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Humanity has recently become a witness to the biggest refugee crisis after the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of persecuted people, the majority of them refugees fleeing war, are desperately trying to reach the ‘safety’ of ΕU. At the same time, we witness EU being indifferent and without a political will to effectively respond to the unfolding developments and to acknowledge its own responsibilities,adopting a comprehensive and efficient plan capable of giving solutions to the refugee crisis.

The responsibility of the international community, including the EU, in the creation and the maintenance of those conditions responsible for the violent uprooting of millions of people is unquestionable.  The direct and indirect involvement of the West in Africa, the Middle East, and many other regions, having as a motive of action to serve its own economic, political, and other interests, has played a major role in the refugee crisis of the past 5 years. EU responds to the refugee crisis by reinforcing Fortress-Europe and without any intent for collective work. At the same time, member states are consumed in micro-politics that aim in repelling refugees and each country tries to shake off its own responsibilities keeping silent of them. All these lead to the construction of an immense wall, both literally and metaphorically, that will keep refugees out of Europe.

In Cyprus, the majority of refugees, who reached here one way or another, experience the refusal of the public services to grant them refugee status, which most of them are entitled to, according to the relevant international conventions. Moreover, the absence of effective policies for their integration into the society, in combination with the institutional and social discrimination that are sustained for decades now, curtail any effort made by refugees towards a better life .

Despite the way that both EU as a whole and its member states individually treat refugees, in recent weeks a large part of European societies are mobilised demanding political solutions that will put an end to the problems of refugees. Cyprus is not an exception and this is evident by the solidarity that a great part of Cypriot society showed to the refugees that arrived in Cyprus last Sunday after a rescue operation[1], mainly with the provision of humanitarian aid.         The general positive attitude that Cypriot society seems to have in relation to refugees and which is reflected in the social media, the press, electronic and other media, private discussions etc, is also indicative.

However, the state, at least up to this moment, does not seem to agree with such solidarity with refugees. The recent statement by the Minister of Interior that at the upcoming EU Council meeting on refugees, the Republic of Cyprus is going to ask that it only accepts a limited number of refugees  and that those should be only Christian Orthodox.

In the context of pan-European initiatives in solidarity with refugees and in resistance against the policies that exclude them and a rhetoric that dehumanises them, we call οn organised groups, teams and the whole society to participate in the event in support and solidarity with refugees that will be held on Saturday, 12/9/15, at 7:00 pm , outside the presidential palace. Let’s come all  together to demand from both the EU and the Republic of Cyprus to treat refugee crisis on the basis of solidarity and respect for human rights, honouring in practice their principles and declarations.

Within this context, we call on:

  • The EU to assume its responsibilities and to direct its external policy in a way that will not contribute to the continuation of political and economic destabilisation and will support the human rights in the countries of origin of refugees.
  • The EU and its Member States to make progress in effectively addressing the refugee crisis, including measures to create legal channels for the arrival of refugees in Europe, as well as adopting a common European asylum system, abandoning the policy of ‘Fortress Europe,’ which focuses solely on protecting and externalising its borders.
  • The EU and its Member States to demonstrate genuine solidarity with the refugees.
  • The Republic of Cyprus to work towards creating an asylum system that will ensure a fair examination of asylum applications and creating conditions for effective integration and equal participation of refugees into society.
  • The Cypriot state and government to foster attitudes consistent and supporting to the culture of solidarity that is now growing within the Cypriot society.
  • The Cypriot authorities to respect the right of refugees to unimpeded communication and information, including communication with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other bodies working with refugees and migrants.

Organisations:

-KISA, Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism –  Cyprus Community Media Centre –  Cyprus Stop Trafficking  – Caritas Cyprus Migrant Center – Freedom Dolls –  Initiative Against The Fascist Threat

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