WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF FIRE OR AM (sic) IMAGINARY FIRE.  Right before the wards of Worcester State Hospital were demolished in 2008, I made one final trip out there.  In a sloped-ceilinged top-floor patient room at the end of a ward, I found this uneven set of instructions for what to do if the asylum caught fire (or, apparently, there was an “imaginary fire”).  Rather ironic, given that the asylum was mostly burned out in 1991 fire that was likely arson.  In any case, I found this strange proclamation about seven feet off the ground, near the top of a doorframe, and definitely took the time to photograph it at several different distances.

Print of the wide shot showing the room here.
Print of the detail shot with the instructions here.

When since january this year more than 1600 people have died trying to cross the mediterranean but the EU cares more about securing borders than rescuing people

In the last years, thousands of people have died in the Mediterranean sea trying to make it to Europe. Fleeing from war, violent conflicts, humanitarian crises, political persecution and repression, they pay huge amounts of money to traffickers and then risk their lives boarding often overcrowded ships. But most of the EU leaders are not willing to effectively do something against their well-loved and highly frequented and monitored Mediterranean becoming a mass grave of refugees. 

In 2014 the Italian-run search and rescue operation Mare Nostrum, which rescued around 150 000 people, was shut down after only one year, because the EU member states were not willing to financially support the Italian efforts to save lives. They feared an increase in migration when the traffickers could plan on letting the ships be rescued right away. Well, it did not stop people from wanting to cross the Mediterranean and the number of refugees seeking asylum and safety in Europe is not declining – while the death toll is increasing.

The EU decided to replace Mare Nostrum, with a monthly budget of around 9 million euro and the goal of search and rescue and a large operational area, including parts of the Lybian waters, with „Triton“ with a monthly budget of around 2,8 million euro and the primary goal of border control – rescuing human lives is just a secondary capacity – and a very small operational area covering mostly waters close to the Italian coast.

Witnessing massive humanitarian crises and wars the EU keeps building up a fortress instead of providing help and security. The majority of the refugees who are lucky to make it into the EU alive, are forced to live under inhumane living conditions in camps or other housing without privacy and often under constant fear of being deported. Another outrage in the EU‘s treatment of refugees is the Dublin Regulation, which prohibits refugees from seeking asylum in other European states than the one they first arrived at. The refugees are not free to move and the humanitarian responsibilities of providing asylum for people in need are not equally distributed among the European states. Wealthy nations like Germany profit from this regulation and Germany is constantly deporting refugees back to Italy or Hungary, where conditions are even worse for the refugees.

What people often say in this context is, that the best help would be to fight the reasons people are fleeing in the first place. Yes, of course, but we have to be more specific and look at the ways European countries are involved in the impoverishment and the violent conflicts especially in African states. Not only has colonialism and the century-long exploitation of the African continent a role in causing poverty and conflict in struggling African states, the European policies keep exploiting them in many ways. European countries and or companies profit from selling weapons, dumping electronic and even nuclear waste in African countries and waters, the EU is buying fishing rights and European companies are illegally fishing, etc.

Refugees from African countries are constantly speaking about these topics, but they are seldom heard by the public. Instead they are harrassed, criminalized, repressed in their freedom of movement, not allowed to work, attacked and killed. - And that is only if they manage to get to europe alive.

Sign the petitions to reinstate a search and rescue operation: 

Avaaz: “Federica Mogherini: Please don’t let the Mediterranean be a graveyard for migrants.“

WeAct: “Europa darf nicht wegschauen, wenn Flüchtlinge an seinen Außengrenzen ertrinken“

Sources and interesting articles (sorry, partly in german)

Time (2015): Mediterranean Becomes Mass Grave as Europe Struggles With Migrant Crisis

Pro Asyl (2014): Europas Schande: “Triton” und “Mare Nostrum” im Vergleich

PRO ASYL Positionspapier (2014): For a European system of rescue at sea! (pdf)

Spiegel Online (2013): Fortress Europe: How the EU Turns Its Back on Refugees

Spiegel Online (2015): ‘A Disgrace for Tröglitz’: Refugee-Home Fire Spurs Xenophobia Fears

A short film from 2011: Liquid Traces - The Left-to-Die Boat Case

Wikipedia: Dublin Regulation

Pro Asyl (2012): UNHCR kritisiert Abschiebungen nach Ungarn

Zeit Online (2012): “Schickt mich zurück nach Somalia, aber nicht nach Italien!”

BBC News (2010): Europe exporting electronic waste despite ban

Europa-Links: Die EU-Fischereipolitik

The Guardian (2012): Seven steps to prevent the collapse of west Africa’s fishing grounds 

Deutsche Welle (2010): Ein Bombengeschäft - Waffenhandel in Afrika

Time (2009): How Somalia’s Fishermen Became Pirates

To a woman who has had the greatest impact on my life. To a woman who I am constantly inspired by. To a woman who is effortlessly beautiful, through and through. To a woman who has so much talent, sometimes I’m not sure she’s even real. To a mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, philanthropist, actress, and photographer. Happy 66th Birthday, Jessica Phyllis Lange!