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Polly Pallister-Wilkins, Médecins Avec Frontières and the making of a humanitarian borderscape, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, November 13, 2017

« MSF is not sans frontières; we’re full of frontières, borders permeate everything we do and it’s even worse in this migration crisis », MSF Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator, Athens, Greece.


« This article makes the case for the consideration of a humanitarian borderscape. The article analyses the recent humanitarian responses to irregular migration in the Mediterranean, Aegean and Greece and argues that processes of im/mobility produce specific times, spaces and types of care. The argument transcends recent discussions on the shrinking and/or expanding of humanitarian spaces, suggesting instead that a focus on the specific setting of the border and the dynamics of mobility are more useful to understanding humanitarian responses to mobility and immobility. In addition, the article contributes to the emerging literature on borderscapes by offering an interpretive analysis of the creation of a particular humanitarian borderscape made up of specific features and activities, which are undertaken by a multiplicity of actors in multiple places. Building on a consideration of this multiplicity, the article focuses specifically on the work of Médecins Sans Frontières. »

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Jeanne Cavelier, Libye : cinq questions sur les centres de détention de migrants et les conditions de vie qui y règnent,, 19//11/2017

« Le vice-premier ministre du gouvernement libyen d’union nationale (GNA) a annoncé dimanche l’ouverture d’une enquête sur des cas d’esclavage près de la capitale libyenne.

Le documentaire choc de la chaîne américaine CNN sur des cas d’esclavage près de la capitale libyenne Tripoli continue de faire réagir. Le vice-premier ministre du gouvernement libyen d’union nationale (GNA), Ahmed Metig, a exprimé « son mécontentement » dans un communiqué publié dimanche 19 novembre sur Facebook. M. Metig « a affirmé qu’il chargera une commission d’enquêter sur ces rapports de presse afin d’appréhender et soumettre les responsables à la justice », selon le texte publié sur le réseau social.

La veille, répondant à l’appel de plusieurs associations, un millier de personnes ont manifesté, samedi 18 novembre à Paris contre des cas d’esclavage en Libye. Les manifestants ont dénoncé les faits relatés dans le reportage de CNN, montrant des migrants vendus aux enchères dans des camps tenus par des passeurs en Libye.

Mais dans les centres de détention de migrants « gérés » par le GNA les migrants doivent également faire face à des conditions sanitaires souvent déplorables. Ces lieux sont également le théâtre de violences, notamment sexuelles.

Le département pour la lutte contre la migration illégale, qui dépend du ministère de l’intérieur, dirigerait une trentaine de ces centres de détention. Leur décompte est toutefois difficile à tenir. Ces lieux ferment parfois du jour au lendemain, d’autres sont installés ailleurs, dans d’anciennes usines, des hangars… Certains sont même de facto contrôlés par des milices, qu’ils aient été pris par la force ou via la corruption des gardes. La frontière apparaît ainsi parfois poreuse entre les camps illégaux dirigés par les trafiquants et les centres de détention officiels du gouvernement de Tripoli »        (…)

Pietro Castelli Gattinara, The ‘refugee crisis’ in Italy as a crisis of legitimacy, Contemporary Italian Politics, Vol. 9, 2017/3, p.318-331


« The so-called ‘refugee crisis’ marks a crucial juncture in Italian politics. Tapping into the crisis of legitimacy of contemporary European politics, the controversy over migration has triggered discussion of socioeconomic, cultural and security issues. Pressured by public opinion, the EU and Italy have followed the logic of exceptionality, trying to put a halt to the inflow of asylum-seekers rather than pursuing the logic of normalcy that must apply to migration at a global level. Institutional and mainstream actors have mirrored public anxieties and security concerns, endorsing emergency narratives, aggressive policing and militarised border control. Unable to engage with citizens’ concerns, they have helped to conflate migration with insecurity, creating a fertile breeding ground for xenophobic, populist reactions. The paper suggests that the refugee crisis is best understood in relation to other ongoing crises in the EU, and that the way it is handled will have significant consequences for future action, shaping the way European societies cope with forthcoming crises and transforming the relationship between states and citizens. Accordingly, it argues that the permanent state of emergency characterising governmental responses so far does not bode well for the future of liberal democracy in Europe. »

