Images of a City - the media


Images of a City - the media

The journalists are back in the city. The Guardia Civil has announced a heightened state of alert for this weekend. Tomorrow is the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice, one of the highest Islamic holidays. 

The border on the Moroccan side of the fence may therefore not be guarded as carefully. Military helicopters are circling over Melilla and the police presence is even higher than usual.

There are many indications that another mass onslaught is imminent. It was quiet at the fence throughout September and the new reinforcements had an effect. But the autumn storms and winter are approaching - making life even more unbearable for the refugees on Monte Gurugu. On 1 October, 200 people tried to climb over the fence, but no one made it. Something "big" has to happen again soon - and this weekend would be the ideal opportunity. The journalists have arrived in Melilla and are waiting for something to happen.

There are hardly any media pictures showing the city of Melilla. It is difficult to illustrate the reports on the escape attempts, as these take place quickly and unexpectedly - logically without the media being informed in advance.

This - in 2014 - most frequently used picture was taken on 2 April 2014 at the northern border with Melilla. The refugees sat at the fence for 15 hours and refused to leave. This gave enough time to take photos in different variations. All the refugees were handed over to the Moroccan authorities after their desperate act.

This is the Centro de Estancia Temporal de Imigrantes (Ceti). Most of the press photos only show it from the outside, as it cannot be entered without authorisation. I will tell you more about the structure of this camp next week. Photos with migrants are almost always taken in front of the CETI gates or diagonally opposite the fence. If the film was taken directly opposite the camp, the golf course would be visible. I'll tell you more about this curiosity another time.

Most of the published photos of the fence were taken in the immediate vicinity of the CETI. That's why everyone believes that there is a wasteland behind the fence. In some places, the city simply continues on the other side of the fence (there are small border crossings that can only be crossed on foot), but most people are unaware of these pictures.

Having spent some time researching in front of the Google photo archive, I can say that often the same photos have been used for years to illustrate a wide variety of articles. They seem to be interchangeable and it is probably more about using a kind of "symbolic photo" than illustrating real events. It is precisely these images that characterise everyone's idea of what is happening there. But the city doesn't just consist of the camp and the police station, most of the refugees in the camp are not black Africans but Syrians and the vast majority of the fence-crossings take place at night.

We think in images. And we get these images from the media - but how real are they?