Articles related to refugees
CAFOD is working with its local Greek partner, Caritas Hellas to respond to the deteriorating situation of refugees stranded in the country who are facing life-threatening low temperatures. Thousands of refugees and migrants are sleeping either outside, in camps or abandoned buildings, where the temperatures are well below freezing. "The worst conditions in Greece are in the north," explained Maristella Tsamatropoulou. "There is no heating. People are giving refugees wood to start fires or electric stoves. They burn anything they can to stay warm. It's really dangerous as it could
"Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me" (Mk 9:37; cf. Mt 18:5; Lk 9:48; Jn 13:20). With these words, the Evangelists remind the Christian community of Jesus' teaching, which both inspires and challenges. This phrase traces the sure path which leads to God; it begins with the smallest and, through the grace of our Saviour, it grows into the practice of welcoming others. To be welcoming is a necessary condition for making this journey a concrete reality: God made himself one of us. In Jesus,
Bishop John McAreavey has welcomed Pope Francis' 2017 message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees on 'child migrants, the vulnerable and the voiceless.' "There have been many changes in Irish society but our duty to love our neighbour no matter where he or she is from is unchanged and, thankfully, unchangeable".For 2017... Pope Francis is expressly asking all of us to particularly "take care of the young, who in a threefold way are defenceless: they are children, they are foreigners, and they have no means to protect themselves." Every community that can, should heed this call, and should do so now.
Since the break up of the 'Jungle' at Calais, many refugees in France have no where to shelter and are being forced to sleep out in the open - while temperatures have gone well below freezing. The charity Care4Calais has two warehouses in Calais which are acting as hubs to get various types of donation to places where they are needed, not solely to areas close to Calais and Dunkirk. This week they have run out of sleeping bags. Demand has been particularly high in Paris, where there are insufficient places in the official shelter and people queue outside all day and night to await entry.
Refugees in Serbia are experiencing life-threatening conditions as temperatures in the south of the country have plummeted to -30⁰C. Marija Vranesevic, Programme Manager at Philanthropy - Christian Aid's partner in Serbia, commented: "Refugees are being exposed to life-threatening conditions because of the extremely cold weather we are currently experiencing. They are also at risk of disease, as well as a flu epidemic. "While most refugees are now staying in heated buildings, some are still outside of the camps. These people are particularly vulnerable.
Cardinal Daniel N DiNardo, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement for National Migration Week. The theme of the week this year draws attention to Pope Francis' call to create a culture of encounter. Today, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles played a taped video message from Pope Francis at the end of a Mass as part of National Migration Week celebrations....In the days and weeks ahead, there will be intense debate over immigration reform and refugee policy. Ultimately, the question is this: Will our nation treat all migrants and refugees, regardless
On the eve of the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Cardinal Nichols has renewed his call for refugees from the Middle East to be welcomed and accommodated in this country. In 2015 the Cardinal met with Christian and Yazidi refugees during a pastoral visit in Erbil, Iraq. Bishops from England and Wales also met with refugees from Syria and Iraq during the annual Holy Land Co-ordination visit, which went to Jordan last year. The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has been in regular contact with the government about developments in the region,
An AoS port chaplain has described a poignant meeting with the captain of a ship that rescued hundreds of migrants lost at sea in a small boat. Steve Willows went on board the ship, mv Erasmusgracht, which berthed at Immingham Docks in Lincolnshire recently. He met Captain Joop van Zadel, the Dutch master of the ship, who recounted how he and his crew saved 393 Syrian refugees in the Ionian Sea in 2014. On 5 December 2014, the ship received a call from Italian coastguard asking them if they could assist a boat with people on board who needed assistance.
Less than two weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to introduce a range of policies to stop many migrants entering the country and to deport those already there, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates Nation Migration Week, which takes place from 8-14 January. The following is a joint statement from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, Vice President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops about th Week.
The Catholic Church in the United States is preparing to celebrate National Migration Week in which American Catholics reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for this year's Week draws attention to Pope Francis' call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us. In the homily given at his first Pentecost as Pope, he emphasised the importance of encounter in the Christian faith: "For me this word is very important.
Pope Francis recently suggested European Christians could show solidarity with those fleeing violence and persecution by each church making a commitment to offer one house to those seeking refuge. A young couple in Birmingham, Steph and Matthew Neville, who were saving up for a house for themselves, have responded to this call, by buying one for refugees instead.... Steph told ICN: "Matthew and I already live in a small ecumenical ecumenical community with accommodation provided by a church so we realised we didn't need a house of our own."
The annual Pax Christi Advent Peace Service and Fair was held at St Aloysius Church in Euston last night. Coming at the end of a year which has seen an upsurge in conflicts around the world and a huge influx of refugees fleeing warzones, this popular service, with its clear focus on the peacemaking message of Advent, felt particularly poignant. The service was led by Pad Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi UK. The church was specially decorated with focal points for prayer around the church
The Calais camp has been demolished. Almost 2,000 refugee children are stuck in limbo in France, Citizens UK - which brings together faith and community and faith groups from across the country, are organising an action outside Parliament next Tuesday, 13 December from 6 to 7pm to ask the Home Secretary to bring across at least 600 of the remaining lone exiled children stuck in France to fulfil her target proposed earlier in the year to bring 'half' the Calais children here -- and to do so before Christmas.
A special service has been held to celebrate the support shown by Catholics towards refugees during the Year of Mercy. The 'Welcome the Stranger' service, held on Saturday 3 December at the Spiritan Centre in Salford, recognised the many acts of compassion undertaken by the members of the Catholic community. The service, organised by CAFOD and Caritas Social Action Network, was celebrated by the Rt Rev John Arnold, Bishop of Salford. Catholics across England and Wales marked the Pope's Jubilee Year with an outpouring of solidarity towards people who have fled their homes.
Caritas Europa issues a new publication on 7 December entitled: 'Welcome - Migrants make Europe stronger' and casts the spotlight on 'barriers' that prevent millions of migrants from becoming full-fledged members of the European societies in which they live. These barriers are robbing migrants of their dignity and Europe of their potential contributions to further boost Europe's social, cultural and economic score. "Here it seems that documents/papers are more important than people. Without them I am not a human being. I work hard, my employer blackmails me,
A Day of Prayer with a focus on the plight of refugees and migrants will take place across the United States on December 12, 2016, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. "It will be a time to place before a merciful God the hopes, fears, and needs of all those families who have come to the US seeking a better life," the Bishops say in a statement. "As Christmas approaches and especially on this feast of Our Lady, we are reminded of how our saviour Jesus Christ was not born in the comfort of his own home,
In 56 AD, Luke the Evangelist, the Apostle Paul and their companions stopped on Lesvos briefly on the return trip of Paul's third missionary journey (Acts 20:14), having sailed from Assos (about 50 km away). From Mytilini they continued towards Chios (Acts 20:15). In 2016, Luke and Paul would have been picked up by coastguard ships and denied entry. Paul was a Turk and Luke a Palestinian. European governments now associate both of these nationalities with terrorism.
Incoming US president Donald Trump has now confirmed plans to deport three million migrants. Two days before this announcement, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle, and chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement congratulating Trump on his election and stressing "the need to continue to protect the inherent dignity of refugees and migrants." Bishop Eusebio also assured migrants of the Church's ongoing solidarity and support for them.
Pope Francis has expressed his concern at the suffering of refugees and immigrants caused by the political upheavals in the United States. In an interview with the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, the Pope says he doesn't judge individual politicians, but he wants to see how their policies may affect the poor and most marginalized people. In the interview, given last Monday, ahead of Donald Trump's surprise victory in the US presidential elections, Pope Francis notes that, alongside the refugees fleeing from poverty and conflicts, there are also many poor people suffering in
The story of exiles currently and recently stuck in Calais has entered a new chapter, but they are all still in need, especially the young people. Judged solely by numerical data, the exercise to remove residents and clear the 'jungle' in Calais site was a success. The aim of officials to remove the camp before November became known at the start of September and people endured weeks of uncertainty before the eventual start date of 24 October was announced... More than 2000 people disappeared during this period to unknown destinations.
The Catholic Church in Australia is protesting over government proposals to ban refugees who arrived in Australia by boat after July 2013 from ever being able to apply for a visa to stay in the country. Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen ofm conv, Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Refugees, who came to Australia from Vietnam as a boat refugee himself, in 1981, said: "The announcement by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton that the Government will introduce proposed legislation banning those
Jesuit Refugee Service Australia (JRS) has condemned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcement that people arriving by boat to seek asylum in Australia, and currently held in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, would be banned for life from entering Australia. In a statement JRS says: 'The proposed legislation is in breach of Article 31 of the Refugees Convention, which states that refugees should not be penalised for their mode of entry or a lack of documentation.
"Migrants have gravitated to the North French coast for the last 17 years," we were told, on our Justice and Peace visit to France on 3rd-4th November. "And we will wait just a few weeks for them to start drifting back to seek access to the UK all over again." This is the background to the highly publicised Jungle camp clearances over the last two weeks. Westminster Justice and Peace were visiting Calais to take food and toiletries from St John Vianney parish and to find out what the needs were after the Jungle camp clearances. Our first stop was at Ste Marie Skobstova Catholic
Jesuit Refugee Service Australia (JRS) has condemned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcement that people arriving by boat to seek asylum in Australia, and currently held in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, would be banned for life from entering Australia. The proposed legislation is in breach of Article 31 of the Refugees Convention, which states that refugees should not be penalised for their mode of entry or a lack of documentation. Australia is the only signatory to the Convention that denies people asylum based on their mode of arrival.
