Speech delivered today by Veronica Nilsson, ETUC Deputy General Secretary at the rally “No to more walls in Europe”:
I would like to thank the S&D for organising this important event. Europe’s workers support the call for no more walls in Europe.
Men, women and children are fleeing war in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan.
They are risking their lives to get to safety in Europe. Many have drowned on their way to Europe.
Many European citizens have welcomed the refugees.
They have given them food and shelter.
Some European Governments have also welcomed the refugees.
But many have closed the door,
Have refused to accept it is a European problem,
Have refused to take their fair share of refugees,
Are building walls to keep women and children out,
It is unbearable to watch the images of children being teargased because they flee from war and terror.
Have we forgotten our own history?
Have we forgotten the refugees fleeing European fascism and the concentration camps?
Have we forgotten WWII and what happened after?
Lebanon has taken more than 1m refugees.
Turkey has taken more than 1.5 m
Instead much richer European countries are building walls and closing frontiers and declaring emergencies
Now they want to pay Turkey to keep the refugees out of Europe.
It is a scandal and shameful.
European solidarity has been replaced by selfishness and nationalism.
The European Union is being undermined by a lack of humanity.
It is a political, and above all a human, tragedy
It is a humanitarian emergency which requires a humanitarian response.
Let us be clear
- Our first duty is to give shelter to those fleeing war, and the EU is failing to do so
- It is not a situation that can be left to Greece and Italy alone, or to Turkey – there must be a joint European and humanitarian response
- The proposed swapping of Syrian refugees with Turkey – taking in one refugee for every one returned -is a disgrace that violates international law.
- Efforts to end the wars and bloodshed, which Syrians, Iraqis and others are fleeing, must be redoubled
European Governments must invest in public services so local communities and refugees get the education, health services and housing they need.
Refugees should be integrated as soon as possible in to the labour market.
They should do so with equal pay and they should be free to join trade unions.
Governments must step up their efforts to make sure that this becomes a reality.
Like that Europe can be proud again, it can be a Europe for people and a model of decency.
Now they want to pay Turkey to keep the refugees out of Europe. It is a scandal and shameful. European solidarity has been replaced by selfishness and nationalism.