As Little Sisters of the Assumption, living and working in the different continents, we are exposed on a daily bases to the unbearable suffering of migrants and displaced people of all ages and cultures. We see migrants arriving by land, by sea in very precarious conditions, often at the cost of their lives. They are always exploited by people who take advantage of their urgency to leave their homelands in order to have the basic necessities of life for themselves and their families.

We meet them homeless, hungry, with no money, undocumented, without the possibility to communicate in a country unknown to them. This is a traumatic experience for the rest of their lives, which leads them to find refuge in ghettos with others in a similar situation.

The local political system uses the means of communication to describe them as people invading and taking the resources of the receiving countries. They highlight the public cost to finance immigrant programs   and little by little they reduce available help for these people.

The receiving countries approve laws that do not respect the international conventions and agreements for migrants and so over ride their basic human rights . This erodes their dignity as persons and promotes the unacceptable migration policies, based on the perception of immigrants as criminals – terrorists from whom we must be protected, hence the need for Centers of Detention . These centers are places of violence and abuse and are the origin of revolts which are quelled by more violence. This is not acceptable in the 21st century. Borders are closed to people, while they are wide open for the exchange of finances, trade and information. Racism and xenophobic behaviors are ever increasing. 

Why do immigrants leave their own lands?

The migrant population has tripled in the past 40 years and will continue to increase. The causes of this movement are many: War, Violence, Natural Disasters and Poverty, which is the result of Unjust  Development. It is time that we and our governments acknowledge that people leave their countries because they have no other option to survive . Thus the causes of migration rest in the decisions we take to organize  life and relationships at different levels. 

 At the 2009 African Synod, Mgr. W Avenya Bishop of Makurdi Nigeria said: “African people will continue to arrive in Europe at the risk of dying in the desert or in the sea until we address the economic and environment balance between the two continents and the rest of the world. The responsibility to address this imbalance must come from the West.” We are all part of this.

We can no longer be silent

We are deeply concerned :

  • About the recurrence of violations and of basic human rights, acts of violence, human trafficking, sexual violence as well as acts of discriminations and arbitrary detentions, victimizing migrant workers, particularly from Sub-Saharan Africans.
  • About the dangerous interception of migrants at sea and at inland borders, especially the recent drowning of hundreds of people off the southern coasts of Italy, including many women, children, attempting to flee war in their country.
  • About the humanitarian situation of thousand of migrant workers and their families who are without shelter or stay in overcrowded transit centers and lack access to water, adequate food and basic health service.

With a compassionate heart and a spirit of cooperation.

 We express our support for :

  • The establishment of policies of development and international trade, that favor a just and sustainable economy in the countries where the flow of immigrants is greatest . A economy which protects the natural resources of these countries, impoverished by the greed of rich western countries. This would reduce the number of people forced to emigrate because of extreme poverty. 
  • The comprehensive reform of migration policies and the ongoing concern to ensure that undocumented immigrants have access to full rights.
  • Acknowledging their contribution to the  economy of the country they arrive in, creating legal pathways that respond to labor-market realities and ensure that there is a safe and economically sustainable migration flow.
  • Facilitating  family reunification and family unity for all immigrants. Keeping family links is essential to human fulfillment and social stability.

Gathered together for  our General Chapter, we become more and more aware of the complexity of the global movement of migrants in today`s world and of the dreadful suffering imposed on millions of people.

We renew our commitment to migrants by strengthening our local actions within a global perspective by networking with international organizations.

The Little Sisters of Assumption
General Chapter 2011- Paris

Contact : Franca Sessa -
Web site of the International Secretary of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation


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