Pope Francis was asked about a range of topics including welcoming refugees, women priests, relations with the charismatic movements, his talks with Venezuela's President, secularisation, his upcoming journeys abroad and human trafficking, during his in-flight press conference returning to Rome from Sweden. The first question, was - what is his message to those European countries who fear the arrival of refugees? .. and for Sweden, traditionally a country that has been more welcoming to refugees and migrants than many others, but which of late, has started to close its borders.
Volunteers working in Calais have expressed concern for around 100 unaccompanied children and many adults, who are sleeping rough tonight after most of the 'Jungle' camp was burnt down. Last night, large fires destroyed restaurants, shops, shelters and tents inside the camp, as well as volunteer-run projects such as the Women and Children's Bus, Baloo's Youth Centre and the Hummingbird Safe Space. Fires continued throughout the day, and many remaining residents were evacuated by police and prevented from entering the Jungle for much of the afternoon while fire crews
It's morning in the camp. Humanity Crew, an organization of translators, comes by to pick up a vanload of Pikpa residents to take them to Moria detention center for the day. They are going for interviews and to fill out paperwork related to appeals for asylum or relocation. One woman approaches, asking if they can take her to the hospital. She has an appointment to have stitches removed from her bandaged hand. Other men and women have gathered under the pavilion to wait for the daily food distribution to begin. A tween-age girl from the Congo is slouching in a plastic chair
Church groups and representatives from eight London councils, joined Lord Alfred Dubs, actresses Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson and children dressed as Paddington Bear outside the Home Office on Monday afternoon, to hand in a petition appealing for the government to take in more refugee children, as the Calais 'Jungle' is demolished. The event was organised by Citizens UK and the charity Help Refugees. Around 10,000 migrants and refugees have been living for months in the camp in squalid conditions.
Yesterday I was with faith and community leaders at St Michael's Church in Croydon, waiting to welcome a handful of children from the Jungle Camp in Calais. As the children walked off the coach we all felt joy that our campaign had made a difference. Every child rescued is a victory we should celebrate. But there are hundreds left, and every child left unprotected in the Jungle Camp in Calais is one too many. The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has promised that 'more' will be arriving in the coming days. But how many? And when?
A Lampedusa Cross, hand-carved from the driftwood of capsized refugee boats, is being displayed in the parish of Our Lady of Victories in Southwell in an act of solidarity with the plight of refugees. The cross was presented to Reverend Andrew Harding at Mass on Saturday 19 September. This was then followed by a procession and an official installation of the cross in the church. Members of the local 'Churches Together' group attended and more than £100 was raised for the Nottingham refugee forum.
Walking down the steep path from Montserrat was much easier than going up! Eventually the path levelled out and took us through woods at the bottom of a long valley. At a place called Castellgali we came across a sad monument to two nuns, Sr Regina and Sr Rosa, who were shot here, in July 1936, during the Spanish Civil War. We said a rosary as we continued along through fields and vineyards, until we reached what looked like an ancient fortified farmhouse.
In the confusion and squalor of the Calais jungle, hundreds of unaccompanied children await their fate. There have been reports that 10 per cent of the children identified in August as eligible to come to the UK have gone missing, very possibly at the hands of traffickers. Ben Bano, from Seeking Sanctuary who has 40 years experience in social work, said: '"This situation is intolerable. These children who have been traumatised by their experiences of war and genocide need sanctuary and safety immediately.
..."The plans may appear sound, but France's track record in implementing government plans is poor. The "evacuation" of the southern part of the camp in May was supposed to proceed with calm, with due respect for human rights and without the use of force. Instead a considerable force of riot police arrived with their usual supplies of tear-gas, backed up by bulldozers and people were instructed - in language that many did not comprehend - to immediately leave their dwellings or be forcibly evicted. A mosque and a church were demolished and attempts to observe and record events were
The Pastoral Care of Migrants of the Conference of Bishops of France, has accepted the general thrust of government plans to dismantle and relocate Calais refugees, saying it was "controversial, but going in the right direction." In a statement (originally published on 19 September, but translated into English this week by Seeking Sanctuary), the bishops invite Christian activists to 'mobilise in favour of a culture of encounter.' Faced with hostility from many elected officials, the letter calls upon Christians to mobilise action to receive migrants in reception and orientation centres
The Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič on Wednesday addressed the Executive Committee Meeting of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Vatican diplomat said the international community "must not lose its resolve" in the face of the "seemingly insurmountable challenges" of 65.3 million forcibly displaced people around the world. "We have an urgent social, political and ethical duty to address these issues and their root causes in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity,"
CAFOD's Director of Humanitarian and Emergency Response, Matthew Carter, met Pope Francis on 29 September at the Vatican, along with representatives of 40 other Catholic aid agencies and Churches, to discuss the devastating humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq.
On 2nd October, 47 Anglican and Catholic religious, associates and third order members gathered at Notre Dame de France refugee centre in London for the JPIC (Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation) Links networking day. Taking the quote by WB Yeats, 'There are no strangers here, only friends you haven't yet met' as the title of the day..
Campaigners have welcomed the financial, resettlement and support pledges made at Tuesday's Leaders' Summit on Refugees, but said they were no substitute for more stable year-on-year funding and a permanent agreement on resettling refugees to meet the significant levels of need today. The pledges were made by 50 countries called together by President Obama to address the serious shortfall in money and resettlement programmes for refugees worldwide. World leaders at the New York summit agreed to resettle twice as many refugees
Today's UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants must be a turning point for the tens of millions of people forcibly on the move whose lives are degraded owing to a string of failures by the international community, the development agency Christian Aid has said. At the start of two landmark summits in New York, Christian Aid is urging rich nations to increase their support for refugee resettlement and drastically reform the way refugee aid to poor countries who shoulder the responsibility is financed.
Tens of thousands joined a march on Saturday calling on government to do more to aid refugees, ahead of a UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants in New York on Monday which will be followed by a separate summit on the issue hosted by Barack Obama the following day. A packed ecumenical service of prayer for refugees was held at St James, Spanish Place before the march, organised by CAFOD, Christian Aid and Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS). The Anglican Bishop of Croydon, Rt Rev Jonathan Clark and Fr Michael Smith SJ led the prayers.
The Calais refugee camp is under imminent threat of being demolished, meaning thousands of refugees will lose their tiny makeshift homes. With winter around the corner we need your support to stop this before its too late. The rapid growth of the camp and the increasingly violent tactics being employed by people smugglers on the roads entering the port have meant that many parties are calling for something to be done. In response, the French Interior Minister has said that the camp will be progressively dismantled between now
Refugees and migrants are more than statistics, Pope Francis told members of the European Confederation and World Union of Jesuit Alumni and Alumnae today. They are no different than our own family and friends, he said. The Jesuit group had been participating in a conference in Rome this week entitled 'Global Migration and Refugee Crisis: Time to Contemplate and Act'. In the face of tens of thousands of persons forcibly displaced worldwide, the Pope stressed that it is important to move beyond the statistics, and realize that migrants and refugees "are no different than our own family members and friends."
Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and Chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Migration, has called for Catholics to focus on the 'moral teachings of the Church' 'to overcome the partisan divides that separate us' on refugee and migration issues. While acknowledging the need for 'nations to control their borders' he said people had a right to migrate when they are fleeing persecution and war. He added that it was not enough to welcome migrants, but political and religious leaders must work with leaders of other countries to
Cardinal Vincent Nichols has joined calls for the international community to urgently address the migration crisis, as world leaders gather in New York for Monday's United Nations Summit. The UN Summit on 19 September is an opportunity for the international community to address migration related crises around the world. In Europe, over 280,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, with over 3,000 dying in the attempt. Cardinal Nichols has called for international co-operation to help create the conditions so people
Christian Aid and Citizens UK will host a summit this Saturday (10th September) in Birmingham, giving people a chance to take stock of the UK's response to the crisis and press their politicians to do more. Hundreds of supporters from across the country are expected to attend the Welcome Summit, which takes place one year on from the tragic death of three-year-old Syrian, Ayan Kurdi. Attendees will be able pose questions directly to politicians and UN agencies around key issues, including the protection of refugee children and
After a "long struggle" Secours Catholique (Caritas France) have announced that they are now able to host asylum seekers in a new building within the town of Calais rather than in the impermanent 'Jungle' camp. Vincent de Connick, manager of Secours Catholique in the Calais region, said: "For us, it's about having the ability to receive our migrant friends in a different setting, in town, in a more dignified way, for a distribution of clothes where they can have a choice, without needing to queue and with a different type of welcome
Pope Francis has created a new Dicastery to better minister to the needs of the men and women the Church is called to serve. The new 'Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development' was instituted in a Motu Proprio published on Wednesday in the Osservatore Romano. The dicastery will come into effect as from 1 January 2017 and will be especially "competent in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned, the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters,
Have you been in a restaurant recently and become impatient if your food has not arrived after half and hour or so? The migrants in Calais face up to a four hour wait in the sun to get their one meal of the day - so it is no wonder if tensions rise. The independent restaurants, although 'reprieved' by a court judgement, are still unable to cook food as this has been banned by the authorities. And at the moment, the 'official' kitchen only serves 3900 of the 9000+ meals actually needed if people are to eat once a day.
