Tag Archives: Refugee

Merkel Heads to Africa on Stemming Migrant Flow


Merkel heads to Africa with eye on stemming migrant flow

 

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Why Travelling with an African Passport is Difficult?


Why is travelling with an African passport so difficult?

 | Friday 11 September 2015 

Getting around Europe is a struggle, but it’s just as tough to cross borders in our own continent


Morocco v Cameroon - FIFA2010 World Cup Qualifier
 A 2014 ranking of countries by the strength of their passport revealed that Cameroonians can travel to only 43 countries of their choosing. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

In the summer of 2003, a clerk at the US embassy in London informed me that under new 9/11 laws, I was considered “unstable”, and my request for a tourist visa would be denied. Never mind that on the invitation of my aunt – a US citizen – I had bought non-refundable, round-trip tickets to Philadelphia (both the written invitation and the confirmed bookings were prerequisites), or that I was at the end of the second year of a four-year degree course at Liverpool University, or even that I had a visa and job confirmed in France, where I would be spending my third year.

None of that mattered. I carried a Cameroonian passport, and the job of the consulate team was to presume I had no intention of leaving the US, unless my documentary evidence convinced them otherwise, which clearly it hadn’t. As I left the embassy, my face wet with tears, I invented scenarios to console myself: “Her husband has obviously just left her for her best friend, she’s obviously taking out her frustration on me.”

Over the years it’s not just Americans who have looked at my forest green passport and seen the warning: “Beware! Likely to spread contagion or disappear into the black market.” Queuing in Lille in northern France to upgrade my visa from visitor to work permit was like waiting in line with the disallowed – easily 200 of us jostling to be seen by the gendarmes, emotions ranging from hopeful to desperate, depending on how many times you’d been turned back for some trivial reason. “Revenez demain” (“Come back tomorrow”) became the most painful words to hear.

Much of my time in Britain has also been punctuated by the cycle of visa applications, the prices for which escalate with each change of government. My conversations with immigration officers have become something of a chess match: they make their move then I make mine.

“How long have you been in the UK?” I’m asked, as the immigration officer feels up the page to which my visa is stuck, checking to make sure it didn’t belong to a different passport. “Oh, only 10 years,” I say, insouciant; using my BBC Radio 4 voice. “What did you study at university?” “Do you mean my first degree or one of my masters?” Neither of us break eye contact.

They were only doing their job, but I felt as though I too was doing mine: subtly making the point that I had every right to be here. I’d studied a British curriculum, taught to me by British teachers in African schools; and after my parents raised the thousands of pounds needed to pay for the British university education they thought would help me establish my place in the world, I just wanted to be left to get on with it.

But this is not just a problem in the west. My most painful visa transactions have, sadly, been on the African continent – the place where passports should be recognised immediately for the useless, artificial construct they are; where members of the same ethnic group are separated by barriers imposed from outside.

But Africa’s leaders have been among the most ardent defenders of national boundaries. In 2013, the African Development Bank wrote: “African countries remain closed off to each other, making travel within the continent difficult. Africa is one of the regions in the world with the highest visa requirements. This situation is even more restricted for Africans travelling within Africa, as compared to Europeans and North Americans. On average, African citizens require visas to visit 60% of African countries.”

But immigration systems and visa requirements aren’t designed with actual people in mind. Instead, they are a reflection of the geopolitics of the day and of voter sentiment. The number of countries your passport grants you access to is directly proportional to how many friends your government has, and Cameroon’s Paul Biya is famously reclusive.

That said, Cameroon is not the worst. In a 2014 ranking of countries by the strength of their passport, Finns, Swedes and Brits can travel the most freely, swanning into 173 countries of their choosing. Cameroon came in at 43, alongside China, Congo, Jordan and Rwanda. The least desirable passport was Afghanistan’s, giving its citizens access to a paltry 28 countries.

The system is broken, and the idea that where you are born is a lottery exempts us from our collective responsibility to change that system. But I’m an idealist with wanderlust. So I studied hard for the Life in the UK test, pledged my allegiance to the Queen, and swapped my forest green passport for a crimson red British one – all so that I could just finally roam free.


