#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.

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

Community Sponsorship as a form of Hospitality

Moving towards a culture of welcome and encounter, as Pope Francis urges us on so many occasions, is essential in order to “seek points of contact, to build bridges, to plan something that includes everyone […]. And the subject of this culture is the people” (Fratelli Tutti, 216).

Community Sponsorship as a model of reception puts the spotlight on civil society and its social institutions, as key actors in accompanying refugees arriving in our country.

Andriuska Surga is one of the professionals from the Padre Lasa Centre – part of the network of Jesuit Migrant Service entities in Spain – who has accompanied the reception process of two Syrian families who arrived in Tudela (Navarra) on 6 April under this Community Sponsorship model. She tells us what the experience has been like and how it is going.

What is Community Sponsorship?

Community sponsorship is a model in which the community itself is the one that welcomes and integrally accompanies the newly-arrived families. It is nothing more than opening your arms and heart to people and guiding them, advising them, caring for them and respecting them as equals; being the support network for people who are unfamiliar with the environment.

It is about people themselves becoming aware of the problems, recognising the need for change, and searching together for solutions, with a dynamic attitude that leads to collaborative initiatives.

Why would you want to get involved in a Community Sponsorship programme at the Padre Lasa Centre?

Since its origins, the Padre Lasa Centre aims to accompany, serve and defend migrants and people at risk of exclusion, through psychosocial interventions respecting the processes of each person and focusing on the community and the involvement of the person themselves in the process.

The experiences of community sponsorship are an example of responsibility and collective and shared effort. We had no doubt that Tudela, given the warmth of the people who make up the town, the diversity that characterises it and the variety of resources, was an ideal place to carry out this pioneering project in Spain.

What was the process like? The previous preparation, training of the teams and volunteers involved in the reception, organisation of civil society, accommodation of housing, other details?

If we had to sum up the pre-arrival phase in three words, we would say excitement, affection and gratitude (with all the work that this entails).

We have enjoyed and learned a lot during the process and we feel very fortunate for the network that moves this project. Public and private entities, international, state, regional, local, from the SJM network, family businesses, shops, individuals… In short… A large family that moves around this project “SOMOS”.

How was the reception by the families?

Undoubtedly the most emotional moment of this process, to date, has been the landing of the flight from Istanbul (on 6 April). We knew that the months of preparation, the work done and the affection of all the people who are part of this project “SOMOS”, was a guarantee. But in our minds there were only feelings of admiration for these brave families who entrusted their lives to something unknown, in search of a better future; and at the same time of nerves to be able to transmit our warmest welcome and to guarantee them that they are not alone in this new journey.

The presentation of the local sponsoring groups (this is how the groups of volunteers are called) was indescribable. The looks spoke for themselves: you could read WELCOME HOME on the one hand and THANK YOU on the other. We could go on for much longer and we have only been here for 4 days…

A look at the challenges ahead

We have many challenges ahead of us (managing expectations, paperwork, bureaucracy, language learning, schooling…) but the biggest of them, without a doubt, is not to fail you.

We will continue to work in a coordinated way with all the parties involved with love.

Refugee families welcomed in Valencia thanks to #Seguimos

One of the projects implemented as part of the #Seguimos campaign has been emergency care and shelter for vulnerable families in Valencia. Since the arrival of the pandemic last year, the involvement of the SJM Valencia team with the most vulnerable people who lost their income and suffered the consequences of the crisis was very high thanks to the support of #Seguimos, covering basic needs. Among those people accompanied and cared for are some of the asylum seeker and refugee families who live in several of the residential resources that the entity has in Valencia and surrounding areas. These are some of their stories:

Erika’s story

“My name is Erika Posada, I am a Colombian from Cali, I am 28 years old, and I have two small children. The situation in Colombia was very violent, with many robberies and intimidation, we didn’t feel safe. Together with my mom, we decided to take a new direction towards Spain, something we had been thinking about for a long time, because here there is calm and tranquillity, something we did not have there. I also wanted a future of hope and peace for the children.

Education is very important. I would like to complete my studies, I am in the 4th year of ESO (Compulsory secondary education) and I would like to finish so that I can support my mother, my brother and my children, and live calmly and happily”.