A cross, hand-carved by an Italian carpenter from the driftwood of capsized refugee boats on the island of Lampedusa, is being displayed in St Mary's Cathedral in Middlesbrough, in an act of solidarity with the plight of refugees. The cross will be presented to Canon Gerard Robinson on the 1st of September after the 6.30pm Mass. Representatives from refugee and Christian organisations including Caritas will be in attendance to show solidarity with refugees.
Lord Alfred Dubs writes: Terrified children are trapped in a refugee camp in Calais that a judge said was a "living hell" - but we have a chance to get 300 to Britain and safety in time for the new school term! I was a child refugee once, fleeing the Nazis, and Britain took me in and saved my life. So when I hear thousands of unaccompanied refugee children are going missing across Europe and our government is breaking its promise to bring them to the UK to reunite with their families, it's personal.
Arundel & Brighton Diocese based charity Voices In Exile has announced a Rent Deposit Loan Scheme with East Sussex Credit Union to help to support refugee families to find homes. Those who will be supported through the scheme will be those who have successfully claimed asylum within the UK, and are living within Sussex or Surrey the area covered by the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton. They are able to launch this scheme thanks to the generous donation of £10,000.00 from a Catholic
It is truly an age of disbelief. Respect for the values of human life has plunged. People of Christian faith who declare belief in the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth that upholds the dignity and rights of the human person, stands with the poor and the excluded, shares with the refugees and the homeless, are being fundamentally challenged.
One of the two Care4Calais warehouses is completely empty. The other is barely two thirds full. In the ten months since starting to visit, we have never seen it like this. It is a far, far cry from the time last September when donations were coming in faster than warehouses could be found. The aid now is only the raw essentials - and there is nowhere near enough to meet the needs. The estimates are that 7,000 refugees are in Calais - many at the camp, some on patches of ground around the edges of the town, and along the coast to
Caritas Europa, together with its members Secours Catholique-Caritas France and Caritas Italy, calls on the EU and in particular on the French and Italian governments to take action to respect the human dignity and fundamental rights of migrants stuck in Ventimiglia, Italy. On 24 June, at Caritas Ventimiglia-San Remo's 25th anniversary celebrations, the youngest person in the audience was Sharifa Maria, a baby girl only a few days old. She is the first baby born in the "camp" opened by Caritas Ventimiglia-San Remo to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants
We are a Christian Peacemaker Team of three persons. We are walking along the city walls of the Greek island of Chios, with the border-polluted sea stretching before us. The refugees reside in tents, organised in two lines. Kids are playing. Nothing can make children stop playing. Even under the midday sun; even though the great powers of the world, through their agreements, prevent these families from moving on. But they play. They run up to the top of garbage hills and then run down, laughing and shouting. "Kids!" my friend says, to show
There are between 50 and 60 arrivals EVERY DAY in Calais at the moment - that is 300-400 a week, around 1500 a month. And it is only June. The people looking after the aid warehouses are anxious - ever since two thirds of the Camp was bulldozed in January/February there has been a marked drop in media and public interest. The donations have reduced, and the warehouses are emptying - people think Calais has been "sorted." In reality there are again well over 5,000 people at the camp - though now crammed into a smaller space - and many thousands more
While adults argue about politics, most of the thousands of unaccompanied refugee children in Europe are still being ignored and fending for themselves. The Kent-based charity Seeking Sanctuary writes: The plight of children in the camps of the North of France has long been a priority concern for us. Two well-researched reports have recently come our way. Both confirm that vulnerable children are suffering violence, trafficking and abuse and that they are not getting any useful or understandable information to help them to make informed
The directors of ten organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers have written an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for a 'national discussion on migration' and protection for refugees. Now that the UK has voted for Brexit we need a national discussion on immigration that is human and honest, not based on fear or misinformation. The government has said it will publish a new UK asylum strategy. We believe it should stand for three core principles. First, help more refugees find safety in the UK without having to risk their lives
On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, Caritas Europa reminded the European Union and its Member States that there are solutions to Europe's current solidarity crisis. There is no need to put the lives of migrants and refugees at risk and to unnecessarily prolong their suffering. Caritas continues to believe that Europe's founding values of dignity, equality and respect for human rights are not just hollow words, but make more sense now than ever. "Our older brother was kidnapped by ISIS and we have no news from him.
Pope Francis on Sunday appealed for solidarity with refugees as he noted that Monday marks the annual United Nations World Refugee Day. Addressing thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square after the Angelus, the Pope recalled that the theme for this year's event is: 'We stand together #With Refugees' and with all those forced to flee their lands. Refugees, he insisted, are people like everyone else, who have been deprived by war of their homes, their jobs, their parents and their friends.
A group of nine Syrian refugees, including two Christians, arrived in Rome on Thursday from the Kara Tepe refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. Earlier this year, on 16 April, Pope Francis visited the camp himself to meet some of the refugees and see the conditions in which they were living. During that visit he brought three families back to Rome with him on the papal plane. The Vatican Gendarmeria, with the help of Interior Ministry of Greece, the Greek Asylum Service, and the Community of Sant'Egidio, accompanied this new group of refugees from Athens to
While interior ministers meet tomorrow to discuss EU migration policies, people trying to reach the safety of Europe continue to die en route. Caritas Europa and Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe calls on European leaders to alter its restrictive approach to migration. Policies focused on deterrence, including the agreement with Turkey, are not stopping people from trying to reach our countries. Instead, they prolong suffering and push people into the hands of smugglers and traffickers, who find even more dangerous entry routes.
Thanks to Lord Dubs and his supporters, the 2016 Immigration Act obliges the government to take action to help unaccompanied refugee children who are already in Europe to come and resettle in the UK. But Phil Kerton and Ben Beno from the charity Seeking Sanctuary have expressed concern that time is passing and children are still on their own in potentially dangerous situations - living in poor conditions with inadequate shelter, hygiene and nutrition, missing out on education and secure home life essential to their development.
Seeking Sanctuary, the Kent-based charity which is supporting refugees in the camps in northern France has sent us this message. A volunteer writes: We are critically low on many many items, the flow of donations has ceased, and by Friday we will have no shoes, no t-shirts, no jumpers. We shortly will have no new clothes for new arrivals to provide them with warmth, a basic human right. That said, we have an abundance of other items, and for that reason, we cannot currently take items that are not on this list.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, has welcomed an announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron that the UK government has decided to resettle more child refugees. The exact numbers have not been decided yet. Only those children already in Europe before the agreement with Turkey wil be eligible for asylum. Last month the British government refused to take in 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children. The amendment to the Immigration Bill, proposed by Lord Alfred Dubs, who came to England as
More than 2,000 Catholic migrants living and working in London brought colour and international music to a special Mass for Migrants at Westminster Cathedral on Monday 2 May. The principal celebrant this year was Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster. In his homily Cardinal Nichols deplored "reports of sadness, dismay, frustration, anger, rejection and humiliation from Iraq and Jordan, to Libya and Calais." He felt it was important to speak out when vulnerable children "are perishing at sea or at risk in hostile camps", and
A 2000km pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome is the epic challenge facing 69-year-old Mary Kirk, who worships in Harleston and who is walking in support of refugees "who are walking in the opposite direction to escape war and horror". Mary is from the Catholic Parish of St Edmunds and is an experienced pilgrim, although she has never undertaken anything quite so challenging as the walk through France, Switzerland and Italy, starting on Sunday May 1 and taking around 100 days.
The programme announced by the Government to resettle 3,000 refugee children in the UK over the next four years has been welcomed by Christian Aid, but the agency stresses the plans are too slow and ignore the thousands of vulnerable unaccompanied minors already in Europe who need assistance. The scheme will include the resettlement of children from North Africa and the Middle East who are at risk of forced labour, child marriage and other forms of exploitation, as well as unaccompanied minors in the region. It will be implemented
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, released a joint declaration during their visit to the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday. The three leaders signed the declaration at the end of their visit to Moria refugee camp. The declaration calls on the international community to respond with generosity and compassion to the tragedy of forced migration, calling it a 'crisis of humanity'. In the face of this crisis, the church leaders restated their desire to work toward the unity of
At the Regina Coeli on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about the day's Gospel, where Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd. In his reflection, Pope Francis said the words of Jesus: 'My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me,' help us to understand that no one can call himself a follower of Jesus if he does not listen to his voice. Listening to Jesus, the Pope continued, does not mean hearing in a superficial way, but engaging with the Lord's words in order to come to a "generous following,"
Pope Francis arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos this morning to visit and show solidarity with the many refugees there. In a tweet posted as he left, he wrote: "Refugees are not numbers, they are people who have faces, names, stories, and need to be treated as such." Speaking with journalists on the flight to the island, he said generally during apostolic visits there is the "joy of encounter," but this visit was different, because, he said: "we are going to meet the worst humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War.
