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Narrating the dialogue


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A pubblication of the project Lampedusa Berlin, Travel Journal, containing the winner and the finalist of the competition "Narrating tha Dialogue", European contest for the narration of experiences of intercultural dialogue.

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Narrating the dialogue

  1. 1. Narrating the Dialogue Lampedusa Berlin Project
  2. 2. 1 Project “Berlin – Lampedusa, Travel Journal", Europe for Citizens Programme, Strand 2 Measure 2.3 'Civil Society Projects'. Europe for Citizens Program. Project: 577736-CITIZ-1-2016-1-IT-CITIZ-CIV A project by: Fondazione ForTeS (Coordinator) - Italy, Sosrazzismoitalia - Italy, Sozial.Label E.V. - Germany, S.O.S. Racismo Gipuzkoa Asociacion - Spain, Egam-European Grassroots Antiracist Movement Association - France, Oltalom Karitativ Egyesulet - Hungary, Asociatia Tineri Parteneri Pentru Dezvoltarea Societatii Civil - Romania, Asinitas Onlus - Italy, Towarzystwo Amicus - Poland, International Centre For Sustainable Development - Greece. Cover picture made by Diana Hrytsyshyna, author of the authobiographical narration: “My Volunteering in Oinofyta Refugee Camp” This publication is available under the Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
  3. 3. 2 Narrating the Dialogue Telling the meeting of cultures, in the Europe of yesterday and today. An initiative of the project "Lampedusa Berlin, travel diary" The experiences of encounter between different cultures, are part more and more of people's and communities lives in Europe and worldwide. Let's reflect, for example, about the importance, in our lives, of meeting with people from other countries and other cultures. Let's think about what we have learned from these meetings. Or we can think about the great historical phenomena that have crossed Europe, such as the present migrant crisis, involving millions of people fleeing from wars and poverty. Let's reflect about how this recent social issue has highlighted the need to create bridges between people, to develop a dialogue between different cultural worlds, to achieve a peaceful coexistence... But, beyond this recent phenomenon, it should be remembered, we are talking here of something that concern our lives of European inhabitants since long time. We think about what happened in Europe after the war, the great migrations that have affected many of the European countries; we think about the fall of the Berlin Wall and at the end of the so-called iron curtain, which allowed the people of the East and West of Europe to meet. We think about the possibility for European citizens to move freely across borders, to the expanded opportunities to travel (also thanks to low cost flights), and learn about other places, other cultures .... We think, finally returning to current events, to all initiatives and projects promoted by citizens and civil society to improve the reception of migrants and promote intercultural dialogue. The project wants to gather experiences related to all this. They can be individual experiences, or the experiences of projects and collective actions. Experiences that have brought us new learnings and new knowledges, which have expanded our way of thinking and seeing life and the world, or from which we have raised questions still open ... All the experiences are valuable to us, and for this reason we have created - within the project the online archive stories, where the stories will continue to be present even after the competition, so that others can know them, and through them, to offer a contribution to enhance intercultural dialogue in Europe.
  4. 4. 3 Index The winners.........................................................................................................pag.5 Autobiography or biography: My name is Shikhali Mirzai............................pag.5 Videonarration: Altrove and MaTeChef: paths of art, life and work..................................................................................................................pag.12 The finalists........................................................................................................pag.15 Italy....................................................................................................................pag.15 Autobiography or biography :Yossouf Mohamed: Me, future doctor...............................................................................................................pag.15 Spain.................................................................................................................pag.17 Video narration: Roger...................................................................................pag.17 Germany..........................................................................................................pag.18 Autobiography or biography: The power of diversity.................................pag.18 Video narration: My Look at the refugee situation.....................................pag.26 Hungary............................................................................................................pag.27 Autobiography or biography: What I have learnt from Salim...................pag.27 Greece.............................................................................................................pag.32 Autobiography or biography: The passing...................................................pag.32 France..............................................................................................................pag.35 Autobiography or biography: My name is Shikhali Mirzai..........................pag.35 The contest.......................................................................................................pag.36 The project.......................................................................................................pag.37 10 points for a new migration policy in Europe............................................pag.39 Credits...............................................................................................................pag.47 Partners.............................................................................................................pag.48
  5. 5. 4 The winners: Category: Autobiography or biography My name is Shikhali Mirzai Author: Shikhali Mirzai
  6. 6. 5 Before I came to Europe, I passed through different countries, such as Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy and finally France, where I finally arrived on the 12th of September 2016. This may sound easy, or even like a vacation to you, but before I came to Paris, I spent days and nights on the mountains and blocked on the borders. I crossed the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan during 4 hours, and that walking with my handicap. Then, it took me another 16 hours to cross the border between Pakistan and Iran, also in the very high mountains. The mountains of the altitude of more than 2000 meters. Together with 4 other people, we’ve crossed the Iranian territory in the trunk of a Peugeot. In total, this smugglers’’ car transported 17 persons. In order to cross the border between Iran and Turkey, I was walking for 17 hours in the mountains, in the snow and in very harsh conditions.
  7. 7. 6 When I arrived in Turkey, the situation for the migrants was really complicated. I took a boat to go to Greece. We were in the middle of the sea when the boat broke down. After 3 hours the Greek police arrived to rescue us. They took us on the island of Lesbos. I spent 3 months in a refugee camp called Morya. In this camp, event though the situation was very difficult, there were many humanitarian associations which were helping migrants. They were like the light of hope that made me optimist about my future. For example we were visiting different places with the volunteers from these organisations. After having spent 3 months on this island, I could finally go to Athens. When I left Lesbos, I had a strange feeling of leaving my country once again. In Athens, I stayed in a refugee camp called Oinofyta for 4 months. In this camp, I made friends with the volunteers. Lisa, Maria, Layhing, Rhot and many others have became my best friends. It made me very happy to see how good and polite they were with me.
  8. 8. 7 I was happy in this camp, I almost forgot how hard can be life, until the day I lost one of my best friends. His name was Mohamed Bilal Hachimi. He was a volunteer in an association. He drowned while swimming in the sea. This incident had a huge impact on me, it sort of traumatised me. After this terrible incident I didn’t like the camp, nor the Athens anymore. Therefore, I left for the destination of Italy. One of the most difficult journeys I have made, was the one from Greece to Italy. I’ve stayed for 36 hours, without any food, under a lorry before I arrived to Italy. I’ve spent 15 days in Italy and then I have arrived to France with my smuggler. When I arrived in Paris, I was arrested by the police and placed under detention for 6 hours. Then, they let me free. I felt completely lost. I asked a Frenchman how could I get to Jaures metro station (I heard that this was were the refugees were). When I arrived there, I was completely shocked. I saw more than 3000 refugees who slept and lived under the bridges, on the streets, wherever they could basically. I didn’t know what to do and I asked the others why were they here and what should I do. They told me that they were waiting for the municipality to come to help them and put them in a refugee camp.
  9. 9. 8 Because of my leg, I was a lot more vulnerable, it was very difficult for me to sleep under the bridge, especially that it was very cold. My artificial limb broke down and injured my leg. I’ve met formidable persons, like Christine, Diana, Nadiya and Fatima. They helped me to get a new prosthesis. After the 2 months that I spent under the bridge, they offered me a room at Place de Clichy. I started a new life. For all this time I’ve been looking for a place to learn French. One of my friends, Christine, has seen a school that was teaching French to refugees on Facebook and gave me the link. I subscribed to a course in that school that’s called THOT. The principal of the school, Judith called me. I answered in English and she asked me if I’ve spoken French, I answered: “Yes, I can say bonjour”. I’ve learnt that word because I’ve heard it a lot in France.
