Moria cannot be the end of the road

The Jesuit Migrant Service regrets the situation of abandonment and failure in the reception of refugees in Moria and other places on the Southern Border and reiterates its commitment and availability of its network of communities of hospitality throughout Spain.

Lesbos is an icon, after the fire in the Moria refugee camp, of the failed model of migration policy in Europe. Lesbos presents a model of first reception that does not have sufficient capacity not only to house, but also to welcome with dignity people who are fleeing violence and war in their places of origin. This situation is unfortunately repeated in other places along the European Southern Border, accompanied by the SJM.

In Moria, the situation has been untenable for five years, while Europe looks the other way.

A camp with a capacity for 3,000 people, but with a population of 13,000. Of these, 40% are children, of whom more than 400 are minors without their families. Entire families who have had to flee their homes to escape conflict and death. Also people from different parts of Africa, where violence is structural.

An unsupportive Europe that has not been able to fulfil its obligations in a coordinated way and is increasingly externalising its borders. Many international organisations such as the UNHCR and the IOM, especially at this time of pandemic, have warned of the danger for the refugee camps of living in these overcrowded conditions, due to the impossibility of meeting the minimum health and social distancing requirements.

The reality of the CETI in Melilla and the experience in the bullring of the autonomous city of Melilla show sad parallels.

The position of the UNHCR, the IOM and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe in this regard is also significant. Likewise, asylum seekers are currently being “stabbed” in Melilla, Ceuta or the Canary Islands, cutting off their fundamental right to free movement and free choice of residence, despite the Supreme Court ruling confirming this right.

Europe seems to be starting to wake up very timidly after the demonstrations in Germany and other corners of the continent. The New Pact on Migration and Refugees is eagerly awaited, although some experts do not foresee significant changes that would put people and not borders at the centre.

The Catholic Church, together with civil society as a whole, has provided resources for humanitarian aid, and communities such as San Egidio or the Jesuit Refugee Service itself, among others, have been accompanying and intervening in different reception and integration areas for years.

For its part, the Jesuit Migrant Service has been welcoming, accompanying and integrating migrants and refugees within its network of Communities of Hospitality. It also works closely with the central and regional governments in the community sponsorship model implemented in the Basque Country, which we hope will soon be extended throughout Spain.

Our models in the Hospitality Communities network especially encourage the reception and rooting of migrants and refugees in the local community through the social fabric, models that have been widely successful in the accumulated experience of recent decades.

Europe, governments and citizens in general, cannot continue to look the other way without acting, as if nothing were happening. Europe, rooted in its founding values, needs to rise to the occasion, working together, with common responses and solidarity, with a model of integration and rootedness in our diverse societies and, above all, respecting the universal right of asylum seekers. This should be the real agenda of the New Pact on Migration and Refugees that will see the light of day in Europe in a few weeks’ time. The Jesuit Migrant Service reiterates its commitment and availability of our hospitality network, joining in this effort to provide a common, coordinated and comprehensive response by putting migrants and refugees, and among them, the most vulnerable, at the centre.

More than 58,000 people accompanied by the SJM network in 201

The Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM) presents its 2019 Annual Report, a year in which the work of accompanying, serving and defending migrants and refugees, and their full access to citizenship, has been consolidated. A total of 58,965 people were accompanied in 2019 by the entities that form part of the network in the different lines of work.

In the line of Inclusion, which aims to provide integration tools to the migrant population in the cities where we work, almost 40,000 people were accompanied in individualized legal, labour and psycho-social assistance; first reception and basic orientation; and in employability and training projects.

The Frontera Sur (Southern Border) office in Melilla, which offers legal advice as well as human rights observation, assisted 530 people of 21 different nationalities last year, in addition 130 legal actions have been carried out before different authorities and institutions.

In Hospitality, the line of reception for especially vulnerable forced migrants, 460 people were received in more than 70 solidarity initiatives by lay groups, family networks and religious communities. The Community Sponsorship project in the Basque Country was the most innovative action of the year. 53 of the people welcomed were women who took part in gender-specific projects. Many of the people welcomed were unaccompanied young people.

