Peace, Refugee Stories

Over 20 million people facing starvation – and we should care!

by Tony Magliano

Think to a time when you were hungry. Remember how it felt, a bit uncomfortable, right? You may have even said, “I’m starving!” But you knew that in a short time the next meal would be there for you. Knowing that a good meal was awaiting you allowed your slight hunger to actually whet your appetite.

Now imagine that you are very hungry and have no idea where the next meal will come from for you and your family. In this case your hunger is physically painful and terrifyingly stressful.

Imagine now that there is no work to be found, the drought has dried up your crops. Your livestock is dead. And you and your family have eaten the last seeds that were meant for next season’s planting.

Now how are you feeling?

This is how many Africans are feeling, especially those in South Sudan, Somalia, Northeast Nigeria, and nearby Yemen. In these nations over 20 million people are facing famine and starvation. Armed conflict and severe drought are the main engines driving this emergency – the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II…

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Refugee Stories

World Refugee Day: Did you miss it?

by Tony Magliano

World Refugee Day, June 20, came and went with hardly a notice. I almost missed it.

Sadly, little mention was given in the secular and even religious world to the unprecedented refugee crisis endured by countless fellow human beings who have fled their homes with little more than the shirt on their back.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) latest report titled “Global Trends,”  as of 2016 over 65 million people worldwide – a record high – have been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, violence, conflict or human rights violations (see: http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2016).

Every single day 28,300 brothers and sisters are forced to flee from their homes.

Especially sad is the fact that children account for over 50 percent of the refugee population.

In just the last six years the number of displaced persons throughout the world has increase approximately 50 percent – from 45.2 million to the current 65.6 million.

Armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Sudan continue to be the major driving force for this dramatic increase in displaced persons according to UNHCR.

Although the humanitarian need is tremendous, only less than 1 percent of all refugees are resettled worldwide.

According to CNN, at least 2,859 migrants died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2016.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said, “At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year. On land, people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed doors.”

And while not entirely closed, the United States’ refugee doors are barely cracked open.

In fiscal year 2016, according to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. under the Obama administration only allowed 84,995 refugees into the country. And from war-torn nations like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria, the U.S. only permitted the entry of 16,370 and 12,587 refugees respectively.

To make matters worse, President Trump is proposing lowering the total number of refugees permitted into the U.S. in fiscal year 2018 to just 50,000.

Granting such small numbers of desperate refugees permission to enter the U.S. is gravely immoral.

In contrast, according to the UNHCR, the tiny nation of Lebanon is host to the largest number of refugees relative to its national population – where one in every six persons is a refugee. That’s equivalent to the U.S. taking in 55 million refugees!

Please sign this UNHCR pledge (see: http://bit.ly/2qPBMdT).

Let’s tirelessly work and pray to be a part of the refugee solution, and not a part of what Pope Francis calls the “culture of indifference.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

Refugee Stories

Walking in the footsteps of migrants

by Tony Magliano

Recently I was given a unique opportunity to taste some of the bitter hardships endured by fellow human beings fleeing drug-gang violence, oppressive poverty and economic injustice south of the U.S. border.

Starting the day after a talk I gave at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Parish in Tucson, Arizona, I entered into a migrant immersion experience.

Arranged by my kind host Salvatorian Fr. Bill Remmel, my migrant immersion journey started with joining a team of Tucson Samaritans.

The Samaritans are a faith-based group who regularly patrol – mostly on foot – very remote areas of the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. They leave jugs of life-saving water along hot rugged terrain traveled by very poor migrant children, women and men seeking a safe, decent place to live in the U.S.

Because there are relatively few legal visas issued annually by the U.S. government for much needed low-skilled laborers, and due to an already existing 700 mile wall/fence along the U.S.-Mexico border coupled with thousands of Border Patrol agents, most undocumented workers in order to try to avoid being arrested, dangerously trek through the desert to hopefully reach a U.S. workplace.

On the day I went out with the Tucson Samaritans, appropriately enough we met up at Southside Presbyterian Church – where the modern sanctuary movement in the U.S. was born.

We traveled south stopping close to the U.S.-Mexico border…

Read the rest of this column online here.