More than 200 associations come together to promote Catalonia as 'home' for refugees
“Catalonia has always been a welcoming land”. This is the leitmotiv of the campaign launched today by 200 Catalan associations and NGOs and a hundred cultural companies and citizens. The initiative ‘Our home, your home’ seeks to promote the reception of refugees in Catalonia through a wide range of activities aimed at raising awareness among society. The movement arose from a group of Catalan volunteers who worked in the informal refugee camps in northern Greece, until the refugees were evicted and moved to premises under military control. “We felt ashamed of being accomplices to the policies of our Government and we promised we would do something to change their [the refugees] situation”, explained Ruben Wagensberg. Although Spain has to receive 10,500 refugees according to the scheme of distribution of the European Commission, it has only welcomed 516 to the date. The main goal of the initiative is to ensure that Catalan institutions act, ignoring the inaction from Spain, and start welcoming refugees.
Barcelona (CNA).- More than 200 Catalan associations and NGOs and a hundred cultural companies and citizens kicked off this Tuesday a campaign to promote the reception of refugees in Catalonia. To make this possible, the initiative has planned a wide range of events such as a concert at the Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, on the 11th of February and a demonstration on the 18th of February. “We want it to be the biggest protest ever made in the European Union”, the promoters said. The movement 'Our home, your home’, resulting from a group of volunteers who met in refugee camps at the border between Macedonia and Greece, aims at raising awareness, mobilising citizens and asking the institutions to give a clearer and more forceful response to the refugee problem. The main goal is to ensure that Catalan institutions act, leaving aside the inaction from Spain, to start hosting refugees in Catalonia.
The promoters of the project explained how the experience in the refugee camps made them realise the necessity of a change in the Government action. Ruben Wagensberg, a young volunteer who did a silkscreen workshop with children, remembers how he always told the refugees that Catalan volunteers will do “something” to help them. “It was almost embarrassing” having to promise that, he added. “We felt ashamed of being accomplices to the policies of our Government and we promised we would do something to change their situation”, he explained. Wagesnberg recalled that the Catalan Parliament announced that Catalonia will host 4,000 refugees, but that this promise is now “up in the air”, causing desperation among refugees and activists fighting for them in Catalonia.
“A change of attitude” is, therefore necessary, he said. Alguer Miquel, vocalist of the Catalan group Txarango, stated that the campaign “gives voice” to all the people living in refugee camps and highlighted the necessity to make the two realities met: the facilities ready for the refugees and the people who are needed. Adriana Cabecerán also recalled that there are legal mechanisms to regulate these situations, but stated they are violated because there is no “political will”. “We want people here, at home”, she reaffirmed.
More events scheduled
'Our home, your home’ has scheduled several events in order to raise awareness among citizens. On the one hand, as of the 10th of December, International Human Rights Day, activities related to the objective of the campaign will take place, such as the lighting of candles at the Plaça Universitat (Barcelona). There will also be a human chain with torches on the 17th of December, International Day of Migrants, at the centre of Barcelona. Furthermore, the exhibition 'Stopped lives’, which invites reflection upon exile, will travel around different schools and Catalonia Public Television (TV3) will launch a docuseries version of it consisting of ten episodes of three minutes each that will be broadcast in prime time.
The two main events, however, are a concert at the Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, and a demonstration. The concert, scheduled for the 11th of February, will bring together bands and singers of different styles and backgrounds. The poster will be released in the coming weeks. La Fura dels Baus, one of the most well-known Catalan theatre performing arts companies, internationally known for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Barcelona Olympics, will be in charge of the dramatisation of the concert. A week after the concert, 'Our home, your home' will encourage people to hit the streets in a mobilisation that is expected to be the biggest at a European level since the outbreak of the refugee crisis.
A manifesto to address the situation
To get public support, the campaign has written a manifesto calling for the Catalan institutions to act and address the situation and turn Catalonia into a welcoming land. The text is available and can be signed online at: www.casanostracasavostra.cat. Monetary contributions are also accepted on the website.
In addition, the initiative released this Tuesday a promotional spot that includes the collaboration of some Catalan familiar faces, such as the journalists Antoni Bassas and Mònica Terribas and the actors Lluís Homar and Julio Marique, as well as refugees in Vasilika and Greece. The video is entitled 'I want to come. I want them to come’, in reference to the refugees’ wish to come to Catalonia and Catalans’ will to accept them.
Spain has received only 5% of the refugees established by the European quota
The campaign recalls that the Spanish Government has welcomed only 516 of the 10,500 refugees established in the scheme of distribution of the European Commission, to be completed in two years. Organisations urge the Catalan Government to implement its commitment to host 4,500 people and call for action to improve the situation of immigrants in Catalonia and end the “institutional racism”. 2016 will go down in history as one of the most death-filled years in the Mediterranean: at least 4,700 people, according to the official record, have so far passed away trying to reach safety in Europe.