World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2021. “Towards an ever greater ‘We’.

Newt Sunday, September 26th will be celebrated, as every year, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, with the aim of raising awareness in society about the constant challenges faced by migrants and refugees in the world, people in vulnerable situations who seek a dignified life in other places. 

It is important not to forget the catastrophic reach that the pandemic has had in every corner of the world, with a greater impact on the most vulnerable people in society, whose humans rights have fallen by the wayside. For this reason, the Pope Francis explains that “if we know their story, we can understand them” and, in this way, fight and watch over the rights of each persona, understanding that thousands of lives that are forced to leave everything behind must not be left unprotected. 

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) advocates for a social awareness that puts aside, quoting the Holy Father, “our fear of others, of the unknown, of the marginalized, of the strangers who knock at our door in search of protection, security and better future”, extolling our humanity, without differentiating a life by its social or human condition. 

People without equal opportunities, destined to flee their homes, entire families on the margins looking for a place to feel safe. It is an undeniable reality that must be fought, and that is why the WDMR supports and advocates for their rights so that we can build a universal “We” in a society that understands that all lives are valuable. 

For more information about WDMR, click here

Returns of unaccompanied minors to Morocco must be immediately halted by the Spanish Government.

In view of the returns being carried out since August 13th to Morocco of unaccompanied foreign minors under the guardianship of Ceuta, the Jesuit Migrant Service is concerned about the violation of children’s rights that this may entail. For this reason, it requests the Spanish Government to halt all pending returns until the competent institutions have analyzed the circumstances of each minor. 

Any unaccompanied foreign child or adolescent, due to his or her minority, is protected by a series of national, European and international child protection regulations. The competent organizations responsible for their administrative guardianship and the public prosecutor’s office must ensure that any action taken respects the best interests of the minor. The repatriation of a minor has such an impact on his or her vital circumstances that the law establishes a procedure that is particularly protective of his or her interests. 

SJM joins the public statements of the Ombudsman of Spain, the General Council of Spanish Lawyers and various organizations defending human rights and working with migrant children,  to denounce important indications of violation or our legal system by the Government of Spain to carry out these days the repatriation of minors under guardianship by Ceuta. 

Sineyi’s journey

Sineyi is a Venezuelan mother and asylum seeker. Now she is living in Valencia, where she has been building a new life for herself and her daughter, Sidney, thanks to the accompaniment of the Jesuit Migrant Service, after a journey full of difficulties. We were able to learn about her life story during the press conference for the Caminos de Hospitalidad #SumoMiCamino. A story as hard as that thousands of refugees and migrants who are forced to leave everything behind, led by war, conflict or persecution. 

During the presentation, Sineyi describes how she had to leave her country in 2018 in a very unstable political climate. She left her home with her daughter with just a few bags and without knowing the destination country they were heading to. She remembers how they left in the early hours of the morning, sneaking out and trying to reassure her daughter. “We are going to be fine”, she repeated on the bus to the Colombian border. 

One of her biggest fear was the risk of an encounter with armed groups.  “They charge what they call there ‘la vacuna’ to every person who move from one state to another”, she explains. “My fear was my daughter, because they take children, boys to train them and girls to prostitute them. On the bus I put all the bags I could on her and prayed that they wouldn’t see her. Four men got on the bus twice, saying: ‘whatever I like, I’m taking it’. They took the money from the driver. But we made it through and arrived at the Colombian border with the scare in our bones”. 

“I had to deliver the documents to the immigration office to be able to leave Colombia. [The immigration officer] told me that ‘the girl cannot leave because children are from the homeland’ and unfortunately, children cannot leave the country” she remembers. “They stamped my passport, the child’s was not. I started to cry. We left the two small suitcases on one side, which were the only things we were able to take out, because my priority was to get my daughter out. I touched the boy’s heart and he stamped her passport. I was three hours of anguish.

After their stay in Colombia, Sineyi and her daughter headed for Spain “hoping everything would turn out well with no more anguish and despair”. However, things were not easy either. Since their arrival in our country in May 2018, they had to face many times incomprehension and slow and complex processes when applying for political asylum. In addition, the pandemic made their economic situation even worse. “It was three years of anguish”, she explains with a broken voice. 

Everything changed when she contacted SJM Valencia and they entered the Hospitality program, which has a network of reception apartments for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. “In two months in the reception apartment they have made me feel that I am alive, that we are professionals and that we can develop ourselves,” she explains. “In January I wanted to die because I didn’t see a way out of my life, but today I really feel alive and I feel that I can go on, that I can move forward”. 

People like Sineyi and her daughter, who have had to leave everything behind and who are in a moment of maximum vulnerability, deserve all our support to be able to continue with their lives. From the network of Hospitality projects carried out by the social works of the Society of Jesus, we continue to accompany them, offering them shelter, opportunities and hop in these complex moments of crisis. 

