On May 1, 2021, World Youth Alliance-Austria hosted the first ever online Youth Dialogue Solidarity Forum. This conference lasted for 9 days (May 1-9), with the focus being on the topic of the current situation of migrants and refugees in Europe. Participants coming from different parts of the world were able to attend the event to discuss their own thoughts on the refugee crisis and to take part in the advocacy process. Professionals from various NGOs and two members of parliament were invited as speakers to share their thoughts, as well as their personal experiences with regards to the issue of migration in the EU. Through their great insight, the participants were able to learn much about the issues surrounding the challenges that migrants across all of Europe face today.
Among these great speakers was Belgian MEP Saskia Bricmont, who spoke passionately about her experiences as a policy-maker with regards to the challenges that migrants and refugees face in the EU.
“Today, the EU is responsible for strong human rights violations and also violations against International, European, and National Law, because of their participation in illegal pushbacks, not giving migrants the possibility to open asylum requests, and pushing them back at sea and at borders of countries which are not inside the EU. We need another narrative, we need to show that thousands of citizens from the EU do not agree with this current Fortress Europe(policy) and the way that governments and the EU Commission are dealing with migration policies. We need to show the solidarity side, we need to show what citizens are doing and what they want and to stop criminalizing them for helping out refugees”, Ms. Bricmont stated.
Together, and with their newfound knowledge on the refugee crisis, the participants were then split into different interest groups where they were asked to take part in editing the Draft Declaration on Migration and Development. The declaration would serve as WYA’s official stance on Migration and Development. As the forum progressed, the participants from the different interest groups diligently engaged with each other and discussed how the declaration should be formed.
Amira Salama, an advocacy intern of WYA-Europe and a participant of this year’s YDSF shared her thoughts about her own experience in the forum.
“Although it took place online, it was such an amazing event where I learned a lot by listening to others’ experiences. As I was born and raised with the Egyptian and the Italian cultures, I feel so close to the topic because my parents experienced the same struggles when they moved to Italy in the 70s. It was great to see and e-meet many young peers committed to build a more inclusive and welcoming Europe for those people who had to leave their home countries for the harsh conditions they faced. Indeed, writing all together that policy proposal in which we pointed out the key points for a supportive Europe was a real expression of our commitment. We explicitly want from the EU more support to MS in tackling the refugee crises keeping always in mind that these people are human beings like us. Even if we are all coming from different places, having different cultures and customs, we are all human beings with human dignity and our diversity is our strength. In this regard, we must remind ourselves of the EU motto that states ‘In varietate concordia’, meaning ‘united in diversity‘”, she said.
All things considered, the forum proved to be a very fruitful experience. Many eyes were opened to the idea that the refugee crisis and the current situation of migrants in the EU are ultimately issues that concern the dignity of the human person and that any decision with regards to migration made by European institutions should reflect the belief that the human dignity of every individual must be respected.
Published: May 27, 2021
Written by Gustavo Delfin, a WYA Europe Advocacy intern