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  • Writer's pictureHumans of International Studies

EVA (3rd year)

“I prefer the description of people on the move over refugee. Simply because it does not reduce a human being to their experience of being a refugee but describes the current situation they are in – with less politicised judgement attached to it. I became aware of those nuances once I got in touch with the topic of humanitarian activism when starting my internship at Europe Cares. It allowed me to gain insights into the circumstances of people on the move and their living conditions with the added stress of the Covid-19 pandemic. A part of getting involved, included visiting Calais and its migrants’ shelters, to gain a better understanding of the reality on the ground. Now I am aware of the power dynamics at play here and don’t mean to push any sort of “saviour complex.” However, the things I witnessed in Calais made me realise how important long-term strategies are for providing migrants with future opportunities. An example of how unsustainable certain aids are due to political circumstances is the distribution of tents. While various NGOs provide tents, those exact tents usually get demolished in raids by the police a few days later. Thus, if there is no system in place which allows people to have future opportunities to apply for visas in Europe, such short-lived ways of helping will remain necessary, even though they cannot be understood as a useful political strategy in line with human rights. To combat this “new normal” of human rights abuses at European borders I’ve joined Europe Cares after my internship, and we’ve been working on multiple projects. One of them is the Paréa Civic Action Center, which provides help to thousands of people still stuck on Lesvos after Camp Moria burned down. On a personal level, I learned from working on such projects, how much the perception of your own capabilities’ changes, when you and your efforts are being taken seriously. While working for Europe Cares I’ve not heard comments such as me being too young to adequately understand circumstances and their impact. Volunteering taught me the value of young people's initiative and drive for better future solutions.” (Eva, 3rd year, The Netherlands)

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