Freedom of movement

World Refugee Day 2021

World Refugee Day 2021

Today we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of World Refugee Day, along with 50th anniversary of the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. To mark this day, which is intended to honour refugees, Emmaus International is calling on all leaders to respect this Convention that is all too often flouted, and for a paradigm shift from the deliberate stigmatisation of migrants that justifies the ill-treatment inflicted upon them. Emmaus International calls for a dignified welcome, throughout the world, of the millions of people fleeing their countries. 

Whether they have been granted protection or are still awaiting it, all migrants have experienced exile, dangerous migration routes and the violation of their rights wherever restrictive migration policies are in force. The obsessional control of borders continues to cause preventable tragedies. The European Union’s border system is no exception: by entrusting the management of its borders to neighbouring countries, it is forcing people to take increasingly dangerous migratory routes, often resulting in shipwrecks and illegal deportations. This could be avoided if the states respected their international obligations, including the Geneva Convention.

In France, where Emmaus International regularly makes its voice heard on this topic, the politics of distrust also play a role. As recently as 9th June, the French President asked for deportations of foreigners to be more effective. Emmaus groups are suffering the full force of these repressive policies and decisions. One example of many, is that several companions have been subject to removal orders at the Emmaus Bourg Servas community. Tiphaine Guignat, head of the “Access to social rights” project at Emmaus France, tells us more: “An article of law passed at the end of 2018 facilitates access to a residence permit for companions. This is a real step forward but Emmaus France is still working hard to ensure that this new right is respected throughout the country and to take action in the face of tougher administrative practices: refusal of residence, deportation measures, house arrest and detention.”

Set against this backdrop, the only haven that remains for migrants is the welcome given to them by citizens acting in solidarity or local authorities who have chosen to welcome them differently. The Emmaus groups are key players in standing together with those who are excluded: working every day to welcome people in a dignified manner, they are loudly and clearly making their demands heard for the need for unconditional welcome and freedom of movement and of settlement for all.

In a series of videos, Emmaus International gives the floor to several of these actors: companions who migrated and found themselves with no rights, and leaders and volunteers who are committed to this dignified, unconditional welcome. Listen to their stories now and hear their views on how we currently receive migrants in France.

Skip to the next video if it is not in your language. Videos in French, Spanish and English.