a sign as part of the World Bank 'Think EQUAL' campaign. Credit: Stephan Bachenheimer / World Bank </span></span></span></em></p><p><em>“Is it my fault that I don’t have a nationality?” </em>a young Nepali girl asked recently on one of the country’s prime-time talk shows. <em>“No it is not. It is your mother’s,” </em>replied the male authority figure. The girl is one of countless women, men, girls and boys in the country who are classified as stateless, despite being born in Nepal to Nepali mothers.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nepal remains <a href="http://equalnationalityrights.org/the-issue/the-problem">one of twenty-six countries</a> that denies women the equal right to confer nationality on their children, and one of roughly fifty that denies women the right to pass nationality to their spouses and to even acquire and retain their own nationality. </p> <p>We recently travelled to the country, on behalf of the <a href="http://equalnationalityrights.org/">Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights</a> to increase government authorities’ and legislators’ awareness of the significant harm done by this discriminatory nationality law to individuals, families, and indeed to the country’s economy and reputation. </p> <p>We witnessed a country striving to write a new chapter marked by stability and a shared prosperity. Ten years after its historic peace agreement, one year after the establishment of its new Constitution, and still recovering from the devastating 2015 earthquake, this young democracy is considering how to lay the foundation for a fairer society that transcends the political conflict and economic hardship of the past. &nbsp;</p> <p>Like too many countries though, it is trying to do so having tied one of its own hands behind its back. </p> <p>The impact of gender discrimination in nationality laws is significant and wide-ranging: from denied access to education and healthcare, to the inability to own property, hold a bank account or drivers license, vote, or run for public office. Many end up statelessness, not considered citizens by their own countries, or indeed, any other country in the world.</p> <p>Denied equal rights, the child of a Nepali woman whose father is ‘unknown’ (a term with great stigma attached) should, according to the Constitution, have access to citizenship. In practice, such children can only apply for naturalized citizenship – which is citizenship not by right, but at the discretion of state authorities, most of whom are deeply conservative. The child of Nepali woman and a foreign man may only apply for naturalized citizenship <em>if</em> the child has not acquired any other citizenship <em>and</em> is a permanent resident of Nepal. Even when it comes to securing one’s own citizenship, Nepali girls must do so through their father and married Nepali women through their spouse. </p> <p>This year, laws that conflict with the new constitution, including the nationality law, are expected to be amended. This presents an opportunity to advance the nationality rights of Nepali women and their children in some circumstances – an opportunity that, if leveraged, would benefit the country and further gender equality. However, to achieve equal nationality rights for Nepali men and women, a Constitutional amendment is urgently needed.</p> <h3><strong>The cost of exclusion</strong></h3> <p><em>“If my daughters become refugees in another country, will they then be able to get a nationality?”</em> This was the question being asked by Deepti Gurung, a Nepali woman unable to secure Nepali nationality for her children born in Nepal, despite trying everything possible for many years. That an educated woman would even fleetingly consider refugee status in a foreign country as a ‘solution’ to securing her children’s future, points to a profound sense of helplessness.</p> <p>When we visited Deepti and her family, sitting in her living room and eating her expertly made samosas, we could feel the deep sadness, frustration, and desperation of this mother who would do anything to give her daughters the opportunity to succeed in life. She knew that, despite all her efforts, the list of opportunities that her daughters would be denied was long and the burden heavy.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/6853075257_8befe136b5_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/6853075257_8befe136b5_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nepali woman and daughter outside a clinic. Credit: Possible Health</span></span></span></p><p>When speaking with her daughter, what struck us was not just that here was an intelligent young woman who would never become the doctor she dreamt of being, or whose plans to be a lawyer were indefinitely put on hold until she got citizenship. Here also was a country heavily dependent on its next generation, but missing out on some of its best and brightest young talent due to an ill-conceived and discriminatory law that most countries have relegated to the history books. </p> <p>Though ‘lucky’ is never a word Deepti would use to describe her family’s situation, many affected families face situations that are far more dire. Sapana Pariyar's husband abandoned her and their two children, refusing to grant his citizenship to his wife or daughters. Single mothers who were married before applying for citizenship have little chance of securing theirs or their children's. Lacking the documents needed for formal employment, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtIlhGSIM80">Sapana does hard labor</a> to try to put enough food on the table for her children. The meager salary was not enough, however, to pay primary school fees or rent in their modest home. As a result, the family is homeless and the two young daughters cannot go to school. </p> <p>The personal cost of statelessness is <a href="http://www.institutesi.org/worldsstateless.pdf">well-documented and wide-ranging</a>, but states are not necessarily motivated into action by this alone. However, the cost of statelessness is not only individual. States also pay a price: an opportunity cost of a growing disenfranchised population with no means to support itself or contribute to the formal economy; the development cost of not being able to benefit from the full potential of all its people; the socio-political cost of ever-increasing inequality and tension. </p> <p>The link between gender equality and sustainable economic development is not groundbreaking. Development experts and human rights actors have emphasized the connections for years. That is why the <a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs">Sustainable Development Goals</a> (SDGs) include ending discrimination against women as a stand-alone goal (Goal 5), while also integrating gender indicators throughout the other sixteen goals. Nepal and countries with similar laws will not be able to reach targets on nine of the seventeen SDGs, as long as they retain gender-discriminatory nationality laws. These include targets related to achieving peace, justice and strong institutions (Goal 16), quality education (Goal 4), the eradication of poverty and hunger (Goals 1 &amp; 2), and the reduction of inequalities (Goal 10).</p> <p>We have all been patriarchal societies and continue to be, to varying degrees. No country has a monopoly on that history. But it is a legacy that is holding every country back – notably so when gender discrimination is sanctioned by law and prevents access to citizenship. Discriminatory nationality laws provide insight into the state’s position that despite whatever else is written, rights and responsibilities are ultimately defined (and denied) by gender. They show that all citizens are really not equal before the law. &nbsp;</p> <p>Nepal will be drafting a new citizenship law in the coming year. Like other countries with discriminatory nationality laws, it will also be establishing a national action plan to realize the Sustainable Development Goals. And so, well into the 21<span>st</span>&nbsp;century, it has a dual opportunity to finally end one of the great exclusions of the 20<span>th</span>&nbsp;century and to set its course on the path to equality, justice, and sustainable development for all. For the sake of its people, its future, we can only hope that this is an opportunity it will take.</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/nicoal-desouza/nepal-struggle-for-equal-citizenship-rights-for-women">Nepal: the struggle for equal citizenship rights for women</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/blog/nepals_widows">Nepal&#039;s widows</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"> Nepal </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 Nepal 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 People on the Move gender justice 50.50 newsletter Amal de Chickera Catherine Harrington Thu, 09 Mar 2017 09:56:13 +0000 Amal de Chickera and Catherine Harrington 109324 at https://www.opendemocracy.net No Women’s Day without refugee women https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ch-ramsden/no-women-s-day-without-refugee-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hand-in-hand with Trump, Theresa May is not merely playing to an anti-migrant populist crowd but helped to create it. This system is working as intended, but it must be disrupted.</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/WWR5_0.gif" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/WWR5_0.gif" alt="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women" title="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women</span></span></span>On International Women’s Day, 8th March 2017, the UK’s current Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his first Spring Budget. Philip Hammond, who has been in post since July 2016, will carry a scarlet briefcase and hold it aloft outside 11 Downing Street for photographers. This ‘Budget Box’ will accompany the Chancellor to the House of Commons; it contains the speech he will give to announce the government’s taxation, forecast and spending plans for the coming year.</p> <p>On international Women’s Day, Women for Refugee Women will also be making a presentation to government. Representatives will meet and travel to the Home Office, carrying a large card addressed to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP. It is signed by the attendees of the National Refugee Women’s Conference 2017, held a week before, and calls on Rudd to ‘stand up for women who are crossing borders for safety.’ It closes with an ask: of a meeting ‘to discuss how to build a more humane asylum process that gives every woman seeking sanctuary a fair hearing and the chance to rebuild her life.’</p> <p>Everything about the Budget announcement, lofty red box and all, is a performance – a display of state apparatus. The machinations of government budgets move cogs which, in turn, affect people’s lives. For the past seven years, the government has delivered austerity budgets which have systematically punished <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/31/austerity-women-ethnic-minorities-disabled-tax-welfare">women and minorities</a>. </p> <p>In this time, the machinations of state have also become increasingly hostile towards migrants and perceived migrants, compounded by the EU Referendum vote last June. It may have been less <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/12/vote-leave-campaign-nigel-farage">divisive</a> figures who won it for Leave, but it is in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/16/nigel-farage-defends-ukip-breaking-point-poster-queue-of-migrants">Nigel Farage’s image</a> that May is fashioning Brexit. Border control is her <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/03/donald-trump-revises-his-muslim-ban-has-anything-actually-changed-2">red line</a>, dashing even the expectations of many of her own party’s <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/eu-referendum-tory-campaigner-admits-brexit-immigration-some-control-a7102626.html">ardent Brexiteers</a>.</p> <p>Prime Minister May’s obsession with migration is in keeping with her long record at the Home Office. The racism which now <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/brexit-hate-crimes-racism-eu-referendum-vote-attacks-increase-police-figures-official-a7358866.html">flares</a> in the aftermath of the EU Referendum – and which blazes alarmingly in light of our own government’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/29/theresa-may-donald-trump-bond-love-thatcher-reagan">cosiness</a> with arch-racist Trump – was encouraged, too, by Home Secretary May. Jennifer Allsopp has <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/theresa-may-and-love-police">traced</a> her record for openDemocracy 50.50: from the expansion of detention and destitution of asylum seekers to racist <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/welcome-to-britain-go-home-or-face-arrest">‘Go Home’ vans</a>. <a href="https://www.jcwi.org.uk/blog/2016/05/23/what%E2%80%99s-next-hostile-environment-immigration-act-2016-and-queen%E2%80%99s-speech">Landlords</a> and <a href="http://www.docsnotcops.co.uk/?page_id=10">NHS workers</a>, like border guards, are now required to profile their clients – invariably, this means racial profiling.&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/WWR409.gif" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/WWR409.gif" alt="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women" title="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Letter to Home Secretary. Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women</span></span></span></p><h3><strong>“We are refugees – we are nothing!”</strong></h3> <p>The personal stories carried by refugee women, like the card for Amber Rudd, speak to the trauma of this Britain. At the National Refugee Women’s Conference, held on 1st March 2017, amidst panel discussions, keynotes and performances, one woman stood up from the audience and, through tears, shared her own experience. She told first of travelling from Eritrea to the UK and then, once here, facing more abuse and destitution: trying to make it in a new community, opening a café to support other women, but threatened, raped, disbelieved and left without any support.</p> <p>“My friends were drowned in the Turkish sea and raped on the Greek border…and now I’m here [in the UK] being told I’m not a refugee.” She cried, “we are refugees – we are nothing!” Women around her blinked back their own tears and knowingly shook their heads as she asked, “we came here to be safe, why is this happening to us here?”&nbsp;</p> <p>This plea is echoed throughout Women for Refugee Women’s latest <a href="http://www.refugeewomen.co.uk/2016/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/The-Way-Ahead-report-WEB.pdf?utm_content=buffer58bbf">report</a>, <em>The Way Ahead: an asylum system without detention</em>. Helen* tells of how she and other women were repeatedly raped by traffickers as they crossed the Sahara, imprisoned and tortured before the families of her fellow prisoners were able to bribe the guards to let her onto a boat to Italy. From there, Calais, where Helen discovered she was pregnant. She lost her baby on the journey to the UK, hidden under the floor of a lorry. “Now,” says Helen, “I live in a house with other women. I am not complaining because I have been in situations that were much worse, but life is hard…The waiting is so difficult.”</p> <p>Helen explains that she was not offered any guidance or support to understand the asylum system: “The person interviewing me was not sympathetic, but I told my story as carefully as I could. I didn’t know what evidence they needed. I feel l am trying to figure out the system in the dark, I don’t know how they make decisions and who determines what will happen to me.”</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/WWR144.gif" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/WWR144.gif" alt="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women" title="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women</span></span></span></p> <h3><strong>Hostile environments</strong>&nbsp;</h3> <p>Globally we are in the midst of a refugee crisis, with over 70 million people displaced worldwide; but, in May’s Britain, who cares about the lives ruined and the money wasted, if mythical ‘pull factors’ are somehow (also mythically) diminished? In fact, “hostile environment” was the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/10/immigration-bill-theresa-may-hostile-environment">descriptor</a> used by Theresa May in 2013 when she presented the way she wanted Britain to feel for “illegal migrants.” ‘Migrant’ then was a catch-all term for people (like me) who had moved to the UK from elsewhere in the world; now, as exemplified by <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/02/irene-clennell-deported-uk-terrorist">Irene Clennell</a>, who was deported from the UK at the end of February, it is ‘a term of abuse.’</p> <p>Cases like Irene Clennell’s – living in the UK since 1988, married and with British children, then suddenly detained and deported ‘like a terrorist’ to Singapore with £12 in her pocket – beggar belief. Almost everything you hear about the immigration system does: pregnant women being detained, guidelines not followed, families separated.</p> <p>Grace* was initially denied asylum in the UK despite being a victim of torture and rape, and at risk of persecution in Uganda because of her sexual orientation. “The police brought a psychiatrist and he recognised I was a victim of rape and torture, but even so I was locked up in Yarl’s Wood detention centre for five months.” On suicide watch, she was taken to the doctor but “they handcuffed me and the officers would stay in the room even during the consultation.”</p> <p>Some immigration cases have made national news: the case of a Jamaican man told to parent his British children ‘<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/mia-light/do-your-parenting-by-skype-uk-gov-tells-fathers-being-deported-to-jamaica">by Skype</a>’ and the new Home Office <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/25/afghanistan-gay-asylum-seekers-home-office-illegal-homosexuality">guidelines</a> which advise LGBT asylum seekers from Afghanistan to ‘pretend to be straight.’ Few have, but most are alarming, like Helen’s and Grace’s and the Eritrean woman at the conference who couldn’t keep it in any longer. These are not exceptions or anomalies: they show the asylum system is working as per its design. The intentions behind the system are not to be supportive, or even fair; the aim is to reduce immigration.</p> <p>Because 80% of asylum-seeking women who are detained are subsequently released back into the community, it is often said that detention serves no purpose. But if the aim of the asylum system is to create a ‘hostile environment,’ then the purpose of detention is to contribute to this climate. It is inhumane and ineffective – a waste of life and also of resource – but the government, seemingly, would rather have it this way. </p> <p>At the National Refugee Women’s Conference Noma Dumezweni, currently playing Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, opened with her own experiences as a child of a refugee woman. She arrived at Heathrow on 17 May 1977 and, she said, were that today, “fast forward and I wouldn’t be here.” Dumezweni spoke about the importance of storytelling: “it might sound romantic, but our bodies are shaped this funny way to hold people…and they hold stories, too.” Sharing personal histories is an act of truth-telling and an act of community, “to make people know you are not alone.”</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/WWR67.gif" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/WWR67.gif" alt="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women" title="Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Briony Campbell/Women for Refugee Women</span></span></span>We must push the stories of refugee women front and centre this International Women’s Day. They are human stories, our communities’ stories, and deserve to be told and to be heard. These thousands of women in the UK – tens of millions worldwide – each provide a fragment of the narrative of the UK asylum system, but also reflect it in full. This system is working as intended, but it must be disrupted. As the system is cold and mechanical, the antidote must surely be human stories and the empathy they inspire.</p> <p>Theresa May’s legacy of scapegoating migrants is deliberate. From ‘<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15160326">catgate</a>’ to <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/health/2017/02/its-not-health-tourism-thats-thrown-nhs-crisis-its-cuts">health tourism</a>, she was a purveyor of ‘alternative facts’ some time before Kellyann Conway <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_facts">coined</a> the term. Hand in hand with Trump, May is not merely playing to an anti-migrant populist crowd but helped to create it. If we are to stand up to her, then we must stand with refugee women – and listen.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>*Names have been changed</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/jennifer-allsopp/theresa-may-and-love-police">Theresa May and the love police </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/beatrice-botomani/refugee-women-in-uk-pushing-stone-into-sea-0">Refugee women in the UK: Pushing a stone into the sea</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/refugee-women-in-uk-fighting-back-from-behind-bars">Refugee women in the UK: fighting back from behind bars</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maria-al-abdeh/lessons-from-syria-on-womens-empowerment-during-conflict">Lessons from Syria on women&#039;s empowerment during conflict</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/halliki-voolma/escaping-domestic-violence-according-to-law-you-are-not-here">Escaping domestic violence: ‘according to the law, you are not here’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mariangela-palladino-agnes-woolley/borderlands-words-against-walls">Borderlands: words against walls</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sophie-giscard-destaing/where-is-gender-sensitive-humanitarian-response-to-protecting-women-refugees"> UN CSW: ending impunity for gender-based crimes against women refugees </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/why-are-european-feminists-failing-to-strike-back-against-anti-immigrant-right">Why aren&#039;t European feminists arguing against the anti-immigrant right?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk-and-jennifer-allsopp/due-diligence-for-womens-human-rights-transgressing-conventio">Due diligence for women&#039;s human rights: transgressing conventional lines </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/after-london-womens-march-what-now">After the Women&#039;s March on London: what now? </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"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </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 uk UK Equality 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter feminism gender gender justice gendered migration gendered poverty Sexual violence violence against women women and militarism women and power women's human rights women's movements Ché Ramsden Wed, 08 Mar 2017 10:26:57 +0000 Ché Ramsden 109313 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Lessons from Syria on women's empowerment during conflict https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/maria-al-abdeh/lessons-from-syria-on-womens-empowerment-during-conflict <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Syrian women will be the pillars of any future democratic process. Their efforts deserve support from national and international actors.</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/Picture1_7.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A gathering of Women from Women Now network in besieged eastern Ghouta in Solidarity with Daraya women campaign (April 2016)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture1_7.png" alt="A gathering of Women from Women Now network in besieged eastern Ghouta in Solidarity with Daraya women campaign (April 2016)" title="A gathering of Women from Women Now network in besieged eastern Ghouta in Solidarity with Daraya women campaign (April 2016)" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A gathering of Women from Women Now network in besieged eastern Ghouta in Solidarity with Daraya women campaign (April 2016)</span></span></span></p><p><em>“I risked my life to participate in demonstrations against dictatorship and the oppression of Bashar Al-Assad. I’m not afraid of anyone, anymore. I’m a free woman.” </em>(Syrian woman activist from Women Now’s network, 2012).</p> <p>In this quote you hear the voice of a capable and strong woman. Yet both in regime-controlled areas and in other regions of Syria, women’s rights have become instrumentalised by political forces seeking legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. From prior to the deterioration of the crisis until the present day, there have been commentators who have focused on the ‘Western’ and apparently ‘emancipated’ personality of Asma Al-Assad and other women associated with the regime, or the recent nomination of a woman to the head of the Syrian Parliament. Likewise, the women fighters of the Kurdish forces have also been the subject of significant attention by the Western media. Much of the media coverage of these women plays into longer-term romanticized and orientalist tropes. Meanwhile, the demands of thousands of Syrian women activists are being routinely ignored. How are we here and what is to be done?</p> <p>This is the first of a series of three articles from the ground which discuss some of the lessons learned in this context on strategies to reinforce women’s voices and <a href="https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/%d8%a8%d9%8a%d8%a7%d9%86-%d9%85%d9%86-%d9%86%d8%b3%d8%a7%d8%a1-%d9%85%d8%af%d9%8a%d9%86%d8%a9-%d8%af%d9%88%d9%85%d8%a7-statement-of-the-women-from-the-city-of-douma/">participation</a> during conflict. These articles address only the situation of women in areas outside the Syrian regime and under the control of opposition armed groups.</p> <h3><strong>The Instrumentalisation of women’s rights</strong></h3> <p>The Assad regime has long instrumentalised women’s rights to legitimate its dictatorship in a way similar to other regimes in the region. The Assad regime’s discourse has major blind spots. For example, according to a <a href="https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/EN-SWOP2011-FINAL.pdf">report</a> published by the UNFPA in November 2011, one in three women living in Syria has suffered domestic violence, with the prevalence of domestic violence in 2005 one of the highest in the world (with a percentage of 67%, Syria is second after Ethiopia 71%, and before Bangladesh 53%). These figures were gathered before the conflict in Syria and reflect phenomena hidden behind state propaganda pre-2011 which instead trumpeted the participation of elite women in the political sphere. </p> <p>Moreover, several Syrian laws contain discriminatory provisions against women, for example&nbsp;the penalty for honour killing is still softer than for other kinds of murder and no legislation specifically prohibits gender-based discrimination. Indeed, the discrimination of ISIS against women is rooted – at least in part – in the Syrian family code. </p> <p>Women Now For Development was established in 2012 with the initial objective of promoting women’s rights and activism in the context of what had initially been the peaceful uprising for dignity and social justice against the political violence, corruption and oppression of the Ba’ath regime. As the levels of horrific violence against peaceful activists worsened and the revolution itself became militarized, our mission adapted and evolved to address the new urgency to protect women’s status in society. The death and detention of many men across the country resulted in women newly becoming the heads of their households and the main breadwinners, which in turn presented both many challenges and also some opportunities. </p> <p>For the women that participate in Women Now For Development‘s activities, it makes no sense for the international community to focus on women’s rights and neglect the wider situation in terms of human rights. Indeed doing so has the consequence of undermining efforts to advocate for women’s rights. Support for women’s rights-focused interventions can only have limited impact in a context in which barrel bombs are falling on those same women, while their husbands and male children are being detained or forcibly recruited. And no one women under bombs or siege will speak up about sexual harassment to an international community who has failed to provide her the most basic protection and access to healthcare or aid. </p> <h3><strong>Voice and action</strong></h3><p>An international approach to women’s participation that really listened to women would help them through the protection of basic human rights and to support their demands, as should have happened during the Daraya campaign. By the end of March 2016, the siege of the city of Daraya was in its worse stage. Women in our network told us that they had not been able to eat in the past 48 hours, that their children were surviving by eating grass soup. Shocked, we shared this information in all our centres, presenting videos and organizing Skype calls with women in Daraya to understand what was happening there. </p> <p>A women’s group in the city wrote a <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/another-madaya-women-syrias-daraya-warn-imminent-starvation-50177663">letter</a> to demand the end of the siege and the letter was diffused throughout all our centres. Women organized gatherings and wrote and signed in English and French, taking advantage of what they had learnt in our centres. They spend days and nights working to prepare the gatherings as documented in their <a href="https://diary.thesyriacampaign.org/syrian-women-protest-sieges/">diaries</a>. Some of them wrote long letters which were sent to EU parliamentarians. Then on 1st&nbsp;June, the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) announced its <a href="https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/05/257295.htm">intention</a> to send aid.</p> <p>The women felt that for the first time, their voices had been heard. </p> <p>Unfortunately, two months later, the women of Daraya were forced to send <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/open-letter-women-daraya-syria-napalm-1593121734">another letter</a> about the use of Napalm by the Syrian regime against their city. The letter remained unanswered as on the same day a decision was made to evacuate the civilian from the city opening the door to a new episode of Syrian tragedy: the <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3759650/Rebels-civilians-evacuate-Syrias-Daraya-deal.html">forced displacement</a> of population.</p> <h3><strong>Women’s needs: beyond the economic</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h3> <p>In this unstable context, women’s networks give them a channel to articulate their demands and also sustain them. Women Now For Development started by supporting widows to set up their own income generating projects, including yoghurt factories and other small businesses. After a while, it became clear that women’s needs went beyond the purely economic: that women’s protection and participation in the public sphere needed to be addressed as part of a holistic approach. Based on this vision, and in collaboration with local female activists, we developed women’s community centres offering diverse services from psycho-social support, vocational training and education courses, to encouraging cultural, social and political participation. The centres also included libraries and nursing services for the women’s children, freeing the mothers to attend activities. </p> <p>By January 2014 Women Now For Development had established four women’s centres (one of them in Lebanon, the rest in Syria), and by 2015 this had expanded to eight centres reaching over 10,000 women and girls. Women Now’s ambition from the start was to link centres across Syria and Lebanon together as a national project to resist the de facto division of the country.</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.png ww.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A French course in Women Now centre in Idleb countryside (2016). "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture1.png ww.png" alt="A French course in Women Now centre in Idleb countryside (2016)." title="A French course in Women Now centre in Idleb countryside (2016). " width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A French course in Women Now centre in Idleb countryside (2016).</span></span></span></p><p>Syrian women have shown incredible resilience and commitment to sustaining civilian activities, including the pursuit of peaceful livelihoods and education. Even as the bombs have rained down on the districts in which they live, women have continued to attend training to empower themselves. After one of the centres was relocated due to the horrific deterioration of attacks in that area, we were contacted by one young woman asking us to maintain its presence, explaining that it was her one lifeline to education and hope:<em> </em>‘Please keep it open, it’s my only way to replace my university studies’.