What did I really want from migration?

Migration may occur because of many different reasons. Often its aim is to improve one’s life quality and/or to gain basic human rights. It is a form of geographical relocation. It is not always a matter of social status. It may also be a desire to reach freedom of will and choice.

In 2015 thousands of people from Asia and Africa risked their lives in a journey with the aim of reaching, at minimum, a simple and peaceful life. In 2015 -16, the world witnessed a wave of humans in their thousands, who did not have basic personal security and possibilities in their native countries. They walked hundreds of kilometres, crossed many roads, these in worst possible physical and physiological conditions, often on empty stomachs. They slept anywhere they could, in the mountains, train stations, under bridges or just simply in open fields.

They risked everything, exposed themselves to endless dangers day and night, across seas and mountains, to find their lost future and destiny. Many of them to this day have not found what they were looking for. This human wave on the move to Europe in search of better life shocked the world. Many of them died during this journey, in ships, in trucks or in seas. They knew they are risking death, but to them dying once were better than dying every day. The destiny of many of them is still unknown and even for those who did manage to reach their destination. The subsequent waves are following in the meantime. The future for these migrants is ambiguous. In addition to uncertainties of being allowed to stay, there is the identity crisis. Many of them are still not registered as normal citizens. They have a foreign identity and status and must search and fight for a time and place where they could say I am myself and I belong.

Migration, internal or external, takes place due to many different factors. The most common of these is the desire to improve. However for those from war zones, who in the meantime build the majority of migrants, it goes beyond that. Their escape is not just about migration. It is often result of physiological scars and search for basic human rights. To have the basic human right is what they are fighting for. That was what I expected from my migration. The first and most important of the human rights is the right to live, to survive. All other rights such as the right to security, identity, education, work, marry, freedom of speech, freedom of ideology etc. are secondary to this.

Many humans are still in search for the right to live. War and destruction are at their highest level in many countries. To survive is becoming increasingly difficult in many places. Since years, every day in the news we hear about loss of life in various wars and conflicts. This is the main reason for migration. What most humans want from migration is to survive. Only once that is secured do they look for other human and social needs that every citizen of the earth should be entitled to. This is no easy task in a society where you migrate to. Once the basic security is achieved, the struggle for other rights is just beginning. Through migration to a new society one often losses ones identity and beliefs. Your family and friends, with whom you have lived and grown for years, are all of the sudden no longer with you and you might never see them again in your life. People with whom you make new acquaintances such as new friends behave very different to what you are used to and on top of it perhaps differently towards you compared to the people they consider as the same to themselves. As mentioned before this is no easy task!

The fact that your civil status and hence the society considers you as second or third class citizen, and your civil rights are accordingly also more limited, (e.g. You are not allowed for a long time to choose which city or state you would like to live / work in) is a very painful and difficult thing to get used to. In effect they cause even more psychological scars and may lead to decline of joy and quality of life. In a social sense, it is not possible to compare yourself with the original citizens of the place you end up living in. You will never feel equal. This challenges social justice.
Therefore one can conclude that phenomenon migration is an ethical and human crisis. Humans running away from other humans, trying to establish new base in new society. On an emotional level to lose the sense of not belonging is a very difficult thing to do.

This article describes my personal experiences as migrant. It explains why human ran away from other humans’ prejudices. I am criticizing the factors that shaped my experiences.

What I experience in Switzerland as a black refugee immigrant

Swiss life is full of prison, even you didn’t commit any crime – no love and respect for immigrants, no freedom no peace for immigrants, no human rights at all for immigrants. I am innocent, they treated me like a criminal and I feel powerless – justice and liberty not for immigrants, political division based on color. Rights are associated with political and economical subordination – but a minority can follow the rules and have no access to rights anyway. Rights are an important statement about the nature of power-relations in any society.

How Africans fight for papers, education and work – and how Europeans deal with migration

I am 30 years old, originally I come from Guinea Conakry and now I live and work in Basel. Ten years ago I have been forced to leave my country because of the dictatorship and family problems. My journey from Guinea to Switzerland took almost eight years – here I can draw a rough sketch:

I left Guinea in December 2006 to Senegal, and then went on to Mali, Niger and Libya, where I did arrive three months later. It was a journey through the dessert and through hell – not every- body of our group did come through. Arriving in Libya I realised, that there were a lot of problems with the police. People could not go out how they wanted. My passport was ripped and I was put in prison for 3 months near Tripoli. In this time I was tortured and abused – I and many other Africans were suffering a lot. But going back through the dessert was not an option; I would not survive it again.

