... in migration

Spain saves white negro from sure death

13 Apr 2009 | 388 words | border migration xenophobia racism europe

Over the last couple of days there has been a disproportionate amount of attention for a albino migrant named Moszy who, back in march, arrived together with 60 other a African migrants on the Spanish island of Tenerife. Moszy, who is said to have fled his native Benin where he was frequently abducted and used in magic rituals, has requested asylum in Spain, and it appears that the spanish government is willing to grant him refugee status. Now i am all against abducting people and using them in magic rituals (and possibly killing them in ‘grisly ritualistic killings’), but it appears to me that the media coverage is bordering a little bit on the absurd:

The price for the most absurd headline (so far) goes to the Croatian news agency ‘Javno’ claiming ‘Spain Saves Albino African from Sure Death‘ (which for some reason is buried in World > World Report > Bizarre [sic!]). Of course spain did no such thing, to the contrary: Spain (together with the rest of the EU countries) did everything it could to get Moszy (and the other 60 passengers of the boat that took him to Tenerife) killed. In its ongoing attempt to keep (black) Africans in Africa, Spain has forced migrants attempting to get into europe to take longer and more dangarous routes (from Nouakchott to Tenerife it is more than 1000km across the open Atlantic Ocean). This has resulted in many deaths that generally receive much less media attention than one albino arriving in Tenerife.

According to the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelblad, Moszy’s asylum request has been backed by a spokesperson of the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid, arguing that sending him back to Africa (as it is foreseen for the other 60 passengers) ‘would put his life at rist’. Makes me wonder if sending back the other 60 passengers who barely made it onto Spanish soil does not put their life at risk? Chances are that they will make another attempt to get to Europe and if past experience is any indicator some of them will pay for this with their lives. But you do not hear the CEAR spoksperson or the media talk about their lives being in danger. But then they did not have the privilege of being born with white skin either, so why should they care?

What goes up must go down [dubai edition]

09 Feb 2009 | 404 words | crisis migration emirates

Patrice just pointed (via the sarai reader list) to a fascinating little read about the impact of the cirsis in Dubai. Seems like lots of (primarily British) expats are secretly levaing the country in fear of being jailed for not being able to pay the debts amassed by their bloated lifestyles of the past years. As a result the parking lots arround DXB are becoming clogged with abandoned cars:

[…] Now, faced with crippling debts as a result of their high living and Dubai’s fading fortunes, many expatriates are abandoning their cars at the airport and fleeing home rather than risk jail for defaulting on loans.

Police have found more than 3,000 cars outside Dubai’s international airport in recent months. Most of the cars – four-wheel drives, saloons and “a few” Mercedes – had keys left in the ignition.

Some had used-to-the-limit credit cards in the glove box. Others had notes of apology attached to the windscreen. […]

Under Sharia, which prevails in Dubai, the punishment for defaulting on a debt is severe. Bouncing a check, for example, is punishable with jail. Those who flee the emirate are known as skips. […] [Sonia Verma in the Times online]

Make sure to also have a look at the comment section of this article as they contain a fascinating exchange between devastated expats who where ‘forced’ to leave the Emirates and Pakistanis who see this whole scenario as revenge for the hyper exploitation that characterized the boom years of the past:

Abdul Razaak, Karachi, Pakistan: Built on the sweat, blood n tears of Pakistani, Indian n Bangladeshi construction workers, this land of the rich treated us like mules n made us live in inhumane conditions for far too long. Allaah’s justice is served. How the mighty have washed away in the very sweat, blood n tears of the meek.

Tim, Cairo, Egypt: I worked in Dubai for many years and left last year with outstanding debts that I struggle still to pay. The Dubai system only helped people get into debt, there is no support to get out in a humane way.

BLDGBLG links to another article that attributes most of the abandoned cars to former owners from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries, implying that the burst of the bubble is not only hurting British fortune seekers but also South East Asian migrants that made up the bulk of Dubai’s working class.

The Big Picture: African migration to Europe

25 Jan 2009 | 38 words | migration africa europe border

Yesterdays Boston Globe’s Big Picture has a feature on ‘African migration to Europe‘. The site collects 34 high-resolution (relatively that is) photographs of African migrants arriving in Europe (to be more precise, on the Canary Islands and Malta):

Streetfighting immigrants rocks

11 Jan 2009 | 42 words | streetart railways urbanism migration amsterdam

Photo of a grafitti on a metro bridge between the A4 motorway and the Amsterdam-Zuid schiphol train tracks near the knooppunt nieuwe meer. Without climbing fences and walking on railway tracks it is only visible from trains running between Amsterdam-Zuid and Schiphol…

Successful [integration]

21 Dec 2008 | 74 words | migration food amsterdam

Warung Asje a Javanese Surinamese take-out restaurant on Jan Pieter Heije Straat in Amsterdam-west that i have been frequenting for more than 10 years has finally adapted to dutch customs! After more than 10 years of offering roti, nasi or bami dishes they now also offer patat on the side:

Sign reading ‘Nu ook alle gerechten met patat verkrijgbaar’ (‘New, all dishes can be served with french fries’) on the counter of Warung Asje.

