The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants

A Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants is set aside each year to fall as close as possible to World Refugee Day on 20 June. Caritas prepares resources for this day on behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

“I have always been distressed at the lot of those who are victims of various kinds of human trafficking. How I wish that all of us would hear God’s cry, ‘Where is your brother?’ (Gen 4:9). Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved? Let us not pretend and look the other way. There is greater complicity than we think. This issue involves everyone!”

 

Pope Francis, 2013, Evangelii Gaudium

In 2020, the Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants is Sunday 21 June, which is the twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The theme, “Where is your brother or sister?”, was taken from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium where he speaks of his distress about the various forms of human trafficking. He quotes the book of Genesis and challenges us not to look the other way but to recognize our migrant brothers and sisters who are experiencing exploitation. Migrants and refugees are part of our community, but they may not always be seen or heard.

This theme is particularly topical given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, as migrant communities will be among the most vulnerable to the impacts. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the economy worldwide, here in New Zealand, the government has been quick to offer emergency benefits to New Zealanders – however one big chunk of the workforce who are missing out are migrant workers.

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, migrant worker exploitation had been a serious problem that even the New Zealand Government has acknowledged by holding a review: MBIE Temporary migrant worker exploitation review

Pope Francis has always seen the importance of this issue, in all its forms. In 2017, the Migrants & Refugees (M&R) Section was established by Pope Francis himself and tasked to address human trafficking as well as migrant and refugee matters. Resources from the M&R Section can be found on their website: Migrants and Refugees Section

Pope Francis acknowledges that the task of overcoming human exploitation takes “courage, patience and perseverance”, but it is a task that we all must take part in. He challenges us “to open our eyes, to see the misery of those who are completely deprived of their dignity and their freedom, and to hear their cry for help.”

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Tutu ana te puehu - Stirring up the dust