THEY ARE LOOKING FOR THEIR HOME
FR. MAREK ŁUCZAK
They are people like us – said Ban Ki-moon, the UNO General Secretary. – Before they had to leave their homes, they had lived a normal life. And now their greatest dream is to return to normality anew
The General Congregation of the United Nations in 2000 decided to establish the day of 20 June – the World Refugee Day. It is celebrated in over 100 countries where a lot of conferences, trainings and actions are organized, whose purpose is to make societies aware of the difficult situation of hundred thousand people who are forced to leave their homelands, mostly because of a war, ethnic conflicts and persecutions. This year’s celebrations will have an unusual significance because of the current issues of refugees whose enormous number is getting mainly to Europe.
Imagination of mercifulness
According to organizations dealing with humanitarian help in the world we are dealing with over 50 million refugees, half of whom are men, and half are women. The most tragic reasons for this phenomenon are wars, persecutions and terror. Mainly for these reasons hundreds of thousand people leave their homes and homelands every year in search for a better life. A big group are also those who migrate for economic, family or health reasons.
For Caritas Polska the issue of helping to migrants and refugees is extremely important. The month of June is usually devoted to the refugee issue. The purpose of the action is making the Polish society sensitive to the problem of migrants, who feel socially excluded when arriving in Poland. Volunteers want to emphasize that every man – regardless of his skin colour, religion and culture – has got a right to have his dignity respected.
As Fr. Marian Subocz, a director of Caritas Polska assures, it is necessary to encourage everybody to pray for refugees – people forced to escape from their countries, where there are military conflicts. – It is very important to remember about spiritual support of the people who left their family homes and are forced to start their lives on a new land – he emphasizes.
Let’s treat refugees as our brothers
The fate of refugees do not allow pope Francis to sleep calmly, so he he made his first journey as the head of the Church to the Italian island Lampedus, being a gate to Europe for hundreds thousands of refugees from Africa ( July 2013). As the Catholic News Agency emphasizes, he appealed to the European Union there, so that it would be more brave and generous in participation in helping migrants.
An appeal of Francis from 6 September 2015 echoed, in which he asked ‘every parish, every cloister and every sanctuary in Europe to give accommodation to one family of refugees’. He defined it as ‘a particular gesture within preparations for the Year of Holy Mercifulness’.
On 16 April 2016 Francis and the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople Bartłomiej I and archbishop of Athens and whole Greece Hieronim went to the Greek Island Lesbos where in a common declaration they called for facing up the current humanitarian crisis and reasons lying at its base. They appealed for ending the war and violence in the Near East and building just and permanent peace. They encouraged to increase efforts for the sake of accepting and protecting refugees of all religions and helping them. It was accompanied by a beautiful gesture. On the board of a plane Francis took a few Muslim families of refugees, of whom the Community of St. Giles in Italy was taking care.
The World Refugee Day is undoubtedly a gesture of solidarity with thousands of people who escaped from their homes from persecutions. Actions undertaken at this time are to remind that nobody is a refugee by choice – a refugee is a person who is forced to escape from his home to a safe place, in order to protect his life and life of his relatives.
This year celebrations of the World Refugee Day in Warsaw are organized by the Foundation Refugee.pl and Foundation named Stefan Batory. They will last for 3 days – from 17 June to 19 June. Because one of obstacles in making relations with refugees is ignorance, organizers particularly want to promote knowledge on other cultures. A map of cultural events will make it possible for participants to get to know refugees – uncover their history, cultures and cuisine traditions. Admission for all these events is free.