THE CATHOLIC SOCIAL JUSTICE QUARTERLY
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Refugees Colombia Travellers East Timor www.justicemagazine.org Issue 15 October 2016
Surviving drought How success is being achieved against the odds in Ethiopia
Conditions are deteriorating in the ‘Jungle’ Both food and financial donations are desperately needed in the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais after the upheaval caused by the evictions in recent months. See the homepage of our website to donate food: www.csan.org.uk To make a donation, please visit tinyurl.com/csan-calais
THE CATHOLIC SOCIAL JUSTICE QUARTERLY
www.justicemagazine.org Issue 15 October 2016
Editorial Justice Magazine is a quarterly publication that reports on and aims to further interest in the Catholic Churchâ€™s social teaching. It takes as its guide the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peaceâ€™s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. We would love to hear from you with your feedback, ideas for future editions or your own contributed articles. Please get in touch via our website or send an email to email@example.com. If you like what you read in Justice Magazine, let your friends and family know and pass this magazine on to them. Advertising To find out more about how to advertise in Justice Magazine and our rates, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact email@example.com with ideas for future articles or to suggest improvements. Editor Lee Siggs firstname.lastname@example.org 07806 946697 Twitter: @justicemagazine Editorial advisers Jonathan Houdmont Nana Anto-Awuakye Advertising Emma Peckett email@example.com Front page photo: Petterik Wiggers Justice is designed using Quadon by Rene Bieder and Calluna/ Calluna Sans from Jos Buivenga Justice Magazine Ltd, Silkstone House Pioneer Close Wath-upon-Dearne Rotherham S63 7JZ Printed by Buxton Press
IN THIS ISSUE 04 06 10 12 14 16 20 22 24 28 30 34 36 38 42 44 46 48 50
A message of hope Historic breakthrough A necessary debate Can we become one nation? At the heart of the chaplaincy Unreported, unrecorded and unresolved When ships are arrested Simply unjust Redemption behind bars Why we must make room for the other A cornerstone of the community A time to celebrate Corporate power grab Exiles in their own land An abandoned people When I met a saint Resilience in the Ethiopian drought Withstanding a crisis Apply pressure to win peace
JUSTICE MAGAZINE 03
Liam Finn on how Catholics in England and Wales have been welcoming the stranger
A message of hope THE ROMANS MIGHT have been keen census-takers, but it’s unlikely that such bureaucracy was extended to recording refugee figures. As a result, we don’t know how many people sought asylum in Egypt two thousand years alongside two parents with a new-born child. Thanks to the wonders of modern demography and the UN Refugee Agency, we do know that there are currently 65.3 million people who have had to flee their homes worldwide. Syria accounts for 4.9 million of them and many others have fled from countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea. We also know that many have not been as fortunate as the Holy Family in their pursuit of sanctuary, losing their lives to the waves or being blocked by barbed wire from joining relatives in new lands. Amira, Mustafa and their 11-monthold baby, Alan (not their real names), are three out of millions who have followed in the footsteps of the Holy Family by escaping their homeland. Having lost a family member to the war, they fled from an area close to Damascus, and travelled for 20 days in a group of the same number. They brought some of Alan’s toys with them, but they were lost at sea in a boat designed for 24 people which was crammed with more than 60. Many thousands of families who have arrived in Europe can tell a similar story. Mercifully, people across the continent have shown solidarity with families like Amira, Mustafa and Alan, greeting them on the shores, welcoming them into their communities, or donating money to charities. CAFOD supporters are among those giving witness to Jesus’s message of hope. Since 2013, they have donated more than £4.5 million in total for our work supporting people who have been displaced by the war in Syria, who have fled in their millions to neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, or who have made the journey to Europe. 04 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Catholics have been responding in their thousands to Pope Francis’s call for us to welcome refugees. Photo: Natalia Tsoukala/Caritas Internationalis During the Year of Mercy, Catholics in England and Wales have also responded to the refugee crisis through prayer and pilgrimage. More than 7,000 people from in excess of 130 parishes and schools have written messages of hope as part of our campaign with the Catholic Social Action Network (CSAN) and Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) which will be shared with refugees in Europe and beyond. Likewise, dozens of groups have undertaken pilgrimages to pray for refugees with a ‘Lampedusa cross’ – made from the driftwood of wrecked refugee boats by Italian carpenter Francesco Tuccio. A Lampedusa cross, so-named after the Italian island where so many have arrived on European soil, can now be found in each Catholic cathedral in this country. The Good Shepherd Church in the Diocese of Clifton is one of the parishes which has held a prayer service for refugees. This was a particularly special occasion for one parishioner who herself fled the Iran-Iraq war. She said: “For me, the simple wooden cross from the shores
of Lampedusa, hewn from the wreckage of a battered boat, comes alive in my hands. “It tells me of those who never made it to shore. It tells me of the fears and suffering of those it had carried as they reluctantly wrench themselves from home and loved ones – a home that they may never see again. Despite all this, it tells me of their search for hope. If I can do nothing, I can still pray for those afflicted by war.” Two millennia since the birth of Christ, it’s inspiring to know that so many people are giving witness to the teachings of the world’s most famous refugee: Giving food, drink, clothing, and welcoming the stranger by prayer and action. JM Find out how you can show solidarity with refugees and order materials for your parish or school at cafod.org.uk/ yearofmercy Turn to the back page to fill out a form showing your support for refugees
with your advertising and help us produce an excellent resource for the Catholic community. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The peace agreement is a unique opportunity to end more than five decades of conflict in Colombia, says Ulrike Beck of CAFOD
