Sydney bishop outraged at slaying of refugee

Bishop David Cremin, former episcopal vicar for immigration in the Archdiocese of Sydney, has expressed "shock and outrage" over the death in Sydney of Sudanese refugee and father of four, Ruol Deng Atem Agang.

"It's such a meaningless loss of life and an abominable treatment of another human being," he said of the attack on 28-year-old Mr Agang who died in Westmead Hospital after being bashed on a street in Auburn.

"Ruol has a family which makes this tragedy so much worse," Bishop Cremin told the Catholic Weekly.

"Violence on our streets continues to get worse and it makes my blood run cold. I didn't know Ruol personally, but my thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

Police allege Mr Agang, a refugee from Sudan who had been in Australia with his family for just six months, was hit so hard by one of his attackers that he was lifted off his feet and hit his head on the ground.

Two youths from Auburn and North Parramatta have been charged with murder.

Mr Agang's family was brought to Australia through the Sydney archdiocese's Sudanese Catholic Refugees Appeal which Bishop Cremin launched in 2004.

Parishes, schools, religious orders, individuals and migrant groups gave more than $270,000 to the appeal to ease the plight of 38 people stranded in refugee camps in Egypt and elsewhere who had been granted refugee status by Australian embassies, but did not have the money for their airfares.

So far the Sudanese refugee loan fund has seen 200 people relocated here from refugee camps in Africa.

"The southern Sudanese are such beautiful, gentle people," says Bishop Cremin. "They have an extraordinary depth of faith despite the persecution they have endured for generations.

"Their lives have been enriched by their faith."

Ruol Agang's widow said through an interpreter that she had told her children, aged between two and nine, about their father's death.

"I keep telling them that your dad is not coming back," she said. "I have told them but they still cannot understand what has happened."

The family spent two years in Egypt after fleeing their wartorn homeland before arriving in Australia on humanitarian visas.

They are struggling to afford the burial costs, with Mr Agang's uncles and brothers in Sudan are wishing to bury him in his home country.

Bishop outraged at slaying of refugee (Catholic Weekly 19/2/06)

Belgian, French bishops advocate for illegal residents (National Catholic Reporter 17/2/06)
Bhutanese Refugee Program Facing a Shortfall (Zenit 3/2/06)
Southern African Bishops Address Human Trafficking (Zenit 3/2/06)
Homelessness affecting many immigrants (catholicireland.net 30/1/06)
Young Fr on life support after attack (CathNews 2/2/06)

21 Feb 2006