Calais Children: A Case to Answer


A new documentary by Precarious Trajectories Co-Investigator Sue Clayton will debut in Refugee Week with Lord Alf Dubs joining the director for a debate at the screening at Garden Court Chambers on Friday 23 June.

Here is the full schedule:

Weds 21st June     Refugee Week  Sanctuary in the Arts  Friends Meeting House  

Sue Clayton will be chairing and speaking on panel, and showing extract of CALAIS  CHILDREN


Thurs 22nd June   Borders, Walls and Bans  Symposium Goldsmiths University

Speaking on panel, and showing extract of CALAIS  CHILDREN


Thurs 22nd/Fri 23rd June   Right and Might conference  Westminster University 

CALAIS CHILDREN screening Westminster Regent St campus on Thursday 22nd at 6.45pm (programme awaiting copy to go in)

Plus conference Keynote on Friday 23rd.


Fri 23rd June    Garden Court Chambers private screening and debate with Lord Dubs

CALAIS CHILDREN screening and debate with Lord Dubs (request invitation).

 Mon 26th June       Borders and Boundaries:  Territories, Technologies and Transgressions conference

Keynote: Meditations on the Refugee Crisis, plus screening of CALAIS CHILDREN


Precarious Trajectories film showing + expert panel at Coventry Cathedral 30 January

Precarious Trajectories: voices from the Mediterranean migration crisis

cropped-event-header-17-6-16.png         chapterhouse

Film by Dr Simon Parker (University of York), followed by Q&A discussion with Dr Simon Parker, Dr Myria Georgiou (LSE), and Dr Vicki Squire (University of Warwick)

Monday 30th January, 6-7:30pm

Chapter House, Coventry Cathedral, Coventry

Set on location in Libya, Italy and Greece during 2015-2016, at the height of the Mediterranean migration crisis, Precarious Trajectories focuses on the perilous sea crossings that hundreds of thousands of refugees have undertaken in recent years in order to arrive at what they hope will be the safer shores of Europe through the eyes of Ruha from Syria and Ahmed from Somalia.

To register for the event and for further details, please visit the following webpage.

Organised by Dr Vicki Squire and the  Borders, Race, Ethnicity and Migration Network (BREM) at the University of Warwick.

I am Human: Precarious Journeys

Professor Sue Clayton (Precarious Trajectories co-investigator)  will be showcasing her documentary film making and interventions on behalf of the former children of the Calais ‘jungle’ as part of the Being Human festival which opens on Friday 18 November at Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross. The opening night will feature Sue Clayton’s interactive video installation exploring the precarious journeys of refugees fleeing conflict to the UK.

Courtesy of ITV News

At 7pm, Professor Clayton will give a talk introducing the work and situating it within her documentary filmmaking practice and her recent experiences helping children escape the Calais ‘Jungle’.

About the exhibition

Trace the precarious journeys of refugees as they navigate the perils of land, sea and a deadly human landscape riven by geopolitical failure on an unprecedented scale.

This installation responds to three perilous spaces that refugees must navigate: the sea, the national border and the camp.

Featuring original music composed by Brian Eno, a soundscape of voices, the throb of tides, motorways and the human heart, visitors will be invited to interact with three short films activated by movement.

Refreshments will be available with a suggested donation to charity.


I am human: precarious journeys runs from Friday, 18 November to Sunday, 20 November. Free. All welcome.

Part of Being Human 2016 – A festival of the humanities.

Please support the crowdfunding initiative for ‘A Case to Answer‘ – the documentary film directed by Sue Clayton which explores the plight of lone child refugees from the Calais ‘jungle’ and the UK government’s response.



Precarious Trajectories features in new UNICEF ‘Children on the Move’ Research Special


Simon Parker, the principal investigator of the Precarious Trajectories project is one of 5 experts on child migration to feature in a new Research Watch multi-media resource produced by UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Office. Children on the Move includes 4 short films looking at Child Migration and the Law: Status, detention and court proceedingsResearch & Knowledge GapsInsights and Lessons from Recent Experience and Challenges in Protecting the Rights of Migrating Children. Children on the Move also includes two films featuring the testimony of young refugees including Joselyn’s story and Ali and Zafar’s stories. Simon talks about the particular difficulties and challenges experienced by child refugees and migrants in their journeys to Europe and the risks and harms that they are exposed to in their countries of origin, in transit and when they finally reach Europe, and what policies need to be put in place to ensure children’s rights are respected and their voices heard by those in power.




