On June 15th, LCC's peace Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation took 5 students and 3 faculty/staff to the Lithuanian migration conference “Policies of (Un)welcome - Regional Perspectives” in Vilnius. At the conference, a panel of humanitarians from various European countries (Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Czech Republic, and Lithuania) presented their ongoing migration challenges. Both the Syrian civil war and Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine (among other conflicts) share a common consequence – a sudden and mass influx of refugees into the European Union.
These influxes are humanitarian disasters. How to care for these refugees is always controversial. The panelists highlight that partisan politics only make matters worse. However, the current bipartisan support for Ukrainian refugees offers keen insight into the European attitude towards migrants. The open arms and 100% acceptance of Ukrainian asylum seekers is proof that we need to know the other’s story. Europe, especially Eastern Europe, understands Ukraine. This begs the question, does the EU understand their Near East neighbors?
At one point, the term ‘abusers’ was attributed to asylum seekers whose cases were determined “manifestly unfounded”. For a case to be manifestly unfounded the refugees must be unable to prove a credible threat to their life throughout their entire home country. The models used to determine the validity of these threats are something LCC wants to call into question. Europe knows that an unjust war is being waged on Ukraine, and Europe trusts the Ukrainian Asylum seekers. Europe knows that Near East countries are also victims of war, but the lack of European trust towards Near East asylum seekers is reflected in their migration policies, their policies of (un)welcome. As the LCC Ukrainian IRD student, Yulija Odenetts reflects “Human rights need to be upheld for all nationalities”.
Many of the LCC participants at this conference lived in the Rukla refugee camp for five days – they have heard the stories of asylum seekers. Attending the “Policies of (Un)welcome” conference was a continuation of their effort to understand the refugee crisis in Lithuania and to learn how to better build peace. LCC’s peace center works to build up students' agency while simultaneously positively impacting its community.
1 photo - left to right: Naomi Enns, the Director of the Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation, Assel Ushanova, Naomi Deboer, Agapi Keshishyan, Jesse DiBlasi, Douglass Enns, Yuliya Odynets, and Ieva Rūkė;
2 photo - Imanol Legarda Díaz-Aguado, from SOS Racismo Arrazakeria, Spain;
3 photo - Ziva Gabaj, Slovenska Filantropija, Slovenia;