The EU HREDD : Why MIJARC Europe stands for a stronger proposal

In February 2022, the European Commission released its proposal on a Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (HREDD) directive on the EU companies even outside of Europe. 

What is due diligence?

In the system we currently live in, most of the products we use every day, from food to textile and technology, come from all over the world. Since the supply chains have been delocalised and globalised, the way we consume in Europe has therefore an impact on other continents, such as South East Asia textile workers, African and South American farmers and African miners. 

Due diligence is a legal concept used to talk about the responsibility of companies abroad, mainly on environment, climate and human rights issues. It concretely means that during the phase of examination of a company by another: When a big european corporation wants to develop a product, they usually use a subcontractor company in countries where the prices are lower. Usually, the due diligence asks the company to make some legal control of the structures they work with beforehand. The new Due Diligence on Human Rights and Environment will ask the verifications to be done on these topics and if the parent company decides to work with subcontractors that do not respect it, then it will be the responsibility of the Big European company, and not anymore the one on the ground only: all the steps of supply chain should be held responsible.

The prevention of the harm done to the environment and humans all across the supply chain is therefore a very new and very important addition to due diligence, helping to make big companies accountable. The lack of due diligence laws can lead to violations of human rights and destruction of the environment abroad without the people suffering from it being able to take European companies to court and repair those violations. This Due Diligence proposal is an EU proposal to make the  businesses accountable for their harmful practices and also to provide the legal capacity for workers to defend themselves and the environment when needed.


Today, only France and Germany have binding due diligence laws in the EU. Having a common European framework will provide citizens affected by European companies’ illegal actions with legal means to take them accountable. This type of legislative action can offer solutions for workers that are not protected by their national laws. Its field of application will include companies working abroad, but also to their supply chain, so that the goods and services sold in Europe will no longer rely on the exploitation of humans and the environment abroad.  

The current proposal shows positive elements, such as civil liability. However, if the directive is not as far-reaching as our partner human rights and environmental NGOs ask for, it will be too little, too late. The end goal is the decolonisation of supply and value chains, where the surplus value is hoarded by Western companies, and the extension of the right to a fair wage to the right to a living income in order to include self-employed smallholder farmers.


As rural youth, we know the price of the food related supply chain and we know that we need to act if we want a fairer and ecological system in which we can all live. The current situation is based on unfair competition. 

Due diligence should ban unfair competition that European farmers face regarding companies importing unfair products.Today industrial farmers that work violating human rights and harm the environment have it easier to sell their products cheaper than farmers complying to ecological farming and fair trade.  

Due diligence directive should be the first step towards a levelling up on living conditions and dignity of farmers and workers all across the world. The current proposition of the EU remains too weak, and it is weakened more and more during the legal process of voting. We therefore incite the European Union to develop a strong and binding due diligence that will truly change the way business is currently going on in the world.

The next step in the process will be at the beginning of december when the Council of the European union will officialise their position, and then, the trilogue will start to renegotiate the HREDD.

We also invite you, as a MIJARC Europe, as a member of the Our Food Our future Consortium, and as a partner of the Justice Is Everybody’s Business’s Campaign, to sign the petition in favour of a stronger Due diligence within the EU :

Are young people disengaged from politics? 

Not voters, but activists 

Young people are politically engaged… differently 

The media and political leaders constantly repeat that young people are not interested in politics. At MIJARC Europe, we believe otherwise. We are well aware that the young people we reach are often trained in various political issues (at local, national, or European scale) and that we do not represent the majority of young people. We do not claim to be representative. Moreover, we believe that youth is not a unified block that can be easily encompassed with a term and some data. Yet, we refute the idea that young people are turning away from politics. Why? Because this preconceived idea is based on the (undeniable) fact that young people are voting less and less, and that in many European countries, the Gen-Z (16-25) and Millennials (26-35) are the age group that abstains the most. Yes indeed, but…  If there is one thing that the Fridays for Future have taught us, it is that young people are well aware of the major political issues on which their future depends (the climate and biodiversity crisis and all the social issues that come with it), and that they are massively ready to commit themselves to these causes. Youth are interested in politics, they are politically engaged, but their engagement takes different shapes than the traditional electoral one. At MIJARC, each of the activities we organize is an opportunity to meet young people from different countries, from different backgrounds, all committed in their own way to various causes. 

The scarecrow of social networks

We often hear, with quite a lot of maliciousness, some adults mocking the young people of the “Twitter/Instagram generation” or worse, the “TikTok generation”, which would be a youth fakely engaged behind screens, disconnected from reality and which would commit the terrible crime of linking serious topics and “easy” modes of communication. Indeed, social media are a mode of communication with certainly a great number of defects (we know that the imperative of fast reactivity without taking a step back can represent a real danger for the democracy) but they also join the masses, and are thus particularly effective educational tools when it comes to raising awareness on important political topics. 

How about both? 

We can question our democratic system in many ways. As a matter of fact, we should always question it, and we do. This is at the core of MIJARC identity, to always challenge the status quo. We can agree that our current democratic system is not satisfying: we can question representative democracy, the focuses that are chosen during pre-elections campaigns, the lack of active participation from citizens, etc. But at the end, we shall remember that the people who are elected become the keepers (or the offenders) of our rights. They have in their hands a tremendous power that wegive them. Even more importantly, they hold a decisive power over the rights of people who cannot vote. This is a responsibility we have to protect them and therefore, voting is an even greater duty. Participating in the democratic system in place by voting does not in any way undermine acting to change this system. The two are not incompatible. Better yet, they are mutually responsive. It becomes our mission, as young people who try to occupy the political field as best we can, to fight against the passivity and disgust of people of our generation for politics as traditionally practiced. We have to repeat as much as possible that we want another system, to push even more for more democracy, but always make sure that we do not leave it in the hands of a few people.   


The most dramatic mistake our generation could make would be to consider the rights they always had as assured forever. Simone de Beauvoir said “Never forget that a political, economical or religious crisis will be enough to cast doubt on women’s rights. These rights will never be vested. You’ll have to stay vigilant your whole life.” The predictive nature of this phrase was recently illustrated when the US Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Calf. But this quote could fit for many other fundamental rights that were won over decades or centuries of fight for social justice. Our generation must never sleep on those rights and always remain vigilant, ready to defend them. Voting is not a duty simply because “our ancestors fought for this right”, but because there is no guarantee of it for our generation and those that will follow.

