ESI's Gerald Knaus went on a field trip to the port of Calais on 4 and 5 October, together with a Dutch film crew making a documentary series called "The Wall" (in Dutch: De Muur). The series aims at showing how life is on different sides of fences built to stop unwanted foreigners, immigrants or refugees.
"In our series, we look what fences are doing with the people who live around it. Everywhere we filmed, we saw that fences lead to indifference, to disinterest in the suffering, to a lack of empathy, and even to hatred. Not that there is no humanity anymore, it's there. But most people do not want live with large masses of refugees around, don't like the assaults on the fences, don't want to be confronted with deaths that wash up on their beach. They want live quietly without being bothered by immigrants. Since the summer of 2015 the mood in Europe has been moved from 'wir schaffen das' to a loud call for new fences. Our series is in a way a self-examination to our humanistic morality and to the question of why it has eroded so easily. And the series is a research for answers on the question how to handle immigration."
Everyday in the "Jungle", the migrant camp at the edge of Calais, more than 7,000 people hope to get on trucks and boats to England, despite recent demolitions and forced evictions. Border authorities struggle to contain them and plan to build higher walls, a proof that – regardless of a decade of policy "cooperation" between two of the richest countries in the world – a sustainable solution is yet to be found. ESI's work is focusing on finding ways to raise standards of reception and asylum processing for better orientation in the current EU migration debate in Europe and elsewhere.