Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move - N° 84, December 2000
Entertaining Angels in Oceania*
Why devote a session to refugees and migrants?
In 1996 Pope John Paul II made the astute comment that migration is assuming the features of a social emergency1. On the whole, refugees and migrants are seen as problems in today's world. From the outset we do well to recall that the Bible has a different perspective. I gave this address the title "Entertaining Angels in Oceania". It is to remind us, as the Letter to the Hebrews has it, to always welcome strangers, for by doing so some have unknowingly entertained angels .. (Hebrews 13:2). It is clearly not common today - and it probably never was - to look at immigrants as angels. It is useful to realize that the Biblical call of welcoming strangers has always been counter-cultural, going against the grain of what is comfortable and familiar.
My presentation is structured along Cardijn's "see-judge-act" method. Part one describes the migrant and refugee situation today (see). Part two gives the Church's teaching and lists its main concerns (judge). Part three looks at the sorts of actions which are required (act).
People on the move - why and how many?
Migration is as old as the human race. Our world has been shaped by historical migrations of vast proportions. The same complex causes continue to prompt migration today: war, internal conflict, natural disasters, persecution at home, and the hope for a better life. Today, the growing economic and demographic gap between rich and poor countries serves to reinforce migration. So do deteriorating living conditions and increasing inequalities in parts of the world, increased political instability, environmental devastation, population pressure - all of these are a powerful mix of reasons to migrate.
Yet migration today is essentially different from the past in several respects. First, the world is increasingly populated and there are few under-used spaces available, at least not to the degree they were in the distant and not so distant past. Second, with the emergence of nation states, countries are both determined and able to control their borders. Third, in today's world, it is easier for people to find out about life in other countries and to travel distances.
International migration is at an all time high: today around 145 million people live outside their country of birth. International migrants, if combined into a single country, would be the world's tenth largest country! The number is expanding annually by some four million2. These numbers cover only the legal immigrants; the figure for illegal immigrants is not available but estimated to be high.
Worldwide, there are now more refugees, internally displaced people (that is refugees in their own country) and asylum seekers than at any time in human history. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees gives an estimate of 22 million: some 12 million refugees and l0 million internally displaced or stateless persons and asylum seekers3.
Migrants and refugees in Oceania
My topic is present migration issues in Oceania. However, I cannot talk about present migration issues without acknowledging that the population structure of large parts of Oceania is the result of previous colonization. This is especially so in Australia and New Zealand, but also in New Caledonia and Fiji. In these countries the indigenous population had forced upon them a large-scale immigration and it still has to cope with the effects of this. The indigenous populations of Australia, Aotearoa-New Zealand and Kanaky-New Caledonia have become a disenfranchised minority in their own country, and, in many ways, their identity and culture is still not fully respected. I wish to acknowledge and apologize for the historical injustice that was perpetrated and call on all of us to increase our efforts to rectify the injustices. Rectifying injustices includes, in respect to our topic, that indigenous people will have a real say in the immigration policies of their countries.
In- and out-migration
I have given you the world numbers for migrants and refugees. The Oceania region is markedly different with respect to both: overall we have comparatively many more migrants and comparatively fewer refugees. In fact, we have well less than one percent of all refugees world-wide. On the other hand, 18 percent of our region's population is migrant-high indeed compared to other parts in the world. For example the percentage in Europe is 64. Australia and New Zealand show net in-migration. The rest of Oceania experiences net out-migration5.
Only four countries in the world admit significant numbers of immigrants for permanent settlement and two of those are in our region: Australia and New Zealand6. In the past, migrants to Australia and New Zealand came primarily from the United Kingdom and to a lesser degree, from other West-European countries. Today the in-migration flow is very diverse with increasing numbers from Asia. A l999 briefing paper from the New Zealand Immigration Service mentions that people from more than 140 countries gained NZ residence over the last five years.
Most Pacific Islands, on the other hand, are small with limited land areas and resources. Population, labour and economic pressures lead to emigration. Environmental reasons are also becoming more urgent. Soil erosion and deforestation, sea pollution and dying coral reefs, global warming and the lowering of the level of drinking water join the old problems of typhoons and cyclones, earthquakes, droughts and volcanoes. For example, in February 2000 the Prime Minister of Tuvalu (population 10,500) pleaded with the New Zealand Prime Minister to accept more immigrants from Tuvalu as rising sea levels might mean that its residents need a new home in five or ten years7.
People of the Pacific Islands migrate to other islands, for example 1,000 Tuvaluans work in the phosphate mining in Nauru. Within the region, they move primarily to Australia and New Zealand. Auckland is rightly called the largest Polynesian city in the world and Pacific Islanders make up 7% of the New Zealand population.
New Zealanders, in their turn, move to Australia. While they are not a high percentage of the total population in Australia (under 2 percent), they constitute a significant part of the New Zealand population (10 percent) and are in New Zealand considered New Zealand's loss and Australia's gain.
Not all migrants intend to stay in their new country. Temporary migrants include guest workers and migrants who use countries as 'stepping stones'. Examples include Vietnamese who have come to NZ and have moved on to Australia; or Samoans moving to American Samoa, and from there to mainland USA. Migration also happens in the reverse, for example, elderly Samoans returning to Samoa with a New Zealand pension.
All permanent migrants face the challenge of integrating into an already established population. In the past, migrants were expected to assimilate as quickly as possible. Assimilation means that the migrants are expected to shed their culture. Today, more people are aware that integration rather than assimilation is the more human, and in the end more valuable, approach. In reality, however, immigrants often have to battle social misunderstandings and prejudices, put-downs and racism.
Relationship between migrants and refugees
Migration from one country to another can lead to tension. Migration within countries can have the same effect and in turn give rise to external migration and refugees. Let me give you two examples, both influencing the Oceania region.
