Building Bridges, Opening Ports – Ashoka Fellows in Italy Respond to Migrant Ship Aquarius Situation

The following statement was produced by Ashoka Fellows in Italy in response to the refusal of the Italian government to allow Aquarius, a ship full of migrants seeking shelter, to harbor in its ports.
(Read the original statement in Italian)

Building Bridges, Opening Ports

Ashoka Fellows from Italy take a stand on recent events involving the migrant ship Aquarius, which the newly elected government has not allowed to harbor in Italy

14 June 2017

Ashoka Fellows from Italy respond to the latest political actions and immigration policies of the Italian Government, particularly concerning the migrant ship Aquarius. To those who say that these decisions have “opened a front of discussion for new immigration policies”, we respond that spaces for discussion and creation of effective, serious and profound solutions already exist, and must be strengthened and valued to reach real and lasting social change.

We represent the largest network of social entrepreneurs in the world. We operate both in Italy and in developing countries through our social innovations. We are actively working to reach the global Sustainable Development Goals: eradicating poverty, reducing inequality, promoting sustainability, consolidating human rights, democracy, human dignity, equality, preventing conflicts and promoting reconciliation processes, educating new generations towards change and empathy-based relations between peers.

We believe that everyone is a changemaker and that empathy, creativity and collaboration are strategic forces to promote global change. We have been selected by Ashoka for our ethical fiber and the systemic impact that our social innovations aim to achieve. All over the world Fellows like us imagine solutions, create alliances, engage civil society, influence decision-makers, promote participation from all stakeholders, and ultimately help build ecosystems to co-create systemic solutions.

The latest events regarding the migrant ship Aquarius pushed us to take a firm, clear and univocal public stand.

In our global network, there are innovative and successful solutions that effectively and efficiently address the topic of migration (see the Hello Europe initiative). Despite the fact that civil society has demonstrated a great capacity to find solutions to tackle the problems underlying migration and integration, spaces remain lacking to allow these solutions to grow, connect and scale more quickly. In addition, part of the institutional realm has initiated extraordinary work to provide infrastructure and financing mechanisms to create a more welcoming Europe, though there is a need for allies to develop more concrete policies and scale them.

All our efforts are inspirited by the vision of a society governed by democratic values, founded on the rule of law and open to diversity: a laboratory for discussion and exchange. Leaving 629 migrants at sea, on the contrary, shows a confused country, that is not looking towards the future.

Migration today represents a global challenge that we want to address because in this challenge we identify the solution. Immigrants can be impactful changemakers, able to activate those empathy-based approaches that we all yearn for and want to educate future generations in.

For this utopia to become reality, we invoke a change of perspective:  to bravely address the challenges, analyze the deepest roots of the problem, empathize with the communities involved and create cross-party alliances in order to ultimately understand and tackle obstacles from all perspectives.

As women and men engaged in the defense of human rights and social justice, we consider human mobility a fundamental right and, now more than ever, a wealth that we must nurture with intelligence and courage.

Each of us, facing many obstacles and working with passion, have made reality the dreams we chose to base our existence on: fair immigration systems, empowerment of mafia victims, gender equality, dignity for every human fragility. Individual dreams that today, in view of the events that our country is experiencing, we wish to share in order to build a collective dream.

We believe that every individual and community can change their mindset to feel empathy towards anyone, particularly those who knock at the doors of their countries, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion and language. We believe the moment has come for everyone to assume responsibility, to be a changemaker.

Let’s not avoid challenges with simplistic solutions. Rather, let’s create spaces for interaction between different actors: this is what we do and we are willing to share our professionalism and experience to achieve it. This is, we believe, the only way to realistically open a new frame for solutions to tackle the migration challenge in an effective, equal and systemic way.

Signing Ashoka Italy Fellows:
Judi Aubel,
Flaviano Bianchini,
Luciana Delle Donne,
Francesca Fedeli,
Paulo Lima,
Alfonso Molina,
Dario Riccobono,
Carlo Stasolla,
Daniel Tarozzi,
Massimo Vallati,
Eleonora Voltolina,
Riccarda Zezza,

signing members of the Ashoka Support Network:
Giovanni Moratti,
Nicola Pangher,
Valentina Scanziani,
Adriana Versino,
David Wallach.


(Read the original statement in Italian)

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