Human rights must always come before border control policies.

On the eve of a new EU migration agreement, it is essential to remember the impact of necropolitics on border control and externalisation. The Melilla massacre is a clear example of practices that result in serious human rights violations for people on the move.

Last June marked the first anniversary of one of the most visible and terrible massacres to have taken place at European borders. We were in Melilla, remembering the massacre on 27 June 2022.

The political practices of externalisation had a lethal impact on many people’s lives: 77 missing victims and at least 40 confirmed deaths. Hundreds of young people live today with physical and mental scars from the violence they suffered, and families suffer daily torture for the death and disappearance of their loved ones.

Unfortunately, impunity in the face of border violence has become established and is allowing European states to continue to move towards policies that will increase human rights violations at borders.

The European Union is meeting in Granada with migratory postulates to reinforce externalisation and its agreements with third countries towards greater militarisation of border areas. These proposals directly attack the right to asylum and put the criminalisation of migrant defenders on the agenda.

We know that even more difficult times will come so, today, we also want to remember that a movement of people, families and organisations will continue to defend life every day, weaving networks of resistance like those generated on 24J in the city of Melilla.

We encourage you to watch the video summary of the 24J event. Ir will help us to understand where necropolitics is taking us and enhance our ability to combat violence.

Beyond Borders

They say so themselves: this is a war. Ndeubi Marie used this vocabulary as she called for justice for her son Larios, who was killed in the “battle” at Tarajal on 6 February 2014. Still deeply traumatised, her only wish was to see where Larios’s remains lay and take his ashes back home so that she could organise a decent funeral for him.

The growing militarisation of the Spanish borders is given names and faces in the report ‘Beyond Borders’, whose main strength lies in its focus on first-hand statements from victims. As the researchers at Ca-minando Fronteras explain, their work is based on the idea that “people on the move are the active subjects”. Unlike the usual narratives surrounding migration on the European side of the border, which view migrants solely through the lens of stereotypes relating to “victimisation and objectification” or criminalise them directly, this report gives a voice to the people suffering through this ignominious era.

Drawing on data from September 2015 to December 2016, the report paints a picture of the people attempting to enter Europe via the southern border with Spain or finding themselves blocked by the border. The migrant people who recount their odyssey in these pages come from 15 African countries and told their stories in a dozen places where they have waited and suffered for days, if not years: the woods surrounding Nador, Bel Younech, Fnideq, Boukhalef, Mesnana, and many more.

Life on the Necrofrontier

At this very moment, from Central America to the Mediterranean, tens, hundreds, thousands of people are trying to cross a border. They travel with their children on their backs, their drive for life and their determination to find new reasons to be hopeful.

Meanwhile, the deadly apparatus of necrocapitalism rolls into action to capture, enslave and transform them into merchandise.

This report by Ca-minando Fronteras not only unveils the humanitarian crisis and human rights violations occurring at the western Euro-African border and many other borders around the world, it also demonstrates how the dynamics of death and despoliation underpinning the increasingly voracious form of capitalism we are currently experiencing are distilled and entrenched in the imposition, control and expansion of borders.

The collusion between European governments and corporate power (both legal and illegal) to supplement the millions of euros made in profit from controlling migrant people is also apparent at the borders. As the report shows, an entire industry based on violence and death profits from monitoring, arresting, imprisoning, deporting, trafficking, enslaving and even rescuing and supporting those who attempt to cross borders.

At the borders, it becomes clear that states have abandoned their duty to guarantee human rights. Here, the law is merely a tool to legitimise racism and patriarchal structures and colonial power continues to operate, dividing humankind into worthy people and bodies that may be exploited, discarded, violated and killed to protect the interests of capital.

Borders strip migrant people of their rights and leave them helpless so that they can be exploited by capital at no cost. When profit is the priority and controlling and violating migrant people’s lives is an endless source of wealth and power, human rights are little more than a superfluity or obstacle, regardless of all the treaties signed and agreements reached at the United Nations.

