The Lazarus migrants at the gate.
11 September ,2015
Fr. Shay Cullen
As delegates gather in The Vatican to attend the International Symposium on Pastoral Care of Migrants and Street people held by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, a shockingly painful video is being broadcast on television showing refugees being denied aid and their rights being violated and abused.
The teaching of Pope Francis is strong and clear. We must stand by the refugees and migrants, protect their rights, protest evil and violations, give shelter, love and compassion and a chance for them to live a life of dignity. The planet and all that is in it is the common heritage of all humanity and must be shared by all, especially in times of vicious wars. The bounty of the earth is not just for the powerful few to the exclusion of the rest of humanity.
The video shows Macedonian riot police beating the refugees and lawful migrants, men women and children with batons as they stand in filth of muddy fields and the rain beating down. This gives urgency to the symposium that I have been invited to attend to try finding immediate solutions and an international response for these unfortunate people.
The conditions and bad treatment by the authorities of these countries has been described as a disaster. Yes it is a disaster for the governments and the people of Hungary and Macedonia and the states that are treating the refugees harshly and denying them help and humanitarian aid. The reputation and name of these nations have slumped into the cesspool of heartless indifference.
They are nations that are being judged as harshly as they harshly treat the refugees by caging them and leaving them for days without accommodation, shelter and food while they claim they are “registering them.” It appears they are harassing them. Here they are rejected and cursed as pests and marked as economic illegal migrants.
This is unjust, wrong and oppressive and an violation of International law whereby refugees are entitled to shelter protection and humanitarian aid. The Eastern European states are ignoring their international obligations.
Hungary is mobilizing its armed forces to send them to the border to stop the flow of refugees instead of making them welcome and giving humanitarian aid like the more open welcoming and compassionate nations of Austria ,Germany, Finland and Sweden.
The UK, out of incredible shame at it’s selfish locked-door policies, gave in to the cries of the poor and the pressure of the good people of Britain who know and do their Christian duty to love their neighbor and are willing to do it even if their government does not. As it is truly said; “Bless the people, chastise the politicians”.
Under pressure the prime minister reluctantly stated they will take in some thousands over the next five years, too little too late. The generous nations with compassionate asylum systems such as Austria, Germany, Finland, Sweden and France are to be admired and imitated.
The United States has remained silent on this crises cautioned no doubt by the racist attitudes that want to build high walls along the southern border with Mexico. But that ought not restrain the compassion and concern of the American people to help these survivors of horrific war and terrorism and incredible injustice.
To brand these refugee families as illegal migrants deserving of jail instead of recognizing an obligation to help them is irresponsible and immoral.
They are rightful refugees, asylum seekers fleeing the horrors of the chemical and barrel bombs of the tyrant Assad and the abominations of mass abduction sex slavery and massacres of Isis. The challenge is for the European nations to take a stand to do justice together, pool their resources and good will and help the victims of war and death squads.
How applicable is the Gospel story of the dying beggar, called Lazarus, diseased, covered in sores, skeletal with hunger and lying at the gate of the rich elite called Dives. His table of food groaned under the weight of food but he would not give even the crumbs to Lazarus. Rich as he was Dives had no compassion or care. The only care given was by the dogs that had more compassion that the rich. The dogs tried to heal Lazarus by licking his wounds. So it is with the racists who reject the poor migrants and greedily keep all the wealth for themselves. And leave the Lazarus-people to die.
War is horrendous and causes intense pain, hardship loss of all property, education for children; 14 million will loose an education. A whole generation will grow up unschooled. The war brings diseases, homelessness and utter destruction of an economy and way of life. Peace will take many years to return.
There are over 200,000 dead in the Syrian civil war and almost three million refugees in neighboring countries. These people are fleeing the utter destruction of their towns and cities by ceaseless bombings and shelling of the murderous regime of the Assad family. This tyrant and his cronies are being openly supported armed and resupplied by Russia.
While we seek ways to help the millions of displaced people we must recognize and hold to account those who started these military interventions in the Middle East. The invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and the attack on Libya ignited a great firestorm of anger and protest that set the Middle East on fire and unleashed fanatical extremists. These unforeseen consequences, forces of terrorism and fanatical killers, brought violence and hatred and crushed the voices crying for freedom and justice with callus cruelty. That is an all-devouring fire that has yet to be extinguished. What must be done now is help the victims of these global disasters of war, invasions and occupation