top of page

Welcome for All: On the anniversary of the EU-Turkey deal, Florence Must Act sails the Arno River

[18.03.2022, 18:00 CET]

For Immediate Release

On Friday, March 18, 2022, a red dinghy with a flag bearing the words "Europe Must Act // Welcome for All" sails on the Arno River, under the historic Ponte Vecchio, the symbol of the city of Florence.

Florence Must Act and Italy Must Act welcome the progress shown by the strong and united response of the European Union to the conflict in Ukraine and the millions of refugees it is generating, and want to remember the sixth anniversary of the 2016 EU-Turkey agreement. The aim of this agreement was to control the arrival of refugees in Greece from Turkey, committing Turkey to stop irregular migrants from departing and to readmit migrants from Greece, based on the condition that Turkey was a safe country for them.

Six years ago, the agreement reached between Europe and Turkey (which then became a model for other similar agreements, such as the one with Libya) became a symbol of a “Fortress Europe” that responded to the arrival of migrants and asylum seekers to the continent by outsourcing the management of the migration phenomenon, closing its external borders, and thus compromising access to the right to asylum in Europe.

In a sudden change of approach, on 4 March 2022, the EU member states unanimously activated the Temporary Protection Directive, which will grant citizens fleeing the conflict in Ukraine protection and rights in all member states for up to three years. This directive, which dates back to 2001, has never before been applied to offer protection and rights to people fleeing conflicts such as those in Syria or Afghanistan. The European Union has this time shown that it has the will and the capacity to respond to this crisis with unity, solidarity, and humanity. Countries have shown that opening their borders to people in search of safety is both possible and desirable.

Allegra Salvini, coordinator of Florence Must Act stated: "Through this action, the Florence Must Act and Italy Must Act groups want to remind local, Italian and European institutions of the universality of the right to asylum. Every human being has the right to reach another country to seek international protection. This right must also be applied indiscriminately in practice".

Cecilia Sanfelici, Aegean/EU Advocacy Coordinator of Europe Must Act stated: "The migration policies of Fortress Europe, such as the EU-Turkey agreement, have had disastrous consequences on the lives of asylum seekers and refugees. The agreement has led to the congestion of the Greek Aegean islands and the overcrowding of refugee camps with unhealthy living conditions, which have in turn caused fires such as the one that destroyed the Moria camp in Lesbos in September 2020. A Europe that welcomes, that does not lock up asylum seekers at its borders is possible, it has just been demonstrated."


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

Italy Must Act (IMA) collaborates with municipalities and other solidarity organisations on the Italian territory in order to encourage the use of models of widespread reception, such as, for example, the already existing reception and integration projects and to encourage practices and new models of integration.

Florence Must Act (FMA) was born in September 2020 following a sit-in organised in Piazza della Repubblica to demand the evacuation of the Moria camp in Lesbos. Today, the Florentine group intends to send a strong sign of dissent concerning the current European migration policies, dialoguing with mayors and municipalities to propose a model of municipal resolution that raises awareness on the issue of relocation and reception of asylum seekers and migrants through integrated reception models that provide measures to accompany, support and guide the person and facilitate integration into the local society. The Human Rights Commission of the Municipality of Florence has already approved the resolution proposed by Florence Must Act and we hope to see it soon voted in the City Council.

Further comments available.



Allegra Salvini, Coordinator for Europe Must Act in Italy, Florence Must Act

Cecilia Sanfelici, Aegean/EU Advocacy Coordinator, Europe Must Act

Christian Schmidt, Press Coordinator, Europe Must Act

Key Links

Europe Must Act Homepage:

Resolution Città di Firenze:


Europe Must Act is a campaign group run by a coalition of NGOs working on the Aegean Islands. Find out more here.


bottom of page