Another of the lines of work is the presence in CIE (Internment and Foreigner Centres) where a group of volunteers and technicians visit the interns in 5 different places in the territory. In 2019, in addition to presenting the ninth annual report, 1462 visits were made to 793 people; and 61 legal actions were carried out in order to improve the conditions of internment and to work towards the end of these inhumane centres.

The Interreligious Dialogue line was given a strong boost with the consolidation of three spaces for raising awareness about the diversity of beliefs, which were attended by almost 7,000 people (mostly students from educational centres) and the proliferation of numerous cultural exchange activities, in which more than 1,600 people participated.  

The strategic line of Migrant Women and Domestic Work continued to support almost 5,000 women, especially in the areas of work and training. The work focused on strengthening their lines of defence of rights in home and care work spaces and raising awareness among the public, as well as advocacy with political authorities. In the area of Citizenship and Participation there were numerous innovative initiatives to strengthen community ties in the neighbourhoods and to promote the autonomy and voice of migrants. 420 people attended spaces for citizen participation and some 1,500 attended leisure and free time initiatives.The SJM sincerely and lovingly thanks all the people who make this work possible, which aims to achieve social justice and greater inclusion and equality for migrants: more than 1,200 volunteers and almost 70 members of the technical and managerial teams that make up the team that drives SJM’s work.

Women Entrepreneurs from SJM’s Migrant Women’s Group

Patricia Azpelicueta and Isabel Acosta are the inspiration for other Women of the Jesuit Migrant Service of Valencia who are now recognised for their activist fashion ventures (@makayole) and Ontological Business Coach (@isabele.acosta).  

More than a year ago they decided to join the Reconstructing Stories group in the Women-Migrant area, where they talked about “Empowerment”, and empowered themselves, they talked about “enterprise and viability”, and created their own.

The women of SJM Valencia, an area coordinated by Angélica Zuluaga L., are following a path of accompaniment, reflection on the migration process and decisions, using art as a form of expression. They have performed several performances with stories about their own migratory experience, they wrote and read stories in the celebration of the Fair Trade Day in the Town Hall Square of Valencia, they have organised a Poetry Recital on the Day of the Christmas of the Peoples Celebration and even a Catwalk for Women’s Rights, they paraded slogans of: Solidarity, Equality, Respect, Integration and other concepts they wanted to make fashionable.

But they not only used art and words, they went further and worked on the possibilities of being their own bosses, imagining a dream: that of having their own business.

Through networking between the Jesuit Migrant Service and the Novaterra Foundation, they have initiated an inspiring path for many women who have decided to migrate, they had the strength and the SJM the necessary reasons to support their ideas, so these entrepreneurs have managed to start their projects thanks to the shelter of the SJM, the Novaterra Entrepreneurship Programme and funding from Caixa Popular. A programme inspired by the microcredit programme of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus after his visit to Valencia two years ago with the help of Tandem Social.

COVID 19 arrives, as well as the state of alarm, but thanks to the commitment and credibility of Mavi Leida Fernández of the Novaterra Foundation and her accompaniment through ICT’s new modality adopted and the support of La Caixa Popular was a fundamental pillar for the support of the projects, is that they have reached this point.

This is how Ana Mansergas describes it so well in her Valencia Plaza article “Being an entrepreneur and a woman is not easy at first. And if you add to this the time of confinement, the matter becomes even more complicated. But sometimes the challenges are as complicated as they are wonderful, and this is the case of 4 brave women who have been able to get their projects off the ground thanks to the visit in 2018 of Nobel Prize winner Yunus and microcredits”.

Maka y Olé is Patricia Azpelicueta’s enterprise, dedicated to the online sale of Activist Fashion. A fashion that not only cares about being sustainable, organic and ethical, from the materials used; without pollution or labour exploitation; but also with a strong social and ethical commitment to different causes.

Their t-shirts, sweatshirts, bags and accessories have different collections and each t-shirt is a reflection and has a story. The Fine Art Collection where we reflect on “Universal Vibration”, “Microcosm and macrocosm”, “What is Identity?”, “The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth”, “The last source of pure water”; will not leave anyone indifferent. In addition to the Collages of the Valencian artist Enric Gimeno, who reflects on the “New Masculinities”, “The construction of Gender, “the Free movement of people” and our Eco Design as “The melancholy of the whales”, Water, “Black rain”, the Oceans, “Embrace Mother Nature”. You can find more info at @makayole.