• Why Ivana Trump Was Buried at Bedminster: 3 Theories

    Il faut s’appeler Donald Trump pour utiliser le lieu de l’enterrement de son ex pour réduire ses impôts.

    22.11.2023 by Margaret Hartmann - Ivana Trump, former president Donald Trump’s first wife, died on July 14, 2022 at the age of 73, owing to injuries she suffered in an accidental fall on the “grand curving staircase” at her Upper East Side townhouse. Her funeral drew about 400 people and featured a gold-hued coffin, Secret Service agents, and loving remembrances from her three adult children as well as several friends. Then this icon of ’80s glamour and New York tabloid drama was laid to rest … at a New Jersey golf course?

    Many found the decision to bury Ivana at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster puzzling. She is the first person to be buried at the former president’s New Jersey property, and the ground had to be consecrated so she could have a traditional Catholic burial.

    A New York Post photographer scoped out the site shortly after Ivana was laid to rest and found that while her grave isn’t literally on the golf course, the whole vibe is surprisingly understated:

    Photos taken by The Post Thursday show Trump’s grave alone against a bucolic scenery of trees and shrubbery. The grave looks upon a sprawling green space upon the country club’s vast estate.

    The plot where Ivana was buried has a bouquet of more than two dozen white flowers and a plaque that reads in all capital letters Ivana Trump with the dates she was born and died.

    The grave is in a place where golfers would not see it as they tee off for a round of golf. The small section of the club is below the backside of the first tee.

    A little over a year later, the mystery persists. Photographs published by The Daily Mail on August 12, 2023 show that Ivana’s grave is marked with a small headstone, which “has become overgrown with grass and is barely visible.”

    So what exactly is going on here? I have a few theories.

    If Trump National Golf Club Bedminster held a special place in Ivana’s heart, there’s no record of it. Donald bought the property in 2002, a full decade after their divorce was finalized. While Ivana maintained a friendship with her ex-husband through her final days, and her daughter, Ivanka, was married at the club, it does not appear that Ivana ever publicly praised the property.

    There is, however, ample evidence that Donald Trump thinks Bedminster is a phenomenal place to be laid to rest. “Wouldn’t you want to be buried here?” he mused to The Wall Street Journal in 2015. The idea has been on his mind for at least 15 years. Back in 2007, Trump filed paperwork to build a windowless wedding chapel at Bedminster that would later be converted into a mausoleum for himself and his family.

    Drawings filed with the Somerset County township called for what NJ.com described as a “19-foot-high, classical-style stone structure” with “four imposing obelisks surrounding its exterior and a small altar and six vaults inside. Locals balked at the proposal, which they deemed gaudy, and Trump withdrew the plan. Five years later, he came back with a new idea: Instead of a mausoleum, he would be buried at a large cemetery with more than 1,000 graves. “The idea, apparently, was that Trump’s golf-club members would buy the other plots, seizing the chance at eternal membership,” the Washington Post reported.

    Facing continued opposition to his ghoulish ambitions, Trump revised his plans once again. In 2014, the Trump Organization filed paperwork to build two graveyards at Bedminster. One would have 284 lots for sale to the public, while the other would consist of just ten plots for Trump and his family near the first tee. The company’s filing with the state said Trump “specifically chose this property for his final resting place as it is his favorite property.”

    In an October 2023 interview, Eric Trump revealed it was his father’s idea to have his mother laid to rest at the “family funeral plot.” “He was the one to say, you know, ‘I want her with us,’” Eric said. “It was pretty amazing again, you know, kind of a wife long removed — ex-wife long removed. He’s an incredible man. He’s got a heart of gold.”

    Some remain skeptical that Trump actually considers this the most fabulous piece of property he owns:

    The average person might say Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s seaside Florida resort, is more spectacular, but they’re not looking at Bedminister through the eyes of a person with an alleged passion for tax avoidance. This tweet from Brooke Harrington, a professor of sociology at Dartmouth, sparked speculation that Bedminster’s real appeal as a graveyard lies in New Jersey tax law.

    Indeed, as Insider reported, there are some surprising perks to being the proprietor of a New Jersey graveyard:

    Under New Jersey state tax code, any land that is dedicated to cemetery purposes is exempt from all taxes, rates, and assessments. Cemetery companies are also specifically exempt from paying any real estate taxes, rates, and assessments or personal property taxes on their lands, as well as business taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, and inheritance taxes.

    And the Trump family has definitely been pursuing the tax advantages of cemetery ownership. A document published by ProPublica shows that the Trump Family Trust sought to designate a property in Hackettstown, New Jersey, about 20 miles from Bedminster, as a nonprofit cemetery company back in 2016.

    But there is reason to question this too-Trumpy-to-be-true allegation. First, all this cemetery business is unnecessary because he has already found a way to drastically reduce his Bedminster tax burden. When the Post’s David Farenthold looked into Trump’s cemetery obsession in 2017, he concluded it wouldn’t be very profitable as a business venture or a tax-avoidance scheme:

    … the savings would hardly be worth the trouble. That’s because Trump had already found a way to lower his taxes on that wooded, largely unused parcel. He had persuaded the township to declare it a farm, because some trees on the site are turned into mulch. Because of pro-farmer tax policies, Trump’s company pays just $16.31 per year in taxes on the parcel, which he bought for $461,000.

    According to a 2019 HuffPost analysis, Trump slashed his Bedminster tax bill by about $88,000 a year by keeping eight goats and farming 113 acres of hay on the property.

    Is is possible that the cemetery business is some kind of backup tax- avoidance scheme? I suppose, but it doesn’t make a ton of sense to this humble TurboTax user.

    “It’s always been my suspicion that there’s something we don’t know” about Trump’s cemetery plan, Bedminster land-use board member Nick Strakhov told Farenthold in 2017.

    It does seem we’re missing a key piece of the boneyard puzzle. But there is one thing we know about Trump now that wasn’t quite as apparent back then: He is a super-weird guy. He has managed to be weird with various kinds of paper, toilet bowls, aircraft carriers, and “dangerous fruit,” to name just a few of his proclivities. The thought of our inevitable demise brings out strange feelings and behavior in most people. Some of the rich plan to freeze themselves or shoot their remains into space; is it any surprise that Trump has some grandiose idea about how he and his family should be laid to rest?

    “It’s never something you like to think about, but it makes sense,” Trump told the New York Post during his first attempt to make Bedminster a cemetery in 2007. “This is such beautiful land, and Bedminster is one of the richest places in the country.”

    Trumpy commentary on the wealth of northern New Jersey aside, that sounds astonishingly well adjusted.❞

    #USA #Trump #impôts #enterrement #wtf

  • La commemorazione ipocrita di #Bologna per la strage di Cutro

    Ieri a Bologna il sindaco, Matteo Lepore, insieme al sindaco di Cutro, Antonio Ceraso, hanno sfilato sulle tombe di 15 delle persone afghane morte nella strage di Cutro che sono state seppellite a Borgo Panigale. Hanno parlato di memoriali, umanità e tante belle cose. Nessun riferimento alle famiglie o ai sopravvissuti che ovviamente non sono stati invitati né contattati. Dimenticati e invisibilizzati, ancora una volta. Un gesto – come hanno spiegato i familiari delle vittime e diverse organizzazioni solidali in un comunicato – considerato ipocrita, con la presenza di una persona come il sindaco di Cutro che ha insultato (...)

    #Comunicati_stampa_e_appelli #Emilia-Romagna #Italia #Naufragi_e_sparizioni #Solidarietà_e_attivismo #Strage_di_Cutro_KR_

  • More than 1,000 unmarked graves discovered along EU migration routes

    Bodies also piling up in morgues across continent as countries accused of failing to meet human rights obligations.

    Refugees and migrants are being buried in unmarked graves across the European Union at a scale that is unprecedented outside of war.

    The Guardian can reveal that at least 1,015 men, women and children who died at the borders of Europe in the past decade were buried before they were identified.

    They lie in stark, often blank graves along the borders – rough white stones overgrown with weeds in Sidiro cemetery in Greece; crude wooden crosses on Lampedusa in Italy; in northern France faceless slabs marked simply “Monsieur X”; in Poland and Croatia plaques reading “NN” for name unknown.

    On the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, one grave states: “Migrant boat number 4. 25/09/2022.”

    The European parliament passed a resolution in 2021 that called for people who die on migration routes to be identified and recognised the need for a coordinated database to collect details of the bodies.

    But across European countries the issue remains a legislative void, with no centralised data, nor any uniform process for dealing with the bodies.

    Working with forensic scientists from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other researchers, NGOs and pathologists, the Guardian and a consortium of reporters pieced together for the first time the number of migrants and refugees who died in the past decade along the EU’s borders whose names remain unknown. At least 2,162 bodies have still not been identified.

    Some of these bodies are piling up in morgues, funeral parlours and even shipping containers across the continent. Visiting 24 cemeteries and working with researchers, the team found more than 1,000 nameless graves.

    These, however, are the tip of the iceberg. More than 29,000 people died on European migration routes in this period, the majority of whom remain missing.


    What is the border graves project?

    About the investigation

    The Guardian teamed up with Süddeutsche Zeitung and eight reporters from the Border Graves Investigation who received funding from Investigative Journalism for Europe and Journalismfund Europe.

    We worked with researchers at the International Committee of the Red Cross who shared exclusively their most up-to-date findings on migrant and refugee deaths registered in Spain, Malta, Greece and Italy between 2014 and 2021.

    Other partners included Marijana Hameršak of the European Irregularized Migration Regime at the Periphery of the EU (ERIM) project in Croatia, Grupa Granica and Podlaskie Humanitarian Emergency Service (POPH) in Poland and Sienos Grupė in Lithuania. The journalist Maël Galisson provided data for France.

    Reporters and researchers also checked death registers, interviewed prosecutors and spoke to local authorities and morgue directors, as well as visiting two dozen cemeteries to track the number of unidentified migrants and refugees who have died trying to cross into the EU in the past decade and find their graves.


    The problem is “utterly neglected”, according to Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatović, who has said EU countries are failing in their obligations under international human rights law.

    “The tools are there. We have the agencies and the forensic experts, but they need to be engaged [by governments],” she said. The rise of the hard right and a lack of political will were likely to further impede the development of a proper system to address “the tragedy of missing migrants”, she added.

    Instead, pockets of work happen at a local level. Pathologists, for example, collect DNA samples and the few personal items found on the bodies. The clues to lives lost are meagre: loose change in foreign currency, prayer beads, a Manchester United souvenir badge.

    The lack of coordination leaves bewildered families struggling to navigate localised, often foreign bureaucracy in the search for lost relatives.

    Supporting them falls to aid organisations such as the ICRC, which has recorded 16,500 requests since 2013 for information to its programme for restoring family links from people looking for relatives who went missing en route to Europe. The largest number of requests have come from Afghans, Iraqis, Somalians, Guineans and people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea and Syria. Only 285 successful matches have been achieved.

    And now even some of this support is about to disappear. As governments cut their aid budgets, the ICRC has been forced to refocus its reduced resources. National Red Cross agencies will continue the family links programme but much of the ICRC’s work training police and local authorities is being cut.
    A race against time

    The mini set of scissors and comb worn on a chain were unique to 24-year-old Oussama Tayeb, a small talisman that reflected his job as a barber. For his cousin Abdallah, they were the hope that he had been found.

    Tayeb set sail last year from the north-west of Algeria just before 8pm on Christmas Day. Onboard with him were 22 neighbours who had clubbed together to pay for the boat they had hoped would take them to Spain.

    His family has been searching for him since. Abdallah, who lives in France, fears it is a race against time.

    Spanish police introduced a database in 2007 in which data and genetic samples from unidentified remains are meant to be logged. In practice, the system breaks down when it comes to families searching for missing relatives, who have no clear information about how to access it.

    The family had provided a DNA sample soon after Tayeb’s disappearance. With no news by February, they travelled to southern Spain for a second time to search for him. At the morgue in Almería, a forensic doctor reacted to Tayeb’s photo, saying he looked familiar. She recalled a necklace, but said the man she was thinking of was believed to have died in a jet ski accident.

    “It was a really intense moment because we knew that Oussama was wearing a jet ski lifejacket,” Abdallah said.

    Even with the knowledge that Tayeb’s body may have been found, his cousin was unable to see the corpse lying in the morgue without a police officer. Abdallah remembered the shocking callousness with which he was greeted at one of the many police stations he tried. “One policeman told us that if ‘they don’t want to disappear, they shouldn’t have taken a boat to Spain’.”

    Looming over Abdallah’s continuing search is a practical pressure mentioned by the Spanish pathologist: bodies in the morgue are usually kept for a year and then buried, whether identified or not. “We only want an answer. If we see the chain, this would be like a death certificate. It’s so heartbreaking. It’s like we’re leaving Oussama in the fridge and we can’t do anything about it,” he said.
    ‘Here lies a brother who lost his life’

    The local authorities that receive the most bodies are often on small islands and are increasingly saying they cannot cope.

    They warn that an already inadequate system is going backwards. Spain’s Canary Islands have reported a record 35,410 men, women and children reaching the archipelago by boat this year. In recent months, most of these vessels have sought to land on the tiny, remote island of El Hierro. In the past six weeks alone, seven unidentified people were buried on the island.

    The burial vaults of 15 unidentified people who were found dead on a rickety wooden vessel in 2020, in the town of Agüimes on Gran Canaria, bear identical plaques that read simply: “Here lies a brother who lost his life trying to reach our shores.”

    In the Muslim section of Lanzarote’s Teguise cemetery, the graves of children are marked with circles of stones. They include the grave of a baby believed to have been stillborn on a deadly crossing from Morocco in 2020. Alhassane Bangoura’s body was separated from his mother during the rescue and was buried in an unmarked grave. His name is only recorded informally, engraved on a bowl by locals moved by his plight.

    It is the same story in the other countries at the edge of the EU; unmarked graves dotted along their frontiers standing testament to the crisis. Along the land borders, in Croatia, Poland, Lithuania, the numbers of unmarked graves are fewer but still they are there, blank stones or sometimes an NN marked on plaques.

    In France, the anonymous inscription “X” stands out in cemeteries in Calais. The numbers seem low compared with those found along the southern coastal borders: 35 out of 242 migrants and refugees who died on the Franco-British border since 2014 remain unidentified. The high proportion of the dead identified reflects the fact that people spend time waiting before attempting the Channel crossing so there are often contacts still in France able to name those who die.
    Fragments of hope

    Leaked footage of Polish border guards laughing at a young man hanging upside down, trapped by his foot, stuck in the razor wire on the top of the 180km (110-mile) steel border fence separating Belarus from Poland caused a brief social media storm.

    But the moment he is caught in the searchlights, his frightened face briefly frozen, has haunted 50-year-old Kafya Rachid for the past year. She is sure the man is her missing child, Mohammed Sabah, who was 22 when she last saw him alive.

    Sabah had flown from his home in Iraqi Kurdistan in the autumn of 2021 to Belarus, for which he had a visa. He was successfully taken across the EU border by smugglers but was detained about 50km (30 miles) into Poland and deported back to Belarus.

    Waiting to cross again, his messages suddenly stopped. The family had been coming to terms with the fact he was probably dead. Then the video surfaced. With little else to go on, fragments such as this give families hope.

    Sabah’s parents, as so often happens, were unable to get visas to travel to the EU. Instead, Rekaut Rachid, an uncle of Sabah who has lived in London since 1999, has made three trips to Poland to try to find him.

    Rachid believes the Polish authorities lied to him when they told him the man in the video was Egyptian, and this keeps him searching. “They are hiding something. Five per cent of me thinks maybe he died. But 95% of me thinks he is in prison somewhere in Poland,” he said, adding: “My sister calls every day to ask if I think he is still alive. I don’t know how to answer.”
    Shipping container morgues

    In a corner of the hospital car park in the Greek city of Alexandroupolis, two battered refrigerated shipping containers stand next to some rubbish bins. Inside are the bodies of 40 people.

    The border from Turkey into Greece over the Evros River nearby is only a 10- to 20-minute crossing, but people cross at night when their small rubber boats can easily hit a tree and capsize. Corpses decompose quickly in the riverbed mud, so that facial characteristics, clothing and any documents that might help identify them are rapidly destroyed.

    Twenty of the corpses in the containers are the charred remains of migrants who died in wildfires that consumed this part of Greece during the summer’s heatwave. Identification has proved exceptionally difficult, with only four of the dead named to date.

    Prof Pavlos Pavlidis, the forensic pathologist for the area, works to determine the cause of death, to collect DNA samples and to catalogue any personal effects that might help relatives identify their loved ones at a later date.

    The temporary container morgues in Alexandroupolis are on loan from the ICRC. The humanitarian agency has loaned another container to the island of Lesbos, another migration hotspot, for the same purpose.

    Lampedusa does not have that luxury. “There are no morgues and no refrigerated units,” said Salvatore Vella, the Sicilian head prosecutor who leads investigations into shipwrecks off its coast. “Once placed in body bags, the bodies of migrants are transferred to Sicily. Burial is managed by individual towns. It has happened that migrants have sometimes been buried in sort of mass graves within cemeteries.”

    The scale of the problem was becoming so acute, said Filippo Furri, an anthropologist and an associate researcher at Mecmi, a group that examines deaths during migration, that “there have been cases of coffins abandoned in cemetery warehouses due to lack of space, or bodies that remain in hospital morgues”.
    ‘It’s not only a technical difficulty but also a political one’

    “If you count the relatives of those who are missing, hundreds of thousands of people are impacted. They don’t know where their loved ones are. Were they well treated, were they respected when they were buried? That’s what preys on families’ minds,” said Laurel Clegg, the ICRC forensic coordinator for migration in Europe. “We have an obligation to provide the dead with a dignified burial; and [to address] the other side, providing answers to families through identification of the dead.”

    She said keeping track of the dead relied on lots of parts working well together: a legal framework that protected the unidentified dead, consistent postmortems, morgues, registries, dignified transport and cemeteries.

    The systems are inadequate, however, despite the EU parliament resolution. There are still no common rules about what information should be collected, nor a centralised place to store this information. The political focus is on catching the smugglers rather than finding out who their victims are.

    A spokesperson for the European Commission said the rights and dignity of refugees and migrants had to be addressed alongside tackling people smuggling. They said each member state was responsible individually for how it dealt with those who died on its borders, but that the commission was working to improve coordination and protocols and “regrets the loss of every human life” .

    In Italy, significant efforts have been made to identify the dead from a couple of well-reported, large-scale disasters. Cristina Cattaneo, the head of the laboratory of forensic anthropology and odontology (Labanof) at the University of Milan, has spent years working to identify the dead from a shipwreck in 2015 in which more than 1,000 people lost their lives.

    Raising the wreck to retrieve the bodies has cost €9.5m (£8.1m) already. Organising the 30,000 mixed bones into identifiable remains of 528 bodies has been a herculean task. Only six victims have so far been issued official death certificates.

    As political positions on irregular migration have hardened, experts are finding official enthusiasm for their complex work has diminished. “It’s not only a technical difficulty but also a political one,” Cattaneo said.

    In Sicily, Vella has been investigating a fishing boat that sank in October 2019. It was carrying 49 people, mostly from Tunisia. Just a few miles off shore, a group onboard filmed themselves celebrating their imminent arrival in Europe before the boat ran out of fuel and capsized. The Italian coastguard rescued 22 people but 27 others lost their lives.

    Coastguard divers, using robots, captured images of bodies floating near the vessel, but were unable to recover all of them. The footage circulated around the world. A group of Tunisian women who had been searching for their sons contacted the Italian authorities and were given permits to travel to meet the prosecutor, who showed them more footage.

    One mother, Zakia Hamidi, recognised her 18-year-old son, Fheker. It was a searing experience for both her and Vella: “At that moment, I realised the difference between a mother, torn apart by grief, but who at least will return home with her child’s body, and those mothers who will not have a body to mourn. It is something heartbreaking.”
    The torture of not knowing

    The grief that people feel when they have no certainty about the fate of their missing relatives has a very particular intensity.

    Dr Pauline Boss, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota in the US, was the first to describe this “ambiguous loss”. “You are stuck, immobilised, you feel guilty if you begin again because that would mean accepting the person is dead. Grieving is frozen, your decision-making is frozen, you can’t work out the facts, can’t answer the questions,” she said.

    Not knowing often has severe practical consequences too. Spouses may not be able to exercise their parental rights, inherit assets or claim welfare support or pensions without a death certificate. Orphans cannot be adopted by extended family without one either.

    Sometimes relatives are left in the dark for years. A decade on from a shipwreck disaster in 2013, bereaved families continue to gather in Lampedusa every year, still searching for answers. Among them this year was a Syrian woman, Sabah al-Joury, whose son Abdulqader was on the boat. She said that not knowing where he ended up was like having “an open wound”.

    Sabah’s family said the torture of not being able to find out what happened to him was “like dying everyday”. Abdallah thinks he must make another trip from Paris to southern Spain before the end of the year. “What is difficult is not to have the body, not to be able to bury him,” he said.

    Rituals around death were indicative of a deep human need, said Boss. “The most important thing is for the name to be marked somewhere, so the family can visit, and the missing can be remembered. A name means you were on this Earth, not forgotten.”


    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #tombes #fosses_communes #Europe #morts_aux_frontières #enterrement #cimetières #morgues #chiffres

    • The Border Graves Investigation

      More than 1,000 migrants who died trying to enter Europe lie buried in nameless graves. EU migration policy has failed the dead and the living.

      A cross-border team of eight journalists has confirmed the existence of 1,015 unmarked graves of migrants buried in 65 cemeteries over the past decade across Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Poland, Lithuania, France, and Croatia. The reporters visited more than half of them.

      Unidentified migrants lay to rest in cemeteries in olive groves, on hilltops, in dense forests, and along remote highways. Each unmarked grave represents a person who lost their life en route to Europe, and a fate that will remain forever unknown to their loved ones.

      This months-long investigation underlines that Europe’s migration policies have failed more than a thousand people who have died in transit and the families who survive them.

      In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution recognsing the need for a “coordinated European approach” for “prompt and effective identification processes” for bodies found on EU borders. Yet in 2022, the Council of Europe called this area a “legislative void”.

      These failures mean that the responsibility of memorialising unidentified victims often ends up falling to individual municipalities, cemetery keepers and local good Samaritans, with many victims buried without any attempt at identification.


      In the absence of official data from European and national governments, the Border Graves Investigation collaborated with The Guardian and Suddeutsche Zeitung to count 2,162 unidentified deaths of migrants across eight countries in Europe between 2014 and 2023.

      The cross-border team conducted over 60 interviews in six languages. They spoke with families of the missing and deceased, whose loved ones left for Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Algeria and Sri Lanka.

      They revealed the institutional and bureaucratic hurdles of searching for bodies and burying the remains of those that are found. One mother compared her unresolved grief to an “open wound,” and an uncle said it was like “dying every day”.

      To understand the complex legal, medical and political landscape of death in each country, the journalists spoke with coroners, grave keepers, forensic doctors, international and local humanitarian groups, government officials, a European MEP and the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner.

      The in-depth investigation reveals that the European Union is violating migrants’ last rights. The stories below show how.
      The team

      The Border Graves Investigation team consists of Barbara Matejčić, Daphne Tolis, Danai Maragoudaki, Eoghan Gilmartin, Gabriela Ramirez, Gabriele Cruciata, Leah Pattem, and is coordinated by Tina Xu. The project was supported by the IJ4EU fund and JournalismFund Europe.

      Gabriele Cruciata is a Rome-based award-winning journalist specialising in podcasts and investigative and narrative journalism. He also works as a fixer, producer, journalism consultant, and trainer.

      Gabriele Cruciata IG @gab_cruciata

      Leah Pattem is a Spain-based journalist and photographer specialising in politics, migration and community stories. Leah is also the founder and editor of the popular local media platform Madrid No Frills.

      X @leahpattem
      IG @madridnofrills

      Eoghan Gilmartin is a Spain-based freelance journalist specialising in news, politics and migration. His work has appeared in Jacobin Magazine, The Guardian, Tribune and Open Democracy.

      X @EoghanGilmartin
      Muck Rack: Eoghan Gilmartin

      Gabriela Ramirez is an award-winning multimedia journalist specialising in migration, human rights, ocean conservation, and climate issues, always through a gender-focused lens. Currently serving as the Multimedia & Engagement Editor at Unbias The News.

      X @higabyramirez
      Linkedin Gabriela Ramirez
      Instagram @higabyramirez

      Barbara Matejčić is a Croatian award-winning freelance journalist, non-fiction writer and audio producer focused on social affairs and human rights

      Website: http://barbaramatejcic.com
      FB: https://www.facebook.com/barbara.matejcic.1
      Instagram: @barbaramatejcic

      Danai Maragoudaki is a Greek journalist based in Athens. She works for independent media outlet Solomon and is a member of their investigative team. Her reporting focuses on transparency, finance, and digital threats.

      FB: https://www.facebook.com/danai.maragoudaki
      X: @d_maragoudaki
      IG: @danai_maragoudaki

      Daphne Tolis is an award-winning documentary producer/filmmaker and multimedia journalist based in Athens. She has produced and hosted timely documentaries for VICE Greece and has directed TV documentaries for the EBU and documentaries for the MSF and IFRC. Since 2014 she has been working as a freelance producer and journalist in Greece for the BBC, Newsnight, VICE News Tonight, ABC News, PBS Newshour, SRF, NPR, Channel 4, The New York Times Magazine, ARTE, DW, ZDF, SVT, VPRO and others. She has reported live for DW News, BBC News, CBC News, ABC Australia, and has been a guest contributor on various BBC radio programs, Times Radio, Morning Ireland, RTE, NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’, and others.

      X: https://twitter.com/daphnetoli
      Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daphne_tolis/?hl=en
      Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/daphne-tolis

      Tina Xu is a multimedia journalist and filmmaker working at the intersection of migration, mental health, socially engaged arts, and civil society. Her stories often interrogate the three-way street between people, policy, and power. She received the Excellence in Environmental Reporting Award from Society of Publishers in Asia in 2021, was a laureate of the European Press Prize Innovation Award in 2021 and 2022, and shortlisted for the One World Media Refugee Reporting Award in 2022.

      X: @tinayingxu
      IG: @tinayingxu


    • 1000 Lives, 0 Names: The Border Graves Investigation. How the EU is failing migrants’ last rights

      What happens to those who die in their attempts to reach the European Union? How are their lives marked, how can their families honor them? How do governments recognize their existence and their basic rights as human beings?

      Our cross-border team confirmed 1,015 unmarked graves of migrants in 65 cemeteries buried over the last 10 years across Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Poland, Lithuania, France, and Croatia. We visited over half of them.

      Each unmarked grave represents a person who lost their life en route to Europe, and a fate that remains painfully unknown to their loved ones.

      In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution recognizing the need for a “coordinated European approach” for “prompt and effective identification processes” for bodies found on EU borders. Yet last year, the Council of Europe called this area a “legislative void.”

      In the absence of official data from European and national governments, the Border Graves Investigation counted 2,162 unidentified deaths of migrants across eight countries in Europe from 2014-2023.

      Our cross-border team conducted over 60 interviews in six languages. We spoke with families of the missing and deceased, whose loved ones left for Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Algeria, and Sri Lanka. They spoke about the institutional and bureaucratic hurdles of searching for, and if found, burying a body.

      One mother compared the unresolved grief to an “open wound,” and an uncle said it was like “dying every day.”
      Here is how Europe violates the “last rights” of migrants.


    • Widowed by Europe’s borders

      “No water, I think I’ll die, I love you.” This is the last text Sanooja received from her husband, who disappeared after a pushback into the dense forest that stretches between Belarus, Lithuania, and Poland. For families searching for missing loved ones, the EU inflicts a second death of identity and acknowledgment.

      Samrin and Sanooja were high school classmates. Both born in 1990, they grew up together in Kalpitiya, a town of 80,000 on the tip of a small peninsula in Sri Lanka. When Samrin first asked Sanooja out in the ninth grade, she said no. But years later, when her roommates snuck through her diary, they asked about the boy in all her stories.

      When they turned 20, Sanooja was studying to be a teacher, while Samrin left town for work. After six years of video calls and heart emoji-laden selfies, Samrin returned home in 2017 and they got married, her in a white headscarf and indigo-sleeved dress, him in a matching indigo suit. Their son Haashim was born a year later. They called each other “thangam,” or gold.

      She hoped the birth of their son meant that Samrin would stay close by from now on. They took their son to the beach, to the zoo. Then the 2019 economic crisis hit, the worst since the country’s independence in 1948. There were daily blackouts, a shortage of fuel, and runaway inflation. In 2022, protests rocked the country, and the government claimed bankruptcy.

      Samrin was a difficult person to fall in love with, says Sanooja, because he was so ambitious. Sanooja smiles bitterly over a video call from her home in Kalpitiya. The sun filters through the mango tree in the yard, where the two often sat together and made plans for their future.

      But part of loving him, she explains, meant supporting him even in his hardest decisions. One of these decisions was to take a plane to Moscow, then to travel to Europe and send money home. “He went to keep us happy, to make us good.”

      Their last day together, Sanooja surprised him with a cake: Sky blue icing, an airplane made of fondant, ascending from an earth made of chocolate sprinkles. In big letters: “Love you and will miss you. Have a safe journey, Thangam.” In their last photos together, Haashim sits laughing on Samrin’s lap as he cuts the cake. That night, Samrin squeezed his son and wept. The next day he put on a pair of blue Converse All-Stars, packed a black backpack, and set out. It was June 26, 2022. He had just turned 32 years old.

      Things did not go according to plan. He boarded a bus from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, but the fake Schengen visa they paid so much for was rejected at the Finnish border. Sanooja told him he could always come home. But in order to finance the journey, they had sold a plot of Samrin’s land and Sanooja’s jewelry, and borrowed money from friends. Samrin decided there was no turning back. He pivoted to plan B: He could go to Belarus, where he didn’t need a visa, and cross the border to Lithuania, in the Schengen zone.

      When Samrin checked into the Old Town Trio Hotel in Vilnius on August 16, 2022, the first thing he did was call home: He had survived the forest. Sanooja was relieved to hear his voice. He told her about the eight days crossing the forest between Belarus and Lithuania, the mud up to his knees. Days without food, drinking dirty water. He told her especially about the pains in his stomach as he walked in the forest, due to his recent surgery to remove kidney stones. Sometimes he would urinate blood.

      But he was in the European Union. He bought a plane ticket for a departure to Paris in four days, the city where he hoped to make his new life. What happened next is unclear. This is what Sanooja knows:

      On the third day, Samrin walked into the hotel lobby, and the manager called security. Plainclothes officers shuttled him into a car and whisked him 50 kilometers back once more to the Belarusian border. In less than 72 hours, Samrin found himself trapped again in the forest he had fought to escape.

      It was already dark when Samrin was left alone in the woods. He had no backpack, sleeping bag, or food. His phone was running out of battery. The next morning, Samrin came online briefly to send Sanooja a final message on WhatsApp: “No water, I think I’ll die. Trangam, I love you.”

      That was the beginning of a deafening silence that stretched four and a half months. When she gets to this part of the story, Sanooja, ever talkative and articulate, apologizes that she simply cannot describe it. Her eyes glaze and flit upward.

      The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović asserts that families have a “right to truth” surrounding the fates of their loved ones who disappear en route to Europe. In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for “prompt and effective identification processes” to connect the bodies of those who perished to those searching for them. Two years on, Mijatović tells us not much has been done, and the issue is a “legislative void.”

      As part of the Border Graves Investigation, conducted with a cross-border team of eight freelance journalists across Europe in collaboration with Unbias the News, The Guardian and Sueddeutche Zeitung, we followed the stories of those who have disappeared in the forest that covers the borders in Eastern Europe, between Belarus and the EU (Lithuania, Poland, Latvia).

      We spoke with their families, as well as over a dozen humanitarian workers, lawyers, and policymakers from organizations in Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus, to piece together the question of what happens after something goes fatally wrong on Europe’s eastern border—and who is responsible.
      Who counts the dead?

      The forest along the Belarussian border is a dense landscape of underbrush, moss and swamps, and encompasses one of the largest ancient forest areas left in Europe.

      Spanning hundreds of square kilometers across the borders with Lithuania and Poland, the forest became an unexpected hotspot when Belarus began issuing visas and opening direct flights to Minsk in the summer of 2021. This power play between Belarussian President Lukashenko and his EU neighbors has been called a “political game” in which migrants are the pawns.

      Since 2021, thousands of people, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, have sought to enter the EU from Belarus via its borders in Poland and Lithuania. Hundreds of people have been caught in a one-kilometer no man’s land between Belarusian territory and the EU border fence, chased back and forth by border guards on both sides under threat of violence. Belarusian guards reportedly threatened to release dogs, and photographs emerged of bite wounds.

      Since 2021, Poland and Lithuania have ramped up on “pushbacks,” in which border guards deport people immediately without the opportunity to ask for asylum, a process that is growing in popularity across Europe despite violating international law. Poland reports having conducted 78,010 pushbacks since the start of the crisis, and Lithuania 21,857. Samrin was apparently one of these cases.

      While these two countries publish precise daily statistics for pushbacks, they do not publish data for deaths at the border, nor people reported missing.

      “National states want to do this job secretly,” explains Tomas Tomilinas, a member of the Lithuanian Parliament. “We are on the margins of the law and constitution here, any government pushing people back is trying to avoid publicity on this topic.”

      Official data is an intentional void. Both the Polish and Lithuanian Border Guards declined to share any numbers with us. However, there are organizations striving to keep count: Humanitarian groups in Poland, including Grupa Granica (“Border Group” in Polish) and Podlaskie Humanitarian Emergency Service (POPH), have documented 52 deaths on the Poland-Belarus border since 2021, and are tracking 16 unidentified bodies.

      In Lithuania, the humanitarian group Sienos Grupė (“Border Group” in Lithuanian) has documented 10 deaths, including three minors who died while in detention centers, and three others who died in car accidents when chased by local authorities after crossing the border region. In Belarus, the NGO Human Constanta reports that 33 have died according to government data shared with them, but it was not recorded whether these bodies have been identified, and whether or where they are buried.

      On the borders between Poland, Lithuania and Belarus, humanitarian groups have compiled a list of more than 300 people reported missing. The organizations emphasize that their numbers are incomplete, as they have neither the access nor the capacity to monitor the full extent of the problem.

      Where to turn?

      It was already past midnight in Sri Lanka when Samrin stopped responding to messages. From 8,000 km away, Sanooja tried to call for help. She found his last known coordinates on Find My iPhone, a blue dot in Trokenikskiy, Grodno region, just across the Belarus side of the border, and tried to report him missing.

      The Lithuanian and Belarussian border guards picked up the phone. She begged them to find him, even if it meant arresting or deporting him. They responded that he had to call himself. It was baffling: How can a missing person call to report themselves?

      She called the migrant detention camps, where people are often detained without access to a phone for months. Maybe he was locked up somewhere. As soon as she said “hello,” they responded, “no English,” and hung up. She emailed them instead, no response. She emailed UNHCR and the Red Cross Society. Both institutions said they had no information about the case. She emailed the police, who responded a week later that they had no information.

      Sanooja had run into the rude reality that there is no authority responsible for nor prepared to respond to such inquiries. Even organizations dedicated to working with migrants, such as the migrant detention camp staff, would or could not respond to basic queries in English.

      International humanitarian organizations, too, are almost absent in the region. Compared to the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy, and Greece, which have had a decade to organize to respond to mass deaths on their border, the presence of formal aid in Eastern Europe is much smaller.

      Weeks passed, and in the terrible silence, every possibility behind her husband’s disappearance invaded Sanooja’s mind. Four-year-old Haashim began to cry out for his father every night, who used to wake him up with kisses. When they lost contact, Haashim often wet the bed and refused to go to school. “He must have had some intuition about his father,” said Sanooja.

      Then Sanooja began to wonder if he could be in another country in the region: Latvia? Poland? She broadened her search to all four countries. There was no Sri Lankan Embassy in Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, or Latvia, so she emailed the closest one in Sweden. Then, she went on Facebook. That’s how she found the account of Sienos Grupė, and sent them a message.

      Like many local humanitarian groups across the region, Sienos Grupė is a small team of four part-time staff and around 30 volunteers. The group banded together in 2021 to respond to calls for help through WhatsApp and Facebook and drop off vital supplies in the forest, such as food, water, power banks, and dry clothes.
      “There is a body, please go”

      Local volunteer groups were doing their best to aid the living, but it wasn’t long before they were being contacted to find the missing or the dead.

      On the Polish border, everyone has heard of Piotr Czaban. A local journalist and activist, his contact is shared among migrants attempting to cross the border. He is known as the man who can help find the bodies of people left behind in the woods, a reputation he has lived up to many times. The demands of the work have led him to leave his full-time job.

      He sits on the edge of a weathered log in a forest near Sokolka, a city near the Poland-Belarus border region where he lives. Navigating the thick undergrowth with ease in jeans and trekking boots, he recounts the first search he coordinated back in February 2022. He received a message on Facebook from a Syrian man in Belarus: “There is a body in the forest, here is the place, please go.”

      Piotr was taken off guard. He asked his friends in the police what to do, and they told him the best way was to go himself, take photos, and then call the police. However, the border guards had closed the border region to all non-residents, including journalists and humanitarian workers, so he couldn’t pass the police checkpoints for the area where the body lay.

      So Piotr made another call. This time to Rafal Kowalczyk, the 53-year-old director of the Mammal Research Institute, who has worked in the Bialowieza Forest for three decades. (“In my previous TV job, I interviewed him about bison, and thought he was a good man,” said Piotr by way of introduction).

      Rafal was up for the task. As a wildlife expert, he had access to the restricted forest area, and now he ventured into the woods not to track bison, but to follow the clues sent by a despairing Syrian man.

      In the swamp, Rafal found 26-year-old Ahmed Al-Shawafi from Yemen, barefoot and half-submerged in the water, one shoe in the mud nearby.

      It was difficult for Rafal to point his camera at the face of a dead man, but he did, and this image still haunts him. Piotr forwarded the photos Rafal had taken to the police, with a straightforward message: “We know there’s a body there. Now you have to go.”

      But what if Ahmed could have been found earlier, even alive?

      “The police have no competence”

      Until there is a photo of a dead body, police and border guards have often declined to search for missing or dead migrants.

      Ahmed’s traveling companions, including the man who contacted Piotr, had personally begged Polish border guards for emergency medical aid for Ahmed. They had left Ahmed by the river in the throes of hypothermia to ask for help. Instead of calling paramedics, or searching for Ahmed at all, the border guards pushed the group back to Belarus, leaving Ahmed to die alone in the forest.

      In our investigation, we heard of at least three other deaths that are eerily similar to Ahmed’s: Ethiopian woman Mahlet Kassa, 28; Syrian man Mohammed Yasim, 32; and Yemeni man Dr. Ibrahim Jaber Ahmed Dihiya, 33. In all three cases, traveling companions approached Polish officers for emergency medical attention, but instead got pushed back themselves. Help never arrived.

      Each time the activists receive a report of a missing or dead person, they first share this information with the police. Piotr says he has received responses from the police, including, “We’re busy,” or “Not our problem.”

      After police were provided with the photos and exact GPS location of Ahmed’s body, they called back to say they still couldn’t find him. When Rafal turned his car around to personally lead the police to his body, he found out why: The police had ventured into the swamp without waterproof boots or even a GPS to navigate in a forest where there is often no cell connection.

      “The police are unequipped,” said Rafal, full of disbelief. Two years on from the crisis, the police still do not have the proper basic equipment nor training to conduct searches for people missing or dead in the forest. He recounts that in one trip to retrieve a body with police, they could only walk 300 meters in one hour, and one officer had lost the sole of his shoes in the mud.

      The Polish police responded to our email, “The police is not a force with the competence to deal with persons illegally crossing borders.” As a result, eight of 22 bodies found this year on the Polish side of the border were discovered by volunteers like Piotr and Rafal.

      On the Lithuanian side, Sienos Grupė says there are no such searches. “We are afraid there are many bodies in Lithuanian forests and the area between the fence and Belarus, but we are not allowed there,” says Aušrinė, a 23-year-old medicine student and Sienos Grupė volunteer in Lithuania. “Nobody is looking for them.”
      “In two weeks, there is nothing there”

      Rafal sits down in a wooden lodge on the edge of the forest and orders tea for himself while his two young children play on a tablet. It was his turn with the kids, he explains in a deep voice. His wife came home at four in the morning, after spending the whole night volunteering with POPH on a search for a man with diabetes in the forest.

      He feared that time was running out. We met with Rafal on Thursday evening. The man was found on Saturday morning, already dead. He is the 51st death recorded in Poland this year.

      In the forest, each search is a race against both time and wild animals.

      The winter may preserve a body for two months, but in the summer, the time frame is much shorter. A few times, Rafal has come across mere skeletons. He explains, “When there is a smell, the scavengers go immediately. When you’ve got summer and flies, probably in two weeks, it’s done, there’s nothing there.”

      In such advanced stages of decomposition, the body is exponentially more difficult to identify. However, DNA can be collected from bone fragments, in case families come searching. If they’re lucky, there are objects found close by: glasses, clothes, or jewelry. In one case, a family portrait found near the body was the key to identification.

      However, the Suwałki Prosecutor’s Office in Poland explained to us that the Prosecutor’s Offices keep no central register of data on deceased migrants, such as DNA, personal belongings, or photographs.
      “As a wife, I know his eyes”

      Four and a half months after Samrin disappeared, Sanooja’s phone rang. It was January 5, 2023. She will never forget the voice of the man that spoke. He was calling from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka, and informed her that her husband’s DNA had been matched to a body found in the Lithuanian forest. Interpol had drawn Samrin’s biometric data from the UK.

      She considers it fate that the dots came together this way. When they were 20 years old, Samrin’s father passed away, and Samrin left for London on a student visa. Instead of studying, he washed dishes at McDonald’s and KFC, and stocked shelves at Aldi, Lidl, and Iceland. When his visa expired, he lived a clandestine existence, evading the authorities. At age 26, the Home Office arrested him, took his DNA, and deported him. This infraction turned out to be an unexpected lifeline for his identification.

      “Getting the message that my husband was no more, that was nothing compared to those four and a half months,” said Sanooja. She had begun to fear that she would have to live with “lifelong doubt” around Samrin’s fate. Now she knew that four days after Samrin sent his goodbye message, his body was pulled from a river on the Lithuanian side of the border.

      Sanooja has read the police report countless times now: On August 21, 2022, witness Saulius Zakarevičius went for a morning swim in the Neris River. After bathing, he saw something floating. Through binoculars, he was able to decipher human clothes. The river bank is covered with tall grass. At the end of the patch there was a male corpse lying face down. The surface of the skin was swollen, pale, chaotically covered with pink lines, resembling the surface of marble. The skin was peeling from the palms of the corpse…

      She was asked to identify the corpse.

      “As a wife, I know him. I know his eyes. To see them on a dead body, that was terrible.”

      In photos of his personal items, she instantly recognized Samrin’s shoes: a muddy pair of blue Converse All-Stars, with the laces looped just the way he always did.

      To be able to transport a dead body from Europe to any other part of the world, families must face the financial challenge of costs up to 10,000 euros. But the decision was not only about money for Sanooja. It was about time and dreams.

      For one, she believed that he had suffered enough. “As Muslims, we believe that even dead bodies can feel pain,” she says softly. “I felt broken that he was in the mortuary, feeling the cold for four and a half months.”

      And perhaps most of all, she recites what Samrin had told her before he left: “If I go, this time I’m not coming back.” In the end, Sanooja relied on her husband’s last will. “His dream was to be in Europe. So, at least his body will rest in Europe.”
      “Graves without a plate”

      Samrin’s death was the first border death publicly recognized by the Lithuanian government. Despite being the first, he did not receive any distinctive attention, and his resting place remained an unmarked mound of earth for more than eight months.

      On a hot summer day in July, co-founder of Sienos Grupė, Mantautas Šulskus brings a green watering can and measuring tape to our visit to the Vilnius cemetery where Samrin was buried in February. Green grass is sprouting all over Samrin’s grave. But it is not the only one.

      There are three smaller graves lined in a row. Among them, an eleven-year-old, a five-year-old, and a newborn baby rest side by side, their lives cut short in 2021. “These are three minors who died in detention centers in Lithuania,” Mantautas points out somberly.

      These cases have not been officially acknowledged by Lithuanian authorities, and none of the graves of the minors bear a name, even though their identities were also known to authorities. This lack of recognition paints a haunting picture, suggesting a second, silent death—a death of identity and acknowledgment.

      Bodies are sent to municipal or village governments to bury, and if they do not receive explicit instructions to create a plate, they often opt not to. As a result, the nameless graves of migrants are scattered across cemeteries in the region.

      Yet Mantautas is here in the scorching heat to measure a stone plate nearby in the Muslim corner of the cemetery. Sanooja saw it during a video call with Sienos Grupė volunteers, so that she could pray virtually at her husband’s grave. She asked for a plate with Samrin’s name on it—“just exactly like that one there,” she pointed.

      After some months, Sienos Grupė crowdfunded around 1,500 euros to buy and place stone plates for all four graves. The graves of Samrin and the three children now have names: Yusof Ibrahim Ali, Asma Jawadi, and Fatima Manazarova.

      Resting at the feet of the grave is a plate made of stone bearing the inscription “M.S.M.M. Samrin, 1990-2022, Sri Lanka,” precisely as Sanooja has requested. She explains that, according to Islamic beliefs, this will ensure that her husband will rise when the last days come.

      Hidden graves, unknown bodies

      The chilling thing, Mantautas explains, is nobody knows how many graves of migrants there might be, except for the government, which buries them quietly, often in remote villages.

      Organizations like Sienos Grupė find themselves grasping in the dark for leads. Last month, volunteers came across the grave of Lakshmisundar Sukumaran, an Indian man reported dead in April “quite by accident,” says Mantautas. The revelation came on the Eve of All Saint’s Day, when activists preparing for a control ran into a local returning from a visit to his mother’s grave: “There is a migrant buried in town.”

      Indeed, Sukumaran’s grave stands alone in an isolated corner of a small cemetery in Rameikos, a village of 25 people on the Lithuanian-Belarus border. Set apart from crosses of various sizes, a vertical piece of wood bears the inscription: “Lakshmisundar Sukumaran 1983.06.05 – 2023.04.04.” The border fence is visible from his grave. The earth is decorated by the colorful leaves of Lithuanian autumn.

      Sienos Grupė maintains a list of at least 40 people reported missing on the Lithuania-Belarus border, information the government does not record. When bodies are found, they strive to connect the dots: Location, gender, age, ethnicity, possessions, birthmarks, anything. But if authorities do not report when a body is found, the chances of locating anybody on this list are small.

      Emiljia Śvobaitė, a lawyer and volunteer from Sienos Grupė, explains that the Lithuanian government will only confirm whether something they already know is correct. “It seems like they are hiding these kinds of stories and information unless somebody exposes it. They would only confirm the deaths after activists have said something about it.”
      “No political will”

      The Lithuanian Parliament building, known as the Seimas Palace, is an imposing glass-and-concrete building in downtown Vilnius. It is where the Lithuanians declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. From an office with a view over the square, Member of Parliament Tomas Tomilinas wryly explains that their government has legalized pushbacks essentially because Europe has not established that it’s illegal.

      “I would say Europe has no political will to make pushbacks illegal. If there were a European law, the European Commission would put a ban on it. It would put a fine on Lithuania. But nobody’s doing that.”
      Member of Lithuanian Parliament, Tomas Tomilinas

      The Polish parliament legalized pushbacks in October 2021, and the Lithuanian parliament followed suit by legalizing pushbacks in April this year.

      Emiljia raises concerns about the violence of pushbacks her clients have seen. “The government keeps telling us they do everything really nicely. They give people food, and even wave goodbye to them, in the daytime. But when we look at specific cases, where people end up without their limbs on them, those pushbacks are performed at night.”

      She also raises concerns about legalized pushbacks in Lithuania, and whether border guards should be given the right to assess and deny asylum claims on the spot. “It’s funny because border guards should decide right away on the border whether a person is running from persecution, meaning a border guard should identify the conflict in the country of origin, and do all the work that the migration department is doing.”

      “It’s naive to believe that the system would work.”
      Fighting back in court

      With the help of Sienos Grupė’s support for legal expenses, Sanooja took the case to court. If the Lithuanian officials wouldn’t speak with her, perhaps they would speak to lawyers.

      Yet last month, Sanooja’s case was closed for the final time by the Vilnius Regional Prosecutor’s Office after seven appeals. The case never made it to trial.

      The Vilnius court claims there is no basis for a criminal investigation. Emiljia, who was on the team representing Sanooja in the case, responds that the pre-trial investigation didn’t investigate the cause of death properly, nor how the acts of the border police might have caused or contributed to the death of the applicant’s husband.

      Rytis Satkauskas, law professor, managing partner of ReLex law firm, and the lead attorney on Sanooja’s case, questions whether the Lithuanian courts are trying to hide something greater: he points to a series of inconsistencies in Samrin’s autopsy report.

      Autopsies should be conducted immediately to determine the cause of death. However, Samrin’s autopsy report claims that the cause of death cannot be established because the body was in an advanced state of decomposition of up to five months.

      Five months after Samrin’s death is the same time around which Sanooja got in touch to pursue the truth of the matter. Satkauskas does not think this is a coincidence: “I believe they left the body in the repository, then when they established the identity of the person, they had to do this autopsy.”

      The autopsy report explains the advanced state of decomposition by referencing the marshy area in which it was found, claiming the heat of the marsh had accelerated decomposition by up to five months within a matter of days.

      Satkauskas asks further: If Samrin simply drowned, then why do other measurements not add up? He references a table of measurements in the autopsy report, in which the weight and algae content of the lungs are normal. However, Satkauskas says, in cases of drowning, both weight and algae content should be much higher. “I’m convinced they have invented all those measurements,” Satkauskas puts simply.

      As Sanooja’s case has exhausted all legal avenues in Lithuania, it is now eligible for appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

      Emilija points to a promising parallel: in Alhowais v. Hungary, the European Court of Human Rights ruled this February that a Hungarian border guard’s violent pushback ending in the drowning of a Syrian man violated Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which protects the “right to life” and against “torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

      The decision came in February this year, seven years after the death of the defendant’s brother. Yet for Sanooja and her team, the case provides hope that there is a growing legal precedent for victims of pushbacks.

      A battle in court for Sanooja could be a long and expensive one. The case in Vilnius courts had cost 600 euros for each of the seven appeals, and after Sanooja ran out of funds after the first case, Sienos Grupė stepped in to shoulder the costs of the appeals.

      For the ECHR, it will cost 1500 euros to submit the proposal. Sanooja is exploring the possibility of raising money through NGOs or other means to continue the long quest for truth.

      The window of eligibility to appeal will close in February 2024.
      “Wherever I go, I have memories”

      Day by day, Sanooja’s son grows to look more like Samrin.

      She has tried not to cry in front of him. “It makes him upset. I am the only person now for my son, so I should be strong enough to face these things,” says the 32-year-old widow. “But wherever I go, I have memories. And everything my son does reminds me of him.”

      Before Samrin’s body was found, she told her son “false stories,” but with his body now interred, she has opened up to her son about her father’s death. He understands it the way a child might—he runs around telling neighbors his father is in heaven, and it’s a great place. It will be years before he can point to where Lithuania is on a map.

      Thanks to the cooperation of the Sri Lankan embassy in Sweden, Sanooja is one of the few families who have been able to receive a death certificate. She notes this will be crucial when her son enrolls for school and if they decide to sell or expand their property. However, to correct the misspelling on the document, she needs to travel to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, which takes ten hours and nearly 10,000 rupees.

      Meanwhile, Samrin’s death has ruptured the family into those who can accept the reality of his death, and those who cannot. Sanooja’s mother-in-law has ceased contact with her, unable to wrap her head around the fact that her boy is gone. When Samrin had left, he promised his mother to send money so that she would no longer have to wake up early to make pastries to sell in the morning. On the day of Samrin’s funeral, she told the family, “That is not my son.”

      “What difference does it make, finding the body and burying it?” asks Pauline Boss, the Psychology Professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota who coined the term “ambiguous loss,” which encompasses the unique stress of not knowing whether someone you love is alive or dead.

      Professor Boss states that burying someone is a distinct human need—not just for the dead, but for the living. “In all cases, a human being has to see their loved one transform from breathing to not breathing, and have the power and control to deal with the remains in their particular cultural way. It’s a human need, and it has been for eons.”

      Yet few families are able to attend the funerals of their loved ones in Europe, for the same reason their loved ones tried to travel to Europe on such a dangerous road in the first place: inability to obtain a visa, or lack of funds.

      “I hope one day I will visit, and I will show our son his father’s grave,” Sanooja declares.

      When Samrin was interred into the snow-covered February earth of Liepynės cemetery in Vilnius on Valentine’s Day this year, a volunteer present at the burial offered to video call Sanooja through FaceTime.

