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Ruben Andersson



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Mare Nostrum and migrant deaths: the humanitarian paradox at Europe’s frontiers

Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:59:39 +0000

An industry has grown up around migratory routes in which care and control functions alternately clash and merge with each other. Understanding the humanitarian-policing nexus at play is key to moving beyond the current impasse. The Mediterranean Sea. Screenshot from NASA World WindThis week, it emerged that the UK will not contribute to search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, where more than 3,000 people have died so far this year as they seek European shores. The idea, apparently, is to deter others from embarking on the journey – a proposition as absurd as removing seatbelts in cars to make drivers more risk-averse. “Drown an immigrant to save an immigrant” is now the UK policy, as The Telegraph’s Dan Hodges pithily put it. Maritime “migration management” now reeks with the politics of death. Spool back to a year ago, when the mass drownings outside the Italian island of Lampedusa held out the hope of a new European approach to migration controls. “Never again,” dignitaries promised as they paid their respects in front of the coffins. Italy promptly launched an impressive military sea rescue mission, Mare Nostrum, which has saved thousands in the past year. Amid conflicting reports on whether this Navy mission will be wound down, the EU border agency Frontex is now readying itself for the launch of a much smaller European patrolling operation at sea. This is the context in which the UK has refused to participate in any rescue efforts because of their supposed “pull” effect on refugees and migrants. More controls and less life-saving is yet again peddled as an answer to the “border crisis”. A seeming paradox defines Europe’s response to irregular migration. On the one hand, we hear about violence and distress at the borders; on the other, about humanitarianism and human rights. While Italy’s Navy has mounted difficult rescues over the past year, the Spanish government has added razor wire to the fences of its North African enclave of Melilla and allowed violent pushbacks into Morocco, which it is now seeking to legalise. While the European Commission calls for smoother asylum procedures, member states lock refugees up or keep them stranded indefinitely, as happens in Malta and Spain’s enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. While the EU’s incoming home affairs commissioner, Dimitris Avramopolous, has proposed humanitarian visas, Italy’s EU presidency has launched a Europe-wide crackdown on undocumented migrants. Time and again, any liberal advances are cut short by new draconian measures, motivated by a callous quest for “deterrence” despite the lack of any substantial evidence for its efficacy.    The UK decision to publicly desist from saving lives – a policy filched from Australia in a posturing exercise by a panicky government, as another commentator has noted – has at least allowed some moral outrage to seep back into our sordid migration politics. Echoing earlier calls by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, commentators have in the past days called for more humanitarian action and less callous disregard of human life at sea. Yet in the wake of this important debate, we might now also be able to probe further. If we do so, we will see that liberal and securitarian approaches are by now in fact deeply enmeshed within Europe’s flawed response to unauthorised border crossings, despite politicians’ statements to the contrary. It is worrying how humanitarian initiatives have increasingly accompanied draconian migration controls in recent years. At Melilla’s land perimeter, for instance, one migrant was beaten unconscious by guards earlier this month before being dragged back through the fence into Moroccan hands – in stark contrast with the care offered by Red Cross staff to any migrants fortunate enough to breach the barrier. Meanwhile, draconian deportations writ large have in the past decade been smoothed by spurious “aid” deals with African states ready to accept deportees[...]



Mare Nostrum and migrant deaths: the humanitarian paradox at Europe’s frontiers

Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:34:28 +0000

An industry has grown up around migratory routes in which care and control functions alternately clash and merge with each other. Understanding the humanitarian-policing nexus at play is key to move beyond the current impasse. The Mediterranean Sea. Screenshot from NASA World WindThis week, it emerged that the UK will not contribute to search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, where more than 3,000 people have died so far this year as they seek European shores. The idea, apparently, is to deter others from embarking on the journey – a proposition as absurd as removing seatbelts in cars to make drivers more risk-averse. “Drown an immigrant to save an immigrant” is now the UK policy, as The Telegraph’s Dan Hodges pithily put it. Maritime “migration management” now reeks with the politics of death. Spool back to a year ago, when the mass drownings outside the Italian island of Lampedusa held out the hope of a new European approach to migration controls. “Never again,” dignitaries promised as they paid their respects in front of the coffins. Italy promptly launched an impressive military sea rescue mission, Mare Nostrum, which has saved thousands in the past year. Amid conflicting reports on whether this Navy mission will be wound down, the EU border agency Frontex is now readying itself for the launch of a much smaller European patrolling operation at sea. This is the context in which the UK has refused to participate in any rescue efforts because of their supposed “pull” effect on refugees and migrants. More controls and less life-saving is yet again peddled as an answer to the “border crisis”. A seeming paradox defines Europe’s response to irregular migration. On the one hand, we hear about violence and distress at the borders; on the other, about humanitarianism and human rights. While Italy’s Navy has mounted difficult rescues over the past year, the Spanish government has added razor wire to the fences of its North African enclave of Melilla and allowed violent pushbacks into Morocco, which it is now seeking to legalise. While the European Commission calls for smoother asylum procedures, member states lock refugees up or keep them stranded indefinitely, as happens in Malta and Spain’s enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. While the EU’s incoming home affairs commissioner, Dimitris Avramopolous, has proposed humanitarian visas, Italy’s EU presidency has launched a Europe-wide crackdown on undocumented migrants. Time and again, any liberal advances are cut short by new draconian measures, motivated by a callous quest for “deterrence” despite the lack of any substantial evidence for its efficacy.    The UK decision to publicly desist from saving lives – a policy filched from Australia in a posturing exercise by a panicky government, as another commentator has noted – has at least allowed some moral outrage to seep back into our sordid migration politics. Echoing earlier calls by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, commentators have in the past days called for more humanitarian action and less callous disregard of human life at sea. Yet in the wake of this important debate, we might now also be able to probe further. If we do so, we will see that liberal and securitarian approaches are by now in fact deeply enmeshed within Europe’s flawed response to unauthorised border crossings, despite politicians’ statements to the contrary. It is worrying how humanitarian initiatives have increasingly accompanied draconian migration controls in recent years. At Melilla’s land perimeter, for instance, one migrant was beaten unconscious by guards earlier this month before being dragged back through the fence into Moroccan hands – in stark contrast with the care offered by Red Cross staff to any migrants fortunate enough to breach the barrier. Meanwhile, draconian deportations writ large have in the past decade been smoothed by spurious “aid” deals with African states[...]



