For immediate release
Statement of historians on the current humanitarian crisis in Europe
On Friday 2.10.2015 a statement signed by 80 historians was presented to the Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education Silvia Costa. This hand over was executed as Costa visited the Red Cross tent city accommodating refugees at the Tiburtina station in Rome, Italy.
Adjunct professor Marialuisa Lucia Sergio who presented the statement, stated that, in addition to the moral appeal to the European institutions to accept refugees, we signatories are committed in our respective academic contexts to gearing the teaching towards an intercultural approach and to proposing concrete measures for refugees.
The signing historians want to highlight the importance of the knowledge that migrants, regardless if they have escaped persecution or war, or are just looking for a better future for themselves and their children, have brought with them to Europe in the past. How that knowledge helped building our societies and creating the current wealth we enjoy in Europe.
They stress however, that although migration and migrants were beneficial to Europe in the past, we know that the potential usefulness of a person to society should not be the reason why we help fellow humans. We must help people in need because they need help. It was that simple in the past, and so it is today. The 20th century taught us to accept and embrace our diversities. In this very moment we Europeans must stand for our values.
The statement was initiated by Dr. Jan Kunnas from Finland but currently working at KTH in Sweden and Dr. Viktor Pàl from Hungary but currently working at WU Wien in Austria, as a response to their frustration with the xenophobic discussion in their countries unleashed by the current influx of refugees. They argue that at this crucial moment, historians must contribute with our knowledge to the better understanding of the present crisis. To support the statement they have started to collect examples of knowledge transferred by immigrants, or other ways how the flow of humans has contributed to a better world for us all.
The full statement and a continuously updated list of signatories can be found here: https://historiansforrefugees.wordpress.com/
Further information and pictures: jan.kunnas(AT)abe.kth.se
Handing over of the statement featured in Italian televesion Rai2 at 4 minutes: http://www.rai.tv/dl/RaiTV/programmi/media/ContentItem-8dbe9b9c-2aa9-439a-b0c5-ad2c66e2de93.html