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European Parliament, Brussels, June 28th: "#SickOfWaiting, Reconnecting with Humanity"

 

The night of June 27th was quite surprising for anyone who happened to be in Brussels. Something enchanting, fairytale-like happened in the center of the city — a large, giant puppet, a mannequin of a sort, came to life (animated by artists), and walked the streets.
Dundu (@dundu.eu), a gentle giant puppet is a ten years old art project from Stuttgart, Germany, animated by a group of artists. He is faceless, without any marking, any clothes, his body is very simple, but the interaction and message sent to a curious audience was delivered through motion, through his gestures, walk, nonverbal communication. It was performed beautifully by “his” artists. He brought a lot of attention to himself, only to tell them one thing — he is sick of waiting. There is more behind those words than a common phrase.

 

 

 

The brilliant combination of art and activism, followed by speeches, by presentations of various groups engaged in the refugee crisis, addressed very clearly where our governments, our united Europe is failing, and why.
“We are all sick of waiting, refugees and volunteers alike” — this is the message that starts the presentation, that exposes the betrayal, broken promises, neglect that lead into unspeakable tragedies and that took some lives of those trapped in Greece, on islands, in camps.
The presentations in the European Parliament took place on June 28th, in one of the conference halls. There was not a single person who was not affected by the disturbing reports on refugee treatment all over Europe. Heartbreaking videos, documentation of neglect, violence and deaths, highlighted the importance of immediate action and revision of our entire European politics.

The plan that the European committee has for refugees is not being performed, it is slow, inefficient, it costs lives. Waiting is killing them. Family reunifications are prolonged, revised and brought to absurd while those who are waiting on it live separated for years. Family bonds between brothers and sisters are completely ignored in the process of reunification, and it sometimes forces parents to separate, so they could provide care for all of their children. The conditions in which refugees are living while waiting are ignored, regardless of how bad they are. The health, age, vulnerability of people is also not taken into consideration.
Time is a key factor when it comes to providing necessary help for the refugees. There can’t be waiting, waiting kills. This was a clear message of every testimony we heard.(*)

 

  Introduction of Florent Marcellesi, MEP of the European Spring coalition that hosts this event.
Video in Spanish
 
 
Jorge Serrano Paradinas, general coordinator of Por un Mundo Más Justo, introduces
the SickOfWaiting members who will be the speakers of the event "SickOfWaiting,
Reconnecting with humanity".
Video in English
 
 
Florian Horsch, co-founder of the German NGO Soup & Socks presents: The Europe we live in: The border between Serbia and Hungary.
The Hungarian police, bypassing all human rights, torture those who try to cross their borders. As if frightening, stealing and beating people was a game, this situation has become a horror movie. Is it possible to allow these behaviors within Europe?
Video in English.
 
  Gaëlle Gormley, director of the French NGO ActForRef, tour us around the terrible French bourocratic road that those applying for asylum have to walk. Waiting months that could turn into years, sleeping in the streets, in infamous shelters, without any possibility of working, without special attention to the most vulnerable.
Video in English.
 
  Miguel Urban, Podemos MEP, makes a statement.
Video in Spanish.
 
  María Peñalosa, member of SickOfWaiting, tells us her learnings about the situation in Italy. The Minniti Orlando Law, the seven days paper, the poor official solutions and their terrible consequences. She explains how all this mess is feeding the mafias and is allowing more and more people to die in front of Europe's eyes.
Video in English.
 
  Bassam Alrish has refugee status in Germany and has volunteered in different camps in Greece. He describes Greece as a large waiting room where desperation and lack of appropriate reception conditions give us terrible statistics: one out of every three refugees living on the islands has witnessed a suicide. Marwan shows us one of the camps on the island of Chios.
Video in English.
 
  Mimi Hapig, co-founder of Habibi.Works project, tells us about the situation in the Mediterranean Sea: about the official numbers of dead people and the lack of responsibility of the European governments that allow us to have a new record every year. As a clear example of this absolute lack of political responsibility, she shows us a phone call that was leaked in May 2016, the call for help from a boat to the coastguards in Italy and Malta.
Video in English, audio in Italian.
 
  Mimi Hapig introduces us to the answers Europe is giving: the hosting programs.
The programs are failing ang going very slow; the relocation scheme is not being fulfilled and the family reunification is being delayed once and again.
She shares cases such us the ones from Sulaf or Abdalla and she connects us wit all that is lost keeping the families apart, and the people waiting and waiting, because what is lost is a lot more than just time.
Video in English.
 
  Bassam Alrish tells about the ressetlement program and his own family story.
Video in English.
 
  Edda Pando, co-founder of the Italian NGO Todo Cambia, tells us about those who couldn't cross and about the European migration policies related with the externalization of the borders.
Video in Spanish.
 
  María Peñalosa and Berta de la Dehesa, who have been working for more than a year in a refugee camp in the north of Greece, introduce #SickOfWaiting global social movement. How and why it started, how our online platform works, what our actions are, and what we demand.
Video in English.
 
  Florian Horsch opens the chapter Challenges and responsabilities with Mismanagement.
He presents, as an example, the case of Katsikas camp, northern Greece, and a shading structure that collapsed there.
Video in English.
 
  Amira Belhaj, cultural mediator who has worked for more than a year in the Greek camps, warns us about how the help is being criminalized. "It seems the new hipe in Europe is criminalising help, decency and solidarity. And when I say Europe [...] I am talking about the institutions we are voting for, we are talking about the (European) Parliament and the Commission [...]".
Video in English.
 
  Florian Horsch continues with the media sector responsibilities in this situation: fake news.
Video in English.
 
  Rikko Voorberg, founder of the Dutch NGO Let's Bring Them Here, tells us about their iniciative. The society in the Nederlands wants to fulfil their relocation commitment, so they offered their help to their government.
Video in English.
 
  Alex Plans, spokesman for Por un Mundo Más Justo, launches some final questions to the MEPs.
Video in Spanish.
 
  Jorge Serrano Paradinas shares reflections and next steps and invites us all to attend the performance outside.
Video in English.
 

 

In addition to the shock given by all these grim reports and testimonies from people who witnessed it daily on the ground as volunteers, and from those who experience it themselves, this presentation also gave a great picture of the international network of organisations and collectives doing their best to improve the situation.

Networking, partnering for more efficiency, joining forces to demand more humanity for refugees and better respect of their rights is the only way to, one day, manage to make the world finally take the right direction, to one of global friendship and solidarity.This kind of cooperation and unity gives us all not only hope, but an example of how to act in the refugee crisis with our own forces.

The intention of this gathering at the European Parliament was to present the critical situation to any deputies of the European Parliament willing to attend (they were all sent an invite to join a few weeks before) and later, to meet with Giulio Di Blasi, in charge of migration and asylum at the cabinet of Federica Mogherini, but he cancelled at the last moment, thus avoiding to meet and confront the activists, to listen to their presentation and demands.

Ironically, they kept them waiting, and then never showed up.

Europe needs to change its policy ASAP, and we all need to become aware of the fatalities that are caused by the lack of efficiency so far. (*)

 

#SickOfWaiting and Dundu performance outside the European Parliament

 

*Extracts of Čitanje Grada's article [read full article]