• The two contrasting sides of German refugee policy

    ‘They try to integrate some people while really try to get rid of others.’

    Four years after Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the doors to around one million refugees and asylum seekers, Germany continues to mull over the long-term consequences of its great welcome. It still grapples with fundamental questions about how refugees should integrate and, for the tens of thousands of asylum seekers whose futures remain in limbo, who should be allowed to stay and who will be returned home?

    Mohammad Zarzorie, a Syrian engineer, counts himself a success story. After fleeing to Germany via Greece and the Balkans in 2015, he received his refugee status within months, quickly learned to speak German, and through an employment fair soon found his job at a chromium plating manufacturer on the outskirts of Munich.

    Two years later, his wife followed him, and although a housing crisis means they must live in an apartment attached to the factory, he has found peace and contentment here in the industrial heartland of Bavaria, in southern Germany.

    “From a land that’s under war to (there) being nothing difficult for you to start your life in another safe country, it wasn’t difficult for me,” says Zarzorie, a university teaching assistant before conflict erupted in Syria.

    “There was no challenge,” Zarzorie says. “Here in Germany they have this benefits system. They help you a lot to start integrating with society.”

    Returning to the engineering work he was pursuing in Syria has been the foundation on which he has built a new life, and he eagerly wants more Syrians in Germany to enter employment. “I think they must (work) because you can’t start your life if you don’t work,” he says.

    But not all new arrivals to Germany share his good fortune and have the opportunity to work.

    Bavaria, Zarzorie’s new home, is consistently one of the most conservative and anti-migrant states in Germany. It has deported more than 1,700 people so far this year, and drawn severe criticism from human rights groups for continuing to send hundreds of migrants to Afghanistan, which no other German state considers a safe country for return.

    “The image is deliberately created that refugees do not want to work, or are inactive, and this increases resentment against refugees.”

    “Sometimes you need to make things clear to people who are naive and confused and think that migration is nothing more than making things a bit more multicultural,” Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said in August. “Asylum law applies, but we cannot accept everyone. Because that overburdens us.”

    “It’s paradoxical,” says Gülseren Demirel, responsible for migration and integration for the Bavarian Green Party, which opposes Herrmann’s Christian Social Union. “The Bavarian economy is strong and also offers jobs that can’t be staffed. The chambers of commerce and civil society groups try to integrate the refugees, but the political conditions do not allow this.

    “The consequence is that refugees are not allowed to work and can’t develop any perspectives,” she adds. “The image is deliberately created that refugees do not want to work, or are inactive, and this increases resentment against refugees.”
    Rejected, but ‘tolerated’

    Bringing new arrivals into the workforce has been the cornerstone of Germany’s integration efforts since 2015.

    The benefits are two-fold: they can become self-dependent and assimilate socially, while at the same time plugging the country’s severe labour shortage, which has left almost 1.4 million positions vacant and will require 250,000 immigrants per year to address.

    The results have exceeded expectations. Around 36 percent of refugees between 15 and 60 – around 380,000 to 400,000 people – are now in employment, according to Germany’s Institute for Employment Research, which expects that number to rise to around 40 percent before the end of the year. While many remain in low-wage work as cleaners or security personnel, half are in skilled professions.

    But around a quarter of a million migrants who have had their asylum cases rejected remain in the country, despite being required to leave. Of these, 191,000 have been granted a ‘toleration’ – a temporary status meaning their deportation has been postponed for reasons such as illness, family ties to a person with residency, or a lack of travel documents.

    Around 11,500 failed asylum seekers were deported in the first half of this year – a slight decline on 2018. But the possibility of deportation remains a very real fear for those with ‘tolerations’, which are usually provided on a rolling basis, lasting only a few weeks or months at a time.

    Even if they attempt to find work and learn the language, they often find themselves subject to arbitrary decisions at the hands of Germany’s formidable bureaucracy.

    The decision on whether to grant asylum is made at a national level, but once a person’s claim has been rejected what follows is largely determined by state or local administrations, which are granted wide discretion, leading to wildly divergent situations depending on where a person is located.

    “(Local offices) often decide whether you can get a work permit, and you need a work permit for getting an apprenticeship permit, which then is very often the way for consolidating your right to stay,” explains Simon Sperling, a researcher at the University of Osnabruck’s Institute of Migration Research and Intercultural Studies.
    ‘It’s not how I was before’

    Like Zarzorie, Johnson Nsiah, from Ghana, also arrived in Germany after crossing the Mediterranean in 2015. He was sent to live in Kempten, a large town in Bavaria around two hours drive west of Munich.

    After fleeing his home when a local dispute threatened his life, he crossed the Sahara to Libya, where he worked as a builder and painter for two years. There, he met Julia*, a Nigerian woman, and helped her escape from her abusive employer. The employer then threatened to kill them both, forcing them to pay for space aboard an inflatable boat, which was intercepted by an Italian navy ship that brought them to Europe.

    The couple are now married. Julia, along with their two children – a four-year-old born in Italy and a two-year old born in Kempten – have the right to remain in Germany, but Nsiah’s asylum claim has been rejected and he is required to leave the country.

    Because of his family, Nsiah has been granted a ‘toleration’, in the form of a paper slip, valid for six months, which fixes the boundaries of his life. It does not permit him to work, travel outside Bavaria, or live outside the apartment block in which his family resides – a former mental hospital repurposed to house over 100 asylum seekers and refugees.

    The local administrative office has demanded Nsiah return to Ghana to obtain a passport, which he says is financially impossible and would amount to a death sentence due to the continued threats made against him. The restrictions have put a heavy toll on his mental and physical health. Stress has contributed to painful migraines that caused him to drop out of language classes.

    “It’s not how I was before,” he says, gesturing towards the hearing aids protruding from both his ears. “Because of stress, all those things, they make me like this.”

    Nsiah believes his many years of experience should easily lead to a job in construction or painting, and it angers him that that he is limited to cleaning the apartment building for 60c an hour while other Ghanaians he met in 2015 have been working freely in Hamburg and Stuttgart for years.
    Separation by nationality

    In June, the German parliament approved a raft of new asylum laws, including some measures to strengthen the rights of rejected asylum seekers in steady jobs, but also others that lengthened maximum stays in detention centres and streamlined deportations.

    For Sperling, the origins of this contradictory approach date back to 2015, when German authorities quietly began to separate arrivals based on their nationality, which greatly influences their chances of a successful asylum application.

    “The politics is very ambivalent in this sense: they try to integrate some people while really try to get rid of others.”

    Syrians, Iraqis, and Eritreans were all deemed to have good prospects and shuffled quickly into courses to help them integrate and find work. Others, especially those from West Africa and the Balkans, had a less favourable outlook, and so received minimal assistance.

    “Germany invested in language courses and things like that, but at the same time also really pushed forward to isolate and disintegrate certain groups, especially people who are said to not have have good prospects to stay,” he says.

    “The politics is very ambivalent in this sense: they try to integrate some people while really try to get rid of others.”

    But while some have undeniably built new lives of great promise, the lives of many of those 2015 arrivals remain in limbo.

    On the street, Nsiah says, Germans have racially abused him and berated him for refusing to work, a bitter irony not lost on him.

    “It’s not our fault. No refugee here doesn’t want to work,” he says, his voice smarting.

    “The only thing I need to be happy... (is) to work and take care of my family, to live with my family, because my wife doesn’t have anybody and I cannot leave her alone with these children.”
    The two extremes

    The local immigration office in Bavaria has shown a reluctance to grant permits for work or to access to three-year apprenticeships, which if pursued by someone like Nsiah would almost certainly lead to a job offer and a secure residence permit.

    It also frequently imposes restrictions on movement with breaches punishable by heavy fines. An Iraqi man in Kempten showed The New Humanitarian a picture of his seriously ill wife lying on a hospital bed in Saxony, whom he cannot visit because his pass restricts him to Bavaria; while an Iranian man said that for eight years his pass did not permit him to stray beyond the town boundary.

    Moving to another district or state might be beneficial, but these onerous stipulations, combined with a chronic shortage of rental accommodation throughout Bavaria, make it nearly impossible for those on low or non-existent incomes.

    Zarzorie, meanwhile, hopes to find his own house in Munich, raise children and finish the master’s degree he first embarked upon in Aleppo.

    There is still adjusting to do, to what he calls the different “life-cycle” in Munich. Unlike his memories of Syria, in which cafés and streets buzzed with chatter until the early hours of the morning, the boulevards here fall quiet long before midnight.

    That’s why he’s drawn most evenings to Marienplatz, a square in the city’s old quarter where its historic town hall overlooks modern cafes and restaurants, and the crowds stay out late enough that it almost reminds him of home.

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2019/11/11/German-refugee-integration-policy
    #Allemagne #intégration #asile #migrations #réfugiés #renvois #machine_à_expulser #politique_d'asile #réfugiés_syriens #catégorisation #nationalité #réfugiés_irakiens #réfugiés_érythréens #réfugiés_afghans #renvois #expulsion

    ping @_kg_

  • The Iraqi and Syrian refugees using body-mapping to share their stories

    What does it mean to flee one’s country and undertake the dangerous journey to Europe? What does it mean to suddenly lose everything and be forced to live in a different country? A new home, new school, new friends and a totally new life? To what extent does it influence family lives and the family unit as such? These are questions that a new research project, based at the University of Birmingham and funded by the British Academy, is tackling. The focus is not only on the changes occurring within refugee families, but equally on the impact of the influx of refugees on the host society.

    We use art as a research method to allow Iraqi and Syrian women and men to express their thoughts and feelings, on both their refugee journey and their new lives in their host countries. Fleeing one’s country puts enormous pressure and stress on an individual, both emotionally and physically. Using the artistic technique of body mapping proved to be very useful in this project, as it allowed participants to embody the emotional and psychological pain caused by their refugee experiences through art. Holding a paint brush, painting and being taught by a renowned artist, in this instance Rachel Gadsden, were for the majority of the participants a new experience. It provided them with a feeling of pride, achievement and self-fulfilment, at a time when they needed it the most. But what are they painting? How are they expressing their experiences? How do they portray themselves? What do they say about their new lives? Do their own narratives confirm widespread notions of their ‘vulnerability’?

    Decades of displacement

    Saddam Hussein’s decades of authoritarian rule in Iraq, the continuous political instability caused by his fall in 2003 and the rise of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014 has forced over three million Iraqis to flee their country since the 1980s. Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Syrians have become one of the largest groups of refugees, with more than five million civilians forced to flee to neighbouring Middle Eastern countries and to Europe. Many Iraqi and Syrian refugees have headed to Europe directly and settled in countries such as Germany or the UK, others went through multi-local trajectories of displacement in so-called ‘transit countries’ such as Jordan.

    Syrian and Iraqi societies are to a significant extent tribal and patriarchal in nature, with familial or community-based social networks often serving to protect their members. However, these networks may be disrupted or disappear entirely during a migration process, leaving women and children in particular in extremely vulnerable situations, unprotected by their family networks. Women, as well as children, very often find themselves in the most subservient and marginal positions, making them vulnerable to abuse and violence, inflicted either by social and religious communities or the state. Human trafficking operations have played a central role in facilitating immigration. In such circumstances, human traffickers who bring migrants across borders abuse women and children and force them into sexually exploitive occupations, or subject them to physical and sexual abuse themselves. Tackling violence against women and girls is one of the UK government’s most important goals. The UK’s aid report in 2015 highlights explicitly the challenges the UK faces regarding the conflict in Iraq and Syria and the need to support peace and stability abroad, in order to secure social and political stability in the UK. The UK government is working extensively towards implementing the ‘No One Behind Promise’, which strives to achieve gender equality, prioritise the empowerment of girls and women and end violence against them, within war zones, such as in Syria and Iraq, and during migration processes in particular.

    Women are often limited to gender-specific narratives of female vulnerability within patriarchal social structures. Without neglecting the fact that women are more affected by and subject to sexual and gender-based violence, the over 150 women we talked and worked with in our projects so far have another story to tell. In our art workshops, these women used art and body-mapping to express their powerful stories of resilience, endurance and survival.

    Gender roles in a time of war and instability

    “I never worked with fabric, but I learnt how to produce the most amazing clothes for women’s engagement and wedding parties. I go around clothing shops in the city and try to sell them. Now I have my own network of buyers. I earn more money now than my husband used to earn. He passed away five years ago and left me with three children to feed. Yes, they call me sharmuta – a slut – because I go around male merchants in town to see whether they would buy my products. I don’t sleep with them. I only sell them my dresses. I don’t do anything wrong. Therefore, I will not stop. I cannot stop. I have children to feed. The problem is not me – the problem is their dirty thinking, only because I am a woman and a good-looking one too [laughing].”

    The young Iraqi widow above was not the only female refugee in Jordan, the UK or in Germany who struggles with social stigmatisations and sexual harassment, on the way to and from work as well as in the workplace. Women’s independence is very often violently attacked, verbally and physically, in order to control women’s lives, bodies and sexuality. Refugee women’s pending legal status, their socio-economic integration and the degree of their security within the host environment change long-held values on family structures and socio-cultural expectations on gender roles. They also influence women and men’s own understanding of their roles which, in most cases, represents a shift from their traditional gender roles within their families. Women and men’s roles in family and society inevitably change in time of war and forced migration and society needs to adapt to this development. In order to achieve sustainable change in society’s perception, both men and women need to be socialised and equipped to understand these societal changes. This does not solely apply to the refugee communities, but also to the host communities, who are also influenced by the presence of these newcomers.

    Through stitching fabric onto their body map paintings or adding pictures of the food they cook to sell on the canvases, women express their attempts to survive. Through art, women can portray how they see themselves: strong in enduring the hardship, without neglecting the challenges they face. “I want to show the world out there that we are not poor victims. One woman like us is better and stronger than 100 men,” as one Iraqi in Germany explains. Another Syrian in the UK emphasised women’s resilience, saying “wherever we fall we will land straight. I want to paint my head up for these politicians to know that nothing will bend us”.

    Women in our art workshops see the production of their artwork and the planned art exhibitions as an opportunity to provide a different narrative on Muslim refugee women. It provided them with a space to articulate the challenges they faced, during and after their refugee journey, but also to create a bridge between the refugee communities and the host community. The artwork produced in the workshops helped to facilitate community bonding, integration and above all, as one Syrian in Jordan explains, “a better understanding of what we really are”.
    https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/blog/summer-showcase-2019-iraqi-syrian-refugees-body-mapping
    #corps #cartographie #cartoexperiment #réfugiés #réfugiés_syriens #réfugiés_irakiens #asile #migrations #couture #femmes #genre #dessin
    ping @reka

    • Negotiating Relationships and Redefining Traditions: Syrian and Iraqi Women Refugees in Jordan
      Art workshops in Jordan April 2019

      Narratives of displacement is a research-based project of the University of Birmingham and funded by the British Academy, documenting the effects of the long and extensive conflict in Syria and the consequent process of significant temporary and permanent displacement of families, upon the marriages and the family-units of the many thousands of Syrian and Iraqi women affected, and now living as refugees, and as asylum-seekers, within several host nations, namely: Germany, UK and Jordan.

      The project is devised and directed by Dr Yafa Shanneik, and comprises at its core the collecting and collating of data, in several locations, in this instance within Jordan, by Shanneik, by means of a comprehensive and broad-reaching programme of interviews with women affected, personal testimony, that considers the sustainment of the marriage and the family unit, and those topics directly related to this, ranging from, the physical, and frequently arduous and perilous, journey from home to host country, to the shifting balance as to the family provider – affected in turn by, for example, skills and the availability of opportunity, psychological changes within individual family members, cultural differences within those host nations.

      Dr Shanneik is acutely conscious of the forced upheaval, the diaspora of no choosing, and the desire therefore, the longing, of those affected, to give voice to the emotional impact, simply to tell their own stories. And, for this reason she has enlisted the services of artist Dr Rachel Gadsden, who will, over an extended period, work with the interviewees, together with family members, mothers, sisters, children, to create mural-style artwork, using the body-mapping process as a starting-point, to depict not only the destruction they may have left behind, the harrowing passages and the significant demands imposed by the process of integration, but also, perhaps, the opportunities, both foreseen and unforeseen, of the new circumstances that they find themselves in.

      The artwork will serve an additional purpose: the opportunity for the testimony, the stories, to be presented to the outside world, a public voice in the form of an exhibition; and therefore, as a means of enhancing this experience, composer and musician Freddie Meyers has been commissioned to compose an original score integrates the Syrian and Iraqi narratives as part of a live art performance, that will sit alongside the exhibition of artworks, to provide an additional layer in terms of expressing the emotional response.

      The starting-point for this particular leg of the project is the one-time fortified town of Karak. Historically, Karak was always of importance, in its strategic location overlooking the easy trading route formed by the valley and the escarpment that is now the Kings Highway, running from north to south through the centre of the country. There will always have been a ‘stop-over’ here, and certainly in the time of the Nabateans, it would have been both a military base and one of many toll-gates, alongside of course Petra in the south, used to control the movement of frankincense, in particular, shipped and sold to Rome, that made the Nabateans so wealthy and enduring. Later, it was held by the Romans themselves, and later again the, Frankish, Crusaders, who used it as a means of protecting Jerusalem, until finally it was laid siege to and liberated by Saladin.

      This fascinating and colourful history is of great significance in terms of Narratives of Displacement, exemplifying as it does the history of the different forms of migration, movement, cross-cultural trade and interface that has been instrumental in forging the tolerant and diverse nature of modern Jordan.

      Since the conflict in Syria began it is understood that there are, conservatively, over a million Syrians currently taking refuge in Jordan, and the country therefore actively engages in seeking to understand the many and continuing pressures consequent to this, borne not only by the refugees themselves but by their hosts, and impinging upon the infrastructure and social and work environment, the better to accommodate the enormous influx.

      The project for five days has based itself at the Al Hassan Cultural Community centre, interestingly on the other side of the valley from, and having spectacular views of, the liberated fortress. Strategically this location is still of importance. Under the inspirational guidance of its director, Ouruba al Shamayle, the community centre houses an extensive library, research and study rooms, and also a brilliant 800 seat theatre and, used in conjunction with Karak University, attracts students hailing from every other part of the country, north and south.

      The immediate vicinity of the centre alone plays host to many hundreds of refugee families, and so over the juration of our stay the centre has witnessed a continuous visitation of the women and their families, attending for interview with Shanneik, and subsequently to interact in creating body-mapping paintings. The interviewing process has been successful and revealing in documenting individual narratives, and the participants have rendered their often-harrowing stories within a total so far of 7 narrative canvases.

      The venue has proved wholly appropriate for additional reasons. The centre plays host to the regular round-table forum of local community leaders, and consequently on Wednesday, Shanneik was given the opportunity to present to a near full complement of forum members including influential local tribal and community leaders. The talk generated considerable interest and discussion amongst the forum, who voiced their appreciation of the objectives, and offered continuing support.

      Subsequently the governor of Karak, Dr. Jamal Al Fayez, visited the centre to familiarize himself with the research, taking a short break for coffee and relaxed discussion about the project’s aims and objectives, and additionally contributing to the artwork underway, completing a part of the painted surface of one of the artworks, and also superimposing in charcoal some of the written word to be contained in the finished pieces.

      From Karak we journeyed north to Irbid where the weather took a turn for the worse. With the rain and the cold, we were conscious of how such conditions might affect our ability to link up with prospective artistic collaborators. The first workshop in Irbid brought together a group of both Syrian and Iraqi women and was hosted in a private home. A red plastic swing swaying in the sitting room, caught our attention. Our Iraqi host has 2 young children, a daughter, and a son who is autistic. The swing allows the son to continue to enjoy physical activity throughout the winter months – this winter, apparently, having been one of the longest. We painted two canvases; one that accommodated two Syrian sisters and our Iraqi host, and one created on traditional dark canvas and telling the stories of displacement of the four Iraqi women, designed in a circular pattern and evoking journeys and life’s force. After the women drew and painted, music filled the air as all the Iraqi women danced and sang traditional songs together. It was a joy for Yafa and Rachel to witness: art and music transports the mood, and the women let their feelings go, laughed, sang and danced together. Rachel recorded their ululation; to incorporate in the music and performance Freddie Meyers is composing.

      That night there was crashing thunder and flashes of lightning, so no surprise that our trip to Mafraq, further north, had to be postponed – flooding can be a hazard on these occasions as rainwater pours down from the mountains and fills up the dry wadis. So instead the project headed to a Palestinian refugee camp, to a society that supports orphaned children.

      Freddie and Tim were not able to join the workshop and so went off to film the surrounding area. Hearing the stories of migration is always a challenge, but as Yafa interviews the women a clear narrative emerges to guide the piecing together of the artwork. This time there were two Iraqi women and also two Syrian women. Despite living in the same building, the two Syrians had never before spoken to one another. One of the Iraqi women has been fantastically creative in her efforts to secure the lives of her children, taking whatever work she can to support her family, having been widowed five years ago. Adoption is rare in these communities so it was heartening to hear about the work of the society as it goes about raising funds to educate and support the young orphans. The psychological impact upon the women is invariably, but perhaps not always addressed or discussed, and the process of art and the interviews can be cathartic, allowing the women to be open and perhaps emotionally truthful about their predicament.

      The weather turned the following day, so Mafraq was back on the schedule. The project visited a centre that teaches basic skills to support and enable refugees to seek work. A group of five women who all had direct contact with the centre joined the workshop. The women were all from Homs, and its environs. One of the canvases tells of the many ways the refugees fled their homeland and made their way to Jordan, both north and south. The key factor that emerged was that all of the women wanted to hold hands in the painting. It is clear that they support one another. Yafa and Rachel had the opportunity to visit the temporary homes of three of the women. As is to be expected, living conditions can sometimes be difficult, with problems related to dampness, for example, lack of adequate heating, and overcrowding. Despite the challenges the women were making traditional food to sell in the market and doing whatever they could to make the daily conditions and circumstances for their families better.

      The final destination for the project was Amman, where the project was hosted at the Baqa’a Palestinian refugee camp. It was market day in Baqa’a so our journey into the camp was more a case of maneuvering around stallholders than following the road. Al Baqa’a camp was one of six “emergency” camps set up in 1968 to accommodate Palestine refugees and displaced people who left the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Over 200,000 people live in the camp now; the community has welcomed recently many Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

      We were hosted by an organisation that also supports orphans, and they had brought together the group of Syrian women refugees and their children for our art workshop. 
Their husbands and fathers are all missing as a direct result of the Syrian conflict. We hear this narrative often, the bravery of each of the women as they share their stories and continue to support their families in the best possible way they can, is humbling. 
We will be creating a full narrative artwork, but these images say so much already.

      14-sketches13-blue-muralWe were additional joined in this workshop by Nicola Hope and Laura Hope, friends of Rachel’s. Nicola is at University studying Arabic and is currently attending Arabic classes as part of her degree process in Amman, and Laura, an Italian literature teacher was visiting her daughter. Additionally so as not to let the men miss out of the experience of the centre and the Baqa’a hospitality, the hosts took all of us on a tour of the camp after the workshop.

      Having listened to many harrowing and challenging stories of displacement during their time in Jordan, told by the Syrian and Iraqi refugee artistic collaborators, at the forefront of Yafa’s and Rachel’s mind is the fact that displacement is never a temporary predicament, it is a continuing one. The emotional scars are life long, and they have yet to meet a single refugee whose greatest hope is anything other than to safely return home.

      This was even more evident at Baqa’a Refugee Camp. Vulnerable individuals have a remarkable ability to survive, and ultimately they have no other choice other than to do just that.

      https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/ptr/departments/theologyandreligion/research/projects/narratives-of-displacement/blog.aspx
      #art

  • The thousands of former child refugees deported to Afghanistan and Iraq

    Thousands of young people who sought refuge in Britain as unaccompanied child asylum seekers have since been deported to war torn countries that are in part controlled by Islamic State, the Taliban or other repressive regimes, a Home Office minister has admitted.

    https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2016-02-09/revealed-the-thousands-of-former-child-refugees-deported-to-a
    #mineurs #majeurs #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Irak #Afghanistan #renvois #expulsions #MNA #enfants #enfance #réfugiés_afghans #réfugiés_irakiens #statistiques #chiffres #UK #Angleterre

  • Africans Face Dead End After Death-Defying Odyssey to U.S.

    The number of Africans crossing the Americas to seek refuge in the U.S. grew tenfold last year. Now survivors of that long, expensive and dangerous journey face shrinking prospects of reaching the U.S. and more hardships in Mexico amid Trump’s immigration crackdown.

    In the Mexican border town of Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border, a 27-year-old Somali man made inquiries at a grotty inn called the Imperial Hotel. He had arrived in Mexico a day earlier.

    Nadir C. fled Somalia several years ago after falling in love with a woman from a rival tribe. Pursued by her family, he escaped to Kenya, before traveling on to Uganda and South Sudan.


    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2017/03/02/africans-face-dead-end-after-death-defying-odyssey-to-u-s
    #parcours_migratoires #migrants_africains #asile #migrations #réfugiés #itinéraires_migratoires #Mexique #USA #Etats-Unis #migrerrance
    cc @reka

    • The New Coyote Trail : Refugees Head West to Bypass Fortress Europe

      Europe’s closing borders and the death toll in the Mediterranean are forcing asylum seekers to look further afield. An investigation into the migration routes out of Latin America into the U.S. and Canada finds Africans, Afghans and Iraqis enduring great risks.

      https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2017/12/19/the-new-coyote-trail-refugees-head-west-to-bypass-fortress-europe
      #réfugiés_afghans #réfugiés_irakiens #Canada #Equateur

    • More Migrants From Far-Flung Lands Crossing US-Mexico Border

      The young man traversed Andean mountains, plains and cities in buses, took a harrowing boat ride in which five fellow migrants drowned, walked through thick jungle for days, and finally reached the U.S.-Mexico border.

      Then Abdoulaye Camara, from the poor West African country of Mauritania, asked U.S. officials for asylum.

      Camara’s arduous journey highlights how immigration to the United States through its southern border is evolving. Instead of being almost exclusively people from Latin America, the stream of migrants crossing the Mexican border these days includes many who come from the other side of the world.

      Almost 3,000 citizens of India were apprehended entering the U.S. from Mexico last year. In 2007, only 76 were. The number of Nepalese rose from just four in 2007 to 647 last year. More people from Africa are also seeking to get into the United States, with hundreds having reached Mexican towns across the border from Texas in recent weeks, according to local news reports from both sides of the border.

      Camara’s journey began more than a year ago in the small town of Toulel, in southern Mauritania. He left Mauritania, where slavery is illegal but still practiced, “because it’s a country that doesn’t know human rights,” he said.

      Camara was one of 124 migrants who ended up in a federal prison in Oregon after being detained in the U.S. near the border with Mexico in May, the result of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy.

      He was released October 3, after he had passed his “credible fear” exam, the first step on obtaining asylum, and members of the community near the prison donated money for his bond. He was assisted by lawyers working pro bono.

      “My heart is so gracious, and I am so happy. I really thank my lawyers who got me out of that detention,” Camara said in French as he rode in a car away from the prison.

      Camara’s journey was epic, yet more people are making similar treks to reach the United States. It took him from his village on the edge of the Sahara desert to Morocco by plane and then a flight to Brazil. He stayed there 15 months, picking apples in orchards and saving his earnings as best he could. Finally he felt he had enough to make it to the United States.

      All that lay between him and the U.S. border was 6,000 miles (9,700 kilometers).

      “It was very, very difficult,” said Camara, 30. “I climbed mountains, I crossed rivers. I crossed many rivers, the sea.”

      Camara learned Portuguese in Brazil and could understand a lot of Spanish, which is similar, but not speak it very well. He rode buses through Brazil, Peru and Colombia. Then he and others on the migrant trail faced the most serious obstacle: the Darien Gap, a 60-mile (97-kilometer) stretch of roadless jungle straddling the border of Colombia and Panama.

      But first, he and other travelers who gathered in the town of Turbo, Colombia, had to cross the Gulf of Uraba, a long and wide inlet from the Caribbean Sea. Turbo, on its southeast shore, has become a major point on the migrant trail, where travelers can resupply and where human smugglers offer boat rides.

      Camara and about 75 other people boarded a launch for Capurgana, a village next to the Panamanian border on the other end of the gulf.

      While the slow-moving boat was far from shore, the seas got very rough.

      “There was a wave that came and tipped over the canoe,” Camara said. “Five people fell into the water, and they couldn’t swim.”

      They all drowned, he said. The survivors pushed on.

      Finally arriving in Capurgana after spending two nights on the boat, the migrants split into smaller groups to cross the infamous Darien Gap, a wild place that has tested the most seasoned of travelers. The thick jungle hides swamps that can swallow a man. Lost travelers have died, and been devoured, boots and all, by packs of wild boars, or have been found, half out of their minds.

      Camara’s group consisted of 37 people, including women — two of them pregnant, one from Cameroon and one from Congo — and children.

      “We walked seven days and climbed up into the mountains, into the forest,” Camara said. “When it was night, we slept on the ground. We just kept walking and sleeping, walking and sleeping. It was hard.”

      One man, who was around 26 and from the African nation of Guinea, died, perhaps from exhaustion combined with thirst, Camara said.

      By the sixth day, all the drinks the group had brought with them were gone. They drank water from a river. They came across a Panamanian man and his wife, who sold them some bananas for $5, Camara said.

      Once he got out of the jungle, Camara went to Panamanian immigration officials who gave him travel documents enabling him to go on to Costa Rica, which he reached by bus. In Costa Rica, he repeated that process in hopes of going on to Nicaragua. But he heard authorities there were not so accommodating, so he and about 100 other migrants took a boat around Nicaragua, traveling at night along its Pacific coast.

      “All we could see were the lights of Nicaragua,” he said. Then it was over land again, in cars, buses and sometimes on foot, across Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, all the way to the U.S. border at Tijuana. He was just about out of money and spent the night in a migrant shelter.

      On May 20, he crossed into San Ysidro, south of San Diego.

      “I said, `I came, I came. I’m from Africa. I want help,”’ he said.

      He is going to stay with a brother in Philadelphia while he pursues his asylum request.

      https://www.voanews.com/amp/more-migrants-far-flung-lands-crossing-us-mexico-border/4651770.html?__twitter_impression=true
      #parcours_migratoire #nouvelle_Méditerranée

    • For African migrants trying, and dying, to reach north America, the Darién Gap is the “new Mediterranean”

      By the time Basame Lonje made it out of the jungle, he was beyond exhausted. The 35-year-old from Cameroon had gone four days out of seven without food, surviving each day on a single biscuit. He drank from rivers flowing with debris and death, carrying the corpses of an unknown number of people who have perished in the Darién Gap, a remote stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama known as the most dangerous in the world. “I barely survived,” Basame says. “People had sores on the soles of their feet and they had nobody to carry them. They were left there. Do you know what it means to walk for days?”

      As a result of tough migration policies in traditional destination countries in Europe, Basame is one of thousands of so-called‘extracontinental migrants’ taking the desperate decision to try and traverse the American continent in the hope of seeking asylum in the United States or Canada. In previous times this route was used almost exclusively by central American migrants. More recently it has seen a surge in migrants from African countries like Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Mauritania, Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso, as well as people from Asian and Middle Eastern countries such as India, Pakistan, Syria and Nepal. Mexico authorities apprehended around 3,000 Africans and some 12,000 extracontinental migrants in total in 2018, according to the Migrant Policy Unit of Mexico’s Interior Ministry. Most are escaping a mix of conflict, political repression and crumbling economies.

      They fly to visa-friendly countries such as Ecuador, Brazil and Guyana, before navigating their way up north to Mexico, sometimes with the help of smugglers, other times with the aid of social media posts of those who have gone before them. They spend thousands of dollars on flights and bus tickets for journeys that can take months.

      Basame was a teacher back in Cameroon but says he fled the bloody conflict that has been raging in parts of his country since 2016 after he was abducted by armed groups fighting for the secession of the English-speaking parts of the country. His crime? Daring to hold classes.

      New migration regulations have rolled out swiftly and unpredictably since Trump took office in January 2017. Military troops were deployed to the border in October 2018, when some 7,000 people from central America fleeing gang violence and poverty approached on foot. In January 2019, the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), known as ‘Remain in Mexico’ went into effect: as a result, asylees that arrive in the US via Mexico are now sent back to wait while their cases are processed, instead of being released on parole in the US as prescribed by US law. Rights organisations point out that sending asylum seekers back to Mexico, where they often face deportation, is a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

      This February, Trump declared a state of emergency and accessed emergency funds to begin construction of a physical wall between the US and Mexico. He has also pursued agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras under which all migrants who pass through these countries must first seek refuge and be rejected in them before placing claims in the US. The agreement disregards the fact that not only do these countries lack the capacity to process large-scale asylum claims but that many people are fleeing violence and poverty from these same countries.

      Cumulatively, these policies have seen thousands of people waiting in shelters in US-Mexico border towns like Tijuana and Matamoros where conditions are deteriorating. A ‘metering’ system sees US customs officials attend to about three people daily. Mexico’s northern towns are also notorious for violence, and migrants are vulnerable to exploitation by drug cartels and human traffickers.
      Externalising borders

      In July 2019, Mexico signed an agreement with the US after President Trump threatened to impose trade sanctions if migration flows were not brought to a minimum. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador agreed to deploy 6,000 troops from the newly-formed National Guard to police its borders, adopting the US border militarisation strategy and sealing Mexico’s fate as President Trump’s outer wall.

      Since then, Mexican immigration officials have stopped issuing exit permits to extracontinental migrants arriving at the southern border, trapping many like Basame in a country they have no desire to stay in. With fewer people able to reach the US, Mexico – a transit country – is becoming an unintentional final destination. Although Mexico has refused to sign a third safe country agreement with the US, it has been forced to field over 60,000 asylum claims – double the number received last year. It has been estimated that 60 per cent of these applications are made in Tapachula.

      With no work permit, and even if he had one, with few opportunities available to him as an African migrant and a non-Spanish speaker, Basame is clear about his options: “Mexico can’t give me that.”

      But Mexico’s immigration agency has denied his application for a visitor’s visa that would help him move north. Officials are only issuing permanent residency cards, a document that he fears will affect his asylum claim in the US.

      By 09.00, hundreds of men and women from over two dozen countries were waiting in the blistering sun. Their voices were a cacophony of languages – Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, Tigrinya and Haitian Creole – clashing with the wails of hot, hungry children hanging from their parents. Migrants of Asian origin are mostly absent from these daily crowds: since Mexico deported 310 Indian migrants in an “unprecedented” move this October, they have been keeping a low profile for fear of suffering a similar fate.

      An immigration officer appeared behind the gate, looked at the crowd and shook his head in frustration. A fight broke out when the gates opened as people rushed to get in. Despite his punctuality, Basame was not seen that day.
      “My friends died there”

      Narrating his long, treacherous journey from Cameroon to Mexico, Basame tells Equal Times that after fleeing the captivity of armed rebels this March, he headed to Nigeria before deciding to try to reach the safety of the US. He wanted better opportunities than Nigeria could offer and feared the rebels could easily reach him there. First, he took a flight to Ecuador, then by bus he moved through Colombia. In the north-western town of Capurgana on the Colombian-Panamanian border, he met fellow Cameroonian migrants, as well as Haitians and Cubans. As they prepared to enter the Darién, villagers living at the mouth of the jungle warned them: “If you start this journey, you must finish it, otherwise it is bad news,” alluding to the dangers of the wild animals, poisonous insects and armed kidnappers marauding inside the impenetrable rainforest that breaks up the Pan-American Highway.

      Basame spent seven days in the dense thickness of the Darién, battling the rain and cold, moving from morning until nightfall with nothing but a bag of clothes and some snacks. “You do not stop in the Darién. You keep moving,” he says. He walked with a group of other migrants. Many didn’t make it out of the jungle due to exhaustion. Others were swept away in the fast-moving rivers. “My friends died there,” Basame remembers soberly. One of his worst memories is of walking past the corpse of a dead baby left in a backpack.

      Basame is one of the lucky ones. After reaching Panama, exhausted and starving, he regained his strength before moving up through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. After crossing the Suchiate River into Mexico by raft, he arrived in Tapachula in July. He spent a week at an immigration detention centre there before he was given an exit permit to leave the country.

      It wasn’t until he got pulled from a bus to Tijuana by the National Guard that he realised that he could not legally leave Tapachula unless he was heading south, back to Guatemala. The US-Mexico deal took effect on 10 July and he was amongst the first people stranded by Mexico’s new regulations. Basame’s permit would force him back through the jungle of death he had barely survived.
      Death and disease in Mexico

      Judeline Romelus sits with her friends in Tapachula’s main square watching as they braid the hair of her 10-year-old daughter, Mariska. Nearby, Ghanaian and Guinean flags announce African food at restaurants, alongside Mexican and Honduran colours. Haitians and Africans give locals a trim in makeshift barbershops.

      But the general atmosphere of warmth masks the apprehension many locals feel. Despite being in one of the country’s poorest regions, Tapachula has tried to bear the weight of its new migrant population but some people are concerned that government agencies and NGOs are focusing their attention on these new arrivals when the needs of the locals are also many.

      Like Basame, Judeline and Mariska are stranded. Judeline applied for a humanitarian visa so that she can travel north with her daughter, but she must wait for her appointment in February 2020. The 28-year-old mother packed her bags and left Haiti three months ago. Economic stagnation and recent political unrest have caused many to flee the small Caribbean nation. “There are no opportunities in Haiti and I cannot work,” she says, even with a diploma. Judeline says she is looking for a better life in the US where friends are waiting for them in Florida. She relies on their monthly remittances of US$50 to pay for the small room the mother and daughter share.

      The unsanitary living conditions in overcrowded shelters such as these have caused a spike in health problems. “Women are presenting diseases related to sexual and reproductive health,” says Claudia León, regional head at Jesuits Refugee Service, a humanitarian non-profit providing legal and psychosocial assistance to refugees. Many were assaulted in the Darién. “The situation is critical. They have no clean water to wash with and those who are pregnant are at risk.”

      Migrants of all nationalities are suffering from invisible illnesses too. A spokesperson for the medical humanitarian NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says it is dealing with many cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and trauma. Poor living conditions coupled with the memories of the treacherous journey to Mexico and the general uncertainty is causing some to self-harm. “We are in an emergency,” says León. “I have seen people outside the immigration centre hurting themselves because they are in such extreme conditions.”

      The desperation to get to the US has led to the exploration of dangerous alternative routes. A boat smuggling Cameroonian migrants capsized off the coast of Mexico in October, killing one man. “We knew him,” one migrant tells Equal Times at the restaurant where the deceased once frequented. But even as they recall his tragic passing, another man says that he is also considering taking the same route to the US.
      “The new Mediterranean”

      All across the world, tough policies on migration are forcing the most vulnerable migrants and refugees to go underground and seek the services of smuggling gangs and human traffickers. Like the US, Europe has enforced stringent measures to stem migration flows. An increase in anti-immigrant sentiments from far-right, populist governments in the US and Europe in particular sees leaders like Trump and Hungary’s Viktor Orban routinely employ rhetoric that fuels racist anxieties and emphasises the building of walls to prevent a ‘migrant invasion’.

      In 2016, Turkey signed an agreement with the European Union and a bilateral agreement with Greece to keep some three million refugees fleeing the Syrian war from crossing the Aegean Sea into Greece. The agreement saw the European Union send back anyone who crossed without documents after 20 March 2016.

      A similar agreement between Italy and Libya in 2017 was extended this November. Italy is training and funding the Libyan Coast Guard to stop African and Middle Eastern migrants on the Mediterranean and return them to Libya, a country at war.
      Interception numbers have dropped from 181,000 in 2016 to only 8,000 this year, according to UNHCR. Thousands are held in detention centres run by armed factions battling for control since the Arab uprisings of 2011. African migrants have been enslaved, tortured and sold. They have also been caught in the crossfire of the battle for Tripoli. In July, a bomb fell on one detention centre, killing 44 people.

      The number of asylum claims in Mexico keeps rising and is expected reach 80,000 by the end of the year. Although most Africans initially refused to seek asylum in Mexico, more people are applying, particularly from Cameroon. The number of asylum claims from Africa is currently around 500.

      The influx of migrants and refugees has split Mexico politically, with many accusing President Obrador of yielding to President Trump and rescinding on human rights promises he made when he campaigned last year.

      Human rights organisations condemn the US and Mexico’s strategies. “Those seeking safety want the same thing any of us would want if we were in their shoes,” says Isa Sanusi, of Amnesty International in Nigeria. “Mexico and the US must ensure that these migrants from Africa and other parts of the world are not denied the rights guaranteed to them by international law.”

      For now, Basame is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Even if he had the money, it would be too dangerous for him to go home, and yet he currently has no way out of Mexico. As he struggles to stay afloat, his hopes are fading fast. “I’m running out of cash and I’m running out of patience. I’m sick and I don’t have anywhere to live,” he says. “How will I survive?”

      https://www.equaltimes.org/for-migrants-trying-and-dying-to?lang=en

    • Es cosa suya: entanglements of border externalization and African transit migration in northern #Costa_Rica

      Starting from the idea that border externalization – understood as the spatial and institutional stretching of borders – is enmeshed with the highly contextual humanitarian and securitarian dynamics of migrant trajectories, this article addresses the reach of border externalization tentacles in Costa Rica. Although Costa Rica does not formally engage in border externalization agreements, it is located in a region characterized by transit migration and transnational securitization pressures. Moreover, externalization efforts across the Atlantic have contributed to a relatively new presence of so-called extra-continental migrants. Given these circumstances, we aim to interrogate the ways in which border externalization plays a role in Costa Rica’s discourses, policies and practices of migration management. We do so by analysing a migrant reception centre in the northern Costa Rica border region, and by focusing on African transit migration. Our analysis is based on exploratory field research at the centre as well as on long-term migration research in Central America. Building on these empirical explorations and the theoretical notions of mobility regimes, transit and arterial borders, the article finds that Costa Rica’s identity as a ‘humanitarian transit country’ – as enacted in the migrant reception centre – both reproduces and challenges border externalization. While moving towards increased securitization of migration and an internalization of its border, Costa Rica also distinguishes itself from neighbouring countries by emphasizing the care it extends to African migrants, in practice enabling these migrants to move further north. Based on these findings, the article argues for a deeper appreciation of the role of local-regional histories, perceptions, rivalries, linkages and strategies of migration management. This allows for a better grip of the scope and shape of border externalization across a diversity of migration landscapes.

      https://comparativemigrationstudies.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40878-019-0131-9

    • New contested borderlands: Senegalese migrants en route to Argentina

      This article sheds novel, light on how Senegalese men and women adapt to European border governance by finding new ways to ‘look for life’ (chercher la vie) in Latin America, as an alternative to the perilous clandestine routes to Europe. The article follows how Senegalese migrants’ mobility to Argentina has evolved over the last two decades. It particularly focuses on the migrants’ journey to Argentina and explores the migrants’ accounts of their experiences en route and compares them to how different intersecting state-driven national and supranational migration policies become entangled in their mobility. By analytically focusing on the changing migration infrastructure and the different forms of friction the migrants encounter and respond to while moving, the article shows how the risk and uncertainty along the journey increasingly mirror the struggles which African migrants face at EU–African borderlands, and thus how similar features of global mobility regimes seem to be reproduced along this new route from West Africa to Latin America. In this way the politics and hierarchies of mobility are brought to the fore. Yet the article also points to how migrants find new openings and ways to contest the hindrances that aims to stop them as they move through these newly traversed borderlands.

      https://comparativemigrationstudies.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40878-018-0109-z
      #migrants_sénégalais #Argentine #Sénégal

  • Hundreds of asylum seekers fleeing the Netherlands

    Since November 2015, about 400 Syrian and Iraqi refugees have stated that they wish to leave the Netherlands. The majority of these refugees have still not started the asylum procedure, according to a report by BNR based on statistics from the repatriation and departure service in the Netherlands.


    http://www.nltimes.nl/2016/07/04/hundreds-asylum-seekers-fleeing-netherlands

    #Pays-Bas #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_syriens #réfugiés_irakiens #quitter #partir #procédure_d'asile

  • Come afghani e iracheni sono diventati profughi di serie B

    Dai due paesi mediorientali è arrivato un quarto dei richiedenti asilo in Europa nel 2015. L’accordo dell’8 marzo tra Ue e Turchia rischia di formalizzare una differenza tra profughi: quelli che avranno diritto a passare e quelli che dovranno tornare indietro.


    http://openmigration.org/analisi/come-afghani-e-iracheni-sono-diventati-profughi-di-serie-b/?platform=hootsuite
    #tri #catégorisation #réfugiés_syriens #réfugiés_irakiens #réfugiés_afghans #asile #migrations #réfugiés

  • This photographer traveled by raft with refugees headed to Europe - Quartz

    http://qz.com/589235/this-photographer-traveled-by-raft-with-refugees-headed-to-europe

    https://qzprod.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/3-2-8.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=1600

    Last year, hundreds of thousands of refugees boarded flimsy boats on the coast of Turkey hoping to make it to Europe. Photojournalist Harry Chun set out to document that journey by making it himself.

    Chun started in Istanbul and made his way to Europe with a group of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Then, as border closures forced desperate migrants to change their route, he returned to keep documenting the ever-shifting journey.

    #réfugiés #syrie #grèce #méditerranée #quartz

  • De plus en plus de réfugiés irakiens rentrent au pays, déçus par l’Europe | euronews, monde
    http://fr.euronews.com/2016/01/28/de-plus-en-plus-de-refugies-irakiens-rentrent-au-pays-decus-par-l-europ

    Depuis quelques semaines, le phénomène prend de l’ampleur à tel point que de nombreuses compagnies organisent des vols spéciaux pour ramener les réfugiés irakiens. C’est le cas de la compagnie aérienne Iraqi Airways à l’aéroport de Berlin. “Nous avons trois vols par semaine explique une salariée de la compagnie et environ 100 réfugiés par semaine. Leur nombre augmente de façon continue ; cela a commencé en septembre dernier et leur nombre ne cesse d’augmenter.”

    Près de 30.000 Irakiens ont demandé l’asile en Allemagne en 2015. Le nombre d’entre eux choisissant de faire le voyage de retour est en constante augmentation depuis l’automne.

    #irak #réfugiés

  • USA : la Chambre adopte la #suspension de l’#accueil de réfugiés syriens et irakiens

    La Chambre des représentants des Etats-Unis, à majorité républicaine, a adopté jeudi une mesure qui suspendrait l’accueil de réfugiés syriens et irakiens, malgré les appels au sang-froid et la menace de veto du président Obama.


    http://www.lalibre.be/actu/international/usa-la-chambre-adopte-la-suspension-de-l-accueil-de-refugies-syriens-et-irak

    #réfugiés_syriens #réfugiés_irakiens #asile #migrations #réfugiés #USA #Etats-Unis