The Sahara has become an open-air cemetery
April 6, 2019 12:12 PM   Subscribe

“The Gatekeepers of Europe: Outsourcing Border Controls to Africa” (42½min video, .mp4, magnet) Across North, West and East Africa billions of € in aid is directed by European nations to border enforcement and rounding up migrants and refugees. More people now die in the desert en route to Europe than drown in the Mediterranean. The Janjaweed militia who participated in the genocide in Darfur now carry out border security operations as part of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces paramilitary.

Border protection technology is the number one emerging segment in the arms industry. One reason: technology to secure and control borders is easier to export than military hardware... Border management is a booming business with global annual market growth of 7%. Sales in the industry are due to exceed 50 billion dollars worldwide by 2022.

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Pretty soon, nobody will be able to board a plane here [in Africa] without a biometric passport. Like in many African countries, Uganda now requires every citizen to undergo biometric registration. That applies to refugees as well, a requirement mandated by the government.

Countries like Uganda which host many refugees face reduced funding while aid to nations along transit routes is increased.
Basically what we are supporting is Mafia-type organizations which keep local populations under control. What is very strange about the European Union policy is that for all those decades the European Union, and I would say rightly so, has put, as conditions for aid, respect for human rights and respect for democracy and the rule of law. And now at this moment—when actually many Africans are thinking that that is very important to build their societies—the European Union starts to kind of put these aside: to go into very cynical agreements purely out of self-interest. But it's a very short-sighted self-interest because at the end of the day that will come back to us. —Mirjam Van Reisen, Professor of Computing for Society, and Professor of International Relations, Innovation and Care, Leiden University
posted by XMLicious (12 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
So, it turns out that despite my 24–hr consumption of news there are still things I find shocking. I thought I had lost that capacity long ago.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:45 PM on April 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


I’m in a minority in a pro borderless world but this is essentially the defining issue of the next 200 years. The population of Africa is immense and growing at the same time as the world resources are being depleted and climate change is happening.

There will inevitably be a situation in which people attempt mass migrations away from affected areas. The trouble is there’ll be nowhere for them to go to, and no way to sustain them when they get there. Governments pretend there’s a scientific, political or economic solution for this but there’s not.

This is a finite planet, and has by definition a finite level of population. Even with aggressive decarbonisation, too many people are still too many people. It’s the laws of nature.
posted by Middlemarch at 8:20 PM on April 6, 2019 [4 favorites]


Oh bullpucky. This isn't about the "laws of nature," it's about the hubris and the inhumanity of man. Bad carbon policy makes climate change. Colonialism and continued mineral exploitation set up the geopolitical and social conditions in Africa. All of these things were foreseeable and controllable outcomes from purpose-built systems of oppression and the oppression is being continued in the service of avoiding the inevitable blowback of allowing billions of people to sit in harm's way.

Migration will continue to be necessary during the worst, worst, worst parts of climate change because, surprise! the ariable land will now be in the melted parts of Greenland, Canada, Scandanavia and Russia. Nowhere to go? The survival of anything close to what we call our way of life in the Global North is going to depend on having populations willing to migrate and open a Northern frontier for agricultural development.
posted by Skwirl at 8:46 PM on April 6, 2019 [14 favorites]


Yeah so that's all disgusting xenophobic bullshit Middlemarch. We aren't going to end up with intensively-farmed terraced hillsides everywhere and probably won't even completely stop eating meat in the worst-case scenarios. At least make up a globe-spanning conspiracy to justify your misanthropic spinelessness before you propose a final solution.

“Society simply cannot afford it” was already overused and disproven in the middle of the last century when we were at a much steeper part of the global population growth curve. The highly-profitable dystopian crap and murder-by-border-control-spreadsheet in this documentary is no more justified than, say, mass sterilizations during the Indian Emergency were.
posted by XMLicious at 10:28 PM on April 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


One can be against highly-profitable dystopian crap and murder-by-border-control-spreadsheet actions while noting that giant climate-change discontinuities - caused by us for the reasons outlined by skwirl! - will destabilize what's left of a governable world.

Europe is having schisms that are destroying the political order that has slowed 1000 years of war...... over the import of 1-2 million refugees across the entire continent. Bangladesh will go under in the next 30-60 years. That's 90 million people who want somewhere to live right there.

The war and chaos that will follow such vast people flows, apart from being an evil in itself, will nail the coffin on mankind's ability to deal with the vast climate resource challenges we face. Will there be many "fixing climate conferences" or "pan-global climate initiatives" run by powerful competent organizations - essential if we are to survive as a species - when we begin to fight like rats in a sack?
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The survival of anything close to what we call our way of life in the Global North is going to depend on having populations willing to migrate and open a Northern frontier for agricultural development.


I hope you're right, because this future is a best outcome in a panopoly of bad endings.
posted by lalochezia at 7:39 AM on April 7, 2019


One can be against highly-profitable dystopian crap and murder-by-border-control-spreadsheet actions while noting that giant climate-change discontinuities - caused by us for the reasons outlined by skwirl! - will destabilize what's left of a governable world.

Yes, one could theoretically hold such a position, but that's not what Middlemarch said: instead they coyly identified as a “minority in a pro borderless world” in a thread with a title about North Africa becoming “an open-air cemetery” with the context of a film correspondingly showing desiccated corpses half-buried in sand.

