<m2m-eng> Appeal for Voices from Choucha

jo van der spek jo at xs4all.nl
Sat Jun 4 23:10:52 CEST 2011


Voices from Choucha: Open escape routes, take in refugees!

“We want to leave! Europe must help!" The demands on the cardboard
signs of refugees and migrants at the Tunisian-Libyan border are
clear - and compelling: 5000 people have been waiting for weeks and
months in unbearable conditions in the camp of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Choucha. All of them managed to
escape the escalating civil war in Libya. Many were employed as
migrant workers, others had sought refuge from the war and crisis
zones in Sub-Saharan-Africa. Survivors of capsized refugee boats meet
in Choucha those who, arising out of despair and despite all dangers,
are setting off for the road back towards the Libyan border to risk
the dangerous crossing to Europe. On the 5th of May 2011, when four
refugees from Eritrea died at a fire in the improvised tent city,
there were spontaneous protests and road blockades. The Tunisian
Military responded with tear gas, residents attacked the camp. At
least two refugees were killed, many were badly injured.

The refugees in Choucha were and still are hoping for help and
support from the UNHCR, which had requested the European countries,
among others, several times during the recent weeks with the intake
of at least 6,000 refugees from Libya. In vain. Rather, the European
border agency Frontex is given more and more contracts and the new
democratic governments in Northern Africa are lured with offers of
money, so they continue to be the watchdogs on the southern rim of
European borders.
The situation in Choucha must be seen in the context of the forward
externalisation of the European border regime to Northern Africa. In
the defense of refugees and migrants, the European countries have
shamelessly worked together for years with the despots of the
Maghreb, especially with Ben Ali in Tunisia and Qaddafi in Libya.
Now, indeed, the democratic transition is welcomed, but help is
refused to all those who are stranded in the Tunisian refugee camps
and for whom there is no return.

The voices of Choucha stand for the desperate protest against a
policy of flagrant human rights violations, as they take place every
day in many hot spots of Europe's external borders. A break with this
policy is necessary to stop the dying at sea and in the desert. The
democracy movements in Northern Africa provide the opportunity for a
fresh start. Instead of fatal exclusion and grotesque threat
scenarios, openness and solidarity must shape the future of the
Mediterranean area. It needs bridges instead of walls for a new
African-European relationship in order that Europe becomes a place of
real freedom, general security and equal rights for All.

The acceptance of refugees from Choucha in Europe would, in this
sense, set a first, not just symbolic character. We therefore call on
the responsible policymakers at the European level, in the federal
government, states and municipalities,

	to take emergency aid measures and take in the refugees from
Choucha and other temporary refugee camps in Europe.

	to provide humanitarian support for Subsaharan migrants, who were
already flown out from Libya or Tunisia. For example just in Mali
over 10,000 refugees have arrived since the beginning of the war in

	to give up the existing deportation policies at the external
borders in favor of a humane and generous  asylum and immigration
policy that is consistent with the rights of refugees and migrants.

	 to support the democratic upheavals in Northern Africa seriously
and to understand it as an opportunity for a changing neighbourhood

Pro Asyl, Medico International, Borderline Europe, Afrique-Europe
Interact, Welcome to Europe
31st  of May 2011

Sign online:  www.medico.de / Choucha-appeal

For further information and to sign online refer to: http://

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