EU borders 2011

A series of blogs and feature articles on refugee and migrant journeys based on my in-depth reporting from Greece, Italy, Spain, France and the UK. This project was funded in 2011 by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

Reading through my old reports, violence is a recurring theme. The violence people experienced as they arrived in Greece, Italy, France, Spain and the UK. Violence by EU member states, border guards, ordinary civilians. Violence on the way to Europe, at the borders of Europe, in European countries.

Back then, the people I met travelled mostly from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Gambia. In my final report for WCMT, I said at the time that my goal was to “provide clarity and accuracy on an issue reported on only sporadically, misrepresented by politicians and often misunderstood by the public”.

Much has happened since 2011. My WCMT report feels naive in its conclusions that action was needed to tackle the violence of the border, reduce the time taken to grant refugee status, end the imprisonment of people while they wait, and change public debate by foregrounding the voices of migrants and refugees who make the journeys to Europe.

But an accurate record of people’s experiences is important, and provides a useful comparison for us now. In “Borders – EU, 2011” I have compiled my old blogs and sections from my report. You can also read the full report here (forgive the typos, I researched, reported, wrote the whole thing myself, then laid out the pages, edited and formatted the final report. A second pair of eyes was sorely missed).

**Please note: Since I wrote these pieces in 2011, my thinking has developed, I am more alert to racist border policies and state violence towards particular groups. I have accrued more experience as a reporter and editor, and I take more care in the language I use to write about people who move.

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