We are a group of research leaders who have been selected by the Economic and Social Research Council to promote greater understanding of the current refugee and migration ‘crisis’ as part of the Mediterranean Migration Research Programme. We welcome the report by the UN Secretary General In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants and support its recommendation to create a Global Compact for Refugees. It is only through such collective support that effective protection may be achieved.

The report affirms that all migrants are entitled to the respect, protection and full enjoyment of their human rights under core international human rights treaties, regardless of their human rights status and emphasises the need to protect migrants en route, at sea and at borders. Our research on migratory routes and experiences records the precarious journeys refugees undertake in order to reach a place of safety. We note that some nine out of ten migrants never cross the Mediterranean and that the world’s refugee populations are largely contained in poor states in the Middle East and Africa. Hence, we emphasise the obligation of European states to develop a more humanitarian response to the ‘crisis’.

The report also calls upon states to fund data collection for future migration planning, to protect human rights and to advance inclusion. Our research bears out the importance of data collection for the development of sound policy as well as the need for further research on migration. We note that while the UNHCR and its partners have sought to coordinate the provision of aid and assistance to refugees fleeing Syria, within the European Union there has been an absence of joined up thinking, which has undermined the protection of migrants’ rights for all to see. We share the Secretary General’s condemnation of the policy of erecting fences and walls and criminalising migrants. As our research has shown, the vast majority of arrivals to the European Union are people who have fled war and conflict zones and are in urgent need of safety and international protection. The mobility controls that have been erected across much of Europe simply reinforce vulnerability by creating spaces of destitution as we have seen in Calais and elsewhere, situations which never should have been allowed to develop. Rather than promote responsibility sharing, these repressive controls reinforce a beggar-thy-neighbour logic within Europe and shift responsibility onto neighbouring countries such as Greece and Italy — a point criticised by the Secretary General, and with which we concur.

Many commentators have suggested that pull factors including generous benefits are attracting migrants to our shores. Our research found virtually no evidence in support of this view. Having collectively undertaken over 1,000 interviews we can attest that motives for migration are much more complicated and cannot be neatly categorised in a migrant-refugee distinction. Above all, it is the absence of safety and a viable future which encourages people to flee. In order to qualify for refugee status, an individual must demonstrate that they have an objective claim of persecution and are unable or unwilling to avail themselves of protection in their home state. Such persecution may be structural and aimed at particular nationalities, ethnic groups and religious communities. However, pockets of repression exist everywhere and individuals may also suffer persecution even if they are coming from so-called ‘safe’ states. For this reason, it is essential that asylum claims are dealt with in a non-discriminatory manner. We need an adaptable, open and fair system of asylum.

n this context, we share the concerns raised by many human rights commentators and organisations regarding two worrying developments in particular. Firstly, the implementation of an agreement reached between the EU and Turkey, which includes forced collective returns, is neither lawful nor in compliance with the EU’s own Charter of Fundamental Rights. Moreover, Turkey maintained the geographical reservation to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention which limits refugee status to those fleeing Europe and cannot be considered a ‘safe third country.’ Secondly, the newly established ‘hotspots’, a far-reaching mechanism of direct EU-level intervention and administration at the local level, which also includes, consisting of closed reception centres to which humanitarian organisations and lawyers are refused entry, often leaves individuals without access to rights to asylum. In effect, the EU is creating an ever-growing population of illegally detained refugees, including vulnerable men, women and children, who are forced to live in appalling conditions and without recourse to justice.

We support the Secretary General’s call to states to find solutions for refugees including providing resettlement spaces and other legal pathways for admission. This is what responsibility sharing means in practice. Our research has found that the current system of reception is failing, in spite of the efforts of UNHCR, the ICRC and their partners. In many reception centres conditions remain sub-standard, and in those centres that do allow non-state actors access, the efforts of local support networks often stand in where a multitude of institutional actors fail. Moreover, our research indicates that people on the move feel compelled to undertake risky journeys in the absence of legal routes, with many suggesting that they do not have any other option under current conditions. We affirm the British government’s commitment to identifying and protecting vulnerable refugee children, wherever they are. In this context, we welcome the British government’s decision to admit more unaccompanied child refugees from within the European Union and trust that they will move swiftly to provide the protection these children urgently need. However, we also emphasise that more needs to be done in order to open up safe and legal migratory channels, in order that the tragedies repeatedly witnessed over the past several years do not become a normality of our time.

