The citizens of the Global South, entangled in seemingly never ending conflicts, are been impacted by poverty, the effects of climate change, authoritarianisms and internal wars that contribute to the constant rising number of internal displaced people and refugees.
All these citizens are the main victims of the deterioration of the fundamental right to mobility.
A right that has been included in the Constitutions of Western countries, in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and in the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Still, it is a right that allows only the citizens of rich countries – mostly located in the Western hemisphere – to travel, take planes and choose a destination. Any destination allowed by their passport.
Passport Indexes – tools that rank passports and identify the most powerful and the least powerful ones– periodically put in the spotlight the gap in the right to movement between rich countries and developing countries. Such gap has become wider and wider because of the pandemic over the last two years.
Basically, for millions of human beings getting a passport is difficult and expensive and once they get one, it is hard to obtain a visa to travel abroad.
This is not about first and second class citizens. This is about free citizens/individuals and “chained” citizens/individuals. For the latter, the only way to throw off the yoke is often to try their luck and roll the dice as they cross the desert, the Mediterranean, borders guarded by arms, walls and barbed wire.
States – represented by their embassies – have proved to be “inattentive”, to say the least, with regard to the substantial deterioration of the right to mobility, as they imposed stricter and stricter rules each year for the release of visas. Apparently, the principle of reciprocity between States doesn’t apply to the policies of passports and visas.
So on the one hand there are “powerful” passports such as those issued by the Emirates, Japan, Germany, Italy, that allow people to travel in almost all countries of the world without a visa, while on the other hand there are passports that are not worth anything as they are issued by long-time war-torn countries: Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan and others located in the so called Developing areas, first of all the African Continent from where every day an undetermined number of migrants leave looking for refuge or better luck. These migrants have been defined as illegal but they surely have no other way to travel.
We live in a time when wealth and power receive support, barriers of all kind are raised, the people are divided, while all the effects of such policies are ignored: inequality, poverty, mental illnesses, social difficulties, conflicts. All this causes forced and dangerous migration to increase. It’s unfair that millions of people are captive in their own countries, can’t exercise their right to travel, change their life and look for other possibilities. Just like all the other people who enjoy this right do.
If we won’t put an end to mobility inequality all other disparities won’t decrease. And the externalization of the borders won’t stop migration. So-called illegal migration is primarily caused by social injustice. And is made “illegal” by the impossibility to exercise a universal right.
We appeal to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Parliament, David Maria Sassoli, the Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi and to European Governments leaders in order for them to revise visa policies in such a way to grant African citizens and all other citizens in the world that today can’t travel with legal method, the same right and freedom of movement enjoyed by European people.
Today it’s more urgent than ever to encourage a serious mobilization – and just as serious legislative action – to get to the root of this inequality that results in the loss of human lives and constant social tensions.
The initiative, promoted by Antonella Sinopoli and Voci Globali together with Articolo 21, is joined by many organizations including: ARCI, ASGI, Carta di Roma, Gariwo Foundation, Melting Pot Europa, Migreurop, Nigrizia, Pressenza (International Press Agency), Refugees Welcome España, ResQSaving People
and personalities including: Laura Silvia Battaglia, Angela Caponnetto, Gherardo Colombo, Lucia Ghebreghiorges, Francesco Malavolta, Filippo Miraglia, Giusi Nicolini, Nancy Porsia, Nello Scavo, Andrea Segre, Cecilia Strada, Jean Leonard Touadi, Mussie Zerai.
For the complete list of Italian adherents, see the petition page in Italian.