Aren’t we all #LifeSeekers?

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International campaign for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants
To mark refugee day on 20 June 2016, UNITED for Intercultural Action is launching #LifeSeekers, a Europe-wide international campaign to challenge the narrative on migration in Europe. We call on policy-makers to stop using the tragedy of hundred of thousands of people to cover their failures and to promote an honest discussion about the challenges faced by young people today.

People travelling to Europe in these days are simply LifeSeekers – but aren’t we all?

All across Europe, young people are facing multiple crises: the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent austerity measures enacted by European governments have severely affected youth, with young people facing high levels of unemployment and an unfair housing market, all while an impending environmental crisis is putting the future of our planet at risk.

Despite this complex situation demanding an effective answer, national governments across Europe have instead opted to mirror the position of the populist right: blame the migrants.

With the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war and desperate conditions, this scapegoating has only increased, with governments and their populist refusing to take responsibility for their own mistakes and building upon a narrative that sees “migrants” as a homogeneous mass of people who are a threat to our societies.

Luckily, today’s young people are different from their policy makers.

Young people in Europe benefited from open borders and European youth mobility programmes, finding themselves in the position of migrants. Yet this mobility has not been matched by empowerment: youth in Europe today feel disenfranchised and ignored by mainstream politics.

For many, the embrace of a populist, migrant-blaming narrative is the closest they can come to empowerment and a sense of self-value – even if they share many of the values, hopes and aspirations with the migrants and refugees that they seek to marginalise; whether or not we are asylum-seekers, we are all Life Seekers, who want the freedom and power to shape our own futures.

In April, around 70 young people from all across Europe came together in Torino, Italy, to discuss the issue of narratives in UNITED spring conference. One of the results of the conference was #LifeSeekers campaign, designed by the young people for young people. While the campaign was conceived during the conference and further elaborated by a small working team, the graphic materials were developed by young scholars of the Vocational Public Institute Albert Steiner in Torino.

With this campaign we want to stop the misuse and abuse of  the tragedy of hundred of thousands of people to cover the failures of policy makers and we call for European governments to promote an honest, transparent and inclusive discussion about the challenges faced by young people today.