Make Europe integrate again

 

After months of enduring a political crisis, Italy seems to have found a solution. The grassroots members of the Five Star Movement have agreed to support the formation of a new government with the center-left. While this means no fresh elections in the country and that Giuseppe Conte will remain Prime Minister, what does it mean for the refugee crisis still brewing in the country?

Though interior minister Matteo Salvini is now out of the government, his anti-immigration, nationalist policies prevail. Asylum seekers coming into the country continue to face harassment and homelessness with Salvini’s supporters dismantling refugee camps in the country. Can this new government led by Conte find a sustainable solution to tackle the refugee crisis?

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Ervin Xheka, an Albanian-born fisherman who now lives in Greece. Credits: Edges of Europe team

Ervin Xheka, an Albanian-born fisherman who now lives in Greece. Credits: Edges of Europe team

 
 

Migration streams, however, don’t stop in Italy but run all over Europe. Exploring the situation of asylum seekers in the refugee shelter at Porte de la Chapelle in Northern Paris, our managing editor Mick ter Reehorst, along with writers Ingri Bergo and Tanguy Garrel, analyzed how there is a complete reluctance and lack of cooperation among government authorities in improving the living conditions of people in refugee camps. “They all want in, but for some, it might not be so much better inside,” they wrote.

While this is the case in most refugee shelters in the continent, this week we take a step back from political shenanigans and explore how we as citizens of Europe could develop an EU-wide solution to enable refugees to integrate into the society.

Our response to the news

In a small town in southern Italy, photographer Alexander Durie captured how the Mundi festival offers a platform for people from all backgrounds to feel like they belong to one community. The festival takes place in a medieval castle in the picturesque region of Puglia, in Southern Italy. Combining music, art, cinema and workshops that focus on innovation and collaboration, its founders ensure that the festival helps people integrate and take part in engaging conversations.

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The Music Festival Reviving the Italian South

Hidden between the olive trees of the Apulian fields, the Mundi Festival tries to unlock the true potential of Southern Italy. Read more


In Greece, we documented how the immigrant fishermen community who were often abused are now hailed as “floating saviours.” In July 2018 a wildfire destroyed the Mati village bay in the country, with many people drowning in their attempt to escape the flames. But dozens of lives were saved by the fishermen from the immigrant communities, making them symbols of national solidarity. But do they need to continue saving lives to be accepted in the society? “We are going through a crisis in Greece, but I want to believe that things are going to change for all of us,” says Ervin Xehka a fisherman who migrated to Greece from Albania.

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The Fishermen of Athens

Ervin migrated to Greece from Albania and worked as a fisherman when the refugee crisis hit its peak. Today, Ervin is running as a candidate for the upcoming municipal elections. Read more

And how does migration impact European cuisine? Our editor Marije Martens interviewed Marianne a visual artist in London who believes food is a powerful storyteller that connects people and helps them integrate. In her project 'Mi Casa Es Tu Casa', she captured how food is a tool of soft diplomacy and the fabric of a diverse city. “Food can replicate a scent of home or deliver a taste of something new. I wanted to visualise the exchange that takes place between newcomers and natives, through the language of food," says Marianne.

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Mi Casa Es Tu Casa

London photographer Marianne captures new culinary fusions to show that cultural exchange and traditions are not mutually exclusive. Read More


So while it might take a while for politicians to shift their focus towards improving the living conditions of refugees in Europe, food, festivals and mutual support continue to be the binding force of integration

That’s it for now. You’re up to date!

With love,
Priyanka and the Are We Europe team