      In the grainy constellation of pixels of the phone screen in her palm, from 8,000 kilometers away, she watched her husband disappear forever into the cold European soil.


      #Lituanie #Biélorussie #forêt #Pologne #Bialowieza

    • Missing data, missing souls in Italy

      How Italy’s failing system makes it almost impossible for families to identify their relatives who passed away while reaching the EU.

      Before the Syrian civil war erupted, Refaat Hazima was a barber in Damascus. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had also been barbers. Thanks to his craftsmanship, flair, and a reputation built over four generations, Refaat was a wealthy man. Together with his wife – a doctor for the national service – he could afford to have his three children study instead of sending them to work at a young age.

      “They were always the top of the class,” he recalls in a nostalgic voice as he sits alone in a seaside restaurant on Lampedusa, a small Sicilian island halfway between Malta and the eastern coast of Tunisia. The rocky shores along which he now slowly enjoys eggplant served with fresh tuna were the scene of the most traumatic episode of his life.

      “President Bashar al-Assad had centralized all power in his hands, and our daily life in Syria had become complicated.” Refaat was also temporarily imprisoned for political reasons. But the point of no return for him and his wife was the outbreak of civil war in 2011. It became clear that not only their children’s educational future was in jeopardy, but even the survival of their entire family.

      So they decided to leave.

      The couple paid smugglers more than fifty thousand dollars to attempt to reach Germany, where their children could continue their education. But amid rejections, hurdles, and hesitations that forced the family into months-long stages in different countries, Refaat and his family had to wait until 2013 to finally set sail to the European shores of Lampedusa.

      Although it was autumn, the sea was calm that night. Initial concerns related to the sea conditions and the wooden boat that was all too heavily laden with humans now dissipated. In the darkness of the night sea, the shorelines and the flickering lights of street lamps and restaurants were in sight. But suddenly the boat in which they were traveling capsized.

      “Everyone was screaming as we ended up in the sea,” Rafaat recalls. “I grabbed one of my children, my wife grabbed another child. But in the commotion and screaming of the nighttime shipwreck, two of my children disappeared.”

      The couple were rescued by Italian authorities and brought to the mainland along with one of their children. The other two, however, disappeared. “One of them told me Dad, give me a kiss on the forehead, and then I never saw him ever again.”

      From 2013 to the present, Refaat has searched everywhere for their children. For 10 years he has been traveling, asking, and searching. He has even appeared on TV hoping one day to be reunited with them. But to this day he still does not know if his children were saved or if they are two of the 268 victims of the October 11, 2013 shipwreck, one of the worst Mediterranean disasters in the last three decades.

      Uncertain and partial numbers

      For more than two decades, Italy has been one of the main gateways for migrants wanting to reach the European Union. Between thirty and forty thousand people have died trying to reach Italy since 2000. But despite this strategic location, authorities have never created a comprehensive register to census the dead returned from the sea, and thus sources are confusing and approximate.

      In any case, the figure of bodies found is only a percentage of the people who lost their lives while attempting to cross over to Europe. In fact, the bodies of those who die at sea are rarely recovered. When this happens, they are even more rarely identified by Italian authorities.

      A study conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross tried to map the anonymous graves of migrants in various European countries and count the number of deaths recovered at sea. According to the report, between 2014 and 2019, 964 bodies of people – presumed migrants – were found in Italy, of which only 27 percent were identified. In most of the cases analyzed, identification occurred through immediate visual recognition by their fellow travelers, while those traveling without friends or relatives almost always remained anonymous.

      Overall, 73 percent of the bodies recovered in Italy between 2014 and 2019 remain unknown.

      A DNA test for everyone

      “The vast majority of bodies end up at the bottom of the sea and are never recovered, becoming fish food,” explains Tareke Bhrane, founder of the October 3 Committee, an NGO established to protect the rights of those who die trying to reach Europe. “The Committee was born in the aftermath of the two disastrous shipwrecks on October 3 and 11, 2013 to make Italy understand that even those who die have dignity and that respecting that dignity is important not only for those who die, but also for those who survive,” Bhrane recounts.

      On October 3, 2023, the Committee organized a large event on the island of Lampedusa to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the shipwreck. Dozens of families of people who died or disappeared gathered on the island, traveling from many European and Middle Eastern countries.

      On the island were also forensic geneticists from Labanof, a leading forensic medicine laboratory at the University of Milan that has been working with prosecutors and law enforcement agencies for decades now to solve cases and identify unnamed bodies. Relatives of missing persons were thus able to undergo a free DNA test to find out more about their loved ones.

      One of the committee’s main activities in recent years has been to lobby Sicilian municipalities for better management of anonymous graves. Thanks in part to the NGO, today almost all Sicilian provinces now house some victims of migration, often anonymous, in their cemeteries.

      “Among the essential points of our mission,” Bhrane explains, “is to create a European DNA database for the recognition of victims, so that anyone who wants to can take a DNA test anywhere in Europe and find out if a loved one has lost their life trying to get here.”
      Resigned and hopeful


      While Refaat has not yet resigned himself to the idea that his children may have died at sea, other relatives have become more aware and would like to know where Italy buried their loved ones. But this is often impossible because the graves are anonymous and there is a lack of national records that they can consult to find their loved ones.

      This is the case for Asmeret Amanuel and Desbele Asfaha, two Eritrean nationals who are respectively the nephew and brother of one of the people aboard the boat that capsized in 2013.

      “We heard from the radio that the boat he was traveling on had sunk. We never heard from him again,” Asmeret says. The two traveled all the way to Lampedusa to undergo DNA testing, hoping to match their loved one’s name for the first time with one of the many acronyms that have appeared on migrants’ anonymous graves and find out where he rests.

      “I remember as children we used to play together,” says Desbele. “And instead today I don’t even know where to mourn him. Yet it would take so little.”

      An organizational failure

      Many Italian cemeteries hold anonymous graves of people who died while migrating, especially in the South. It is difficult to map them all and provide an exact number, just as it is nearly impossible to quantify the number of anonymous graves. Again, there is no centralized, national database, and even at the municipal level information is scarce and partial.

      But thanks to an international investigation project called the “The Border Graves Investigation” and promoted by IJ4EU and Journalism Fund of which Unbias the News is one of the partners, it is now possible to shed light on what resembles a large European mass grave.

      From the Italian side of the investigation, large gaps emerge on Italy’s part in the construction of a national cemetery archive. According to protocol, data on anonymous graves are supposed to be sent every three months from individual cemeteries and work their way up a long bureaucratic chain until they reach the desk of the government’s Special Commissioner for Missing Persons, an office created by the Italian government in 2007 precisely to create a single national database.

      But sources from the Special Commissioner told the Border Graves Investigation team that unidentified bodies are not within their jurisdiction because in cases where there is an alleged crime (e.g., illegal immigration) the jurisdiction passes to the local magistrate. Thus, the source confirmed that no office systematically collects this data and that figures areeverything is scattered in individual prosecutors’ offices.

      However, the documentary traces of migrants’ anonymous graves are often already lost in the records of the cemeteries themselves or municipal records, that is, at the first step in the chain. For example, in Agrigento, it is possible to visit the graves of men and women who died at sea marked by numbers, but in the paper registers consulted by our team of journalists there is no trace of them.

      Yet the records are deposited a few meters from the graves themselves.

      In Sciacca, Agrigento province, the municipal administration moved some anonymous graves of migrants inside a mass grave to make room for new burials. However, it did not follow the prescribed regulations and did not notify the relatives of the few victims who had been identified and whose names were listed on the grave. The matter was discovered at the time when a woman went to the cemetery to pray at her sister’s grave and did not find her in her usual place.

      In other cases, anonymous graves have been moved from one cemetery to another due to the need for space, but without alerting the population.
      The bureaucratic snag

      Finding out the fate of a loved one is so complicated for several reasons. First, the identification of the body, which the Italian authorities do not generally consider a priority. Then there is the difficulty of recognition itself, especially when relatives are abroad or have difficulty contacting Italian authorities.

      In addition, there is the problem of traceability of the bodies, which often remain on the seabed and, in the few cases where they are found, enter a bureaucratic machine in which it is arduous to recover their traces. Researcher and anthropologist Giorgia Mirto explained this to our investigative team: “The corpses should be registered in the registrar’s office where the body is found. But then the body is often moved within the same cemetery, from one cemetery to another or from one municipality to another, and so there is documentation that travels along with the body. Moves that are difficult to track.”

      “Moreover,” Mirto adds, “adding to the difficulty is the absence of unified procedures. “With the Human Cost of Border Control project, we have seen that the only way to count these people and their graves is to do a blanket search of all the municipalities, all the cemetery offices, all the registrars’ offices and all the cemeteries, possibly adding the funeral homes as well.”

      Thus, there is a problem with centralization and transparency of data that is often also linked to the huge austerity cuts that have forced municipalities to work understaffed. Emblematic is the Commissioner’s Office for Missing Persons, which would be responsible for compiling a list of unidentified bodies found on Italian soil, but has been left without a portfolio.

      “As anthropologist Didier Fassin says,” the researcher concludes, “missing data is not the result of carelessness but is an administrative and political choice. It should be understood how much this choice is conscious and how much is the result of disinterest in the good work of municipal archives (an essential resource for historical memory and for the peace of victims’ families) or in understanding the cost of borders in terms of human lives.”

      EU responsibilities

      Forensic scientist Cristina Cattaneo – a professor at the University of Milan and director of the Labanof forensic laboratory – explained to our team that from a forensic point of view, the most important procedure for identifying a body is to collect both post-mortem (from tattoos to DNA, through cadaveric inspections and autopsies) and antemortem medical forensic information, that is, that which comes from family members regarding the missing person.

      However, in many countries, including Italy, no law makes this procedure mandatory. In the case of people who die while migrating, this is done only in egregious cases, such as large shipwrecks that become news. “These cases have shown that a broad and widespread effort to identify the bodies of those who die at sea is possible,” says Cattaneo. “However, most people lose their lives in very small shipwrecks that don’t make too much news. And because there is no protocol to make data collection systematic, many family members are left in doubt as to whether their loved ones are alive or dead.”

      All this happens despite the great efforts made over the years by the government’s Extraordinary Commissioner for Missing Persons, which, despite being the only national institution of its kind at the European level, has to manage a huge amount of data from all Italian municipalities. Data that are often disorganized, reported late, and collected without adhering to common and strict procedures.

      This is why Cattaneo is among the signatories of an appeal calling for the enactment of a European law that would once and for all oblige member states to identify the bodies of migrants.

      “Yet a European solution would exist and from a technical point of view it is already feasible,” Cattaneo adds. It involves data exchange systems such as Interpol, which at the European level already collects, organizes, and can share information and organically to member countries.

      “It would be enough to expand the analysis to include missing migrants and thus make it possible to search and identify them on a European scale. But this is not being done because of a lack of political will on the part of Brussels,” Cattaneo concludes.
      “The art of patience”


      Identifying the bodies of people who lose their lives coming to Europe is an important issue on several levels.

      First and foremost, international humanitarian law protects the right to identity for both those who are alive and those who have died. But identifying is also an essential issue for those who remain alive. Indeed, without a death certificate, it is almost impossible for a spouse to marry again or to access survivor’s pensions, just as it is impossible for a minor relative to leave their country with an adult without running into a blockade by the authorities, who cannot rule out the possibility of child abduction.

      Then there is the issue of suspended grief, namely the condition of those who do not know whether to search for a loved one or mourn his or her death.

      This is the case for Asmeret and Desbele, but also for many relatives interviewed by our team.

      Sabah and Ahmed, for example, are a Syrian couple. One of their sons disappeared in 2013 after a shipwreck in Italian waters. For 10 years, Ahmed retraced the same land and sea route followed by his son, hoping to find his body or at least get more information. But the efforts were in vain and to this day the family still does not know what happened to him.

      “His children are still with us and often ask, ‘where is Dad? Where is Dad?’ but without a grave and a body, we still don’t know what to answer.”

      Both Sabah and Ahmed are very religious and today rely on Allah to give them the comfort they have not found in the work of institutions. “The greatest gift from Allah,” they recount, “was the patience with which to be able to move forward in the face of such unnatural grief for a parent.”

      A similar lesson was learned by Refaat, who like Ahmed and Sabah has been living in ignorance for ten years. Today he has opened a barber store in Hamburg and realized his dream of having his surviving son study in Germany.

      “I have been searching for my children for ten years, and Allah knows I will search for them until the end of my days, should I find their dead bodies, or should I find them alive who knows where in the world. But I want to die knowing that I did everything I could to find them.”
      Refaat Hazima

      Sometimes his voice trembles. “I often talk to them in my sleep, I feel that they are still alive. But even if I were to find out they are dead, in all these years I would still have learned how to deal with frustration and pain, how to live with emptiness. And most importantly,” he concludes, “I would have learned the art of patience.”


      #Italie #Tareke_Brhane #comitato_3_ottobre #3_octobre_2013 #Lampedusa

    • Unmarked monuments of EU’s shame in Croatia and Bosnia

      Amid pushbacks and torture, many of the victims of the treacherous Balkan route are laid to an anonymous final resting place in Croatian and Bosnian cemetaries.

      In the village of Siče in eastern Croatia, there are more inhabitants in the cemetery than among the living. The village has 230 living residents, and 250 dead. To be more precise, the cemetery is home to 247 locals and three unknown persons. There would be more people six feet under if Siče hadn’t gotten its own cemetery only in the 1970s. There would also be even more of the living if they hadn’t, like many from that region, gone to bigger cities in search of a better life. Abroad as well, mainly to Germany.

      The graves of Siče’s inhabitants briefly tell the visitor who these people were, where they belong, and whether their loved ones care for them. That’s the thing with graves, they summarise the basic information of our life.

      If the grave bears only the inscription “NN”, that summarises a tragedy.

      Who are these three people whose names are unknown? How come their last resting place is a plain grave in Siče?

      Even if you didn’t know, it’s clear that those three people don’t belong there.

      They have been buried completely separated from the rest of the cemetery. Three wooden crosses with NN inscriptions, stuck in the ground at the edge of the cemetery. NN, an abbreviation of the Latin nomen nescio, literally means, “I do not know the name.” The official explanation from the public burial ground operator is that space has been left for more possible burials of those whose names are not known. However, the explanation that springs to mind when you get there is that they were buried separately so they wouldn’t mix with the locals. Or as the mayor of another town, where NN migrants have also been buried at the edge of the cemetery, let slip in a telephone conversation, “So that they’re not in the way.”

      At the cemetery in Siče, these are the only three graves that no one takes care of. In about five years, all trace of them could disappear. The public burial ground operator is obliged to bury unidentified bodies, but not to maintain graves unless the grave belongs to a person of “special historical and social significance.”

      NN1, NN2 and NN3 are of special significance only to their loved ones, who probably don’t even know where they are. Maybe they are waiting to finally hear from them from Western Europe. Maybe they’re looking for them. Maybe they mourn them.

      Identities known but buried as unknown

      If you do dig a little deeper, you will learn a thing or two about those who rest here nameless.

      In the early, cold morning of December 23, 2022, the police found two bodies on the banks of the Sava, the river that separates Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina. It separates the European Union from the rest of Europe. According to the police report, they also found a group of twenty foreign citizens who illegally entered Croatia via the river. The group was missing one more person. After an extensive search, a third body was found in the afternoon. The pathologist of the General Hospital in the town of Nova Gradiška established the time of death for all three people as 2:45 A.M. Two died of hypothermia, one drowned.

      Identity cards from a refugee camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina were found on them. We learned that, according to their IDs, all three were from Afghanistan: Ahmedi Abozari was 17 years old, Basir Naseri was 21 years old and Shakir Atoin was 25 years old. NN1, NN2 and NN3.

      Other migrants from the group also confirmed the identity of two of them, as the Brodsko-Posavska County police administration told us. Then why were they buried as NN? If it was known that they were from Afghanistan, why were they buried under crosses? If families are looking for them, how will they find them?

      The cemetery management was kind and said that they perform burials according to what is written in the burial permit signed by the pathologist – and it said NN.

      The pathologist said that he enters the data based on the information he receives from the police.

      The competent police department told us that the person is buried according to the rules of the local municipality.

      Siče cemetery belongs to the municipality of Nova Kapela, whose mayor, Ivan Šmit, discontentedly listed all the costs that his municipality incurred for those burials and said that whoever is willing to pay for it can change the NN inscription into names.

      We came across a series of similar administrative ambiguities while investigating how authorities deal with the deceased people they recover at EU borders as a part of the Border Graves Investigation carried out by a team of eight freelancers from across Europe together with Unbias the News, The Guardian and Süddeutsche Zeitung.

      There is no centralised European database on the number of migrants’ graves in Europe.

      But the team managed to confirm the existence of at least 1,931 migrants’ graves in Greece, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Malta, Poland and France, dating from 2014 to 2023. Of these, 1,015 were unidentified. More than half of the unidentified graves are in Greece, 551, in Italy 248, and in Spain 109. The data were obtained based on the databases of international organizations, non-governmental organizations, scientists, local authorities and cemeteries, and field visits.

      The team visited 24 cemeteries in Greece, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland and Lithuania, where there are a total of 555 graves of unidentified migrants in the last decade, from 2014 to 2023.

      These are only those whose bodies have been found. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimates that more than 93% of those who go missing on Europe’s borders are never found.
      Families lost in bureaucracy

      December 2022, when the three young Afghans died, was rainier than usual and the Sava River swelled. It is big and fast to begin with.

      In that area, just three days earlier, five Turkish citizens went missing after their boat overturned on the Sava. Among them were a two-year-old girl, a twelve-year-old boy and their parents. The brother of the missing father came from Germany to Croatia to find out what happened to the family. From the documentation, which we have in our possession, it is evident that with the help of translator Nina Rajković, he tried to get information about his missing relatives from several police stations. Even months later, he hasn’t received any updates.

      The two had wanted to file a missing person’s report, but the police told them that there was no point in doing so if the person had not previously been registered in the territory of Croatia or Bosnia and Herzegovina.

      We encountered a number of similar examples. A young man had come to Croatia and reported to the police in both Croatia and Slovenia that his brother had drowned in the Kupa River that separates the two countries. However, his brother’s disappearance was not recorded in the Croatian national database of missing persons, which is publicly available. The police did not contact him after several unidentified bodies were found in the Kupa in the following days.

      In another example, an Afghan man waited six months for the body of his brother, who drowned when they tried to cross the Sava together, also in December 2022, to be transferred from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina so that he could bury him. Although he had confirmed that it was his brother, the identification process was lengthy and complicated.

      There are numerous families who tried from afar to track down their loved ones who had disappeared in the territory of Croatia, only to finally give up in discouragement.

      There are many questions and few clear answers when it comes to the issue of missing and dead migrants on the so-called Balkan Route, of which Croatia is a part. There are no clear protocols and procedures defining to whom and how to report a missing person. It is not known whether missing migrants are actively searched for, as tourists are when they disappear in the summer. It is not clear how much and which information is needed for identification.

      “The circulation of information between institutions and individual departments seems almost non-existent to me."

      “In one case, it took me more than two months and dozens of phone calls and emails to different addresses, police stations, police departments, hospitals, and the state attorney’s office, just to prompt the initiation of identification, which to this day, more than a year later, has not been completed,” says Marijana Hameršak, activist and head of the project “European Regime of Irregular Migration on the Periphery of the EU” of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research in Zagreb, which collects knowledge and data on missing and dead migrants.

      Searches for missing migrants and attempts to identify the dead in Croatia, as well as in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, most often rely on the efforts of volunteers and activists, who, like Marijana, untiringly search for information in the chaotic administration because families who do not know the language find this task practically insurmountable.
      “Die or make your dream come true”

      The Facebook group “Dead and Missing in the Balkans” became the central place to exchange photos and information about the missing and the dead between families and activists.

      The competent Ministry of the Interior does not have a website in English with an address where one can write from Afghanistan or Syria and inquire about the fate of loved ones, leave information about them, and report them missing. There is also no regional database on missing and dead migrants on which the police administrations would cooperate, not even the ones from the countries where the most crossings are recorded – from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia.

      In an interview with our team, Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasised that the creation of a centralised European database of missing and dead migrants is extremely important. If such a database combined ante-mortem and post-mortem data on the deceased, the chances of identification would greatly increase.

      “Families have a right to know the truth about the fate of their loved ones.”
      Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

      Yet, police cooperation in keeping the EU’s external border impervious is effective.

      Previously, people attempting to migrate did not try to cross the Sava so often. They knew it was too dangerous. They share information with each other and do not venture across such a river in children’s inflatable boats or inner tubes. Unless they are utterly desperate. With pushbacks and the use of force, which many organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been warning about for years, the Croatian police made it difficult to cross at other, less dangerous points along the Croatian border, which is the longest external land border in the European Union. As a young Moroccan in Bosnia and Herzegovina who tried to cross the border to Croatia 11 times but was pushed back by the Croatian police each time told us, “You have two choices: die or make your dream come true.”

      It is difficult to determine how many died on the Balkan Route in an attempt to fulfil their dream. The most comprehensive data for ex-Yugoslav countries is collected by the researchers of the “European Regime of Irregular Migration on the Periphery of the EU (ERIM)” project. It records 346 victims from 2014 to 2023 in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, North Macedonia and Kosovo. Each entry in ERIM’s database is individual and contains as much data as the researchers managed to collect, and they use all available sources – media reports, witnesses, official statistics, activist channels. But the figure is certainly significantly higher. Some who went missing were never even registered anywhere.

      Many bodies were never found. For example, another common border crossing, the Stara Planina mountain range between Bulgaria and Serbia, is a rough and inaccessible terrain. Only those who have been driven to this route by the same fate will come across the bodies, and they will not risk encountering authorities to report it.

      If people die in the minefields remaining from the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, there will not be much left of their bodies. Most bodies were found drowned in rivers, but there is no estimate of how many who drowned were never reported missing, or were never found.

      The Croatian Ministry of the Interior provided us with data on migrants who have died in Croatia since 2015, when records began to be kept, until the end of November 2023: according to the data, a total of 87 migrants died on the territory of the Republic of Croatia. To put it more precisely: that’s how many bodies were found in Croatia. Not a single official body in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia keeps records of migrants buried in that territory.

      However, we managed to obtain data for Croatia, thanks to inquiries sent to over 500 addresses of cities, municipalities and municipal companies that manage cemeteries. According to the data obtained, there are 59 graves of migrants in 32 cemeteries in Croatia who were buried in the last decade, namely from 2014 until September 2023. Of these, 45 have not been identified. The Ministry of the Interior says that since 2001, DNA samples have been taken from all unidentified bodies. We asked the Ministry to allow us to talk with experts who work on the identification of migrants, but we were not approved.

      Some of the buried were exhumed and returned to their families in their country of origin, although this is a demanding and extremely expensive process for the families.
      The burden of not knowing

      Among the NN graves is a stillborn baby from Syria buried in 2015 in the town of Slavonski Brod. A five-year-old girl who drowned in the Danube was buried in Dalje in 2021. Last summer, a young man died of exhaustion in the highlands in the Dubrovnik area. Some were hit by a train. Many died of hypothermia. Some die because they were not provided medical help early enough. Some don’t believe anything can help them, so they committed suicide.

      According to the law, they are buried closest to the place of death, which are mostly small cemeteries, such as the one in Siče. Often, just like in that village, their graves are separated from the rest of the cemetery. In some places, like in Otok, one of the tender-hearted local women has given herself the task of taking care of the NN grave. In others, like the cemetery in Prilišće, the NN wooden cross from 2019 has already rotted.

      Each of these NN graves leaves behind loved ones who bear the burden of not knowing what happened. In psychology, this is called ambiguous loss, which means that as long as relatives do not have confirmation that their loved ones are dead, and as long as they do not know where their bodies are, they cannot mourn them.

      If they go on with their lives, they feel guilty. And so they remain frozen in a state between despair and hope. American psychologist Dr. Pauline Boss is the author of the concept and theory of “ambiguous loss.”

      “A grave is so important because it helps to say goodbye,“ she said in an interview for our investigation.

      There are also practical consequences of this frozen state: succession rights cannot be carried out, bank accounts cannot be accessed, family pensions cannot be obtained, the partner cannot remarry, and custody of children is complicated.

      Many families in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina know ambiguous loss very well. Both countries went through war in the 1990s that left thousands of people missing.

      Both countries have special laws on the missing in those wars and well-developed mechanisms of search, identification, data storage and mutual cooperation. But this does not apply to migrants who vanish and die among the thousands who are on the move along the Balkan Route.
      Croatia responsible for death of a child

      Croatia became an important point of entry into the European Union after Hungary closed its borders in September 2015. From then until March 2016, it is estimated that around 660,000 refugees passed through the Croatian section of the Balkan corridor – the interstate, organised route. This corridor allowed them to get from Greece to Western Europe in two or three days. Most importantly, their journey was safe.

      Of these hundreds of thousands of people on the move, the Croatian Ministry of the Interior did not record a single death in 2015 and 2016.

      The corridor was established to prevent casualties after a large number of refugees died on the railway in Macedonia in the spring of 2015. However, with the conclusion of the EU-Turkey refugee agreement in March 2016, the corridor closed. The EU committed to generously funding Turkey to keep refugees on its territory, so that they do not come to the European Union. And so the perilous, informal Balkan Route remained the only option. Many take it. In the first ten months of 2023 alone, the Croatian police recorded 62,452 actions related to illegal border crossings.

      Both the Croatian Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter and Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović warn of the same thing: border and migration policies have a clear impact on the risk of migrants going missing or die. It is necessary to establish legal and safe migration routes in the EU.

      However, the EU expects Croatia to protect its external border, and Croatia is doing so wholeheartedly. Croatian Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović calls such practices “techniques of discouragement” and says they are fully in line with the EU Schengen Border Code.

      The result of such practices is, for example, the death of Madina Hussiny. The six-year-old girl from Afghanistan was struck by a train and killed after Croatian police “discouraged” her and her family away from the Croatian border and told them to follow train tracks back to Serbia in the middle of the night in 2017. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in November 2021 that Croatia was responsible for Madina’s death.

      In a typical “discouragement,” Croatian police transport people to points along the border and order them to cross. In the testimonies we heard, as well as in many reports of non-governmental organisations, people described having to wade or swim across rivers, climb over rocks or make their way through dense forest. They often cross at night, sometimes stripped naked, and without knowing the way because the police usually take away their mobile phones.

      Up to 80% of all pushbacks by Croatian police may be impacted by one or more forms of torture, indicates data collected by Border Violence Monitoring Network in 2019. That means that thousands were victims of border torture.

      According to data collected by the Danish Refugee Council, in the two-year period from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2022, at least 30,000 people were pushed back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
      “While trying to reach Europe”


      Among them is Arat Semiullah from Afghanistan. In November 2022, he intended to cross the Sava River and enter Croatia from Bosnia. He was 20 years old. He drowned and was buried at the Orthodox cemetery in Banja Luka. His family in Afghanistan did not know what happened to him. He had sent his mom a selfie with a fresh haircut for entering the European Union and then he stopped answering.

      The mother begged her nephew Payman Sediqi, who lives in Germany, to try to find him. Payman got in touch with the activist Nihad Suljić, who voluntarily helps families find out what happened to their loved ones in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They spent weeks trying to get information. Payman travelled to Bosnia and managed to find his relative thanks to the helpfulness of a policewoman who showed him forensic photographs. Arat’s mom confirmed by phone that it was her son.

      Arat’s obituary published in Bosnia and Herzegovina said that “Croatian police sank the boat using firearms, and he tragically drowned.” With the help of the Muslim community, and at the request of the family, his body was transferred to the Muslim cemetery in the village of Kamičani. The family wanted to bury him in Afghanistan, but it was too expensive and bureaucratically complicated.

      In September 2023, we met with Nihad and Payman when a large tombstone was erected for Arat. It says, “Drowned in the Sava River while trying to reach Europe.” Payman told us that Arat was crossing the Sava with a group of others trying to enter Europe. Some of them managed to cross over to the Croatian side, but then the Croatian police shot at the rubber boat Arat was in. The boat sank and Arat drowned. That’s what a survivor who crossed over to the Croatian bank of the Sava told Payman. Payman says that Arat’s family is in great pain, but at least they know where their son is and that he was buried according to their religious customs. It is important to Payman that his relative’s grave says he died as a migrant.

      “People die every day in Europe, fleeing countries where there is no life for them. Their dreams are buried in Europe. No one cares about them, not even when European policemen shoot at them,” Payman says.

      Payman knows what kind of dreams he’s talking about. He himself came to Germany illegally at the age of 16. He says he was lucky.

      Nihad advocates that other graves of migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina also be permanently marked as such. He takes us to the cemetery in the town of Zvornik, where 17 NN migrants are buried. Nihad says he was informed that some of them had their passport on them when they were found. From the cemetery, you can see the river Drina, which separates Serbia from Bosnia and where many lives have been lost during crossing attempts. About 30 bodies were found in the Drina this year alone. Nihad says that they are lucky if they wash up on the Bosnian riverbanks, because in Serbia the authorities often do not perform autopsies nor take DNA samples. This was confirmed to us by activists from Serbia. In those cases, they are forever and completely lost to their families.

      The earthen NN graves in Zvornik are overgrown and not demarcated, so you wouldn’t know if you are stepping on them. Nihad managed to convince the Town of Zvornik to replace the wooden signs with black stone. It is important to him that they are buried with dignity, but he also finds it important that they stand there as a memorial.

      “My wish is that even 100 years from now these graves stand as monuments of the EU’s shame. Because it was not the river that killed these people, but the EU border regime,” Nihad says.


      #Bosnie #Croatie #Zvornik #Madina_Hussiny

    • Counting the invisible victims of Spain’s EU borders

      Investigation finds hundreds of victims of migration to the EU lie in unmarked graves along Spain’s borders, with government taking no coordinated action to guarantee “last rights.”

      In January 2020, Alhassane Bangoura was buried in an unmarked grave in the Muslim area of Teguise municipal cemetery in Lanzarote as city officials and members of the local Muslim community watched on. He had been born only a couple of weeks earlier onboard a cramped patera migrant boat on which his mother, who is from Guinea, and 42 others were trying to reach the Spanish Canary Islands. Their boat was adrift on the Atlantic ocean after its motor had failed two days earlier, and Alhassane’s mother had gone into labour at sea. Her child only lived for a few hours before dying just off the coast of Lanzarote.

      Alhassane’s case shocked the island and made national news. Yet as mourners paid their respects, his mother was 200 kilometres away in a migrant reception centre on the neighbouring island of Gran Canaria, having been unable to get permission from authorities to remain on Lanzarote for the funeral.

      “She’d been allowed to see the body of her son one more time before being transferred, and I accompanied her to the funeral home,” says Mamadou Sy, a representative of the local Muslim community. “It was very emotional as she was leaving. All we could do was promise her that her son would not be alone; that like any Muslim, he’d be brought to the Mosque where his body would be washed by other mothers; that we would pray for him and that afterwards we’d send her a video of the burial.”

      Nearly four years later, Alhassane’s final resting place remains without a formal headstone. It lies next to more than three dozen graves of unidentified migrants – whose names are completely unknown but who, like Alhassane, are also victims of Europe’s brutal border regime.

      Border Graves

      Such a scene is no anomaly along Spain’s vast coastline. Border graves like these can be found in cemeteries stretching from Alicante on the country’s eastern Mediterranean coast to Cádiz on the Atlantic seaboard and south to the Canaries. Some have names but, more often than not, the inscription reads some variation of “unidentified migrant,” “unknown Moroccan,” or “victim of the Strait [of Gibraltar],” or there is simply a hand-painted cross.

      In Barbate cemetery in Cádiz, where the deceased are sealed into niches in traditional brick-walled stacks around two metres in height, groundskeeper Germán points out over 30 different migrant graves, the earliest of which date from 2002 and the most recent are from a shipwreck in 2019.

      "No one ever comes to visit, but on days when there are funerals here and flowers are about to be thrown out, I place them on the tombs containing the unknown migrants,” he explains. “In some of the older graves, you have the remains of up to five or six migrants together, each placed in separate sacks within the same niche to save space.”

      Along the coast, in Tarifa, Spain’s earliest mass grave of unidentified migrants, containing 11 victims from a 1988 shipwreck, overlooks the northern reaches of the African continent, which can be seen on a clear day. Meanwhile, around 400 kilometres west of the African coast, on the remote Canarian island of El Hierro, seven unidentified migrants have been buried in the last two months, along with the remains of 30-year old Mamadou Marea. “Locals joined us to accompany the remains of each of these people to their last resting place,” explains Amado Carballo, a councillor on El Hierro. “What upset all of us was not being able to put a name on the tombstone and simply having to leave the person identified by a police code.”

      Such concern was less evident in Arrecife, Lanzarote where two unidentified graves from February this year have been left sealed with a covering that still bears a corporate logo.

      There is no comprehensive data on how many identified and unidentified migrant graves exist in Spain, and the country’s Interior Ministry has never released figures for the total number of bodies recovered across the various maritime migration routes. But in exclusive data from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Unbias The News can reveal that the bodies of an estimated 530 people who died at Spain’s borders were recovered between 2014 and 2021 – of which 292 remain unidentified.

      In the six month Europe-wide Border Graves Investigation, undertaken in conjunction with Unbias the News, The Guardian and Süddeutsche Zeitung, 109 unidentified migrant graves from 2014-21 were confirmed in Spain across 18 locations. According to a study by the University of Amsterdam, a further 434 unidentified graves stem from 2000-2013 in at least 65 cemeteries.

      These graves are symbols of a much wider humanitarian tragedy. The ICRC estimates that just 6.89% of those who go missing on Europe’s borders are found, while the Spanish NGO Walking Borders gives an even lower figure for the West African Atlantic route to the Canaries, estimating that only 4.2 percent of the bodies of those who die are ever recovered.

      Guaranteeing “last rights”

      The unvisited and anonymous graves are also a reflection of the fact that the rights to both identification and a dignified burial for those who have died on migration routes have been consistently neglected by national authorities in Spain. As in other European countries, successive Spanish governments have failed to develop legal mechanisms and state protocols to guarantee these “last rights” of victims, as well as their families’ corresponding “right to know” and to mourn their loved ones.

      The problem is “utterly neglected,” says Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, who insists that EU countries are failing in their obligations under international human rights law to secure families’ “right to truth”. In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for “prompt and effective identification processes” to inform families about the fate of their loved ones. Yet last year, the Council of Europe called the area a “legislative void.”

      “People are always calling the office and asking us how to search for a family member, but you have to be honest and say there’s no clear official channel they can turn to,” explains Juan Carlos Lorenzo, director of the Spanish Refugee Council (CEAR) on the Canary Islands. “You can put them in touch with the Red Cross, but there’s no government-led programme of identification. Nor is there the type of dedicated office needed to coordinate with families and centralise information and data on missing migrants.”

      This year alone we are working with over 600 families whose loved ones have disappeared. These families, who are from Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Guinea and as far afield as Sri Lanka are very much alone and are poorly protected by public administrations. In turn, this means that there are criminal networks and fraudsters seeking to extract money from them.”
      Helena Maleno, director of Walking Borders

      Even in the case of a victim’s identification, a recent report from the Human Rights Association of Andalucia lays out the legal and financial barriers families face in terms of repatriating their loved ones. In 2020/21, ICRC figures show that 284 bodies were recovered but that, of the 116 identified, only 53 were repatriated. The Andalusian Association for Human Rights (APDHA) report also notes, with respect to border graves, that “many people end up buried in a manner contrary to their beliefs.” Just half of Spain’s 50 provinces have Muslim cemeteries, not all of which are on the Spanish coast.

      For Maleno, these state failures are no accident: “Spain and other European states have a policy of making the victims, as well as the border itself, invisible. You have policies of denying the number of dead and of concealing data, but for the families this means obstacles in terms of accessing information and burial rights, as well as endless bureaucratic hurdles.”
      “I dream of Oussama”

      Abdallah Tayeb has gained first-hand experience of the dysfunctionality of the Spanish system in his attempts to confirm whether a body recovered almost a year ago is that of his cousin Oussama, a young barber from Algeria who dreamed of joining Tayeb in France.

      The unnamed corpse, which Tayeb strongly believes is his cousin, is currently in a morgue in Almería and looks set to be buried in an unmarked grave in the new year – unless he can achieve a last minute breakthrough.

      “The feeling is one of powerlessness,” he admits. “Nothing is transparent.”

      Abdallah Tayeb was born in Paris to Algerian parents but spends every summer in Algeria with his family. “As Oussama and I were pretty much the same age, we were really close. He was obsessed with the idea of coming to Europe, as two of his brothers were already living in France. But I didn’t know he had actually arranged to leave on a patera last December.”

      Oussama was among 23 people (including seven children) who vanished after setting out from Mostaganem, Algeria, on a motor boat on Christmas Day 2022. Soon after the patera went missing, his brother Sofiane travelled from France to Cartagena in southern Spain – the destination the vessel had hoped to reach. With the help of the Red Cross, Sofiane was able to file a missing persons report with the Spanish authorities and submit a DNA sample, which he hopes will result in a match with a body held in a morgue. However, so far, he has been unable to piece together any concrete information regarding his brother’s fate.

      A second trip to Spain in February did lead to a breakthrough, however. After driving down the Mediterranean coast together, Tayeb and his cousin Sofiane managed to speak to a forensic pathologist working in the Almería morgue, who seemed to recognise a photo of Oussama. “She kept saying ‘This face looks familiar’ and also mentioned a necklace – something he’d been wearing when he left.” According to the pathologist, there was a potential match with an unidentified body recovered by the coastguard on 27 December 2022.

      Feeling that they were finally close to getting some answers, they were informed at the police headquarters in Almería that, in order to view the body for a visual identification, they would need permission from the police station where the corpse had initially been registered. “This was when the real nightmare began,” Tayeb remembers. Handed a list of five police stations from across the wider region where the corpse could have been registered, they spent the next two days driving from station to station along the Murcian coast.

      “The first police station we visited wouldn’t even let us in the door when we told them we were asking about a missing migrant, and after that it was always the same script: this is not the right place; we don’t have a body; you have to go there instead.” When the pair returned to the first station in Huércal de Almeria after being repeatedly told it was the right place to ask, impatient officers refused to engage, citing privacy laws, and even told them to warn other families searching for missing migrants not to keep coming to inquire.

      “In the end,” Tayeb explains, “we came to the reality that they will never let us have any information. It was very heartbreaking, especially going back to France. It felt like we were leaving him [there] in the fridge.”

      As the subsequent months passed, the frustration and anxiety built for the family. “In May we were told that the DNA sample we gave five months earlier had only just arrived in Madrid and had still not been processed and sent to the database.” No further information has been forthcoming, and Spanish authorities have a policy of only getting in touch with families when there is a positive match and not if the test comes back negative.

      Tayeb is contemplating one final visit to Spain to try and retrieve his cousin Oussama, partly to be certain for his own sake that he’s done everything in his power to find him, but he’s worried that the journey could reopen his trauma of ambiguous loss. “The effort of going is not painful, but what is painful is coming back with nothing,” he says. “This lack of information is the worst thing.”

      “All the people on board were from the same neighbourhood in Mostaganem. I have had a chance to talk to many of their families, and they are destroyed. There is such grief but also no answers. There are only rumours, and some of the mothers believe their sons are in prisons in Morocco and Spain. We all have dreams [about the missing]. In the end, you trust what you will see in your dreams, like cosmic reality telling you he is coming. I dream of Oussama.”

      Dr Pauline Boss, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota, USA, explains the concept of ambiguous loss: “It looks like complicated grief, intrusive thoughts,” she says. “There’s nothing else on your mind but the fact that your loved one is missing. You can’t grieve because that would mean the person is dead, and you don’t know for sure.”
      A defective system

      Of all the families of those who went missing on Oussama’s patera, only Tayeb and four other families have been able to file a missing persons report with the Spanish authorities, and only two have been able to give a DNA sample. According to a 2021 study from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), one of the major complications families face in their searches is that in order to register someone as a missing person in Spain, you have to file a report with police in the country itself, which for many families is “a virtually impossible feat” as there are no visas to travel for this purpose.

      The IOM report also notes that, while many families file missing person reports in their home countries, they are “aware of the almost symbolic nature of their efforts” and that “it will never result in any kind of investigation being launched in Spain.”

      Along with the IOM, there have been efforts by domestic NGOs, including APDHA and more than a hundred grassroots organisations, to call out Spain’s failure to adapt existing missing person procedures to the transnational challenges of cases of people who disappeared while migrating. These organisations have repeatedly argued that the country’s legal framework regarding missing persons must be adapted to ensure families can file missing person cases from abroad.

      They have also pushed for the development of specific protocols for police handling cases of disappeared migrants, as well as the creation of a missing-migrant database so as to centralise information and allow it to be exchanged with authorities in other countries. The latter would include a full range of both post-mortem data (from tattoos to DNA, through cadaveric inspections and autopsies) and antemortem medical forensic information, that is, that which comes from family members regarding the missing person.

      “The reality is that the situation across Europe is consistently poor,” explains Julia Black, an analyst with IOM’s Missing Migrant Project. “Despite our research showing these pressing needs of families, neither Spain nor any other European country has significantly changed policy or practice to help this neglected group [in recent years]. Support for families is available only on a very ad hoc basis, mostly in response to mass casualty events that are in the public eye, which leaves many thousands of people without meaningful support.”

      Non-state actors such as the Red Cross and Walking Borders, as well as a network of independent activists, try to fill this void. “It’s a terrible job that we shouldn’t be doing, because states should be responding to families and guaranteeing the rights of victims across borders,” Maleno explains. In the case of the Mostaganem patera, Walking Borders is now planning to visit Algeria next year to take DNA samples from family members and bring them back to Spain. But Maleno also acknowledges that her NGO often has to then “apply a lot of pressure” to get authorities to accept these samples.

      This is something left-wing MP Jon Iñarritu from the Basque EH Bildu party also confirms: “As I sit on the Spanish parliament’s Interior Committee, I’ve had to intervene on a number of occasions to help families seeking to register DNA samples, talking with the foreign ministry or the interior ministry to get them to accept the samples. But it shouldn’t require action from an MP to get this to happen. The whole process needs to be standardised with clear and automatic protocols [for submission]. Right now, there’s no one clear way to do it.”

      Even when IOM recommendations have become the subject of parliamentary debate in Spain, they have tended not to translate into government action. In 2021, for example, a resolution was passed by the Spanish Congress calling on the government to establish a dedicated state office for the families of disappeared migrants. “It’s clear we need to ease the administrative and bureaucratic ordeal for families by offering them a single point of contact [with state authorities],” explains Iñarritu, who sponsored the motion.

      Yet while even government parties voted in favour of the resolution, the countries’ current centre-left administration has failed to act on it in the 18 months since. “From my point of view, the government has no intention of implementing the proposal,” Iñarritu argues. “They were only offering symbolic support.”

      When the above points were put to Spain’s Interior ministry, the reply was that: “The treatment of unidentified corpses arriving on the Spanish coast is identical to that of any other corpse. In Spain, for the identification of corpses, the law enforcement agencies apply the INTERPOL Disaster Victim Identification Guide. Although this guide is especially indicated for events with multiple victims, it is also used as a reference for the identification of an isolated corpse.”

      NGOs and campaigners insist, however, that the application of the INTERPOL guide is no substitute for a specific protocol tailored to the demands of missing migrant cases or for the creation of particular mechanisms to allow for the exchange of information with families and authorities in other jurisdictions.

      Close connections with the people they have helped compensate for strained social interactions and online hate. “They call me brother, sister, and even father,” Rybak shares.
      Burial rights

      APDHA migration director Carlos Arce argues that, within a European framework that views irregular migration predominantly “through the prism of serious crime and border security, […] not even death or disappearance puts an end to the repeated assault on the dignity of migrant people.” Iñarritu also points to the EU’s wider border regime: “Many issues that don’t fit into this dominant policy framework, such as the right to identification, are simply left unmanaged on a day-to-day basis. They are simply not a priority.”

      This is also clear with respect to the Spanish government’s inaction on guaranteeing a dignified burial to those whose bodies are recovered. As noted by a 2023 report from APDHA, “while repatriation is the most desired option for families […,] the cost is very high (thousands of euros) and very few of their [home countries’] embassies help [to cover it].” The NGO recommends that Spain establish repatriation agreements with the countries where migrants come from so as to create “mortuary safe passages” guaranteeing their return at a reduced cost.

      Furthermore, Spain’s central government has also failed to put in place mechanisms to ensure the right of unidentified migrants to a dignified burial within the country, instead maintaining that local councils are responsible for all charitable burials. This has meant that very specific municipalities where coastguard rescue boats are stationed are left legally responsible for the bulk of the interments – and most of these municipalities lack local cemeteries able to cater for traditional Muslim burials.

      The potential for this issue to become a flashpoint for anti-immigration sentiment was made clear this September when the mayor of Mogán in Gran Canaria, Onalia Bueno, insisted that her municipality would no longer pay for such burials, as she did not want to “detract the costs from the taxes of my neighbours.”

      CEAR’s Juan Carlos Lorenzo condemns such “divisive language, which frames the issue in terms of wasting my ‘neighbours’ money’ on someone who is not a neighbour,” and points instead to the actions of municipalities in El Hierro as a positive counterexample.

      Carballo notes that “over 10,000 people have arrived in El Hierro since September, the same as the island’s population. These are quite long trips, between six and nine days at sea, and right now people are arriving in a terrible state of health. With those who have died in recent months, we’ve tried to offer them a dignified burial within the means at our disposal. We’ve had an imam present, with Islamic prayers said before the remains were laid to rest.”

      Currently, the responsibility of memorialising unidentified victims comes down to individual municipalities and even cemetery keepers. Like Gérman at the cemetery in Barbate, who tries to dignify the unmarked tombs by placing flowers on top of them, the cemetery of Motril has adorned tombs with poems. In Teguise, the council has an initiative encouraging locals to leave flowers on the migrant graves when they come to visit the remains of their own families.

      In another memorial, a collection of around 50 discarded fishing boats has become a distinctive feature of Barbate port. These small wooden boats with Arabic script on their hulls were used by migrants attempting to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. Instead of the boats’ being scrapped, APDHA was able to convert the scrapyard into a memorial site and to place plaques on boats stating how many migrants were travelling on them and where and when they were found.

      In the case of little Alhassane Bangoura, residents routinely come to leave fresh flowers and tokens of affection, among which is a small granite bowl with his first name inscribed on it. But many victims are buried without any attempt at identification – and as countless NGOs, politicians and activists demand, it should not be simply left to good-willed residents, grave keepers or local councillors to ensure the last rights of the victims of Fortress Europe.


      #Espagne #Lanzarote #îles_Canaries #route_Atlantique #Teguise #Barbate #Cádiz #Tarifa #Arrecife

    • The unidentified: Unmarked refugee graves on the Greek borders

      Graves marked only with a stick, graves covered with weeds: a cross-border investigation documents official indifference surrounding the dignified burial of refugees who lose their lives at the Greek border.

      The phone rang on a morning in October 2022 at work, in Finland, where 35-year-old Mohamed Samim has been living for the last ten years or so.

      His nephew did not have good news: his brother Samim, Tarin Mohamad, along with his son and two daughters, was on a boat that sank near a Greek island, having sailed from the Turkish coast to Italy.

      When Samim arrived in Kythera the next day, he learned that – although weak after not eating for three days – his brother had managed to save his family before a wave took him away. He immediately went to the site of the wreck. In the water he saw bodies floating – he couldn’t see his brother’s face, but he recognized his back.

      The Coast Guard said that the bad weather had to pass before they could pull the dead from the sea. The first day passed, the second day passed, until on the third day it was finally possible. The coastguard confirmed that 8 Beaufort winds and the morphology of the area made it impossible to retrieve the bodies. Samim will never forget the sight of his brother at sea.

      In Kalamata, it took four days of shifting responsibility between the hospital and the Coast Guard, and the help of a local lawyer who “came and yelled at them” to allow him to follow the identification process of his brother.

      He was warned that it would be a soul-crushing procedure, and that he would have to wear a triple mask because of the smell. Samim says that due to a lack of space in the morgue’s refrigerators, some of the wreck victims were kept in the chamber outside the refrigerator.

      “The stress and the smell. Our knees were shaking”, recalls Samim when we meet him in Kythera a year later.

      They started showing him decomposing bodies. First the ones outside the refrigerator. He didn’t recognize him among them. They went out and changed the masks they wore, returned, opened the refrigerators in turn, reaching the last one.

      “He was lying there, calm. The man you love. We were kind of happy that, after days, we could see him,” Samim said.

      Unclaimed dead

      The number of people dying at Europe’s borders is growing. In addition to the difficulty of recording the deaths, there is also the challenge of identifying the bodies, a traumatic process for the relatives. In some cases, however, there are bodies that remain unidentified, hundreds of men, women and children buried in unidentified graves.

      In July 2023, the European Parliament adopted a resolution recognising the right to identification of people who lose their lives trying to reach Europe, but to date there is no centralised registration system at a pan-European level. Nor is there a single procedure for the handling of bodies that end up in mortuaries, funeral homes – even refrigerated containers.

      The problem is “utterly neglected”, European Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic told Solomon, and added that EU countries are failing in their obligations under international human rights law”. The tragedy of the missing migrants has reached horrifying proportions. The issue requires immediate action,” she added.

      The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants platform, which acknowledges that its data is not a comprehensive record, reports more than 1,090 missing refugees and migrants in Europe since 2014.

      As part of the Border Graves investigation, eight European journalists, together with Unbias the News, the Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Solomon, have spent seven months investigating what happens to the thousands of unidentified bodies of those who die at European borders, and for the first time they have recorded almost double that number: according to the data collected, more than 2,162 people died between 2014 and 2023.

      We studied documents and interviewed state coroners, prosecutors and funeral home workers; residents and relatives of the deceased and missing; and gained exclusive access to unpublished data from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

      In 65 cemeteries along the European border - Greece, Spain, Italy, Malta, Poland, Lithuania, France, Spain, Italy, Malta, Lithuania, France and Croatia - we have recorded more than 1,000 unidentified graves from the last decade.

      The investigation documents how state indifference to the dignified burial of people who die at the border is pervasive in European countries.

      In Greece, we recorded more than 540 unidentified refugee graves, 54% of the total recorded by the European survey. We travelled to the Aegean islands and Evros, and found graves in fields sometimes covered by weeds, and marble slabs with dates of death erased, while in other cases a piece of wood with a number is the only marking.

      The data from our survey, combined with the data from the International Committee of the Red Cross, is not an exhaustive account of the issue. However, they do capture for the first time the gaps and difficulties of a system that leads to thousands of families not knowing where their relatives are buried.

      Lesvos: 167 unidentified refugee graves

      A long dirt road surrounded by olive trees leads to the gate of the cemetery of Kato Tritos, which is usually locked with a padlock.

      The “graveyard of refugees,” as they call it on the island, is located about 15 kilometers west of Mytilene. It is the only burial site exclusively for refugees and migrants in Greece.

      During one of our visits, the funeral of four children was taking place. They lost their lives on August 28, 2023, when the boat they were on with 18 other people sank southeast of Lesvos.

      The grieving mother and several women, including family members, sat under a tree, while the men prayed near the shed used for the burial process, according to Islamic tradition.

      In Kato Tritos and Agios Panteleimonas, the cemetery on Mytilene where people who died while migrating had been buried until then, we counted a total of 167 unidentified graves from between 2014-2023.

      Local journalist and former member of the North Aegean Regional Council Nikos Manavis explains that the cemetery was created in 2015 in an olive grove belonging to the municipality of Mytilene due to an emergency: a deadly shipwreck in the north of the island on October 28 of that year resulted in at least 60 dead, for whom the island’s cemeteries were not sufficient.

      Many shipwreck victims remain buried in unidentified graves. Gravestones are marked with the estimated age of the deceased and the date of burial, sometimes only a number. Other times, a piece of wood and surrounding stones mark the grave.

      “What we see is a field, not a graveyard. It shows no respect for the people who were buried here.”
      Nikos Manavis

      This lack of respect for the Lower Third Cemetery mobilized the Earth Medicine organization. As Dimitris Patounis, a member of the NGO, explains, in January 2022 they made a proposal to the municipality of Mytilene for the restoration of the cemetery. Their plan is to create a place of rest with respect and dignity, where refugees and asylum seekers can satisfy the most sacred human need, mourning for their loved ones.

      Although the city council approved the proposal in the spring of 2023, the October municipal elections delayed the project. Patounis says he is positive that the graves will soon be inventoried and the area fenced.

      Christos Mavrachilis, an undertaker at the Agios Panteleimon cemetery, recalls that in 2015 Muslim refugees were buried in a specific area of the cemetery.

      “If someone was unidentified, I would write ‘Unknown’ on their grave,” he says. If there were no relatives who could cover the cost, Mavrachilis would cut a marble himself and write as much information as he could on the death certificate. “They were people too,” he says, “I did what I could.”

      For his part, Thomas Vanavakis, a former owner of a funeral parlour that offered services in Lesvos until 2020, also says that they often had to cover burials without receiving payment. “Do you know how many times we went into the sea and paid workers out of our own pockets to pull out the bodies and didn’t get a penny?” he says.

      Efi Latsoudi, who lives in Lesvos and works for Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), says that in 2015 there were burials that the municipality of Mytilene could not cover, and sometimes “the people who participated in the ceremony paid for them. We were trying to give a dignity to the process. But it was not enough,” she says.

      Latsoudi recalls something a refugee had mentioned to her in 2015: ’The worst thing that can happen to us is to die somewhere far away and have no one at our funeral’.

      The municipality of Mytilene did not answer our questions regarding the dignified burial of refugees in the cemeteries under its responsibility.

      Chios and Samos: graves covered by weeds

      According to Greek legislation, the local government (and in case of its inability, the region) covers the cost of the burial of both unidentified people who die at the border and those who are in financial difficulty.

      For its part, the Municipal Authority of Chios stated that funding is provided for the relevant costs, and that “within the framework of its responsibilities for the cemeteries, it maintains and cares for all the sites, without discrimination and with the required respect for all the dead.”

      But during our visit in August to the cemetery in Mersinidi, a few kilometers north of Chios town, where refugees are buried next to the graves of the locals, it was not difficult to spot the separation: the five unidentified graves of refugees were marked simply by a marble, usually covered by vegetation.

      Natasha Strachini, an RSA lawyer living in Chios, has taken part in several funerals of refugees both in Chios and Lesvos. For her, the importance of the local community and presence at such a difficult human moment is very important.

      Regarding burials, he explains that “only a good registration system could help relatives to locate the grave of a person they have lost, as usually in cemeteries after three to five years exhumations take place.” He says that sometimes a grave remains unidentified even though the body has been identified, either because the identification process was delayed or because the relatives could not afford to change the grave.

      In Heraion of Samos, next to the municipal cemetery, on a plot of land owned by the Metropolis and used as a burial site for refugees, we recorded dozens of graves dating between 2014-2023. The plaques – some broken – placed on the ground, hidden by branches, pine needles and pine cones, simply inscribe a number and the date of burial.

      Lawyer Dimitris Choulis, who lives in Samos and handles cases related to the refugee issue, commented: ‘It is a shameful image to see such graves. It is unjustifiable for a modern society like Greece.”
      Searching for data

      The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of the few international organisations working to identify the dead refugees. Among other things, they have conducted several training sessions in Greece for members of the Coast Guard and the Greek Police.

      “We have an obligation to provide the dead with a dignified burial; and the other side, providing answers to families through identification of the dead. If you count the relatives of those who are missing, hundreds of thousands of people are impacted. They don’t know where their loved ones are. Were they well treated, were they respected when they were buried? That’s what preys on families’ minds,” says Laurel Clegg, ICRC forensic Coordinator for Migration to Europe.

      She explains that keeping track of the dead “consists of lots of parts working well together – a legal framework that protects the unidentified dead, consistent post-mortems, morgues, registries, dignified transport, cemeteries”

      However, countries’ “medical and legal systems are proving inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem,” she says.

      Since 2013, as part of its programme to restore family links, the Red Cross has registered 16,500 requests in Europe from people looking for their missing relatives. According to the international organisation, only 285 successful matches (1.7%) have been made.

      These matches are made by the local forensic experts.

      “We always collect DNA samples from unidentified bodies. It is standard practice and may be the only feasible means of identification,” says Panagiotis Kotretsos, a forensic pathologist in Rhodes. The samples are sent to the DNA laboratory of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Greek Police, according to an INTERPOL protocol.

      According to the Red Cross, difficulties usually arise when families are outside the EU, and are due to a number of factors, such as differences in the legal framework or medical systems of the countries. For example, some EU countries cannot ‘open’ a case and take DNA samples from families without a mandate from the authorities of the country where the body of the relative being sought has been recovered.

      The most difficult part of the DNA identification process is that there needs to be a second sample to be compared with the one collected by the forensic experts, which has to be sent by the families of the missing persons. “For a refugee who started his journey from a country in central Africa, travelled for months, and died in Greece, there will be genetic material in the morgue. But it will remain unmatched until a first-degree relative sends a DNA sample,” says Kotretsos.

      He explains that this is not always possible. “We have received calls from relatives who were in Syria, looking for missing family members, and could not send samples precisely because they were in Syria.”

      Outside the university hospital of Alexandroupolis, two refrigerated containers provided by the Red Cross as temporary mortuaries house the bodies of 40 refugees.

      Pavlos Pavlidis, Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Democritus University of Thrace, has since 2000 performed autopsies on at least 800 bodies of people on the move, with the main causes of death being drowning in the waters of Evros and hypothermia.

      The forensic scientist goes beyond the necessary DNA collection: he or she records data such as birthmarks or tattoos and objects (like wallets, rings, glasses), which could be the missing link for a relative looking for a loved one.

      He says a total of 313 bodies found in Evros since 2014 remain unidentified. Those that cannot be identified are buried in a special cemetery in Sidiro, which is managed by the municipality of Soufli, while 15-20 unidentified bodies were buried in Orestiada while the Sidiro cemetery was being expanded.

      The bodies of Muslim refugees who are identified are buried in the Muslim cemetery in Messouni Komotini or repatriated when relatives can cover the cost of repatriation.

      “This is not decent”

      In response to questions, the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum said that the issue of identification and burial procedures for refugees does not fall within its competence. A Commission spokesman said that no funds were foreseen for Greece, but that such expenditure “could be supported under the National Programme of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund”, which is managed by the Migration Ministry.

      Theodoros Nousias is the chief forensic pathologist of the North Aegean Forensic Service, responsible for the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Lemnos. According to the coroner, the DNA identification procedure has improved a lot compared to a few years ago.

      Nusias says he was always available when asked to identify someone. “You have to serve people, that’s why you’re there. To serve people so they can find their family,” he adds.

      The coroner lives in Lesvos, but says he has never been to the cemetery in Kato Tritos. “I don’t want to go. It will be difficult for me because most of these people have passed through my hands.”

      In October 2022, 32-year-old Suja Ahmadi and his sister Marina also travelled to Kythera and then to Kalamata to identify the body of their father, Abdul Ghasi.

      The 65-year-old had started the journey to Italy with his wife Hatige – she survived. The two brothers visited the hospital, where they were shown all eight bodies, male and female, although they had explained from the start that the man they were looking for was a man.

      Their father’s body was among those outside the freezer.

      “My sister was crying and screaming at them to get our father out of the refrigerator container because he smelled,” Suja recalls. “It was not a decent place for a man.”


      #Grèce #Chios #Evros #Samos #Alexandroupolis #Lesbos #Kato_Tritos #Sidiro #Mersinidi #Mersinidi #Pavlos_Pavlidis

    • Enterrar a más de mil personas sin nombre: las trabas de la UE y España para identificar los cuerpos de migrantes

      Cientos de personas fallecidas en la última década yacen en tumbas sin nombre en España, sin que el Gobierno tome medidas coordinadas para garantizar su identificación

      En enero de 2020, Alhassane Bangoura fue enterrado en una tumba sin nombre en la zona musulmana del cementerio municipal de Teguise, en Lanzarote, ante la presencia de funcionarios municipales y miembros de la comunidad musulmana local. El pequeño había nacido apenas un par de semanas antes a bordo de una patera abarrotada en la que su madre, originaria de Guinea, y otras 42 personas intentaban llegar a las Islas Canarias. La embarcación llevaba dos días a la deriva en el océano Atlántico, tras averiarse el motor, y la madre de Alhassane se puso de parto en el mar. Su hijo sólo alcanzó a vivir unas pocas horas antes de morir frente a la costa de Lanzarote.

      El caso de Alhassane conmocionó a la isla y saltó a las noticias de todo el país. Sin embargo, mientras los asistentes al entierro ofrecían sus condolencias, la madre del bebé fallecido se encontraba a 200 kilómetros de distancia, en un centro de acogida de migrantes de la vecina isla de Gran Canaria, al no haber podido obtener permiso de las autoridades para permanecer en Lanzarote durante el funeral.

      “Le habían permitido ver el cuerpo de su hijo una vez más antes de ser trasladada, y yo la acompañé a la funeraria”, cuenta Mamadou Sy, representante de la comunidad musulmana local. “Fue muy emotivo cuando se tuvo que marchar. Lo único que pudimos hacer fue prometerle que su hijo no estaría solo; que, como cualquier musulmán, sería llevado a la mezquita, donde su cuerpo sería lavado por otras madres; que rezaríamos por él y que después le enviaríamos un vídeo del entierro”.

      Casi cuatro años después, el lugar donde reposan los restos de Alhassane sigue sin tener una lápida formal. La tumba se encuentra junto a los restos de más de tres docenas de personas migrantes no identificadas, cuyos nombres se desconocen por completo pero que, como Alhassane, también son víctimas del brutal régimen fronterizo de Europa.
      Las tumbas de la frontera

      A lo largo de las fronteras de la Unión Europea, miles de personas están siendo enterradas de forma precipitada en tumbas sin nombre. El equipo de investigación de Border Graves (Las Tumbas de la Frontera) ha contabilizado que, en los últimos 10 años, al menos 2.162 cadáveres de migrantes han sido encontrados en las fronteras europeas sin identificar.

      El equipo de investigación también ha confirmado la existencia de 1.015 tumbas de inmigrantes sin identificar entre 2014 y 2021 en 103 cementerios, todas ellas pertenecientes a personas que intentaban emigrar a Europa.

      El problema está “absolutamente abandonado”, afirma Dunja Mijatović, Comisaria de Derechos Humanos del Consejo de Europa, que insiste en que los países de la UE incumplen sus obligaciones en virtud de la legislación internacional sobre derechos humanos. “La tragedia de los migrantes desaparecidos ha alcanzado una magnitud espantosa. El asunto exige una actuación inmediata”.

      Las condiciones de sepultura de estos migrantes varían en todo el continente. En la última década, en la isla griega de Lesbos, un olivar se ha convertido en un cementerio informal para refugiados. Al menos 147 tumbas sin identificar se pueden encontrar en el pequeño pueblo de Kato Tritos, que según explica el periodista Nikos Manavis brotaron tras la gran oleada de refugiados de 2015. “Los otros cementerios de la isla eran inapropiados y no podían cubrir el número de muertos que había que enterrar en Lesbos”, afirma. “Pero no es un cementerio. Es sólo un campo. No se muestra ningún respeto por la gente enterrada aquí”.

      En Siče, una población al este de Croacia, se hallan las tumbas de tres refugiados afganos al borde del cementerio del pueblo, separadas de las de los residentes locales. Los tres hombres no identificados, que se ahogaron intentando cruzar el río Sava desde Bosnia a Croacia, están enterrados bajo sencillas cruces de madera en las que se lee “NN” (desconocido).

      En la frontera entre Lituania y Bielorrusia, un pequeño cementerio de la tranquila localidad de Rameikos alberga la tumba de un emigrante indio. El lugar está marcado por un trozo de madera vertical, a pocos metros de la valla fronteriza. En el cementerio de Piano Gatta, en Agrigento (Sicilia), están enterrados decenas de cadáveres sin identificar del naufragio de Lampedusa en 2013, en el que perdieron la vida 368 personas de Eritrea y Somalia al hundirse el pesquero en el que viajaban.

      En cuanto a la extensa costa española, pueden encontrarse tumbas de inmigrantes desde Alicante hasta Cádiz, y hacia el sur hasta las Canarias. Algunas tienen nombre, pero lo más frecuente es que las inscripciones sean del estilo de “inmigrante no identificado”, “marroquí desconocido” o “víctima del Estrecho [de Gibraltar]”. O, simplemente, una cruz pintada a mano.

      En el cementerio de Barbate, en Cádiz, donde los difuntos están sepultados en nichos, el jardinero Germán señala más de 30 tumbas de inmigrantes: las más antiguas datan de 2002 y las más recientes son de un naufragio de 2019. “Nunca viene nadie a visitarlos, pero los días que hay funerales aquí y se van a tirar las flores antiguas, las coloco en las tumbas de los migrantes desconocidos”, explica. “En algunas de las más antiguas hay restos de hasta cinco o seis emigrantes juntos, cada uno colocado en bolsas separadas dentro del mismo nicho para ahorrar espacio”.

      Tal preocupación era menos evidente en Arrecife, Lanzarote, donde dos tumbas no identificadas de febrero de este año se han dejado selladas con una cubierta que aún lleva el logotipo de una empresa.

      No existen datos exhaustivos sobre cuántas fosas de inmigrantes identificadas y no identificadas existen en España, y el Ministerio del Interior nunca ha dado a conocer cifras sobre el número total de cadáveres recuperados en las distintas rutas migratorias marítimas. Pero los datos del Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja (CICR) revelan que entre 2014 y 2021 se recuperaron los cuerpos de alrededor de 530 personas fallecidas en las fronteras españolas, de las cuales 292 permanecen sin identificar.

      En los diez meses que ha durado la investigación europea Border Graves, llevada a cabo de manera conjunta entre un grupo de periodistas independientes y los medios Unbias the News, The Guardian y Süddeutsche Zeitung y publicada en exclusiva en España por elDiario.es, se ha confirmado la existencia de 109 tumbas de migrantes no identificados entre 2014 y 2021 en 18 lugares de España. Según un estudio de la Universidad de Ámsterdam, otras 434 tumbas sin identificar se remontan al periodo 2000-2013 en al menos 65 cementerios del territorio nacional.

      Estas tumbas son símbolos de una tragedia humanitaria mucho mayor. El CICR calcula que sólo el 6,89% de los restos mortales de las personas que desaparecen a lo largo de las fronteras europeas son recuperados, mientras que la ONG española Caminando Fronteras da una cifra aún más baja para la ruta atlántica de África Occidental a Canarias, estimando que sólo se recupera el 4,2% de los cuerpos de los fallecidos.
      Garantizar los “últimos derechos”

      Las tumbas anónimas y sin visitar reflejan también el hecho de que el derecho a la identificación y a un entierro digno de los fallecidos en las rutas migratorias ha sido sistemáticamente desatendido por las autoridades nacionales españolas. En 2021, el Parlamento Europeo aprobó una resolución que reconoce el derecho a la identificación de los fallecidos en las rutas migratorias, y la necesidad de una base de datos coordinada que recoja los datos de la frontera. Pero, al igual que en otros países europeos, los sucesivos gobiernos han sido incapaces de desarrollar mecanismos legales y protocolos estatales para garantizar estos “últimos derechos” de las víctimas, así como el “derecho a saber” y a llorar a sus seres queridos que corresponde a las familias.

      “La gente siempre llama a la oficina y nos pregunta cómo buscar a un familiar, pero hay que ser sincero y decir que no hay un canal oficial claro al que puedan dirigirse”, explica Juan Carlos Lorenzo, coordinador del Consejo Español para los Refugiados (CEAR) en Canarias. “Se les puede poner en contacto con la Cruz Roja, pero no hay un programa de identificación liderado por el Gobierno. Tampoco existe el tipo de recurso especializado necesario para coordinarse con las familias y centralizar la información y los datos sobre los migrantes desaparecidos”.

      Helena Maleno, directora de Caminando Fronteras, afirma: “Sólo este año estamos trabajando con más de 600 familias cuyos seres queridos han desaparecido. Estas familias, procedentes de Marruecos, Argelia, Senegal, Guinea y países tan lejanos como Sri Lanka, están muy solas y poco protegidas por las administraciones públicas. A su vez, esto significa que hay redes criminales y estafadores que buscan sacarles dinero”.

      Incluso en el caso de la identificación de una víctima, un reciente informe de la Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA) expone las barreras legales y financieras a las que se enfrentan las familias para repatriar a sus seres queridos. En 2020/21, las cifras del CICR muestran que se recuperaron 284 cuerpos pero que, de los 116 identificados, sólo 53 fueron repatriados. El informe de la APDHA también señala, respecto a las tumbas fronterizas, que “muchas personas acaban enterradas de manera contraria a sus creencias”. Apenas la mitad de las 50 provincias españolas cuentan con cementerios musulmanes, y no todos están en la costa española.

      Para Maleno, estos fallos del Estado no son casualidad: “España y otros Estados europeos mantienen una política de invisibilización de las víctimas y de la propia frontera. Tienen políticas de negación del número de muertos y de ocultación de datos, pero para las familias esto significa obstáculos en cuanto al acceso a la información y a los derechos de sepultura, así como interminables trabas burocráticas”.
      “Sueño con Oussama”

      Abdallah Tayeb ha sufrido en primera persona las deficiencias del sistema español en sus intentos por confirmar si un cadáver recuperado en diciembre de 2022 es el de su primo Oussama, un joven barbero argelino que soñaba con reunirse con Tayeb en Francia.

      Tayeb está convencido de que el cuerpo sin identificar, que se cree que está en un depósito de cadáveres de Almería, es el de su primo. Está previsto que los restos sean enterrados a comienzos del próximo año en una tumba sin nombre, a menos que se consiga algún avance de última hora. “La sensación es de impotencia”, admite. “No hay nada de transparencia”.

      Tayeb nació en París, de padres argelinos, pero pasa todos los veranos en Argelia con su familia. “Como Oussama y yo teníamos más o menos la misma edad, estábamos muy unidos. Le obsesionaba la idea de venir a Europa, pues dos de sus hermanos ya vivían en Francia. Pero yo no sabía que en realidad ya había organizado su viaje en una patera a finales del año pasado”.

      Oussama formaba parte de un grupo de 23 personas (entre ellas siete niños) que desaparecieron tras zarpar de Mostaganem, Argelia, en una lancha motora el día de Navidad de 2022. Poco después de la desaparición de la patera, su hermano Sofiane viajó de Francia a Cartagena, el destino al que esperaba llegar la embarcación. Con la ayuda de la Cruz Roja, Sofiane pudo presentar una denuncia por desaparición y dar una muestra de ADN, pero no pudo reunir ninguna información concreta sobre la suerte de su hermano.

      Sin embargo, un segundo viaje a España en febrero condujo a un gran avance. Tras recorrer juntos la costa mediterránea, Tayeb y su primo Sofiane consiguieron hablar con una patóloga forense que trabaja en la morgue de Almería, quien pareció reconocer una foto de Oussama. “No paraba de decir ’esta cara me suena’ y también mencionó un collar, algo que llevaba cuando se fue”. Según la forense, había una posible coincidencia con un cuerpo sin identificar recuperado por los guardacostas el 27 de diciembre de 2022.
      El laberinto burocrático

      Con la sensación de que por fin estaban cerca de obtener alguna respuesta, en la comisaría de Almería les informaron de que, para poder ver el cadáver –o incluso las pertenencias– y proceder a su identificación visual, necesitarían el permiso de la comisaría donde se había registrado inicialmente el cadáver. “Fue entonces cuando empezó la verdadera pesadilla”, recuerda Tayeb. Les entregaron una lista de cinco comisarías de toda la región en las que se podría haber registrado el cadáver, y se pasaron los dos días siguientes conduciendo de comisaría en comisaría a lo largo de la costa murciana.

      “En la primera comisaría que visitamos ni siquiera nos dejaron entrar cuando les dijimos que estábamos buscando a un inmigrante desaparecido, y después siempre fue la misma consigna: éste no es el lugar adecuado; no tenemos ningún cadáver; tenéis que ir a este otro lugar…”, continúa. Cuando ambos regresaron a la primera comisaría de Huércal de Almería, después de que les dijeran repetidamente que era el lugar adecuado para preguntar, los agentes, impacientes, se negaron a atenderlos, alegando leyes de protección de la intimidad, e incluso les dijeron que advirtieran a otras familias que buscaban a migrantes desaparecidos que no siguieran viniendo a preguntar.

      “Al final”, explica Tayeb, “nos dimos cuenta de que nunca nos darían ninguna información. Fue muy desgarrador, sobre todo volver a Francia. Fue como si le dejáramos [allí] en la nevera”.

      A medida que pasaban los meses, la frustración y la ansiedad aumentaban para la familia. “En mayo nos dijeron que la muestra de ADN que habíamos dado cinco meses antes acababa de llegar a Madrid y aún no había sido procesada ni enviada a la base de datos”. No se les ha facilitado más información, y las autoridades españolas tienen la política de ponerse en contacto con las familias sólo cuando hay una coincidencia positiva, pero no si la prueba da negativo.

      Tayeb se plantea una última visita a España para intentar recuperar a su primo Oussama, en parte para estar seguro de que ha hecho todo lo posible por encontrarlo, pero le preocupa que el viaje pueda reabrir su trauma de “pérdida ambigua”. “El esfuerzo de ir no es doloroso, lo doloroso es volver sin nada”, dice. “Esta falta de información es lo peor”.

      La Dra. Pauline Boss, catedrática emérita de Psicología de la Universidad de Minnesota (EE.UU.), explica el concepto de pérdida ambigua: “Se parece a un duelo complejo, con pensamientos intrusivos”, dice. “No tienes otra cosa en la cabeza más que el hecho de que tu ser querido ha desaparecido. No puedes afrontar el duelo, porque eso significaría que la persona está muerta, y no lo sabes con certeza”.

      Tayeb lo explica con sus propias palabras: “Todas las personas que iban a bordo eran del mismo barrio de Mostaganem. He podido hablar con muchas de sus familias y están destrozadas. Hay mucho dolor, pero tampoco hay respuestas. Sólo hay rumores, y algunas de las madres creen que sus hijos están en cárceles de Marruecos y España. Todos tenemos sueños [sobre los desaparecidos]. Al final, confías en lo que ves en tus sueños, como si la realidad cósmica te dijera que va a venir. Sueño con Oussama”.
      Un sistema defectuoso

      De todas las familias de los desaparecidos en la patera de Oussama, sólo Tayeb y otras tres familias han podido presentar denuncias de desaparición ante las autoridades españolas, y únicamente en dos casos se han podido entregar muestras de ADN. Según un informe de 2021 de la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM), una de las mayores complicaciones a las que se enfrentan las familias en sus búsquedas es que, para registrar a alguien como desaparecido en España, hay que presentar una denuncia ante la policía del propio país, lo que para muchas familias es “una hazaña prácticamente imposible”, ya que no existen visados para viajar con este fin.

      El informe de la OIM también señala que, aunque muchas familias presentan denuncias de personas desaparecidas en sus países de origen, son “conscientes del carácter casi simbólico de sus esfuerzos” y de que “nunca darán lugar a que se inicie ningún tipo de investigación en España.”

      Junto con la OIM, algunas ONG nacionales, como la APDHA y más de un centenar de organizaciones comunitarias, han denunciado la incapacidad de España para adaptar los procedimientos vigentes en materia de personas desaparecidas a los retos transnacionales que plantean los casos de migrantes desaparecidos. Estas organizaciones han defendido en repetidas ocasiones que el marco jurídico del país en materia de personas desaparecidas debe adaptarse para garantizar que las familias puedan presentar denuncias desde el extranjero por casos de personas desaparecidas.

      También han presionado para que se elaboren protocolos específicos para la policía al tratar casos de migrantes desaparecidos, así como para que se cree una base de datos de migrantes desaparecidos que permita centralizar la información y haga posible el intercambio con autoridades de otros países. Esta incluiría todos los datos disponibles post mortem (desde tatuajes hasta ADN, pasando por inspecciones de cadáveres y autopsias) como de información médica forense ante mortem, es decir, la que procede de los familiares en relación con la persona desaparecida.

      “La realidad es que la situación en toda Europa es sistemáticamente deficiente”, explica Julia Black, analista del Proyecto Migrantes Desaparecidos de la OIM. “A pesar de que nuestras investigaciones muestran estas necesidades acuciantes de las familias, ni España ni ningún otro país europeo ha cambiado [en los últimos años] de forma significativa sus políticas, ni tampoco han mejorado las prácticas para ayudar a este grupo desatendido. El apoyo a las familias sólo está disponible de forma muy puntual, sobre todo en respuesta a sucesos con víctimas masivas que están en el punto de mira de la opinión pública, lo que deja a muchos miles de personas sin un apoyo adecuado”.

      Actores no estatales como la Cruz Roja y Caminando Fronteras, así como una red de activistas independientes, intentan llenar este vacío. “Es un trabajo terrible que no deberíamos estar haciendo, porque los Estados deberían responder a las familias y garantizar los derechos de las víctimas más allá de las fronteras”, explica Maleno. En el caso de la patera de Mostaganem, Caminando Fronteras tiene previsto viajar a Argelia el año que viene para tomar muestras de ADN de los familiares y traerlas a España. Pero Maleno también reconoce que su ONG a menudo tiene que “ejercer mucha presión” para que las autoridades acepten estas muestras.

      Es algo que también confirma Jon Iñarritu, diputado de EH Bildu: “Como miembro de la Comisión de Interior del Congreso de los Diputados, he tenido que intervenir en varias ocasiones para ayudar a las familias que querían registrar muestras de ADN, hablando con el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores o con el Ministerio del Interior para que aceptaran las muestras. Pero no debería ser necesaria la intervención de un diputado para conseguirlo. Es necesario normalizar todo el proceso con protocolos claros y automáticos [para la presentación de las muestras]. Ahora mismo, no hay una forma clara de hacerlo”.

      Incluso cuando las recomendaciones de la OIM han sido objeto de debate parlamentario en España, no han tendido a traducirse en medidas gubernamentales. En 2021, por ejemplo, el Congreso de los Diputados aprobó una Proposición no de Ley en la que se instaba al Gobierno a crear una oficina estatal específica para las familias de migrantes desaparecidos. “Está claro que necesitamos aliviar el calvario administrativo y burocrático para las familias ofreciéndoles un único punto de contacto [con las autoridades estatales]”, explica Iñárritu, impulsor de la moción.

      Sin embargo, aunque los partidos en el gobierno votaron a favor de la resolución, no se ha tomado ninguna medida al respecto en los 18 meses transcurridos desde la aprobación de la resolución. “Desde mi punto de vista, el Gobierno no tiene ninguna intención de aplicar la propuesta”, argumenta Iñárritu. “Sólo ofrecían un apoyo simbólico”.

      Cuando se expusieron las cuestiones anteriores al Ministerio del Interior, la respuesta fue la siguiente: “El tratamiento de los cadáveres sin identificar que llegan a las costas de España es idéntico al hallazgo de cualquier otro cadáver. En España, para la identificación de cadáveres, las Fuerzas y Cuerpos de Seguridad del Estado aplican la Guía de INTERPOL para la Identificación de Víctimas de Catástrofes. Esta Guía, aunque está especialmente indicada para los sucesos con víctimas múltiples, también es aplicada como referencia para la identificación de un cadáver aislado”.
      Derechos de sepultura

      El director de migraciones de APDHA, Carlos Arce, escribe que, en un marco europeo que contempla la migración irregular predominantemente a través del prisma de la criminalidad grave y la seguridad fronteriza, “ni siquiera la muerte o desaparición de las personas migrantes pone freno a la concatenación de ataques a su dignidad”. Por su parte, Iñárritu también apunta al régimen fronterizo más amplio de la UE: “Muchas cuestiones que no encajan en este marco político dominante, como el derecho de identificación, simplemente se dejan sin gestionar en el día a día. Sencillamente, no son una prioridad”.

      Esto también queda claro en lo que respecta a la inacción del gobierno español a la hora de garantizar un entierro digno a las personas cuyos cuerpos son recuperados. Como señala un informe de 2023 de APDHA, “aunque la repatriación es la opción más deseada por las familias [...] el coste es muy elevado (miles de euros) y muy pocas de sus embajadas ayudan [a sufragarlo]”. La ONG recomienda a España que establezca acuerdos de repatriación con los países de procedencia de los inmigrantes para crear “salvoconductos mortuorios” que garanticen su retorno a un coste reducido.

      A esto se suma que el gobierno central tampoco ha establecido mecanismos para garantizar el derecho de los inmigrantes no identificados a un entierro digno dentro del territorio español, sino que sostiene que los ayuntamientos son responsables de todos los entierros de carácter benéfico. Esto ha supuesto que municipios muy concretos, en los que están estacionadas las embarcaciones de salvamento marítimo, sean legalmente responsables de la mayor parte de los entierros, y la mayoría de estos municipios carecen de cementerios locales capaces de acoger entierros musulmanes tradicionales.

      La posibilidad de que este asunto se convierta en un caldo de cultivo para el rechazo a la inmigración quedó patente el pasado mes de septiembre, cuando la alcaldesa de Mogán (Gran Canaria), Onalia Bueno, insistió en que su municipio dejaría de sufragar estos entierros, ya que no quería “detraer los costes de los impuestos de mis vecinos”. Juan Carlos Lorenzo, de CEAR, condena ese “lenguaje divisivo, que enmarca la cuestión en términos de malgastar el dinero de mis ’vecinos’ en alguien que no es un vecino”, y señala en cambio la actuación de los municipios de El Hierro como contraejemplo positivo.

      En esta isla poco poblada, en los últimos dos meses han sido enterrados siete inmigrantes no identificados, junto con los restos de Mamadou Marea, de 30 años. “Los habitantes de la isla se unieron a nosotros para acompañar los restos de cada una de estas personas hasta su lugar de descanso”, explica Amado Carballo, concejal de El Hierro. “Lo que nos entristeció a todos fue no poder poner un nombre en la lápida y simplemente tener que dejar a las personas identificadas con un código policial”.

      Carballo señala que “más de 10.000 personas han llegado a El Hierro desde septiembre, lo mismo que la población de la isla. Son viajes muy largos, de entre seis y nueve días en el mar, y ahora mismo la gente llega en un pésimo estado de salud. A los que han muerto en los últimos meses hemos intentado ofrecerles un entierro digno dentro de los medios de que disponemos. Hemos contado con la presencia de un imán, que ha rezado oraciones del Islam antes de depositar los restos”.

      En la actualidad, la responsabilidad de conmemorar a las víctimas no identificadas recae en los municipios e incluso en los responsables de los cementerios. Al igual que Germán en el cementerio de Barbate, que intenta dignificar las tumbas sin nombre colocando flores sobre ellas, el cementerio de Motril ha adornado las tumbas con poemas. En Teguise, el Ayuntamiento ha puesto en marcha una iniciativa que anima a los vecinos a dejar flores en las tumbas de los inmigrantes cuando vienen a visitar los restos de sus familiares.

      En otro gesto conmemorativo, una colección de unas 50 barcas de pesca desechadas se ha convertido en un rasgo distintivo del puerto de Barbate. Estas pequeñas embarcaciones de madera con escritura árabe en el casco eran utilizadas por los emigrantes que intentaban cruzar el Estrecho de Gibraltar. En lugar de ser desguazadas, APDHA pudo convertir el astillero en un lugar conmemorativo y colocar placas en las embarcaciones en las que se indicaba cuántas personas viajaban en ellas y dónde y cuándo fueron encontradas.

      En el caso del pequeño Alhassane Bangoura, los vecinos acuden habitualmente a dejar flores frescas y otras muestras de afecto, entre ellas un pequeño cuenco de granito con su nombre de pila inscrito. Pero muchas víctimas son enterradas sin ningún intento de identificación y, tal y como exigen innumerables ONG, políticos y activistas, no debería dejarse en manos de la buena voluntad de residentes, trabajadores de cementerios o concejales el garantizar los últimos derechos de las víctimas de la Fortaleza Europa.


    • « Αγνώστων στοιχείων » : Πάνω από 1.000 αταυτοποίητοι τάφοι στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα

      Τάφοι με μόνη σήμανση ένα ξύλο, μνήματα που καλύπτονται από αγριόχορτα : μια διασυνοριακή έρευνα οκτώ δημοσιογράφων σε συνεργασία με Solomon, Guardian και Süddeutsche Zeitung καταγράφει την αδιαφορία γύρω από την αξιοπρεπή ταφή των προσφύγων που χάνουν τη ζωή τους στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα.

      Το τηλέφωνο χτύπησε ένα πρωινό του Οκτωβρίου 2022 στη δουλειά, στη Φινλανδία όπου ο 35χρονος Μοχάμεντ Σαμίμ ζει τα τελευταία δέκα περίπου χρόνια.

      Ο ανιψιός του δεν είχε καλά νέα : ο αδερφός του Σαμίμ, Ταρίν Μοχαμάντ, μαζί με τον γιο και τις δύο κόρες του, βρισκόταν σε ένα σκάφος που βυθίστηκε κοντά σε ένα ελληνικό νησί, έχοντας αποπλεύσει από τα τουρκικά παράλια για την Ιταλία.

      Όταν ο Σαμίμ έφτασε την επομένη στα Κύθηρα, έμαθε πως —παρότι αδύναμος αφού δεν είχε φάει επί τρεις μέρες— ο αδερφός του είχε καταφέρει να σώσει την οικογένειά του πριν ένα κύμα τον πάρει μακριά. Πήγε αμέσως στο σημείο του ναυαγίου. Μέσα στο νερό είδε σώματα να επιπλέουν — δεν μπορούσε να δει το πρόσωπο του αδερφού του, αλλά αναγνώρισε την πλάτη του.

      Το Λιμενικό είπε πως έπρεπε να περάσει η κακοκαιρία για να μπορέσουν να βγάλουν τους νεκρούς από τη θάλασσα. Πέρασε η πρώτη μέρα, πέρασε και δεύτερη, ώσπου την τρίτη ημέρα κατέστη τελικά δυνατό. Το Λιμενικό επιβεβαίωσε στο Solomon πως άνεμοι έντασης 8 μποφόρ και η μορφολογία της περιοχής καθιστούσαν την ανάσυρση των σορών αδύνατη. Ο Σαμίμ δεν θα ξεχάσει ποτέ την εικόνα του αδερφού του στη θάλασσα.

      Στην Καλαμάτα, χρειάστηκε να περάσουν τέσσερις ημέρες μετακύλισης της ευθύνης μεταξύ νοσοκομείου και Λιμενικού, και η βοήθεια μιας ντόπιας δικηγόρου που « ήρθε και τους έβαλε τις φωνές », προκειμένου να του επιτραπεί να ακολουθήσει τη διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης του αδερφού του.

      Τον προειδοποίησαν πως θα ήταν μια ψυχοφθόρα διαδικασία, και πως θα έπρεπε να φορέσει τριπλή μάσκα λόγω της μυρωδιάς. Ο Σαμίμ λέει πως, λόγω έλλειψης χώρου στα ψυγεία του νεκροτομείου, ορισμένα από τα θύματα του ναυαγίου βρίσκονταν στον θάλαμο εκτός ψυγείου.

      « Το άγχος και η μυρωδιά. Τα γόνατά μας έτρεμαν », θυμάται ο Σαμίμ όταν τον συναντάμε στα Κύθηρα ένα χρόνο μετά.

      Ξεκίνησαν να του δείχνουν σώματα σε αποσύνθεση. Πρώτα αυτά εκτός ψυγείου. Δεν τον αναγνώρισε ανάμεσά τους. Βγήκαν έξω και άλλαξαν τις μάσκες που φορούσαν, επέστρεψαν, άνοιξαν με τη σειρά τα ψυγεία φτάνοντας στο τελευταίο.

      « Βρισκόταν εκεί, ήρεμος. Ο άνθρωπος που αγαπάς. Ήμασταν κάπως χαρούμενοι που, μετά από μέρες, μπορούσαμε να τον δούμε », είπε ο Σαμίμ.
      Νεκροί πρόσφυγες στα αζήτητα

      Ο αριθμός των προσφύγων που πεθαίνουν στα σύνορα της Ευρώπης ολοένα και μεγαλώνει. Πέρα από τη δυσκολία καταγραφής των θανάτων, υπάρχει και η πρόκληση της ταυτοποίησης των σορών, μια διαδικασία ψυχοφθόρα για τους συγγενείς. Σε κάποιες περιπτώσεις, ωστόσο, υπάρχουν σοροί που μένουν αταυτοποίητες, εκατοντάδες άνδρες, γυναίκες και παιδιά που θάβονται σε τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων.

      Τον Ιούλιο του 2023, το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο υιοθέτησε ψήφισμα που αναγνωρίζει το δικαίωμα στην ταυτοποίηση των ανθρώπων που χάνουν τη ζωή τους στην προσπάθεια να φτάσουν στην Ευρώπη, έως σήμερα ωστόσο δεν υπάρχει κεντρικό σύστημα καταγραφής σε πανευρωπαϊκό επίπεδο. Ούτε ενιαία διαδικασία για τη διαχείριση των σορών που καταλήγουν σε νεκροτομεία, γραφεία κηδειών — ακόμη και κοντέινερ ψύξης.

      Το πρόβλημα είναι « εντελώς παραμελημένο », είπε στο Solomon η Ευρωπαία Επίτροπος Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων, Dunja Mijatović, η οποία αναφέρει ότι οι χώρες της ΕΕ δεν εκπληρώνουν τις υποχρεώσεις τους βάσει του διεθνούς δικαίου των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων. « Η τραγωδία των αγνοούμενων μεταναστών έχει λάβει τρομακτικές διαστάσεις. Το ζήτημα απαιτεί άμεση δράση », πρόσθεσε.

      Η πλατφόρμα Missing Migrants του Διεθνούς Οργανισμού Μετανάστευσης (ΔΟΜ), που αναγνωρίζει πως τα στοιχεία της δεν αποτελούν ολοκληρωμένη καταγραφή, κάνει λόγο για πάνω από 1.090 αγνοούμενους πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες στην Ευρώπη από το 2014.

      Στο πλαίσιο της έρευνας Border Graves, οκτώ Ευρωπαίοι δημοσιογράφοι, από κοινού με την βρετανική εφημερίδα Guardian, την γερμανική εφημερίδα Süddeutsche Zeitung, και το Solomon για την Ελλάδα, ερεύνησαν επί επτά μήνες τι συμβαίνει με τις χιλιάδες αταυτοποίητες σορούς όσων χάνουν τη ζωή τους στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα, και καταγράφουν για πρώτη φορά έναν σχεδόν διπλάσιο αριθμό : σύμφωνα με τα στοιχεία που συγκεντρώθηκαν, περισσότεροι από 2.162 άνθρωποι πέθαναν την περίοδο 2014-2023.

      Μελετήσαμε έγγραφα και πήραμε συνεντεύξεις από κρατικούς ιατροδικαστές, εισαγγελείς και εργαζομένους σε γραφεία τελετών· από κατοίκους και συγγενείς θανόντων και αγνοουμένων· και αποκτήσαμε αποκλειστική πρόσβαση σε αδημοσίευτα στοιχεία της Διεθνούς Επιτροπής του Ερυθρού Σταυρού.

      Σε 65 νεκροταφεία κατά μήκος των ευρωπαϊκών συνόρων –Ελλάδα, Ισπανία, Ιταλία, Μάλτα, Πολωνία, Λιθουανία, Γαλλία και Κροατία– καταγράψαμε περισσότερους από 1.000 τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων κατά την τελευταία δεκαετία.

      Η έρευνα καταγράφει τον τρόπο με τον οποίο η κρατική αδιαφορία γύρω από την αξιοπρεπή ταφή των ανθρώπων που χάνουν τη ζωή τους στα σύνορα διαπερνά τις ευρωπαϊκές χώρες. Στην Ιταλία, συναντήσαμε ξύλινους σταυρούς. Στην Κροατία και τη Βοσνία, συναντήσαμε δεκάδες τάφους με την ένδειξη « ΝΝ » (αγνώστων στοιχείων), στη Γαλλία απλώς με ένα « Χ ».

      Στα ισπανικά Γκραν Κανάρια, εντοπίσαμε πλάκες που δεν αναφέρουν την ταυτότητα των θανόντων, αλλά σε ποιο ναυάγιο πέθαναν : « Βάρκα μεταναστών νούμερο 4. 25/09/2022 ».

      Στην Ελλάδα, καταγράψαμε περισσότερους από 540 αταυτοποίητους τάφους προσφύγων, το 54% όσων συνολικά κατέγραψε η ευρωπαϊκή έρευνα. Ταξιδέψαμε στα νησιά του Αιγαίου και τον Έβρο, και εντοπίσαμε τάφους σε χωράφια που ενίοτε καλύπτονται από αγριόχορτα, και μαρμάρινες πλάκες με ημερομηνίες θανάτου που έχουν σβηστεί, ενώ σε άλλες περιπτώσεις ένα κομμάτι ξύλο μαζί με έναν αριθμό αποτελεί τη μόνη σήμανσή τους.

      Τα στοιχεία της έρευνάς μας, σε συνδυασμό με τα στοιχεία της Διεθνούς Επιτροπής του Ερυθρού Σταυρού, δεν αποτελούν εξαντλητική καταγραφή του ζητήματος. Ωστόσο, αποτυπώνουν για πρώτη φορά τα κενά και τις δυσκολίες ενός συστήματος, που οδηγεί χιλιάδες οικογένειες να μην γνωρίζουν πού είναι θαμμένοι οι συγγενείς τους.

      Λέσβος : 167 αταυτοποίητοι τάφοι προσφύγων

      Ένας μακρύς χωματόδρομος, που τριγυρίζεται από ελαιόδεντρα, οδηγεί στην πύλη του νεκροταφείου του Κάτω Τρίτου, που συνήθως παραμένει κλειδωμένη με λουκέτο.

      Το « νεκροταφείο των προσφύγων », όπως το αποκαλούν στο νησί, βρίσκεται περίπου 15χλμ δυτικά της Μυτιλήνης. Αποτελεί τον μοναδικό χώρο ταφής αποκλειστικά για πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες στην Ελλάδα.

      Κατά τη διάρκεια μίας από τις επισκέψεις μας, λάμβανε χώρα η κηδεία τεσσάρων παιδιών. Έχασαν τη ζωή τους στις 28 Αυγούστου 2023, όταν η βάρκα στην οποία επέβαιναν μαζί με 18 ακόμη ανθρώπους βυθίστηκε νοτιοανατολικά της Λέσβου.

      Η πενθούσα μητέρα και αρκετές γυναίκες, μεταξύ των οποίων μέλη της οικογένειας, κάθονταν κάτω από ένα δέντρο, ενώ οι άνδρες προσεύχονταν κοντά στο υπόστεγο που χρησιμοποιείται για τη διαδικασία της ταφής σύμφωνα με την ισλαμική παράδοση.

      Στον Κάτω Τρίτο και τον Άγιο Παντελεήμονα, το νεκροταφείο της Μυτιλήνης όπου θάβονταν οι πρόσφυγες έως τότε, μετρήσαμε συνολικά 167 τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων μεταξύ 2014-2023.

      Ο τοπικός δημοσιογράφος, και πρώην μέλος του Περιφερειακού Συμβουλίου Βορείου Αιγαίου Νίκος Μανάβης, εξηγεί πως το νεκροταφείο δημιουργήθηκε το 2015 σε έναν ελαιώνα που ανήκει στο δήμο Μυτιλήνης λόγω ανάγκης : ένα πολύνεκρο ναυάγιο στα βόρεια του νησιού, στις 28 Οκτωβρίου του έτους, είχε ως αποτέλεσμα τουλάχιστον 60 νεκρούς, για τους οποίους τα νεκροταφεία του νησιού δεν επαρκούσαν.

      Πολλά θύματα ναυαγίων παραμένουν θαμμένα σε τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων. Στις ταφόπλακες αναγράφεται η εκτιμώμενη ηλικία των θανόντων και η ημερομηνία ταφής, ενίοτε μόνο ένας αριθμός. Άλλες φορές, ένα κομμάτι ξύλο και περιμετρικά τοποθετημένες πέτρες σηματοδοτούν τον τάφο.

      « Αυτό που βλέπουμε είναι ένα χωράφι, όχι ένα νεκροταφείο. Δεν δείχνει σεβασμό στους ανθρώπους που τάφηκαν εδώ », λέει ο Μανάβης.

      Αυτή η έλλειψη σεβασμού στο νεκροταφείο του Κάτω Τρίτου κινητοποίησε την οργάνωση Earth Medicine. Όπως εξηγεί ο Δημήτρης Πατούνης, μέλος της ΜΚΟ, τον Ιανουάριο του 2022 έκαναν πρόταση στο δήμο Μυτιλήνης για την αποκατάσταση του νεκροταφείου. Το σχέδιό τους είναι να δημιουργήσουν ένα χώρο ανάπαυσης με σεβασμό και αξιοπρέπεια, όπου οι πρόσφυγες και οι αιτούντες άσυλο θα μπορούν να ικανοποιήσουν την πιο ιερή ανθρώπινη ανάγκη, το πένθος για τους αγαπημένους τους.

      Παρόλο που το δημοτικό συμβούλιο ενέκρινε την πρόταση την άνοιξη του 2023, οι δημοτικές εκλογές του Οκτωβρίου καθυστέρησαν το έργο. Ο Πατούνης δηλώνει θετικός ότι σύντομα θα γίνει καταγραφή των τάφων και περίφραξη της περιοχής.

      Ο Χρήστος Μαυραχείλης, νεκροθάφτης στο νεκροταφείο του Αγίου Παντελεήμονα, θυμάται ότι το 2015 οι μουσουλμάνοι πρόσφυγες θάβονταν σε συγκεκριμένη περιοχή του νεκροταφείου.

      « Αν κάποιος ήταν αγνώστου ταυτότητας έγραφα στον τάφο του “Άγνωστος” », λέει. Εάν δεν υπήρχαν συγγενείς, που θα μπορούσαν να καλύψουν το κόστος, ο Μαυραχείλης έκοβε ο ίδιος ένα μάρμαρο και έγραφε όσα στοιχεία μπορούσε από το πιστοποιητικό θανάτου. « Άνθρωποι ήταν κι αυτοί », λέει, « έκανα ό,τι μπορούσα ».

      Από την πλευρά του, ο Θωμάς Βαναβάκης, πρώην ιδιοκτήτης γραφείου τελετών που πρόσφερε υπηρεσίες στη Λέσβο έως το 2020, λέει επίσης πως συχνά χρειάστηκε να καλύψουν ταφές δίχως να λάβουν αμοιβή. « Ξέρετε πόσες φορές μπήκαμε στη θάλασσα και πληρώσαμε εργάτες από την τσέπη μας για να τραβήξουμε τα πτώματα και δεν παίρναμε φράγκο ; », λέει.

      « Το να βλέπεις τόσα μωρά, να τα μαζεύεις και να τα πετάς σε ένα κουτί… Πώς μπορείς να πας σπίτι και να κοιμηθείς μετά από αυτό ; », λέει ο Βαναβάκης.

      Η Έφη Λατσούδη, που ζει στη Λέσβο και εργάζεται στην οργάνωση Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), λέει πως το 2015 υπήρχαν ταφές που δεν μπορούσε να καλύψει ο δήμος Μυτιλήνης, και ορισμένες φορές τις « πληρώναν οι άνθρωποι που συμμετείχαν στην τελετή. Προσπαθούσαμε να δώσουμε μια αξιοπρέπεια στη διαδικασία. Αλλά δεν ήταν αρκετό », λέει.

      Η Λατσούδη θυμάται κάτι που της είχε αναφέρει μια προσφύγισσα το 2015 : « Το χειρότερο που μπορεί να μας συμβεί είναι να πεθάνουμε κάπου μακριά και να μην είναι κανείς στην κηδεία μας ».

      Ο δήμος Μυτιλήνης δεν απάντησε στα ερωτήματά μας σχετικά με την αξιοπρεπή ταφή των προσφύγων στα νεκροταφεία ευθύνης του.
      Χίος και Σάμος : τάφοι καλύπτονται από αγριόχορτα

      Σύμφωνα με την ελληνική νομοθεσία, η τοπική αυτοδιοίκηση (και σε περίπτωση αδυναμίας της η περιφέρεια) καλύπτει το κόστος για την ταφή τόσο των αταυτοποίητων προσφύγων που πεθαίνουν στα σύνορα, όσο και εκείνων που βρίσκονται σε οικονομική αδυναμία.

      Από πλευράς της, η δημοτική Αρχή Χίου δήλωσε πως προβλέπεται χρηματοδότηση για τις σχετικές δαπάνες, καθώς και ότι « στο πλαίσιο των αρμοδιοτήτων της για τα νεκροταφεία, συντηρεί και φροντίζει όλους τους χώρους, χωρίς διακρίσεις και με τον απαιτούμενο σεβασμό, για όλους τους νεκρούς ».

      Αλλά κατά την επίσκεψή μας τον Αύγουστο στο νεκροταφείο του Μερσινιδίου, λίγα χιλιόμετρα βόρεια της πόλης της Χίου, όπου πρόσφυγες βρίσκονται θαμμένοι πλάι στα μνήματα των ντόπιων, δεν ήταν δύσκολο να εντοπίσει κανείς τον διαχωρισμό : οι πέντε τάφοι αταυτοποίητων προσφύγων σηματοδοτούνταν απλώς από ένα μάρμαρο, το οποίο έτεινε να υπερκαλύψει η βλάστηση.

      Η Νατάσα Στραχίνη, δικηγόρος του RSA που ζει στη Χίο, έχει λάβει μέρος σε αρκετές κηδείες προσφύγων τόσο στη Χίο όσο και στη Λέσβο. Για εκείνη, είναι πολύ μεγάλη η σημασία της τοπικής κοινότητας και η παρουσία σε μια τόσο δύσκολη ανθρώπινη στιγμή.

      Σχετικά με τις ταφές, εξηγεί πως « μόνο ένα καλό σύστημα καταγραφής θα μπορούσε να βοηθήσει τους συγγενείς να εντοπίσουν τον τάφο ενός ανθρώπου που έχασαν, καθώς συνήθως στα νεκροταφεία μετά από 3-5 χρόνια γίνονται εκταφές ». Αναφέρει πως ενίοτε ένας τάφος παραμένει αγνώστων στοιχείων παρότι η σορός έχει ταυτοποιηθεί, είτε γιατί καθυστέρησε η διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης, είτε γιατί οι συγγενείς δεν είχαν την οικονομική δυνατότητα να αλλάξουν το μνήμα.

      Στο Ηραίο Σάμου, δίπλα στο δημοτικό νεκροταφείο, σε ένα οικόπεδο που ανήκει στη Μητρόπολη και χρησιμοποιείται ως χώρος ταφής προσφύγων, καταγράψαμε δεκάδες μνήματα που χρονολογούνται μεταξύ 2014-2023. Οι πλάκες –ορισμένες σπασμένες– που έχουν τοποθετηθεί στο έδαφος, « κρυμμένες » από κλαδιά, πευκοβελόνες και κουκουνάρια, αναγράφουν απλώς έναν αριθμό και τη χρονολογία της ταφής.

      Ο δικηγόρος Δημήτρης Χούλης, που ζει στη Σάμο και χειρίζεται υποθέσεις γύρω από το προσφυγικό, σχολίασε σχετικά : « Είναι ντροπιαστική εικόνα να βλέπεις τέτοιους τάφους. Είναι αδικαιολόγητο για μια σύγχρονη κοινωνία όπως η Ελλάδα ».

      Αναζητώντας στοιχεία

      Η Διεθνής Επιτροπή του Ερυθρού Σταυρού είναι από τις λίγες διεθνείς οργανώσεις που εργάζονται για την ταυτοποίηση των νεκρών πρσοφύγων. Μεταξύ άλλων, και στην Ελλάδα έχουν πραγματοποιήσει αρκετές σχετικές εκπαιδεύσεις σε στελέχη του Λιμενικού και της Ελληνικής Αστυνομίας.

      « Είναι υποχρέωσή μας να παρέχουμε στους νεκρούς μια αξιοπρεπή ταφή. Παράλληλα, οφείλουμε να δίνουμε απαντήσεις στις οικογένειες μέσω της ταυτοποίησης των νεκρών. Αν υπολογίσουμε τους συγγενείς των αγνοουμένων, αυτή η διαδικασία επηρεάζει εκατοντάδες χιλιάδες ανθρώπους. Δεν γνωρίζουν πού βρίσκονται οι αγαπημένοι τους. Τους φέρθηκαν καλά ; Τους σεβάστηκαν όταν τους έθαψαν ; », αναφέρει η Laurel Clegg, συντονίστρια ιατροδικαστής για τη μετανάστευση στην Ευρώπη.

      Εξηγεί πως η καταγραφή των νεκρών αποτελεί διαδικασία που « απαιτεί την καλή συνεργασία μεταξύ πολλών μερών : ένα νομικό πλαίσιο που να προστατεύει τους αταυτοποίητους νεκρούς, συστηματικές νεκροψίες (consistent post-mortems), νεκροτομεία, ληξιαρχεία, αξιοπρεπή μεταφορά, νεκροταφεία ».

      Ωστόσο, τα ιατρικά και νομικά συστήματα των χωρών αποδεικνύονται ανεπαρκή για να αντιμετωπίσουν τη διάσταση του προβλήματος, προσθέτει.

      Από το 2013, στο πλαίσιο του προγράμματος για την αποκατάσταση οικογενειακών δεσμών, ο Ερυθρός Σταυρός έχει καταγράψει στην Ευρώπη 16.500 αιτήματα από ανθρώπους που αναζητούν αγνοούμενους συγγενείς τους. Σύμφωνα με τον διεθνή οργανισμό έχουν επιτευχθεί μόλις 285 επιτυχείς αντιστοιχίσεις (1,7%).

      Τις αντιστοιχίσεις αυτές αναλαμβάνουν οι κατά τόπους ιατροδικαστές.

      « Συλλέγουμε πάντα δείγματα DNA από τις σορούς αγνώστων στοιχείων. Είναι συνήθης πρακτική και μπορεί να είναι το μόνο εφικτό μέσο ταυτοποίησης », αναφέρει ο Παναγιώτης Κοτρέτσος, ιατροδικαστής στη Ρόδο. Τα δείγματα αποστέλλονται στο εργαστήριο DNA της Διεύθυνσης Εγκληματολογικών Ερευνών της Ελληνικής Αστυνομίας, σύμφωνα με πρωτόκολλο της INTERPOL.

      Σύμφωνα με τον Ερυθρό Σταυρό, οι δυσκολίες συνήθως προκύπτουν όταν οι οικογένειες βρίσκονται εκτός ΕΕ, και οφείλονται σε διάφορους παράγοντες, όπως τυχόν διαφορές στο νομικό πλαίσιο ή στα ιατρικά συστήματα των χωρών. Για παράδειγμα, ορισμένες χώρες της ΕΕ δεν μπορούν να « ανοίξουν » υπόθεση και να πάρουν δείγματα DNA από οικογένειες, χωρίς εντολή από τις Aρχές της χώρας στην οποία έχει ανασυρθεί η σορός του συγγενή που αναζητάται.

      Το πιο δύσκολο μέρος στη διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης μέσω DNA είναι ότι χρειάζεται να υπάρχει κι ένα δεύτερο δείγμα που θα συγκριθεί με εκείνο που συνέλεξαν οι ιατροδικαστές, το οποίο πρέπει να σταλεί από τις οικογένειες των αγνοουμένων. « Για έναν πρόσφυγα που ξεκίνησε το ταξίδι του από μια χώρα της κεντρικής Αφρικής, ταξίδεψε για μήνες, και πέθανε στην Ελλάδα, θα υπάρχει το γενετικό υλικό στο νεκροτομείο. Αλλά θα παραμείνει αταίριαστο μέχρι κάποιος συγγενής πρώτου βαθμού να στείλει δείγμα DNA », λέει ο Κοτρέτσος.

      Εξηγεί πως αυτό δεν είναι πάντα εφικτό. « Έχουμε δεχτεί τηλεφωνήματα από συγγενείς που βρίσκονταν στη στη Συρία, και αναζητούσαν αγνοούμενα μέλη της οικογένειάς τους, και δεν μπορούσαν να στείλουν δείγματα ακριβώς επειδή βρίσκονταν στη Συρία ».

      Έξω από το πανεπιστημιακό νοσοκομείο της Αλεξανδρούπολης, δύο κοντέινερ ψυγεία που έχουν παραχωρηθεί από τον Ερυθρό Σταυρό ως προσωρινοί νεκροθάλαμοι φιλοξενούν τα σώματα 40 προσφύγων.

      Ο καθηγητής Ιατροδικαστικής στο Δημοκρίτειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θράκης, Παύλος Παυλίδης, έχει από το 2000 πραγματοποιήσει αυτοψίες σε τουλάχιστον 800 σώματα ανθρώπων σε κίνηση, με βασικές αιτίες θανάτου τον πνιγμό στα νερά του Έβρου και την υποθερμία.

      Ο ιατροδικαστής δεν αρκείται στην απαραίτητη συλλογή DNA : καταγράφει δεδομένα όπως σημάδια γέννησης ή τατουάζ και αντικείμενα (π.χ. πορτοφόλια, δαχτυλίδια, γυαλιά), τα οποία θα μπορούσαν να αποτελέσουν τον συνδετικό κρίκο για έναν συγγενή που αναζητά το αγαπημένο του πρόσωπο.

      Λέει πως συνολικά 313 σοροί που βρέθηκαν στον Έβρο από το 2014 παραμένουν αγνώστων στοιχείων. Όσες δεν μπορούν να ταυτοποιηθούν θάβονται σε ειδικό νεκροταφείο στο Σιδηρώ, το οποίο διαχειρίζεται ο δήμος Σουφλίου, ενώ 15-20 αταυτοποίητες σοροί τάφηκαν στην Ορεστιάδα όσο γινόταν η επέκταση του νεκροταφείου Σιδηρού.

      Οι σοροί των μουσουλμάνων προσφύγων που ταυτοποιούνται ενταφιάζονται στο μουσουλμανικό νεκροταφείο στη Μεσσούνη Κομοτηνής ή επαναπατρίζονται, όταν οι συγγενείς μπορούν να καλύψουν το κόστος επαναπατρισμού.

      « Αυτό δεν είναι αξιοπρεπές »

      Απαντώντας σε σχετικά ερωτήματα, το υπουργείο Μετανάστευσης και Ασύλου είπε πως το ζήτημα των διαδικασιών ταυτοποίησης και ταφής προσφύγων δεν εμπίπτει στις αρμοδιότητές του. Εκπρόσωπος της Κομισιόν δήλωσε πως σχετικά κονδύλια προς την Ελλάδα δεν προβλέπονται, ωστόσο εν λόγω δαπάνες « θα μπορούσαν να υποστηριχθούν στο πλαίσιο του Εθνικού Προγράμματος του Ταμείου Ασύλου, Μετανάστευσης και Ένταξης », το οποίο διαχειρίζεται το υπουργείο Μετανάστευσης.

      Ο Θεόδωρος Νούσιας είναι επικεφαλής ιατροδικαστής της Ιατροδικαστικής Υπηρεσίας Βορείου Αιγαίου, δηλαδή υπεύθυνος για τα νησιά Λέσβο, Σάμο, Χίο, και Λήμνο. Σύμφωνα με τον ιατροδικαστή, η διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης μέσω DNA έχει βελτιωθεί πολύ σε σχέση με πριν από μερικά χρόνια.

      Ο Νούσιας λέει ότι πάντα ήταν διαθέσιμος, όταν του ζητήθηκε να αναγνωρίσει κάποιον. « Πρέπει να εξυπηρετείς τους ανθρώπους, γι’ αυτό βρίσκεσαι εκεί. Να εξυπηρετείς τους ανθρώπους για να μπορούν να βρουν την οικογένειά τους », προσθέτει.

      Ο ιατροδικαστής ζει στη Λέσβο, αλλά λέει πως δεν έχει πάει ποτέ στο νεκροταφείο στον Κάτω Τρίτο. « Δεν θέλω να πάω. Θα είναι δύσκολο για μένα γιατί οι περισσότεροι από αυτούς τους ανθρώπους έχουν περάσει από τα χέρια μου ».

      Τον Οκτώβριο του 2022, ο 32χρονος Σουτζά Αχμαντί και η αδελφή του Μαρίνα ταξίδεψαν επίσης στα Κύθηρα και, στη συνέχεια, στην Καλαμάτα προκειμένου να αναγνωρίσουν τη σορό του πατέρα τους, Αμπντούλ Γασί.

      Ο 65χρονος είχε ξεκινήσει το ταξίδι για την Ιταλία μαζί με τη γυναίκα του Χατίτζε — εκείνη επέζησε. Τα δύο αδέλφια επισκέφθηκαν το νοσοκομείο, όπου τους έδειξαν και τα οκτώ πτώματα, άνδρες και γυναίκες, παρότι είχαν εξαρχής εξηγήσει πως ο άνθρωπος που αναζητούσαν ήταν άνδρας.

      Το σώμα του πατέρα τους ήταν μεταξύ εκείνων που βρίσκονταν εκτός ψυγείου.

      « Η αδελφή μου έκλαιγε και τους φώναζε να πάρουν τον πατέρα μας από το κοντέινερ ψυγείο γιατί μύριζε », θυμάται ο Σουτζά. « Δεν ήταν αξιοπρεπές μέρος για έναν άνθρωπο ».

      Για την έρευνα συνεργάστηκαν οι : Gabriele Cruciata, Eoghan Gilmartin, Danai Maragoudaki, Barbara Matejčić, Leah Pattem, Gabriela Ramírez, Daphne Tolis and Tina Xu (συντονίστρια).

      Η έρευνα υποστηρίχθηκε από το Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) και Journalismfund Europe.


    • U Hrvatskoj pronađeno 45 neimenovanih grobova migranata, među njima je bila i 5-godišnja curica: ‘Policija ih često tjera u rijeku’

      Telegram ekskluzivno donosi veliku priču Barbare Matejčić koja je, kao jedina novinarka iz Hrvatske, sudjelovala u međunarodnoj novinarskoj istrazi s kolegama iz uglednih medija poput britanskog Guardiana i njemačkog Süddeutsche Zeitunga. Otkrili su kako završavaju tijela onih koji su stradali pokušavajući ući u Europsku uniju

      U selu Siče u istočnoj Hrvatskoj više je Sičana na groblju nego među živima: živih je 230, a umrlih 250. Točnije, na groblju je 247 Sičana i tri nepoznate osobe. Bilo bi ih još više pod zemljom da Siče svoje groblje nema tek od 1970-ih. Bilo bi još više i živih da nisu, kao mnogi iz tog kraja, odlazili u veće gradove ili u inozemstvo u potrazi za boljim životom. Grobovi Sičana, ukratko, posjetitelju kažu tko su ti ljudi bili, gdje pripadaju i posjećuju li ih bližnji. Tako to biva s grobovima, sažimaju osnovne informacije naših života. Ako na grobu stoji samo NN, to sažima tragediju.

      Tko su te tri osobe kojima se ne zna ime? Kako im je posljednja adresa skromni humak u Siču? Migranti, utopili su se u obližnjoj rijeci, reći će vam mještani. Malo je mjesto, malo je groblje, sve se zna. I da ne znate ništa, jasno vam je da te tri osobe tu ne pripadaju. Ukopani su sasvim izdvojeno od ostatka groblja. Tri drvena križa s NN natpisima, zabodena u zemlju na rubu groblja. NN, kao skraćenica od latinskog nomen nescio, doslovno znači: ne znam ime.


      Službeno objašnjenje komunalnog poduzeća koje upravlja grobljem je da je ostavljeno mjesta za još mogućih ukopa onih kojima se ne zna ime. A objašnjenje na koje pomislite kad tamo dođete jest da su ukopani izdvojeno kako se ne bi miješali s mještanima. Ili, kako nam se u telefonskom razgovoru izlanuo načelnik jednog drugog mjesta gdje su također na margini groblja NN migrantski grobovi: “Da nam ne smetaju.”

      Afganistanci pod križem

      Na groblju u Sičama to su jedina tri groba o kojima nitko ne vodi računa. Za nekih pet godina mogao bi im nestati svaki trag. Komunalna poduzeća su dužna ukopati neidentificirana tijela, ali ne i održavati grobove osim ako grob nije od “osobe od posebnog povijesnog i društvenog značaja”, kako zakon nalaže. NN1, NN2 i NN3 su od posebnog značaja samo svojim bližnjima, koji vjerojatno ni ne znaju gdje su. Možda čekaju da im se konačno jave iz zapadne Europe. Možda ih traže. Možda ih oplakuju. No, ako zakopate malo dublje, saznat ćete ponešto o onima koji tu počivaju bez imena.

      U rano i hladno jutro 23. prosinca 2022. policija je pronašla dva tijela na obali Save, koja je u tom području odvaja Hrvatsku od Bosne i Hercegovine. Odvaja Europsku uniju od ostatka Europe. Prema policijskom izvještaju, pronašli su i skupinu od dvadeset stranih državljana koji su tim putem nezakonito ušli u Hrvatsku. Skupini je nedostajala još jedna osoba. Nakon opsežne potrage u popodnevnim satima je pronađeno i treće tijelo. Patolog Opće bolnice u Novoj Gradiški ustanovio je da je smrt za sve troje nastupila u 2.45 u noći. Dvojica su umrla od pothlađenosti, jedan se utopio.

      Kod njih su pronađene iskaznice iz izbjegličkog kampa u Bosni i Hercegovini. Saznali smo da su, prema iskaznicama, sva trojica bila iz Afganistana: Ahmedi Abozari imao je 17 godina, Basir Naseri imao je 21 godinu i Shakir Atoin je imao 25 godina. NN1, NN2 i NN3. Za dvojicu od njih su i drugi iz skupine migranata potvrdili identitet, rekli su nam iz Policijske uprave brodsko-posavske. Zašto su onda pokopani kao NN? Ako se znalo da su iz Afganistana, zašto su pokopani pod križem? Ako ih traže obitelji, kako će ih naći?
      ‘Neka plate za ime na grobu’

      U upravi groblja su bili ljubazni i rekli da pokapaju prema tome kako stoji u dozvoli za ukop koju potpisuje patolog. A stajalo je NN. Patolog je rekao da podatke ispisuje na temelju informacija dobivenih od policije i mrtvozornika. Iz nadležne policije su nam rekli da se osoba sahranjuje po pravilima lokalne uprave. Groblje Siče pripada Općini Nova Kapela, čiji nam je načelnik Ivan Šmit nezadovoljno nabrojao sve troškove koje je njegova općina snosila za te ukope i poručio da ako će netko za to platiti, onda može promijeniti oznaku NN u imena.

      Na niz smo takvih administrativnih nejasnoća naišli istražujući kako nadležna tijela postupaju s tijelima onih koji su stradali pokušavajući ući u Europsku uniju, kao dio Border Graves Investigation koje je proveo tim od osam slobodnih novinara u zemljama na migrantskim rutama, zajedno s britanskim Guardianom i njemačkim Süddeutsche Zeitungom.

      Nema jedinstvene europske baze podataka o broju migranata koji su pokopani u Europi. No tim je uspio potvrditi najmanje 1.931 takav grob u Grčkoj, Italiji, Španjolskoj, Hrvatskoj, Malti, Poljskoj i Francuskoj u zadnjem desetljeću, dakle od 2014. do 2023. Od toga je 1.015 NN grobova. Više od polovice neidentificiranih grobova je, očekivano, u Grčkoj – 551, u Italiji 248 i u Španjolskoj 109. U Hrvatskoj smo utvrdili 59 grobova migranata koji su ukopani posljednjeg desetljeća, od čega ih 45 nije identificirano. Podaci su temeljeni na različitim bazama podataka koje u pojedinačnim zemljama prikupljaju međunarodne organizacije, nevladine udruge, znanstvenici i istraživači, kao i od lokalnih vlasti te terenskim radom.

      Tim novinara je posjetio 24 groblja u Grčkoj, Italiji, Španjolskoj, Hrvatskoj, Poljskoj i Litvi, gdje je ukupno 555 grobova neidentificiranih migranata od 2014. do 2023. To su oni čija su tijela pronađena i pokopana. Međunarodni odbor Crvenog križa procjenjuje da se 87 posto onih koji nestanu na europskim južnim granicama nikad ne pronađe. Za kopnene migrantske rute nema procjena.
      Traže li migrante kao što traže turiste?

      Prosinac 2022. kad su umrla trojica mladih Afganistanaca je bio kišniji nego inače i Sava je nabujala. No ionako je velika i brza. Na tom je području samo tri dana ranije nestalo petero turskih državljana nakon što im se na Savi prevrnuo čamac. Među njima su bili dvogodišnja curica, dvanaestogodišnji dečko i njihovi roditelji. Brat nestalog oca je došao iz Njemačke u Hrvatsku kako bi saznao što se dogodilo s obitelji. Iz dokumentacije koju posjedujemo, vidljivo je da je uz pomoć turkologinje Nine Rajković pokušavao od više policijskih postaja doći do informacija u vezi nestalih. Nije ih dobio ni mjesecima kasnije. Htjeli su prijaviti nestanak, no u policiji im je rečeno da prijavu nema smisla pisati ako osobe nisu prethodno registrirane na području Hrvatske ili Bosne i Hercegovine.

      Na niz smo sličnih primjera naišli baveći se ovom temom. Mladić je došao u Hrvatsku i prijavio policiji i u Hrvatskoj i u Sloveniji da mu se brat utopio u Kupi. No njegov nestanak nije evidentiran u hrvatskoj nacionalnoj bazi nestalih osoba koja je javno dostupna. Policija brata nije kontaktirala nakon što je u narednim danima u Kupi nađeno više neidentificiranih tijela. Afganistanac je šest mjeseci čekao da se tijelo njegova brata, koji se utopio kad su zajedno pokušali prijeći Savu također u prosincu 2022., prebaci iz Hrvatske u Bosnu i Hercegovinu da ga može pokopati. Iako je potvrdio da je riječ o njegovu bratu, proces identifikacije je bio spor i kompliciran.

      Naišli smo i na primjere obitelji koje nemaju nekoga u Europi tko može doputovati i uporno tragati za informacijama, već izdaleka pokušavaju ući u trag bližnjima koji se gube na području Hrvatske i na kraju su obeshrabreno odustali. Puno je pitanja i malo jasnih odgovora na temu nestalih i umrlih migranata na tzv. Balkanskoj ruti, čiji je Hrvatska dio. Ne postoje jasni protokoli i procedure oko toga kome i kako se prijavljuje nestanak. Ne zna se traži li se nestale migrante aktivno, kao što se ljeti traži nestale turiste. Nije jasno koliko je informacija, i kojih, potrebno za identifikaciju.
      Obitelji se nemaju kome javiti

      “Kruženje informacije između institucija i pojedinih odjela mi se čini gotovo nepostojeća. U jednom slučaju mi je trebalo više od dva mjeseca i deseci telefonskih poziva i mailova upućenih na različite adrese, policijske postaje, policijske uprave, bolnice, državno odvjetništvo, samo da potaknem pokretanje identifikacije koja do danas, više od godinu dana kasnije, još nije završena”, kaže Marijana Hameršak s Instituta za etnologiju i folkloristiku u Zagrebu. Ona vodi znanstveni projekt “Europski režim iregulariziranih migracija na periferiji EU” u kojem se prikuplja znanje i podaci o nestalim i umrlim migrantima. Na kraju sve ovisi o susretljivim i posvećenim pojedincima u institucijama, kaže Hamrešak, no oni ne mogu nositi cijeli teret disfunkcionalnog sustava.

      Potrage za nestalim i pokušaji identifikacije umrlih migranata u Hrvatskoj, kao i susjednoj Bosni i Hercegovini, najčešće počivaju na trudu volontera i aktivista, koji poput Marijane tragaju za informacijama u kaotičnoj administraciji jer je obiteljima koje ne poznaju jezik taj zadatak praktički nesavladiv. Tako je Facebook grupa Dead and Missing in the Balkans postala glavno mjesto razmjene fotografija i podataka o nestalima i umrlima između obitelji i aktivista. Ne postoj internetska stranica na engleskom nadležnog Ministarstva unutarnjih poslova na koju se mogu javiti iz Afganistana ili Sirije i raspitati se za sudbinu svojih bližnjih, ostaviti podatke o njima i prijaviti nestanak.


      Nema ni regionalne baze podataka o nestalim i umrlim migrantima na kojoj bi surađivale policije makar iz zemalja među kojima se bilježi najviše prelazaka – iz Bosne i Hercegovine u Hrvatsku. Povjerenica Vijeća Europe za ljudska prava Dunja Mijatović je u razgovoru s našim timom naglasila da je iznimno važno uspostaviti centraliziranu europsku bazu podataka o nestalim i umrlim migrantima. Kad bi takva baza podataka objedinjavala ante-mortem (podaci o osobi koji se prikupljaju od rodbine i poznanika, poput fizičkih karakteristika i opisa odjeće koju je nosila posljednji put, koje je predmete imala uz sebe itd.) i post-mortem (kao DNK uzorak i fotografije) podatke o umrlima, uvelike bi se povećale šanse za identifikaciju.
      Poginuti ili ostvariti san

      “Obitelji imaju pravo znati istinu o tome što se dogodilo njihovim najbližima”, kaže Mijatović. No suradnja policija susjednih zemalja u održavanju vanjske granice EU nepropusnom je učinkovita. Ranije migranti nisu tako često pokušavali prijeći Savu. Znali su da je previše opasna. Dijele informacije jedni s drugima i ne upuštaju se u prelazak takve rijeke u dječjim čamcima na napuhavanje ili u zračnicama kotača. Ako nisu sasvim očajni.

      Hrvatska policija je push-backovima i upotrebom sile – na što već godinama upozoravaju Amnesty International i Human Rights Watch – otežala prelazak drugim, manje opasnim prijelazima duž zelene granice s Bosnom i Hercegovinom. Kako nam je rekao mladi Marokanac u Bosni i Hercegovini, koji je 11 puta pokušao preći u Hrvatsku ali ga je hrvatska policija svaki put vratila: “Imaš dva izbora: poginuti ili ostvariti san.” Koliko ih je poginulo na Balkanskoj ruti u pokušaju ostvarenja sna, teško je utvrditi. Najsveobuhvatniji podaci za zemlje bivše Jugoslavije su oni koje prikupljaju istraživači projekta “Europski režim iregulariziranih migracija na periferiji EU”, i broje 346 stradalih od 2014. do 2023. u Hrvatskoj, Bosni i Hercegovini, Srbiji, Sloveniji, Sjevernoj Makedoniji i na Kosovu.

      ERIM-ova baza pojedinačno navodi svakog stradalog i sadrži onoliko podataka koliko su istraživači mogli prikupiti iz raznih izvora – medija, svjedoka stradanja, od institucija, iz aktivističkih kanala. No brojka je zasigurno bitno veća. Nestanak nekih nije ni evidentiran. Tijela mnogih nikad nisu pronađena. Stara planina između Bugarske i Srbije težak je i nedostupan teren. Tu će na preminule naići samo oni koji su istom sudbinom nagnani na taj put i neće riskirati prijavu. Ako stradaju u minskim poljima zaostalim iza ratova u Hrvatskoj i Bosni i Hercegovini, od tijela im neće ostati mnogo. Najviše je pronađeno tijela utopljenih u rijekama, no nema procjena koliko utopljenih nije nikad pronađeno.
      U Hrvatskoj 45 neidentificiranih

      Hrvatsko Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova nam je dostavilo podatke o stradalim migrantima od 2015., otkad vode evidenciju, do kraja studenog 2023.: ukupno 87 stradalih migranata na području Republike Hrvatske. Ni jedno službeno tijelo u Hrvatskoj, Bosni i Hercegovini i Srbiji ne vodi evidenciju o pokopanim migrantima na tom teritoriju. No za Hrvatsku smo uspjeli doći do podataka, zahvaljujući upitima poslanima na preko 500 adresa gradova, općina i komunalnih poduzeća koja upravljaju grobljima. Prema dobivenim podacima, u Hrvatskoj se na 32 groblja nalazi 59 grobova migranata, koji su ukopani posljednjeg desetljeća, dakle od 2014. do danas. Od toga ih 45 nije identificirano.

      Neki pokopani migranti su ekshumirani i vraćeni obiteljima u zemlju porijekla, premda je to za obitelji zahtjevan i iznimno skup proces. U MUP-u navode da se od 2001. DNK uzorci uzimaju od svih neidentificiranih tijela, a obradu provodi Centar za forenzična ispitivanja, istraživanja i vještačenja Ivan Vučetić. Tražili smo od MUP-a razgovor sa stručnjacima koji rade na identifikaciji migranata, ali nam nije udovoljeno.

      Među NN grobovima u Hrvatskoj je mrtvorođena beba iz Sirije pokopana 2015. u Slavonskom Brodu. Petogodišnja djevojčica koja se utopila u Dunavu i pokopana je 2021. u Dalju. Prošlo ljeto je mladić u brdovitom predjelu na dubrovačkom području umro od iscrpljenosti. Neke je udario vlak. Mnogi su umrli od pothlađenosti. Neki umru jer im nije na vrijeme pružena pomoć. Neki ne vjeruju da im išta više može pomoći pa se ubiju.
      Nerazriješeni gubitak

      Prema zakonu, sahranjuju se najbliže mjestu stradavanja tako da su uglavnom na malim grobljima poput onog u Sičama. Često su, baš kao tamo, njihovi grobovi izdvojeni od ostatka groblja. Ponegdje je, kao u Otoku, netko od mještanki mekog srca dao sebi u zadatak da brine o NN grobu. Negdje je, kao na groblju u Prilišću, NN drveni križ iz 2019. već istrunuo.

      Iza svakog tog NN groba ostaju bližnji koji se nose s teretom neznanja što se dogodilo. Psiholozi to zovu nerazriješenim gubitkom, jer toliko dugo koliko bližnji nemaju potvrdu da su njihovi voljeni mrtvi i ne znaju gdje su im tijela, ne mogu žalovati za njima. Ako nastave sa životom, osjećaju krivnju. I tako su zamrznuti u stanju između očaja i nade. Američka psihologinja dr. Pauline Boss autorica je termina i teorije o nerazriješenom gubitku. “Znati gdje je grob bližnje osobe je jako važno jer pomaže da se oprostite”, rekla je dr. Boss u razgovoru za naš tim.

      Postoji i praktična strana te zamrznutosti: ako osoba nije proglašena mrtvom, ne može se provesti nasljeđivanje, ne može se pristupiti bankovnom računu, ne može se dobiti obiteljska mirovina, partner ili partnerica se ne mogu ponovno vjenčati, komplicira se skrbništvo nad djecom. Mnoge obitelj i u Hrvatskoj i u Bosni i Hercegovini dobro poznaju nerazriješeni gubitak; ratovi u devedesetima ostavili su tisuće nestalih. Obje zemlje imaju posebne zakone o nestalima u tim ratovima i dobro razrađene mehanizme potrage, identifikacije, pohranjivanja podataka i međusobne suradnje. No to se ne primjenjuje na migrante koji se gube i pogibaju među tisućama koji se kreću Balkanskom rutom.
      Uređeni koridor – nula mrtvih

      Hrvatska je postala važna točka ulaska u Europsku uniju nakon što je Mađarska zatvorila granice u rujnu 2015. Od tada pa do ožujka 2016. preko hrvatske dionice Balkanskog koridora – dakle, međudržavnog, organiziranog puta – prema procjenama, prošlo je oko 660.000 izbjeglica. Taj koridor im je omogućio da od Grčke pa do zapadne Europe dođu u dva ili tri dana. I dolazili su sigurno. Od tih stotina tisuća ljudi u pokretu, hrvatski MUP ne bilježi niti jednu smrt 2015. i 2016. Koridor je i uspostavljen da bi se spriječila stradavanja nakon što je veći broj izbjeglica u proljeće 2015. poginuo na željezničkoj pruzi u Makedoniji.

      No sa sklapanjem europsko-turskog sporazuma o izbjeglicama u ožujku 2016. godine, koridor je zatvoren. EU se obavezala izdašno financirati Tursku da izbjeglice drži na svom teritoriju kako ne bi dolazili u Europsku uniju. I tako je migrantima ostala pogibeljna Balkanska ruta. Mnogi njom idu. Samo u deset mjeseci 2023. hrvatska je policija evidentirala 62.452 postupanja vezano za nezakonite prelaske granice.

      I Ured pučke pravobraniteljice u Hrvatskoj i povjerenica Vijeća Europe za ljudska prava upozoravaju na isto: granične i migracijske politike utječu na povećanje rizika od nestajanja migranata. I da je potrebno da se u EU uspostave legalni i sigurni putevi migracija. No, EU očekuje od Hrvatske da štiti zajedničku vanjsku granicu. I Hrvatska to zdušno radi. Takvu praksu ministar Davor Božinović naziva “obeshrabrivanjem” migranata da uđu u Hrvatsku.
      ‘Obeshrabreni’ pod vlak

      Rezultat takve prakse je, primjerice, smrt Madine Hussiny. Šestogodišnju afganistansku djevojčicu je ubio vlak nakon što je njenu obitelj hrvatska policija “obeshrabrila” i usred noći 2017. potjerala nazad u Srbiju uz uputu da prate tračnice. Europski sud za ljudska prava u studenom 2021. je presudio da je Hrvatska odgovorna za Madininu smrt. U svjedočanstvima koja smo čuli, kao i u mnogim izvještajima nevladinih organizacija, migranti opisuju da im je hrvatska policija na granici naredila da pregaze ili preplivaju rijeku kako bi se vratili u Bosnu ili Srbiju, da se penju preko stijena, idu kroz šumu, nekad i svučeni dogola i ne znajući put jer im policija u pravilu oduzme mobitele.

      Prema podacima koje prikuplja Dansko vijeće za izbjeglice, od početka 2020. do kraja 2022. najmanje je 30.000 ljudi prisilno vraćeno iz Hrvatske u Bosnu i Hercegovinu. Među njima je bio i Afganistanac Arat Semiullah. U studenom 2022. je namjeravao prijeći Savu i ući iz Bosne u Hrvatsku. Utopio se. Imao je 20 godina. Pokopan je na pravoslavnom groblju u Banja Luci. Njegova obitelj u Afganistanu nije znala što mu se dogodilo. Dan ranije je poslao mami fotografiju na kojoj je svježe ošišan za ulazak u Europsku uniju. I onda se prestao javljati.


      Majka je molila nećaka Paymana Sediqija, koji živi u Njemačkoj, da ga pokuša pronaći. Payman je stupio u kontakt s aktivistom Nihadom Suljićem, koji u Bosni i Hercegovini samostalno pomaže obiteljima da doznaju što je s njihovim bližnjima. Tjednima su pokušavali doći do informacija. Payman je otputovao u Bosnu i uspio pronaći tijelo rođaka zahvaljujući susretljivosti policajke koja mu je pokazala forenzičke fotografije. Aratova mama je telefonski potvrdila da je to njezin sin.
      U Europi sahranili snove

      Na Aratovoj osmrtnici objavljenoj u Bosni i Hercegovini piše da je “hrvatska policija vatrenim oružjem potopila čamac te se on tragično utopio”. Uz pomoć muslimanske zajednice, a na želju obitelji, uspjeli su tijelo prebaciti iz Banja Luke na muslimansko groblje u Kamičanima. Htjeli su ga pokopati u Afganistanu, ali im je bilo previše skupo i birokratski komplicirano. U rujnu 2023. susreli smo se s Nihadom i Paymanom kad je Aratu postavljen velik kameni nadgrobni spomenik. Na njemu piše: “U pokušaju dolaska do Europe utopio se u rijeci Savi.”

      Payman nam je ispričao da je Arat prelazio Savu u skupini migranata. Dio njih je uspio doći do hrvatske obale, no onda je hrvatska policija pucala u gumeni čamac u kojem je bio Arat. Čamac se potopio i Arat se utopio. Tako je Paymanu ispričao preživjeli koji je prešao na hrvatsku obalu Save. Payman kaže da je Aratova obitelj u velikoj boli, ali da makar znaju gdje im je sin i da je pokopan po religijskim običajima. Paymanu je važno da na grobu piše da je Arat stradao kao migrant.

      “Svakodnevno u Europi umiru ljudi koji bježe iz zemalja u kojima im nema života. U Europi se sahranjuju njihovi snovi. Nikoga nije briga za njih, čak ni kad europski policajci pucaju na njih”, kaže Payman. Zna o kakvim snovima govori; i sam je ilegalno došao u Njemačku sa 16 godina. Kaže da je imao sreće. Nihad se zalaže da se i drugi grobovi migranata u Bosni i Hercegovini trajno obilježe. Vodi nas na groblje u Zvorniku gdje je pokopano 17 NN migranata. Kaže kako za neke od njih ima informaciju da su imali pasoš sa sobom kad su pronađeni.
      ‘Ove ljude nije ubila rijeka’

      S groblja se vidi Drina, koja dijeli Srbiju od Bosne i u kojoj mnogi izgube život pokušavajući je preći. Samo je ove godine u Drini pronađeno tridesetak tijela. Nihad kaže da imaju sreće ako ih rijeka izbaci na bosansku stranu jer se u Srbiji često ne radi ni obdukcija niti uzimaju DNK uzorci. To su nam potvrdili i aktivisti iz Srbije. U tom slučaju su i u smrti sasvim izgubljeni za svoje obitelji. Zemljani NN grobovi u Zvorniku su zarasli i nisu omeđeni, tako da ne znate gazite li po njima.

      Nihad je uspio uvjeriti Grad Zvornik da drvena obilježja zamijene crnim kamenom. Važno mu je da su pokopani dostojanstveno, ali mu je još važnije da ostanu svjedočiti. “Želja mi je da i za sto godina ovi grobovi budu spomenici srama EU. Jer, nije ove ljude ubila rijeka, nego granični režim EU”, kaže Nihad.



    • An obscure island grave: fate of deadly EU migration route’s youngest victim

      Case of #Alhassane_Bangoura in #Lanzarote highlights Europe-wide failure as authorities struggle to cope with scale of deaths

      Stretching less than a metre in length and covered in the ochre-coloured soil that dots the Canary island of Lanzarote, large stones encircle the tiny mound. There is no tombstone or plaque; nothing official to signal that this is the final resting site of the infant believed to be the youngest victim of one of the world’s deadliest migration routes.

      Instead, two bouquets of plastic daisies adorn the grave, along with a granite bowl engraved with his name, Alhassane Bangoura, hinting at the impact his story had on many across the island.

      His mother, originally from Guinea, was among three pregnant women who joined 40 others in an inflatable raft that left Morocco in early January 2020. After running out of fuel, the flimsy raft was left to the mercy of Atlantic currents for three days.

      “They were driven by desperation,” said Mamadou Sy, a municipal councillor for the Socialist party in Lanzarote. “Nobody would get into one of these vessels if they had even a little bit of hope in their own country. Nobody would do it.”

      So far this year, a record 35,410 migrants and refugees have arrived on the shores of the Canary Islands – a 135% increase over last year. More than 11,000 of them landed at the tiny island of El Hierro, home to just 9,000 people.

      The surge in those risking the perilous route has transformed the archipelago into a microcosm of the wider strain playing out across the EU as authorities struggle to deal with the bodies of those that die on their way. A Guardian investigation in collaboration with a consortium of reporters has found that refugees and migrants are being buried in unmarked graves across the EU at a scale that is unprecedented outside of war.

      In September, the mayor of Mogán, a municipality on the island of Gran Canaria, gave voice to the tensions that have at times surfaced as officials across the EU confront this issue, announcing she would no longer use her budget to cover the cost of burying refugees and migrants who are found along the shores that buttress the municipality.

      “When they die on the high seas, it is the responsibility of the state,” Onalia Bueno told reporters, in rejection of a Spanish law that requires municipalities to foot the bills for people who die within their jurisdiction and who are either unidentified or whose families cannot cover the costs.

      At the Teguise municipal cemetery on the island of Lanzarote, more than 25 unmarked graves sit among a plot containing about 60 graves in total. It was here that baby Alhassane was buried. His mother had delivered him as the rickety vessel pitched against the fierce Atlantic swells; those onboard later told media they never heard the baby cry.

      His body was cold when the vessel was rescued, an emergency services spokesperson said. He was taken to the nearest hospital but was declared dead on arrival. His body was taken to judicial authorities as is the standard practice in Spain for migrants and refugees who perish at sea or on arrival.

      Alhassane’s mother, who was unconscious when she was rescued, was later sent to Gran Canaria, about 200km (125 miles) away, where an NGO had agreed to take her into its care. But the Spanish judicial system had yet to release her son’s body – a process that can take up to eight months in Lanzarote.

      The funeral took place on 25 January. “She wasn’t able to attend the funeral,” said Laetitia Marthe, who was among those who unsuccessfully battled for Alhassane’s mother to be allowed to attend. “Basically they’re treated like numbers.”

      Instead, Marthe was among the handful of people who attended the funeral in her name.

      Judicial officials had liaised with the mother to check the baby’s name, said Eugenio Robayna Díaz, the municipal councillor responsible for cemeteries in the city of Teguise. But he did not know why the name had not made it on to the grave.

      Julie Campagne, an anthropologist based in Lanzarote, called for the baby’s grave to be marked with a plaque. “We’re witnessing the process of forgetting in real time. And this loss of memory comes with a shirking of our responsibility for what is happening.”

      Generally speaking, all over the world, there is always a small fraction of people who die and are never identified, she added. “But that is not what is happening here. This is happening for specific reasons. This is happening because of the policy decisions of our governments.”

      While Alhassane’s mother was not able to attend the funeral, what did eventually make it to his gravesite was a smooth stone, painted by her in yellow and red and brought there by those travelling from Gran Canaria shortly after the burial. Written on the stone was a message for her son.

      More than three years of rain has washed away much of what was there but Marthe copied down the message, hoping to one day add it to a formal marker of the site. “I will miss you a lot my baby,” it reads. “I love you.”



    • Dead refugees in the Balkans: bribes to find missing relatives

      In comparison to 2015, today more asylum seekers are dying on the Balkan route. While relatives are forced to overcome state indifference to identify their loved ones, they are also forced to bribe authorities, even border guards, in the hope of finding them.

      He had hoped to find his son in a refugee camp. And after spending three weeks looking for him, he had prepared himself for the possibility of finding him in a hospital.

      But he didn’t expect to find him in the graveyard.

      When the policeman with Bulgarian insignia on his uniform showed him the picture of his son lying lifeless in the grass, he lost the ground under his feet. “I wish I could at least have been able to see Majd one last time. My mind still can’t believe that the person in this grave is my son,” says Husam Adin Bibars.

      The 56-year-old Syrian refugee, a father of four other children, had spent 22 days searching for his son from afar when he decided to spend his meager savings to travel from Denmark to Bulgaria to look for him – but it was too late.

      In Bulgaria, he learned that 27-year-old Majd’s body had been buried within just four days of its discovery. Majd had been buried as an unidentified person; there was nothing to indicate that the person buried under that pile of dirt, which Bibars later visited, was his son.

      “We hear that Europe is the land of freedom, democracy, and human rights,” says Bibars soberly. “Where are human rights if I am not able to see my son before his burial?”

      Dead without identification

      Majd had crossed from Turkey to Bulgaria with a group of about 20 other people, hoping to reunite with his parents and siblings in Europe. Once he arrived, his pregnant wife and their daughter, Hannah, would follow.

      Toward the end of September, he stopped returning calls and texts. The smuggler told Bibars that Majd had fallen ill and they needed to leave him behind. Authorities told Bibars his son died of thirst, exhaustion, and exposure.

      In recent years, with the support of EU funds and the increased involvement of the European border agency Frontex, Balkan countries have stepped up border controls, constructing fences, deploying drones and surveillance mechanisms. But this doesn’t deter asylum seekers – it causes them to take longer and more dangerous routes to avoid authorities.

      An investigation by Solomon in collaboration with investigative newsroom Lighthouse Reports, the German magazine Der Spiegel and German public television ARD, the British newspaper i, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, found that the hostility people face at the borders of Europe in life continues even in death.

      We found that since the start of 2022, the lifeless bodies of 155 people presumed to be migrants have ended up in morgues close to borders along a route that includes Serbia, Bulgaria, and Bosnia.

      According to the data, for 2023 there is already a 46% increase in deaths compared to the whole of 2022.

      In the Balkans, people making the journey have to cope with harsh weather conditions, but also with pushbacks, increased brutality by border guards and smugglers, theft by border forces – even detention in secret prisons.

      For their part, the families of those who go missing or die in the region have to search for their loved ones in morgues, hospitals, and special Facebook and WhatsApp groups, and to cope with an equally arduous effort facing the indifference of the authorities.

      In Bulgaria, this investigation reveals, they often also need to pay bribes in the hope of learning more about their missing loved ones.
      The 10 key findings of the investigation:

      - In 2022, the number of people travelling irregularly through the Balkans to Western Europe reached its highest point since 2015, with Frontex recording 144,118 irregular border crossings.

      – The corresponding figure for 2023 is lower (79,609 by September), but remains a multiple of 2019 (15,127) and 2018 (5,844).

      – The Balkan route is more dangerous than ever: in the absence of a centralised relevant registration system, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants platform suggests that more people died or went missing in 2022 than in 2015.

      - According to data gathered for this investigation, at least 155 unidentified bodies ended up in six selected morgues along a section of the Balkan route that includes Bulgaria, Serbia, and Bosnia. The majority of the bodies (92) were found this year.

      - For 2023, the number is already showing a 46% increase compared to 2022, and is exploding in some morgues.

      – Some morgues in Bulgaria (Burgas, Yambol) are having difficulty finding space for the bodies of refugees. Others in Serbia (Loznina) have no space at all.

      - This contributes to unidentified bodies being buried within days, in ‘No Name’ graves. This means that families are left without the opportunity to search for their loved ones.

      - In Bulgaria, families told us that they had to bribe staff at hospitals and morgues, but border guards too, when searching for their loved ones. Sources in the field confirm the practice, which is also recorded in an audio file in our possession.

      – In Bosnia, at least 28 people presumed to be asylum seekers have already died in the Drina River this year, compared to just five in 2022 and three in 2021.

      - Bureaucracy and lack of state interest are recorded as hampering efforts to identify dead asylum seekers.

      Dead but cause of death unknown

      What do you do when your little brother is missing, and because of your status in the country you live in, you can’t travel to look for him?

      Asmatullah Sediqi, a 29-year-old asylum seeker, was in his asylum accommodation in Warrington, UK, when his brother’s travel companions informed him that 22-year-old Rahmatullah was likely dead.

      Due to his status as an asylum seeker, the UK Home Office did not allow Asmatullah to return to Bulgaria, which he had also crossed on his journey, to look for his brother.

      When a friend was able to go on his behalf, the Bulgarian police refused to give any information. And the morgue staff asked for 300 euros to let him see some bodies, Sediqi said in this investigation.

      “In such a situation, a person should help a person,” he added. “They only know money. They are not interested in human life.”

      He managed to borrow the amount they asked for. In July 2022, 55 days after his brother’s disappearance, the Burgas hospital confirmed that one of the bodies in the morgue belonged to Rahmatullah. With another 3,000 euros borrowed, a company repatriated the remains to their parents in Afghanistan.

      But to this day, Sediqi is consumed by one thought: he doesn’t know how, he hasn’t been told why, his brother died.

      The Bulgarian authorities have not given him the results of the autopsy “because I don’t have a visa to travel there,” he says. “I’m sure that when the police found him in the forest, they must have taken some photos. It’s very painful not knowing what happened to my brother. It’s devastating.”
      “Not a single complaint”

      As part of this investigation by Solomon, Lighthouse Reports, RFE/RL, inews, ARD και Der Spiegel, several relatives told us they had also been forced to bribe workers at the Burgas hospital’s morgue to find out if their family members were among the dead.

      When we asked the hospital administration whether they were aware of such practices, Galina Mileva, head of the forensic medicine department at Burgas hospital, said that they had not received “a single report or complaint about such a case. The identification of the bodies is done only in the presence of a police officer conducting the investigation and a forensic expert.”

      The administration also replied that there is no legal provision under which employees could claim money from relatives for this procedure.

      “We appeal to these complaints to be addressed through official channels to us and to the investigating authorities. If such practices are found to exist, the workers will be held accountable,” they added.
      “Money is requested at every step of the process”

      Another relative, whose family also travelled to Bulgaria in late 2022 to search for a family member, told us that after they paid staff at the morgue 300 euros to be allowed to look at the dead bodies, they also had to pay border guards.

      It was the only way they could be taken seriously, the relative explained.

      When they asked the border guards to show them photos of people who had been found dead, the border guards said they didn’t have time, but when the family agreed to pay 20 euros for each photo shown to them, time was found.

      Georgi Voynov, a lawyer for the Bulgarian Committee Helsinki Refugee and Migrant Programme, confirmed that families of deceased persons have approached the Committee about cases in which hospitals asked for large sums of money to confirm that the bodies of their loved ones were there.

      “They complain that they are being asked for money at every step of the process,” he said.

      International organisations, including the Bulgarian Red Cross, confirmed that they had such experiences from persons they had supported, who said they had been forced to pay money to hospitals and morgues.

      A Bulgarian Red Cross official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, commented:

      “We understand that these people are very overwhelmed and have to be paid extra for all the extra work they do. But this should be done in a legal way.”


      #Bulgarie #Drina #Galina_Mileva

  • 26.10.2023 : Waseem i Mohsen zmarli w Polsce / Cześć ich pamięci
    Waseem et Mohsen sont morts en Pologne / Honneur à leur mémoire

    Szukali pokoju, lepszego życia. Chcieli pomóc swoim rodzinom. Pochodzili z państw targanych wojną i konfliktami.
    #Waseem_Abojesh z Syrii i #Mohsen_Ahmed_Hussein_Al-Huwaisek z Jemenu zmarli w Polsce w Puszczy Białowieskiej.
    Ich ciała odnalazły wolontariuszki Grupa Granica.
    Pogrzeb mężczyzn odbył się na cmentarzu w Narewce.

    Trad google translate :

    Ils cherchaient la paix, une vie meilleure. Ils voulaient aider leurs familles. Ils venaient de pays déchirés par la guerre et les conflits.
    Waseem Abojesh de Syrie et Mohsen Ahmed Hussein Al-Huwaisek du Yémen sont morts en Pologne dans la forêt de Białowieża.
    Leurs corps ont été retrouvés par des volontaires du Grupa Granica.
    Les funérailles des hommes ont eu lieu au #cimetière de #Narewka.

    #vidéo #migrations #asile #réfugiés #mourir_aux_frontières #morts_aux_frontières #Pologne #enterrement #funérailles

  • #Aadam_Cabdi_Mohamed, 21.10.2023 #Bordighera, il cadavere sulla spiaggia è di un migrante africano. Continuano le ricerche del disperso

    Le ricerche continueranno finché non si avrà certezza che il cadavere sia del migrante dato per disperso venerdì sera

    Bordighera. Finché non si avrà certezza che il corpo del migrante rinvenuto intorno alle 22 di ieri, sulla spiaggia del lungomare di Bordighera, appartiene all’uomo visto attraversare la foce del torrente #Nervia, tra Ventimiglia e Camporosso, la sera di venerdì scorso, continueranno le ricerche da parte dalla Capitaneria di Porto.

    Da questa mattina, infatti, l’elicottero della Guardia Costiera sta sorvolando lo specchio acqueo antistante la costa tra Ventimiglia e Bordighera, dove le correnti, secondo gli esperti, avrebbero trascinato lo straniero.

    Nel frattempo è stato identificato il corpo dello straniero trascinato ieri tra gli scogli bordigotti. A lanciare l’allarme, intorno alle 22, sono stati alcuni passanti, che lo hanno visto galleggiare in acqua, tra alcuni scogli. La salma è stata poi adagiata dai soccorritori sul bagnasciuga.

    Il cadavere era privo di vestiti, forse strappati dalla mareggiata che da venerdì scorso imperversa sulle coste dell’estremo Ponente ligure. 
Sul posto sono accorsi carabinieri, polizia di frontiera e capitaneria di porto, che stanno indagando per ricostruire quanto accaduto. Il corpo presenta alcune ferite: solo l’esame autoptico potrà dire se le lesioni siano o meno compatibili con la collisione tra il cadavere e gli scogli. Per risalire all’identità dello straniero, sono state rilevate le impronte digitali. Elementi utili alle indagini saranno ricavati dalle telecamere di videosorveglianza presenti nell’area.

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #frontière_sud-alpine #Alpes_maritimes #Italie #décès #France #Vintimille #Italie #France #frontières


    ajouté à cette métaliste sur les migrants décédés à la frontière italo-française « basse » :

  • En Tunisie, les #cadavres de migrants s’accumulent à #Sfax

    En 2023, le pays est devenu le principal point de départ des migrants souhaitant traverser la Méditerranée, devant la Libye.

    Sur le quai du port de Sfax, deux corps d’enfants sans vie gisent sur le sol, recouverts d’une simple couverture. Leur mère, assise à côté, pleure ses filles, mortes noyées sous ses yeux quelques heures plus tôt au large des côtes de Tunisie. Elles tentaient de rejoindre l’Italie sur une embarcation de fortune, comme une quarantaine d’autres personnes.

    Rattrapé puis percuté par un semi-rigide de la garde nationale maritime, comme le relatent les survivants, le rafiot métallique s’est retourné, envoyant tous ses occupants à l’eau. Trente-six personnes ont été secourues par les autorités et deux corps repêchés, ceux de Macire et Saran-soumah, 10 et 12 ans, originaires de Guinée.

    La scène sur le quai a été filmée le 23 mars par l’un des rescapés et les images partagées sur les réseaux sociaux. A la fin de la vidéo, un camion rouge de la protection civile vient chercher les corps pour les emmener à la morgue de l’hôpital Habib-Bourguiba de Sfax. « C’est la dernière fois que j’ai vu mes enfants », se désole Mamadie Fofana, la mère des deux fillettes, trois semaines après les faits. Au centre hospitalier où elle s’est rendue avec des proches, on lui a dit de « passer par la garde nationale, se souvient-elle. Deux fois nous y sommes allés, mais ils nous ont renvoyés à la morgue… Ils nous font tourner comme ça. »

    Vague macabre

    Parce que ces décès ont lieu lors de tentatives de franchissement illégal des frontières du pays, les autorités tunisiennes sont tenues enquêter sur les embarcations qui ont fait naufrage. Les corps, qu’ils soient récupérés en mer par les gardes nationaux ou après leur échouage, doivent être autopsiés avant inhumation. Une procédure d’autant plus longue et complexe que les hôpitaux et les cimetières croulent sous les cadavres.

    En 2023, la Tunisie est devenue le principal point de départ des migrants souhaitant traverser la Méditerranée, devant la Libye. Entre janvier et mars, la marine nationale a intercepté 14 000 personnes, soit cinq fois plus qu’en 2022. Selon les Nations unies, le premier trimestre a aussi été le plus meurtrier depuis six ans. « L’augmentation des départs signifie une augmentation des naufrages et donc une augmentation du nombre de corps », résume Filippo Furri, dont les recherches portent sur les décès en contexte migratoire.

    Cette vague macabre touche de plein fouet l’#hôpital #Habib-Bourguiba de Sfax. « Durant la fête de l’Aïd, de nombreux corps ont été transférés au service de médecine légale, explique Faouzi Masmoudi porte-parole du tribunal de Sfax, cité par l’Agence France-Presse. Le 25 avril, nous avons reçu à la morgue près de 200 corps alors que l’établissement ne peut en accueillir que 40 à 50. » Anonymes pour la plupart.

    « L’#identification n’est pas obligatoire pour les autorités. Ce qui l’est, c’est de déterminer les causes de la mort », explique Filippo Furri. Faute d’information sur l’identité des migrants, un dossier est constitué pendant l’examen médico-légal comprenant des éléments sur le naufrage s’il y en a, les caractéristiques du cadavre, des photographies et un échantillon ADN. Puis un numéro est attribué « pour permettre aux familles d’identifier leurs proches a posteriori, si elles se manifestent », explique un activiste local. C’est ce processus, particulièrement long, qui explique en partie la congestion des morgues.
    Cimetières et chambres froides saturés

    A une dizaine de kilomètres au nord de Sfax, le cimetière municipal d’Essadi a récemment accueilli de nombreux migrants comme en témoignent les tombes anonymes marquées d’un simple numéro. « Il y en a dix qui ont été enterrés ici, explique une dame venue se recueillir sur la tombe de sa mère. Là-bas, il y a de nouvelles tombes qui ont été creusées au cas où. Les migrants sont enterrés comme les Tunisiens. » Sur ces dalles, faites de briques et de ciment, les mouches s’agglutinent. « Tu sens cette odeur ? C’est celle de la mort », s’attriste-t-elle.

    Car les cimetières, comme les chambres froides sont saturés. Les autorités de Sfax s’étaient engagées en 2022 à réserver aux migrants subsahariens, chrétiens pour beaucoup, des zones d’inhumations spéciales. « Grâce aux efforts combinés de la municipalité et des communes environnantes, nous avons pu augmenter le nombre de sépultures dans un plus grand nombre de cimetières », souligne Faouzi Masmoudi.

    Mais les infrastructures restent insuffisantes. « Cette pérennisation de la crise fait que le problème n’est plus seulement lié à la médecine légale », observe M. Furri. Le 20 avril, trente corps ont dû être enterrés en une seule journée. Contactés par Le Monde, le ministère de la santé, la direction régionale de la santé et les médecins de l’hôpital se refusent à tout commentaire.

    De son côté, Mamadie Fofana espère pouvoir un jour se recueillir sur les tombes de ses filles. « Dieu m’a donné mes enfants, Dieu les a repris. Tout ce que je veux aujourd’hui, c’est enterrer mes enfants, de savoir au moins où ils sont. C’est mon plus grand souhait. Sans ça, je ne m’en remettrai jamais. »

    #Tunisie #morts_aux_frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #morgue #cimetière #autopsie #naufrages #hôpital_Habib-Bourguiba #identification #Essadi #inhumation

    voir aussi :
    Le passeur d’âmes

    A #Sfax, #Père_Jonathan accompagne les migrants, qui ont perdu la vie en tentant de rejoindre l’Europe, jusqu’à leur dernière demeure. Dans le #cimetière_chrétien de la ville il offre un #enterrement digne aux voyageurs égarés.


    ping @_kg_

  • En #Tunisie, la mort d’une #fillette retrouvée échouée sur une #plage suscite l’#indifférence générale

    Le corps d’une enfant a été retrouvé sur une île de l’archipel des #Kerkennah, au large de #Sfax, en décembre dernier, dans la même position que le petit #Aylan_Kurdi en 2015. Mais contrairement à lui, sa #photo n’a pas fait le tour du monde ni engendré la moindre #réaction politique. Un #silence qui en dit long sur la #banalisation des #naufrages en mer.

    Son corps sans vie a été retrouvé échoué sur une plage, le 24 décembre dernier, vêtu d’un blouson rose bonbon et d’un collant. Âgée d’environ 3 ans, la fillette reposait sur le ventre, face contre terre. Les #îles_de_Kerkennah, au large de Sfax, en Tunisie, ont été les tristes témoins de l’ignominie qui se déroule en #Méditerranée chaque jour : les naufrages qui s’enchaînent à la pelle ; ceux que l’on connaît, parce qu’ils laissent des traces derrière eux, et ceux dont on n’a pas connaissance, qualifiés d’« invisibles », pour lesquels aucune embarcation ni dépouille n’est jamais retrouvée.

    Mais cette fois, il y a une photo. L’enfant a été découvert sur la plage de #Sidi_Founkhal au petit matin, par un habitant de Sfax, originaire des Kerkennah, qui a décidé d’immortaliser l’horreur produite par nos politiques migratoires.

    Retrouvé par Mediapart, Boulbeba Bougacha, âgé de 20 ans, raconte avoir voulu « changer d’air » en allant déjeuner avec ses proches sur la plage, aux alentours de 13 heures, le 24 décembre. « On l’a trouvée là, allongée sur le ventre. On a appelé les autorités, qui sont venues la récupérer. Ça a été un choc. On sait que beaucoup de gens meurent en mer, mais on n’est jamais préparé à voir une chose pareille. »

    Sur la même plage ce jour-là, la mer a expulsé de ses entrailles au moins trois autres corps adultes, tous subsahariens. Boulbeba s’est exprimé sur les ondes de la radio locale Diwan FM, le 26 décembre 2022. Mais, fait surprenant, ni l’information ni la photo n’ont été relayées en Tunisie ou ailleurs, hormis dans quelques rares publications sur les réseaux sociaux. On se souvient de la photo du petit Aylan Kurdi, un enfant kurde retrouvé lui aussi échoué sur une plage de Turquie en 2015, quasiment dans la même position, qui avait suscité l’émoi et l’indignation partout à travers le monde.

    Dans l’archipel de Kerkennah, où règnent les familles de pêcheurs, tout le monde ou presque a entendu parler de la fillette. Mais le choc des premières découvertes de naufragé·es en mer a laissé place, depuis plusieurs années, à une forme de #résilience. « On voit des #cadavres presque tous les jours », lâche Nasser*, qui vit de la pêche.

    Lorsque nous le rencontrons à Remla, capitale des îles Kerkennah, l’homme semble soulagé d’être enfin entendu. Au printemps dernier, il dit avoir trouvé un bébé, âgé d’à peine 2 ans. « La dernière fois, j’ai vu quatre ou cinq morts d’un coup. Quand on appelle la garde nationale, ils nous demandent si ce sont des Blancs ou des Noirs. Si ce sont des Noirs, ils ne se déplacent pas. »

    Des pêcheurs traumatisés

    Depuis les années 2000, l’archipel aux 15 000 âmes s’est transformé en lieu de départ pour les personnes souhaitant émigrer vers l’Europe, du fait de sa proximité avec l’île italienne de Lampedusa. Il attire ainsi les Tunisiens, mais aussi, depuis une dizaine d’années les Subsahariens, de plus en plus nombreux à passer par la Tunisie (et le Maghreb de manière générale) pour tenter de travailler et/ou de prendre la mer.

    « De par sa localisation, Sfax a attiré beaucoup de Subsahariens, d’abord parce que c’est la deuxième plus grande ville de Tunisie et qu’il y a un fort besoin de main-d’œuvre, ensuite parce qu’elle est proche de Kerkennah, où des réseaux de passage existaient déjà », analyse Hassan Boubakri, chercheur à l’université de Sousse et de Sfax.

    Jeudi 9 février, des militaires armés contrôlent la montée à bord du Loud, nom du ferry reliant Sfax à Kerkennah en une heure. Plusieurs hommes voyageant seuls sont mis à l’écart, contrôlés puis interrogés.

    « Les autorités surveillent beaucoup l’île désormais, poursuit le spécialiste des migrations. Les Noirs ne peuvent plus rallier Kerkennah et les Tunisiens doivent présenter un justificatif démontrant qu’ils vont travailler ou rendre visite à des proches pour s’y rendre. » Les pêcheurs qui acceptent de s’exprimer confirment tous l’information. Mais ils précisent que des départs par la mer continuent de s’organiser depuis l’archipel, sans doute par l’intermédiaire des Tunisiens y ayant leur « réseau ».

    Les départs se font aussi depuis Sfax, rendant la traversée plus longue et dangereuse pour les exilé·es. « Une journée comme ça, avec un vent du Nord plutôt fort, va nous ramener plusieurs cadavres sur l’île », assure Nasser, qui se dit traumatisé par la vue de visages défigurés ou de corps à moitié dévorés par les poissons et les oiseaux migrateurs, très présents sur l’île. « La dernière fois, j’étais tellement marqué par ce que j’avais vu que sur le trajet retour vers ma maison, j’ai dû m’arrêter sur le bas-côté pour reprendre mes esprits », poursuit-il, le regard vide et abîmé.

    Il y a aussi les squelettes, que les pêcheurs disent observer surtout sur l’île de #Roumedia, située au nord-est de l’archipel. « Il y a un corps qui est là-bas depuis l’Aïd-el-Séghir [la fête marquant la fin du ramadan – ndlr], donc depuis avril dernier. On l’a signalé mais personne n’est venu le récupérer », regrette l’un des amis de Nasser, également pêcheur.

    Un autre explique avoir culpabilisé après avoir laissé un corps dans l’eau lorsqu’il était au large : « Si je l’avais signalé à la garde nationale, elle m’aurait demandé ensuite de l’accompagner jusqu’au #cadavre. C’était trop loin et il y avait de grandes chances que je n’arrive pas à le retrouver », se justifie-t-il.

    Ce dernier se souvient également avoir trouvé, il y a quelques mois, une femme enceinte sur le bord d’une plage. « C’est très dur pour nous. On sort en mer et on ne sait pas sur quoi on va tomber », ajoute-t-il, expliquant avoir constaté une hausse des naufrages en 2022. Tous affirment que « l’#odeur » est insupportable.

    Une question, qu’ils prononcent du bout des lèvres, les taraude : les poissons qu’ils pêchent et qu’ils donnent à manger à leur famille se sont-ils nourris de ces cadavres dont personne ne se préoccupe, parce que « migrants » ?

    À #Mellita, dans le sud des Kerkennah, d’autres remontent régulièrement des corps dans les mailles de leur filet. Certains, comme Ali*, en trouvent coincés dans leur charfia traditionnel, un barrage visant à bloquer le poisson et à le rediriger vers un piège.

    Dans sa maisonnette, l’homme raconte comment il a ainsi trouvé le corps d’un homme d’une quarantaine d’années coincé sous l’eau. « J’ai appelé la garde nationale à 11 heures. J’ai attendu jusqu’à 15 heures mais personne n’est venu le récupérer. Le lendemain, j’ai retrouvé le corps au même endroit. » La garde nationale aurait invoqué un « manque de moyens ».

    Si dix-huit mille personnes ont réussi à traverser la Méditerranée depuis les côtes tunisiennes en 2022 pour rejoindre l’Italie, « au moins neuf mille migrants ont dû mourir en mer », présume un habitant des Kerkennah, qui préfère garder l’anonymat.

    Pour Hassan Boubakri, également président du Centre de Tunis pour la migration et l’asile (Cetuma), plusieurs signes viennent démontrer que l’on assiste à une #banalisation de la mort en Méditerranée, dans un contexte de multiplication des naufrages. « Il y a les #médias qui font régulièrement le décompte des morts, les pêcheurs qui ne sont plus surpris de sortir des corps de leur filet, les riverains de la mer qui souffrent d’assister à tout cela… »

    Et d’ajouter que cette banalisation se traduit aussi à travers les procédures de plus en plus standardisées pour la prise en charge des naufrages et des corps retrouvés. « Tous les acteurs impliqués, comme la garde nationale, l’appareil judiciaire, la médecine légale ou le Croissant-Rouge, sont devenus, même inconsciemment, parties prenantes de cette banalisation. Tout le monde s’accorde à dire que la Méditerranée est devenue un cimetière, alors que cela devrait susciter de la compassion. Mais on est passés de la #compassion à l’#indifférence, avec très peu de perspectives sur les solutions pouvant protéger les personnes menacées », décrypte-t-il.

    La difficile #identification des non-Tunisiens

    Face à ces drames, plusieurs acteurs s’activent, dans l’ombre, pour tenter de documenter les naufrages et permettre l’identification des victimes, comme la plateforme AlarmPhone. Pour le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge (CICR), qui aide au rétablissement des liens familiaux et travaille en coopération avec le Croissant-Rouge tunisien, la recherche et l’identification des personnes disparues en mer sont indispensables.

    Si les autorités tunisiennes restent responsables pour le processus d’identification des personnes ayant perdu leur vie en mer, le CICR intervient en appui, sur la base d’une « demande de recherche », ouverte le plus souvent par un proche de disparu. Il vérifie alors les informations permettant de faire le lien avec la personne présumée disparue. Quelle est son identité ? Quels vêtements ou quels effets personnels avait-elle ? Quel signe distinctif peut permettre de l’identifier ?

    La démarche est plus simple s’agissant des ressortissants tunisiens, pour lesquels les autorités peuvent consulter le fichier des empreintes digitales et dont les familles, basées en Tunisie, se mobilisent pour les retrouver. Elle est moins évidente s’agissant des exilés non tunisiens, dont les proches restent dans le pays d’origine et n’ont pas toujours d’informations sur le projet ou le parcours migratoire de la personne disparue.

    Dans ce cas, le CICR s’autorise à prendre en compte les informations venues d’ami·es ou de connaissances ayant croisé la route d’une personne portée disparue. Mais parfois, le signalement ne vient jamais. « Certains ont peur de signaler une disparition aux ONG parce qu’ils ne font pas la différence avec les autorités. Ils ne veulent pas avoir des ennuis », commente Yaha, une Ivoirienne et entrepreneure installée à Sfax depuis six ans, qui consacre tout son temps libre à accompagner les proches de disparu·es en mer dans leurs recherches, notamment avec le Croissant-Rouge.

    À Sfax, où nous la retrouvons, Yaha rejoint deux jeunes Ivoiriens, inquiets pour un groupe de sept personnes qui ne donnent plus signe de vie. « Il y a cinq adultes et deux enfants, âgés de 2 ans et de 8 mois. Ils ont disparu depuis deux semaines. On sait qu’ils sont morts en mer. Maintenant, on veut savoir si leurs corps ont été retrouvés », souffle le premier, occupé à chercher leurs photos sur son téléphone. La fillette des Kerkennah ? Ils n’en savent rien. Le second commente : « Les gens ne préviennent pas quand ils partent. Il faut attendre qu’ils disparaissent pour qu’on le sache. »

    Tous deux iront, deux jours plus tard, dans les locaux de la garde nationale de Sfax, où ils pourront accéder au registre et aux photos des naufragé·es. Ils seront accompagnés d’un membre du Croissant-Rouge, dont la présence est censée rassurer vis-à-vis des autorités et aider sur le plan émotionnel, dans un moment particulièrement difficile.

    Identifier les personnes disparues n’est pas chose facile : durant le week-end des 28 et 29 janvier, soit la période correspondant à leur disparition, les acteurs associatifs comptent onze à douze tentatives de traversée, dont au moins trois naufrages.

    Une #morgue dépassée

    Pour l’heure, aucune demande de recherche n’a été enregistrée par le #CICR concernant la fillette des Kerkennah, que ce soit en Tunisie ou en Italie. Plusieurs acteurs locaux redoutent que ses parents soient décédés lors du naufrage. « On pense qu’il n’y a pas eu de survivants pour cette embarcation. Elle a été retrouvée à un moment où il y a eu beaucoup de naufrages. On sait juste qu’elle a la peau noire, comme les adultes retrouvés sur place le même jour », indique un membre du tissu associatif. Selon nos informations, son corps est resté un temps à la morgue de l’hôpital de Sfax, avant d’être inhumé.

    « Quand il y a un naufrage, c’est la #garde_nationale qui doit porter secours. S’il y a des personnes décédées, elle les ramène sur terre, où l’unité technique et scientifique prend des photos et des traces d’ADN. [Les corps] sont ensuite emmenés à la morgue, jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient réclamés ou qu’il y ait un ordre d’#enterrement provenant de la municipalité, pour ceux qui n’ont pas été identifiés », détaille la militante des droits humains. Problème, l’unité médico-légale de l’hôpital de Sfax, qui a une capacité de quarante places, est débordée.

    Sollicitées, leurs équipes n’ont pas souhaité s’exprimer. Mais dans un document que nous avons pu nous procurer, l’unité médico-légale fait état d’une « nette augmentation » des naufrages en mer ces dernières années, les exilé·es représentant désormais 50 % de l’activité des effectifs.

    On y apprend également que les personnes de peau noire représentent la majorité des #victimes et que les enfants, de même que les nourrissons, représentent 5 % des naufragés au large de Sfax sur le premier semestre en 2022. La plupart d’entre eux n’avaient aucun document d’identité.

    L’unité souffre de conditions de travail « difficiles », dues à un manque criant de moyens. À plusieurs reprises, des cadavres ont dû, par manque de place, être entreposés sur un brancard dans les couloirs de l’établissement. « Les migrations dépassent tout le monde, admet Wajdi Mohamed Aydi, adjoint au maire de Sfax chargé des migrations, qui évoque un manque de gouvernance à l’échelle nationale. Il y a des tentatives de traversée et des #accidents chaque semaine, voire chaque jour. On s’occupe de l’#enterrement des personnes non identifiées, en essayant de respecter au mieux leur dignité. » Lorsqu’il n’y a pas de nom, un numéro est inscrit sur la #pierre_tombale.

    Les Subsahariens confrontés à la #précarité et au #racisme

    L’élu pointe aussi un phénomène récent, celui de l’apparition d’embarcations en métal utilisées par les migrants pour la traversée (selon plusieurs sources, certains les fabriqueraient eux-mêmes, sous la houlette des réseaux de passage tunisiens).

    Une information que confirme la militante des droits humains déjà citée : « Ces nouvelles #embarcations en métal sont une catastrophe. Ils cherchent à en fabriquer un maximum de l’heure et ne les soudent pas bien. Les gens ont peu de chances de s’en sortir s’il y a un naufrage car les bateaux coulent plus vite et ils restent coincés à l’intérieur. »

    À six kilomètres au sud de Sfax, dans le quartier défavorisé de #Ben_Saïda, où vit une communauté importante de Subsahariens, Junior s’engouffre dans la maison inachevée qu’il occupe, dont les murs en briques sont restés nus. C’est ici que le jeune Guinéen (Guinée-Conakry), âgé de 16 ans, vit avec au moins soixante-dix autres jeunes, originaires de ce même pays, du Cameroun, de Côte d’Ivoire, du Sénégal ou du Mali. Tous ont déjà tenté au moins une fois la traversée et attendent de pouvoir de nouveau tenter leur « chance ».

    Dans l’intérieur sombre de l’habitation, où des matelas et couvertures sont disposés à même le sol, des dizaines de gamins se bousculent, curieux de nous voir pénétrer leur univers. Une majorité de jeunes hommes, encore dans l’adolescence, dont le visage et les corps sont déjà usés par l’exil. « On a été interceptés par la garde nationale il y a deux semaines. Ils nous ont mis en difficulté exprès. Mon frère Mohamed est tombé à l’eau et s’est noyé », résume Junior, encore en état de choc. Il montre une vidéo de la garde nationale fonçant sur une embarcation refusant de s’arrêter en mer. Il montre aussi ses pieds blessés lors de l’interception et restés sans soins depuis.

    Les quelques femmes vivant là, seules ou avec leur enfant, disent être inquiètes pour un couple et son bébé, disparus depuis trois semaines. « On sait qu’ils voulaient traverser. On n’a plus de nouvelles, on pense qu’ils sont morts en mer. » Sur son smartphone, la bouille de l’enfant, dans les bras de sa mère souriante, apparaît.

    Malgré leur disparition en mer, elles veulent partir, elles aussi. « Mais j’ai très peur de l’eau, je ne sais pas nager », hésite l’une d’elles. Elle a quitté son pays pour fuir les violences conjugales. Elle expérimente désormais la violence des frontières.

    Junior n’a pas trouvé la force de contacter le Croissant-Rouge. « J’imagine que mon frère a été enterré. Je n’ai pas cherché à savoir car c’est trop lourd pour moi, ça me fait mal au cœur rien que d’y penser. » Les ados semblent avoir intégré le #risque de mourir en mer. Ils n’ont « pas d’autre choix », assurent-ils. « On ne peut pas rester dans notre pays et on ne peut pas rester ici. »

    Ils dénoncent le « racisme » auquel ils sont confrontés en Tunisie. « Des policiers ont volé mon portable l’autre jour. Au commissariat, ils n’ont pas voulu prendre ma plainte. Dans les épiceries, ils ne veulent pas nous vendre de riz parce qu’il y a une pénurie et qu’on n’est pas prioritaires. »

    Le membre du tissu associatif déjà cité explique : « Leurs #conditions_de_vie se sont durcies. Depuis quelque temps, un blocage a été mis en place à la Poste pour qu’ils ne puissent ni envoyer ni retirer de l’argent. » Il ajoute avoir observé, au cours des derniers mois, de nombreuses « #arrestations_arbitraires » de personnes en situation irrégulière.

    « C’est aussi ça qui pousse les gens à prendre la mer, affirme Yaha. S’ils restent ici sans papiers, c’est comme une prison à ciel ouvert. S’ils veulent rentrer chez eux, ils doivent payer une pénalité [d’un montant maximal de 3 000 dinars tunisiens, soit environ mille euros – ndlr]. Avec cet argent, certains préfèrent partir en Europe, où ils pourront offrir un avenir meilleur à leurs enfants. »


    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #décès #mourir_en_mer #fille #enfant #enfance #enfants #photographie #racisme #pêcheurs #Alan_Kurdi

    ping @karine4 @_kg_

    • En Tunisie, « il faut dépasser la question des #traversées pour penser l’immigration africaine »

      Dans un contexte où le Parti nationaliste tunisien s’en prend violemment à la communauté subsaharienne et où les naufrages ne cessent de s’intensifier en mer, le géographe #Camille_Cassarini revient sur les évolutions de la présence africaine dans ce pays du Maghreb, dont les politiques migratoires n’échappent pas aux mécanismes que l’on peut observer en Europe.

      DixDix-huit mille personnes ont réussi à rejoindre l’Italie depuis les côtes tunisiennes en 2022. Un chiffre en constante augmentation ces dernières années, démontrant que la crise socio-économique, mais aussi démocratique, dans laquelle s’enfonce la Tunisie ne cesse de pousser des personnes sur les chemins de l’exil.

      À l’heure où les naufrages s’amplifient et où la découverte du corps d’une fillette, échoué sur une plage des îles Kerkennah le 24 décembre dernier, vient brutalement nous rappeler la violence des politiques de fermeture des frontières, Camille Cassarini, chercheur à l’Université de Gênes et chercheur associé au LPED/IRD, alerte sur la nécessité de reconnaître l’immigration africaine en Tunisie.

      Après avoir passé plusieurs années à Sfax pour réaliser sa thèse, ville où la communauté subsaharienne est particulièrement importante, le géographe constate qu’un certain nombre de personnes viennent d’abord pour étudier et travailler.

      « Les personnes subsahariennes sont structurellement irrégularisées par l’État tunisien et leur départ prend avant tout naissance dans ce contexte de vulnérabilité juridique », souligne ce spécialiste des mobilités africaines en Tunisie, estimant que la délivrance d’un titre de séjour et l’ouverture de leurs droits pourraient permettre à certains de se projeter en Tunisie. Il faut, dit-il, cesser de penser ces mobilités sous l’angle du transit vers l’Europe.

      Mediapart : Depuis quand observe-t-on la présence d’exilés subsahariens en Tunisie ?

      Camille Cassarini : Depuis les années 1980, avec principalement des étudiants au départ, issus de classes moyennes supérieures, venus se former dans des instituts publics tunisiens. Il y a un premier changement dans les années 1990, qui correspond au grand pari de Ben Ali sur l’enseignement privé, visant à attirer lesdites « classes moyennes émergentes » d’Afrique.

      C’est ainsi qu’on a vu arriver des Camerounais, Congolais, Sénégalais ou Ivoiriens. Au même moment, il y avait déjà des mobilités de travailleurs qui arrivaient en Tunisie puis tombaient en situation irrégulière, mais on n’en parlait pas du tout.

      Un second changement a eu lieu en 2003, avec l’arrivée de la Banque africaine de développement et de son personnel, qui, à la suite des événements en Côte d’Ivoire, a été déplacée à Tunis. En 2011 enfin, l’arrivée au pouvoir d’Alassane Ouattara en Côte d’Ivoire a mis beaucoup d’Ivoiriens sur la route. On estime qu’il y avait alors quelques milliers d’Ivoiriens à Tunis, quelques centaines à Sfax. Ces chiffres ont connu une croissance très forte dans les années qui ont suivi. Je dirais qu’aujourd’hui, entre 30 000 et 50 000 personnes originaires d’Afrique subsaharienne vivent en Tunisie.

      Quel est leur profil ?

      On retrouve toujours une très large majorité de personnes ivoiriennes, ce qui est en soi une particularité, voire un paradoxe, car la Côte d’Ivoire n’était pas un pays d’émigration, contrairement à d’autres pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest. On observe surtout la présence de travailleurs, issus de deux principaux groupes socio-ethniques en Côte d’Ivoire (les Akan et Baoulé, ainsi que les Bété, proches de Laurent Gbagbo), qui, avant, ne migraient absolument pas hors de la Côte d’Ivoire et sont issus de couches sociales assez favorisées.

      Dans quelles conditions de vie évoluent-ils ?

      Jusqu’au Covid-19, tous ces groupes vivaient d’emplois relativement précaires ; pas seulement d’emplois journaliers, payés 25 dinars par jour, mais aussi de petites activités commerciales à la valise (le fait de ramener des produits du pays d’origine pour les revendre en Tunisie).

      Cette population arrivait par avion sans visa et vivait en situation irrégulière (puisque une fois passés les trois mois de séjour autorisés, ils n’ont plus de droit au séjour), dans des logements collectifs, parfois individuels et dans des conditions relativement précaires ; mais des conditions qui, au regard de leur précédente situation en Côte d’Ivoire, n’étaient pas forcément si mauvaises.

      Leur salaire leur permettait d’opérer des renvois de fonds et de soutenir leur famille. Notamment au regard du taux de change qui existait entre le dinar tunisien et l’euro, et donc le franc CFA. À partir de 2018, l’État tunisien a développé une autre politique monétaire, faisant doper les exportations et baisser la valeur du dinar. Les cordons de la bourse ont alors été de plus en plus serrés.

      Quel impact le Covid-19 a-t-il pu avoir sur les migrations de Subsahariens vers et via la Tunisie ?

      Étant donné que ces personnes vivaient majoritairement d’emplois journaliers, sur un marché du travail informel, elles ont été les premières à perdre leur emploi. Elles ont vécu une très forte précarité, notamment parce qu’elles n’avaient ni sécurité sociale, ni parachute, ni aucune structure familiale pouvant leur venir en aide. Et on a vu des choses apparaître pour la toute première fois durant cette période, comme la mendicité et le sans-abrisme. Sur le plan des arrivées, il y a eu une forte baisse des arrivées, mais cela a repris dès que le trafic aérien s’est rouvert.

      Selon les ONG, la présence des Subsahariens a fortement augmenté en 2022. Comment l’expliquez-vous ?

      Les arrivées ont augmenté, oui, mais difficile de dire dans quelle mesure. Ce qui est sûr, c’est qu’il n’y a plus seulement que des Ivoiriens. Il y a d’autres nationalités qui ont investi cette route migratoire comme les lieux d’installation ouverts par ces mobilités. Des personnes originaires du Cameroun et de Guinée-Conakry, qui pratiquent les routes migratoires entre Afrique de l’Ouest et Afrique du Nord depuis longtemps.

      Alors qu’on les trouvait beaucoup en Libye, en Algérie ou au Maroc, les mobilités ivoiriennes ont ouvert cette route à travers la Tunisie, notamment jusqu’à Sfax. Aussi, sans doute, parce que des routes s’ouvrent et se ferment en permanence, et que les populations cherchent de nouveaux itinéraires. Chaque groupe en migration a sa propre histoire migratoire.

      Ces populations, différentes les unes des autres, cherchent-elles toutes à tenter la traversée pour l’Europe ?

      Mes travaux montrent que les Ivoiriens sont venus en Tunisie pour travailler et s’installer. Ces mobilités s’apparentent donc de plus en plus à une immigration, avec des gens qui restent plusieurs années, fondent une famille et occupent des emplois et une position sociale en Tunisie. On est face à un début d’immigration qui est appelée à rester.

      Concernant les Guinéens et Camerounais (et je le dis avec beaucoup de prudence car je n’ai pas mené d’enquête sur le sujet), on sait que ce sont des groupes connus pour rechercher une traversée vers l’Europe. On sait aussi que ce sont des groupes surreprésentés dans les demandes d’asile en Europe. C’est une donnée sur laquelle on peut s’appuyer pour faire l’hypothèse qu’ils ne sont pas forcément en Tunisie pour y rester, contrairement aux Ivoiriens. Mais il faudrait y consacrer des travaux.

      L’arrivée de nouvelles nationalités a-t-elle changé la donne pour les réseaux de passage ?

      Oui. Ces nouvelles nationalités ramènent avec elles leur expérience de la route et de la traversée. Certaines personnes sont restées très longtemps en Libye et ont acquis de bonnes connaissances dans la fabrication de bateaux. En arrivant à Sfax, qui est une ville littorale avec toute une économie de la mer, elles se sont mises à fabriquer des bateaux ou à acheter des moteurs. C’est le cas des Guinéens et des Gambiens. Aujourd’hui, on voit de nouveaux types d’embarcation en métal.

      Cela étant dit, aucune économie du passage ne se fait sans l’aval, le soutien et la protection de réseaux de passage tunisiens vers l’Europe. Les personnes en situation de domination quotidienne, sans capital social ni économique, n’ont pas les moyens de mettre en place de tels réseaux. Les Tunisiens cherchent un public, certains Subsahariens leur donnent accès à ce public-là, et ensuite, c’est de la négociation et du business. S’il y a une économie du passage des Subsahariens vers l’Europe, c’est avant tout parce qu’il y a une économie du passage des Tunisiens vers l’Europe.

      Avec l’arrivée de ces nouvelles nationalités, l’économie du passage s’est diversifiée. On a une plus grande offre du passage, pour une demande qui n’est pas nécessairement plus importante qu’avant. La conséquence de cela, c’est que les prix ont baissé. Lorsqu’il fallait payer auparavant 5 000 dinars, 1 000 ou 1 500 dinars suffisent désormais pour partir.

      Avez-vous le sentiment que le nombre de naufrages a augmenté ?

      Les organisations de la société civile disent que cela augmente. Mais depuis le début de mon travail en Tunisie, donc en 2017, j’ai toujours entendu parler des naufrages et des morts qui en découlent. L’ennui, c’est qu’on a beaucoup de mal à décompter ces naufrages, on ne sait pas exactement qui meurt, puisqu’on compte beaucoup de disparus en mer.

      En Tunisie, on sent que cette question des disparitions prend de plus en plus d’importance, d’abord chez les familles de Tunisiens disparus qui se mobilisent, mais aussi chez les familles et proches de Subsahariens, parce qu’elles sont installées en Tunisie. C’est plus compliqué en revanche pour les autres, lorsqu’ils sont en transit et n’ont pas forcément de proches en Tunisie. C’est le travail des organisations telles que la Croix-Rouge internationale que de les aider à retrouver un proche disparu.

      Ceux qui survivent à ces naufrages restent confrontés à de forts traumas et ne sont pas du tout pris en charge ensuite. Cela fait partie de toute cette architecture frontalière, qui consiste à marquer les gens dans leur mémoire, leur corps, leur histoire.

      Qu’est-ce qui pousse les gens à tenter la traversée au risque de perdre la vie en mer ?

      Je crois qu’il faut déconstruire les logiques qui amènent les gens à partir, notamment parce que j’ai connu des personnes qui avaient construit une vie en Tunisie (comme les Camerounais) et qui sont parties malgré tout pour l’Europe. Les traversées sont aussi le produit de la fermeture des frontières qui s’opère en Afrique et, sans nier l’influence des États européens dans ce domaine, il ne faut pas non plus sous-estimer la capacité des États maghrébins et africains à développer leurs propres agendas stratégiques vis-à-vis de la migration.

      En Tunisie, les personnes subsahariennes sont structurellement irrégularisées par l’État tunisien et leur départ prend avant tout naissance dans ce contexte de vulnérabilité juridique : c’est parce qu’on empêche les circulations entre pays africains que ces personnes sont amenées à partir. Soit elles dépensent l’argent économisé dans le paiement de pénalités pour rentrer dans leur pays, soit elles paient une traversée vers l’Europe, le tout sous l’effet conjugué de la baisse du dinar, du renforcement de l’appareil policier tunisien et d’un climat de peur.

      Il faut donc poser la question fondamentale du droit au séjour pour les personnes subsahariennes en Tunisie. On ne parle pas de la nationalité, mais de l’obtention d’un titre de séjour qui leur ouvre des droits. Il faut dépasser la question des traversées pour penser l’immigration africaine en Tunisie.

      La Tunisie nie-t-elle l’existence de cette immigration ?

      Jusqu’ici, il n’y avait jamais eu de débat politique ou de véritable positionnement des acteurs politiques vis-à-vis de l’immigration africaine en Tunisie. Depuis quelque temps, le Parti politique nationaliste tunisien a lancé des campagnes xénophobes et racistes de lutte contre la présence africaine en Tunisie, reprenant les mêmes discours que les partis xénophobes en Europe, autour de la théorie du « grand remplacement ». Pour la première fois, un parti fonde sa rhétorique sur la présence africaine en Tunisie. Ce n’est pas anodin, parce que le pays avait toujours nié cette présence.

      Paradoxalement, cela montre que l’immigration africaine devient un sujet politique. On ne la regarde plus seulement comme une sorte d’extériorité, on la pense au regard de la société tunisienne, de manière très violente certes, mais cela fait naître de nouveaux débats. On voit d’ailleurs des acteurs de la société civile qui, en réaction à cette campagne, appellent à la régularisation. Finalement, on a une politisation latente et progressive de la question des mobilités africaines. On est bien face à une immigration.


  • Sur la gestion des #funérailles et de l’#enterrement des victimes du #naufrage du #3_octobre_2013 :

    «Invece di stabilire un luogo comune per la sepoltura, i corpi sono stati sparpagliati senza un criterio preciso per tutto l’ampio territorio dell’agrigentino. Al quotidiano ’Europa’, in un articolo di Luca Gambardella, Don Mimmi il parroco di Lampedusa aveva dichiarato:
    ’E i parenti delle vittime? Sono settimane che girano per la Sicilia alla ricerca dei loro cari defunti. Non si sa nemmeno chi sia stato tumulato e dove.’
    Quei poveri corpi straziati hanno trovato alla fine loculi vuoti o sono stati ospitati caritatevolmente in tombe di famiglia. Un unico luogo avrebbe permesso all’Italia di riflettere al regime eritreo di fare i conti con la sua spietatezza. Ma così non è stato. Le esequie sono state l’ennesimo buco nell’acqua del governo italiano sulla questione. All’indomani della tragedia erano stati annunciati funerali di Stato per le vittime. Funerali che non sono mai avvenuti e che sono stati sostituiti in fretta e furia da una commemorazione. Ma invece di farla a Lampedusa, come ogni logica dettava, è stata fatta ad Agrigento. Questa commemorazione ha brillato per assenze obbligate e presenze ingombranti. Ed è risultata una farsa che tutti noi ci saremmo volentieri risparmiati. Prima di tutto non sono stati invitati i sopravvisuti alla strage del 3 ottobre. Uomini, donne, bambini che hanno visto morire decine e decine di persone: una moglie, un amico, un compagno di sventura, un figlio. Loro, che in ogni paese civile sarebbero stati messi in prima fila ad assistere alla cerimonia, ad Agrigento sono stati di fatto considerati indesiderabili. Invece è stato chiamato a presenziare l’ambasciatore eritreo in Italia, ovvero uno dei membri di quel regime feroce da cui le vittime del 3 ottobre scappavano. Incongruenze insomma. Intenzionali o no... Purtroppo non mi è dato saperlo, ma la fotografia di quel giorno mi è rimasta tatuata nella testa. E per l’ira il fegato credo mi sia ingrossato. Vedere l’ambasciatore eritreo, tra l’allora ministro degli Interni Angelino Alfano e la ministro dell’Integrazione Cecile Kyenge rimarrà di fatto una delle immagini meno edificanti della Repubblica italiana. Leggendo i giornali in quei tragici giorni ricordo di aver condiviso la preoccupazione per una pressione del regime sui rifugiati. Era scattato l’allarme: si temeva che spie del regime si mescolassero con gli operatori nei centri temporanei per schedare a Lampedusa i migranti eritrei. I pericoli erano numerosi e tutti in agguato, pronti a sbranare anche la più piccola speranza nascente.
    Quello che più mi rendeva sgomenta era però il furto del rito che era stato perpetrato ai danni degli eritrei da parte dello Stato italiano. Di fatto con la commemorazione-farsa di Agrigento il funerale legittimo era stato scippato. False lacrime erano state sparse. Lacrime assassine. Alcuni eritrei mi hanno rivelato in confidenza che una volta finita la commemorazione la delegazione dell’ambasciata eritrea è rimasta finché la piccola folla, accorsa per i ministri, non si è dileguata del tutto. Dopodiché hanno recuperato i fiori delle autorità e li hanno gettti in mare, però questa volta davanti ad una telecamera. Per mandare questo filmato a getto continuo, ventiquattr’ore su ventiquattro, sulla Tv eritrea. Non so se questa notizia sia una leggenda metropolitana o una realtà. Comunque è molto verosimile. Non mi sarei meravigliata, dopo tutto quello che è successo, di veder succedere anche questo. La vita, in quei giorni, mi aveva insegnato quanto poteva essere ridicola, farsesca, profondamente inumana, a volte.»

    source : Igiaba Scego, Roma negata , 2014, pp.38-40

    #migrations #asile #mourir_en_mer #décès #morts_aux_frontières #commémoration

  • Numéro 387 : Disparu en #Méditerranée

    En 2015, près de mille migrants disparaissent dans un naufrage en Méditerranée. Depuis, une équipe de chercheurs tente de retrouver leur identité. Un documentaire pudique et fort aux confins de l’indicible.

    C’est la tragédie la plus meurtrière en Méditerranée depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Le 18 avril 2015, un bateau fantôme convoyant entre 800 et 1100 migrants coule au large des côtes libyennes. Très peu d’entre eux survivent. Qui étaient les disparus, d’où venaient-ils ? Comment leur redonner une identité et honorer leur mémoire ? Très vite, le gouvernement italien de Matteo Renzi prend la décision inédite de renflouer l’épave pour identifier les victimes. À Milan, l’anthropologue légiste Cristina Cattaneo travaille sur les 528 corps retrouvés et mène la plus vaste opération d’identification jamais entreprise en Méditerranée. En Afrique, José Pablo Baraybar, pour le CICR (Comité international de la Croix-Rouge), rencontre les familles des disparus pour obtenir le plus d’informations ante mortem possibles, et recueillir leur ADN qui permettra à Cristina Cattaneo de croiser les résultats. En Sicile, la chercheuse Georgia Mirto arpente les cimetières à la recherche des tombes des disparus...


    #mourir_en_mer #identification #morts #morts_aux_frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #naufrage #identification #épave #Cristina_Cattaneo #restes #médecine_légale #justice #droits_humains #Giorgia_Mirto #cimetières #cimetière #Sicile #Italie #pacte_migratoire #pacte_de_Marrakech #cadavres #traçabilité #enterrement #coopération_internationale #celleux_qui_restent #celles_qui_restent #ceux_qui_restent #dignité #survivants #mer_Méditerranée #vidéo


    Ils utilisent hélas les statistiques des morts de l’OIM au lieu d’utiliser celles de United :

    « L’OIM rapporte que la route de l’immigration la plus meurtrière au monde est la route de la Méditerranée centrale (...) L’agence explique que malgré la baisse du nombre de morts, la proportion de décès, rapportée aux tentatives de traversée, a augmenté en 2019 par rapport aux années précédentes. Signe peut-être que les embarcations qui partent sont plus précaires et que les personnes et les passeurs prennent plus de risques. » Ils donnent ensuite le chiffre d’un 1/100, ratio morts/départs.
    –-> embarcations plus précaires et plus de prise de risque ne sont pas une fatalité mais une conséquence des politiques migratoires restrictives et meurtrières de l’UE et ses Etats membres.

  • #Roma_negata. Percorsi postcoloniali nella città
    Un viaggio attraverso la città per recuperare dall’oblio un passato coloniale disconosciuto.

    Libia, Somalia, Eritrea, Etiopia: quali sono le tracce dell’avventura coloniale italiana a Roma? Roma negata è un viaggio attraverso la città per recuperare dall’oblio un passato coloniale disconosciuto e dare voce a chi proviene da quell’Africa che l’Italia ha prima invaso e poi dimenticato. Igiaba Scego racconta i luoghi simbolo di quel passato coloniale; Rino Bianchi li fotografa, assieme agli eredi di quella storia. Il risultato è una costruzione narrativa e visiva di un’Italia decolonizzata, multiculturale, inclusiva, dove ogni cittadino possa essere finalmente se stesso. Negli anni trenta del secolo scorso Asmara, Mogadiscio, Macallè, Tripoli, Adua erano nomi familiari agli italiani. La propaganda per l’impero voluta da Benito Mussolini era stata battente e ossessiva. Dai giochi dell’oca ai quaderni scolastici, per non parlare delle parate, tutto profumava di colonie. Di quella storia ora si sa poco o niente, anche se in Italia è forte la presenza di chi proviene da quelle terre d’Africa colonizzate: ci sono eritrei, libici, somali, etiopi. Il libro riprende la materia dell’oblio coloniale e la tematizza attraverso alcuni luoghi di Roma che portano le tracce di quel passato dimenticato. I monumenti infatti, più di altre cose, ci parlano di questa storia, dove le ombre sono più delle luci. Prende vita così un’analisi emozionale dei luoghi voluti a celebrazione del colonialismo italiano, attraverso un testo narrativo e delle fotografie. In ogni foto insieme al monumento viene ritratta anche una persona appartenente a quell’Africa che fu colonia dell’Italia. Scego e Bianchi costruiscono così un percorso di riappropriazione della storia da parte di chi è stato subalterno. «Volevamo partire dal Corno D’Africa, dall’umiliazione di quel colonialismo crudele e straccione, perché di fatto era in quel passato che si annidava la xenofobia del presente (…) Da Roma negata emerge quel Corno d’Africa che oggi sta morendo nel Mediterraneo, disconosciuto da tutti e soprattutto da chi un tempo l’aveva sfruttato».



    Citations :

    «Ma non tutte le memorie, lo stavo scoprendo con il tempo, avevano lo stesso trattamento.
    C’erano memorie di serie B e serie C. Memorie che nessuno voleva ricordare, perché troppo scomode, troppo vere.»


    «Ahi, il colonialismo italiano ferita mai risanata, ferita mai ricucita, memoria obliata»


    «Ora la stele sta ad Axum, insieme alle sue sorelle etiopi. Ma a Piazza di Porta Capena cos’è rimasto di quel passaggio?
    Solo vuoto, solo silenzio, assenza, oblio, smemoratezza in salsa italica».


    «E anche dimenticare la storia che lega Africa e Italia è un’infamia. Perché dimenticandola si dimentica di essere stati infami, razzisti, colonialisti. Italiani brava gente, ti dicono i più autoassolvendosi, e si continua beatamente a rifare gli stessi errori. Ieri i colonizzati, oggi i migranti, vittime di un sistema che si autogenera e autoassolve. Ecco perché sono ossessionata dai luoghi. E’ da lì che dobbiamo ricominciare un percorso diverso, un’Italia diversa.»


    Sur le Cinema Impero :

    «Il colonialismo italiano era davanti ai loro occhi tutti i giorni con i suoi massacri, i suoi stupri, la sopraffazione dei corpi e delle menti. Era lì con la sua storia di lacrime e di sangue sparso. Era lì a testimoniare quel legame tra Africa e Italia. Un legame violento, cattivo, sporco e non certo piacevole. Anche nel nome quel cinema era violento. L’impero era quello che Benito Mussolini sognava per aver prestigio davanti alle altre potenze europee e soprattutto davanti a quell’Adolf Hitler che lo preoccupava tanto. L’imprero era quello del Mare Nostrum dove le faccette nere sarebbero state costrette a partorire balilla per la nazione tricolore. L’impero era quello che era riapparso ’sui colli fatali di Roma’. Un impero che Benito Mussolini nel discorso del 9 maggio 1936 aveva dichiarato
    ’Impero fascista, perché porta i segni indistruttibili della volontà e della potenza del Littorio romano, perché questa è la meta verso la quale durante quattordici anni furono sollecitate le energie prorompenti e disciplinate delle giovani, gagliarde generazioni italiane’.
    Era la violenza delle squadracce, ma anche gli sventramenti indiscriminati del tessuto urbano delle città africane.
    L’Africa colonizzata dagli italiani si rempì così di archi di trionfo, busti pavoneggianti, palazzi improbabili. In Somalia per esempio De Vecchis, uno dei quadrumviri della marcia su Roma, aveva voluto costruire una cattedrale che fosse l’esatta copia di quella di Cefalù con le sue due torri altissime. Una volta costruita alcuni somali notarono l’altezza sproporzionata delle torri rispetto ai palazzi nei dintorni e cominciarono a definire la costruzione ’la doppia erezione’. E poi come dimenticare il faro di Capo Guardafui trasformato in un fascio littorio? Asmara (ma in generale l’Eritrea) fu quella che però subì più trasformazioni di tutti. Infatti fu chiamata da più parti la piccola Roma. Tra il 1935 e il 1941 gli architetti italiani si sbizzarrirono in questa città creando uno stile assai stravagante che mischiava modernismo, futurismo e un teutonico stile littorio.»


    Poésie de Ulisse Barbieri (anarchico poeta direttore del giornale « Combattiamo »), Dopo il disastro :

    «No, non è patriottismo, no, per DIO!
    Al massacro mandar nuovi soldati,
    Né tener lì... quei che si son mandati
    Perché dei vostri error paghino il Fio!
    Ma non capire... o branco di cretini...
    Che i patriotti... sono gli Abissini?»


    «Il Risorgimento, se vogliamo dare anche questa lettura, fu la lotta di liberazione degli italiani dal dominio straniero, dal dominio coloniale. Una liberazione portata avanti da un’élite che si era legata ad uno strano potere monarchico, quello dei Savoia, ma pur sempre una liberazione. Ecco perché il colonialismo italiano è tra quelli europei uno dei più assurdi. Gli italiani, che avevano sperimentato sulla propria pelle il giogo straniero, ora volevano sottoporre lo stesso trattamento brutale a popolazioni che mai si erano sognate di mettersi contro l’Italia. Ma l’Italia voleva il suo posto al sole. Questa espressione sarà usata nel secolo successivo da Benito Mussolini per la guerra d’Etiopia, ma disegna bene le mire espansionistiche italiane anche durante questi primi passi come nazione neocoloniale. L’Italia, questa giovincella, viveva di fatto un complesso di inferiorità verso l’altra Europa, quella ricca, che conquistava e dominava. Si sentiva da meno di Gran Bretagna e Francia. Si sentiva sola e piccolina. Per questo l’Africa si stava affacciando nei pensieri di questa Italietta provinciale e ancora non del tutto formata. L’Italia voleva contare. Voleva un potere negoziale all’interno del continente europeo. E pensò bene (anzi male, malissimo!) di ottenerlo a spese dell’Africa.»


    «Venne infatti collocato davanti al monumento ai caduti un leone in bronzo proveniente direttamente da Addis Abeba. Non era un leone qualsiasi, bensì il celeberrimo #Leone_di_Giuda, simbolo che suggellava il patto dell’Etiopia con Dio. Sigillo, quindi, della tribù di Giuda, dal quale discendevano molti profeti e Cristo stesso.»



    «E chi lo immaginava che proprio questa piazza babilonia fosse legata alal storia del colonialismo italiano? Infatti i cinquecento citati nel nome della piazza sono i cinquecento caduti di Dogali. Non so bene quando l’ho scoperto. Forse l’ho sempre saputo. E forse anche per questo, per un caso fortuito della vita, è diventata la piazza dei somali, degli eritrei, degli etiopi e anche di tutti gli altri migranti. Una piazza postcoloniale suo malgrado, quasi per caso. Perché è qui che la storia degli italiani in Africa orientale è stata cancellata. Nessuno (tranne pochi) sa chi sono stati i cinquecento o che cosa è successo a Dogali».


    «Quello che successe in quei vent’anni scerellati non era solo il frutto di Benito Mussolini e dei suoi sgherri, ma di una partecipazione allargata del popolo italiano.
    Ed è forse questo il punto su cui non si è mai lavorato in Italia. In Germania per esempio non solo ci fu il processo di Norimberga contro i criminali di guerra nazisti, ma anche un lavoro incessante e certosino sulla memoria. Nel nostro paese si preferì invece voltare pagina senza capire, interiorizzare, percorrere la memoria delle atrocità vissute e/o perpetrate. In Italia la memoria è divisa o dimenticata. Mai studiata, mai analizzata, mai rivissuta, mai ripensata. Soprattutto la storia in Italia non è mai stata decolonizzata. Il colonialismo fu inghiottito da questo oblio e quelli che furono dei punti di riferimento simbolici del fascismo furono lasciati andare alla deriva come fossero delle zattere fantasma in un fiume di non detto.»


    Obelisco di Axum, sur la Piazza Capena :

    «#Piazza_di_Porta_Capena fu teatro di alcune manifestazioni, e alcune riguardarono proprio le proteste per la restituzione dell’obelisco all’Etiopia. Ma in generale si può dire che il monumento era di fatto dimenticato. Stava lì, i romani lo sapevano, ma non ci facevano più tanto caso.
    Era lì, sola, immobile, eretta, dimenticata...
    Era lì lontana da casa...
    Era lì spogliata di ogni significato.
    Era giusto uno spartitraffico. Più imponente e raffinato di altri... certo, ma non tanto dissimile dai tanti alberi spennacchiati che svolgevano la stessa funzione in giro per la città.
    Nessuno per anni si occupò della stele. Qualcuno di tanto in tanto vagheggiava una ipotetica restituzione. Ma tutto era lento, tutto sembrava quasi impossibile.»

    –-> 2005 :

    «Poi i soldi si trovarono e la stele ritornò a casa tra canti e balli popolari»

    Et une fois restitué...

    «Ma il vuoto, mi chiedo, non si poteva colmare?
    Improvvisamente Piazza di Porta Capena divenne invisibile. Lo era già prima con la stele. Ma almeno con lei presente capitava che qualche romano la guardasse distrattamente e si interrogasse altrettanto distrattamente. Ma senza la stele il luogo è rimasto un non detto. Tutta la storia, tutto il dolore, tutte le nefandezze sparite con un colpo di spugna.»


    «Quello che mi colpisce di questa polemica, di chi era contrario a una nuova stele e chi era a favore di un monumento nel sito del fu obelisco di Axum, è la totale assenza del dibattito del colonialismo italiano.
    Nessuno, da Fuksas a La Rocca, nominò mai i crimini di guerra che l’Italia fascista aveva compiuto contro l’Africa. Nessuno sottolineò il fatto che quella stele era un bottino di guerra. Nessuno percepì quel vuoto nella piazza come un vuoto di memoria. Anche un urbanista serio e sensibile come Italo Insolera disse non a caso che di obelischi era piena la città.
    Ora un monumento è stato messo. Ne ho parlato all’inizio del nostro viaggio. Un monumento per ricordare le vittime dell’11 settembre. Due colonne anonime di cui i romani ignorano il significato.»


    «La memoria non è negare quello che è stato, ma rielaborare quella vita passata, contestualizzarla e soprattutto non dimenticarla.»


    «E poi la democrazia non si insegna, non si esporta, non si crea dal nulla. La democrazia è un moto spontaneo dell’anima. Ognuno ha il suo modo, i suoi tempi, le sue sfumature.»


    Sur l’inscription sur le #Ponte_Principe_Amedeo_di_Savoia :

    «Comandante superiore delle forze armate dell’Africa Orientale Italiana durante unidici mesi di asperrima lotta isolato alla Madre Patria circondato dal nemico soverchiante per mezzo per forze confermava la già sperimentata capacità di condottiero sagace ed eroico. Aviatore arditissimo instancabile animatore delle proprie truppe le guidava ovunque per terra sul mare nel cielo in vittoriose offensive in tenaci difese impegnando rilevanti forze avversarie. Assediato nel ristretto ridotto dell’#Amba_Alagi alla testa di una schiera di prodi resisteva oltre il limite delle umane possibilità in un titanico sforzo che si imponeva all’ammirazione dello stesso nemico. Fedele continuatore delle tradizioni guerriere della stirpe sabauda puro simbolo delle romane virtù dell’Italia Imperiale Fascista. Africa Orientale Italiana 10 Giugno 1940, XVIII 18 maggio 1941. Motivazione della Medaglia d’Oro al valor militare conferita per la difesa dell’Impero.»

    «Ad Asmara gli abitanti del villaggio di Beit Mekae, che occupavano la collina più alta della città, furono cacciati via per creare il campo cintato, ovvero il primo nucleo della città coloniale, una zona interdetta agli eritrei. Una zona solo per bianchi. Quanti conoscono l’apartheid italiano? Quanti se ne vergognano?»


    «Girando per Roma questo si percepisce molto bene purtroppo. I luoghi del colonialismo in città vengono lasciati nel vouto (Axum), nell’incuria (Dogali), nell’incomprensione (quartiere africano). Si cancella quello che è troppo scomodo. E’ scomodo per l’Italia ammettere di essere stata razzista. E’ scomodo ammettere che il razzismo di oggi ha forti radici in quello di ieri. E’ scomodo ammettere che si è ultimi anche nel prendersi le proprie responsabilità.»


    «Etiopia e Eritrea avevano imbracciato le armi per una contesa sorta sul confine di Badme. Il confine era stato tracciato in modo incerto nel 1902 tra l’Italia (allora paese colonizzatore dell’Eritrea) e il regno d’Etiopia. E dopo più di un secolo Etiopia ed Eritrea si combattevano per quel mal nato confine coloniale»


    «L’Europa è colpevole tutta per lo sfacelo di morte e dolore che sta riversando in uno dei mari più belli del mondo.»


    «Per la maggior parte degli italiani, e dei media, erano semplicemente disperati, i soliti miserabili morti di fame (quasi un’icona, come il bambino del Biafra macilento e schelettrico), in fuga da guerra, dittatura e carestia. Una sorta di stereotipo universale, quello del disperato senza passato, senza presente e con un futuro impossibile da rivendicare.»


    «Occupare uno spazio è un grido di esistenza.»


    «La crisi è quando non sai che strada percorrere e soprattutto che strada hai percorso.»


    «E come si fa a smettere di essere complici?
    In Somalia tutti i nomadi sanno che il miglior antidoto all’ignoranza, a quella jahilia che ci vuole muti e sordi, è il racconto. Io, che per metà vengo da questa antica stirpe di nomadi e cantastorie, so quanto valore può avere una parola messa al posto giusto. La storia va raccontata. Mille e mile volte. Va raccontata dal punto di vista di chi ha subito, di chi è stato calpestato, di chi ha sofferto la fame e la sete. La visione dei vinti, dei sopravvissuti, di chi ha combattuto per la sua libertà. Solo raccontando, solo mettendo in fila fatti, sensazioni, emozioni possiamo davvero farcela. Solo così le narrazioni tossiche che ci avvelenano la vita ci possono abbandonare. Il concetto di narrazione tossica viene dal collettivo Wu Ming:
    ’Per diventare ’narrazione tossica’, una storia deve essere raccontata sempre dallo stesso punto di vista, nello stesso modo e con le stesse parole, omettendo sempre gli stessi dettagli, rimuovendo gli stessi elementi di contesto e complessità.
    E’ sempre narrazione tossica la storia che gli oppressori raccontano agli oppressi per giustificare l’oppressione, che gli sfruttatori raccontano agli sfruttati per giustificare lo sfruttamento, che i ricchi raccontano ai poveri per giustificare la ricchezza.’»


    –-> sur la #narration_toxique (#narrazione_tossica) :

    «La madre patria era nulla senza le sue colonie, per questo amava mostrarle succubi. Si era inventata il fardello dell’uomo bianco, la civilizzazione, la missione di Dio, solo per poter sfruttare il prossimo senza sensi di colpa.»



    Sur la gestion des #funérailles et de l’#enterrement des victimes du #naufrage du #3_octobre_2013 :

    #mémoire #livre #colonialisme_italien #colonisation #Italie #Rome #traces #paysage #géographie_urbaine #post-colonialisme #toponymie #monuments #mémoire #Igiaba_Scego #passé_colonial #photographie #oubli_colonial #histoire #Asmara #Erythrée #architecture #urbanisme #stele_di_dogali #Dogali #Tedali #Adua #massacre #ras_Alula #Saati #maggiore_Boretti #Ras_Alula #Tommaso_De_Cristoforis #Vito_Longo #Luigi_Gattoni #Luigi_Tofanelli #basci-buzuk #Ulisse_Barbieri #Taitù #regina_Taitù #Pietro_Badoglio #Rodolfo_Graziani #italiani_brava_gente #oubli #ponte_Amedeo_d'Aosta #Principe_Amedeo #mémoire #démocratie #troupes_coloniales #dubat #meharisti #Badme #frontières #frontières_coloniales #zaptiè #retour_de_mémoire #Affile #Ercole_Viri


    ajouté à la métaliste sur la #colonialisme_italien :

    ping @cede @albertocampiphoto @olivier_aubert

    • Citation tirée du livre «#La_frontiera» de #Alessandro_Leogrande:

      «Si è acceso qualcoa dentro di me quando ho scoperto che alcuni dei campi di concentramento eretti negli ultimi anni da Isaias Afewerki per reprimere gli oppositori sorgono negli stessi luoghi dove erano disposti i vecchi campi di concentramento del colonialismo italiano.
      In particolare nelle isole di #Dahlak, cinquanta chilometri al largo di Massaua, dove le galere italiane sono state prima riutilizzate dagli occupanti etiopici e in seguito dallo stesso regime militare del Fronte.
      Il penitenziario di #Nocra, una delle isole dell’arcipelago, fu attivo dal 1887 (proprio l’anno dell’eccidio di Dogali) al 1941, come ricorda Angelo Del Boca in Italiani, brava gente? Vi furono rinchiusi prigionieri comuni, ascari da punire, detenuti politici, oppositori e, dopo l’inizio della campagna d’Etiopia nel 1935, ufficiali e funzionari dell’impero di Hailé Selassié, perfino preti e monaci. (...) L’idea di fare di Nocra e delle isole limitrofe una gabbia infernale si è tramandata nel tempo, da regime a regime»



      Sul Campo di concentramento di Nocra

      Il campo di Nocra o carcere di Nocra fu il più grande campo di prigionia italiano nella Colonia eritrea e dal 1936 il più grande dell’Africa Orientale Italiana. Venne aperto nel 1887 e chiuso nel 1941 dagli inglesi. Era situato nell’isola di Nocra, parte dell’Arcipelago di Dahlak, a 55 chilometri al largo di Massaua. Dal 1890 al 1941 fece parte del Commissariato della Dancalia. Arrivò a detenere tra un minimo di 500 prigionieri e un massimo di 1.800[1].


      #camp_de_concentration #Tancredi_Saletta #Oreste_Baratieri

    • #Igiaba_Scego: “Scopriamo i simboli della storia coloniale a Roma per riempire un vuoto di memoria”

      Igiaba Scego, scrittrice italo somala autrice di libri come ‘Roma negata’ e ‘La linea del colore’, racconta e spiega i simboli del colonialismo presenti nella capitale. Spesso sconosciuti, ignorati, o lasciati nel degrado, narrano una storia che l’Italia ha rimosso: quella delle guerre coloniali che ebbero luogo anche prima del fascismo, e che oggi rappresentano il ‘vuoto di memoria’ del nostro paese. Un dibattito che si è accesso a Roma dopo la decisione di intitolare la stazione della metro C al partigiano italo-somalo #Giorgio_Marincola e non chiamarla più #Amba_Aradam.

      A Roma da qualche settimana si parla dei simboli e dei nomi del rimosso coloniale italiano, grazie alla proposta di intitolare la stazione della metro C su via dell’Amba Aradam a Giorgio Marincola, partigiano italo-somalo morto durante la Resistenza. Una proposta diventata realtà con il voto del consiglio comunale che ha deciso che Roma non appellerà una stazione della metropolitana ‘Amba Aradam’, l’altipiano montuoso dove l’esercito italiano massacrò 20.000 uomini e donne con bombardamenti a tappeto e l’utilizzo di armi chimiche. Di questo e altro abbiamo parlato con la scrittrice Igiaba Scego.

      Quali sono i simboli coloniali a Roma che andrebbero spiegati e sui quali bisognerebbe accendere l’attenzione?

      Non sono molti ma sono collocati in punti simbolici. A Roma, tra piazza della Repubblica e la stazione Termini c’è la Stele di Dogali, a riprova che il colonialismo non è stato solo fascista ma anche ottocentesco. L’obelisco è egiziano ma ha un basamento ottocentesco dedicato alla battaglia avvenuta nel 1887 a Dogali, in Eritrea, dove una colonna italiana venne intercettata e massacrata. Da lì anche il nome di piazza dei 500 davanti la stazione Termini. Di questa battaglia ne ho parlato in due libri, ‘Roma negata’ e ‘La linea del colore’. E nella piazza dove c’è la Stele, s’incontra il colonialismo con le migrazioni di oggi. Questo monumento, che nessuno conosce, è tra l’altro lasciato nel degrado. C’è poi il ponte Duca d’Aosta nei pressi del Vaticano, o il Cinema Impero a Tor Pignattara, che oggi si chiama Spazio Impero. Oltre al fatto di inserire il termine ‘impero’ nel nome, la struttura è quasi uguale a un cinema che è stato realizzato ad Asmara in Eritrea. Ma la cosa che colpisce di più sono i vuoti. Negli anni ’30, venne portata da Mussolini come bottino di guerra dall’Etiopia la Stele di Axum. Questa fu posizionata a piazza di Porta Capena, dove inizia anche il libro ‘Roma negata’. Dopo la guerra, non è stata restituita subito. Nel 1960, Abebe Bikila (campione olimpionico etiope) ha vinto i Giochi di Roma correndo a piedi nudi. Ho sempre pensato che il motivo della sua vittoria non fu solo la sua capacità fisica e la sua caparbietà, ma anche il dover essere costretto a passare per ben due volte davanti la Stele sottratta al suo popolo. Sono convinta che gli abbia dato lo sprint per vincere. La Stele fu poi restituita all’Etiopia negli anni Duemila, tra mille polemiche. Il problema è che ora in quella piazza non c’è nulla, solo due colonnine che rappresentano le Torri Gemelli e di cui nessuno sa nulla. Sarebbe stato giusto ergere sì un monumento per ricordare l’11 settembre, ma soprattutto uno per ricordare le vittime del colonialismo italiano e chi ha resistito ai colonizzatori. Un monumento riparatore per avvicinare i popoli vista la storia scomoda. Quella piazza rappresenta il vuoto di memoria, è come se qualcuno avesse fotografato il rimosso coloniale".

      Quali potrebbero essere i passi da compiere per far emergere il rimosso coloniale?

      Inserirlo nei programmi scolastici e nei libri di testo. Negli ultimi anni è emersa una certa sensibilità e tanti libri sono entrati a scuola grazie agli insegnanti. Sarebbe bello però avere anche nei programmi non solo la storia del colonialismo, ma anche il punto di vista del sud globale. Mi piacerebbe che la storia italiana fosse studiata globalmente, e far emergere le connessioni dell’Italia con l’Europa, l’Africa, l’America Latina e l’Asia. Non penso solo al colonialismo, ma anche alla storia delle migrazioni italiane. Alle superiori andrebbe studiata soprattutto la storia del ‘900. L’altro giorno è scoppiata quella bomba terribile a Beirut: quanti studenti e studentesse sanno della guerra civile in Libano? Sempre nella direzione di far emergere il rimosso coloniale, sarà istituito un museo che si chiamerà ‘Museo italo – africano Ilaria Alpi’. Ma la cosa che servirebbe tantissimo è un film o una serie tv. Presto sarà tratto un film da ‘The Shadow King’, libro di Maaza Mengiste, una scrittrice etiope – americana, che parla delle donne etiopi che resistono all’invasione fascista degli anni ’30. Un libro bellissimo e importante, come è importante che la storia del colonialismo italiano sia raccontata da un prodotto culturale potenzialmente globale. Ma perché un film sul colonialismo italiano lo deve fare Hollywood e non Cinecittà? Perché c’è ancora questa cappa? Non penso a un film nostalgico, ma a una storia che racconti la verità, la violenza. Serve sia lo studio alto sia il livello popolare. Altrimenti il rischio è che diventi solo un argomento per studiosi. È bello che escano libri all’estero, ma dobbiamo fare un lavoro anche qui.

      Quali sono le figure, magari anche femminili, che dovrebbero essere valorizzate e raccontate?

      Metterei in scena la collettività. Un’idea è fare un murales. Nel Medioevo le cattedrali erano piene di affreschi, e attraverso le immagini è stata insegnata la storia della chiesa. Userei la stessa tecnica, mostrando le immagini della resistenza anche delle donne etiope e somali. Servirebbe poi creare qualcosa che racconti anche le violenze subite nel quotidiano, perché non ci sono solo le bombe e i gas, ma anche i rapporti di potere. Mio padre ha vissuto il colonialismo e mi raccontava che prima dell’apartheid in Sudafrica c’era l’apartheid nelle città colonizzate, dove c’erano posti che non potevano essere frequentati dagli autoctoni. Racconterei queste storie sui muri delle nostre città e nelle periferie. È importante ricordare ciò che è stato fatto anche lì.

      #histoire_coloniale #mémoire #symboles


      –-> sur la nouvelle toponymie de la station de métro:

    • Citations tirées du livre « #La_frontiera » de #Alessandro_Leogrande :

      «Dopo aver letto Roma negata, il libro di Igiaba Scego sui monumenti, le targhe, le lapidi e i palazzi della capitale che ricordano il colonialismo, sono andato a vedere l’#oblisco_di_Dogali. (...) Il libro è un viaggio nelle pieghe di Roma alla ricerca delle tracce del passato coloniale.
      Il paradosso è che la rimozione del passato coloniale riguarda esattamente quelle aree che a un certo punto hanno cominciato a rovesciare i propri figli verso l’Occidente. Sono le nostre ex colonie uno dei principali ventri aperti dell’Africa contemporanea. I luoghi di partenza di molti viaggi della speranza sono stati un tempo cantati ed esaltati come suolo italiano, sulle cui zolle far sorgere l’alba di un nuovo impero»


      «In realtà il mausoleo [l’obelisco di Dogali], realizzato già nel giugno 1887 dall’architetto #Francesco_Azzurri, fu inizialmente collocato nella vicina piazza dei Cinquecento, l’enorme capolinea degli autobus che sorge davanti alla stazione Termini e si chiama così in onore dei caduti di #Dogali. Ma poi, nei primi anni del regime fascista, fu spostato qualche centinaio di metri in direzione nord-ovest, verso piazza della Repubblica. Ed è lì che è rimasto»



  • Les pratiques funéraires face à la crise

    Très éprouvantes pour les familles, les conditions actuelles qui entourent l’organisation des #obsèques représentent également une épreuve pour les professionnels des #pompes_funèbres, comme nous l’explique l’anthropologue et sociologue Pascale Trompette.

    #pratiques_funéraires #enterrement #covid-19 #coronavirus

  • Societal exit from lockdown/ Déconfinement sociétal /Maatschappelijke exit-strategie

    Apport d’expertises académiques / Inbreng van academische expertise / Contribution of academic expertise

    Preprint Version 1.1April 17, 2020


    cf. Coronavirus - Une centaine de chercheurs émettent dix recommandations pour le déconfinement

    #covid-19 #lockdown #belgique

  • Décès d’un #nourrisson à #Kahani : selon son entourage, il aurait inhalé du #gaz_lacrymo

    On dénombre beaucoup de dégâts matériels, des véhicules dégradés, incendiés. 
    Les #gendarmes ont dû intervenir avec utilisation de gaz lacrymogène pour rétablir la situation. Mais malheureusement, un projectile de gaz est tombé dans une cour où se trouvait une famille. Un nourrisson d’environ trois mois aurait inhalé du #gaz_lacrymogène. Conduit aux #urgences de Kahani non loin du lycée polyvalent du village, le bébé est décédé. Le corps a été remis à la famille, l’#enterrement a eu lieu en fin de matinée.

  • #387. #Numéro_387 disparu en Méditerranée

    C’est l’histoire d’un médecin grec qui collectionne des pendentifs et des bracelets. C’est l’histoire d’une Italienne qui se bat depuis 15 ans pour « faire parler les corps ». C’est l’histoire de celles et ceux qui veillent les migrants oubliés. Selon l’Organisation Internationale pour les Migrations, 5083 personnes ont trouvé la mort en 2016 en tentant de rejoindre l’Europe par la mer. 5 083 noms, dont la grande majorité se diluent dans les eaux si bleues de la Méditerranée. Que deviennent ces #morts ? Qui les nomme ? Comment font les mères, les frères, pour tenter de retrouver leurs disparus ? Numero 387 nous emmène dans cette quête de l’#identité.

    #film #documentaire #film_documentaire #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Méditerranée #identification #cadavres #corps #décès #naufrage #18_avril_2015 #Cristina_Cattaneo #mourir_en_mer #morts_en_mer #dignité #décès #justice #respect #José_Pablo_Baraybar #CICR #enterrement #cimetière #Abraham_Tesfai #Giorgia_Mirto

  • Les damnés de la terre

    La position des corps révèle que ces femmes auraient pu être enterrées vivantes. Les éléments de datation indiquent une mise en terre au plus tard à la fin du Moyen-Âge, avant le XVe siècle. Aucun cas comparable n’est connu en France, toutefois, certaines sources écrites, notamment les coutumiers médiévaux mentionnent des châtiments tels que la peine d’ensevelissement vivant appliquée pour l’essentiel aux vols, meurtres et adultères.

    #enterrement #rites_funéraires

  • Au cimetière de Calais, on enterre les migrants morts depuis 20 ans

    230 migrants sont morts parce qu’ils voulaient gagner l’Angleterre, selon un observatoire créé par des bénévoles. Faute d’argent ou d’avoir été identifiés, certains sont enterrés dans deux cimetières de Calais.

    #cimetière #morts #Calais #asile #migrations #réfugiés #France #enterrement

  • La #Tunisie, nouveau cimetière des migrants morts en mer

    Après le naufrage du 1er juillet au large des côtes libyennes qui a fait au moins 90 morts, les autorités tunisiennes sont de nouveau débordées. Cimetières saturés, centres d’accueil débordés, absence de droit d’asile… Le gouvernement dénonce aussi l’inaction des pays européens.
    #Médenine (Tunisie), envoyée spéciale.– Quatre-vingt-dix corps repêchés. C’est le bilan définitif, fait par le gouvernorat de Médenine au sud de la Tunisie, du naufrage il y a plus de deux semaines d’un bateau transportant des migrants maliens, ivoiriens, ghanéens, égyptiens et gambiens. Parmi eux, des hommes mais aussi des femmes enceintes et des enfants, selon les témoignages des survivants.
    Pour les autorités tunisiennes, le drame n’est ni le premier ni le dernier. Une semaine après ce naufrage, la marine tunisienne est intervenue pour sauver les migrants d’un autre bateau, au large de Sfax. Depuis 2011, plus de 1 000 migrants ont été enterrés à Zarzis, selon le Forum tunisien pour les droits économiques et sociaux (FTDES).

    Mais ce naufrage est aussi celui de trop, renvoyant à la fois à la responsabilité des pays européens et à la frilosité du gouvernement tunisien. Manque de moyens, débats sur les enterrements des victimes, surcharge des centres d’accueil pour les survivants… La Tunisie a de plus en plus de mal à faire face à l’afflux de réfugiés sur son sol.

    Après une polémique entre les municipalités du sud de la Tunisie – plusieurs villes ont refusé toute prise en charge –, c’est la mairie de Zarzis qui a fini par procéder cette semaine à la mise en terre des cadavres dont personne ne voulait.

    La loi tunisienne prévoit que seule la commune est habilitée à procéder à des enterrements. « Nous avons des cas de migrants morts, ramenés par les eaux à cause des courants marins, depuis les années 1990, explique le maire adjoint de Zarzis, Faouzi Khenissi. Jusque-là, nous les enterrions dans les cimetières tunisiens. Mais le nombre était très inférieur à ce qu’il est aujourd’hui. »

    En 2003, un cimetière dédié aux migrants a finalement été créé. Mais il est aujourd’hui saturé : près de 900 corps y ont été enterrés, dont 18 samedi 13 juillet. « Nous avons enterré 56 autres corps dans le nouveau cimetière donné par le Croissant-Rouge à la commune », poursuit le maire adjoint.

    D’après lui, la situation devient difficile à gérer pour la commune qui n’a pas les moyens. Fatigués et surchargés, les officiels de Zarzis parlent ouvertement du sujet et se préparent déjà à la suite en cas d’un nouveau naufrage.

    « On nous a reproché dans les médias d’utiliser des camions-poubelles pour transporter les corps… Figurez-vous que nous n’avons rien d’autre ! Nous les avons nettoyés. Ce qui nous aiderait, c’est d’avoir plus de matériel, ainsi qu’une unité avec un médecin légiste à Zarzis au lieu de faire 300 kilomètres aller-retour pour transporter les corps depuis Gabès », se défend encore Faouzi Khenissi.

    Quant à l’accueil des trois survivants, il s’est fait dans des centres qui seraient déjà à leur pleine capacité, selon les représentants de l’OIM (Organisation mondiale pour les migrations) et du HCR (Haut-Commissariat pour les réfugiés).

    Le gouverneur de Médenine ainsi que le chef du gouvernement Youssef Chahed avaient déjà tiré la sonnette d’alarme, quelques jours avant le naufrage, sur les difficultés pour le Sud tunisien de gérer des flux en constante augmentation, aussi bien par voie terrestre que par voie maritime.

    « Le nombre d’arrivées de migrants et de demandeurs d’asile a beaucoup augmenté depuis fin 2018, déclare France Lau, représentante du HCR en Tunisie. Même si les autorités tunisiennes sont prévoyantes par rapport à un afflux possible de personnes en provenance de Libye – on nous a demandé à ce titre de mettre en place des mécanismes de réponse d’urgence en cas d’arrivées massives comme en 2011 –, elles sont tout à fait légitimes à alerter des problèmes qu’elles peuvent avoir pour gérer ces nouveaux arrivants. »

    « Les politiques italiennes qui conduisent à fermer les ports aux migrants et l’appui européen aux milices libyennes qui ramènent et enferment les migrants en Libye dans des conditions épouvantables, font que la Tunisie devient de plus en plus la seule échappatoire pour beaucoup d’entre eux, mais pas forcément l’endroit où ils souhaitent rester », déclare Valentina Zagaria, auteure d’une thèse en anthropologie sur les migrations dans le Sud-Est tunisien.

    En dehors du manque de moyens, c’est aussi un choix politique des autorités. Le chef du gouvernement tunisien l’a dit plusieurs fois très clairement : il ne souhaite pas que la Tunisie devienne une « plateforme d’accueil » pour les candidats à l’exil vers l’Europe. Le pays n’a d’ailleurs pas de loi sur l’asile – seul le HCR est habilité à octroyer le statut de réfugié en Tunisie dans le cadre de son mandat.

    Rien que la mise en place de six centres (répartis entre le HCR et l’OIM) a pris beaucoup de temps dans le gouvernorat. À part celui du HCR mis sur pied dès 2013 après le démantèlement du campement de Choucha, dressé en 2011 pour faire face à l’afflux de personnes fuyant la Libye, l’installation des cinq autres centres a fait l’objet de longues négociations avec les populations et les autorités régionales, et de plusieurs relocalisations.

    « C’est difficile au quotidien, car il y a du racisme, des rumeurs propagées sur des maladies apportées par les migrants. Il faut gérer à la fois les préjugés et la protection de ces communautés qui arrivent en Tunisie et qui sont dans des situations vulnérables », déclare Khaled Sadaani, coordinateur sud du Conseil tunisien pour les réfugiés, une ONG créée en 2016 pour répondre à un manque, celui de l’absence d’association arabe pour les réfugiés.

    Dans le centre de Médenine pour réfugiés, supervisé par le HCR, les 170 places disponibles sont occupées. Les nationalités sont multiples, aussi bien d’Afrique de l’Ouest que d’Afrique de l’Est, avec une grande majorité d’Érythréens. Un étage est dédié à la trentaine de mineurs non accompagnés (entre 15 et 18 ans), un autre aux femmes et aux enfants, un autre encore aux hommes.

    Chacun cohabite pacifiquement, mais beaucoup ne voient pas la Tunisie comme une destination finale, alors que les possibilités de réinstallation dans un pays tiers sont extrêmement limitées. « Il n’y a pas de travail ici, on nous propose 20 dinars la journée (6 euros) pour travailler dans les chantiers, je ne vois pas comment subvenir aux besoins de ma famille avec ça », déclare Fayçal, un demandeur d’asile soudanais de 24 ans.

    Les routes migratoires qu’il a prises pour arriver jusqu’en Tunisie sont labyrinthiques. Du Soudan du Sud à l’Égypte, en passant par le désert du Niger et la ville d’Agadez, lieu de passage entre l’Afrique noire et l’Afrique du Nord, et la Libye où il a été plusieurs fois emprisonné.

    « Cela fait deux ans que je bouge sans arrêt pour trouver du travail. Une fois, l’Égypte m’a expulsé vers le Soudan et j’ai dû refaire tout le trajet… À chaque fois un membre de ma famille m’aide, car je suis le seul qui peut nourrir mes frères et ma mère. Ils sont actuellement dans un camp pour les personnes déplacées par la guerre. Je suis fatigué », ajoute-t-il.

    Lui qui avait une échoppe à Djouba, dans le Soudan du Sud, il s’est retrouvé du jour au lendemain à se débrouiller avec des camarades de cellule pour éviter qu’un gardien de prison libyen ne les viole.

    « Quand on s’est de nouveau échappés de prison, le geôlier avait peur que l’on révèle ses préférences sexuelles… Aussi, il nous a aidés en nous donnant 50 dinars libyens (24 euros) et en nous montrant la route vers la frontière tunisienne. Il nous a dit : “Marchez tout droit, vous allez finir par y arriver” », ajoute Fayçal.
    Terre d’accueil et terre de deuil

    Comme beaucoup d’autres migrants, Fayçal est en attente de sa demande d’asile en Tunisie. La moitié des migrants sur place à Zarzis choisissent de demander l’asile, d’autres ne préfèrent pas, de peur de devoir rester dans le pays.

    « Il leur est difficile d’accepter le fait que la réinstallation est une option limitée à un nombre faible de réfugiés au regard des besoins globaux, et qui obéit à des critères bien déterminés », témoigne France Lau.

    Sur place, des associations tunisiennes tentent de lancer des micro-projets, et d’aider à la mise en place de contrats de travail pour ceux qui souhaitent travailler pendant cette période transitoire. « Beaucoup arrivent à trouver des emplois en CDD dans le secteur du tourisme à Djerba, avance Yahia Rebai, administrateur associé sur place pour le HCR. Cela reste provisoire mais il y a depuis des années une forte collaboration avec les associations locales et même les délégués à la protection de l’enfance pour soutenir et protéger les mineurs. »

    Il n’empêche : le foyer du HCR et, plus loin, celui coordonné par l’OIM, sont en bordure de la ville, à l’écart des habitants. Beaucoup de migrants racontent ne pas s’aventurer trop loin si ce n’est pour le travail ou acheter à manger. Seuls quelques-uns commencent à être installés dans des appartements en zone urbaine.

    Pour l’instant, il est bien difficile de parler d’une politique globale d’intégration dans la société tunisienne. Alors qu’à Tunis et Sousse, la centrale syndicale UGTT a mis en place depuis 2018 des espaces pour migrants afin d’informer les travailleurs subsahariens sur leurs droits et de régulariser leur situation, la reconnaissance politique des migrants en Tunisie peine à se faire.

    « Reconnaître les droits des vivants comme des morts qui sont sur le territoire tunisien, c’est envoyer un signal d’acceptation aux autorités européennes. Les Tunisiens veulent éviter cela, ils ne veulent pas être forcés de s’impliquer plus dans la gestion des frontières européennes. Pour le moment donc, ceux qui arrivent à s’échapper de la Libye restent dans une situation de flou », constate la chercheuse Valentina Zagaria.
    Du côté de la délégation de l’Union européenne, présente en Tunisie, les programmes visent plutôt au soutien pour lutter contre l’immigration clandestine et aider au retour volontaire. Et les déclarations sont bien prudentes.

    « Dans un monde interdépendant, les responsabilités sont aussi partagées et interdépendantes. Ce qui se passe au Soudan a une incidence sur la Tunisie et sur l’Europe et vice versa. L’UE suit la situation de près et comprend l’inquiétude des autorités tunisiennes. À la demande de la Tunisie, elle étudiera tout éventuel soutien », répond par mail Sophie Vanhaeverbeke, cheffe de la coopération.

    En attendant, la Tunisie, à la fois terre d’accueil et terre de deuil, regarde avec appréhension le conflit en Libye. Depuis le début de l’année 2019, plus de 1 000 personnes sont arrivées de Libye, mais leur nombre pourrait être de 25 000 si le conflit empire, selon les chiffres de planification du HCR et de l’OIM.

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #mourir_en_mer #naufrage #Zarzis #cadavres #cimetière #enterrement #morts #décès #corps

    Sur le cimetière de Zarzis, voir :
    ping @_kg_

  • INSOLITE - Dans la Marne, les agriculteurs vont enterrer des slips pour mesurer la qualité des sols - France 3 Grand Est

    Un slip, une pelle et un jalon. Les outils nécessaires pour mener la dernière expérience de la FDSEA, de la chambre d’agriculture de la Marne, et de Terrasolis, son laboratoire de recherche, ont de quoi surprendre. Et pour cause. L’opération, un défi baptisé « En terre ton slip », invite les agriculteurs à ensevelir une culotte en coton dans leurs champs entre le 27 mai et le 2 juin, et de la déterrer entre le 19 et le 25 août, pour en mesurer l’état de décomposition.

    Après avoir enterré les agriculteurs, la FNSEA passe à l’étape suivante.

    #upgrade #enterrement #failed_agrobusiness

  • What happens to the bodies of those who die in the Mediterranean?

    Researchers, police, coroners and an imam in Sicily work hard to identify dead refugees and give them a proper burial.

    On All Soul’s Day, around three kilometres from the port in the Sicilian city of Catania, the pauper’s grave at the Monumental Cemetery is unusually well-tended, with fresh flowers and beads wrapped around cross-shaped headstones.

    Many belong to refugees and migrants who died at sea while trying to reach Europe. Sicilian cemeteries currently host the remains of more than 2,000 of them.

    The Mediterranean route is fraught with danger. So far this year, more than 2,000 people have died while crossing the sea, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

    Local authorities here recover on average only one in 10 bodies, which usually remains unidentified.

    “An overall indifference has led to a higher non-identification rate of most bodies,” says Giorgia Mirto, a Sicilian anthropologist and founder of Mediterranean Missing, a database project collecting names of the identified dead refugees and migrants. “They just become statistics instead of humans.”

    After spending her time in cemeteries across the island, Mirto has identified a trend.

    “Here, migrants become part of the community. I noticed average citizens bringing flowers and praying over their graves,” she says. “’[It is] part of a Catholic mindset that instils the idea of taking care of the dead, in place of those who can’t afford or aren’t able to pay a visit.”

    In August, local policeman Angelo Milazzo accompanied a Jamal Mekdad, a Syrian man and his two children who had travelled from Denmark, to the cemetery of Melilli, a port village in Syracuse, eastern Sicily.

    They were visiting the grave of their wife and mother, who died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean in 2014.

    “Remembering that day still brings me tears,” Milazzo says.

    He is part of a police unit trying to prevent undocumented migration and was present on the day the Syrian woman perished, that day he saw the bodies of 24 people.

    From that moment, his work went well beyond the duties of his job as he made it his mission to try and identify the dead - often outside his working hours - spending time in port towns, cemeteries and searching on Facebook.

    Most victims do not carry identification documents, such as passports, so the first step is collaborating with coroners who examine the bodies and provide forensic police with information about the refugees’ DNA, origin, height, weight and gender, as well as pictures of clothing and notes of distinctive features or objects they had.

    “These reports are sent to our police unit, as well as to migrant help centres hosting survivors of shipwrecks, who can help identifying some of the victims, as usually, they travel with family members,” Milazzo says.

    Some of the coroners in charge of examining bones and clothes were, like Milazzo, touched on a personal level by the tragedy.

    Antonella Argo, a coroner in Palermo, Sicily’s capital, examined the bodies of several drowned migrants.

    “The frustration in this job can be tough. I remember one time, during a major shipwreck in 2016, my team and I were in charge of helping provide information about 52 bodies. We only managed to identify 18,” Argo explains.

    “I think it’s a doctor’s duty, actually any human being’s duty, to give back dignity, importance and most of all an identity, to those who’ve represented something in someone else’s life. It’s called Mediterranean compassion, and we Sicilians know that well.”

    Milazzo, the policeman, began his work in identification in 2014, having received reports from Argo’s colleagues, by visiting several towns in the province.

    One of his first stops was La Zagara, a migrant centre in Melilli.

    With the help of an Arabic-speaking interpreter, he began talking to survivors, mostly Syrians, showing them pictures of clothing and giving them details.

    Many provided him with the information he was looking for, as they were also searching for the missing.

    A young Syrian woman, simply identified with the number 23, was on his list.

    At La Zagara, he showed a man who had lost his wife the woman’s pictures.

    “Angelo showed me a face close up from the autopsy. It was her, my Sireen,” says Jamal Mekdad, the Syrian refugee father, explaining he hadn’t recognised her at first.

    Now living and working as a photographer in Denmark with his two children, he says he’s grateful for those who helped identify his wife.

    “They do an important job of giving back dignity to the victims’ families, as well as the disappeared migrants themselves,” he said.

    It took Milazzo a year, two months and 10 days to file a complete report identifying all the victims from the 2014 shipwreck, allowing Italian authorities to issue official death certificates.

    He runs a Facebook page, posting details about the dead and exchanging messages with people searching for answers.

    “Facebook has been crucial in collecting information about the disappeared and to get in touch with relatives,” Milazzo says.

    “Death certificates are fundamental for the relatives to move on and think about the future, carry on their lives, be entitled to inheritance and get peace of mind.”
    ’They deserve to rest in peace’

    The 2014 case was, however, an exception.

    Most families remain in the dark about their relatives.

    But once an identity is settled, the search for a burial site begins.

    As most victims are Muslim, it falls on Abdelhafid Kheit, an imam in the community, to take care of the bodies.

    “When the refugee crisis began, I had the impulse to help, to do something not only as a spiritual leader but as a human being,” Kheit says, holding back tears.

    Overcrowding in cemeteries, however, is a challenge.

    “For years, I’ve asked Sicily’s president to buy a piece of land and open a cemetery of the sea deaths. So far, my request hasn’t been answered. But I don’t give up, and will continue my advocacy to reach this goal,” says Kheit.

    Mekdad remembers speaking on the phone in 2014 with Kheit, who he describes as a “gentle imam with a North African accent”.

    “I entrusted my wife’s soul to him for her funeral, as I wasn’t able to attend,” he says.

    Kheit supervises the various stages of burial: washing the deceased migrant’s body, wrapping it in a white shroud and leading the burial prayer.

    These experiences have been the most challenging of his career, he says.

    “On certain occasions, I was asked to do these rituals on bodies which were so decomposed that I almost refrained from doing my job,” he says, “but then I continued because they deserved to rest in peace.”

    #Catania #Sicile #Italie #mourir_en_mer #cadavres #enterrement #cimetière #corps #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Méditerranée

  • Bonjour à tout·es.

    Craignant qu’un jour, peut-être, qui sait, on ne sait jamais dans la vie, mes commentaires au post de @ninachani vont disparaître car elle décide d’effacer son message... J’ai décidé, aujourd’hui, de copier-coller ici tous les message (yes, je suis folle !) et d’alimenter donc un post qui est le mien et que je peux donc mieux « contrôler ».
    Cela ouvre évidemment le débat (qui probablement est déjà en cours) sur l’archivage et le stockage, les sauvegardes possibles des informations qui circulent sur @seenthis.

    Il s’agit de la longue compilation sur #Briançon et les #réfugiés, que pas mal de seenthisiens suivent.

    J’alimenterais désormais cet argument à partir de ce post.
    A bon entendeur... pour celles et ceux qui aimerait continuer à suivre la situation de cette portion de la #frontière_sud-alpine.

    • « Peut-être qu’au printemps, on retrouvera des corps sous la neige » - Libération

      De 1 500 à 2 000 migrants arrivés d’Italie ont tenté une dangereuse traversée des Alpes depuis trois mois. Traqués par les autorités, ils voient les villageois s’organiser pour leur venir en aide.
      Col de Montgenèvre, à 1 850 mètres d’altitude sur la frontière franco-italienne, samedi soir. Le thermomètre affiche -8 degrés sous abri, il y a près de 80 centimètres de neige fraîche. Joël (1), accompagnateur en montagne, court aux quatre coins de la station de ski située sur le côté français du col. Il croise deux migrants, des jeunes Africains égarés dans une rue, les met au chaud dans son minibus, puis repart. Dans la nuit, un hélicoptère tourne sans discontinuer au-dessus du col : la police de l’air et des frontières ? Depuis des mois, les forces de l’ordre sont à cran sur les cols des Hautes-Alpes. Elles tentent d’intercepter les migrants afin de les reconduire à la frontière où, majeurs ou non, ils sont déposés sur le bord de la route quelles que soient les conditions climatiques.
      Joël trouve trois autres migrants planqués dans la neige, apeurés, grelottant, baskets légères et jeans trempés raidis par le gel, puis sept autres encore, dont plusieurs frigorifiés. La « maraude » du montagnard lui aura permis ce soir de récupérer onze jeunes Africains. Peu loquaces, hébétés, ils disent avoir marché plusieurs heures depuis l’Italie pour contourner le poste frontière de Montgenèvre. Ils arrivent du Sénégal, du Cameroun ou du Mali, tous sont passés par la Libye et ont traversé la Méditerranée.

      Joël les descend dans la vallée, à Briançon, sous-préfecture située à 10 kilomètres de là. Ils sont pris en charge par les bénévoles du centre d’hébergement d’urgence géré par l’association Collectif refuge solidarité : bains d’eau chaude pour les pieds, vêtements secs, soupe fumante… Autour de ce refuge, où se succèdent jour après jour des dizaines de migrants, gravitent une centaine de bénévoles, citoyens de la vallée, qui se relaient auprès de ces jeunes hommes, africains dans leur immense majorité. Ces trois derniers mois, ils sont sans doute de 1 500 à 2 000 à avoir transité par Briançon, tous arrivés par la montagne, estime Marie Dorléans, du collectif local Tous migrants.

      Si ce samedi soir tout s’est passé sans drame au col de Montgenèvre (qui reste ouvert tout l’hiver), ce n’est pas le cas dimanche matin du côté du col frontalier de l’Echelle, à quelques kilomètres de là (fermé tout l’hiver en raison de la neige). D’autres maraudeurs, membres comme Joël, du même réseau informel d’une quarantaine de montagnards professionnels et amateurs, découvrent sous le col un jeune Africain originaire de Guinée-Conakry, Moussa. Il est à bout de forces, affalé dans la neige à près de 1 700 mètres d’altitude. Il a perdu ses chaussures : ses pieds sont insensibles, gelés. Il a quitté l’Italie avant l’aube. C’est un miraculé. Les maraudeurs appellent le secours en montagne qui l’héliporte très vite vers l’hôpital de Briançon. Anne Moutte, l’une des accompagnatrices du réseau, multiplie les maraudes depuis un an : « Les soirs où nous ne sortons pas, nous ne dormons pas bien. Peut-être qu’au printemps, on retrouvera des corps sous la neige. Ces jeunes n’ont aucune idée des risques de la montagne, des effets du froid. Ils ne font pas demi-tour. »

      A Névache, le premier village au pied du col de l’Echelle, il y a des mois que l’on vit au rythme de l’arrivée des migrants. Lucie (1) fait partie d’un groupe d’une trentaine de villageois qui se sont organisés spontanément pour les accueillir, en toute discrétion et avec une efficacité remarquable. D’une voix décidée, elle explique : « Ils arrivent en pleine nuit au village, affamés, frigorifiés, épuisés, blessés parfois. On ne va pas les laisser repartir dans la nuit et le froid à travers la montagne ! On les nourrit, on les réchauffe, on leur donne un lit. C’est du simple bon sens, ça coule de source. Notre seul but, c’est qu’il n’y ait pas de morts ni de gelés près de chez nous. »

      Les migrants redoutent les gendarmes qui les reconduisent en Italie. Alors, Lucie et le réseau névachais les gardent le temps qu’ils se retapent et les aident ensuite à gagner la vallée. A pied, en voiture, un cache-cache stressant avec les gendarmes, avec lesquels les rapports sont très tendus. A Névache comme à Briançon, les fouilles de véhicules sont devenues ces derniers mois la règle et les bénévoles surpris avec des migrants à bord de leur voiture sont convoqués pour des auditions, sous la charge « d’aide à la circulation de personnes en situation irrégulière ». Anne Moutte, l’accompagnatrice maraudeuse, s’emporte : « C’est l’Etat, le préfet et les forces de l’ordre qui se rendent coupables de non-assistance à personne en danger ! »

      A lire aussi Migrants : de plus en plus dur

      « Cimetière ».
      Ce week-end, le collectif Tous migrants organisait à Briancon des « états généraux des migrants ». Des débats, des échanges avec le journaliste Edwy Plenel, l’agriculteur activiste de la Roya Cédric Herrou, des chercheurs, des élus, des militants. Marie Dorléans, présidente de Tous migrants, résume : « Nous voulons nourrir le débat sur notre devoir d’hospitalité, sur une autre politique migratoire, mais nous avons aussi un devoir face à une urgence humanitaire. Nous avons tous peur d’un drame sur nos cols. La militarisation massive de la frontière conduit les migrants à des prises de risques inconsidérées. » Ce sont les professionnels de la montagne, accompagnateurs, guides, pisteurs, moniteurs qui ont porté ce dernier message.

      Constitués en un collectif « SOS Alpes solidaires », ils ont regroupé 300 personnes symboliquement encordées sur les pentes du col de l’Echelle dimanche pour lancer un appel solennel : « La Méditerranée ne stoppe pas des personnes qui fuient leur pays. La montagne ne les stoppera pas non plus, surtout qu’ils en ignorent les dangers. Nous refusons que les Alpes deviennent leur cimetière. » Stéphanie Besson, l’un des piliers de l’appel, enfonce le clou : « Nous demandons à l’Etat de nous laisser faire notre devoir de citoyens. Qu’il cesse de nous empêcher de venir au secours de personnes en danger. Que nos cols soient démilitarisés si l’on ne veut pas y laisser mourir ou geler les migrants. » Quelques minutes plus tard, l’hélicoptère du secours en montagne survole la manifestation avec à son bord le jeune Moussa miraculé du jour. Sauvé par des montagnards solidaires et déterminés.

      (1) Les prénoms ont été changés.


    • Dans les Alpes, auprès des migrants, «  on va redescendre des cadavres, un de ces jours  »

      Au #col_de_l'Echelle, des habitants viennent en aide aux migrants qui traversent la frontière enneigée au péril de leur vie. Maryline Baumard

      A Névache, la lumière reste allumée longtemps dans les chalets. Les nuits sans lune, elle guide le voyageur vers la maison des veilleurs qui, pour être sûrs de ne pas rater le bruit des coups sur la porte, ne dorment que d’un oeil. Nichée au pied du col de l’Echelle, dans les Hautes-Alpes, à 1 700 mètres d’altitude, cette bourgade de quelque 360 âmes est comme un phare pour le voyageur qui débarque de Bardonnèche, la petite ville italienne de l’autre côté du massif. Ceux que Bernard Leger, 82 ans, appelle « les visiteurs inattendus » .

      Tout au fond, la vallée de la Clarée, aux confins de la France, on est un peu comme sur une île. Autour, l’océan n’est pas bleu mais blanc ; pas liquide, mais neigeux. Mais pour « Jean Gab » (Jean-Gabriel Ravary) ou les autres, « tout ça c’est pareil » , la vague de neige est la soeur de celle qui engloutit les canots de la Méditerranée ; le montagnard, le frère du marin. « On a le même devoir de sauvetage chevillé au corps » , affirme ce guide de haute montagne. Alors, avec une vingtaine d’hommes et de femmes, il recueille les naufragés de la frontière. Gelés, choqués.

      « On leur donne des vêtements, de l’eau, de la nourriture et un lit au chaud, ajoute Bernard Leger. Le lendemain, ils sont encore en état de choc, muets de fatigue. » Avec son « commando humanitaire », cet ancien commandant d’un régiment de chasseurs alpins prépare ensuite la descente vers Briançon, pour rallier la base arrière et « faire de la place aux suivants » . Avec plus de 2 000 migrants accueillis dans la ville depuis juillet, le col de l’Echelle a retrouvé sa vocation séculaire de point de passage entre l’Italie et la France.

      « La mort a tourné autour de nous »

      De plus en plus souvent, ça se gâte avant d’atteindre Névache pour ces jeunes Africains ignorants de la montagne. Chef des urgences de l’hôpital de Briançon, un service qui en a déjà soigné 300 depuis l’été, Yann Fillet est monté deux fois au col le 10 décembre avec le peloton de gendarmerie de haute montagne (PGHM). La seconde fois, en pleine nuit, le médecin a cru halluciner quand il a aperçu « un des gamins pieds nus dehors alors que le thermomètre affichait - 10° » .

      Désormais, cela ne fait plus de doute pour lui, « on va redescendre des cadavres un de ces jours » . D’autres estiment qu’il y en a déjà sous la neige. Des morts de froid et d’épuisement. En ce lundi matin 11 décembre, la salle de surveillance des urgences sur laquelle M. Fillet veille compte six rescapés. Choqués mais saufs. « La mort a tourné autour de nous. Ça ne se raconte même pas, mais j’en ai encore froid dans le dos », susurre Madou, le regard vide. « Sans le villageois venu à notre secours, on ne serait plus là » , complète celui qui dit avoir prié pour cette venue, « et comme dans le canot sur la Méditerranée, Dieu nous a entendus » .

      Pour ceux que les dieux n’entendraient pas, des « virées » secondent la veille des Névachais. C’est Alain Mouchet, accompagnateur en montagne, qui en gère le planning.

      « J’ai trente-cinq bénévoles, explique-t-il. On monte le soir et on attend en silence, cachés, en faisant tout pour que les exilés ne nous prennent pas pour des gendarmes. »

      Le 19 août, Moussa et Ibrahim, deux jeunes Guinéens, sont tombés dans le ravin pour fuir les forces de l’ordre. Une chute de quarante mètres pour Ibrahim, évacué alors à l’hôpital de Grenoble, et désormais en rééducation à Briançon. Lundi, sur son lit de rééducation, l’exilé était triste. Sa voix est tellement affectée par son traumatisme crânien que sa mère venait de pleurer au téléphone, inquiète de ce que l’Europe avait fait de son fils.

      Le jeu du chat et de la souris

      En vertu des accords bilatéraux signés avec l’Italie, les majeurs se voient notifié un refus d’admission sur le territoire. En dépit de la Convention internationale des droits de l’enfant, de nombreux mineurs sont aussi remis de l’autre côté. Avant de recommencer le passage, au risque de se perdre, parce qu’en haut le panneau France a été enlevé, ce qui conduit un certain nombre de migrants vers d’autres passages plus élevés que le col de l’Echelle. Plus dangereux.

      « L’un d’eux a passé cinq jours dans la montagne. Aujourd’hui encore, il est traumatisé de ce qu’il y a vécu, mais ne raconte toujours pas », résume Léna Carlier, bénévole de 18 ans en parallèle de son service civique à la maison des jeunes et de la culture (MJC).

      A-t-il subi des violences policières ? Tout le monde se le demande, car « ici, il y a deux catégories de forces de l’ordre. Ceux qui secourent en montagne et qui sont avant tout montagnards, et ceux qui font du zèle », disent les bénévoles.

      Ici, les citoyens solidaires sont nombreux à avoir été entendus par la gendarmerie pour avoir descendu un migrant de la montagne, l’avoir aidé à continuer sa route. Pourtant, tous s’estiment dans la légalité puisqu’ « ils transportent des demandeurs d’asile qui en plus sont très souvent mineurs » .

      Entre ces centaines de bénévoles et les forces de l’ordre, c’est pourtant le jeu du chat et de la souris, « alors qu’on devrait travailler la main dans la main » , regrette Alain Mouchet. Un sujet dont Bernard Leger et Jean-Gabriel Ravary aimeraient bien parler avec la nouvelle préfète, tout juste nommée.

      « Pas question de laisser qui que ce soit à la rue »

      Cette pression n’empêche pas 150 foyers de s’être portés volontaires pour héberger les plus fragiles. Moussa, le copain d’Ibrahim, vit depuis l’été chez un « couple solidaire » en attendant que son ami remarche. C’était sa seule solution puisque le conseil départemental l’a, comme bien d’autres, décrété majeur - un recours a été déposé. Les moins affectés, ceux pour qui quelques jours de répit suffisent, sont installés à la maison commune du Collectif réfugiés solidaires, la CRS, avant d’acheter un billet de train ou de profiter d’un covoiturage solidaire pour continuer leur route. A la CRS, on est nourri, soigné, vêtu et écouté.

      C’est la municipalité qui a ouvert ce lieu, estimant qu’il n’était « pas question de laisser qui que ce soit à la rue » , comme le rappelle l’ex-PS Gérard Fromm, maire de Briançon, qui a su convaincre la communauté de commune et son conseil municipal. Désormais, sur la toile cirée de la pièce commune, on se réhydrate à coups de thé brûlant, en jouant ou en devisant.

      Francine Daerden, la soixantaine, ne fait que passer mardi soir 12 décembre pour déposer des gâteaux et mélanger la marmite du dîner du soir, qui réchauffe doucement, préparée par une autre citoyenne. « Ici, chacun participe selon ses envies et ses compétences », indique Michel Rousseau, membre de l’association Tous migrants. Il dispose d’une liste de 450 bénévoles impliqués dans cet accueil qui prolonge en bas ce qui est fait au nom de l’urgence sur les cimes. Car à Briançon aussi règne l’« esprit veilleur » et Michel, Béatrice ou Alain accompagnent les exilés dans leurs premiers pas en France.

      Mercredi 13 décembre, à la CRS, Fofana cherchait un pull au vestiaire des dons, avant de rejoindre Chez Marcel, le squat communautaire installé par des jeunes du coin pour permettre un hébergement de plus longue durée. C’est là que Justin va attendre d’être autorisé à déposer sa demande d’asile en France. Un lieu à l’esprit un peu différent, aux relents plus anarchistes, sans doute, mais qui complète bien la Briançon solidaire.

      Un énorme mouvement citoyen

      Dans cette ville de 12 000 habitants, la MJC, qui jouxte la CRS, est pour quelque chose dans le pullulement des solidarités. C’est sans doute la seule de France à avoir géré un centre pour les exilés venus de la « jungle » de Calais. Luc Marchello, son directeur, a compris dès la première heure la nécessité d’un accueil citoyen. Dès l’automne 2015, il lançait un appel qui, plusieurs mois après, a éclos en un énorme mouvement citoyen.

      Parce qu’à Briançon, où se côtoient 35 nationalités, on s’occupe de l’étranger depuis des décennies. En montagnard peut-être, en humain tout simplement puisque la Mission d’accueil des personnes étrangères (MAPEmonde) de la MJC existe depuis quinze ans. Et pour certainement longtemps encore.

      De l’autre côté de la frontière, en effet, dans la petite gare de Bardonnèche, ils étaient quatre, mardi matin, à se réchauffer, avec la France pour horizon. Ibrahim a poussé sa valise jaune dans un recoin et rajuste sa chemise blanche sous sa petite veste noire d’été. Alfa somnole, avachi sur le radiateur, pieds nus dans ses chaussures. En Italie depuis quatre mois, mis dehors de son centre pour migrants près de Rome pour n’avoir pas pointé, il a pris le bus pour Paris, et en a été descendu tôt le matin à la frontière par la police française. Une grande fatigue règne sur la petite gare. Une rage aussi. Celle d’être si près de la France.


    • Migrants : « On ne peut pas accepter qu’il y ait des gens qui meurent dans nos montagnes »

      Parce qu’ils ne veulent pas laisser des personnes mourir de froid en traversant la frontière franco-italienne, collectifs et associations, dont « Tous Migrants », ont organisé ce week-end une cordée solidaire. Lors de cette cordée symbolique, ils ont secouru un jeune homme transi de froid, bloqué dans un couloir d’avalanche. #Etienne_Trautmann, qui a appelé les secours et filmé l’hélitreuillage raconte à « l’Obs » comment il a réussi porter secours à Moussa, 22 ans. Tout en insistant : « Je ne me sens pas le héros de ce secours, pour moi le vrai héros c’est Moussa, qui a bravé tous les dangers pour trouver une terre d’accueil plus hospitalière ». Voici son témoignage.


      Transcription d’une partie de l’interview de Etienne Trautmann :

      Etienne Trautmann (dans la vidéo son affiliation est la suivante "Collectif citoyens solidaires professionnels de la montagne) :
      « Nous on ne peut pas accepter qu’il y ait des gens qui meurent dans nos montagnes. Actuellement l’Etat, et je pèse mes mots, essaie de faire en sorte que la solidarité soit un délit. Nous, professionnels de la montagne on dit qu’on ne peut pas accepter cela. On essaie de nous mettre hors-la-loi en arrêtant des gens qui vont faire preuve de solidarité en prenant par exemple en stop des jeunes qui sont frigorifiés, qui ont besoin d’aide, et ça, nous, on ne peut pas l’accepter. Il y a des gendarmes qui interviennent, notamment dans la Vallée de la Clarée, et qui sont clairement là pour attraper les migrants. Il y a 2-3 semaines quand je suis passé, ils étaient dans une petite piste à la sortie d’un pont, et ils essaient d’attraper les jeunes à ce moment-là. Les informations tournent vite. D’une part ils passent par des cols extrêmement dangereux et par exemple ils traversent les rivières, non pas par les ponts, ils traversent avec leurs chaussures… Les pieds mouillés comme cela, je leur donne un quart d’heure avant que les gelures apparaissent et qu’on arrive après à l’amputation. C’est pas possible. »
      Sur le secours de Moussa : "J’ai essayé de lui dire qu’il était en sécurité là où il était, qu’il était pris en charge, qu’il allait pouvoir manger, qu’on allait pouvoir s’occuper de lui. Quand je vous en parle, c’est pas évident, parce qu’en disant cela je sais que je mentais, parce que clairement, car aujourd’hui pour un réfugié, et notamment de 22 ans, majeur, pour lui le parcours de l’enfer, il continue. Il vient de Guinée-Conakry, j’imagine qu’il a dû être confronté à toutes les horreurs qu’on peut trouver en Libye, certainement emprisonné, travailleur de force, la traversée de la Méditerranée certainement dans de mauvaises conditions… Et son parcours de l’enfer il continue ici en France, aujourd’hui. Et il va continuer. On est confronté à une valeur d’humanité, de fraternité, c’est des valeurs qu’en allant à l’école… c’est ces valeurs républicaines qu’on m’a transmises. Et aujourd’hui on me dit « non », mais mes enfants sont à l’école et devant le fronton de la mairie juste à côté c’est ces valeurs qui sont marquées : liberté, égalité, fraternité."

    • Sulle Alpi, da Bardonecchia alla Francia: la marcia drammatica dei migranti per superare il confine

      –-> avec vidéo:

      Per impervi sentieri di montagna, con abiti poco adatti. La pericolosa impresa tentata da tanti ragazzi africani.

      L’accesso alla Francia passa sempre di più da Bardonecchia: con i riflettori puntati su Ventimiglia, e sul Brennero, il viaggio della disperazione dei migranti passa anche tra i monti del Piemonte dove, anche col il gelo, tentano una drammatica marcia verso lo stato transalpino giungendo in valle da Torino e avventurandosi per impervi sentieri che li portino al di là delle Alpi.

      Minute 2’43, témoignage d’un migrant:

      «Quando vai alla frontiera, è impossibile. Non puoi passare. Né a Chiasso né a Ventimiglia. Tutto è impossibile.»


    • Posté par Valerio Cataldi sur FB :

      Bubbaka ha 17 anni e corre come un fulmine.
      Corre nella neve che gli arriva alla vita e gli strappa le scarpe da ginnastica dai piedi. Quando cade chiede aiuto a sua madre, poi si rialza e riparte.
      Bubbaka viene dal Mali. Vuole andare in Francia e nessuno lo potrà fermare. Non lo hanno fermato il deserto, i miliziani libici, il mediterraneo. Neanche la Gendarmerie che lo riporta indietro a Bardonecchia, in Italia.
      Non lo ferma neanche la neve.


      Lien vers le reportage sur le site de la télé italienne :

    • Dall’Italia alla Francia. Oltre il muro di neve, in fuga dalla Gendarmerie

      Profughi e attivisti superano a piedi i passi di montagna sfidando le autorità francesi. Almeno 1.500 persone sono già transitate da Bardonecchia.

      Laurent ha un nome francese, un passaporto in lingua francese, si è formato alla scuola statale con libri francesi, ha la erre moscia dei francesi, per anni è stato sfruttato da un datore di lavoro francese, è cristiano, anzi «catholique», ma non può mettere piede in Francia. Perché non è francese. «E perché sono nero», dice mentre dall’alto del suo metro e novanta lancia la sfida agli ultimi ostacoli: le gallerie scavate a picconate cento anni fa e che preannunciano l’abitato di Nevache, 349 abitanti, due metri di neve, e una certa allergia tutta transalpina per i gendarmi che vanno a caccia di migranti da rispedire in Italia.

      La solidarietà dei montanari

      I montanari hanno costruito una rete informale di solidarietà che coinvolge più di 1.300 persone in tutta la regione di Briançon. Cattolici, protestanti, attivisti sociali, militanti No Tav di Italia e Francia. Da queste parti la gente guarda con rispetto a chi se la cava tra i monti, con la stessa ammirazione con cui si osserverebbe un Ulisse sopravvissuto a mille trappole. Scampato ai negrieri del deserto, ai torturatori libici, al gommone che si sgonfiava mentre il Mediterraneo si prendeva i suoi compagni di viaggio, Laurent è in fondo un Ulisse nero. Uno dei molti. Ma il gigante africano adesso trema perché le carezze della neve gli stanno facendo più male delle tempeste di sabbia. È ivoriano Laurent, di quell’Africa dove quella di Parigi è l’unica lingua ufficiale, ma che Parigi vuole tenere alla larga risarcendo anni di colonialismo importando caffé a buon mercato.

      Già passati in più di 1.500

      Dall’inizio dell’anno, secondo diverse associazioni di volontariato francesi, sono passate più di 1.500 persone, soprattutto uomini originari del Mali, della Guinea e della Costa d’Avorio. Molti i minorenni. Da Bardonecchia i ragazzi del Soccorso alpino hanno battuto una parte del tracciato dopo la grande nevicata di due settimane fa. La carrozzabile che d’inverno viene chiusa, è praticabile per i primi chilometri. Poi, in territorio francese, cominciano i perigli.

      Qualche giorno fa ne hanno tratti in salvo sei. Si erano smarriti nei boschi. «Quando hanno capito che li stavamo riportando in Italia – spiegano i soccorritori – non ne hanno voluto sapere, allora li abbiamo seguiti fino alla galleria, in territorio francese, dove ad attenderli c’era già la gendarmeria nazionale». Una scorta che farebbe andare fuori dai gangheri la polizia d’Oltralpe.

      Alla media di una decina al giorno, Natale compreso, arrivano tutti a Bardonecchia. Ogni sera alle 23,20 la campanellina della stazione ferroviaria più occidentale d’Italia annuncia l’ultimo convoglio regionale da Torino. I volontari lo aspettano come sempre sul primo binario. Ci sono gli operatori di «Rainbow4Africa» e i volontari del soccorso alpino, che hanno messo a disposizione una stanza, coperte, un bagno, cibo e soprattutto tutte le avvertenze per convincerli a desistere.

      Tutti in marcia alle 2 del mattino

      Come seguissero una tabella di marcia non scritta, quasi tutti, dalle due del mattino provano a inoltrarsi lungo il sentiero per il Col de l’Échelle, quel Colle della Scala che già dal nome dovrebbe invitare a girare i tacchi in giorni di neve. Altri preferiscono rischiare di più salendo l’impervia via del Monginevro, scarsamente presidiata dai gendarmi di montagna.

      Con scarponi e gambe buone si potrebbe leggere il primo cartello di «Bienvenue en France» dopo due ore al massimo di cammino. I dieci chilometri di salita sono difficili, ma non da arrampicata, poi altri quattro di discesa in Francia. Il termometro di notte a meno 8 e l’equipaggiamento più da traversata verso Lampedusa in estate che da sci di fondo, sono il nemico più insidioso.

      La prima ora di ascesa passa di solito tra denti che battono e caviglie che si piegano scivolando sulla salita ghiacciata. Poi, dove neanche le motoslitte arrivano, ogni passo è un calvario. Centottanta centimetri di neve vuol dire affondarci dentro. Risucchiati dalla paura e da una coltre che di amichevole ha solo l’aspetto.

      «Mi stavo nascondendo dietro a un cespuglio, ma i francesi mi hanno preso», racconta Shabir mentre dichiara la resa. Il pachistano dalla lingua sciolta dice che è finita. A lui la montagna non fa paura, e neanche la neve. Era abituato agli spietati inverni delle Torri di Trango, nel Baltistan, «a quattro ore di cammino dal K2». Il tempo di un panino al burro, un thé caldo, e i francesi lo hanno ricacciato dalla parte del traforo con il tricolore che voleva lasciarsi alle spalle. Gli sarebbe piaciuto vedere Parigi prima di tentare l’ultima impresa. «Non arriverò mai a Liverpool. Non ce l’ho fatta». E c’è una sola spiegazione: «Allah, vuole che io resti in Italia». Non ha la faccia stanca e non trema di freddo. Se ne andrà ad Ancona, dov’era sbarcato da un traghetto greco nascosto sotto al container di un rimorchio. «A Senigallia ho un amico che mi ha offerto un buon lavoro: 10 euro al giorno per distribuire volantini pubblicitari, e di notte venderò fiori oppure farò il guardiano».
      Tanti sogni infranti a un passo dal traguardo

      Altri due pachistani sono sfuggiti ai gendarmi che aspettano in fondo al pendio, dietro al costone che segna l’ultimo ostacolo naturale prima del traguardo. Non tutti, in verità, hanno in mente di fermarsi in Francia. Non i due iraniani, respinti al Brennero e a Ventimiglia e diretti in Germania. Non l’iracheno, che con il suo sguardo torvo non riesce a impietosire i doganieri neanche quando finge d’essere un profugo siriano. Lui vuole andare in Spagna dove sua sorella è alle ultime settimane di gravidanza. Laurent, intanto, guarda in fondo all’ultima galleria. Prima di lui erano partiti dall’Italia nove ragazzi. Avranno avuto mezz’ora di vantaggio. «Se la polizia li ha presi – riflette – allora saranno impegnati con loro e magari non mi vedranno. Se non li ha presi, allora potrebbero vedere me, oppure potrei avere fortuna come loro». Aspettare, però, vorrebbe dire stramazzare a terra. Un giovane della Guinea Conakry qualche giorno fa è stato ritrovato in un canalone senza scarpe. Non fosse stato per i montanari di Nevache sarebbe morto proprio a un passo dal traguardo.

      Laurent lo ha saputo dal passaparola via Whatsapp. «Piuttosto che tornare indietro, meglio finire arrestato dai francesi», dice sollevando il braccio nel segno dell’addio. Se in Costa d’Avorio esistesse un club di alpinismo, Laurent oggi sarebbe un eroe nazionale. A mani nude, con delle Adidas di pezza ai piedi, jeans e un piumino di un paio di taglie più piccolo, ha scavallato la dorsale che sfiora quota duemila ed è sceso giù in Francia in una notte sola. Un’impresa che dalle sue parti passerebbe alla storia: «Ma non sfamerebbe i miei bambini».


    • Il 7 gennaio camminata da Claviere a Montgenèvre

      Il gruppo Briser les Frontières ha organizzato per domenica 7 gennaio una camminata da Claviere a Montgenèvre dal titolo Marcher pour Briser les Frontières

      Camminata contro le frontiere, per muoversi liberamente!
      Da Claviere a Montgenèvre.

      Domenica 7 gennaio alle ore 11.00
      Appuntamento al parcheggio di via Nazionale a Claviere.
      Con abbigliamento adeguato per una camminata sulla neve.

      Le frontiere non esistono in natura,
      sono un sistema di controllo.
      Non proteggono le persone, le mettono una contro l’altra.
      Non favoriscono l’incontro, ma generano rancore.
      Le frontiere non dividono un mondo da un altro,
      c’è un solo mondo e le frontiere lo stanno lacerando!

      L’indifferenza è complicità!

      Per Info: +39 3485542295

      (In caso di maltempo l’iniziativa si farà la domenica successiva)


    • ON Y VA’ - alcune storie dalla Val di Susa di confine

      Alcune interviste fatte tra le montagne della Valle di Susa. Dove da mesi moltissime persone che vogliono oltrepassare il confine verso la Francia sono costrette a farlo rischiando la vita.

      #vidéo #témoignages #parcours_migratoires #itinéraire_migratoire
      Une personne dit avoir essayé déjà une fois d’aller en France (il a remonté l’Italie depuis #Crotone), mais avoir été renvoyée. Renvoyée à #Taranto, puis à #Roccasecca

    • Bilan des états généraux pour les migrants : entre inquiétudes et espoirs

      Entre tables ronde et chaîne humaine au col de l’Échelle, le week-end consacré aux migrants et aux migrations a rassemblé beaucoup de monde, près de 1000 personnes au total dont plus de 300 dans la neige et le froid du col de l’Échelle. Une conférence de presse, ouverte au public, a conclu ces deux journées. Le bilan par #Marie_Dorléans, du mouvement citoyen Tous Migrants.


    • #solidarité_montagnarde à #Névache... une chanson :

      La fin de la #chanson :

      "Et pourtant, là-bas, là-haut
      là où vient de se passer mais où tout se passe
      comme souvent dans des interstices du monde
      dans les Alpes
      des hommes et des femmes ont arrêté ce tran-tran quotidien
      à Névache, à La Roya
      des enfants qui passaient, sans chaussettes
      allant de nulle part à nulle part sans destin
      sans espoir
      on leur a ouvert, le meilleur de Névache
      solidarité montagnarde, ça s’appelle
      c’est beau comme mot.
      Il a dit : « Bhein, vous êtes là, bhein restez dormir »
      Pas militant, pas combattant
      juste quotidien
      le quotidien qui change tout.
      C’est là-bas, c’est à Névache
      au-dessus du Briançonnais
      Allez-y, ça a l’air bien."


      sur youtube :

    • Capolinea Bardonecchia?

      Reportage dalla frontiera tra Italia e Francia, dove i migranti sono bloccati a causa del regolamento di Dublino e dove la popolazione si sta attivando per fornire loro un aiuto.

      Le Alpi occidentali sono uno storico luogo di passaggio. Senza scomodare Annibale e i suoi elefanti più di duemila anni fa, si può dire che il “confine naturale” rappresentato dalle montagne sia stato più spesso motivo di unione che di separazione tra gli abitanti dei due versanti.

      Eppure, per le migrazioni contemporanee le montagne sono più simili a un muro. Da Ventimiglia a Como, sono ritornate le frontiere tra l’Italia e la Francia, almeno per i migranti. Non fa eccezione Bardonecchia, il comune più occidentale d’Italia, diventato nell’ultimo anno un luogo di transito sempre più rilevante.

      In estate, passare da Bardonecchia a Nevache attraverso il Colle della Scala non è né difficile né lungo, e da lì procedere poi verso Briançon e via via in direzione delle città più grandi, ma durante l’inverno tutto si complica: il colle, infatti, rimane chiuso per tutta la stagione a causa delle condizioni meteo. Nonostante questo, in questi primi mesi freddi il transito di richiedenti asilo attraverso Bardonecchia non si è azzerato, ma al contrario i numeri sono decisamente superiori rispetto allo scorso anno. Di conseguenza, anche gli incidenti dovuti alle difficoltà del clima sono in aumento.

      Mentre per il sindaco di Oulx «i migranti nelle stazioni non sono affatto un problema», è chiaro che la situazione non può che essere provvisoria, né può essere trattata soltanto come una questione di ordine pubblico. Alla base di tutto, rimane l’inefficienza del regolamento di Dublino, che affida la competenza dell’esame della richiesta d’asilo al Paese di primo ingresso, incentivando quindi tutti gli altri, Francia compresa, a chiudere le proprie frontiere e a rimandare indietro chiunque riesca ad attraversarle.


      Marta (militante Briser les frontières), à partir de la minute 0’35:

      «Il passaggio per la Francia qui dalla Val di Susa è iniziato ad essere utilizzato dopo la chiusura della frontiera di Ventimiglia. Dopo la militarizzazione di quel passaggio lì, le persone si sono informate e si sono spinte fino a questo passaggio del Colle della Scala e del Monginevro. Abbiamo notizie di alcuni passaggi già l’inverno scorso che però non riusciamo molto a quantificare perché erano ancora abbatanza discreti. E poi dall’estate scorsa abbiamo notizia di 40-50 arrivi al giorno e altrettanti passaggi durante la giornata sui sentieri.»

      Voix off:
      «Il territorio ha risposto con una rete di accoglienza spontanea che fornisce supporti di diverso genere.»

      Marta: «La rete è nata da un’esigenza di singole persone che si sono avvicinate a questo punto di frontiera, che hanno verificato che le condizioni dei ragazzi che arrivavano erano sicuramente difficili, per cui abbiamo deciso di organizzarci in rete per avere una possibilità maggiore di dare un supporto. Abbiamo iniziato ad operare più formalmente da un paio di mesi. Le cose che sono state fino adesso è una presenza più o meno costante in stazione a Bardonecchia e poi portiamo su i vestiti. Cerchiamo di risolvere quelle che sono le prime esigenze e distribuire cibo, tè caldo, ecc.»

      Voix off:
      «Recentemente ha fatto notizia la chiusura della stazioni ferroviarie che ha portato anche all’intervento del prefetto di Torino per farle riaprire»

      Marta: «Loro l’hanno giustificata con una ragione di sicurezza e ordine pubblico nelle stazioni, cosa che non è giustificata perché non ci sono mai stati problemi di ordine pubblico. Dopo questa notizia, sia le amministrazioni sia diverse persone hanno fatto pressione perché si riaprissero le sale d’attesa. E alla fine, con l’intervento del prefetto, sono state riaperte, anche se in realtà sono aperte soltanto di giorno. Di notte, la sala di Bardonecchia chiude alle 21 e quella di Oulx continua a chiudere alle 22h30, cosa che in teoria non dovrebbe succedere perché è una stazione internazionale».

      #Diego_Cantonati, responsabile Soccorso Alpino Guardia di Finanza di Bardonecchia autour des tentatives de dissuasion de faire la traversée (à partir min 2’50):

      «E’ una domanda che ci poniamo anche noi, quella di lanciare un messaggio in modo da fargli capire che è pericoloso fare quello che vogliono fare. Purtroppo non riusciamo a convincerli. Ci sono diverse associazioni che danno appoggio a questi migranti, probabilmente sono quelle più influenti sulle loro scelte, dovrebbero incidere e far capire che in determinate condizioni corrono dei rischi veramente troppo elevati e rischiano anche proprio di morire»

      Marta (min. 3’32):

      «Loro hanno già attraversato delle situazione estremamente difficili per cui la neve non li spaventa più di tanto, la descrizione dei possibili problemi di ipotermia e addirittura i racconti di persone che già hanno subito amputazioni dei piedi... nonostante questi racconti loro ci dicono che un tentativo lo devono fare perché è la loro unica possibilità.»

      #Simone_Bobbio, addetto stampa Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico Piemontese (min. 4’51):

      "E’ una differenza quantitativa, dei numeri. A livello qualitativo, si porta soccorso a chi ne ha bisogno, indipendentemente da chi sia. E’ per questo che spesso nei rapporti di intervento non compare il fatto che sia stato portato soccorso a un migrante piuttosto che a un turista, perché si soccorre la persona e basta. A livello comunicativo c’è un certo tipo di remora a comunicare tutti questi interventi anche per un poco il timore che possono essere strumentalizzati. Perché c’è il rischio che qualcuno inizia chiedere... la classica domanda è: ’Chi paga per questo intervento?’. Quindi cerchiamo di affrontarli con una certa cautela.

      #Gianfranco_Schiavone, vice-président ASGI sur le cadre juridique:

      «Il pilastro su cui si regge politicamente l’attuale regolamento Dublino 3 e anche le sue versioni precedenti è il vincolo che lega il richiedente asilo al primo paese dell’Europa nel quale mette piede, perché lì si radica la competenza delle domande. E quello che avviene è che le persone che cercano di evitare in tutti i modi questa situazione è di trasferirsi in maniera irregolare in un altro paese nel quale vogliono andare.»

      Intervista a #Cristina_Alpe del Soccorso Alpino di Bardonecchia

      La sede di Bardonecchia del #Corpo_Nazionale_Soccorso_Alpino_e_Speleologico ha avviato nelle ultime ore tre operazioni di ricerca per altrettanti gruppi di migranti che tentavano di valicare verso la Francia, nonostante l’abbigliamento inadatto e le condizioni meteo avverse.

      –-> citation:

      Cristina Alpe: Questi interventi si verificano già da alcuni mesi, diciamo che è dalla primavera/estate che continuiamo ad avere chiamate di soccorso. In realtà il grosso problema si è rivelato adesso, con il maltempo e la neve, perché i valichi verso la Francia non sono praticabili né a piedi né in auto. Adesso gli interventi sono aumentati e queste persone hanno veramente bisogno di aiuto. Nella giornata di ieri (10.12.2017), tra ieri e stamattina, ci sono stati 2-3 interventi. Uno con esito positivo verso le 5h20 di questa mattina, in collaborazione con il Pelotone de la gendarmerie francese (PGHM), che ci ha contattati per due migranti che erano verso il Colle della Scala, su territorio francese, però su versante italiano. E una nostra squadra mista con il Soccorso Alpino della finanza sono riusciti a recuperarli verso le 6h45. Non avevano scarpe adatte, uno aveva addirittura perso le scarpe, comunque sono stati recuperati e riportati a Bardonecchia. Negli altri due interventi, le ricerche nella nottata sono state sospese, anche perché immediatamente dopo le 18h pare che ci sia stata una chiamata di queste persone che avevano chiesto soccorso che erano in salvo a fondovalle in Francia e quindi non avevano più bisogno. La cosa che mi viene da dire è che comunque quando chiamano, le notizie sono sempre un po’ sommarie, un po’ vaghe e quindi è sempre difficile riuscire a localizzare e dare il giusto aiuto a queste persone.
      Giornalista: chi chiama?
      Cristina Alpe: In queste ultime chiamate ci è parso di capire che fossero i migranti stessi, nel senso che comunque hanno un telefono e in alcuni casi poi dopo la chiamata riusciamo anche a contattarli, poi bisogna vedere se non è qualcuno che li lascia lì. Questo non lo sappiamo, nel senso che a volte ci chiamano, lasciano un numero di telefono e poi provi a richiamare e non risponde più nessuno. Altre volte invece ti rispondono di nuovo e quindi la localizzazione è più facile. Dipende un po’ da dove riescono a chiamare, a volte aggancia la cella italiana, a volte aggancia la cella francese. Comunque se sono su Bardonecchia, in linea di massima sono su territorio francese, perché sul territorio italiano il posto è un po’ meno pericoloso, perché dove inizia la salita verso il Colle della Scala poi è già territorio francese dove è più pericoloso.
      Giornalista: non si tratta di emergenza singola, ma...
      Cristina Alpe: E’ un problema allargato. Infatti credo che in questi giorni si muoveranno altre forze in campo, prefettura e comune, perché comunque se nell’estate è una cosa gestibile perché la maggior parte di quelli che cerca di svalicare riesce, in questo periodo qua assolutamente no. Son pochi quelli che riescono a passare di là. Oltretutto con il brutto tempo così. Il Colle della Scala d’inverno è impraticabile, soprattutto con calzature non adatte, poco vestiti. Infatti ci sono anche operazioni della Croce Rossa, ci sono altre associazioni di volontariato che si stanno muovendo per dare assistenza a queste persone.


    • Bardonecchia. Cattolici e protestanti insieme per i profughi a piedi sulle Alpi

      Parrocchie cattoliche, comunità protestanti, associazioni, volontari del soccorso alpino italiano e francese, da settimane cercano di portare al riparo i migranti che si avventurano verso la Francia.

      L’ecumenismo dei ramponi e del vin brulée a duemila metri di quota è una questione di vita o di morte. Parrocchie cattoliche, comunità protestanti, associazioni, volontari del soccorso alpino italiano e francese, da settimane affrontano dai due versanti delle Alpi il grande freddo, cercando di portare al caldo i migranti che si avventurano verso la Francia.

      Sono i profughi che tentano di aprire nuove piste lungo la novella Via Francigena della speranza. Equipaggiati come peggio non si dovrebbe, affrontano i sentieri più impervi affondando le gambe dentro a una coltre da loro mai vista prima. Scarpe da ginnastica ai piedi, pantaloni di cotone leggero, giacche a vento buone a malapena per affrontare il mare in bonaccia. Guardano i costoni sperando di trovare dall’altra parte la discesa verso la valle transalpina. Invece no, dopo un tornante ce n’è un altro che risale.

      Le mobilitazioni delle oltre 430 associazioni coinvolte negli “Stati Generali delle migrazioni in Francia” e dei valligiani sul versante italiano non si fermano. Gente di montagna che non ha bisogno di teologismi per sapere cos’è l’ecumenismo della solidarietà. Riforma, lo storico organo di informazione delle chiese evangeliche battiste, metodiste e valdesi in Italia, segue in tempo reale l’evolversi della “rotta bianca”, rilanciando i messaggi della Chiesa cattolica francese, e specialmente del Secourse Catholique, la Caritas di Francia che insieme a “Entraide Protestante”, la diaconia delle chiese riformate francesi, hanno protestato per iscritto con il presidente Macron, denunciando «tutte le storture del sistema di accoglienza francese e con la volontà di denunciare - spiega Riforma - l’ulteriore inasprimento di controlli e modalità di espulsione che le nuove leggi su immigrazione e sicurezza stanno delineando».

      «Attenzione, pericolo di morte», recitano in arabo, francese e inglese alcuni cartelli a Bardonecchia e a Oulx, i comuni da cui i migranti partono per la traversata. Loro guardano, e passano oltre. «La montagna è pericolosa d’inverno. Si rischia il congelamento a causa del freddo estremo - si legge -. Ci si potrebbe perdere e morire per sfinimento. Per favore non tentate, potrebbe esserci un metro e mezzo di neve». L’hanno vista neanche sul Kilimangiaro, e dopo essere sopravvissuti agli aguzzini libici e ai marosi del Mediterraneo, non hanno paura di quello che non conoscono. Alcuni cascano nella trappola di improvvisati contrabbandieri di uomini.

      Il 30 novembre un ventenne originario del Kosovo è stato fermato dagli agenti del commissariato di Bardonecchia, sul confine tra Italia e Francia. Alla guida di una Lancia Ypsilon, l’uomo era diretto Oltralpe con a bordo quattro connazionali tra i 18 e i 30 anni. Il passeur è stato arrestato per favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione clandestina, mentre gli altri quattro kosovari sono stati espulsi. Con gli africani, «la situazione migranti a Bardonecchia - afferma Luca Giaj Arcota, presidente del Soccorso alpino piemontese - ha raggiunto il livello d’emergenza. Negli ultimi mesi la nostra stazione locale, insieme alla Guardia di Finanza è stata chiamata in numerosi interventi per migranti dispersi o infortunati. Queste persone tentano di passare il confine nonostante le condizioni proibitive e il lavoro di dissuasione che la nostra e altre associazioni porta avanti. Non possiamo impedire loro di affrontare i sentieri innevati, ma è necessario prevenire altre partenze prima di incidenti più gravi». Neanche il maltempo li ferma. Figurarsi un cartello. La neve non però, è tutto più complicato.

      Perché un nero, da quelle parti, non è un turista in cerca di emozioni tra le vette. Molti tra quelli intercettati dalla Gendarmerie e rispediti in Italia, si nascondono prima di poter essere aiutati. Sfuggire agli agenti tra Bardonecchia e Briançon è ora quasi impossibile, così tentano la strada del Monginevro. Due giorni fa ne hanno salvati una decina. Si erano perduti tra i pendii. Hanno accettato una bevanda calda e vestiti asciutti. Poi sono ripartiti, sognando finalmente la discesa e qualcuno che gli dica che ce l’hanno fatta: «Bienvenue en France».


    • Nella neve e nel ghiaccio la marcia dei migranti attraverso le Alpi

      In tre mesi almeno in duemila hanno passato il confine tra Italia e Francia. Spesso sono minori non accompagnati e si ritrovano spaesati in mezzo al freddo. Una rete di montanari volontari li aiuta anche se poi la polizia francese li rispedisce indietro.

      A decine ci provano ogni settimana, quando la temperatura scende a meno venti. Dall’Italia alla Francia. Senza equipaggiamento e nel bianco abbagliante. Senza nemmeno un paio di stivali. Ma l’anno scorso, come in questo nuovo anno, si mettono in cammino verso una nuova vita (https://www.aljazeera.com/videos/2018/1/1/migrants-in-europe-desperate-journeys-across-mountains). Al gelo, affondando i piedi nel ghiaccio che copre quasi tutto, a quasi duemila metri d’altezza, lungo il passo alpino che separa il suolo francese da quello italiano: i migranti sono in marcia (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/barefoot-migrants-die-trying-to-cross-alps-in-deepest-winter-zpvb82nrr).

      Da Ventimiglia al Brennero, poi le Alpi: la prima città da raggiungere nella terra francese è Briançon, dove è stato aperto un rifugio per la notte. I locali, che sanno quanto pericolose siano le loro montagne, hanno deciso di aiutarli e raccontano che la maggior parte dei profughi in arrivo sono minori non accompagnati, che tentano di raggiungere suolo francese. La rete dei volontari conta 1300 persone dei villaggi circostanti: dal bucato al sostegno giuridico, dalle ronde per i dispersi a chi distribuisce cibo, in mille sulle Alpi tendono la mano (www.meltingpot.org/Sulle-Alpi-francesi-i-montanari-che-salvano-i-migranti-dal.html#.WkqawSOh2fU).

      Quando cala dall’alto, la guardano per la prima volta nella loro vita: gli africani vedono lassù per la prima volta la neve. Dalla caldissima Africa, i rifugiati affrontano temperature gelate. Accendono il fuoco di notte, si dividono il cibo. Sperano. Ricordano i Paesi d’origine: Mali, Guinea, Costa d’Avorio. Dormono e all’alba, un passo dopo l’altro, continuano ad andare verso nord.

      In tre mesi in millecinquecento almeno, quasi duemila rifugiati ce l’hanno fatta, ma il percorso è arduo, quasi impossibile senza preparazione e abiti caldi, di cui i migranti sono sforniti. Gli alpini che pattugliano la zona dicono di aver paura di trovare i cadaveri in primavera, quando la neve si scioglierà. Alberto Rabino, a capo degli alpini di Bardonecchia, dice di aver ricevuto decine di chiamate dai migranti negli ultimi giorni. Si perdono nei boschi, nella neve, nel buio e quando i soccorritori arrivano li trovano in condizioni pericolosissime, a volte senza nemmeno le scarpe, a volte gravemente feriti. Joel Pruvot fa il volontario nel rifugio e anche lui racconta di aver trovato rifugiati senza scarpe nella neve: “gli africani non hanno idea di quanto sia pericolosa la montagna”.

      Quando riescono a scampare alla morte per congelamento, a volte si imbattono nella polizia francese che li rispedisce indietro. Vicino a Bardonecchia, mentre il 2017 diventava 2018, un gruppo di migranti ha tentato di arrivare a Col de l’Echelle. Lì l’altezza sfiora i duemila metri. Erano in sei ed erano arrivati in Italia a luglio. Quasi tutti, come la maggior parte dei migranti che hanno la forza di compiere il percorso, erano minorenni. Tutti con negli occhi un sogno: una nuova vita oltre le Alpi.



      Migrants in Europe: Desperate journeys across mountains

      Over the last three months, at least 1500 migrants have embarked on a dangerous journey over the Alps, crossing from Italy into France, defying freezing temperatures and heavy snow.

      Over the last three months, at least 1500 migrants have embarked on a dangerous journey over the Alps, crossing from Italy into France, defying freezing temperatures and heavy snow.

      Rescuers in the Alps say they’re concerned about the number of refugees and migrants trying to cross the snow-covered mountains of Europe.

      Half of those making the journey are thought to be children or teenagers.



      Barefoot migrants die trying to cross Alps in deepest winter

      Rescue workers say they expect to discover the bodies of African migrants who have died crossing the Alps when the snows melt in the spring.

      Dozens try to cross the border between Italy and France every week, some barefoot, despite heavy snow and temperatures as low as minus 20C. One African man died last week when he fell from the clifftop cabin where he had been sheltering onto the A8 motorway at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the French side of the border.



      Sulle Alpi francesi: i montanari che salvano i migranti dal gelo
      >> di Luisa Nannipieri - Radio Popolare, 18 dicembre 2017

      Più di un metro di neve fresca e polverosa, temperature che scendono fino a – 20°C e raffiche potenti che spazzano la montagna sotto al limpido cielo invernale. Siamo a 1.700 metri d’altezza, vicino al Col de l’échelle, piccolo passo alpino che separa la Francia dall’Italia. A meno di 10 chilometri da qui, c’è già chi scia sulle piste di Bardonecchia, in val di Susa. Questa è, ormai da più di un anno, la nuova strada dei migranti che vogliono lasciare l’Italia.

      Bloccati a Ventimiglia e al Brennero, arrivano in treno fino a Bardonecchia o Oulx e si incamminano sulle montagne a piccoli gruppi per raggiungere Briançon. Come cartina, un cellulare che spesso non prende; ai piedi, se va bene, delle scarpe da ginnastica di tela e delle calze. Per evitare le pattuglie di gendarmi lungo la strada, non esitano a lasciare i sentieri battuti, finendo per perdersi o ferirsi anche gravemente. Dall’inizio dell’anno sono passate più di 1.500 persone, soprattutto uomini originari del Mali, della Guinea e della Costa d’Avorio. Moltissimi sono minorenni. E la neve non basta a scoraggiarli: ogni giorno arriva una decina di persone in valle, nonostante il gelo e il rischio di valanghe sul versante italiano.

      Per far fronte alla situazione, in mancanza di una risposta che non sia la militarizzazione della frontiera da parte dello Stato francese, i montanari hanno creato una rete di solidarietà che coinvolge più di 1.300 persone in tutta la regione di Briançon. Non tutti sono favorevoli ai migranti ma nessuno riesce a rimanere indifferente, figurarsi abbandonare qualcuno sui monti conoscendo i rischi che si corrono. Cosi’ c’è chi li accoglie, chi li cura, chi li aiuta a fare il bucato, chi offre sostegno giuridico e chi organizza, ogni sera, ronde per cercare i dispersi in montagna. Alcuni hanno dato i loro numeri di cellulare e ricevono spesso richieste d’aiuto da ragazzi che non sanno minimamente orientarsi sulle Alpi. E tutti si chiedono non se, ma quanti corpi verranno ritrovati questa primavera, al disgelo.

      Domenica scorsa, dalla valle francese della Clarée sono saliti in 250: valligiani, guide alpine, qualche giornalista e qualche personaggio noto hanno formato una cordata solidale per denunciare una situazione sempre più pericolosa e il silenzio dello Stato. Sarebbe dovuta essere una semplice azione dimostrativa ma si è trasformata in un’operazione di salvataggio. Un giovane della Guinea Conakry è stato ritrovato in un canalone di valanga senza scarpe. Aveva iniziato a salire verso il passo dell’Echelle alle 5 del mattino. Ecco il video:



    • Bardonecchia, migrante in fuga verso la Francia sommerso da un metro e mezzo di neve: salvato in extremis

      Tragedia sfiorata. Recuperato dal soccorso alpino francese avvisato dalla moglie che con i due figli lo attendeva a Briancon. Attivisti francesi aiuteranno i migranti costreuendo un igloo di protezione.

      Un Capodanno di solidarietà in cima al Colle della Scala dopo l’ennesimo salvataggio di un migrante in ipotermia sopra Bardonecchia. Sua moglie e i suoi figli, di 2 anni e di 5 mesi, erano riusciti a raggiungere la Francia senza problemi, mentre lui stava finendo assiderato nella neve dell’alta Valsusa. Un cittadino ghanese è stato salvato dal soccorso alpino francese mentre si trovava sotto un metro e mezzo di neve sul Colle della Scala al confine con l’Italia. Per lui, uno dei tanti migranti che da mesi tenta l’attraversata dalle Alpi, è stato provvidenziale proprio l’intervento della moglie con cui si erano dati appuntamento a Briançon, ma che non vedendolo arrivare ha dato l’allarme. La donna infatti era stata accolta da una coppia di attivisti francesi dopo essere arrivata in autobus passando dal Monginevro e riuscendo a eludere i controlli della gendarmerie, ma suo marito ha scelto la via più difficile ma anche quella considerata meno battuta dai migranti l’ascesa a piedi dal Colle della Scala. «Non lo vedeva arrivare e l’angoscia saliva anche perché era in corso una copiosa nevicata» raccontato gli attivisti di Tous migrant. Dopo ore di ricerche i soccorritori sono riusciti a individuare l’uomo e portarlo al sicuro con un elicottero. All’ospedale è arrivato in ipotermia e dopo le cure ha potuto riabbracciare la sua famiglia.

      Quella di questa notte è solo l’ultima tragedia sfiorata tra Bardonecchia e Nevache e anche per questo oggi un gruppo di attivisti francesi ha raggiunto il colle della Scala per portare aiuto ai migranti che anche nella notte di Capodanno tenteranno, sempre senza vestiti ed equipaggiamento adatto, l’ascesa. «Saliremo tutti insieme al Col de l’Echelle e costruiremo degli igloo necessari per accogliere chi verrà con noi - racconta Yann Borgnet, uno degli organizzatori - Questa sera prepariamo una grande zuppa e passiamo la serata lì. L’idea di un’azione del genere è per discutere di come i governi stanno gestendo le migrazioni, ma anche essere lì per aiutare i migranti in pericolo. Domani, se il tempo lo permette, è possibile che i più motivati ??facciano un viaggio di ritorno a Bardonecchia con gli sci, per fare al contrario il percorso dei migranti e mostrare a tutti quanto è dura la loro strada».


    • Valsusa, un’altra tragica frontiera dell’Europa dei muri

      Nel silenzio complice della stampa mainstream, un’altra drammatica situazione sta colpendo la popolazione migrante che attraversa il nostro paese. Un’attivista valsusina ci racconta gli ultimi mesi alla frontiera di Bardonecchia.

      Ci puoi raccontare cosa sta succedendo ai migranti alla frontiera di Bardonecchia?

      Da tempo ormai, vista la situazione a Ventimiglia con la frontiera sempre più sigillata, molti migranti arrivano in treno a Bardonecchia e attraversano il confine con la Francia a piedi passando per le montagne. Bardonecchia è una località transfrontaliera a 1312 metri di altezza. Con l’arrivo dell’inverno i migranti hanno iniziato ad avere grosse difficoltà con le temperature, con gravi problemi di assideramento durante le notti all’aperto.

      Era già accaduto in passato?

      Da sempre la Valle è stata un luogo di passaggio di migranti, lo ricordo fin da piccola anche per esperienze vissute in prima persona. Nell’ultimo anno questo fenomeno è sicuramente aumentato. Con l’inverno, e con la necessità di rifugiarsi in luoghi caldi, sta diventando evidente un fenomeno prima più invisibile.

      Cosa stanno facendo le autorità?

      Il primo provvedimento preso è stato chiudere le stazioni di Bardonecchia e poi di Oulx per impedire a chi migra di rifugiarsi nelle sale di attesa. Per un certo periodo hanno addirittura tolto il servizio di apertura anche di giorno, e quindi paradossalmente chiunque attendesse un treno doveva farlo al freddo.

      Dal lato francese l’arrivo dei migranti è monitorato da droni, motoslitte, pattuglie della gendarmerie e vengono riportati subito a Bardonecchia.

      Molte di queste persone hanno un permesso di soggiorno temporaneo in Italia e una volta riportati oltreconfine vengono lasciati a loro stessi.

      Il comune si è disinteressato così come le altre istituzioni fino a quando hanno iniziato ad avere pressioni più consistenti.

      Gli enti locali stanno intervenendo e prestando servizi di emergenza o è tutto gestito dalle forze dell’ordine?

      Per un lungo periodo le pressioni della società civile non sono servite a nulla.

      L’ong Rainbow for Africa ha poi iniziato ad avere delle interlocuzioni, ed è riuscita a far aprire una piccola stanzetta di 20 metri quadri nell’edificio della stazione, solo durante gli orari notturni. In principio questa stanzetta era gestita dalla polizia. Nel frattempo l’ong ha ottenuto le chiavi e la possibilità di mettere a disposizione personale medico e paramedico negli spazi del soccorso alpino adiacente. Il personale presta soccorso quando arrivano migranti che hanno sintomi da congelamento. Caritas e Croce Rossa hanno fornito servizi parziali.

      Cosa significa il supporto del movimento NOTAV a questa situazione?

      Se volevano una dimostrazione in più che il movimento NOTAV non è un movimento nimby, eccola pronta. Di sicuro la lotta contro il TAV ha permesso di diventare una comunità che cura il territorio e coltiva valori quali l’antirazzismo e l’accoglienza.

      Poi c’è da dire che far parte del movimento ha permesso di crescere a livello di organizzazione interna e per prestare soccorso ai migranti questo è stato fondamentale.

      Se poi vogliamo fare connessioni con il discorso TAV, è stato pubblicato da poco il comunicato ufficiale della posizione dei NO TAV in solidarietà nei confronti della questione migranti, poiché vengono spesi miliardi per far passare merci e persone bianche con i soldi attraverso le frontiere, mentre i migranti rimangono intrappolati. Una dimostrazione in più del fatto che le frontiere sono aperte o chiuse solo in virtù di interessi politici ed economici.

      La resistenza al TAV ha permesso contaminazioni viste le tante altre esperienze che sono state raccontate da chi è passato in Valle, queste hanno permesso di comprendere di più anche la questione migrazioni.

      La rete che si è formata è stata chiamata “Briser les frontières” (sbriciolare le frontiere), ha organizzato una prima serata benefit con 200 persone a mangiare per sostenere l’acquisto di cibo e beni di prima necessità, raccolte abiti invernali.

      È un grosso impegno, siamo una quarantina di attivisti pronti ad intervenire, ma molti di più disponibili ad aiutare, la risposta in Valle è stata più che buona.

      Quali difficoltà avete incontrato in questa esperienza?

      Sulla questione i francesi sono più avanti di noi, sono riusciti ad aprire una casa di accoglienza e altre attività di supporto, come ronde nei sentieri. Addirittura la casa l’hanno ottenuta dal comune di Briançon, che si è in un certo modo opposto alle leggi attuali che obbligano a rimandare in Italia i migranti.

      A Bardonecchia all’inizio non è stato facile a livello relazionale creare l’approccio giusto con i migranti, trovare una lingua comune è fondamentale.

      Da mesi ogni sera il soccorso alpino esce alla ricerca di dispersi nella montagna. Non c’è ancora stato il morto, ma un ragazzo ha avuto i piedi amputati per congelamento. Molti ragazzi, bruciati da esperienze del passato, hanno difficoltà a fidarsi ed accettare l’aiuto da parte della rete, anche solo prendere un paio di calzettoni asciutti o un piatto di minestra calda.

      La collaborazione da parte della Valle che appoggia la lotta al TAV è buona, in tanti hanno offerto sostegno e appoggio logistico.

      Noi diamo tutte le informazioni utili per conoscere la situazione della montagna, poi sono loro che decidono cosa fare. Sono arrivati anche minorenni e contrariamente a quello che dicono le leggi internazionali, vengono riportati in Italia a Bardonecchia dalla Gendarmerie.

      In molti dicono “piuttosto che vivere qui senza prospettive tento la libertà”, poi capiscono che la Francia non è il paradiso, e alcuni poi ritornano in Italia.

      I prossimi appuntamenti?

      Per denunciare quello che sta accadendo abbiamo deciso di organizzare una marcia transfrontaliera da Claviere a Montgenèvre il 7 gennaio, per ribadire che le frontiere non esistono in natura, ma sono un sistema di controllo. Non proteggono le persone, le mettono una contro l’altra, non favoriscono l’incontro ma generano rancore. Le frontiere non dividono un mondo da un altro, c’è un solo mondo e le frontiere lo stanno lacerando.


    • «Non abbiamo paura della neve». Con i migranti lungo la rotta alpina

      Siamo a stati Bardonecchia, l’ultima città italiana al confine con la Francia, in Alta #Valsusa. Da dove partono decine di migranti ogni giorno alla ricerca di una nuova vita.

      Camminare nella neve è difficile, servono forza e allenamento fisico. Se non sei abituato e ben equipaggiato ti butta giù. Soprattutto se sei a tremila metri d’altezza. Perché la montagna è come il mare: se non la conosci, non ti perdona.

      Samba, gambe esili, il mare lo ha conosciuto attraversandolo a 15 anni su un barcone. È appena arrivato alla stazione ferroviaria di Bardonecchia, in Piemonte. Qui parte la «rotta alpina» attraversata dai migranti**, l’ultimo miglio che li separa dalla Francia e dal Nord Europa, dove le temperature scendono anche fino ai 15 gradi sotto lo zero, e dove si rischiano assideramento e ipotermia.

      L’obiettivo è superare le Alpi. Ci provano in media 30 persone al giorno, secondo quanto riferisce il Soccorso Alpino, 900 al mese. C’è chi ha tentato di farlo camminando lungo i binari della ferrovia, ma alcuni tratti sono troppo stretti per permettere a un uomo e al treno di passare entrambi. Alcuni hanno perso la vita.

      È la neve, con il rischio di precipitare giù, che bisogna affrontare. Raggiungere Nevache, il primo piccolo centro abitato francese dopo il confine, trovare un rifugio e rimettersi in forze. Poi di nuovo in marcia verso la seconda città sulla strada, la più popolata, Briancon. E se la gendarmeria non li intercetta, proseguire verso i centri principali.

      Samba indossa un paio di jeans, un piumino, sulle spalle uno zainetto semi vuoto. È originario del Sudan, ma gli ultimi mesi li ha trascorsi in una prigione in Libia, lì dove le Ong spesso non riescono a entrare. Racconta di mani e piedi legati, botte e compagni trascinati per strada. «Poi una mattina ci hanno portato su una barca - ricorda - non sapevamo niente di dove stessimo andando e solo dopo diverse ore una nave ci ha rintracciati. Ci hanno detto che saremmo sbarcati in Italia». In Libia Samba era insieme a suo fratello, ma è stato separato da lui in prigione. Da quel giorno non si sono più parlati.

      Anche se i volontari che accolgono i migranti a Bardonecchia ripetono che è molto pericoloso tentare di raggiungere la Francia a piedi, lui è determinato a riuscirci. Si prova un paio di scarpe da trekking portate da una volontaria. Sono troppo grandi, forse, come i jeans che indossa, le gambe sembrano stuzzicadenti. «Vorrei giocare a calcio - confessa - e in Francia ho un amico che potrebbe aiutarmi a farlo. Voglio arrivare lì e rimettermi in contatto con la mia famiglia per aiutarli».

      Alla stazione di Bardonecchia ci sono una decina di migranti ogni giorno. Arrivano da Uganda, Mali, Sudan, ma c’è anche un ragazzo egiziano, Hamza. Lui aveva già raggiunto Lione, ma la polizia lo ha intercettato e riportato indietro. Accade anche mentre parliamo con Samba, davanti alla stazione si ferma un camioncino della gendarmeria francese, si apre lo sportello e un ragazzo con una sacca di pelle esce con il viso cupo. È albanese, lo hanno riportato da Briancon.

      Quando iniziano a cadere i primi fiocchi di neve, l’aria diventa tagliente. Fernanda, responsabile dell’associazione Il Pulmino verde, che ogni sera assiste con pasti caldi e vestiti i migranti che sostano alla stazione, apre la sala d’aspetto messa a loro disposizione per trascorrere la notte al caldo.

      Samba la neve non l’aveva mai vista. «È la prima volta che mi trovo faccia a faccia con lei. Sapevo com’era solo grazie alle foto. Sembra bella ma è troppo gelida. Per me è un problema perché mi impedisce di partire». Arrivano altri indumenti dai volontari, Samba trova una tuta da sci della sua taglia, la indossa, ci mette sopra anche il piumino, poi una sciarpa di lana rosa e un cappello di lana bordeaux.

      «In Africa non esiste il freddo», racconta Ahmed, 17 anni, arrivato da un giorno, un paio di Converse ai piedi. «Non sono abituato a questa temperatura. Qui è tutto un problema». È questa l’unica parola italiana che conosce, «problema, problema» ripete, buttando la testa all’indietro. Ahmed è minorenne, non è riuscito a ottenere i documenti nei tempi che sperava, anche lui è stato rinchiuso in una prigione in Libia. «Tutti i giorni ci picchiavano e venivano a chiederci se avevamo soldi per uscire. Io non ne avevo e sono scappato facendo zig zag. Non trovo altre parole per spiegare come ci sono riuscito. Zig zag rende l’idea?». Poi la barca, l’arrivo in Sicilia e l’autobus verso Nord. Fino qui, in Alta Valsusa.

      «La mia famiglia è in Sudan, in Francia ho degli amici. Aspetto un segnale dal cielo per andarmene da qui». Ahmed è salito sul treno diretto in Francia per tre volte. La polizia lo ha sempre bloccato e riportato indietro. Con i suoi occhi grandi e spalancati nel vuoto, Ahmad racconta di essere stanco di vivere come un fuggiasco. Vorrebbe un po’ di normalità, una vita semplice. Una ragazza gli offre un tè caldo e una sigaretta, le accetta entrambe ma da come appoggia la sigaretta alla bocca si vede che non ha mai fumato.

      Aspira, inizia a tossire poi scoppia a ridere. C’è lo spazio di distrarsi per un secondo tra le mura gelide della stazione.

      Quando torniamo alla stazione di Bardonecchia è mattina presto, la neve continua a cadere copiosa. Samba guarda le previsioni meteo nel suo cellulare, Ahmad non c’è più. «È partito», spiega Mohammed, 32 anni, il più grande del gruppo. «Non voleva stare qui, ha tentato il destino. Se nevica così forte tornerà indietro. Io non mi muovo, aspetto domani, dovrebbe esserci il sole». Mohammed è originario della Guinea e spera di raggiungere la Francia per riunirsi a sua sorella. Non la vede da due anni, vorrebbe conoscere il suo nipotino appena nato. «Non so se resterò in Francia ma voglio arrivarci anche se significa mettere in pericolo la mia vita. L’ho già fatto attraversando il deserto e il mare. Ho vissuto qui un anno, non trovo lavoro».

      Insieme a Samba c’è un nuovo ragazzo, è arrivato nella notte. «Ho sedici anni e sono partito dalla Costa d’Avorio. È la terza volta che tento di passare il confine. Con l’aiuto di Dio, questa sarà l’ultima». Sulle pareti che circondano la stazione, i volontari dell’associazione Il Pulmino Blu e della Croce Rossa Italiana hanno appeso diversi volantini in tutte le lingue.

      «Non partite a piedi, pericolo di vita», si legge accanto al numero telefonico dei soccorsi. Ma chi è arrivato qui, nell’ultima città sul suolo italiano, non ha intenzione di fermarsi. Il gelo e la neve fanno paura ma non abbastanza.

      «Quando li vedi partire è impressionante», racconta Carlo Florindi, presidente della Croce Rossa di Bardonecchia. «S’incamminano dalla stazione, in fila indiana con i loro zainetti e lo stradario. Arrivano al Colle della Scala e lì inizia la salita non asfaltata, su un sentiero battuto solo dalle loro orme che si stringe e diventa largo appena sessanta centimetri».

      Nelle ultime settimane diversi migranti sono stati soccorsi con i piedi quasi congelati, altri sono stati raggiunti dal soccorso alpino ma hanno scelto di continuare la scalata verso la Francia. «Salgono fino a duemila metri, attraverso un valico chiuso d’inverno proprio perché è pericoloso, a rischio caduta massi. Lì la neve è fresca e si sprofonda».

      Prima della seconda guerra mondiale il tragitto percorso dai migranti era italiano. Erano i nostri parenti a percorrerlo per raggiungere la Francia e tentare la fortuna. Il movimento dei popoli non si è mai fermato e ora, a solcare lo stesso sentiero impervio, sono uomini nati soprattutto in Nord Africa. Sono arrivati fino a qui, dove i migranti sembravano «un problema» appartenente solo al Sud del Mondo. «Nessuno immaginava di vederli in mezzo alla neve», sospira una signora al bar.

      «Bardonecchia nel 1947 era un paese di passeurs», racconta Florindi. «Per molti era un secondo stipendio. La notte li facevano dormire nelle stalle e all’alba li portavano a destinazione».

      E i primi passeurs sono tornati. C’è già qualcuno che cerca di cavalcare la disperazione di chi è disposto a tutto per arrivare in Francia e in cambio di denaro offre un passaggio. «Ma spesso non li porta nemmeno a destinazione, si ferma prima e li lascia per strada, dicendo che sono quasi arrivati ma non è così», racconta Fernanda.

      La storia si ripete davvero, gli eventi lo raccontano da sempre. «Noi gli facciamo anche vedere le foto di chi è finito in ospedale quasi assiderato, a un ragazzo hanno amputato una gamba poco tempo fa. Ma loro sono decisi a tentare la traversata».

      Si sentono senza alternative e rinchiusi in una bolla in cui il tempo sembra non curarsi di loro e delle loro vite.

      «I ragazzi giovani che incontro ogni giorno - continua Mohammed, il più grande - sono molto più arrabbiati dei loro padri migranti. Loro vogliono vivere, vogliono avere una possibilità e fanno di tutto per prendersela». Anche se vette così alte e innevate non le hanno mai viste, ma restare senza nemmeno un sogno da realizzare fa più paura della morte.

      È così che si chiude il 2017 europeo, l’anno in cui le Ong che prestavano soccorso in mare sono state messe sotto accusa e l’Italia ha stretto accordi con la Libia. Qui a Bardonecchia gli abitanti dicono che «gli stranieri a loro non danno fastidio. Fino a quando si comportano bene. Fino a quando non diventano troppi».


    • Briançon : le Collectif Citoyen de Névache adresse une lettre ouverte au chef de l’État

      Au lendemain des États généraux de la migration qui se sont tenus à Briançon les 16 et 17 décembre, le Collectif Citoyen de Névache adresse une lettre à Monsieur Emmanuel Macron, président de la République :

      "À Névache, dans les Hautes-Alpes, la neige tombe depuis plusieurs jours, la Lombarde est parfois brutale ! Les températures nocturnes passent maintenant entre 10 et 15 degrés sous zéro, mais les migrants venant d’Italie continuent d’arriver... Jeunes, souvent mineurs, ils tentent le passage du Col de l’Échelle (1 700 m) pour rejoindre ensuite Briançon ; 20 km à pieds si aucun automobiliste ne veut ou ne peut les prendre en charge. À moins qu’un fourgon de gendarmerie ne les intercepte pour les reconduire à la frontière, de jour comme de nuit, sans tenir compte de la réglementation concernant les mineurs isolés ou les demandeurs d’asile. Ils ont des ordres, disent-ils ! Des ordres pour ne pas respecter la réglementation ? Ces migrants, d’Afrique subsaharienne et le plus souvent francophones, sont pourtant prêts à tout pour rejoindre notre pays et y rester pour reconstruire dignement leur vie en travaillant. Nous devrions en être fiers. Dans les conditions actuelles, nous les accueillons comme des terroristes en leur appliquant une législation antiterroriste qui n’a pas été faite pour eux ! La lecture du code Schengen des frontières est, à cet égard, très claire. Vous avez, nous dit-on, découvert récemment, à la suite d’un reportage de CNN, l’horreur des marchés aux esclaves de Tripoli. Quelques contacts directs avec les Névachais ou les Briançonnais vous en auraient appris bien davantage, depuis deux ans au moins. Ancien officier formé à Saint ?Cyr, je m’interroge sur ce que pouvaient bien faire nos services de renseignement !? Pourtant, mais vous n’avez pas abordé cette question en nous parlant des marchés de Tripoli, l’Union Européenne (dont l’Italie et la France) paît les gardes ?côtes libyens pour récupérer en mer un maximum de migrants et les renvoyer en Libye ; où ils les revendent peut ?être, une deuxième fois ?

