Today October 31st, on World Cities Day, Europe Must Act is launching the “Routes to Relocation”' campaign. The new campaign aims to push the municipal approach to relocation of refugees and asylum seekers from the EU borders to cities and communities in Europe. The idea is to work with city actors across our European chapters to develop a bottom-up approach to improve migration policies on both the EU and national level.
Municipalities across Europe are the main actors in the relocation process of refugees and asylum seekers. Europe Must Act thinks that cities should see migration as a chance instead of a problem, and that they should join forces to have a bigger influence on the policy making process. As a concrete first step, cities could join the ‘International Alliance of Safe Harbors’, a Europe wide network of mayors and cities founded in 2021. The goal is to then foster a welcoming environment with humane conditions for refugees and asylum seekers.
Forced migration is unlikely to cease, with the consequences of climate change, political instability and conflicts that continue to arise; refugees and asylum seekers deserve the freedom of movement and the opportunity to seek refuge from these real and undeniable issues.
Allegra Salvini, EU Advocacy Coordinator: “More just migration policies can be built on the good practices recently developed in the EU, such as the activation of the Temporary Protection Directive as a response to the Ukrainian displacement. The time seems ripe to address the solidarity issue from the point of view of local communities and municipalities. We therefore push not only for a state relocation system (which European Member states have never been able to implement) but for a municipal relocation system across the EU, which gives more voice to those local institutions and communities that physically welcome people on their territory.”
World Cities Day evokes the importance of local action to address the challenges of urbanisation which can lead to growing inequalities and exclusion. Europe Must Act realises the opportunities that arise from migration, both for the people migrating and the countries who welcome them. Knowledge, workforce, a diversity in culture and linguistics; these are only some of the many assets that migration offers. Subjecting migrants to remain in camps along the borders deprives us of their contributions, and deprives them of their right to seek safety and better opportunities. We aim to raise public awareness of both the possibilities and the challenges that a system in which people seeking asylum are relocated from refugee camps, and integrated into European cities and communities.
Cecilia Sanfelici, Aegean Advocacy Coordinator says:“Europe’s external borders have become a symbol of rights violations done and walls built in the name of security. Even when people on the move are not pushed back and are able to claim asylum in a country, overcrowded camps or prison-like facilities where people are forced to stay at the borders for long periods of time have become the standard practice. While the European Union and most European States are making camps at the borders the model for reception of people on the move, we want to push for an opposite direction”
Notes for editors
Europe Must Act (EMA) is a growing grassroots movement, bringing together volunteers and NGOs to campaign for the humane, dignified and legal reception of refugees in Europe. EMA was established in March 2020 by a group of volunteers on the Greek Aegean islands of Chios and Samos in response to the ever-worsening situation of the hotspot camps. For more information about EMA, please visit www.europemustact.org/about-us.
Christian Schmidt, Press Coordinator, Europe Must Act
Cecilia Sanfelici, Aegean Advocacy Coordinator, Europe Must Act
Allegra Salvini, EU Advocacy Coordinator, Europe Must Act & Italy Must Act