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    American dream ends in mass graves for migrants heading north

American dream ends in mass graves for migrants heading north

By |11 July 2011|

By Fr. Francisco Gallardo, director of the Caritas migrant house at Matamoros, near Mexico’s border with the USA. 

People leave their homes in search of the “American dream” but they end up coming to us looking for lodging, clothes and help.

Many of them arrive completely exhausted. There are people who’ve been kidnapped and who come to us full of fear. They’ve been tortured and abused and are in a pitiful state.

Most of those who come to us are men. There are very few women and children. Sometimes people come with children but they can’t prove they are their parents. We think that they’re taking the children to their real parents in the US.

We’ve been working with migrants in this diocese for the past 24 years. Originally, we opened our doors to migrants who came from the centre and the south of Mexico. But then the situation became more dramatic and […]

The female face of migration

By |7 July 2011|

The Sister* from Caritas Sri Lanka searches for the women migrant workers who’ve returned home abused and traumatised, their dream of saving a nest egg for their families shattered.

Chandrangani Gunathilaka’s story is one of the worst the Sister has heard. Chandrangani went to Kuwait as a maid in January 2010, paying agents over $200, but quickly fell ill when her employers starved her. Her agents smacked her head against a wall and stood on her chest when she asked for another job. Coughing up blood, Chandrangani made it to the Sri Lankan Embassy.

“ There were many suffering people there,” she said. “Some were burned. Many were beaten.” Chandrangani ended up in a wheelchair.

The Sister, who sets up safe migration programmes for Caritas Sri Lanka, arranged for medical treatment. Chandrangani can now take a few steps and deeply appreciates the Sister ’s help and counselling. “Nobody else came to visit […]

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    Migrants blocked in camps at Libyan borders eager to go home

Migrants blocked in camps at Libyan borders eager to go home

By |8 April 2011|

Many migrant workers from Bangladesh had been living in Libya for a long time, often for several years. Most of them were employed in the construction sector, in the capital Tripoli but also in Brak, Misurata or Nalut.
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    The story of Samer and Maryam, Palestinian migrants fleeing from Libya

The story of Samer and Maryam, Palestinian migrants fleeing from Libya

By |23 March 2011|

Two weeks ago, Samer started his journey back home. From Bengazi in Libya, he left for Egypt. Walking is difficult for the old man, but he wanted to leave Libya while it was still possible, before the city would be surrounded by the government’s troops.

Massive departures at the Salloum border camp

By |23 March 2011|

Yesterday, a lot of people had to pack their stuff at the Salloum border camp. Salloum looked like a crowded, badly-organised coach station. Dozens of buses were obstructing the access to the camp. There has been a lot of movement here in the last days. A lot of people could finally leave.

Independence day in Brazil

By |8 September 2010|

By Angela Page

Brazil marked Independence day on 7 September. It was a public holiday, a day for celebration.

But for many Brazilians it seems that little has changed since colonial times. Some landowners still own farms the size of a small country and continue to wield great power.

“With such huge estates it is difficult to monitor what goes on there”, says Jose Francisco of Caritas Brazil. That’s why he’s spent this week campaigning for a Limit to Land Ownership.

It is estimated that there are 25,000 people living in slave-like conditions on large farms in Brazil.

Facts about land justice in Brazil

“Such huge areas of land are difficult to monitor – people can go on the land and do what they like there” says Jose.“Limiting land ownership will also help prevent the loggers and people burning down trees indiscriminately.”

Throughout Brazil urns have been filling up with hundreds of signatures a day.

More than […]

Pan Asia campaign against trafficking

By |29 August 2010|

Alice was 25 when she left her job in Manila, the Philippines. She is a qualified civil engineer, yet her salary was not enough to pay for her four brothers and sisters to go through school. When she saw an advertisement offering well-paid posts as civil engineers in Kuwait, she contacted the recruitment agency immediately.

She had to pay half the agency’s fees up front, agreeing to repay the rest on taking up her position. But when she arrived in Kuwait she was told to sign a contract to work as a domestic servant. The agency refused to allow her to return to the Philippines, insisting that she take up the post and pay them the money she owed. For two and a half years she worked as a domestic servant for a family. She never had a day off, and regularly worked 20 hour days.

“Child trafficking and sexual exploitation […]

Lebanon Migration Center

By |29 August 2010|

Starting with a small team of three people in 1994, the Caritas Migration Centre today helps thousands of foreigners living in Lebanon.

In spite of political and economic difficulties, Lebanon hosts many refugees in need of protection and better living conditions. Palestinians, Sudanese, and tens of thousands of Iraqis are now in the country..

Caritas Lebanon provides help, legal council and assistance, medical aid, and support with the education of children.

The outburst of violence in Iraq in 2003 initiated a surge of refugees into the country, so that Caritas Lebanon quickly had to develop its capabilities and today there are six centres dedicated to help the Iraqis.

The Centre is also very active in the protection and the defence of the rights of women who have come to Lebanon as domestic workers.

Originating in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Ethiopia, they are sometimes the victims of ill treatment. Caritas helps the victims and also […]

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    Caritas urges European Union not to turn migrants into criminals

Caritas urges European Union not to turn migrants into criminals

By |29 August 2010|

Caritas is calling on European governments to stop the criminalization of migrants as outlined in new EU legislation.

