Integrated actions and no walls needed for the European agenda for development and migration
The European Union is witnessing perhaps the largest scale of immigration wave ever with some 153,000 migrants who have been detected at its external borders since the beginning of this year and arriving at its “gates” in South Italy and as of recently at Hungary’s border with Serbia. One of the biggest surges happened at the beginning of June when nearly 6,000 people were plucked from the sea in South Italy’s coast, while at the other gate - some 80,000 refugees and migrants have reached Hungary since the beginning of this year.
Facing the global phenomenon of mass migration which, according to recent estimations has become larger in scope and numbers than the one happened after the World War II, the DG Migration and Home Affairs has launched a scope of comprehensive policy measures granting institutional responses and even more calling for adequate responses by the member states mostly affected by the influx of migrants. However, the main challenge in facing the phenomenon still remains unresolved, in other words how to protect the migrants’ lives and the rights of asylum seekers on one hand, and the security of the EU external borders on the other. On their long and exhausting escape from civil war, despair, famine and misery they are using dangerous routes, risking kidnapping, human trafficking, robbery, jail and even death. At the end of the day, only those who have enough money to pay the traffickers, those patient enough to try to cross the border several times or those who are lenient enough to endure lack of any decent living conditions along the way, and in border areas in particular, can try the long and still uncertain process for being asylum seekers in the EU.
The most recent decision by the Hungarian government to build a 175 km long and 4 meter high barbed wire fence along the borderline with Serbia could lead to another humanitarian catastrophe similar to those we have already witnessed earlier this year near Lampedusa, now extending to other local communities such as Subotica, Kanjiza, Backi Vinogradi – municipalities in Serbia along the borderline with Hungary. Once again, responding to the global mass migration crisis with physical barriers or the new walls to replace the old ones seems more as a lesson not learnt from the past. Once again, it has become evident that phenomenon of global migration require comprehensive, multi-stakeholder, internationally and regionally well - coordinated measures, but it is the local communities where the migrants need humanitarian assistance provision.
ALDA recalls that:
- it is of utmost importance for local authorities in municipalities in border areas with the EU and Western Balkan countries such as FYROM and Serbia recently affected by huge influx of migrants and asylum seekers to be equipped with adequate human and technical resources and facilities to provide shelter, necessary humanitarian aid and health care;
- the concept of the European integration based on shared values and standards has been proven resilient through difficult times and crisis and that building new walls is not a remedy to “keep the Europe’s civilisation”.
- committed to promote a culture of respect for human rights and dignity, tolerance and non-violence and also aware of the need for enhanced CSOs and LAs actions to raise awareness and educate for the European citizenship without discrimination or prejudice;
- aware of the present situation and the prospects for increased waves of migrants and asylum seekers heading towards Europe, we are of the opinion that both immediate actions are needed to prevent losses of migrants’ lives in the sea and inland, while in the long run we plead for a strengthened common asylum policy based on solidarity among the EU Member states.
For these reasons, ALDA, the European Association for Local Democracy:
- calls for immediate actions guaranteeing adequate humanitarian aid, psychological and counselling support in the host communities along the EU external borderline.
- strongly urge for coordinated actions by the government institutions, Red Cross and other civil society organisations in ensuring migrants have access to healthcare, medical and sanitation services in both transit and host countries
- support the ten points Action plan on migration by the European Commission, while in particular the urgent and immediate need to fight against the organised crime of the human trafficking and smuggling
- confirm its commitments with its co-operation programmes effectively contributing to 2015 the European year for Development through actions aimed at supporting the Local authorities that can play a bigger role in helping migrants, who can be active partners in development and not a burden on society.
- calls for a consistent implementation, regular upgrade and monitoring of the European Agenda on Migration
Strasbourg, 30th July 2015