What can you do to help refugees?
Here are ten suggestions.
Accept migrations. They are an inherent part of the human condition. No one abandons or flees their country without good reason. Remember the Catalans who were forced into exile and emigration between 1939 and 1975 and think about the people who are leaving now. Take an interest in the migrants who are already here and in their history and current situation. Migratory flows mean cities are more and more culturally diverse, and this diversity is a factor that enriches us all.
Get trained, inform and make people in your circle aware. Share information on the causes of the crisis and on asylum, refugees and migrations and help to spread the concern. You can get your residents', cooperative, sports or cultural associations involved. The city's social entities are organising events, activities and courses that you can find in the LaFede.cat global justice diary.
Do some educational work in schools, youth clubs, scouts' groups and at the universities. We need to tell children and young people what is going on. The UNHCR Catalan Committee has resources and activities for the education community to raise awareness of forced displacement. The LaFede.cat Resources Centre offers teaching guides such as After peace, for working on the consequence of war and the role of civil society in building peace.
Challenge rumours and stereotypes. Discourses that instil fear and rejection can, over time, lead to racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic attitudes. The Barcelona Anti-rumours Network has a catalogue of activities for challenging rumours and stereotypes about cultural diversity and has published specific manuals for countering rumours about coexistence, the labour market, commerce, the public health service and social services.
Call on the various political parties and public authorities to press ahead for getting refugees relocated and attended to. Find out what the City Council and the Catalan government are doing, and how they are putting pressure on the Spanish government to receive and help them.
Call for your taxes to be used for international protection and refugee policies. Find out what resources the City Council and the Catalan government are allocating to refugees. Put pressure on them to ensure there are stable, long-term resources here, en route and at source.
Collaborate with the organisations and platforms denouncing the migration policies of the EU and its member states. Take part in the online campaigns to put pressure on the Spanish and European authorities. We must demand a rapid and effective response from them and insist they meet all their international commitments and comply with humanitarian law.
Learn to donate. Don't organise campaigns to collect things (clothes, nappies, food, etc.) because such donations are very often inappropriate, hasty and hardly suited to what is needed. It is much more effective to donate money to organisations specialising in this area. LaFede.cat has a list of NGOs working on the ground and Asil.cat brings together the NGOs working in Catalonia.
Become a member or volunteer of any of these specialist organisations or any organisation working in international cooperation or in the defence of peace and human rights. There would be no refugee crisis without inequality, wars and human rights' violations.
Offer to assist refugees. Public institutions and professionals are responsible for covering their basic necessities (accommodation and food) and providing psychosocial care, but that must be accompanied by processes that foster their independence and incorporation into everyday social life.
All these suggestions are based on the recommendations of LaFede.cat and other social entities. The development education and awareness-raising working group also involved the Refugee Reception Committee set up by the Catalan government, which the City Council is on.