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Fortress Europe - More than 10.000 documented refugee deaths (vom 20.06.2008),
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[20. Jun 2008]

Fortress Europe - More than 10.000 documented refugee deaths

Press release by UNITED on the occasion of INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE DAY - 20 JUNE 2008

"There is an invisible wall that blocs the "legal" immigration in the Old Continent. The borders of this Fortress are invisible to the major part of citizens, because they are composed by laws, but their result is visible as a Human tragedy". - Marco Rovelli Italian writer

UNITED for Intercultural Action protests against the building of a "Fortress Europe", which leads to the death of desperate people looking for a safe refuge.

Can we keep our eyes shut towards this brutal fact, or is it our human
responsibility to raise awareness about the war against refugees on
European borders?

The UNITED secretariat has been monitoring the deadly results of "Fortress Europe" since 1993. The current "List of Death" counts already 11.105 refugees deaths cases, asylum seekers and migrants who lost their lives in the attempt to enter Europe or during state custody or detention. With these facts a powerful lobby and awareness-raising tool for the use in campaign actions all over Europe was created.
These data on where, when and under which circumstances the refugees died is compiled exclusively from officially documented deaths. All the cases contained in the list are documented. It is possible to download a PDF version of the list at
http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/pdfs/actual_listofdeath.pdf


Every year on the 20th of June, UNITED for Intercultural Action- the
largest pan European network against racism, fascism, nationalism and in support of refugees and migrants- celebrates the International Refugee Day.
Also this year, UNITED as a network gets active coordinating and
supporting all the governmental and non-governmental organizations in
Europe who cooperate and support refugee.
Around this day all over Europe, activities and events are organized, with the common aim of denouncing and raising awareness about the deadly consequences of "Fortress Europe". The most important side of these acts is raising awareness about the human side of the refugee issue, in order to promote refugees' rights and to speak out for their dignity, along with that of migrants and asylum seekers Europe-wide.
All activities are listed under the following link:
http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/pages/act07rfc.htm

POLICY OF SECURITY
Hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers all over Europe seek refuge from persecution, war, injustice and search for better economic security.
In the last years the number of migrants seeking refuge has grown
considerably, due to several ongoing wars and to increasing intolerance toward minorities on all grounds in many countries. Nevertheless, the increasing need for protection is not proportional to the welcoming attitude from the countries where people seek refuge. Migrants are seen as people who only want to take advantage of the host country. In many European countries, criminality rates are blamed on migrants and the only authorities' response is often a feeling-manipulating policy to get a broader political consensus from the locals, who are kept under insecure and badly informed circumstances and live in fear of "the other".

In Italy for example, Alberto Bossi - Northern League's leader and federal secretary in matter of immigration- said that Italy will get its "previous" security by all possible means.

UNITED claims this attitude cannot be accepted, especially when it comes from a politician in power. This thinking is dangerous because it criminalizes the concept of immigration and excludes from this social, historical phenomenon the huge number of migrants who lead a decent and honest life in many host countries. The current migration laws in many European countries make it extremely difficult for the economically needed new comers to get an official working and residency permit, opening the way to criminality and the black job market. Moreover, by conveying a distorted image of migrants, they create fear among the locals and therefore facilitate the rise of racist attacks and discriminatory attitudes, not to mention hate speech and segregation.

Last but not least, these policies legitimate legal directives and practices, such as migrants' detention centers, prisons for undocumented people, deportation as a tool to control "illegal" immigration amongst others, which are beyond the limits of Europe's democratic and humanitarian legacy. The externalization of Europe's borders as a practice of territorial protection is also beyond human and political legitimization. Indeed the new Europeans borders are outside its territory, in particularly Libya and Morocco, where also new detention centers are built for the examination of migrant-candidates. Many deported migrants are imprisoned there, for it is often not possible to determine their country of origin. By externalizing deportation, examination and detention of migrants, Europe cannot guarantee that the rights contemplated by the Geneva Convention are respected. Europe thus commits a high violation of the most important international agreement on human rights.