migrants

The impossible mission of infiltrating the Spanish border in four days.

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By Valentina San Martin, translated by Cécile Guiraud

A successful arrival

Amid tensions between Brussels and Rabat[1], it is within a few days that more than 850 African migrants succeeded to reach the Spanish enclave Ceuta from Morocco, pushing through the border fences to do so.

On February 20th, 2017, by 3:30 am, around 600 sub-Saharan migrants tried to enter in Ceuta and “359 succeeded”, claimed the enclave prefecture in a statement.

After breaking the doorways with shears and hammers, they reached the European Union. According to a prefecture spokesperson, these events had already taken place “in the same area, which is difficult to monitor, on February 17th, 2017, where 498 migrants succeeded to enter in the territory at the same spot”.

Rabat-Brussels dispute.

Since Rabat and Brussels have loosened their ties, the country hinted that they could relax the control they have on migrants who, once on the Spanish soil, can seek asylum and get settled in the EU. A dispute does exist between Morocco and the EU regarding the interpretation given to a free-trade agreement on farm and fishing products. In an arbitration given at the end of January, the European Court of Justice stated that the agreement did not apply to Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony that is now controlled by Rabat. The trade exchanges between Morocco and some European countries are therefore being subject to postponement[2].

On February 6th, 2017, the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture had warned Europe that it was getting exposed to “real risk of spate in the migratory tides”[3].

The good relationship between Spain and Morocco have not been altered

The head of the Spanish government, Mariano Rajoy, has however considered that Morocco had done everything possible to restrain this new wave of refugees. After long journeys, they are thousands to wait in Morocco for the opportunity to push through the fences and to enter in Ceuta or Melilla.

“The Moroccan security officials have put all their efforts together et and I am grateful to them” he said in a press conference in Malaga, on the southern coast of Spain. “What happens is that there are difficult battles” he followed, describing as “wonderful” the collaboration with Morocco and claiming that the relationship between the two countries had never been better[4].

What next?

During the night, the local news El Faro de Ceuta was able to film dozens of young Africans in the streets of Ceuta. They danced with joy and kissed the ground of the Spanish enclave crying “Thank you, God” or “I am in Europe!”.

According to Isabel Brasero, spokesperson of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Ceuta, there haven’t been any serious casualties among them. “We have transferred eleven people to the hospital, eight needed stitches and three had to get a scan”, she said. According to the authorities, two civil guards and one immigrant were attended for more serious wounds.

The temporary accommodation centre for migrants is overflowed by asylum applications: “we have around 1400 people in the centre for a reception capacity of 512”, explained the prefecture’s spokesperson.

To offer them a shelter, the spokesperson has asked for lots of tents and a field kitchen, which should be installed on the parking of the neighbouring horse-riding centre. The NGO has also given to each migrant a kit with new clothes, shoes, and blankets while it was rainy and windy.

Nevertheless, it could then be more complicated. The Ceuta enclave is, with Melilla, the only land border between the African continent and the European Union. In these difficult times where nationalist right-wing European party is gaining popularity, a more thorough monitoring could soon be implemented.

While the migratory flux is often assimilated with long and dangerous journeys and a difficult arrival, the disembarkation of February was rather surprising. The international relations remained intact, no one died or was seriously wounded. The event was followed by some singing once arrived on the European land: the crossing went extraordinary well. But what about the international community? Could this sudden arrival frighten a few Europeans? We’ll see. In the meantime, the migratory mission that some wish it were impossible may have a breach, and it is Ceuta.

[1] Claimed by Morocco, the enclave is, with Melilla, the only land border existing between the African continent and the EU. It is a transit point for illegal migratory flux coming from sub‑Saharan Africa and going to Maghreb.  Since the mid-2000s, eight km long of barred double-fencing.

[2] Learn more on this issue on https://www.letemps.ch/monde/2017/02/20/pres-300-migrants-ont-force-frontiere-ceuta; http://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/2017/02/06/maroc-union-europeenne_n_14631432.html (both in French)

[3] http://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/2017/02/06/maroc-union-europeenne_n_14631432.html (in French)

[4] https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1036261/plus-de-850-clandestins-forcent-la-frontiere-de-ceuta-en-4-jours.html (in French)

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Time to say goodbye to stereotypes

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This article was published in the printed version of the GIMUN Chronicles, the newspaper of GIMUN’s Annual Conference 2016, two months ago. We thought we’d give you a chance to rediscover it!

