Urgent Letter 2

For a World without Walls:

For the right to stay, to move and to return

On December 18 2021 –  International Migrants Day, as movements and organizations struggling for a World Without Walls we issue our second Urgent Letter to denounce hollow statements of concern and demand radical re-thinking and action.

86 networks, movements and organizations from across the globe have joined the call.

We demand people’s rights to stay with dignity and justice in their home countries, to move, whenever they are forced to, protected and respected, to host countries and to return to where they had to flee from.

On November 9 2021 – Global Day of InterAction for a World without Walls, we have started a series of Urgent Letters, with which we navigate where our struggles intersect and hope to bring people together to deepen the cracks in the walls that oppress us until we dismantle them.

Our Urgent Letter on International Migrants Day

Dear friends and comrades, 

Saturday 18 December 2021, is International Migrants Day. Governments and institutions all over the world will release meaningless statements about how much they care for migrants and their rights. In many borderlands around the world we can see on a daily basis how this concern for the wellbeing of migrants plays out: they are hunted, abused, shot at, raped, denied their rights, detained, tortured, deported and forced to live in inhumane circumstances with the Covid-pandemic still raging around.

Only in recent weeks we witnessed the deaths of 55 migrants in a truck crash in Mexico, of 27 migrants when a dinghy capsized in the Channel, of people at the borders of Poland and Lithuania with Belarus and people on the move en route to the Canary Islands. Avoidable deaths, adding to the tens of thousands of refugees who have died because of worldwide border regimes.

This year has been filled with shocking pictures of desperate people at the border between Poland and Belarus, of continuous horrors in Libya’s refugee prisons, of the millions of Venezuelans looking for better economic conditions and the hundreds of thousands Rohingya people from Myanmar that have been forced to leave their homes. We have witnessed the further erosion of refugee rights, with the EU’s process of normalizing illegal pushbacks and a new Australian law that can keep undeportable refugees locked up indefinitely. And we have seen the ongoing expansion of the global system of border security and control, with its walls and fences, its surveillance technology and biometric databases, its arms and helicopters and drones, and its detention centers and deportation aircraft.

By the end of last year 82.4 million people, over 1% of the world’s population, were forcibly displaced, according to the UNHCR. Over 6 million of them are Palestinians, making up over half of the Palestinian people. Most of them have been expelled from their homes since 1948 and are fighting for their right to return. This makes the Palestinian struggle a paradigmatic struggle of refugees for justice. 

Migrants and refugees fight for their rights to stay with dignity and justice in their home countries, to move, whenever they are forced to, protected and respected, to host countries and to return to where they had to flee from. 

Following centuries of colonialism, countries of the Global North have imposed their deadly system of capitalism on the whole earth, destroying the planet, robbing people of their lands and resources, displacing them and forcing billions of people to live in poverty and unsafety, slaving their lives away for the benefit of the rich. The same governments keep fueling the reasons people are forced to flee – by arms exports, military interventions, cooperation with dictators, land grabbing, climate change, unequal trade relations, aggressive economic, foreign and military policies and so on – driving more and more persons from their homes.

Many of them stay within their country of origin, or in neighbouring countries, often riddled with problems of their own. While only a small percentage tries to cross to countries in the Global North, it are exactly those rich states that are loudly beating the drums of fear and xenophobia.They picture people on the move as threats: to national security, to other people, to employment. 

The rich protect their wealth by throwing trillions at building a military and security apparatus to keep the rest of the world under control. They are the ones that are building walls and, in the process of border externalisation, push other countries to increase border security to keep migrants as far away from their own borders as possible.

European states have built over 1000 kms of anti-migration walls and the EU is forming its own armed border police force, the Frontex Standing Border Guard Corps. It has expanded Frontex’s mandate in general, including for operations outside Europe, outsourcing Europe’s borders deep into Africa, and for coordinating joint deportations from EU member states. The Biden-government has denounced Trump’s border wall, but has more quietly replaced this policy with an equally destructive technological border wall. Australia is spending billions of euros on renewing its border force and border security equipment.

The military and security industry has enthusiastically and successfully lobbied governments and border forces to embrace securitization. The results are more border security and control, militarization of borders, more walls and fences, the use of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence, the gathering of ever more personal data and so on. In a rapidly growing market, arms companies like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Airbus, Leonardo, Thales and Elbit Systems are making billions of dollars every year to keep people on the move away. For many companies this means the second time they profit from misery of the same group of people, as they also provide the arms and technologies to keep wars, repression and human rights violations going.

For years the Israeli government, armed forces and military and security industry have been at the forefront of increasing exclusion of migrants and the development and provision of tools and technologies to do so on a global scale. This is not a coincidence, but builds on decades of occupation, war, exclusion and repression against the Palestinians, and increasingly also against refugees. The state of Israel has created a modern apartheid-system based on not only brutal militarism, walls and repression, but as much so on a refined system of security technologies and high-technological surveillance equipment.

Using terms such as ‘combat proven’ and ‘battlefield tested’ to promote such equipment, the Israeli arms industry has successfully exported its goods all over the world. Drones from Elbit are flying surveillance missions for Frontex in the Mediterranean. The same company has provided watch towers for the US-Mexico border. Both Greece and Germany lease drones from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for border patrols.

