Jesuit statement for World Migration Day

 Today, World Migration Day, Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) issued the following statement expressing concern about a number of issues directly affecting refugees: Our first concern is the emerging trend that some people who are in need of international protection and who would qualify for refugee status are choosing instead to go underground. They prefer to live with irregular or illegal status rather than face the process of lodging an asylum claim with all the uncertainties involved. This has been documented by, among others, UNHCR and by the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University (UK). "While there is much coverage of those asylum claims which prove unfounded," said JRS Europe Director, John Dardis, "this issue gets little attention. What it means is that these people are turning their backs on the concept of refugee since they judge that they will find more security living among the wider migrant population. A variety of reasons have been put forward to explain this. They include fear of detention, awareness that the processing of a claim can take a long time, and fear of a negative decision about their claim with consequent deportation to the country from which they fled. More research is needed to quantify the extent of this problem and to assess the reasons. A second concern on this World Migration Day which JRS wishes to highlight is the return of refugees to Afghanistan. These returns have been supported and promoted by the Danish presidency of the EU. We point out that the situation in Afghanistan can by no means be said to be stable at present and refugees are returning to a highly volatile and sometimes dangerous environment. We are especially concerned about the possibility of forced returns, as decided by the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council last week in Brussels (November 28-29). Lastly the issue of who is responsible for the processing of particular asylum claims continues to be controversial. The existing Dublin Convention means trauma for asylum seekers who are moved from one place to another and for States it has proved a burdensome and inefficient way to proceed. Revisions to this Convention (Dublin II) as discussed last week in Brussels and which are still under discussion, may bring improvement and we welcome this. However, we are alarmed that, in these discussions, asylum seekers are sometimes presented as a burden for States to pass on to each other rather than people who can bring immense contributions to European society. This attitude causes increased suspicion and xenophobia, with consequent problems for the integration of the newcomers to our societies. JRS supports addressing the issue of migration and of refugees in way which addresses the root causes of the problems. "If a real solution to the issue of migration is to be found," said John Dardis, "we need to look at the inequalities and injustices which cause it in the first place." Source: Jesuit Refugee Service - Serving Forgotten Refugees -

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