<em> </em>Another young woman in a northern area of Syria under daily Russian airstrikes shared with us her happiness at winning a book-reading contest – having read twenty books over the previous two months. </p> <p>The centres represent for the women who attend them a place of safety and comfort, and an alternative to the otherwise all-consuming nature of the conflict. It is this courage and creativity that have made possible the establishment of eight Women Now For Development centres. <em></em></p> <p>Towards the end of 2015, while a ceasefire was being negotiated in<strong> </strong>a<strong> </strong>besieged area, Women Now For Development<em> </em>reached out to several independent women activists within our network, to explore how we might support their advocacy and bring their demands to the attention of the media. There was only one main demand: the women called for a curriculum to be established for the local primary schools. This was despite the fact that they had been surviving without access to basic food or health facilities. They had lived for a period without essentials like sanitary towels and caesarean operations had been undertaken without anesthesia. Yet it was their children’s future education that they prioritized. </p> <p><span>Syrian women will be the pillars of any future democratic process in Syria. Women have been at the frontline of confronting violence, corruption and fundamentalism. They have organized against each of these at the community level and have issued statements with detailed recommendations on how to tackle them. Their efforts deserve support from national and international actors.</span></p><p><span><em>This article is the first of a three part series on women activists in Syria by Maria Al Abdeh. Read the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/maria-al-abdeh/syria-instumentalising-women-s-rights">second</a>.</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="/opensecurity/hayet-zeghiche/violence-against-women-in-syria-hidden-truth">Violence against women in Syria: a hidden truth</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syria-women-peacework-and-lesson-from-bosnia">Syria: women, peacework, and the lesson from Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis/syrian-women-refugees-out-of-shadows">Syrian women refugees: out of the shadows</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/women-on-front-at-raqqa">Women on the front at Raqqa: an interview with Kimmie Taylor</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mama-cash/quantity-quality-funding-womens-rights">Quantity and quality: Part 1 on funding women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ndeye-marie-thiam/women-of-senegal-agents-of-peace">Women of Senegal: agents of peace </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/what-kind-of-feminism-does-war-provoke">What kind of feminism does war provoke?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/victoria-lupton/lebanon%27s-refugees-resisting-hegemony-through-culture">Lebanon&#039;s refugees: resisting hegemony through culture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/latefa-guemar/seeking-safety-in-algeria-syrian-refugee-women%E2%80%99s-resilience">Seeking safety in Algeria: Syrian refugee women’s resilience </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/i-shall-leave-as-my-city-turns-to-dust-queens-of-syria-and-women-in-war">I shall leave as my city turns to dust: Queens of Syria and women in war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mahmoud-mroueh/syrian-black-skin-lebanese-white-masks">(Syrian) black skin, (Lebanese) white masks</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"> Syria </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 class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </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 North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Conflict Equality 50.50 People on the Move women's movements women's human rights women's health women and power women and militarism violence against women fundamentalisms 50.50 newsletter Maria Al Abdeh Tue, 07 Mar 2017 09:28:53 +0000 Maria Al Abdeh 109257 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘I am not safe’: on the run as a gay man in Afghanistan https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ritu-mahendru/i-am-not-safe-on-run-as-gay-man-in-afghanistan <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ahmad Faizi’s story is one of many contradicting the UK Home Office guidelines that “it&nbsp;may be a safe and viable option for a gay man to relocate to Kabul”.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IMG_0746.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IMG_0746.JPG" alt="" title="" width="240" height="408" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ahmad Faizi. Credit: Ahmad Faizi</span></span></span>In Afghanistan, same-sex relationships are illegal under Sharia Law. Article 427 of the <a href="https://antigaylaws.org/regional/middle-east/">Penal Code 1976</a> states “A person who commits adultery or pederasty shall be sentenced to long imprisonment”.&nbsp;</p> <p>Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) of all ages and in all regions of Afghanistan are exposed to serious risks becoming victims of honour-killings, forced marriages and physical violence from their immediate and extended family members, tribal and community leaders and groups. Similarly, they also run the risk and exposure to sexual abuse and trafficking.</p> <p>They are discriminated against in the <a href="http://thediplomat.com/2017/01/defying-holy-orders-afghanistans-lgbt-community/">job market, in health clinics, mistreated and disowned</a> by their own families. They are singled out for physical attack – beaten, sexually assaulted, tortured and killed.</p> <p>A local organisation who secretly provides health services to the LGBT community in Afghanistan has stated that many gay men who visit them are unhappy and share stories of forced marriages, harassment, risks and dangers they encounter on an everyday basis from their families, community, government officials etc. Most of them live a life of stoic acceptance who sooner or later will be a target for Islamists.</p> <p>The Director of the organization, who has asked to keep their identity private, stated that: “Killing of homosexuals is common in Afghanistan and is increasing day by day”, he further stated that he has heard of cases from reliable sources that “men are being lured into dating and are being killed”. However, you never hear about it because it is highly taboo. He recalled a case that happened two years ago where “four gay men were chopped into pieces after they were lured into coming to a house party in the night in Kōtah-ye Sangī in Kabul”.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the UK Home office guidance on <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/584025/Afghanistan_-_SOGI_-_CPIN_-__January_2017_.pdf">sexual orientation and gender identity on Afghanistan</a> states that if an Afghan gay person could “conceal aspects of his or her sexual orientation/identity […] they may not have a well-founded fear of persecution”</p> <p>Asked to comment on this, the Director of the LGBT organisation is flabbergasted: “how could someone conceal their sexual orientation? It is naïve of the British government to think that this community is safe here. I see them day-in and day-out. I see their plight, I feel for them. I almost always feel helpless.”</p> <h3>‘Everyone is scared about getting killed'&nbsp;</h3> <p>One such case is that of Ahmad Faizi, a 26-year-old Pashtoon man, at present in Herat province.</p> <p>Ahmad Faizi is on the run, afraid of getting killed by his male family members, the government and community leaders. Ahmad wants me to use his real name and photos. “[I am] tired of escaping and I want the world to know my story”, he says.</p> <p>“My family suspect that I am gay because I behave like girls. My uncles, my former boss, and the Afghan government are trying to kill me. My family tells me that I am an <em>Eezak</em> (derogatory and colloquial term for someone who is neither male nor female), I act like a girl, I played with their honour, and that I don’t want to marry. They are angry and want to kill me. Only my mother supports me.”&nbsp;</p> <p>“I had three boy friends but we had to keep it a secret. They were all married. One of them has now left the country, the other one was killed by Taliban in an explosion, and I am separated from my third boyfriend”.</p> <p>"“Because I am like a girl&nbsp;I was raped in Farah province,&nbsp;with a pistol to my head when I was 22 in 2014. I lodged a complaint against the&nbsp;perpetrator&nbsp;but&nbsp;I was asked to take the complaint back with the&nbsp;suggestion that rape was my fault and I should have left because honour is more important than life. The next day I was arrested for ten days”.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IMG_0751.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IMG_0751.JPG" alt="" title="" width="240" height="372" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ahmad Faizi. Credit: Ahmad Faizi</span></span></span>“Following this my mum sent me to Kabul and I stayed there for six months. Kabul is not safe for people like me. It is difficult to meet another man for serious relationship because everyone is scared about getting killed and revealing their sexuality. There are many insurgents and organised groups in Kabul. Like Taliban,&nbsp;radical Muslims,&nbsp;Mujahideen and many dangerous people. Kabul is like a wild zoo or a jungle full of wild animals. I have seen human blood on the streets. The election between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah has created many problems for people in Kabul. So I left Kabul and went to Herat. I have been in Herat for two years now”.</p> <p>“I am trying to leave Afghanistan because of the threat to my life from my family and government. I have brought shame to the family but I just want to find a nice man to love and marry”.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>‘No one to protect us’</strong></h3> <p>It is important to understand the difference between <a href="http://discourseafghanistan.com/afghanistans-pedophilia-problem-and-why-no-ones-talking-about-it/"><em>bacha</em>-<em>bazi</em></a> and homosexuality. &nbsp;<em>Bacha-bazi</em> is equivalent to child sexual abuse whereas having a self-defined sexual identity is a human right set forth in the <a href="http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/edumat/studyguides/sexualorientation.html">Universal Declaration of Human Rights</a>., Afghanistan is yet to provide stringent penalties and govern bacha-bazi activities (although the president has vowed to criminalise the practice), however it has denied rights to those who choose a life of freedom.</p> <p>I also spoke to 28-year-old Khyber (a pseudonym used for his protection) who is currently on the run in Mazar-e-Sharif. He reported that Afghan gay men are at risk of systematic honour-killings, ‘sexuality cleansing’ and physical violence by state and non-state actors.&nbsp;</p> <p>“When I was 17 my parents imprisoned me. They didn’t give me food and they tried to change me. They made me fear from religious punishment and Quran and they tried to kill me if I didn’t change my nature. They threatened me. I ran away after that. I am in the city (Mazar-e-Sharif). I rent a room for myself and live with friends. I am displaced but I am free from my home. If my parents find me they will try to change me. A month ago some of my relatives found my whereabouts and injured me. They broke my tooth and the back of my ear.”</p> <p>“About three months ago, two men were killed by unknown people for being gay during dating situation. The government capture gays and will imprison them for 10-18 years. It is clear for Afghans that it’s a big crime here. Government don’t mention them, they don’t want to appear in TV and media. It’s a hidden punishment. Afghanistan is totalitarian country. There are [many] human rights organisations &nbsp;working with the government in Afghanistan and none of them can prevent punishment for gay men.”&nbsp;</p> <p>“As a gay man, it is dangerous thing to go on a date in Afghanistan. If they reveal their gay identity they will receive threats. There is no guarantee about their safety”.</p> <h3><strong>‘Kabul is more dangerous’</strong></h3> <p>Homophobic views and violence against LGBT groups in Afghanistan are pervasive. Kabul is a political hub where many powerful groups flex their muscles using tribal influence, wealth, and violence with an obvious and iniquitous agenda to contribute towards political and social order across Afghanistan including in the capital itself. The strong network base dependent on kinships, social and religious alliances makes it difficult to maintain anonymity in Afghanistan in general. In this context, geographical distances and mobility play little or no role in protecting gay men.&nbsp;</p> <p>Denigrating sexual identities is part of a political game to make a statement and express your loyalty to Islam and the Quran, resulting in bigger kinship and influence over key decisions in the capital city. This results to an imminent threat and violence from the police and government officials that hang over gay men like a dark cloud in Kabul. Kabul adds another layer of risk that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the country. The situation is clearly contrary to UK Home Office guidance notes that suggest that it “<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/584025/Afghanistan_-_SOGI_-_CPIN_-__January_2017_.pdf">may be a safe and viable option for a gay man to relocate to Kabul</a>”.</p> <p>In a country that punishes the prudent while protects the profligate, “homosexual relationships are scrutinised in private. This is the reason they never make headlines and receive any news coverage,” says the Director. Raped and beaten, gay men are vulnerable and exposed to egregious violations of their human rights in Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan alike.</p> <p>The past two years has shown intensity in the conflict in Afghanistan especially in Kabul. The war continues to remain unabated, showing an <a href="http://reliefweb.int/report/afghanistan/what-watch-key-issues-follow-afghanistan-2017">increase in Taliban and IS gains</a>, both in territory and influence. Only <a href="https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/spotlight/2017_High-Risk_List.pdf">63.4% of the country is within government control</a> with <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/afghanistan/report-afghanistan/">1.4 million people internally displaced</a> due to insecurity and the insurgency. This number is increasing. Given that the Afghan government do not have the institutional capacity to provide security and support for vulnerable displaced groups such as women, children and homosexuals, they are ever more vulnerable with lack of access to safe places.</p> <p>In fact, the organisation’s Director says: “Kabul is more dangerous than other provinces [in Afghanistan] from the legal system’s point of view. There are legal entities and government ministries here. Gay men are seen as an easy target for exploitation by police and military forces and to make political statements [within the kinship setting]”.</p> <p>He further added, “There is no protection from the legal justice system and they are also the ones who misuse the system. Deporting gay Afghan asylum seekers would be a very big mistake”.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Afghanistan </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 uk Afghanistan 50.50 People on the Move gender 50.50 newsletter Ritu Mahendru Fri, 03 Mar 2017 11:17:50 +0000 Ritu Mahendru 109183 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Israel’s invisible refugees https://www.opendemocracy.net/alexandra-embiricos/israel-s-invisible-refugees <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We often think of the Refugees Welcome culture as a ‘European’ phenomenon, but an exchange between German and Israeli civil society shows the value of turning our eyes outwards towards global examples of solidarity and support.</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/541754/15252706_1361926133827955_7225644671359543484_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="the Berlin delegation (including Migration Hub Network, Kiron Open Higher Education, BOP, Bantabaa, Über den Tellerrand Kochen, "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/15252706_1361926133827955_7225644671359543484_o.jpg" alt="Participants in the Migrant Hub Network exchange programme. " title="the Berlin delegation (including Migration Hub Network, Kiron Open Higher Education, BOP, Bantabaa, Über den Tellerrand Kochen, " width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Participants in the Migrant Hub Network exchange programme. </span></span></span>Mention Tel Aviv, and perhaps it conjures images of its vibrant start-up scene, surfer’s beaches, or more generally Israel’s tumultuous history, its battles to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/uk-mp-urges-probe-alleged-israeli-interference-170108132151019.html">influence foreign governments</a>, or the ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12657.doc.htm">occupation</a> of Palestinian territories. Yet there is a hidden <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zina-smith-and-david-sheen/taking-mask-off-asylum-seekers-in-israel">refugee population</a> that lives in a state of legal and social purgatory. </p><p>Few know that the south of Tel Aviv is home <a href="http://hotline.org.il/wp-content/uploads/Solutions-paper-asylum-seekers-in-Israel.pdf">70%</a> of the refugee population in Israel. Roughly 46,000 East African refugees, largely from <a href="http://ardc-israel.org/en/content/refugees-israel">Eritrea (73%) and Sudan (19%),</a> are struggling to make Israel home. Individuals who have escaped genocide, persecution, forced military enlistment, and horrific experiences at the hands of <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/02/11/egypt/sudan-traffickers-who-torture">traffickers in the Sinai desert,</a> are in a state of limbo and have been largely overlooked by the international community.</p> <p>In spite of <a href="http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/156149">public sentiment</a> against refugees communities, solidarity movements in Tel Aviv are standing alongside them. In December of last year, a delegation of representatives from the forefront of the civil society refugee response in Berlin travelled to Tel Aviv to learn about the situation and share best practices. The exchange was part of the <a href="http://migrationhub.network">Migration Hub Network</a> exchange programme to connect civil society organisations across the world working in migration, inclusion and refugee support services.</p> <p><strong>No status, no state support</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Israel has a history of open immigration of Jews from all over the world based on <a href="http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/mfa-archive/1950-1959/pages/law%20of%20return%205710-1950.aspx">The Law of Return</a>, but has an otherwise ethnically stratified immigration regime. Although Israel is a signatory of the <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10">1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees</a> and the accompanying 1967 Protocol, Israel has fostered migration policies aimed at deterring East African migration and refugee flows to Israel. This is a relatively <a href="https://www.ecoi.net/file_upload/1002_1261130955_il-unhcr.pdf">recent phenomena</a>. Asylum seekers have been routinely demonised and anti-immigrant sentiment stoked by government-sanctioned xenophobia. In 2012<strong>, </strong>the Minister of Culture Miri Regev called asylum seekers and refugees “<a href="http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israeli-mk-i-didn-t-mean-to-shame-holocaust-by-calling-african-migrants-a-cancer-1.432809">a cancer”</a> and a threat to the Jewish demography of Israel. Israel has approved less than 1% of asylum applications since it signed the UN Refugee Convention six decades ago, and in 2002 the state <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/search?page=search&amp;docid=3c5196494&amp;query=israel">adopted</a> the responsibility for reviewing asylum claims from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.</p> <p>‘What we have here in Israel is the problem of status. We asked for asylum, our asylum claim was submitted but until today we don’t have any answer’ explains Taj Jemy, a Sudanese community leader who arrived to Israel from Darfur in 2008, and now works for Amnesty International. ‘It’s not that the Israeli government doesn’t know what to do, it’s that they don’t want to do [it]’.&nbsp;</p> <p>Although a government committee, the National Status Granting Body (NSGB), was established to examine requests for asylum, Israel did not begin to process asylum claims of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers <a href="http://hotline.org.il/en/refugees-and-asylum-seekers-en/%E2%80%8Fisraels-asylum-system/">until 2013</a>. Of the small number of claims that have been processed less than <a href="http://www.hias.org/sites/default/files/hias_guide_to_israel_and_african_asylum_seekers.pdf">0.5%</a> have been found ‘legitimate’. Eritreans and Sudanese have high rates of acceptance in other 'developed countries' (82% and 68% <a href="http://ardc-israel.org/en/content/refugees-israel">respectively</a>) acknowledging the legitimate reasons to flee from their countries of origin. To date, <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.726774">only one</a> Sudanese national has been granted refugee status by Israel, atlthough roughly 600 Darfurians have received group protection.</p> <p>Instead of receiving refugee status,&nbsp;most are given an A25 visa, also known as the ‘conditional release visa’. ‘It has many names’, says Taj, ‘but the main purpose of [the visa] is not to recognise our status as refugees’. It leaves them in a situation of limbo between&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fmreview.org/detention/lijnders.html">deportation</a>&nbsp;and detention.</p> <p>The A25 often lasts no longer than a few months and is exclusively given to ‘infiltrators’ who are released from detention. It must be continually renewed at the risk of further detention, and does not include the right to basic services such as healthcare. Officially, refugees do not have the right to work, although the majority do. Both the Supreme Court and law enforcement turn a blind eye to the situation, leaving A25 visa holders forced into illegal work and vulnerable to exploitation and discrimination.</p> <p><strong>A legal quagmire</strong></p> <p>Despite being a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the legal terms ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’ are not written into Israeli law, nor does Israel have a Constitution. This leaves laws, such as the <a href="http://www.refworld.org/docid/55116dca4.html">Anti-Infiltration Law</a> (1954), largely open to interpretation. The law was originally designed to prevent Palestinian refugees uprooted during the 1948 Zionist military operation – which resulted in Israel taking control of 77% of Palestine, and uprooting 700,000 Palestinians – from returning home. Consequently, the law justifies the indefinite detention and subsequent deportation of those deemed ‘infiltrators’, without legal avenues to protest, and is now directed towards African asylum seekers who are framed as an <a href="http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4473868,00.html">existential threat</a> to Israel.</p> <p>Denied their legal status as refugees, the malignant ‘infiltrator’ tag is used to stoke xenophobic sentiment by <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/may/20/israel-netanyahu-african-immigrants-jewish">opportunistic politicians</a>. In this context,&nbsp;the human rights of those seeking state protection are being sidelined.</p> <p>‘Asylum seekers in Israel still have the same lack of rights as 10 years ago,’ explains Asaf Weitzen, from the pro-bono legal aid firm <a href="http://hotline.org.il/en/main/">Hotline for Refugees and Migrants</a>. ‘Children who have grown up here still don’t have a decision on their asylum requests, or that of their parents.’ Asaf has dedicated years to fight for the rights of refugees, and has lobbied the Supreme Court of Israel several times. They have won&nbsp;<a href="http://hotline.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Decision-11-August-2015-Summary-ENG.pdf">important gains</a>, including as the <a href="http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Knesset-lowers-maximum-migrant-detention-in-Holot-to-12-months-444303">end to the indefinite detention</a> of asylum seekers and the imposition of a limit of three months in 2015. The indefinite detention of asylum seekers nevertheless remains for those who have been accused of crimes, without access to a trial.</p> <p><strong>A twofold system of deterrence</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>A twofold system of deterrence has been put into practice to prevent East Africans from entering Israel, says Weitzen. Besides the <a href="http://www.timesofisrael.com/some-200-asylum-seekers-crossed-into-israel-despite-sinai-fence/">physical barrier</a> along the Egyptian-Israeli border, the blocking of legal avenues to protection by ignoring asylum claims or providing only short term visas aspires to act as a deterrent for other potential refugees. A ‘bipolar model of citizenship’ has been created, as Guy Mundlak writes, whereby Eritrean and Somali asylum seekers and their children are not granted full access to state services and are largely excluded from community structures.</p> <p>The hostile environment for asylum seekers begins with disrupting migrant communities. One method is long, often repeated, punitive detention in the <a href="http://assaf.org.il/en/tags/holot-detention-center">Holot</a> ‘open’ detention facility. Ali, from Darfur, was released from Holot in October 2016 after one year: ‘Holot is a terrible place. It is not the place for asylum seekers and refugees, because there is no reason [for us] to be put in prison.’ </p><p>Located in the Negev desert, 60km away from the nearest city, Be’er Sheva is off the grid of&nbsp;public transport or infrastructure. And with mandatory sign-ins three times daily, one would be forgiven for thinking the facility is indeed a prison. Some in Holot are handed <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/04/israel-asylum-seekers-deportation-150416140125742.html">deportation notices</a>, while, since 2015, more than 3,000 Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers have been ‘<a href="http://www.refugee-rights.org/Publications/Papers/2015/IWasLeftWithNothing.pdf">voluntarily’ resettled</a> to Uganda or Rwanda when faced with the choice of indefinite detention or a $3,500 parting gift.</p> <p><strong>The civil society response</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Civil society is providing much needed support. <a href="http://www.microfy.org">Microfy</a> works on developing entrepreneurship and small businesses among marginalised populations in South Tel Aviv, mostly women, both native Israeli as well as immigrants and asylum seekers. ‘We use entrepreneurship and financial empowerment skills to give people the ability to make money and provide for themselves’, says Shana Krakowski, Director of Microfy. The method has proven to be incredibly successful: ‘The ability for marginalised women to take ownership of their own life through entrepreneurship, build their own vision, and actually work on a business not only empowers them economically but socially as well.’</p> <p><a href="http://www.eritreanwomenscenter.org">The Eritrean Women’s Community Centre</a> was opened in 2012 by and for Eritreans, providing support for highly vulnerable women, many of whom are victims of human trafficking or single mothers. Helen Kiadi, centre Director and a young Eritrean herself, spoke passionately about the difficulties they face in providing adequate support with their limited capacity and crisis of funding. ‘I’m scared for the children’ says Helen, noting that the children of asylum seekers are segregated from Israeli children in different schools, even if they too were born in Israel and are fluent in Hebrew.</p> <p>There are some – though few – examples of government supported civil society organisations. <a href="https://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/en/Live/Community/Pages/RefugeesandMigrantWorkersMesila.aspx">Mesila</a> has been working with Eritrean refugees for the last 10 years, collaborating closely with community leaders in order to understand their needs and synchronise their operations in context specific, culturally sensitive ways. Established in 1999 by the Municipality of Tel Aviv, the government has been funding up to 40% of their operations, the majority directed towards at-risk children. Mesila’s work ranges from providing information about healthcare, to Pedagogic Counselling Projects for Eritrean women working in informal childcare services to ensure the upholding of safety and quality standards. Without traditional family structures to help support them, and many women grappling with the trauma of the journey across <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/02/11/i-wanted-lie-down-and-die/trafficking-and-torture-eritreans-sudan-and-egypt">the Sinai</a> to Israel, childcare and post-natal support groups are an important part of the community.</p> <p>However, Israeli government policies are themselves creating new problems, while exacerbating existing ones. In South Tel Aviv, some residents have <a href="http://www.timesofisrael.com/south-tel-aviv-is-south-sudan-now/">decried</a> the rise in African asylum seekers and feel that their government has left them behind. Fears commonly linked to the increase of migrant populations in the area, such as an increase in crime, and a decline in living conditions, are frequently exploited by right wing politicians and used to <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/threats-made-against-south-tel-aviv-aid-workers-after-yishai-remarks-1.430920">incite hatred</a> against refugees. Without legal permission to work, access to healthcare, housing and other basic services and without a culture of welcome which encourages integration, Israel’s East African refugees are left devoid of opportunity, adrift in a hostile world.</p> <p>The exceptional work of civil society, which provides the vast majority of sorely needed support and services to asylum seekers in Israel, must be recognized and supported. Germany’s welcome culture and strong civil society response to the ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe is rightly praised, and more efforts should be made in this time of great uncertainty to connect and strengthen social initiatives working on migration issues across the globe.</p> <p>Although we often think of the Refugees Welcome culture as a ‘European’ phenomenon, as Georgia Cole has recently <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/georgia-cole/uganda-s-unsung-heroes-of-refugee-protection">argued</a> on this dialogue, turning our eyes outwards can reveal global examples of solidarity and best practices that could be adapted and replicated. Crucially, delegates of the exchange programme discovered that despite the very different legal, political and social contexts of the two countries the civil society responses are surprisingly consistent and complimentary. Organisations from both Germany and Israel focus on providing support through vocational training and are rooted in strengthened community networks. We campaign for the rights of newcomers, and support entrepreneurship as a strategy for promoting sustainable inclusion of migrant populations. Migration Hub Network will explore options of working with the Tel Aviv Municipality to continue to support civil society organisations on the ground.</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/lucy-hovil/israel-refugees-not-welcome">Israel: refugees not welcome </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sabine-damir-geilsdorf-martina-sabra/separation-syrian-asylum-seekers-in-germany">A separation: Syrian asylum seekers in Germany</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/halliki-voolma/escaping-domestic-violence-according-to-law-you-are-not-here">Escaping domestic violence: ‘according to the law, you are not here’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/bina-fernandez/precarious-migrant-motherhood-in-lebanon">Precarious migrant motherhood in Lebanon </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lily-jay/deaths-deportations-and-arrests-violence-against-migrants-in-morocco">Deaths, deportations and arrests: violence against migrants in Morocco</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <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 even"> <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 odd"> <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 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> </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"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Germany </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tel Aviv </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 Tel Aviv Germany Israel Civil society 50.50 People on the Move gendered migration 50.50 newsletter Alexandra Embiricos Fri, 03 Mar 2017 10:09:42 +0000 Alexandra Embiricos 109195 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Stop Trump – definitely! But then what? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/celia-mckeon/stop-trump-definitely-but-then-what <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Resisting Trump should involve asking the UK government to reconsider its approach to global security alliances.</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/535193/PA-29995299.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-29995299.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anti-Trump ‘Muslim Ban’ demonstration on Feb. 4, 2017 in Manchester, UK. Credit: NurPhoto SIPA USA/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>Today, on Monday 20th February, thousands of people around the UK will <a href="https://www.stoptrump.org.uk/">take to the streets</a> to demonstrate our resistance to the new President of the United States of America. There will undoubtedly be some brilliant placards and, hopefully, a few witty chants. We will denounce Trump’s xenophobic, racist, misogynist rhetoric and condemn his efforts to enact policies that exemplify this, from the border wall to the “Muslim ban” to the Global Gag rule.