Montag, 23. November 2009

Infopoint for refugees in berlin at the european komission

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I bid you all welcome on behalf of the Agency for Freedom of Movement! We are very pleased to greet you here today on the occasion of this festive and forward-looking action.

In the last thirty minutes we have heard and seen with what defensive measures people who enter the European Union in search of a better life are confronted.

The International Organization for Migration, IOM, attempts to prevent people from leaving when they are still in their native country.

The European border patrol agency Frontex and the border guard agencies stop people even before they reach the external borders of Europe and force them to return to where they came from.

In the countries of the EU people are held in detention camps and deportation centers. We want these conditions to become a thing of the past as soon as possible!

It will take some time for the European refugee policy in its present form to be abolished, but we do not want to wait, we want to take action today. That is why today, at the Pariser Platz in the very center of Berlin and thus easy to find for everyone, we open the first Infopoint for Refugees in Germany!!!

The Infopoint will serve to welcome all those persons who until now were denied access, all those who – irrespective of their reasons – want to settle down in Europe for a while or forever.

We from the Agency for Freedom of Movement have gained our first experiences this summer on the Greek island of Lesbos, where a spontaneously set-up and improvised Infopoint has more than lived up to our expectations. We now import these experiences into Berlin and will build on them.

For this reason the European Commission (and the European Parliament) will have to vacate their offices in the Europahaus (“House of Europe”). After all, they are responsible for regulations such as the Dublin II Convention and for institutions such as Frontex and thus for the distress of tens of thousands of people and the death of thousands of travelers.

Those who do not have the right color of skin or the right nationality and who do not have enough money and therefore have to enter the EU without papers, have generally lived through much sorrow: the painful separation from family and friends, the uncertainties about the further course of their journey, having to improvise rapidly in unforeseen situations, suffering from hunger and not having a safe shelter, sometimes being confronted with a hostile local population and of course with hostile border guards.

These people nevertheless go their way and arrive here. We want to support them. The Infopoint offers the new arrivals a first shelter on the upper floors of the Europahaus. It furthermore provides accommodation for people’s further stay, or possibilities to travel in case the final destination has not been reached yet. It offers food and drink and first financial support, so as to allow people to move around freely and get acquainted with the city. The Infopoint offers medical care and psychological treatment where needed. It offers the complete spectrum of communication media to allow the new arrivals to contact their dear ones at home and their acquaintances and communities here or in other countries. Help with translation in all languages is offered as well.

The Infopoint offers legal advice and the support of lawyers to allow the arrivals to find their way in the labyrinth of asylum and migration law; it also provides mediation for getting a job.

And – this is essential ladies and gentlemen – it offers all conceivable papers people may need in order to live, move and work here in peace, or to safely continue their journey. This means passports for all, work permits, visa, etc.!!! Papers for all and for everything!

Voluntaries – often people who have had their own experiences with migration – give introductory workshops into the social structure of this country and share their experiences.

The café on the ground floor is a place where travelers can network; and fellow travelers can meet again here. It is open to all interested people who which to make contacts.

In a word: as of today the Infopoint for Refugees offers a place where people who have arrived in Europe are heartily welcomed!!! We therefore would have liked to call our Infopoint accordingly Welcome Center. But this concept is often cynically used by the authorities of European States to refer to reception and detention centers where new arrivals are held in deterrence. We do not want to have anything to do with this, nor with the unpleasant associations connected to these prisons and methods!

Our Infopoint is one step towards the abolishment of such prisons and towards a society where no-one is excluded due to color of skin, origin, sex, economic status etc. We still have a long way to go. We hope that the next step will be the creation of many Infopoints at the external borders of Europe, for instance on the Greek islands, as well as in the European core countries!

Ladies and gentlemen, we now invite you to join the festive cutting of the red tape and to toast with sekt on this occasion!