Humanitarian Crisis looms in Scary Flights

Dear Friends for Life:  Reading daily about the suffering of refugees, we conclude that no one chooses to flee their home. Forced to depart suddenly, it is impossible for people to apply for the necessary papers and visas required to travel. This results in a growing number of persons who have no alternative but to choose potentially hazardous methods to slip away –  by foot, by boat or by being smuggled out.

A survey taken by the UN asked people to write down six types of physical or emotional hardships refugees might experience during their flight to safety. 23,015 words were received: fear, anxiety, pain, cold, drowning, hunger, vulnerable, scared, disease, rape, violence, etc. Take a moment and try to add six new words to this list…

Just like anyone else, refugees have rights. These rights are clearly written in the 1951 Geneva Convention. In brief, the core principle clearly states that no refugee should be returned to a country where they could face serious threats to their life or freedom.

There is no such thing as a typical refugee. People of any age, race, gender or religion can be forced to leave their homes. Claiming refugee status doesn’t mean giving up universal human rights. Refugees still posses basic rights to education, to access to the courts, to employment and other fundamental freedoms, including the rights to freedom of movement, to security, to family life and to liberty.

In addition, detention of asylum seekers is a questionable policy. Studies show high levels of mental health problems in detainees. Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, self-harm and suicides are the main five reported among children, adolescents and adults. The longer in detention, the worse mental health deteriorates.

Because this action affects refugees’ human rights, when possible, detention should be avoided or take place only for a short period of time. Children should never be placed in immigration detention. Victims of torture and other serious violence need special attention and should generally not be detained.

It is important that we know the rights of refugees. Only then can we play a vital part in making sure these rights are recognised and enforced. One way to become informed is to participate in the journey of a  refugee. Imagine yourself as a refugee. You and your family are fleeing the war-torn nation of your births. Read the following stories mapping the journeys of two refugees:

1. Click here to read Sarjida’s story, Myanmar.

2. Click here to read Emmanuel’s Story, Ivory Coast.

In this chaotic situation, Christians have a golden opportunity to become actively involved. There is no more critical time than now to turn towards the helpless, the homeless, the broken, with open arms and hearts. From Leviticus 19 to Matthew 25, we can read of the importance of welcoming strangers.

Being a Catholic Priest, I am pro-life – and that includes pro-refugee. May God help us be the people He’s called us to be in this present moment when “Voices Are Crying Out in the Wilderness”:

            “I have not eaten anything from this morning”
            “I have no house to sleep at”
            “How can I live from now on…?”

Join Pope Francis’ call: “May we have the courage to touch the suffering flesh of Christ, revealed in the faces of those countless persons whom he calls ‘the least of these my brethren.'”

      God Bless
      Jerry Novotny, OMI


(The Difference is LIFE)  “The ways of the Lord are not easy, but we were not created for an easy life but for great things, for goodness.” – Pope Benedict XVI


Websites by Fr. Jerry


(English) Fighting for the Culture of Life – Fr. Jerry’s Blog


(Japanese) Human Rights: The Road to a Happy Life – Fr. Jerry’s Blog

One response to this post.

  1. Thank you for keeping the humanity of the refugees in my heart/mind. In the USA we can easily fall into indifference and/or fear they are dangerous and going to hurt our own lives.


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