Shaping the future


are you in the line?

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We never expected so many people here. Brussels is our last stop and we thought that "this must be the place", since the beginning of the project's conception.
On one hand, because just in Belgium there has been the first sentence by the European Court about the violation of Geneva Convention for a ricorrent asylum seeker: a legal precedent that let others follow. Besides the European Court of Human Rights held that there has been an ulterior violation of Geneva Convention (art.3) either in Belgium either in Greece - also like in other countries - with regards to an asylum seeker that entered in Europe via Greece, then applied in Belgium but he was transferred back to Greece and there detaineed in unacceptable conditions.
On the other hand, because here, in Brussels there is Europe which decides, debates and develops Eu directive that member states then adopt. And here we have to bring this discussion to a point. Neverthless the European commission talked about immigration reform, just three days ago during the morning session of parliamentary first meetings, and the Dublin III regulation entered this year with some enhanced changes for the asylum rules; a week ago the European Council delivered a conclusive document whichin the immigration topic is disclosing not so urgent. It's missing the "europeanizing" of the immigration and asylum question.

Do you know what this exhbition making me think about? Someone speaks about economic crisis as the unique paradigma of these years: this is a fake story. If we want to talk about future, we need to losing the constraining meaning of this word: crisis

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This is the reason european dream is here.

It’s our turn

Yes it is.
Yesterday in Strasbourg started the Italian semester and MEPs (Member European Parliament) began their new legislature, the eighth for the European Parliament.
european dream before parliament
We were there, in the square of the European Parliament.
We know that it has been a meaningful moment not only because our penultimate stop towards Brussels, for the possible exchange with MEPs and for any visitors who would have seen the exhibition, but because a truck full of migrants and refugees stories was before your eyes, the everyone’s look. Above all, at the end, because other migrants are dying in the effort to arriving in Europe in the last hours, and 75 still missing.
It was so complicated to understand, in the same hours, a few words dedicated to the immigration topic by current president of European Commission Barroso, during the Parliament opening session:

An immigration policy is still missing

Sure we need it.

An italian MEP said that this exhibition reminds everyone of the migrants “need” for Europe. But not in the same way they need us. As a visitor told us during Geneva stop

Welcome to everybody comes for work

But this is not the question at the stake. Europe “is 500 million of citizens for 28 member states” and the number of refugees, worldwide, exceeded 50 million for the first time since world war 2. Someone asked us why some North Africans, showed in the exhibition, passed through Greece to reach Europe, instead of navigating the Mediterranean sea, like others are doing, endangering their lifes. Because Turkey, as other countries, don’t ask them visa, so they pass through its border to reaching Greece, where they live in the shadow, oftentimes without gaining a protection permit. Then they move towards other European countries with the same purpose to arriving to Europe.
So, the question is: why an immigration policy still missing?
Europe, it’s your turn to work on it.

Geneva, worldwide

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Can you believe that Italians were once like refugees in this country – Switzerland? When they passed through the borders and customs, they were ravaged – just like migrants and refugees who are arriving to the Italian coasts today

Francesca is an engineer who works with the Red Cross. She stopped in Geneva to take some time off. She has been working with refugees in South Sudan, providing them with tools to make the water system more efficient.

The refugees I with at the Red Cross, even though the situation is different, have at least one point in common with the migrants in Europe: while Westerners are involved and committed in South Sudan or in the countries they fled from which have been hit by conflicts and destruction, , the same Westerners don’t do enough for migrants and refugees here in Europe. It is as if they can’t do anything or are not inclined to.

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In Geneva I’m specializing in human rights, especially laws regarding refugees, I’m a lawyer. It’s nearly impossible to not say that the exhibition stop here is the wrong and the right place at the same time. Geneva, thanks to the United Nations and UNHCR, is where refugee requests, applications and debates are embraced. But this is not Europe, this is an island in the European sea.

Angelo is Brazilian and he has a background in migration because he worked across the north border of Mexico and he studied migration in Venezuela.

As a Greek who lives here, I’m feeling lucky and shame at the same time. These pictures told me what my country fails to provide to the migrants and refugees who are passing through. But I know that here in Geneva, I can do something in order to give back from this experience

Yoanna works for a Ngo and she hasn’t been back to Greece since 2008, just before the crisis.

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Being here today made us feel like we were at center stage, yet out of sight at the same time regarding the topic. Drawing international attention, especially that of youth, to the refugee situation gave us an additional reason to commit to the project. There is no European legislation here, here there is just the world.
The big crippled chair at the top of this post, is in front of United Nations’ main entrance and it is dedicated to the landmine victims. We would like to dedicate it to Europe too: a “Continent” which can’t protect all its people, has no seat in the world.

Unexpected Milan

imageMilan surprised us. Two days of stops that have been useful in understanding how we can connect European Dream with other projects and organizations; how we can feel community involvement; how we can do real networking. People shared their feelings about the cultural approach toward refugees, especially in a city like Milan which was in a tight spot some weeks ago while “hosting” hundreds of Syrian refugees. For European Dream, it has been the first stop in which the photography’s appeal came to light: we have had a lot of photo editor visitors, which leads us to think again about the importance of images in telling a story. And, last but not least, having the opportunity to meet Massimo De Vita Teatro Officina the Artistic Director of Teatro Officina, thrilled us.

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We need people like you: foolish, wired, inspired. My experience with the refugees we hosted at Teatro Officina, taught me something I didn’t find out before: the importance of having someone who “carries” you beyond, who gives you the motivation to get direction, who builds the network. When at a meeting in the theatre, some refugees missed the appointment, it was why they found a job.