</p> <p>We will also be marching to voice our opposition to the UK government’s decision to carry on with ‘business as usual’ with the government of the United States. We will condemn Theresa May’s <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38784199">failure</a> to stand up for basic human values in her response to the Muslim ban, and in particular, her decision to accord President Trump the honour of a <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/theresa-may-donald-trump-state-visit-uk/">state visit</a> to the UK later this year. We will march to show our solidarity with those who are most directly affected by Trump’s policies and to <a href="http://www.1daywithoutus.org/">speak up for the rights of refugees and migrants</a> both in the UK and internationally. We will build momentum for a monumental show of opposition to Trump when he comes here, in what is being <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/donald-trump-state-visit-protest-stop-trump-uk-britain-protest-birmingham-owen-jones-a7576211.html">billed</a> as one of the biggest demonstrations the country will ever see. </p> <p>But we should also be taking this opportunity to do something more. As a fractured international system cracks still further under the strain of each new pronouncement from the Trump White House, we need to be asking the UK government to undertake an urgent evaluation of the way it positions itself on the global stage. And specifically, we need to be asking it to explain how this positioning will contribute to promoting, rather than undermining, the global security on which UK security depends.</p> <h3><strong>&nbsp;A Special Relationship, or an Especially Problematic Relationship?</strong></h3> <p>The so-called “special relationship” with the USA has been the bedrock of UK grand strategy for defence and security since the end of the Second World War. This has reflected the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/11343800/David-Cameron-endangering-special-relationship-with-America-by-not-protecting-defence-spending.html">establishment’s view</a> that US leadership through NATO remains the primary anchor of stability in the international order. The out-workings of this alliance are evident both in the design of UK military capabilities and in the uses to which they have been put. UK military hardware investments are selected on the basis of their operational complementarity to those of the US. The UK Armed Forces are designed to provide particular capabilities for wider military coalitions led by the US, with cooperation extending as far as controversial <a href="http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/uk-plays-critical-role-in-yemen-drone-war-reports/">shared involvement</a> in US armed drone strikes. And inevitably, the UK has followed the US into a range of military interventions over the last fifteen years, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya and now Syria.</p> <p>Despite the devastating consequences of these interventions, the UK’s 2015 <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/478933/52309_Cm_9161_NSS_SD_Review_web_only.pdf">National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence Review</a> recommitted to the grand-strategic relationship with the US, describing it as “our pre-eminent partner for security, defence, foreign policy and prosperity”. Amongst <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yawning-chasm-in-uk-national-security-strategy-security-for-whom">other weaknesses</a>, the Strategy failed to acknowledge the increasingly accepted <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10859545/Wars-in-Iraq-and-Afghanistan-were-a-failure-costing-29bn.html">conclusion</a> that these military interventions – and the US and UK’s roles in them – have contributed to precisely the kinds of security risks that we were told they would alleviate.</p> <p>It might have been possible to gloss over some of the more disturbing out-workings of the “special relationship” while President Obama was in the White House, but the arrival of Donald Trump creates an entirely new reality. The evidence of his first month in office suggests that the new administration is bent on policies that are likely to dramatically escalate the drivers of global insecurity, whether on climate change, US-China relations or violence in the Middle East, as Oxford Research Group has <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefing_papers_and_reports/special_measures_donald_trump_and_trans_atlantic_relations">highlighted</a>. The EU’s President Donald Tusk went as far as to describe him as a “<a href="http://www.consilium.europa.eu/press-releases-pdf/2017/1/47244654122_en.pdf">threat</a>” to Europe.</p> <p>In these circumstances, an ostrich-like approach to “business as usual” seems an extraordinary risk to take, both for the UK and the wider world. &nbsp;Instead of rushing over to Washington to talk up the “special relationship” and <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/26/politics/theresa-may-us-speech-transcript/">promising</a> that the UK and the US will “join hands as we pick up that mantle of leadership once more”, Theresa May should be urgently re-considering the fundamentals of UK grand strategy. Otherwise, the UK’s approach to security risks continuing on a trajectory in which – at enormous human, ecological and financial cost – it exacerbates the very problems that we are told it is intending to address.</p> <h3><strong>Rethinking UK security policy</strong></h3> <p>Just a few months ago, questioning the UK’s grand-strategic alliance was almost unthinkable in mainstream foreign policy debates. But such is the level of consternation at developments in the US that it is being <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/b3fcd252-f1f0-11e6-95ee-f14e55513608">mooted</a> with increasing frequency, and not only in liberal circles.</p> <p>In many ways, an in-depth review of the UK security alliances is long overdue. Global insecurity is growing. Violent conflicts are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/20/armed-conflict-deaths-increase-syria-iraq-afghanistan-yemen">spreading and intensifying</a> and refugee flows are at their <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-36573082">highest ever levels</a>. Economic inequalities are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/19/global-wealth-oxfam-inequality-davos-economic-summit-switzerland">deepening</a> and planetary boundaries are being <a href="http://breakingenergy.com/2015/01/22/new-study-breaches-of-planetary-boundaries-jeopardize-environmental-sustainability/">breached</a>. The preferred responses of Western governments – particularly the US and the UK – are manifestly failing to reverse these trends and have often <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10859545/Wars-in-Iraq-and-Afghanistan-were-a-failure-costing-29bn.html">made matters worse</a>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-30115886.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-30115886.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="332" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UK PM Theresa May and POTUS Donald Trump at the White House, 27 January, 2017. Credit: Stefan Rousseau PA Wire/PA Images </span></span></span></p><p>The UK and its NATO allies account for half the world’s military spending, so the deficiency in Western responses is not a lack of military capability. Instead, as the Ammerdown Group’s <a href="http://www.rethinkingsecurity.org.uk/portfolio/policy-resources">Rethinking Security</a> publication has argued, the problems lie in the dominant narrative about what security means, who it is for, and how it should be achieved. </p> <p>This narrative, which has its roots in the UK’s colonial past, privileges UK security over the security of people in other parts of the world. It emphasises short-term threats, rather than addressing the long-term, systemic drivers of insecurity. And it assumes that threats can be contained and controlled primarily by the projection of military force, exercised principally in alliance with the United States. </p> <p>But the problems arising from this posture are coming home to roost, and the Trump Presidency simply forces us to look a bit harder in the mirror. How long can the UK continue to brand itself as a “<a href="http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2016/10/theresa-may-government-can-and-should-be-force-good">Force for Good</a>” in a world in which its principal ally is enacting openly racist and Islamophobic policies? Or when the government <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/05/mps-to-urge-ban-on-uk-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia">justifies</a>, on national security grounds, the decision to sell arms to a Saudi Arabian regime that is accused of war crimes in Yemen? Who is paying the price for the UK’s security alliances and what are the long-term consequences of this?</p> <p>If the UK government is committed to contributing to global security, now is the time to revisit some first principles and ask some hard questions. What does security mean? Who are the intended beneficiaries of UK security policy? How can we start to build the conditions of sustainable security and address the drivers of insecurity? Who do we need to work with in this endeavour and on what basis? The UK’s strategic decisions about its security alliances should flow from an urgent re-consideration of these questions. </p> <h3><strong>Can the juggernaut change course?</strong></h3> <p>It is, of course, far easier to ask the questions than to discern and implement a practicable change of course, not least because of the situation the UK now finds itself in. There is colossal <a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/issues/influence">military-industrial momentum</a> behind current UK security policy, which is highly effective at locking the government into a series of arms treaties and investment programmes. And Brexit creates an additional layer of complexity, placing the UK in an awkward position as far as international relations are concerned. The most obvious alternative to the US-UK axis is closer cooperation with our European neighbours; this is a tricky card to play at a time when the UK is embarking on a difficult and potentially acrimonious exit from the European Union. </p> <p>These factors go some way to explaining Theresa May’s willingness to offer apparently unqualified support to the Trump administration. But they are not an acceptable justification. Plenty of other countries have demonstrated that it is entirely possible to take a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/angela-merkel-donald-trump-muslim-ban_uk_588f8483e4b0ce6c8c2cc69b">different approach</a> to the new US government, and to <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/07/29/how-sweden-is-pursuing-its-feminist-foreign-policy-in-the-age-of-erdogan-putin-and-trump-wallstrom-hultqvist/">foreign and security policy</a> more generally. Those of us who believe that our global security alliances should be based on shared values such as humanitarianism, justice, democratic accountability and principled multilateralism need to be pushing for proper debate about the options available. Without a far-ranging public conversation, drawing on the widest range of expertise and perspectives, there is a high risk of business as usual, with global security continuing to deteriorate and the most vulnerable people paying the price.</p> <p>So yes, our banners today should definitely be opposing the racism and xenophobia that have characterised the early days of the Trump administration. They should be challenging the normalisation of his agenda, and calling out our government for its own <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38912428">inhumane response</a> to the refugee crisis. And they should also be asking for an urgent rethink of the UK’s approach to international relations, and particularly for a commitment to security alliances that work for the common good of all the world’s people.</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="/opensecurity/celia-mckeon/reimagining-security">Reimagining security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yawning-chasm-in-uk-national-security-strategy-security-for-whom">UK National Security Strategy: security for whom? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/after-london-womens-march-what-now">After the Women&#039;s March on London: what now? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/sound-trumpet">Sound the Trumpet </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">Trump&#039;s slap in the face of Lady Liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/soraya-chemaly/under-trump-we-are-all-women">Under Trump, we are all women </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> </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"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </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 uk United States UK Civil society 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter Celia Mckeon Mon, 20 Feb 2017 09:23:31 +0000 Celia Mckeon 108911 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Internally displaced women: social rupture and political voice https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lucy-fiske-rita-shackel/internally-displaced-women-social-rupture-and-political-voice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Displacement is social as well as geographical. Women’s welfare and survival depends significantly on their social relationships; displacement destroys this resource.</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/IMG_0268.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Internal displacement, North Kivu, DRC. Photo: Authors"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/IMG_0268.JPG" alt="Internal displacement, North Kivu, DRC. Photo: Authors" title="Internal displacement, North Kivu, DRC. Photo: Authors" width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Internal displacement, North Kivu, DRC. Photo: Authors</span></span></span>Displacement is at its highest level since records have been kept - over 60 million people world-wide are currently displaced from their homes and communities. Most media and popular attention in the developed world is focused on the Syrian refugee crisis which has produced <a href="http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php">4.8 million</a> refugees in its neighbouring region alone in the five years since violence erupted. While Europe struggles to decide how to respond to the <a href="http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/asylum.php">1.1 million</a> Syrian refugees that have so far arrived on its shores since 2011, there is another population, hidden from view, that makes up two thirds of the forced migration iceberg. People internally displaced, that is, forced from their homes and communities but still within the borders of their country, make up slightly more than <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/latest/2016/6/5763b65a4/global-forced-displacement-hits-record-high.html">40 million</a> of the 60 million figure cited. </p> <p>Internally displaced people (known as IDPs in the field of forced migration) have similar experiences to refugees - their departure was forced by conflict or disaster, there was rarely time to plan their move, take possessions with them, say good-bye to loved ones or plan a destination. IDPs may end up in IDP camps (we are familiar with the images of tents and tarpaulins emblazoned with humanitarian logos) or less visibly dispersed among urban slums such as Birere in Goma (DRC) eking out a living however they can.</p><p>The urban displaced generally receive little help. They rely on conflict-affected social networks and are often exposed to <a href="http://fscluster.org/sites/default/files/documents/nrc_goma_case_study_web.pdf">exploitation, homelessness and violence</a>. People displaced into camps often get basic aid from international NGOs, but are subject to the regime of camp organisers - sometimes an NGO, as is most common in <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/training7part10en.pdf">DRC,</a> and sometimes <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/The-International-Response-to-Internal-Displacement-in-the-DRC-December-2014.pdf">the military</a> as was more common in <a href="https://justiceinconflict.org/2012/04/09/a-genocide-in-northern-uganda-the-protected-camps-policy-of-1999-to-2006/">northern Uganda and Sri Lanka</a>. Encamped IDPs often have restricted mobility and little opportunity for autonomy or income-generation - factors which often lead to despair and dependency with long term impacts.&nbsp;</p> <p>International responses tend to focus on geographical displacement and respond to immediate survival needs, including when displacement last <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2015/01/28/10-years-after-humanitarian-reform-how-have-internally-displaced-persons-fared/">years or even decades</a> as in Colombia, Uganda and DRC. What is under-recognised is the social displacement - the expulsion from social and kinship networks which make life both possible and worthwhile. When we look at displacement through a social rather than geographic lens, we begin to see how displacement differs for men and women.</p> <p>During fieldwork conducted in 2014 and 2015 for a <a href="http://www.justiceforwomen.net.au/">research project</a> exploring <a href="http://www.justiceforwomen.net.au/">women’s experiences of justice</a> after mass violence in DRC, Kenya and Uganda we met a great many displaced and formerly displaced women. They prompted us to think differently about displacement.</p> <p><strong>Gender norms trigger the displacement of women</strong></p> <p>Internally displaced women in eastern DRC (where a <a href="http://www.womenundersiegeproject.org/conflicts/profile/democratic-republic-of-congo">recent study</a> estimated that 1,152 rapes occur every day) explained that pre-existing gender norms mean that families may disown a woman who has experienced sexual violence. A 41-year old mother described her experience of social exclusion ‘…before being raped my health was very fine and I had sufficient means. After rape, my husband left me… Even if he comes, I am unable to satisfy his needs, so <a href="https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/15628/2/DRC%20Full%20Report.pdf;">I am nothing in the society.’</a></p> <p>The social meaning attributed to a ‘raped woman’ causes catastrophic consequences and frequently means that she is rejected by her spouse, family and community. In patriarchal and fragile states such as the DRC, women’s welfare is not seen as a state concern, but rather is determined by their relationships with fathers, husbands and sons. It is the men in their lives that enable them to access food, shelter, protection and a secure place in society. Rejection by families, some women explained, means expulsion from social networks essential for life.&nbsp;</p> <p>As a group of women in an IDP camp in Rutshuru commented, ‘When the family gets aware that you have been a victim of that act, no one can draw near you… they will only be rebuking you saying they do not want you to approach in order not to contaminate [them<a href="https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/15628/2/DRC%20Full%20Report.pdf">]… they hated us because of the act we were victim of</a>.’</p> <p>NGOs are spreading information about the ‘<a href="http://www.dhhr.wv.gov/oeps/std-hiv-hep/needlestick/Pages/Post-ExposureProphylaxis(PEP)FAQs.aspx">72-hour-rule’</a> - that getting medical help within 72-hours of rape can avert pregnancies and infections, and women are taking great risks to reach a medical clinic within the time-frame. But there is little evidence of attempts to engage community and religious leaders in beginning the long, slow process of attitude change so that women who have been raped need not be victimised again through social expulsion and stigmatization. The focus is on physical, not social needs.</p> <p><strong>Damaged social relations last for years</strong></p> <p>Broken or damaged social networks caused by experiences of persecution and displacement can have a long-term impact on women’s place in communities. Uganda’s twenty-year war between the government and Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) caused massive internal displacement - <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/latest/2012/1/4f0718269/unhcr-wraps-worlds-biggest-idp-operations-uganda.html">1.84 million</a> people at the height of conflict. The Ugandan government forced almost the entire population of Acholiland, the epicentre of LRA activity, into over-crowded, poorly serviced IDP camps for over ten years. Men and women were not permitted to farm their lands and were dependent on aid from international agencies for survival. Camps were usually erected around military bases and followed strict rules such as curfews and restrictions on movement which made it impossible to continue important family and cultural rituals. The focus was on meeting the material survival needs that resulted from losing their homes, farms, businesses and livestock. Little or no attention was paid to the immense damage done to the social fabric of Acholi communities.</p> <p>Alternate economies emerged in the IDP camps, economies that centred on alcohol, violence and sex. Elders lost their status and sometimes their lives (<a href="http://www.who.int/hac/crises/uga/sitreps/Ugandamortsurvey.pdf">around 1000 people died</a> each week in camps at their peak, many of whom were infants and elderly). Years of encampment have taken a profound toll on people, one woman described feeling like<em> </em>‘a prisoner of <a href="https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/15630/4/Uganda%20Full%20Report.pdf.">war in my own homeland’</a>.</p> <p>The war has now ended, the camps have closed and people have returned to their land. But, in the words of ‘Annabel’, a 40-year old widow, most villages in Acholiland today are struggling with men who ‘continuously drink and they don’t do anything productive and they don’t do anything to <a href="https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/15630/4/Uganda%20Full%20Report.pdf.">help their families</a>.’ Everywhere we visited women told us that their male relations are ‘deeply addicted to alcohol’, refuse to work in the fields, and that domestic and public violence is ‘rampant’. Women traced a direct causal line between encampment and their present experiences. As Faith, a widow and mother of four children explained: ‘Yes, indeed there is a great link between the experiences of camp life and the problems the people are <a href="https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/15630/4/Uganda%20Full%20Report.pdf.">facing up to today.’</a> </p> <p>Camp life shattered social and cultural norms which would previously have prohibited much of the drinking and violence, as well as profoundly damaging the social institutions that today are failing to restore justice, dignity and order.&nbsp;</p> <p>While there has been some assistance for returning IDPs to resume livelihood activities, there has been little attention paid to the repair of social relationships. This has left women and children bearing the burden of work, violence, and poverty, with little power to establish a political voice.</p> <p>How we think about displacement guides how we respond to it. The geography of displacement is important, but it is only one part of the experience. The social elements of displacement are too easily relegated to the category of ‘higher needs’ or a luxury to be addressed when conditions permit. But social relationships are fundamental, and if we want to reduce displacement and ensure successful return and healing, the international community needs to think and act differently.</p><p><strong>Read more in-depth articles on migration on oD 50.50's platform edited by Jennifer Allsopp:</strong> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/5050-people-on-move"><strong>PEOPLE ON THE MOVE</strong> </a></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/bina-fernandez/precarious-migrant-motherhood-in-lebanon">Precarious migrant motherhood in Lebanon </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/julienne-lusenge-jennifer-allsopp/we-want-peace-we%E2%80%99re-tired-of-war">&quot;We want peace. We’re tired of war&quot;</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/madeleine-rees/sexual-violence-access-to-justice-and-human-rights">Sexual violence, access to justice, and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/gender-war-and-peace">Gender, war and peace: &quot;We the people.&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/leila-ullrich/doing-gender-justice-in-northern-uganda">Doing gender justice in northern Uganda</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-woman-at-helm-UN">Still no woman at the helm of the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/will-sky-fall-when-big-ngos-move-south"> Will the sky fall when big NGOs move south?</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"> Democratic Republic of the Congo </div> <div class="field-item even"> Uganda </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </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 Uganda Democratic Republic of the Congo Conflict africa 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter gender gendered migration violence against women women and militarism women's health Rita Shackel Lucy Fiske Wed, 08 Feb 2017 16:30:27 +0000 Lucy Fiske and Rita Shackel 108218 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Escaping domestic violence: ‘according to the law, you are not here’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/halliki-voolma/escaping-domestic-violence-according-to-law-you-are-not-here <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Many women survivors of violence in Europe cannot access support services because of their migration status. The right to live free from violence should be based on presence in a territory not legal status. &nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Default"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/PIOIOI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Protest in London by activist group Sisters Uncut. Photo: Sisters Uncut. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/PIOIOI.jpg" alt="Protest in London by activist group Sisters Uncut. Photo: Sisters Uncut. " title="Protest in London by activist group Sisters Uncut. Photo: Sisters Uncut. " width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in London by activist group Sisters Uncut. Photo: Sisters Uncut. </span></span></span><span>On December 15</span>th<span> of last year the Women Against Violence Europe (</span><a href="https://www.wave-network.org/">WAVE</a><span>) network and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (</span><a href="http://picum.org/en">PICUM</a><span>) launched a </span><a href="http://www.wave-stepup.org/focus-areas/migrant-women">joint campaign</a><span> calling for access to services for all women who are survivors of violence in Europe, regardless of migration status. This initiative featured a </span><a href="http://wave-stepup.org/belgium/picum-pledge-form-english?">pledge</a><span> supporting the core principles that women’s rights are human rights and that we must stand in solidarity against discrimination. It is part of WAVE’s Europe-wide </span><a href="http://wave-stepup.org/about-campaign">Step Up! campaign</a><span> (2016-2017) to increase action to tackle violence against women.</span></p> <p>This joint initiative is necessary because across Europe, there are survivors of violence who do not have <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2013/493027/IPOL-FEMM_ET(2013)493027_EN.pdf">access to support</a> services because of their migration status. Women who are undocumented or have irregular status may risk detention or deportation when approaching services or reporting violence to the police. <a href="http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/blog/2015/06/european-rights-groups-agree-we-need-firewall-between-welfare-services-and-immigration-">PICUM advocates</a> for the implementation of a <a href="http://picum.org/en/news/blog/47851/">‘firewall’</a> between the provision of basic services and immigration control – survivors of violence should be able to report this crime and have access to protection without fear of detention or deportation. Women exposed to violence who are undocumented or have insecure immigration status (i.e no permanent residency or citizenship) are often <a href="https://theferret.scot/asylum-domestic-violence/">turned away</a> even from specialist support services such as shelters, for example due to exclusionary funding systems. If shelters are state-funded and women are not eligible for state funding due to their migration status, the shelter may have no way of funding their stay. </p> <p><span>There are international conventions and European Union directives that require states to develop measures to protect and support all women survivors of violence on their territory, regardless of migration status: the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (</span><a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm">CEDAW</a><span>), the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the ‘</span><a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/rms/090000168008482e">Istanbul Convention’</a><span>) and the EU Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime (the </span><a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:315:0057:0073:EN:PDF">‘Victims’ Directive’</a><span>). The WAVE Step Up! campaign calls on states to fulfil their obligations under these legal frameworks.</span></p> <p class="Default">In my PhD research about women with insecure status in the UK and Sweden who have experienced domestic violence I found that despite the universal promise of human rights, in reality there are very different rights for people of different migration/citizenship status. In the UK, the <a href="http://www.nrpfnetwork.org.uk/information/Pages/who-has-NRPF.aspx">no recourse to public funding requirement</a> (<a href="http://www.nrpfnetwork.org.uk/information/Pages/who-has-NRPF.aspx">NRPF</a>) attached to people who do not have permanent residency means that women in this category who have experienced violence are <a href="http://thewomensresourcecentre.org.uk/our-work/no-recourse-to-public-funds/">not eligible</a> for safe accommodation in shelters or other support services to enable them to leave abusive homes. In Sweden, most women have access to services because the right to social protection is based on residence in a municipality, but undocumented women are excluded as they are not considered legal residents. </p> <p class="Default">Nisan*, a Turkish woman, had been living in Sweden for 15 years when I met her. When she was a teenager and still living in Turkey she was kidnapped and raped by her then boyfriend and his friends. Her father’s abuse, which had started in early childhood, also escalated. Her brother was living in Sweden at that time and he arranged a visit visa for Nisan. As her family did not renew her visa after the three-month validity period ended and she was afraid of returning home to Turkey, she continued living in Sweden undocumented. When she had been in Sweden for a few years, Nisan’s uncle advised her to tell her story to the police and apply for residency. Nisan did so, but did not get an answer about her status until she was 20, at which point she was refused. Her only options were either to go back to Turkey or wait for four years and apply again. </p> <p class="Default">She waited for four years, without papers. When she applied for residency again she had new evidence to present from the police and hospital back in Turkey about the violence she had suffered. However, the migration board again refused to grant her a residence permit because they did not believe it could be true that she had been in Sweden for ten years without documents. They told Nisan, “‘you are lying, you haven’t been here for ten years, there’s nothing proving that… according to the law, you are not here’”.&nbsp; </p> <p class="Default">Nisan’s family then encouraged her to marry a man she had been seeing who was a Swedish citizen and she eventually got permanent residency on the basis of this marriage. However, the relationship became abusive. Nisan explained, ‘He was sick in the head he would threaten me and do all this sick stuff and we weren’t even married anymore’. </p> <p class="Default">Nisan’s ex-husband raped her and she went to hospital where she was encouraged to go to a women’s shelter and there she finally escaped the cycles of violence she had experienced since childhood. Nisan was able to access a shelter because she now had permanent residency and thus was considered legally resident. At the time of the interview she was waiting for a decision on her citizenship application. </p> <p class="Default">From the perspective of having moved through a number of migrant categories, from undocumented to asylum-seeker, back to undocumented, to spousal visa holder to permanent residence, and now waiting for citizenship, Nisan talked about ‘degrees’ of rights for different categories of people: ‘It’s like degrees, if you are paperless you don’t have any right to get anything. If you are asylum seeker you would get a little help but not that much either because they are not sure which city you’ll stay in. If you have permanent residency, you can get more help, but it takes a lot of time.</p> <p class="Default">Nisan’s experiences highlight the fluidity of migration categories. The labels of ‘temporary visitor’, ‘undocumented migrant’, ‘asylum-seeker’, ‘failed asylum-seeker’, ‘spousal visa holder’ and ‘permanent resident’ could all be used to describe Nisan’s status at different points during her life in Sweden. These categories do not adequately reflect the experiential aspect of Nisan’s precarious journey to permanent residence. Fixed labels conceal the complexity of lived experience and the reasons for entering and moving out of different migration statuses. In public and political discourse migrants are often described as belonging to one migrant group or label - the empirical fluidity of migration categories, and the potential that the same person could move through several, even six, labels as Nisan did, is not part of policy discussions. </p> <p class="Default">Basing rights on immigration status is thus problematic partly because this approach assumes that this status is ‘static’, and also that it is ‘deserved’. For instance, curtailing the rights of undocumented migrants may be based on an assumption that these individuals have deliberately defied the legal system and thus made a conscious choice to step outside of the status of a rights-bearing subject. In reality, a survivor of domestic violence may, as part of the abuse, not be in control of her travel documents and may become an ‘overstayer’, and thus, ‘irregular’ if the perpetrator <a href="http://picum.org/picum.org/uploads/publication/Double%20Violence%20Against%20Undocumented%20Women%20-%20Protecting%20Rights%20and%20Ensuring%20Justice.pdf">refuses</a> to renew her visa. Seven of the 31 survivors I interviewed told me they were undocumented or ‘overstayers’ at some point during their stay in England or Sweden.