Annual Report 2020

SJM (Jesuit Migrant Service) has, once again, published its Annual Report. 2020 has been an intense period, in which Covid pandemic has revealed the collective fragility, but at the same time has been a progress moment in SJM’s mission, that has invited us to seek more creative and hopeful common answers,. The entities part of SJM have accompanied 30,555 people during 2020, of which the 50% has been in first reception spaces, many of them motivated and adapted due Covid-19. 

Also, 817 people have been welcomed in Hospitality communities, more than 5.600 people have participated in training and employment programs, more than 2.500 in individualized itineraries of psychosocial and legal accompaniment, more than 1.880 women have been accompanied in the specific line, and about 7.200 people have participated in citizenship initiatives, coexistence in diversity and awareness.

In 2020, the common work developed by the entities that are part of the SJM network in 9 cities has been present and consolidated, as well as the work in alliance with other organizations of the Social Sector of the Society of Jesus and other Jesuit social and academic institutions. The presence and participation in external networks, at the intra-ecclesial and European level, broadens the joint view of accompaniment to the migrant collective in a complex. Changing and interconnected world. 

During this time of global emergency, new programs have been developed, like the virtual assistance channel during the state of alarm or the launch of the Lumen series of brief reports. The hospitality reception has prioritized the accompaniment of the most vulnerable people. Work at the internal (CIE) and external (Southern Border) borders has brought new challenges beyond the work. The other lines of work have found the spaces, adapting to a new reality to continue being close to the migrant population, trying to avoid falling into irregularity and accompanying processes of labor, training and social inclusion. 

SJM is a human team that works to accompany, serve and defend the integration process of migrant people and their rights, seeking to influence and reflect in order to generate a public debate on migration policies. It is formed, as stated in this Report, by 155 hired people in the member entities of the network, another 11 in the technical offices and 1.322 volunteers in various spaces and initiatives. To all of them and to all the people who make SJM’s mission possible, thank you very much for continuing to be close to us in such a complex year. 

#SumoMiCamino Hospitality for Refugees

On the occasion of the World Day of Refugees, which will be commemorated on 20 June, the Hospitality campaign of the Social Sector organisations of the Society of Jesus in Spain (Red Mimbre, Jesuit Migrant Service, Alboan and Entreculturas) is once again launching the Pathways of Hospitality initiative.

Under the slogan #SumoMiCamino, we invite citizens to put themselves in the shoes of refugees and displaced persons, and we call for a Europe of Hospitality and the defence of Human Rights. A Europe whose borders (the Canaries, the Alps, the Southern Border…) hurt us and challenge us, and where, in recent months, despite the context of the health crisis we are experiencing, thousands of people and families around the world continue to be forced to set out on the road.

For a Europe of Hospitality and Human Rights

The causes that provoke the flight of forcibly displaced people, the obstacles they encounter in transit and the conditions they face in the destination country place refugees and migrants in situations of lack of protection, discrimination and constant violation of their rights.

The Social Sector of the Society of Jesus in Spain is not satisfied with this reality. That is why we are united in this Pact for Hospitality in which we continue to call for a comprehensive response that defends the right to safe migration in all its phases, and that builds new discourses, values and ways of coexistence that allow us to move towards the construction of a human family and a new society. And we also continue to work with them, both in Spain and in other countries:

From Entreculturas and Alboan, we accompany refugees and displaced people in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We ensure that they have access to basic services, with a special focus on promoting the empowerment of women through productive initiatives, and on ensuring that refugee children receive quality education.

From the Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM), through diverse experiences of hospitality (family networks, host communities, community sponsorship…), we seek stable solutions for the reception and integration of more than 320 refugees and migrants living in our country.

From Red Mimbre, we accompany the socio-educational and labour insertion processes of children, adolescents and their families in 13 neighbourhoods in 6 Spanish cities. Supporting their personal and vital growth from the social, cultural and economic contexts of clear disadvantage and vulnerability where they live, thus making explicit their rights, the exercise of justice and social solidarity. Either in residential shelters or in the day-to-day life of their neighbourhoods.

#SumoMiCamino from June 1st to 20th

This year’s Pathways of Hospitality will take place, while maintaining all the necessary security measures, from June 1st to 20th. We encourage citizens to:

– Add your path in the format of your choice (through urban walking, hiking, etc.).

– Make a reading of our Pact for Hospitality and our political demands at the end of their walk, and join them through our petition in Visibles.

– Spread the initiative through social networks with the hashtag #SumoMiCamino.

– And to collaborate with our Hospitality network, to help us to continue offering accompaniment and hosting to refugees and migrants, both in their countries of origin and in their transit and arrival in Spain, and to continue to raise awareness and influence in order to achieve fair policies.

