A space for reflection…

filmpro lates in July 2015 presented Flèches Sans Corps / Arrows without Bodies by Juan delGado, a video installation that explores the traumatic experience that many so-called ‘illegal’ immigrants face after having been forced to leave their homeland.

The space was filled with shoes scattered around on the floor. Their presence is evocative of the missing people.

A photo of the studio floor, shoes scattered on either side of the studio floor.

“The shoes assume a metaphorical significance that engages the viewer with those [absent] bodies. They give the chance to attach ourselves to that missing presence”, Juan delGado

Inside the studio a video installation shows a stormy sea at night as waves crash against rocks on the shore. A woman’s voice begins to sing verses from Persian poet Jalal al-Din Rumi, “the decision to leave tears me apart / it burns when i remember all my loved ones / although i have left, my heart is still back there”.

The reality…

Complementary information presented the reality of thousands and thousands of people fleeing their homeland to get to the “promised land” of Europe and beyond.

… in regulatory terms and policies:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Operation Mare Nostrum (2013 – 2014)

Naval and air operation commenced by the Italian government to tackle the increased immigration to Europe during the second half of 2013. It included a ‘search and rescue’ component that is believed to have saved thousands of lives in the Mediterranean. It ended in October 2014 because it was considered too expensive.

Operation Triton (2014 – current)

Border security operation conducted by Frontex, the European Union’s border security agency. It replaced operation ‘Mare Nostrum’. It includes a limited ‘search and rescue’ component. Since the operation began the number of migrants who drowned while crossing the Mediterranean has dramatically increased.

In the meantime, more than 1,750 migrants perished in the Mediterranean between January – April 2015; more than 30 times higher than during the same period of 2014 (International Organisation for Migration)

… in people’s own words:

Around the walls there were testimonies from people who fled their country due to war, abusive political regimes or other life threatening conditions; they survived the journey to a ‘better’ future, but their odyssey in the ‘promised’ land continues as they aim to build a new life. They are called ‘illegal’ immigrants, but are they given the option of ‘legal’ migration?

Some quotes:

We thought that Europe cares and that they would save us. But we spent hours in the water before anyone came. So we have lost hope in Europe. There is discrimination and no freedom to move. They say yes we feel sorry for you but there are legal issues. Why did you let us in then? Why not leave us in the sea?,  Young Syrian man (survivor from the sinking in Lampedusa, October 2013)

The journey from Turkey was hard. But compared to what I faced in Syria or Egypt, it was nothing. We were 28 people and the boat was too small. I believe that we only made it thanks to God – otherwise we would all have died. Ebmesam, Syria

Thank God, I was able to cross [to Istanbul], where I stayed for two weeks, each morning my friend and I went to the famous Aksaray area in Istanbul in order to meet the smugglers (people traffickers)… Those look at us as if we’re a moving bag of money, they’re infamous for lying and greed and avarice, their numbers are large, for smuggling has become the trade of the tradeless, and each one displays his methods and creativity in the art of smuggling bearing in mind that they don’t care about what happens to us along the road. FromCrossing Borders: Qamishli’s Story

Sources:

http://www.msf.org/article/greece-testimonies-syrian-refugees-and-msf-staff

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2013/12/dont-get-boat-testimonies-syrian-refugees-italy/

Crossing Borders is an ongoing project by Juan delGado

 

This was an one-off event, but the number of people risking their lives to cross to Europe increases day by day.

Do we need to wait until the next media coverage to finally stop this?

 

Further sources and interesting reading:

Migrants’ Files

The Migrants’ Files interactive map illustrates areas where people died between 2000 and 2014 in their attempt to reach Europe. Click on a ‘blood spot’ and the available data comes up. In total, the website has recorded 2,880 events, 78 territories, 15 detention centres and the 13,744 migrants for which some data is available.

Migrant files - click data

Snapshot of the interactive map, click on a ‘blood spot’ and the available data comes up.

www.detective.io/detective/the-migrants-files

Against All Odds – an online interactive game that lets you experience what it is like to be a refugee. Available in 11 languages:  www.playagainstallodds.ca/ (English) / www.taxidifygis.org.cy (Greek)

Navid didn’t come here for holidays / Ο Ναβίντ δεν ήρθε για διακοπές –
an online game aimed to be used in the classroom. Currently available only in Greek: www.navid.gr

International Organisation for Migration: http://www.iom.int/

Migrants’ Rights Network: www.migrantsrights.org.uk

Refugees’ Week: www.refugeeweek.org.uk 

The list above is not exhaustive, of course!

There are still plenty of online resources available, comprehensive directories of initiatives and projects in relation to this field. If you have anything interesting to share, get in touch.