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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.