#SumoMiCamino: solidarity walks for a society of hospitality with refugees

Under the slogan #SumoMiCamino, the organisations of the Social Sector of the Society of Jesus in Spain (Red Mimbre, Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes, Alboan and Entreculturas) presented this morning the initiative Caminos de Hospitalidad (Paths of Hospitality).

An invitation to citizens to put themselves in the shoes of refugees and displaced people and to take solidarity walks to demand a Europe of Hospitality and the defence of Human Rights through a Pact for Hospitality.

On the occasion of World Refugee Day (to be celebrated on 20 June), the Jesuit Social Sector organisations in Spain (Red Mimbre, Jesuit Migrant Service, Alboan and Entreculturas) called this morning at a press conference for a Europe of Hospitality and the defence of Human Rights through the Caminos de Hospitalidad initiative.

These paths are inspired by the legacy of the Jesuit Frans Van der Lugt who lived for 50 years in Syria where he was killed in 2014 and where he made paths of fraternity with people of different origins and religious beliefs. “In homage to this, we continue to promote paths to symbolise the essence of unity of peoples beyond ideologies, religious beliefs, origin, gender: the will of fraternity, the harmonious coexistence between different religions and cultures, the rejection of all forms of armed violence, inequality and hostility” explained Raquel Martín, Director of Communication and Institutional Relations at Entreculturas.

The current context, characterised by social and political tensions caused by Covid-19 and by other structural crises that are prolonged over time and that affect the most vulnerable groups to a greater extent, leads thousands of refugees to get on the move, to embark on uncertain paths in which they experience situations of lack of protection, discrimination and constant violation of their rights. These are dangerous paths on which they risk and even lose their lives, a good example of which are the recent images of thousands of people trying to reach the Canary Islands and Ceuta. Luis Arancibia, Delegate of the Social Sector of the Society of Jesus, explained that “in the face of this reality, we are not satisfied, and from the works of the Social Sector of the Society of Jesus we are launching this proposal in which we invite citizens to put themselves in the place of refugees and displaced persons, to mobilise for the values of hospitality and dignified welcome through a Pact for Hospitality“.

The latest data, from mid-2020, show that 3.6% (280.6 million) of the world’s population resides in a country other than the country of birth, “among whom 79.5 million (around 1% of the world’s population) are people who have been forced to leave their country; the majority (73%) moving to countries neighbouring their country of origin” recalled Pablo Funes, International Cooperation Coordinator at Entreculturas. The causes that provoke the flight of forcibly displaced people, the obstacles they encounter in transit and the conditions they face in the destination country place refugees and migrants in situations of lack of protection, discrimination and constant violation of their rights.

During the press conference, testimonies were heard, such as those of Abir Ahmad Sabra, English teacher at the Nicolas Kluiters Jesuit Refugee Service educational centre in Lebanon, who spoke of the importance of education for refugee minors and of the “enormous responsibility we have in accompanying refugees on their journey, their journey is our journey”. Along these lines, Sineyi Zambrano, an asylum seeker in Spain, recounted her journey as a refugee since she left Venezuela in 2018 until today and how important the reception flats of the Jesuit Migrant Service have been for her. “It has been three years since I arrived in Spain and now I feel that I am starting my journey, that I am building my future. My daughter and I have stability. It is essential for us to feel welcomed, accompanied and to feel that there are people and institutions that care about us”, she explained.

This situation “calls us to try to bridge five gaps: the gap of the journey in the absence of safe and legal channels; that of borders, where human rights must be respected; that of inclusion to avoid lack of protection and irregularity; that of building socio-community fabric; and the gap of coexistence to build new discourses, values and ways of living together that allow us to walk in the construction of a human family and a new society”, according to Jaime Pons, Coordinator of the Area of Hospitality at the Jesuit Migrant Service. In addition, ten necessary measures have been presented that must be implemented to guarantee Human Rights and the inclusion of forcibly displaced people.

All those who wish to join this initiative “can do so through different initiatives that can be found on the Caminos de Hospitalidad website or through #SumoMiCamino”, concluded Dani Martínez, Coordinator of the Hospitality Campaign.

For the Ratification of Convention 189

On 16 June 2011, the International Labour Organisation adopted Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers. This Convention seeks to reverse the historical social and gender injustice between the invisibility and scant recognition given to domestic work and its fundamental role in development, both in the productive and reproductive spheres.

The Jesuit Migrant Service supports the just demands of domestic and care workers who have been fighting for years for the recognition of their rights. The ratification of Convention 189 would be an important step towards the recognition of the right to unemployment benefits, among other labour rights that are denied to domestic workers.

Globally, 90% of the more than 70 million workers, mostly migrant women and girls, work in these jobs exposed to various forms of exploitation, abuse and violations of their human rights.

