German group to remember thousands of dead refugees in the Mediterranean

To mark the 2024 World Refugee Day, a broad alliance of refugee aid organisations, the church, politicians and cultural figures are organising many activities to commemorate the more than 60,000 people who have lost their lives in the Mediterranean or at Europe’s borders since 1993.

World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It falls each year on 20 June and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution.

Since 1993, more than 60,200 people have lost their lives trying to flee poverty, war and persecution to Europe, emphasised the Dortmund action alliance of refugee initiatives, church and civil society groups, institutions and private individuals. Never before have there been so many fatalities as in the past year. “And these are only the deaths that have been investigated. The number of unreported cases is probably three times as high,” the group said.

From 14 to 21 June, the initiative “Beim Namen nennen” (Call by names) will draw attention to the suffering at Europe’s external borders with publicity-catching actions. A “memorial to human dignity”, made from many thousands of strips of fabric, is to be erected in Dortmund’s pedestrian zone. “Each one will commemorate a person who died while fleeing – their name, origin, place and cause of death will be written down,” the alliance has announced.

Thousands of strips have already been labelled, mainly by schoolchildren from Dortmund and Lünen. “And the writing will continue because the dying won’t stop.” The strips are to be hung on an installation and thus be visible in the centre of the Ruhr city. Anyone can also participate spontaneously on site, the group announced.

The names of the dead are to be read out continuously for 24 hours in the Reinoldi Church. According to a press release, many celebrities will also be taking part, including leading representatives from local politics, the cultural scene and the Westphalian regional church.

The group said its actions are about remembering deceased men, women, young people, children and babies and at the same time it is a protest against “situations at the EU borders that violate human rights and are deadly”. Europe continues to tighten the asylum system, the alliance said.

There will also be a musical composition and numerous other events to commemorate those who have died during the week.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that the number of refugees and displaced persons (forcibly displaced) worldwide will have risen to more than 117.3 million people by the end of 2023 (end of 2022: 108.4 million). The increase is related to wars and conflicts in various regions of the world, particularly in Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ukraine.

Sola Jolaoso

Check Also

EU to increase number of deportations

The European Union (EU) wants to create a common European return system for so-called “illegal” …