Africa’s Population Boom Fuels “unstoppable” Migration to Europe


Africa’s population boom fuels “unstoppable” migration to Europe

“Nobody is Ever – Just a Refugee”


A NEW NARRATIVE

“Nobody is ever just a refugee”: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s powerful speech on the global migrant crisis

WRITTEN BY: Lily Kuo

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie sits in a salon for her hair-do in Victoria Island district in Lagos May 2, 2013.
The power of lipstick. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

The Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called on attendees of the United Nation’s World Humanitarian day last week to rethink the refugee crisis.

“Nobody is ever just a refugee,” said the novelist and non-fiction writer, delivering the keynote address at the event in New York. “Nobody is ever just a single thing. And yet, in the public discourse today, we often speak of people as a single a thing. Refugee. Immigrant.”

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than a quarter of the world’s refugee population, about 18 million people fleeing conflict in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, and elsewhere.

Adichie, the author of Americanah and several other books, has a personal connection to migration. Her parents were displaced during the Nigeria-Biafra war and lived as refugees for three years. She proposed a new way of thinking and talking about those in need:

In my language, Igbo, the word for ‘love’ is ‘ifunanya’ and its literal translation is, ‘to see.’ So I would like to suggest today that this is a time for a new narrative, a narrative in which we truly see those about whom we speak.

Let us tell a different story. Let us remember that the movement of human beings on earth is not new. Human history is a history of movement and mingling. Let us remember that we are not just bones and flesh. We are emotional beings. We all share a desire to be valued, a desire to matter. Let us remember that dignity is as important as food.


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The 50th Anniversary of ‘The Battle of Algiers’ and the Film’s Impact on the Black Radical Imagination


The 50th Anniversary of ‘The Battle of Algiers’ and the Film’s Impact on the Black Radical Imagination

An excerpt from an important new book on the film.

UN to Campaign Against Xenophobia, Racism in Dealing with Refugees


UN to campaign against xenophobia, racism in dealing with refugees

Reuters | May 10, 2016, 10.11 AM IST


united_nations_trusteeship_council_chamber_in_new_york_city_2

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations on Monday proposed that its member countries create and agree upon a system to share responsibility more fairly for the hundreds of millions of refugees and migrants around the world.

The global compact would be accompanied by a UN-led campaign to combat the xenophobia and racism that have tainted discussions of the refugees and migrants, UN officials said at a briefing to release a report on the global migration.

The UN estimates there are 20 million refugees worldwide and another 40 million people displaced inside their own countries. Of the refugees, 86 per cent live in developing countries, often near the countries they came from, it says.

Added to those figures are 244 million migrants who live and work in countries where they were not born, it says.

The campaign would attempt to counter an increasingly negative attitude and tone in debates over how to deal with the crisis, the UN said.

“I am concerned at the increasing trend of member states to erect fences and walls,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in the report.

“Xenophobic and racist responses to refugees and migrants seem to be reaching new levels of stridency, frequency and public acceptance.”

The proposals come ahead of a summit meeting planned at the UN in September to address the global refugee crisis.

The UN-led campaign will promote such steps as more direct, personal contact between refugees, migrants and people in their host countries, said Karen AbuZayd, UN special adviser on the summit.

Also, nations will be called upon to develop plans for including refugees and migrants in education, language and skills training and employment opportunities.

The global compact would require nations to share responsibility in a variety of ways so that a few nations do not shoulder much of the burden while others do far less, the UN said.

It might include resettlement policies, financing arrangements, aid to host countries and technical assistance, AbuZayd said.

“States will share responsibility for refugees more fairly. Host countries will receive immediate support for their development needs. International migration will be governed better,” she said.

Amnesty International called the plan a potential “game changer”, but said its success depends upon nations agreeing on a permanent system for sharing responsibility.

“World leaders cannot go on lurching from crisis to crisis, haggling over numbers and fiddling while parts of the world burn,” Amnesty said.

Citing “refugees in shaky boats, trapped at border fences or crammed into overcrowded camps where hopes and dreams wither”, it said: “Too often, these scenes of despair are borne not just from war and persecution but also of bad, callous policies.”

