"We are tired."

The Spanish coastline is visible on a clear day in northern Morocco; that's how close it is. Even closer are the two enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, surrounded on three sides by Morocco. Many poor African migrants attempt to reach Europe through these enclaves.

The past two weeks have shown how disastrous consequences for these migrants can be. Fourteen died in a storming of the razor-covered wire fences around Ceuta and Melilla, prompting Spain to try to send them back. However, Spain does not have repatriation agreements with any of the likely countries of origin: Mali, Nigeria, Senegal. They have recently revived a 1992 agreement with Morocco stating migrants can be sent back there even if not originally from there. Perfect example of how absurd the postcolonial context can be: stubborn holdouts on tiny pieces of land become just too tempting for those from very poor countries. Very poor countries, of course, do not have the resources to enforce migration policies or any incentive to stem population flow. Medium-poor country in between the two gets stuck dealing with the problem in an attempt to curry favor with rich bloc.

As it turns out, the medium-poor country does not actually have the resources to deal with the problem, either. Hundreds volunteered to be flown back to Mali and Senegal. Other hundreds were taken via bus convoy in inhumane conditions and then just abandoned in the desert on the Algerian border. After an international outcry, these were added to the repatriation via airplane. One was quoted by the BBC as saying, "We are glad to be going back because we are tired," but went on to say he would try to get to Europe again, compelled to roll his Promethean stone.

Imagine -- you won't be able to, but try -- if you were a farmer in an African village barely able to subsist, whose best choice in life was to "make it to Europe or die trying." And having failed, to be shuffled around, unwanted by any country, not given adequate food, water, medical care. Breaks my heart.


At 14/10/05 23:36, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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