Pope Francis took three Syrian families and their six children back with him on the plane to Italy when he left the Greek island of Lesbos this afternoon after his sx-hour visit there. The Syrian refugees, numbering 12 in total, were chosen from amongst those who were already present in the refugee camp on Lesbos before the recent deal was signed between the EU and Turkey. The Director of the Holy See's Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, said the Pope had wished to make a gesture of welcome and solidarity
The UK is failing in its responsibility to protect some of the world's most vulnerable people who have been displaced by conflict, violence, persecution and poverty, say a group of 13 aid and refugee agencies, including CAFOD, in a report out today, called 'A Safe Haven?' The lack of adequate response from the UK and European governments to the more than a million refugees and migrants who arrived in Europe in 2015 has compounded the suffering and created a humanitarian crisis on Britain's doorstep.
In view of Pope Francis' forthcoming visit to Lesbos on Saturday 16 April, the General Secretary of COMECE, Fr Patrick H Daly, has issued the following statement: "At the very outset of his pontificate, in visiting the rocky Italian outpost of Lampedusa, Pope Francis displayed his concern for those many migrants who put their lives at risk in order to seek refuge in Europe. The fate of migrants and asylum seekers has long been a central concern of COMECE and we repeatedly saluted the way in which the Holy Father, in word and
There is speculation that Pope Francis will visit the Greek island of Lesbos next week. It is an island which has seen hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees arrive in recent months. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew 1st of Constantinople is likely to accompany him.
Representatives of organisations working with or for Syrian refugees, have said a meeting in Geneva on Monday was a missed opportunity to commit to resettling Syrian refugees, by failing to pledge to meet the minimal target of providing places for 10% of Syrian refugees. In a statement Christian Aid said: "The UN Secretary General is right to say that the $11 billion generously pledged at the International Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region in February must now be honoured.
As the better weather sets in our thoughts turn to all our friends who are still without proper shelter in Northern France. Since the recent clearance of the southern part of the Calais 'jungle', many people are now in even worse conditions as they seek to survive crammed in to in the remaining part of the camp. The clearance has left the Eritrean Church 'high and dry' and no longer the focal point of the Eritrean community which it has been up to now.
'Did you see anything extraordinary on your visit to the Refugee Camp?' a policeman asked the Westminster diocesan Caritas and Justice and Peace expedition at the Calais UK Border control on Easter Tuesday evening. The question kept us debating and laughing during the short tunnel journey back to the UK (after a two-hour hold-up as hundreds of travellers were asked the same thing). Nine people from Caritas Westminster, St John Vianney Parish and Westminster Justice and Peace had just delivered a packed minibus-ful of food and
Many people are unaware that asylum seekers are prohibited by law from working. As it currently stands, more than 3,600 asylum seekers have been waiting more than six months for an initial decision on their cases and surviving on just over £5 a day. Caritas Social Action Network is supporting Lord Alton of Liverpool's amendment to the Immigration Bill that is currently going through Parliament which would grant asylum seekers, who have not had their claim for asylum processed within six months, the right to work.
The Bishop of Bangor in North Wales, the Rt Rev Andrew John, has prepared a video and a written message for Easter. In his written message he reflects on the plight of migrants at camps around Calais and Dunkirk. In his video video message, he considers the symbol of the Cross and invites viewers to consider the meaning of Easter for them.... We are probably all familiar with the word 'jungle'. It conjures many images - strange plants and sounds, wild animals and lost tribes from another world.
Innocent people caught up in the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris are suffering the consequences of western policies in Syria and Iraq over the last few years - that is the view of Syrian Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo. According to Mgr Hindo, who heads the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy of Hassaké-Nisibis, the serious responsibility of European and Western leadership, has often been influenced by short-sighted selfish interests.
A guide to working with refugees and asylum seekers, written by Liverpool's Justice and Peace Commission in conjunction with other church leaders has been published this week. Welcoming the Stranger - is intended for churches and other groups to help them find a way to respond positively to the refugee crisis. With easy to read sections and important factual information the guide busts myths that have grown up to describe this national and global crisis. Importantly the document offers clear guidance and support to help church communities, and
Christian converts who fled Iran - where the penalty for conversion from Islam is death - are among a group of hunger strikers at the Jungle refugee camp in Calais. They have gone without food now for nearly three weeks. Although part of the camp in was bulldozed by the authorities two weeks ago - and some of the refugees moved to a new camp organised by Medecin Sans Frontiers in Dunkirk - there are still around 5,000 people,
European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), a network of 90 NGOs, including the Jesuit Refugee Service have expressed alarm at the EU proposal to send thousands of refugees in Greece back to Turkey. ECRE is concerned that the current crisis situation is being used as "a pretext to push through a range of measures that fundamentally undermine the right to asylum as laid down in Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the principle of non refoulement, which is the cornerstone of international
Westminster Justice and Peace Commission is organising a one-off collection and delivery to the Jungle refugee camp in Calais soon, and have asked for donations of food, toiletries and other items. Many of the refugees are in urgent need because they lost all their meagre possessions last week when the French army and police gave them minutes to get out before the bulldozers demolished their shelters. The distribution of goods at the camp is being managed by Secour Catholique.
News that the EU is planning to send back refugees to Turkey has been met with grave concern by church leaders, charities and human rights groups. Speaking at the start of the next EU-Turkey summit on migration, Nick Dearden, the director of the campaign organisation Global Justice Now said today: "The deal that the EU is striking with Turkey means that the EU is effectively outsourcing its human rights responsibilities to a brutal regime. The abandonment of any pretence of the EU's principles means that we are now being blackmailed
Pope Francis has appealed for nations to open their door to refugees, many of whom are suffering out in the cold, without food - with doors shut in their faces. They do not feel welcome.... "how many of our brothers and sisters at this time are living out an actual and dramatic situation of exile, far from their homeland, still shocked by the ruins of their homes, fear in their heart and often, sadly, mourning the loss of loved ones! .. How is it possible that so much suffering can afflict innocent men, women and children?..
Christian Aid has warned that unless the European Union takes greater action in response to the scale of the refugee crisis more people will risk their lives in order to leave Greece, where some 40,000 people are currently stranded. The warning comes just days before an EU meeting with Turkey, which is set to finalise a series of proposals including the resettlement of one Syrian refugee in Europe for every Syrian returned to Turkey from the Greek islands.
Fr Dominic Howarth and parishioners from Our Lady and All Saints in Basildon visited refugees in Calais and Dunkirk last week. He writes: On Wednesday at 5.45am the minibus was as full as it could possibly be - crammed into every space, and stacked to the ceiling, were about 250 blankets and 120 sleeping bags. It is very heartening to be able to say that by 7pm on Wednesday evening, as we were leaving the new Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) camp at Dunkirk, 370 people were being kept warm
Leaders meeting today in Brussels were considering closing the Balkan route being used by refugees to enter and travel through the EU, in a move Christian Aid warns could be inhumane.
"We fear that this step will worsen still further the suffering of many thousands of people who are already desperate." said Jenny Brown, Christian Aid's Senior EU Relations Advisor. More than 30,000 refugee men, women and children are already trapped in Greece - at least 14,000 at the border with Macedonia - and thousands more arrive every
A priest with a group of parishioners carrying vital aid for refugees at the Jungle camp in Calais had to turn back to their parish on Tuesday as they could not enter the camp. The group from St Paul's in Dover had a car full of clothes, toiletries and other essential items which they were planning to give to volunteers in the camp for distribution. The priest described the scene to ICN: "The entrance to the camp was totally sealed with concrete blocks. Inside you could see they were dismantling people's little shelters. They wouldn't let
Supporting efforts to resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees is part of the Church of England's mission alongside its work with food banks, street pastors and debt advice services, one of its leading bishops says today. Writing in a blog, Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, says church groups can provide the 'welcoming flesh on the bones' to efforts by local authorities and other agencies to resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees.
Yesterday afternoon, Sunday 21st February 2016, Jude Law, Juliet Stevenson, Tom Odell, Sir Tom Stoppard, Matt Berry, Shappi Khorsandi and Toby Jones alongside a number of displaced refugees, took to the stage to perform a one off Letters Live performance in association with Good Chance at the refugee camp in Calais, France. The performance was held in aid of Help Refugees, a humanitarian organisation providing much of the aid on the ground, and took place at Good Chance Theatre, a temporary theatre based in the Jungle which offers a
'Facing a crisis with many Faces' was the title given to a meeting organised by COMECE which brought together bishops from the Middle East, southern and western Europe, with Catholic experts from the field, to discuss migration. It was the Bishop of Eisenstadt, Mgr Agidius Zsifkovics, in his capacity as COMECE co-ordinator on Refugees, Migration and Integration, who invited the participants to the international conference held in Heiligenkreuz (Austria) on 15 & 16 February. "
Pope Francis' Year of Mercy can help refugees find the strength to forgive says a Sudanese bishop. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum said the Holy Father's Jubilee of Mercy could help those worst affected by the ongoing civil war in South Sudan find peace through forgiveness. During the Holy Year Christians are invited to focus on the merciful God and encouraged to reflect on their faith.
CAFOD is asking for donations to support its winter humanitarian aid work in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. The plight of refugees has been portrayed in a moving series of portraits, 'Lost Family Portraits', by the award-winning photographer, Dario Mitidieri. CAFOD partners are supporting refugee families living in informal tent settlements in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon, only nine kilometres from the Syrian border, Mitidieri did studio-style portraits of families whose lives were shattered as they fled the conflict...
