Since 2010 Slovene Philanthropy commemorates the World Refugee Day (June 20th) with the Festival of Migrant Film. This year’s festival, which will take place in Ljubljana and other cities from June 18th to June 21st, focuses on current stories, connected to asylum politics, migration and refugees. The festival will bring stories of many who have been forced to leave their homes, of those who are often forgotten and not heard often enough. The film stories and contributions of our guests will alert us to the problem of the wall of bureaucracy, security discourse, racism and xenophobia that are on the rise and are emerging in the form of wires, blades, walls, camps and lethal politics. This year’s stories will be about the decision to flee, life on the road and the (un)acceptance of refugees. Religion, which is often understood as a factor of deivison, will be shown as a bridge, a potential connection between cultures. Last but not least, we stress the importance of providing every person, who has been forced to leave their home, a decent life within our community and elsewhere; we urge the people to stand together and offer a new beginning to those that are being left behind walls, on the high seas and in inhuman living conditions.
Migration has never been so massive as is today and the number of refugees all over the world has never been higher. The need for international solidarity has never been greater. According to Amnesty International, it is the developing regions that host majority of the refugees – those areas provide for 86 % of all the world’s refugees. Europe, »the human rights continent«, remains deaf to the pleas for better protection of refugees. On the contrary, fear of refugees is being spread through Europe, the security discourse prevails in political and media discussions, walls and camps are being built on the borders of European countries and EU is making extremely problematic and inhumane deals for the deportation of refugees.
In 2016, 1308 people applied for international protection in Slovenia and 170 were granted international protection. Even though the number of refugees remain low in Slovenia, the public sphere is dominated by security discourse and by expanding fear of migration and refugees, which is often supported by xenophobic remarks made by politicians. In the beginning of 2017, in such an atmosphere, the amendment to the Aliens Act was passed, which allows for emergency measures to be taken in the event of extraordinary circumstances. With it, they would limit the entry of aliens and thus deny them the possibility to apply for international protection – which is in clear violation of the Constitution of Republic of Slovenia and numerous international legal acts. At the same time, Slovenia has yet to adopt an adequate integration strategy adapted to the new refugee situation. Refugees in Slovenia still face many difficulties when accessing efficient health care and social security, housing and employment.
Nevertheless, there is ground for optimism. This is due to many individuals and groups that are willing to engage themselves in building an open, inclusive society that transcends cultural and other differences. We would like to thank all the festival guests and partners that are raising awareness with us, as well as the film creators that depict the current reality and stories of people who pose no threat to European security, on the contrary, they are becoming our new neighbours, friends, companions and co-workers.
MA Franci Zlatar and Marina Uzelac, Slovene Philanthropy