Report on Conference Call from Displacement of Peoples Working Group
On Tuesday 13th November in the Northern Hemisphere and Wednesday 14th ‘down under’ members of the MIA-Global Action ‘Displacement of Peoples Working Group’ linked up for a conference call meeting. Twelve members participated in what proved to be an animated and valuable discussion.
Our meeting began with a beautiful guided meditation led by Margie Taylor rsm, who took us on a journey into and through the room where Catherine McAuley died, in Baggot St. Following this there was a good exchange related to the reports circulated prior to the meeting. These provided a good overview of the work for justice the Mercy Family is engaged in under the overarching justice topic of ‘Displacement of Peoples’ that includes specific themes related to opposing human trafficking and the issue of refugees and migrants.
Angela Reed rsm, the Coordinator of the MIA-GA office in NY, updated us on recent developments in relation to the ‘UN Palermo Protocol’ that deals with the prevention and the protection of those caught up in human trafficking. The other issue Angela addressed is the ‘UN Global Compact on Migration’, designed to facilitate the safe, orderly and regular migration of the 66 million people who are on the move across the globe. This Compact is a non-binding, inter-government, negotiated agreement designed to share the responsibility for migrants fairly and through countries working together. Reflecting the tensions around migration, sadly several countries have already opted out of participation in this Global Compact. Also under negotiation is the ‘UN Global Compact on Refugees’, to address the special concerns for the 26 million asylum seekers who are escaping the horror of war and conflict or religious persecution. Their arrival in large numbers in certain parts of the world is evoking fear and resistance, issues that must be addressed if we are all to remain open and compassionate, to those seeking safety and a new life. Simultaneously Global Action is working to identify and to address the ‘root causes’ underlying the largest mass movement of migrants since World War 11.
Carole McDonald rsm and Sue Mowbray, both from Australia, spoke about the plight of the remaining children on Nauru, where many families hoping to seek asylum in Australia have been detained for a number of years. Bowing to public pressure, the Australian Government has brought most of the children – not always with their families – to the mainland for medical treatment. Hopefully all children will leave Nauru by the end of this year and be reunited with their families in Australia. Jeanne Christensen rsm and Pat Zerega MIS (Mercy Investment Services) updated the meeting, on the progress of the ‘Caravan of Migrants and Refugees’ fleeing violence and extreme poverty in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The caravan that includes around 2,500 women and children is now approaching the city of Tijuana at the US-Mexican border. Many members of the Mercy Family are working in and around the border and detention centres to greet the new migrants and to assist them obtain the basic necessities of food, clothing and medical supplies. They also support and collaborate with others, to assist those seeking asylum with their application, which is a challenging process for a most vulnerable group of people.
Kathleen Rushton rsm, prepared a thought provoking and rich theological reflection on Luke’s version of the birth of Jesus, Lk. 2:1-20. She guided us through the key elements of this familiar gospel text in a gentle yet questioning manner, ensuring that we gained new insights on a passage we all thought that we knew! This led us to agree that this Christmas, when we hear the gospel text of the birth of Jesus, it will prompt us to remember the hidden messages of justice and tradition that Kathleen alerted us to in this familiar story.
Our meeting concluded with Margie picking up the thread of Catherine’s journey again, as she read from the beautiful poem of Mary Wickham rsm, 'Baggot St Suite: Catherine's Room, Window'.
Messages to: Denise Boyle fmdm - Team Leader Mercy Global Action