Speaking of a ‘flow’ or ‘influx’ of migrants is considered inappropriate, as it sounds like a broken dam, a looming disaster. But there is no better image than a river to describe what happens if you try to stop migration: If you block the route, there will be a jam. People will seek the path of least resistance around the blockage. And just like water flowing downhill, they will find it. Here they will try to keep moving. If you block their way again, the whole story repeats. That is the history of European migration control. The movements of people are blocked for a while, only for them to find new paths. The attempts at containment follow them. The high-profile deal between the EU and Turkey was just one step in this containment policy.

It started in Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, where Europe’s direct border with Africa extends over 12 miles. It is the shortest path from one continent to the other. For a long time, anyone was free to cross this border, there was nothing but a boundary marker. Moroccans and other Africans crossed the border to work and were able to board ships to Andalusia – until June 1991. That was when Spain joined the Schengen Agreement. Upon taking effect in March 1995, the agreement was to make Spain part of a new borderless community – the EU. It also required Spain to protect the new external borders of the Schengen Area. At the time, ‘The March’ by British author William Nicholson ran on television. In this movie, a ‘desperate army of miserable people’[1] (as described by Der Spiegel) boards boats from Tangier to Spain. Just past Algeciras, they are stopped by a ‘European Army.’ The movie was fictional, but the pressure on Spain’s military was real: some European partners doubted its ability to protect the EU’s external border.

On 15 May 1991, Spain’s social-democratic president, Felipe González, decided that Moroccans would now need a visa for Spain. He ordered the chief commissioner of Algeciras, José Cabrera, to let ‘absolutely nobody’ pass the Strait of Gibraltar. Lieutenant Colonel Mariano Ortiz of the Guardia Civil in Algeciras expressed awareness for Spain’s responsibility for Europe, but also said ‘we can’t rebuild the Berlin Wall here at the beach.’[2]

Nonetheless, the old migration route from the Maghreb to Andalusia was cut off. North Africa’s freedom of movement was traded in for Europe’s. To keep the doors open for a few of his subjects, Morocco’s King Hassan II had to sign the first in a series of readmission agreements. Morocco now had to take back all rejected migrants, because it would be too much trouble for Spain to deport them back to their original countries. Morocco was also required to guard Spain’s border fortifications against migrants. Over time, Madrid and Brussels started paying up for this service. Between 2007 and 2010 alone, Rabat received €654 million in ‘neighborhood assistance.’[3]

The Integrated System of External Vigilance (Sistema Integrado de Vigilancia Exterior (SIVE)) was created – a blueprint for the satellite-assisted EU border monitoring network EUROSUR. Cameras, radar systems, helicopters and headquarters in Madrid now watch the Spanish coast around the clock. When construction began, SIVE was estimated to cost €260 million for the period from 2000 to 2008.[4]

Moreover, Spain built the first fence around the enclave of Melilla; the EU paid three quarters of the costs. At first the fence was easy to scale. The government has upgraded it five times now. People like Sambo Sadiako from Senegal left their lives here. On the morning of 6 March 2009, the Spanish border police Guardia Civil found his bled-out body hanging in the razor wire. At first, the Spanish government claimed that ‘adverse weather conditions’ had caused Sadiako to fall to his death during the night. But this was false. The pathologists found his death to be caused by ‘massive loss of blood due to severed arteries.’[5] Sadiako was only 30 years old.

Merely ‘psychological and visual effect’

The fence was built using razor wire type Concertina 22,[6] which is intended for protecting nuclear power plants, ammunitions depots and airports. This wire has sharp blades at intervals of 38 mm (1.5 in) – 22 mm (1.2 in) long, 15 mm (0.6 in) high. This is enough to sever tendons, nerves and blood vessels. Antonia Mora heads the company that makes this razor wire, European Security Fencing (ESF), part of the Mora Salazar metalwork group. He stated that the wire had a ‘psychological and visual effect.’ While there could be ‘cuts and scratches’ when 300 people at once climb the fence one over another,’ the ‘purpose of the fence is not to injure anyone, but to deter.’[7]

Sadiako is not the only case; a four-digit number of people have suffered severe injuries. Now six meters high, the double fence is a trap for humans. Those who are not deterred get caught in the razor wire. Those who fall or jump down the other side are greeted by criss-crossing wires which are nearly impossible to escape.[8] A steel wall and an underwater fence to catch swimming intruders are also being planned.

