[ 10. Feb 2009 ]

Report on 'Des Ponts pas des Murs'

caravan du maroc - ceuta, oct 2008

On 17th of Octobre 2008 a counter summit on the EU migration policy took place in Montreuil, Paris.


With 300 organisations under the call and 1000 participants the euro-african summit Des Ponts pas des Murs (Bridges No Walls) in Paris 17th of octobre 2008 was the counter summit for the Euro-African Inter-ministerial conference on migrations and development in Paris held on novembre the 25th, 2008.

Des Ponts pas des Murs was the second counter summit after the :: summit in Rabat on the 30st of june and the 1st of july 2006 which lead to the :: Rabat Manifesto on Migrations, Fundamental Rights and Freedom of Movement.

There was beforehand quite some excitement as a :: 'caravan' of solidarity had been going through Africa to Paris. It started on the 4th of september in Kinshasa/Congo, stopping at :: Bamako/Mali on the 8th of september, Nouakchott/Mauritania on the 10th of september, :: Douala/Cameroun on the 10th of october and ending in :: Ceuta/Morocco on the 12th of october 2008. This was in the memory of the 15 migrants who died and the douzens who were wounded trying to cross the fence in :: Ceuta and Melilla in october 2005 after which a first caravan was set up: the «Caravane de la dignité contre les barbelés de l'injustice et de l'indifférence» (caravan for dignity against the barbed wires of the injustice and the indifference) initiated by 'l'Autre Mali' and the network of African artists and intellectuals for the ethica and esthetica (

There were :: 6 workshops in the 'Des Ponts pas des Murs' conference:
1) North-South relationships, development models and migration,
2) Selective migration policy: which impact on migrants rights in host countries?,
3) Freedom of movement: a right, which is far from being universal,
4) Migrant women,
5) Chidren in migration and
6) What space for the right to asylum?

Of course it was impossible to have a good debate with 1000 people in one day. It was much too short. The main aim of the French organisors was apparently the :: Montreuil Declaration and the global document "recommandations des sociétés civiles du sud et du nord", both to be presented to the ministerial conference.

At the 'Des Ponts pas des Murs' too much attention went to the details in this text. The African guests got some 10 minutes to speak and there was then no good discussion or questions on these African contributions. As the document was directed to the governments there was no room for talking about the network that was set up at the :: first counter summit in Rabat (, about the struggles and strategies. Peculiar was also the absence of the Sans Papiers from Paris at the summit. Aparrently the organisation of the summit had demanded the sans papiers who are organised in many collectives to come forward with one single representative which was impossible to be achieved. Together with Conni from the :: Refugee Council Hamburg we put forward the struggles of migrants and the content of the Transnationalization Now manifest in the workshop "Restriction to freedom of movement".

Some 500 :: Crossing Borders and Trans now! were distributed during the summit. The summit was indeed a very good opportunity to meet some new people and to exchange experiences. What was felt as a miss in the Trans now! manifesto is a concrete project on which groups can jump in. The same is the case with the new campaign against Frontex which is missing a leading drive for organisations to join. We also put up a Frontex exposition at the summit which attracted quiet some attention.

The next day there was a lively demonstration with some 4000 demonstrators including many sans papiers. The demonstration walked past the Bourse du Travaille, a union building squatted since the 2nd of may by the 'Coordination 75 des sans-papiers'. The occupants want the cooperation of the CGT-union for the deposit of all sans papiers files at the council for regularisation and not only the CGT-members (:: English explanation). The demonstration ended at the Place de la Republique where a concert attracted some 15 / 20.000 people.

The Euro-African Inter-ministerial conference on migrations and development in Paris held on novembre the 25th by the 27 member states of the European Union and the 27 African countries produced a "three-year cooperation program 2009-2012". This calls for the fight against fraud of identity documents, using computers and biometrics, the strengthening of border controls with the "establishment of common border posts", the improvement of the readmissions, the promotion of voluntary returns and the development in the African countries of "agencies specialized in employment", like the Centre for Migration Information and Management (Cigem) opened in Bamako in October and financed by the EU. It also confirms the EU vow to promote "immigration chosen", calling for priority to the host of "highly qualified" while "seeking to avoid brain drain".
See the official declaration in ::

The continuation of this Paris meeting will be held in Dakar in 2011.

The Frontex exposition is to be used by groups organising an :: activity against Frontex. It consists of 34 full colour A3 pictures: the fences Ceuta/Melilla (march 06), :: Bamako/Mali station of the :: Transnational Chain of actions (march 08), action at headquarter of :: Frontex in Warsaw (june 08), action :: against Frontex training academy at Luebeck near Hamburg (august 08), commemoration of the :: october 2005 tragedy at Ceuta (october 08) and the 'Shut Down Frontex, Migrant Hunting Agency'-banner.

Read the :: Montreuil Declaration.

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