At the borders, neoliberalism continues apace, externalising, privatising and cutting funds for public services. What happens here spreads across every land, government and institution. The rights stripped from migrant people are the same as those gradually removed from the rest of the population. There is no limit to the greed of necrocapitalism, nor does it respect any pact to guarantee a minimum level of social justice.

At the borders, the weakening of democracy and the descent into authoritarianism are all too apparent. This report by Ca-minando Fronteras clearly explains how the power of migrant people to speak out and defend themselves from injustice is disregarded and negated, showing how border policy is based on restricting, criminalising, threatening and attacking the people and organisations who seek to defend the rights of migrant communities: “…criminalisation has grown rapidly in recent years as the economic interests of the companies investing in border control have increased… The normalisation of the idea that border control takes precedence over the human rights of certain groups of people has also served to justify persecution and violence against people who defend human rights…”.

The use of the legal system to make false accusations against activists to restrict their right to defend human rights is increasingly common among governments that boast of a solid democracy and rule of law. As documented in different parts of the world, the securitisation that is imposed at the borders with violence and impunity has been used to repress social protest and avoid complaints of human rights violations.

These conditions are challenged by the resistance and determination of migrant people and communities and the organisations and associations that support them. To migrate as a person who is poor, female, black, trans or indigenous, or without papers and the authorisation and acceptance of those in power, is to violate the status quo and defy necrocapitalism. The inalienable right to free movement, the determination to seek better living conditions and the struggle for freedom are stronger than any violent border.

This report reveals the wisdom of the bodies that resist and bear the seeds of hope, of those that know to flee violence to protect themselves and of those that work together to build invisible shields to preserve life and dignity. These pages contain a detailed, devastating analysis of the situation by the migrant people who are so often silenced, stigmatised, infantilised and portrayed as victims, as well as of the migration policies, institutional racism and colonial dynamics that affect them. The voices of migrant women in particular are showcased, as they explain their strategies of resistance and the ways in which violence is exerted over their bodies and lives as a powerful mechanism of social control and fear.

“Migrant people and their families are the bedrock of resistance to necropower”: they are the legitimate spokespeople for their own experiences and are aware of the solutions and approaches required to tackle multiple forms of violence. They are human rights defenders who speak out on behalf of those who have gone missing or died at sea, constituting a global movement that has exposed the impunity, collusion and inhumanity of governments and criminal organisations in many parts of the world. Overcoming indescribable pain, with the full weight of the system against them, they seek to obtain justice, dignify memory and demand narratives that expose the perpetrators instead of the victims.

Working alongside them are people, platforms, groups and organisations that support them with respect, recognition and mutual care. They have built networks of life to counter the prevailing culture of individualism and xenophobia: to warn of boats in distress, to support families whose loved ones are dead or missing, to humanise migrant bodies and lives and to condemn a system that is not only destroying lives but is also undermining the more noble, generous values developed over the course of human history.
This report is a living testimony of the importance of the work of Ca-minando Fronteras and the migrant communities that it supports in saving lives and calling for the system to be radically overhauled. Their work recognises migrant people as political subjects and centres their voices, wisdom and vision, lending far greater meaning to the quest to prioritise care and the protection of life above all else.

Those of us who have been migrants and our loved ones who have migrated are alive today thanks to the care we received during our experiences of transit and mobility. May we never forget this and may the collective experience imprinted on the memory of our ancestors serve as a source of strength to help us bring an end to the deadly policies that seek to deprive us of hope.

Marusia López, member of Just Associates (JASS) and the Iniciativa Mesoamericana para Defensoras de Derechos Humanos.

Our report ‘Victims of the Necrofrontier 2018-2022’ is presented in Barcelona (19/12) and Pamplona (21/12)

The report summarises the last five years of work by our Observatory of Human Rights on the Western Euro-African Border.

At the end of each year, Ca-minando Fronteras takes stock of the current situation for migrants. We publish an annual report containing data on the victims of migration policies during that year: people who have gone missing or died while migrating to Europe, boats that have capsized, countries of origin and routes where hundreds of people are lost forever. In 2022, we decided to adopt a slightly different perspective. We published an update on the numbers of victims of the western Euro-African border between 2018 and 2022 (up to 30 November 2022) and conducted a diachronic analysis that reveals the impacts of contemporary necropolitics.

The ‘Victims of the Necrofrontier 2018-2022’ report will be presented at two events: the first will be held in Barcelona on 19 December and the second in Pamplona on 21 December.

Voces desde la Frontera, en el Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

Presentación internacional del informe ‘Víctimas de la necrofrontera 2018-2022’: un abordaje cuantitativo de los datos recabados por nuestro Observatorio de Derechos Humanos en los últimos cinco años, así como de un análisis cualitativo del efecto de las políticas migratorias contemporáneas en las personas migrantes y sus familiares. Con la participación de Helena Maleno (fundadora de Ca-minando Fronteras), Soda Niasse (activista por los derechos humanos) y Oussman Ba (responsable del equipo psicosocial de la Delegación Diocesana de Migraciones). Modera la investigadora Blanca Garcés.

Cuándo: 19 de diciembre de 2022, 18:30h

Dónde: CCCB, Barcelona. Carrer de Montealegre, 5.

Extra: Habrá streaming con traducción simultánea en castellano y catalán.

Voces desde la frontera. Presentación del informe Víctimas de la necrofrontera 2018-2022.
Más información en la web del CCCB: Voces de la frontera
Víctimas de la necrofrontera 2018-2022. Por la memoria y la justicia, en el Centro Cultural Fundación Caja Navarra de Pamplona

«¿Cuáles son las cifras que perpetúan las muertes en la frontera y cuáles son las que sirven para defender la vida? La observación de la realidad en la Frontera Occidental Euroafricana no es neutra y quienes se acercan al conocimiento desde una perspectiva de defensa de la vida se encuentran inmediatamente con los derechos de las víctimas y sus familias», explicamos en el informe para dar cuenta de la importancia de contar a las víctimas de las fronteras con herramientas cuantitativas y cualitativas.

Compartiremos el informe en un diálogo con las organizaciones SOS Racismo Nafarroa y Ongi Etorri Errefuxiatuak y debatiremos sobre Frontera Sur, Frontera Norte, racismo y necropolítica. Participan Helena Maleno (fundadora de Ca-minando Fronteras), Maite Santamaría (Ongi Etorri Errefuxiatuak) y Beatriz Villahizán (SOS Racismo Nafarroa).

Cuándo: 21 de diciembre de 2022, 18:00h.

Dónde: CIVICAN, Pamplona. Av. de Pío XII, 2.

Extra: Nuestra compañera Helena Maleno estará presente en una rueda de prensa que tendrá lugar en la mañana, previa a la presentación del informe. Lugar y hora por confirmar.

Presentación informe Víctimas de la necrofrontera 2018-2022. Por la memoria y la justicia.

Read the full report here: Victims of the necrofrontier 2018-2022. For memory and justice..

Are you looking for a relative or a friend who has gone missing while attempting to migrate? If so, you can contact us here.

Missing: 47 migrant men who disappeared on the Algerian route

On 8 November 2022, two boats set off from Boumerdès (Algeria) for Cabrera in the Balearic Islands. One of them departed at 07:00 (UTC) with 26 Algerian men on board. The other carried 21 migrant men (12 Algerians and nine sub-Saharan Africans).

Several weeks later, a community leader informed us that both boats had gone missing; we immediately passed the information on to Salvamento Marítimo in the Balearic Islands. The rescue services informed us that they had already received the alert and explained the action that had been taken: a passive search for the vessel, a simulation to try to identify the areas where it might be and an alert issued to other boats currently in the area. At that time, the boat had still not been found but they continued to alert nearby vessels. Four weeks have now passed since the boat set off from the Algerian coast.

We continue to search for the two boats but no further information has yet become available. As part of the Right to Life area of our work, we call for greater effort and coordination to search for migrant people who go missing at the border.

Are you looking for a relative or a friend who has gone missing while attempting to migrate? If so, you can contact us here.