FECL 35 (June 1995):
Visa requirements on refugee-producing countries, the Schengen agreement, the strict application of the firstcountry of asylum principle, tighter laws on aiding illegal entry are just a few examples of the restrictions to the right to asylum in Europe. The thought of excluding a majority of the world's population from what we deem in our terms a humane existence in order to protect material and economic values is not a new thought but the fact that the idea is old does not make it more acceptable.
There are reasons to believe that the "Fortress Europe" under construction will only function as a short term, temporary solution in order to ease the pressure on Europe. This does not solve the problems as such, it only relieves the symptoms. Through short-term policies the pressure of refugees increases on the rest of the world and in turn leads to an inevitably more rapid growth in refugee flows. Moreover there is an overriding risk that the undermining of the right to asylum will in the long term lead to the undermining of wider basic human rights. This is a development that no European can consider desirable.
In order to strengthen the importance of humanist ideals in the long run when European decisions are made, there is a need for informal contacts at the grass-roots level. The purpose of the meeting in Borås is to initiate the development of an informal network which will not function as an umbrella organisation but rather be based on individual contacts between groups and persons. Our hope is that better contacts between different refugee-support and anti-racist groups at the grass-root level in Europe and a wider knowledge of asylum policies in different European countries will lead to increased pressure on the European decision-makers to show equal respect to human values as to economic considerations.
The programme of the meeting includes Working groups on: Church sanctuary- a serious option?; Illegal in Europe; Why do people flee?; Help in areas near to home country; Deserters and war-resisters: a question of morality; Border policies and third countries; Refugee policy in the European Union; Expulsion; Influencing through the media; Established immigrants; The situation of "imported" wifes; Xenophobia and racism; Building up an a e-mail network for grass-roots organisations.
The working language at the meeting will be English.For more information contact: Poul and Lena Sanver, Tel/Fax: +46 33 13 15 78 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org