Dr Dia Anagnostou, ELIAMEP, Greece
Dr. Leonie Ansems de Vries, King’s College London, UK
Dr. Alessio d’Angelo, Middlesex University, UK
Martin Baldwin-Edwards, Middlesex University, UK
Professor Brad Blitz, Middlesex University, UK
Professor Sue Clayton, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK
Professor Heaven Crawley, University of Coventry, UK
Dr. Angeliki Dimitriadi, ELIAMEP
Dr. Franck Duvell, University of Oxford, UK
Dr Jean-Pierre Gauci, People for Change Foundation, Malta
Professor Elspeth Guild, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Charles Heller, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK
Dr. Elisabeth Kirtsoglou, University of Durham, UK
Professor Eleonore Kofman, Middlesex University, UK
Dr. Daniel Knight, University of St. Andrews, UK
Dr Iosif Kovras, City University London, UK
Dr. Steve Lyon, University of Durham, UK.
Dr. Nicola Montagna, Middlesex University, UK
Dr. Simon Parker, University of York, UK
Professor Joe Painter, University of Durham, UK
Dr Ferruccio Pastore, FIERI, Italy
Dr Lorenzo Pezzani, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK
Dr. Stavroula Pipyrou, University of St. Andrews, UK.
Dr. Maria Pisani, University of Malta
Dr. Simon Robins, University of York, UK
Dr. Nando Sigona, University of Birmingham, UK
Dr. Vicki Squire, University of Warwick, UK
Dr. Dallal Stevens, University of Warwick, UK
Professor Giorgos Tsimouris, Panteion University Athens, Greece
Professor Nick Vaughan-Williams, University of Warwick, UK
Dr. Antonis Vradis, University of Durham, UK
Professor Eyal Weizman, Goldsmiths, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK

Launch of ‘Death by Rescue’ Report on anniversary of 18 April shipwreck tragedy


‘The 18th April 2015 marks…the worst peacetime disaster in recent Mediterranean history’



The 18th of April 2016 marks the first anniversary of the tragic sinking of a fishing trawler off the coast of Sicily resulting in the loss of over 800 lives. Only 28 passengers on board the vessel survived. It was the worst peacetime disaster in recent Mediterranean history and the biggest single loss of life in a year that saw 3,735 suspected drownings by those attempting to make the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. However, days earlier on 13 April 2015, more than 400 people were thought to have drowned after another vessel sank some 60 nautical miles from the Libyan coast and 150 survivors were rescued. In just the month of April, shipwrecks cost the lives of over 1,200 refugees in one of the most heavily trafficked sea areas and surrounded by some of the best equipped search and rescue services and air and naval surveillance in the world.

How then was this human catastrophe possible and why do the events of April 2015 mark only the highest point in a rising death toll since the abandonment of the Italian government’s Mare Nostrum operation in October 2014?

The report which is launched on Monday 18 April at the A.M. Qattan Foundation in London (for details and to book a ticket click here) sheds new light on the recent history of national and EU sponsored search and rescue and border control operations since the fatal shipwrecks off the coast of Lampedusa, Sicily in October 2013 that led to the launch of Mare Nostrum.

18042015_ZOOMIN_B_LP2-01According to the detailed forensic research and witness statements collected by the report’s authors, Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani:

  • the merchant vessels involved did everything they possibly could to rescue the passengers in distress
  • the blame for the tragedies does not lie entirely with the smugglers who overcrowded the boats
  • EU agencies and policy makers bear responsibility for ending the Italian Mare Nostrum operation and replacing it with the much more limited Frontex-led Triton operation
  • European policy makers took this decision in full knowledge of the deadly consequences this policy shift would have, and knowingly created the conditions in which these incidents were bound to occur.

Heller and Pezzani comment:

 “Thanks to newly released documents we can show that the rationale for this retreat of state-operated rescue was to act as a deterrent for migrants and smugglers in the aim of stemming crossings”.

The authors will be joined at the launch of the report by Precarious Trajectories Project Director, Dr Simon Parker from the University of York, the Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, London University Prof. Eyal Weizman, Lord Roberts of Llandudno, the Director of Statewatch, Tony Bunyan and Matteo De Bellis, Amnesty International. Chaired by Prof. Sue Clayton, Director of the Goldsmiths Screen School.

Book a free ticket through Eventbrite.