The transmigrasi policy of Indonesia has seen Indonesians from over-populated islands such as Java move to other parts, including Irian Jaya. This has fanned the independence movement in Irian Jaya or West Papua. At the current rate of migration, West Papuans will have become a minority in Irian Jaya by the year 20108. The fighting between the Indonesian army and independence groups led over 12,000 West Papuans to flee to Papua New Guinea as refugees. At the end of 1998, more than 8,000 refugees remained in Papua New Guinea. Half of them are living in government-run settlements at East Awin. Others are living without assistance in villages and unofficial camps near the Indonesian border.
My second example of the link between internal migration and refugees comes from the Solomon Islands. People of Malaita left their own island with poor soil to become the labour force in the other islands, especially in Guadacanal. The people of Guadacanal became fearful that their island would be taken over by Malaitans and inter-ethnic violence erupted at the end of 1998. Over 20,000 fled the violence and returned to the island Malaita, which cannot cope with this influx. An even larger number has had to move from where they were in Guadacanal, to seek the safety of its capital Honiara.
Irian Jaya and the Solomon Islands show clearly how migration and involuntary movements of refugees are connected issues in a number of respects. They also show how numbers of migrants and refugees can change rapidly and dramatically. At the height of the Bougainville conflict in Papua New Guinea, over 20,000 Bougainvillians were internally displaced. In addition, many lived as refugees in the Solomon Islands. Their numbers have decreased dramatically since the April 1998 cease-fire and the establishment of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government.
According to the latest (1999) report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees only four countries in Oceania have refugees. Its estimate of the refugee population based on the arrival of refugees and recognition of asylum seekers of the last five years is: refugees: 64,000 in Australia; 7,000 in NZ; 8,200 in Papua New Guinea ÂÂ they come from Irian Jaya; and 210 in the Solomon Islands - they come from Bougainville. In addition, the UNHCR lists 2,000 - 6,000 displaced persons in Papua New Guinea itself - as a result of the Bougainville conflict. To this must be added the 40,000 displaced persons in the Solomon Islands who are not included in the UNHCR report9. It goes to show how rapidly situations can change.
I am not sure whether East Timor, or Timor Loro Sae to give it its new and proper name, should be considered part of the Oceania region. I understand that there is discussion within the country itself on this. The people are Melanesians but its location is in the Asian rather than the Pacific region. Following the East Timor vote for independence from Indonesia on August 30, 1999, and the subsequent campaign of terror and murder by the militias and the Indonesian armed forces, over 250,000 East Timorese were in refugee camps in West Timor by the end of September. Some 50,000 were in other parts of Indonesia and 40,000 were displaced in the East Timorese enclave Oecussi in West Timor. A few thousand were in Australia and New Zealand. By March this year, anyone who wanted to get back from Australia and New Zealand is back, but still some 110,000 remain in West Timor, unable to return to their villages because it is not yet safe. In districts close to the Western border attacks from militia still occur. In addition Timor Loro Sae experiences huge displacement problems.
Even so, these are small numbers compared to the 22 million refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide. Reasons include that Oceania has a unique geographical location, isolated as it is from the rest of the world. It is simply hard to get here and our media regularly exaggerate the so-called "boat people threat". The reality is that for example in Australia, the country with the most refugees, just over 3,000 people arrived by boat without a visa into Australia between 1990 and 1999. Not tens of thousands a year as prophets of doom and racial prejudice would have us believe. Compare this to the 250,000 Burmese who flooded into Bangladesh in the early 1990s, the four million Afghans into neighbouring countries, the millions in Africa and the well over 100,000 applying in Germany annually. Small numbers indeed: Oceania is home to only 0.6 percent of all refugees and internally displaced persons world-wide.
Globalization and immigration policies10
The trend is clear: there is increasing migration and, though fluctuating year by year, a steady increase in refugees and asylum seekers.
The response to this trend is a counter trend: the wealthier nations - the ones who are most in favour of the freeing of trade, opening of markets, and championing consumer choice - are responding with a tightening of their geographical borders for both migrants and asylum seekers.
Ironically, globalization in the narrow sense of opening up of borders to allow free trade and movement of capital is not accompanied by an equivalent freedom of migration. Free flow of capital and business activities have seen companies relocate to countries where cheap labour is available. In this way industrialized countries have discovered how to benefit from a cheap labour supply without having to allow new immigrants within their borders. At the same time, the economic benefit of this free flow to the countries in the Third World is debatable11. Profits are often not reinvested in the country where the wealth was produced. Workers run the risk of being reduced to new 'serfs', bound to movable capital which chooses from one time to the next those circumstances where personnel is cheapest12.
As regards to refugees, Governments of industrialized states have introduced an array of different measures, intended to prevent or deter people from seeking refuge on their territory. Governments claim large scale 'abuse' of asylum claims of people who really wish to immigrate for economic reasons. These people, they say have no other means of gaining admittance to their country because of tightened immigration rules13. The Immigration Service in New Zealand stated recently: over 70 % of all claims of refugees seeking asylum in New Zealand are found to be non-genuine. At a cost of NZ$30,000 per person, the costs arising from non-genuine claims are a key issue for the Government14.
A good example of this restrictive trend in our own region was the move of the NZ government in October 1998 to introduce a visa requirement for Indonesian citizens where no such requirement had existed before. The growing economic and political unrest in Indonesia motivated this move, in order to prevent Indonesians from entering New Zealand and then claiming refugee status. In Australia, the Migration Act has progressively been more and more refined to make it very difficult for people who come to Australia to be granted refugee status on shore15.
Immigration and refugee policies are complex and vary considerably from country to country. For example, the Australian Migration Act is acknowledged to be one of the most complex laws in Australia, on par with its tax and company laws16. In the short time span of my talk it is impossible to give an accurate description of the policies of each of the countries in the region.
To sum up the first part of my talk: while immigration and refugee pressures are increasing, the wealthier countries in the world, including in our own region, have made regulations regarding immigration and asylum seekers more restrictive. Superficially this appears to be having its intended effect. Even though the global scale of forced displacement has continued to grow, the total number of asylum applications submitted in the wealthier regions of the world has diminished significantly in the past few years - though not yet in our part. But this outcome has been achieved at considerable costs. First, the standard of protection available to refugees and asylum seekers has declined. Second, the asylum flow is diverted to other parts of the world, often to countries that are in the least position to accept them. Third, the scale of human trafficking has increased substantially17.
