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Migrant Lives

Migrant Lives

Across Africa, Families Of Migrants Lost At Sea Join Forces For Comfort And Justice

In West and North Africa, survivors of migrants who've vanished have come together to support each other and pay tribute to their family members. But above all, they're trying any means possible to find out the truth and get justice after years of silence.

ZARZIS — “I need to know the truth! Where is my son?”

Souad’s voice resonates strongly through the square in the town of Zarzis, in the south of Tunisia. On Sept. 6, 2022, in spite of the sweltering heat, the families of people who went missing during migration marched through the town with sympathetic activists, holding banners and slogans.

This date was chosen in homage to the 80 people who went missing after a small boat departing from Tunisia sank off the coast of Italy. Ten years later, the mother of one of the lost at sea is still there, waiting for answers.

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Lampedusa Postcard: "Invisible" Migrants As Campaign Propaganda

As Italy prepares to vote, migration from Africa is once again a hot topic, even as the number of arrivals is dropping. A view from the tiny Italian island that has been at the center of the debate for more than a decade, where the specter of migrants is rolled out as prime election propaganda.

LAMPEDUSA — The double-decker boat slowly approaches the dock while Italian rock music plays. It is just after 9 p.m., and the air is warm and windy. The many people on board gather bags, shoes and towels and head for the exit.

"Nice, we had a good time," say two tourists from the northern Italian city of Bergamo as they get on the scooter parked at the end of the pier.

The evening cruise lasted four hours: it included a tour of the most beautiful beaches, dolphin spotting, an aperitif with a D.J. set, and food before returning. It was a long party on the sea, one of the countless attractions of the island of Lampedusa, which is still filled with tourists even as summer fades.

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How Rich Western Countries Pay To Send Refugees Away

Western countries are shipping refugees to poorer nations in exchange for cash.

The UK government was due to begin its first deportation flight to remove asylum-seekers to the East African country of Rwanda on June 14, 2022, exactly two months after signing the UK-Rwanda agreement. The asylum-seekers were from several war-torn and politically unstable countries, including Syria, Sudan and Iran.

Each year, thousands of people – many fleeing repressive governments or poverty – attempt to cross the English Channel in fragile boats in the hope of starting a new life in the UK.

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Not My Problem: Individual Responsibility And Government Abuse Of Asylum Seekers

Denial and indifference drive the way ordinary Australians face the mistreatment of refugees.

-OpEd-

As one of its first acts in government, the newly elected Labor government turned back a boat of Sri Lankan asylum seekers trying to enter Australia.

Labor has vowed to continue Operation Sovereign Borders, including boat turnbacks and offshore detention. This is concerning. Not only do turnbacks violate international law, but offshore detention has resulted in torture and cruel and inhuman treatment of refugees.

Even more concerning is the lack of criticism Labor has received for continuing offshore detention and turnbacks. Apart from being condemned by human rights groups and minor political parties, Labor’s refugee policies appear to have gone without much comment from a large part of the Australian public.

As I found in my new research paper, the Australian government has used three forms of denial, creating physical and psychological distance between itself and refugees.

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Society
Eleonora Camilli

"Jus Scholae" - Italians Seek To Establish A Right To Citizenship Through Education Status

Italy is debating a new bill that would allow foreign-born students to become Italian citizens, linked to their status within Italy's school system.

ROME — "Joseph, are you Italian?"

The question hangs in the air for just a few seconds, before the boy replies confidently: "Of course!"

Before starting to shoot the basketball again, his expression turns worried and asks: "Why? Am I not?"

Twelve years old, a lover of basketball and fan of AS Roma soccer club, Joseph was born in Italy but his document states the nationality of his mother, who arrived from Nigeria shortly before he was born.

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Migrant Lives
Sara Perria, Monica Perosino

Taliban To Traffickers — The Perilous Journey Of Women Fleeing Afghanistan

Staying in a theocracy whose rulers subjugate women was not an option, but trying to get to destinations in Europe and beyond comes with unthinkable perils of its own.

ATHENS — Hariana* always knew that fleeing Afghanistan would not be easy. But it turned out far worse than that.

Now 29, she fled to Iran with her family two years ago, but was sexually assaulted by her employer in Tehran. That prompted her to leave on her own for Europe. Hariana found herself as the only woman following a smuggler on a perilous journey that would be on foot, by bus and by sea.

"Once on the bus I looked around and got scared," she recalled. "The trafficker told me to get off. He wanted me for himself."

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Migrant Lives
Julie Zaugg

The 'British Dream' Is A Dangerous Trap For Too Many Migrants

The United Kingdom is seen by migrants as the promised land. Many are prepared to embark on a perilous journey to get there. But on arrival, they often find that life is not what they expected. Some even discover working conditions resembling slavery.

LONDON — Huong was full of dreams. “I thought I’d live like a queen in the United Kingdom, that I’d eat well, that I’d be well-dressed and find an easy job with a high salary,” the Vietnamese young woman recalls. Her neighbors had a close relation who emigrated to the UK and regularly sent them money. “They built a beautiful house and bought themselves a huge car,” she remembers.

So she went on a quest for a migration agent. The British dream is the cause of a migration wave during which thousands of migrants from impoverished countries risk it all to reach the British shores. At the end of this perilous journey, far from finding the Holy Grail they had hoped for, many fall into the clutches of traffickers, having to work in conditions of modern slavery.

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LGBTQ Plus

Unsafe At Home, Central America's LGBTQ Must Flee For Their Lives

Guatemala has become a transit country for migrants seeking to reach the United States, but it is also a hub for those seeking refuge. Hundreds of migrants remain trapped waiting to be considered as refugees. The chances of receiving a positive response are slim, especially for the LGBTQ community.

GUATEMALA CITY — Madelyn is a 22-year-old trans woman. In Nov. 2021, she migrated from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, to Guatemala City after being repeatedly harassed and attacked by gang members in her country.

Every year, hundreds of migrants arrive in Guatemala to request refuge. In 2019, there were 494 people; in 2020, 487; in 2021, 1,054 and 70 more in Jan. 2022 alone. Everyone must wait at least two years for a resolution, and migration statistics reveal that only 1.7 out of 10 migrants receive a yes as an answer to their asylum request. The situation is more dramatic for applicants from the LGBTQ community because only 2 out of 100 people are accepted.

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Ideas
Farid Kahhat

We Can't Choose Our Refugees Or Enemies — What Racists Don't Understand About War

The European far-right's sympathies for "white and Christian" Ukrainians shows its devotion to the idea of the "clash of civilizations." But it fails to see the basic paradoxes of war, where you may be fighting those who most resemble you and be forced to welcome those who look different.

-OpEd-

In a recent tweet, Hermann Tertsch, a far-right member of European Parliament, clarified what his ilk understood refugees to be. The member of Spain's populist Vox party wrote that "in Ukraine, they are real refugees. Christian, white refugees."

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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He was supposedly listing criteria relevant only to the state of Ukrainians, while ignoring the fact that the Russian soldiers who have brutally turned them into refugees are just as white and Christian.

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Migrant Lives
Marie-Luise Goldmann

Ukrainians In 2022 vs. Syrians In 2015, Why Some Refugees Get A Warmer Welcome

As people open their homes to Ukrainian refugees, some in Germany and elsewhere in Europe are criticizing the lack of a similar welcome for Syrians in 2015. Do we have a responsibility to offer the same level of help to all those in need — and are we even capable of that? The answer might just be found in philosophy.

-Essay-

BERLIN — The war in Ukraine has moved many to open their homes to refugees, but this warm welcome has also sparked criticism, with some asking why so many Germans are now happy to have a Ukrainian under their roof when they wouldn’t have done the same for a Syrian in 2015.

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There are many reasons for this. Nigerian author Ayo Sogunro tweeted, “Can't get it out of my head that Europe cried about a 'migrant crisis' in 2015 against 1.4 million refugees fleeing war in Syria and yet quickly absorbed some 2 million Ukrainians within days, complete with flags and piano music. Europe never had a migrant crisis. It has a racism crisis."

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Migrant Lives
Michel Agier*

English Channel To The Mediterranean: Borders That Kill

The deaths of 27 migrants off the French coast of Calais is one more tragedy on a long list in the European Union. After the initial shock, however, we tend to forget, get used to it and in the end, become indifferent.

-Analysis-

PARIS — The wreckage of a small boat that led to 27 people to die in the English Channel is added to the list of endless death along Europe’s borders.

Unfortunately, there is nothing fundamentally new about this tragedy. Since 1993, at least 50,000 people have died trying to cross the external borders of the European Union, mainly in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 1999, more than 300 people have died off the northern French coast of Calais while trying to cross the border into the UK, which has been "externalized" on French soil by the 2004 Le Touquet Treaty. The years 2000 and 2010 were marked by reports of casualties at the borders, some horrifying like the two successive shipwrecks on April 12 and 19, 2015 that left thousands dead.

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Ideas
Rainer Haubrich

Not All Immigrant Politicians Think Alike — About Immigration

Migrant associations and activists are saying there are not enough politicians of migrant origin in the new German Bundestag. But are such politicians guaranteed to support policies that benefit migrants? There are prominent examples that suggest otherwise.

BERLIN — No sooner than the twentieth German Bundestag had been elected in September, activists were examining how diverse its members were. The result: compared to wider German society, women and people of migrant origin — either those who immigrated themselves or who have at least one parent not born in Germany — are underrepresented. For the third time in a row, the number of members of parliament of migrant origin has risen, but it still stands at only 11%, whereas in Germany as a whole, 25% of people come from a migrant background.

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