Death trips. Dream destination: Europe

Posted on 19. December 2012

by Theodora Matziropoulou

theodora-matziropoulou-modifiedFriday, 14th of December, early morning. With daylight, one more tragedy was revealed in the Aegean Sea. The trip of 28 irregular immigrants attempting to pass from Turkey to Lesvos Island ended in dramatic way because of bad weather. Midway, due to overload and due to strong winds, the boat overturned and disappeared into the icy waters. Dream destination: Europe.A 20-year-old man was found alive in hypothermic shock state and he is hospitalized. According to the survivor, all of them had paid $ 2000 each for their transportation from Turkey to Greece. 21 people found dead by the Coast Guard, which since that afternoon continues search the sea area in cooperation with forces of FRONTEX. 6 people are missing. Because of the cold and inclement weather cannot have survived some.

Saturday 15th of December. The fence, which will prevent entry of irregular immigrants in Evros is ready.  President of the manufacturing company announced construction of the fence is completed. Ministry of Public Order will obtain the work.

The fence extends along the greek-turkish land border, from Kastania outpost to the Evros river (natural border between Greece and Turkey). The total length of the four-meters-high barrier is 10,365 meters and is considered insurmountable without mechanical means. Implementation of the project delayed due to difficult weather conditions in the area during winter months and due to finalization of the alignment, which eventually finished on May 3rd.  The project began to run on May 5th with original budget of 5,500,000 euros. Finally cost 3,160,000 euros and ended on December 15th. 20,700 meters of barbed wire, 140,000 meters concertina wire and 210,000 meters of wire (selvage) were used for the construction of the “wall”.

The Wall divided not only a city but also the whole world in two parts, in two worlds: Western world and Eastern world. Europe tried hard to tear down the Wall and still tries in the case of Cyprus, where the Green Line (United Nations buffer and demilitarized zone) divides the island in Northern and South part. Having in mind that for Europe the era of walls was over more than two decades ago, the main question raises is if the fence will stop the migration flows. The answer is: not really. Such measures can increase exploitation and abuse. Traffickers change the routes and the entry points to the country. If you reduce the flow from the terrestrial part of Evros, where the fence is, migration flows will continue coming from the river; or from the sea.

One other aspect (mentioned by Secretary-General of United Nations Ban Ki-moon) is that such measures reinforce the impression that immigrants are partly responsible for the consequences of the crisis, fueling xenophobia and xenophobic attitudes. Such attitudes are quite “popular” in Greece the last 9 months after the unexpected entry of Golden Dawn (far-right party) in Greek parliament during last elections.

It is estimated that 2% of the world’s population, around 150 million people, live outside of their homeland. December 18th is declared by United Nations as International Migrants Day, in an effort to strengthen the UN’s campaign to protect immigrants. On this date in 1990 “International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families” was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

However, this fence gains importance if we take into consideration the fact that this is an external border of European Union. How proud are we about the fact that our external terrestrial border is a 10,000 km fence made by thousands meters of barbed wire in order to protect fortress Europe from “the others”, the outcomers? How humanistic finally fortress Europe is when it comes to human beings born outside its internal borders?