Bachelor Thesis, 2008
46 Pages, Grade: 1,0
Illustrations and Pictures
Research Question / Hypothesis
Boat People – Policies of Italy und the EU
1. Push- and Pull Factors
1.1 Problems in the Countries of Origin
1.2 Europe’s Attraction
2. Attack on the „Fortress Europe“
2.1 Drama at the Fence: Ceuta and Melilla 2005
3. The Policy of Italy
3.1 The Legislature 18 3.2 In Practice: Calculated Chaos?
4. The EU Policy
4.1 Adjustment of the EU Migration Laws
4.2 The Frontex Agency
4.3 The Case of Libya: Criminal Collaboration with the EU and Italy
4.4 Development Cooperation: Blackmailing or the Solution?
Documentary Film „Au clair de la lune…“, Transcription of the German Subtitles
Table: Arrival of Immigrants at the Southern Italian Coasts
Picture 1: Fenced and Controlled Frontiers against Migrants of Economical Reasons and Asylum seekers
Picture 2: The Schengen Territory and its Victims
Picture 3: Testimony of a Refugee in Sovereto, Italy
Picture 4: The Schengen Territory holds unwanted Migrants under Detention
illustration not visible in this excerpt
How does the EU and especially Italy cope with the Illegal Immigration of refugees over the Mediterranean Sea? How does the political position of the EU influence the refugees’ problematic situation and which (other, better) possibilities of policies would exist to help refugees, further legal immigration and hinder illegal immigration with the loss of many lives?
The position of the EU is to rather defend against refugees than anything else. Furthermore it strengthens its forces at its borders so to build the often described „Fortress Europe“. A substantial solution for the refugees problem is not in sight. There is no purpose to help the „illegal“ migrants, more the opposite. On the search for solutions the EU concentrates on the strengthening of the border control first of all in the first place and less on long term strategies to fight the problem at its roots e.g. through development cooperation.
The EU countries Spain, Italy, Greece and Malta as Mediterranean countries do have heavy problems through the immigration of refugees on boats at their coasts. Especially Spain cannot cope with the arrivals of refugees that come over the Atlantic Ocean to its overseas territory Canary Islands. The fate of the migrants, who die at high numbers in the sea is a constant tragedy of an unimaginable scale.
In this thesis about boat people at the Mediterranean Sea I am going to emphasize on Italy and furthermore the EU policies about refugees in the Mediterranean area under cooperation African states. Concerning the EU policies I am going to tell something about the EU border surveillance agency Frontex which has got a fast growing budget from EU funds.
The actors of the EU polity like to stress that their policies are best for the migrants themselves and their countries where they come from and where they are heading to. Therefore they call it a „triple-win-situation“. But refugee aid and other human rights organisations criticize harshly that refugees would become criminalised and would not have the possibility to enjoy their rights. The NGOs collected numerous examples of a policy not respecting human beings regarding „illegal“ immigrants in Mediterranean Countries. Through this thesis I want to describe governmental networks. Thus through collecting of the present time incidents. Furthermore I want to clarify the question if it is a goal of the European countries at all to let the refugees have their rights.
In the main part of this thesis I am going to explain in chapter 1 the push and pull factors that have influence on migrants from African countries heading to the Mediterranean area. Those are reasons for exhausting foot trails through the North African Dessert and the crossing of the sea of crowds in boats not built for the sea. This is the topic of chapter 2. In chapter 3 I am going to stress a core topic of this thesis namely the policy of Italy concerning the boat people. The last big chapter (No. 4) goes about the EU policy with the border patrol agency Frontex and the case of Libya as subtopics.
The terms boat people, (illegal) migrants and (illegal) refugees are used nearly synonymous here. The reason for me is that I did not see myself able to conduct a clarification of terms within the framework of this thesis. As well as I am doubting about the sense of such a categorization which in practice would mostly be difficult anyway.
Push factors means reasons of migration that lye in their country of origin. In opposition pull factors are reasons that make a country attractive for immigrants.
Bade made a general statement and was telling firstly about population growth reasons in combination with economic ones. He sees a “Gap between high population growth rates and stagnating or even shrinking job offering rates.“ Bade sees particularly the agriculture sector being in a rising crisis partly for reasons of globalization. From „growing Slums of the `Mega Cities`“ where the rural population flees to „new movements [escape] again“.