  10. 10. 9 Judith told me to step by to the school on the 15th of December 2016, it was Monday. I went to the school THOT and I started learning French. The first days were an unforgettable experience. French was exiting and difficult at once. The teachers only spoke French and I was doing my best to understand them. I was a great pleasure when I managed to understand the phrases that the French said, it made me incredibly happy. I made many friend of different countries and religions. We were going to the museums, to the concerts and to parks together. I’ve been learning French culture and French way of living. I feel very happy and lucky to have met people like Judith, Mariamds of, Heloise, and Jennifer as well as my teachers: Tuyet, Sarah, Marie, Isabelle, Gisela. It’s mainly thanks to them, that I could have obtained 2 certificates in French during just 7 months: Certificate A1: 75% and Certificate A2: 74%. I’m very thankful for the help of all the people working at the THOT school. I want to express my most sincere expressions of gratitude and thanks. Today, I can help my compatriots in France when they are in a need of a translation. Apart from this school, every Friday I take part in the events organised by Fatima. These parties and workshops allow me to exchange and learn French culture and also meet new
  11. 11. 10 friends. Today, my project is to be useful in a French society and by that express my gratitude for that they’d welcomed me. Once I have a Certificate B2 in French in my pocket, I’d like to pursue my studies in political sciences. I’d like to fulfil my childhood dream and get accepted to the prestigious school Sciences Po. Moreover, I’d like to be able to help refugees in France by assisting them in administrative procedures and helping them with translations. I think that racism and Xenophobia come from ignorance. Telling my story, I want to show that refugees are human beings with problems, projects and dreams like everyone else. Telling my story I want above all to fight against ignorance and against racism and xenophobia.
  12. 12. 11 Category: Videonarration Altrove and MaTeChef: paths of art, life and work Author:Cies Onlus (Organization) Summary On 20 June 2017, CIES Onlus celebrated World Refugee Day together with UNHCR at Eataly in Rome, as part of the global campaign #withrefugees and the international Refugee Food Festival initiative in which Italian refugee chefs and chefs met, giving life to new recipes that mix knowledge and flavors of different cultures. We were there, with the music of the MaTeMusik Band, formed by the young people of our youth center and MaTeMù Art School and with the good cooking of the students of MaTeChef, the course of intercultural gastronomy organized in 2016/2017. The boys and girls, protagonists of the evening, come from different countries, have different histories and different cultures, some of them are Italian, others have parents of foreign origin, others are in Italy as refugees. They met on common levels, that of art and cooking; they met and clashed and created a new plan and a new language to communicate, compare and grow. Why is this story important to you: We believe that it is important to tell and make visible our stories, the ones we live every day at MaTeMù, the ones we saw in the MaTeChef courses, which
  13. 13. 12 speak of different cultures and worlds that meet and dialogue through a mutual exchange and coexist peacefully. In a historical and political moment in which all this does not seem possible and the tendency is to close and raise barriers, we want to tell what happens when the walls come down and the doors open. In addition to my words, I add those of Koudia, a young student of the first edition of the Matechef course. "I'm Koudia, I'm 24 and I'm from Senegal. As a child I dreamed of becoming a pediatrician, but my dreams have changed a bit because I discovered cooking. In Senegal I cooked because women have to cook and that's it, but when I arrived in Italy I was lucky enough to participate in an intercultural training: Matechef. I spent the best moments of my life with them. When I worked with them I could forget all my problems. It seems like I'm in heaven, because for once in my life I managed to do something that I decided, not that others have decided for me. Thanks to Italy that gave me back the rights that had taken me in my country: the right to dream of a better future and the right to live in peace. So: it was beautiful! " Credits: Eataly, UNHCR, Carlotta Sami UNHCR Italia, 
 Elisabetta Melandri CIES Onlus Geographical Locations to which the events are related: Rome, Italy Period referring to the events reported: June 2016 Links and useful references: Fb: @ciesonlus @matemu.centroaggregazionegiovani
 Twitter: @ciesonlus @matemu_cies

  14. 14. 13 Youtube: ciesonlus IG: matemu_cies From the experience of MaTeMù and MaTeChef born the restaurant "Altrove. Open doors to the World", in the Ostiense district of Rome, a space where food has different tastes and traditions, staff is multicultural, and where the mixture of different cultures and traditions from each source gives life to a new culinary reality Fb: @altroveristorante
 IG: @altrove.ristorante
  15. 15. 14 Italy From Italy were sent 51 narration, of which 22 text, 3 Comics, 7 photonarration and 19 videos, the winners are: Category: Videonarration Altrove and MaTeChef: paths of art, life and work Author:Cies Onlus (Organization), also winner of the final selection and Category: Autobiography or biography Yossouf Mohamed: Me, future doctor Author: Yossouf Mohamed My name is Youssouf Mohamed. I was born in Niger, in a town called Thaoua. When I was 15, I left my city and my two brothers. I did this for two reasons. The first reason is for war and for my ethnic group, the Hausa Fulani. The second reason is related to the economic-political difficulties of my family: I found myself in trouble and I decided to leave my brothers with my uncle, because the terrorists of Boko Haram have killed my father and my mother. I realized that my life was in danger and I decided to leave the city. I wanted to go to another town nearby, in Nigeria, and there the Boko Haram fundamentalist offered me to go to fight with them. But how could I? Ever since I was a child my dream was to become a doctor, studying with passion and joy, and so I refused. However, one of them threatened to kill me if I had not joined them. And so I pretended to follow them; then, as soon as it was possible, I escaped and went to a city in Libya. To get to Libya almost half of my friends are dead with thirst. Even though I was younger, I survived, thanks to the help of the older ones. In Libya I found a job as a secretary in a great mosque and I was welcomed by an Imam who offered me to fight with terrorist groups. Once again I refused this offer of death, because my goal was to study and become a doctor, committed to help the sick. So I escaped from the mosque where I worked and another Imam helped me, introducing me to his friend who ran the trafficking of immigrants to go to Europe. I was recruited as an interpreter because I speak two languages, Arabic and French. This knowledge has helped me a lot, because I did not pay anything, but the other fellow passengers have paid a lot of money, almost $ 1000, to be embarked on the boats.
  16. 16. 15 When I arrived in Italy, at the first question I was asked in the reception center of Lamezia Terme, what I wanted to do in this new country, I replied that I wanted to study (which represents my highest wish), and that I did not want to look for a job. So they moved me to another reception center where I went to school for almost three months, attending my first year of school and I fell in love with the Italian language When I reached the age of 18 I moved to another reception center, the Sprar (Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) of Grumo Appula: in the morning I went to the countryside to work in the olive harvest; in the afternoon I went to school; in the evening from 8.00 pm I went to driving school (I took my driving license, using the money I earned with my job). After the obligatory period of stay in the center Sprar, the person in charge presented me Don Gianni, the parish priest of the Church San Marcello, who welcomed me into his house, the center “Le querce di Mamre”: the name indicates welcome and here I felt at home. Currently, while I tell you my story, I am studying in an evening course at the IISS “E.Majorana” in Bari, to take the diploma of the hotelier-food and wine address. I am in the fourth year and I carry on my studies with commitment and seriousness. When I will graduate, I would like to continue studying and enrolling in the Faculty of Medicine. My dream of becoming a doctor I hope will be realized. My life, made up of meetings with both bad and good people, is characterized by the desire to go on: we can not give up, despite the difficulties. It would have been easy for me to fall into the mental trap of terrorists, but I believe in life and not in death, and becoming a doctor will help me to preserve life, respecting those who are different from me by skin color, faith, political ideas. I strongly believe in equality between men and I live by following the law of the heart. Kindness matter more than a bomb: I am fully convinced of it. I thank all those who believe in me: giving make us really more beautiful. Bari, 21.10.2017 Youssouf Mohamed
  17. 17. 16 Spain From Spain were sent 14 narration, of which 1 Comic, 2 photonarration and 11 videos, the winner is: Category: Videonarration Roger Author: Mugak (organization) Short film made by young participants at the Youth International Meeting in the framework of San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival. Migration stories to fight stereotypes.
