This year, for the second time, the Lithuanian Youth Council organised a summer festival for hundreds of young people from LiJOT member organizations to meet up in non-formal surrounding to #sharethesummer- share experiences, emotions, thoughts and discoveries that summer brings to you.
Driven by this mood LiJOT summer fest offered not only a relaxing atmosphere. Young people were invited to take part in a discussion led by the UNHCR Legal Officer for Lithuania Vladimiras Siniovas. A discussion about refugees in Europe and whether we have the right not to accept them in Lithuania. The topic of refugees appears to have been dominating the media for quite some time, mainly asking what will happen when refugees come to Lithuania. What should we expect and how will it affect our daily lives?
You were literally able to see a sign of honest surprise when Mr. Vladimiras said that refugees are already here. And for quite some time too – since 1951! In 2006 about 400 asylum seekers reached Lithuania from different corners of the world, in 2015 approximately 300. The biggest part of them are not people currently fleeing the war in Syria, mainly people from Chechen Republic, Afghanistan and Ukraine but they are here and the world did not collapse, did it? The majority of them are not even refugees anymore but successfully integrated citizens of Lithuania.
The speaker was talking about all the hardships people fleeing their home have to go through and also presented data on the number of refugees accommodated by the EU countries and everywhere else in the world. Most of this info was new to the participants but eagerness to get to know more brought tons of questions to the floor. Young people want to be informed; they are proactively seeking information in a surrounding where media – as UNHCR Legal Officer for Lithuania – states is the one creating ai???refugee crisis in Lithuaniaai??? seeking scandalous headlines to attract more readers.
According to the most recent social research, more than half of Lithuanians believe that we can and should not welcome refugees in our country. Although, due to international legal obligations and most importantly because of moral duty we cannot do that. And young people wanting to understand things happening next door to them have to be provided with sufficient information that allows overcoming prejudices and helping refugees to successfully go through integration process. And young people want to help but donai??i??t really know how exactly they can contribute.
Mr. Vladimiras Siniovas made it clear. The most important thing is the positive attitude and moral support you can offer. Being good costs nothing but it matters the world to the ones who are forced to leave their homes and families.