Central American refugees flee violence

Migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — has risen steadily as violence has increased. Mary Small of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and Shaina Aber of the United States Jesuit Conference explain what is driving people to flee for their lives.

Learn more at jrsusa.org

Youth gang violence has intensified in the last decade, and as drug trafficking routes have shifted to Central America, violence associated with the drug trade has risen as well. Honduras has the highest homicide rate in world; from 2005-2012, murders of women and girls have increased 346% while murders of men and boys are up 292%. In all three countries, rates of impunity are over 90%.

Child advocates, especially from Honduras and El Salvador, report accounts of children and teenagers subject to assaults and intimidation from gangs, and of children being forcibly recruited by gangs who have “join or die” polices. In a survey conducted by UNHCR of 404 Central American children detained at the border in 2013, UNHCR found that 58% of the children might be in need of international protection.

Faith groups urge U.S. to protect child refugees

Read more on our website: http://bit.ly/1lDiUVF

Read more on our website: http://bit.ly/1lDiUVF

Jesuit Conference President Fr. Thomas Smolich S.J., far right, a member of the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Board of Directors, participated in a discussion July 24 with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, left,  and other Democratic congressional representatives on how the U.S. should respond to the humanitarian situation in Central America. Mary Small, back right, JRS/USA Assistant Director for Policy and Shaina Aber, back left, Policy Director for the National Advocacy Office at the Jesuit Conference, also took part in the meeting.

On the day of the meeting, more than 300 faith-based organizations delivered a letter to President Barack Obama and Members of Congress urging protection, care and legal counsel for the thousands of Central American children who have fled escalating violence, conflict and exploitation in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Aber said the Conference has been working on human rights issues and tracking issues of migration and violence in Central America, particularly in Honduras, for the past three years. They began to notice the migrants arriving at shelters run by the Jesuits in Mexico were getting younger. “They weren’t looking for economic opportunity but for safer lives outside of gang-ridden neighborhoods,” Aber said.

“The rhetoric we’ve been hearing recently from Congress and the administration has been disturbing,” said Aber. “They are talking about cutting down on protections the children are currently due under the law … at a time when we think Congress should be looking at what the driving factors are that are leading kids to have to flee their communities. They should be looking for ways in which we can protect these children in the tradition we have welcomed and protected other refugees in the past.”

The Jesuit Conference and Jesuit Refugee Service were two of the organizations that led the efforts in drafting the letter, which was signed by 40 national faith organizations and 269 regional and local groups from 42 states.

Read more on our website: http://bit.ly/1lDiUVF

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Positive Changes in U.S. Landmine Policy Stop Short of Immediate Ban

uscbl_logo2(Maputo, Mozambique) June 27, 2014 — Today’s announcement by the United States that it intends to join the Mine Ban Treaty in the future, and will not produce or acquire antipersonnel landmines is a positive step, but falls short of what is needed to ensure the weapons are never used again said the US Campaign to Ban Landmines. The U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Douglas M. Griffiths made the announcement today at the Mine Ban Treaty’s 3rd Review Conference in Maputo, which the U.S. is attending as an observer.

The U.S. still reserves the right to use its millions of stockpiled mines anywhere in the world until they expire, and it has not made a firm commitment to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.

It is past time for President Obama to fulfill the United States’ long-standing pledge to join the Mine Ban Treaty. The United States can and should commit to ban the use of these inhumane weapons that are no longer essential to our nation’s security or the security of U.S. allies.

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Message of solidarity, peace and hope to the people of South Sudan

(Juba, South Sudan) May 23, 2014 — The Religious Superior’s Association of South Sudan released a statement earlier this month expressing a message of “solidarity, peace and hope” to those affected by the violence in South Sudan over the past five months.

The full statement from the RSA of South Sudan:

A MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY, PEACE AND HOPE TO THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH SUDAN

“It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts of the Apostles 4:20)

We, the 75 representatives of 29 Catholic Religious Congregations belonging to the Religious Superiors’ Association of South Sudan (RSASS) that carry on evangelization offering various services in Church schools, dispensaries, hospitals and pastoral activities in dozens of parishes and missions across the seven Dioceses of South Sudan, gathered in Juba for our Annual Assembly to reflect on the Small Christian Communities, as a new way of being Church for the People of God, from 13th-15th May 2014, wish to send a message of solidarity, peace and hope to the people of South Sudan in this time of crisis and violence.

As your brothers and sisters, we are all mindful of each child, each woman, each man, each elderly person who has been affected by violence in South Sudan over the past five months. The blood of thousands of innocent people cries for justice. We cannot remain indifferent to the cry of the poor and the innocent who have lost their lives or are going through deep suffering and pain. “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil” (Genesis 4:10).

We wish, first of all, to offer our prayers for those who have fallen victims of this senseless violence and lost their lives in the various regions of the country where there are conflicts. Our hearts and our thoughts are with the bereaved families in these difficult moments of pain and loss. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:25) Read the rest of this entry »

A record 33.3 million now displaced by war worldwide

(GENEVA) May 14, 2014 — Thirty-three million people were internally displaced at the end of 2013 due to conflict and violence says a new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). This equates to a staggering increase of 4.5 million from 2012, signaling a record high for the second year running.

SetWidth240-idmc-global-overview-2014-cover-72dpiToday IDMC, part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), launched its Global Overview 2014 at the United Nations in Geneva, alongside the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The report, which covers internal displacement in 2013 highlights that a full 63% of the record breaking 33.3 million internally displaced people (IDPs) reported worldwide, come from just five countries: Syria, Colombia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan. Including figures for Nigeria for the first time, the report documents that an astounding, 3.3 million Nigerians have been displaced by conflict.

“This record number of people forced to flee inside their own countries confirms a disturbing upward trend of internal displacement since IDMC first began monitoring and analyzing displacement back in the late 90s,” says Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of NRC.

“The dramatic increase in forced displacement in 2013 and the fact that the average amount of time people worldwide are living in displacement is now a staggering 17 years, all suggest that something is going terribly wrong in how we are responding and dealing with this issue,” says Egeland.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres added: “We should all be concerned about these numbers and the continuing upwards trend. We have a shared responsibility to act to end this massive suffering. Immediate protection and assistance for the internally displaced is a humanitarian imperative.” Read the rest of this entry »

USA: Urge Your Senators to Raise the Minimum Wage

 

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No Worker Should Live in Poverty

This week, the Senate will vote on increasing in the minimum wage.  Consider taking action today, as your Senators needs to hear from you that no working person should earn a poverty-wage.  In their pastoral letter “Economic Justice for All,” the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has clarified that a wage “should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level.”

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