  18. 18. 17 Germany From Germany were sent 13 narration, of which 7 text and 6 videos, the winners are: Category: Autobiography or biography The power of diversity Author: Ana Sencic At the age of sixteen, I was given the opportunity to live an experience together with a group of young people of different culture, nation and background, that would broaden my horizons and have a long lasting impact on my life. “UWC (United World Colleges) is a global education movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.” The movement has many facets and its main activity are the schools, for young people in the last two years of high school, before university. It was founded after the second world war in order to give the opportunity to the new generations to change the world and make it a better place, so that another human catastrophe of that dimension could never ever happen again. I might be a particularly sensitive individual for what regards cultural acceptance, or maybe I was just idealistic like any teenager might be. I remember being upset because of news of war and suffering elsewhere in the world, sometimes being annoyed by the fact that the grown ups were not as touched as they should be, in my opinion. I knew deep inside from a tender age the meaning of the expression
  19. 19. 18 “international understanding”, one of the most used ones at that school. Years before, there was a Coca Cola commercial showing kids of different ethnicities gathering at the United States Capitol in Washington and holding each other by the hand. This made my little heart beat quickly and it would even make me cry. This fact probably did not contribute very much to me winning the scholarship for attending the school in the years 1992 - 1994, as did my ambition, determination and - pure luck. It was a boarding school offering the International Baccalaureate Program, but actually much more than that. I believe though that the students are supposed to prove to be able to pass the exams for the IB and to be open, idealistic, critical, able to think big that had an immeasurable impact at its own on each of us. In my first year I was sharing rooms with two Italian, an English and a Norwegian girl. In my second, my roomies were a Mexican and a British. We were still kids, the students at the first year were 16 or seventeen and the older second years might have been 19 at the most. Each student, apart from following the standard syllabus of the International Baccalaureate, had to take up a creative activity such as drawing or choir, a sports one, such as football or sailing or climbing, and a community volunteering one. All were organized either by teachers, college employees or fellow students - the choice was already overwhelming. We learned a lot about each other cultures - on a personal level, for example chatting in the evenings while sipping tea by the sea on a balcony of the beautiful residence we happened to be living in, but also through events like “Cultural Evenings”. A group of students and teachers would present their culture through a show and a performance - with songs, sketches, music, dance, readings. The show was aimed to entertain, to instruct and to raise awareness about the similarities and differences between cultures, as well as about problems of regional and global relevance. The Latin - Americans presented dances from Argentina and Brazil, as well as a sketch about Mexican soap operas. From the Scandinavian Evening I remember a sad ballad about the darkness, referring to the high rate of suicides that occur in the Scandinavian countries. From the Asian Evening I can still recall enchanting Mei Hong, also only 16, performing a dance from Malaysia. That was the most intense period of my life until then. Immagine to be a teenager, in an international school, away from your family! Freedom was the hook and we did get hooked but then we discovered and experienced and learned so much more. In addition, I was coming from ex Yugoslavia, from Croatia, and the two years I spent at the college were also the years when the terrible war in ex Yugoslavia took place. We students coming from the succession states found ourselves participating in debates in front of other students and teachers, each defending our personal point of view, but also expressing the views of the media from our own countries. Sometimes it was all very upsetting. Another
  20. 20. 19 girl from Croatia, Martina, had her father working as a recruit doctor on the trench line of the battlefield. She was coming from northern Croatia and knew some people who got killed. She was very worried and anxious all the time. We were well informed, all of us could maintain a standard contact with their families at home (that was before the internet era) and the college had a reading room where we could read leading newspapers and magazines in all the most important languages. There would have been the Economist, the Times, la Repubblica, El Pais and Le Monde to read. We were all able to watch television in the TV room as well. We were devouring the news and digesting them in order to present them to our fellow students, all of whom were genuinely curious and opinionated individuals. We were far away from our dear ones, getting also updates from families, some of whom were in the area hit directly by the war; we had to face constant questions about the political and social situation back at home, so it was impossible not to get emotionally involved. There were two weekly meetings for all students in order to discuss about current international affairs, called “INA”. One after the general assembly at 10 o’clock each Monday morning, and one on Sunday night. There was one about Timor East, one about Hong Kong, and how his status was about to change after 1st July 1997. The first week we got the schedule of all the topics that would be covered in the different INA sessions. But as the war in Croatia was escalating and as it was moving across the borders of the newly established state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the schedule changed. At a certain point there was every week at least one presentation about some aspect of the war in ex-Yugoslavia. After all, the college was situated in the far north-eastern corner of Italy at the doorstep of the area where this terrible Balkan conflict was taking place. Our teachers understood how important it was to talk about it and get involved in some sort of helping activity. We would hold panels with Martina and Gordan, Tomislav and Ivana and me from Croatia, Aleks, Sara and Ema from Slovenia, Zoran and Milica from Serbia and there would be almost quarrels at the beginning. Martina cried once and Zoran was extremely upset - he was Serbian, his country was the aggressor in the war, it seemed. He felt we, the other participants at the panel, attacked him. I remember that in the following period he withdrew a bit, he hanged out with Dominick from Germany, Ivo from Bulgaria and Leonid from Russia. He kept distant from the ex - Yugoslav students. But after months of attending INA sessions together, saying “Hi” when crossing each other paths in the morning on the way to school or when going for lunch in the canteen, we all got closer again. By the end of that year we learned that we were all only people, before being nationals of a certain country. At the end-of-the-academic-year celebration, we sang together and hugged and wished each other a good summer break, before meeting again at the beginning of our second year. “Today
  21. 21. 20 roughly half of the world refugees are children, some of them unaccompanied by an adult, a situation that makes them especially vulnerable to child labour or sexual exploitation.” During the 2nd half of 1992 and into 1993 the number of people escaping the war struck areas in Croatia and Bosnia, increased exponentially. I knew there were refugee camps all over Croatia and Slovenia. The coordinators of the college “Social Service” understood how relevant it was to get involved in some way helping the refugees and the communities hosting them. So following through the contact that was already established the year before with the Red Cross in Rijeka, groups of college students started going to the Refugee Camps at Savudrija in Croatia and Pesek in Slovenia, attached to the borders with Slovenia and Italy, to spend there a day during the weekend. A van packed with 8-9 students would travel there on Saturday or Sunday morning. Students would individually or in pairs manage an activity for the kids: basketball, dancing, English lessons or drawing and painting. Playing and organizing simple games for the little ones was also always planned. The college would provide any necessary equipment: paints, brushes, balls, paper or notebooks, from the money that was collected or that would have been anyway allocated to such activities. The refugees of our age, those a bit younger (from the age of ten) and the ones in their twenties could speak English and help explaining to the others what was supposed to be done. All in all, we realized we were not all that different! Faris fled with his mother and sister and other relatives from a village nearby Sarajevo. He was trying to write about his experience and also draw a comic. His father was disappeared and his brother died after being shot. With the youngest kids no words were needed. I remember I would make a round of all the groups and help with the translation. At the very end I would come to the “nursery group” and realise that the the games were in full swing. After making the rounds I would pay visit to the people living in the prefabricated houses, either alone or with someone else. For the older people who had had to flee it was much harder, especially men. I remember their expression of helplessness. Women still had to care for the other members of their families, keep the temporary accomodation clean, and that would keep them busy and away from negative thoughts, but men would just sit around. Everyone wanted to have us drink coffee at their little home, sometimes looking just as an industrial container. Shoes were not allowed in the houses, the floors were covered with pillows and carpets and blankets; the refugees were mainly from Bosnia, mainly Muslim and the sharing of coffee and biscuits with guests from far away was a matter of honour. It was a tradition they were used to at home. I remember that we had to visit at least 3-4 temporary homes and sit on the floor and sip coffee and chat each day we spent at the camp. The possibility to host us and to tell us a bit about themselves would make them simply