Due to the many severe injuries and deaths, the razor wire was taken off for a while. But in October 2013, the Spanish government decided to install ESF razor wire once more. ‘This fence is not just Melilla’s fence. It’s the fence for all of Europe,’[9] stated the president of Melilla, Juan José Imbroda. Construction for the first section was completed in November 2013; further ones are to follow.

This build-up is controversial in Spain. The country’s largest daily paper, El País, posted a video showing a heavily bandaged Cameroonian man lying in a hospital after trying to climb the fence. ‘The doctors needed twelve hours to stitch my wounds,’[10] he explains, adding that he feels ashamed to show his skin with all the scars.

The socialist delegate Antonia Trevín brought a piece of the wire to a parliamentary session in December 2013. He wore a leather glove to show the piece and proposed to instead use drones against undocumented migrants. ‘Our problem is not finding them,’ replied Interior Minister Fernández Díaz. ‘The problem is how to stop them.’[11] Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy then decided to keep the razor wire.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström also demanded an explanation. Díaz traveled to Brussels, explained that the fence was a ‘passive element of dissuasion’ covered by the law, and invited the Commissioner to come and see for herself.[12] Malmström was satisfied with the explanation.

In the end, it might be the Guardia Civil who prevents further deaths: on 16 November 2013, the police and border guard union stated that the officers were ‘fed up with seeing people dying’ while trying to cross the border. ‘We don’t want to find more [Africans] bleeding and entangled in the razor wire,’ read the statement, as the confrontation with these preventable deaths exposed the border guards to ‘unnecessary stress.’[13]

Dead bodies on the beach

The second-shortest path from Africa to Europe is by boat via the Moroccan-occupied West Sahara territory to the Canary Islands. The 240 km (150 mi) sea route takes around 12 hours – if the vessel is seaworthy. The harder the Ceuta/Melilla route became, the more people took this route. Not all of them made it. Since 2000, more and more dead bodies have washed ashore of the volcanic islands – drowned Africans along European holiday beaches. Today it is normal; back then it was not. Spanish newspapers printed photos of the bodies. Eventually, Spain got Morocco to block the beaches in West Sahara. So the migrants moved south and started from Nouadhibou in Mauritania. Now their sea route stretched to 900 km (560 mi) – and became more dangerous – but the package tourists would no longer have to look at capsized migrants.

People like Cheikh Ould Baya joined the game. The mayor of the northern Mauritanian town of Zouérat used to be a border guard commander. Now he is advisor to the Fisheries Minister, who is also responsible for his country’s maritime borders. ‘We are the founders of this process,’ he says, ‘we are one of the first countries to act against illegal migration.’[14]

Back in 2003, Mauritania signed an agreement that was an all-inclusive package for Spain. Mauritania would now take back anyone who was found or suspected to be heading for Spain, whether they were citizens of Mauritania or any other state. But this did not yet mean that Mauritania would stop migrants on their way, so the number of arrivals continued to increase. In 2006, around 30,000 people crossed the Mauritanian desert on their way to the Canaries. ‘It used to be legal, we had hardly any laws against human trafficking,’ says Baya.

Baya expanded the coast guard. 400 men, ten radar stations along 700 kilometers (435 mi) – he sounds like a general reporting after a successful battle. ‘Our aid came from Germany and Spain.’[15] The program targeted both illegal fishery and irregular migrants.

