Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet)

Bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland

Boats without names …

The complexity of what we have witnessed throughout the Arab world is only now starting to emerge, just as the real tragedy of Lampedusa is only now starting to be felt. When people are given a chance for freedom they do far more than scream. Something is being disturbed in the world and it should not be limited to the areas around the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. The whole notion of boundaries and the way we separate ourselves and barbarise our nature is being thought about for the first time since 1945. It is rightfully cause for much more than anxiety.

We have no model for where we are going at the moment. For so long we have held on to nation state boundaries. Walls have gone up and walls have come down and then gone up all over again and we are still confused about situation. But with tragedies like those around the coast of Lampedusa we are suddenly faced with one another through a haze of tears. All the questions now have to be about learning from tragedy.

Just days after the boat with 359 Eritreans went down, another vessel took to the sea with 183 Syrians and Palestinians on. It also did not reach Europe. Just days before this, 400 people from the same areas were saved in Danish and Panamanian boats. Thousands lose their lives each year in these tiny vessels. The EU response has been to put more facilities in sea patrols. What this means is that the price of getting passage on these boats will go up. The cost of travelling over the Mediterranean will now go through the roof. People will make more money and more people will lose their lives …

UntitledWe celebrate the achievements of our world in modernity, in one nation state after another. We celebrate all that goes with statehood but when the flags go up and we see nothing between the great symbols I am not sot so proud. What becomes of those who have no national anthem? When do we raise the flag for these people? When do we celebrate the colours of Eritrea and Palestine? Where are the great achievements of modernity when people are forced into boats and drowning at sea day after day?

The boats will keep coming. People have no option. We on the other hand have plenty of options. We can claim our humanity or we can hide behind the beautiful arrangements of flags. We can seek refuge in statistics or we can open ourselves up to new ways of receiving and making at home those who live in situations that are desperate like the Eritreans. We give many areas of the world arms; so why can we not throw in a little bit more of a welcome. The sad stories will continue but we will not see change in the policies of fortress Europe and this is where we find the real tragedy …

Keith Hammond


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This entry was posted on October 15, 2013 by in Comment.
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