  22. 22. 21 happy. The kids would accompany us at those missions, held our hands and bring us presents: poems, brief letters or drawings. Minela, 8 years old, made a drawing and wrote a dedication to me. Despite the misery of their situation, they would literally shine when dealing with us and their smiles were contagious, every time. Their parents and relatives would tell us about their journey to come there, about other relatives and friends, about their problems and health issues. Jasmina, a 25 year old, did not know where her husband was, he had to stay behind, and she was taking care of her elderly mother, who suffered from depression. They were able to listen and give good advice. We all realized, how futile our issues with stress at school or misunderstandings with roommates were, compared to the existential problems that our refugee friends had to cope with. Together with the parson of the local church in Duino, the little Slovenian village, at the seaside, the collage helped collect from the locals clothes and money to bring over to the camps during the volunteering activities. In this way, the college built a tighter relationship with the local community, somehow itself divided ethnically: some of the inhabitants were Italian and others were Slovene, probably some of the families were mixed. We organised also a “Walkathon”, a twenty plus something kilometers hike in the early morning, actually while it was still night and pitch dark, along the main streets leading to the next big city of Trieste, in order to raise awareness and funds for the refugees. We performed with the choir and danced in the main square after arriving to our destination. After some months, through the Red Cross, the teachers in charge of the “Social Service”, Andrew and Manuel, started organising 2 day stays for volunteers in a town in the mountains behind my home city. Delnice the largest settlement in the mountainous region of Gorski Kotar, in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, with a population of around 4500. Several dozens of displaced and refugee children came that winter to live with the local families and attend the school. We stayed also with the local families who hosted them, some of them already having children of their own. The teachers and other employees from the school would come to volunteer with us, both on Saturdays and Sundays. I remember Marija, the arts and crafts teacher, who would bring her son Marko, who was in his twenties and was working at the theatre, to organize with us creative activities for anyone interested, be it a refugee or not. I was in a clear position of advantage from two points of view, which allowed me to assume a mora active role. In the eyes of the refugees, I was one of the “helpers”, one of the both lucky and capable students from the “Italian school” - I was aware on how I was privileged to be in that school. Among all students, I was one of the very few who could speak Serbo - Croatian. I had a language in common with the people we were volunteering with at the weekends. Being able to help with the phone calls, with the translations and the interpreting from the very start,
  23. 23. 22 while activities and trips were only being planned at school, made me happy. Then on the weekends when I was going to the refugee camp of Pesek, I had to deal with the border guards and the police at the border crossing, hand them the batch of documents of people with the strangest nationalities combined together, apply for day visas, explain how come that such a colourful bunch of teenagers wants to get closer to an area hit by a real palpable war. After getting to the camp, I would assist in the organisation and managing of the games and the activities, occasionally taking part at some myself. And everyone there wanted to talk to me and befriend me, because I could speak their language. It filled me with purpose, with pride and contributed to my self - confidence: through this experience I learned to translate and interpret. It was exactly what I would do to earn a living several times in my life later. But what I learned from Faris, Minela and Jasmina was how strong and dignified can one be, even in the harshest conditions. Their life was at a standstill, they were hoping to return to the homes they had to leave behind or to be able to move on and resettle in a proper house and start to work, but in the meanwhile life was basically just endless waiting. There is a widespread stigma against refugees and what does it mean to be a refugee. I could deny it, but I also have prejudices. We all do. I wonder if even those who were once upon a time in a position to be called refugees are completely immune to those. Because a refugee is a displaced person, fleeing all sorts of injustice, persecution, economic hardship, racial gender or political discrimination, struggling to survive. If we carefully think about our families, I am sure that everyone can come up with someone of their ancestors who had to become a refugee. Mira is a typical example of a refugee who help beat that stigma. She arrived to the college when I was at my second year. It was October already, she had already missed two months of lessons. She had some English but it was shaky. She was very young, she had arrived from Mostar, daughter of a Serbian father and a Croatian mother. Her father was left behind, with the other men, and she and her older brother left with their mum. The year before Lukalula from Sudan arrived, saved by Amnesty International and brought to the school to continue his studies, after a period of torture and imprisonment. I thought his integration in the school went seamless. As I started to work with the refugees the year before, and I was now a “sophomore” and I felt more experienced and in charge of helping those coming like me from the war-torn part of the world, the Balkans. Truth is, I also felt somehow superior as a second year and supposingly had already gained a lot of knowledge and experience. She had difficulties socializing at the college and seemed not to be integrated. She struggled with her studies, she was only 15, a bit younger than everyone else and was awarded a refugee scholarship. I was trying to help her, as I was asked by a teacher to do so, and to become her friend, but I honestly
  24. 24. 23 doubted she could take real advantage of the experience at the college. Her struggle due to family issues, who were refugees, and the academic challenges seemed to be insurmountable. Mira today is Emergency Operations Officer at FAO, one of the highest ranking female officers at a UN Agency. After college she went to work in the hospitality industry in the Italian Alps. Then she got to study at a small university in the UK. For her Masters Degree she got a scholarship at the London School of Economics, one of the best schools in the world. I met her again, after 20 years, a well-rounded accomplished and mature person. She had worked in missions in Palestine, Lebanon, in Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria for the UN. I am glad I know her in person and admire her for all she is, in her personal and professional life. I am struck by her moral strength and sense of humour! When I am reminded of her, I think of how many refugees are fleeing right now, fighting for a place in the sun and a peaceful existence, with the same human potential as hers. As much as there was a big component of luck for me being selected among all the candidates to attend the United World College that year, there is also a mysterious component of good fortune, due to which we are destined to an existence in a peaceful area of the world, compared to those affected by raging wars. I realised this this year during Easter holidays. I was happy to be home. My brother and I were sitting in the kitchen of the apartment where we grew up. My parents do not live there any more. Sometimes it feels like being in a museum, the museum of my childhood. It is not a lively place, most objects are stuck in time. This time it was different. I was savouring the little sounds like the dripping of the water in the kitchen sink or the scraping of the chair legs on the tiles or the squeaking of the door hinges. I thought of how lucky I was to be sitting there with my brother and chatting away with him about this and that. Then I thought that we were celebrating Easter. One of us said that Easter is celebrated also in other religions as a festivity of being reborn, of spring, of new start...I wondered aloud what would the name of the festivity be for the Muslims. And then I realized that just as we were sitting at the kitchen table, maybe a couple of years earlier a brother and a sister were sitting in Homs or maybe in Aleppo, sipping tea together and talking about their lives, completely unaware that they would have to flee Syria and become refugees in another country very soon. It suddenly hit me that it is just by chance that it is not us, my brother and me, who have to flee overnight, wait for a call from the smugglers, greet everyone in haste, trying to hold our loved ones’ hands as long as possible, try to remember their touch, trying to behold in our memories their face, their eyes, their voice and their scent, and disappear discretely, almost secretly, embark on a boat with hundreds of people, not knowing how to swim. Were they two, this imagined copy of us, living now in a refugee camp in Lebanon, in Turkey or maybe in France? Yes, it was only by chance, a happy coincidence, that we were
  25. 25. 24 sitting at that table and could be there. We were the same as other brothers and sisters fleeing and having left everything behind in search for a safe abode and a future. Just as human. I genuinely felt grateful for being there! It struck me that for no reason, for no merit on our side and for no fault or weakness on behalf of those fleeing, we were safe and sound and at home and they had to risk everything in order to be able to have a decent life. Today I feel gutted and my heart aches at the sole thought that in any minute there are people swimming, struggling at sea and even drowning somewhere in the Mediterranean, possibly in the Libyan or the Italian territorial waters. It is like a genocide, and no one wants to acknowledge it. I am aware how in our world, everything is interconnected - and it is unacceptable that the international community prefers to turn their heads and look in another direction and ignore the real magnitude of the tragedy happening at our doorstep. Many of those people will never even get to a refugee camp. I learned that every time you meet a human being of a different culture, nationality and ethnicity, an exchange takes place, in which everybody is equal, and from which everyone profits and gains. No one is victorious over anyone else. Whenever you provide help and assistance, you are getting help. Recently a friend told me the following metaphor, that I then read again mentioned in a couple of articles: the sound of each instrument is beautiful in itself - think of the piano, or the flute or the oboe - they can all produce sounds and serve the same purpose, to play music. But then, all the instruments combined in an orchestra can execute heavenly pieces of music that are of incomparable beauty and achievable only with dedication, trust, mastery, commitment and selfless contribution from each instrument together. The same is true for humans. There is incredible potential and richness in each human life, which comes to manifest itself whenever there is some kind of exchange and will to act together for a common project.