Agriculture and pesticides

Agriculture machine spraying pesticides on crops

Pesticides are well-known and widespread chemicals that target and eliminate precise pests – insects, fungi, weeds, rodents and other animals. The conventional agricultural industry which represents the biggest part of our food supply relies heavily on the usage of manmade pesticides in order to secure the optimal crop productivity throughout the season. Some conventionally grown plant cultures require pest treatment of about 20 to 30 times per season, for instance, apples.

Pesticides are most common to be sprayed over land areas. However, over 96% of sprayed pesticides reach a destination other than their target, including non-targeted species, air, water and soil. This happens due to the fact that a big amount of the chemicals end up carried away by wind and water runoff, affecting the lives of numerous species along their way and contaminating the environment.
Once induced in the soil, pesticides harm the natural soil biodiversity and the organic matter. These practices, added to single-crop farming, lead to less fertility of the land and lower overall quality of the soil, which means less natural plant growth and increasing consumption of fertilizers for successful crop yields.
Pesticides are one of the main causes of water pollution. Furthermore, they reduce biodiversity, contribute to pollinator decline, destroy habitat – especially for birds and insects, and threaten endangered species. 
Currently, the use of pesticides represents a very important burden for most farmers. For instance, in the Spanish rural region of Extremadura pesticides account for a quarter of their whole expenses (if we add fertilizers it represents half of all expenses). The globalization of supply chains has forced the majority of producers to use pesticides and fertilizers in order to address the increasing demand. 

Many farmers nowadays are caught in the vicious logic of producing more and more to keep their wages stable and therefore they are forced to use more pesticides. Because of the lack of support of CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) for transitioning to no-pesticides farming, farmers willing to shift are left alone. 
Farmers are the first concerned about the use of pesticides. They are the ones that have experienced the health consequences of glyphosate and other carcinogenic pesticides when there was no regulation. Their land is becoming less fertile because of pesticides. They have all the more interest to transition back to no-pesticides farming, but they need a suited framework to do so.


What we call for: 

1.    A further implementation of the peasant model which is based on the principles of agroecology and in harmony with biodiversity [1].

2.    Instead of pesticides, natural preparation methods shall be encouraged. At this moment the application of such methods is still a bureaucratic hurdle and very costly. We wish from the Member States to actively support these methods that are harmless for the environment and health. 

3.    More natural alternative methods such as plant, fungi and bacteria association, and the enhanced financing on research in this area. 

4. The European Union’s CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) should offer a framework to help farmers to shift from pesticide-intensive agriculture to agroecological farming by proposing expertise, financial support and fair prices for farmers and encouraging small and medium-scale farming so that the use of pesticides is no longer attractive for farmers. 



We want to achieve that the EU Member states:

1.    Agree on and implement policies which favor environmentally friendly agriculture, such as a Common Agricultural and Food Policy that respects farmers and environments.

2.    Ensure fair prices for farmers and by that putting an end to the market-driven mindset, that enhances unfair commercial competition

3.    Prohibit highly toxic substances : carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic (CMR) and endocrine disrupting pesticides (ED).


References :

Miller GT (2004). “Ch. 9. Biodiversity”. Sustaining the Earth (6th ed.). 

Goulson, Dave; Nicholls, Elizabeth; Botías, Cristina; Rotheray, Ellen L. (27 March 2015). “Bee declines driven by combined stress from parasites, pesticides, and lack of flowers”.


Tosi, Simone; Costa, Cecilia; Vesco, Umberto; Quaglia, Giancarlo; Guido, Giovanni (2018). “A survey of honey bee-collected pollen reveals widespread contamination by agricultural pesticides”.


YouthLabs are participatory activities (online / offline format) to involve YOUNG Europeans in the design process of our pan-European campaign strategy.

MIJARC Europe is responsible for organizing, within its network, 3 National Level YouthLabs and 5 International Level YouthLabs.

The first national youth lab of our #GoEAThical project was carried out in online format, in Romania together, with our member organization Asociația Asistență și Programe pentru Dezvoltare Durabilă – Agenda 21.

The activity took place in online format on the 5th of June 2020. It lasted around three hours.

42 young people, were selected among the network of global education schools of APSD-Agenda 21. They worked together with Mr. Daniel Alexandru – head of the Laboratory on Agrometeorology– from the Romania National Institute of Meteorology, and our colleague Florina Potîrniche as facilitator.

Using the SEE-JUDGE-ACT methodology, participants were able to go through different questions such as: What is climate change? // Is Earth’s Climate Changing? // What Is Causing Earth’s Climate to Change? // What Might Happen to Earth’s Climate? // How does it affect the production of food? // Conventional agriculture vs. Organic agriculture?

Later on, after summarizing the discussion and highlighting the interconnection of food production and climate change and the main impacts climate change has on different parts of the world, the participants analysed a case study, which was based on real facts –The impact of the El Niño drought in 2016 on one family in Lesotho

Through this case, participants were able to see how climate change affects the normal weather and climate patterns. The result was a severe drought that lasted since 2015 until 2016. This led to food supplies constantly decreasing, the price of food increasing and ultimately the poorest population not able to ensure they daily food. This led to poverty, hunger, the urgent need for humanitarian support and massive migration.

All the young participants could reflect on the negative impacts of climate change, and in different groups, they went into the ACT part. Divided in breakout rooms of 4-5 people they went through an exercise to design some elements for the #GoEAThical campaign. The youth participants participants discussed and created different proposals of messages for the campaign, topics for the campaign, as well as different activities to be carried out.

They produced really interesting ideas!

Here you can read some of the comments from the young participants gathered during the evaluation:

 I really liked that I interacted and came up with many different ideas. I learned new things about climate change and what we can do to make it better

I liked this lab because I learned a lot of new things. The most useful thing I found out is the connection between climate change and migration

Participating in this laboratory helped me to become more aware of why it is important for each of us to have a responsible attitude towards the environment and what are the consequences of reckless long-term actions on the climate and especially food production. Change begins with each of us!

Change for the better and  feel good about it”

“He leaves his city job to become a market gardener”, “In Italy young people are returning to agriculture”, “Goat rearing, a popular activity for young people undergoing vocational retraining”… You’re bound to come across these kinds of titles in the media as they’re becoming more and more common. 

What motivates Europe’s youth, both rural and urban, to turn to agriculture? And above all, why is it actually good news?

Agriculture in need of youth

When studying the agricultural situation in each of the EU countries, two observations stand out: the agricultural population is ageing (in 2016, 60% of farmers were aged 55 or over) and the number of farms is declining prodigiously (a reduction of a quarter of farms between 2005 and 2016). In France, the Ministry of Agriculture has even announced that by 2026, 45% of French farmers will have retired.