Come and hear about how the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is supporting refugees in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as in Britain, and find out what you can do to help, on Tuesday 23 February at 6.45pm. Speakers will be Fr Michael Zammit SJ, Regional Director JRS Middle East and Sarah Teather, the new Director of JRS UK. The talk will be at Farm St Jesuit Church Hall, 114 Mount St, London W1K 3AH.
Bishop Patrick Lynch today met with Richard Harrington MP, the Minister responsible for Syrian refugees, to reaffirm the Church's support for efforts to accommodate people fleeing the conflict and discuss the next stages of the Government's resettlement scheme. Following the meeting Bishop Lynch stated: "The UK has rightly taken responsibility for resettling some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in addition to its significant support for those sheltering in neighbouring countries. The one thousand people who have already arrived now have an opportunity to rebuild
Weather in the Nord-pas-de-Calais region has been wet and windy for several weeks, turning the ground in refugee camps into a swamp and damaging tents and shelters that have only a precarious anchor to this ground. Even if there were sufficient places to wash and shower, it is almost impossible to remain clean, warm and dry. In January, daytime temperatures have been below zero for successive days and lower still at night. Numbers on the ground at Calais have dropped, with officials claiming that over 1,900 have promised to abandon plans to reach the UK and been
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, gave a moving address today (Monday 18 January) on the practical ways in which leaders and organisations can respond to the current situation of refugees in Europe. Calling for collaboration he said: "This is a problem that is broader and more complex than any single individual, Church, nation or organisation, and so the least we can and should do is work in collaboration."
The World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated this Sunday, 17 January. The theme chosen by Pope Francis for 2016 is 'Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us. The Response of the Gospel of Mercy.' "The tragic stories of millions of men and women daily confront the international community as a result of the outbreak of unacceptable humanitarian crises in different parts of the world," writes Pope Francis. "Indifference and silence lead to complicity whenever we stand by as people are dying of suffocation, starvation, violence and shipwreck,"
Louise Zanré, outgoing director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK, will give the annual 2016 Memorial Lecture of the Archdiocese of Liverpool's Justice and Peace Commission, at the Liverpool Archdiocese Centre for Evangelisation (LACE) this coming Sunday, 17 January. This year's event - taking place between 2pm and 4pm - will be an opportunity to better understand the complexities of the refugee and asylum-seeker situation. In her lecture, entitled 'Overcome indifference and win peace', Louise Zanré will reflect on Pope Francis's message for Peace
"In his message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees on January 17th Pope Francis invites us to respond to the challenge of migrants and refugees through the Gospel of Mercy. In practice, this means recognising the dignity of migrants and refugees, recognising their suffering, affirming their rights and working (with governments and other agencies) to address the causes that have led to the increase in the number of migrants and refugees. Our first priority as the Office for Migration Policy is to continue to work with the UK Government as it seeks to welcome
"My Lords, I should like to contrast this Immigration Bill with the Bill which the Home Office laid before us last year on human trafficking and modern-day slavery. That was a well-crafted piece of legislation, which enjoyed bipartisan support and was significantly improved as it made its way through both of our Houses of Parliament. Ministers were warmly congratulated on the way in which they engaged with complex issues and the organisations working in the field. I wish that I could say the same for this Bill.
A stark cross, made from the wreckage of a boat that sank in the Mediterranean in 2013, drowning hundreds of refugees, was the final acquisition made by the British Museum on Neil MacGregor's last day as Director, on Friday, 18 December. The Lampedusa Cross is now on public display in Room 2. The cross was made by Mr Francesco Tuccio, a carpenter who lives and works on the island. It is made from parts of a boat that sank near Lampedusa on 3 October 2013, carrying refugees. 500 people were on board when the overcrowded boat caught fire,
On Wednesday, I had a powerful lesson in dignity that will stay with me for life. I wasn't prepared for it - I had thought Wednesday would be about medicines. It was, mainly, and I'll come back to that, but first I would like to invite you to remember the last time you went shopping for a pair of trousers - for yourself, or someone else. Consider this scene; at the care4calais aid warehouse, about 400 pairs of jeans sorted into boxes by size, from 28" to 36" waist. No further sorting is practical - so different colours, and different leg sizes,
As countries across Europe unite in their efforts to address the crisis in the Middle East and its root causes and effects, it is important that as Christians, we recognise our role and what we represent in the midst of this crisis. The Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ is pivotal to our Faith and is the most powerful demonstration of what it means to provide for the needs of others who find themselves in exile, away from their rightful homelands. As humans, we were all victims of the separation from God caused by the weakness of our humanity, and through
An Advent Retreat will take place at the Hurtado Jesuit Centre in east London this Saturday, 12th December 2015 from 10am to 1pm. All are invited to remember how God came to dwell among us, that each one of us is welcome in God, and that all of us are called to everyday acts of welcome to those around us. At a time when we are considering how best to welcome those fleeing from conflict to Europe, this retreat will also include a special Advent liturgy for refugees.
The European Commission convened a Dialogue Seminar on Wednesday, focused on looking beyond the immediate humanitarian crisis provoked by the recent influx of migrants and refugees on European soil. COMECE, CEC, and CCME gathered experts and Church leaders from across Europe to discuss models of integration, best practices, and the fundamental values that guide integration within the European Union. Welcoming migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees became an urgent challenge, especially for Member States with an external border of
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, called for continued ecumenical and inter-religious collaboration in response to the complex crisis facing refugees and Christians in the Middle East. Bishop Angaelos said: "We are a united Body of Christ, there is no Church of the East and Church of the West; it is one Body and it suffers equally, and so we need to approach this matter collaboratively. These are, after all,
The relentless, soaking, miserable rain, and the biting, to-the-marrow cold, will be my abiding memory of yesterday. From ten minutes after stepping out of the minibus, to some hours after getting home, I was not once warm or dry - and it feels pretty indulgent to write that, because for those living in Calais that is their permanent reality, with precious few places to become warm or dry. It is bleak, and heartbreaking: the Calais Jungle is 22 miles from our coast. Would any of us want
Pope Francis is donating to the parish church of Lampedusa a crucifix that was given to him by President Raul Castro of Cuba during the recent papal visit to the Caribbean island. Measuring over three metres high, the crucifix is crafted from wooden oars tied with ropes to symbolize the reality of migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean by boat. Lampedusa is an island off the coast of Sicily whose shores receive the majority of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean sea by boat from Libya to Italy. The tiny island was also the first place in Italy Pope Francis chose to visit after
Cardinal Vincent Nichols spoke at CSAN's fifth parliamentary reception yesterday, and called on those gathered to have a clear vision of society. He recognised the on-going and committed work of the organisations in the room, and also the outpouring of compassion in a society shocked by the suffering of their fellow man. He said: "the plight of refugees cannot wait. People's generosity, in my view, far outstrips the response of our Government...so much more needs to be done both in welcoming refugees here and across Europe to make the response to this crisis both better
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch is giving a short, passionate speech each night at the curtain call after his performance in Hamlet at the Barbican, appealing for support for Syrian refugees. There are over 11 million of them, he says, More than 200,000 have died making the perilious journey to Europe. Cumberbatch speaks of a friend who has just come back from the island of Lesbos where she saw: "'Everywhere on the horizon there was nothing but boats and on the shoreline nothing but lifejackets' .. God knows the weather is getting worse what will come next".
Canada's Catholic bishops have released a new pastoral letter this week encouraing the Catholic community in Canada to welcome refugees. 'I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me' - is the title of the new document fro the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). The bishops say the letter "comes at a critical time for the staggering and unprecedented number of refugees and displaced persons now present in our world.
The gross and systematic abuse of human rights in Eritrea and the implications of current UK and EU asylum policy were discussed at an event in parliament yesterday hosted by Lord Alton of Liverpool and jointly organized by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Human Rights Concern Eritrea (HRCE). Eritreans constitute the second largest group crossing the Mediterranean into Europe. Efforts to address the current migration crisis have prompted changes in United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) asylum policy, some of which risk sending Eritreans back to
On Tuesday 13 October, At least a thousand people, from community and faith groups will meet outside the Houses of Parliament, dressed in their warmest winter clothes, for a candlelight vigil, organised by Citizens UK, for the six Syrian children who froze to death last year in camps. They will tell David Cameron that he must agree to resettle 1000 Syrian refugees before Christmas, so that this does not happen again. Their slogan is: WE THE PEOPLE WELCOME REFUGEES. Since the crisis began, hundreds of thousands of British people have stepped forward to welcome refugees,
The head of the Jesuit Order in Britain, Fr Dermot Preston SJ, has written to the Prime Minister to urge a change in policy towards refugees in the light of the current crisis in Europe and the Middle East.
Fr Preston urges the Prime Minister to have the courage and ambition to use his leadership to set a tone of welcome and hospitality to those seeking our help at this desperate time. He believes the Prime Minister has a unique opportunity to lead Britain in a way that can awaken Gospel values of compassion, decency, responsibility and charity, and that to do so would
Each month Jesuit Refugee Service UK distributes over 180 toiletry packs to destitute asylum seekers via their weekly Day Centre in Wapping, East London. Speaking about the scheme, one refugee said: "they give us the hygiene pack, which I found helpful, which means you are able to keep any money you have to buy other things you need. You get the things to use, how we would do without...? And for the rest of us, men and women, I don't know how we would manage." The asylum seekers who come to JRS for help are destitute.