As further reasons for migration in the developing countries Bade names desertification through „climatic and [man made] destruction of the environment“, political conflicts „that partly occur out of indigenous developments and partly colonial respectively postcolonial conditions“ as well as civil wars that „[in] the nineties [were becoming] the most important reasons for refugee movements in the `Third World` [...]“ beneath others.“
Bade furthermore draws the attention to the fact that „the panicking Europe is only concerned with about 5 percent“ of the „worldwide movements of estimated 120 billion people“. There would be „namely a gapping difference between global dramas within the refugees world and European stage play with the setting of `being concerned` through a rising worldwide `pressure by migration`, which is estimated in quite different ways. The history of the south north migration towards Europe would be „at the bottom line, rather a history of being afraid of it and of defence against it than a history of migration movements.“. This gives somehow evidence to my hypothesis, which says that on behalf of the government they see the refugees as enemies who they need to fight. However, I wonder about Bade's opinion nowadays looking at the rising numbers of the boat people that head towards Europe since the year 2000. The documentary film „Au clair de la lune [...]“ from Leona Goldstein about western African countries of origin of refugees in Europe underlines the direction of Bade's statement whereas the entire number of refugees differs. There would currently be 40 billion people fleeing worldwide. About 32 to 34 billion of them stay within their home countries. Less than 200,000 people were applying for asylum in Europe in 2006 of whom meanwhile 5 percent were able to get recognition.
Texeire from the Science Po in Rennes, France counts as main countries of origin in Africa in the cases of heading to Malta: Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Congo and Liberia. About Africa she states in general that corruption and a lack of democracy in the former colonised countries means severe problems. Many politicians had used their powerful positions to fuel ethnical conflicts that had been made worse or even been triggered in the colonial time. Furthermore Texeire says that false governmental policies and corruption had been the reason for starvation catastrophes and a system of distribution that is not feasible to give enough nutrition for the survival of the people. HIV/AIDS she named in addition. As countries with severe human rights violations she counts: The Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan and the Ivory Coast. An example for human rights violation on a higher political level can be the murder of Norbert Zongo. In the cited documentary of Leona Goldstein Zongo is shown as „main speaker of the intellectual opposition movement [comment: in Burkina Faso] and editor of the weekly newspaper `L’independent`”. It is told that he was been stopped on his way home and burnt in his car at the 13th of December 1998 investigating in a murder case in which the brother of the president of Burkina Faso was said to be involved.
The Austrian journalist Milborn explains the reasons of fleeing the country Burkina Faso in depth and states that „only a minimal part“ of the eight billion „Burkinabe“ are heading to Europe. As further countries of origin „at the borders of Europe“ Milborn names: Mali, Senegal, Togo, Niger, Guinea Bissau. She writes that European countries „as former colonial and profit winning power and trigger of poverty in Africa […] [are] quite involved in the causes that make Africans emigrate.” As well as she writes about the attractiveness of the immigration countries: „The enormous differences between the rich Europe and the misery in Africa are offered daily on TV in the café around the corner.”
Within the pull factors Milborn writes explicitly about the climate change, problems in connection to the growing of cotton especially combined with the phenomenon of the debt trap for such countries. With the example of the village Tolo in the north of Burkina Faso she shows how the countryside in its district dries down. The rainfall becomes rarer and in single cases heavier whereby it gets more dry over all and the torrential rain falls destroy the fields in addition. A high tide caused a hole in the dam near the village. Burkina Faso emphasizes the cotton growing sector too much following the orders of the IMF and the Worldbank so that the last trees are cut and pesticides are used. This lasts as long as the country is rotten and only dessert remains. Instead of growing corn as their own food base the farmers favour to grow the export ware cotton. In addition the US penetrates the world market with its subsidised cotton through WTO regulations so that the price for cotton in Burkina Faso goes below the production cost. During 2005 there was a big starvation catastrophe in the area where Tolo lies.- „Many young men left the village to earn the money for their families elsewhere.”