Historic breakthrough ON AUGUST 24 the Colombian Government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), announced they had agreed a final peace deal. This is great news for Colombia. In the capital, Bogotá, and elsewhere, people took to the streets to celebrate. Together with its partners, CAFOD is celebrating this deal as an important step towards achieving peace in the country. The peace talks, which have been taking place since October 2012 in Havana, hope to bring an end to the longest internal armed conflict in the western hemisphere. But it will be a long road to peace in Colombia, one which requires the transformation of the whole country and the accompaniment and participation of all of Colombian society and the international community. In the past half-century, at least 220,000 people have been killed in Colombia in the context of the armed conflict. Almost 7 million have been forced to flee their homes, thousands have suffered sexual violence and more than 45,000 have been forcibly disappeared. Colombia’s armed conflict between left-wing guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and the security forces, has caught civilians in the crossfire, mainly those living in rural areas. More than four out of every five victims of the conflict are civilians. CAFOD hopes this agreement will bring an end to the violence and fear that has devastated lives, particularly for Indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant farmer communities, who were most affected. However, the road to peace is not yet secured and the country faces many challenging moments ahead, including armed actors who are not part of this peace deal. 06 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
The peace agreement reached in Havana will have to be signed by the Colombian Government and the FARC. Then Colombians will have to approve it in a binding popular vote, which is scheduled to take place on October 2. Civil society is polarised with regards to the peace agreement and many still lack information about the almost 300-page long agreement. If it gets past this obstacle, each of the six agenda items will then need to be implemented. Institutions will have to be strengthened to ensure the implementation, especially in the regions. The role of Colombia’s ex-President Alvaro Uribe — a staunch opponent of the peace process and still a very influential figure in the country — will be key. As elsewhere, the Colombian media will play an important role in the debates that will now take place in the lead up to the public vote. The Catholic Church in Colombia is working hard to ensure that the country’s most marginalised communities, those who have been the victims of the armed conflict, will have a voice and find justice. In a recent statement to celebrate the agreement the Colombian Bishops’ Conference called on the Colombian people to participate responsibly and with an informed vote in the popular vote, working together to overcome violence and build a reconciled and peaceful Colombia. Another challenge Colombia will face is the issue of security, especially how to keep safe the women and men who will be crucial in ensuring the peace deal is implemented in rural areas. These include community leaders — Afro Colombians, Indigenous People, peasant farmers, leaders of women’s groups — victims who dedicate themselves to defending the rights of others,
trade unionists, teachers, lawyers, journalists, academics and environmental activists. Peace in Colombia is threatened by an increase in violence against these community leaders and human rights defenders. Being a human rights defender in Colombia is a dangerous, often deadly job. Despite the positive progress with this deal, attacks against human rights defenders in Colombia have been increasing. In the first six months of this year on average every two days a human rights defenders was attacked and every five days killed. According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bogota, 729 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia between 1994 and 2015. Thousands more face threats and violence, and there is near total impunity for these crimes. Opposition to the peace talks — and the risk of the peace deal not being accepted in the public vote — comes back to what is at the heart of Colombia’s internal armed conflict: Inequality, economic interests and land. The FARC guerrillas took up arms in response to the massive accumulation of land by the very few, but almost six decades later, this phenomenon remains in Colombia. People living in the countryside have not been adequately recognised or represented by the state and there is still a need for profound change to address this situation. Decades-long conflict over land will not miraculously disappear now a peace deal has been signed. The country has one of the highest number of internally displaced peoples in the world (6.9 million) and despite a Victims and Land Restitution Law (Law 1448), communities continue to face risks when registering for land restitution and seeking to return. They also run the risk of being once again dispossessed of their >>>8
There are more than 7 million victims from the Colombian conflict Photo: SNPS
A man paints a memory mural depicting a man leaving home with a heavy heart Photo: CINEP territory because of the continued presence of illegal armed groups and ‘bad faith’ occupiers of the land. Maria (not her real name), a community leader of a peasant farmer community of Paquemás in Northern Colombia, told me how she and her community were forced to flee their homes: “Many were killed, others had to flee within hours. I was one of the last to leave, towards the end of 1996. There was a massacre, they killed six people.” She and many others of her community have still not been able to return to their lands and are fearful of the risks they will face when they return. CAFOD, together with its partner Caritas Colombia, is supporting this community in their efforts to return to their land. Leaders from the communities – ordinary people – bravely put their lives at risk every day to ensure land rights are respected and see justice prevail. To be successful, a peace deal between the Colombian Government and FARC guerrillas will need courageous leaders like Maria who can help victims defend their land and claim the justice and reparation they are entitled to. Civil society will need to be part of the peace-building process and have the space and security to engage. 