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Publicatie A Welcoming Europe

Exploring Local Solidarity with Refugees

gepubliceerd: donderdag, 21 december 2017

Bron:  www.justiceandpeace.nl

Inleiding van de publicatie:

Local solidarity initiatives are often some of the first and last providers of aid in times of crisis. In the particular case of migration governance crises, civil society - committed as individuals or groups - react in spontaneous outpourings of time, skills and aid in supporting forced migrants. As crises develop and become more sustained and complex, so too do grassroots and local responses. They evolve into sophisticated initiatives and projects, tailoring their roles towards the precise needs of forced migrants in contrast to standardised government support mechanisms. Such responses, rooted in local communities, are true reflections of the historical European values of hospitality and solidarity.

Yet, while inspiring stories unfold of forced migrant and host community cohesion, counter narratives also continue to grow in Europe. Governments, in the name of border protection, tighten their quotas and erect higher fences. Media outlets give voice to a minority wave of polarising, anti- migrant discourses. Tensions are rising – either between European governments or between citizens – and in the meantime, those European principles are seemingly forgotten. When not acknowledging the growing movement of local solidarity taking root in Europe, it seems as if Europe is experiencing its own crisis of solidarity.

The Working Group hopes to contribute to changing this narrative. By examining nine European countries, we highlight the extent and diversity of local initiatives founded on the principles of solidarity and fellowship with forced migrants. Not only do grassroots collaborations provide specific solutions to the challenges faced by forced migrants, they also cultivate more inclusive and welcoming communities. While the majority of forced migrants cannot benefit from local support yet, these stories show that the state of local solidarity in Europe is a force to be reckoned with.

An untapped well of potential, we call for the institutional support and recognition of solidarity movements by state actors. Their ability in achieving smooth integration and returning a sense of autonomy to the lives of forced migrants are excellent models from which to draw inspiration. Forced migrants and civil society are worth investing in and a solidarity-based approach is a key way forward.