They called it ‘Guantanamito’

The Guardia Civil donated patrol boats to the Mauritanian navy and stationed a reconnaissance plane, a helicopter and ships there. Anyone caught by the Guardia Civil on the way to the Canaries was pushed back to Mauritania. Police officers from both countries went on joint patrols along the Mauritanian coast to stop boats from embarking. Spain also funded an internment camp in a former school in the Mauritanian town of Nouadhibou. The locals called it ‘Guantanamito.’[16] Fences were installed atop the earthen walls; the captives got uniforms consisting of white T-shirts and synthetic sweatpants. There was no legal basis for their detention, and the Spanish Red Cross supplied them with food. In 2008, a delegation from Amnesty International counted 35 imprisoned Africans having to share 17 beds in one cell measuring 16×26 ft.[17] From here, Mauritanian soldiers drove them southwards through the desert on trucks.

In 2006 alone, Mauritania dumped 11,000 Africans, most arrested by the Spanish, at the red-hot southern end of the Sahara, near Gogui on the Malian border. Sometimes the Red Cross picked up the migrants, sometimes not. If no one came to get them, they had to walk through the desert for hours – after being driven through the Sahara for days. Many people died of thirst.

Now the North Atlantic route had become so hard that migrants again started heading for the upgraded fence in Ceuta and Melilla. Thousands of people tried to climb over in the summer and fall of 2005. They used plastic bags and tree branches to make ladders, rolled over the barbed wire and dropped down the other side, dragging along more ladders for the second fence, until they reached the path patrolled by the Guardia Civil. At least 14 people died,[18] but the fence could not resist the onslaught.

What Europe now invests billions to achieve for half of Africa took its blueprint from Spain’s neighborhood policy under the Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. ‘We believe that it makes sense to link the increase in development aid to the drafting of readmission agreements,’[19] former justice minister and current Socialist MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar said frankly in 2006.

Plan África

‘Traditionally Spain had little presence in or institutional relations with Black Africa. In some cases, they were virtually non-existent,’[20] admitted former Socialist Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos. The so-called Plan África (2006 to 2008, followed by a second plan from 2009 to 2012) changed this. In 2006, Spain opened embassies in Cape Verde, Mali and Sudan; one year later it followed suit in Niger, Guinea-Bissau and in Conakry in the Republic of Guinea. From 2006 to 2008, Spain finalized twelve agreements with West African countries. The University of the Basque Country studied how heavily Spain relied on development aid to get African countries to cooperate.[21] From 2004 to 2008, Spain nearly quadrupled its aid for the region. Official Development Assistance (ODA) focused especially on West Africa, the crucial region for transit migration. In the same period, the funds invested here increased more than fivefold, from €35 to €219 million. The funds for police cooperation with nine West African states increased from €83,000 to around €4.8 million between 2004 and 2007. This made the cooperation profitable for West African countries.[22]

After the run on the fences in Ceuta and Melilla in the fall of 2005, Madrid opened the first embassy in Mali’s capital of Bamako. A German diplomat described its tasks as follows: ‘They have a very large department for internal security. Border control, border police, fighting human traffickers – that’s what it’s about.’[23] Mali became a priority country for the Spanish development assistance agency AECID (Agencia Española de la Cooperación Internacional de Desarrollo). In return, Mali was to keep Central African transit migrants from crossing the country northwards.

But the cooperations always affected citizens of the transit countries as well. They could no longer cross the border just like that, and Europe hardly ever kept its promises to grant them visas.

‘A menace to Mali’s society’

In 2008, former EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel opened the Centre for Migration Management and Information (CIGEM) in Mali’s capital of Bamako under such an agreement. This EU liaison office was pompously announced as a ‘Job Center for Africa.’ ‘Instead of demonising the migration phenomenon, it should be supported, structured and managed optimally as a positive human element for both Africa and Europe,’[24] said Michel, claiming that the CIGEM paved the way for Mali to make ‘greater use of the development opportunities provided by migration.’ One year later, in 2009, only 29 Malians were admitted to the EU – as seasonal vegetable pickers on the Canary Islands.[25] The CIGEM’s real priority was to spread propaganda to dissuade people from migrating. On the way to the Mauritanian border, the EU set up warning signs that read ‘Stop irregular migration. It is a menace to Mali’s society!’ with the EU’s logo underneath.

In 2009, migrants were already boarding ships in Senegal, 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from the Canaries. The Guardia Civil stationed ships, an airplane and a helicopter in Dakar. Senegal introduced tougher laws against human trafficking and allowed the Guardia Civil to patrol its coast, as long as a Senegalese officer was on board. Fishing boats on their way north were forced to turn back within Senegal’s maritime territory – while ironically, regional overfishing by Spanish fleets was forcing them to venture further out to sea.[26] Senegal’s government claimed that the coast guard did so to avert threats to the well-being of Senegalese citizens.

Today, the North Atlantic route is closed. In 2017, only 421 refugees arrived on the Canaries.[27] Mayor Baya is proud. ‘We’re an example, we were pioneers,’ he says. On 8 February 2017, Baya is sitting in a grey suit, snacking on wasabi nuts at the bar of the fancy Westin Dragonara Resort in St Julians, Malta, plotting how to get back into the game. Hundreds of high-ranking officials from Africa and Europe are meeting at this conference hotel to negotiate the EU Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa, which the EU established one year earlier to combat illegal migration. From the total of €3.2 billion at the time, the EU planned to advance only €38 million to Mauritania. (As of January 2019, the fund has grown to €4.1 billion, of which €81 million are intended for Mauritania.)[28] Not enough, if you ask Baya. He thinks that what the EU and Africa are negotiating in Valletta has one easily stated goal: ‘Zero illegal migration. We already have that in Mauritania – almost.

‘We’re currently convincing them to buy us a new airplane.’

But he thinks it does not have to stay this way. Baya is a bit worried about the development in Niger and Libya, the Central Sahara route, which today is taken by most of the people heading for Europe. Soon, Baya fears, this route could be closed. And then, he is ‘one hundred percent sure,’ people will take the Atlantic routes again. He has come to Malta to make this clear to the Europeans. His country wants more money for coast guards, training, equipment, jeeps, boats – just what states like Niger are getting right now. ‘We’re currently convincing them to buy us a new airplane,’ he says – with infrared cameras and night vision. He says it would cost €6 million. ‘That’s nothing compared to what we could do with it.’

Mauritania has done everything the Europeans wanted: built internment camps, taken back refugees, allowed European border police to patrol its waters. As a result, the migration route shifted away. In his view, Baya has become a victim of his own success. ‘Brussels forgot about Mauritania, because we are not having any problems, because we’ve done our homework.’

The more internal borders Europe took down, the more it set up elsewhere. This outsourcing has clear advantages for Europe: Every migrant who never makes it over will not cost money to deport back, so the focus slowly moved from transit to source regions. On 19 January 2012, Ilkka Laitinen, then head of the EU border control agency Frontex, signed a so-called working arrangement with Rose Uzoma, head of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). He expressed ‘great pleasure to conclude this working arrangement with such an important partner.’ Nigeria is more than 2,200 mi from the Schengen Area, but Laitinen was sure that ‘the mutually beneficial exchanges of information and expertise are an important element of Frontex’s approach.’[29]

Lampedusa – Libya, one-way

Europe did what it could to block the Western Mediterranean and Atlantic routes by sea and by land, reaching all the way into Africa’s heart. But this didn’t keep people in place. Instead, the migration movements along the Central Mediterranean route to Italy via Libya and Tunisia increased. Before, many shied away from this route, because it required them to cross the Sahara at its widest extent. So Italy’s government got involved in Libya, just as Spain had done in West Africa.

Ethnologist Silja Klepp has researched the history of this cooperation. It goes back to the time when Libya was still officially seen as a ‘rogue state’. After the bombing of the La Belle discothèque in Berlin in 1986 and the explosion of the Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, which was linked to Libyan dictator Gaddafi, the country was politically isolated. Nevertheless, the Italian government entered informal preliminary talks with Gaddafi in the late 1990s. In December 2000, they signed an initial agreement in Rome. Besides fighting terrorism and crime, it dealt with curbing migration.