08 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Another concern – and reality – is that the conflict continues. Armed paramilitary groups, who are responsible for most of the attacks against human rights defenders, are reported to have increased in size, moving around in rural areas, once again uniformed. Furthermore, despite announcing they were also entering into talks with the government, the country’s second largest guerrilla group in Colombia, the National Liberation Army (ELN), are not included in this deal. Despite these enormous challenges, we must also celebrate this historic agreement. At this moment of hope, let us join our Colombian brothers and sisters in the celebrations. CAFOD will continue to work in Colombia, where our partners work tirelessly to ensure the reality in rural areas is not forgotten. As the international community and media turn their attention away, it is at this moment that accompanying and monitoring human rights will be more vital than ever. The Catholic Church plays a key role in Colombia as an advocate for peace and human rights and in the resettlement of uprooted communities. CAFOD has been working with our partners
in Colombia for more than 40 years, and this peace deal represents the best chance Colombia has had for achieving peace. There is no question that building peace in Colombia will be a long and slow process and transformation will only be possible if Colombians as individuals, organisations and institutions, are open to change. Women, men and children, especially those who have been affected by the conflict, need to have the opportunity to play an active role in the rebuilding of their country. They are hopeful to learn the truth of what happened to their loved ones, to see those responsible brought to justice and to receive reparation. For the first time in almost 60 years of conflict, this deal – which only has been possible as both sides showed a commitment to replace bullets with dialogue – brings the possibility of peace in Colombia tantalising close. This unique opportunity is not to be missed and the international community must continue to provide support, solidarity and prayers for the Colombian peace process. JM Ulrike Beck is Colombia programme officer at CAFOD
St Joseph’s Missionary Society was founded at Mill Hill, North London, in 1866 by Cardinal Herbert Vaughan. Since then, we have been trying to bring the warmth of Christ’s message to the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable throughout the world by living our founder’s motto of love and service among them. Cardinal Herbert Vaughan
If the message of the Gospel has changed your life in such a way that you want to share that message with others as a priest or lay missionary, please contact: Fr Dermot F Byrne MHM, All Souls’ Presbytery, 622 Liverpool Street, Salford M5 5HQ Call us on 07477 078070 or get in touch via email at millhillvocationsoffice@ gmail.com
World Social Forum
Father Dario Bossi says the fight for social and environmental rights must attract disinterested people
A necessary debate
RECENTLY TOOK part in the World Social Forum (WSF), a global gathering of civil movements that, after having taken place in several cities of the global south, took place this year in Montreal, Canada. So often during the event I hear the question: “What can we do from here?” Organising the forum in the north for the first time highlighted the distance that still exists with the global south. While the WSF is usually attended by all kinds of people, in Montreal we missed words and thoughts from the south. At least 250 entry visas requested from foreign participants to the forum were rejected. “We are carrying ideas, not bombs,” said the human rights activist Aminata Traoré. The gathering has framed the World Social Forum with a different logic from before — there was less south-south exchange and less input to start resistance from the bottom-up, but good reflections and provocations in terms, especially, of political influence. In several countries lately, a wind of instability is blowing on democratic values; at the global level it seems that some essential reference points on which to build solid and just agreements for living together are crumbling. Crazy violence and the fanatical madness of terrorism lessens many people’s confidence in dialogue, and in the conviviality of differences. The seductive language of multinational corporations and governments and their double standards lead many to the illusion that something is changing, and that there is a growing sensitivity for social and ecological justice; we have to say, rather, that what is growing is the capacity to camouflage interests and stay ambiguous, to ensure the usual profits with a greener and friendlier facade. In this context, the WSF is increasingly necessary, even if it needs to evolve in its strategies and adapt to the current times. Among the ideas put forward are the promotion of more specialised thematic meetings, using the great power of influence that hundreds of organisations and social movements together can have, strengthening and consolidating the relationship with the newer social movements. The forum for me is like meeting in a large square, under the “tent” of dialogue between cultures, of the debate on climate change and alternative energy, and of the resistance to the superpower of transnational corporations. 10 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Mining can leave an impact on communities. Photo: Paulo Tomaz I like to refer to this square with the same term which Pope Francis used: The “globalisation of solidarity”. In Montreal, I worked extensively under the “tent” of the communities who suffer the impacts of extractive industries, especially in Latin America. We gathered a good group of people to reflect, through four seminars, on the violations caused by mining industries, the criminalisation of community leaders and the rise beyond any control of the killings of trade unionists and members of social movements. But a huge challenge in fighting the serious violations of social and environmental rights today is to get the support of disinterested and distant people. That’s not something you get by insisting on the “duty” of social commitment, but by showing that taking care of life gives meaning and flavour to the life of each of us. If capitalism is a religion, its rite is consumption and its mystique is the induced desire. We need a new imagination, fuelling more profound dreams, and more human ones. JM Fr Dario Bossi is a Comboni Missionary originally from Italy and currently based in Brazil. He is involved in the ecumenical network Iglesias y Mineria, engaged in facing the impact of large-scale mining on local communities.
