Migrants, an invitation to solidarity

Declaration of the Bishops' Conference Justice and Peace Council. In the Country, almost 500 thousand are not Czech nationals " "

According to national statistics, updated to summer 2014, about 450 thousand foreigners from 182 countries live in the Czech Republic. Most would rather live in their country of origin, but persecution, oppression and poverty have forced them to look for asylum abroad. Although the problem of migration is not as urgent as in other States, certainly there are many situations that need to find a solution. The Justice and Peace (Lupax) Council of the Czech Bishops’ Conference issued a statement regarding this situation, with an invitation to take the appropriate measures to alleviate the difficulties and improve government programs that promote work with migrants and projects of non-governmental organizations in this field. The situation in the heart of Europe. There are nearly half a million migrants from dozens of world countries – this is the situation of the current state of migration in the Czech Republic. Compared to some neighbouring Countries, which are the epicentres of local conflicts – such as Turkey, Jordan, Ukraine – the number of refugees in distress is not as high. However, the countries of Central Europe that enjoy relative stability are facing difficult situations. There are hundreds of cases of migrant workers hired by “bait” employment agencies under unbearably disadvantageous conditions, deceived and abandoned without a job, money and nor hope. There are problems caused by poor healthcare insurance conditions, where a migrant mother gives birth to a child who needs to be treated in an incubator and ends up in a situation where nobody is willing to ensure the health of the baby and the parents are forced to pay huge sums of money, with no chance to avoid it. There are many other examples of the difficulties that foreigners who come to live in the Czech Republic are facing, not least the simple fact that living in a culturally different environment is never easy. All this constitutes the life experience of many people in Bohemia or Moravia, that have come to these regions following several migration waves, especially during the Twentieth Century. The law of hospitality. “The invitation of the Old Testament to welcome with open arms and accept migrants seem too demanding and even exaggerated to our contemporaries, but it is merely an attempt to relieve the pressure of an extremely burdensome situation”, writes Msgr. Vaclav Maly, responsible for Lupax and auxiliary bishop of Prague. He recalled that the “law of hospitality”, which was one of the typical features of the developed societies of the ancient world, is an important message for our contemporaries. “New thrusts of this kind have brought many valuable opportunities for the further development of open societies and have enabled them to successfully deal with constant global changes”, said Vaclav Maly. The statement also draws attention to several cases in which young people from migrant families who having been living for many generations in Germany, France or the United Kingdom have left the homeland of their parents to join extremists fighting for a fanatical vision of another world. According to Lupax, many of these cases could be caused, among other things, by a sense of alienation and frustration that push the sons and daughters of former migrants towards “imaginary horizons”. Risks and advantages. “Today’s challenges are definitely not simple: we have to face the risk of an open world, with not only refugees in need, but also with the possible members of the networks of organized crime. However, we cannot surrender to those who want to gain power through the evocation of totally unreal chimeras according to which a better world is possible if we rid ourselves of migrants” states the ecclesial message. Bishop Maly pointed out that the Council does not have the means nor sufficient resources to organize projects in support of a direct coexistence between the autochthonous inhabitants and immigrants. “However, we can refer to ancient wisdom and practice whereby the good coexistence of all peoples is an effective form prevention compared to creating environments that generate irrational hatred”, said the president of Lupax encouraging all those who have the possibility of promoting different kinds of efforts to facilitate the fate of migrants by improving government programs (such as focusing on the legislative texts regulating health insurance or the activities of employment agencies) as well as the activities of non-governmental organizations such as the Association for integration and migration, the Organization for aid to refugees, or the multicultural Centre. “The tokens of solidarity in this unsafe, ever-changing world, not only help those whom we support, but they also help us – inspired by our own capacities to lend a hand – in this way we protect our society from the danger of destruction”, Msgr. Maly concluded.

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