In an ironic twist, the same system that keeps people out is also profiting from them.  It is creating a market for unscrupulous smuggling networks, which desperate people on the move have to turn to to avoid the militarized borders and increased border controls. Meanwhile, people also have to use ever more dangerous routes. Like the Mediterranean, where tens of thousands of migrants have drowned or otherwise died, many borderlands around the world have been turned into graveyards for refugees. Those that make it to host countries, are exploited as documented and undocumented migrant workers. Money can flow freely around the world, people only when they have enough money, or are instrumental for those who have.

The prospects are bleak. Governments have entrenched themselves in a one-way-discourse of increasing and militarising borders, deploying ever more draconian measures to stop people on the move, eroding migrant rights and increasing the profits of military and security companies. 

It is against this dark background that we need to cooperate and grow seeds of resistance and hope against this lethal system and the barriers for people it creates. As movements that have come together in the initiative for a World without Walls we urge everyone to join actions in support of migrants and against border walls. 

Like every struggle for freedom and justice the fight against borders and walls is a long-term one that needs far more than one action day. However, if we join hands and forces in solidarity we will be able to defeat the systems of exclusion and apartheid and create a more free, humane and liveable world.


A PlanetaBasque Country
Al Yudur Juventud PalestinaSpanish State
Alkarama (Movimiento de Mujeres Palestinas)Spanish State
American Friends Service CommitteeInternational
AMFP AubagneFrance
APDH Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos HumanosArgentina
APDH Regional TutyusurArgentina
Asociación Entreiguales ValènciaSpanish State – València
Asociación para la Unidad de Nuestra América (AUNA)Argentina
Associação intervenção Democrática – IDPortugal
Associação Portuguesa de Amizade e Cooperação Iúri GagárinPortugal
associazione di amicizia italo palestineseItaly
Associazione Terra Libera Tutti odvItaly
Barrio BajoAsturias – Spanish State
BDS BerlinGermany
BDS ColombiaColombia
BDS ColombiaColombia
BDS ItalyItaly
BDS MalaysiaMalaysia
Campagne BDS FranceFrance
CEMIDA (Centro de militares para la Democracia Argentina)Argentina
Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la PauSpanish State
Christian Peacemaker Teams – Aegean Migrant SolidarityGreece
Christian Peacemaker Teams InternationalUnited States
Colectivo de Colombianos as Refugiados en AsturiasAsturias
Collectif Solidarité Palestine Ouest Etang de BerreFrance
Comision Sur por PalestinaArgentina
Comitato Veresino per la PalestinaItaly
Comité de Amistad con el Pueblo SAHARAUIArgentina
Comité de Solidariedade com a PalestinaPortugal
Conceyu de Solidardá y XusticiaAsturias – Spanish State
Corporación Casa de la Memoria Quipu HuasiColombia
Corporación Casa de la Memoria Quipu HuasiColombia
Corriente Peronista DescamisadosArgentina
Donne in Nero ItalyItaly
Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls Sports and Social ClubUnited Kingdom
Eco-Youth Empowerment ActionLiberia
Foot in the Door ConsultingCanada
Friends of the Earth IndiaIndia
Gibanje za pravice PalestincevSlovenia
Imam Haron FoundationSouth Africa
InterReligious Task Force on Central AmericaUSA
Jewish Voice for Peace-Hudson ValleyUSA
Legal Centre LesvosGreece
Liga Argentina por los DDHHArgentina
Los Otros JudíosPatria Grande
Malaysian Women Coalition for alQuds and PalestineMalaysia
MAUSAM (Movement for Advancing Understanding of Sustainability And Mutuality)India
MDM – Women democratic movement _ Movimento Democrático de MulheresPortugal
Middle East Children’s AllianceUnited States
Movimiento por la Paz, la Soberanía y la Solidaridad MOPASSOLArgentina
MPPM – Movimento pelos Direitos do Povo Palestino e pela Paz no Médio OrientePortugal
MURPI Confederação Nacional de Reformados, Pensionistas e IdososPortugal
ODV Salaam Ragazzi dell’Olivo Comitato TriesteItaly
Palestine Solidarity AllianceSouth Africa
Palestine Solidarity CampaignSouth Africa
Pan African Palestine Solidarity NetworkAfrica
Panteras Rosa – Frente de Combate à LesBiGayTransfobiaPortugal
Parallelo PalestinaItaly
Partido socialista de los trabajadoresColombia
Primero La PatriaArgentina
RASH BogotaColombia
Red Internacional Judía Antisionista -IJANArgentina
Red Nacional de apoyo a personas migrantes y refugiadas LGBT MéxicoMexico
Red sindical internacional de solidaridad y de luchas (www.laboursolidarity.or)International
REDES-Amigos de la Tierra UruguayUruguay
Rural Refugee Rights NetworkCanada
SA BDS CoalitionSouth Africa
Samidoun Spanish StateSpanish State
Shadow World InvestigationsUnited Kingdom
Sirigaita – associação culturalPortugal
SODePAZSpanish State
SOLdePaz.PachakutiAsturias – Spanish State
Stop the War on MigrantsNetherlands
Stop WapenhandelNetherlands
The Middle East Crisis ResponseUnited States
Trade Union Centre Of India (TUCI)India
Transnational InstituteNetherlands
València AcullValència – Spanish State