#GreenLight initiative for refugees
Over the past weeks, the numbers of refugees stuck at the Polish-Belarusian border have grown from a few to several thousand. This is the result of Belarus’ geopolitics and Poland’s policy of stopping and returning undocumented migrants and refugees to their home countries. For the people fleeing, Europe starts in these countries, however applying for asylum is made impossible. As a result, they get stuck in a no man’s land, often with little food, water, and adequate living conditions, needed especially as the temperature continues to drop below freezing.
From all over Poland, there are residents who are intervening. They are providing water, food and clothing. One Polish man in particular started an act of solidarity by placing a green lamp at his window. He wanted to let refugees know that the house is a safe place for them. Since then, around 100 residents have followed his example and turned their houses green, letting refugees know they are safe there, and are welcome for a cup of tea, charging their phones or electronics, and a moment in the warmth of a house.
Colour the Netherlands green with a green light for refugees!
Inspired by these Polish citizens, the ‘Vereniging voor Asieladvocaten en – Juristen’ organises the #GreenLight campaign on 10 December, International Human Rights Day. Through this campaign, they call on authorities and residents of the Netherlands to have their homes or buildings coloured green. They draw attention to the human rights of refugees, which must be respected always and everywhere, of people fleeing to, on or across the border of Europe and want to apply for asylum.
As Justice & Peace, we are participating in this campaign and we are colouring our office at Riviervismarkt 4 in The Hague green. At our Human Rights Space, we are participating in this campaign together with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Human Security Collective. We also call on you to join and put a green light in your window for human rights of refugees worldwide!
Join us on Friday, 10 December, and give the green light to refugees, to safe havens and to safe pathways. Put a green light in your window and print this poster to hang on your window.
Need tips to make a green light? You can easily make this at home by placing a small light (such as a bike light!) in a jam jar or tomato bucket and then sticking a green piece of paper or fabric in the jar.
Give the green light to refugees
Refugees should be able to apply for asylum at all times. Applying for asylum is a fundamental right and all states that have signed up to the Refugee Convention are obliged to grant this fundamental right, including all EU states. As a human being, you have the right to international protection. However, in many places around the world and on the borders of Europe, refugees are illegally stopped and pushed back.
Give the green light to safe havens
Turn on a green light and give a warm welcome to people who have been forced to flee their country due to war, violence, or persecution. A safe haven where they can build dignified, meaningful and equal relationships with each other and others. Where they are no longer refugees, but a new neighbour, friend, colleague and fellow citizen.
Give the green light to safe pathways
Give the green light to safe pathways for refugees. Safe pathways or routes are legal ways for refugees to apply for asylum and start a new life in a safe country. This allows people who have fled their home country to safely travel to another country and get a chance to build a life in their new home from day one, instead of being chased back and forth between borders, or having to use unsafe and degrading situations, such as overcrowded boats in the English Channel or the Mediterranean Sea.
Would you like to do more?
The residents in Poland gave the brave example of turning on a green light to show that their home was a temporary safe place for refugees; that they could go there despite their fear of conflict with the Polish authorities. We also see this willingness to receive and offer a warm welcome to refugees in the Netherlands. Samen Hier is a movement of active citizens and organisations that are committed to creating safe routes and safe havens for refugees in the Netherlands through community sponsorship. We match a refugee newcomer with a group of five residents, who spend a year together building friendships. The Samen Hier communities form safe havens, contribute to newcomers feeling welcome in the Netherlands from day one and being able to build a new life.
By participating in Samen Hier, you are contributing to create safe routes for refugees. Legally, there are multiple options to provide safe routes. In addition to the existing and sustainable possibility of resettlement of refugees based on the advice of the UNHCR (the UN agency mandated to aid and protect refugees), you can think of offering humanitarian visas, or work or study visa’s for refugees.
Would you like to know more? Find more information about Samen Hier here (in Dutch), or send an e-mail to info[at]samenhier.nl.