Rain vs. the border (long live the rain!)

26 Oct 2008 | 116 words | africa border european union europe migration rain

A storm washed away part of a wall designed to keep out illegal immigrants crossing into Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla on Sunday and heavy rains flooded many of the city’s streets (via reuters).

Update from bbc news [27/10/2008]:

As many as 30 African migrants have taken advantage of flood damage to cross into the Spanish enclave of Melilla, from neighbouring Morocco.

Update from typicallyspanish.com [29/10/2008]:

Three Guardia Civil were injured in Melilla yesterday when a second wave of immigrants tried to cross over the border fence from Morocco into the Spanish enclave. […] Despite the help of the Moroccan security services several Sub Saharans made their way into Spanish territory at 7am yesterday morning.

Deportation airlines

18 Oct 2008 | 367 words | border united states airtravel migration

Deportee boarding a ICE air flight to Guatemala city at Mesa, AZ airport. (photo Michael Schennum/Wall Street Journal)

We have had the deportation class and the deportation alliance but we never really had a proper deportation airline. Seems they have one in the US (land of the free?) though: The Wall Street Journal has a rather surreal article about ‘ICE air’ (ICE stands for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency of the Department for Homeland Security). ICE air (officially they use ‘repatriation’ as a callsign) is a subsidy of the ICE and currently operates a fleet of 10 aircraft operating out of 4 US hubs. the airline primarily flies to latin america (‘three daily flights to guatemala city’) and exclusively transports deportees. The article portraits it as if it was just another airline and puts great stress on the service and comfort enjoyed by the deportees:

In-flight service is polite. “For a lot of these immigrants, it has been a long journey to the U.S.,” said Michael J. Pitts, chief of flight operations for deportations and removals at ICE. “This is going to be the last impression they have of the United States. We want to provide good service.”

[we could probably argue that this copies our deporation.class concept from almost 10 years ago, but then they seem to have failed to implement a ICE points system along the lines of the active miles loyalty programme].

What makes the article so surreal is the focus on efficiency and the constant comparisons to regular commercial airline operations [culminating in this info-graphic illustrating the hub and spoke concept] without ever touching the obvious question: what are these planes flying back to the US? Cocaine? Stranded US citizens on vacation? cheaply made goods from outsourced production facilities? Kind of reminds me of Darwin’s Nightmare

On the other had the article also seems to suggest that these deportation flights are an important component of the migration systems between central america and the US: the inbound trip may cost you a substantial amount of money but your return tickets are free and you still get at lunch box containing ‘a bologna sandwich, potato chips, orange juice and a bag of carrots’

Santa Muerte == San la Muerte

19 Aug 2008 | 131 words | religion dead people migration popular culture

Reading trough my dead migrants rss feeds i ran into a new blog post about san la muerte today. this time it is a short blog post about the Santa Muerte cult that is thriving in Mexico and among Mexican migrants (this is why the blog post got caught in my ‘dead migrants’ filter) in the US. From what i can tell it does look like the Mexican version of this cult is much less intresting (but more ceremonial) than the variant existing in Argentina and Paraguay that i wrote about back in 2006. Time magazine also has a photo essay with 15 Santa Muerte pictures from Mexico:

the blog post in question somewhat unconvincingly links the cult to a number of themes prevailent in chinese folk culture and japanese manga.

Imagination of desperation (4): Euro2008 has a higher purpose

24 Jun 2008 | 73 words | africa border europe migration

Looks like even the most eventless soccer game can have a higher purpose, especially when observed from the fringes of europe:

On Sunday about 20 immigrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, attacked the Beni-Enzar border crossing, armed with sticks and stones as Italy and Spain were in the final stages of the quarterfinals of the Euro 2008 football tournament. Six illegal immigrants successfully crossed the border during the violence. [from adnkronos international, emphasis mine]

Exceptional display of compassion...

27 May 2008 | 197 words | migration europe africa dead people border

… in todays Guardian: the last two paragraphs of an article which describes the death of two Tunisian men who stowed away on a german cargo ship traveling from sfax in tunesia to ayr in scotland actually treat the two deceased as human beings (plus the entire article does not label them as ‘illegal immigrants’ even once):

Scott [the Conservative(!) MSP for Ayr] said: “This is tragic news, that these two men who appear to have stowed away, lost their lives in such desperate, lonely and sad circumstances. These are people who, for whatever reason, felt they had to leave northern Africa and in desperation boarded this ship. They took a huge gamble with their lives, which didn’t pay off.

“As I understand it, it is an occasional occurrence that economic migrants stow away on these boats. They leave that port to go all over Europe and indeed the world. Perhaps they were gambling on this being a shorter sea voyage than it turned out to be. Very sadly for them and their families, it has resulted in their deaths.”

Guess that is because very few of the victims of fortress europe wash up on scottish shores…

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: