In 2015, more than 1.000.000 people actively fought against Fortress Europe by crossing the EU external borders. In reaction to that, the EU and its border agency Frontex increased their efforts to criminalize refugees and supporters and thus to impede the freedom of movement. The European Police Congress is one of the venues, where the upgrading of Fortress Europe will be discussed and developed. On February 23rd, Fabrice Leggeri, executive director of Frontex, is going to speak at this congress. We want to use his visit as an opportunity to protest against aggressive and inhumane policies, which the EU imposes on migrants at the external borders. Come to our manifestation and raise your voice against FRONTEX, Fortress Europe and borders!
The European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders was created in 2005. After the suspension of the physical Schengen borders, Frontex is now in charge of strengthening the surveillance and control of the EU external borders. The agency is operating as the headbody of the EU surveillance network EUROSUR, coordinating the surveillance systems of the member states. Satellites, drones and other military technologies are used to control the ‘pre-frontier area’. This ‘objective’ also requires enhanced cooperation with countries like Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey and even West African countries. To ‘prevent’ the departure of migrants, Frontex is currently operating in Mali and Niger to create ‘multi-purpose-centers’ against unwanted migration towards European borders.
All European measures of ‘border protection’ have the same intention: More deterrence, higher fences and greater control. Still, Frontex and the military operation EUNAVFOR MED against ‘smugglers’ near Libyan territorial waters, launched in June, were unable to prevent about 150.000 migrants from succeeding to arrive in Italy during 2015. Not only during the previous ‘summer of migration’, millions of refugees demonstrated that borders can’t stop people on the move, but the lack of legal access routes causes their journey to be dangerous and often fatal. More than 3700 men, women and children died in 2015 in the Mediterranean Sea; making it the deadliest border zone of the entire world. In the year 2016 the Mediterranean continues to be a fatal route to Europe: According to the UNHCR the number of people dead or missing already amounts to 403.
In Europe, many harsh plans seeking to gain back control and to close the borders are currently being discussed. There is for instance the idea to establish a direct ferry-line for deportations from the Greek islands back to Turkey. The EU and Frontex implemented the so-called ‘hotspot approach’ to establish closed camps at the EU- borders in Italy and Greece, where Frontex helps to “swiftly identify, register and fingerprint incoming migrants”. A lot of investment is made in the strengthening of so-called ‘screening-procedures’ with Frontex personnel conducting interviews in the so-called ‘hotspots’ on Greek islands. The aim is to select and reject all those who are considered not being entitled to protection. Those who are filtered out will face even harsher detention measures according to the Dublin regulation.
In January 2016 we have witnessed the first consequences of these attempts to regain control: Civil society actors who are engaged in the rescue of refugees in distress are criminalized and raided. In mid-January, the Greek police on Lesvos arrested teammembers of Proem-Aid and Team Humanity, Spanish and Danish NGO’s whose representatives did the incredible job of saving lives at risk at sea. They are accused of the alleged offence of trafficking people.
In December 2015, the European Commission presented its proposal for a new European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG) that would replace and succeed Frontex, having a stronger role and mandate. The support and participation of national authorities in border management through Frontex operations are then mandatory. In early February, the EU and NATO agreed on sending warships against ‘smugglers’ into the Aegean Sea. The mission is meant to deport rescued migrants directly to Turkey.
Europe’s response to the failure of its border regime and to the thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, are increasingly inhumane measures of ‘border protection’. The massive dying at the EU-borders might become history if there were legal ways for migrants to enter Europe. It is a merely political decision to entitle all humans to access commercial ferries and to suspend the cruel EU-visa regime. The killing of refugees at European sea borders can be seen as one of the biggest crimes against humanity. We demand Ferries not Frontex!
Watch the Med Alarm Phone Berlin
Please read our newspaper on Ferries for all here: http://alarmphone.org/en/2016/02/12/newspaper-ferries-for-all/?post_type_release_type=post