This article is part of the Echoes of Cologne forum. Click here to read the introduction and the other contributions.
Fortress Europe: the transgression of its borders by refugees, who call upon Europe’s much proclaimed ‘responsibility to protect’, has revealed a crisis at the heart of the Fortress – terrifying for the rifts, contradictions and hypocrisies it is laying bare. Instead of tackling those contradictions in the interest of the safety and security of refugees, Fortress Europe is currently pulling up the drawbridges. Fences up, problem ‘solved’? Can the violence of drawing borders be so easily ignored?
For those now stranded in Greece or elsewhere, on multiple global refugee routes and in many refugee camps, or for those providing humanitarian aid that the ‘global community’ of states has (for many years) so insufficiently delivered, accepting the increasing erosion of asylum rights and the normalisation of Europe’s failure to uphold them, will not be easily possible. It will also not be easily possible for those journalists, activists, artists, scholars and others who seek to give voice to those stranded and drowning along Europe’s shores, to retain a critical consciousness of our connectedness to the devastation caused not just, but to a significant extent, by European (and NATO) politics.
It is difficult to know where to go from here. The scale of the problem can seem overwhelming, especially when our concerns extend beyond issues directly on our doorstep. Volunteers cannot make up for the lack of a coordinated, international humanitarian response and, even as states fail to deliver such a response, some forms of volunteer support have become criminalised.
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