Humanity is today witnessing an unprecedented flight of people across the globe resulting from many factors among them wars, famine, poverty and climate change. Hundreds and thousands of people are making death-defying journeys across the seas and on land. People are daring to cross heavily secured borders. Those who make it across often face unprecedented violence and severe human rights violations. Many have been killed in xenophobic attacks.
Stories of those in distress in the Mediterranean Sea trying to cross into Europe, and those caught up in the Southeast Asia Maritime refugee and trafficking crisis are making headlines in international news.
The underlying factor for forced migrants and refugees is that they are seeking to survive. Many are heavy hearted as they leave their lands, their ancestors, brothers and sisters, parents, friends and relatives.
The ACT Alliance Community of Practice on migration and development is actively working on raising this issue in the global arena, as we move towards the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Turkey later this year (14-16 October). In a statement, which we encourage members to make use of and pick relevant parts for your media and advocacy work, ACT Alliance recognises the efforts of mercy of churches and other faith communities, civil society organisations, and of some governments, but highlights that as a global community our inability and delay in serving and speaking makes us complicit in the human rights violations against migrants.
Therefore, the statement calls on churches and other faith communities & civil society organisations:
- To be hospitable to “the stranger”, and to open worship sanctuaries and spaces to engage and dialogue on migrant issues
- To continue to seek and listen to the voices of migrants, asylum seekers, stateless people and refugees in attempts to make appropriate response and to pray for them and with them
- To continue to provide support to migrants and refugees and stateless people at community level through access to shelter, information and services
- To influence nation states to accede to international human rights instruments that protect the human rights of migrants, refugees and their families, in particular the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and its 1967 Protocol and the 1990 UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, where states that are already signatories must live up to their related obligations for assistance and protection
We also call on governments and intergovernmental bodies to:
Take immediate measures to save the lives of migrants in jeopardy beyond their boarders and protect those already on their territories
Establish legal, comprehensive, and rights-based avenues for labour migration to destination countries in order to eliminate migrants’ dependence on unsafe and undocumented migration, and to support a self-determined approach to migration and development
Share the reception and resettlement of refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless people; and treat migrants in a humane way with respect for human dignity and according to international human rights standards
Work with countries of origin to address the root and underlying causes of FORCED migration, and to refrain from foreign engagements and policies that set populations on the move, so that migration is an option not a necessity