The Church' s point of view
Moving to the second part of my speech: what is the Church's perspective and what issues does it identify as of particular concern? The rights of immigrants are a theme of extraordinary importance in Catholic social teaching. The institution of Migration Sunday dates back to 1914. The universal Church has spoken out repeatedly, reflecting the comment by Pope John Paul II that migration is a problem whose urgency increases with its complexity18. Every year the Pope brings out a substantial statement for Migrants' Sunday on some aspect of migration. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People brings out statements, organizes seminars, gives addresses and publishes documents presenting the Church's official position on migration and refugee issues19.
The Church recognizes there is evident tension between the right of States to regulate the arrival and admission of foreign nationals and the right of people to seek and enjoy a new start in other countries. There is also evident tension between the right to leave one's country, in other words to emigrate - as stated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights -, and the absence of a right to immigrate. The Church asks what the right to emigrate is worth without the corresponding right to immigrate20.
In essence, the Church's position is based on two lines of reasoning. The first one centers around human rights and the principle of the universal destination of created goods. The second line of reasoning is based on the concept of the common good.
First line of reasoning:
The second line of reasoning follows the first:
The two lines of reasoning (human rights and common good) are linked with each other in the Christian view of the human being, or Christian anthropology rights are part and parcel of responsibilities (in the sense that the human rights of others are really my responsibilities) and the common good in my country cannot be separated from the good of the human family, wherever its members may live (because we are inter-dependent).
The pursuit of the common good is a moral task for governments, groups in societies, and individuals. The common good is a moral vision that calls for altruism, self-restraint and a long term commitment to develop community. It is based on the Christian understanding of what human nature is meant to be: one of loving relationship with God and with other human beings. Communities based on the common good do not arise naturally out of a sense of self-interest. The notion of the common good is idealistic in that promotion of the common good would demand, in many countries, citizens to give up advantages and privilege30.
Ordering priorities between the conflicting claims of what is good for different people and different groups in society can only be done on the basis of what the Pope calls a hierarchy of values31. In the same way, we can only resolve the conflicting claims of what is the common good in one country, and what is the common good of others outside that country, if the moral vision of the true nature and purpose of human beings is understood. It is here in particular that Christian thinking is decidedly counter-cultural. It contrasts sharply with contemporary conceptions of human rights that give priority to freedom as personal autonomy32.
Freedom in the Christian thinking is determined (secular thinking would say: ÂÂlimitedÂÂ) by what is compatible with human creaturehood. True freedom is only found in being true to ourselves as authentic human beings, to be the creatures God made us to be. Freedom is conditioned by its source, which is union with God in Christ. Freedom is subservient to love of God and love of neighbour; and this is the yardstick (the hierarchy of values) by which human rights are to be prioritized.
Love of God and love of neighbour cannot condone rights-claims that allow some to enjoy luxury while others lack food, shelter and medical care33. The rights of one person are the responsibility of another person. Just as all have rights, all have responsibilities. The prime responsibility is not: to look after ourselves, to be independent (as neo-liberal thinking has it) but to ensure that the rights of others are met. There is no doubt that Christians are to be open-handed and open-armed towards migrants and refugees.
The President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants could not have said it more succinctly: The situation of migration today is difficult and sad34.
There are a large number of concerns: the definition of refugees and the way asylum seekers are treated, the lack of support for refugees and the situation of the illegal migrants, the formulation of immigration policies and the tightening of borders and hearts and minds, the effects of out-migration and the tension between expectations and values.
A first concern regards the definition of refugee. First, the good things: Countries in the region honour the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol. Australia and New Zealand are two of only ten countries in the world that accept refugees for permanent settlement on a quota system: Australia accepts 2,000 and New Zealand 750 refugees who are identified by the UNHCR as priority protection cases. In fact, both take on more refugees for permanent settlement than any other country in the world as a percentage of their population. On the other hand, they get very few asylum seekers compared to the hundreds of thousands in Europe and elsewhere.
The real concern is with asylum seekers, that is those who apply for refugee status. For many people working in the field, the current low recognition rates of asylum seekers who are considered genuine by the authorities, reflect the increasingly restrictive refugee and migration policies pursued by the affluent countries. Countries demand that refugees show that they have been singled out for persecution if they are to be granted refugee status rather than that they come from countries that are affected by more generalized forms of violence. This demand is indeed according to the letter of the 1951 UN ConventionÂÂs definition of who is a refugee, but the Church, among others, is calling for a broader refugee concept. In December 1993, the Council of Episcopal Conferences in Europe asked for a new definition to cover persons fleeing from general violence, internal conflicts, massive violations of human rights or other serious disturbances of the public order. The Council of Episcopal Conferences in Europe also called for a supra-national appeals authority. It accepted that Governments have a right to impose control on arrival and admission of foreign nationals but it questioned the extent to which those controls are consistent with international refugee law and humanitarian norms. An example is the disgraceful way in which Australia denied, in May 1998, refugee status to East Timorese asylum seekers by declaring them Portuguese citizens and therefore not in need of protection. This was doubly ironic because at that time Australia recognized Indonesia's sovereignty over East Timor.
The Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration drew attention to the link between migrants and refugees in an address in the Vatican in October 1998: We can no longer be as certain as we were in the past about equating 'involuntary' to refugee movement and 'voluntary' to economic migration. When we examine the root causes of some flows of the so called economic migration - population growth, natural resources exhaustion, shrinking economic bases and employment opportunities, environmental deterioration, and huge gaps in health, education and social service - we can hardly think that migrants involved move by choice. Undoubtedly, most would much prefer to remain at home if that were a viable option35. Personally I was pleased to see that a mainstream magazine as Time devoted a lead article in February 2000 to explain the increase in people fleeing for environmental reasons, calling them, and rightly so, refugees36.
