We create a bridge to Safe Harbours.
We are a political movement, supported mostly by individuals from civil society. Everyone who supports our political goals and wants to participate is already part of the movement. Through demos and protest actions in the countryside and in the city, we fight with our numerous local groups for migration policy based on solidarity and human rights—in short: away from isolation and towards freedom of movement for all people!
For years, these images and news have been omnipresent and have given the impression that dying off Europe’s coasts is just as inevitable as the catastrophic accommodations for those who have fled. We have all become somewhat accustomed to these images and for many it appears as if there is no alternative to European asylum policy, but there are alternatives. We at Seebrücke are absolutely sure: A world is possible in which no human being has to lose their life on their way to a safe future. A world is possible in which coincidences such as birthplace or passport do not decide where a person is allowed to live. A Europe is possible that protects the rights of all people instead of “the border”—including those who have had to flee.
As a broad civil society movement, we are creating a vision of a world without isolation, without camps, and without deportations. We look to a Europe of solidarity and voluntary commitment, of inalienable human rights, and the right to asylum. Even if this vision of Europe as open and in solidarity will not become reality tomorrow (or the day after tomorrow) on account of the political majority and the political debate that has shifted far to the right, we have to fight for freedom of movement globally and for equal rights for all people, and we must, step by step, forge the path there.
The terrible news from the European borders does not stop: Every year thousands of people die in shipwrecks in the central Mediterranean Sea or, with Europe’s help, are prevented from fleeing and are dragged back to Libyan torture camps. In the camps at Europe’s outer borders, such as Kara-Tepe, Samos, or Lipa, tens of thousands of people seeking protection live in indefensible conditions. Everything is lacking: Shelter, food, basic medical care. The people there are at the mercy of wind and weather.
We currently consist of more than 180 local Seebrücke groups that use protests and actions to draw attention to the indefensible conditions at Europe’s outer borders. We are represented in big cities like Berlin or Munich as well as in small communities like Dargun or Neuendettelsau.
With demos and protest actions in the countryside and in the city, we demand a reversal of German and European asylum and migration policies: away from isolation and towards solidarity and accommodation! Here, the focus has been and continues to be the municipalities. By taking responsibility for asylum policy themselves, cities, counties, and municipalities can show that a policy based on solidarity and human rights is also possible in practice.
Protest of the Municipalities
Fundamental decisions on asylum and migration policy have so far not been among the classic tasks of a municipality. Both the issuing of visas and residence permits as well as the control of who can cross which borders are closely linked to the notion of state power and rest on the sovereignty of the nation-state.
But if the European Union, the German government, or other governments are not willing or able to prevent the deaths in the Mediterranean or to end the situation in the inhumane camps at Europe’s outer borders, then it is indeed municipalities and civil society that must express solidarity with people in flight.
At the municipal and regional level, a countermovement is becoming increasingly apparent that demands safe escape routes, offers to take in refugees, and wants to enable more social participation. This commitment comes from cities and municipalities, which in many places in Europe are networking with civil society groups in order to cooperatively develop alternative political solutions. Municipalities want to take responsibility where they no longer expect solutions from the EU or their respective nation-state, and in the face of humanitarian catastrophes, such as the deaths on the Mediterranean, do not want to remain inactive. Asylum and migration policy is, after all, a central task for municipalities and can also be better assessed at the municipal level: After all, the actual reception of refugees, their care, access to their housing, integration through education, work, social and cultural participation, all take place in the municipalities. So, who could better assess whether the capacities for accommodation and readiness are in place?
More and more municipalities are coming to this realisation: Since summer 2018, more than 250 municipalities in Germany have become “Safe Harbours” and have declared their willingness to take in more people seeking protection—and that is in addition to those who have already been allocated to them based on the distribution key. Together with us and many other civil society actors, now as “Safe Harbours” they are exerting pressure on the German government to bring about change in European asylum and migration policy. As “Safe Harbours”, local governments are now more visible than ever as actors in asylum and placement policy. Even if the municipalities advocate varying positions, municipal resolutions have shown that more and more cities, municipalities, and counties are taking on local responsibility for a migration policy based on solidarity and can no longer tolerate the indefensible conditions at Europe’s outer borders. Willingness in municipalities is by no means limited to Germany alone: throughout Europe—from Palermo to Naples to Barcelona—mayors are declaring their municipalities cities in solidarity with refugees and are organising themselves in alliances.
We all are Seebrücke!
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