The Mediterranean Has Become a Floating Cemetery for African Immigrants: Kitti Sabune, Chairman of the Afro Swedish National Organisation, Lena Sawyer, and Mekonnen Tesfahuney-All Based in Sweden-Are Fed Up with the Treatment Given to African Immigrants Who Try to Cross into Europe from Morocco and Want Africans Everywhere to Protest and Demand Their Right of Mobility under the UN Human Rights Charter

By Sabune, Kitti; Sawyer, Lena et al. | New African, December 2005 | Go to article overview

The Mediterranean Has Become a Floating Cemetery for African Immigrants: Kitti Sabune, Chairman of the Afro Swedish National Organisation, Lena Sawyer, and Mekonnen Tesfahuney-All Based in Sweden-Are Fed Up with the Treatment Given to African Immigrants Who Try to Cross into Europe from Morocco and Want Africans Everywhere to Protest and Demand Their Right of Mobility under the UN Human Rights Charter


Sabune, Kitti, Sawyer, Lena, Tesfahuney, Mekonnen, New African


The Netherlands-based NGO, United, has documented the death of 6,336 people who tried to cross from North Africa into Europe between 1993-2005. This translates into three deaths every two days over a 12-year period. And these are just the documented deaths--nobody knows how many more have died without a trace. What is worse is that there is no end in sight for the deaths and tragedies taking place at the gates of Europe. In October this year, 14 people died, either shot by Spanish border police or trampled when would-be immigrants stormed the razoredged walls enclosing Ceuta and Mellilia, the Spanish colonial enclaves in Morocco.

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The decades-long indifference displayed by Europe and the "international community", a euphemism for the exclusive club of "white" nations, and the grim drama being played out in Ceuta and Mellilia encapsulate the globalised apartheid system and testimony to the fact that "freedom" of movement and access to space in the world today are structured by race.

What is being played out in Ceuta and Mellilia is a brutal reminder of the consequences of the man-made European and Western tsunamis that have been sweeping over Africa daily. The Mediterranean has become a floating cemetery--a symbol of the hypocrisy and callousness of European and Western nations, and makes mockery of their self-image as the upholders of human rights and the champions of democracy. Imagine what furore and media hype would be generated had some Europeans died crossing borders into Africa?

European immigration structures, such as the Schengen Agreement, ensure the maintenance of globalised apartheid, with dire life and death consequences. Schengen and its implementation of visa requirements stipulated on monetary resources have restricted the mobility of millions of Africans as well as often non-white "others" living in the monetarily-exploited areas of the world.

While blocked from much of mainstream news reporting in Sweden, small newspaper articles have described how thousands of mostly West African men (and some women and children) have been trying to cross into Europe via Morocco and Spain. In stark contrast to the privileged travel taken by those, often Europeans and Westerners with the "right" passport, skin colour and economic wherewithal, men and women from Mali, Senegal, The Gambia and elsewhere in Africa are today caught up in a "game" of Russian Roulette as they rush the border and try to scale the high razor wire fences that surround Mellilia and Ceuta, off the Moroccan coast.

Africans who are caught in this melee are being treated like packed animals and whisked off and "dumped" on Morocco's border with Algeria without food and water--and this is being done with the connivance of the EU and some African authorities.

That the media has not followed this tragedy in a sustained way shows once again that the lives of Africans inside or outside Europe are not worth much. …

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The Mediterranean Has Become a Floating Cemetery for African Immigrants: Kitti Sabune, Chairman of the Afro Swedish National Organisation, Lena Sawyer, and Mekonnen Tesfahuney-All Based in Sweden-Are Fed Up with the Treatment Given to African Immigrants Who Try to Cross into Europe from Morocco and Want Africans Everywhere to Protest and Demand Their Right of Mobility under the UN Human Rights Charter
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