A second concern is the way asylum seekers are treated. As a consequence of a rise in asylum seekers, Australia and New Zealand introduced administrative and regulatory changes, such as the way the applications are processed, the denial of work permits and other benefits to claimants, and more restrictive review and appeal procedures37. Asylum seekers are detained for extended periods and often in unacceptable conditions. Both in New Zealand and Australia, asylum seekers have gone on hunger strikes to protest against their living conditions. Governments argue that difficult living conditions in camps are necessary as a deterrent for other asylum seekers to enter the country. Firstly, that is questionable but more importantly, it is morally wrong for the end to justify the means when in effect this leads to the violation of the human rights of asylum seekers. The President of the Refugee Council of Australia has detailed 11 specific areas of concern regarding asylum seekers, including airport turnarounds, access to benefits, access to legal advice and professional assistance and visa control38.
A third concern is the inadequate support for those who have been accepted either as refugees or as immigrants. Support varies from country to country but nowhere is it adequate; New Zealand is especially bad in this respect. In addition to the obvious needs such as assistance to find work, learn the language and the way their new country operates, refugees have special needs as survivors of often horrendous experiences.
A fourth concern relates to illegal migrants. Illegal immigration should be prevented, but it is also essential to combat vigorously the criminal activities which exploit illegal immigrants. For example, early this year a Korean in New Zealand was fined $8,000 for having obtained a NZ passport from an immigration consultant for the sum of $19,000. Immigration rackets thrive. In February this year, building sites in Auckland were raided and illegal immigrants deported. Illegal immigrants can be exploited with wages even lower than the legal minimum wage, let alone receive what equivalent workers are paid for similar jobs39.
A fifth concern is the formulation of migration policies: who decides who will be allowed in? The key questions when formulating immigration policy will always be: how many immigrants should be admitted; on what basis should applicants be admitted, and what is needed for smooth settlement? Numbers will depend on the resources and demographics of a country. Less populated countries can cope with an admittance of at least one percent of its population as new migrants per year. With regard to who should be admitted, immigration categories and requirements vary from country to country and moreover are regularly changed by governments. There are usually three reasons for admittance: the immigrant brings money and investments, the immigrants brings skills and qualifications of use to the receiving country, and third, the immigrant is accepted for humanitarian reasons. The weighing of these three reasons varies between countries and from time to time, but generally economic self interest for the country has become the overwhelming reason.
Many more people want to immigrate into some of the countries in Oceania, especially New Zealand and Australia, than are being accepted. Christians in those countries need to advocate a closer link between migration levels and the capacity to absorb migrants. For some countries, this capacity is large; for others small. For all countries the capacity can change depending on the willingness of citizens to welcome migrants in their midst as a net positive addition to their country.
A sixth concern is the changed situation in some of the receiving countries40. When countries tighten their borders, an unwelcoming atmosphere is created in which racism and xenophobia flourish. Structural unemployment in Australia and New Zealand increases the chance that not only illegal but even legal migrant workers are exploited when they do find work. It also increases hostility against migrants accused of "stealing" opportunities from local workers. More recent migrants have a higher chance of being unemployed. For example, the unemployment rate among Pacific Islanders in New Zealand is more than double the national average. The weakening of the social welfare systems in wealthier countries has led to tougher rules for access to benefits for migrants and generally less support. This worsens their isolation and loneliness. The pressure to assimilate, that is to give up one's culture and identity, becomes stronger in such an environment, and a sense of disorientation becomes more common.
A seventh concern is the effect of out-migration on the Pacific Islanders' home countries. Emigration diminishes pressure on their limited resources in terms of jobs and land; remittances of money earned help the economy of several Pacific countries41. Remittances have also led to a rising demand for export goods and less reliance on the traditional semi-subsistence lifestyles. Some Pacific countries have thus become vulnerable to recession in traditional host countries such as New Zealand. In addition, when migrants return to their home country, they often find it difficult to resume their place in the local community because of their encounter with different values and different aspirations. This was a concern expressed by several Bishops participating in the Synod of Bishops for Oceania, November-December 1998 in Rome.
This leads directly to concern number eight: the tension between new expectations and old values for migrants in their new country. This tension is especially noticeable among the children of migrants. One of the challenges in my own Archdiocese, for example, is to help Pacific Island students in Catholic schools handle the pressures of coping with two cultures and with the need to succeed academically, especially where English is not spoken at home. A disproportionate number of Pacific Islanders leave New Zealand schools without qualifications and work in low-skill jobs. In terms of income, employment, housing, health and so on, Pacific Islanders in New Zealand have poor socio-economic status. Comprehensive strategies of governmental agencies are needed to ensure that genuine integration, rather than forced assimilation or de-facto marginalization, takes place.
Solutions and practical actions
The third part of my talk outlines the actions we can take. The already large numbers of refugees and migrants are increasing and will continue to increase unless many more people will become committed to finding solutions. Migration policies have always been a sensitive political issue, frequently arousing public debate and media attention. As followers of Christ, we have the responsibility to be involved since the human rights of others are at stake. We can bring the Church's viewpoint and concerns into the public debate, and contribute to solutions.
Solutions fall in two groups: the first group of solutions attempts to deal with the causes of migration, the second group with the effects of migration. Dealing with the causes is far more difficult than dealing with the effects. Many of us here may feel, and understandably so, that dealing with the causes exceeds our personal capacities. However, we should be aware that we limit our efforts and effectiveness if we do not advocate ways of dealing with the causes.
Solutions related to the causes of migration
The need for migration would diminish if the sending countries were stronger and more robust economically and socially. Pope John Paul II has given very clear guidelines on what is needed for this, such as correcting the current financial and economic systems, renewal of international law and institutions, and debt reduction42. All this is far from easy and requires international cooperation. I concur with Adrian Hastings43, who wrote a somber analysis of priorities in the years to come: Almost all the major problems of the twenty-first century will be basically global and only able to be handled effectively by strong global government, yet the world is entering this century with a United Nations organization which has been steadily weakened for decades and whose structures are riddled with corruption and inefficiency. The UN could not conceivably cope with any of the problems ahead without radical reform, a reform which none of the major powers is interested in supporting and on lines which no one has seriously thought about.
