Accept refugees seeking asylum - Benedict

An employee of a Caritas joint project for Darfur refugees has been killed as Pope Benedict reaffirms that giving "hospitality to refugees is an obligatory gesture of human solidarity".

"The death of one of our local staff in Darfur is a great tragedy", Caritas Australia's CEO Jack de Groot said in a statement yesterday.

"The risks involved for aid workers and the many that have fled to become refugees in situations like Darfur are enormous."

"The situation in Darfur is one of the greatest refugee tragedies we have seen with millions of people affected. We sincerely hope the Australian Government can send peacekeepers to provide access and protection for aid workers and the many who remain so vulnerable," said Mr de Groot.

The employee, Adam Adam, was a guard and a pump operator at a water point in Khamsa Degaig camp for internally displaced persons in Zalingei, West Darfur. He was also one of the local leaders in the camp.

This killing follows a spate of attacks in the camps around Zalingei. Since the beginning of June, five camp residents have been shot and killed, huts have been set on fire, people have been beaten, and women are being assaulted almost daily.

On his way home from work Sunday evening, Mr Adam was ordered to stop by three unidentified men in civilian clothes. After refusing to stop, one of the three men shot him three times at point blank range. The guard died immediately.

Darfur refugees march in Sydney

Meawhile, the ABC reports that Sydney's Darfuri refugee community gathered yesterday on World Refugee Day to demand that the Australian government does more to help citizens caught in the cross-fire of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

Hundreds of refugees wearing t-shirts with the words "Noise for Darfur", called on the Federal Government to send peacekeepers to Darfur, to provide access and protection for the vulnerable.

The group also expressed frustration with the long immigration process.

The communications officer at Caritas Australia, Jane Woolford, who works closely with the Darfur community, says many people travelled from all over Sydney for the march. Some were from interstate.

The group marched through the CBD to the Prime Minister's office to the sound of traditional music and singing by the Darfuri women.

They had a letter from the refugee community which they wanted to hand to John Howard's secretary, but they were refused access to the building.

Ms Woolford says the fact that a personal representative from the Prime Minister's office did not come down to accept the letter was humiliating and unnecessary.

"It's disappointing not to have a personal representative accept the letter," she said.

"These people have come here as refugees, and considering it's World Refugee Day, it would have been nice to see more of a personal touch rather than an anonymous passing on of the letter to the office today."

Hospitality obligatory: Benedict

Also on World Refugee Day yesterday, Pope Benedict said that welcoming and assisting refugees is a concrete sign of Gospel love, Catholic News reports.

At the end of his Wednesday general audience, the pope spoke of the importance of international attention "toward those who are forced to flee their countries because of real dangers to their lives."

"To welcome and give hospitality to refugees is an obligatory gesture of human solidarity," the pope said, and for Christians it is "a concrete way to demonstrate Gospel love."

Urging people to ensure that refugees do not "feel isolated because of intolerance or indifference," Pope Benedict also called on governments to ensure the right to political asylum, to protect refugees and to guarantee their human rights.

Helping refugees a sign of gospel love, says pope (Catholic Online, 20/6/07°
ACT- Caritas NGO worker killed in Darfur (Caritas Australia, Media Release, 20/6/07)
Darfur refugees rejected by Prime Minister's office (ABC News, 20/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia

First woman secretary-general to reform Caritas International (CathNews, 19/6/07)
Caritas hospital in Gaza forced to close (CathNews, 13/6/07)
Stop Darfur violence, Holy See tells UN (CathNews, 14/12/06)

21 Jun 2007