Today, June 20th, is World Refugee Day, a date that the United Nations designates to honour refugees and displaced persons. It is sad that we have to select one day a year to empathize with the millions of people who are forced to abandon everything in the face of conflict, misery and persecution. Even so, from Solidary Wheels we take this day to reflect, once again, on a reality that we see in Melilla, in Europe and practically in the entire world.
The war in Ukraine and the displacement of millions of its citizens have highlighted Europe's capacity, when it choses to, to respond and welcome those who flee. This is a solidarity that we applaud, but at the same time, we question why it is not extended to people who come from other regions. They told us that there were no resources, that we had no space. It is clear that the only thing missing was political will.
Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is the agency with the largest budget in the EU, more than the European Medicines Agency, even after two years of pandemic. More than the Fundamental Rights Agency, despite the multitude of European countries with legal deficiencies. The Agency's funding and mandate have been steadily increasing since its founding. The fact that it was involved in extremely worrying cases of abuse was not enough to encourage the Union to rethink its system of border management. On the contrary, we have reinforced this cruel, racist and dehumanizing system.
It is important to look at things in perspective. We are used to talking about the “migration crisis” in Europe, but this is an inaccurate and deeply misleading term that legitimizes and justifies insufficient responses by European governments. In 2019, 120.000 people arrived in the EU through “irregular” routes. In the same year, an average of 90.137 passengers travelled daily through Dublin Airport. Yes, we are dealing with a refugee crisis, but the crisis is about the blatant abandonment of human life. It is about the intensification of border control and the securitisation of EU borders. It is not a crisis of numbers, lack of space or lack of financial resources. If Pakistan can host 1.5 million refugees with a GDP vastly inferior to that of the EU, we can do more. Perhaps the EU should take from the nearly €200 billion spent on defence and put it towards promoting the protection of human rights, fulfilling its obligations and preserving human life.
Yes, we are dealing with a refugee crisis, but the crisis is about the blatant abandonment of human life.
Real measures are urgently needed to ensure that refugees not only survive but can have a dignified life and access to opportunities. We must reject the constant dehumanisation of those who are displaced, ensure that their lives are not reduced to numbers or to leverage for political negotiations. On World Refugee Day, like any other day, we would like to emphasise that the welcoming of those who seek refuge cannot depend on geopolitical interests or the colour of their skin.