Pietro Castelli Gattinara is research fellow in political science and sociology at the Centre on Social Movement Studies, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence. His research in comparative politics focuses on the far right and migration in Europe. He obtained his PhD at the European University Institute in Florence, with a dissertation on party competition on migration, and he is currently engaged in a comparative research project on collective action during the refugee crisis, focusing on anti-immigration mobilisation in Italy and France. He recently published The Politics of Migration in Italy (Routledge, 2016). His work has appeared in several international peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. From November 2017, he will join the Centre for Research on Extremism of the University of Oslo.

Daniel Howden, Central Mediterranean: European Priorities, Libyan Realities,, oct. 2017

(…) « Six months later, in April 2015, a succession of shipwrecks culminated in the largest single loss of life in the Mediterranean when a 90ft (27m) boat thought to be carrying nearly 900 people capsized, leaving only 28 survivors. The following month, the military operation EUNAVFOR Med was launched by the E.U., aimed explicitly at disrupting the “business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks.”

But while Triton and EUNAVFOR Med both conducted search and rescue, it was not their primary mission. Instead, privately funded charity boats stepped into the gap left by Mare Nostrum.

The first of a new generation of private search and rescue missions – the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) – appeared in the Mediterranean in August 2014, founded by U.S. businessman Chris Catrambone and his Italian wife, Regina. Other groups soon joined the effort. Some, like Malta-based MOAS, were avowedly nonpolitical, while others, such as the German outfit Sea Watch, openly sought to shame E.U. member states into relaunching a dedicated state-level SAR mission.

The NGO boats and crews were not similarly equipped or trained. Some, like Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and Save the Children, operated from larger vessels that could transport the refugees and migrants they rescued to Italy. Others, like the German activists of Sea Eye and Jugend Rettet, had no capacity to transfer those rescued to a safe port. Instead they would stabilize migrant boats where possible, use their own rigs as temporary life boats or get life jackets to those in the water, and call the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome. »  (…)

Daniel Howden is a senior editor at Refugees Deeply. A contributor to the Economist and the Guardian, he was previously the Africa correspondent and deputy foreign editor at the Independent.

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Said Saddiki, World of Walls: The Structure, Roles and Effectiveness of Separation Barriers. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2017

 « We’re going to build a wall.”

« Borders have been drawn since the beginning of time, but in recent years artificial barriers have become increasingly significant to the political conversation across the world. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States while promising to build a wall on the Mexico border, and in Europe, the international movements of migrants and refugees have sparked fierce discussion about whether and how countries should restrict access to their territory by erecting physical barriers. Virtual walls are also built and crushed at increasing speed. In the post-9/11 era there is a greater danger from so-called « transnational non-state actors”, and computer hacking and cyberterrorism threaten to overwhelm our technological barriers.

In this timely and original book, Said Saddiki scrutinises the physical and virtual walls located in four continents, including Israel, India, the southern EU border, Morocco, and the proposed border wall between Mexico and the US. Saddiki’s detailed analysis explores the tensions between the rise of globalisation, which some have argued will lead to a « borderless world” and « the end of the nation-state”, and the rapid development in recent decades of border control systems.

Saddiki examines both regular and irregular cross-border activities, including the flow of people, goods, ideas, drugs, weapons, capital, and information, and explores the disparities that are reflected by barriers to such activities. He considers the consequences of the construction of physical and virtual walls, including their impact on international relations and the rise of the multi-billion dollar security market.

World of Walls: The Structure, Roles and Effectiveness of Separation Barriers is important reading for all those interested in the topics of immigration, border security, international relations, and policy. » (ed.)



  1. Israel and the Fencing Policy
  2. Border Fencing in India
  3. The Fences of Ceuta and Melilla
  4. The U.S.-Mexico Border Wall
  5. The Wall of Western Sahara