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Ukraine: Migration and Peace Culture in Times of War

Ten million people, almost a quarter of the Ukrainian population, are on the run, with hundreds of thousands more to follow. The solidarity that the refugees are experiencing is huge. European cooperation with the aim of taking in refugees is suddenly possible, in Switzerland the protection status S is activated. A classification from our point of view in a time of overturning events.

Armed conflicts, violence and poverty are the main reasons why people flee. The fact that they are now not fleeing to Switzerland from Syria or Eritrea alone, but from a European country, is an opportunity to be more careful in distinguishing between "real" and "non-real", between political and "economic refugees". Let us hope and commit ourselves that the solidarity with refugees continues and also applies to people who have fled from other regions of the world.

After the first basic needs such as safety, shelter and food have been secured, it will be a matter of providing these people with psychological and psychosocial support, giving them a meaningful daily structure and, for some of them, a long-term future in Switzerland. This month, more than 500 medical and psychotherapeutic professionals drew attention to the importance of enabling refugees to live a dignified life in the long term in a conference co-initiated by terre des hommes switzerland. Open letter to politics and authorities attentive.

Food for thought from the perspective of peace culture

This latest war in Europe brings home to us in all clarity the unspeakable suffering, senseless destruction and brutality of armed conflicts. terre des hommes switzerland is committed to a culture of peace in Colombia, Brazil and El Salvador. Solidarity with all those affected by violence and war is our first priority.

The war against Ukraine is a political and humanitarian catastrophe for all of Europe, a crime against humanity. Values Nonviolence and peace are fundamental to our work. In this context, confrontation with violence and war repeatedly forces self-reflection and leads to serious dilemmas. In the extremely complex balancing process between the value of non-violence and the right to self-defense, we do not allow ourselves any easy answers.

Look where it hurts

But it is precisely in the face of bellicose violence that it is important to differentiate points of view and to make nonviolent alternatives more visible. Simple reflexes of the arms race are no solution to the complex security and peace policy challenges of our time.

An important basic principle of peace culture is the ability to change perspectives and self-criticism. The brutal war of aggression makes visible that Swiss politics has closed its eyes for too long with regard to the close economic relations with the Putin regime. Criteria of democracy and human rights have too little weight in economic relations. Now Switzerland must confront itself with the painful realization: For too long, it profited from corrupt oligarchs and Russia's commodities trade, enabling the authoritarian regime's business.

Despite everything - signs of hope

It gives hope to see how millions of people around the world are taking to the streets for peace and how tens of thousands are mobilizing in peace demonstrations in Switzerland as well. They are giving vent to their powerlessness and horror, and they are showing how basic values of democracy and peace can unite people. The immense solidarity for the refugees is a clear sign that the values of humanity are deeply rooted and make us capable of acting as a civil society.

Active against powerlessness

Young people with a refugee background have a lot to cope with in Switzerland. Lack of employment due to their residence status, existential fears for the future, and separation from family foster the negative spiral of thoughts.

In the "MePower" project, we have been actively working with affected people in Basel since 2019. During the workshops and meetings, the young people become aware of their strengths and abilities instead of focusing on problems. They also learn about the central processes and contact points around the Swiss asylum system.

In this way, we are creating an urgently needed offer in the area of psychosocial support for refugees. It deals with issues such as isolation, disorientation or confrontation with prejudice and exclusion.

Based on this project work of several years, we are currently developing a program for young people from Ukraine, which is adapted to their specific needs. With a donation you can support the project "MePower" specifically. Thank you very much!

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