#SickOfWaiting, a citizens' movement demanding Europe’s fulfilment of its refugee pledges

Article published on July 10, 2017
Article published on July 10, 2017

On September 30th, human rights activists will meet in Athens to tell the EU that they are tired of waiting for them to comply with their refugee pledges. So far, more than 17,500 people from 130 countries have already joined the movement #SickOfWaiting which appeared before the European Parliament on June 28th.

More than 65 million people have left their country or have been displaced in what UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees) considers the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945. Climate change and war are the main causes of a never-ending plight which scatters bodies onto our coasts and at the same time fuels the prosperity of mafias with trafficking of human beings.

Faced with such horror, the response from the EU has been very tepid. Its pledge of taking in refugees has been very small, despite all its countries having signed The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and it hasn’t even been able to comply with it. According to data from the European Union itself, until July 2016 it had only relocated 3,000 asylum seekers in the face of the pledge made to relocate 160,000 coming from Greece and Italy to other EU countries before September 2017. In Spain, not even 8% of the agreement has been achieved, despite making space and sufficient resources available to accommodate 663 people.

Fed up of waiting, the public have decided to organise themselves once more to demand a solution. “The European governments are failing, but civil society won’t”, #SickOfWaiting assures, the citizens’ movement demanding the EU to comply with its own refugee pledges. On June 28th, they presented their demands before the European Parliament and on the coming September 30th they will go to Athens to “condemn the shameful treatment that the refugees are receiving in the world”.

#SickOfWaiting defines itself as a global, peaceful movement, that respects human beings in their diversity and the planet in which they live. Furthermore, they reject violence and unsupportive, xenophobic, sexist and homophobic behaviours, as well as disrespect towards different sexual orientations or religious beliefs.

Already they have more than 17,500 supporters from 130 different countries. On their website, people who have signed the manifesto can leave their messages for European governors and a lot of them are encouraged to do it. “If we don’t do anything we’ll be ashamed about it for the rest of our lives. They politicians should speak less and do more” says Ana. From Greece, Muqadar Shah speaks of his “long journey” which started two years ago in his native Afghanistan and has ended with the closed border to a divided Europe. Coco Camarra writes from Sierra Leona that “we are tired of politicians playing with human rights while refugees suffer day after day.” “I’m 22 years old and I’ve fled the war in Syria”, Bassan begins his story “and I’ve fled because I don’t want to join any military movement.” “I was studying and working before the war and we were in Syria without any problem”, he continues. In 2014, Bassan left Syria to go to Turkey, where he tried to earn money to come to Europe to continue his studies, he arrived in Greece a year ago, sought asylum and was denied it because “Turkey is a safe country”, he sought asylum again and they gave him a deportation order which he constantly flees from. 

These are some of the stories from the refugees who live permanently in limbo due to the EU’s lack of political will and the lack of people fighting from within civil society, demanding our leaders to comply with their own agreements, to facilitate a very basic right such as family reunification, and to make an effort to solve the problems that cause this dilemma which constantly shatters our souls.  Let’s hope they listen.