Refugee families

Edward (wife and one child):

“They demanded an amount of money from us that we couldn’t pay, that’s why we decided to leave the country. It is a very difficult situation to handle, if you don’t do what you’re told, they pressure you and extort you, with phone calls, they chase you and threaten you”.

“The departure from Colombia was above all with our son in mind, to give him a better life, to take him away from a life in which you get used to the conflict. The idea is for him to get ahead, to support him in whatever he wants to do”.

“In Valencia I feel very safe, I feel satisfaction and freshness. I can go out to the street without fear and I don’t have the stress of being chased. It’s a very nice feeling and I’d like to grow in Spain and move on”.

Robinson and Yamilet (a son with Down’s syndrome):

Robinson: “My wife belonged to a political group and so she was threatened. We were afraid that they might do something to me, to her or to our son, so we decided to travel to Spain and ask for international protection.

“From the beginning we were hosted by the Jesuits, in the SJM flats in Valencia. They have helped us with the asylum process, psychologically, socially, culturally, educationally; and also financially. We are now living in one of their homes, waiting for the asylum process to progress.

Yamilet: “Hopefully the asylum process will go through and we will be able to live in a regular situation in Spain. To be able to settle down, for our son to have a good education and a better quality of life.

The #Seguimos campaign of the Society of Jesus in Spain continues to offer attention to the needs of the most vulnerable population suffering the effects of the crisis resulting from the covid-19 pandemic. In this link it is possible to collaborate to ensure that aid to those who need it most can be carried out.

At SJM we continue to accompany vulnerable families in Madrid, thanks to the #Seguimos campaign

From the Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM), with the support of the #Seguimos campaign, we still want to be close to women with dependent children who are especially suffering from the crisis resulting from covid-19, by opening flats of autonomy. In Madrid, Pueblos Unidos accompanies several single-parent families with care to cover their basic needs, legal, social and employment advice in this difficult context.

Alicia lives with her four children in a flat in Madrid. Of Ecuadorian origin, after having gone through all the processes of regularisation, job search, schooling, she is now facing the impact of covid19 on her life. After more than a month confined for being positive for the virus, without even being able to see her children in the same house, she is grateful for the support offered and faces the immediate future with caution but optimism.

“My family was directly affected in terms of work because I had to stop working… My four children were suspended from school for a few days and although I have not lost my job for the moment, the worry is always there. I have been on sick leave for a month now and I continue to test positive, although the symptoms are easing. During the confinement we had a very bad time, they were very hard days, but thanks to the support of Pueblos we never lacked food or the basics”.

Thanks to the support of #Seguimos, the network of organisations belonging to SJM has set up a series of autonomy flats for around 60 women with dependent children in seven autonomous communities. This project aims not only to provide residential accommodation for these families, but also to promote psychosocial support in this context, create a stable social network that facilitates their inclusion and provide legal support to help regularise their situation. Alicia tells us how Pueblos Unidos has supported her family during these months:

“They are always keeping an eye on the evolution of my illness with the whole family through phone calls, being a support with whatever we need at home whether it is in paperwork, food, medicines, etc. Above all, they have given us words of encouragement and impulse at all times, always offering themselves for whatever is needed, they have even gone to pick up the food that they give us monthly because we were all confined to the house. I have not seen my children for more than a month and they are taking care of the house because I am locked in my room and my children are still small, except for the eldest who is 20 years old. Personally, I am very grateful to everyone”.

The #Seguimos campaign of the Society of Jesus has set up more than 30 projects to help the most vulnerable population since the pandemic began.

Proposal for the Reform of the Regulation on Aliens to guarantee the inclusion of unaccompanied migrant children and young people

CHILDHOOD AND MIGRATION ORGANISATIONS AND PROFESSIONALS PROPOSE A MODIFICATION OF THE REGULATION ON FOREIGNERS TO GUARANTEE THE RIGHT TO DOCUMENTATION FOR CHILDREN ARRIVING ALONE IN SPAIN.

These proposals, made within the framework of the public consultation process opened by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration at the beginning of February, have the sole purpose of facilitating the transition to adult life for all children.