      L’Union Européenne et notre pays (qui revendiquent leurs racines chrétiennes quand cela les arrange) contribuent ainsi au bon fonctionnement d’un commerce que l’on croyait à jamais disparu. Bilan de ce long voyage : lorsqu’il parvient sur notre territoire, un migrant a souvent perdu le tiers de ses compagnons de route entre le Sahara, la Libye, la Mer Méditerranée et la France. Aujourd’hui, l’hôpital de Briançon en ampute certains qui ont « pris froid » dans la montagne au péril de leur vie. Devons nous attendre des morts pour que nos institutions réagissent humainement ?
      On comprend que, pensant arriver dans la commune de Névache au terme d’un voyage qui aura souvent duré deux ans, rien ne les empêchera de s’engager dans la traversée du col de l’Échelle, quelles que soient les conditions. Pour nous, Névachais, l’impératif humanitaire s’impose même si les forces de l’ordre s’efforcent de nous en dissuader. Il faut les retrouver si possible, les recevoir, les remettre en forme, les soigner puis les conduire à Briançon où ils pourront commencer à traiter leurs problèmes administratifs avec les associations en charge de ces questions.

      Au cours du mois de décembre, nous avons dû, à six reprises au moins, faire appel au « Secours en Montagne » pour leur éviter la mort, non sans éviter gelures et traumatisme divers. Pas encore de morts reconnus, mais cela viendra, Monsieur le Président. Et tout cela avec des bénévoles non seulement sans aide de l’État mais au contraire sous la menace des forces de maintien de l’ordre. À vouloir faire oeuvre humanitaire, nous Névachais et Briançonnais, sommes traités comme des délinquants ! On nous interdit de prendre un Africain en stop, quelles que soit la température et l’heure !
      Briançon : le Collectif Citoyen de Névache adresse une lettre ouverte au chef de l’État - 2

      Depuis quand l’automobiliste devrait-il refuser un passager au seul vu de sa couleur ? Dans la Clarée, Monsieur le Président, nous refusons l’apartheid ! Quelles que soient les menaces, nous ne pouvons refuser l’action humanitaire, à commencer par le secours à personnes en danger, lorsque les pouvoirs publics abandonnent cette mission. Les ordres reçus ne sont pas de pratiquer une action dignement humaine mais de renvoyer en Italie un maximum de migrants au mépris de leurs droits. Où est la solidarité européenne, Monsieur le Président ?

      Monsieur le Président, je sais que nous ne sommes pas les seuls français dans cette situation. Vous vous trouvez dans une position qui durera aussi longtemps que l’on ne prendra pas le mal à ses sources, réchauffement climatique, sous développement de nos anciennes « colonies » et autres. Vous savez vendre des avions, pour tuer ! Pouvez-vous prendre en considération la misère de ces migrants, comme le Pape François y invite nos contemporains ?

      Les Névachais et les Briançonnais, respectueux de la loi, sont prêts à travailler avec les services de l’État pour trouver des solutions, à condition que l’État accepte de les entendre, ce qui n’a pas encore été le cas, et de les entendre sans vouloir en faire des auxiliaires de police ! Nous pourrons alors retrouver la fierté de nos cimes et redonner à notre pays l’honneur qu’il est en train de perdre et que nous perdons tous avec lui.

      Souvenons-nous de ces milliers d’Africains morts pour la France au cours des deux dernières guerres mondiales. Ce sont leurs petits-enfants que nous devrions laisser mourir dans la neige ? Pour l’ancien Saint-Cyrien que je suis, dont la promotion porte le nom d’un colonel Géorgien mort au combat, de telles perspectives sont insupportables, Monsieur le Président. Nous comptons encore sur vous mais le temps presse."

      Bernard Ligier - citoyen de Névache


    • Histoires de frontières #1, sur Radio Canut

      Mardi 9 janvier à 20h, Radio Canut (102.2FM à Lyon ou en streaming n’importe où ailleurs) diffuse deux documentaires sur les parcours des migrantEs dans les Alpes, la militarisation des frontières, mais aussi sur les luttes et solidarités en cours.

      Deux reportages de 30min chacun sont au programme :

      Un entretien réalisé fin décembre au squat Chez Marcel à Briançon qui permet de revenir sur l’aventure de ce lieu d’accueil, la situation à la frontière italienne dans les Hautes-Alpes mais aussi sur les enjeux et les perspectives des luttes actuelles.

      Un montage de différentes interventions lors de la soirée de soutien et d’information qui a eu lieu à Lyon le 14 décembre dernier. Prise de paroles de migrants et témoignages sur la situation à Ventimiglia (Italie), Briançon et Lyon.

      En direct, mardi 9 janvier à 20h sur Radio Canut (102.2FM en région lyonnaise ou en streaming via ce lien de n’importe où ailleurs).

      Les deux reportages seront ensuite disponibles en podcast sur les sites suivants :


    • Da Bardonecchia a Briançon, in viaggio con i migranti sulle Alpi

      Un fischio, poi il rumore dei freni: da uno degli ultimi treni in arrivo da Oulx scende Mohammed Traoré, 17 anni, guineano. Si guarda intorno, non c’è molta gente sulla banchina, i lampioni spargono un velo di luce nell’aria densa di umidità, il freddo entra nella giacca grigia che il ragazzo ha dimenticato di abbottonare.

      Un fischio, poi il rumore dei freni: da uno degli ultimi treni in arrivo da Oulx scende Mohammed Traoré, 17 anni, guineano. Si guarda intorno, non c’è molta gente sulla banchina, i lampioni spargono un velo di luce nell’aria densa di umidità, il freddo entra nella giacca grigia che il ragazzo ha dimenticato di abbottonare.

      Il grande cartello blu con la scritta bianca indica il nome della stazione: Bardonecchia. La cittadina piemontese a 1.312 metri d’altitudine gli è stata indicata da alcuni amici in una chat su Whatsapp. Da qui parte la rotta alpina, un sentiero che arriva in Francia dopo sei ore di cammino attraverso il valico del colle della Scala. Traoré annuisce: è arrivato.

      Con le prime luci del giorno proverà ad attraversare le Alpi, nonostante la neve. È il suo secondo tentativo di superare il confine: il giorno precedente ha già provato in treno, ma alla stazione di Modane è stato fermato dalla gendarmeria francese, tenuto qualche ora in un commissariato e poi accompagnato sul treno per l’Italia insieme ad altri cinque ragazzi.

      Alle nove di sera ci sono undici gradi sottozero. Traoré non ha mai visto la neve in vita sua ed è proprio come se l’era immaginata: una distesa bianca sulla strada che scricchiola sotto i piedi. Il ragazzo, arrivato in Italia dalla Libia a luglio del 2017, ha le gambe sottili e muscolose, e saltella sulle scale del sottopassaggio della piccola stazione ferroviaria per cacciare i brividi. “Pericolo”, c’è scritto in inglese, francese, arabo e tigrino su un cartello nella bacheca della stazione, in cui si spiega che attraversare le Alpi nel pieno dell’inverno può costare la vita.

      A quest’ora la sala d’attesa è chiusa, a causa di un’ordinanza del sindaco e delle ferrovie dello stato del 1 febbraio 2017. I migranti arrivati qui per tentare di attraversare le Alpi aspettano che i volontari dell’associazione Rainbow for Africa aprano il piccolo locale accanto alla stazione: due stanze e un bagno nell’ex dogana, rimessi a posto dal Soccorso alpino.

      Il rifugio notturno non si può aprire prima delle 23, sempre per volere dell’amministrazione locale. Il sindaco teme che offrire servizi strutturati ai migranti possa rappresentare un fattore di attrazione, un pull factor. La stessa accusa era stata rivolta alle organizzazioni non governative (ong) che fanno operazioni di soccorso nel Mediterraneo centrale durante l’estate scorsa. E nel 2017 è stata usata in molte città italiane – da Roma a Ventimiglia – per criminalizzare chi offre pasti caldi, coperte e assistenza ai migranti in transito che dormono per strada.

      Nonostante tutto a Bardonecchia ogni sera, quando chiude la sala d’attesa della stazione, una decina di richiedenti asilo si rifugia nel sottopassaggio, aspettando di entrare nel ricovero notturno. Ad assisterli arrivano a turno dalla val di Susa e da Torino i volontari che si sono riuniti nella rete Briser les frontières, “sbriciolare le frontiere”. Portano bevande calde, pasti, vestiti, scarponi, giacche a vento, guanti. “Il nostro compito principale è informare le persone dei rischi a cui vanno incontro”, spiega Daniele Brait, attivista di Bussoleno. “Se uno guarda una cartina sembra che la distanza tra l’Italia e la Francia sia molto piccola, mentre in realtà in questa stagione andare in montagna senza equipaggiamento potrebbe significare non arrivare mai”.

      Molti volontari sono anche attivisti No Tav e spiegano che la battaglia contro l’alta velocità ha molto in comune con quella per la libertà di movimento delle persone. “I No Tav vogliono evitare che le montagne siano devastate per far passare un treno merci, in un sistema che permette alle merci di passare liberamente e lo impedisce alle persone”, afferma Brait.

      Dal Mediterraneo alle Alpi
      I volontari distribuiscono un piatto di lenticchie, del tè e alcuni indumenti. Mohammed Traoré prende una sciarpa e due cappelli. “Aquarius”, esclama quando mi vede. È come se fosse una parola magica. È il nome della nave di Sos Méditerranée e Msf che lo ha soccorso al largo della Libia e su cui ci siamo incontrati. Mi abbraccia. Ricorda il buio della notte quando era sul gommone, la paura di morire e la stanchezza che spossa dopo ore di navigazione sotto al sole. Mentre guardiamo le foto sul cellulare, ricorda i corpi stesi senza forze sul ponte della nave francese. Ricorda la gioia di aver visto le luci di “Pojallò”, del porto di Pozzallo, dal ponte dell’Aquarius per una notte intera prima dell’attracco, di aver pensato di essere finalmente arrivato in Europa.

      “Io credevo che l’Italia fosse l’Europa, non pensavo che ci sarebbero stati tanti problemi né che ogni paese europeo fosse così diverso”. Dopo lo sbarco, Traoré è stato trasferito in un centro d’accoglienza a Cesena. Ma la risposta alla richiesta d’asilo non è arrivata. “Non ha funzionato, è stato il destino”, dice con una certa dolcezza. Per questo è scappato ed è finito a dormire per strada, quindi ha deciso di attraversare la frontiera.

      Alcuni amici, già arrivati a Tolosa, gli hanno suggerito il percorso. “Non ha senso per me rimanere in Italia anche se non è facile prendere la strada della montagna in pieno inverno”, dice in un francese lento e scandito. “Attraversare il deserto e il mar Mediterraneo è stato difficile, ma attraversare le montagne con tutta questa neve lo sarà ancora di più. Rischieremo di nuovo la vita, ma non abbiamo scelta”. Traoré non ha aspettative: “Potrò parlare il francese, che è la mia lingua. Tutto qui. Nessuna illusione”.

      A partire dalla fine di novembre, nonostante la neve e il freddo, il Soccorso alpino di Bardonecchia ha registrato il passaggio di migliaia di migranti dal valico del colle della Scala. “Abbiamo ricevuto molte chiamate, soprattutto di notte, e abbiamo trovato persone smarrite nei sentieri, alcune senza scarpe, tutte intirizzite e mal equipaggiate”, spiega Alberto Rabino, vicecapostazione del Soccorso alpino di Bardonecchia. Il 20 dicembre il Soccorso alpino è intervenuto in aiuto di sei migranti che erano rimasti bloccati nella neve: “Gli portiamo coperte termiche, indumenti caldi, ma una volta che si sono ripresi chiedono di continuare il percorso pur sapendo che dall’altra parte li aspetta la gendarmeria francese”.

      I respinti
      La notte Mohammed Traoré la passa steso a terra avvolto in un sacco a pelo rosso nel rifugio notturno del Soccorso alpino di Bardonecchia insieme ad altri – Adam, Aboubakr, Souleiman – con cui ha deciso di partire. Sono quasi tutti originari dell’Africa francofona, soprattutto della Guinea e della Costa d’Avorio. Carlino Dall’Orto, un medico di Vicenza di 69 anni, volontario di Rainbow for Africa, tenta inutilmente di convincerli che mettersi in cammino potrebbe essere pericoloso. “Arrivano a Bardonecchia con abiti non idonei al freddo e alla montagna, ma sono molto determinati”. Dall’Orto ha viaggiato per molti anni in diversi paesi dell’Africa e si rivolge ai ragazzi della stazione con un atteggiamento paterno cercando di convincerli a non partire.

      Il pomeriggio spesso arriva un pulmino bianco della gendarmeria francese, racconta Dall’Orto, si ferma davanti alla stazione e scarica i migranti irregolari fermati alla frontiera. A essere rimandati indietro dalla Francia non sono solo quelli che attraversano il valico alpino senza documenti, ma anche alcuni immigrati che risiedono in Italia e in Francia da molti anni e che non hanno tutti i documenti in regola dal punto di vista amministrativo. “C’è stato un ragazzo albanese giorni fa che aveva un problema con un visto e lo hanno riportato indietro”, dice Dall’Orto. Li costringono a scendere dal pullman o dal treno e li riportano a Bardonecchia o a Oulx alle ore più disparate del giorno e della notte.

      “Negli ultimi quindici giorni di dicembre dalla stazione di Bardonecchia sono passati circa cento migranti”, spiga Emanuel Garavello, operatore della diaconia valdese, che insieme ad altri colleghi ha aperto nelle ultime settimane una specie di sportello legale mobile. Il dato preoccupante, spiega Garavello, “è che molti fuggono dall’accoglienza molto prima di aver ricevuto una risposta alla domanda d’asilo. Decidono di lasciare i centri senza sapere che perderanno il diritto di starci e senza conoscere le opportunità di cui potrebbero beneficiare”. Da Bardonecchia, inoltre, passano tantissimi minorenni che non conoscono affatto i loro diritti e la loro situazione giuridica in Italia.

      La diaconia valdese, insieme all’Associazione studi giuridici sull’immigrazione (Asgi), ha deciso di monitorare la situazione dei minori che transitano dalle Alpi e denunciare le violazioni quotidiane compiute dalla polizia francese, che li respinge alla frontiera nonostante abbia l’obbligo, soprattutto nel caso dei minori, di garantire loro protezione. “La polizia francese non fa alcuna distinzione tra adulti o minori, violando le norme internazionali”, spiega Elena Rozzi, avvocata dell’Asgi. “C’è stato un caso eclatante qualche mese fa: un ragazzino di 13 anni è stato abbandonato dalla polizia in piena notte, sotto la neve, subito dopo la frontiera. Per fortuna è stato trovato da una persona che passava in macchina”, racconta Rozzi.

      La traversata
      Mohammed Traoré apre gli occhi alle sette, nella stanza c’è un calore denso di corpi, un odore forte di aria consumata. Salta fuori dal sacco a pelo e comincia a vestirsi con cura: tre paia di pantaloni uno sopra all’altro, buste di plastica intorno ai piedi per evitare che la neve arrivi sulla pelle. Non ha scarponi, solo scarpe da ginnastica di pelle grigia. I volontari gli hanno regalato una giacca a vento. Con Adam, un ragazzo originario della Costa d’Avorio che vive in Italia da molti anni, riempie uno zainetto di biscotti e di bottigliette d’acqua.

      Poi fa colazione con gli altri, alcuni non se la sentono di partire subito, alla fine il gruppo accoglie un paio di ragazzi che sono appena arrivati alla stazione: prendono viale della Vittoria e poi la strada provinciale 216 che sale per quattro chilometri verso il pian del Colle, la località da cui parte il sentiero per la Francia. In fila indiana marciano sul bordo della strada tra gruppi di turisti con gli sci in mano che vanno verso gli impianti di risalita. Con andatura spedita passano davanti al villaggio olimpico costruito per i giochi invernali del 2006, poi attraversano le baite graziose della frazione di Les Arnauds. Ci vuole circa un’ora per raggiungere Melezet e poi il pian del Colle, dove parte una pista da sci di fondo che conduce al bivio per il Col de l’échelle, il colle della Scala, a 1.762 metri.

      Soffia un vento gelido, molto umido, ma è una bella giornata senza nuvole. I ragazzi si riposano dopo la prima ora di cammino alla base del sentiero, mangiano qualche biscotto, poi riprendono la camminata, piegati sulla salita, un passo avanti all’altro. Di fatto hanno già attraversato la frontiera, sono in territorio francese, ma in questo versante della montagna la polizia francese non si spinge. Si lasciano sulla destra una costruzione imponente e una diga, dopo qualche centinaia di metri c’è il primo bivio, la tentazione è di proseguire sulla pista da sci battuta, ma il sentiero da percorrere è quello fuori pista che svolta a sinistra.

      C’è un’indicazione per Briançon e Névache, qualcuno con il pennarello ci ha scritto sopra “Fight the borders, No Tav”. Comincia la parte più difficile della traversata: la neve è alta, in alcuni punti arriva a un metro. I piedi affondano e a un certo punto ci si ritrova immersi fino alle ginocchia. Sono tre ore lunghissime, i ragazzi sono concentrati, rimangono in silenzio mentre marciano sui tornanti. Aboubakr vuole scattare una foto ma gli altri gli dicono di muoversi. D’estate si sale in auto sulla strada asfaltata, mentre d’inverno la neve avvolge il paesaggio e nasconde tutto sotto due metri di neve. Il rischio è che dopo una nevicata si stacchino delle valanghe dalla cima, hanno detto quelli del Soccorso alpino.

      Quando mancano pochi metri al valico, Mohammed Traoré affonda nella neve. È preso dal panico, s’immobilizza, pensa che non ce la farà, che perderà l’uso dei piedi. Non li sente più per il freddo. I compagni si fermano, lo aiutano a rialzarsi, manca poco, gli dicono. Lo vedono sui navigatori dei cellulari che la destinazione è a pochi metri, c’è ancora da attraversare un paio di tunnel scavati nella roccia e poi comincerà la discesa nella valle della Clarée. Traoré si rialza, prova a concentrarsi su domani, sul futuro. “Pensavo che non ce l’avrei fatta”, dirà il giorno dopo, una volta arrivato. In effetti, come avevano detto i compagni, dopo i due tunnel è cominciata la discesa.

      Appena il tempo di riprendere fiato che arriva il timore d’incontrare la polizia. Adam è il più grande e anche il più lucido, ricorda agli altri ragazzi che si fermeranno al primo rifugio e aspetteranno che scenda il buio. Sono passate le 14, ma anche 14 chilometri e più di 500 metri di dislivello in mezzo alla neve. I passi s’incrociano per la stanchezza, ma i muscoli continuano ad andare. Mohammed Traoré ha una strana sensazione di calore. Nella prima casetta sulla strada ci sono dei ragazzi della valle, dei solidali, bénévoles si definiscono. Li invitano a entrare e a mangiare qualcosa. Sono abituati a incontri come questo. Scaldano il sugo su una macchina del gas. C’è un odore di pomodoro e umidità nel rifugio. I ragazzi aspetteranno che scenda il buio, più di due ore dopo, per riprendere la strada verso Névache.

      Briançon come Lampedusa
      Nevica quando Traoré e i suoi cinque compagni di viaggio arrivano a Briançon a bordo di una monovolume guidata da una coppia di turisti francesi. Sono stati intercettati sulla strada dai due, che hanno deciso di dargli un passaggio nonostante il rischio di essere incriminati per favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione clandestina. Briançon dista venti chilometri da Névache, trenta minuti in macchina, e sono numerosi i valligiani che, oltre ad aprire le case ai migranti in transito, hanno cominciato a offrire passaggi fino alla città dove, da luglio del 2017, è stato aperto un centro di accoglienza nella vecchia caserma abbandonata del soccorso alpino.

      C’è un metro e mezzo di neve sul viale che porta all’ingresso, una decorazione di Natale è ancora appesa sulla porta di legno, sulla parete esterna un murale mostra una mano colorata che stringe in un pugno del filo spinato. È Adam il primo a entrare, poi gli altri. Una grande cucina si apre alla loro vista, intorno a un tavolo, alcuni ragazzi stanno mangiando un’insalata di avocado e pomodori, accompagnata da zuppa di fagioli e riso. Le pareti sono piene di bigliettini scritti dagli ospiti. “L’Italia e la Francia sono due cuori con uno stesso polmone: l’Italia mi salvato dal mare, la Francia mi dà la speranza di vivere”, ha scritto Mamadouba, un ragazzo della Guinea. Su un altro foglio sono riportati alcuni articoli della costituzione francese.

      I volontari si spostano da una stanza all’altra portando da mangiare. Nel centro di accoglienza autorganizzato ci sarebbe posto per 16 persone, ma in certi giorni nell’ex caserma hanno dormito anche settanta persone. Ora ce ne sono una quarantina. Alcuni si fermano poche ore, il tempo di mangiare, scaldarsi, altri qualche giorno. “Dipende dai soldi che hanno, alcuni partono subito. Altri vorrebbero restare più tempo, ma non possiamo ospitarli per più di un paio di giorni”, spiega Joel Pruvot, un maestro in pensione che fa il volontario nel centro, “perché a Briançon non c’è la prefettura e quindi non si può chiedere asilo”. Il posto più vicino per presentare la domanda è Gap, a novanta chilometri.

      Dall’inizio del 2017 sono passati dal centro di transito circa duemila migranti, nel cinquanta per cento dei casi minorenni. La maggior parte è originaria della Guinea e della Costa d’Avorio. Sono quasi tutti maschi, anche se ora nel centro ci sono due donne. Una è arrivata in autobus dal valico del Monginevro con i due figli e dorme su un materasso nella sala da pranzo del centro, per evitare la promiscuità con i maschi.

      “Nel migliore dei casi i migranti arrivano disidratati e stanchi, spesso presentano sintomi di assideramento”, racconta Pruvot. Briançon sembra l’unico posto in Europa in cui è ancora valido il motto: “Refugees welcome”, l’atmosfera è molto simile a quella di Lampedusa o di Lesbo all’inizio dell’ultima ondata migratoria. L’80 per cento degli abitanti della città è coinvolto nell’assistenza dei migranti, 51 volontari lavorano nel centro, i medici dell’ospedale passano ogni giorno per visitare i ragazzi, i negozi e i ristoranti donano frutta, verdura e altre cose da mangiare, alcune famiglie stanno ospitando i migranti in casa e le guide alpine pattugliano la montagna per assicurarsi che i migranti non si perdano.

      La regola della montagna dice che tutte le persone in pericolo devono essere messe in salvo

      Il sindaco di Briançon, Gérard Fromm, ha appoggiato fin dall’inizio le attività dei volontari e ha concesso l’uso gratuito dell’ex caserma quando a metà dell’estate i volontari accoglievano i migranti in una tendopoli allestita in un parcheggio. “Questa è una cittadina di montagna e la regola della montagna dice che tutte le persone in pericolo devono essere messe in salvo. Ecco perché tutti gli abitanti di Briançon sono coinvolti in questa impresa”, spiega Pruvot.

      In fondo, ammette, “stiamo facendo un lavoro che dovrebbe fare lo stato: impedire che ci siano degli incidenti in montagna, che ci siano dei morti”. Mentre parliamo, viene raggiunto da una telefonata. Dalla stazione di Bardonecchia avvertono che un minorenne del Sudan è partito da solo nel pomeriggio, vogliono assicurarsi che sia arrivato. Pruvot si alza e va a chiedere ad Ali, uno dei volontari, se nella lista dei nuovi arrivati risulti il nome del sudanese. C’è trambusto, Ali dice che dovrebbe essere arrivato in un altro centro insieme a due ragazzi, ma è meglio chiamare per essere sicuri. In cucina migranti e volontari giocano con Roland, uno dei due bambini del centro: è del Ghana e parla solo inglese come la madre Veronik. Ma gioca con tutti.

      Intanto Mohmmed Traoré si è seduto sulla panca in cucina e mangia un mandarino. “Sono un sopravvissuto”, dice. “Sono sopravvissuto al deserto e ho visto morire molte persone, sono sopravvissuto alle prigioni libiche e anche lì ho visto molte persone che non ce l’hanno fatta. Sono riuscito a sopravvivere alla traversata del Mediterraneo e ora anche alla neve delle Alpi. Ma ho come l’impressione che il viaggio non sia ancora finito”. È partito a quindici anni da Kankan, in Guinea, ha attraversato sette paesi e due continenti, si è lasciato alle spalle confini, pericoli e sofferenze. Ma ancora non sa che cosa lo aspetta e quale città finirà per chiamare casa.


    • Une cordée solidaire au lieu d’une frontière

      La frontière n’a pas de pouvoir. La frontière ne tue pas. La frontière, en soi, n’existe pas. Toute frontière est le fruit de l’esprit d’hommes et de femmes qui ont le pouvoir de décider si elle est une ligne de contact, d’échange, de partage, ou un lieu de crispation, de frottement, de crise.


    • Col de l’Echelle : une quarantaine de bénévoles convoqués pour « délit de solidarité »

      « Une démission de l’Etat, contraire à ses valeurs républicaines, à laquelle répond un formidable élan de solidarité citoyenne » : c’est ainsi qu’Eric Piolle, le maire de Grenoble, résume la situation depuis le col de l’Échelle, où il s’est rendu mardi et mercredi, accompagné d’autres élus locaux parmi lesquels le sénateur de l’Isère, Guillaume Gontard. Ce col des Hautes-Alpes est considéré comme le passage à ciel ouvert le plus bas des Alpes occidentales (1762 mètres d’altitude). Depuis quelques semaines, il fait la Une de l’actualité en raison de la hausse importante des migrants qui l’empruntent, et par le fort mouvement de soutien qui se manifeste face à la situation – à l’image de la cordée solidaire du 17 décembre dernier.

      Sur le terrain, le collectif Tous Migrants a recensé plus de 1500 passages depuis le 1er septembre 2017 au sein de la structure d’hébergement d’urgence qu’il a ouvert à Briançon fin juillet. « 416 arrivées en septembre 2017, 445 en octobre, 335 en novembre et 231 en décembre », détaille Michel Rousseau, l’un des membres fondateurs de ce mouvement lancé en septembre 2015 et structuré en association depuis le 1er janvier 2017. Un chiffre qui ne prend pas en compte tous ceux qui sont interpellés par les forces de l’ordre au cours de leur tentative, ni ceux qui ne s’arrêtent pas au centre d’hébergement.

      « Il faut être un athlète pour entreprendre un tel parcours »

      Sans reconnaissance légale, celui-ci est installé dans une ancienne caserne de CRS de secours en montagne, établissement mis à disposition par la communauté de commune. Il témoigne des besoins grandissants en matière d’accueil : « Les passages quotidiens ont commencé en novembre 2016, mais depuis mai 2017, on voit arriver 10 à 30 personnes par jour », poursuit Michel Rousseau. Ces chiffres et cette tendance d’ensemble sont ainsi confirmés par la préfecture des Hautes-Alpes, contactée par Bastamag : « En 2017, près de 1900 étrangers en situation irrégulière ont fait l’objet d’une non-admission à la frontière franco-italienne dans les Hautes-Alpes. En 2016, 315 personnes étaient concernées par ce type de mesure. C’est depuis l’été 2017 que la pression à la frontière est devenue plus intense. On peut légitimement penser que les franchissements irréguliers de la frontière en 2017 sont supérieurs à 1900, dans la mesure où nous ne pouvons comptabiliser que les personnes interpellées, et pas celles qui réussissent à passer en France. »

      Après la vallée de la Roya et Vintimille au sud, le col de l’Échelle, qui permet de rejoindre Névache et la vallée de la Clarée en France depuis l’Italie, serait donc devenu le nouveau point chaud de la « crise migratoire » européenne. Sans que cela ne corresponde pour autant à un véritable déplacement des flux vers le nord : « Ceux qui tentent le passage ici ne sont pas représentatifs de la population de migrants en général, explique Michel Rousseau, qui en dresse le portrait détaillé. C’est une population jeune, de sexe masculin, principalement francophone – une majorité de Guinéens, notamment. Il faut de toute façon être un athlète pour entreprendre un tel parcours ».

      300 personnes évacuées vers les urgences à cause du froid

      Avec l’arrivée de l’hiver, les images nocturnes de ces migrants en sandales dans la neige ont fait le tour du monde, symboles des conditions extrêmes dans lesquelles sont entreprises ces traversées. Pour l’heure, aucun décès n’a été constaté sur place, « un petit miracle ». Mais ce sont plus de 300 personnes qui ont été évacuées vers les urgences de l’hôpital à leur arrivée à Briançon, selon les chiffres communiqués par Tous Migrants. Deux personnes ont du être amputées l’année dernière, victimes d’hypothermie, tandis que deux autres ont été grièvement blessés suite à une chute dans le ravin en tentant d’échapper à un contrôle policier, en août 2017.

      Car dans le même temps, les forces de police ont renforcé localement leur dispositif. Police au frontière, gendarmes et militaires sont présents sur place : « Il y a au moins 150 personnes mobilisées », estime Michel Rousseau, qui évoque sans détour une véritable « chasse aux migrants » depuis le printemps 2017. « Les effectifs locaux de la PAF à Montgenèvre et de la brigade de gendarmerie de Briançon positionnés à la frontière sont appuyés ponctuellement par des renforts de gendarmerie (une quinzaine actuellement) » indique ainsi le service de communication de la préfecture des Hautes-Alpes.

      « Le président Macron doit cesser d’avoir peur »

      Arrêtés dans leur expédition, les migrants interpellés seraient la plupart du temps remis en liberté un peu plus loin, côté italien. Une logique absurde : « Qui peut donc penser qu’ils vont rester dans le village italien alors qu’ils sont francophones et qu’ils ont traversé des milliers de kilomètres pour arriver là ? », pointe Eric Piolle, qui exhorte Emmanuel Macron « à adopter un regard humaniste et pragmatique car les exilés sont là. Le président doit cesser d’avoir peur : les murs ne seront jamais assez haut pour arrêter les hommes qui veulent vivre ».

      Quand ce ne sont pas les journalistes qui sont visés, les bénévoles locaux, engagés notamment dans les maraudes de soutien, sont les autres victimes de ces contrôles : une quarantaine de personnes aurait ainsi déjà été convoquée au titre de l’article L. 622-1 du code de l’entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d’asile, qui sanctionne l’aide à l’entrée, à la circulation et au séjour irréguliers d’un étranger en France – ce que l’on appelle plus communément le « délit de solidarité ». « Les bénévoles qui aident ne sont pas des délinquants, ce sont des héros » défend Eric Piolle. Une situation qui ne fait que confirmer le tour de vis anti-migratoire des politiques françaises en la matière, condamnées ce week-end pour « complicité de crime contre l’humanité » par le Tribunal permanent des peuples.


    • #Val_Susa, No border in marcia sulla neve: “Migranti rischiano la vita qui sulle montagne, ospitalità è nostro dovere”

      Attivisti no borders italiani e francesi insieme, circa mille persone domenica 14 gennaio hanno marciato sulla neve, attraversando il confine italo-francese di Claviere. Un corteo che ha percorso la stessa strada dei migranti, organizzato per protestare contro la militarizzazione delle frontiere. Quella alpina, nonostante il gelo e il rischio di morire assiderati, è una rotta sempre più battuta da coloro che cercano di arrivare in Francia, soprattutto dopo la chiusura dei confini a Ventimiglia. “I migranti continuano ad arrivare rischiando la loro vita sulle montagne – raccontano gli attivisti della rete solidale Briser la frontier – e questo è il risultato delle politiche di chiusura delle frontiere a Ventimiglia e negli altri confini”


    • #Migrants risk death crossing #Alps to reach #France

      It took Abdullhai (below) almost three years to get from his home in Guinea to a rocky, snow-covered Alpine mountain pass in the dead of winter, for what he hopes will be the final stage of his journey into France.

      The terrain is steep and dangerous and he and a group of five other migrants face risks ranging from losing their footing on steep drops, being struck by falling rocks or succumbing to the -9C (15°F) temperatures in clothing ill-suited to the terrain.


    • Italy: March supporting migrants who make deadly Alps crossing

      Italian pro-migration activist group #Briser_les_frontières marched on the French-Italian mountain border near Claviere and Moginevro on Sunday to protest migration laws at borders preventing the sanctuary of refugees. The activists carried pro-migration banners as they travelled between the two mountains in a similar route which asylum seekers have been known to cross to get between countries often at great risk. Italian and French mountain police blocked their paths however for most of the protest, but activists eventually reached their destination by staying close to the ski slopes. Briser Les frontieres solidarity network member Daniele Brait explained: “In recent months there have been many attempts to cross the border into the Alps that seem to have become the new Mediterranean. People who have managed to survive the sea today risk their lives in these mountains.” Migrants are known to regularly attempt to traverse the Colle della Scala (Cole de l’Echelle in French) in freezing temperatures some 1800 metres above sea level between Italy and France, resulting in the death of many. SOT, Nicoletta Dosio, No-Tav movement spokesperson (Italian): “The motivations that bring us here today is to express solidarity and to reiterate that the World with the borders is a world that does not serve and we don’t want.” SOT, Nicoletta Dosio, No-Tav movement spokesperson (Italian): “This Europe, which is the Europe of Maastricht, is a fortress that exploits the countries of the South of the world with the war and does not allow the poor of the Earth, who have become poor because of this exploitation, to cross its borders.” SOT, Daniele Brait, Briser Les frontieres solidarity network member (Italian): “In recent months there have been many attempts to cross the border into the Alps that seem to have become the new Mediterranean. People who have managed to survive the sea today risk their lives in these mountains.” SOT, Daniele Brait, Briser Les frontieres solidarity network member (Italian): "One of the rules of the mountain, as well as one of the rules of the sea, is that people who need help, a warm place, a blanket, a jacket, even just something like a hot dish, are not abandoned.” SOT, Briser les frontieres Activist (Italian): “Italy has always done business with Libya where there are detention centers that are lager.” SOT, Briser les frontieres Activist (Italian): “It finances them with the excuse of fighting terrorism and managing migration flows. In these camps people are tortured and women raped.”


    • Quando non esisteranno più frontiere, nessuno morirà per attraversarle. Aggiornamenti dalla route des Alpes

      Domenica 14 gennaio la rete di solidarietà Briser les frontières (abbattere le frontiere) ha indetto una camminata lungo la frontiera con la Francia contro i confini e per la libera circolazione delle persone.

      Alla chiamata hanno risposto circa un migliaio di persone provenienti dalla Val Susa - le immancabili bandiere No Tav, stavolta insieme a quelle No Border, sventolavano tra la folla -, da Torino e dalla Francia. Una valle in cui la rete Briser les frontières non può fare a meno di sottolineare l’ipocrisia di politiche che mentre distruggono l’ambiente per far muovere liberamente merci e turisti lungo le linee ad Alta Velocità “chiudono tutti gli spazi a coloro che non gli rendono il giusto profitto, preparando il terreno di quello che rischiano di far diventare l’ennesimo cimitero a cielo aperto”, scrivono su un volantino.


    • Autres montagnes, toujours froid et neige qui mettent les réfugiés en danger... mais là, c’est au #Liban :

      Des réfugiés, piégés par la neige, meurent de froid

      Une dizaine de réfugiés syriens — dont des femmes et des enfants — ont péri dans les montagnes libanaises enneigées.


      Un ami syrien a posté sur FB cette photographie, apparemment de la famille dont parle l’article ci-dessus.

      Son commentaire :

      Cette famille syrienne est morte congelée aux frontière syro-libanaises, par l’interdiction des milices de Hozballah, ceux qu’ils échappent les bombardements les frontières les congèlent

      Le commentaire en arabe d’une autre personne, à l’origine du post sur FB :
      ماتوا بردا وألما في جبال لبنان الشرقية بالقرب من بلدة الصويري

      يارب إرحم السوريين فقد ضاقت بهم الدنيا وتسكرت أمامهم السبل .
      أردوا الدخول عبر الجبال تهريبا هربا من الموت
      فكان الموت إنتظارهم.

      La dernière partie de la citation en arabe devrait dire, si google translate fait bien son boulot :

      Ils voulaient entrer dans les montagnes pour échapper à la mort et la mort les attendait.

      Selon une brève recherche google pour essayer de trouver l’origine de l’image, voici ce qui semblerait être la première fois que cette image a été mise sur internet :

      Syria conflict : 15 refugees found frozen to death

      Fifteen Syrian refugees - some of them children - have been found frozen to death while trying to cross the mountainous border into Lebanon.


      Suite au commentaire de @ninachani, j’ai enlevé les images, que j’ai décidé tout de même de laisser sur seenthis, mais sur en faisant un billet à part :

    • Pierre, accompagnateur en montagne : « Nous ne sommes pas des passeurs »

      A la différence des guides de haute montagne, qui encadrent l’alpinisme, l’escalade ou le ski, l’activité des accompagnateurs en montagne se concentre sur la randonnée pédestre en été et en raquette l’hiver. Ils transmettent des connaissances sur le milieu montagnard, la faune, la flore, le patrimoine et l’histoire des territoires parcourus. Pierre, qui a préféré conserver l’anonymat, est accompagnateur en montagne depuis une dizaine d’années dans le Sud-Est de la France et habite dans le Briançonnais, dans le département des Hautes-Alpes. Il explique comment s’organise l’aide aux migrants qui traversent, au péril de leur vie, les cols de l’Echelle ou de Montgenèvre pour rallier la France.


    • Puntata 87 | #Briser_les_frontiers

      Domenica 14 gennaio Briser les frontiers, una marcia popolare sulla neve, si è portata al confine Italia Francia per accendere i riflettori su una frontiera (mobile per le merci ma sempre più ostica per gli umani) che racconta le nuove rotte migranti e l’inutilità del concetto stesso di confine.


    • Montagnes, migrants en péril

      Entretien depuis le Bus Cartouche à Genève avec Cristina Del Biaggio, maîtresse de conférence à l’Université de Grenoble et géographe spécialiste des questions de migration et des frontières.

      Le col de l’Échelle dans les Haute-Alpes, théâtre tragique du passage de personnes migrantes. Le froid implacable et le manque d’équipement à l’origine d’un drame humain dont on ne mesure pas encore l’étendue...


    • Bardonecchia, le nouveau mur où échouent les espoirs des migrants

      « On n’a rien à perdre. Sans travail et sans argent, nous sommes prêts à prendre tous les risques pour parvenir à franchir cette frontière », assure un jeune Guinéen qui préfère ne pas donner son nom.


    • Dodging Death Along the Alpine Migrant Passage

      Along the dangerous Alpine route from Italy to France, Annalisa Camilli of Internazionale meets young migrants desperate to reach northern Europe, and the local volunteers trying to make sure their villages are not another deadly stop on the migration trail.


    • Quand il s’agit d’une alpiniste française en difficulté dans l’Himalaya, des « secours hors normes » sont mis en place pour lui venir en aide, nous dit Ledauphine.com. Fort heureusement d’ailleurs.

      Mais s’il agit des personnes à la peau noire à la recherche d’un refuge en danger sur le Col de l’Echelle, alors là, ce ne sont pas les « secours mis en place » qui sont « hors norme », mais les forces de police, qui, au lieu de les secourir, les refoulent en Italie.

      Selon la nationalité, l’humanité n’a pas droit au même traitement.

    • GRAND FORMAT. Briançonnais, ce sont eux, les premiers de cordée solidaire !

      Plus d’un millier de Briançonnais se sont mobilisés pour parer aux urgences des migrants qui arrivaient à leurs portes dans les pires conditions. Une chaîne exceptionnelle portée par la fraternité. Rencontre avec ceux qui donnent sens à la dignité.


      signalé par @vanderling sur seenthis : https://seenthis.net/messages/665922

    • Nevica ancora sulla rotta di montagna

      Nevica ancora, sul passo del Colle della Scala, sulla rotta da Bardonecchia a Briançon, e su quella nuova che si è aperta sulla pista da sci di Claviere. I giovani migranti affrontano il cammino in scarpe da ginnastica tentando di arrivare in Francia. Lorenzo Sassi ed Emanuele Amighetti hanno passato un po’ di tempo con loro - e con gli abitanti del posto che si adoperano per aiutarli in armonia con la legge della montagna.

      Il Colle della Scala, a 1.762 metri di altezza, è il passaggio più basso delle Alpi occidentali. Da lì passa la cosiddetta “nuova rotta dei migranti” che va da Bardonecchia a Briançon. La stampa francese e quella locale italiana avevano già cominciato a parlarne sul finire dell’estate scorsa. Con l’arrivo dell’inverno, e il conseguente aumento dei rischi, l’attenzione si è riaccesa. La tratta di cui si è parlato parte da Melzet, una frazione di Bardonecchia che ospita anche un impianto sciistico, e arriva a Nevache, primo paesino oltre il confine. Tempo di percorrenza stimato: sei ore.

      Finché è rimasto aperto il passaggio di confine a Ventimiglia, che serviva da valvola di sfogo e canale di redistribuzione dei migranti, la tratta di Bardonecchia non ha impensierito nessuno. Il problema è arrivato dopo. Una volta blindata la frontiera a Ventimiglia, i migranti hanno fatto dietrofront fino a Torino. Da lì, una volta saputo di questo passo tra le montagne che conduce in Francia con relativa facilità, sono confluiti in massa verso l’agglomerato urbano che si frappone fra il Colle della Scala, il confine e, ovviamente, la Francia. Le città coinvolte sono cinque: Bardonecchia, che è la città di riferimento per tutti i giovani migranti perché lì si trova il centro di accoglienza gestito da Rainbow4Africa; Oulx, cittadina a circa 15 minuti da Bardonecchia, usata dai migranti come appoggio per evitare i controlli della polizia nelle città cardine; Clavière, cioè l’ultima località italiana prima del confine; Nevache, primo villaggio oltre la dogana; e infine Briançon, l’Eden sognato dai migranti, ovvero la città in cui la paura svanisce. Lì si è già ben lontani dal confine, al sicuro – in teoria.
      Sul versante italiano

      Per via dell’insistente via vai di giornalisti, fotografi e videomaker che ha in parte scombussolato l’ordine urbano di Bardonecchia e dintorni, gli abitanti sono un po’ restii a parlare, almeno all’inizio. A irrigidire gli animi è anche il freddo: le temperature arrivano fino a 10 sottozero e si vive intorno ai 1700 metri di altezza, dove tira un vento che congela anche lo stomaco.

      Colle della Scala è una vecchia mulattiera, quindi un facile passo di montagna che in estate viene battuto da famiglie e amatori, non solo da montanari esperti. A complicare le cose, tuttavia, è il clima. Nei giorni che hanno preceduto il nostro arrivo, una tormenta ha scaricato dai tre ai cinque metri di neve su strade, case e, ovviamente, il sentiero del Colle. L’impresa era già difficile per un migrante che camminasse in scarpe da ginnastica su un sentiero di montagna a gennaio, ma l’arrivo della bufera ha peggiorato le cose.

      A pochi passi dall’inizio del sentiero c’è una baita che offre rifugio a sciatori stanchi, passeggiatori occasionali e abitanti del posto. Il gestore della baita mi racconta che è ormai un anno e mezzo che ogni giorno vede passare davanti alle finestre del locale dieci o venti migranti. Tra di loro anche donne e bambini – “ma finché era estate, sai, non era un problema. La strada è relativamente facile. Il problema si pone ora, con tutta questa neve. È impossibile proseguire oltre i primi 500 metri”. Mi racconta di un ragazzo che, un paio di mesi fa, con delle semplici scarpe da corsa, si è fatto il Colle in solitaria: “è arrivato in Francia, ce l’ha fatta, però una volta arrivato gli hanno amputato i piedi”. L’ispettore capo di Bardonecchia Nigro Fulvio conferma la storia. Il ragazzo oggi vive a Briançon, in una delle case messe a disposizione dall’amministrazione comunale.

      Qui è anche molto difficile tentare un soccorso. Molti migranti tentano comunque il valico senza conoscere la natura volubile della montagna e le sue asperità, e spesso senza un abbigliamento adeguato. I più fortunati arrivano in Francia, altri vengono fermati dalla “gendarmerie” francese; molti, invece, rimangono intrappolati tra i boschi e la neve dopo aver smarrito il sentiero. Per la comunità locale e per il sindaco, Francesco Avato, il timore più grande – che giorno dopo giorno diventa certezza – è che, con l’arrivo della primavera, la neve sciolta riconsegni i corpi dei dispersi.
      Il lavoro dei volontari

      A Bardonecchia vengono accolti tutti i migranti che arrivano da Torino, che provano a passare il Colle e poi vengono rispediti indietro dalla polizia francese. All’inizio incontro soltanto i volontari di Rainbow4Africa che da tempo si occupano insieme alla Croce Rossa di dare aiuto ai migranti: un pasto caldo, assistenza medica (ogni notte un dottore volontario dell’associazione resta a vegliare il dormitorio) e assistenza legale – cioè altri volontari come Maurizio Cossa dell’Associazione Asgi. Il compito di Maurizio – e degli avvocati che, come lui, offrono questo tipo di prestazioni gratuite – non è tanto quello di riuscire a sbloccare procedimenti legali, quanto piuttosto quello di chiarire ai giovani migranti la loro “situazione legale”, perché molti di loro non sanno perché non possono andare in Francia, non sanno perché vogliono andarci e, il più delle volte, non sanno che, andando in Francia di nascosto, rischiano di perdere quei pochi diritti conquistati in Italia. Diritti che, per quanto scarni, restano comunque diritti.
      Il centro di Bardonecchia funziona a pieno regime, ospitando in media una ventina di ragazzi al giorno. Per ordinanza comunale, però, apre soltanto alle 22:30 – così da accogliere i migranti per la notte e rifocillarli – per poi chiudere i battenti all’alba, subito dopo la colazione, intorno alle 7:30. Al centro troviamo Marina Morello, dottoressa in pensione e volontaria di Rainbow4Africa. Mi racconta subito che qui c’è stata una risposta corale da parte di tutta la comunità locale. Tutti vogliono dare una mano e tutti, nei modi più vari, contribuiscono a fare in modo che i migranti si sentano il più possibile a loro agio.

      Al centro i migranti ricevono cibo, acqua e, nel caso in cui comunichino di voler partire per le montagne, viene dato loro l’equipaggiamento appropriato. Tutti i vestiti, gli scarponcini, le sciarpe e i guanti arrivano al centro direttamente dalle case di volontari, per lo più del posto.

      Arriva l’ultimo treno: non scende nessuno. Per stanotte è andata bene, non c’è nessuno da convincere a non fare pazzie.
      Dov’è la Francia?

      Sul versante francese, il contraltare di Bardonecchia e Rainbow4Africa è Briançon, dove si trova il centro d’accoglienza Tous Migrants. Dopo non poca diffidenza davanti all’ennesimo “journaliste italien” che temono sia un poliziotto sotto copertura, mi fanno fare un giro all’interno. La scena è meravigliosa: circa 30 ragazzi che, insieme ai volontari della piccola cittadina francese, cucinano come se fossero in una brigata di un ristorante stellato. Al piano di sopra ci sono i letti, al piano di sotto lo stanzone coi vestiti, la sala da pranzo, una stanza per giocare a dama o Mah Jong, e un ufficio. I volontari di Tous Migrants offrono assistenza, e all’occorrenza spiegano ai ragazzi come raggiungere le città dove sanno di potersi ricongiungere con amici o parenti. Stando a quanto mi dicono i volontari, sembra che da luglio 2017 a fine gennaio 2018 siano arrivati a Briançon più di 2 mila migranti. Il sostegno del sindaco e degli abitanti nei confronti di Tous Migrants è molto forte. Ed è probabilmente per questo che, come mi dice il sindaco di Bardonecchia, “il sindaco di Briançon non è ben visto dal governo centrale”.

      La seconda sera che passo a a Bardonecchia c’è il caos. Si sono riversati alla stazione tutti i migranti che non erano arrivati nei giorni precedenti per via di un grosso blocco della polizia a Torino. Tra questi c’è un gruppetto che soprannominiamo i Big4, che non ha ben chiara in testa la situazione. Per dare un’idea del loro smarrimento, scendono dal treno, si accendono una sigaretta nella stazione e chiosano: dov’è la Francia? Non hanno idea di cosa fare, dove andare, solo un obbiettivo: la Francia. E l’obbiettivo è completamente sfasato rispetto al calcolo dei rischi, delle perdite o delle prospettive.

      Probabilmente dal Colle, qualche tempo fa, passò anche Annibale con i suoi elefanti. Il che rende più facile capire la caparbietà di alcuni dei ragazzi che si trovano al centro di accoglienza di Bardonecchia. Non è soltanto che ormai hanno visto il deserto, l’hanno attraversato e poi si sono fatti traghettare su un gommone nel Mediterraneo da un tizio senza scrupoli che ha pure chiesto loro dei soldi, e quindi pensano, cosa vuoi che sia la neve – che fra l’altro molti di loro vedono per la prima volta. È anche che, alla fine, non hanno più nulla da perdere. Uno dei ragazzi che ho conosciuto ed è riuscito ad arrivare in Francia, stava tentando quella tratta da due anni. Due anni in cui si è consumato spirito e corpo. Qui si finisce con l’impazzire, perché in Italia molti vengono rimpallati tra un ufficio e l’altro della burocrazia e la Francia, d’altra parte, sembra deriderli: per un verso vicinissima, a portata di mano, eppure così distante da sembrare irraggiungibile.
      Le ronde solidali

      Molti giovani vengono dissuasi dall’inerpicarsi sul Colle. Nel frattempo, però, è andata creandosi un’altra tratta. Parte da Claviere, e segue la pista da sci da fondo che attraversa il confine. Qui il problema non è il rischio, visto che la tratta si trova tutta in piano, ma la più alta probabilità di essere avvistati dalla “gendarmerie”.

      Molte persone del luogo, per aiutare i ragazzi, fanno ronde notte e giorno, così da recuperare chi si perde – o chi riesce a passare il confine – prima che lo faccia la polizia. Una di queste ronde si chiama “Briser les Frontières”: un gruppo di volontari italiani e francesi che, oltre a offrire pasti caldi, vestiti e rifugio, hanno creato una fitta rete cooperativa per recuperare i migranti dispersi. La bussola che orienta il loro lavoro è una legge della montagna – così simile a quella del mare – per la quale è necessario aiutare chiunque si trovi in difficoltà. Molto vicini al movimento No Tav, di recente hanno organizzato una marcia che ripercorre la tratta dei migranti, in segno di protesta e rappresentazione. Per loro non esistono confini, e infatti se la prendono con il Ministro dell’Interno Minniti per aver permesso la creazione dei durissimi campi di detenzione in Libia.

      Nel frattempo la “Paf”, la polizia di frontiera – oltre a fermare e poi rimandare indietro chiunque provi a valicare il confine senza i documenti necessari – ha seminato paura pattugliando la zona tra Bardonecchia e Oulx per fermare i migranti ancor prima che raggiungano il confine.

      Dopo vari tentennamenti, anche i Big4 provano a passare. Li incontro il giorno dopo dall’altra parte, al centro Tous Migrants. Sono al settimo cielo. Intanto il sindaco di Bardonecchia ospita una commissione dell’Alto Commissariato Onu per i Rifugiati. La domanda è cosa succederà adesso.


    • Une réflexion sur la #montagne, vue dans le cadre de l’expo/atelier « Drawing on the move » :

      Ici plus d’info sur l’atelier :

      C’est le témoignage d’un réfugié, qui a transité par la vallée de #La_Roya (et non pas Briançon).
      Les témoignages ont été récoltées par Morgane et Mathilde chez #Cédric_Herrou

      Je transcris ici le texte d’Alex :

      « J’aime cette photo car j’ai vécu tellement d’histoires dans cette montagne : par exemple j’avais faim, j’avais soif, j’étais fatigué. C’est pour cela qu’il est important pour moi de me souvenir de l’histoire de ma vie. La police m’a aussi arrêté dans cette montagne. Je ne peux donc pas oublier cette montagne ».