To many activists for foreigners’ rights the mediatization of the refugee camp of Sangatte during the year 2000 appeared as a perfect illustration of the absurdity of EU migration policies. The effects of obstacles to freedom of movement and the refusal of receiving migrants and refugees became fully visible. While usually invisible because dispersed along borders or because hidden, they instantly became visible because of their concentration in the only (non)-place where they were tolerated.
It shortly appeared that far from being an exception, the Sangatte camp was only a cog in the wheels of a European policy leaving foreigners aside. The necessity to share opinions and experiences led to the holding of a workshop devoted to ‘the Europe of camps’ at the European Social Forum of Florence in November 2002. Migreurop was born, a network of activists and scholars aimed at spreading knowledge about the generalization of retention for undocumented foreigners as well as the increasing number of camps, the latter being at the centre of EU migration policy.
The network activities focus on 4 dimensions :
- Gathering information about a complex reality, for the reason that it is intentionally hidden and that the geographical scale is specific (thus, camps in the South of Morocco are side effects of privileged partnership policies with the European Union).
- Naming a diverse reality that cannot be reduced to the conventional image of barbwired camps. By camp, Migreurop means a process as much as a physical space : isolating and rallying foreigners does not only occur with the creation of closed centres. ‘The Europe of camps’ is the whole set of devices that forces the disruption of migration paths. Preventing people to cross border, to enter territory, assigning them to ‘residence’ - legally or by police harassment-, locking them up to ensure the possibility to escort them back, jailing them to punish the crossing of borders, those are some forms of this ‘Europe of camps’. At the present time, police camps may appear covered under humanitarian necessity : despite an official rhetoric of compassion and euphemism, it is nothing more than the exact opposite policy that is carried out in the EU to isolate foreigners.
- Introducing the Europe of camps and the actions fighting against it by using all means at our disposal. From scholar workshops to artistic photos, from articles to website, the whole range of media should be used so that no one ignores that the ‘great confinement’ and the ‘great exclusion’ are truth in the current EU.
- Acting at the European level in order to take actions against ‘the Europe of camps’ by promoting exchanges between groups that have different objectives and practices but that have the ability to take common steps occasionally.
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