Under these conditions, aid for the installation of young farmers has become a priority for the European Commission in the negotiations for the CAP, which will come into force in 2022. The future CAP includes provisions such as raising the ceiling for installation aid from EUR 70,000 to EUR 100,000. Income support, but also measures facilitating access to land and land transfers are among the main instruments to help young farmers.

Agricultural settlement as vocational retraining for young people

Yet, despite this rather dark picture we are painting, and despite the urbanization that frames the landscapes, we observe a growing return of young people to the land. Many are returning to rural areas, and many are also leaving their jobs to work in agriculture.

It is easy to draw up a typical profile of these young people: often around 30 years old, over-qualified, they have been working for a few years in an office job in which they do not flourish. Many of them are aware of the uselessness of the tasks entrusted to them in the context of their work (often in fields such as marketing or finance, among others). This is a phenomenon that anthropologist David Graeber describes perfectly in his essay Bullshit jobs: a theory, published in 2018.

Why should we encourage them?

This kind of conversion to farming, by young people with little or no experience in farming, sometimes annoys farmers. It is an understandable reaction: working the land, in all its science and complexity and especially its hard work, cannot be a playful activity to which one turns when tired of “city” jobs, thinking that it will only be a matter of breathing more fresh air and swapping one’s office for open spaces.

However, we would be wise not to make fun of these young people in retraining too quickly. While it is easy to point the finger at the ‘trendy’ aspect of this kind of retraining, it is way less easy to make the decision to abandon a comfortable lifestyle with a guaranteed salary and turn to farming, which, let’s be honest, is no longer an attractive job today.

It would be rather caricatural to paint a portrait of these young people as city dwellers in search of “connection with nature”, unaware of the difficulty of the work that awaits them. They are actually often fully aware of this, but they are driven by something much stronger: the desire to participate in this gigantic effort to feed the population. Above all, they belong to this new generation which carries ideals: a sustainable agriculture that would be more respectful of the environment and the health of farm workers and consumers, a willingness to innovate, to produce locally etc.

So as rural inhabitants, and even as farmers, let us encourage, support and guide them. We should help them in their learning and when they face the first difficulties, because these young people represent an unexpected succession at a time when agriculture is so much in need of support.

The European Union, a peace project

Europe is not a recent construction. It has existed for centuries, as a continent but also as a community, with a shared historical and cultural heritage. And yet, in 1950, Robert Schuman declared “A united Europe was not achieved, and we had war”. Indeed, Europe had just been devastated by the Second World War and experienced its worst trauma, barely 20 years after a war so atrocious that European nations swore it would be their last. So as not to mince words, the heads of state of Western Europe understood this time that the construction of a political Europe was the condition for lasting peace.

The European project is therefore first and foremost a peace project. From the creation of the ECSC in 1950, bringing together countries that were at war with each other five years earlier, to the Europe of 27 that our nations form today, we have come a long way.

The duty of young people in maintaining this peace

Yet, while it is true that within the borders of the EU, peace has been established between nations, European states have repeatedly been at war with other regions of the world (Syria, Mali, Afghanistan, etc.) for the past 20 years.
Far from fantasizing about a global and fulfilled peace, European youth, although aware of the limits of the EU, nevertheless places its trust and hopes in it. Young European people are conscious of the task that lies ahead of it: to work, through solidarity, exchanges and the duty of remembrance, towards a long-lasting peace.

MIJARC Europe focuses its work on young people in rural areas and agriculture and by this establishes a link between young people from all over Europe to serve this objective.

After the World War II Catholic Rural Youth Movements felt the necessity to get in contact with rural youth coming from other countries and to build up an international understanding. Building up a world with social and economic justice was one reason why the movements of Flanders – Wallonia (Belgium), France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland and Austria came together and established an international Catholic movement for rural and agricultural youth during the 50’s.

MIJARC Europe’s action helps European young people to bound 

On this Europe Day, the day after the 8 May commemorations marking the end of the Second World War, it is important to also reflect on our roots and the reasons why networks like MIJARC were created. We should never forget to keep up this essential part of our work, to bring people from different countries together and raise our voices against injustice and to be part of the European peace project.

We are writing these words when only 5 days ago we were all gathered online for a giant skype, playing and laughing together from our houses. Even isolated as we are these days, the bonds we have built up between us do not come apart and break down the walls of our homes and the borders of our countries.

This article is part of a series of stories written by the young people who took part at our seminar “A call for peace for all”. They include real life stories of people who left their countries and/or information about migration in one of the European countries where MIJARC Europe has members. All those whose names or any other identification data appear in the articles have given their written consent for making this information public. 


In the context of the topic chosen for this year by our member movements – peace – we have launched an online campaign of peace messages and quotes under the #nevertakepeaceforgranted slogan. This campaign is part of our work plan which also includes two international activities and a travelling exhibition on the topic of peace. The first international activity of our work plan was preceeded by a preparatory phase during which our members had to interview/discuss with at least two people who had left their countries and are now know as “migrants”, “refugees” or “asylum seekers”. To our members they are just people, as are those living next to us. They have emotional and unusual stories, they live in different conditions but as our participants discovered they have not forgoten to be kind, tolerant, open and to forgive.

Here we bring you the article written by the participants from Bulgaria. The Bu;garia version of the first part of the article can be found below.

Asylum in Bulgaria

Military conflicts in the Middle East and other parts of the world in recent years have led to a significant emigration / refugee wave across Europe, with great force and many issues in Bulgaria. most refugees from Afghanistan, followed by Syria and Iraq. In Bulgaria, asylum seekers are staying in temporary refugee accommodation while waiting for a status decision. According to data in the country about 3,000 asylum seekers are found in refugee camps and a few more are found in foreign addresses. The number of migrants entering the border is much higher, but due to problems with the protection of state borders and the lack of certainty about the country’s policy on this issue, the concrete figures are unclear. The statistics show that more than 60000 people have been seeking state protection since 2013, with the number decreasing since the beginning of 2018, ol 500. The majority of people entering Bulgaria simply want to go through it on their way to Western Europe where they think they will get more security and better living conditions. This shows the statistics, as they themselves say. is approached with the necessary understanding of the refugee problem and most often refers to distrust of the newcomers.