High-ranking Italian and Libyan politicians would meet continually over the following years. Rome was clearing the way for Gaddafi’s rehabilitation. Finally, in 2003, the UN lifted its sanctions against Libya. The EU followed suit in 2004. Collaboration started taking off. Klepp writes: ‘Deportation flights with migrants from Libya, detention centers for migrants, technical support for better monitoring of the Libyan border and training support for security officers in Libya were funded by Italy.’[30] In 2004 and 2005, Italy deported over 4,000 migrants from the island of Lampedusa back to Libya by plane.

Migrants on the sea route were treated brutally. South African political scientist Richard Pithouse describes the treatment:

‘If they are intercepted by the Italian navy the migrants are forced off the boats, often with clubs and batons that dispense electric shocks, and taken to prisons in Tripoli. […] From Tripoli they are taken to European funded migrant detention centres in places like the tiny village of Al Qatran out in the dessert near the border with Chad and Niger. Al Qatran is a thousand kilometres from Tripoli and it may take three days for captured migrants to be moved across that distance in trucks. In the detention centres there may be more than 50 people in a room. They sleep on the floor. […] There are beatings, rapes and extortion. Suicides are a common response […]’[31] Italy’s Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, however, called the cooperation with Libya a ‘historical step’.[32]

Dublin – a convenient solution

This tragedy is not just Italy’s fault. ‘What Italy has done was only trying to pass the buck,’[33] writes law professor Gregor Noll of Lund University. ‘So the reprehensible pact trading in migrants’ lives between Berlusconi’s and Gaddafi’s governments is but a logical consequence of reprehensible EU legislation in the form of the Dublin Regulation.’ This EU agreement assigns the asylum procedure to the Schengen Area country which failed to prevent the illegal border crossing. For countries in the middle of Europe, like Germany, this is a convenient solution. For southern periphery states it is a huge problem.

This is why Berlusconi pushed for the cooperation with Libya. In March 2009, he met Gaddafi in the Libyan town of Sirte to close the Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation.[34] Claiming reparations for colonial injustice, Italy was to send over $5 billion through 2025, mostly for infrastructure projects.[35] Italian companies won large contracts from Tripoli – and Libya ramped up its gatekeeping efforts for Italy, including the acceptance of pushed back migrants en masse.

Similar measures were taken at the EU level. In December 2004, the Commission published a report stating that Gaddafi was ordering ‘arbitrary‘ arrests of migrants, locking them up in detention centers, separating children from their parents and not protecting women against rape. But the EU did not act on these findings. In 2006, EU Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs Franco Frattini sent the first €3 million in border control aid to Tripoli.

The freshly created EU border control agency Frontex soon joined the scene. Klepp cites a letter by Gil Arias, then Deputy Executive Director of Frontex, asking for permission to patrol Libyan waters and push back migrants captured at sea.[36] Arias’ request was rejected. In 2007 Frontex wrote a report to the EU with the purported goal of swaying Tripoli. ‘This report made clear that Libya did not intend to sign the Geneva Refugee Convention. And unlike earlier EU papers, this report did not comment on the human rights situation in Libya or the unacceptable conditions under which migrants were imprisoned there,’[37] says Klepp. Instead, Frontex enclosed Gaddafi’s wish list: To protect the borders, he asked Brussels for 10 ships, 12 reconnaissance planes, 18 helicopters, 22 fully equipped command centers, 28 patrol boats, 80 pick-up trucks, 86 trucks, 100 speedboats and 240 off-road vehicles.

Deals with Gaddafi

Brussels decided to negotiate an all-inclusive package with Gaddafi. Talks for a framework agreement began in 2008. This agreement was not just about political relations, but also about energy policy and trade. The EU was planning a free-trade zone in the medium run. Fighting off refugees was the first priority though. In September 2009, the deputy director-general of the EU Commissioner for External Relations, Hugues Mingarelli, informed the EU Parliament about the state of the negotiations in a closed meeting. Franziska Brantner, member of the Bundestag for the Greens, was horrified: ‘The Commission wanted to close a refoulement deal with Gaddafi so they could return unwanted migrants from all over Africa back to Libya.’[38]

In 2010, Libya and the Commission closed a Memorandum of Understanding. Brussels offered Libya technical aid and cooperation for the period from 2011 to 2013. The priority of this cooperation was to share the responsibility of ‘managing migration.’[39] Gaddafi was to receive €50 million from Brussels to further seal off his borders to African migrants.

Shortly before, Gaddafi had thrown the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) out of the country, because it had criticized conditions in Libyan deportation camps. The Commission was not concerned – the Memorandum was signed in June 2010.

Arab Spring changes the game

Four months later, in October 2010, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström and EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle traveled to Tripoli. Füle was enthusiastic about the good development of relations with Gaddafi in recent years and their shared interests.[40] Malmström added that good cooperation with Libya in all issues related to migration had a high priority for the EU.[41] The two wanted to find out how to best declare the funds sent to Gaddafi without provoking too much criticism. Their solution was to give the staff at Libyan deportation camps workshops on human rights and on how to register refugees – so they could take over the same job which the UNHCR had handled until the previous summer.

This meant factually rewarding Gaddafi for throwing out the UN agency, stated Brantner, who was then MEP for the Greens. ‘Not a single euro should have been spent on this.’[42] To keep the European Parliament from interfering, the Commission had split the sum intended for Gaddafi into three separate budget items. This way, the split funds fell below the Parliament’s veto threshold.

In January 2011, the EU Parliament called the planned readmission agreement absolutely unacceptable. A unanimously accepted report by Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes stated that such an agreement violated the values of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. But at a hearing, the Commission remained steadfast. One representative cited ‘massive political pressure’ from the European Council. ‘They wanted this deal at any cost,’ said one observer of the hearing[43].

After brutal attacks on protesters in Libya at the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, German Federal President Christian Wulff called Gaddafi a ‘state terrorist’ and ‘psychopath.’[44] Merkel designated him a ‘despot.’ NATO General Secretary Anders Rasmussen found him cruel and brutal. The EU could not be fazed. As late as 15 February 2011, Gaddafi’s closest confidant, Libyan Interior Minister Abdul Fatah Younis, was received in Brussels. It was not until shortly after his visit, when the news about the fighting in Libya became more dramatic, that EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton froze the funds.

The Arab Spring in 2011 swept away dictators in Cairo, Tripoli and Tunis and gave migrants access to the sea. Within a few weeks in early 2011, thousands of boats arrived in Italy. Young North Africans, but also people from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East used their newfound freedom to travel. Shortly thereafter, the EU convinced Tunisia and the Libyan rebel government to close the beaches to emigrants. Ashton managed to get this promise from the Libyan rebels in the coastal town of Benghazi before they had even defeated Gaddafi. They stood by their word and just kept running the gruesome migrant prisons built by Gaddafi.

‘Worse than Dante’s Inferno’

Now the story from the Atlantic repeated in the Mediterranean: The migrants moved elsewhere, this time to the east. First Israel, and from 2009, the Aegean region become migration hot spots. Some nights, hundreds of people arrived on isles such as Lesbos on rubber dinghies. They came from all over the world: Gambians, Eritreans and Afghans arrived at the Greek beaches all at once. Turkey, insulted by the stalled EU accession talks, let them pass. Greece followed a hard line and locked people in makeshift prisons under conditions that even Greek Deputy Interior Minister Spyros Vouyias called ‘worse than Dante’s Inferno.’[45] On Lesbos, a crowd including minors and pregnant women was locked into an old factory building in the village of Pagani. Some stayed there for months in burning heat without knowing when they would be set free. More than 100 people had to share one toilet and a faucet. Diseases broke out and doctors rarely visited.

