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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Luis

State of Refugees: Forced to Flee

On September 27, 2020, the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis expressed his concern for the internally displaced persons and prayed for them. He vouched for welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating them, and upgrading their livelihoods. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it worse. As of 2019, the United Nations declared that India had over five million internally displaced due to natural disasters, conflict, and violence. And that is the number that is registered, given that the population of the country is humungous we wonder and assume that the number could be even more. The number therefore at times varies in different surveys taken, for instance, in the World Refugee Survey, and the Global DIP Project may show different numbers.

But one can notice the following four categories of displacement: politically induced displacement, displacement due to Identity and Caste, displacement with regard to rigid conventional customs, and displacement because of the environmental disasters and development related issues.

Pope Francis compared this state of the refugees to the ‘forced to flee state’ of Jesus and his family. He said, in these our brethren who are forced to leave their homes, Jesus is present just like He was present during the time of Herod. We notice almost everyday in the news the crying faces, the desperate voices, the naked, the sick, the strangers, and those in prison in whom we must see the face of Jesus. The moment we see the face of Jesus we will be able to cater to their needs just like Mother Teresa did. But unfortunately, we have blindfolded ourselves that we cannot see these marginalized. We are basking in the glory of the rich. When the Archbishop of Goa Most Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrao requested each of the Parishes in Goa to welcome the migrants and cater to their needs, many of us turned complacent and sightless.

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The words of Pope Francis should remind us that we see and can meet Jesus in them. It is the greatest opportunity that we receive to meet our God. Pope Francis reiterated that there is a dire need to remind ourselves of the four verbs we ought to put into practice: welcome, protect, promote, and most of all integrate. Here are six pointers to help us help the Internally Displaced Persons and let the verbs create the magic.

Pope Francis said we ought to have the knowledge so that we understand. Knowledge will come only when we move out of our comfort zones and visit our neighbourhood. Knowledge will be bestowed onto us only if we make the effort to break the ice between me and my neighbour and have a healthy conversation. I will be able to know as well as believe that he or she too enjoys the same beliefs as I do and will be able to help one another to grow in the same faith.

Like the Samaritan who went near the wounded, we too must go closer to our brethren who need us not with a sense of pity but because you want to show your love. Because you see Jesus in him and her and because you want to serve the Jesus you notice and recognize. Only getting close will help you build the rapport and make you a worthy instrument that you ought to be.

The pandemic has left our streets silent. Social gatherings have to some extent reduced, we have become more concerned about our environment. We have got the time to remain silent and listen to our brethren. Listening is a skill that we fail to develop. We want to speak and draw attention towards us rather than just being and listening to the other. Your very listening presence can be of great help to the other. Listening can help one reconcile with himself or herself and with the world around.

Interestingly, the more concerned we are about the other, we tend to gain doubly more. A teacher teaches in the classroom to enhance the child’s knowledge but in the process, one gains knowledge and also a fan following of the lovely students who are sure to be encouraging you at every step. It is necessary to share so as to grow. The more I have I need to learn to give it away especially to the migrant who deserves it the most at the present.

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At times, we just look at the statistics presented to us and leave it at that. We do not soil our hands to help these desperate souls. Soiling our hands is a necessity because when you get involved the other too is inspired to do the same. And the chain of inspiration will definitely be rendered endless.

When there is a section that does their bit, the others ought to either support or remain silent at best. Criticising the other will do no good. Encouraging the other will help in positive enforcement of doing something more and silence will prove that you support what the other is doing; both these acts will make you cooperative in order to build wonderful humanity.

Let us do our bit to support the forced to flee. Let us build the attitude of acceptance of the other as he or she is, not recognizing him or her for the colour, caste and creed. Because we are all equals before the one who has created us. Whether a migrant or a refugee, we are supposed to be a community in solidarity.

Copyright ©2020 THE GOAN EVERYDAY

The article was first published on THE GOAN EVERYDAY newspaper click HERE to check.

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