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REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

The Scriptures call us to offer hospitality to the stranger. Jesus and his family were once refugees, and we continue to see the face of Jesus in the millions of forcibly displaced people in the world today.

Activists must stand with migrants and not deny climate change – Pope
Pope Francis says Christians must resist the temptation to demonize others, protect the earth and fight against “the invisible tyranny of money that only guarantees the privileges of a few.”
Writing to the leaders of grassroots organisations meeting in California in February, Pope Francis said that the world is in the midst of an “historic turning point.” He says the “worsening crisis” presents both danger and opportunity.

Australia seeks to join international leaders on human rights
Foreign minister Julie Bishop declared in a speech to the UN General Assembly that Australia would bring a "principled and pragmatic" approach when serving on the Human Rights Council. Yet, principled and pragmatic approaches to asylum seekers are not evident in government policy, writes Alexandra Lancaster in the Sydney Morning Herald.  

How we came to be so cruel to asylum seekers
Our current uniquely harsh anti-asylum seeker policy is grounded in the absolutist ambitions that can, in my view, best be explained by Australia’s long term migration history and its associated culture of control. It has become entrenched because of the force of bureaucratic inertia ... And it is presently maintained by an irrational but consensual mindset: the conviction that even one concession to human kindness will send a message to the people smugglers and bring the whole system crashing down, writes Robert Manne of La Trobe University.  

Swift response to refugee crisis rests on Obama summit after UN talks fail
For leaders to speak at the Obama summit, they will have to make substantial new pledges to either take in more refugees, do more to help those who have already arrived or give much greater assistance to host countries in the developing world, where 86 percent of the world’s refugees live.  
See also

Ten steps towards justice for refugees and asylum seekers
Sunday 25 September is the day when the church focuses specifically on social justice. The Australian Catholic bishops have issued a statement in which there is a 10-step program to bring us closer to justice for asylum seekers and refugees.  

Leaked reports reveal scale of child abuse in detention
The largest cache of documents to be leaked from within Australia’s asylum seeker detention regime details assaults, sexual assaults and self-harm.  

Axed after condemning 'atrocity' of camps
The trauma specialist who condemned the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia’s offshore detention regime as the worst "atrocity" he has seen has had his contract to work on Nauru terminated.  

National day of prayer and action for asylum seekers
More than 200 school communities across Australia are expected to stand in solidarity with people seeking asylum in September by participating in a new National Day of Prayer and Action organised by the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA).  

Palestinian Syrians twice refugees
As refugees continue to flee civil war in Syria, the road to asylum remains difficult for some Syrian-born Palestinians, writes Kait Bolongaro for Al Jazeera

Refugees struggling to send money home under new banking laws
Tighter banking laws aimed at preventing terrorist financing and money laundering are making it harder for refugees who have been living in New Zealand for years to send money back to their families, writes Laura Bootham for Radio New Zealand. 

Crossing boundaries with the wire-cutter pope
Lesbos is famous for crossing boundaries. It was the home of the poet Sappho and the tender, delicate lyrics dedicated to the woman who was her lover. More recently it has been the home of refugees who have crossed from the murderous conflict in Asia. Pope Francis is also as famous for crossing boundaries as we Australians are for patrolling them, Andrew Hamilton writes for Eureka Street

Diary of a refugee family trying to reach Greece
'Daddy, why don’t we just take the airplane?' asks one of Delvan's daughters as they contemplate crossing the rough sea. In 2012, Delvan and his family fled the bombing of Aleppo in Syria. They first went north to Afrin, their ancient village on the slopes of a green valley that has been strangled by the war with no electricity, water, work or functioning schools. 

Offers of sanctuary brighten Australia’s dark age
Anglican and Uniting Churches across Australia have made headlines by offering sanctuary to those who stand to be returned to Nauru under the latest High Court ruling in M68, including 37 babies and a raped five-year-old whose attacker still resides there. In doing so, they have been rediscovering an old concept and reminding the government what refugee law was for in the first place.  

Which refugees would Jesus resettle?
The UNHCR guidelines for resettlement are there for a reason: those who need resettlement, when this option is available, are the most vulnerable and weak in a refugee population: children and teenagers, women at risk, people with urgent medical needs, the elderly, victims of torture and trauma, split families. None of these should be subject to a religious test. As several Muslim commentators have said in the Australian media, you do not ask a drowning person her religion before rescuing her.  