Milborn took Burkina Faso as an example for a country that is not damaged through a war in the recent history, but nevertheless makes clear how Europe (the EU is besides the US the strongest power within Worldbank, IMF and WTO) is involved in the reasons of emigration from the countries of origin.
It is easy to grasp that the welfare continent Europe has got an immense attractive power in the eyes of African people who suffer from the problems I described above. Surely some illusions that are caused by the TV or emigrated relatives are vanishing into the air after the arrival in the immigration country. And who of the emigrated ones wants to show the impression that the decision about to emigrate had been wrong and that the new home country is not a good place to stay. However, the migrants have got at least the possibility to earn money and help their relatives with cash transfers as long as they are not hindered from it, because they end up as prostitutes or are bound to other forms of exploitation. “Everyone at the border knows that he or she finds a job in Europe within a few weeks: Some entire economic sectors depend on the – de facto tolerated – illegal hired illegal immigrants“, says Milborn in her book. Furthermore she writes about a “lower class of ten million illegal immigrants“, that for example would hold the economic sectors agriculture, construction, restaurants and hotels alive. It may seem exaggerated that those branches are completely dependent on the illegal migrants. Nevertheless it seems to be possible that they give their not too less important contribution and that without them we would maybe have to expect quite some trouble.
The number of illegal workers is of course difficult to estimate. Milborn says that the EU estimates that 500.000 illegal migrants come to the EU every year to work there. In Italy 2 billion “clandestine” are living regarding estimations of the government, though here it stays unclear regarding Milborn’s book if it is the entire number of persons with an illegal status or the number of illegal workers.
Currle writes that human trafficking and smuggling was becoming big business for the organized crime in Italy. […] „The illegal hiring of foreigners looks like more or less tolerated“, says Currle. The German representative of the UNHCR Stefan Berglund is cited in „Migration und Bevölkerung“ 2003 (migration and population 2003) as follows: „The Mafiosi in the world switch to human trafficking.” This business would be now more profitable than drug dealing.
Besides the possibility to go to Europe to work there lawfully there are two more possibilities. Either an immigration after some relatives already are residents in the EU or the marriage with a EU citizen. All three possibilities are handled stricter and stricter by time says Milborn. About the example of Austria she reports that only high ranking business men have the possibility to come to Austria to work there subsequent to the laws.
So how do refugees movements of Africans towards the Mediterranean look like? In the following chapters I am going to write more about two locations in the focus at the European borders.
The German refugee aid organisation „Pro Asyl“ counts the following locations as the most important border crossings for refugees in the Mediterranean on its map of Europe:
- Canary Islands and the exclaves Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish)
- Italy (for sure because of the situation in Lampedusa and Sicily)
- The island state of Malta south of Sicily
- Greece (because of the Aegean Islands)
For Italy here a table with the numbers of arrivals of immigrants at the southern Italian coasts:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Source: Ministero degli Interni, „Lo Stato della Sicurezza in Italia“, 15/08/2004, here from Puggioni 2006, 179, translated by the author
Through the growing strength of power of armed forces in Apulia the human traffickers had been forwarded to Calabria and later Sicily, mainly to Lampedusa and Pantelleria as Puggioni writes.
In autumn 2005 the attack of thousands of migrants against the controlled borders of the Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla at the Moroccan Mediterranean coast caused much attention from the media in Europe. It seemed as if the refugee problem in the Mediterranean would move nearer into the focus of the European journalism for the first time including the aspect of the boat people. And if since then the topic had been repeated again and again.
Whereas the phenomenon that migrants try to cross over the then three to six meters high fences around the two Spanish cities at the African continent each of a length of 10km was not new. During the first eight months of the year 2005 they counted about 11,000 cases in which someone tried to cross the border at Melilla regarding to the newsletter “Migration und Bevölkerung” which received the data from the Guardia Civil. It was special then that big crowds of up to 500 people together attacked the fences for the first time. The Spanish border police and the Moroccan military was not prepared for that attack of this masses of people. According to the newsletter more than 3,000 African people tried to reach the two Spanish enclaves illegally between the 27th of September and the sixth of October 2005. More than 900 of them had been successful. That period is said to be the time of the most intensive attacks.
