JUSTINEOur planet is the most amazing place for life and human race. With the emergence of the concept of state and kingdom, the human communities barricaded itself with political and geographical boundaries. Thus, they saw each other as threat; hitherto one human family.

International migration is a global phenomenon; growing in scope, complexity and impact. More than ever today, there are political, economic and religious-cultures factor major way on this increasing international trend. The year, 2015-16 is one of the deadliest years that witnessed the unprecedented level of human mobility after World War II.

4. Sr. Justine with Civil Society delegatesAccording to UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s Global Trends 2015, the numbers of migrants exceeded to 244 million; of which 65.3 million forcibly displaced including 21.3 million refugees, 3.2 asylum seeker and 40.8 million people internally displaced within their own countries. With an average of six people fleeing each minute, the migration trend has gone up four times from the previous decades.

The UN played pivotal role in organizing London Conference February 2016 that brought more than 70 heads of state to focus on sharing the equitable global responsibility of the Syrian Refugees Crisis while recognizing worsening crises in Yemen, South Sudan and Iraq among the conflict ridden countries.

The historic World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul with the interface of state and humanitarian organizations saw the commitment for the long term measures for such crises. The recent collaborated efforts of the UN Member States towards refugees and migrants are commendable. The UN High level Summit September 19 called as ‘New York Declaration’ for Refugees and Migrants followed by Leaders’ Summit on Refugees hosted by President Barak Obama made significant appeal to member states for new commitments on refugees and migrations.

The Civil Society has contributed enormously for the outcome of the UN High-level Summit in September 2016 on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants report on “Safety and Dignity”. The ninth Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), an initiative of UN to address the migration and development interconnectedness with a theme, “Migration that Works for Sustainable Development for All: Towards a Transformative Migration Agenda’, held in Bangladesh in December 2016.

Religious and Migration in 21st Century 2nd Day 65The historic meet resolved with 130 member states ‘agreed to have a global treaty for better protection of the migrants, a global phenomenon that is increasing rapidly across the world.’ As a member of civil society, we look forward to the upcoming Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration ahead.

The global solidarity and sharing responsibility of Congregations of St. Joseph, the organization I represent is quite overwhelming. The Sisters have opened up their convents’ doors for the migrants, trafficked persons especially the Syrian refugees in several countries; notably in Canada, USA, Australia, Europe, North Africa, particularly in Lebanon. It is quite inspiring to meet a few of St. Joseph Sisters who volunteered to manage the Refugee camps in Europe. The regional conference organized on Migration held in Rome along with the Faith based civil society groups have calibrated into more collective actions in our engagements in UN Side events on these crucial issues.

It is a call within a call to work on this crucial and life staking issue of migration and refugees. In the aftermath of anti-Christian violence in 2007-08 in Kandhamal, Odisha, Eastern India, I could see and feel how people overnight became strangers and refugees in their own land; scurrying for safety amidst uncertain future as marauders on the rampages to molest and kill the Christians.

I was entrusted with 40 young girls aspiring to become nuns at that time; we had to change our attires of secular young women while escaping into a neighboring state to save our lives. After a couple of months of introspection, I decided to work among the communities rather stay put in a city convent. The conflict along with the abject poverty pushed the many girls into traffickers’ hands and some promising girls ended up maids in cities.

The challenge before the civil society need to launch a new deal for refugees, migrants and societies; a deal that addresses the reasons that drive people out of their nativity providing safe passage while protecting their fundamental rights; a deal to build inclusive and diverse societies without xenophobia and racism that are able to welcome newcomers and thrive together as world citizens.