Traverse III

Stranded | Being in a state of In-Between

The Six-Day War of 1967 . source

1. Without Rights and No-where to Go | ‘Limbo’ in No Man’s Land by Xavier Arenos

Five sub-Saharan sailors were stranded in no man’s land for sixteen days -in a place called Kandahar-, since neither Morocco nor Mauritania would allow them to cross their borders. Teresa González from the NGO Médicos del Mundo criticised the lack of responsibility illustrated by the two governments: “This situation shows up the policies concerning migration that reign in Morocco and Mauritania. The fact that they are sub-Saharans and are in some of the aforementioned places which are related with the routes used by migrants, leave these people without any rights”.

“The five men, from Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ghana and Gambia have been wandering since 28 June in an area filled with landmines, without shelter, water or food. Despite the attempts by a Spanish NGO, Médicos del Mundo, both Morocco and Mauritania refuse to give in, while the fate of the sub-Saharans becomes more and more desperate. The origin of this bizarre tale dates back to 17 June, when the five men set sail on a Spanish boat called Captain MV Sola. The sub-Saharans are not illegal immigrants, but rather sailors hired by a Spanish skipper. When they were sailing close to Dakhala, the boat ran out of fuel and had to sail to the shore.
It was then that the skipper received the order to return to Spain to pick up spare parts and to repair the possible mechanical problem on the ship. According to the coordinator of Médicos del Mundo in Nuadibu (Mauritania), Pino González, before setting sail, the skipper allegedly left the sailors? situation in order, and a safe-conduct was signed. Yet, once the skipper had left, the dramatic situation began to unfold for the sub-Saharans. The workers were detained in Dakhla by the Moroccan Gendarmerie, who according to the sailors, confiscated their documents and sent them away in two taxis in the direction of Nuadibu.
On the way there, a Moroccan policeman told them they could enter Mauritania and, from there, could get back to their countries of origin. “On reaching the border post, the Moroccan gendarmes allowed them to cross on foot. There they stamped the passport of the Senegalese boy, tell him to leave the documents signed by the skipper and then they were told to head for the border post in Mauritania”, explains Pino González.
The sub-Saharans began to walk the five kilometres which separate the two country’s border posts, but as luck would have it, the Mauritanian Gendarmerie announced that they could not enter since they lacked visas. This nasty surprise became even worse when on returning to the Moroccan border post, they were also denied entry. On top of all this, the immigrants are in an area full of landmines and Médicos del Mundo have warned them that they must not leave the dust road marked by vehicles’ tyres. The immigrants have their only contact through this NGO which has provided them with painkillers, food, water and blankets.
Médicos del Mundo has requested the intervention of the Spanish authorities, since the Military Junta in Mauritania, the governor of Nuadibú and the consul of Morocco have been passing the blame from one country to another and refuse to allow them to cross any of the two borders.”

Ana del Barrio. El Mundo, 14 July 2006 via Xavier Arenos in No Man’s Land

The Terminal . directed by Steven Spielberg . source

2. The Terminal

Reading the above brought to mind the 2004 film The Terminal directed by Steve Spielberg. I admit I have never watched it… but always found the plot interesting — man flies overseas, whilst in flight his country ceases to exist as it had, man’s passport is deemed invalid and he cannot leave the airport terminal. Apologies for the bastardisation.

Image . Brian McManus . via Pruned

3. The Pseudo-Micronations of the Suez Canal via Alexander Trevi at Pruned

A fleet of boats, that came to be known as both The Yellow Fleet and the Great Bitter Lake Association, became trapped in the canal during the Six-Day War of 1967. After the war ended the canal remained closed and the ships remained land-locked. The ships were forced to raft together in the Great Bitter Lake until the canal reopened in 1975. The crews were allowed to return to their home-countries and new staff was brought in to maintain the ships.

During the eight years that the ships were captive the fleet organised both social and sports activities for entertainment. When the fleet had been land-locked for a year they organised the ‘Bitter Lake Olympics’ timed to coincide with the Olympic Games in Mexico City of 1968.

“Crews from eight nations competed in 14 disciplines, among them fishing, sailing, acrobatic jumping and soccer. Hand crafted medals were the awards. Life boats became equipped with sailing gear, and a ‘Yacht Club’ was founded.”

Bjoern Moritz, Ships On Stamps Unit, American Philatelic Society via Pruned

The crews also began making stamps by hand. Whilst these were not valued as stamps, and they acted more as postal labels, this practice attributed the Great Bitter Lakes Association, or Yellow Fleet, with what might be considered a degree of sovereignty, and the fleet may be recognised as a series of micro-nations, with the captains of the ships acting as presidents.

About this entry