Caritas organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean have urged Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and European Union states to review their harmful common migration policies.

Caritas and church organisation in Europe backed the call, saying the EU must respect human rights.

A European Parliament directive on 18 June threatens to turn migrants into criminals and allows for their expulsion.

Caritas Latin America and Caribbean President, Bishop Fernando Bargalló says that this policy is opposite to a safe, humane and coherent migratory system that has at its heart the fundamental rights of the human person.

Bishop Fernando Bargalló said “Caritas is urging the European Parliament to reconsider legislation which criminalises honest migrants who are trying to bring their families out of poverty.

“The European Union has benefited for years from the efforts of hard working migrants […]

Fight Trafficking: What to do in the European Union?

By |29 August 2010|

They are forced into sexual slavery, their organs are removed, they are exploited in the workplace. These are just some of the realities of the people who fall victim to human trafficking. Caritas members are currently at a meeting in Paris to urge the current French Presidency of the EU to raise awareness about the risks posed to vulnerable people by trafficking.

Here are some of the pictures from an accompanying photo exhibition which tells the stories of trafficking victims.

No domestic bliss for migrants in Lebanon

By |29 August 2010|

Aneesa*, 23, arrived in Lebanon during the 2006 war with Israel. She left her home in the Philippines to become a domestic worker with a family. With battles being fought on the streets of Beirut, Aneesa was very afraid and wanted to go back home after just two weeks.

It was too difficult to leave so Aneesa had to stay with the family that had been assigned to her by an agency. Very soon, her concerns about the war outside dimmed in comparison to her own personal conflict, which saw her the victim of violence and abuses at the hands of her employers.

“The Mister slapped me and even touched me. He wanted to find out if I was a virgin and single. I begged him not to touch me, but he was very strong and I was frightened,” said Aneesa.

As time passed, the list of abuses grew longer. Aneesa was hit, […]

Migration: weighing up the options

By |29 August 2010|

They cross deserts in Mexico and they take to rough seas in unsafe boats in North Africa. They risk alienation, rejection and poverty far from home to create a better life for themselves and for their families. Many of the world’s migrants do this because there’s no better alternative.

“History has shown us that people will always migrate,” says Martina Liebsch, Caritas Internationalis’ Advocacy coordinator for Migration, Trafficking and Gender, “but Caritas would like migrants to be able to make an informed choice, based on different opportunities, about whether to leave their countries or not.”

Lack of opportunities in their home countries is one reason why people migrate. People may also go abroad to work because of war, poverty or so they can better support their families by sending money – remittances – home.

“Around half the world’s migrants are women and Caritas Internationalis focuses its migration work on women,” says Ms […]

Imagine a migrant’s rights protected: Migrants rights

By |29 August 2010|

• Priority should be given to economic and social policies which promote development in poorer countries so people do not feel forced to migrate,
• Restrictive migration policies are not the answer. More opportunities in countries of origin would make staying at home more enticing,
• Better regulation of the labour market to help avoid exploitation. Caritas urges governments and firms to provide decent work conditions.

At the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking Conference in Vienna in February, Caritas called on world leaders to honour the commitments they made to tackle poverty and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Unfulfilled pledges lead to the despair and injustice which provide fertile ground for trafficking and slavery.

At the COATNET (Christian Organisations Against Trafficking) meeting in October in Paris, Caritas highlighted the need for commitment to empowering women in the family and fighting the trafficking of children.

At the Global Forum on Migration and Development […]

Imagine a migrant’s rights protected: Caritas in action

By |29 August 2010|

Caritas organisations belong to ERSO (European Reintegration Support Organisations). Led by Caritas Austria, it offers counselling to migrants before they leave their country. In 2008, the project focused on assisting migrants on their return home, especially those who had been rejected for asylum.

The book “The Travails of Sri Lankan Migrants” by Fr George Sigamoney, director of Caritas Kandy in Sri Lanka, shows the hardships faced by women who migrate and their families. Caritas Sri Lanka also released a DVD docu-drama about the plight of migrants called, “The House of the Arabian Child.”

Caritas Dakar engaged in support of women from rural areas. They received microcredit to be able earn their living in their villages rather than be forced to migrate to urban areas. They were also encouraged to create women’s organisations.

Migrants represent 3 percent of the global population
An estimated 2.4 million people are trafficked at any given point in time […]

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    Needed and Exploited – the Invisible Suffering of Migrant Domestic Workers

Needed and Exploited – the Invisible Suffering of Migrant Domestic Workers

By |29 August 2010|

The issue of migrant domestic workers is a major one in many parts of the world. It is sometimes linked to trafficking in human beings and it affects women to a large extent. Migrant domestic workers are often victims of severe human rights violations, which often are unreported and go unpunished.
The most extreme forms of exploitation and abuse have resulted in severe injury and even death.

Caritas Internationalis, concerned about the denial of the human rights and dignity of migrants around the world, has decided to compile information on the situation of migrant domestic  workers among its member organisations worldwide, their national/local partners, religious orders, and other Catholic NGOs that share the same concerns.

The feedback received from them, presented here below, is a contribution to the work of ILO for the drafting of an international convention on the rights of migrant domestic workers.

This compilation is based on answers received to […]

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