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  • Writer's pictureMuhammed Lamin Dibba

Dehumanized at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam: A Call for Equality and Dignity of all Migrants

When I was leaving Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, on the 30th of May 2023, I was departing for Geneva in Switzerland and this was after I had been on holiday for a week. At Schiphol Airport I was treated with unsettling discrimination, stigmatization, and dehumanization (perhaps because of the color of my skin and the passport I was holding) in the name of the securitization of a national border.

Those individuals who are assumed to be white or to possess a European passport are not subjected to the same level of security scrutiny as I was. I was demanded to hand over my passport while I was at customs or immigration, and I was met with mistrust. It was requested that I take off my shoes, and even though I was searched through the machine, there was nothing discovered. After that, I was forced to do another physical search, and the officer in question came dangerously close to me putting his hands inside my pants all in the name of searching me. I gradually became enraged and asked why I was subjected to this search rather than others. To ensure that I did not cross the border with any substance that could be considered abusive, such as cocaine or marijuana, the response was that I had to be extensively searched. My backpack was opened directly in front of me a few minutes later, and there was a thorough examination of every item within it, but there was nothing that was discovered, despite the insane and terrible treatment, I received, as well as the so-called search and evacuation operations. Even though I was bleeding from the inside out, I made it abundantly clear that I had never used or seen cocaine, smoked cigarettes, or used marijuana in my whole life. I asked once more why only a few Africans on board were subjected to such an unfair examination, and even though I asked this inquiry, I did not receive a substantive response.

The drive for so-called safety overshadows the human tale that lies behind migration, and this experience is a reflection of the global discourse on the securitization of borders. By recognizing and treating all migrants equally, regardless of the passport they carry or possibly their skin color, the West, and especially the Netherlands, should adjust to and find a way to strike a balance between preserving human dignity and protecting national security. E. Tendayi Achiume, in his book titled "Migration as Decolonization," published in June 2019, highlights historical displacements pointing out that over the period spanning from the nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth century, a minimum of 62 million Europeans moved to colonial territories all over the world, including Africa, with Gambia being a prominent destination. However, in stark contrast to the fatal consequences that international law imposes on a significant number of economic migrants from Third World countries in the present day, these Europeans were the epitome of economic mobility or migration.

Acuhibe went on to argue that even people from the Third World, particularly those from Africa, who are looking for legal authorization to visit the First World, Europe in particular, are confronted with visa restrictions that are difficult to understand and frequently prohibitively expensive. It is important to note that these restrictions do not apply to the international mobility of citizens from the so-called First World. For me, the current treatment of African migrants in the West particularly in the Netherlands reflects a total disregard for Article 13 of the United Nations Charter as well as the Global Compact of Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.

Finally, despite the trauma faced by millions of African migrants in the West, my call is not just for an apology from the Netherlands but also for global solidarity with all the migrants who are discriminated against. Therefore, I urged the entire globe to show their support & solidarity with Africans particularly those who are routinely subjected to bigotry and all forms of discrimination at airports in the West.

Muhammed Lamin Dibba is a Masters Degree Candidate at The Geneva Graduate Institute.

Editors note: Views expressed herein are those of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Got an opinion article for publication? send it to us at

1 comentário

27 de fev.

This is sickening

Sorry for going through all this

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