On April 2, the second annual International Week Round Table took place in the auditorium of the Barcelona City Centre Campus. The International Week gives participants in EADA’s full time Master programmes the opportunity to gain a fresh perspective with electives taught by visiting professors from around the world, all focused on sustainability and responsible management.
The International Week Round Table provides an opportunity to connect with the professionals developing innovative business solutions to today’s most pressing global issues. This focus of this year’s Round Table was the refugee and migrant crisis. In today’s increasingly globalised world, the theme offered unique insights on the economic and political implications of migration. Shifts in migration affect both the private and public sector in terms of housing, education, healthcare and employment.
The Round Table was part of the ongoing collaboration that EADA has with Càritas Diocessana in Barcelona aimed at bringing forward social issues that are transforming our world. Càritas Diocessana is part of Caritas International, which is dedicated to providing relief and promoting development in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.
Mariona Enfadaque, the Head of Refugee Support at Càritas, began the Round Table by giving an overview of the growing issue of forced displacement and of the legal framework in which this is being addressed. The magnitude of the problem is staggering, with over 68 million people having had to leave their homes to escape hopelessness and seek refuge.
It was through the personal testimony of Ousman Omar from Niger, and Mohanad Issa (founder of the NGO NASCO Feeding Minds) from Syria, that International Master participants could grasp what this displacement really meant. Ousman and Mohanad shared their first-hand account of the growing deprivation and constant worry for personal safety that motivates people to abandon their previous life for an uncertain future.
Fortunately, their story ends well. In fact, more than well – they have both been able to fulfil some of their dreams in Barcelona. But their tales left a raw, indelible impression of the poverty and fear, the thirst and hunger, the confusion and exhaustion, the rape, slavery and death faced by these migrants, and finally, of the constant, oppressive fear that both fuels and taints the hope of better prospects in a new country.
The diverse Rounds Table speakers all agreed on two themes. First, the refugee “crisis” is not – or at least not only – a European problem of accommodating new arrivals, but a collective failure to address the root causes of this displacement, be they economic or political. Second, refugees and migrants often feel a strong commitment to return home and contribute to economic growth and reconstruction (physical, social and emotional) and are therefore key actors in any attempt to address these root causes.