  26. 26. 25 Category: Video narration My Look at the refugee situation Author: Herbert Spindler A quick look at the current refugee situation. Herbert Spindler narrate a personal experience: his work with refugees.
  27. 27. 26 Hungary From Hungary were sent 9 narration, of which 8 text and 1 video, the winner is: Category: Autobiography or biography What I have learnt from Salim Author: Ferenc Sági „And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34) In my view, it is extremely difficult to have a sensible or even any kind of dialogue about migration today in Hungary. In the first place this is because political parties reveal truths about the phenomenon in accordance with different political interests instead of the public getting credible information from experts on what is taking place under the term ’migration’ (or ’migration of nations’). These revelations do not at all assist everyday people to responding appropriately and humanely to these situations that take place in everyday life. Just think of the events taking place in Öcsény recently. Lynch sentiments came to the surface just because a civil organisation, among controlled circumstances, intended to send migrant children to the village as a holiday resort. Villagers even attacked the mayor whom they otherwise liked and had accepted their lead for years. For what reason? I wonder how many residents of Öcsény had met migrants in reality and how many people had been aroused by public sentiments driven only by politics and political media. It was for these reasons that I earlier started to ponder that if at any time I would start volunteering I would definitely do it in this field. I consider myself an open person and I try to orientate myself not along doctrines and dogmas but I rather try to make decisions on the basis of my own experience and common sense. Nevertheless, from time to time, the media and the continuous official cramming makes me lose my footing and think about whether I am right in thinking that we have to be open. However, what I
  28. 28. 27 never become uncertain of is that there are certain basic values which simply cannot be questioned. One of these values is that everyone must have one or more chances for proving that he or she is valuable and that the presumption of innocence and the right for a safe life is due to him or her no matter which part of the world he or she comes from. But of course, I know that this needs minimum two people just like everything else. We cannot help someone who does not want any help. We cannot force someone to integrate who does not want to integrate. So, armed with these ideas, I entered the program of Jövőkerék (Wheel of Future) Foundation which was entitled Skills&Jobs&Fun. This program is intended to help and assist students who are studying in Hungary and come from third countries. I was full with scare, curiosity and prejudices, of course. After I had met the program coordinators and learnt that my mentored student will be a Muslim boy from Algeria these feelings strengthened. On the one hand my head was full with the things I had seen on TV: terrorist acts, radical Islam, certain ultraconservative, fundamentalist Muslim movements and trends. On the other hand, I was also afraid that English would be our common language, which would make the situation – which had already been perceived as complicated – even more difficult. It occurred to me many times that I would step back before the first meeting, I cancel the whole thing and give in to my fears. Many times I thought how easier it would be to think in black and white and although at the bottom of my soul I know that we cannot build on prejudices and each and every person is different but how easier my life became if I turned a blind eye to this and I stepped in the line and I drifted with current public sentiments. Luckily my curiosity and sense of justice were stronger than my fear and I also believed that the seemingly easier way would sooner or later turn more difficult and the way which seems harder at the first sight always has more beauty and truth. So I left for the first meeting with these thoughts to meet my mentored one at the seat of the foundation. The first meeting took place under the supervision of professionals. Due to my prejudices I had been expecting to meet something conspicuously “different”. Someone who is totally different from me and this would show in all his/her gestures and behaviour. All in all, I absolutely over-mystified everything just as, in my view, we over-mystify in everyday life those who arrive from an unknown culture or the unknown in general. This over-mystification passed away right in the first seconds. I sat for the discussion and I saw a lad in front of myself who was similar to me and a little younger than me. He, too, was seemingly feeling himself a little alienated, having lots of doubts and he was expecting something from this whole thing mainly that he would get to know our culture and language and that he would feel himself a little at home in our country. Approximately one
  29. 29. 28 hour’s talk was enough for my prejudices to fade away and I was then able to communicate with him as with anybody else. We agreed to meet, from then on, just the two of us and I would teach him Hungarian with which we would get closer to each other’s culture. Of course, a full week passed after the first meeting till the second one and the fears surfaced again even after the first positive experience. What would happen when just the two of us would meet? What if something turns out about Salim (this was the name of my mentored one) which I cannot handle? What if I get into trouble? I repeatedly overcame these worries in myself but I also tried to keep in mind that, in spite of my being open towards this whole project, I would have to be able to say no if the situation demands to. The first private meeting took place in Szabó Ervin Library and later we met in cafés. It was due to Salim that I came to like coffee and cafés since before I had never thought of entering a café. Through the learning of Hungarian we indeed got closer to each other. We often talked about Islam as a religion, the opposition of Shiites and Sunnites, about Israel or about general topics such as marriage and how Salim is thinking about his future. As we were meeting more and more suddenly I realized that we are struggling with the same problems: studying, work, responsibility, boredom, anxiety over our duties and over loneliness so in spite of having grown up in two different parts of the world we are still struggling with the same problems. I think it was this realization that really brought me close to Salim and this can actually bring people close to each other that we are not that different and we are coping with the same challenges only the set or the circumstances are different. Later, I also started to learn Arabic from Salim, which I considered important for two reasons. On the one hand, because of reciprocity so that I would not make him feel I am superior to him through giving something to him for which I am expecting nothing in return. On the other hand, I wanted that both of us would be able to take on the other’s role. Once Salim was being lame with Hungarian pronunciation in cafés in the company of strangers and the other time I was doing the same with Arabic at the same place. I felt that with this little barter we become equal as far as the situation affords it. In spite of this, it was of course me who was at home and he was in a different country but I nevertheless think we do not have to be afraid to be generous enough to learn from other cultures in our own country. No one becomes less or gives up his/her own cultures just because he/she accepts and includes others, too. I think, being a good Christian does not mean rejecting everything that is Muslim as a gut reaction. I remain a good Christian even if I am interested in Muslim religion, if I am trying to get to know it and I try to notice its strengths or its elements that can serve as an example. Every religion has its own
  30. 30. 29 strengths, weaknesses, contradictions and even abuses. It is just as true for Muslim religion as for Christianity. By the way, as for religion, I recall one of my best experiences which I had with Salim at the time of Ramadan. I thought that I would have to adapt to Salim’s not drinking coffee and not eating at all. I thought that, out of politeness, I would resist eating. But he assured me in the first moment of our meeting on that day that I could eat anything, I did not have to have consideration for him, he fully understood my not being a Muslim and not keeping this kind of fasting. He did not want to convince me, even for a moment, that I should follow Muslim religion, that I should fast with him, he did not have contempt at all towards me that I was not fasting, he did not at all want to force his culture on me. With this I do not want to say that all Muslims are like Salim and that all Muslims are saints, compliant and it is very easy to cooperate with them. I just want to shed light on the fact that we should not treat everyone alike and that we should not make generalizations. Just as an awful lot of Christians, or simply people, live on Earth with different temperaments and personalities the same is true for other religions and peoples therefore for Muslims and Arab immigrants, too. The best method for getting to know someone is to talk to him/her before making a decision on whether to help him/her or not and whether to be willing to live with him/her or not. We should not judge all Muslim and Arab immigrants by what their fellow countrymen and fellow believers have done earlier. We cannot build on prejudices which were hammered into our brains from blue billboards as part of political marketing. If we do this we should not be surprised any more at all western Christians being treated alike by those who have scarce and distant information on us. Unfortunately, our common way with Salim ended in the summer. As his studies ended and we could not find an appropriate job for him however hard we were trying he had to return to his family to Algeria. This was when I actually thought of how a lower-trained immigrant or a war refugee can take away a job from us if a highly trained lad from Algeria, who has a competitive profession and qualification, was overcome by the labour market. And what have I learned from Salim? I learnt patience and openness and unwillingness to judge simply by news and rumours; that I should be alert and take care with foreigners, with all foreigners independent of their origin, religion but that I should never let my fears deter me from getting to know reality. Also, by getting to know Salim, I got a new impulse not to let myself be taken and drifted by current influential trends even if that way seems easier to follow. We must not believe that the only appropriate way of seeing the world is to think in black and white. Cultures should not be closed but they should rather be open towards each other because, as I see it, really great tragedies come from the encounter of closed systems and not from that of open ones
  31. 31. 30 which adapt to each other and smoothly become one. And if a closed and an open one get close to each other it is always the open one that should undertake the task of opening the closed culture. And it must keep on trying until it succeeds in opening the closed one. I think everyone should endeavour to dim borders instead of sharpening them. Of course, I am not saying these as a professional but as a citizen. After all, is not it at the level of citizens from where changes should start to spread?
