Migrating Towards Death

“You broke the ocean in half to be here, only to meet nothing that wants you. –migrant”
Nayyirah Waheed

If you want an idea of a safe and secure European Union, imagine the sea ejecting thousands of bodies on its shores. Those are the undesired bodies that went to the sea for a better life only to come out in the next days as numbers in newspapers. This is the reality that is produced by the rigid bureaucratic regime put in place to close down Europe to the unwanted people fleeing the wars waged on them by religious fanatics, or the wars waged on them by the neoliberal system, which condemns them to poverty, unemployment and an eternal promise of misery. For Europe’s leaders, there was no adequate description that could capture the image of thousands of people crossing to Europe other than crisis.

And while the media was too busy counting the dead accurately, the politicians were immersed in the euphoria of the opportunity presented: there must be more security. In the past years, as the situation in North Africa unfolded dramatically, thousands of migrants attempted to cross, ending either in death or in detention centers until they can be deported back. In 2013, two shipwrecks carrying migrants near Lampedusa prompted the Italian government, with the blessing of the EU, to inaugurate operation Mare Nostrum, a name straight out of the Fascist era. According to the website of the Italian Defense Ministry, which effectively patronized the operation, the one year operation resulted in 330 smugglers brought before justice. Quite the achievement given the cost of the operation, estimated at 9 million Euros a month.

Evidently, such European anxieties could not be resolved without the mobilization of elevated surveillance, which would complement the total foreclosure of Fortress Europe. In 2013, the European External Border Surveillance System, Eurosur, was put in place. The point of which was to coordinate, facilitate and monitor all movement happening at the feet of Europe.


When the money dried up, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union, otherwise known as Frontex, took over with operation Triton starting from 2014. For only 3 million Euros a month, the operation sought to increase border control and halt the flows of migrants. Ironically enough, the website of the Agency starts with a nice presentation about freedom of movement: “Fostering the free movement of people has been an important objective of European integration since the 1950s. Free movement of goods, persons, services and capital were identified as foundations of the Community in the Treaty of Rome (1957)”. And it was in the spirit of this freedom of movement that 5 ships sailed from Libya in April 2015, crossing over from one death world to another: at least 1200 have died.

A death toll that was heavy enough for the politicians to make nice statements about the value of human life, totally obscuring the structural elements that account directly for the death of the migrants: leave it to nature to take care of the unwanted, leave it for the politicians to make the politically correct statements later. Who needs drones and weapons when the European leaders and their policies can now delegate their fascist operations to the work of nature, the smugglers and the desperation of the migrants and the refugees. In the sea, the evidence of crime is washed clean. And the only intervention that remains is the ‘search and rescue’; an expression with enough humanitarianism to conceal the direct complicity of the border control system that allows movement for the fortunate few and condemns the unfortunate majority to the perils of death. Not to mention that this ‘search and rescue’ only ends up in detention centers, with the promise of deportation.


The EU has displayed more readiness for insane spending on border control and surveillance than addressing the real issue at stake: to abolish the borders.

The established bureaucracy of The European Union with unrealizable entry requirements to satisfy the condition of legality is a bureaucracy of death. The Nation-State, which now operates under the guise of an open European Union, only produces death. The EU border system exposes a borderline Europe, whose capacity in advancing nice discourses on human rights and the value of human life will always camouflage its murderous policies at the borders. The Nation-State can now kill and commemorate later. And these commemorations can only be read as self-congratulatory acts. Capital will continue to rule over lives and rule lives out.


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