 Facilitating safe migration is included among the Sustainable Development Goals, a blueprint of plans for nations to fight poverty, promote equality and slow climate change by 2030. UN member nations signed the goals last fall.

“The UN estimates there are 20 million refugees worldwide” Out of this how many are Muslims? Almost all. Why should non Muslims be burdened with Muslim trash when the oil rich Muslim states… Read MoreCloudcompute


The Racist Roots of the GOP’s Favorite New Immigration Plan


The Racist Roots of the GOP’s Favorite New Immigration Plan

By Zoë Carpenter – The Nation | english@other-news.info

 Aug 20, 2015 8:41 PM


Birthright citizenship is enshrined in the 14th Amendment, but Donald Trump and other candidates are keeping alive the idea that some Americans should not have equal rights at birth.

The year 1866 was an alarming one for xenophobes: Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, declaring “all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power…to be citizens of the United States.” Though explicitly intended to grant citizenship to African-Americans, who’d been denied it by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1857 Dred Scott case, wouldn’t the law also “have the effect of naturalizing the children of Chinese and Gypsies born in this country?” wondered Pennsylvania Senator Edgar Cowan. “Undoubtedly,” responded Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois. When President Andrew Johnson vetoed the act, he too raised the specter of the Chinese and “the people called Gypsies.”
Congress overrode the veto, and went on to enshrine the principle of birthright citizenship in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Needless to say, fears about the children of the gypsies proved unfounded. Yet the idea that people with certain types of parents should be denied citizenship—and the associated rights—persisted. Late in the nineteenth century the government tried to withhold citizenship from the children of Chinese immigrants, but was rebuffed by the Supreme Court. Native Americans weren’t considered citizens until 1924. These days the target is Latino immigrants and their children. And thanks to Donald Trump, the nativist argument against birthright citizenship has moved from a sideline item to a centerpiece in the Republican primary.
In a set of immigration policies released Sunday, Trump called for an end to birthright citizenship, which he described as “the biggest magnet for illegal immigration.” Trump’s invocation of the fictitious “anchor baby” phenomenon isn’t particularly original. But what’s striking is that his implausible call for reinterpreting or rescinding the 14th Amendment has been taken up by so many of his competitors in the Republican field, including Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, and Rand Paul. Chris Christie said recently that birthright citizenship should be “reexamined.” The much shorter list of those not in favor includes John Kasich (who previously advocated for revoking birthright citizenship), Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio, who stated that he is “open to exploring ways of not allowing people who are coming here deliberately for that purpose to acquire citizenship.”
The issue of birthright citizenship resurfaces every so often in Congress, but it’s never gotten much traction. Most recently Louisiana Senator David Vitter warned of the “exploding phenomenon” of “birth tourism,” and in March proposed to limit citizenship to those who have at least one parent with a green card or who’ve served in the military. Though bids like Vitter’s are more demagogic than actionable, some US-born children with undocumented parents already face hurdles related to their citizenship rights. Texas, for instance, recently began refusing to issue birth certificates to parents who use a photo ID from the Mexican Consulate as their only form of identification.
Kelefa Sanneh points out that, bluster aside, Trump is actually forcing a substantive policy debate. The substance is extreme: Walker, for instance, once supported comprehensive reform legislation that including labor rights and a pathway to legal status; now he is “absolutely” in favor of ending birthright citizenship. (So are 63 percent of Republicans, according to a 2010 Fox News poll.) While the GOP was once wondering whether Romney’s promotion of “self deportation” went too far, now candidates are pandering to the base’s racial anxieties with talk of undoing what historian Eric Foner characterizes as one of the Republican Party’s own “historic achievements.”
The irony is that doing so would dramatically increase the number of undocumented people living in the US. (As has the militarization of the border.) Denying birthright citizenship to children with undocumented parents would bring the population of unauthorized people to as many as 24 million by 2050, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The result, according to MPI, would be the creation of “an underclass of unauthorized immigrants who, through no fault of their own, would be forced to live in the margins of US society.” In other words, undermining the 14th Amendment won’t solve the (nonexistent) problem of “birth tourism.” It would, however, do what the denial of citizenship has done since the era of Dred Scott: strip civil rights from a racialized group, facilitating their exploitation.

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