How thousands of Syrians have “disappeared”
A new Amnesty International report reveals the massive scale of a systematic state campaign to eliminate dissent through enforced disappearances, writes Megan O’Toole for Al Jazeera.  

Philippines the latest Asian nation to stand in for Australia on refugees
Asia's most Catholic country, the Philippines, is poised to burnish its reputation as the most refugee-friendly nation in Asia, as it prepares to ink a deal with Australia to take in as many as 1,000 refugees from the controversial Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea.  

A balanced case against UK immigration?
Managing immigration is an important political task, as is consideration of people’s fears about how society is being affected. But suggesting that net immigration has virtually no benefit is not only incorrect but a dangerous tactic if it whips up already volatile emotions.  

A life in Limbo: fleeing torture to be trapped on Manus
It is 766 days since Papua New Guinea agreed to resettle refugees from Australia’s detention centre on Manus Island. So far, not one has been resettled, but 41 have been moved to quasi-detention in a ‘transit centre’. They have no idea if they will leave it, they tell Guardian Australia  

A little brown-eyed babe washed up
The history of our treatment of people seeking asylum has a much longer - and darker - past than most realize, writes Dr Liz Conor for New Matilda.  

We owe asylum seekers mercy and justice
The Australian Bishops' Social Justice Statement on justice for refugees comes at the right time. The image of the little boy who died in Turkey has stirred effective compassion in Europe for refugees, and has led Australia to increase the number of Syrian refugees it will take. Still the bishops' statement is not likely to receive enthusiastic support, writes Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ for Province Express.  

Churches can host refugees – bishops
Leaders of New Zealand’s Catholic and Anglican churches say their people can look after 1200 refugees on top of the 750 Syrian refugees the Government confirmed it will take over the next two and a half years.  

Pope calls on Europe to shelter refugees
Pope Francis has made an extraordinary appeal to every single Catholic parish and community across Europe, asking each to house at least one of the tens of thousands of refugee families risking death to migrate to the continent from the Middle East.  

Internally displaced refugee figures top the lot
War and persecution have now displaced more people – 60 million – than at any other time in history.  

A tale of two children
The story of a young boy and girl forced to flee their homes, and how detention can be avoided in order to complete their migration status.  

Children do not deserve to be locked up
Every day thousands of children are locked up because they don't have the right documentation.  

Where refugees are fleeing and resettling
The crisis in Syria hugely impacted the refugee population’s flow in 2014. Syria overtook Afghanistan as the world’s top source of refugees after Afghanistan was the primary source for more than three straight decades.  

Former top judge says NZ’s response to Nauru weak
Nauru's former Chief Justice says New Zealand is continuing to support an unjust system and should speak more strongly against what he calls an appalling abuse of power.  

The Rohingya genocide
"Nope, nope, nope," was Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s answer to the question about Australia taking in any of the nearly 8,000 Rohingya refugees stranded at sea. Abbott’s logic is as pitiless as his decision to abandon the world’s most persecuted minority in their darkest hour, writes Ramzy Baroud for the Palestine Chronicle.  

Long-term detention a 'serious health risk' – Ombudsman
Prolonged or indefinite detention of asylum seekers may pose a 'serious risk' to the mental and physical health of asylum seekers, the Commonwealth and Immigration Ombudsman has reported.  

Thousands of children detained
More than 4,000 children are in some sort of detention because of the refugee status of their parents, latest figures show. This includes 3,000 children living in the community on bridging visas and 127 held in immigration detention facilities in Australia as well as those on Nauru.  

Changing Australia’s Mind About Asylum Seekers
Here is a matter of fact: 13 years ago in Maribyrnong Detention Centre, an 11-year-old girl hanged herself with her bedsheet. Her family found her and cut down her strangling body, and she was taken to Austin Hospital in Melbourne, where she remained as a psychiatric inpatient for 12 months. When she was well enough to be discharged, she was taken back into detention, writes Julian Burnside.  