At state level, one in three domestic workers lives below the poverty line despite their fundamental role in organising care. They bear the brunt of the deficits in our care system.

Convention 189 is binding on member states that ratify it and commits them to equalising the rights of domestic workers with those of other workers. Hence the importance of Spain’s ratification. We hope that the Spanish government’s declarations to initiate the procedure for the ratification of this convention will come to fruition soon.

If there is one thing that SJM organisations have learned from the women we accompany, and which has been further highlighted in the context of Covid-19, it is that domestic and care work is essential and that caring for those who care for is a cause of justice.


CIE 2020 Report “Legal sense and political nonsense”

We publish the CIE 2020 Report: “Legal sense and political nonsense”, the eleventh study on Immigration Detention Centres (CIE by its Spanish acronym) in the SJM report series.

On this occasion, the work focuses on detention care in times of coronavirus, the most relevant circumstance of 2020. The insufficient health care in CIEs and the need to improve their diagnostic, treatment and referral capacities are facts that set the direction of the report. More specifically, this study deals with the case of Samba Martine, a Congolese woman who died in the CIE of Aluche because she did not receive health care, and the State’s financial responsibility towards Samba’s mother and daughter.

We also analyse the structural issues that SJM monitors year after year: rights monitored by the Ombudsman, articulation between the observation carried out by civil society… Finally, we address the investment plan for the CIEs between 2019 and 2024, drawn up with the intention of reforming the existing ones and starting work on a new CIE in Algeciras, a political will that confirms the budgetary effort allocated to these constructions.

For yet another year, we are launching this report to help measure and disseminate the exact scope of detention centres, thus offering an invitation to critical thinking about what happens inside them in order to achieve the end of the precautionary detention of foreigners and, until that moment arrives, a guaranteed achievement of Human Rights in them.

Download here the CIE 2020 Report – Spanish

Download the Annex of statistical data – CIE 2020 Report SJM

Download the Catalan version

Download the abridged version in English

First meeting of volunteers of the Immigration Detention Centers Visits Programme

On 12 May, for the first time, a meeting was held for all the volunteers who are part of the visiting teams to the CIEs (Immigration Detention Centers) in Barcelona, Valencia, Algeciras and Madrid. It was a virtual meeting where the volunteers themselves had the opportunity to get to know each other better and exchange experiences of a common work, such as “accompanying, serving and defending” the people who are interned in the CIE.

Volunteers – old and new – have put into words the feelings aroused by knowing and accompanying those who are deprived of their freedom behind bars “dreamcatchers”, as they defined the CIE. During the meeting, Cristina Manzanedo and Ilham Ennmer shared their testimonies with us, bringing us closer to life stories with which a bond is created that goes beyond the visits, and people to whom we try to give back the dignity they believe they have lost by being interned in these centres.

Cristina told her story following up the case of Samba Martine, a Congolese woman who died in the CIE of Madrid ten years ago due to an accumulation of medical negligence, and Ilham, on her part, shared her experience as a translator in the CIE of Algeciras, a city which, she said, she could not see in the same way since she started volunteering; her perception of the place changed even in the daily things, such as walking through its streets or bathing on the beach.

The meeting highlighted the importance of networking and the necessary convergence between legal work and citizen mobilisation to achieve a fairer world free of these centres for the detention of foreigners.

The general feeling of gratitude for being able to share stories and recharge each other’s batteries was mixed with those shared feelings that came to light when talking about such hard work: “Powerlessness, but also hope for the commitment of so many little people”. In the space there was also room for suggestions and no one better than those people who cross the doors of the CIE to do so.

WE THANK all the people who give their time to accompany those who are on the other side of the walls of a CIE, being an example of service and testimony of hope to continue “rowing all towards the same goal, leaving aside borders”.

We publish our report “Focusing our gaze: towards a holistic model of hospitality that puts people at the centre”

With the arrival of Covid-19, EU Member States began to take measures to limit contagion: confinement, social distance, restrictions on national and international mobility… These measures had direct consequences on applicants for international protection, as JRS Europe analyses in its report From Bad to Worse: Covid-19 Deepens the Gaps in Refugee Reception Systems, a publication that studies the impact of Covid-19 on reception conditions for refugees.

In the case of Spain, we recognise elements in common with those presented at the European level, although we identify particularities related to the specific policies adopted in Spain to mitigate the health crisis, as well as coinciding with the process of transformation of our reception system. In this context, we asked ourselves: What contributions can SJM make to a new model of reception, and what lessons learned could be added to the model?

This reflection gave rise to our report “Focusing our Gaze”, where we offer the lessons learned from the European study and SJM’s vision of the reception system in Spain: where it should be heading and our vision of how it is responding to people in need of protection. Finally, we will present our proposal for a community model, through sponsorship and the network of hospitality communities.

Download the full report here