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Monday, March 20, 2023

Refugee Crisis: Church’s Suggestion

International media is galore with news of African and Middle East Asian people making desperate journeys to Europe. This humanitarian crisis is said to be the greatest crisis of Europe after Second World War. It is not just a problem to Europe but to the whole world. At this given time there is a worry of how to accommodate these desperate people and care for them reasonably. But it is important to go to the root cause of this great movement of people. It is forecasted that next year over one million of these desperate people will move to Europe.

Are they immigrants or refugees? There is a subtle difference between the terms. An immigrant is a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence after a well thought out plan and preparation, but refugee are people who flee to a foreign country for refuge or safety in a moment of crisis to escape political upheaval, war, etc. While immigrants are looking for greener pastures in job and career, refugees are always in desperate situations, trying to look for safety and survival.

In the light of this difference, who are these so called ‘immigrants’ making desperate journeys to Europe? Usually when refugees are satisfied with minimum comfort and safety, these desperate voyagers seems to have a clear choice of their destination and their dream settlement, which is often the prosperous Germany. The receiving countries such as Greece, Italy and Hungary are just transit points.

There are varied opinions on receiving refugees. Surely it is an unprecedented trouble to the whole continent of Europe when they themselves are facing the problems of unemployment, economic recession, global terrorism and others. Among the Europe bound refugees/immigrants there seems to be people with radical religious fundamentalism and terrorist affiliations and not forgetting unskilled and uneducated population. Hence there is are divided opinions among European leaders are divided on receiving them, a few accusing few others of laxity in keeping rules and regulations.

There is always a question of human rights, humanitarian causes, religious sentiments, racial and nationalistic feelings in receiving these people. Few leaders are making choices on refugees, who can be received and who should not be received. Among the many voices, Pope’s intervention and pressure cannot be ignored.

Inspired by his own beliefs Pope Francis becomes a strong advocate of refugee issues. In a interview published on 14th September 2015 he was asked his opinion and experience on refugees. He has this to say, “These poor people are fleeing war, hunger, but that is the tip of the iceberg. Because underneath that is the cause; and the cause is a bad and unjust socioeconomic system, in everything, in the world – speaking of the environmental problem – in the socioeconomic society, in politics, the person always has to be in the centre. That is the dominant economic system nowadays, it has removed the person from the centre, placing the god money in its place, the idol of fashion. There are statistics, I don’t remember precisely, (I might have this wrong), but that 17% of the world’s population has 80% of the wealth.”

Surely refugee crisis is calling for more just world. The current crisis also reminds everyone of European immigration to South America and other parts of the world many centuries old as well as the whole issue of colonialism and all the injustice Caucasian society did to the rest of the world. History seems to repeat itself in another angle. At the end the humanity remains the same.

At the end of the day a suggestion from Church’s Catechism (#2241) seem to help us in this crisis: “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”

Unless and until we have solved the root cause of socio-economic crisis in the world and learn to tolerate each other beliefs and values we the humans will continue creating immigrant crisis in the world.

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