See also Protesting against fear and the need to keep marching

Pope urges world to act after latest Mediterranean tragedy
Pope Francis on Sunday urged world leaders to respond "decisively" after 700 migrants were feared drowned in the deadliest migrant shipwreck yet in the Mediterranean.  

Cambodia deports one of its own for helping asylum seekers
A Cambodian national who was arrested last week while helping 36 Montagnard asylum seekers reach Phnom Penh was himself deported alongside the group to Vietnam, where he was detained and interrogated for more than five days, he said March 4.  

From Gaza to Europe: a harrowing boat trip for a boy
Palestinian 17-year-old Yusuf is one of more than 8,000 migrants to have made the treacherous crossing to Italy in boats run by ruthless traffickers since the start of this year alone, writes Lizzie Dearden for the Independent.  

The migration of millions
Millions of people are on the move. Often their rights claims are seen as conflicting with those of host communities and as threatening national sovereignty. This article by Sandie Cornish in Asian Horizons presents a brief overview of the response of Papal Catholic Social Teaching on migration in the post Vatican II period, and Catholic Social Teaching on migration by the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences.  

Bearing witness, being church: Dominican Sisters in Iraq
In the middle of camps overflowing with Iraqi refugees from the terrorism of Islamic State, the Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena are trying to make life work. They get up every morning for prayer and spend the rest of the day visiting the thousands of refugees living in the abandoned malls and unfinished construction sites of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Dawn Cherie Araujo writes for National Catholic Reporter.  

High Court fails high seas detainees
The Abbott Government had a thumping big win in the High Court on Tuesday. All seven High Court judges have made it clear that there is next to nothing that can be done in the courts to question the government's approach. It is lawful, acceptable to government, and hardly a matter of concern to the Australian community, that 157 asylum seekers, including children, can be kept in windowless detention on an Australian vessel for a month on the high seas in the Indian Ocean.  

Stop boats start talking
“The fact that [Operation Sovereign Borders] has stopped the boats ... should be the start of a conversation not the end of it,” said Travers McLeod, chief executive officer at the Centre for Policy Development (CPD), an Australian think tank.  

Almost no silver lining in new TPV cloud
It is possible to understand why Senators Xenophon and Muir supported the bad law that reintroduces temporary protection visas. They saw it as a small improvement now for people in desperate circumstances, and that is true. The real culprit is the irrational and punitive policy pursued by the Government, writes Kerry Murphy for Eureka Street.

Read more 

Teen asylum seekers fearful after weekend violence on Nauru
As asylum seekers are released into the community on Nauru, tensions have begun spilling over, with four boys hospitalised over the weekend. Max Chalmers reports for New Matilda.

Read more 

Fatal cost of shutting borders
Two significant news items about asylum seekers came recently. Hamid Kehazaei died in Brisbane from an infection acquired on Manus Island detention centre, and the Red Cross had to lay off 500 workers after losing its contract to provide support to asylum seekers living in the community. Andrew Hamilton SJ writes for Eureka Street.

Read more 

See also 

The other face of globalisation
One of the most visible effects of globalisation is labor migrating across international borders in search of satisfactory employment. Unlike tourists, who also travel globally, migrant workers are not rich and carefree. They huddle self-consciously in airports or stow away on ships and freight containers, poor, ill-clad and desperate. Myron Pereira SJ writes for Ucan News that colonialism sparked this global phenomenon.

Read more 

The impact of the end of Christianity in the Middle East
The past decade has been catastrophic for the Arab world's beleaguered 12 million strong Christian minority. In Egypt revolution and counter-revolution have been accompanied by a series of anti-Copt riots, killings and church burnings. 

Making migration secure
Pope Francis has appealed to the whole international community to develop new legal and secure forms of migration.  

See also Pray for refugees 

Being just neighbours
Good Samaritan Sister, Pam Grey, asks in The Good Oil, What does ‘asylum’ mean, if not something of friendship? What is friendship, if not sanctuary for the soul? 

Cambodia won’t take refugees against their will
Cambodia’s insistence that refugees not be sent to the impoverished country against their will has emerged as a key sticking point in a controversial agreement with Australia. Refugee advocates say most of the 1000 refugees the Abbott government wants to send to Cambodia will refuse to resettle in one of the world’s poorest nations, raising doubts about the effectiveness of the agreement.  

