Emmaus International

Michel Frédérico is a companion and librarian at the Emmaus community in Pamiers, in the South of France. On 22 January 2017 he arrived in Paris, completing a 900km walk across France to defend Article 13.

ESCALE-A 32442057826 9de0a4081e oHow was this project started?
We were involved, alongside Emmaus France, in the discussions for an event with a powerful im-pact to start this year of commemoration after the loss of Abbé Pierre 10 years ago. I've always enjoyed walking so the idea came to me quite naturally. I departed from Toulouse (France) on 27 December 2016 and I worked between 25km and 40km per day all the way to Paris. The idea was to remind people of the existence of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees that "everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the bor-ders of each State" and that "everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."

Why are you committed to this cause?
My family was living in Algeria but we were repatriated to France when Algeria became independ-ent, I was 5 years old. So I know what it means to not be able to move around freely in a war-stricken country. I've lived in Crete, India, Afghanistan... I think that it should be compulsory for every young person to spend a year or two elsewhere so that they understand that people else-where simply do things "in a different way". We all live in the same world, on the same planet. For me talking about borders, homeland or countries is just absurd.

Did your march give you strength? 
During the march I talked to the communities and Emmaus Friends Committees who hosted me but I also spoke a lot to people I met on the road and they were very interested in this struggle. The march has given me a desire to keep moving forward and (why not!) visit all the capitals of Europe in 2017 - but maybe not on foot this time around! I also got involved in Emmaus France's 'Lobbying' committee. I think that, fundamentally, people are good and understanding. I haven't witnessed the inward-looking France that the media and politicians have been depicting.