When I was out of prison and arrived in Tripoli it was so hard to get a job and also to get a help when you are sick. Because if you try to go to the hospital they will call the police to arrest you. That’s why many migrants were suffering a lot. Sometimes in the night the police tried to come also into the houses to arrest people. I saw a lot of men, women and children, who always got abused. This is why I think, that Europe doesn‘t have the right to send back people to Libya. And since I was there, it got even more dif cult than before, when Gadha had the power.

I decided to leave Libya and the only possible way was by boat. The rst attempt did end in a disaster – many people died. The second journey took us ve days on the sea. I arrived in Malta on the 18th august 2007 with other 28 people. In Malta the police arrested us and brought us to a detention-center called Alhalfar. In this prison I had to stay for one year, some others were there for one and a half year. Only Africans are treated like this in Malta – others are deported directly back to their countries, others are allowed to live in a camp. The official statement to justify imprisonment is that west Africans can be vectors of infectious diseases and therefore they have to be isolated. The bad thing in the detention-center was that we were not informed what’s going on with us, how long we have to stay there and why we were arrested.

To organize ourselfs is something which is positive, if it‘s happening. But it‘s not easy. Because we as groups are being separated.

I had the very big problem that I couldn’t sleep at night because of worst nightmares. But when I could meet the doctor and tell him about my problem, he always gave me a sleeping tablet. That was not good at all, because even with medicaments you wake up with horrible pictures, you cannot sleep anymore but however you feel weak and powerless. There was also another big problem; there was no translator at all. In that center there was more than one at and every at had three rooms. There were two toilets for over 500 people and we had one TV.

After leaving the center I was working in a hospital for nine months. Because I realized, that I will not get help in Malta to be- come healthy again, I decided to go to Italy. Arriving in Italy they did let me know, that I have to go back to Malta, because I had my rst ngerprints over there (Dublin contract within the EU).

So I had to continue the journey and in November 2009 I did ar- rive in the Netherlands. That was the rst time I discovered that I had a trauma. They did send me to a psychologist doctor and I got the help I needed. I was given medicine and I was sent to school – I learned how to read and write. After two and half year stay in Holland they evaluated me to be a healthy person and sent me back to Malta on the basis of the same Dublin contract.

Arriving in Malta I was put in prison again, because I went out of the country without a passport or any permission. I was im- prisoned another 6 months. After all of this I decided to learn from the past and to share my experience with other migrants, to help them to orient in the new culture, system and society. Ano- ther aim is to inform young people in Africa about migration to Europe and not to leave the school and study a lot to get a good education. So they can grow up in their own countries, change their country for the better and do not have to risk their lives and dignity on the dangerous ways to Europe.

To organize ourselves is something which is positive, if it’s hap- pening. But it’s not easy. Because we as groups are beeing se- parated. For example the Senegalese and the Guinean, or the Nigerians and the Ghanaians, they will not go together. This is a big problem. If you will be able to break this problem between these groups, things could go better. In Malta three main categories of migrants are made – people from

Near-East countries, from East-Africa and from West-Africa. Everyone has different chances to get a legal status. So the East-Africans (who has better chances) will not join the West-Africans (who have almost no chance) to fight against the problems. Only West-Africans are trying to organize themselves. And also within the West-Africans
maybe there are five out of thousand, who know the situation, the people, the country,
so they will not join because they’re afraid to lose their benefit. Furthermore you need to have a specific place where to stay. I remember for example when we were trying to organize a meeting to discuss the humanitarian temporary. We were in a stadium where you can play football. The first meeting was good; we had a lot of people joining in. During the second and third time, there was already police there. Since the police showed up, people didn’t come to the meeting.

In Europe, I was educated; I learned about my rights, I learned that here is some more equality and that one can fight for ones rights. In Malta I went about setting up a Facebook page under the name “R. Know More Network” and then proceeded to roam the open centers, speaking to migrants about the importance of educating themselves and learning about the local culture. The ‘R’ stands for my mother’s name, Ramatah. Many Africans have a tendency of keeping inside the feelings, problems and troubles they have and do not speak about their experience. But we need to tell the Europeans who we are and why we left our home country for them to understand.

Arriving in Migration. A Manifesto.