CARITAS ANCHOR HOUSE
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Caritas Anchor House is a residential and life-skills centre for single homeless adults, and also acts as a community empowerment hub in East London. Our driving mission is to ensure that those who walk through our doors grow in confidence and move towards leading independent, self-fulfilling lives. We do this by providing education, guidance and personal rehabilitation.
Caritas Anchor House is so much more than just a homeless charity. In the year to March 2016, we provided a home and support to 213 homeless people, helped 66 into independent living and 38 into employment. However, as austerity measures bite, there is an increased demand on our services and the needs of those that come to us are more complex than ever before. With your support, we can meet these demands and help to change the lives of homeless and vulnerable people.
www.caritasanchorhouse.org.uk DONATION FORM (100% of your donation will go to Caritas Anchor House and you may unsubscribe at any time) By making a donation to Caritas Anchor House, you can help residents to start to address their problems and to put their lives back on track.
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Keith Fernett says the new British Government under Theresa May must strive to tackle social injustice
Can we become one nation? RUNNING A VITAL service in an area of acute deprivation is becoming increasingly difficult. Caritas Anchor House, a residential and life skills centre for homeless people in east London, has had to respond to the changing external landscape, including the growing housing crisis and closure of services. We have seen an increased demand on our services and, last year alone, received 598 referrals for our 118 rooms. Those referred to our services have increasingly complex histories, and therefore require additional and specialist support. Despite the external pressures, we continue to act as a beacon of positivity for those we help. In the last year we offered a home and support to 213 homeless people, helped 66 into independent living and 38 of those into employment – double the homeless sector average. We also developed new and existing partnerships to ensure that the people who now call Caritas Anchor House home receive the best possible support to achieve and sustain independent living. Earlier this year, Iain Duncan Smith, the then Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, visited Caritas Anchor House and met with our residents. Mr Duncan Smith commended our transformative work with homeless and disadvantaged people, and said: “Caritas Anchor House is more comprehensive than other homeless charities I have seen. They do more than just offer someone a stable base – they address the reasons why they are there, which is very important, and their service provision covers the majority of elements that can lead to homelessness. “Caritas Anchor House is intent on positively changing lives, not just sus12 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
taining them as they are.” Mr Duncan Smith discussed the government’s strategy to improve the life chances of the poorest people in Britain. For a charity that provides services for those at the wrong end of most statistical tables — from life expectancy, poverty, education and employment — this was very encouraging to hear. Since then, the political landscape has changed dramatically. We are now set to leave the European Union, have a new Prime Minister and a reshuffled Cabinet. Looking ahead to the future, I wondered how all of this political change and shifting agendas would affect the people who Caritas Anchor House supports. When Theresa May took office, her speech outside Downing Street focused on being a ‘one nation’ government and illustrated a determination to tackle inequalities in life expectancy and provide better life chances for those suffering from mental illness. Perhaps the most interesting was when Theresa May acknowledged that the life of a working class family is much harder than many people in Westminster realise, and stated her government will be one driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by ordinary people. Vulnerable people experience great difficulty in accessing services that are vital to improve their life chances, because of demand and tardy decision making. To become the ‘one nation’ that the Prime Minister strives for, we need to focus on making it easier for organisations to best support those in need. As chief executive of an organisation supporting hundreds of homeless individuals each year, I am calling for more investment in and greater consideration of the social care sector. Simon Stevens, chief executive of the
Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Tom Evans/Crown copyright NHS, echoes my views and has publicly said: “I think there is a strong argument that were extra funding to be available, frankly we should be arguing that it should be going to social care,” to ensure the NHS and wider care sector can continue to respond to the needs of their communities. Society must recognise the needs and requirements of the social care sector, but perhaps more importantly, recognise the sector’s ability to achieve. A report by Oxford Economics found that Caritas Anchor House provides £3.98 in benefits to society for every £1 invested in its operations – a social return on investment of 398 per cent. Over the next 12 months, we will be able to support more people than ever before, as we expand our facilities and service provision. Caritas Anchor House recognised that to continue our transformational work with the disadvantaged, meet the increasing demand for our services and the needs of the local community, we would need to re-develop our organisation, expand our accommodation and the services we provide. Our Home and Hope Appeal has seen