</p> <p class="Default">In the context of the refugee/migration ‘crisis’ in the EU since 2015, the <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34061097">terminology</a> of migration has been given increased attention. The correct usage of terms such as ‘asylum-seeker’ versus ‘economic migrant’, and using <a href="http://picum.org/en/our-work/terminology-words-matter-campaign/">‘undocumented/irregular’ instead of ‘illegal’</a> is becoming more commonplace in public discourse. What is not often discussed is the validity and adequacy of the categories these labels signify. If women move through different migration categories and at times this movement is forced upon them by perpetrators of violence, these categories cannot be used as the basis for assessing eligibility for basic rights. The basis for determining rights should not be citizenship, legal residency, or even a temporary visa. The basis for the right to live free from violence should be <a href="http://www7.tau.ac.il/ojs/index.php/til/article/view/640">presence</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p class="Default"><em>* Names have been changed to protect anonymity.</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/rahila-gupta/uk-migration-hierarchy-of-injustices">UK migration: a hierarchy of injustices</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/hannana-siddiqui/ending-stark-choice-domestic-violence-or-destitution-in-uk">Ending the stark choice: domestic violence or destitution in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/sundari-anitha/immigration-status-and-domestic-violence">Immigration status and domestic violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/samir-jeraj/domestic-violence-on-frontline-of-intersectionality">Domestic violence: on the frontline of intersectionality</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/trapped-women-fleeing-violence-in-uk">Trapped: women fleeing violence in the UK </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/migrant-women-in-uk-settling-for-rather-than-settling-in">Migrant women in the UK: settling for rather than settling in</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/what-will-it-take-to-end-violence-against-women-in-uk">What will it take to end violence against women in the UK? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/katarina-von-sydow/believing-womens-narratives-in-sweden-and-norway">Believing women&#039;s narratives in Sweden and Norway</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dominic-hinde/feminist-parties-redefining-scandinavian-politics">The feminist parties redefining Scandinavian politics </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/halliki-voolma/uk-will-proposed-legislation-mean-deporting-trafficking-victims">UK: Will proposed legislation mean deporting trafficking victims ? </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> 50.50 50.50 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change women's human rights women's health violence against women Sexual violence gendered poverty gendered migration gender justice 50.50 newsletter Halliki Voolma Mon, 30 Jan 2017 10:32:07 +0000 Halliki Voolma 108052 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A separation: Syrian asylum seekers in Germany https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sabine-damir-geilsdorf-martina-sabra/separation-syrian-asylum-seekers-in-germany <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Rapidly changing asylum policies, plus legal and bureaucratic hurdles mean that many Syrian asylum seekers in Germany are separated from their families for years or even forced apart post-arrival. Gender shapes this experience.</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/535193/PA-14958089.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-14958089.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="342" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Syrian family in Germany. Credit: Patrick Pleul DPA/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>Altogether, an estimated 550,000 Syrian asylum seekers have arrived in Germany since 2011. Roughly 75 percent of them are male. High <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/refugee-smuggling-a-big-business-in-the-balkans-a-1051461.html">payments to smugglers</a> have made it impossible for many families to escape together. Many hoped that once a male family member made it to Germany and got asylum, the remaining nuclear family members could follow safely by using the legally guaranteed right to family reunification. This has become increasingly difficult.</p> <p><strong>Leaving women and children behind, for safety reasons</strong></p> <p>There are many reasons for this inability to exercise the right to family reunification. Firstly, for political reasons: since the <a href="https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/06/serbias-role-in-the-migration-crisis/dynamics-along-the-western-balkan-route/">closure of the Balkan route</a> and the <a href="http://www.migrationpolicy.org/news/paradox-eu-turkey-refugee-deal;%20http:/graduateinstitute.ch/fr/home/relations-publiques/news-at-the-institute/news-archives.html/_/news/research/2016/will-the-eu-turkey-migrant-deal.">EU-Turkey refugee deal</a> in 2016, many Syrian women and children who stayed behind are trapped in Syria. Secondly, for reasons of bureaucracy: from 2013 onwards, Syrians have had to wait on average 10 months to submit their asylum application and another five months to be granted asylum, a <em>sine qua non</em> to be able to apply for family reunification. The proper reunification procedure may take even longer because family members back in Syria have to appear in person for an interview at a German embassy in a neighboring country. Waiting periods for the interview appointments are long; at least 16 months, for instance, at the German embassy in Beirut. After the interview it may take another eight months to validate the applications.</p> <p>Altogether, Syrians having arrived in Germany need three to four years to reunite with family members left behind. Sometimes, interview appointments come too late. Jabbar*, a refugee we interviewed in Cologne in 2016, learned that his wife and two children were killed by an airstrike near Aleppo while waiting for the reunification.</p> <p>For family members of recognized Syrian refugees in Germany there are a number of additional obstacles that obstruct reunification and a safe passage to Germany. Besides&nbsp; barriers to entry to Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan for an interview appointment at the German embassy, collecting the documents required for the application for family reunification can be simply impossible or too dangerous. Syrians with passports issued in provinces governed by the IS or other insurgent groups are told to bring a new passport issued by an authority in a different province. All personal status documents are not only required to be translated into English or German but also need a pre-certification stamp from the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which has to be issued no later than 2012. However, for Syrians from rebel-held areas and those who are listed as opponents of the regime, to appear in a government institution is far too risky. Furthermore, travelling through Syria is extremely dangerous. Arbitrary detention, <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde24/2579/2015/en/">enforced disappearance</a>s, <a href="http://syriadirect.org/news/kidnapping-in-regime-controlled-hama-%E2%80%98as-profitable-a-business-as-any%E2%80%99/">kidnapping</a> and <a href="http://syriaaccountability.org/wp-content/uploads/Societal-Attitudes.pdf">sexual violence</a> are common incidents during such journeys. There are plenty of checkpoints, controlled by pro-government militias or other armed groups.</p> <p><strong>Trapped in Syria (and Germany)</strong></p> <p>Since many young men in Syria were either killed, have fled the country or are in hiding, in order to escape from forced conscription or detention, an increasing number of women, by now roughly a quarter of household heads in Syria, are pushed to work. Most enter low-skilled jobs in the informal sector. When women with young children are not able to work outside the house and don’t have extended family that can support them, elder children have to take the role of the breadwinner. The loss of ‘male protection’ means women are perceived as outside of traditional societal norms and this makes them more vulnerable. Only few experience their new roles and responsibilities as a liberation.&nbsp; Most are overloaded with additional tasks in the war-zone, and limited security.</p> <p>To remain in conformity with societal norms, some families appoint a male family member to replace the father during his absence, usually a brother or the eldest son. Displaced women usually try to live with other members of the extended family. The lack of male protection increases women’s and girls’ risks &nbsp;and experience of sexual violence. &nbsp;Sexual violence has been reported from checkpoints, but also from collective shelters and even aid supply facilities. &nbsp;</p> <p>Syrian spouses who have escaped, and are more or less safe while their wives or husbands back in Syria face life-threatening situations, have to cope with little or no income and are usually deeply traumatized. This hampers their integration into the new environment.</p> <p>Mainly as a reaction to the influx of asylum seekers in 2014 and 2015, the German government recently changed asylum legislation. In March 2016, ‘asylum package II’ was introduced which, among other new regulations, suspends the right to apply for family reunification until March 2018 in the case of any refugee who has obtained a <a href="http://www.bamf.de/EN/Fluechtlingsschutz/AblaufAsylv/Schutzformen/SubsidiaererS/subsidiaerer-schutz-node.html">subsidiary protection status</a> instead of full refugee status. Asylum decisions specifically for Syrians have <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/german-court-rules-syrian-refugees-not-entitled-to-full-asylum-status/a-36511284">changed significantly</a>. Earlier, almost all of them were granted full asylum protection according to the Geneva Convention. Now, around half of them obtain only <a href="http://legal-dialogue.org/subsidiary-protection-instead-full-refugee-status-complicates-family-reunification">subsidiary protection</a>. For many Syrians in Germany and their families back home this was a shock. Meanwhile, bureaucratic challenges and case load build-up mean that even for those Syrians who have received full refugee status, only an estimated 25,000 have managed to reunite with their families to date.</p> <p><strong>Forced separation from family within Germany</strong></p> <p>In August 2016, a new so called ‘<a href="http://www.dw.com/en/merkel-presents-new-refugee-integration-law-as-milestone/a-19281722">integration law</a>’ &nbsp;came into effect. In order to ensure equal distribution of refugees among the federal states and to avoid social imbalances in certain areas, it prescribes that all asylum seekers who have been accepted as refugees after January 2016 have to stay another three years in the Federal state (and often city) to which they have been assigned upon their arrival. This restriction in freedom of mobility obstructs family reunification of those who fled at different times to Germany and arrived in different federal states. Ayat, a divorced school teacher and her 25 year old daughter Wiam were sharing a flat in Damascus when the uprising began. While her daughter escaped to Germany in 2013, Ayat preferred to stay in Syria. However, life became increasingly difficult and in 2016 she followed Wiam via the Balkan route shortly before its closure. Once in Germany, she quickly found her daughter, but was assigned to a different Federal state. Since Wiam is an adult over 18 years and thus not eligible for family reunification anymore, it might take some three years until mother and daughter will have a right to live together.</p> <p>Living apart from family and the loss of other social networks as a result of forced migration can create or deepen emotional suffering and trauma. Being separated even in Germany itself has a particularly negative effect on women who can no longer rely on the help of siblings and other extended family members for childcare and other domestic duties. Furthermore, it can also increase their distress, obstruct their ability to overcome traumatic experiences and hamper integration. For some women, family separation may constitute an opportunity to gain more agency, e.g. to break away from repressive family structures, but the number of women for whom this is the case is not known.</p> <p><em>* Names have been changed to protect anonymity&nbsp;</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/jennifer-allsopp/refugee-crisis-demilitarising-masculinities">The refugee crisis: demilitarising masculinities </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jeff-crisp/syria%E2%80%99s-refugees-global-responsibility">Syria&#039;s refugees: a global responsibility</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/vicki-squire/humanitarian-corridors-beyond-political-gesture">Humanitarian Corridors: beyond political gesture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/melanie-griffiths/invisible-fathers-of-immigration-detention">Invisible fathers of immigration detention in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jane-freedman-vasiliki-touhouliotis/fleeing-europe"> Fleeing Europe?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/bina-fernandez/precarious-migrant-motherhood-in-lebanon">Precarious migrant motherhood in Lebanon </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sophie-giscard-destaing/where-is-gender-sensitive-humanitarian-response-to-protecting-women-refugees"> UN CSW: ending impunity for gender-based crimes against women refugees </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/i-shall-leave-as-my-city-turns-to-dust-queens-of-syria-and-women-in-war">I shall leave as my city turns to dust: Queens of Syria and women in war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-chatty/aid-crisis-for-syrian-refugees">The aid crisis for Syrian refugees</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis/syrian-women-refugees-out-of-shadows">Syrian women refugees: out of the shadows</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/chlo%C3%A9-lewis/invisible-migrant-man-questioning-gender-privileges">The invisible migrant man: questioning gender privileges </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"> Germany </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </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 Syria Germany Civil society 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick gendered migration gender 50.50 newsletter Martina Sabra Sabine Damir-Geilsdorf Mon, 30 Jan 2017 10:31:50 +0000 Sabine Damir-Geilsdorf and Martina Sabra 108053 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump's slap in the face of Lady Liberty https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Will women be turned away from the UN Commission on the Status of Women, to be held in March, in New York? The world's global institutions must fight the 'Muslim Ban', starting with the United Nations.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>&nbsp;<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-29917706(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-29917706(1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Crowds protest Trump's Muslim travel ban across US airports. Image: Miami Herald/TNS/ABACA ABACA/PA Images</span></span></span></strong></p> <p>On November 9th&nbsp;as the dust settled and we took in the Republican victory in the US elections, I hugged my daughter and told her, “WE will be ok. WE will be safe.” I reminded her that as a child I had lived through the Iranian revolution, where we had seen our lives upended.&nbsp; I insisted that those events – travel bans, arrests, families separated, assets frozen - would not take place in America, regardless of the rhetoric against Muslims or citizens of Muslim majority countries. &nbsp;In conversations with friends and family, who were anxious, we deployed dark humor but we did not overdo it.&nbsp; Rightly so, our sympathy lay with the undocumented women, men and children, who’d be at the mercy of the new sheriff in town.&nbsp; Compared to them, we were and are the lucky ones.&nbsp; Or so I thought. </p> <p>At 4.30 pm on January 26, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that effectively bans the citizens of seven countries from visiting the United States.&nbsp; Iranians, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis, Somalis and Sudanese who wish to travel to the US, regardless of whether they are refugees fleeing war and terror, students bringing their brilliance and talent to US universities, tourists wishing to spend their hard earned cash in the US, or parents, lovers, siblings and children hoping to visit their US based relatives, are barred.&nbsp; As they arrived at airports in the US, chaos ensued. People were arrested, interrogated, had their social media sites checked and some were deported. &nbsp;An Iraqi interpreter for the US army was cuffed for 17 hours.&nbsp; Elderly women in wheelchairs and young children were in the mix along with doctors and scientists. The US officials and Trump supporters claimed this is done for national security, but politics of the extreme right is driving this agenda. </p> <p>The initial statement was broad enough that it also dragged Green Card holders, i.e. legal permanent residents of the US into its draconian net. Even nationals of those seven countries, with other citizenship could be barred. &nbsp;For a while the silence of the UK government and others was simply deafening. Then Prime Minister Trudeau – Captain Canada – came out strongly supporting his dual citizens. Angela Merkel followed and Boris Johnson finally stated that the vast majority of UK citizens who were nationals of these seven countries were also exempt. But as of Sunday night, the US Department of Homeland Security has stated, while Green card holders would have right of entry they could be subject to ‘case-by-case’ determination.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>The outcry against this EO has been loud, proud, spontaneous and so very humane spilling out in airports across the country. The weekend’s heroes were the lawyers and judges who came out in droves and fought heroically for seemingly small but life-changing victories. They proved that the separation of powers and rule of law that are the foundations of democracy, do work.&nbsp; Judges across the country chastised the government for lacking legal grounds for barring entry to visa holders and legal residents.&nbsp; But they are small victories, as hundreds of people remain in detention. </p> <p>These events touch many of us directly as we have childhood memories of flight from revolution, war or dictatorship to new lives in the United States and Europe.&nbsp; The memory of upheaval and the fear of uncertainty may be burrowed deep in our psyches but it is never erased. Yet on election night when the Republican victory was announced, none of us imagined that those fears could be inflamed again here in the United States, where we live as legal residents or citizens.&nbsp; I did not imagine the possibility of ever again leaving my home for a 10-day trip and not being able to return for seven years, as happened when I was an 11 year old in Tehran.&nbsp; Yet these past few days that thought has crossed my mind.&nbsp; It is so unimaginable to consider packing up my home, that I dose it with humor, wondering who would water my plants and whether my children – who luckily are US citizens – would remember to take Myrtle our turtle back to their father’s home. &nbsp;</p> <p>The very thought of banning people from the United States is an anathema to the very essence and identity of this country.&nbsp; The beauty, exceptionalism and greatness of America compared to other countries, has always been its willingness to embrace and celebrate diversity and pluralism. European countries have democracy and liberty. They also have better education, infrastructure and health care.&nbsp; But they falter in their ability to fully embrace the multiculturalism that is the new norm of our world.&nbsp; America was formed and thrived on that very idea.&nbsp; If this is destroyed, than what is great about America?</p><p>Coming from a president with a history of abuse against women, it is difficult not to see it as a punch in the face for Lady Liberty. </p> <p>When America catches the flu, the world catches pneumonia – as many of my colleagues say. So it was no surprise that this EO implicates so many others – not least the beleaguered but still relevant United Nations.&nbsp; If the visa ban is issued, than the state officials and citizens of these seven countries cannot attend UN meetings in New York.&nbsp; </p> <p>Given that the first to protest profoundly against the age of Trump were America’s women, and that the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is coming up in March, it is perhaps apt, that the first to also test and taste the ban will be women.&nbsp; That Yemenis, Iraqis and Syrians will be among the absentees is even more poignant. They are the invisible and unsung heroes of their countries. Through the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) which I spearhead, we know that these women are the few who dare to work for peace and equality, to provide relief and aid in the midst of war, to envision and work for the betterment of their societies in every way they can.&nbsp; They are perpetually at risk from violent armed movements and predatory governments. </p> <p>From Syria and Yemen to Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan, women are at the literal frontlines of the struggle against Daesh and other extremist groups. They aren’t full of hot air and rabid rhetoric. They’re putting their own lives on the line to pull young men out of the clutches of these groups. Coming to the UN is their opportunity to inspire and show solidarity with each other, and share their expertise with the powerful states of the world.&nbsp; But herein lies the irony: &nbsp;in attempting to come to the UN – home of universal human rights &nbsp;–&nbsp;they will be barred by the extreme radicalism of one member state, that claims their exclusion is a means of preventing violent extremism.&nbsp; If Lewis Caroll were alive, he’d say the bananas are running the republic. &nbsp;</p> <p>We may be cynical about the UN, but now when so much that was built so carefully over years, is being destroyed so quickly, taking the UN for granted is a bad idea. Despite the shenanigans of many governments, the UN, in its very spirit and since its inception, has been about ‘we the people’, and rooted in the principles of the universality of human rights. &nbsp;The conferences where citizens get to meet, overcome prejudices, and convey their thoughts and solutions, are more necessary than ever in our collective history.&nbsp; The participation of women in matters of world peace and security – especially from countries affected by war and violence – is of particular and urgent importance.&nbsp; Even the crusty UN Security Council has acknowledged this, with not only the US, but also Russia and Theresa May’s UK issuing no less than eight resolutions calling for women’s full participation and representation in decision-making pertaining to war and peace.&nbsp; </p> <p>Yet the Trump administration’s EO will mean a unilateral and clearly arbitrary ban against women coming to the UN. It will be flouting the Security Council’s resolutions and thus against international law. &nbsp;Of course Mr. Trump’s coterie are also sharpening their knives against the entire United Nations infrastructure. And those who know the new President say his style of leadership is to create conflict among those around him. When he was a CEO it was among his own staff. Now he is president, it will be to pit one country against the other. </p> <p>António Guterres, the new UN Secretary-General – already much respected and with tremendous responsibility and expectation on his shoulders – has enough on his plate. But neither Guterres nor the UN General Assembly can stand in silence now that the EO is passed.&nbsp; It is an early warning sign of worse things to come, for the US and the world. </p> <p>Here in the US, individually and through our civic organizations, we continue to fight back. We understand that living in America – even as non-citizens –&nbsp;&nbsp;is about standing up for our own rights, while respecting those of others. It is advanced citizenship, like none other, with deep roots in the rule of law.&nbsp; But since January 20th, the rule of bad law is being seeded. We cannot let it take root and become normalized. &nbsp;And when the impact goes beyond the borders of the US, the world’s global institutions need to take a stand.&nbsp;</p><p>So, on behalf of ‘we the peoples’, it is time for the United Nations to also stand against the so-called Muslim Ban, and to do so, before it is too late.</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/soraya-chemaly/under-trump-we-are-all-women">Under Trump, we are all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/sound-trumpet">Sound the Trumpet </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/after-london-womens-march-what-now">After the Women&#039;s March on London: what now? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</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"> United States </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 class="field-item even"> 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 United States Civil society Democracy and government Understanding the rise of Trump 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Gender and the UN UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 People on the Move patriarchy feminism 50.50 newsletter Sanam Naraghi Anderlini Mon, 30 Jan 2017 09:43:21 +0000 Sanam Naraghi Anderlini 108438 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Uganda’s unsung heroes of refugee protection https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/georgia-cole/uganda-s-unsung-heroes-of-refugee-protection <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As responses to refugees and asylum-seekers become a multi-million dollar endeavour globally, everyday acts of kindness continue to keep refugees alive and maintain their dignity, even in the face of death.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/pppppp.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Kampala. Photo: author"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/pppppp.jpg" alt="Kampala. Photo: author" title="Kampala. Photo: author" width="460" height="313" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kampala. Photo: author</span></span></span>T</strong>wice a week, the flight tasked with carrying bodies back to Eritrea departs from Uganda’s Entebbe airport. With tens of thousands of Eritreans in the country’s capital, many in relatively precarious positions, this service is in demand. Six weeks ago, it took a young man, most likely killed in a motorbike accident in the city’s busy streets. The following Thursday, it carried the body of another young Eritrean: Kifilit Yemane*.</span></p> <p>Nobody knows exactly why Kifilit, a healthy 34 year old, died; there was no money available for a post-mortem. He’d complained of feeling ill early in the day and went to rest. Somebody brought him some hot milk which he vomited up, and then he lay down and died. &nbsp;</p> <p>A week before this, I had entered a small sandal shop in Kampala to interview him. His story of why he found his way to Kampala was in <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/eritreans-flee-conscription-and-poverty-adding-to-the-migrant-crisis-in-europe-1445391364">no way exceptional</a>. After defying an order from his manager at the construction firm he had worked at in Eritrea, life had become increasingly hard for him. Recast as a political dissident, he spoke of the security forces slowly honing in. Fearing indefinite imprisonment at best, Kifilit had fled the country.</p> <p>Leaving Eritrea, however, had never been his wish. He had fought in the 1998-2000 <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-36515503">border conflict</a> against Ethiopia, and served in national service with no thoughts of exiting the country for over a decade. His decision to flee arose from what he considered a direct threat to his life, he stressed, not the understandable yearnings for a life beyond the shackles of <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2014/03/national-service-eritrea">indefinite national service</a>. </p> <p>Afraid of what lay in Libya and the Mediterranean, he had travelled to Uganda. This was a land that welcomed refugees, he had been told, allowing them to live, work and move freely. The <a href="http://blogs.worldbank.org/nasikiliza/engendering-hope-ugandas-progressive-policies-on-refugee-management">country’s openness towards refugees</a>, particularly relative to its regional neighbours, has been widely noted. The <a href="http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Office%20of%20the%20Prime%20Minister%20-%20Statement%20following%20the%20verification%20process%20in%20some%20of%20the%20settlements%20-%2013.12.2016.pdf">latest statistics</a> from the Ugandan Government suggest the country may host 865,000 refugees. With a total population of around 40 million, that constitutes over 13 times more refugees per capita than the <a href="http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Refugee-support/Refugee-facts-and-figures">UK</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p>What has been less widely noted, however, is that the government’s much lauded openness appears to come with a price tag for some, leaving the protection of these refugees largely a community affair.</p> <p><strong>Cash-for-status</strong></p> <p>It was only after three homeless months that Kifilit was informed about where and how he could apply for refugee status in Uganda. He had secured lodgings in exchange for helping at a local bar, and the neighbour there took the time to explain to him how the system worked. </p> <p>Several months later, his application was rejected. Unable to source the documents from Eritrea that evidenced crucial parts of his claim, the Ugandan authorities deemed his case ‘not acceptable’. As one staff member at the Ugandan government’s refugee directorate flatly told me, ‘they don’t have reasons for leaving their country’, so how can they expect refugee status? This was used to explain the low recognition rates for Eritreans in Uganda, which the same individual mused could not exceed 10%. Kifilit had appealed against this decision, but was not optimistic.</p> <p>The only other route to refugee status, acknowledged by multiple staff working at the refugee directorate, is a well-timed payment to the right members of staff. $700 – the cheapest going rate for a registered acceptance letter and refugee I.D. card – was, however, well beyond his means. </p> <p>While many of those working with refugees had treated him with respect, he made clear to stress, the business minds of a few have turned the acquisition of a refugee ID card in to a racket for Eritreans. From registering for asylum, through securing an appointment to discuss their claims, to acquiring the status itself, all the Eritreans I spoke to in Uganda had been asked to part with cash. This is in offices peppered with signs reading ‘refugees and asylum seekers are NOT supposed to pay for any service.’ When I called the ‘corruption hotline’ they recommend affected refugees to ring, the phone repeatedly went unanswered.&nbsp; </p> <p>Without family members outside of Eritrea to send him remittances, refugee status – and a secure, legal route to employment &nbsp;– &nbsp;were largely foreclosed to Kifilit. It was nonetheless better to ‘live with hope’, he suggested, than to get another inevitable rejection letter too soon. </p> <p><strong>Communities as ‘the first and last providers of protection’</strong></p> <p>With Uganda’s formal systems failing him, Kifilit had spent his first three years in Kampala surviving off donations from fellow asylum seekers and Ugandans. The first few months had been particularly hard. With no friends or relatives already in the city, and having exhausted his funds moving to Uganda overland from Asmara, he found himself sleeping rough. After three days without food, a Ugandan woman had knowingly placed a bag next to him containing a fresh chapatti.</p> <p>Later on, after some brief periods of casual labour, he had found a job at the shoe shop where we met. His salary there was modest: his employees did not need additional labour, but had seen him struggle to find an income. They had also given him free lodgings in the workshop behind the shop. </p> <p>Kifilit stressed his relief at having finally found some reliable work. Though he had been desperate to begin ‘a real life’, complete with education, a family and a home that was more than a friend’s couch, he was aware that having found any employment without the legal right to work was a blessing. </p> <p>This is especially so in a city like Kampala, where formal unemployment rates – especially of the youth – are high. In 2016, the <a href="http://www.ubos.org/onlinefiles/uploads/ubos/ULFS/ULFS%202015%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf">Ugandan Government estimated</a> that 1 in 6 under 30s were unemployed. Of the working age population with a job, 85% are in informal employment. When a distraught Ugandan man with an amputation above the right elbow interrupted our interview to recount his struggle to pay his daughter’s hospital fees, Kifilit and my Eritrean translator quickly dug around for some shillings. I commented that I was not confident that people would have responded that way at home in Britain. Everybody should be helped to survive today, they said, as then tomorrow, together, you can start the struggle again.