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War in the Mediterranean

From Cap Anamur to Frontex and the new European camps

Audio documentary directed  and produced by Roman Herzog (2008)

An audio documentary of  78 minuti

download or listen to the first 14 minutes [mp3]

(the audio-quality is reduced)

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After saving 37 refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea in the summer of 2004, Captain Stefan Schmidt and the head of the German humanitarian organization Cap Anamur, Elias Bierdel, were accused of illegal people trafficking. Since November 2006 the court case has been proceeding in Agrigento, Sicily, but few people seem to recognize that it is the future of humanitarian action in Europe which is at stake at this trial. But the so-called Cap Anamur “case” was not only used to intimidate humanitarian action. The then interior minister of Germany, Otto Schily, and his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Pisanu used the occasion to present their plans for building refugee camps in northern Africa to prevent migrants from coming to Europe. What was not revealed, however, is that these camps by then already existed. Since 1998 the European Union has been financing and organizing camps with the help of the UNHCR and the OIM, working concretely on a long term strategy to externalize requests for assistance and asylum into states along the European borders. Within this strategy almost every means appears legitimate for the politicians, even direct collaboration with dictatorships like the Gaddafi regime in Libya. In that country alone, more than sixty thousand immigrants are imprisoned in camps, financed in part by the European Union. But in these camps there is no talk of asylum cases, but rather of torture, prosecution and deportation. Thousands of refugees are the victims of these new European anti-immigrations policies. While unwilling to offer help and shelter to persecuted war refugees, the European Union supports the legal immigration of highly skilled workers from southern countries, thus increasing the brain drain. But the European Union actually also gives its consent to illegal immigration, providing the European economy with poor slave-like workers from Africa in order to remain competitive in the world economy.

At the same time the new European border agency Frontex has been active since 2007, in collaboration with the North African neighbour states, patrolling the Mediterranean Sea and diverting the boats of illegal immigrants trying to flee to Europe. Since the beginning of these patrols, the recorded numbers of drowned immigrants have doubled. For activists of Amnesty International and other humanitarian organizations there is no doubt: Europe has unilaterally declared war against the migrants of the world.

In this documentary this war is presented through original interviews, ambiences, official and secret documents which voice its reality and its effects for the refugees, and for Europe. Furthermore, high military commanders speak openly for the first time in this documentary of the concrete action of the military forces in the Mediterranean Sea.

The documentary has a duration of 78


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War in the Mediterranean (2008)

Audio documentary directed and produced by
Roman Herzog

With the voices of the Eritrean refugee Michele Grmay, Mussie Zerrai from the association Habeshia, the journalists Gabriele del Grande and Fabrizio Gatti, Stefan Schmidt and Elias Bierdel from Cap Anamur, the public prosecutor Ignazio de Francisci, Judith Gleitze and Conny Gunßer from Pro Asyl, Julia Duchrow from Amnesty International, the law professors Fulvio Vassallo and Elda Turco, Laura Boldrini from the UNHCR, the political scientist Christopher Nsoh, the commander of the Guardia di Finanza Manozzi and the general director of Frontex Ilkka Laitinen.
Very special thanks to: Giuseppina Giangreco, Antonio Brancaforte, Heike Brunkhorst, Erika Salamone, Alessio Di Modica, Ivano Di Modica, Andrea Intagliata e Giuseppe Puma


Useful Links:

Fortress Europe




Amnesty International Italia

Borderline Europe