The Bulgarian delegation talked to two refugees who did not accept to disclose any of their personal data, therefore, in the article they will be refer to as X and Y. Both X and Y came to Bulgaria as refugees – X from Afghanistan, and Y- from Syria. Both were running from war and to better life. They faced lots of difficulties during their fight for a new life and fortunately there is a positive effect already caused be government’s policy towards refugees. X, who emigrated to Bulgaria in 2015 has been given a refugee status and already is permitted to work and live in the country alongside Bulgarians. He now works in a big factory for thermo-sensor manufacture and is happy to start a new life. He admits that Bulgarians accept him as their even and opportunities are, on his behalf, yet to come. Y ,on the other side, is a newcomer from Syria going away from war ,who came this year and is still awaiting for a decision towards her status. She hopes that Europe is going to prove as a land of hope and opportunities and war will stay behind her back.

Военните конфликти в Близкия Изток и други части на на света през последните години доведоха до значителна емигрантска/бежанска вълна в цяла Европа ,като това се усети с голяма сила и доведе до много въпроси и в България.По официални данни в нашата страна са потърсили подслон най-много бежанци от Афганистан следван от Сирия и Ирак.В България търсещете убежище пребивават в центрове за временно настаняване на бежанци докато чакат решение за получаване на даден статут. В момента по данни в страната се намират в бежански лагери около 3000 търсещи убежище хора и още няколко стотин от тях се намират на чужди адреси.Неофициално броят на влезлите в границата на държавата мигранти е доста по-голям но поради проблеми със защитата на държавните граници и липса на сигурност относно политикатана държавата по този проблем конкректните цифри са неясни.Статистиката показва че от 2013 година над 60000 лица са потърсили държавна закрила,като последните 2 години броят им намалява като от началото на 2018 година броят им е само около 500.Мнозинството лица влезли в България целят просто да преминат през нея по пътя си към Западна Европа където мислят ,че ще получат повече сигурност и по-добри условия за живот.Това показва статистиката ,както и казват самите те.Българското население също не подхожда с нужното разбиране към бежанския проблем и най-често се отнася с недоверие към новодошлите.

This article is part of a series of stories written by the young people who took part at our seminar “A call for peace for all”. They include real life stories of people who left their countries and/or information about migration in one of the European countries where MIJARC Europe has members. All those whose names or any other identification data appear in the articles have given their written consent for making this information public. 


In the context of the topic chosen for this year by our member movements – peace – we have launched an online campaign of peace messages and quotes under the #nevertakepeaceforgranted slogan. This campaign is part of our work plan which also includes two international activities and a travelling exhibition on the topic of peace. The first international activity of our work plan was preceeded by a preparatory phase during which our members had to interview/discuss with at least two people who had left their countries and are now know as “migrants”, “refugees” or “asylum seekers”. To our members they are just people, as are those living next to us. They have emotional and unusual stories, they live in different conditions but as our participants discovered they have not forgoten to be kind, tolerant, open and to forgive.

Here we bring you the article written by the participants from Germany. The German version of the article can be found below.

Asylum in Germany

In Germany there are 10.6 million migrants and 18.6 million people with immigrant background. The large part of migrants is coming from European countries like Turkey, Poland and Italy. Also there are 1.6 million refugees who are seeking protection in Germany – most of them coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

There are different reasons for migration: refugees are fleeing from war and terror in their country or migrants from other countries are hoping for better living standards for their selves and their families through higher wages or a higher level of education. Refugees are living in reception facilities after coming to Germany. They are distributed through a key system which contributes to an equally number of refugees in all states in Germany.

After their time in these reception facilities they are going to live in a shared accommodation or their own apartment. Also refugees are being supported with activities like German lessons or help with the search for jobs so the transition to daily life is going to be easier for them.

Asyl in Deutschland

In Deutschland leben insgesamt 10,6 Millionen Migranten (Stand: 31.12.2017) und 18,6 Millionen Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund (Stand: 2016). Der Großteil von ihnen stammt aus europäischen Ländern wie z.B. der Türkei, Polen und Italien. Zudem befinden sich 1,6 Millionen Schutzsuchende, von welchen die meisten aus Syrien, Afghanistan und dem Irak eine Zuflucht in Deutschland suchen (Stand: 2016). Die Gründe für die Zuwanderung sind verschiedene – Flüchtlinge suchen in einem sicheren Land Schutz vor Krieg und Terror, welcher in ihrem Heimatland herrscht.

Andere Zuwanderer hoffen sich bessere Lebensbedingungen für sich und ihre Familie erschaffen zu können durch höhere Löhne oder durch bessere Schulbildung. Asylsuchende werden nach ihrer Ankunft und Registrierung in Deutschland in Aufnahmeeinrichtungen aufgenommen in welcher sie kurz- ober auch langfristig untergebracht werden. Schutzsuchende werden in Deutschland durch eine Verteilungsquote den verschiedenen Bundesländern zugewiesen. Diese Verteilungsquote gewährleistet eine gleichmäßige Verteilung der Flüchtlinge in Deutschland.

Nach ihrer Zeit in den Aufnahmeeinrichtungen werden sie in Anschlussunterbringungen gebracht, wie zum Beispiel in Gemeinschaftsunterkünften oder auch in eigenen Wohnungen. Ebenfalls werden sie dabei durch Integrationsmaßnahmen u.a. Deutschunterricht oder auch durch Hilfe bei der Jobsuche unterstützt, damit ihnen der Übergang in das Alltagsleben ermöglicht werden kann.

This article is part of a series of stories written by the young people who took part at our seminar “A call for peace for all”. They include real life stories of people who left their countries and/or information about migration in one of the European countries where MIJARC Europe has members. All those whose names or any other identification data appear in the articles have given their written consent for making this information public. 


In the context of the topic chosen for this year by our member movements – peace – we have launched an online campaign of peace messages and quotes under the #nevertakepeaceforgranted slogan. This campaign is part of our work plan which also includes two international activities and a travelling exhibition on the topic of peace. The first international activity of our work plan was preceeded by a preparatory phase during which our members had to interview/discuss with at least two people who had left their countries and are now know as “migrants”, “refugees” or “asylum seekers”. To our members they are just people, as are those living next to us. They have emotional and unusual stories, they live in different conditions but as our participants discovered they have not forgoten to be kind, tolerant, open and to forgive.

Here we bring you the article written by the participants from Belgium. The Flamish version of the article can be found below.

Asylum applications in Belgium

In 2017, 19,688 persons filed an asylum application. Of this, the General Commissioner for Refugees and Stateless Persons decided that 13,833 persons needed effective protection. Of these, 76 percent of these people received refugee status. This means that these people have left their country of origin because they fear persecution because of their nationality, race, religion, political opinion or belonging to a particular social group. The remaining 24 percent received subsidiary protection status because if they return to their country of origin there is a real risk of serious damage.

