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Debate | Panel

Ports of Hope and Disaster: Human Holding Patterns in the Middle East and Africa

Friday 2 December 2016
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Lipsius 003

Images of thousands of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Eritrea, journeying by foot, train, bus, and boat through Southern and Eastern Europe saturated our television and print news media in the summer of 2015. Even before that fateful summer, readers and viewers had become accustomed to both the tragic and successful attempts by economic migrants and political refugees to cross the Mediterranean from Libya and Northern Africa and land on Malta and the islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria in Italy. While this year the images of movement have lessened due to the building of fences, the implementation of illegal closures of national borders by some EU members, and the unclear “agreement” between some EU member states and Turkey, the humanitarian crisis continues unabated. Thousands of individuals, barred from crossing nation-state borders, remain in movement - albeit in a holding pattern - determined to continue when they can. Some transit points, such as in Djibouti and Sudan, also double as host locations for large refugee and displaced populations. Centuries-old trade routes have transformed into sites of profit, salvation, and loss, as even more precarious human trafficking schemes develop.

On Friday 2 December LUCIS organizes a panel discussion which brings together academics, journalists, activists, and human rights workers to explore the creation and dynamics within entry, exit, and holding points in Djibouti, Greece, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, and Turkey. Through the panelists’ presentations, and their ensuing discussions with audience members, we can better understand the short and long term repercussions of the creation and maintenance of these ports of anticipation and movement. In addition, we can better recognize the networks and connections between geographic regions as well as offer texture to the Dutch and larger global media coverage on the ongoing movement of refugee and displaced populations.


Aurélie Ponthieu
Aurélie Ponthieu has been working for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for 9 years, first in the field and in Brussels. She has been working as Humanitarian adviser in Brussels since 2011. Her area of expertise includes forced migration and the humanitarian impact of refugee and migration policies. She provides support to MSF operations in terms of context analysis and advocacy strategies.

Simon McMahan
Simon joined the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations as a Research Fellow in September 2014, following roles at King’s College London, the European University Institute in Florence, Italy and the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. He is the author of Immigration and Citizenship in an Enlarged European Union (Palgrave, 2015), editor of The Handbook of International Political Economy of Migration (co-edited with Leila Talani, Edward Elgar, 2015), and researcher on the MEDMIG project which has interviewed 500 people who crossed or were preparing to cross the Mediterranean Sea by boat. Simon’s current research focuses on the politics of border control, and irregular migration around the world.

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