Hundreds hurted themselves with the blades at the doubled fence, or because they had fallen down from the fence, or because following persons run them over. 14 people died partly because of wounds from gunfire. The surveillance personnel at the border would use rubber bullets only in exceptional cases according to „Migration und Bevölkerung“ However, Milborn, who was also doing research about those causes seems to implicitly write that the Moroccan military used lethal ammunition regularly in cases of gunfire on refugees. It shot to death at least a dozen of refugees at the border to Ceuta and Melilla Milborn wrote regarding to newspaper articles. The documentary of Goldstein shows a feature of the Spanish children aid organisation Asociación Pro Derechos de la Infancia (PRODEIN) with a witness’ statement about one case concerning grave mistreatments by the Guardia Civil of three Africans of whom one died.
After the heavy attack in 2005 there had been also more incidents. According to that the speaker for European affairs of the refugees aid organisation Pro Asyl Karl Kopp reports in his article „Hart an der Grenze“ („firm at the border“ or also „near to the limit“) that in July 2006 three human beings had been shot to death in Melilla during their attempt to climb over the fence. “There was no enquiry conducted about the deaths at the border between Spain and Morocco” says Kopp in 2007. Spain had established a “new iron curtain“ at its border in Melilla reports Kerstin Böffgen after an excursion to Melilla at the beginning of February 2007. Meanwhile a fourth fold defence apparatus has to be crossed from Africa: A fence which is six meters tall, with flexible wings on top so that you have to fall down to the ground as soon as you reach them. Afterwards they fall on the “Sirga” a chaotic element of ropes which was introduced after the incidents in 2005 and causes grave injuries. In Addition they activate tear gas and pepper spray. Afterwards you are confronted with a lower fence, but also built with flexible wings and NATO wire (with Z-blades). And last there is again a six meters tall fence. Deep cuts are not easy to avoid.
 see Fortress Europe 2007, p.3, from the internet, filed under: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2007/nov/fortress-europe-libya-report.pdf
 see Rede des deutschen Innenministers Wolfgang Schäuble am 19. November 2007, from the internet, filed under: http://www.bmi.bund.de/nn_662956/Internet/Content/Nachrichten/Reden/2007/11/BM__EuroMed.html
 see Gleitze / Schultz 2006, pp.16-22, from the internet, filed under: http://www.proasyl.de/fileadmin/proasyl/fm_redakteure/Broschueren_pdf/Zonen_der_Rechtlosigkeit_04.pdf
 see Bade 2000, pp.10ff.
 the same, p.13
 see in the appendix « ‘Au clair de la lune...’ - … » … transcription of subtitles
 see Texeire 2006, pp.21ff., from the internet, filed under: http://www.alternattiva.org.mt/filebank/documents/Fiona%20TEXEIRE-%20At%20the%20Gate%20of%20Fortress%20Europe.pdf
 the same, p.24
 see in the appendix « ‘Au clair de la lune...’ - … » … transcription of subtitles
 Milborn 2006, p.209
 the same, p.195
 the same, p.195
 the same, p.210
 the same, pp.195ff.
 the same, pp.200f.
 the same, p.197
 the same, p.196
 the same, pp.9f.
 the same, p.73
 Currle 2004, p.281
 the same
 „Italien: Hilfe bei Grenzsicherung gefordert“, in: „Migration und Bevölkerung“ 9/2003, from the internet, filed under: http://www.migration-info.de/migration_und_bevoelkerung/artikel/030906.htm
 the same, pp.73f.
 see Pro Asyl without year: map “Europa Mit den wichtigsten Grenzübergängen“
 see Puggioni 2006, p.178
 „Migration und Bevölkerung“, 9/2005, p.1, from the internet, filed under: http://www.migration-info.de/migration_und_bevoelkerung/archiv/ausgaben/ausgabe0509.pdf
 Milborn 2006, p.17
 see in the appendix: « ‘Au clair de la lune...’ - … »… transcription of subtitles
 see Pro Asyl (Ed.): “Tag des Flüchtlings 2007“, p.32, from the internet, filed under: http://www.proasyl.de/fileadmin/proasyl/fm_redakteure/Archiv/HTdF_Hefte/Webversion_Heft_komplett.pdf
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