In October 2008, under the French EU presidency the 27 EU member states met to adopt the European pact on immigration and asylum.
The pact involves an increase of the external border controls coordinated by Frontex and of the measures to turn migrants away as soon as they arrive in North Africa.
This sensitive issue was at the heart of the discussions at the citizen summit on migration held during the same week, which was co-organized by Emmaus Europe and Emmaus International. The “Bridges Not Walls” summit brought together a thousand participants representing close to 300 organizations from 32 countries, who defend a different take on immigration and are calling for a different relationship to be forged between the EU, Africa and the rest of the world.
“The issue of migration and development needs to be genuinely considered from the perspective of mutual interests: the interests of sending, transit and destination countries and above all those of the migrants themselves.”
The organisations that signed the appeal were seeking to raise the public’s awareness about migration issues, particularly the issue of migrants’ rights.
Migration is an ancient phenomenon and makes an inestimable social, cultural and economic contribution. However, Europe is retreating into a primarily repressive and simplistic view of migration, which was illustrated by the adoption of the returns directive and the European pact on immigration and asylum. Border controls and hounding undocumented migrants have become the watchwords of most migration policies.
These migration policies go against the principles that the EU claims to represent: peace, democracy, solidarity, respecting human rights and freedom of movement.
Immigration is often viewed in a partial and biased fashion. The movement of people does however make a positive contribution to the development of countries.
Governments often tend to forget that freedom of movement is a fundamental right enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Concerned by the fact that migration is being dealt with primarily from a security perspective, causing thousands of deaths, and by the economic decisions taken, which prevent Africa from developing, the “Bridges Not Walls” summit organizations are calling for people to attend a demonstration in order to make the voice of European and African civil society heard.
We want a different Europe from the one that is turning into a fortress and is implementing excessive measures to prevent access to its territory and deport undocumented migrants. We reject the systematic use of detention centers and forced removal.
As a follow-up to the first conference and on the occasion of the European elections, we are calling for people to attend a demonstration in Paris on Sunday 17 May 2009 starting at 3pm in the Stalingrad square.
The event will be a celebratory gathering at which migrants and members of foreign organizations will speak and talk about their personal experiences, there will be a brass band, stands set up by the organizations and a public debate.
Come and join Emmaus Europe as we seek to make respect for justice, rights and human dignity the cornerstones of European migration policies once again.
To know more about the “Bridges Not Walls” demands download the advocacy document which was signed by Emmaus Europe.