Palermo Open City: From the Mediterranean Migrant Crisis to a Europe Without Borders?



Leoluca Orlando is one of the longest lasting and most successful political leaders in post-war Italy. He has been elected mayor of Palermo – a city that was once the stronghold of the Sicilian mafia, no less than four times since 1985 – most recently in 2012 with over 70% of the popular vote. This despite campaigning to rid his city and region of what Orlando refers to as the plague of organized crime. A plague which nevertheless maintains its tenacious hold on important areas of economic, social and political life on the island.

The walls of the Council Chamber in Palermo are studded with plaques to the memories of public servants, priests and ordinary citizens who have been murdered by the Mafia, including several of Orlando’s closest partners. Indeed, it was the murder of Piersanti Mattarella – the then-regional president of Sicily in 1980 – that obliged the young human rights lawyer to abandon a promising university career for the highly dangerous vocation of public office. Piersanti’s brother Sergio is currently the President of the Italian Republic and remains a close friend and confidant of Palermo’s outspoken mayor.

Now aged 68 and three years into what may well be his final mandate, Orlando is fired with a new mission – that of restoring Palermo to its historical primacy as the cradle of a cosmopolitan “Arab-Norman” Mediterranean culture. “The city of Palermo is not a Mediterranean city,” argues Orlando, “it is a Middle Eastern city in Europe” that shares as much in common with Beirut and Djibouti as with Rome or Hamburg.

Although Palermo’s first citizen is often accused by critics of being better at performing the role of embattled mayor than at the practical politics of sorting out Palermo’s notorious transport problems (Orlando has even won an award for an acting role in a German feature film), the City Council has shown its commitment to recognizing Palermo’s increasingly diverse population by instituting a Council of Cultures (Consulta delle culture). The council’s members are elected from among the city’s some 125 different nationalities and 100 spoken languages.

The young President of the council, Adham Darawsha, is a Palestinian doctor who emphasizes the importance of representing the city’s diverse population – and, in particular, of “promoting the richness of culture and the capacity for dialogue among the various communities, uniting political representation with different cultural and social activities.’1 The Council of Cultures sees its role as guaranteeing that new residents of the city are able to take their place as full citizens in the city’s political and institutional life, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.

Mayor Orlando sums up the work of the Council of Cultures as “the practical application of a model where citizenship rights are related only to residence.”2

The rejection of “the tyranny of the residence permit” is a key principle of the Orlando administration’s support of international human mobility. The Charter of Palermo, which was approved by the City Council in March 2015, bears the subtitle: “From migration as suffering to mobility as an inalienable human right.”

By insisting “Io sono persona, I am Human,” Orlando – in his capacity as the regional President of the Association of Local Authorities, which includes other provinces across Sicily, and in working with his own administration – aims to deploy the institutional resources of the municipality on behalf of those whom the national authorities fail to protect. According to the Palermo Charter,

There is a need to . . . carry out a radical reform of the citizenship law [which has been] postponed for decades by the Italian Parliament. The archaic reference to jus sanguinis has to be abandoned . . . and time and red tape that hinder the recognition of Italian citizenship has to be reduced without leaving it to the discretion and/or the sensitivity of local administrations.3

The Charter also affirms the right to work, health care, social assistance, and housing. Its authors insist that with the abolition of the residence permit, which traps migrants in an inferior and precarious legal status, it will be more possible to treat migrants “as people, as human beings, regardless of the document that establishes their status . . . [I]t means seeing them as active citizens able to develop value for the community and for the place where they live.”

It is time that the European Union abolishes the residence permit for all those who migrate, affirming the freedom of movement of people, as well as of capital and goods, in the globalized world.4

Sicilians – who for centuries were forced to emigrate to the industrial north of Italy, Europe and the New World in search of land to farm or work to sustain themselves and their families – know the historical realities of a globalized world all too well. In more recent years Sicily has been the principle arrival point for a growing population of refugees and migrants traveling through Libya and across the Mediterranean in dangerous, overcrowded, unseaworthy vessels. The sinking of two migrant smuggler boats off the coast of Lampedusa on 3 and 11 October, leading to the deaths of nearly 400 refugees, caused such a level of international outcry that the Italian navy and coast guard launched the emergency search and rescue operation known as Mare Nostrum, which succeeded in saving over 150,000 lives before it was wound down in October 2014.

