Saved from the waters off Libya by the outstretched hand of a lifeguard at sea; warmed by the blanket brought, in the alpine cold, by a united marauder; fed during a fraternal meal distribution … thousands of exiles, who have arrived in Europe in recent years, have met on their journey citizens, trade unionists, association activists, volunteers, local elected officials who keep their duty to ‘humanity. They are the ones who keep the project of a welcoming Europe alive, despite the criminal strategies of the Member States of the European Union (EU).
Control at the entrance to the camp. The NGOs present in Samos condemn this process of criminalizing asylum seekers. © Nicolas Economou / Nurphoto / AFP
“To achieve this, it would first be necessary for States to respect the international commitments they have made,” insists the Vice-President of the League of Human Rights (LDH), Marie-Christine Vergiat. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international conventions on women’s rights, children’s rights, against torture, the Geneva convention on the right to asylum… These texts are regularly flouted by the decisions of European leaders , when it comes to migration. The association manager, who was MEP GUE / NGL from 2009 to 2019, also criticizes the refusal of Western European countries to ratify the International Convention on the rights of migrant workers and their families. Yet it was adopted thirty-one years ago by the United Nations General Assembly.
We have been calling for the establishment of a European rescue fleet for years.
François Thomas, President of SOS Méditerranée
First, save lives
“To access their rights, people who seek refuge in Europe must first be able to arrive safe and sound, points out, moreover, Anna Bucca, member, in Italy, of the management of Arci, an association which has just arrived. helping migrants. European leaders have allowed too many people to die at the EU’s borders. “There are, according to sources, between 20,000 and 30,000 dead and missing in the Mediterranean since 2014 while trying to reach the EU by sea.” We have been asking for years for the establishment of a European rescue fleet, indicates, for his part, François Thomas, the president of SOS Méditerranée.
A welcoming Europe should be based on a long-lasting, united mechanism that respects maritime law for disembarking survivors. For the defenders of the rights of exiles, the first of the rights for every human being is that to life. “Europe prefers to leave or kill these people, rather than welcome them!” »Protests in turn Marianne Chaud, ethnologist and member of the Briançonnaise association Tous migrants, which organizes the rescue, in the Alpine massif, of exiles on the Franco-Italian border. “When a political system comes to such cruelty, it no longer concerns only the victims of this policy but all of our humanity. “
Europe prefers to leave or kill these people, rather than welcome them!
Marianne Chaud, ethnologist and member of the Briançonnaise association
To these unworthy logics, the artisans of a fraternal Europe oppose the universal freedom of movement. In France, the LDH campaigns, for example, for the abolition of short-term visas which restrict the right to come and go. For the Information and Support Group for Immigrants (Gisti), a welcoming Europe could even go through the abolition of all visas. “We can be called sweet dreamers, ironically the lawyer, president of the association, Stéphane Maugendre. But when the free movement of European citizens within the EU was established, some promised us Portuguese or Greek invasions. We were then scared with the Polish plumber. Today, we are continually told about the risk of a call for air. None of these terrible perils have happened. “In reality, the European experience makes it possible to understand that the freedom of movement is not a danger”, concludes the lawyer.
Harmonization of labor law
Immigrants in European states, however, remain among the most precarious people. Here too, for defenders of the rights of exiles, it is a question of political choices. “In Germany, someone applying for refugee status can directly access employment,” explains Marie-Christine Vergiat. In France, he will have to wait several months. And, in need, people are working anyway. “It is a system which favors moonlighting and which always creates more precariousness, says Stéphane Maugendre. There should be European harmonization on the right to work of asylum seekers. “
One of the ambitions is the unconditional protection of unaccompanied minors, launched voluntarily or by force on the paths of exile. “They must be considered as our future citizens. “
Another ambition carried by the defenders of a welcoming Europe is the unconditional protection of unaccompanied minors (unaccompanied minors), launched voluntarily or by force on the paths of exile. “Unaccompanied minors who join Europe must be considered as our future fellow citizens”, insists Hassan Maamri, head of Arci in Caltagirone, Sicily. His association, from the Catania region, is the one that welcomed the children who survived the sinking of October 3, 2013, off the island of Lampedusa, which claimed the lives of nearly 400 exiles. “We must offer these children a real path of integration which aims at full recognition of their rights and their citizenship,” he continues. Without any real project to support these young people, towards education in particular, Europe only feeds hatred and fear. “
Among all these actors of solidarity, the future French presidency of the EU, which will begin in January, does not raise any hope. “Even the agreements between Italy and the Libyan militias have never been called into question by France and the other EU states,” says Hassan Maamri. They are, however, contrary to maritime law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “
Should we conclude from this that, in the current state, none of the European leaders will ever be the bearer of the project of a united and welcoming Europe? “Another Europe can only be born from the amplification of civil society initiatives,” concludes Claire Rodier, from the Migreurop network. The mistreatment at the borders, the deaths in the Mediterranean are not blunders. They are part of a deliberate policy on the part of states. There is nothing more to expect from them. They are criminals. We must encourage all citizen actions that create breaches in this system. “