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Being a Refugee

European Dream in Florence
Today in Florence, during his visit to European Dream, Gabriele asked us

who is a refugee?

The Convention adopted in 1951 by the United Nations defines refugees as:

Any person who: owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country

Neverthless European Dream tells through the pictures about the migrants’ purgatory from Greece to Europe, Gabriele made a highly appropriate question for the situation. Beyond “being” also becoming refugee is not simple: you have to make the request as asylum seeker, wait for a uncertain period, get a refusal oftentimes.

The burden of proof is on the the asylum seeker. I came from persecution but some people come from war. They just run. They have nothing. When I left Nigeria I didn’t think about getting informations about that. I was desperate and scared. I thought that claiming asylum was all I need to do, but you have to do so much more. The evidence, the burden of proof is so big. The burden on proof should be on the Territorial Commissions of the Home Office, not on the person who’s suffering, the person who’s scared of being imprisoned, who’s scared of being discriminated. It shouldn’t be that way. The person who’s vulnerable should not be the one who has to try to prove. The burden should to be on the other side. Being an asylum seeker is something like a label. When you go to the grocery to pay and pull out your top up card – because you have a sort of prepaid credit card (no cash) for groceries, clothes, everything you need – the’ll call you: “She’s an asylum seeker”. I fear to be only an asylum seeker, being imprisoned in a life is not mine, again

We want Europe back to be a dream for everyone

truck in rome
Laura:

For migrants, your country (Italy) is the first point of contact with the Continent. Of course, the Greece’s too, if they don’t come from Africa. But this is the country they expect something from: a welcome, at least a bed. They leave Greece, being aware they can’t stay there, they have to hide, maybe below a truck like that of “European Dream”. Their final destination, a place to live, is somewhere else: maybe in London, Brussels, Berlin, New York, nor Rome neither Athens. But Italy, you know, has a great responsibility regarding asylum’s seekers

two girls and captions

Gianni:

Why do we have to take them? Don’t you see how we live in Italy? Less Money, less security, more promises, but fewer and fewer guarantees. We are unable to take migrants. We’re giving them nothing as we don’t have anything even for ourselves.

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Laura is a teacher from Atlanta, US. As American she has a different perception of migrants and refugees in transit through the “Continent”. Gianni is from Rome. He works with an obsessive fear: losing his job. The economic crisis hit him hard, he lost his dreams, he’s worried about his family. He attended the exhibition talking about the need, as an emergency, to return the migrants to their countries. But this is not racism.

Laura and Gianni, at the same time, visited the exhibition “European Dream” in Rome. Even if they did so for different reasons and with different feelings. However both demonstrated the same sentiments about migrants and refugees: how important is to match the trustworthiness of a country towards its citizenry and the reception of the asylum’s seekers, who maybe could became citizens too.
Migrant from Algeria in Colubia Records factory - Athens

Trust me. I’d rather be in my country if I could. I’d really like not to be here. I feel embarrassed about it but I need to start over again elsewhere: hopefully with my cousins who are in Frankfurt where I can search for a new job, maybe in a restaurant. I have 20 years of work experience in the hospitality sector. I dream to open my own restaurant, a traditional American diner, one day.. Maybe in US. Don’t laugh..

Sayed’s from Iraq. It took him (only) three months to reach Greece. Now he lives in Italy and he doesn’t want to say where.
He has been waiting for a permit of stay for international protection since the late October. He will likely be as an international protection seeker but the territorial commission’s decision is yet to come.

Today, the Italian Premier Matteo Renzi delivered a speech to the Parliament about new tasks of the Eu Presidency, that Italy will take over on 1st July. He said:

We want Europe to go back to being a dream for everyone

Behind the numbers: People

This is the day.
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Today, as guest speakers, we talked about migrants and refugees, their stories, their dreams; celebrating the World Refugee Day with UNHCR Italy and Rome City Hall. IMG_1131
We shared thoughts, reflections, purposes and, above all, we’re going to reap just what we sowed. At the end, behind the numbers we talked about people. The need of integration, a real welcome, the responsibility of a reception’s culture, the commitment.
This is what we want to tell you with European Dream.pictures inside the truck1 This is the story: people, beyond any number.

First stop: Bari

The first stop in Bari was full of emotions. They were in a city square, not at all silent, but curious, determined to understand what was happening in the truck, what those photographs of migrants and refugees in transit from Greece to Italy, and most of all, to Europe, were trying to say. We met some of them in the square, next to our mobile container: they were blocking the street in front of the city hall, protesting over the lack of housing. They’ve been in Bari for three months and most of them are Afghans. They asked the local officials, in vain, for a place to sleep in the city’s refugee welcome center. These young people, some of whom are minors, have been sent back to Italy because they have been “Dublined”, or in other words, expelled from Northern Europe due to the Dublin Regulation and forced to return to Italy, the country where they first entered and obtained a protection permit. But what kind of protection is it when you don’t even have a bed to sleep in, or a place to stay? These young people who were protesting are sleeping on the streets and do not want to stay in Italy, also for this reason. Their plan for the future, which would have taken them somewhere else, was interrupted, their dream unraveled, their prospects in life were canceled. After living in the shadows in Northern Europe and despite being “protected”, they have had no rights, no future, no reception, no life, since 2008.
The police then came into the piazza and made them free up the street, scaring them and taking their identity documents, but then, they too understood, and took them to the police station in search of answers and a place to sleep.

One of the young Afghans recognizes places he has lived in the photos of European Dream.

Afghan inside European Dream truck

Afghan inside European Dream truck