Faced with another tragic sinking in April 2015, taking over 800 lives when a smuggler vessel capsized during an attempted rescue operation, the European Union was forced to double the size of Operation Triton (launched as a more minimal search and rescue response following the cessation of Mare Nostrum). The Port of Palermo became a landing ground for dozens of rescue disembarkations. Survivors were often greeted on the quayside by Mayor Orlando and the Archbishop of Palermo, Corrado Lorefice.

Orlando has clearly been deeply affected by his encounters with the survivors of these perilous journeys – many of whom have been pulled out of the sea after having witnessed their fellow passengers drown. He is not afraid to repeat the accusation that the European Union is guilty of “genocide’ in the Mediterranean for failing to guarantee safe passage to millions of people who have been forced to put their lives into the hands of unscrupulous smugglers in order to avoid death and persecution.

“Sicily” is by contrast, in Orlando’s view, “a positive example for the rest of the world. Imagine in the last 20 months, 300,000 immigrants arrived in Sicily – you have not heard one single act of racism, one single act of intolerance. Neither a simple ‘go home!’ Nothing, nothing, nothing . . .” He encourages those who want inspiration for a more humane response to consider the fact that the small town of Pozzallo, with its 16,000 inhabitants, saw 38,000 immigrants arrive in the previous year – all with no acts of intolerance.

Orlando insisted that the previous practice of making newly arrived refugees to Palermo run a gauntlet of armed police had to stop. He has urged those looking for better ways of treating asylum seekers to “come to Palermo” because “everything is well organized – health care, cultural mediators, social help, the Caritas volunteers, the Red Cross, and anything are working well . . . [T]he tragedy is before they arrive, the tragedy is when they leave the Port of Palermo.”

The Palermo Charter also highlights why those who are keen to exploit the hapless victims of war, conflict and famine are just as present in the territory of Italy as in Africa: “The situation of . . . Italian hospitality is already very critical. If hospitality and integration processes . . . are not guaranteed, the protection system is likely to reproduce favor-seeking behavior and become a factory of marginalization that will impinge on all of us.”5 The Charter goes on to criticize the “opaque management and concentration of people in places that defy [the] possibility of control,” which is something of a euphemism for the ongoing corruption scandal surrounding the immigration “welcome” industry centered on Rome – “Mafia Capitale.”

Due to the large concentration of first reception centers (known as CARA) and smaller second stage accommodation facilities (known as SPRAR) in Sicily, lucrative contracts, which spontaneously created various “cooperatives” and “not for profit” organizations, have successfully and corruptly been obtained in Rome via the so-called “Tavolo di coordinamento nazionale sull’immigrazione” (national coordinating table on immigration). The migration reception and accommodation market across Italy, and especially in Sicily, has become a byword for criminality, exploitation and trafficking.

Indeed, as one of Italy’s leading human rights and immigration experts, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, has pointed out, the absence of a genuine policy of asylum support is the main reason why so many refugees and migrants who land in Sicily see Italy as a transit country to be crossed as soon as possible rather than as a place of refuge. Vassallo points to the recent case of a group of Sudanese refugees who were left without water in an occupied social center (Laboratorio Zeta) in Palermo, where they constantly faced the risk of eviction despite the fact that they had nowhere else to live. The Sudanese were forced to trek across the island in search of barely-paid, illicit agricultural work controlled of criminal gangs. Their lack of legal status and the often 3 year-long wait for a decision from the local asylum commission leaves refugees like the Sudanese in a limbo – a limbo that no charters or declarations from the marble halls of the Palazzo Municipale are capable of resolving.6 There are also well-documented accounts of young Nigerian women who were trafficked out of Libya as refugees and who – after only a few days in a Palermo reception “welcome center” – were found working as prostitutes around the streets of the port. According to local NGOs, many of them are under age and are left to the mercy of pimps and traffickers by the authorities. This is how the underground and criminal economy of the Italian South, as well as many northern cities, benefit from the precarious status and the denial of human rights that Italy’s failed asylum system perpetually reproduces.

But despite the propensity of European politicians to “imagine that the European people are intolerant,” in the view of the ever-optimistic Mayor of Palermo, “in the stomachs of European people there is a culture of welcoming.” Certainly, the many Austrians who volunteered to drive stranded refugees across the border when the Hungarian authorities refused to provide transport to the thousands of migrants trapped in Budapest support Orlando’s interpretation. Likewise, the spontaneous welcome committees that greeted exhausted refugees upon their arrival in the train stations of southern Germany must support Orlando’s interpretation. Yet, the “events of Cologne” on New Year’s Eve (the alleged sexual assaults on women by young male migrants) as well as the right wing, anti-migrant “patrols” in Sweden, France and Finland all point to a more troubling response to the refugee crisis. They point to the dangerous potential for political exploitation by chauvinist and xenophobic political parties and governments.

