The security industry has often described and treated migrants as threats to ‘security’. As well as being untrue, this account dehumanises migrants, and importantly doesn’t take into consideration the collaboration between the border, surveillance and arms industries which has led to, among many other things, the graveyard in the Mediterranean sea.
This collaboration is evident in wars, the violence inflicted on communities by foreign states including corporations, and the militarisation of borders and detention.
Since 1995, Europe has been building walls to keep out immigrants, many of whom are fleeing persecution, war, repression, violence, economic and environmental collapse and who have a right to seek a better future in a safer country.
In the past few years, the UK government has spent millions fortifying Calais. Southern and Eastern European countries have built thousands of kilometres of fences.
The closure of land routes to Europe has forced those seeking a better future to risk the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean from Libya. The EU response has not been to support those seeking safety. It has been to stop migration to Europe at all costs. As a result, thousands have died each year attempting to make the crossing.
The EU has equipped, trained and supported the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people at sea and return them to Libya. Migrants in Libya experience appalling levels of violence and exploitation.
The EU is also pushing its own border controls further away to try to keep migrants at a distance. The most well-known arrangement is with Turkey, given €6 billion to act as a ‘buffer’ between Syria and Europe. This was followed by a sharp increase in unlawful detention and deportation in Turkey that Human Rights Watch called “a new low”.
Companies profiting twice
Many arms companies profit twice from militarism. They profit from selling weapons that fuel conflict and force people from their homes. The same companies then profit again by building the fences and walls, and by producing the technologies and warships to police borders.
- Thales supplies maritime surveillance systems for drones, is researching how to track and control refugees on their way to Europe, and provides the security system for Calais.
- Leonardo supplies helicopters and drones for border security and received a contract in 2019 to maintain the EU’s ‘virtual walls’.
- Airbus also supplies helicopters for border patrol.