  32. 32. 31 Greece From Greece were sent 2 narration, both text, and the winner is: Category: Autobiography or biography The passing Author: Vasiko Barkaia his story begins from the summer of 2014. This is Muhammad, he had just fled the war in Syria and was working as a clerk at hotel. When war broke out, he’d been studying English Literate at the University of Damascus, so his English was nearly perfect. When he left Syria to come to Iraq, he had only $50. "I was almost out of money when I got here. I met a man on the street, who took me home, and gave me food and a place to stay. But I felt so ashamed to be in his home that I spent 11 hours a day looking for jobs, and only came back to sleep. I finally found a job at a hotel. They worked me 12 hours a day, for 7 days a week. They gave me $400 a month. Now I found a new hotel now that is much better. I work 12 hours per day for $600 a month, and I get one day off. In all my free hours, I work at a school as an English teacher. I work 18 hours per day, every day. And I have not spent any of it. I have not bought even a single T-shirt. I've saved 13,000 Euro, which is how much I need to buy fake papers. There is a man I know who can get me to Europe for 13,000. I'm leaving next week. I'm going once more to Syria to say goodbye to my family, then I'm going to leave all this behind. I'm going to try to forget it all. And I'm going to finish my education. (August 2014: Erbil, Iraq)" Before leaving for Europe, Muhammad went back to Syria to see his family once more. He slept in his uncle’s barn the entire time he was there, because every day the police were knocking on Muhammad father’s door. Eventually
  33. 33. 32 father told: ‘Son, if you stay any longer, they will find you and they will kill you.’ So Muhammad contacted a smuggler and made his way to Istanbul. He was just about to leave for Europe when he received a call from his sister. She told him that his father had been very badly beaten by police, and unless Muhammad sent 5,000 Euro for an operation, father would die. That was Muhammad’s money to get to Europe. But what could he do? He had no choice. Then two weeks later sister called with even worse news. Muhammad’s brother had been killed by ISIS while he was working in an oil field. For two weeks Muhammad’s tears didn’t stop. Nothing made sense. Why did these things happen to his family? They did everything right. Everything. They were very honest with everyone. They treated neighbors well. They made no big mistakes. Muhammad was under so much pressure at this time. His father was in intensive care, and every day his sisters called and told him that ISIS was getting closer to village. He went completely crazy. He fainted in the street one day and woke up in the hospital. He gives the rest of his money to a smuggler to help his sisters escape to Iraq. Now he had only 1000 Euro left and he was stranded in Turkey. Muhammad’s father recovered from his operation at this time. He called to Muhammad and asked how he’d paid for his surgery. Muhammad told him that the money came from a friend. Father asked if he had made it to Europe. For the first time ever, Muhammad lied to father. He didn’t want him to feel guilty about his surgery. He told him that he was in Europe, and he was safe, and there was nothing to worry about. After Muhammad told his father that he’d made it to Europe, he wanted nothing more than to turn that lie into the truth. He found a smuggler and told him his story. He acted like he cared very much and wanted to help him. He told that for 1000 Euros, he could get Muhammad to a Greek Island. Smuggler said: ‘I’m not like the other smugglers. I fear God. I have children of my own. Nothing bad will happen to you.’ Muhammad trusted this man. One night smugglers called and told to Muhammad to meet him at a garage. Smuggler put Muhammad in the back of a van with twenty other people. There were tanks of gasoline back there, and they couldn’t breathe. He took them to a beach, and while Smuggler prepared the boat, his partner kept the gun pointed at them. Thirteen of the people were too scared to go. But the smuggler said that if they changed minds, he would keep the money, so seven people decided to go ahead. The smuggler told them that he would guide them to the island, but after a few hundred meters, smuggler jumped off the boat and swam to shore. Smuggler told people in the boat to keep going straight. The waves got higher and higher and water began to come in the boat. They could see no land, no lights, only ocean. Then after thirty minutes the motor stopped. The women started crying because none of them could
  34. 34. 33 swim. Muhammad lied and told women that he could swim with three people on his back. It started to rain. The boat began to turn in circles. Everyone was so frightened that nobody could speak. But one man kept trying to work on the motor, and after a few minutes it started again. Nobody don’t remember how they reached shore. But they remember they kissed all the earth they could find. For context, the plastic boat is a central figure in the story of almost every refugee coming to Europe. Every day, thousands of people arrive to the Greek islands on these boats. They represent one of the only ways that refugees can bypass immigration restrictions and throw themselves at the feet of Europe. The journey is extremely dangerous and many have drowned. The refugees are loaded into boats that are filled to many times their capacity. The island they landed on was called Samothrace. They were so thankful to be there. Everyone here has been very nice to them. When they got to the beach, there were people there who gave them food, clothes and hope. A priest even gave them carpet to pray on. He told: ‘We have the same God.’ One day Muhammad walked into a bakery and met a man. He told him that forty years ago he had visited Syria and he’d been treated well. So this man gave to Muhammad clothes, food, everything. He became like a father to him. He told Muhammad’s story to other people and asked: ‘How can we help him?’ They found a church, and they gave him a place to live. Now Muhammad has a job, a roof over his head and peace. At the first opportunity, he hands out bread to the refugees because he knows what it feels like to have nothing.