</p> <p>When he suddenly died the next day, a few hours after leaving the government’s refugee directorate where he had been helping another Eritrean to process their claim, he left behind no family, no money and no way of confirming his Eritrean citizenship. The assurances of those he had befriended in Kampala, or knew from back in Asmara, were not the documents needed to ensure his legal repatriation to Eritrea. For that, other friends – those with no pressing protection needs of their own – approached the Embassy of his government: a government seen by him as a one-man-show towards which he could only express immense disappointment and anger. </p> <p>Beyond this, $5000 had to be found to cover the costs of his return to Eritrea for burial. While his friends called contacts off his retrieved mobile phone to ask if anyone could donate, his local Church held a collection and wealthy Eritreans anonymously came forward with more sizeable contributions. Even with Christmas approaching, and Eritreans regularly called upon by family members and friends to send through money, it took under a week for this sum to be found. </p> <p>With formal systems of protection increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible, every part of Kifilit’s experience in Uganda was shaped by friends, strangers and local communities who went out of their way to assist and care for him. Whenever he could, he too had tried to reciprocate. While this is clearly not an experience shared by all, with anti-immigration rhetoric periodically surfacing in Ugandan politics, Kifilit’s message had much wider applicability. As responses to refugees and asylum-seekers often become multi-million dollar endeavours, everyday acts of kindness keep thousands alive and guard their dignity, even in the face of death. </p> <p>Towards the end of our interview, I asked Kifilit what would be the best solution to his situation. While many answered that resettlement would be only feasible option for them right now, he instantly replied that if the situation changed, he would return to Eritrea tomorrow. One week later, on a plane from Entebbe and in circumstances not of his choosing, he did. This was due to the unrequited acts of a diverse community in Uganda who clearly believed that charity must start wherever people are forced to make home. In death just as in life, they kept his dreams alive. </p> <p><em>* Kifilit’s name has not been changed. He specified that he did not wish for anonymity and hoped that he might, one day, find his story being useful on the internet. &nbsp;</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/georgia-cole/refugee-or-economic-migrant-join-dots-theresa-may">Refugee or economic migrant? Join the dots Theresa May</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/500-eritreans">500 Eritreans</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/vicki-squire/humanitarian-corridors-beyond-political-gesture">Humanitarian Corridors: beyond political gesture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/selam-kidane/eritrea-generation-in-flight">Eritrea, a generation in flight</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lily-jay/deaths-deportations-and-arrests-violence-against-migrants-in-morocco">Deaths, deportations and arrests: violence against migrants in Morocco</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/bina-fernandez/precarious-migrant-motherhood-in-lebanon">Precarious migrant motherhood in Lebanon </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fernando-betancor/mourning-hymn-of-republic">Mourning hymn of the Republic</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/happy-kinyili/to-meet-nothing-that-wants-you-violence-against-migrants">&quot;To meet nothing that wants you&quot;: violence against migrants </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/leila-ullrich/doing-gender-justice-in-northern-uganda">Doing gender justice in northern Uganda</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lucy-hovil/israel-refugees-not-welcome">Israel: refugees not welcome </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"> Uganda </div> <div class="field-item even"> Eritrea </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 Eritrea Uganda africa 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick Georgia Cole Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:05:51 +0000 Georgia Cole 108045 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Precarious migrant motherhood in Lebanon https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/bina-fernandez/precarious-migrant-motherhood-in-lebanon <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ethiopian migrant domestic workers who give birth to children in Lebanon are caught in a trap between the struggle to bring up a child with no legal status, and the difficulty of exiting the country.</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/lll.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Beirut. Photo: Wikicommons"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/lll.jpg" alt="Beirut. Photo: Wikicommons" title="Beirut. Photo: Wikicommons" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Beirut. Photo: Wikicommons</span></span></span>Rubka* is an Ethiopian migrant worker in Lebanon who is a live-in domestic worker for Tete Mona, an elderly Lebanese woman. Rubka also manages a ‘garderie’ for Tete Mona&nbsp;<span>–</span><span>&nbsp;an unregistered daycare where around 7 Ethiopian migrant women pay Tete Mona USD100 a month for daycare for their children aged between 1 and 6 years. The mothers all live and work locally, and drop their children off in the morning and pick them up as soon as they have finished work. The children are fed their lunch, and spend most of the day watching children’s TV and/or playing with each other in the small space.</span></p><p>It is primarily Rubka who looks after all the children – so she does domestic work and childcare; but this arrangement works for her too, as it allows her to also look after her three-year old son, Yafit (which she would not have been able to do in a ‘regular’ contract job as a domestic worker). Recent changes to laws affecting migrant workers in Lebanon combine racial and gender biases to put women like Rubka and their children in extremely precarious positions.&nbsp;</p><p>Yafit’s father is a Syrian man with whom Rubka had a relationship. Although this man is named as the father on the birth certificate, he was married with other children and soon after Yafit’s birth, he left the country. Yafit is a lively boy whose light-skin and long curly hair make him look Arab, rather than Ethiopian. This resulted in a harrowing encounter with the police. Yafit explains, ‘Once when I was with him on the street, when he was very young, the police stopped me and asked ‘Whose baby is this?’. “He’s mine.” “No, he’s not.” We started to argue. “Where is the paper to prove that you’re the mother?” “What is this paper that you want me to bring?” “So you’re roaming around without papers with someone else’s child? How do we know that you’ve not stolen him?”<em>’</em></p><p>It was only when the police phoned Rubka’s employer who vouched for her that she and Yafit were released. After that, she struggled for two years to get a copy of his birth certificate from the hospital, and to register his birth. While she was able to obtain a copy of his birth certificate, she had difficulties registering his birth, because she was asked for a marriage certificate, which she did not have. Without this registration, and given her irregular status, she understands that she will not be able to get Yafit into school, even with Tete Mona’s support.</p><p>Rubka therefore decided to try to take Yafit and return to Ethiopia; the only course of action she felt open to her was to pay a police a bribe of USD250 to be taken into detention, then deported. She wanted to take Yafit with her to prison, as she feared being separated from him and being deported without him, but she was unsure of whether she would be allowed to, and whether he would be able to survive the gruelling conditions of the detention centre.</p><p>Two weeks later, I heard that Rubka was in the detention centre. Yafit was staying with Tete Mona, who now had another Ethiopian migrant domestic worker (MDW) working for her and the daycare. However, Rubka could be in detention for a while before she can return to Ethiopia with Yafit, as the time it will take to process her case is entirely unpredictable, and contingent on the support of the Ethiopian Embassy in Lebanon. She is hoping that the Ethiopian Embassy will accept her claim that Yafit’s father has left the country, and support&nbsp;<em>laissez passer</em>&nbsp;papers for Yafit, so that he can leave with her once her deportation orders come through.</p><p><strong>Common tales of precarity</strong></p><p>Rubka’s story as a migrant mother in Lebanon is similar to that of many other Ethiopian migrant domestic workers (MDWs) who bear children while they are in Lebanon. Lebanon has been a destination for MDWs since the 1980s, and while initially Sri Lankan women were numerically dominant (to the extent that the word ‘Srilanki’ became almost synonymous with domestic worker), by 2015, there were 73,098 Ethiopian women who constituted 47% of the 154,757 documented MDWs according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.labor.gov.lb/_layouts/MOL_Application/Cur/stat1-2015.pdf">Ministry of Labor, Lebanon</a>.</p><p>The majority of Ethiopian MDWs are young, unmarried women in the sexually active and reproductive age group of 18-30 (unlike MDWs from Asia who often tend to be already married with children before they migrate). There is therefore a greater likelihood of Ethiopian women forming relationships and having children.</p><p>Officially, according to the terms of the Unified Contract signed by MDWs, they are not allowed to marry, become pregnant or have children while in Lebanon, yet there is a sizeable population of women migrants with children who often have ambiguous legal status. According to a representative of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.insanassociation.org/">Insan Association</a>, an estimated 15% of the MDW population have children in Lebanon. The numbers could therefore range between 20,000 and 30,000. The majority of MDW mothers with children in Lebanon have irregular migrant status, which may pre-date their pregnancy, or in some cases, have been propelled by it. Although MDWs are not allowed to register a civil marriage, some couples enter into a religious marriage (usually officiated by an Islamic Sheikh).</p><p>The Lebanese government’s restrictions on MDWs' rights to legally marry and have children has the unintended counter-effect of propelling these women and their children into irregular status and precarious single motherhood. Aida and Emebet are two such mothers who started out on regular contracts as domestic workers. They met and married Sudanese men, but after a few years Aida’s husband was deported and Emebet’s husband died, after which their residence statuses lapsed into irregularity. They live together with their three daughters, and both work part-time jobs as domestic workers, taking turns looking after the children. As Aida describes: ‘We help each other, pay the rent, and look after our children&nbsp;<span>–</span><span>&nbsp;in the morning I take them to school, she brings them back in the afternoon. We have a programme. Helping each other, we live together.</span><em>’</em></p><p>They live a precarious life, with incomes that are barely enough to meet the costs of rent, school fees, and keeping themselves and the girls fed and clothed. They face the constant risks of being arrested, held in detention and deported.</p><p><strong>Degrees of precarity</strong></p><p>The likelihood of single motherhood and the degree of precarity Ethiopian migrant mothers face depends to a great extent on the nationality, marital and migrant status of the men with whom the women have relationships, with four observable trends.</p><p>First, a very small number of Ethiopian women who have married Lebanese men, become Lebanese citizens and are consequently the most secure.</p><p>Second, more commonly, Ethiopian women marry and have children with Sudanese men living and working in Lebanon. Some of these Sudanese men have been successful in their applications to register as asylum seekers with UNHCR; if married to the Ethiopian woman, she and her children are considered his dependents and they are eligible as a family for eventual resettlement in a third country through the UNHCR.</p><p>Third, some migrant worker couples have managed to ‘buy’ their sponsorship papers and regularize their residence status as ‘freelancers’ (although they are technically infracting the law). This is what the husbands of Aida and Emebet did, at least initially. Until 2014, in cases where the father was a documented migrant worker and the couple had marriage documents, their children could be registered for residence permits with the General Directorate of the General Security (GDGS), the administrative body that controls immigration in Lebanon. The renewal of residency permits of children below 4 years old was permitted without cost and after 4 years, the&nbsp;extension of the residency permit was <a href="http://www.insanassociation.org/en/images/Shattered%20Dreams-%20children%20of%20migrants%20in%20Lebanon.pdf">dependent</a> on school enrollment.</p><p>Fourth, and most precarious, are women like Rubka who have entered into relationships with men of different nationalities (Syrian, Egyptian or Sudanese) who are irregular migrants themselves and/or are unwilling to marry them. The children of such relationships often have ambiguous legal status if their father refuses to acknowledge them. The Ethiopian government requires documentation of paternity to register the child as Ethiopian, and requires the permission of the father in order to allow the child to travel out of Lebanon on&nbsp;<em>laissez passer</em>&nbsp;papers. For many such women, the only form of documentation of their child’s existence is a baptism certificate issued by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Lebanon.</p><p>The legal status of children is therefore contingent on the migration status of their parents.</p><p><strong>Registering births</strong></p><p>Migrants in Lebanon are at a disadvantage in registering their children with authorities. A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.insanassociation.org/en/images/Unprotected%20Childhood%20Report%20-%20INSAN.pdf">survey by Insan Association</a>&nbsp;found that while 0% of Lebanese children are not registered, 10% of children of documented migrants and 63% of children of undocumented migrants are not registered. Migrant workers who have children born in Lebanon and manage to keep them in the country (particularly those that are undocumented) have very few alternatives in terms of childcare since they have neither the family networks nor the resources to arrange for their care needs. Migrant mothers in Lebanon usually cannot afford better quality childcare services given their low salaries. Further, as the Insan survey showed, 56.7% of children of documented migrants and 55.2% of children of undocumented migrants do not attend school. This stands in&nbsp;contrast to Lebanese children, <a href="http://www.insanassociation.org/en/images/Unprotected%20Childhood%20Report%20-%20INSAN.pdf">(100%)</a> of whom are reported to be attending school.</p><p>In 2014, in a covert attempt to control what was seen as a burgeoning problem, the GDGS began obstructing the renewal of residence permits of children of migrant workers. Although GDGS did not make public any policy directive regarding non-renewal, civil society organizations noticed that this was systematically happening even when both parents were regular migrants working in Lebanon and had not had previous problems registering their children. Further, in October, 2014 GDGS also attempted to disallow any relationships engaged in by MDWS by requiring employers to ensure that no migrant worker under their sponsorship marries any person whether foreign or Lebanese while on Lebanese territories (GDGS Public Notice No. 1778 dated 10/10/2014).&nbsp;<span>The Ministry of Justice overturned this latter directive in July 2015&nbsp;due to </span><a href="http://www.insanassociation.org/en/images/Shattered%20Dreams-%20children%20of%20migrants%20in%20Lebanon.pdf">lobbying pressure</a><span> from civil society stakeholders and the media.</span></p><p>Although the advocacy of Lebanese civil society actors prevented the deterioration of the already precarious situation of migrant mothers and their children in Lebanon, the situation continues to violate the rights of migrant children under the Child Rights Convention (which Lebanon has ratified), many of whom are, in effect, stateless, and without access to education.&nbsp;<span>Migrant women workers and their children are thus the victims of racist and gender biased immigration rules, forced into informal and dangerous survival strategies and deeper marginality.</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span><em>*All names have been changed in this article to protect anonymity.&nbsp;</em></span></p><p><em><em>This article is based on research conducted by the author with Ethiopian women migrant workers in Lebanon between June and September 2016. </em></em></p><p><em><span>The research was presented at '</span><a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2016/11/families-on-the-move">Families on the Move</a><span>', a conference on migration, gender and family relations, co-organized by UN Women and&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.nyu.edu/">New York University</a><span>,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://sps.nyu.edu/">School of Professional Studies</a><span>,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.scps.nyu.edu/academics/departments/global-affairs.html">Center for Global Affairs</a><span>, to inform UN Women’s upcoming flagship report&nbsp;Progress of the World’s Women: ‘Families in a Changing World’.&nbsp;</span></em></p><p>&nbsp;</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/christina-lomidze/georgian-migrant-mothers-never-to-return-home">Georgian migrant mothers: never to return home?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ramya-ramaswami/why-migrant-mothers-die-in-childbirth-in-uk">Why migrant mothers die in childbirth in the UK </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tracey-reynolds-umut-erel/migrant-mothers-creative-interventions-into-citizenship">Migrant Mothers: creative interventions into citizenship </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sarah-el-richani/lebanese-women-and-full-citizenship-rights-mesh-of-patriarchy-politi">Lebanese women and full citizenship rights: a mesh of patriarchy, politics and confessionalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/victoria-lupton/lebanon%27s-refugees-resisting-hegemony-through-culture">Lebanon&#039;s refugees: resisting hegemony through culture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marissa-begonia/hope-of-migrant">Hope of a migrant</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/pragna-patel/transnational-marriage-abandonment-new-form-of-violence-against-women">Transnational marriage abandonment: A new form of violence against women? </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"> Lebanon </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ethiopia </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 North-Africa West-Asia Ethiopia Lebanon 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick gendered migration gender justice gender 50.50 newsletter Bina Fernandez Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:08:01 +0000 Bina Fernandez 108039 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Deaths, deportations and arrests: violence against migrants in Morocco https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lily-jay/deaths-deportations-and-arrests-violence-against-migrants-in-morocco <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>EU policy is blocking routes to Europe for those suffering from the neocolonial and capitalist exploitation and nurturing of conflicts throughout Africa by western countries.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/th_sdc10158.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Interception of migrants on the Moroccan/Spain border. (Photo: Beating Borders, 2014)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/th_sdc10158.jpg" alt="Interception of migrants on the Moroccan/Spain border. (Photo: Beating Borders, 2014)" title="Interception of migrants on the Moroccan/Spain border. (Photo: Beating Borders, 2014)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Interception of migrants on the Moroccan/Spain border. (Photo: Beating Borders, 2014)</span></span></span>"We are in Morocco</em></p> <p><em>Here, many Blacks have lost their lives</em></p> <p><em>Here, it's Boukhalef</em></p> <p><em>The Moroccans call us </em>azzia<em></em></p> <p><em>They talk about us to scare their children</em></p> <p><em>And when they see us they flee</em></p> <p><em>Oh oh, it hurts us".</em></p> <p>Written by the Senegalese musician and no borders activist living in Tangier, <a href="https://soundcloud.com/xelu-baye-fall">Xelu Baye Fall</a>, these words (translated from Wolof) are written “for all the people who have died at the border/For all the people who have died at the fences." The song is about <a href="http://www.h24info.ma/maroc/scandaleux-apres-le-meurtre-des-expulsions-illegales/26906#.VAXyk9Uj2xA.gmail">Charles Paul Alphonse Ndour</a>, a 26 year-old Senegalese man who was killed by Moroccan men in Tangier in August 2014. The lyrics reference the racism and violence experienced daily in Morocco by sub-Saharan Africans. “Azzia”, meaning black-skinned, is a derogatory term used primarily against sub-Saharans, along with the taunt “Ebola”.</p> <p>It is crucial to connect the everyday racism experienced by sub-Saharans in Morocco with the overt racism of the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/04/spain-year-no-justice-migrant-deaths">deadly</a> EU border regime: the militarisation of the border as the EU spends millions to build fences (in 2015 Morocco built a fourth <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-migrants-melilla-idUSKCN0RH1QO20150917">razor wire fence and deep trench at</a> the border to Melilla with EU funding), the refusal of a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/alarmphone/ferries-not-frontex-10-points-to-really-end-deaths-of-migrants-at-sea">safe passage</a> to Europe to avoid the deaths of thousands at sea, and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/jackie-long/%27headbutt-bitch%27-serco-guard-yarl%E2%80%99s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">detaining</a> people who do reach Europe in prison-like conditions. It was, after all, the colonial powers of Europe <a href="http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/trans-saharan-migration-north-africa-and-eu-historical-roots-and-current-trends">who were the first to impose borders</a> across the Sahara where there had previously been none, stopping the previous high levels of migration that resulted in the collapse of trans-Saharan trade.</p> <p><strong>The outsourcing of European border control</strong></p> <p>As a key country of transit from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe, Morocco has proven to be the most reliable partner out of all the countries in North Africa for the EU’s strategic policies of closing borders and controlling migration flows into Europe. Hidden behind a proclaimed humanitarian discourse of <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/neighbourhood/countries/morocco/index_en.htm">“supporting good governance and human rights”</a><strong> </strong>– <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/02/10/abused-and-expelled/ill-treatment-sub-saharan-african-migrants-morocco">daily (often violent) raids</a>, the <a href="https://beatingborders.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/after-gourougou-and-boukhalef-destruction-of-migrants-camps-in-oujda/">destruction of migrant camps</a>, <a href="https://melillafronterasur.blogspot.de/">“hot deportations”</a> (the <a href="http://transformations-blog.com/migrant-mobility-the-contested-right-to-europe/">unlawful return</a> of migrants immediately after capture by the Spanish authorities before an asylum claim can be made), and <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/02/10/abused-and-expelled/ill-treatment-sub-saharan-african-migrants-morocco">inhumane deportations</a> to Morocco’s southern borders – are all carried out using money provided by the EU. It difficult to believe that EU member states are concerned for the development of civil society and integration of sub-Saharans in Morocco when they fail to offer adequate care for unaccompanied children within their own countries, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/27/calais-refugee-children-sleeping-rough-demolition-charities-france">as seen in Calais in recent weeks.</a></p> <p>The <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/neighbourhood/countries/morocco/index_en.htm">deals forged</a> between the EU and Morocco represent the neocolonialist outsourcing of border and migration controls from Europe to countries in Africa, whilst the former simultaneously avert their eyes from the human rights violations commited by state authorities – particularly sub-Saharan communities in the context of Morocco. These deals serve as a prototype for similar agreements, often made with dictators – who, <a href="http://www.eco-action.org/dod/no6/shell_nigeria.htm">as Shell has declared</a>, can often provide a “stable environment” in which investments and deals can be more easily brokered. Earlier this year, <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2016/05/europe-s-secret-deal-africa-s-dictators">The New Statesman</a> acquired documents regarding the EU’s secret plans to curtail migration from Africa, which openly acknowledged that they would face “criticism by NGOs and civil society for engaging with repressive governments on migration” including Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia – the former two both being investigated for war crimes by the UN and International Criminal Court.</p> <p>The very recognition of the governments of these countries as “repressive” highlights the EU’s explicit disregard for people migrating who would be classified as refugees under the European Convention of Human Rights. Rather, the EU is attempting to ensure that people suffering from the neocolonial exploitation and nurturing of conflicts throughout Africa by Western countries (Ivory Coast, Sudan, Central Africa, Congo, Libya) and many of Africa’s own repressive governments cannot escape. As noted by <a href="http://newirin.irinnews.org/extras/2015/7/28/morocco-the-forgotten-front-line-of-the-migrant-crisis">one Nigerian migrant</a> living in Morocco, “the Europeans taught it to us”, referring to how colonial European states acted as economic migrants en masse – exploiting and extracting resources and labour from their colonies.</p> <p>The offloading of responsibility onto countries such as Morocco permits people such as Juan José Imbroda, leader of the Spanish Melilla council, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/08/melilla-fences-spain-morocco-migration-europe">to declare:</a> “We’re no longer in the headlines for illegal immigration because it isn’t a problem any more” – while the hospital in <a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/04/21/475079102/migrants-wait-in-a-moroccan-forest-for-a-chance-to-cross-into-europe">Nador</a> received over 742 people in 2014 for injuries sustained during attempts to cross the fences and the <a href="https://melillafronterasur.blogspot.de/">resulting violence</a> from Moroccan and Spanish authorities. <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-06-1121_en.htm">An arrangement</a> made between the EU and Morocco in 2006 – in which Morocco was given €67 million to strengthen its border controls – even allows EU member states to deport sub-Saharan migrants to Morocco rather than their country of origin.</p> <p><strong>Stuck in Morocco</strong></p> <p>Once in Morocco, people seeking to migrate find themselves trapped: they are neither able to enter Europe nor able to return to the country they travelled from. One woman, living in the makeshift camps in <a href="https://clandestinemorocco.wordpress.com/8-boukhalef/">Boukhalef</a> said, “We came here to pass through, not to stay, but we are stuck here…The Moroccans see us like sheep. They do not accept foreigners. There is no work or security for us in this country.”</p> <p>One year after the EU-Morocco Action plan was implemented in 2013 – approving a budget of €150 million for Morocco to create closer ties between the EU and Morocco – the <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/5/13/morocco-sets-unlikely-precedent-in-hosting-sub-saharan-migrants.html">regularisation program</a> was brought in. It lasted for one year from January 2014 and was heralded as an explicitly <a href="https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/05/158617/moroccan-regularization-program-a-gender-approach/">“humanitarian”</a> act by the Moroccan government and media.</p> <p>This masked the fact that the program – offering one year residency status – was selective and limited for sub-Saharan migrants. Many sub-Saharans were unable to prove that they had lived in Morocco for five years – the primary qualification needed – as it is common practice for police to stop people perceived to be sub-Saharan and strip them of their documents and deport them, in an attempt to give the impression that they are stemming migration flows into Europe. <a href="https://beatingborders.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/sole-survivor-of-tragic-sea-crossing-blames-police-for-deaths-of-migrants/">Moroccan authorities are paid per migrant they “catch” by the EU</a>, allegedly to pay for the costs of “adequate” detention conditions, and deportation to one’s country of origin.</p> <p>However, many sub-Saharans living in Tangier – including those with regularisation status – describe the experience of being picked up by Moroccan officials who drive them to the sea, take details and a photo of them being caught “attempting to cross” to Europe as proof, and then drive them back to Tangier or further south within Morocco. The Moroccan police are accused of individually pocketing the money from the EU, raising questions about whether the EU should continue to fund these corrupt practices.</p> <p>Due to the regularisation program, a small number of sub-Saharan migrants are now theoretically able to access education, health and vocational support. However, daily structural and institutional discrimination and racism persist: many are still subjected to arbitrary arrests (regardless of whether they posses documents legalising their stay in Morocco or not) and are regularly denied employment opportunities or rental accommodation. <a href="http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/are-moroccan-gangsters-being-paid-to-beat-up-african-migrants-803">Individual and personal racism continued</a>; the fact that Charles Ndour had regularisation status in Morocco didn’t stop him from being attacked and killed.</p> <p>For example, after <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-spain-idUSKBN12V1H5">232 people managed to cross</a> into Ceuta (Spanish territory) on October 31st, Moroccan authorities <a href="https://beatingborders.wordpress.com">responded with mass arrests</a> in Tangier a week later, injuring at least one person and holding over 80 people (all sub-Saharan) overnight in the police station, including people with UNHCR papers and valid passports (having stayed in Morocco for less than three months). 18 people were deported the next morning to Fez, a four-and-a-half hour drive away. Often the police take people’s phone, documents and any money the person has with them, so that when they are kicked out after a deportation they have none of their belongings with them or means to get back to Tangier.</p> <p>At the same time, the regularisation program has made it easier for the Moroccan government to monitor and persecute its citizens – as echoed in the words of Charki Draiss of the interior ministry <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/11/morocco-destroys-migrant-camps-melilla-spain-border">who asserted:</a> “We gave them many opportunities, and now if they don’t want to stay, Morocco will have to apply the law for the sake of security”. For these reasons, many who received the year-long residents card still want to reach Europe.</p> <p><strong>Arrests and deportations in the forests</strong></p> <p>Regular violations of human rights have carried on after the program. Early in February 2015, the Moroccan authorities <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/11/morocco-destroys-migrant-camps-melilla-spain-border">ambushed</a> migrant camps near the border to Mellila, <a href="https://vimeo.com/119286555">destroying and burning their camp and belongings</a>, and detaining over 1200 people including children. Three days later, raids, arrests and the total destruction of camps took place in numerous forests around Nador. Afterwards, many moved to forests further afield, and the Moroccan authorities continue to come and destroy the camps – where people live without access to drinking water or proper shelter – arresting and deporting people they find. Small material donations such as clothes or food, sent by supporters, are often intercepted and destroyed by police.