UNITED for Intercultural Action convened a side event at the OSCE’s Human Dimension Implementation meeting in Warsaw today entitled “The Refugee Crisis: a Key OSCE Matter”. At the meeting chaired by UNITED spokesperson Ralph du Long, UNITED programme coordinator Balint Josa spoke about the growing polarisation in European societies regarding attitudes to refugees and the impact of the negative narrative around refugees that is routinely spread by populist media and politicians, as well as giving an introduction to UNITED’s #LifeSeekers campaign.
Speaking after the event, Mr Josa said: “We organised this event to show OSCE delegates – and through them their national governments – our reaction to the challenges faced by refugees, who are increasingly being referred to as ‘the enemy’. We want to promote a more complex understanding and more solidarity. Our #Lifeseekers campaign is challenging the leading narrative by raising important questions instead of simplifying the issues.”
Coordinated by UNITED in cooperation with the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum with the support of over 150 European NGOs, #LifeSeekers is a campaign for a new approach to problems facing young people in Europe today. The campaign calls on European policy-makers to take positive action to solve these problems and to stop blaming migrants and refugees for all of society’s problems.
Other panelists at the event were Konstantin Baranov of Youth Human Rights Movement, who outlined the relevance of the OSCE Civil Solidarity Platform’s Basel Declaration on discrimination and hate crime to the humanitarian crisis surrounding the influx of refugees to Europe, and Annemarie Sancar of swisspeace, who talked about the situations of vulnerable groups of refugees, and especially lone women refugees, who are at risk of serious exploitation.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is an intergovernmental organisation that brings together 57 participating states to discuss security and human rights related matters.