REACHING OUT TO MIGRANTS, REFUGEES | Filipinos urged to join Pope’s Share the Journey campaign

September 24, 2017 - 2:22 PM
Rohingya refugees walk on a muddy path as others travel on a boat after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, in Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 6, 2017. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

MANILA – With over 65 million listed worldwide as displaced by war, conflict and hunger, Pope Francis will launch next week a two-year “Share the Journey” migration campaign of Caritas Internationalis, encouraging people to reach out to migrants and refugees.

In the Philippines, the call for active participation in the Pope’s campaign was made at the weekend by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, “Share the Journey” will be launched on Wednesday Sept. 27, with the faithful encouraged to link up with migrants, find out their stories and highlights of their difficult journey, and help them.
Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis, said the campaign will hopefully put a face to the millions of refugees forced to flee their homes, and help people understand their plight. “Look them in the eyes, listen to why they left their homes, how their journey’s been, see the real people behind the numbers and scare stories… This time of greater interconnection is an invitation to each and every one of us to look at how we can be more united. I hope the global migration and refugee situation will lead the whole world in a corporate examination of consciousness and our value systems,” said Cardinal Tagle.

He said the Share the Journey campaign also responds to the call of the Pope to promote a “Culture of Encounter” or encouraging people to open their hearts and minds to those who need the Church’s care most.

Caritas Internationalis has over 160 members, expected to promote the “Share the Journey” campaign in 200 countries allied with Caritas.

Meanwhile, in his address to the National Migration Directors of the Council of European Bishops Conferences, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church should take the lead in stopping discrimination against foreigners and people with different beliefs.

Data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees showed a sharp increase in the number of people forced to lfee their homes the past two decades–and as of 2016, over 65.6 million individuals worldwide were listed as refugees.

Most of them are in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Sub-Saharan Africa, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Sudan.

In the Philippines, data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center cited by Caritas Manila showed that in 2015, at least 119,000 individuals left their homes owing to conflict. These included 2,000 Lumad or indigenous people who recently joined the Manilakbayan protest to let people of their plight.

The numbers, however, apparently don’t reflect yet the hundreds of thousands forced to lfee Marawi City, which has been under siege from Maute-led terror groups sinc eMay 23, 2017.

The Catholic Church in the Philippines said it continues to reach out to displaced Lumad.