Rethinking the Fortress

June 24th, 2011

The Jasmine Revolution that has seen the downfall of governments in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the de-legitimization of governments in Libya, Syria and Yemen, stems primarily from a generation of young people who stepped forward, determined to live a different future from that of their fathers and grandfathers. In a region stretching from Morocco to Syria, 200 million people are waiting for a more equitable distribution of resources, and for the political and social reforms that will make their potential part of the new global economy.

While national governments are busy convincing countries of origin to close their borders, local governments are asked to set up camps for the migrants and asylum seekers. Whether they like it or not, local governments are on the front lines of globalization, the first to respond to the current situation and cope with the new wave of migrants and their “right to the city “, i.e. housing, services and public space to meet, play and pray.

Yet, says Marcel Balbo, UNESCO Chair of SSIM, countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria are also destined to become countries of immigration. The “Fortress of Europe” is no longer defensible: “The history of the Polish plumber should have taught us something about the relationship between democracy, development and migration….”

Read more from The Fortress is No Longer Useful.

Marcello Balbo is the UNESCO Chair of the Social and Spatial Inclusion of International Migrants: Urban Policies and Practices (SSIIM)

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