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. 


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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. 


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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. 


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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)

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Nazir

*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)

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Nazir

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.
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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”.

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. 


000.pngIn 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 Italy. The Italian version of the article can be found below.

Article written by Steven Gheno

Immigration in Italy

From 2014 to 2017 every year more than one hundred thousand migrants have landed in Italy; in the first five months of 2018 only 13 thousand have arrived. Analysts attribute the drastic decline to agreements signed by the outgoing Minister of Interior Marco Minniti with armed militias in Libya, which in recent months have pledged to block the departures of the boats, and to the strengthening of the Libyan Coast Guard, ie substantially other armed groups, brought forward by the Italian and European authorities.

Between 2014 and 2017, ie in the four years in which the flow from North Africa was more active, about 623 thousand people arrived by sea in Italy. These numbers have never been supported recently by any European country, excluding Greece

Between 2014 and 2015, however, few of the migrants arriving in Italy by sea stopped here: often they had relatives elsewhere in Europe or they felt more comfortable in a country where they were able to speak at least one language, like France or United Kingdom. Theoretically, the Dublin regulation, the European Treaty that regulates asylum procedures, requires that each request for international protection be managed by the European country where the newcomer first set foot. Since 2016 almost all European countries have increased controls at their borders and downloaded the burden of reception on Italy and Greece; and given that every migrant who arrives makes a request for international protection – otherwise he would be sent back, due to national laws – the two countries have dealt with tens of thousands of people.

The program studied in 2015 by the European Commission to transfer certain categories of asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other EU countries did not work. It should have involved 160,000 asylum seekers who are almost sure of obtaining protection – and therefore Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis – but since the Union has no legislative instruments to make a temporary instrument of this kind binding, most of the countries have cheated: three years Hungary, Slovakia, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Poland did not accept any asylum seeker from Italy. Estonia has welcomed 6, Bulgaria 10, Austria 43

According to UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, most of the migrants who land on the Italian coast come from Sub-Saharan African countries.


Immigrazione in Italia

Dal 2014 al 2017 ogni anno sono sbarcati in Italia più di centomila migranti; nei primi cinque mesi del 2018 ne sono arrivati solamente 13mila. Gli analisti attribuiscono il drastico calo agli accordi stretti dal ministro dell’Interno uscente Marco Minniti con le milizie armate in Libia, che nei mesi scorsi si sono impegnate a bloccare le partenze dei barconi, e al rafforzamento della Guardia Costiera libica,  cioè sostanzialmente di altri gruppi armati,portato avanti dalle autorità italiane ed europee.

Fra il 2014 e il 2017, cioè nei quattro anni in cui è stato più attivo il flusso dal Nord Africa, sono arrivate via mare in Italia circa 623mila persone. Sono numeri mai sostenuti di recente da nessun paese europeo, esclusa la Grecia

Fra il 2014 e il 2015, comunque, pochi dei migranti che arrivavano in Italia via mare si fermavano qui: spesso avevano parenti altrove in Europa oppure si sentivano più a loro agio in un paese dove erano in grado di parlare almeno una lingua, come Francia o Regno Unito. Teoricamente il regolamento di Dublino, il trattato europeo che regola le procedure d’asilo, impone che ciascuna richiesta di protezione internazionale sia gestita dal paese europeo dove ha messo piede per primo il nuovo arrivato. Dal 2016 quasi tutti i paesi europei hanno aumentato i controlli alle proprie frontiere e scaricato l’onere dell’accoglienza su Italia e Grecia; e dato che ogni migrante che arriva fa richiesta di protezione internazionale – altrimenti sarebbe rispedito indietro, per le leggi nazionali – i due paesi si sono trovati a occuparsi di decine di migliaia di persone.

Il programma studiato nel 2015 dalla Commissione Europea per trasferire alcune categorie di richiedenti asilo da Italia e Grecia verso altri paesi dell’Unione non ha funzionato. Avrebbe dovuto riguardare 160mila richiedenti asilo quasi sicuri di ottenere protezione – e quindi siriani, eritrei e iracheni – ma poiché l’Unione non ha strumenti legislativi per rendere vincolante uno strumento temporaneo di questo tipo, gran parte dei paesi se n’è fregata: in tre anni Ungheria, Slovacchia, Danimarca, Repubblica Ceca e Polonia non hanno accolto nessun richiedente asilo dall’Italia. L’Estonia ne ha accolti 6, la Bulgaria 10, l’Austria 43.

Secondo l’Unhcr, l’Alto commissariato delle Nazioni Unite per i rifugiati, la maggior parte dei migranti che sbarcano sulle coste italiane proviene da paesi dellAfrica subsahariana

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. 


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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 Romania. The Romanian version of the article can be found below.

f9.jpgAn article written by:

Ivan Emilia Iuliana

Neagu Sara Georgiana

Vlădulescu Cristian Giovani

We are Emilia, Sara and Cristian. In the year 2018 we undertook the mission to overcome the barriers of indifference developed by the collective spirit of the last decades and to penetrate, inspired by the moral and social values ​​of MIJARC Europe, in the world of the least listened.

We put our microphones, cameras, mind and soul beside them, and listened to their stories, I stared at them. Among the key tools that facilitated this road were patience, understanding, solidarity, empathy, and an unwavering psychological force. Although we have prepared to equip them from the start, we recognize that we have had some surprises. At both the beginning and the end, I realized that I needed courage. The courage to accept that we, in front of them, are strangers. Aliens are not so much the country and their language, as foreigners of life experience, strangers of a tortured livelihood, strangers of sacrifice, strangers of suffering. However, the people we discussed with were very open, warm and sincere. They talked to us kindly, they smiled parents and treated us in the purest form, just as they treated their family members. The joy we received with these emotions was unbounded for us, and the feeling itself was overwhelming.

Finally, we can add that we have not only developed a sense of great empathy, but we have understood and how blessed we are that we have been born ordinary citizens, in common, citizens of a country exempt from sacrifice and pain.


Un articol scris de:

Ivan Emilia Iuliana

Neagu Sara Georgiana

Vlădulescu Cristian Giovani

Noi suntem sunt Emilia, Sara și Cristian. În anul lui 2018 ne-am asumat misiunea de a depăși barierele nepăsării dezvoltate de spiritul colectiv al ultimelor decenii și de a pătrunde, impulsionați de valorile morale și sociale ale MIJARC Europe, în lumea celor mai puțin ascultați.

Ne-am pus microfoanele, camerele de filmat, mintea și sufletul lângă ei și le-am ascultat poveștile, i-am privit în suflet. Printre instrumentele-cheie care au facilitat acest drum s-au numărat răbdarea, înțelegerea, solidaritatea, empatia și o forță psihologică de neclintit. Deși ne-am pregătit pentru echiparea cu acestea încă de la început, recunoaştem am avut parte de câteva surprize. Atât la început, cît și la sfârșit, am realizat că aveam nevoie și de curaj. Curajul de a accepta că noi, în fața lor, suntem niște străini. Străini nu atât de țara și de limba lor, cît străini de experiență de viață, străini de un trai chinuitor, străini de sacrificu, străini de suferință. Cu toate acestea, persoanele cu care am discutat au fost foarte deschise, calde și sincere. Ne-au vorbit cu bunătate, ne-au zâmbit părintește și ne-au tratat în cea mai pură formă, la fel cum îi tratează pe membrii familiei lor. Bucuria cu care am primit aceste emoții din partea lor a fost, pentru noi, nemărginită, iar sentimentul în sine a fost copleșitor.

În final, putem adăuga că am reușit nu doar să dezvoltăm un simț al empatiei foarte puternic, dar am înțeles și  cât de binecuvântați suntem că ne-am născut cetățeni obișnuiți, de rând, cetățeni ai unei țări scutite de sacrificiu și durere.

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Photo by Nick Schumacher on Unsplash

Nowadays 1,8 billion people leave in conflict affected areas and 244 million people have been displaced due to conflictual contexts.[1] The Global Peace Index of 2017, showed us that the global peacefulness has deteriorated by 2.14 per cent since 2008[2]. With ongoing conflicts in Myanmar, Syria, Iran, Colombia, Somalia- just to mention a few, we see not only a need for an immediate action to deter the conflicts but also the need to prevent conflicts. There is not a magic formula that can insure that conflicts can be prevented, as various factors need to be considered: social, political and climate context, history of the state, economic trends, access to resources, accessibility of the population to education etc., however, we can all agree that investments in military sectors rather than peace building (under 10 billion dollars[3]) it is not the answer we need.

In the last years, we have come to understand that peace[4]– in the sense of the absence of war/ violent conflict known as Negative Peace- it is not necessary sustainable, however, peace which includes development and growth opportunities has a higher possibility of being sustainable. The dependency between peace and development is known as Positive Peace-  “the integration of human society” in the words of John Galtung. The Institute for Economics and Peace[5] identified eight pillars of positive peace which are yearly measured per country: 1) A Well-Functioning Government; 2) Sound Business Environment; 3) Equitable Distribution of Resources; 4) Equitable Distribution of Resources; 5) Acceptance of the rights of others; 6) Good Relations with Neighbors;  7) Free Flow of Information; 8)High Levels of Human Capital and 9)Low levels of Corruption.

clem-onojeghuo-381193

Although achieving high levels of development per each pillar may seem a long and hard process, each and every one of us, can contribute towards the improvement of the fifth pillar: Acceptance of the rights of others. In this sense, non-formal education methods and opportunities- offered by programmes such as Erasmus + and EYF- to exchange  with people from other cultures, social backgrounds, different religions help increase tolerance, knowledge and understanding of the realities in other countries, play a major role in shaping perceptions and eliminating discrimination. Especially at the level of youth, international non-governmental organizations have been engaging young people in exchanges on different topics, inspiring them to be informed, to participate actively at local and international level. Young people are sources of incredible power that can add value and knowledge to so many fields, peace being one of these fields- young people have developed and implemented a series of activities that promote peace, for instance: developing an interactive map of peace agents – http://www.tgpcloud.org/p4p/index.php?m=youth ; training of youth able to mobilize a larger number of other young people 32 622- Youth Initiatives for Peace and Reconciliation project or PATRIR’s EduPace club. These are examples of actions that we can all promote, actively participate in and become agents of positive change and peacebuilding.

And you, what are you doing today, for a peaceful tomorrow?

Article written by Alexandra SOLOMON
European Secretary

[1] Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, Speech at UNLEASH Awards Ceremony; available at: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/speeches/2017/08/21/achim-steiner-undp-administrator-speech-at-unleash-awards-ceremony.html
[2] Institute for Economics and Peace, Global Peace Index 2017
[3] Idem 2
[4] Distinction made by John Galtung in “ Violence, Peace, and Peace Research” 1969
[5] Institute for Economics and Peace,  POSITIVE PEACE REPORT 2017, pg. 9