Ruben Andersson

Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:13:59 +0000

Author: 
Ruben Andersson
First name(s): 
Ruben
Surname: 
Andersson

Ruben Andersson is an AXA Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the author of Illegality, Inc: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe (University of California Press).

One-Line Biography: 
Ruben Andersson is an AXA Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the author of Illegality, Inc: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe (University of California Press).



Multiculturalism at work

Thu, 15 Jun 2006 23:00:00 +0000

Charing Cross Road, a heaving mass of punters, tourists and ambling drunkards flows past Samuel's workplace at its usual frenetic, clogged pace, until one of its number dislodges himself. An ambling drunkard. He sports baggy pants, a loose striped jacket and a whiskery, unkempt beard. He shouts at Samuel to the rustle of a plastic Waterstone's bag. "Fuck… eh, you….you… what are you doing?" "What!" Samuel stays back, keeps cool. The abuse runs in thick streams, words can barely be made out. Curious shoppers stare wildly over their issues of Zoo and The Economist. The man is black; Samuel is black too. "Fou!" Is it French? Red-eyed, mouth agape, the man keeps screaming, grabs his bag and plunges back into the crowd. Punters dive back into their torrents of headlines, semi-nudes and Harry Potter blurbs at the Borders storefront. Samuel resumes his lax position at the reception, wistfully contemplating the crowds. Charing Cross Road is the pulse of multicultural London, an artery of pleasure, strife and boredom, snaking from the imperial grandeur of Trafalgar Square to the heart of Oxford Street. Its pedestrian flow makes a garish display; multicultural, festive and sweaty. Almost half of the UK's ethnic minorities live in the capital, clustered in villages: Jews up Golders Green, Cypriots in Haringey, Arabs at Edgware Road and hip white things in Islington. Charing Cross road is where they meet, shop and scuffle: but it is also a place where cultures are put to work. If the now bitterly contested British model of multiculturalism is falling ill, Charing Cross Road is a good place to take its blood pressure. The security guard "We don't get too much abuse. We are trained to handle this," Samuel says laconically. No security guard clichés apply to his five foot eight inch frame: no bouncy muscles, towering torso or chiselled face, and only a small corporate insignia on his plain T-shirt indicates he might be at work. Except, that is, for one distinct marker of those guarding the shopfronts and clubs of central London's incongruous geography these days, a marker by now too clichéd to even be noticed by most Londoners: Samuel is black. "I have been working as a security guard for three years," he says. "You get a lot of junkies in this area. Sometimes you have to be aggressive." Samuel smiles, pushing out his chest a little. "You have to know how to act depending on the person. It's like science – action and reaction." He chuckles ever so slightly. Samuel comes from Nigeria, as do many others in his profession. His eyes flick back and forth, scanning the throng of people. "You can't stand like this for too long, talking – somebody might just go in, take a pack of CDs and leave," he says. Samuel excuses himself, adding his name and a furtive handshake as an afterthought. Less than five minutes' talk in all. The private security sector is expanding, and guards now adorn even the humblest of supermarket checkouts and dingiest of clubs. A "visual deterrent" to crime, security companies claim. And this visual deterrence is increasingly performed by bored-looking black Britons and Africans. The good news may be that black minorities, still two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than white Britons, are now entrusted with security matters, inching a bit higher up London's pecking order. The bad news is that an ethnic furrow is drilled into London's asphalt, channelling black men into badly paid, vulnerable frontline positions. Politicians, pundits and even the police have often praised the multicultural British model of integration, not without good reason. Nobody will launch into patriotic sing-a-longs or wave a Union Jack in the face of the hookah-smoking, Morris dancing, Qur'an-chanting and sauerkraut-eating masses. But this is all multiculturalism by night. Multiculturalism also works – works hard – up Charing Cross Road, down dingy backstreets, at the back of fusty pubs, deep in the cellars [...]