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Sarajevo-Aleppo, 20 years after



The conference on “Sarajevo-Aleppo, 20 years after” took place in Torino at Polo del ‘900, on Friday 18 November, organised by the Embassy of the LDA Zavidovići ONLUS.
 
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The event, moderated by William Bonapace, offered an important occasion to discuss about the two conflicts, guided by the expertise of Maria Perino (member of ALDA’s Advisory Board and Researcher at the Department of Social Research of the University of Eastern Piedmont), Agostino Zanotti (Embassy of the LDA Zavidovići ONLUS), Monica Cerutti, Christian Costamagna, Enrico Da Vià and Simona Sordo.
 
The conference aimed at analysing and comparing the conflict of early ’90 in the Balkans and the one experienced in these days in Syria, with a particular attention to the welcoming of refugees, the humanitarian aid, and the approach of European Institutions, local authorities, civil society organisations and citizens towards the issue. The Embassy of the LDA Zavidovići, has always been directly involved in activities of solidarity regarding the Balkans, and in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina. After 20 years, the crucial values that still need to be defended are the same: activism, decentralised cooperation, grass root engagement, humanitarian corridors, wide welcoming, involvement of local authorities, international twinning activities, the concept of community, and many more.
 
A shared commitment was experienced through all activities run 20 years ago, starting by the engagement of citizens and involving the whole Europe. And now? How did we change, how our approach changed, and which is the European welcoming approach towards refugees today? 
 
Further analysis followed in the discussion, trying to define the historical and political reasons that brought to the current situation, and how local authorities and civil society organisations can work together to let welcomed and welcoming people meet together, in order to know each other and facilitate the inclusion in personal, social and working life, helped by a civic and linguistic education and support. 
 
Knowing each other is a sensitive moment, in which unexpected phobias can pop up. The result of the meeting is a patchwork of feeling – How do I perceive the other? How do I describe the other? Do I tend to build a bridge or a wall between me and the other? But also, how much am I responsible for the situation affecting the other? 
 
A very participative conference, where lot of questions, answers and reflections raised. And conflicts, phobias, urgencies apart, there is maybe a quote that can make us more flexible and sensitive to the issue of reception and welcoming:
 
“There seems to be in the man, as in the bird, a need for migration, a vital need to feel elsewhere.”
Margurite Yourcenar
 
The need of moving and being somewhere else is natural and commonly shared by all human beings. When it is done for an external need or urgency, that affects human dignity and human life itself, it deserves even more to be helped and facilitated.
 
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