Dealing with the causes of migration will lead us to work with development agencies, United NationsÂÂ associations, Third World debt campaigners, activists questioning the values and direction of the WTO, APEC and other bodies championing free trade as the be all and end all. It leads us to work with those involved in the small arms and anti-landmine campaigns as the causes of migration lie increasingly with large-scale public disorder. This disorder can become deadly when combined with a flourishing arms trade. It will lead us to give strong support to the environmental movement. To quote Adrian Hastings once more: By the middle of the century people will be cursing [t]his entire political generation worldwide for doing so little to diminish the advance of global warming when something was still possible. They will recognize that the beginning of the century was the last moment at which humanity could actually have worked out a coherent counter-strategy. They will mourn the blindness of their parents who played the fool so spectacularly with millennium domes while the worldÂÂs forests were cut down and motor cars proliferated. For those of us who see what is happening, there is a double ob1igation. First, to do all in our power to bring the world's leadership to its senses while something can still be done to limit the scale of the disaster. Secondly, [...] to prepare ourselves and small communities of sanity and faith to live undespairingly within it.
Responding to the effects of migration
The second group of solutions deals with the effects of migration44. Three forms of action are called for:
A very specific worry is the right of migrant workers to family re-unification. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants has called on Catholics in countries that receive migrant workers, to campaign for the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of all Migrant Workers and the Members of their Families45. This Convention was introduced by the UN in 1990. By March 1999, it had 12 signatories, all of them from migrant sending countries in the Third World, except for the European country Bosnia-Herzegovina. No migrant receiving country has signed so far nor are they likely to do so without public pressure.
Over and above the sort of action mentioned with regard to migrants, specific action for refugees would also include:
Action within our parishes and dioceses46
Some of the migrants and refugees will be Catholics. This brings me to a final set of actions we can take. They take place in our parishes and dioceses and include:
To conclude: the issues surrounding migrants and refugees are urgent and complex. They will not go away but will become more pronounced. They are uncomfortable for us who are comfortable, but a matter of life and death for millions.
As followers of Jesus, we have no choice but to become involved with causes and effects of migration. Undoubtedly there will be rewards, of one sort or another. Who knows? As the Letter to the Hebrews has it: remember always to welcome strangers for by doing so some have entertained angels without knowing it.
*Presentation at a seminar on the promotion of Catholic social teaching, organised by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in collaboration with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 22 may 2000, Melbourne.
1 Pope John Paul II, The Church and Illegal Immigrants, Message for World Migration Day 1996, LÂÂOsservatore Romano, 13 September 1995.
2 World Bank, Development Report 1995 estimated l25 million; the magazine Society, May 1999 estimated an increase of 4 million annually.
3 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Annual Report 1999.
4 United Nations Commission on Population and Development, Report of the Secretary General, Concise Report on World Population, International Migration and Development, 1997.
5 United Nations Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis, Population Division, (ST/ESA/SERA/154) has a table of migration in Oceania ( 1996). The table gives the estimated total number of international migrants who lived in the country on 1 January l990. It also gives the percentage of migrants in the total population. Australia has a population of 18.5 million people. Of those, nearly 4 million people where not born there. The migrant population of Australia is a very high 21.6% of the population. Even higher is Nauru with a population of which 53% in 1990 was immigrant. The table includes both permanent and temporary migrants, which explains some of the figures, for example for Niue and Cook Islands, which are typically countries from which people leave (for example 64% of all Cook Islanders live in New Zealand and 82% of all Niue-ens) rather than countries where people settle permanently.
6 United Nations Commission on Population and Development, Report of the Secretary General, Concise Report on World Population, International Migration and Development, 1997. Other countries are USA and Canada.
7 The Dominion, 23 February 2000.
8 New Internationalist, September 1994.
9 Bishop Gerald Loft, SM., A summary of a report on the situation in Guadacanal, Solomon Islands, 09/07/99.
10 Stephen Castles, Development, Social Transformation and Globalization, June 1999, Centre for Asia and Pacific Social Transformation Studies. He defines globalization as the widening, deepening and speeding up of worldwide connectedness in all aspects of contemporary social life, from the cultural to the criminal, the financial to the spiritual (Stephen Castles in www.uow.edu.au/research/centres/capstrans/pubs/castles.html). Its characteristics are: rapid economic flows esp. of trade and capital; information technology, media, new forms of urbanization; and the compression of time-space. Castles notes three approaches to globalization: hyperglobalisers, skeptics and transformationalists.
11 HE Mgsr Stephen Hamao, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, pointed out that in theory the opening up of the world's capital through investment would benefit the South countries, in practice it is not clear that this is the case. See: The Migrants' Plight at the End of the Second Millennium, Manila. 8 June 1999, in People on the Move, September 1999, Vatican City.
12 Pope John Paul II, Address to the Vatican Congress on Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, 9 October 1998, in LÂÂOsservatore Romano, 4 November 1998.
13 The United Nations Commission on Population and Development makes the point that in terms of relative poverty within their country, most out-migrants are in the middle income scale of the country of origin. Serious poverty is more likely to produce powerlessness than migration. See reference in note 4.
14 The Dominion, January 12, 2000.
15 David Bitel, Refugee Law and the Refugee Council of Australia, speech to the Refugee Council of New Zealand, Auckland, 27 March 1999.
17 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The State of the World's Refugees 1997-1998.
19 a good example is Refugees: A Challenge to Solidarity, Joint Statement by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, LÂÂOsservatore Romano, 3 October 1992.
21 see for example Pope John Paul II in Christifideles Laici, 1988, section 37: To rediscover, and make others rediscover the inviolable dignity of every human person makes up an essential task, in a certain sense, the central and unifying task of the service which the Church, and the lay faithful in her, are called to render to the human family.
