Non-governmental organizations call EU to open borders to refugees

On the occasion of the Day of Solidarity with Refugees “refugeeswelcome” around Europe on Saturday, non-governmental organisations have expressed their displeasure with the slow and inadequate response of the European Union to the humanitarian crisis, asking for the opening of borders for refugees who are fleeing war-affected areas.

About thirty activists from the Basis for Workers’ Initiative and Democratization, Center for Peace Studies (CPS), Association of Africans in Croatia, the No Border Initiative, Association KOMA, Right to the City, football club Zagreb 041 and Friends of the Earth Croatia displayed banners with inscriptions „Open borders, refugees welcome“, „No borders, no nations“ and „No one is illegal“. This is how they warned that the EU has, for a number of years, responded to migration movements with increasing criminalization, closing borders and building an impenetrable fortress.

Julija Kranjec of CPS said that it is high time for the EU, and especially countries with colonial histories and a track record of military interventions in the Middle East, to take historical, moral and political responsibility for the burning crisis. „We are appealing to Europarliamentarians and institutions of the EU, the European Commission and European Parliament to revise the Common European policy of asylum in accordance with the basic values of peace, economic security and unity, to ensure legal and safe arrival and entrance of the refugees into the EU“, said Kranjec.

That is to be done primarily through liberalization of visa policy and the opening of a low-risk international corridor, which would ensure safe passage of the refugees. Kranjec has stated that EU member states need to examine the (non-)functioning of the Dublin Regulation, which has prevented the movement of refugees to their desired safe countries, and which is based on a system of increased border controls and establishment of detention centres. Besides, Kranjec emphasized, the EU should focus on the creation of long-term solutions for the social, cultural, and economic integration of the refugees.

Kranjec has added that the NGOs have organized to express solidarity with the refugees, and to tell the EU and society at large that xenophobia and racism are unacceptable.

Maruška Mileta of Friends of the Earth Croatia emphasized that the citizens themselves, instead of the EU countries, organized the assistance to the refugees. „Instead of offering assistance, the EU closed the borders“, she said, noting that Croatian citizens organized humanitarian actions in order to show solidarity with the refugees caught in Serbia and Hungary.

Prince Wale Soniyiki, a Nigerian from the Association of Africans in Croatia who was a refugee himself, called for solidarity and assistance for the refugees, saying that these are people who are escaping from war-affected areas. „In the name of humanity, Croatia needs to open doors for them. From my own experience I know how they feel and Croatia and the EU have to give them a chance, the same that I have gotten“, he said.