The proposal for modification put forward by professionals and expert bodies aims to guarantee the full and effective integration of these children and young people into Spanish society, in accordance with national and international legislation that guarantees the protection of human rights, and in particular, children’s rights.

The document presented focuses on the articles relating to the identification, documentation, processing and renewal of residence and work authorisations for children and adolescents who have arrived alone in Spain and who have been under the care and/or guardianship of the public protection entities of the Cities and Autonomous Communities. In line with the Ombudsman’s recommendations already accepted by the Ministry, the need for an exhaustive modification of Articles 196, 197 and 198 is proposed, and, going a step further, modifications to Articles 148, 190 and 211 of the same regulatory text are proposed.

In addition, several Transitional Provisions are included for the retroactive application of the Regulation, with the aim of documenting all young people who, although they were minors from 1 January 2018 to the present day, did not have access to their documentation despite being entitled to it, which places them in a situation of social exclusion.

The current regulation multiplies administrative procedures, dilutes responsibilities between the different administrations and does not provide agile and effective responses to the real needs of these children. The lack of automatic work authorisation for young migrants of working age, the demands on the business sector and young people for the processing of their work authorisation and subsequent hiring, the validity of only one year for the residence cards of minors under guardianship and the obstacles to their renewal, the difficulties in obtaining registration cards and the disparity of criteria at provincial level for their processing, and the non-recognition of the validity of children’s identity documents issued by the authorities in their countries of origin, are some of the issues that have left children and young people in a state of absolute defencelessness.

HERE THE PRESS RELEASE WITH ALL THE PROPOSALS

CONSULT HERE THE FULL DOCUMENT OF RLOEX REFORM PROPOSALS

SIGNATORIES:

Aldeas Infantiles SOS, Alucinos la Salle, Asociación Española de Abogados Extranjeristas, Asociación Noves Vies, Asociación Pro Derechos de la Infancia (Prodein), Asociación Progestión, Cáritas, Col.lectiu Hourria, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR), Comisión de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR) – Euskadi, Coordinadora de Barrios, Coordinadora Estatal de Plataformas Sociales Salesianas (CEPSS), Coordinadora Obrim Fronteres, Cruz Roja Juventud, Federación Andalucía Acoge, Federación Estatal de SOS Racismo, Fundación Raíces, La Merced Migraciones, Plataforma de Infancia, Pueblos Unidos – Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes, Save the Children, UNICEF España, Voluntarios por otro Mundo Wasata Sans Frontières

350 people from 10 peninsular cities will learn Spanish thanks to Radio ECCA and SJM

Faced with the impacts and challenges arising from covid-19, Radio ECCA and the entities of the SJM network are working together, with the support of the #Seguimos campaign, to promote blended and distance learning methodologies.

Thanks to the support of the #Seguimos initiative, around 350 people will be able to benefit from the ‘Comunícate’ project, in which Radio ECCA and the Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM) have joined forces to develop a set of Spanish language teaching methodologies combining online and blended learning.

In a context of a covid-19 pandemic that generates new challenges, this collaborative project aims to strengthen the accompaniment capacities of the Social Sector works with the most vulnerable people, incorporating the proven experience of the teaching methodology to improve the learning tools, based on didactic material, audio classes and tutorials. Knowing the language is a key element for the inclusion and participation of the migrant population, as well as generating initial meeting spaces. The health emergency has affected the methods of learning Spanish by reducing the presence of volunteers and the capacity of the classes.

The project consists of 12 pilot experiences that combine ECCA’s learning methodology with SJM’s model of proximity accompaniment. There are 2 literacy courses, 2 distance learning courses and 8 blended learning courses for people with limited connectivity or digital difficulties. This project will be implemented in 10 cities on the peninsula: Seville, Cordoba, Madrid, Burgos, Valladolid, Barcelona, Valencia, Lleida, Bilbao and Tudela.

#Seguimos, the campaign of the Society of Jesus, has launched more than 30 projects to assist the most vulnerable population since the pandemic began.

We publish the report Lumen V ‘Virtual Service Channel: learnings and challenges for the future’

Continuing with the series of LUMEN studies, which aim to provide information on current migration issues, the fifth report ‘Canal de Atención Virtual: learnings and challenges for the future’ has been published. On the occasion of the first anniversary of the declaration of the State of Alarm in Spain, this issue focuses on the articulated response carried out by the Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM by its Spanish acronym) at a time of such a complex crisis for everyone.