Theresa May used her speech upon becoming Prime Minister to promise to fight the social injustices of our times. “That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others. If you’re black you are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white... If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand. If you’re young you will find it harder than ever before to own your own home. “But the mission to make Britain a country that works for everyone means more than fighting these injustices. If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home, but you worry about paying a mortgage. You can just about manage but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school... “We will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.” Theresa May, 13 July 201 the refurbishment of the accommodation completed, and saw the rooms transformed into individual learning zones, which help facilitate study and personal development. In November this year, the construction of 25 independent studio flats on our site will be completed, which will allow us to support an additional 50 homeless people each year, and help them to achieve a sustainable transition back into independent living. Once complete, the final phase of the development will begin – the expansion of training and educational facilities. This will include a workshop for vocational courses, learning zones and a training kitchen to provide amenities for people to gain catering qualifications. We don’t want to be a revolving door outfit. We want people to move out of homelessness for good, equipped with the life skills and abilities to sustain independent living – and to achieve that, we have had to act innovatively. Caritas Anchor House is supporting an initiative using technology which has the potential to transform the lives of the most vulnerable in our society. The Global Noticeboard (GNB) is a
humanitarian online marketplace, where people can help those in need through buying and selling, creating communities and sharing information. It’s also a social enterprise; commercial profits from income generating activities will be used to tackle some of the biggest social injustices of our time, including homelessness. The number of people sleeping rough on any one night in England is estimated to be 3,569. This figure has increased by 30 per cent in the last year and has doubled since 2010. Consequently there is a substantial demand for overnight accommodation that greatly exceeds supply. The 2016 Budget committed to spending £100million to provide 2,000 accommodation places for rough sleepers who are ready to move on from crisis hotels. However, while welcome, this will be insufficient to address the extent of homelessness in England. It will also limit the number of people that can be helped by government to the total number of additional hostel places secured. The GNB has the technology to increase the throughput of rough sleepers
through homelessness charities and services by ten per cent. It is expected that this development could assist 3,850 people (10 per cent of the 38,500 homelessness housing stock) through access to the vital provision of accommodation, employment and training opportunities. Coupled with the Government’s investment in 2,000 accommodation places, this could ensure that around 5,850 of the most vulnerable people in society are given a lifeline and the opportunity to improve their life chances and reach their full potential. The times are radically changing, but they can change for the better. I believe our new Government should be looking at new ways to combat social injustice, and an investment in the social care sector and technology could help us to become a ‘one nation’ society. JM For more information about Caritas Anchor House and its services, please visit www.caritasanchorhouse.org.uk, or to see the Global Noticeboard, visit www.globalnoticeboard.com Keith Fernett is chief executive of homelessness charity Caritas Anchor House JUSTICE MAGAZINE 13
Lisa Burns looks at how Catholic students are involved in community organising
At the heart of the chaplaincy MANCHESTER UNIVERSITIES CATHOLIC Chaplaincy (MUSCC) has just become home to an exciting community organising project. Greater Manchester Citizens, established in July 2016, runs directly out of the chaplaincy building on Oxford Road in the heart of a bustling university campus. Furqan Naeem, or ‘Fergie’, as he’s known, is 29 and hails from Longsight in Manchester. He’s just been employed by Citizens to become the very first community organiser for Greater Manchester Citizens As a Muslim, he isn’t necessarily someone you might expect to see at your average Catholic chaplaincy. Then again, MUSCC isn’t your average Catholic chaplaincy. Here you’ll find Manchester Central Foodbank, the UK’s first student-led foodbank set up by MUSCC students in 2012. Alongside the foodbank, Empowerment Plus is being piloted at the chaplaincy; an initiative that mentors individuals to impart practical, spiritual and career skills which will enable them to bring their faith into the workplace. This enterprise sees the chaplaincy work in collaboration with Manchester Central Mosque and other faith partners. At the chaplaincy, you’ll also find a Night Shelter for refugees which operates every Saturday night as part of the Boaz Trust scheme. Fr Tim Byron, Jesuit chaplain to MUSCC, has long championed social justice enterprises. Since his arrival in Manchester in 2012, he has encouraged the students in his care to sit up and take notice of the socio-political climate around them, and to respond pro-actively. Citizens is another way for Fr Tim to nurture passion for social action amongst the students. Citizens works to ‘organise commu14 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
nities to act together for power, social justice and the common good.’ The organisation is a diverse one and brings together people of all faiths, backgrounds and states of life, to develop their leadership skills. The idea is that, empowered to become leaders in their local communities, and by forming local ‘alliances’, ordinary people can hold politicians to account. They can work to press decision makers to work on issues that matter to them and those they meet on a daily basis. Citizens UK had its beginnings in London, but has branches throughout the UK in places such as Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Birmingham, Wales and Leeds. Some of the political change that Citizens campaigns have succeeded in pushing for are the introduction of the Living Wage, affordable housing for those living in East London during the London 2012 Olympics, and an end to the detention of children of asylum seekers. Fr Tim has been involved with Citizens UK since 2010, after one of his students at St Ignatius College was killed in a violent knife crime. Godwin Lawson’s was the first funeral that Fr Tim had to celebrate, and it opened his eyes to the devastating “blight of knife crime.” Godwin had been a rising football talent, and was even signed up by Watford United before he was killed. After the funeral, Fr Tim felt a sense of urgency, and that something had to be done to prevent knife crime and to make the streets safer. He witnessed Godwin’s friends banding together to establish CitySafe as a response to the attack. It was from here that Fr Tim began to be inspired by, and involved with, Citizens UK. He invited Citizens to set up an alliance in Manchester in 2014/15, and has since been working tirelessly alongside Citizens founder Neil Jameson and Man-