On Passports, Borders and Nations

A person’s birth is normally linked to a nationality and to a passport. Through the nationality, a person is granted, or refused, rights.
The number of persons in the last category increases as long as there are states that cannot grant protection nor sufficient opportunities for life.
Despite their political marginalisation and their lack of representation in national state structures, all those people without passport, without rights, without residence permits as well as those, who do have a residence permit, but no full access to political and social participation, play an ever larger role in political, medial, cultural and social debate. The pictures of catastrophe relating to refugee and migration movements that are communicated in this debate are reminiscent of natural catastrophes. This type of association opens up an imaginary space that nourishes a siege mentality, which asks for frontier protection measures and provides these with political legitimacy.
The collapse of the public welfare system, and the threat to the state, implied by the dictum of the so-called mass assault justify the restrictions to the freedom of movement for those who depend entirely on this very freedom. Security, and order within these systems, are the criteria used to restrict the freedom of movement and the right to personal freedom. We believe that these criteria cannot justify the current system of dealing with people in distress.
The nation, in its definition as a unified people with state power and a territory marked by border lines, and state sovereignty, is presently undergoing critical change. Inside states, there is no homogeneous people anymore. Supranational institutions take over responsibilities of western national states. Market mechanics replace administrative functions and globalisation removes borders.
These changes influence territorial borders. Take Europe as an example; within, borders are annihilated, while outer borders of the EU are tightened. Borders move; from lines they develop into networks. New border situations develop ever more often also inside states (identity controls in cities; use of services like Sim-cards, internet, hospital, housing, libraries restricted to holders of valid personal identity cards, etc.)
The concept of linear borders, national states and the concomitant handling of security and supervision are ultimately a temporary construction, a historic development. The structuring and organisation of belonging, of exclusion and of inclusion has developed into the scheme we now know, which means that it represents just one among a multitude of possibilities. The construction is subject to continuous change and can alter completely in the far future. All that there is constitutes just one version of how it could be.
We would like to express a thought. We dare make a proposal. We consider a possibility.

What if rights, opportunities and value of a person were not tied to his or her passport?

If national citizenship in the traditional sense, or membership in a rigidly defined cultural, social and political community, were replaced by citizenship, or affiliation, in the sense of a relationship.
Relationship to the location, to the people and to the developments around the person concerned.


Hereby we take leave of hospitality. Its aim was to do good. As a supreme law of mankind, it wished to give strangers shelter, food and protection. It intended to provide learning and exchange, both for guest and host. It had no intention of asking anything in return. Rather it could have served to offer a means for exchange and onward development during the migration movements of mankind. But the regulation of these intentions has resulted in exclusion and inclusion, in legal rules and power constellations. Is the stranger in fact a guest, or an enemy? Should he be given shelter and welcome, or rather checked and supervised? Whoever does not keep to the rules of hospitality as a guest runs the risk of being classed as an enemy. Hospitality implies rules and hierarchies, by prescribing the respective rôles and appropriate behaviour of guest and host.
The ensuing power gap is being questioned, more or less intensively, in governmental handling of migration. The state determines who is allowed to stay, turns people away at the border and returns them by force to their home country. This power gap persists also in the process of integration. Hospitality imposes conformity, because the guest has to comply with the customs of the host. Also, he or she who subscribes to the idea of a welcome culture becomes trapped in these hierarchies and tends to harden cultural stereotypes on the basis of differences found, rather than bringing them up for discussion. Welcome culture starts from the idea that arriving in a place presupposes a need to be welcomed there. The concept and the concomitant practice are tied to a definite relation of rôles. Arriving persons, newcomers, guests – hosts, long-time residents, receiving persons. There is giving and taking. The relations between the two sides are tied by expectations.
Hospitality is the regulation for a temporary stay. The guest is expected to leave again. In view of the present conditions of migration and flight from war and persecution, hospitality does not provide an answer to reality.
Let us therefore take leave of hospitality and welcome culture, for they do not allow us to open up a space in which new interpretations of cultural identity can be discovered.
Next, let us take leave of integration. As a tool of supervision and regulation of who has to conform and how, and who has the capability of conforming, this concept as a whole is little more than a demand to assimilate. This demand is acutely present in the Swiss debate on integration. The demand is for submission, with differences hardly tolerated. Integration is one-sided, demanding and dominating. It was never intended to promote plurality.


/ Cultures of arrival aim at making life worth living for all.

/ Through cultures of arrival people learn how to arrive and how to let others arrive.

/ Cultures of arrival enable every individual to arrive.
Arriving is a process, which develops from geographic arrival to a sense of well-being.
No matter how long this takes.

/ Cultures of arrival stand for self-determination, self- organisation and the responsibility of those who are part of this process.

/ Cultures of arrival imply encounters.
Thereby, relationships develop. Relationships with people, places and the environment.

/ These relationships shape social, political and cultural processes.

/ Cultures of arrival bring about unconditional access to orientation, rights, learning and health,
which all help to make self-determined participation possible.

/ Culture stands for habits and practices common to all.

/ CulturES stand for differences linked to locations, but also for the differences related to individuals.

/ Cultures of arrival set the stage for a society, which stands for all pluralities together.
It is composed of several cultures, which bring together an array of different cultural features.

/ Cultures of arrival mean living together in a way that is not determined by territorial standards.

/ Cultures of arrival demand and promote communication and the coexistence on a par of all interest groups in society.

/Arriving means learning of, and with, one another, in mutual respect.