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By Michelle Bognuda

In today’s world, people are forced to leave their homeland because of wars. January and February are particularly special months for Ticino’s young people because this is the time when carnival celebrations take place. Although these two statements do not seem to be linked, this year there was a logical connection. Swiss cantons which border other countries, such as Ticino or Geneva, are particularly touchy about immigrants, people in search of political asylum and, last but not least, cross-border workers. Read the rest of this entry »

Calais : the story of a wild “jungle”

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By Sylvia Revello, translated by Gwénaëlle Janiaud

“Rural camp” turned “jungle”: Calais’s refugee camp recently acquired a reputation as “France’s first slum”. The French authorities have spent weeks demolishing the camp. The site, located near the Channel Tunnel, spans several hundred hectares and shelters 3,500-6,000 migrants who have mainly travelled from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea. Shacks, tents and other makeshift shelters that up until now housed more than 1,000 migrants in the southern part of the camp were torn down by bulldozers and anti-riot police. After a few tense days, which were marked by violent clashes between migrants, activists campaigning against border controls and the police, the evacuation process appears to have been carried out peacefully. As flames slowly engulf the wooden and corrugated iron walls of the migrants’ shacks, some are denouncing this bitter episode, which has done nothing to resolve the migrant crisis. Read the rest of this entry »

Britain and the EU: Defining Change

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By Frederick Brock

The Context

A recent poll conducted by ORB International put British support for withdrawing from European Union membership at 52%.[1] This figure fluctuates from month to month, with June-September showing a consistent lead for staying in and current support for remaining in the EU at 48%. With such a close race to the finish and a referendum on membership around the corner in 2017, it seems remarkable that the continental press is paying so little attention to what’s going on. The political ramifications of ‘Brexit’ – aka British exit – could be more far reaching than even the migration crisis in terms of its impact on Europe’s future. Read the rest of this entry »

GIMUN International Migrants’ Day: Dismantling Myths and Discussing Solutions for the European Migrant ‘Crisis’

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By Nayana Das

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Every year since 2000, the United Nations has been celebrating December 18th as International Migrants Day, the same day on which in 1990 the General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. This year, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of this Convention and in commemoration of this day, on 11th December 2015 GIMUN organised an International Migrants Day event at the United Nations Office in Geneva. The occasion brought together 16 young participants for a panel discussion on ‘Legal Solutions for the European Refugee Crisis’ with Guest Speaker Livia Manente, Associate Expert for the Office of the Senior Regional Adviser for Europe and Central Asia at the International Organisation for Migration. Read the rest of this entry »

The Calais Crisis: UN rapporteur slams Britain’s “xenophobic response” to migrants

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by Modupe Macaulay

Photo source: Getty Images.
Photo source: Getty Images.

Images of tracksuit-clad migrants jumping on high-speed locomotives have become the norm of recent. French police reported that they have intercepted over 18,000 clandestine migrants attempting to illegally enter the United Kingdom on lorries, trains and ferries in the first half of 2015 alone. Current reports suggest that approximately 4,000 migrants are living in self-made ghettos on the outskirts of Calais with 100 – 150 new arrivals everyday, all desperate to reach the United Kingdom.

Read the rest of this entry »

The New Appeal of the South

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http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/files/2014/03/600-Abel-and-Sander-2014_Fig4_GlobalMigration.jpeg

By Alina Suvila

The flows of migrants have been enormous for long but the direction is currently changing. People from the Global South are now staying there instead of migrating to the North. The effects can be seen in power relations and the global economy where groups of emerging economies are dominating.

Emeritus professor Bimal Gosh from the Colombian School of Public Administration gave a presentation on the subject of migration on 8th May 2014 at the Graduate Institute (IHEID) in Geneva. In his presentation ‘The Changing Configuration of Global Migration: Why South-South migration matters’ he addresses the reasons of the change in directions of migration flows. Read the rest of this entry »