Through this channel (a new and creative service that emerged as a result of the first confinement) the Jesuit Migrant Service has tried to replicate its usual services, adjusting to a completely different context and offering answers at a time of many doubts. In addition, the channel provided an insight into the problems and concerns that people have faced at each stage of the atypical 2020:

What happens to my appointment at the Immigration offices? If my documents expire during the state of alarm, will they be valid? Could the Administration respond during the alarm and require new documentation? Can I reach an agreement with my landlord to postpone the payment of rent because of my new situation? Can I return to Spain if I have been stuck abroad? What if I was on tourism in Spain and all flights to my country have been cancelled?

Reflecting on its functioning, the lessons learned and the challenges that remain on the horizon, with this report we would like to thank all citizens for the joint effort and solidarity shown at such a complicated time, which encourages us to continue working in a new way to be close to migrants in Spain.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL DOCUMENT HERE

SJM renews its corporate image

Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM Spain) renews its corporate image to continue the consolidation of its work of accompaniment, serve and advocacy for the rights of migrants and refugees. SJM was born more than 10 years ago now as a network that agglutinates the Jesuit social organizations that work with migrants in different cities. During past few years, this network has enhanced and covers more locations. This change is consistent with the mission ad vision that have been with SJM since the very beginning: the must of answer to social transformation and the certainty that mobility and adaptation are inherent attributes of human beings.

This image and website restyling is an instrument that helps to convey who we are in the actual context. New logo is a more simplified, modern and stylish figure, with the same colour as Social Apostolate in Spain, to which SJM belongs. The soft typography symbolises the closeness and warmth with which both staff and volunteers perform their duties every day.

The ’M’ of migrants represents our main essence: the top is a bridge of approach and encounter with other cultures and religions, where diversity is richness and there is no place for discrimination. The bottom part are three pillars that represent the three words of our motto (and JRS’ as well): accompany, serve and advocate.

SJM is made up of Jesuit social entities that works for the defence of the rights of migrants and their full access to citizenship, presents in 10 cities: Barcelona (Migra Studium), Bilbao (Fund. Ellacuría), Burgos (Atalaya Intercultural), Madrid (Pueblos Unidos-Padre Rubio), San Sebastián (Asoc. Loiolaetxea), Sevilla (Asoc. Claver), Tudela (Centro Lasa), Valencia (SJM Valencia), Valladolid (Red Íncola), alongside with a technical office in Madrid and a legal office in Melilla (Southern Border).

The Jesuits Social Sector of the joins the citizen complaints about the lack of legal assistance and information about the rights of migrants arriving in the Canary Islands

Several organizations denounce the lack of legal assistance and interpretation in the first research activities of migrants carried out by the police in the Canary Islands, including the Illustrious Bar Association of Las Palmas. In this way, people are deprived of a guarantee provided by law. Ignoring the legal framework, they can hardly express their needs for protection. In the past, numerous entities have denounced the poor reception conditions of migrants arriving in the Canary Islands, whether they have an international protection profile or not: among them, the Migrants with Rights Network (Red Migrantes con Derechos), which includes the Social Sector of the Society of Jesus.

The Social Sector, which is part of JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) and has experience in the southern border through SJM; in the countries of origin and transit with Alboan and Entreculturas; and with children and youth through the Mimbre network, maintains close contact with the diocesan secretariats of migration, with other entities and with some journalists who cover the situation, supporting their work and their demands. Through these channels, it is in contact with some Malian migrants with a clear asylum profile through subsidiary protection, who fear being returned without having been able to apply for international protection. They explain that the day after their arrival, the police gave them a document. A translator simply assured them that this paper did not necessarily imply that they would be returned. But no lawyer explained to them their rights or how to apply for international protection. Nor did they give them the names of their lawyers and interpreters, so they could not maintain contact. After two months, they are confined to a hotel, passing the quarantine, without anyone having advised them of their rights or taken steps to request protection. They fear that the police will send them back to Mali, a country in armed conflict, even via Mauritania.

SEE HERE THE FULL STATEMENT