</p> <p>As a result of these months of physical attacks and psychological terror, people living in the forests remain in a constant state of anxiety. One woman, living in a camp around Tangier said: “We live in the forest as if we were dead people… they treat us like animals… you cannot even sleep. Even if you rent an apartment, you have no security, then can come at any instant, break the door, burn your things, put you outside… it is total insecurity, especially for us, the women.”</p> <p>The developing European border regime – assisted by migration deterrence agency Frontex<strong> </strong>– demonstrates the active awareness with which the EU and its member states ensure that people cannot reach Europe or <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/2016-mediterranean-refugee-deaths-hit-record-3800-161026162734784.html">die trying</a>. But, regardless of how many new barriers are erected or border guards employed, <a href="https://www.youcaring.com/no-borders-morocco-675203#goto-fundraiser-details">resistance and the struggle for freedom of movement for everyone will continue.</a> People in Morocco dreaming of Europe are not going back; <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-spain-idUSKBN12V1H5">people continue to cross borders daily</a>. The increasing awareness with which Europe reinforces its borders is only resulting in <a href="https://beatingborders.wordpress.com/category/english/deaths-on-the-borders/">more fatalities</a> – deaths that lie in the hands of the EU and its member states.</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/vicki-squire/humanitarian-corridors-beyond-political-gesture">Humanitarian Corridors: beyond political gesture</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="/north-africa-west-asia/salma-refass/2016-moroccan-elections-past-never-happened">2016 Moroccan elections: the past never happened</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jane-freedman-vasiliki-touhouliotis/fleeing-europe"> Fleeing Europe?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <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 even"> <a href="/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">Lampedusa: red letter days</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sadaf-rasheed/at-border"> The human search for a home</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/emmanuel-blanchard/eu-forcing-politics-of-inhospitality-on-its-neighbours"> The EU and its neighbours: enforcing the politics of inhospitality </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> </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"> Morocco </div> <div class="field-item even"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ceuta </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 class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <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 Ceuta Spain Morocco Civil society Conflict International politics 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Lily Jay Mon, 12 Dec 2016 10:05:10 +0000 Lily Jay 107578 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Borderlands: words against walls https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mariangela-palladino-agnes-woolley/borderlands-words-against-walls <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Both material and figurative walls are shaping our present. Now is the time for the arts and humanities to intervene with critical reflection and compassion into spaces of ‘crisis’<em>.&nbsp;</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture1_6.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Pebble poetry. Photo: Agnes Woolley"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture1_6.png" alt="Pebble poetry. Photo: Agnes Woolley" title="Pebble poetry. Photo: Agnes Woolley" width="240" height="361" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pebble poetry. Photo: Agnes Woolley</span></span></span>The turmoil surrounding the presidential election in America has shaken the world: fear, terror, uncertainty and despair are some of the feelings generated by this new political turn, or what Cornel West has called a ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/17/american-neoliberalism-cornel-west-2016-election">catastrophe</a>’. Significantly, we are <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/11/09/27-years-after-the-berlin-wall-fell-europe-wakes-up-to-a-president-elect-promising-one-of-his-own/">reminded</a> that ‘27 years after the Berlin Wall fell, Europe wakes up to a U.S. president-elect promising one of his own’. </p><p>Yet, another wall has already been erected in Calais, allegedly to<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/20/work-calais-wall-refugees-lorries-uk"> ‘stop refugees trying to board lorries to UK</a>’, while the Calais jungle in France has been shut down and evacuated, leaving many destitute and numerous unaccompanied children in limbo. As we witness the triumph of populism, racism and bigotry translated into a proliferation of frontiers and divisions, Gloria Anzaldúa’s <a href="https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Borderlands/La%20Frontera:%20The%20New%20Mestiza&amp;item_type=topic">words </a>from nearly three decades ago painfully resonate with our present times, which seem deaf to the harrowing cry of history: ‘the US-Mexican border <em>es una herida abierta </em>(an open wound) where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. […] Tension grips the inhabitants of the borderlands like a virus. Ambivalence and unrest reside there and death is no stranger’. The wall promised by Trump announces a curb on migration which will exponentially exacerbate already adverse and violent international migration politics and practices and, ultimately, disseminate fear. </p> <p>Nobel laurate Toni Morrison’s reflections in the <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/11/21/aftermath-sixteen-writers-on-trumps-america#morrison">New Yorker</a> on this new political turn talk precisely of fear: ‘So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenceless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble’. Yet <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/no-place-self-pity-no-room-fear/">Morrison elsewhere reminds us</a> that while the ‘world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art’. In times of war and conflicts, the arts and humanities have played a vital role in enabling the healing process amongst communities, cultures and societies. As Gayatri Spivak says, the humanities <a href="https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/critical-intimacy-interview-gayatri-chakravorty-spivak/#!">‘are the healthcare system of cultures</a>’ and our work acquires an even more meaningful role in these times.</p> <p>Are we living through a period of crisis? It’s a term that has been used ubiquitously to describe current levels of migration and displacement. But what is the nature of the crisis we, in the West, are facing? Perhaps what’s going on is not so much a ‘refugee crisis’, but a crisis of values: a critical moment in our understanding of what we value as a society. This crisis of values has immobilised nation-states and intergovernmental bodies whose responses to current levels of migration in and around Europe’s borders has been increased militarisation and border controls, shady refugee exchange deals, and a reluctance to welcome refugees. <a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9781509512164">Zygmunt Bauman</a> has called this a ‘crisis of humanity’ in his recent commentary <em>Strangers at Our Door.</em></p> <p>So, how can the arts and humanities help us in a crisis? Political theorist <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8079.html">Wendy Brown</a> makes the case for the importance of criticism and critical thinking at times of crisis. She notes the tendency to divide theory from practice by dismissing theorising as unnecessary at times of crisis. People say: “now’s not the time for theorising; we need action”. But, she says, the original Greek term – <em>Krisis</em> – describes a moment when urgent deliberation is required, when critique itself is urgent, or, from the same root ‘critical’. This sense still persists in medicine, when we say someone is in a ‘critical condition’. We also talk about a time being a ‘critical moment’. This sense of critical decision-making also extends to refugees themselves and the critical, often life-threatening, decisions they are making daily. Now, is perhaps a critical moment – one where urgent deliberation about Europe’s approach to refugees is required.</p> <p><a href="https://respondingtocrisis.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/sign-up-for-our-first-workshop/">The inaugural event of the network</a> engaged with the issue of ‘crisis’ and raised a number of other important questions: How can we enable productive collaborations on the issue of forced migration?; Who are the intended audiences of the artistic practices by or about refugees?; How can we create a third space for dialogue about refugees that is not political or personal, but <em>social</em>?</p> <p>Our aim was to share knowledge, skills and experience in the area of forced migration and we heard from academics, arts practitioners, and those who work in the voluntary sector. We gained valuable context in the form of the historical legacy of colonialism from Roger Bromley, who argued that a sense of history is a vital component of our response to crisis, and Neelam Srivastava raised important questions about contemporary and historical practices of commemoration for refugees, showing a clip from Dagmawi Yimer’s 2013 film <a href="https://vimeo.com/114343040"><em>Asmat/Names</em></a>. Taking us into the mechanics of seeking asylum, Anthony Good and <a href="http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/">Carolina Albuerne</a> spoke from their research and practice with asylum claimants, exposing the inadequacies of current systems for applying for asylum and raising crucial questions like: how can we get better at facilitating refugees to speak for themselves? What constitutes self-representation? And how can we be better advocates with a sense of our own positioning? Kristin Shirling, who has been working with <a href="http://goodchance.org.uk/">Good Chance</a> theatre in the Calais ‘Jungle’, voiced her strong support for the role of the arts in situations of crisis, arguing that when one is dehumanised, a place to ‘be a human being’ is vitally important. <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/">Detention Action’s</a> Jerome Phelps’s discussion of the spatialisation of power worked across scholarly and practice-based approaches to forced migration by grounding his comments in the campaign against the UK Government’s detention estate.</p> <p>An evening of poetry and film at Keele Hall (which, incidentally, had a brief incarnation as a refugee camp during WWII) forged connections between the arts and the ideas and questions that had arisen during the day. We heard from poets <a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/james-sheard/1016642/">James Sheard</a>, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/guardians-of-culture-tradition-and-stability-of-home">Saradha Soobrayen</a> and <a href="http://www.shearsman.com/browse-poetry-books-by-author-Robert-Hampson">Robert Hampson</a> and the audience were encouraged to participate through ‘Pebble Poetry’. Pebbles inscribed with words, phrases and thoughts from participants enabled mutual sharing and reflection on the meaning of welcome, arrival and displacement. Poetry was a means to collectively address the challenges of our present and to think about how our world is offering, or failing to offer, ‘refuge’. The pebbles will travel from Keele to Naples in Italy and to London – our next scheduled events – ultimately building a shore to safety and offering a welcome written in stone.</p> <p>Our project is fuelled by a renewed energy in these increasingly challenging times. As <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/no-place-self-pity-no-room-fear/">Toni Morrison</a> insists: ‘this is&nbsp;<em>precisely</em>&nbsp;the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal’.</p><p><em>Read <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/guardians-of-culture-tradition-and-stability-of-home">e</a><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/guardians-of-culture-tradition-and-stability-of-home">xtract</a> from&nbsp;‘Sounds Like Root Shock’: a poetic inquiry into the depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago by&nbsp;Saradha Soobrayen.</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/agnes-woolley/arts-and-humanities-tackling-challenges-of-mass-displacement"> The arts and humanities: tackling the challenges of mass displacement</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/guardians-of-culture-tradition-and-stability-of-home">The depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago: guardians of culture, tradition and the stability of the home</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-charlotte-eagar-georgina-paget/trojan-women-in-twenty-first-century-women-in-wa">Trojan Women in the twenty first century: women in war from Euripides to Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/victoria-lupton/lebanon%27s-refugees-resisting-hegemony-through-culture">Lebanon&#039;s refugees: resisting hegemony through culture</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</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/jennifer-allsopp/philosophies-of-migration">Philosophies of migration</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marissa-begonia/hope-of-migrant">Hope of a migrant</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/theresa-may-and-love-police">Theresa May and the love police </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/migrationsreconstructing-britishness-in-art">Migrations:reconstructing &#039;Britishness&#039; in art</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 class="field-item even"> Ideas </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 Civil society Ideas Forced Migration and the Humanities 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Agnes Woolley Mariangela Palladino Mon, 12 Dec 2016 09:19:01 +0000 Mariangela Palladino and Agnes Woolley 107575 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Syrian women migrants in Turkey face many forms of violence - sexual harassment, forced and early marriage, polygamy and trafficking for sexual exploitation. The perpetrators include soldiers, border officers and migration officers.</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/501857/YaseminPic1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/YaseminPic1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Syrian refugees' camp in Cappadocia, Turkey. Image: Fabio Sola Penna / Flickr</span></span></span></p><p>There are three million registered migrants in Turkey, 90% are from Syria of whom one and a half million are women. Interviews with migrant women reveal that many are exposed to sexual harassment and assault during war, migration and resettlement processes, with the perpetrators including soldiers, border officers and migration officers. Turkish NGO’s have collected women’s testimonies, some of which are translated for this piece, such as <a href="https://www.evrensel.net/haber/265948/multeci-kadinlar-savas-en-cok-kadinlar-icin-zor">this one</a>, given by a 27 year old woman who came to Turkey two years ago with her husband and children: </p> <p><span class="blockquote-new">“The ISIS members used the women as slavery. They came to my neighbours’ door and said ‘Your daughter is beautiful; you must give her to us.’ They cut her husband’s head. My neighbour was forced to give her daughter to them because they are frightened to death. Then she came to us. She had been scared and looked crazy.”</span> </p> <p>A woman who lives in a camp in Turkey gave this <a href="http://www.milliyet.com.tr/suriyeli-kadina-tecavuz-etti-gundem-1890011/">account</a>:</p><p><span class="blockquote-new">“We were living a camp with my husband. I was working as a cleaner with one of my Syrian friends. She took me away to a field and she started to take off her clothes. I was scared. At that moment; a soldier’s car stopped in front of us and asked us ‘What are you doing?’. I started to cry. He said the other soldiers ‘go’, called me and took my identity card and started to say ‘Your eyes are beautiful.’ Then he threatened me: ‘I take possession of (Turkish ‘<em>genel’</em>) your identity card. If you report this, I could say you are a prostitute and they send you to Syria again.’ I was scared and didn’t say anything to anybody. He called me the next day in order to give my identity card. Then he took away me to a house and raped me. After that day, he threatened me again. He wanted me to have sexual intercourse with his friends too. Due to the fact that I was afraid of my husband, I didn’t speak. Whenever my husband asked questions about me, I said I was sick. It continued for 20 days. My psychological problems started and I attempted suicide. At last, I reported the event, but no one took action. I told everything to the authorities, but they only sent me to another camp.”</span> </p> <p>Without an identity card, women cannot access services. They cannot report sexual harassment, go to the police, or even go to hospital. If they try, the services don’t take any action, they take them away them to migrant offices first. </p> <p>Whilst Turkey has adapted international law into national law to offer some protection, there are major implementation gaps. Activists struggle with discrimination, racism and patriarchal values which mean that state agencies fail to fulfil their duty to protect against and investigate cases of violence. The Ministry of Family and Social Policies requires that shelters only work with women where the violence has taken place within Turkey. However, many women leave their countries due to violence, and are in need of accommodation when they arrive.&nbsp; They currently cannot access shelters, most of which in Turkey are run by the state.&nbsp; For the migrant women who are accepted, they can face discrimination and racism from other women (Turkish nationals) living in shelters, and their children are shunned. &nbsp;Women talk about shelter staff ignoring the abuse and choosing not to intervene.</p><p>Many shelter staff, police officers, and other officials are not trained in migration law, resulting in &nbsp;violations of the human rights of migrant women. Turkey is a party to the İstanbul Convention, but has failed to fulfil a number of its requirements, including training for professionals to ensure women’s right to protection from violence is realised.&nbsp; For example, in all legal procedures there should be access to interpreters, but the absence of them, especially in police stations and women’s shelters, limits access to justice.&nbsp; NGOs try to fill the gaps, but this is a state responsibility. </p> <p>Women migrants living in Turkey face discrimination and many forms of violence: sexual harassment; forced and early marriage; polygamy; trafficking for sexual exploitation.&nbsp; This is seen in this <a href="http://istanbul.mazlumder.org/webimage/files/The%20Report%20on%20Syrian%20Women%20Refugees(1).pdf">account</a> of sexual harassment given by a 16 year old young women living in Izmir: </p> <p class="blockquote-new">“They treat Syrian girls as if they are cheap goods. They look at them with an evil eye. At work, our boss said to one of my Syrian friends, ‘Would you like to marry my son? Why are you working in this job? Come and be a housewife.’&nbsp; My friend didn’t accept this and so he offered one thousand Turkish Liras to my friend in order to marry his son.” </p> <p>Speaking about provinces where refugees live densely, Batman Bar Women's Rights Commission Member Lawyer Secil Erpolat <a href="http://istanbul.mazlumder.org/webimage/files/The%20Report%20on%20Syrian%20Women%20Refugees(1).pdf">states</a>: </p> <p>“…a new prostitution sector has been formed and Syrian refugees are abused in this sector. According to the information we got from the prosecution, girls are forced into prostitution in exchange for 20-25 TL (6-8 Euros). In some cases they don’t give any money; instead they give food or any other helping material.” </p> <p>Only one in 5 women are in paid employment in Turkey. Combined with this, language issues and gender based discrimination means that few women refugees can find paid work other than low paid cleaning or child care outside the formal economy, increasing their dependency on men. Women who migrate with their children face further barriers, as they cannot combine child care and employment: this is one of the contexts in which ‘early marriage’ of girls becomes a survival strategy.&nbsp; Marriages under the age of 18 are not recognised in Turkey, they are common among Syrian migrants for young women.&nbsp; Viewing this as a ‘cultural difference’ means that there is limited if any protective intervention. The experiences of NGOs indicate that the authorities ignore official complaints and are not willing to do legal sanctions. Some ‘early marriages’ could be understood as a form human trafficking: in the border provinces, young women are persuaded to come to Turkey with promises of a better life only to find they are forced to either marry a Turkish or Syrian man (possibly as a second or third wife), or forced into prostitution. </p> <p>Whilst there is no statistical data on the scale of sexual harassment among migrant women, NGO’s know it happens to both registered and unregistered women. Control of women within their own community prevents them from learning Turkish and means they remain unaware of their rights to protection from violence, as made clear by this <a href="https://www.evrensel.net/haber/265948/multeci-kadinlar-savas-en-cok-kadinlar-icin-zor">account</a> by a Syrian woman: </p> <p class="blockquote-new">“We shouldn’t go out of the house, we are in the houses all the day. We don’t have any connection with anybody. We don’t know the language. In Turkey, it is the same thing for us, existing or not.” </p> <p>Feminist NGOs in Turkey have undertaken studies and support work with women migrants, but the scale of the problems are so large that this is only a sticking plaster.&nbsp; It is for this reason that they are calling on the Turkish authorities to ensure that women migrants are afforded their rights under the Istanbul Convention: the European convention on Violence Against Women that was finalised in Turkey in 2011.</p><p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em> <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. </a></strong><em>Commissioning Editor: Liz Kelly</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/yakin-erturk-and-jennifer-allsopp/due-diligence-for-womens-human-rights-transgressing-conventio">Due diligence for women&#039;s human rights: transgressing conventional lines </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hudson/gender-lenses-and-refugee-assistance">Gender lenses and refugee assistance</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/setherfree-spectrum-of-solidarity-for-refugee-women">#SetHerFree: a spectrum of solidarity for refugee women</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-chatty/aid-crisis-for-syrian-refugees">The aid crisis for Syrian refugees</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/happy-kinyili/to-meet-nothing-that-wants-you-violence-against-migrants">&quot;To meet nothing that wants you&quot;: violence against migrants </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/tribunal-12-migrants%E2%80%99-rights-abuses-in-europe">Tribunal 12: migrants’ rights abuses in Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/reem-assayyah/we-feel-that-we-found-our-self-after-we-lost-it-in-war">We feel that we found our self after we lost it in the war </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-charlotte-eagar-georgina-paget/trojan-women-in-twenty-first-century-women-in-wa">Trojan Women in the twenty first century: women in war from Euripides to Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/stopping-sexual-violence-in-conflict-gender-politics-in-foreign-policy">Stopping sexual violence in conflict: gender politics in foreign policy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dilar-dirik/erdogan-s-war-on-women">Erdogan&#039;s war on women</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"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </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 Turkey Syria Conflict Continuum of Violence 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick gendered migration gender bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Yasemin Mert Thu, 08 Dec 2016 09:45:33 +0000 Yasemin Mert 107369 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Invisible fathers of immigration detention in the UK https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/melanie-griffiths/invisible-fathers-of-immigration-detention <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The British state has regulated relationships between its citizens and certain foreigners since at least the Colonial era. Today’s border controls continue to police people’s intimate lives and retain sexist and racist assumptions.&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/theverne walkway.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The Verne walkway (Picture: Michael Collins, Right to Remain)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/theverne walkway.jpg" alt="The Verne walkway (Picture: Michael Collins, Right to Remain)" title="The Verne walkway (Picture: Michael Collins, Right to Remain)" width="448" height="332" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Verne walkway (Picture: Michael Collins, Right to Remain)</span></span></span>Lou, who I met one windy afternoon last year, knows all too well the devastation that immigration detention can wreak on one’s family. Lou arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied asylum seeking teenager 15 years ago. Vulnerable and orphaned, life was tough. But then Lou met, fell for and moved in with Sam, a British citizen. After a couple of years, she became pregnant. It was an accident but Lou was delighted when their baby girl, Mary, was born. All this time, Lou’s asylum claim languished at the Home Office. Until, one day the authorities realised that the claim had been refused (but never communicated) years before. To the family’s great distress, Lou was taken away to an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) for removal from the UK, leaving Sam and their daughter behind.</p><p>The length of time that Lou had lived in the UK, coupled with baby Mary’s British nationality, meant that it was always going to be difficult for the Home Office to remove Lou. But this didn’t stop the Home Office trying. And despite the damage being caused to the family, Lou was kept in detention as they tried. The initial wrenching shock of detention eventually gave way to what Lou called the slow “suffocation” of lengthy detention. In the end, Lou spent an incredible&nbsp;<em>four</em>&nbsp;<em>years</em>&nbsp;in immigration detention, separated from Sam and Mary. Mary was just a toddler when Lou was taken, and so almost all her memories of bonding are based in the visits hall of an IRC.</p><p><strong>Parenting from afar</strong></p><p>At first Lou was detained fairly close to the family home, so Sam could visit often, bringing their daughter after nursery. Desperate to be a proper parent despite being separated by detention, Lou lived for these visits, and supplemented them with phone calls, letters and drawings that they sent each other. Lou did manual work at the IRC, despite the pitiful ‘wages’, so as to be able to make a contribution to Mary’s care. After a year, however, Lou was transferred, without explanation, to an IRC far away. The strains of detention rose to be ever greater and the visits now required an overnight hotel stay and became less frequent. Eventually the stress became too much and Sam and Lou’s relationship broke down.</p><p>Now the hurdles of parenting were almost insurmountable. The visits, which took up a lot of time and money, were dependent upon Sam’s goodwill and generosity. And seeing Mary started to bring Lou as much pain and loss as joy. Lou said that the hardest times were hanging up after a telephone conversation and the days after the little girl’s visits. They were so painful that sometimes Lou thought that breaking all contact might be best for them both.</p><p>Lou only got through detention by imagining a future reunited with Mary and finally being able to parent her properly. But they remained separated even when Lou was released from immigration detention. In what Lou considers to be a calculated act of cruelty, the assigned Home Office housing is at the opposite end of the country from Mary. The requirement to remain at this address coupled with obligations to regularly report to the police mean that it’s not possible to travel far. In addition, the tiny amount of money that Lou receives (which in any case is not in cash), will never cover the travel costs. The result is a family that remains splintered, an unhappy little (British) girl, and a parent that is effectively still imprisoned, albeit no longer behind physical walls. It breaks Lou’s heart every time that Mary asks why they still cannot see each other.</p><p><strong>A gender gap?</strong></p><p>Immigration detention causes enormous damage to parents and children. This is true whatever the gender of those involved, and yet the detention of parents is almost only ever discussed in relation to mothers. But like the vast majority of detained parents, Lou is a father.</p><p>The British state has attempted to regulate the relationships between its citizens and (certain) foreigners since the Colonial era, when contact between white British women and colonised men was considered especially problematic and of requiring management. Today, border controls continue to police people’s intimate lives, and they retain (albeit now less explicitly) various gender and ethnicity biases. We see it in the creation of gendered and racialised categories such as ‘immigration detainee’, ‘illegal immigrant’ and ‘foreign criminal’, labels which in rhetoric and reality are disproportionately applied to men (about 85% of immigration detainees in the UK are men, as are 89% of people forcibly removed)&nbsp;and ethnic minorities.</p><p>A mixture of sexism and racism may explain why quite so little recognition is given to these men’s emotional lives. Many speak of their roles as parents and partners being ignored, devalued or disbelieved entirely under suspicion that they were established merely to circumvent immigration controls. When I ask Lou if he thinks he’d be treated differently if he was a mother he exclaims: “Obviously. Obviously. Obviously!” He recognises that mums are also separated from their children by detention, but believes that they tend to be released more quickly than dads, and are more likely to have the emotional trauma recognised and compensated for.</p><p>Lou believes that it is his gender that allowed the system to so easily steal four years of his daughter’s life from him, and that legitimises their continued, pointless separation. He blames his gender for enabling decision-makers to deem his private life sacrificial to the ‘public interest’ of his deportation, and to accuse him of “using this baby to stay in this country”. It is hard to imagine that such a hurtful accusation is put as often to women, nor the argument (also made to Lou) that he could be just as adequate a parent after deportation, parenting by telephone and Skype.</p><p><span><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Cv4pWrGXYAAaeMZ.jpg-large" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Tinsley House detention centre&#039;s visitors&#039; room (Picture: Michael Collins, Right to Remain)"><img src="/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Cv4pWrGXYAAaeMZ.jpg-large" alt="Tinsley House detention centre's visitors' room (Picture: Michael Collins, Right to Remain)" title="Tinsley House detention centre&#039;s visitors&#039; room (Picture: Michael Collins, Right to Remain)" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tinsley House IRC's visitors' room (Picture: Michael Collins, Right to Remain)</span></span></span></span></span></p><p><strong>Detained dads</strong></p><p>My conversation with Lou is part of an ESRC-funded project at the University of Bristol on mixed-citizenship families affected by immigration enforcement. As lead researcher, I have been talking to UK-based men of various nationalities, all of whom have a British or European partner or child, but whose lack of a secure immigration status puts them at risk of forced removal. Although damaging to all, immigration detention has particular implications for people with family members in the UK. Several interviewees had been detained – and therefore put under the extreme stress of threatened removal – during key life events. They missed pregnancies and births, at best only virtually present. One man heard his baby’s first screams over the telephone, whilst another couple communicated throughout the labour using Whatsapp.</p><p>Lou, like many fathers, tried hard to parent his daughter whilst in immigration detention, even after his relationship with her mother ended. But even when contact can be maintained, detention entails an unknown, but often long, period of separation. Travel costs, distance and fear often hinder families from visiting, hurting both children and parents. One NGO employee told me that as detention starts to stretch into the months, the detained men he works with all notice their children regressing and developing psychological problems.</p><p>Unlike with prisons, detained parents are not helped or encouraged to stay in contact with families. Indeed, much of Lou’s detention was at an IRC several hours away from his family. He feels that this was a ploy to stop his family from being able to visit, which brings legal, as well as emotional, repercussions. A paucity of visits is used by decision-makers to suggest that detained men are not performing meaningful family roles, and that thus their family life is no bar to deportation.