  35. 35. 34 France From France were sent 3 narration, of which1 text, 1 photonarration and 1 video, the winner is: Autobiography or biography My name is Shikhali Mirzai Author:Shikhali Mirzai, also winner of the final selection Other stories where also sent from: Croatia/Slovenia Cyprus Czech Republic Serbia Ukraine
  36. 36. 35 The contest The European contest “Narrating the Dialogue”, aimed to collect narrations of experiences of intercultural dialogue in Europe. These experiences can be the most diverse, like: - educational projects aimed to fight racism and xenophobia; - social actions and campains promoted by activist, migrants and citizens in general, aimed to create mutual knowledge, and cooperation between people from different cultures; - personal experiences, related to the challenge of overcoming racism and xenofobia, and foster the value of intercultural dialogue. The contest was open to various kinds of narration:  Autobiograpy or biography: Autobiographical narration, telling what you experienced directly in first person, or a biographical narration, if you are collecting experiences of other persons. The text should be no longer than ten pages  Photo narration: a narration that’s composed of pictures accompanied by texts. It may be an autobiographical narration, telling what you experienced directly in first person, or a biographical narration, if you are collecting experiences of other persons. The text should be no longer than ten pages.  Video narration: Stories could be narrated through diverse types of video narration, such as documentary, video interview, digital storytelling or any other creative form. Maximum length ten minutes.  Comics: A lived experience of intercultural dialogue through the comics. Maximum ten folders length AUTHORS: Stories may be realized by individuals, informal groups, communities or organizations. LANGUAGES: It was possible to participate in the following languages: English, French, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Spanish, German, Greek. English translation or subtitles was welcomed but not mandatory. NUMBER OF STORIES: each author could participate sending one or more stories.
  37. 37. 36 The Project The central idea of this project is based on a reflection about the recent European history. From the Berlin Wall fall, to the eastward enlargement of the European Union and the migration from the Mediterranean countries. Berlin Wall fall, on 1989, symbolized also the fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe countries, changing completely the path of European history. The end of the bipolarity between East and West initiated a process of unification that influenced the entire Continent. Europe is now struggling with an migratory phenomenon of epochal dimensions. A very difficult situation, at political and social level. The clichés, stereotypes, and the lack of knowledge about the causes of this historical and social phenomena, are one of the issue that are influencing the process of European integration and solidarity. Worrying the emergence of xenophobic movements capable of influencing policy. Seems to re-emerge, albeit in other forms, the specter of a new "iron curtain". Many have died in the past to overcome a wall, to fight for their rights, and many are still dying today across the Mediterranean sea, to achieve freedom and a life expectancy of more dignified. Lampedusa and Berlin are, here, two symbolic places of this challenge: the vision of Europe of integration, human rights and solidarity. The project invites citizens, to the symbolic journey between these two places full of history. Some of the questions that we explored, along with people of all ages, migrants and representatives of civil society, are: -How to develop a better migration policies in Europe? -How to put a barrier to the spread of xenophobic and racist attitudes and visions? -How to develop intercultural dialogue in Europe? -How to develop the participation of immigrants in civic societies of the European countries that host them? -What suggestions, proposals and examples may be brought to the attention of the representatives of the European institutions?
  38. 38. 37 PROJECT’S PURPOSES The project had three important goals: A. Developing reflections and proposals from civic society about migratory policies in Europe. B. Sensitizing civic society with activities and instruments of dissemination, including the European contest “Dialogues across Europe”, with the purpose of collecting experiences about intercultural dialogue in Europe. C. Lobby’s activities towards politicians.
  39. 39. 38 10 points for a new migration policy in Europe Migration related to persecution, conflict and human rights violations is not just about Europe. UNCHR data show that world-wide migrants, only in the year 2015, were 65.3 million people. And only one-tenth of these people have found refuge in Europe. Lack of proper information can make us think that there is no solution to the phenomenon of clandestine migrations, the thousands of deaths at sea, and the tremendous suffering that must endure those who escape wars, dictatorships and misery. But this is false. Practical solutions exist. In this decalogue we tried to summarize some of the proposals developed by various civil society organizations. Some of these are actions that could be implemented in the short term, other aspects of a long-term strategy. But they are, however, possible solutions for a better European migration policy. 1 - Restore sea rescue services Although the New Agenda for Migration mentions "saving human lives", actually this doesn’t happen in every case. The new policy of Frontex doesn’t include anymore rescues at sea outside territorial waters, which was what the operation Mare Nostrum instead envisioned; this brought to a higher number of deaths, since shipwrecks are almost always out of the territorial waters. And so it happens that Europe is watching many hundreds of people die without doing anything. This is really absurd, and in complete contradiction with the principles of solidarity underlying the united Europe. Relief at sea is currently left to the initiative of humanitarian organizations, which are often hindered in this task. That is why it is important to restore rescue operations at sea by the governments of European countries not only the one facing the Mediterranean. Obviously, we believe that saving lives at sea is not a structural response to the migration crisis, and that human trafficking must still be fought. But while measures are being taken to resolve the problem in the medium to long term, we believe that saving human lives should still be considered a priority.
  40. 40. 39 2 - Agreements with third parties need to be deeply revised The agreements with the third-party transit countries, or the countries where the migrants come from such as Libya and Niger, have been widely criticized by several organizations. Indeed, we are talking about countries that do not guarantee at all the respect of human rights. For example, in Libya, the migrants are detained in centers where they are victims of mistreatment, sexual violence and torture. The recent UN condemnation of 14 November 2017 confirms these accusations. the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, denounce the European Union's policy of assisting the Libyan authorities in intercepting migrants in the Mediterranean and bringing them back to Libya. "The international community can not close its eyes in the face of these episodes of violence - Zeid says - the suffering of migrants detained in Libyan prisons is an outrage to the human consciousness." According to many NGOs, these are illegal agreements because they violate the established principles of EU law and international law, and particularly the ban on collective expulsion and refoulement to countries where inhuman or degrading treatment may be carried out. Agreements should not be made with countries that do not adhere to the European Charter of Human Rights. At the same time, cooperation should not be linked with border control. 3-Legal humanitarian corridors for refugees Creating legal humanitarian corridors could reduce human trafficking and the phenomenon of illegal landings and shipwrecks, saving many lives. Several experiences already carried out by NGOs demonstrate this.
  41. 41. 40 Humanitarian corridors could work releasing a temporary humanitarian permit to enter Europe, in order to proceed with the international protection request. The importance of humanitarian missions has been cited in the “Report on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration" of the European Commission in 2016, but are actually left to the civil society initiative. Instead, a European program of humanitarian corridors should be promoted. 4- Supporting the approval of the reform of the Dublin Regulation, towards better common European law on asylum. The Dublin Regulation, which requires migrants to apply for asylum in the first EU country of arrival, has caused many problems in Europe, leading many migrants to escape from the official reception system, to reach, relying on traffickers, countries that they considered more welcoming as Germany and Sweden. Finally, on November 16, 2017, the European Parliament approved the reform of this regulation. In this reform there are two changes that mean a revolution: - the unreasonable criterion of the first country of arrival is deleted and replaced by an automatic and permanent resettlement mechanism to which all States should participate (the Reform foreseen consequences for the State Members on their Structural Funds, if they do not accomplish what they have agreed in the resetlement agreement). - Another important change is the introduction of a principle that takes into account the links between the asylum seeker and the state where he wants to go. For the first time family bond are taken into account, and the concept of significant bonds is introduced. - There is also a new accelerated family reunification procedure and other improvements, such as better procedural safeguards for asylum seekers, especially minors. This reform must be approved by the European Council, and the battle will not be easy. Those political forces who have built their political consensus on building the walls and the logic of defense from invasion will fight against this. We believe that the European institutions must defend this reform, and guarantee - once approved - its rapid implementation.