The number of asylum applications in 2017 is comparable to the number of asylum applications in 2016. If we make the comparison with the number of applications in 2015, namely 44,760, the number is much lower. With this, Belgium fulfills its European obligations and it has committed itself to make the same effort in 2018. With this, Belgium participates in the integrated policy of international protection.

If we look at the country of origin of the persons who received the decision to recognize the refugee status, we see that most people came from Syria. The top ten will be completed by Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Somalia, Guinea, Iran, Eritrea, Congo and Palestine.

In Belgium there are 22,152 reception places for persons who submit an asylum application. In June 2018, 15,866 people will be taken care of in one of these places. 49 percent of these people stay here with their families, 36 percent are single men, 6 percent are single women and 9 percent of these persons are unaccompanied minor. No information is available on the reason of departure. (CGRS, 2018, Fedasil, 2018)


*The Belgian delegation had the chance to talk to Nazir who left Afghanistan in 2013, and after a long journey through Europe he arrived in Belgium in 2014. He travelled to Iran, from there to Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Austria, Italy, France to end in Belgium. During his travelling, he had often cold, was afraid, had a lot of questions, he didn’t ate much. He travelled on foot, by bus, train, taxi, … In every country there was someone over there that could help him. His uncle paid for the migration to Europe. Which country he would end, was not known. It must be a better and safer country where human rights are important.

Bulgaria was to him the most unfriendly country, they treated him and other Afghans very bad. He also hurt his leg a lot when travelling through Serbia. But because he was illegal in Europe, he wasn’t allowed to go to a doctor by the ‘agents’ who helped him travelling. Finally, in Belgium they could help him. First it looked like Nazir would be send back to Bulgaria, but because he needed an operation in Belgium he could stay here. Now his papers are okay he looks forward to reunite his family here in Belgium. It’s a safe country, with good people who respect the human rights. In Afghanistan, he could have died. He is really grateful for the opportunity his uncle and Belgium gave to him.

Nazir arrived in Belgium in 2014. Before that he traveled a long way from Afghanistan through many countries in Europe, on foot, with a truck, bus, train and tram.

He left Afghanistan in November 2013. His uncle (the brother of his mother) has paid for the whole trip. Several “agents” helped him to continue his journey, he did not have to pay them on the way, sometimes when he wanted (extra) food or drinks on the way.

First he walked five days on foot through the mountains in Iran. “Agents” helped him to continue traveling by car and trucks. They gave the group of refugees very little food and drink. Sometimes they got a small piece of bread, then some tomatoes, … They ate only once a day.

The border with Turkey was crossed on foot overnight. The “agents” said that this was better. It was much too cold to sleep. Nazir wore a coat, but this was too thin in the cold temperatures.

The agents were also strict, saying that everyone should be quiet.

A little later they crossed the Turkish border with some 20 people in a kind of lorry and landed in a city near the border of Turkey.

There was no plan in advance that Nazir would go to. He wanted to go to a country where it was better, where he did not have to fear for his life. A country where people respect human rights, and where he was safe. A country with mutual respect.

In Turkey, the agent bought a bus ticket to Istanbul. With 5 refugees they went to a regular public bus. Each of them received a letter from the agent, with a Turkish text on which they had to write down their name and their destination (Istanbul). This they would then have to give when they got control. Nazir wanted to know what was in the letter, but the agent simply asked them to be quiet.

Finally, the police (or probably a kind of conductors) came to check the bus. Nazir was afraid to give the letter, because he did not know what was in it and if it would be alright. Eventually he did give the letter, and everything was in order for the inspector.

A second check was carried out a second time, asking for IDs, but here too the letter was enough to travel on. Nazir never knew what was in the letter.

Arriving in Istanbul, a man was waiting at the bus to wait for the group of five refugees. Nazir had his doubts, he was not sure if this person was reliable. Eventually they went along with that person. He made sure that they arrived at a building through a taxi ride of about half an hour where they had to go through a door quickly. There Nazir found another 25 or so other refugees, who had already been there for one or two days. These people confirmed that the person who brought them up there was an agent, and Nazir was so reassured.

In total, Nazir spent 4 days in Turkey, of which three together with this group of about 25 people.

Bulgaria would be the next stop after he had asked the agent.

He had to make the journey, walk through woods while it was snowing. It was certainly 12 hours of walking, which was made difficult by the snow. To get warmer he got a jacket from a friend. It was difficult to sleep and he could not eat much either. Since he thought he did not get much or any food on the way, he had paid the agent in Turkey to get a bottle of water and a bag of biscuits. He then had it on the way.

Suddenly they were stopped by police who asked them about their ID. They did not have this. These policemen called other agents, they came with different jeeps. Everyone was arrested and taken to the police station. Then they were taken to a closed institution where they stayed for at least a month. They got very little food there, the police were not respectful either. It seemed more like they were in a prison. The police had also knocked friends of him with a kind of stick to ask to be quiet, even though they did not commit a crime.

Nazir was worried.

Bulgaria was not a good country for him. “Rubbish”. He never wants to go back there.

Then they took fingerprints. And after that he was allowed to travel to Sofia. He heard that that was a big city. There were many other refugees. There he met another agent who knew the other agents who had already helped him during his journey. This man helped him to the next country: Serbia.

Serbia had many hills, where he eventually stumbled heavily. It was very serious. He could not explain exactly what it was, but he probably had torn a ligament on his knee so he could barely stand on his leg. The agent wanted him to hurry, but that did not work. Two other Afghans helped him by supporting him to take the rest of the road (another 3 hours of walking).

He then stayed in Serbia for a month until he could walk again. From there he traveled an hour with the car and then walked another 2 to 3 hours. Fortunately, it was a plain area here. Further to Hungary it was by taxi with 3 others, to a house, where they had to be silent again from the agents. There they were 2 weeks. Nazir was not sure if they were in Hungary, someone had told him that.

Furthermore, the taxi went to Austria. There they were stopped by the police. Nazir was very worried again. The police said they should not worry and took them to the police station for fingerprints. Then they were allowed to go to an open center. There was much more respect for refugees here. He stayed here for one week. Then he came in contact with an agent who had contact with the agent from Turkey. He asked him to stay in the center that day, but then to come to him.