The Autumn 2015 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference discussed the issue of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and issued the following statement: (We) Bishops are grateful to, and wish to strongly affirm the work of, faith-based organisations in showing leadership, collecting donations and providing vital humanitarian assistance in our dioceses - with the St Vincent de Paul Society standing out as an exemplary charity whose work with refugees has been both swift and sensitive. Its Christian outreach within and without Ireland is
The refugee crisis that Europe is currently facing is unprecedented, and continues to unfold before our eyes. For every day the continent's political leaders hesitate, thousands of people fleeing war, poverty and destruction continue to arrive on Europe's shores seeking sanctuary. Many of these people end up in 'the Jungle', a camp-cum-ghetto that is home to several thousand people in Calais. They live in inhumane conditions, queue hours for food, and then bed down in hastily-constructed shacks and tents ... These people are not faceless. They are
The 'Jungle' in Calais has received another 350 occupants this week, after French gendarmes used tear gas and a bulldozer to evict groups of mainly Syrian refugees who were camping in a hanger in an old industrial estate. Elsewhere on Monday, riot police smashed the shelters of refugees living under a bridge and evicted them from a church where some had been living for up to a year. Humanitarian groups working in the area say at least one man was hospitalised.
Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, member Bishop of COMECE and Archbishop of Luxembourg, the Member State currently holding the presidency of the Council of the EU, was invited to deliver the homily during the Mass for Europe, celebrated in Brussels on 23 September. At the very moment when an extraordinary European Council was being held in Brussels on the refugee crisis, Archbishop Hollerich urged Christians to show openness and hospitality: "When so many refugees knock on the doors of our countries, how could we dare not to meet this challenge.
Senior UK Church leaders and representatives have just returned from Idomeni, on the Greek-Macedonia (FYROM) border, where they met some of the thousands of refugees fleeing conflict. The group, part of a Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) delegation, also held discussions with local volunteers and activists, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representatives, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Médecins du Monde, and local government officials.
The family of Syrian refugees being hosted by the Vatican parish of Santa Anna had the opportunity to thank Pope Francis for his hospitality towards them yesterday morning. Their visit came shortly before the Holy Father departed for Cuba and the United States. The Syrian family, accompanied by the Pontifical Almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, met Pope Francis briefly at the Santa Marta residence to say thank you and to wish him a safe trip. On Friday evening (September 18), Pope Francis visited the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome for a moment of prayer before his 10th Apostolic
On Saturday, I visited the 'Jungle' in Calais with Ben Bano from the charity Seeking Sanctuary and Barbara Kentish from Westminster Justice & Peace. Archbishop Peter Smith from Southwark and Bishop Trevor Wilmott from Dover were there for the day and issued a joint official statement with Most Rev Jean-Paul Jaeger Bishop of Arras ... Set a couple of miles outside the town, on a stretch of derelict land, this place is home to about 3,000 refugee men, women and children, mainly from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Palestine and Darfur.
The general house of the Marist Brothers is offering to take in Syrian refugees after the Pope issued a strong appeal to the entire European Church to take in migrant families during his Angelus prayer recently. "Both members of the general council and myself give our full commitment to this wonderful initiative, offering the general house immediately to welcome a family," said superior general Brother Emili Turú, in an appeal issued on 8 September to Brothers Provincial of Europe to do the same.
Christian Aid has renewed its call for EU members to respond with fairness and vision to the present refugee crisis, saying it was disappointed at the outcome of ministerial talks in Brussels this week. The EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council failed to agree binding quotas that would commit EU member states to taking an additional 120,000 refugees - agreeing instead to relocate just 40,000 over a two-year period. In addition, although ministers did agree a welcome increase to the EU budget to help refugees in countries neighbouring Syria, additional funds
CAFOD has welcomed the UK government's pledge to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Syrians who have fled to neighbouring countries, but has called for this to happen more quickly and for more action to support refugees already in Europe. Neil Thorns, CAFOD's Director of Advocacy and Education, said: "While the Prime Minister's offer to accept 20,000 refugees from countries neighbouring Syria is welcome, it doesn't go far enough. For a start, the government is proposing to take in these refugees over five years, when the most vulnerable people need support
Bishop Patrick Lynch, Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark and the Catholic Church's lead bishop on migration, in light of the current refugee crisis has said: "The Prime Minister's promise to accommodate a further 20,000 refugees is an important part of our national response to the devastating conflict engulfing Syria and the historic numbers of people being forced to flee their homes. I urge the government to prioritise the initial part of its five year timeframe and to provide the essential resources needed, so that these refugees can be
In a letter to Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the President of Scotland's Catholic Bishops' Conference has offered to assist the Scottish Government in accepting refugees. Archbishop Philip Tartaglia has written in support of the First Minister's response and "inspired by Pope Francis" to "offer the assistance of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland in any plans that may emerge in the months to come to support and assist the new arrivals to our country"
Workers and volunteers from groups that provide practical support for refugees and asylum seekers in Coventry, gathered in the centre of Coventry today: Coventry Refugee Centre, Circle of Friends and Coventry Peace House. They were joined by refugees from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Libya. Gathered in the city centre, under the statue of Lady Godiva, known for her action for justice on behalf of the poor, a large crowd heard from speakers making the links between the arms trade, the wars in the Middle East and the refugee crisis.
Columban Missionaries Offer 'Concrete Hope' in the Face of Refugee Crisis in Europe. Columban missionaries around the world are heartbroken and outraged by the ongoing humanitarian crisis facing Europe in the waves of refugees coming from the Middle East and Africa. "Pope Francis urges us to offer 'concrete hope'," said Columban Superior General, Fr Kevin O'Neill. "For Columban missionaries, this means welcoming the stranger in our parishes and mission centres.
Over recent days we have watched with great distress the unfolding humanitarian tragedy in the Middle East and in Europe. Once again the ugly consequences of war have caused multitudes of good people to take great risks as they seek refuge in foreign lands. Like the Holy Family who were refugees in Egypt from the murderous Herod, like our own legions of destitute Irish families aboard dreadful coffin ships of pestilence and famine, the parents of Syria rightly seek safety and security for their families.
"As Bishops, and together with leaders of Christian Churches and other faiths in Nottinghamshire, we encourage the people of our city and county to stand in solidarity with all those who are seeking refuge from countries torn apart by conflict, and to offer them a warm welcome. For Christians, a vital part of our faith is offering compassion to those who are in need and recognising the fundamental dignity of every human being. Christians are not just asked to pray for others, but to be generous in giving to support and welcome those who are in need.
Our global economic and political system is the root cause of the problem, so instead of blaming Europe, let's fix the problem As we watch millions of refugees struggling to survive, hundreds of thousands of them seeking refuge in a Europe which has by and large shut its doors to them, it is all too easy for those in the US to piously implore the Europeans to do more. Or for the US government to take in a few thousand of them - Rabbi Michael Lerner from Tikkun writes in his Huffington Post blog: Most Americans seem completely blind to the way that we have
In a statement this morning, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: "The Catholic Church in England and Wales will respond to Pope Francis' challenge to be generous in supporting people who have been forced to flee their homes. "We urge government to respond positively to this crisis and to provide the necessary resources and funding to ensure the effective reception and long-term resettlement of these desperate people. We will work with both government and other responsible authorities to meet this grave challenge.
Pope Francis has called on European parishes and religious communities to offer shelter to a migrant family. The Pope's appeal came during the Sunday Angelus in St Peter's Square today. "Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family" he said. And appealing for this gesture of solidarity, he said this solidarity would start right here in the Vatican where two parishes will take in a family of refugees in the next few days.
Having seen heartbreaking images of the lifeless and abandoned body of young Aylan Kurdi lying alone on a beach in Turkey puts an all too gruesome optic to a matter either in the forefront or background of every mind over the past months. The images we have now become too accustomed to seeing may have desensitised some, but the horrific reality of the situation remains; thousands of people continue to risk all, even their lives, to seek the safety that we are thankfully free to live on a daily basis.
Christian Aid yesterday welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron's pledge that the UK will increase the number of Syrian refugees it allows in, but said the numbers must be ambitious. It also added its voice to a call for all EU states to put in place a fair and mandatory sharing of responsibility for refugees arriving in Europe, and an increase in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Mr Cameron announced in Lisbon that the UK had already taken some 5,000 Syrians and would now accept 'thousands more' of those regarded 'at particular risk'
CAFOD has launched an email campaign enabling the Catholic community to contact David Cameron directly and ask that the UK plays its part resettling a fair share of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees. While a third of the refugees making the harrowing journey to Europe have fled the conflict in Syria, many more have stayed in the region, where neighbouring countries have taken in millions. In contrast the UK has offered resettlement to only a tiny proportion of those most in need.
Britain's reaction to the migrant crisis must be more "generous", Cardinal Vincent Nichols has told ITV News. Speaking after images of a dead Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach emerged, Cardinal Nichols said the British public had told him it was "a disgrace that we were letting people die and seeing bodies on the beaches when together Europe is such a wealthy place"... "If we take 10,000, it's a fraction of the problem," he told Chris Ship.