</p><p><strong>Detained without walls</strong></p><p>As Lou also demonstrates, the impact on families of immigration detention often continues even if a person is released. Men tend to leave detention with stringent conditions such as frequent reporting to the police, evening curfews and electronic tagging. These severely restrict normal life and tie a person to a particular place, which may well be far from their families. Add on a lack of money or right to work, as well as the emotional damage caused by detention, and the hurdles against rekindling family ties can be enormous.</p><p>Lou feels that, as an ex-detainee, the Home Office is deliberately splitting up his family in order to “break him” emotionally, and is “playing games” by using his young daughter as bait to tempt him into breaching his conditions of release. Unfortunately for Lou, his legitimate desire to live near his daughter and contribute financially to her upbringing (so as “to see her smile”), would entail&nbsp;<em>illegitimately</em>&nbsp;‘absconding’ from his accommodation and working illegally. Lou considers it a Home Office tactic: “deprive him! So he’s going to mess up and then we’ll justify detaining him!”</p><p>Cruelly, and as Lou is well aware, his continued separation from Mary also has legal implications. Even if the separation is involuntary and an artefact of the immigration system, it undermines his case to remain in the UK on the basis of his family life. Lou is trapped. In order to follow the Home Office’s rules, Lou must accept the pain of hardly seeing Mary and the guilt of being unable to financially support her. But in so doing, not only is their relationship forever damaged, but Lou knows that the decision-makers will become increasingly unlikely to “accept I’m a genuine father.” He tells me that they will ask him: “When did you last see your daughter? Where’s your evidence?”</p><p><strong>Final words: “I’m not leaving my child here. How can I? Who does that?”</strong></p><p>Lou’s experience of a slow asylum system, of long-term immigration detention, and of continued entrapment after release, not only illustrate the harms that the British immigration system does to families – including British children – but also demonstrates that these harms play out in gendered ways. The immigration system shapes people’s relationships and family identities, including as husbands, boyfriends and fathers. It also judges and values these roles, with the Home Office typically placing far less weight on the ‘husband’ or ‘father’ roles of currently&nbsp;<span>–</span><span>&nbsp;or previously-detained men, than do the men themselves or their loved ones.</span></p><p>And shamelessly, not only does the immigration system prevent these men from being the partners and fathers that they were or wish to be, it then draws on the diminished contact to dispute the value&nbsp;<span>–</span><span>&nbsp;or even very existence&nbsp;</span><span>–</span><span>&nbsp;of the relationships. We, as academics and activists, must be careful not to contribute to these gendered (and racialized and classed) narratives, however well meaning, by perpetuating the myth that in relation to immigration detention, issues of love, parenting and emotion arise only with&nbsp;</span><em>women.</em><span>&nbsp;By emphasising other factors, such as ones of legality or criminality, when discussing detained&nbsp;</span><em>men&nbsp;</em><span>we reproduce the sexist assumptions and constraints of the immigration system. In so doing, we risk dehumanising and flattening the identities of both genders.</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/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 even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/refugee-crisis-demilitarising-masculinities">The refugee crisis: demilitarising masculinities </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/h/animals-or-slaves-memories-of-migrant-detention-centre">Animals or slaves? Memories of a migrant detention centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lea-sitkin-bethan-rogers/immigration-detention-most-unbritish-phenomenon">Immigration detention: a most un-British phenomenon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ben-du-preez/no-end-to-horrors-of-detention">No end to the horrors of detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/setherfree-spectrum-of-solidarity-for-refugee-women">#SetHerFree: a spectrum of solidarity for refugee women</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/eiri-ohtani/immigration-detention-expensive-ineffective-and-unjust">Immigration detention: &quot;expensive, ineffective and unjust&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/melanie-griffiths/immigration-detention-in-media-anarchy-and-ambivalence">Immigration detention in the media: anarchy and ambivalence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/saskia-garner/life-after-detention">Life after detention</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"> UK </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"> Equality </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 UK Democracy and government Equality 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick gendered migration gender 50.50 newsletter Melanie Griffiths Mon, 31 Oct 2016 10:36:14 +0000 Melanie Griffiths 106263 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'Bogus' asylum seekers? The ethics of truth-telling in the asylum system https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/james-souter/bogus-asylum-seekers-ethics-of-truth-telling-in-asylum-system <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The British tabloids and the Home Office are united by their assumption that asylum seekers who lie during their claims are undeserving of protection. Yet this view runs contrary both to widely held moral principle and refugee law. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2007, the British Home Office refused asylum to a Congolese individual who claimed to have been persecuted by militia. In its <a href="http://www.iasuk.org/media/16851/use_of_coi_in_uk_rsd_final_may%202009.pdf">refusal letter</a>, the decision-maker speculatively found that ‘it is not considered credible that after going to the trouble of attacking your family in 2004, the militia would have then allowed you and the rest of your family to reside in peace for two years’. As with many such letters, the Home Office inferred that, because it found the applicant’s testimony to be incredible, they faced no risk on return. Had the case been public at the time, the tabloids would have most probably concluded that this was yet another case of a ‘bogus’ asylum seeker, lying through their teeth to gain access to the British benefits system.</p> <p>This case is just one example of how judgements concerning the honesty of asylum seekers have become highly potent. The notion of the ‘bogus’ asylum seeker has become a familiar refrain by the tabloids and many politicians, casting most refugees as fraudulent ‘economic migrants’. Similarly, as the refusal letter exemplifies, the Home Office has made asylum seekers’ credibility the key question when deciding their claims, giving rise to its well-documented <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/james-souter/asylum-decision-making-in-uk-disbelief-or-denial">culture of disbelief</a> in which decision-makers often presume their deceit from the start. The tabloids and the Home Office are united in one key respect: their assumption that to be dishonest in an asylum claim is to be undeserving of protection. Both effectively assume that if asylum seekers are insincere, they face no risk on return.<strong> </strong></p> <p>This assumption urgently needs to be challenged, not least due to its serious human consequences. The notion of the ‘bogus’ asylum seeker has done a good deal to weaken public support for asylum, heavily restricting the political space for more inclusive policies which would provide greater protection to refugees. At the same time, the culture of disbelief is one stage in an unjust process of exclusion which frequently leads to their destitution and deportation.</p> <p>The assumption also affects employees and volunteers within the refugee sector who, while often motivated by compassion and a sense of injustice, may struggle to prevent it from colouring their view when interacting with asylum seekers they believe may have lied. When recently facilitating a discussion on this topic at the Oxford-based organisation, <a href="http://www.asylum-welcome.org/">Asylum Welcome</a>, I found a real appetite to make sense of the moral issues surrounding truth-telling in the asylum context. </p> <p>Refugee advocates, such as the <a href="http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/practice/basics/facts">Refugee Council</a>, have often pointed out that it is, strictly speaking, impossible to be a ‘bogus’ asylum seeker, as anyone is entitled to apply for asylum under international law, whether or not they are eventually found to be entitled to refugee status. It is less often recognised, however, that the notion that to be dishonest is to be undeserving flows directly from the phrase ‘bogus asylum seeker’ itself, for the word ‘bogus’ can mean both ‘untruthful’ and ‘groundless’. Yet these two notions need to be decoupled, for it is perfectly possible that asylum seekers may lie during their claims while being fully eligible for asylum. Asylum seekers may lie precisely <em>because </em>of their risk on return, not because of its absence.</p> <p>How might this risk lead asylum seekers to lie? As <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/mar/12/politicalbooks.highereducation">Caroline Moorehead</a> has discussed, they may lie because they are ‘terrified that their real story is not powerful enough’ to gain the protection they may badly need. This is a completely legitimate fear in a process that is partly founded on what Chloé Lewis and Azeemah Kola have described in a related context as a ‘<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.org.uk/5050/chlo%25C3%25A9-lewis-azeemah-kola/justice-for-asylum-seekers-in-uk">hierarchy of suffering</a>’, whereby the Home Office often finds return to anything but the most intolerable conditions not to engage the UK’s legal obligations. The threshold for what counts as persecution is set so high that the Home Office could readily concede that asylum seekers will be returned to a dire situation, while concluding that it is just not quite dire enough.</p> <p>Asylum seekers may also be compelled to lie because the only way they can secure protection from serious harm is to fit themselves within restrictive refugee law. Current law privileges some forms of harm, such as persecution, over others, such as material deprivation or lack of vital health care. Although the broader category of <a href="http://www.qualificationdirective.eu/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=150:article-15c&amp;catid=56&amp;Itemid=82">subsidiary protection</a> – which covers some asylum seekers at risk of other forms of serious harm such as the death penalty or torture – has been established in EU law, in practice others still fall through the gaps.</p> <p>Lying may also be a response to asylum seekers’ enforced state of limbo while their claims are being decided, not knowing whether they will be granted asylum or returned to the situation they fled. In this precarious state, without entitlement to work, it is entirely unsurprising that, as <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Human-Cargo-Journey-Among-Refugees/dp/0099492873">Moorehead</a> has also discussed, rumours and ‘good’ stories circulate which might just help to cut short this agonising waiting time.</p> <p>All this strongly suggests that the asylum system itself effectively <em>produces</em> lying. Its hierarchy of suffering, restrictive legal provisions and enforced limbo can all strongly encourage, if not compel, asylum seekers to lie to secure protection. However, the role of the system in generating these lies is ignored and the blame is often placed squarely on the shoulders of the asylum seeker. The accusation of the ‘bogus’ asylum seeker thus becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the shortcomings of the system are displaced onto its victims.</p> <p>This assumption is often expressed, especially by the tabloids, in a highly moralised manner: not only are dishonest asylum seekers ineligible for asylum, but their lies are morally wrong. A good way to test the validity of this judgement is to ask whether it is consistent with wider moral beliefs on lying. What, then, do most of us believe about the ethics of lying? A famous example discussed by the German philosopher, <a href="http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&amp;staticfile=show.php?title=360&amp;chapter=61937&amp;layout=html&amp;Itemid=27">Immanuel Kant</a>, can help to bring our intuitions into focus here.</p> <p>Imagine that a murderer knocks on our door and asks us where a friend, who he is pursuing, is staying. Kant takes the extreme view that to lie to the murderer would be morally wrong, even if that lie would save the friend’s life. We can confidently bet that most people would reject this view, and that they would do so because they believe that lying is morally unjustified <em>unless </em>it is required, or at least understandable, given a desperate or exceptional circumstance.</p> <p>If we apply this principle to the asylum system, then the blanket moral condemnation of all asylum seekers who lie cannot be sustained, for the examples discussed above suggest that some asylum seekers are in precisely the kind of desperate and exceptional circumstance which makes lying either necessary or morally understandable. Necessity knows no law, as the adage goes. The tabloids and the Home Office have simply failed to ask <em>why </em>asylum seekers might lie.</p> <p>This inconsistency between widespread moral belief and our condemnation of asylum seekers who lie also belies a double standard: we effectively hold asylum seekers to higher moral standards than we apply to our fellow citizens. While we acquire membership through the arbitrary fact of birth, asylum seekers are effectively called upon to demonstrate their honesty and moral virtue in order to secure the same status, despite the fact that they may be in pressing need of protection. While most of us accept the general permissibility of lying in extreme circumstances, many of us become rigid Kantians when considering the claims of asylum seekers, expecting the utmost sincerity when they knock on the door of our state. In doing so, we effectively transplant our everyday ethics of truth-telling from the context of our relatively privileged lives to the entirely different scenario facing asylum seekers. We forget that this ethics is something of a luxury.</p> <p>This double standard is highly ironic, as it effectively inverts or distorts legal principles applied to fellow citizens. As <a href="http://www.forcedmigration.org/podcasts/feed.xml">Didier Fassin</a> recently observed, it renders asylum seekers ‘suspect until proven sincere’. Moreover, the standard of proof in asylum law is meant to be <em>lower </em>than that within criminal and civil law, which more often involves fellow citizens. As <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Refugee-International-Law-Guy-Goodwin-Gill/dp/0199207631/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1311865017&amp;sr=1-1">Guy Goodwin-Gill and Jane McAdam</a> have noted, given the extremely high stakes involved for the asylum seeker, all that is required is that there be a ‘reasonable chance’ of persecution on return.</p> <p>None of this is to deny that some lies made by asylum seekers can be morally wrong, and that some asylum seekers who are ineligible for asylum may lie to cover their lack of risk on return. It is only to argue that it is far from necessarily being the case. According to the intuitive view outlined above, if the lie is not the result of a desperate or exceptional circumstance, then it is morally unjustified. If an asylum seeker faces no risk on return and is using the asylum system as a means of gaining residence only, then they are not entitled to asylum and their lies to that end are morally wrong.</p> <p>It is not just on a moral level that the requirement of unfailing honesty is unwarranted, however. It also has little legal basis. The <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html">1951 Refugee Convention</a>, as <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Refugee-International-Law-Guy-Goodwin-Gill/dp/0199207631/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1311865017&amp;sr=1-1">Goodwin-Gill and McAdam</a> have also observed, ‘makes no provision as to character’. Eligibility for refugee status turns on whether the asylum seeker has a well-founded fear of persecution, not whether they are honest. This is also recognised in the <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/publ/PUBL/3d58e13b4.pdf">UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ Handbook</a>, which recognises that ‘untrue statements by themselves are not a reason for refusal of refugee status’.</p> <p>It is true that asylum seekers’ lies, whether justified or not, present a serious difficulty for decision-makers, who must sometimes seek to identify risk on return in spite of, not with the help of, the asylum seeker’s testimony. Yet an improved approach, focused on identifying this risk rather than on spotting falsehoods, would not take the identification of a lie as necessarily fatal to an asylum claim, but rather as a starting-point for further investigation, to be undertaken perhaps with the help of further country of origin information.</p> <p>What is needed above all is a reappraisal of the role of character in asylum. It is often implicitly assumed that shortcomings of character imputed to asylum seekers – who are often characterised as liars, scroungers and cheats – render them undeserving of our protection. Yet the fundamental purpose of asylum is not to help us select morally desirable individuals for membership in our polity, but rather to protect individuals from serious harm. Politicians have often claimed that the refusal of ‘bogus’ applicants is necessary to uphold the integrity of the asylum system. On the contrary, the demand of unwavering honesty has obscured asylum’s fundamentally humanitarian rationale.</p> <p><em>This article was first published on openDemocracy in 2011</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</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/james-souter/asylum-decision-making-in-uk-disbelief-or-denial">Asylum decision-making in the UK: disbelief or denial?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/kjartan-sveinsson/reconnecting-race-equality-and-migration-policy">Reconnecting race equality and migration policy </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/azeemah-kola-chlo-lewis/justice-for-asylum-seekers-in-uk">Justice for asylum seekers in the UK?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/tearing-down-bridge-to-inclusion-for-young-asylum-seekers">Tearing down the bridge to inclusion for young asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/jerome-phelps/fast-track-to-despair">Fast track to despair</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/jerome-phelps/lifer-is-better-than-detainee">&quot;A lifer is better than a detainee&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jerome-phelps/lonely-death-of-jimmy-mubenga">The lonely death of Jimmy Mubenga</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/liz-allcock/theatre-of-inhumanity-damning-portrayal-of-uk-asylum-system">Theatre of Inhumanity: a damning portrayal of the UK asylum system</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/natasha-walter/telling-story-of-how-women-become-asylum-seekers">Telling the story of how women become asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/why-britain-s-refugees-and-asylum-seekers-have-little-to-cheer-about-repl">Why Britain’s refugees and asylum seekers have little to cheer about: a reply to Tim Finch</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Ideas International politics human rights 50.50 People on the Move James Souter Wed, 26 Oct 2016 15:43:27 +0000 James Souter 60643 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Lost childhoods: age disputes in the UK asylum system https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/kamena-dorling/lost-childhoods-age-disputes-in-uk-asylum-system <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Children seeking asylum in the UK are regularly disbelieved about how old they are and can end up facing harmful, protracted disputes. The culture of disbelief so often criticised in the Home Office has now seeped into some local authorities.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>&nbsp;“The only concern held by the assessors was that his shyness and apparent uncomfortable disposition may have been due to his being an adult attempting to hide his physical appearance and project an image of a young person.”</em> (Quote from a local authority age assessment)</p> <p>Two years ago, Coram Children’s Legal Centre <a href="http://www.independentageassessment.co.uk/caselaw/Y%20v%20Hillingdon%202011.pdf">secured a victory</a> in the High Court of Justice of England and Wales for a victim of trafficking, known as ‘Y’. The case centred not on convicting Y’s traffickers of a criminal offence, nor on securing damages for the years of systemic abuse she had experienced having been kept as a domestic slave since the age of five. Instead, the legal battle centred on the decision taken by the local authority, to whom she had turned for support and protection, to dispute her age. </p> <p>Y knew her date of birth, but like many other asylum seekers and victims of trafficking who come from countries that do not register all births, or who have had to destroy their documentation while fleeing to the UK, she had no passport, birth certificate or other documentation to prove how old she was. Rather than accepting her account, the social workers carrying out an assessment of Y concluded that she was over 18, not 16 as she claimed, and moved her into accommodation with adults.&nbsp; That assessment could only be challenged in court, by initiating a judicial review of the local authority’s decision, and by spending three days in a ‘fact-finding’ hearing so that the judge could come to their own view with regard to Y’s age. In the event the judge believed Y and held that she was the age she claimed to be. </p> <p>After the case, Y pledged to ‘make the most of my life’ and went on to study child care at college. But the process of being disbelieved and of having to challenge the local authority legally had taken nearly three years: yet more time wasted on top of the ten years of her childhood she had already lost. Crucially, while the dispute was ongoing, she was also denied the <a href="http://www.childrenslegalcentre.com/index.php?page=faqs_trafficking">protection to which she was entitled as a victim of trafficking</a>, such was the focus on her chronological age rather than her needs and vulnerability.</p> <p>Each year, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tables-for-immigration-statistics-january-to-march-2013">at least one quarter</a> of all unaccompanied children claiming asylum in the UK have their ages disputed. These children are alone, without family, trying to rebuild their lives, often while <a href="http://www.childhoodbereavementnetwork.org.uk/documents/Finalseminarreport_000.pdf">dealing with</a> bereavement, trauma, experiences of exploitation and abuse, and mental health problems. Their age is fundamental both to their access to local authority care and to the proper determination of their asylum, immigration or trafficking case, but these children are regularly disbelieved about how old they are and can end up facing harmful, protracted disputes, during which they frequently do not receive the support and protection to which they are entitled. </p> <p><strong>A long, costly and damaging system</strong></p> <p>Assessing age is <a href="http://www.unicef.org/protection/Age_Assessment_Practices_2010.pdf">extremely difficult</a>. Within different ethnic and national groups there are wide variations in young people’s growth and ages of puberty, and children may look and act older as a result of their experiences in their country of origin. Even when using medical evidence, it is impossible to identify a child’s exact chronological age, and a <a href="http://www.clusterweb.org.uk/UserFiles/KSCB/File/Resources_and_Library/The_Health_of_Refugee_Children_1.pdf">margin of error of up to five years either side</a> applies. While the UK government has <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17567082">focussed</a> on dental x-rays as a means of determination, the simple truth is that there is no magic bullet for establishing precise age. The system that has developed in the UK involves an age assessment conducted by social workers, with the only guidance being the criteria developed through jurisprudence as these assessments have been challenged in the courts. There is no appeal process; as demonstrated in the case of Y, the only way a child can challenge the outcome of the assessment is by judicial review.</p> <p>As a <a href="http://www.childrenslegalcentre.com/index.php?page=happy_birthday?">new report</a> published by Coram Children’s Legal Centre highlights, the age assessment process is long, costly and most importantly damaging to the children involved. In the 35 age dispute cases reviewed for the report, the length of time taken to resolve the issue of the child’s age ranged from ten months to over four years, with many children denied access to support, accommodation and appropriate education during that time.&nbsp; As one judge in a recent age assessment case in the Court of Appeal <a href="http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed104952">stated</a>: ‘These appeals show how disputes as to age assessments can generate prolonged and costly litigation. The expense is bad enough. But even worse is the damage that delay and uncertainty may cause to the interests of children’.</p> <p>The case of ‘H’ highlights the many problems and safeguarding concerns raised by age disputes. Arriving in the UK at aged 16, having suffered years of abuse in Afghanistan, H was assessed to be an adult and dispersed to Home Office accommodation. The social workers had concluded that he looked older than 16 and that he was ‘deliberately trying to make himself appear younger’. Months later, despite concerns raised by a nurse&nbsp; working with H regarding his mental health and her firm belief that he was a child for whom it was dangerous to be housed with adults, H was assessed again to be over 18. Eventually he was detained in an immigration removal centre. Following a court order ordering his release, he was assessed by a third local authority, who found him to be the age he claimed to be.&nbsp; In all it took a year, three assessments, and costly legal action to resolve his case, during which time he was detained for nearly a month. </p> <p><strong>Unnecessary disputes</strong></p> <p>A principal problem is that, instead of accepting the child’s age where there is no reason to doubt it and applying the benefit of the doubt <a href="http://www.seekingsupport.co.uk/images/pdfs/seek_supp_age_disputes_02_12_12.pdf">in line with case law</a>, immigration officials and social care professionals regularly dispute age and put the children through unnecessary age assessments. The <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/james-souter/asylum-decision-making-in-uk-disbelief-or-denial">culture of disbelief</a> so often criticised in the Home Office has seeped into some local authorities, and this, as well as conscious and unconscious attitudes to asylum, immigration and race, affects how assessments are conducted.&nbsp; Many assessments examined for the report showed unsound conclusions frequently based solely on the child’s appearance and demeanour. If one child is aggressive this is deemed to be ‘adult behaviour’; if another child is passive it is used to draw the same conclusion.</p> <p>More worryingly, the focus on protecting the child and determining their needs is often lost entirely, and the risks and potential damage of treating a child as an adult overlooked. While it is important to be vigilant so that adults claiming to be children are not placed in foster care or in schools with younger children, it is equally important to ensure that <em>every</em> child is protected and that children do not end up placed in immigration detention, or at risk of abuse in unsupervised accommodation with adults.</p> <p><strong>A less contentious and distressing process</strong></p> <p>What is needed is a shift in the default position of the Home Office and local authorities so that the age of a child is disputed only when there is clear reason to doubt their account of how old they are or the evidence they provide. Where an assessment is necessary, it should be conducted in a fair and lawful manner, with the views of independent professionals feeding into a holistic, multi-agency assessment process. While supporting migrant children imposes sometimes unwelcome financial burdens on cash-strapped local authorities, the financial burden of protracted legal challenges is significant too. Rather than litigation, an alternative, less distressing resolution process should be considered to reduce the contentiousness and costs of disputes and enable faster resolution. In addition, the Home Office, as a matter of urgency, must take further action to ensure that no unaccompanied child is placed in immigration detention, an ongoing concern <a href="http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/766_new_government_stats_show_children_still_being_detained_our_response">raised</a> by charities such as the Refugee Council.</p> <p>The vulnerabilities of young refugees and migrants can often be forgotten in the race to prioritise immigration control over individual rights. No organisation working with children in the immigration system would deny that there may be occasional cases of people claiming to be younger than they are. Nor can it be ignored that some children will be briefed by smugglers who facilitate their journeys to this country. But these exceptional cases should not shape the whole system for children who do not have proof of their age, and should not excuse a process that does not adequately consider the needs and rights of children within it.</p><p><em>This article was first published in June 2013</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="/shinealight/sarah-campbell/uk-immigration-control-children-in-extreme-distress">UK immigration control: children in extreme distress</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/elizabeth-kennedy/us-immigration-bill-silence-on-deportation-of-children">US immigration bill: silence on the deportation of children </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/nando-sigona/life-in-limbo-for-uk-s-irregular-migrant-children-and-families">Life in limbo for UK’s irregular migrant children and families</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/jerome-phelps/is-there-alternative-to-locking-up-migrants-in-uk">Is there an alternative to locking up migrants in the UK?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/nando-sigona/triple-vulnerability-lives-of-britains-undocumented-migrant-children">Triple vulnerability: the lives of Britain&#039;s undocumented migrant children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/elizabeth-kennedy/usa-dreaming-comprehensive-immigration-reform">USA: DREAMing comprehensive immigration reform</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/uk-border-agencys-long-punitive-campaign-against-children-helped-by-g4s-a">The UK Border Agency&#039;s long, punitive campaign against children (helped by G4S and Serco)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/elizabeth-kennedy/through-hell-to-limbo-in-lorry">Through hell to limbo in a lorry </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/lorena-cotza/who-does-this-world-belong-to-unaccompanied-immigrant-children-in-italy">&quot;Who does this world belong to?&quot; - unaccompanied immigrant children in Italy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/james-souter/asylum-decision-making-in-uk-disbelief-or-denial">Asylum decision-making in the UK: disbelief or denial?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/david-rhys-jones/is-she-victim-or-illegal-immigrant-uk-border-agency-decides">Is she a victim or an illegal immigrant? The UK Border Agency decides</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anna-musgrave/when-nowhere-is-safe">When nowhere is safe</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anna-dixie/double-standards-dispersal-and-pregnant-asylum-seekers-in-britain">Double standards: dispersal and pregnant asylum seekers in Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/natasha-tsangarides/pregnant-detained-and-subjected-to-force-in-uk">Pregnant, detained, and subjected to force in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zubair-gharghasht/afghan-voice-radio-frontline-of-%E2%80%98new%E2%80%99-afghanistan">Afghan Voice Radio: The frontline of a ‘new’ Afghanistan</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nando-sigona/uk-migration-policy-we-need-to-talk-about-citizens">UK migration policy: we need to talk about citizens</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/alice-sachrajda/uk-immigration-policy-more-than-enforcement-issue">UK immigration policy: more than an enforcement issue </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nikandre-kopcke/maz%C3%AD-mas-%E2%80%9Cwith-us%E2%80%9D">Mazí Mas, “with us”</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marissa-begonia/hope-of-migrant">Hope of a migrant</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nath-gbikpi/deconstructing-detention-in-britain">Deconstructing detention in Britain</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"> England </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light England voices from exile institutions & government europe Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter Kamena Dorling Thu, 20 Oct 2016 02:45:33 +0000 Kamena Dorling 73132 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 Small, illegal refugee paradise https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/qusay-loubani/small-illegal-refugee-paradise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hotel <em>“Oniro” </em><em>is</em><em> </em>a better option for a fugitive life away from homelessness and another decent station for some Syrian refugees in Greece.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/a la_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Hotel &quot;Oniro&quot; (Photo: Qusay Loubani)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/a la_0.jpg" alt="" title="Hotel &quot;Oniro&quot; (Photo: Qusay Loubani)" width="240" height="400" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hotel "Oniro" (Photo: Qusay Loubani)</span></span></span>After hundreds of refugees turned their backs on Idomeni, totally disillusioned due to the closed borders and the evacuated wild camp, many of them headed to the Athenian harbour of Piraeus, favouring a place on the dockside, in the unbearable blazing heat of June within the view of the tourist liners to other places. Frankly, many of us had no other place to go to anyway.</p> <p>Since life in a tent near the docks in another wild camp was not to be regarded as a picnic, and since harbours are not built to accommodate fugitives in rising numbers, some Left-wing Greek activists decided to help us look for a solution, and they made a good find: The <em>Oniro</em> hotel. A hotel at a 500 metre distance to the Victoria underground station at the centre of Athens, that has been closed due to tax debts for about four years now.</p> <p>The hotel was “re-opened“ after a five-hour-march starting at the Omonia Square, that was arranged by the Greek activists and naturally accompanied by many refugees. Arriving to our desired destination, both refugees and activists entered the hotel forcibly. Many of us set ourselves up in one of the empty rooms with a big sign of astonishment. We’d had suspicions that the whole action wouldn’t lead to anything at all.</p> <p>The building was somehow abandoned but it had all the necessary simple, but comfortable furniture and each room had its own bath. For every one of us the latter was a dream come true! The long lines at the refugee camps seemed all of a sudden like an almost forgotten nightmare compared to the new situation of total independence by using a bath.</p> <p>About 200 – 250 refugees are staying here now. As in other occupied camps in Athens, the meals for the inhabitants are prepared in the hotel while some of us, supported by Greek and foreign volunteers, take care of getting the supplies. Other volunteers took it upon themselves to bring some smiles and laughs to the faces of the children by gathering them at the hotel lobby and always surprising them with some new games or some new toys.</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/_١٣٤٧٤٩.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Hotel reception (Photo: Qusay Loubani)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/_١٣٤٧٤٩.jpg" alt="Hotel reception (Photo: Qusay Loubani)" title="Hotel reception (Photo: Qusay Loubani)" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hotel reception (Photo: Qusay Loubani)</span></span></span></p><p>“It's the dream itself“, described one of the new Oniro residents regarding his life there. He wishes that “every refugee could somehow experience the same luck we had. Maybe the agony would leave their faces and they would be able to forget what has befallen them since they left the borders. They might even forget their roaming around the country or getting stuck like tortured animals into too crowded camps lacking any sign of humanity, by people who were trying to hush the human cause with a small croissant or a rotten chicken meal.”</p> <p>Gradually, tiny numbers of fugitives seeking a solution to their tramping through the streets of Athens are knocking on <em>Oniro's</em> doors, hoping to get some of the luck that other refugees have had. After the hotel committee of managing activists check out their humanitarian conditions and the reliability of their statements, some of them are allowed to stay in a room or a facility at the hotel, which is prepared to cater for their needs.</p> <p>Noticing that only a small number of us can be met with a kind reception at the <em>Oniro</em> for lack of space, each case is being handled in accordance with certain eligibility criteria designed to decide who can find a place to stay and also <em>how</em> this place is divided among the residents. Three single men for example staying in a big room had to make place for two more single men who were admitted recently. Another big family staying in two small rooms had to leave making place for two smaller families there, but moving to a big single room which became free, as a childless couple had to take a smaller room.</p> <p>People also leave the hotel, on the other hand, because they get their desired residence permit through the resettlement program or because they cause problems in the hotel and/or can't integrate themselves into the environment of our very calm Greek neighbours. Such disturbances are immediately avenged by the hotel committee which is trying by all available means to keep the calmness in the place, to ensure the continuation of the place itself and to avoid all kinds of problems that could endanger the existence of this small, illegal refugee paradise.</p> <p>The list of priorities is clear to see for everyone in the reception hall and the tasks to be carried out are equally assigned to the inhabitants, keeping the place always clean and in a tidy state. A meeting gathering residents and volunteers is also held once a week to discuss basic services like kitchen, pharmacy and the depot of basic supplies in addition to other services that could be provided depending on their availability.</p> <p>The time factor at the <em>Oniro </em>is not that deadly. At the centre of Athens, any resident here can walk around sighting many ancient Greek monuments, visiting some museums or spending some nice time in one of the many parks; all are ideally in reach, unlike for other refugees who are staying in camps in the most remote corners of Greece. Although they too are allowed to leave the camps and travel around, they think twice before they try it through the very fact that the extreme distances makes it a hard and expensive thing to do.</p> <p>"The ambition is not to stay here! The comfort in this place is only temporary! Our first and last goal remains to get out of Greece any way we can and to start a realistic new life”, expresses another resident. He is annoyed about the agonizingly slow resettlement program. Showing us an Arabic article on his smart phone about this program he quotes literally that “the EU is very annoyed about the disharmonious performance of the Greek government concerning the resettlement program, specially not keeping the agreed time lines to relocate the asylum seekers. Athens on the other hand makes the EU accountable for these delays by not handling the situation in a serious manner and not achieving the cofactors needed for a swift registration”.</p> <p>Indeed, this matter is going to last a very long time. Those who want to reunite with their relatives that already live somewhere in Europe have the biggest problem of all. They have to wait up to 12-18 months for a family reunion, if the concerned country approves it at all and the majority of the <em>Oniro</em> residents are waiting for such an answer to their reunion applications.</p> <p>Nevertheless, they handle the circumstances they are facing very logically and this logic, including the help of the volunteers of course, has allowed us to arrange a place to stay for a long period of time without any help from any official authorities. At the very least, we are now staying in a place that is worthy of sheltering and protecting us. Us, the rest of humanity politicians still call their own.</p><p><em>Read Qusay Loubani's previous articles tracking his journey through Europe: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/qusay/idomeni-devil-s-game">Idomeni: a devil's game</a> and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/qusay-loubani/from-border-to-harbour-greek-tragedy-goes-on">From the border to the harbour: the Greek tragecy goes on</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/qusay/idomeni-devil-s-game">Idomeni: a devil’s game </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <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 odd"> <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 even"> <a href="/5050/jane-freedman-vasiliki-touhouliotis/fleeing-europe"> Fleeing Europe?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <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 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/alexandra-embiricos/back-way-to-europe-gambia-s-forgotten-refugees">The back way to Europe: Gambia’s forgotten refugees </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"> 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 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 Athens Greece Civil society International politics europe 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Qusay Loubani Thu, 13 Oct 2016 08:34:06 +0000 Qusay Loubani 105921 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Arresting the mass detention of migrants: ‘Build trust, not walls’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jerome-phelps/arresting-mass-detention-of-migrants-build-trust-not-walls <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The pragmatic development of alternatives to detention with civil society at the fore can help to arrest the slide into the abyss of mass detention of migrants in Europe.&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/justine 25_A_CMYK.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Jelloh, a participant in Detention Action&#039;s alternative to detention project (Detention Action) "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/justine 25_A_CMYK.jpg" alt="Jelloh, a participant in Detention Action's alternative to detention project (Detention Action)" title="Jelloh, a participant in Detention Action&#039;s alternative to detention project (Detention Action) " width="460" height="651" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jelloh, a participant in Detention Action's alternative to detention project (Detention Action)</span></span></span>The possible future shape of immigration detention in Europe lies hidden between the lines of the Commission’s proposals for reform of the Common European Asylum System.&nbsp; At first glance, the proposals seem largely to steer clear of detention.&nbsp; Only gradually does it become clear that they would create a universe of increasingly punitive measures, leading inexorably to the detention of anyone foolhardy enough to still think that they can reach safety in Germany or Sweden by land and sea.</p> <p>The <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-2433_en.htm">Commission’s proposals</a>, which were published in May and July 2016, take the form of a redrafting of the whole of EU asylum law, among other things recasting the Reception Conditions Directive, creating a fourth version of the Dublin Regulation (setting out which Member State is responsible for considering an asylum claim), and converting the directives on asylum procedures and qualification into regulations, which would be directly applicable in law in each state.</p> <p>Detention is rarely mentioned in the proposals.&nbsp; Only the proposed recast Reception Conditions Directive creates a new ground for detention, relating to risk of absconding, which is not on the face of it very different to existing grounds.&nbsp; But not for nothing does the Commission insist that discouraging secondary movement is one of the themes of the reforms.&nbsp; </p> <p>The proposals aim to use the asylum process itself to punish attempts to move on to another country.&nbsp; If you have left Turkey, or another ‘safe country’, you will be sent straight back there, regardless of family ties in an EU state.&nbsp; If that proves impossible, you may be punished with an accelerated asylum process, with less time to obtain evidence and make your case.&nbsp; If the authorities think you plan to travel on to another EU state, they may impose a requirement to live at a designated residence or to report regularly to the authorities.&nbsp; The proposals are clear: if you breach these conditions, and the authorities consider you to be at risk of absconding, you will be detained.</p> <p>There is to be no immediate systematic detention of asylum-seekers, as in the UK’s notorious Detained Fast Track, suspended in 2015 following <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/campaigns/end-the-fast-track-to-despair/legal-challenge">Detention Action’s successful legal challenges</a>.&nbsp; But the results may be much the same in countries on the EU’s external borders. &nbsp;The inadequacy of reception conditions and asylum procedures in countries like Greece and Bulgaria create powerful incentives to try to reach better places to claim asylum.&nbsp; Notwithstanding the Commission’s attempt to assert by fiat that the reformed Common European Asylum System will immediately ‘guarantee’ equal treatment everywhere, these inequalities will not change any time soon.&nbsp; Migrants will continue to try to move on.&nbsp; The result is likely to be detention, potentially on a massive scale.</p> <p>Such an expansion of detention would have profound implications, not just for asylum-seekers but for all irregular migrants in Europe.</p> <p>Nothing will change in the fundamentals of EU law, under which asylum-seekers can only be detained ‘under very clearly defined exceptional circumstances’, and detention of any migrant must be proportionate and necessary, limited to where no less coercive alternatives can be used.&nbsp; What will change &nbsp;if the new proposals are passed is that the exception will become the norm: the desire to get somewhere where you can be safe will be the ‘exceptional’ circumstance that will justify detention – in some countries, potentially for almost everyone.</p> <p>These are, of course, just proposals.&nbsp; They will be controversial, and they will not go through unmodified.&nbsp; Not least, the Visegrad countries of eastern central Europe will object to even the limited provisions for the relocation of asylum-seekers within the EU.&nbsp; But they demonstrate the height of the stakes in the immigration detention debate.</p> <p>How, then, to arrest this slide into the abyss of mass detention?&nbsp; </p> <p>The last year, and in particular the EU – Turkey deal, graphically demonstrates the ineffectiveness of appeals to legality, human rights and ‘European values’.&nbsp; Now that European leaders see the survival of the EU itself as being at stake on the shores of Greece and Italy, principled arguments to the Commission against mass returns to Turkey have proved ineffective.&nbsp; (Fortunately, so far, no more ineffective than the <a href="http://www.ekathimerini.com/209459/article/ekathimerini/news/greece-returns-13-syrian-refugees-to-turkey">attempts to actually enforce such mass returns</a>.)&nbsp; The reformed Common European Asylum System, as it stands, will significantly extend the Commission’s power, potentially preventing for example <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36345990">Greek judges from quibbling</a> whether post-coup Turkey is really such a safe country.&nbsp; If the detention nightmare is to be averted, we need arguments that are not only legally grounded but also politically effective.</p> <p>The most plausible arguments start from alternatives to detention.&nbsp; These are the ‘less coercive measures’, unchallenged at the heart of EU law, which must be considered before detention is used. In theory, they should make it harder for states to justify detention.&nbsp; But the Commission’s reforms reframe them as stepping stones to detention: first, the asylum-seeker is given conditions on their freedom, to report regularly and live in a certain place; then, when they breach those conditions, they can be detained.</p> <p>This misuse of alternatives must be contested.&nbsp; We cannot afford to stop taking about alternatives, as it allows us to use the language of European law and values back at the Commission and Member States.&nbsp; Alternatives need not be set up to fail and provide justifications for detention.&nbsp; The Commission’s proposals highlight the risk that alternatives set up by states can be based on enforcement and mistrust, and route migrants towards detention.&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jerome-phelps/is-there-alternative-to-locking-up-migrants-in-uk">As I have argued previously</a>, there is another strand of alternatives to detention.&nbsp; Usually with the active involvement of civil society, these alternatives are based not on enforcement but on engagement with migrants.&nbsp; They start from the common sense premise that immigration and asylum systems that treat migrants with respect are more likely to be respected by migrants.&nbsp; NGOs, communities and faith groups already have strong trust relationships with migrants, and are in a much better position than states to support them to participate actively in migration procedures where they are.</p> <p>These alternatives can also address the crucial fact that liberty from detention is no liberty at all, if you are destitute on the street, without legal advice, without any effective opportunity to stabilise your situation. They can show governments that it is in their interests to provide decent reception conditions, advice and information, which can incentivise migrants to engage fully with their cases.</p> <p>Such alternatives need the active involvement of civil society, in developing, influencing and implementing projects that can get migrants out of detention, reduce the use of detention, and improve conditions of life in the community.&nbsp; <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/jerome-phelps/eu-must-not-leave-greece-to-solve-migration-crisis">I have described</a> how this is already happening even in the most desperate circumstances in Greece, where small NGOs like <a href="http://metadrasi.org/en/home/">METAdrasi</a> are developing innovative models.</p> <p>Detention Action’s new report, <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Without-Detention.pdf"><em>Without Detention</em></a>, sets out the potentially crucial role that the UK could play in the development of alternatives, from a very different migration context to Greece.&nbsp; The UK is regionally important here because it has been at the forefront of trying to resolve migration control challenges through detention: the largest detention estate in Europe, the only use of detention without time limit.&nbsp; </p> <p>Crucially, the UK Government is finally acknowledging that this approach has not worked; following the critiques of the <a href="https://detentioninquiry.com/">Parliamentary Inquiry</a> and the <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0ahUKEwit_LCc-8XPAhUFLcAKHakBBwAQFggcMAA&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.gov.uk%2Fgovernment%2Fuploads%2Fsystem%2Fuploads%2Fattachment_data%2Ffile%2F490782%2F52532_Shaw_Review_Acces">Shaw Review</a>, the Government has <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Lords/2016-01-14/HLWS462/">promised</a> to reform and reduce the detention system; detention centres are closing.</p> <p>Here, alternatives to detention can be a way to reinforce and accelerate this reform process.&nbsp; If the choice is detention or nothing, decision-makers will tend to choose detention; but if a range of alternatives to detention can be developed, addressing different needs and risks, the Home Office can become more confident in resolving immigration cases in the community.&nbsp; And crucially, in closing more detention centres.&nbsp; Detention Action’s Community Support Project is already showing how this approach can work for even the most complex groups, young ex-offender migrants with barriers to removal.</p> <p>These isolated examples need to become part of a movement of alternatives to detention across the region.&nbsp; Despite the strong words in EU law, committing to engagement-based alternatives is a leap for most governments – the sense that other states in the region are taking the same approach can make it easier.&nbsp; There is <a href="http://idcoalition.org/publication/there-are-alternatives-revised-edition/">growing international momentum</a> towards the development of alternatives, but much more is needed in Europe.</p> <p>The launch two weeks ago of Detention Action’s report demonstrated the beginnings of such momentum: NGOs in the most diverse of national contexts are seeking to develop alternatives.&nbsp; In the profoundly challenging political context of Ukraine, <a href="http://r2p.org.ua/en/">Right to Protection</a> are taking advantage of a new law providing for alternatives for the first time to explore how civil society can make these provisions effective in practice.</p> <p>In Cyprus, <a href="http://www.futureworldscenter.org/index.php">Future Worlds Centre</a> are developing a pilot that could shift an immigration control system that has been very focused on detention, as part of their longer-term advocacy to reduce detention.&nbsp; Significantly, their project would involve little that the organisation does not already do: in common with many community organisations, Future Worlds Centre already provide the individualised case management that is at the heart of the most effective alternatives. </p> <p>Cyprus is an excellent example of how this regional momentum could be developed.&nbsp; It is a small country, with limited numbers of migrants, and only one detention centre.&nbsp; It is at the margins of the migration ‘crisis’, and the political stakes are correspondingly lower.&nbsp; As such, it could much more easily shift towards alternatives than its larger and crisis-ridden neighbours.&nbsp; As an EU Member State, it could become a vital showcase for the effectiveness of alternatives.</p> <p>The examples of the UK, Ukraine and Cyprus demonstrate just how different alternatives will need to be, to address specific political and migration contexts across Europe.&nbsp; But there are common themes: in each case, civil society has the knowhow and dynamism to make alternatives work, both in addressing state priorities and meeting the needs of migrants.&nbsp; </p> <p>In each case, alternatives will fundamentally only succeed if they recognise the perspectives and priorities of migrants themselves. &nbsp;Immigration control based on objectifying migrants as passive objects of control may be doomed to a cycle of ever greater coercion and ever greater resistance. &nbsp;Alternatives to detention offer a way to restructure immigration systems based on recognising migrants as active agents who make their own decisions.&nbsp; </p> <p>As Kasonga, of the Freed Voices group of experts by experience, told the Detention Action launch, the walls of detention are ‘a clear advert for distrust’.&nbsp; He had to wait for two years in detention for a single moment of respect and trust, from the detention centre manager, at the moment of his deepest crisis.&nbsp; Instead, that respect should be routine throughout the immigration system.&nbsp; In Kasonga’s words, alternatives need to ‘build trust, not walls.’</p> <p><em>This article is published as part of ‘</em><a href="http://unlocked.org.uk/"><em>Unlocking Detention’</em></a><em> – an annual ‘virtual’ tour of the UK’s detention estate, which aims to shine a spotlight on one of the gravest civil liberties issues in Britain today. To find out more about how to get involved in this year’s tour, visit www.unlocked.org.uk and follow #Unlocked16 on Twitter.</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="/shinealight/jerome-phelps/is-there-alternative-to-locking-up-migrants-in-uk">Is there an alternative to locking up migrants in the UK?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/h/animals-or-slaves-memories-of-migrant-detention-centre">Animals or slaves? 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EU Democracy and government People Flow 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick Jerome Phelps Wed, 12 Oct 2016 09:45:36 +0000 Jerome Phelps 105909 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The arts and humanities: tackling the challenges of mass displacement https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/agnes-woolley/arts-and-humanities-tackling-challenges-of-mass-displacement <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>When we let people die rather than provide safety, we face not a ‘refugee crisis’ but a crisis of values. The arts help define those values which shape the kinds of societies we want to live in.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>As historians are at pains to point out, the current ‘refugee crisis’ is not without precedent. Though we should be wary of too simplistic historical parallels, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/10/five-history-lessons-in-how-to-deal-with-a-refugee-crisis">‘lessons from history’</a> provide an important longer view on contemporary displacement. But we can also look to the history of art and literature for a politics of recognition of the refugee and asylum seeking figures that populate our smartphone and television screens. Stories of exile, migration and forced displacement are abundant in Western literature and art. As ever, Shakespeare provides an ideal starting point: <em>Twelfth Night </em>begins with a shipwreck on the coast of Ilyria (present day Adriatic coast) and with Viola’s words, ‘What country, friends, is this?’ as she comes ashore; <em>Richard II</em> begins with a scene of banishment as Thomas Mowbray and Henry Bolingbroke are sent into exile on the king’s orders; and <em>King Lear</em>’s ‘unaccommodated man’ has formed the basis for many theorisations of the refugee as a figure of <a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=2003">‘bare life’</a> who exists outside the terms of citizenship and social belonging. In fact, when writing <em>King Lear</em>, Shakespeare was lodging with a Huguenot family in London’s Barbican, so these are not just aesthetic, but also social and political connections.</p> <p>We can, of course, reach even further back to the classical world. Aeschylus’ <em>The Suppliants</em>, written c. 470 BC, is remarkably relevant to today in its narrative of a group of African women who fled forced marriages in Africa to seek asylum and protection in Europe. This was <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2015/07/07/greek-tragedy-aeschylus-migrants-debt/">staged</a> in Sicily in 2015. Euripides’ <em>The Trojan Women</em> (415 BC) set in the aftermath of the Trojan war, has also resonated with many struggling to come to terms with displacement as a result of war and conflict. One project, <a href="http://www.syriatrojanwomen.org/index.html"><em>Queens of Syria</em></a>, which is both a theatre production and documentary, has been especially effective.&nbsp;</p> <p>Canonical works of visual art like J. M. Turner’s <em>Slave Ship</em>, which dramatically portrays forced migration in the form of slavery, reminds us of the temporal and spatial connections between the legacies of colonial history and its current forms. Turner’s young patron, John Ruskin, in his write up of the painting, confined to a footnote the fact that the boat in the painting is a slave ship, <em>Zong</em>, and that slaves are being thrown overboard for insurance purposes. So in his framing of the picture, Ruskin leaves out those very connections that the painting aims to evoke.</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.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Slavers throwing overboard the Dead and Dying - Typhoon coming on (“The Slave Ship”) by J. M. W. Turner 1840 (Wikimedia Commons)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture1.png" alt="Slavers throwing overboard the Dead and Dying - Typhoon coming on (“The Slave Ship”) by J. M. W. Turner 1840 (Wikimedia Commons)" title="Slavers throwing overboard the Dead and Dying - Typhoon coming on (“The Slave Ship”) by J. M. W. Turner 1840 (Wikimedia Commons)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Slavers throwing overboard the Dead and Dying - Typhoon coming on (“The Slave Ship”) by J. M. W. Turner 1840 (Wikimedia Commons)</span></span></span></p><p>These kinds of omissions happen, too, with current visual imagery of migration and refugees. Images of refugees in camps and on European borders are ubiquitous and often deeply shocking. While they have worked to galvanise certain populations into acts of solidarity – in Britain, for example, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/17/thousands-march-in-refugees-welcome-rally-in-london">protests</a> and <a href="http://care4calais.org/">responsive organisations</a> dedicated to supporting those in Calais – there’s a longer, more complicated story not always graspable through these fleeting images. It’s a story not just about the experiences of those who have been forcibly displaced but about the kinds of societies receiving them.</p> <p>In a situation where we’re letting people die rather than providing safe passage, we are facing not so much a ‘refugee crisis’, as a crisis of values. How are our values being recalibrated by our daily confrontation with the spectacle of, and sometimes interaction with, people perishing on European shores? The arts have a vital role to play in shaping how we respond to our current age of mass migration. Cultural and creative responses need to sit alongside the work of advocacy groups, political organisations and governments. Not only can the arts offer a counter narrative able to reaffirm the political and social subjectivity of border crossers, they also explore what’s happening outside the journalistic frame; and help shape, critique and deepen our engagement with forced displacement.</p> <p>Telling stories creatively, through literature or film, was one of the principle ways that Britain’s earlier migrant communities went about reflecting, interrogating and celebrating their stories of migration: its benefits as well as its antagonisms. The same can’t be said for refugees. In order to have a legitimate voice with which to speak up, one must first have a legitimate legal status. As long as refugees are <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/frequently-asked-questions">languishing in detention centres</a> or makeshift camps outside and inside Europe, often lacking the means of self-expression and public engagement, the conversation will continue to be one-sided. This is one of the reasons we struggle to steer the direction of the conversation away from security fears and threats to resources, and towards the value of being a country that welcomes refugees and migrants of all kinds.</p> <p>Of course, refugees and migrants are adept at finding ways to voice their experiences on their own terms, often to great effect. For example, the organization <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/freed-voices">‘Freed Voices’</a> is a group of ‘experts by experience’ who raise awareness about immigration detention in the UK by telling their stories.&nbsp; But the combination of bad journalism and bad law-making means that refugees are often trapped by the polarising opposition between derogatory media depictions on the one hand, and a requirement to testify to authentic experience on the other; to conform to a kind of idealized notion of what it means to be a refugee. The arts can help us think through this binary and provide a more nuanced picture. Take the poetry collective, <a href="http://www.platforma.org.uk/bards-without-borders/"><em>Bards without Borders</em></a>, a group of poets from refugee and migrant backgrounds dedicated to exploring the connection between Shakespeare and migration. Globalising Shakespeare in this way casts new light on a figure often seen as relating exclusively to British culture and identity.</p> <p>What art and literature can do more generally – actively, even – is to draw out the intersecting temporalities and territories that constitute our contemporary moment and seek lines of connection between the varying means we have to understand and shape our responses to displacement and migration. The arts allow us a way into social and political questions and the moral and ethical assumptions that underpin them: questions about humanitarianism as political practice and human<em>ism</em> as a set of values.</p> <p>This is what we aim to achieve with our network ‘Responding to Crisis: Forced migration and The Humanities in the Twenty-first Century’. Through a series of international workshops and events, we will create ‘contact zones’ where artists, activists and academics come together and formulate interventionist models of critical and creative work in response to the unfolding ‘crisis’ in contemporary forced migration. Our idea is to develop new modes of collaborative response which draw on the creative energies of cross-sector working. We aim to impact positively on refugees’ lives by deploying the arts and humanities to transform public attitudes and inform policies.</p> <p>On this strand on openDemocracy, you will find contributions from our network participants – activists, academics, practitioners – on topics arising from our collaborative events over the next year.</p> <p>See <a href="http://www.respondingtocrisis.wordpress.com">www.respondingtocrisis.wordpress.com</a> for more up to date details of the project.</p><p>&nbsp;</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/georgia-cole/refugee-or-economic-migrant-join-dots-theresa-may">Refugee or economic migrant? Join the dots Theresa May</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"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </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 Civil society Conflict Culture Equality Forced Migration and the Humanities 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick gendered migration 50.50 newsletter Mariangela Palladino Agnes Woolley Mon, 03 Oct 2016 08:27:03 +0000 Agnes Woolley and Mariangela Palladino 105708 at https://www.opendemocracy.net