Adonis Diaries

Canadian Avaaz Kicking asses? European Migration Agenda

Posted on: August 31, 2015

Canadian Avaaz Kicking asses?  European Migration Agenda

I’m sorry to use crude language, but we Canadians sometimes do that in the best spirit when we get excited

Evidence you say?

We helped win the first ever European Migration Agenda

EU migrants

After thousands of asylum seekers drowned in the Mediterranean earlier this year, the European Commission finally proposed a Migration Agenda to get shared responsibility across the continent for rescue, resettlement and relocation of refugees, and we sprung into action to support the initiative:

  • First, we raised and granted $500,000 to the most effective private rescue mission in the Mediterranean, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), which has saved 7,000 lives this year. We also supported a local organization that assists unaccompanied refugee children at risk of trafficking, and Greek Avaaz members even volunteered to help them on the ground.
  • Then we used funds to run an Avaaz aid mission to the Greek islands where Syrian families arrive every day on rickety boats, delivering bedding and health kits for thousands. Check out Avaazer Mike Baillie’s inspiring blog.
  • At the same time, we launched a European volunteer network for refugees. Over 1,600 Avaazers have volunteered to assist in programmes across the continent. In Greece, Malta, and Italy, they are helping families coming off the boats with integration. In Germany and France, Avaaz members are opening their homes to refugees, and in the UK they are supporting Syrians to resettle.
  • We also did the lobbying — 450,000 EU Avaaz members called for urgent action, and the petition was delivered to all EU Heads of State and the EU Commissioner on migration. Then 65,000 of us sent personal messages to Ministers, and our campaign got attention at the highest level of government. A senior adviser to President Juncker wrote thanking us for our ‘beautiful initiative’.
  • When after weeks of stalling, we found out Poland, Austria and Spain were blocking a deal, we flooded their Ministries with phone calls, and Avaaz volunteers made a video of Syrians appealing directly to the Spanish Minister for refuge, which exploded all over the media.

Together we showed leaders that the European public wants to help vulnerable people fleeing war, and we countered the pervading xenophobic narrative with acts of compassion. Now a deal has been done — the EU has tripled the search and rescue budget for the Mediterranean, and will offer sanctuary to more than 50,000 people escaping war. This is a first step, but the magnitude of this humanitarian crisis requires us to keep pushing leaders to increase safe routes into Europe as the best way to help these desperate families and stop illegal trafficking.

We helped feed thousands of Syrians during the holy month of Ramadan

ramadan meals
ramadan gas

This Ramadan, our community across the Middle East, North Africa, and South East Asia donated over $25,000 for the Ramadan campaign. Support was given to the Development and Regeneration Association, based in Lebanon, and Karam Foundation based in the US and with an extensive network inside Syria.

Through these two incredible organizations, our community helped make the following possible:

  • Iftar for thousands of Syrians through Ramadan Kitchens and food baskets in Bekaa, Salah el Din, Moadamieh and Ghouta. In Moadamieh and Ghouta alone, we helped feed over 18,000 people for the entire month of Ramadan!
  • 2400 meals for orphans in Aleppo
  • Cooking gas for over 600 families in Aleppo
  • 40 tonnes of flour which provided over 60,000 packages of bread in Idlib

Some kids even received new Eid clothes thanks to our community. Click here to see a video from Karam, and here to see photos from Bekaa.

We organised a letter from leading Economists to warn Chancellor Merkel against Greek Austerity

Greek austerity

When the Greek people said no to more austerity measures in a referendum and EU leaders threatened to kick Greece out of the Euro, Avaaz coordinated an open letter to Merkel from 5 leading economists including Thomas Piketty and Jeffrey Sachs on the back of a 530,000-strong Avaaz Europe petition. The letter was all over the German media and published across the world. It had such a strong impact that the German Finance Minister got his chief economist to write a response in a major newspaper, and the debate is now heating up. We’ll keep ramping up actions to shift the prevailing economic view in Germany as this has the most promise to liberate Greece from more failed and crushing austerity.

We got Benetton to pay victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh

Benetton Victory
Benetton Delivery

After two years of flat-out refusal, we got Benetton to reverse their position. Here’s how we did it:

  • We built and delivered a one-million-strong petition to Benetton.
  • We launched a huge social media storm, and when they hid our posts, we ramped them up.
  • We mobilised billboards outside Benetton’s Headquarters for days until the police came to stop us. Then our Italian Counsel got on the phone with the police, and they left us alone.
  • We got influential thought leaders to engage directly with the CEO of Benetton.
  • We issued a heartfelt appeal to Benetton staff through targeted ads on Facebook.
  • And finally, we engaged in personal and constructive negotiations with company executives.

Benetton responded by supporting the scheme, and even thanked Avaaz for our ‘important and positive role in the process’! Now, the scheme is fully funded and workers and their families will receive full payment. This success story could change the game for workers’ rights everywhere.

