Solidarity with Tous Migrants
++ UPDATE (28.10.2020): In response to the petition with over 40,000 signatures, the mayor of Briançon announced on October 21 that he would allow Refuge Solidaire to remain open for another 6 months, instead of closing on October 28 as planned. In addition, the fuel container will continue to be filled to keep the shelter heated. Over the next six months a commission of elected representatives will come together to dicuss a new solution for Refuge Solidaire. Not yet a final victory, but a reminder that solidarity can win!++
A local initiative for a dignified arrival...
Located on the Italian-French border - which has been crossed by more than 11,000 refugees since 2015 - the humanitarian plight of migrants was particularly visible in Briançon. In response to Europe's inaction and the immediate need on their doorstep, hundreds of volunteers joined together in the autumn of 2015 under the name "Not in our name, Briançon" (today: Tous Migrants) to offer a dignified arrival to the passing migrants. Thus, the association of municipalities (French: "communauté de communes") provided a house in which NGOs offer the refugees accommodation, food, legal advice, and a place for human interaction. Mountain rescue was also introduced.
...threatened by a policy aimed at isolation
These initiatives are now at stake. The new mayor and chairman of the association of municipalities announced that accommodation and other facilities would be closed - an announcement which would have serious consequences if implemented. The residents would lose their accommodation just at the onset of winter. People coming from Italy would be completely on their own during the often-dangerous mountain crossing. Human rights organisations and individuals working in Briançon - and throughout Europe – would see their right to help violated.
"Because we refuse to let our mountains become a graveyard"
In order to denounce and prevent this, Tous Migrants published an appeal on their website and in the well-known French newspaper "Libération" on 21 September: "In order to avoid new tragedies, we will continue to receive and rescue refugees and demand respect for their rights. Because we refuse to let our mountains become a graveyard like the Mediterranean". borderline-europe and hundreds of other organisations and personalities signed the statement to ensure that Briançon remains a place of solidarity. We also signed to stand up against the criminalisation of both migration and the solidarity with migrants, which is constantly increasing in scale, frequency and scheme.
In response to the statement, the President of the National Consultative Commission of Human Rights (Commission National Consultative des Droits de l'Homme) sent a letter to the Minister of the Interior, asking him to create conditions in which NGOs can officially pursue their activities. A reply from the Ministry of the Interior and the Mayor of Briançon is not yet known.
A petition, open for anyone to sign, is also currently running. We ask you to sign because the more signatures there are, the stronger the message: we are many who oppose racist decisions and stand up for decent housing.
The European Union must assume its responsibility towards refugees. We have known for a long time that it fails to do so. Others step in - and are criminalised for doing so.
Statement published in Libération : https://www.liberation.fr/debats/2020/09/21/pour-que-le-brianconnais-reste-un-territoire-solidaire-avec-les-exiles_1800113
Letter to the Minister of the Interior: https://www.cncdh.fr/sites/default/files/200923_cp_lettre_du_president_accueil_migrants.pdf
October 8, 2020