The international conference “The religious and migrations in the 21st century: perspectives, response and challenges,” organised by the representation before the United Nations of the Passionists International, the Congregation of St. Joseph, Augustinians International and the Vincentians, yesterday concluded two days of intense work.
The aim of the meeting, attended by around 100 men and women religious, as well as laypersons and experts in the sector, was to understand more fully the phenomenon of migration and its repercussions in today’s world, especially in the context of the current European situation. It also considered the identification of more effective and shared forms of solidarity.
A strong appeal was launched for intensified network-building among congregations, associations and other organisations in countries of origin, transit and destination. The network represents one of the most efficient ways of using energy, skills and resources, to give greater impetus to the already extraordinary work that these entities carry out.
In Italy alone, some 23 million people (almost a quarter of the refugees present in the country) are received by parishes, religious communities, monasteries and sanctuaries.
The participants expressed major concerns regarding the large number of often unaccompanied minors involved in migratory flows, as well as the many young women, especially from Nigeria (more than 4,000 in 2015) who risk falling into the trap of exploitation and prostitution.
Fr. Emela Xris Obiezu, representative of Augustinians International before the United Nations, emphasised that “In this complex world, and faced with the challenge of migration, it is increasingly necessary to think globally and act locally, also in terms of lobbying and advocacy, to take the voice of the victims and those who work alongside them to every level of attention, from local administrations to the United Nations, so as to influence working decisions, always placing at the centre of attention the person and respect for his or her freedom and dignity.”