22 Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 1965, section 26: At the same time, however, there is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of the human person, who stands above all things, and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. He ought therefore to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example food, clothing, housing, the right freely to choose his state of life and set up a family, the right to education, work, to his good name, to respect, to proper knowledge, the right to act according to the dictates of conscience and to safeguard his privacy, and rightful freedom even in matters of religion.
23 for example, Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, section 23, 1981: Man has the right to leave his native land for various motives - and also the right to return - in order to seek better conditions in another country.
24 Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, section 69, 1965: God destined the earth and all it contains for all men and all peoples so that all created things would be shared fairly by all mankind under the guidance of justice tempered by charity. No matter what the structures of property are in different peoples, according to various and changing circumstances and adapted to their lawful institutions, we must never lose sight of this universal destination of earthly goods.
25 Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, section 74, 1965: The political community, then, exists for the common good: this is its full justification and meaning and the source to its specific and basic right to exist. The common good embraces the sum total of all those conditions of social life which enable individuals, families, and organizations to achieve complete and efficacious fulfillment.
26 for example, Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, section 132, 1963: The unity of the human family has always existed, because its members are human beings all equal by virtue of their natural dignity. Hence there will always exist the objective need to promote, in sufficient measure, the universal common good, that is the common good of the entire human family.
27 for example, Pontifical Council for Culture, Towards a Pastoral Approach to Culture, May 23, 1999: While the rights of a nation express ÂÂparticularÂÂ requirements, it is no less important to emphasize universal requirements, with the duties they imply for each nation regarding other nations and humankind as a whole. The primary duty is undoubtedly to live in a spirit of peace, respect and solidarity with others.
28 for example, Pope John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace, 2000, section 6: It is necessary, then, to abandon ideas and practices - often determined by powerful economic interests - which subordinate every other value to the absolute claims of the nation and the State. In this new perspective, the political, cultural and institutional divisions and distinctions by which humanity is ordered and organized are legitimate in so far as they are compatible with the membership in the one human family, and with the ethical and legal requirements which stem from this.
29 for example, Pope John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace, 2000, section 7: This principle has an immensely important consequence: an offense against human rights is an offense against the conscience of humanity as such, an offense against humanity itself. The duty of protecting these rights therefore extends beyond the geographical and political borders within which they are violated. Crimes against humanity cannot be considered an internal affair of a nation.
30 see Neil Vaney SM, Human Rights and the Theological Tradition, in Human Rights and the Common Good, Victoria University Press, New Zealand, 1999
31 Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, section 47, 1991: [the common good] is not simply the sum total of particular interests; rather it involves an assessment and integration of those interests on the basis of a balanced hierarchy of values; ultimately, it demands a correct understanding of the dignity and the rights of the person.
32 see Chris Marshall, Human Rights in the Biblical Tradition, in Human Rights and the Common Good, Victoria University Press, New Zealand. 1999.
33 The excellent compilation of over 450 pages by Giorgio Filibeck on human rights in the teaching of the Church, gives a comprehensive overview of human rights. See Giorgio Filibeck Human Rights in the Teaching of the Church: from John XXIII to John Paul II, Vatican City, 1994. See also the two volumes by Rodger Charles SJ, Christian Social Witness and Teaching, the Catholic Tradition from Genesis to Centesimus Annus, Fowler Wright Books, UK, 1998. Human rights imply responsibilities. They are basically two: to ensure that the rights of others are met; and to live one's own life ÂÂbecominglyÂÂ, that is, in accordance with God's plan for us to live in relationship with God and our brothers and sisters.
35 Mrs Narcisa Escaler, International Organization for Migration Statement, IV International Congress on Migration, Vatican City, October 1998
36 F1eeing from Nature,Time magazine, February 7, 2000
37 from an editorial in The Dominion, New Zealand, January 13, 2000: Applications for refugee status must be properly considered but the fact that 70 percent are rejected shows the extent to which the system is abused. Civil libertarians will no doubt object to any tightening of appeal provisions. But each false application costs taxpayers an average of $30,000 and the annual bill has scared above $60 million. Those are 60 million good reasons to stem the flow.
39 The Dominion, February 12, 2000
40 International Labour Organization, Migrants facing risks of abuse and exploitation, World of Work, June 1997
41 It has been calculated that in the early nineties remittances were over US$70 billion annually and over $31 billion from First to Third World countries. This figure is the equivalent to two-thirds of all official development aid. See: Migration News, June 1994.
42 It requires the pursuit of balanced economic development, elimination of social inequalities, respect for the human person and smooth functioning of democratic structures in emigrating countries (Pope John Paul II, in Address to the Vatican Congress of Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, 9 October 1998). It also requires the taking of measures to correct the current economic and financial system, dominated and manipulated by industrialized nations at the expense of developing countries (Pope John Paul II, idem). What is also needed is a renewal of international law and international institutions, a renewal whose starting point and basic organizing principle should be the primacy of the good of humanity and of the human person over every other consideration (Pope John Paul II, World Peace Day Message 2000). Finally, the rich nations need to reduce substantially, if not cancel outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations (Pope John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, section 51)
43 Adrian Hastings, Beware Apocalypse, UK Tablet, 8 January 2000
44 Organizations to contact in Australia and New Zealand are: Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, GPO Box 2720, Canberra; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. New Zealand Refugee and Migrant Service, PO Box 11-236, Manners Street, Wellington; email: email@example.com
45 see reference 11 and also Dr Giorgio Filibeck, The Right of Family Reunification in the Church' Social Teachings, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in Proceedings of the XIII Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, October 1995
46 Pope John Paul II, Parish has essential role in welcoming the stranger, Message for World Migration Day for 1999, LÂÂOsservatore Romano, 24 February l999
47 Pope John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1997
La struttura delle popolazioni di gran parte dell'Oceania, è il risultato di vecchie colonizzazioni, in particolare in Australia e Nuova Zelanda, ma anche in Nuova Caledonia e nelle isole Fiji. In questi paesi, la popolazione indigena ha fronteggiato un'immigrazione forzata su larga scala, tanto da diventare una minoranza marginale. La loro identità e cultura non sempre sono rispettate.
