International Refugee Day – Call for Action

June 20, 2011 is International Refugee Day

– 15217 migrant deaths have been documented on the List of Deaths, compiled by UNITED since 1993. These deaths are not isolated incidents but a direct consequence of increasingly restrictive EU immigration policies.

– 1108 migrants have lost their lives so far in 2011; the fatal consequences of civil and political unrest, conflict and violence.

– 1048 of these migrants, an overwhelming majority, died crossing borders from North Africa to Europe. Fear and desperation lead them to embark on dangerous, clandestine journeys away from their homes, looking for protection in Europe.

– 2011 marks 60 years of the Refugee Convention, the legal document drafted to protect those fleeing from war, persecution and torture, those who can no longer rely on the protection of their own governments. As ratifying states turn their backs on their promises, who will stand up for refugee rights?

– Against this backdrop, member states provoke hysteria with threats of North African invasions, engage in border disputes, ignore their commitments of EU solidarity and obligations under international human rights law, and shift responsibility from one state to each other.

– UNITED calls on activists across Europe to join our campaign for International Refugee Day on 20 June, to draw attention to the injustice and hypocrisy, and show our societies that refugees are just ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

As these figures show, the scale of human loss as a result of civil war, conflict, global political and social unrest is both unprecedented and impossible to ignore; the urgency and desperation caused by current crises in North African countries, especially Libya, has become indisputable. This humanitarian crisis also poses a threat to populism in Europe; as the cracks begin to appear in its migration myths, tales of “bogus asylum seekers” and opportunistic migrants, how will populist politicians and the media continue to oil the wheels that drive lies into the minds of the mainstream?

60 years after the ratification of the Refugee Convention, its interpretation by the EU and its member states constantly evolves in a way that violates the rights of all those it is supposed to protect; the vulnerable, the victimised and the destitute. Their need to shake off responsibility is so strong that states are now backtracking on freedom of movement within the EU; internal, supposedly invisible borders across Europe are now being policed and protected in response to displacement in the Middle-East.
When our governments consider a crisis worthy of military action, but not of refuge, who will stand up to challenge them?


Each year, the UNITED network coordinates International Refugee Day, a European-wide campaign that highlights the issues facing refugees from a non-governmental perspective.

More than 550 organisations from all European countries are connected through UNITED and work together on common action such as this campaign. What makes it so unique is not only its pan-European scale, but also the diverse kinds of groups and individuals who are willing to create one European voice speaking out for refugee and migrant rights.

Last year, hundreds of activities took place on local, national and European levels to mark this date, using different approaches and methods like demonstrations and street action, concerts, debates, sports events and much more.

UNITED wants you to join us in 2011 to make this campaign our strongest yet and can provide you with support, inspiration and material that will make it easy to get involved

* UNITED can help you to organise your own activity by sending you campaign material (posters, leaflets, postcards…) – order up to 2 KG for free. Please see the website for our new campaign poster plus other material you can choose from.

* The List of Deaths is an ongoing monitoring project by UNITED documents refugee and migrant deaths that have occurred as a result of EU immigration policy since 1993; is a powerful document and source of information. It can be used for awareness-raising and lobbying and we strongly encourage you to use it in your activities. Ask UNITED to send you a copy, or else download it from the link

* If you already have an event planned, we can promote it in our List of Activities, alongside other events taking place all across Europe. So we can include your activity, please provide the necessary information on the online form.

* We can also connect you with other organisations in your country who could support or cooperate with you – the more voices that join together, the louder our message will be!

Remember that successful events don’t have to be expensive – with participation, enthusiasm and a little creativity, even the smallest action can make a huge contribution. If you need help or just need to discuss your ideas with somebody, feel free to get in touch 🙂

To order campaign material and give us information about your activity, please fill out the online form and email it back to soon, it will take some days or maybe even weeks for the material to arrive by post to you.


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