chester Muslim chaplain Mohammed Ullah to raise enough funds to employ a Community Organiser. After months of negotiations and preliminary talks with local leading institutions, some local leaders have committed to backing the Citizens enterprise. Amongst these were John Arnold, the Catholic Bishop of Salford Diocese, along with the Royal College of Nursing, Oxfam, the Jesuit Social Justice Fund and UNISON. With the impending mayoral elections
Cardinal Vincent Nichols has backed Citizens UK. Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org
in Manchester, the mayoral candidates have been keen to show their support for the Citizens initiative. Understandably so, as Furqan’s first few months in office will involve him having one-to-one discussions with, and gaining the backing of, the most influential leaders and institutions in the Greater Manchester region. In May, Greater Manchester Citizens will officially begin its great task of community organising, with a huge opening assembly. Here, all of the organ-
isations, politicians, religious leaders and community leaders who have signed up to an alliance with Greater Manchester Citizens, will convene. At the 2016 World Youth Day gathering in Poland, Pope Francis called upon young people to take action against injustices they encountered in everyday life, to “be political actors.” The presence of Greater Manchester Citizens at the chaplaincy will certainly help to bring political issues to the fore for many students.
“Citizens UK has a proven track record in transformative work at local and national level,” says Fr Tim. “I hope that the presence of Citizens here in Manchester will channel the considerable creative energies of our students in the local community.” JM To find out more about the work of Citizens UK, visit: www.citizensuk.org/ For more information on Greater Manchester Citizens, visit: www.muscc. org/greater-manchester-citizens JUSTICE MAGAZINE 15
Patrick Kinsella reports on the work being done to combat hate crimes against members of the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities
Unreported, unrecorded and unresolved SINCE THE EU referendum, racial abuse and hate crimes have risen dramatically. In the last two weeks of June alone, there was a 42 per cent increase of recorded hate crimes on last year. Mark Hamilton, the head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said this was “probably the worst spike” of such incidents. The rise in hate crimes and incidents was condemned from across the political spectrum and civil society. The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, commenting on the incidents in an interview on Radio 4 said “these are unacceptable racist attitudes, which are not part of the society that we want to be and to build”. However, despite hate crimes dominating much of the newspapers over the summer, there are incidents which are almost never reported, either by the media or indeed by the victims. These are incidents and offences against the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma (GTR) communities in the UK. The Traveller Movement, a national charity working to promote inclusion and community engagement for the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities, recently published the interim results of a ‘discrimination survey’. The survey was completed by Gypsy, Traveller and Roma people and was an opportunity for them to share their experiences of discrimination. The survey found that 98 per cent of GTR respondents had experienced discrimination because of their ethnicity and 81 per cent had experienced hate crime or hate speech. Many of the stories shared by the respondents make uncomfortable reading; people are regularly threatened with violence and arson and others have had 16 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
their vehicles vandalised with abhorrent graffiti. Yet the vast majority (71 per cent ) who experienced discrimination and hate offences did not seek legal advice or advocacy. The reasons included lack of trust in authorities, lack of knowledge of rights, or the length or perceived expense of the process. Instead, they develop coping mechanisms such as hiding their ethnicity (77 per cent) or simply accept the incidents as a fact of life. In response to the rise in hate crimes, the Home Office published its new Action against Hate strategy in July. The strategy recognised the underreporting of hate crimes against Gypsy, Traveller and Roma people and the need to do more to engage and inform the communities. Whilst this recognition of underreporting is welcome, as is the promise to engage with the communities and organisations working with them; the Home Office can take simple steps to improve the reporting and recording of crimes against the GTR communities. The Home Office requires police forces to record and report the ethnicity of users and employees; however, after Freedom of Information requests by the Traveller Movement, it was revealed that the classification system currently in use by 81 per cent of UK police forces does not include GTR categories. The gathering of information relating to ethnic status is absolutely vital in addressing crime against communities. Without this information, the police cannot develop appropriate strategies, responses or even have a proper understanding of the extent to which the communities experience hate crime. Put simply, if crimes against a particu-