On the way with the agent, there was no mention in the tram. Nazir had to follow the agent in silence and pay attention to signs he would do, for example, to abandon. After the officer’s sign they got off and went to the train station where the agent bought a train ticket for him. From there the journey continued to Italy. Italy was a good and normal country. From Italy it went on to France again, and then Nazir finally ended up in Belgium in 2014. According to the agent, that was a good and safe country.

The agents and other Afghans and an Arab living here helped him to refer to where he could go to request his asylum. Before that he went to Brussels, where they took his fingerprints for the third time. Through the database they knew that he was first registered in Bulgaria (where they first took his fingerprints). According to it He would therefore normally be sent back to Bulgaria in a Dublin agreement. For this there was still a consultation. Meanwhile, Nazir got a shelter in Fedasil, in Brussels he got a train ticket to get there. He spent 1.5 months there. He then received the request to go to the commissariat in Brussels again, but this was not recommended by others if he did not want to return to Bulgaria. They gave the advice to stay illegally in Belgium for 6 months and only then to return again. According to them, the fingerprints would then have been removed from the system or something similar.

Nazir then had many questions. Where did he go during that time for food, shelter, clothes? Someone showed him the way to a church where he could stay for a long time and where everything was free, donated by others.

After 6 months, Nazir then returned to the Brussels office, where he was taken to a center from which the refugees are sent back (in his case back to Bulgaria). There were many other people there who would also be sent back.

He was at his wit’s end and cried, because Bulgaria was a bad country. He did not want to go back there. Two days later he went to the doctor to see his leg that he had seriously injured a long time ago. Now he could have looked at this, earlier could or could not. They were then illegal and were not allowed to be discovered. He still could not use his leg properly.

He told the doctor that he certainly wanted to have his leg healed in Belgium, he was sure that this would not be possible in Bulgaria. They did not have respect for human rights, and in Belgium this was the case.

The doctor did not know what to answer. He sent a message to someone from the migration service. The answer to this was that Nazir could have his leg checked thoroughly. If it is a real problem, he could stay in Belgium. If this is not the case he must return to Bulgaria.

The tests indicated that surgery was needed and a long physiotherapy to recover. For this he had nothing to pay, everything was paid for him even though it was 4,000 euros for the operation alone. Nazir was overjoyed. After the operation, the physiotherapist came to Fedasil for 9 months for exercises for his leg. The assistant in Fedasil received an e-mail from the commissioner that he could submit a new asylum application. He then had to do two more interviews, with ultimately a positive answer. He then had to leave the center. He first received a home from the OCMW of Kortrijk as a temporary solution for a short time. He currently has his own house. He hopes soon to be reunited with his wife and two children aged 4 and 6 years. And he is very grateful for his permission to stay in Belgium.

If he goes back to his homeland now, there is a chance that he might die. He has informed everyone of his family that he has arrived well here, and is really satisfied.

Asielaanvragen in België

In 2017 diende 19.688 personen een asielaanvraag in. Hiervan werd er door het commissariaat-generaal voor de vluchtelingen en staatlozen beslist dat 13.833 personen effectief bescherming nodig hadden. Hiervan kregen 76 procent van deze personen een vluchtelingenstatuut. Dit wil zeggen dat deze personen hun land van herkomst hebben verlaten omdat ze vrezen voor vervolging omwille van hun nationaliteit, ras, religie, politieke overtuiging of het behoren tot een bepaalde sociale groep. De overige 24 procent kregen een subsidiaire beschermingsstatuut omdat indien ze terugkeren naar hun land van herkomst een reëel risico lopen op ernstige schade.

Het aantal asielaanvragen in 2017 is vergelijkbaar met het aantal asielaanvragen in 2016. Als we de vergelijking maken met het aantal aanvragen in 2015, namelijk 44.760 dan ligt het aantal veel lager. Hiermee komt België zijn Europese verplichtingen na en het heeft zich geëngageerd om dezelfde inspanning te doen in 2018. Hiermee werkt België mee aan het geïntegreerd beleid van internationale bescherming.

Als we het land van herkomst bekijken van de personen die de beslissing tot erkenning van het vluchtelingenstatuut ontvingen, zien we dat de meeste personen afkomstig waren uit Syrië. De top tien wordt vervolledigd door Afghanistan, Irak, Turkije, Somalië, Guinee, Iran, Eritrea, Congo en Palestina.

In België zijn er 22.152 opvangplaatsen voor personen die een asielaanvraag indienen. In juni 2018 worden er 15.866 personen opgevangen in één van deze plaatsen. 49 procent van deze personen verblijven hier samen met hun familie, 36 procent is een alleenstaande man, 6 procent is een alleenstaande vrouw en 9 procent van deze personen is een niet begeleide minderjarige. Over de reden van vertrek is geen informatie beschikbaar. (CGVS, 2018; Fedasil, 2018)



Nazir kwam in 2014 in België aan. Daarvoor heeft hij een lange weg afgelegd vanuit Afghanistan doorheen vele landen in Europa, te voet, met een vrachtwagen, bus, trein en tram.

In november 2013 is hij vertrokken uit Afghanistan. Zijn nonkel (de broer van zijn moeder) heeft de hele reis bekostigd. Verschillende “agenten” hielpen hem zijn reis verder te zetten, onderweg moest hij hen niet betalen, wel soms als hij (extra) eten of drinken wou voor onderweg.

Eerst heeft hij vijf dagen te voet door de bergen in Iran gewandeld. “Agenten” hielpen hem met auto en vrachtauto’s verder te reizen. Zij gaven de groep vluchtelingen heel weinig eten en drinken. Soms kregen ze een klein stuk brood, dan eens wat tomaten, … Ze aten slechts een keer per dag.

De grens met Turkije werd ’s nachts te voet overgestoken. De “agenten” zeiden dat dit beter was. Het was er wel veel te koud om te slapen. Nazir droeg dan wel een jas, maar dit was veel te dun in de koude temperaturen.

De agenten waren ook streng, zeiden dat iedereen stil moesten zijn.

Wat later staken ze dan met een stuk of 20 personen in een soort vrachtauto de Turkse grens over en belandden zij in een stad bij de grens van Turkije.

Op voorhand was er geen plan waar Nazir heen zou gaan. Hij wou naar een land gaan waar het beter was, waar hij niet hoefde te vrezen voor zijn leven. Een land waar men de mensenrechten respecteert, en waar hij veilig was. Een land met wederzijds respect.