An apposite passage in Benjamin Barber’s If Mayors Ruled the World (2013), also cited by Zygmunt Bauman, seems to capture this crisis of governance, which has been revealed (rather than engendered) by the so-called migration crisis:

After a long history of regional success, the nation-state is failing us on the global scale. It was the perfect political recipe for the liberty and independence of autonomous peoples and nations. It is utterly unsuited to interdependence.7

This sentiment was also echoed by the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, in a “Manifesto” for places of refuge (We, the cities of Europe) launched in September 2015. The mayors of Paris, Lesvos, Coruña, Cadiz, Santiago de Compostela, and Zaragoza have also adhered to this call:

We, the cities of Europe, are ready to become places of refuge. We want to welcome these refugees. States grant asylum status but cities provide shelter. Border towns, such as Lampedusa, or the islands of Kos and Lesbos, are the first to receive the flow of people seeking asylum, and European municipalities will have to take these people in and ensure they can start a new life, safe from the dangers from which they have escaped. We have the space, services and, most importantly, the support of our citizens to do so. Our municipal services are already working on refugee reception plans to ensure food, a roof, and dignity for everyone fleeing war and hunger. The only thing missing is state support.8

The manifesto continues:

For years European governments have spent most asylum and migration funds on reinforcing our borders and turning Europe into a fortress. This mistaken policy is the reason why the Mediterranean has become the graveyard for thousands of refugees attempting to come and share our freedom. It is time to change our priorities: to allocate funds to ensure refugees in transit are welcomed, to provide resources for cities that have offered themselves as places of refuge. This is not the time for hollow words or empty speeches, it’s time for action.9

Whether they are veteran champions of a Sicily freed from the blight of organized crime (such as Leoluca Orlando) or new political leaders who have emerged from movements for economic justice and the right to housing in the wake of globalized austerity (such as Ada Colau of Barcelona), we can detect in this new urban movement a strong demand for solidarity – a solidarity that extends not only across the Mediterranean, across the countries of Europe, but also across continents. Just as the medieval walls that once surrounded the fortified cities of Christian Europe had no purpose in an age of capitalist driven urbanization, so the barriers and borders that the European Union seeks to erect against those who demand the right to life and freedom cannot be maintained in the face of a global justice that is unequivocal and universal in its application and practice.

As the European Council and the European Commission attempt to rebuild and strengthen Fortress Europe from the ruins of Schengenland, humanitarian rescue and solidarity operations are being criminalized in the fatal waters and on the shores of the Aegean – from Dunkirk, Presevo, Idomeni and Lesvos to Lampedusa. Thousands of volunteers from Europe and around the world are thus forming an international brigade of support – a brigade that refuses to be fenced off, tear gassed into submission, or intimidated by border guards, riot shields and truncheons.

The struggle for a Mediterranean and a Europe without borders is also, as Leoluca Orlando put it, the struggle for “the right not to die in the country of one’s birth.” Having contributed to the generation of the conflicts from which over 80 % of the refugees are fleeing, it is now incumbent on Europe’s leaders to offer solutions instead of paying states with dubious human rights records to meet its own legal and moral obligations. The coming months and years will demonstrate whether the European Union’s determination to submit progressive migration policies (whether local, regional, or national) to a logic of exclusion and expulsion will hold together its crumbling acquis communautaires – namely, the accumulated legislation and court decisions comprising European law.

Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk may well have underestimated the determination of Mediterranean Europe’s progressive civic leadership to defend their politics of solidarity against the dehumanizing logic of the impermeable frontier. In this brave new world of nations on the move, a political class that refuses to accept the need (as Orlando reminds us) to re-imagine what it even means to be European will be condemned to deal with a far more dangerous prospect: an alienated and angry lost generation whose memories of their initial encounters with Europe risk being dominated by hostility, prejudice and fear.

Recommended citation: Orlando, Leolucca and Parker, Simon. “Palermo Open City: From the Mediterranean Migrant Crisis to a Europe Without Borders?” Near Futures Online 1 “Europe at a Crossroads” (March 2016). [This article was originally posted in Near Futures Online at].