I cannot read about one more refugee family drowning in the ocean at Europe's doors - not one single more mother losing her kids to hunger, or one more tiny child watching his parents die at sea. My heart is broken, and as long as I watch the news, I can't stop crying. But yesterday, a ray of hope came - after Iceland refused to take in more than a pitiful 50 refugees, one author asked her Facebook followers to offer to host a refugee family. 10,000 people responded. We say to our leaders, we reject your politics of xenophobia, we say to our brothers and sisters, Welcome Home.
Over 10 years ago I saw a fiction film called 'The March'. It showed police fighting to stop millions of Africans trying to reach Europe. I watched it with other migration experts in Germany. At the time, we thought it was unhelpful as it might spread panic. Now, as the latest crisis unfolds with tens of thousands of people trying to reach the European Union through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia, it seems prescient. A quarter of a century after the falling of the Berlin Wall, we see a new wall being built, this time in Hungary to stop migrants from Serbia.
Barbara Kentish from Westminster Justice and Peace writes: Ben Bano and his wife Marie-Claude, founders of Seeking Sanctuary, have been helping Calais migrants from their home in Kent for some time, and only became known to Westminster Justice and Peace when the crisis emerged a few weeks ago. Ben told me recently that he worries it may disappear from the news again once the ferry strike is over and the tunnel is running smoothly. 'They will need blankets and clothes even more when winter comes and they are no longer headline news'.
Basildon Catholics are appealing for aid for the migrants suffering in Calais. Parish priest of Our Lady & All Saints in Basildon, Fr Dominic Howarth, said: "Our sisters and brothers of all faiths living in the Calais 'jungle' need urgent help: this week Secours Catholique - a charity supporting the migrants - ran out of blankets." The appeal comes in a month which saw Bishop Lynch, Bishop for Migrants in England & Wales, express great concern for the deepening humanitarian crisis in Calais and call for a coordinated and compassionate international response to the challenge of
Former asylum seeker and refugee, Vietnamese-born Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM has called on all Australians to show the same kind of generosity shown to him and his family when they were forced to flee their homeland after the fall of Saigon and the Communist take-over. The then 21-year old, his parents and a brother and sister managed to escape Vietnam by boat and a year later, in December 1981 finally arrived in Australia. In 1983, he became a Conventual Franciscan friar and began his studies for the priesthood in Melbourne the following year.
A small band of thirteen Christian youth workers has just arrived in Calais with tents, sleeping bags, food, clothing and sanitary products in the first of a planned series of humanitarian deliveries to migrants at the French port. Led by Christian journalist Jamie Cutteridge, deputy editor of Premier Youthwork magazine, the group gathered together their first consignment of goods, courtesy of friends, relatives and other individuals. They plan to be back in England later today and begin preparations for a second trip.
The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia says the country's political leaders are putting the safety of the most vulnerable people at risk by their support for punitive and degrading policies. Recent changes to the Border Force Act have exacerbated the secrecy and uncertainty that surrounds mandatory detention of refugees and asylum seekers in on shore and off shore centres. And the decision by Labor last month to support turning back boat policies has revealed the callous politics and lack of compassion that lies at the heart of immigration policies.
More than 32,000 people fleeing conflict, violence and poverty have requested asylum in Hungary in the first quarter of this year, the second highest number of applicants in the European Union after Germany in this period of time. This is a significant increase on the 43,000 requests received in 2014 and dramatic jump from 2,150 requests in 2012. Many of the migrants have journeyed from the Middle East and North Africa, crossing into the landlocked country in the heart of Europe at its border with Serbia.
As the makeshift refugee camp near Calais continues to grow, Bishop Patrick Lynch, Auxiliary Bishop for Southwark and Chair of the Office for Migration Policy, Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has appealed for governments to do more to help the migrants and deal with the issues causing them to flee their home countries. Bishop Lynch said: "I am deeply concerned over the deepening humanitarian crisis involving thousands of migrants unfolding in Calais. The crisis has developed over a decade and challenges us all, both as Christians and as Europeans. We must face up to this reality at
Too often, people speak about refugees as a unified, undifferentiated group. CPT places great emphasis on undoing oppressions, an important part of which is recognising and addressing white privilege. One aspect of white privilege is that people who are white are seen as individuals, while people who are not white are seen as representative of their race, or grouping. While here, I have spoken to as many refugees as I can, and listened to their individual stories. Here are just a few of them.
The death toll among refugees attempting to reach the UK from Calais has risen dramatically in recent days. Medical staff in France say they are struggling to cope with the number of seriously injured migrants who are taking ever greater risks to get into the Channel Tunnel. More than 3,000 men, women and children who have fled war and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Sudan Ethiopia and Afghanistan are now crowded into a makeshift camp in Calais. Many of the migrants are sharing food and medicines... Christian migrants are now building a small chapel.
While all are horrified at the sufferings of the refugees and migrants in Calais, most in the UK are paralysed from action because of the huge issues raised. If we 'open the gates', will this act as a magnet for thousands more refugees to come knocking on the UK door? This could mean further competition for scarce housing and resources in the poor boroughs which are already coping with huge shortages. If we continue to pour in extra security money, and simply make Calais a more effective barrier, we risk prolonging the distressing scenes in camp and Eurotunnel in Calais
Since the beginning of 2015 the number of asylum seekers trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean has continued to increase; the tiny island of Lesbos alone has received more than 25,000 over the past six months. Last year when I was working on the island of Lesbos the number was high, but nothing compared to this year. As a consequence, some new issues facing the refugees and places for dealing with the refugees have sprung up. It is worth mentioning that many of the new issues were present last year, just on a smaller scale and some of the new ones are the result of bad
"My heart palpitates when I remember," says Zarah, a tall, slender woman in her forties, her long legs folded beneath her as she sits on a mat. "I'm OK during the day," she continues, "but at night it all comes back to me - the soldiers killing three people, right in front of me, at the market." She pulls her Paisley pattern scarf to cover her hair. Despite the 45C degrees in the refugee camp in Chad, she is swathed in a floor-length blue and yellow dress, miraculously clean, given the dust and rubbish everywhere. It defies logic that this woman, who narrowly escaped death in her native
More than 40 international religious peace activists highlighted the deaths of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean and the culpability of the UK government on Friday. The gathering consisted of a silent procession to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a public prayer vigil, and a symbolic representation of the deaths at the Home Office. Since January 1, 2015 over 65,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe. So far this year at least 1,800 men, women and children have drowned in their bid to reach Europe;
The number of asylum applications in Italy increased by 143 percent in 2014, reaching a new record of 64,886, according to the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Italy annual report. While great strides have been made to accommodate refugees and asylum seekers, more needs to be done by the Italian and European authorities to welcome and integrate the newcomers. During the presentation of the report in Rome yesterday, JRS called for a cultural shift in Europe towards hospitality and solidarity. In light of the capsizing of two boats crossing the Mediterranean last week
In the wake of the latest tragedy over the weekend in which up to 900 refugees fleeing war and persecution drowned in the Mediterranean, Bishop Patrick Lynch, Bishop for Migration in the Department for International Affairs of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, has urged EU countries to do more to assist in the rescue operations and seek long term solutions to the crisis. In recent months, Malta, the smallest country in the EU, and Italy, have been on their own, dealing with an influx of thousands of refugees coming from North Africa - since the EU stopped funding rescue
Pope Francis has appealed to the international community to take swift and decisive action to avoid more tragedies of migrants fleeing war and persecution. His heartfelt cry to the world came following news of the sinking of yet another boat carrying migrants in the Mediterranean Sea in which it is feared at least 700 men, women and children have drowned. The Pope was speaking this morning after the Angelus in St Peter's Square, where he told tens of thousands of pilgrims. "They are men and women like us,
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi has warned that unless efforts are made to protect millions of children caught up in the Syrian conflict they are at risk of becoming a lost generation. In an statement delivered today, 17 March, to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Archbishop Tomasi, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva, made a series of recommendations following the release of the 'Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.' Noting that since the start of the crisis in Syria, more than 10 million Syrians have fled their homes
The Syrian refugee crisis - now totaling nearly four million refugees- has reached a "tipping point," in which countries in the region are no longer able to handle the flow of refugees across their borders, warns US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) officials who recently traveled to the Middle East. "Without more international support, we will find Syrians fleeing extremists being turned away and forced back to danger," said Anastasia Brown, interim executive director for USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services (MRS). "The global community, led by Europe and the United States, needs to increase its support in order to prevent a humanitarian crisis."
A panel of parliamentarians, including members of the three largest Westminster parties, is publishing a report into the use of immigration detention in the United Kingdom. The members of the panel hold very diverse views about the immigration system as a whole and cover a wide political spectrum. They have come together to carry out an inquiry into the use of immigration detention, the first time a group of parliamentarians has looked at depth at the issue. A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has recommended
Bishop Patrick Lynch, Chair of the Bishops' Conference Office for Migration Policy has welcomed a new report on the detention of migrants. In a statement, Bishops Lynch said: "I welcome the report and recommendations put forward by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and Migration. Now, I sincerely hope that the findings will be translated into humane immigration policies for those who need protection and support from the state." The report, from a cross-party group of MPs and Peers, has recommended that the next government
Mohammed Idris is a refugee who joined Jesuit Refugee Services because he appreciated the way they had accompanied him when he was in detention.... For me, a Muslim who grew up in an environment where Christians and Muslims lived together peacefully, it has been a good opportunity to discover more about how to live with people of different faiths, to cooperate in a friendly way and to learn from one another.