In Turkije kocht de agent een busticket naar Istanboel. Met 5 vluchtelingen gingen ze op een gewone publieke bus zitten. Elk van hen kreeg een brief mee van de agent, met een Turkse tekst op waar ze hun naam en hun bestemming (Istanboel) op moesten noteren. Dit zouden ze dan moeten afgeven wanneer zij controle kregen. Nazir wou graag weten wat er in de brief stond, maar de agent vroeg hen gewoon om stil te zijn.

Uiteindelijk kwam politie (of waarschijnlijk een soort conducteurs) de bus controleren. Nazir was bang om de brief af te geven, want hij wist niet wat er in stond en of het in orde zou zijn. Uiteindelijk gaf hij dan wel de brief, en was alles in orde voor de controleur.

Er werd later nog een tweede keer een controle uitgevoerd waarbij men vroeg naar ID’s, maar ook hier was de brief voldoende om verder te reizen. Nazir heeft nooit geweten wat er in de brief stond.

Aangekomen in Istanboel, stond er een man klaar aan de bus om het groepje van vijf vluchtelingen op te wachten. Nazir had zo zijn twijfels, hij wist niet zeker of deze persoon wel betrouwbaar was. Uiteindelijk gingen ze toch mee met die persoon. Hij zorgde dat ze via een taxirit van ongeveer een half uur toekwamen aan een gebouw waar ze snel door een deur moesten gaan. Daar trof Nazir nog een stuk of 25 andere vluchtelingen aan, die daar al één of twee dagen aanwezig waren. Deze mensen bevestigden dat de persoon die hen tot daar gebracht had een agent was, en Nazir was zo gerustgesteld.

In totaal verbleef Nazir zo’n 4 dagen in Turkije, waarvan drie samen met deze groep van een 25-tal mensen.

Bulgarije zou de volgende stop worden, nadat hij dit gevraagd had aan de agent.

Hij moest om de reis te maken, door bossen lopen terwijl het aan het sneeuwen was. Het was zeker 12 uur wandelen, wat bemoeilijkt werd door de sneeuw. Om het warmer te krijgen kreeg hij een jas van een vriend. Het was er moeilijk slapen en hij kon ook niet veel eten. Aangezien hij dacht niet veel of geen eten te krijgen voor onderweg had hij de agent betaald in Turkije om een fles water en een zak biscuits te halen. Deze had hij dan mee voor onderweg.

Plots werden ze gestopt door politie die hen vroeg naar hun ID. Dit hadden ze niet bij. Deze politiemannen belden dan andere agenten op, zij kwamen toe met verschillende jeeps. Iedereen werd opgepakt en naar het politiekantoor gebracht. Daarna werden zij naar een gesloten instelling gebracht waar zij minstens een maand verbleven. Ze kregen daar zeer weinig eten, de politie was ook niet respectvol. Het leek meer alsof ze in een gevangenis zaten. De politie had ook vrienden van hem geslagen met een soort stok om te vragen om stil te zijn, ook al deden zij geen misdaad.

Nazir was bezorgd.

Bulgarije was geen goed land voor hem. “Rubbish”. Hij wil daar nooit meer terug.

Dan namen ze vingerafdrukken. En daarna mocht hij doorreizen naar Sofia. Hij hoorde dat dat een grote stad was. Er waren veel andere vluchtelingen. Daar ontmoette hij weer een agent die de andere agenten kende die hem reeds geholpen hadden tijdens zijn reis. Deze man hielp hem naar het volgende land: Servië.

Servië had vele heuvels, waar hij uiteindelijk zwaar gestruikeld was. Het was heel ernstig. Hij kon niet precies uitleggen wat het precies was, maar hij had waarschijnlijk een ligament aan zijn knie gescheurd waardoor hij amper op zijn been kon staan. De agent wou dat hij zich haastte, maar dat ging niet. Twee andere Afghanen hebben hem geholpen door hem te ondersteunen om de rest van de weg (nog 3 uur wandelen) af te leggen.

Hij is daarna een maand in Servië gebleven tot hij weer wat kon wandelen. Van daaruit heeft hij een uur met de auto gereisd en dan nog 2 à 3 uur gewandeld. Gelukkig was het hier een effen gebied. Verder naar Hongarije ging het met de taxi met nog 3 anderen, naar een huis, waar ze opnieuw stil moesten zijn van de agenten. Daar waren zij 2 weken. Nazir was zelf niet zeker of ze wel degelijk in Hongarije waren, iemand had hem dat verteld.

Verder ging het met de taxi naar Oostenrijk. Daar werden ze tegengehouden door de politie. Nazir was opnieuw erg bezorgd. De politie zei dat ze zich geen zorgen moesten maken en nam hen mee naar het politiekantoor voor vingerafdrukken. Daarna mochten ze naar een open centrum. Er was hier veel meer respect voor vluchtelingen. Hier verbleef hij één week. Daarna kwam hij weer in contact met een agent die contact had met de agent uit Turkije. Deze vroeg hem om die dag nog in het centrum te blijven, maar daarna naar hem te komen.

Onderweg met de agent mocht er in de tram niet gesproken worden. Nazir moest de agent zwijgend volgen en letten op tekens die hij zou doen om bijvoorbeeld af te stappen. Na het teken van de agent stapten zij af en gingen naar het treinstation waar de agent een treinkaart kocht voor hem. Van daaruit ging de reis verder naar Italië. Italië was een goed en normaal land. Van Italië ging het weer door naar Frankrijk, en daarna kwam Nazir uiteindelijk in 2014 in België terecht. Dat was volgens de agent een goed en veilig land.

De agenten en andere Afghanen en een Arabier die hier woonden hielpen hem met het doorverwijzen waar hij terecht kon om zijn asiel aan te vragen. Daarvoor ging hij naar Brussel, waar ze voor de derde keer zijn vingerafdrukken namen. Via de databank wisten zij dat hij voor het eerst geregistreerd was in Bulgarije (waar ze het eerst zijn vingerafdrukken namen). Volgens het Dublinakkoord zou hij dus normaal gezien terug naar Bulgarije gezonden worden. Hiervoor werd er nog een overleg gepleegd. Ondertussen kreeg Nazir een onderkomen in Fedasil, in Brussel kreeg hij een treinticket om er te geraken. Daar verbleef hij 1,5 maand. Hij kreeg dan het verzoek om opnieuw naar het commissariaat in Brussel te gaan, maar dit werd door anderen afgeraden als hij niet terug naar Bulgarije wou keren. Ze gaven het advies om 6 maanden illegaal in België te verblijven en daarna pas nog eens terug te keren. De vingerafdrukken zouden volgens hen dan uit het systeem gehaald zijn of iets dergelijks.

