SOLIDAR Weekly Round Up | 16 December 2016
The evacuation of Aleppo is about to come to an end today and will hopefully save many lives, while in Brussels the European summit draws to an end. The Mayor of Aleppo attended the meeting upon the invitation of President Tusk to #StandWithAleppo, though it must have been rather a strange performance he witnessed. It was a gathering of European leaders, the politically most powerful people in Europe – but what can they do for his city, for his citizens under siege and under fire, fearing for their lives and mourning the 10,000 victims?
Aleppo is paying the price of geo politics – which is by no means a cynical statement. The price is again too high, underlining the incapacity or limits of European intervention. Compromises with a dictator like Assad, the heavy involvement of Putin’s Russia, seeking to regain its status as a “superpower”, and internal divisions have set the parameters. Europe’s division has created an empty space and – as we know – politicians are afraid of empty space because other might occupy it.
As Civil Society, not only can we influence public opinion, we can also deliver concrete answers through aid and support to the suffering populations. SOLIDAR members and partners are at the forefront of the conflict at a moment when the space for humanitarian aid and civil society is shrinking rapidly under pressure from the conflicting parties (see press release by our Member Norwegian People’s Aid). The mayor of Aleppo may have been honoured and disappointed at the same time at the Council meeting, while we feel frustrated to see discussions where development policies are made to suit political convenience: keeping migrants and refugees away from our borders as some in the Council propose. And in this country, Belgium, the government – under the pressure of the Flemish nationalists – simply refuses to apply the law on asylum and to deliver a humanitarian visa to a Syrian family! Is this a new form of liberalism?
Normally, at the end of the year we look forward to what we hope to see happen in the coming year, and those committed to Christmas speak about peace and about the poor. Deeds not words is what we are calling for: an EU that sticks to and defends its values (not just its interests) while independent NGOs are able to play their part, contributing to sound democracies, sustainable development and humanitarian cooperation as an essential ingredient of civilisation, and a recognition of our social role!
Our wish list for the coming year: social progress and peace, with the commitment from us that we will continue to challenge those in power, and continue to put a finger on the political wounds, calling for policy change where needed. We want an EU for peace, progress and citizens!
Together for social Europe
Joint NGO statement ahead of the European Council of 15th December 2016: EU leaders can save lives this winter if they change migration policies.
Ahead of the European Council that took place yesterday, more than 30 NGOs including SOLIDAR, sent a statement to the EU leaders asking for change in the migration policies.