An Open Letter to the Governments of Europe
We, the front-line volunteers who for months now have been helping thousands of refugees, call on all the governments of Europe to act immediately and decisively to alleviate the situation. There are tens of thousands of people moving through south-eastern Europe and the current capacities of volunteer-based help sites are seriously challenged. Given also the rapid approach of winter and problems at various borders, we feel there is a real danger that the situation will lead to serious medical problems and likely deaths among the refugee community.
Every person has the legal right to seek asylum. If Europe is not able to provide safe and legal routes for asylum-seekers, it is obliged to provide aid to those who took the dangerous route. We do not want to see a single refugee dying while waiting in endless queues at European borders, literally in our own hands.
Volunteers have been providing a wide range of activities so far, in many places completely replacing the absent government facilities and aid. We are distributing food and water, undertaking crowd management, providing critical information about registration and borders, referring vulnerable people to UNHCR or medical services, caring for children, managing stocks of clothing and blankets, cleaning waste, raising funds and providing shelter to the most vulnerable few.
We have been doing all this for months in Lesvos, Athens, Gevgelija, Budapest, Röszke, Belgrade, Eidomeni, Hegyeshalom, Nickelsdorf, Wien, Salzburg, Heiligenkreuz, Zakány, Botovo, Calais, Preševo, Berkasovo, Bregana, Harmica, Trnovec, Mursko Središće, Bapska, Opatovac and a number of other places around Europe. We have proven that volunteers can do a lot, but we will be unable to keep thousands of people warm once the winter weather closes in.
Winter is coming quickly and we all have just a few days to respond in a humane way.
We call on all European countries to provide immediate help to all those countries affected by the refugee crisis, instead of helping those countries that are building fences.
We call for the building of safe reception and transit centres with facilities that can cope with the harsh winter conditions of the region.
We also call for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people that need it, for the provision of appropriate medical services and for the coordination of all efforts on a pan-European level.
We also call on the EU to immediately implement other mechanisms which aim to provide safe passage to the EU.
This is advance notice to all of you, the leaders of Europe, that people will be freezing to death soon on our borders if you do not act now.
We have done our best up to this point and we will continue to help for as long as is necessary. But now it is your turn, governments of Europe. Please respond and demonstrate to the world that humanity is still at the core of European values.