We, young Green activists from the Balkans who have been witnessing tens of thousands of refugees passing through our countries in the last months, dying while trying to reach to countries which would offer them a protection and their rights being violated on every step of our countries’ lands, are calling on all the governments of Balkan countries to take the responsibility and provide safe transits through those countries as it has not been the case by now.
At this historical moment of a great human displacement, its volume of consequences is very hard to predict. Greens of Balkans and Balkan civil society must not remain silent as the governments are unable to respond adequately to this issue and the EU constantly refuses to take its historical responsibility.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled their homelands during this year tried to seek asylum in some of the EU countries. Balkan countries found themselves on the one of the most used routes for refugees to this part of the world. Balkan countries, being on the periphery are now those executing the border and migration control on the doorstep of the EU.
The Balkan governments are failing to respond to this crisis from the legal, practical, technical and human perspective. The civil society role in the Balkans has been crucial in managing the crisis on the spot and preventing the complete humanitarian breakdown. This was used as a cover for the governments’ absence of reaction and shifting a huge part of its responsibility to the civil society.
Legal support and information for refugees who arrive are almost non-existing and if so, are provided by the civil sector. The much-needed medical assistance it is highly insufficient as well as resources for meeting the basic people’s needs such as water, food and shelter.
We, as a part of the civil sector which strives and actively pushes for a fairer Balkan society, solidarity and equality for all, demand from our governments:
1. Police to stop using any kind of violent methods, including use of tear gas and rubber bullets as well as robbery and harassment of refugees and all the reported cases of such nature to be processed.
2. All the governments to ease the bureaucratic registration procedures and ensure that all the refugees are treated with dignity and their human rights respected.
3. Keep the borders open and stop forced returns! Proper management of the situation and responsible behavior towards the refugees by state institutions has to be provided.
4. Provide basic health care, medical treatment and meet basic people’s needs (food, clothes, shelter) on the main border cross-points, especially for the most vulnerable groups as children and old people which should be prioritized.
5. Set up strong refugee systems allowing people to apply for asylum, treating their refugee claims fairly, resettling the most vulnerable of all.
6. Increase legal support and flux of information for the refugees by the national bodies in Balkans responsible for the issue, provide refugees with interpretation and translation.
7. Coordinate actions between other governments in Balkans (on the main migration route) in order to better prepare for responding to refugees’ needs.
8. Support already existing civil society, volunteer-based structures which are helping refugees on different levels.
9. Together with the Balkan society to ensure the process of full integration of the refugees who decide to seek asylum in those countries by providing full access to education, labor market, social rights, culture and language.
The raise of far-right discourses will change Europe dramatically. All the citizens, civil movements and the governments should be trying to create more humane and accepting atmosphere. The current crisis can be resolved by stopping the war and repression over people that force them to flee in the first place. That being beyond our capabilities as young activists, we need to come up with concrete solutions and put a pressure on our governments and international bodies to meet our demands through actions, protests, and campaigning. We need to push for high international cooperation. We need to call on our fellow citizens to show their solidarity and compassion not only through direct help to refugees, but also trough constant demanding for proper treatment of the refugees passing through or staying in their countries.