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Jesuit Refugee Service concerned about xenophobia in rich nations

In a statement marking World Refugee Day on 20 June, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has said that wealthy nations are denying proper funding to humanitarian programs aimed at assisting the world's most vulnerable people - refugees.

"People driven from their homes and forced to live in camps need the support of the International Community to help rebuild their lives, but increasingly find themselves abandoned with little hope of a better future," said JRS International Director, Fr Lluís Magriņā SJ.

JRS warned about the rising levels of xenophobia and racism in many rich nations, and the effect that this was having on asylum seekers and refugees. Fr Magriņā cautioned against such attitudes to foreigners, which he said encouraged the growth of "an ugly climate of bigotry, hatred and division that can very quickly undermine the social fabric of society."

JRS instead called for the wealthy nations to "remove barriers to the outside world, and open their hearts and minds to the suffering of those people who have lost so much".

Meanwhile JRS Australia has raised concerns about the new detention centre currently under construction on Christmas Island.

JRS has received a report from a local resident concerned that the 80 detained asylum seekers are becoming "agitated and anguished" by their treatment in the new centre, which is "surrounded by three lines of metal fences and barbed wire".

"It is a scandalous way to treat people," says the report. "The situation is so frustrating because [Christmas Island residents] don't have a voice, and the peace of the island and its natural beauties is feeling the effects of it."

JRS (International)
JRS (Australia)

JRS/Vidimus Dominum

21 Jun 2002