This caused yet another shift in the migration route, this time to the north, through the tripoint between Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece. One reason was Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen Area. In 2011, 55,000 people illegally crossed the Evros river, which forms the border. It is not even 200m (650ft) wide and has a calm flow, but still many people drowned. In summer, when it carries less water, some underestimated its depth and tried to wade through; many people did not know how to swim. In winter, when the water runs higher, people fell out of overloaded boats.

Still the route stayed attractive – until 4 December 2013. ‘This is a historic day for the Turkish people,’ said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who would later play a decisive role in the so-called EU-Turkey Deal.[46] Back in 2013, he had already negotiated a deal in Brussels requiring Ankara to accept rejected asylum seekers who enter the EU via Turkey. In return, Brussels joined talks about easier visa requirements for Turkish citizens. Frontex guards on the Greek side were now able to alert their Turkish colleagues by radio whenever they saw migrants heading for the border. The Turks would stop them and take them back to the country’s interior. The following year, only 24,000 refugees made it to Greece.

In the meantime, Libya had fallen into chaos. The old militias, once paid for stopping migrants, now turned into traffickers and literally took the last shirts off refugees’ backs for a space on a boat to Southern Italy. The route was expensive and murderous; yet it was the first choice in 2014, especially for those escaping from Syria.

Then something happened: Turkey had taken in two million Syrians since the start of the war in 2011. Now it opened the gates. Anyone was free to hop on a dinghy along the western Turkish coast and head for Greece. The deal signed in 2013 by Davutoğlu was suspended – for now.

In 2014 the EU found out that migration could not be stopped, just slowed down. It was the first year when large numbers of migrants started coming by land, not by sea – along the Balkan route.

