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JESAM Statement on Migration

refugees 01 758x426"Building a culture of hospitality and inclusiveness"

With some 232 million migrants worldwide, a threefold increase since 1960, it is evident that migration is no longer a regional or continental concern but a global phenomenon. "This challenge demands the attention of the entire international community so that new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted", Pope Francis said in a message to the Colloquium on Migration and Development in Mexico.

Photo courtesy: Irish Jesuits, www.jesuite.ie

The challenges posed by migration call for an apostolic commitment by the universal body of the Society of Jesus. The Society wants to respond in a coordinated way in our works and communities on a local, regional and global level.

Prior to the WORLD SOCIAL FORUM ON MIGRATION (WSFM) in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 5-8 December 2014, the Social Apostolate of the Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) held a pre-forum meeting from 2-4 December. Many displaced people seek refuge in South Africa. In 2008 South Africa made headlines as violent xenophobic attacks spread throughout the country. Infrastructure to receive migrants in South Africa today is insufficient, as in many parts of the world, while migratory policies are restrictive.

The purpose of the pre-forum meeting was to share information, take into account the particular challenges in different areas of Africa and Europe, share experiences, define priorities, actions and processes and network so that an effective global response can be made.

Challenges:

Upon sharing on the various contexts in which the Society of Jesus works we realise that many migrants face barriers preventing holistic survival in their host communities. These include but are not limited to: restrictive migratory policies, detention, stigmatisation by media and societies, control by smuggling and trafficking networks and exploitation of migrant workers. Further more, violence and human rights abuses are pervasive throughout the migrant experience.

We affirm that:

All people have the right to live, work and realise their full human potential. When this is not possible in their current domicile they have the right to look for better living conditions. This could mean crossing an international border or migrating internally. In addition, we recognise the importance of addressing structural root causes, such as poverty resulting from unfair trade policies, that cause migration.

The participants in this pre-forum urge all governments and people of good will to:

  • Uphold and/or ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990);
  • Introduce integral and inclusive policies, which approach migration not only as a labour issue but also take into account the cultural, social, religious, and political dimensions of migration;
  • Effectively protect the rights of all persons, especially asylum seekers and refugees, regardless of their migratory or administrative status, specifically focusing on the most vulnerable – women and children; and
  • Promote a sustainable and person-centered model of development respecting the rights of people to their homelands' land and resources.

The Society of Jesus, its apostolates and collaborators commit to:

  • Reflect on priority issues through sharing our direct accompaniment experience and research so that we can confront unjust structures, poor applications of law, lack of government response and the criminalisation of immigrants;
  • Raise consciousness on the plight of many displaced people and in so doing combat what Pope Francis has termed the "globalisation of indifference" by replacing fear with a commitment to building a more just and fraternal world;
  • Work with media so that accurate information about migrants is disseminated therefore combating stigmatisation;
  • Advocate for more just and humane migration policies and models of development in solidarity within African Provinces/Regions of the Society of Jesus and with Provinces/Regions worldwide;
  • Strengthen our own network so that we can respond more collaboratively and effectively to this global issue; and Cooperate with other institutions and organisations with whom we share a common mission.

Conclusion:

Catholic Social Teaching holds that all people have the right to migrate so that they can sustain their lives and the lives of their families. Countries have the right to regulate borders and control immigration. This must be done with justice and mercy.

During this time of Advent we prepare to celebrate the incarnation of Christ who himself was displaced by the socio- political conditions to North Africa (Matthew 2:13-23). Jesuits and their collaborators working with migrants and displaced people, recognise that in the face of migrants we see the face of Christ. We believe in and hope for a more inclusive world in which all God's children are able to live in freedom, justice, and peace.

For more information:

  • Fr Rigobert Minani SJ Coordinator of JESAM Social Apostolate +254 73 181 4512 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Fr Russell Pollitt SJ Director of the Jesuit Institute South Africa + 27 82 737 2054 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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