Paragonata al resto del mondo, l'Oceania ha molti più migranti che rifugiati. L'Australia e la Nuova Zelanda hanno avuto un'immigrazione molto netta mentre il resto della regione ha soprattutto sperimentato l'immigrazione. Tra i quattro paesi che, nel mondo, ammettono un numero significativo di immigrati destinati ad istallarsi permanentemente, due si trovano in Oceania: l'Australia e la Nuova Zelanda.
La maggior parte delle isole del Pacifico, d'altra parte, sono piccole con risorse e terre limitate. Le pressioni socio-economiche e ambientali incoraggiano le migrazioni. Non tutti i migranti hanno l'intenzione di restare nei loro nuovi paesi. Tra i migranti temporanei ci sono gli operai stagionali e quelli che utilizzano questi paesi come tappe intermedie.
Tutti i migranti permanenti devono far fronte alle sfide dell'integrazione in una popolazione già stabilita. Mentre nel passato veniva chiesto ai migranti di assimilarsi, ora l'integrazione è considerata più umana e dunque un approccio più valido. In realtà, gli immigrati devono spesso battersi contro i pregiudizi e il razzismo.
Le persone spostate all'interno possono creare tensioni e vedersi forzate ad una migrazione esterna e a partire come rifugiati. È quanto è successo con la politica di transmigrasi dell'Indonesia, che ha causato tensioni tra indonesiani di Giava che sono andati in Irian Jaya e la popolazione locale.
Nel mondo assistiamo ad un aumento regolare del numero di rifugiati; quello dei richiedenti asilo e dei candidati all'immigrazione hanno tendenza ad aumentare. La risposta dei paesi di destinazione più ricchi è di chiudere le loro frontiere geografiche. L'apertura delle frontiere al libero mercato e al movimento dei capitali non è accompagnata da un'equivalente libertà di migrazione. Nelle zone in via di sviluppo in cui le industrie si sono istallate per approfittare di una manodopera a buon mercato, è raro che i profitti siano investiti nel paese. Così i lavoratori rischiano di essere ridotti allo stato di nuovi "servi", legati alla mobilità dei capitali.
I governi hanno anche introdotto misure per impedire alle persone di cercare rifugio sul loro territorio. Il risultato è che le norme di protezione di cui possono godere i rifugiati e i richiedenti asilo tende a diminuire e il flusso di questi richiedenti è inviato verso paesi che non sono in grado di riceverli. Possiamo aggiungere che aumenta anche il traffico umano.
I diritti degli immigrati costituiscono un tema d'importanza capitale nella dottrina sociale cattolica e la Chiesa universale ha spesso proclamato l'urgenza e la complessità dei problemi legati alla migrazione. La Chiesa riconosce la tensione esistente tra il diritto dei paesi a regolare l'arrivo e l'ammissione degli stranieri e il diritto della gente a cercare una nuova partenza in un altro paese. Essa chiede che il diritto ad emigrare sia valido senza pur tuttavia esigere un diritto corrispondente ad immigrare.
Ogni individuo è dotato di diritti umani e inalienabili che bisogna rispettare, e i beni della creazione sono destinati a tutti. Allo stesso tempo, l'individuo non può agire senza prendere in considerazione il bene comune della famiglia umana e di tutti i suoi membri. I diritti umani e il bene comune nel mio paese non può essere separato dal bene della famiglia umana. Il bene comune è una visione morale basata sulla concezione cristiana di cosa è la natura umana: un rapporto d'amore con Dio e con gli altri esseri umani.
Otto sono i problemi da risolvere per quanto riguarda i rifugiati: la definizione di rifugiato, il modo di trattare i richiedenti asilo, la mancanza di sostegno ai rifugiati, la situazione dei migranti illegali, la formulazione di una politica d'immigrazione, la chiusura delle frontiere, dei cuori e delle menti, gli effetti dell'immigrazione sui paesi d'origine e la tensione tra le attese e i valori.
Possiamo dividere le soluzioni ai problemi della migrazione in due gruppi: il primo gruppo include lo sviluppo socio-economico dei paesi d'origine e la correzione dei sistemi finanziari ed economici correnti, la riforma della legge e delle istituzioni internazionali e la riduzione del debito. Il secondo gruppo include tre forme d'azione: entrare in una relazione personale con il nuovo migrante, lÂÂindividuo o la famiglia; assistere i migranti perché possano profittare di servizi quali la scuola, la salute e i benefici sociali, denunciando la discriminazione, combattendo le procedure legali ingiuste, influenzando l'opinione pubblica, dando un'informazione, basata sui fatti, sulla situazione reale nei paesi d'origine di questi migranti.
Per quanto riguarda i rifugiati, l'azione dovrebbe includere: favorire una nuova definizione di rifugiato, migliorare i sistemi e le procedure di richiesta d'asilo, coscientizzare l'opinione pubblica, il dialogo bi e multilaterale tra i paesi riceventi i rifugiati e quelli che li producono, aiutare a migliorare le condizioni nei campi rifugiati, facilitare la riunificazione familiare.
Le parrocchie e le diocesi possono intraprendere un certo numero di azioni nei confronti dei migranti e dei rifugiati. Ciò vuol dire incoraggiare i migranti e i rifugiati a partecipare alla vita parrocchiale locale e aiutare i parrocchiani ad aprirsi ai migranti e ai figli di questi, trovare per loro dei pastori della propria lingua e cultura, aiutarli a conservare ed apprezzare la propria cultura sostenendo la loro corale, la scuola della domenica, ecc., e sostenere gli studenti migranti nelle scuole cattoliche.
Ricordati di accogliere sempre lo straniero, poiché facendo questo alcuni hanno accolto degli angeli senza saperlo.
