Ceuta and Melilla - The other side of the fence

"Everyone is afraid they may be next," said Joseph, a #displaced person from #India, referring to the numerous #asylumseekers living in fear of night raids and expulsion in #Melilla. The city is an area of 12 km square and has a 10 km double barbed-wire fence border with #Morocco patrolled by both Spanish and Moroccan authorities. The only gap in the fence is a heavily guarded gate, and two checkpoints for entry and exit.⁣

Like #Ceuta, as a Spanish enclave on #African ground, Melilla has a unique role: being simultaneously part of Europe and outside the "Fortress." Thus, from a #migration lens, they are "in-betweens" or "non-spaces," as they are located in border zones outside of a rigid sovereign power. Therefore, the guards' danger and the enclave's fences become obsolete compared to the seas between #Africa and #Spain, usually crossed by small, overcrowded wooden boats called #pateras.⁣

However, if Melilla represents Europe, then displaced people who are entering are captured by the European border regime of migration control. Indeed, in Melilla, the practices, programs, and policies of border control operate to capture displaced persons and categorise them into "unwanted" and "wanted," "irregular," and "regular." The fence becomes more than an object; but is a real break in the migration routes of the sub-Saharan Africans, North Africans, Indians, and South-East Asians who make the crossing. It excludes them physically and politically, preventing any participation in the wider society; once in a camp, the aim is "not to discipline or correct undesirable migrants, but to exclude them."⁣

The camp space thus presents itself as a space of "bare life," where life is no longer based on rights and political power but is instead laid bare to the sovereign power to decide life and death. However, Heather Johnson demonstrates in his article that there is a disruptive alternative way of understanding the politics of exception and agency of non-citizens as, in the end, "everyone has the right to move," isn't it?⁣


Heather.L.Johnson

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