lar ethnic group are not measured, they cannot become a target to be tackled and therefore hate crimes against Gypsies, Travellers and Roma will remain the lowest of priorities. GTR communities also do not trust the authorities to respond in the same way they would when other crimes are reported. This distrust stems from years of negative experiences with authority figures, extending beyond the police to schools, politicians and even the courts. In the event that crimes against the GTR communities are prosecuted, the courts rarely – from the experience of the Traveller Movement – impose the increased penalties that are available for the ‘racial aggravation’ aspect of the crime. Take the tragic case of Barry Smith, an English Gypsy who was beaten to death and set alight in 2011 by a woman, her husband and a friend after the woman had lost her job for verbally abusing Mr Smith at her workplace. The police flagged the case as being racially motivated, but the judge ruled that the racist comments made by the woman were a separate incident unrelated to the killing of Mr Smith. As a result, the sentence imposed on the killers did not take ‘racial aggravation’ into account. The failure by the courts to enforce the full extent of the law was devastating for the family and serves only to perpetuate the belief within GTR communities that crimes against them will not be taken as seriously as those committed against others. The Traveller Movement is working to improve the GTR communities’ reporting of hate crimes. While structural change, such as ethnic monitoring and improved conviction rates, are integral, much work is needed to improve the GTR communities’ awareness of >>> 18
A demonstration in support of Travellers’ rights
For the campaign to be a success everyone must stand together and show that prejudices and discrimination against the GTR communities cannot be tolerated in a fair and just society
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the offences. It needs to be demonstrated that being attacked, verbally or physically, because of your ethnicity is not just a fact of life and must be challenged. The Traveller Movement has partnered with a number of leading stakeholders and charities, and Catholic agencies such as CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) and CARJ (Catholic Association for Racial Justice) to develop a public awareness campaign called #OperationReportHate. The campaign hopes to raise awareness within the communities about hate crimes and promote and share good practice and resources. The end goal is for hate crimes against the GTR communities to be given the same public profile and recognition as other hate crimes. However, for the campaign to be a success everyone must stand together and show that prejudices and discrim-
ination against the GTR communities cannot be tolerated in a fair and just society. Pope Francis, in the Pilgrimage of Gypsies in October last year, called on the Church to work with the GTR communities and said: “The time has come to put an end to age-old prejudices, preconceptions and mutual mistrust that are often at the base of discrimination, racism and xenophobia.” Together, we can make sure hate crimes against Gypsies, Travellers and Roma are reported, recorded and resolved. To see what you can do to support #OperationReportHate visit www.travellermovement.org.uk JM Patrick Kinsella is the policy and campaigns manager at the Traveller Movement
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Greg Watts on the difficulties caused when ships fail to comply with maritime legislation and seafarers aren’t paid
When ships are arrested IF YOU HAVE been stuck in an airport departure lounge because of a flight being delayed, you know how helpless and frustrated you feel. But if you are a seafarer and your ship is arrested in a port, then you can be in limbo for weeks, not hours. Each year in ports around Britain, ships are arrested. The UK is a party to the Brussels Convention Relating to the Arrest of Seagoing Ships, 1952. It sets out 19 reasons why a ship might be arrested. These include claims relating to the possession or ownership of, or mortgage on, a ship, damage done by or to a ship, loss of life or personal injury because of a defect in a ship, and non-payment of wages to the crew. Ships are detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) when they fail to comply with maritime legislation. The Admiralty Marshal has the power to arrest a ship upon complaints by members of the crew. In some cases, a vessel can be held for months. And often, because of visa restrictions, the crew are not allowed to go ashore, meaning the arrest of the ship can can have catastrophic effects on their families back home. In June, the MCA detained MV Malaviya in Aberdeen, because some members of the Indian crew had not been paid for two months or longer. Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) Aberdeen port chaplain Doug Duncan knew the crew well, having met them previously when the ship had called at Aberdeen on several occasions. “When I went on board the ship, the crew told me they just want to get paid and go home. Their predicament was made worse as they were stranded miles away from their homes and family members,” he said. Doug worked closely with the local International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and other maritime-based representatives. After two months the crew was paid and the ship was released. “It was an anxious and stressful time 20 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Ships are detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) when they fail to comply with maritime legislation
When a company hits financial problems the first casualty is normally the crew’s salaries, which are not paid
for the crew but having someone from AoS they know and trust support them made a difference,” he said. AoS port chaplains around the country all have similar stories. Rev Roger Stone, chaplain to several ports on the south coast, was asked to help after a ship was stranded in Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex for months and the crew not paid. Most of the crew eventually returned home, but one Ukrainian seafarer was unable to do so, and he and his family back home were spiralling into debt. AoS provided him with a one-off emergency payment.
