URI MENA Regional Coordinator’s participation in Service Civil International’s 2018 Exchange Platform Meeting (EPM)

From 14 to 20 October 2018, over 90 participants from 55 organizations and 45 countries gathered in Anjala, Finland to attend SCI’s 2018 Exchange Platform Meeting. This meeting gives SCI’s movement the time and space to reflect on the work of the last year, as well as prepare for future volunteer exchanges, projects and activities. SCI’s branches, partners and contacts across the globe spend five days sharing experiences in international volunteering field and exploring strategies to bring more people together and integrate refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in civil society work. The hope is to create more open and tolerant societies and ultimately a more peaceful world.
A continuous topic during this EPM was the restrictions we face concerning our freedom of movement, including the challenges experienced by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. In light of this, the EPM 2018 delegation wrote and unanimously approved a statement on the Right to Free Movement.

Statement by Exchange Platform Meeting 2018 on the Right to Free Movement on 19 October, 2018:

We, as participants of Exchange Platform Meeting (EPM) 2018, who come from 45 countries, have just finished our five day meeting where we have heard dozens of stories that give testimony of restrictions on movement for people from many countries who simply strive to do voluntary service, and taking the opportunity to meet peers from other cultures in order to learn, exchange and explore. It is our shared impression that these restrictions are becoming not only more numerous but also stricter around the world. Therefore, we want to reaffirm the Freedom of Movement position paper1 as drafted in 2014 by the CCIVS general assembly, since it resonates with the core values that we stand for as a peace movement. Our organizations are working to bring people together, and to let them share both an experience and their life stories. The first condition for this is the possibility to move. We believe this will also create more open and tolerant societies in general, and ultimately a more peaceful world. As a movement we support the vision of a world without borders and facilitate the free movement of all people. Additionally, we, as Service Civil International activists and volunteers present at the EPM, call on all countries to immediately:
• Acknowledge and reduce visa conditions and procedures that restrict people around the world to move;
• Be mindful and act on discriminatory behavior of certain authority representatives towards movement of people (based on ethnic origin, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic situation, birth or other status, as stated in Freedom of Movement position paper);
• Raise awareness about this specific issue people across the world are facing today.