Movements of refugees in Europe:for some time now people have been on the move, people have been even “on the run”. Refugees enter Europe in Greece, or Sicily, and then run as fast as they can through the Balkan routes, and as fast as they can if governments’ policies or closed borders do not slow them down.
Movements of refugees in Europe are part of a more global challenge. Movements of refugees and forced displaced people are now a structuralphenomena in our globalised world. Let’s rememberlives on hold due to forced migration in Central America, or the displacements of refugees in Asia around Thailand.
The newness of the so-called “refugee-crisis” in Europe does not reside in the numbers of people entering and moving along the routes; neither does it reside in concerns about border control, or registration (as in the Balkan states), or other so-called “hot-spots”; and not only in setting up a humanitarian emergency response, even if concrete help is obviously needed: JRS has been responsive to these needs, with the help of numerous volunteers, and with the funds generously offered by agencies.
No, the newness of these events resides in the challenge it confronts us with, and that is to say our willingness, our capacity to build a global response to the movements.
Two questions are raised. The first: how will we be able to welcome these refugees and forcibly displaced persons in the long term? We, at JRS, we want to take this question seriously, and be concerned to build, with other partners, and especially Church or Jesuit organisations or networks, a good process of social inclusion, of integration, that will last for years.
And the second: what does it mean, for us at JRS, to accompany and serve people on the move? Some adaptation of our usual and excellent activities has to be envisaged. But the most important is to let the question be a leading question inside us, in our hearts and minds, and to seek to understand where this question actually leads us.
When something new appears, and especially when it concerns persons and human beings, we believe that the Spirit will let us know what is expected from us.
Fr Jean-Marie Carriere is Director of JRS Europe