How can we coexist with refugees?

(Credit: UNHCR)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Sara Salvadori, a twenty-one-year-old medical student at the University of L’Aquila, Italy. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

I grew up listening to elderly people comparing their generation and mine, making a list of all the things they did better. I might need to say something to those people: “Your path was clear, the future was in front of you, you just needed to extend your hand and grasp it.”

Right now, we cannot see a bright future. Lots of ethical questions fill our minds, one of them regarding the migrants’ crisis.

The UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) was introduced in 1948, but is it applied at least in Europe nowadays?

Europe never wanted to be “invaded” by thousands of refugees, “luckily” on one side there is the sea. People coming from Northern Africa are dying every day in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Italy, Spain or Greece in order to live a better life there. They are dying, let’s face it. That’s not a 2015 problem, that’s still The Issue. We are not helping them as single governments or supranational institutions; however, it should be our responsibility to take care of them since they’re dying in the Mare Nostrum[1].

They are human beings; don’t they have some fundamental rights just for existing?

On the other side, where there’s no sea to protect us from the “invasion”, there is a man, Erdogan, and, believe it or not, Europe is paying him to keep migrants away from our lucky lives.

There is a wall at Turkey’s borders, and refugees are prevented from crossing it. I can’t even imagine in which conditions they’re living and what kind of violence they’re suffering every day.

I don’t see human rights being respected here.

All of this is our fault, we are not clean-handed just because we are not taking care of the borders; we are not even accomplices: we are instigators.

Recognising that all of this is our responsibility and deciding to finally take action would be a turning point. I understand the refugee issue is way bigger than me and that something is already ongoing to help, but it’s not enough.

Erdogan is economically threatening us, with the menace that Turkey will no longer survey the wall. What are we complaining about? It’s our fault: we gave him this power, to protect something we think we have as a right, just for being born in the richer half of the world.

It’s not going to last. We need to accept an upheaval of our society.

A radical change can be sustained, as shown by the 2021 edition of the Venice Biennale: its theme, whose name I borrowed for the title of this article, was: “How will we live together?”

How will we coexist, considering migrations?

As shown, there are plenty of architectonic solutions, therefore, social solutions to live together, but we need to strongly want it to happen. If we embrace this challenge, it can be an amazing journey.

Otherwise the UDHR is going to remain just another worthless piece of paper.

[1] Mare Nostrum: “Our Sea”, was a Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea.


About the author

Sara Salvadori is a twenty-one-year-old medical student at the University of L’Aquila, Italy. She’s in her third year and she joined SISM (Segretariato Italiano Studenti in Medicina) two years ago. She belongs to the teams SCORP, SCOPE and SCORE. In L’Aquila she coordinates the Wolisso Project, which combines some of her greatest passions: Medicine, International Cooperation and the savour of travelling and adventure.

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