• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Tuesday, 26 January 2021 17:47

To be a refugee today - a reflection

 

Fr Michael Hardie 150 hsBy Fr Michael Hardie SVD

As winter sweeps over Europe, as the landscape is covered by vast drifts of white snow, an idyllic picture of romantic, post-card proportions presents itself. However, the picture remains short lived, when a greater reality becomes apparent: not everyone is enjoying the snowy scene. Especially not the migrants and refugees crowded into makeshift camps, without adequate clothing and footwear, without enough food to last from one day to another, with no help and no hope in sight. These are the refugees who have trudged the Long Walk from their homes and countries of origin in Syria and Iraq to find a better future in Europe, but as the biting cold eats into their meagre reserves of strength, those dreams are fast fading.

Bosnian refugees UNHCR 450Bosnia has become a bottleneck for thousands of migrants hoping to reach Western Europe. In a burnt-out tent camp called Lipa near the town of Bihac in Bosnia, hundreds of migrants are stranded and freezing as heavy snow covers what is left of ruined buildings as the temperature continues to drop. Frustrated at a lack of progress and help from authorities, it is said that the refugees themselves set the already squalid camp alight in sheer frustration. Despite the fire, Bosnian authorities have failed to find new accommodation for the migrants, leaving a thousand or more refugees deserted in the cold, with only thin blankets on their shoulders and sandals on their feet, with no facilities for heating, their provisions only food parcels from aid groups. The worst of it is, no-one seems to care. The ethnically divided nation has refused to accept them; the EU has urged Bosnia’s bickering politicians to set aside their differences and take action before many lives are lost.  (source – abc.net.au)

“I know what it’s like, to be forgotten; left alone with your simple dreams, but they are fading fast. No-one to turn to when you can’t sleep at night; waking up to a day that’ll soon be over.” (Daryl Hall & John Oates)

So goes the song, ‘Don’t Hold Back Your Love,’ – unfortunately apt for the refugees’ situation.

However, sometimes there is good news. Like on January 20 of this year, when 26 refugees and asylum seekers were freed from immigration detention in Melbourne, where some (brought from Manus Island under the now-repealed Medevac program) have spent more than a year in inner-city hotels, according to Ian Rintoul of Refugee Action Coalition, in addition to the many years already spent in off-shore detention.  One Tamil refugee, Ramsi, learned that he would be freed after 8 years in detention. “I don’t know why I’m being released, I’m so happy, really. It is so exciting,” he said.  (source – abc.net.au)

That is one of the more tortuous aspects of Australia’s detention program. Migrants don’t know why they are being put into detention, and they don’t know why they are being released. Deprivation of the ‘right to know’ is a violation of a basic human right, but fortunately groups like Refugee Action Coalition are keeping up the pressure on Government to make changes.

More good news came on Australia Day with the naming of refugee support worker Rosemary Kariuki as Australia’s Local Hero for 2021.

According to an ABC News report, Rosemary emigrated from Kenya to Sydney in 1999, carrying only a few hundred dollars, some clothes, and gifts for strangers. But her first years in Australia proved lonely, motivating her to go on to support other refugees who were also struggling due to isolation.

Now the multicultural community liaison officer for the Parramatta Police, Ms Kariuki specialises in helping migrants who are facing domestic violence, language barriers and financial distress.

For the past 15 years, she has used social setups like morning teas, dinners, dances and road trips to build trust across various cultural groups. It was uplifting to see her work with refugees and migrants recognised on the national stage.

As America celebrates the inauguration of a new president and the beginning of a new administration era, the now-incumbent Joseph Biden has promised a time of justice, respect and dignity in the halls of the White House, where such values have clearly been eroded and neglected in the last four years. As he signs an Executive Order allowing Muslim immigration again, President Biden intends that respect and dignity will be restored to the many migrants and refugees seeking a better life in America, that doors will be opened again, dreams will be realized, and the pilgrim fathers’ vision of ‘a city on a hilltop’ will become an achievable reality. May the refugees in the camps of Bosnia somehow hear this good news, and take hope, as we do.

(Fr Michael Hardie spent 14 years in mission in Vietnam, from 1997 to 2011. He is now the JPIC Co-ordinator for the Australia Province, and the Director of Professional Standards and Safeguarding).

PHOTO: A UNHCR Representative in Bosnia–Herzegovina visiting the Lipa site in Una-Sana Canton (UNHCR)