  42. 42. 41 5- Improve the first-reception systems The arrival of many migrants landing in countries like Italy, Greece, and the inability to move to other countries, has created many humanitarian problems. The EU’s effort has been focused on making sure that the identification of migrants in their landing spots was effective, and this also happened through the Hot Spots. The first problem is that in these centers It takes place - in many occasion - an arbitrary distinction between asylum seekers and economic migrants: the "Statewatch report" states that in the Italian hot spots the praxis is to recognize as asylum seekers Syrian citizens and people from other specific nations (such as Eritreans, Iraqis and Yemenites), while everyone else is excluded, and they’re quickly classified as ‘economic migrants’, while a large number of these people might reasonably have the requisites to ask for refugee status or international protection. Generally speaking, in many host countries, there are serious concerns about the assessment of asylum or protection claims: the waiting times are very long and the number of denials is over 60% of the requests being considered. In Italy, for example, a recent decree (Minniti decree) reduced the appeal possibilities for those whose asylum applications were refused, while until now many requests were granted thanks to the appeal. In Greece, more than 50.000 migrants who are mostly Syrians, but also Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistani, have been living for months in camps ran by the Greek army along with the ACNUR, the ONU agency for the refugees, with people kept in horrendous living conditions and a suspension of one’s existence that forbids any kind of planning for the future. The same happens in several European countries. the reception centers that host migrants in these countries become long-term parking, which hinders the emergence of autonomy routes, and freezes the immigrant project of those who arrive. this phenomenon favors the irregularities of foreigners and their inevitable
  43. 43. 42 marginalization, which often produces consequences such as black labor, precarious housing conditions, exploitation, and micro-crime. It is important to ensure that reception systems guarantee an adequate recognition of the right of asylum and of fundamental human rights, with the commitment of the European institutions. 6 - To revise Frontex Agency On 14 September 2016, the creation of a "European border and coast guard" was approved, which in practice corresponds to the strengthening of Frontex, the European Border Control Agency. The role of Frontex has been widely discussed by various civil society organizations; this agency has in fact operated in a perspective of border control as repression rather than as management of the phenomenon, in ways often heedless of human rights. In the face of this we notice the great deployment of resources used. According to "Border wars report", Frontex's budget, since 2014, it has almost tripled, ranging from 97 million to 281 million euros expected for 2017. Border wars report showed how many companies that are doing business with Frontex are the ones who sell arms to the Middle East and Africa countries from which migrants try to escape, coming to Europe. We think that Frontex would be revised for its purposes and management, incorporating the principle of solidarity that European Union itself has repeatedly referred to as the foundation of the Union. 7- Facilitate the issue of visas for work, study and family reunification It is almost impossible today to draw a clear line between economic migration and migration for reasons related to the search for a form of protection. There are almost always multiple factors at the base of the choice to migrate: the presence of dictatorial and repressive regimes,
  44. 44. 43 poverty caused by climatic factors and the smasching of natural resources, phenomena often linked to the colonial policies of the European countries of the past centuries. The gap between the West and many of the countries where migrants come from is growing. In the face of this, an increasingly prohibitionist European policy has been spreading against regular entries for work. To enter on a regular basis in the European Union for work, study or family reunification is infact getting harder, so many migrants try to come to Europe illegally, relying on traffickers, endangering their lives. A further effect is that, due to illegality, immigrants represent a cheap labor force, blackmailed, because without documents. Some solutions, such as those proposed by the Italian ASGI Association, could include: - encourage the meeting of demand and job supply in the countries of origin of migrants; - simplify procedures for the recognition of qualifications and qualifications obtained abroad; - encourage the negotiation and implementation of bilateral agreements to carry out vocational training programs in the countries of origin of migrants. Above all, in short, what should be achieved is:  create a mechanism to allow migrants to enter Europe regularly with a job search visa;  encourage regularization of those who already live and work in Europe. 8- Encourage appropriate national legislation on Jus Soli One of the issues related to migration is the theme of children of migrants born and raised in the host countries. In some states there are no adequate laws to recognize citizenship rights for these people who, at the age of majority, find themselves irregular foreigners in a country in which they are already part, because it is the place where they were born , where they went to school, where they established their human relationships and embarked on their own life project. The matter is a national responsibility, so there is no Union law that establishes after how many years or under what conditions a Member State has to grant citizenship. In any case, the European institutions should recommend that each state have adequate legislation for the recognition of second-generation citizenship rights, such as the Jus Soli laws.
  45. 45. 44 9- To promote the political solution of the conflicts underlying migration Conflicts such as those in Syria and Libya are the cause of the forced migration of many refugees. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, about one-third of the 210,000 dead between 2011 and 2015 are civilians. Europe's contribution to the return of peace would contribute to a drastic reduction of refugees in the European Union and neighboring countries. In other countries, such as Eritrea, dictatorship, which limits freedom, and forces all young people to a compulsory permanent military service, forced labor, forces many Eritreans to flee; they represent the largest group of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to arrive in Europe after the Syrians: five thousand leave the country every month. Despite this, according to recent journalistic inquiries, some European leaders they would have - in recent years - initiated talks with the Asmara government, asking for border closures in the horn of Africa, in exchange for money or a lightening of sanctions. European Union should sanction the European states that establish bilateral economic and political agreements with countries that violate human rights and, on the other hand, link these agreements to a democratic transition. 10 - Supporting development in West Africa The vast majority of those who reach Europe in recent years run away from repressive wars and regimes, but a significant minority, between 20% and 30%, is fleeing from poverty, as stated by UNCHR. They are people who come mainly from West Africa, from countries where climate change and other factors have led millions of people out of their territories, for lack of any prospect of life. These so-called "economic emigrants" face great dangers, risking death for shipwreck, dehydration, kidnapping, forced labor and torture in Libya, hoping one day to reach Europe by sea, looking for a better life. European cooperation towards West Africa could help economic development of these countries, and thus limit the migration crisis. In particular, what needs to be developed more is: - transparent cooperation in the management of funds; - cooperation rules that oblige the investing of most of the funds in local resources; - cooperation not linked to the externalization of borders.
  46. 46. 45 Presentation of proposals to the European Parliament These proposals was debated and enriched during the project, also starting with comments and suggestions arrived, The 10 points were finally presented at the last meeting in Strasbourg, to representatives of the European Parliament. References and documents Manifesto ASGI; The 10 points of the reform proposal on immigration, asylum and citizenship for the next Italian legislature: asgi/il-nuovo-manifesto-dellasgi/ Program for reform of Italian law on immigration, asylum and citizenship: ASGI.pdf Border wars report: Wars-Report-Web Report Statewatch su riconoscimenti sommari negli HotSpot: Ecre’s recommendations on breaking the link with migration control and preserving the humanitarian focus of resettlement: content/uploads/2016/10/Policy-Note-01.pdf Protection in Europe: safe and legal access channels ECRE’s vision of Europe’s role in the global refugee protection regime: policy paper 1 - Other documents by ECRE:
  47. 47. 46 Credits All pictures of this paper are took from the contest Narrating the Dialogue For this we want to thank and quote the authors, in order of appearance in the text (excluding photos in the narration of the contest, that are part of the same and therefore belong to their authors): -Diana Hrytsyshyna, author of the authobiographical narration: “My Volunteering in Oinofyta Refugee Camp” for cover picture and pictures on pages 38 and 41 -All the participant of the project “Overseas”, realized by CPIA 1 BARI (Luigi Domenico Piliero, Luigi Gramegna, Maria Pansini), F Project-scuola di fotografia e cinematografia di Bari (Roberta Fiorito, Nico Murri, Ivan De Santis, Luca La Vopa), Senis Hospes - Centro CPA e CAS Corato (BA), Collettivo Zebù-Terlizzi (Nico Vallarelli, Fabio Gesmundo), Spazio REH presso Mat Laboratorio Urbano Terlizzi, Sergio Altamura, for pictures on pages 39, 43,43 -Marìa Rosón Sánchez, author of the story:” Más allá de escribir una tesis sobre Diálogo Intercultural: practicarlo con música, con escapadas a la playa, o en el Eid al-Fitr” for picture on page 40 -Ginestra Odevaine, author of the story: “Lampedusa, Isola o Ponte: Sguardi sull’Umanità di un Confine Abbandonato” for picture on page 42 -Gabriele Gabrieli, author of the story: “Impronte di piccoli passi” on page 46
  48. 48. 47 Partners This project was realized thank to the passionate work of these organizations:
  49. 49. 48