Mass migration heightens awareness of humanity's 'organic unity'

October 23, 2015

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The mass movement of refugees across Europe is heightening consciousness of the 'organic unity of humanity', the Baha'i International Community has said at a major conference on refugees and exiles.

The annual general conference of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) held 14 to 16 October in the Hague, Netherlands, brought together 150 participants, including members of civil society and non-governmental organizations protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons.

Volker Turk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection in the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), commented that Europe is facing an unprecedented moment in history amid the mass movement of refugees and migrants.

Speaking about the expressions of solidarity in some regions where refugees are hosted by the local population, he said that it was encouraging to see the fundamental goodness of people manifesting itself.

Michael Diedring, Secretary General of ECRE, addressed the audience, focusing on the human dimension of the issue in his comments:

"While many people put a disproportionate focus on numbers and statistics, we must never forget that each number represents a person, an individual with intrinsic value and human rights," he said.

In its contribution, the Baha'i International Community drew particular attention to the profound interconnectedness of humanity:

"The movement of populations illustrates that the peace, stability and prosperity of the different regions of the world are interconnected and that solutions cannot be intelligently considered in isolation from this global reality.

"Social, institutional and legal arrangements that meet the needs of one region, but do not take into consideration those of another, are proving insufficient. What is becoming apparent is that the movement of populations is but the latest symptom of a much deeper and far-reaching concern."

As part of the evening program, the participants of the meeting were invited to the Mauritshuis museum, which hosts a world-renowned collection of Dutch and Flemish painters, including Rembrandt, Rubens and Breughel.

Dorine Manson, director of the Dutch Council for Refugees, linked the event to what is known as the Dutch Golden Age:

"What led to the prosperity of Amsterdam in the 17th century was the arrival of refugees from all over Europe. It was thanks to them, their diversity, skills and entrepreneurship that what was once a small port city developed into the most important port and commercial center in the world by 1630. And it is thanks to that wealth that the Golden Age painters were able to contribute to the cultural heritage of Europe and the world."

ECRE is the largest pan-European alliance, comprising 90 non-governmental organizations protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons.