World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2022
“Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)
Each year, since 1914, the church has been celebrating World Day of Migrants and Refugees on the last Sunday in September. This is a designated day to commemorate and honour people who have been forced to flee their homes, people who have escaped conflict, who have made their way to find a better way of life in places far away from their homes and who have seen adversity.
But whom do we recognise as a migrant, refugee or an asylum seeker?
A migrant is someone who chooses to move whilst a refugee is someone who has been forced to move and an asylum seeker is a person who has left their country and is seeking immediate protection from persecution and serious human rights violations in another country.
Migrants leave their home country seeking better education for themselves, better or more profitable jobs or more opportunities. Others flee their homes to escape unjust prosecution of war. Being displaced they meet different challenges due to their limited resources; many live in camps and have limited access to clean water, electricity, warm shelter and health facilities.
At the end of 2021 the UN Refugee Agency reported that 89.3 million people had been forcibly displaced worldwide because of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order. Most are displaced within their own country.
The UN Refugee Agency** statistics also show that there are:
- 27.1 million refugees
- 4.6 million asylum seekers
- 36.5 million children below 18 years of age have been forcible displaced
- 1.5 million children were born as refugees
Approximately 69% of all refugees originate from five countries; Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar – in these countries, war and conflict are the major reasons for them to flee. Most refugees flee to an adjoining country.
Some refugees do return to their home country. In 2021 the United Nations report:
- 429,300 refugees returned to their countries of origin
- 57,500 were resettled with or without United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees assistance
Of the thousands of people seeking asylum and refuge many of them also seek the assistance of organisations to help provide housing, food, advocacy etc. To help these organisations to provide vital aid and support to asylum seekers and refugees, donations of money, goods and your time are sought to enable their good works to continue. Our parishes are fortunate to have a number of partners in our support of asylum seekers and refugees.
We are now in our seventh year of partnership with CatholicCare. The parish provides financial support to CatholicCare which then enables them to fund transitional housing as well as provide support for food, clothes, utility bills, education programs and the like in the Dandenong and surrounding areas.
For over 20 years now our parishes have supported the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project (BASP) with monthly donations of non-perishable foods, toiletries, cleaning products, baby goods etc. Learn more about the works of BASP, volunteer your time and talent or donate online, by visiting BASP
The Asylum Seeker & Resource Centre for 20 years has been providing hope, dignity and safety to our weary travellers. Learn more about how you can raise your voice for justice. Or why not try a global food experience with a cause? ASRC Catering produces fresh vegetarian meals and by purchasing a meal from them you help to provide social and economical empowerment for people seeking asylum. All meals are prepared by ARSC members and are led by an experienced group of mentor chefs.
This Sunday, 25 September we recognise the courage of all migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and increase our understanding for the plight and difficult decisions many immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees have had to make. We take the opportunity to remember how hard it is for people to travel to a new place and we celebrate the wonderful, different cultures that we have in Australia. May we all share our gifts and talents and help create a better world for everyone.
Read Pope Francis’ message for the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2022.
Lord, make us bearers of hope,
so that where there is darkness,
your light may shine,
and where there is discouragement,
confidence in the future may be reborn.
Lord, make us instruments of your justice,
so that where there is exclusion, fraternity may flourish,
and where there is greed, a spirit of sharing may grow.
Lord, make us builders of your Kingdom,
together with migrants and refugees
and with all who dwell on the peripheries.
Lord, let us learn how beautiful it is
to live together as brothers and sisters. Amen.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 9 May 2022
By Kate Baines
Main image: John Stanmeyer, Nat Geo Image Collection