National Migration Week 2015 will take place from January 4–10 with the theme: 'We are One Family under God' the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced. The celebration of National Migration Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the hardships faced by migrants, including children, refugees and victims of human trafficking. “Migrants –including children, immigrants, refugees, and victims of human trafficking– are our spiritual brothers and sisters,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo,
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, made a pastoral visit to Gaza on Sunday, 21 December, and celebrated Mass in the parish of the Holy Family. Seven hundred Christians in Gaza this year have received permission from Israel to go to Bethlehem and celebrate the Solemnity of Christmas in the place where Jesus was born. But not many will actually be able to reach the cities of the West Bank, because the daily difficulties shared by Christians in Gaza
The passage of the Australian Government’s asylum legislation is a shattering blow for asylum seekers who face the grave risk of being returned to danger, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) said on Friday. RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said the concessions secured by cross-bench Senators to release children from detention, reinstate places cut from the Refugee and Humanitarian Program and grant working rights to asylum seekers on bridging visas masked the disturbing reality that many asylum seekers could be “fast-tracked”.
In his final engagement in Turkey, Pope Francis met a group of around 50 young people including refugees, from Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East and Africa. The young people are being cared for by the Salesian community in Istanbul. Speaking to them Pope assured the young people that he shares their sufferings and deplored the degrading conditions in which so many refugees are forced to live, calling it “intolerable.”
In a year which has seen more than 2,500 refugees - many fleeing ISIS - drown in the Mediterranean, news that the Foreign Office has decided to stop search and rescue operations, has been greeted with grave concern by refugee and human rights groups. Sarah Teather MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, described the decision as "shameful". The official Italian sea and rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, is also due to end this week.
The Bishop for Migrants, Rt Reverend Patrick Lynch has expressed his grave concern over the discovery of a group of refugees locked in a shipping container on a freighter at Tilbury Docks on Saturday. One man had already died and the other victims have been have been taken to hospital. Bishop Patrick said: “It is becoming increasingly apparent that vulnerable men, women and children are being exploited by criminals all over the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who experienced terrible suffering trapped in a shipping
Iraqis fleeing persecution are to receive emergency help of nearly £80,000 (US$130,000) after a Catholic charity for suffering Christians announced an aid package amid desperate calls for help. In response to appeals for aid from Iraq’s most senior bishop, Aid to the Church in Need agreed a grant to help people desperate for food and shelter having fled advancing forces from the Islamic State (formerly ISIS). This latest grant comes on top of ACN emergency aid given in June soon after the Islamic State seized Mosul.
On Sunday evening ISIS seized more towns in the north west of Iraq. Following prolonged fighting between ISIS and Peshmerga – Kurdish soldiers – ISIS fighters took control of Sinjar, Zummar and Ayn Zalah to the north west of Mosul towards the border with Syria. Reports received by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need indicate that ISIS's seizure of the region has caused thousands of Yezidi families to flee. The region is mixture of Arab Sunnis and Yezidis.
At the start of the National Migration Conference yesterday, the chair of the US Catholic Bishops' Conference reaffirmed Church commitment to immigration reform and protection of vulnerable populations. Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, stated on July 7, that the Catholic community “will continue to push” lawmakers to pass immigration reform legislation this year, regardless of political commentary that Congress is unlikely to act this year.
Each night, thousands of people sleep on the streets of Paris. Some are asylum seekers and refugees. Jesuit Refugee Service France has set up a network of families and religious communities to host them in their own homes until they can find stable housing. See the Welcome Network through the eyes of two host families and one refugee in this video. You will discover why French families have decided to welcome strangers into their homes and what they have learned
A boat carrying 400 migrants sank off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa earlier this week. Current reports estimate that up to 40 persons may have died with many more reported missing. "Every day that the European Union dithers on creating safe and legal ways for protection for asylum seekers coming to Europe, more people die", said Philip Amaral, from Jesuit Refugee Service Europe. "These tragedies happen because the EU has failed to establish a system that enables people to come to Europe safely,
As the first Syrian refugees arrive in the UK, CAFOD is calling for the government to offer a place of safety to more of those who are most in need. The first ten to twenty Syrian refugees are expected to arrive in Britain this week as part of the government’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. But, with the crisis in Syria growing worse by the day, CAFOD argues that the UK should be prepared to accept more of the most vulnerable people fleeing the violence.
Bringing refugees from Syria to the West is not the answer to the crisis, according to the leader of Catholics in the disaster-stricken country, who says more can be done to help displaced people both there and elsewhere in the Middle East. While sympathising with refugees who seek a new life in the West, Damascus-based Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch urged that aid programmes be boosted both within Syria and in neighbouring countries to enable them to stay in the region.
In a homily to mark the World Day for Migrants and Refugees which coincides with the Feast of Santo Niño (19 January), the Bishop for Migrants, Bishop Patrick Lynch will call on the UK Government, in conjunction with other European Governments to ‘find a way in which countries within the EU can receive at least some of the refugees’ from the civil war in Syria. He will pray especially for ‘parents and children in Syria, Southern Sudan and throughout the world who are forced to leave their homes and their country because of violence, war or persecution’
On Sunday, Pope Francis turned his attention to the dramatic predicament of migrants and refugees who do not always find a welcome, but often become victims of human trafficking and slave labour. Speaking to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus, the Pope said that on this first Sunday after Christmas, the liturgy invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. He said that the Gospel narrates the Holy Family’s painful exile as it searched for refuge in Egypt
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, has emphasized the urgency of bringing help to Syrian refugees. He also calls for the generosity of all to support the refugees, victims of a conflict which has exceeded 1000 days, and of the material hardships affecting their lives. Following a period of drought and the month of November, the hottest in 60 years, the region had an exceptionally heavy rainfall, followed by icy winter storms.
The bishops who chair three committees of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have urged Congress to fulfill the basic role of government and meet the challenges facing the United States at home and abroad. In 30 September letters to the House and Senate, Archbishop José H Gomez of Los Angeles, Bishop Stephen E Blaire of Stockton, California, and Bishop Richard E Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, cited issues including rampant domestic unemployment and the millions of people displaced by the conflict in Syria.
The Sacred Heart Fathers' mission station in Bouar in the north of the Central African Republic was attacked by Islamist rebels last Friday, 27 September. Sources in the country told Aid to the Church in Need, that Italian missionary Fr Beniamino Gusmeroli and locally born Deacon Martial Mengue were threatened by five armed men with Kalashnikovs, who tied up the clerics and gagged them with adhesive tape. The armed men, who were believed to be Sudanese, ransacked the rooms of the mission station taking money, cameras, computers and other items.
On World Refugee Day today, church leaders around the world appealed for governments to put the interests of children and vulnerable refugees fleeing war and persecution before immigration control. In the UK, the Catholic Bishop for Migrants, Bishop Patrick Lynch said: “The UK as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child should uphold the rights of unaccompanied migrant children and always provide the protection and support that they need."
Burma’s three million refugees should return home and help rebuild their nation, according to the leader of the country’s Catholics, who says that after half a century times are changing for the better. Stressing the “light of hope that is slowly starting”, Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon, formerly called Rangoon, said that 50 years after the military junta seized power in Burma, “the opportunity” has come for the country’s massive exiled community to “come back to their motherland”.
Christians in one corner of Iraq have trebled in number over the past 15 years according to a leading bishop who is grappling with an influx of people escaping persecution and oppression. The Christian population in Ankawa, a suburb of the Kurdish capital Erbil, has increased from just over 8,500 in the mid-1990s to more than 25,500 today. Of those, up to 1,500 have arrived within the last year alone.
The Comboni Missionaries have repeated a call to an end to the violence in Libya and urged Europe to do more to help refugees fleeing the crisis. "We reiterate our ‘no’ to any form of violence as a method of resolving controversies,” the missionaries said in a statement.
In his Holy Week message, Archbishop Sentamu reflects on whether Britain's 'Big Society' is doing enough to help refugees. He writes: In 1973 I was forced to flee Idi Amin's brutal regime. I found compassion and care in Britain. Today, I want to live in a society that holds out the same hope for fugitives. The events of the first Easter were told against a social backdrop of violence, injustice, migration, and the desperate search for safety.
Churches and human rights groups in South Africa are expressing concern over the South African government's announcement on 2 September that it plans to withdraw a special permit granted to thousands of Zimbabweans, allowing them to reside in the country without documents.
Hindu and Catholic priests and nuns displaced by the civil war and living in refugee camps for the past three months have been released.
The Vatican has appealed to the authorities in Italy to rescue migrants trying to reach Europe from North Africa by sea, and give them medical help and support. The appeals were made after more than 70 Eritrean migrants died from hunger and thirst, during a gruelling three week sea voyage from Libya.
More than 10,000 Christians have been driven from their homes in the eastern Indian state of Orissa after anti-Christian violence in the area, officials say.