The “highly-profitable dystopian crap and murder-by-border-control-spreadsheet” and “what we are supporting is Mafia-type organizations which keep local populations under control” as described in the OP is the proffered and tacitly-accepted “solution”—the actual offered solution from governments as opposed to what's claimed by Middlemarch for rhetorical effect—to an issue that would still exist if all of Europe and North Africa were a single Greater German Reich. It's not actually about anyone being “pro-borderless” as borders existed long before immigration controls and concentration camps did.

It's a dog whistle and a euphemism for people who are too cowardly in the face of this challenge to even openly articulate their “solution” of “they're just all going to have to die,” and admit that it's that attitude which makes them a minority.
posted by XMLicious at 10:20 AM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


I mean... Israel is in one of the regions of the world projected to become uninhabitable the earliest, if I have it correct. If Israelis were to be confined to the territory of Israel or placed in camps as they tried to flee uninhabitable regions, I hope it would be clear that the nations doing so would literally directly be re-enacting pre-WWII Nazi policies towards the proletarian “Jewish masses of the East”^ fleeing the interbellum conflicts and other pogroms to the east of Germany. Even if it's mysteriously difficult to see this connection when we're talking about Africans fleeing north in 21st century.
posted by XMLicious at 10:48 AM on April 7, 2019


Europe is having schisms that are destroying the political order that has slowed 1000 years of war...... over the import of 1-2 million refugees across the entire continent.

No, honestly, fuck all that's going on in Europe is because of refugee settlement. That refugees are being used as an excuse by xenophobes, yes. But Brexit, for certain, is nothing to do with refugees.

Hungary is the place where it's most closely linked, but what's the government there talking about? Rewarding white Hungarians for having children. That's nothing to do with a refugee crisis, that's pure opportunistic xenophobia.

And obviously, this is all instigated by the country which has more land than anywhere else in the world, and that's about to get a whole lot more habitable. So what we need is discussion of how to make room for everyone, not handwringing over how it's impossible.
posted by ambrosen at 3:52 PM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


I like how everyone is putting words in my mouth.

It’s a hot take, but global population displacement is inevitable, this is going to be a major problem and conflict can only increase as the environmental cake gets smaller.

I like the optimism that we’ll be growing grapes on the North-pole but that’s not a reality; even with current efforts to mitigate the climate and decarbonise the economy it’s not clear that we’ll be able reach ‘escape velocity’.

Humans are the biggest consumers of world resources, You don’t have to read Linkola to understand that human population is essentially finite.

Nature is always changing yes but it favours equilibrium. We also can’t take more out of a system than we put in. We live somewhere within this boundaries.

The problem is that we don’t quite know where the upper boundary is yet, or how it will change in the future; it’s politally untenable to discuss this now, but not to say so it will be in future.

It’s something we have to face now though, and understand how we might overcome or mitigate these challenges. The crisis will be too late.

People are already concerned about it, and some are choosing not to have Children now due to concerns about the environment, so it is something being talked about and will be talked about in the future too.

We can’t put this off to some vague “handwavey” future when we all live in bubbles at the bottom of the seas. The future is going to be more esoteric.
posted by Middlemarch at 5:43 AM on April 8, 2019


The whole point of this documentary and thread is that the actual governmental reaction is emphatically not handwavily putting it off: rather people are being actively murdered, by the same nations which already created the climate change problem in the first place.

Which you expressed support for. You've spoken in favor of these murders, for the sake of your cake metaphor hot take.

Everyone here anticipates terrible world-rending consequences from climate change. The question is whether we're going to try to get through it together or remain murderously selfish and condemn billions in equatorial regions on shoddy pretenses before we've even tried the simplest steps like stopping the consumption of meat.

It's going on and on about the inevitability of climate change and its characteristics, in a thread about one terrible response to it, which is handwaving. It doesn't make you a gritty realist, particular not if you're just dissembling about your coyly-hinted-at enthusiasm for authoritarian measures.

Here's another hint, to echo what others have said: anthropomorphizing "nature" also does not change the degree of misanthropy and xenophobia you're endorsing, nor does it make it as though someone else is saying it.
posted by XMLicious at 9:00 AM on April 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


I mean... Israel is in one of the regions of the world projected to become uninhabitable the earliest, if I have it correct. If Israelis were to be confined to the territory of Israel or placed in camps as they tried to flee uninhabitable regions, I hope it would be clear that the nations doing so would literally directly be re-enacting pre-WWII Nazi policies towards the proletarian “Jewish masses of the East”^ fleeing the interbellum conflicts and other pogroms to the east of Germany.

This is a really odd hypothetical to throw out there when what you're describing is actually happening right now to Palestinians. (And I don't think this should matter, but I know people feel it does-- I am Jewish.)
posted by dusty potato at 6:10 PM on April 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


I analogized the confinement and deaths of people crossing borders to the treatment of and policy towards Eastern European Jews in 1930s Germany because it has the parallel element of propaganda about multiple-border-crossing supposed-hordes who are alleged to be an insurmountable threat to the resources and living space of their destination. Versus the plights of present-day Palestinians or German Jews of the same era, which would seem to lack that element.

I might have an incomplete understanding of the context of any of these situations, or if my analogy fits it might be too derail-prone even in a thread where the same sorts of phenomena are under discussion; if so, there's no need for my comment to be kept. (But even in that case I'm entirely open to discussing it via MeMail.)
posted by XMLicious at 7:24 PM on April 8, 2019


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