We raised a whopping $2.6 million for the victims of the Nepal earthquake

Nepal earthquake

When we heard of the devastation from this mega earthquake, we immediately jumped in and cut through bureaucratic hurdles to get aid to those most in need. By partnering with over a dozen of the best local relief efforts, the shelter, food, and medical supplies that our community funded were often the first to reach devastated villages. Funds raised by us are now rebuilding schools and crucial health facilities in the hardest hit regions, and are bringing hope to countless lives. Abari, one of the amazing organisations building schools and houses, sent their gratitude: “While the buildings were still crumbling from the aftershocks in Nepal, Avaaz spoke to us, understood the magnitude of the problem, and arranged the funds – all in less than 24 hours. The way they make decisions and take action is mind-blowing.”

We helped push the G7 of world polluters to commit to get off fossil fuels forever

G7 climate heroes

After decades of polluting and feet-dragging to move to the only viable solution — a total shift to clean energy — the G7 amazingly set a long-term goal to get completely off fossil fuels. Our community has been pushing for this for 2 years by:

  • spearheading the gigantic, momentum-changing, 700,000-strong climate march last year;
  • building a 2.7 million person petition for 100% clean energy delivered to dozens of key leaders;
  • coordinating scores of rallies, high-level lobbying meetings, opinion polls, and ad campaigns across the world, all funded by our community;
  • and leading a 3-month all-out push for the G7 summit leadership, especially directed at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to put this on the agenda and agree to this goal.

Click here to see in detail how we helped get this incredible victory.

We gave over $2.5 million to stop Ebola, and it is almost defeated!

Ebola news

This is a big deal. This monster could have killed millions — it threatened the whole world. But the world came together to stop it, and Liberia was recently declared Ebola-free! What did we do?

  • Our community donated $2.5 million to the best aid operations working on the front line. It was the speed and nimbleness of our funds that made them life-saving. Partners in Health says:We are so grateful for your support, and for the flexibility you provided us in terms of use of the funds. This flexibility was critical.”
  • Over 4000 of us offered to go to West Africa to use our skills to assist in the fight. Avaaz volunteers played critical roles on the ground — from combating patient-doctor transmission in Ebola Treatment Centers, to building the facilities themselves.

The fact that Ebola is defeated in Liberia and has significantly declined in neighbouring countries is a huge victory for humanity, and I’m so proud of our community for showing that people everywhere are willing to risk everything to help others on the other side of the planet in times of crisis. What’s now clearer than ever is that investment in public health in this region is crucial.

We pushed Barclays to divest from an Israeli Defense Company


After the horrific Gaza attacks last summer, Avaaz launched the biggest global divestment campaign ever, calling on major companies to cut ties with operations and companies engaged in the illegal occupation and repression of Palestinians. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Russell Brand joined our call, and other groups called for the bank to act. Avaaz staff then met with Barclays to drive home the importance of divesting from Elbit Systems weapons company. We have now been informed that Barclays has no beneficial ownership of any shares in Elbit Systems in any capacity, nor does it hold any shares in nominee for clients. Barclays has also confirmed that it is not recommending Elbit Systems shares to clients via any trading platforms. Victory!
We are still pushing to get other companies financing the occupation of Palestine to withdraw and respect international law.

We helped finally get justice for Kenyan rape survivor, Liz

Justice for Liz

After a 16-year-old Kenyan girl told the police she was raped by six men who then threw her unconscious body down a 6-meter toilet pit, they just had the criminals mow their station lawn, and then let them free! When our community found out, we responded with a mega global outcry, and we have continued to ramp up the pressure:

  • We delivered the petition to top political and justice officials.
  • We bombarded Kenyan police and politicians on social media.
  • We sent an investigator to the scene to help uncover the crime.
  • And we teamed up with amazing Kenyan organisations to hold a massive march to get a Special Prosecutor involved to take the case to court.

Finally, nearly two years later, a judge sentenced three of the rapists to 15 years in jail. Terry Kunina, one of the women leaders in Kenya, said: “The Avaaz campaign put this case on the map and were it not for the worldwide recognition of the situation that Liz was facing, I am convinced that the case would not be where it is today. Liz now stands a chance at a better life.”

Now Kenyan officials know the world is watching and will hold them responsible for abuse and impunity.

On top of all these incredible wins, Avaaz has grown large enough to set up 18 national teams, so the number and impact of our national campaigning is skyrocketing from Germany to Brazil, from South Africa to Russia.

All of this is made possible by the growing engagement of all of us in this incredible community — from continuing to take action, to bringing our friends in, to donating small amounts of money and time — we are creating a magical and powerful collective force.

There’s a lot of scary stuff going on in the world, but let’s take a moment to give ourselves some love. We’re coming together in our millions, week after week, and it is having impact on some of the most complex issues of our time.


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