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20.06.2007

International Refugee Day

20th June: International Refugee Day
More than 8.800 dead refugees at Europe¹s border: death by policy
On the 20th of June, UNITED for Intercultural Action - the largest pan European network against racism, fascism, nationalism and in support of refugees and migrants celebrates the International Refugee Day, along with its over 550 supporting organisations all over Europe, by denouncing the deadly consequences of "Fortress Europe". Also in 2007, UNITED as a network gets active coordinating and supporting all the organisations which, all over Europe, are raising awareness about the ongoing tragedy at European borders.
In fact hundreds of organisations in the continent took and take the International Refugee Day as a common appointment to speak out about the refugees¹ issue.
Associations and NGOs are organising a wide range of activities to claim against detention conditions, deportation procedures, border militarization and to ask for integration policies. Also, they are raising awareness about the human side of refugees¹ issue to promote refugees¹ rights and to speak out for dignity of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Europe.
All activities are listed: http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/pages/act07rfc.htm

POLICY OF DISCRIMINATION
Exodus and forced exile are not new phenomena. People have always been forced to leave their country either because of persecution based on religious faith, political opinion or ethnic legacy, or war, economical conditions or natural disasters. Nowadays, 30 ongoing wars are reported around the world. The majority of people claiming the refugee status are in fact trying to escape a country on war, where their lives are in constant danger. More than 50 years ago, Western and in particular European countries, insisted and demanded the Geneva Convention in order to provide an international tool to get protection to those fleeing Fascist and Nazi dictatorships.
Unfortunately, the growing need for protection is not balanced by a welcoming attitude from the same countries nowadays. Europe is crossed by a feeling of fear and distrust towards foreigners coming from poorer areas of the world. They are seen as people who only want to take advantage of European social system and thus they are depicted as plague to society. European countries are engaging themselves in building higher and higher border walls and in creating an immigration legislation that legitimates deportation as a tool for controlling migration flows. The fight against what is called ³illegal immigration² by politicians and their supporting media is sustained by a real marketing operation based on the depiction of migrants as a natural disaster, on the association between migration and terrorism, as opposed to an enrichment on a cultural and economical level for the hosting countries.
As a matter of fact, the EU Berlin declaration states: @We will fight terrorism, organised crime and illegal immigration together". UNITED claims that this kind of statements are not acceptable, especially when coming from a public institution or when included in a governmental document. This kind of statement mixes and confuses terrorism and delinquency with immigration. It offers a ground for institutional and large scale discrimination. It does not represent the views and feelings of all Europeans and surely it does not set a correct example to each European country¹s foreign policy.
Immigration is one of the responses to poverty, persecution and violence to which Europe has been largely contributing over the past centuries. European countries have affected the lives of millions of people with their foreign policies of economical exploitation and have contributed to international standards for working conditions which are close to slavery. Mass migration is not responsible for the problems European countries are experiencing nowadays. On the contrary, European countries are responsible for most of the causes of migration from poorer countries.
Migrants are treated and discriminated against as if they were at the root of all European problems related to criminality, terrorism and economical difficulties. As a matter of fact, migrants are fleeing the same problems in their own countries, countries which have been torn in war and economical crisis by the direct intervention of Western countries or, in the best case scenario, by their indifference and their silence.

THE FATAL REALITIES OF FORTRESS EUROPE
Since 1993 more than 8800 persons died in their attempt to reach "Fortress Europe".
UNITED has been monitoring the deadly results of European immigration policies by making a list of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who lost their lives because of European immigration policy. These deaths can be put down to border militarization, asylum laws, detention policies, deportations and carrier sanctions. They are not singular incidents, but symptoms of policies that no longer see humanity of those fleeing their homeland.
UNITED collects data on where, when and under which circumstances the refugees died. All the cases contained in the list are documented. It is possible to download a PDF version of the list at http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/pdfs/actual_listofdeath.pdf

This year UNITED integrates its work on the death list developing a new project called The List Exhibition. The project consists of a poster collection of some representative cases compiled from UNITED List of deaths. These posters are composed with some of the articles UNITED collects in its archive. The purpose of this project is to raise awareness about the fact that the victims of Fortress Europe are not Œonly¹ 8800 numbers on a list, but individuals with a background, a life and hopes.
You can see (and download) posters for the list exhibition at http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/pages/list-exhibition.htm

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