Nazir had dan wel veel vragen. Waar moest hij gedurende die tijd terecht voor eten, een onderdak, kleren? Iemand toonde hem de weg naar een kerk waar hij gedurende lange tijd mocht verblijven en waar alles gratis was, gedoneerd door anderen.

Na 6 maanden keerde Nazir dan terug naar het kantoor in Brussel, waar hij toch werd meegenomen naar een centrum van waaruit men de vluchtelingen terug stuurt (in zijn geval dus terug naar Bulgarije). Er waren daar nog vele andere mensen aanwezig die ook teruggestuurd zouden worden.

Hij was ten einde raad en huilde, want Bulgarije was een slecht land. Hij wou er absoluut niet terug heen. Twee dagen later ging hij langs bij de dokter om eens zijn been te laten bekijken dat hij een hele tijd geleden ernstig geblesseerd had. Nu kon hij hier wel naar laten kijken, vroeger kon of mocht dat niet. Ze waren toen namelijk illegaal en mochten niet ontdekt worden. Hij kon nog steeds niet goed zijn been gebruiken.

Tegen de dokter vertelde hij dat hij zeker zijn been wilde laten genezen in België, hij was er zeker van dat dit in Bulgarije niet mogelijk zou zijn. Daar hadden ze namelijk geen respect voor de mensenrechten en in België was dit wel het geval.

De dokter wist niet wat te antwoorden. Hij stuurde hiervoor een bericht naar iemand van de migratiedienst. Het antwoord hierop was dat Nazir zijn been grondig mocht laten checken. Indien het een echt probleem is, mocht hij in België blijven. Is dit niet het geval moet hij terug naar Bulgarije.

De tests wezen uit dat er een operatie nodig was en een lange kinesitherapie om te herstellen. Hiervoor diende hij niets te betalen, alles werd voor hem betaald ook al was het 4.000 euro voor de operatie alleen. Nazir was dolgelukkig. Na de operatie kwam de kinesist nog 9 maanden langs bij Fedasil voor oefeningen voor zijn been. De assistent in Fedasil kreeg een e-mail van het commissariaat dat hij een nieuwe asielaanvraag mocht indienen. Hij heeft dan nog twee interviews moeten doen, met uiteindelijk een positief antwoord. Hierop moest hij dan wel het centrum verlaten. Hij kreeg eerst voor een korte tijd een huis van het OCMW van Kortrijk als tijdelijke oplossing. Momenteel heeft hij nu zijn eigen huis. Hij hoopt binnenkort terug verenigd te worden met zijn vrouw en twee kinderen van 4 en 6 jaar. En hij is heel erg dankbaar voor zijn toelating om in België te mogen blijven.

Mocht hij nu terug naar zijn thuisland gaan, is er een kans dat hij zou kunnen sterven. Hij heeft iedereen van zijn familie op de hoogte gebracht dat hij hier goed is aangekomen, en is echt tevreden.

This article is part of a series of stories written by the young people who took part at our seminar “A call for peace for all”. They include real life stories of people who left their countries and/or information about migration in one of the European countries where MIJARC Europe has members. All those whose names or any other identification data appear in the articles have given their written consent for making this information public. 

In the context of the topic chosen for this year by our member movements – peace – we have launched an online campaign of peace messages and quotes under the #nevertakepeaceforgranted slogan. This campaign is part of our work plan which also includes two international activities and a travelling exhibition on the topic of peace. The first international activity of our work plan was preceeded by a preparatory phase during which our members had to interview/discuss with at least two people who had left their countries and are now know as “migrants”, “refugees” or “asylum seekers”. To our members they are just people, as are those living next to us. They have emotional and unusual stories, they live in different conditions but as our participants discovered they have not forgoten to be kind, tolerant, open and to forgive.

Here we bring you the article written by the participants from Armenia.

Article written by:

Armine Movsesyan
Seda Mkrtchyan
Yeghiazaryan Diana

Being considered as the worst humanitarian crisis of nowadays, the Syrian refugee crisis is one of the major and complex issues in the world. According to Armenian officials, more than 22,000 Syrians have been forced to leave their homes and come to their ancestral homeland since the start of the conflict in 2011. By 2015, the United Nations refugee agency said Syrian refugees accounted for six of every 1,000 people in Armenia.
Currently, Syrian Armenians have various legal statuses in Armenia, including Armenian citizens (dual citizens), refugees, asylum seekers, and persons with temporary or permanent residence (one/five/ten years). According to the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora a total of 10,707 people received citizenship in the period of 2012-2014. Refugee and asylum seekers comprise a smaller number, around 700-800 Syrian-Armenians, for the period of 2012-2013.

According to the Migration Service of Armenia: 236 people were granted asylum, of which 136 provided with shelter. Considering the regional developments and multiple challenges Armenia faces today, the need for a relevant infrastructure to address the social and economic issues of Syrian-Armenians becomes extremely urgent.

The arrivals are still ongoing (86 persons in 2017). It should be noted that Armenia also hosts refugees and asylum-seekers from Iraq, Ukraine and Iran and smaller numbers of refugees from some African countries. Moreover, about 600 of the persons displaced in consequence of the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in April 2016 remain in Armenia and have been now integrated into the general assistance and integration activities.
We were pleased to have a talk with Ramella Khanoyan, who left her home in Aleppo, Syria and came back to Armenia during the war.

FYCA-Ramella Khanoyan.jpg
Ramella Khanoyan

“I arrived in Armenia with my family several years ago. I was 11 years old, when the war began. At first, I couldn’t believe that it was a reality. The first shock happened in March 2011, when I was going to take part in a dancing concert in Aleppo. I had waited for that concert so much. It was one of my biggest dreams to participate in it. We were practicing at the hall with my friends and tutors, when suddenly the first bomb exploded. At first we couldn’t imagine that a war started. We felt like unconscious people, but in a few minutes realized that it is not a dream. We escaped from there, and everything got cancelled. Afterwards, similar attacks occurred and I started getting used to it. I have lost a lot of acquaintances, friends and neighbors day by day. The situation gradually became worse and worse, and my parents made a decision to abandon. I remember how frightening it was our way to the airport. We took a taxi, can’t remember how luckily passed the border and immediately went to Damaskos. It is a pity, that we left our childhood, friends, memories there in Aleppo. But anyway, I would never leave my homeland and go back. Armenia is the only place, that I should live in. There is no place like HOME”.