La structure des populations d'une grande partie de l'Océanie, est le résultat d'anciennes colonisations, spécialement en Australie et Nouvelle-Zélande, mais aussi en Nouvelle-Calédonie et au Fidji. Dans ces pays, la population indigène a supporté une immigration forcée à grande échelle et est devenue elle-même une minorité marginale dans son propre pays. Leur identité et culture ne sont pas toujours respectés
Comparée au reste du monde, la région d'Océanie a beaucoup plus de migrants que de réfugiés. L'Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande ont eu une immigration très nette alors que le reste de l'Océanie a surtout fait l'expérience de l'immigration. Parmi les quatre pays dans le monde qui admettent des nombres significatifs d'immigrants pour s'installer de façon permanente, deux sont en Océanie : l'Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande.
La plupart des îles du Pacifique, d'autre part, sont petites, avec des ressources et des terres limitées. Les pressions socio-économiques et environnementales encouragent les migrations. Ce ne sont pas tous les migrants qui ont l'intention de rester dans leurs nouveaux pays. Parmi les migrants temporaires il y a les ouvriers temporaires et ceux qui utilisent ces pays comme étapes intermédiaires.
Tous les migrants permanents doivent faire face aux défis de l'intégration dans une population déjà établie. Alors que l'on demandait par le passé aux immigrants de s'assimiler, c'est maintenant l'intégration qui est considérée comme plus humaine et donc comme une approche plus valable. En réalité, les immigrants ont souvent à se battre contre les préjugés et le racisme.
Les personnes déplacées à l'intérieur peuvent créer des tensions et se voir forcées à une migration externe et au départ comme réfugiés. C'est cela qui est arrivé avec la politique de transmigrasi de l'Indonésie, causant des tensions entre indonésiens de Java qui sont allés en Irian Jaya et la population locale.
Dans le monde, il y a une augmentation régulière du nombre des réfugiés, celui des demandeurs d'asile et des candidats à l'immigration ont tendance à augmenter. La réponse des pays de destination plus riche est de fermer leurs frontières géographiques. L'ouverture des frontières au libre marché et au mouvement des capitaux ne s'accompagne pas d'une liberté équivalente de migration. Dans les contrées en voie de développement où les industries sont installées pour profiter d'une maind'oeuvre à bon marché, il est rare que les profits soient investis dans le pays. Ainsi, les travailleurs sont en danger d'être réduit à l'état de nouveaux "serfs", liés à la mobilité des capitaux.
Les gouvernements ont aussi introduit des mesures pour empêcher les gens chercher refuge sur leur territoire. Le résultat est que les normes de protection dont peuvent jouir les réfugiés et les demandeurs d'asile tend à diminuer et que le flot de ces demandeurs est envoyé vers des pays qui ne sont pas en position de les recevoir. On peut ajouter qu'augmente aussi le trafic humain.
Les droits des immigrants sont un thème d'importance capitale dans la doctrine sociale catholique et l'Eglise universelle a souvent proclamé l'urgence et la complexité des problèmes liés à la migration. L'Eglise reconnaît la tension existant entre le droit des pays à réguler l'arrivée et l'admission d'étrangers et le droit des gens à chercher un nouveau départ dans un autre pays. Elle demande que le droit à émigrer soit valable sans pour autant exiger un droit correspondant à immigrer.
Chaque individu est doté de droits humains et inaliénables qu'il faut respecter, et les biens de la création sont destinés à tous. En même temps, l'individu ne peut pas agir sans prendre en considération le bien commun de la famille humaine et de tous ses membres. Les droits humains et le bien commun sont liés dans la vision chrétienne de l'être humain. Les droits font partie des responsabilités et le bien commun dans mon pays ne peut pas être séparé du bien de la famille humaine. Le bien commun est une vision morale qui est basée sur la conception chrétienne de ce qu'est la nature humaine : une relation d'amour avec Dieu et avec les autres êtres humains.
Il y a huit problèmes concernant les réfugiés qu'il faut résoudre : la définition du réfugié, la manière de traiter les demandeurs d'asile, le manque de soutien aux réfugiés, la situation des migrants illégaux, la formulation de politique d'immigration, le resserrement des frontières, des coeurs et des esprits, les effets de l'immigration sur les pays d'origine et la tension entre les attentes et les valeurs.
On peut diviser en deux groupes les solutions aux problèmes de la migration : le premier groupe inclut le développement socio-économique des pays d'origine et la correction des systèmes financiers et économiques courant, la réforme de la loi et des institutions internationales, et la réduction de la dette. Le second groupe inclut trois formes d'action : entrer dans une relation personnelle avec le nouveau migrant, individu ou famille; assister les migrants pour qu'il puisse profiter des services comme l'école, la santé et les acquis sociaux ; finalement le soutien public, en parlant sans détours, en dénonçant la discrimination, en combattant les procédures légales injustes, en influençant l'opinion publique, en donnant une information basée sur des faits sur la situation réelle dans les pays d'origine de ces migrants.
En ce qui concerne les réfugiés, l'action devrait inclure: favoriser une nouvelle définition du réfugié, améliorer les systèmes et procédures de demande d'asile, conscientiser l'opinion publique, le dialogue bi- et multilatéral entre pays recevant les réfugiés et ceux qui les produisent, aider à améliorer les conditions dans les camps de réfugiés, faciliter la réunification des familles.
Un certain nombre d'actions peuvent être prises envers les migrants et les réfugiés catholiques par les paroisses et les diocèses. Cela veut dire encourager les migrants et les réfugiés à participer à la vie paroissiale et aider les paroissiens locaux à s'ouvrir aux migrants et à leurs enfants, trouver pour eux des pasteurs de leur propre langue et culture, les aider à garder et apprécier leur propre culture en soutenant leur chorale, école du dimanche, etc., et soutenir les étudiants migrants dans les écoles catholiques.
Rappelle-toi de toujours accueillir l'étranger, car en faisant celà certains ont accueilli des Anges sans le savoir.