Meanwhile, Bishop Gerard Hanna has criticised the Australian government's efforts to resettle in Cambodia those asylum seekers found to be refugees after having been intercepted at sea by Australia and sent to have their claims assessed in Nauru.  

Sydney schools offer bursaries for refugees
Growing unease with Australia’s treatment of asylum-seekers, particularly the locking up of children in detention centres, has prompted one of the largest Catholic school systems to offer free education to refugee students, reports The Australian.  

CRA calls for national lament over asylum seeker treatment
Catholic Religious Australia is calling for a 'National Lament' for people seeking asylum in Australia.  
See also

PNG bishops call for Manus Centre closure
Australia’s Papua New Guinea based Manus Island Refugee processing centre should be closed down, says the Pacific Island nation’s peak Catholic body in an appeal to the Australian government, reports Echo Netdaily.  

Manus Island reports reveal four months of suffering for asylum seekers
A major investigation by Guardian Australia lays bare the traumatic realities of life in the Manus Island centre for those held there – including children.  
For comment from Bruce Duncan of Social Policy Connections, go to 'Alternatives for Manus Island fiasco' at http://www.socialpolicyconnections.org.au

Celebrating Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ, founder of the Jesuit Refugee Service
This month’s featured Jesuit in the Jesuits in Britain’s 2014 calendar is Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ, a much-loved General of the Society of Jesus and the founder of the Jesuit Refugee Service. Michael Campbell-Johnston SJ, who worked closely with Fr Arrupe, offers a personal reflection on ‘the founder of the modern Society’.  

Refugees to rappers
They were once just a couple of Burundian refugees who had come to Artful Dodgers Studios in Melbourne to make music. Today they are FLYBZ, Australia’s number one African rap act. The duo has just collaborated with legendary Australian singer Paul Kelly to release their debut single, ‘Child Soldiers’.  

A regional plan for asylum seekers
After more than a decade of involvement in advocacy for asylum seekers, Kevin Peoples proposes a Regional Plan for Asylum Seekers that will stop the loss of life at sea by setting up a reception centre in Indonesia, in collaboration with the UNHCR and funded by Australia. He argues that Australia should prioritise refugees from this region, and enter into agreements with neighbouring countries that Australia would receive 25,000 refugees a year and fly them to Australia for settlement.

To read Kevin Peoples' proposal in full, click
here  

Crackdown on Catholics
Refugee advocates say a 30-fold increase in the number of Vietnamese asylum seekers is caused by a government crackdown on dissidents and religious minorities, the ABC reports.  

Refugees share their stories in photos
It was a simple idea, really, but one that would produce unexpected results.
Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific (JRSAP) has for three decades ministered to the needs of a steady stream of refugees from across the region seeking freedom and opportunity denied them at home.

To cap its commemoration of 30 years of service, JRSAP enlisted eight asylum seekers from Cambodia, China, Iran, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to participate in a project that would give them an opportunity to tell their stories in their own way and in their own voice.  

People on the Move & CST
A brief introduction to how Catholic Social Teaching approaches the issues.

I didn’t have to be afraid of the border anymore
By Tom Roberts of NCR

What Leo Guardado most remembers about crossing the border back in 1991 was moving along in moonlit shadows, trying, as a 9-and-a-half-year-old, to stay low and to keep his own shadow from showing.  

A ‘maddening’ system: from courtrooms to shelters
Each day at the Evo A DeConcini US Courthouse in Tucson, Arizona, 70 undocumented migrants are seated in orderly rows, hushed like a quiet congregation in long pews in the low light of a modern courtroom.

On this day Judge Bernardo P Velasco took little more than a half hour to call rank after rank of migrants to a line of microphones in front of the bench. The script was simple – questions delivered through an interpreter established that the defendants are citizens of other countries, mostly Mexico with a few from Guatemala, and that they knew they could have an individual trial, subpoena and cross-examine witnesses and refuse to testify.  

Damging Lives
Jesuit Refugee Service Director, Sacha Bermudez Goldman SJ, reflects on recent policy changes in Australia.
“We must all work to safeguard, consolidate and, where necessary deepen the regime of asylum and protection and to strengthen its application in the changing situation of our world.”

Holy See at the Executive Committee of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2001
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