  1. Der Spiegel (1991) ‘Krieg des dritten Jahrtausends’, 19 August 1991, p. 130
  2. Der Spiegel (1992) ‘Bestrafung der Armen’, 16 November 1992, p. 226
  3. Eerste EU-Marokko top in teken van economische samenwerking (2010) Europa Nu, 5 Oktober | http://bit.ly/2wekLwy
  4. Johnson, Dominic (2004) ‘Boat people’, tageszeitung, 28 December
  5. El Diario (2009) ‘Una persona murió desangrada en 2009 por cortes con el alambre de cuchillas de la valla de Ceuta’, 22 November | http://bit.ly/2vlNSl4
  6. ESF (2013) ‘Valla fronteriza de Melilla’ | http://bit.ly/2uNKwFP
  7. 20 minutos (2013) ‘El fabricante de las concertinas de Melilla: “La finalidad no es ni cortar ni pinchar a nadie”’, 29 November 2013 | http://bit.ly/2f1I0q8
  8. El Mundo (2006) ‘El Gobierno presenta la tercera valla de Melilla, que impide que los inmigrantes se lesionen al saltar’, 22 March | http://bit.ly/2weDoR4
  9. La Razon (2013) ‘Juan José Imbroda: “El pobre de solemnidad no salta la valla, tiene que pagar a las mafias”’, 3 November | http://bit.ly/2hh61KP
  10. El País (2013) ‘Tardaron doce horas en coserme las heridas después de saltar la verja’, 1 December | http://bit.ly/1cymxud
  11. El País (2013) ‘El Congreso rechaza retirar las cuchillas de las vallas de Ceuta y Melilla y todas las alternativas’, 18 December | http://bit.ly/2uNy496
  12. El País (2013) ‘Interior: “La concertina es un elemento pasivo de disuasión, no es agresivo”’, 26 November | http://bit.ly/2vh43PH
  13. EL País (2013) ‘¿Pero quién defiende las cuchillas en la valla de Melilla?’, 16 November | http://bit.ly/2hipc6M
  14. Personal interview, Malta, 8 February 2017
  15. Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit ‘Nachhaltige Bewirtschaftung der Fischereiressourcen’ Projektbeschreibung, | http://www.giz.de/de/weltweit/17009.html
  16. Jeune Afrique (2008) ‘Meunier, Marianne: “Bienvenue à "Guantanamito"’, 7 July | http://bit.ly/2vZwSy2
  17. Amnesty International (2008) ‘Mauritania: “Nobody wants to have anything to do with us”’, Report, 1 July | http://bit.ly/2ue0hCF
  18. n-tv (2005) ‘Tote nach Flüchtlingsansturm’, 6 October | http://bit.ly/2uRO08F
  19. tageszeitung ‘Datenbank Migration Control’, Länderreport Spanien | http://bit.ly/2hih7yU
  20. Ibid.
  21. Entreculturas y ALBOAN (2011) ‘Nerea Azkona: Políticas de control migratorio y de cooperación al desarrollo entre España y África Occidental durante la ejecución del primer Plan África’, Madrid, 2011 | http://bit.ly/2uOG75x
  22. Ibid.
  23. Personal interview, Bamako, January 2011
  24. EU Commission (2008) ‘The European Commission and Mali join forces to improve the management of migration’, Brussels, 6 October | http://bit.ly/2M4HvIA
  25. UNDP ‘Mali 2015 Migration Fact Sheet’ | http://bit.ly/2uTwUHI
  26. Jakob, Christian (2011) ‘Der europäische Raubfisch’, 9 February 2011 | http://bit.ly/2vgZLIb
  27. Frontex (2018) Risk Analysis for 2018, Warsaw | http://bit.ly/2CMIBFQ
  28. EU Commission ‘EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa’, | http://bit.ly/2h4hmch; Mauritania | http://bit.ly/2CObJMU
  29. Frontex (2012) ‘ Frontex signs Working Arrangement with Nigeria’, 19 December | http://bit.ly/2uRHdfm
  30. Klepp, Silja (2011) ‘Europa zwischen Grenzkontrolle und Flüchtlingsschutz: Eine Ethnographie der Seegrenze auf dem Mittelmeer (Kultur und soziale Praxis)’, Bielefeld, transcript
  31. Pithouse, Richard (2011) ‘The World Remade’, The South African Civil Society Information Service, 23 February | http://bit.ly/2vbIqAR
  32. Il Giornale (2009) ‘Clandestini, la Libia riprende i barconi Maroni: passo storico’, 8 May | http://bit.ly/2uQWAow
  33. Noll, Gregor and Giuffré, Mariaguillia (2011) ‘EU migration control: made by Gaddafi?’, Lund / Trento, February 2011 | http://bit.ly/2v0UdhQ
  34. Camera dei deputati N. 2041 (2008) Rome, 23 December | http://bit.ly/1IwZD9C
  35. Corrierre della sera (2008) ‘Berlusconi da Gheddafi, siglato l’accordo: “Uniti sull’immigra­zione”’, 20 August | http://bit.ly/1KQY2YH
  36. Klepp, Silja (2011) ‘Europa zwischen Grenzkontrolle und Flüchtlingsschutz: Eine Ethnographie der Seegrenze auf dem Mittelmeer (Kultur und soziale Praxis)’ Bielefeld, transcript, 2011
  37. Personal interview, Bremen, March 2012
  38. Personal interview, Berlin, October 2009
  39. EU Parliament (2011) ‘EU-Libya Framework Agreement’, 20 January | http://bit.ly/2uR5Rgh
  40. EU Commission (2010) ‘Commissioners Malmström and Füle visit Libya to reinforce EU-Libya cooperation’, 4 October | http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-10-1281_en.htm
  41. Ibid.
  42. Phone interview, March 2010
  43. Personal interview, October 2011
  44. Saarbrücker Zeitung (2011) ‘Bundespräsident Wulff nennt Gaddafi einen “Psychopathen”’, 24 February | http://bit.ly/2tWVLx6
  45. Pro Asyl Newsletter (2010) no. 154, January 2010 | http://bit.ly/2vP5jeV
  46. Die Welt (2013) ‘EU und Türkei einig über Rücknahme von Flüchtlingen’, 4 December | http://bit.ly/2udg2cO


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