“Far more ships are detained than arrested. Ship arrests are not that common but when they occur it’s a serious matter. Sometimes the company refinances and the person who lodged the complaint is paid and the ship is released from arrest,” Rev Roger explained. On one occasion when a ship was arrested, Rev Roger contacted the media to raise awareness of the plight of the crew and to try to bring about a conclusion to the situation. BBC South Today, ITV Meridan News and BBC One Show all carried reports. “Following an article in The Guardian, several overseas media became interested and the issue received international coverage. I put the master in touch with a maritime lawyer whom I had met in connection with a previous arrest and he acted to protect their interests and ultimately secured payment of all unpaid salaries of crew on board. “It appeared all crew had gone home without their wages being paid. On application of the Admiralty Marshal, the court ordered the sale of the vessel and
In some cases, ships can be held for months unpaid salaries were paid out of the sale proceeds. This took longer than it might have done because a creditor with a prior claim (the port authority) lowered their claim.” During the ship’s arrest, volunteer ship visitors took seafarers to local churches for Sunday Mass, the Shoreham Airshow and local museums. “The most important thing we did was to maintain regular visits to the crew. This showed them that we really cared about them. We gave them Easter gifts and Christmas gifts and food and drink. We tried to help them to maintain their human dignity throughout the long, sorry process.” Parishioners at St Mary of the Angels, Worthing, West Sussex, also rallied around to help the crew. “St Mary of the Angels parish has a justice and peace group, which was active and vocal. They wrote to the minister responsible for shipping and demanded answers and action. They also raised funds to give the crew on board something generous at Christmas time.”
He added that the worst aspects of the arrest of a ship for seafarers are the isolation, desperation, loneliness and no money going home to pay for their families’ basic needs. “When a company hits financial problems the first casualty is normally the crew’s salaries, which are not paid. But crews tend to tolerate this because the prospect of some money some time is better than no money.” Last year, Sister Marian Davey, AoS port chaplain to East Anglia, was asked by a Special Branch officer to visit the general cargo ship Oporto in Ipswich because he was concerned about the welfare of the crew following a routine visit. When she went on board, the crew told her that they hadn’t been paid for nearly three months. “The chief engineer said that he had no rags to clean the oil from the engine. So I went and bought some sheets in a charity shop. I also mentioned the problem to a port worker and he gave me two bags of compressed rags,” she said.
Following pressure from the ITF, the crew was eventually paid up until the end of August. But they then spent 37 days anchored two miles off Felixstowe waiting for new orders. “The cook contacted me to say that they had run out of fresh water, which meant they couldn’t shower or use the toilet, and they had little food. They also had no cigarettes or TV. Being in these conditions on a small ship puts a crew under serious psychological stress,” she said. When the ship returned to Ipswich she provided the crew with bread and vegetables and also phone cards and topups so they could contact their families back home in Russia and Cape Verde. But the company again failed to pay the crew their next month’s salary on time. “When a crew isn’t paid it also affects their families. “One of the crew said to me, ‘My children can’t eat stones’.” JM Greg Watts is a freelance journalist JUSTICE MAGAZINE 21
Faith Anderson of CSAN on the charges facing those people trying to claim asylum in the United Kingdom
Simply unjust CSAN SPEAKS OUT when, in the view of our member charities, decision-makers are not working towards the Common Good. We act when we see barriers to human flourishing, or when there is a disregard for the wellbeing of some members of the human community. This is why CSAN and one of our member charities, the Cardinal Hume Centre, decided to submit a joint response to the Government’s consultation on raising court fees for immigration appeal cases — because we believe the proposed increase in fees would be detrimental to members of our society who are already vulnerable. The Immigration and Asylum Chamber deals with appeals from those who have been refused asylum in the UK, or denied the right to remain or enter in the UK as foreign nationals. These people can appeal to what is known as the First-tier Tribunal. Following a hearing, which can be oral or conducted on paper (that is, with a judge considering written submissions), a judge makes a fresh decision, In December 2011, the Ministry of Justice introduced fees for this court at the First Tier Tribunal stage. With diminishing budgets and further cuts forecast, the MoJ sought to recover around 25 per cent of the costs of the service. However, in 2014/15 they recovered just nine per cent of the costs. They recovered about £7m in fees, but the total cost was some £85m – so £78m was paid by the taxpayer.
Is it fair to ask people to pay for an appeal on the decision which may well be incorrect?
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The Government has now proposed, therefore, to increase the fees in order to recover 100 per cent of the costs. The appellants will pay to appeal, and it will cost the taxpayer nothing. To achieve this, the MoJ want to increase fees by 500 per cent by 2020. Paper appeal hearings, which currently cost £80, will cost £490. Oral hearing fees will rise from £140 to £800. This appeal fee is per person – so a family would have to pay the fee for each child as well. To appeal the First-tier Tribunal’s decision, you must apply for permission – this will cost £455. If your appeal is allowed, you must then pay £510 to lodge an appeal with the next court up, the Upper Tribunal. If you are not granted permission to appeal first time around, you can still ask the Upper Tribunal itself for permission – but this will also cost £350. So appealing an immigration decision, not including any legal fees, costs between £490 and a huge £2,605. These fees would come after the very expensive process of initially making an application to the Immigration and Asylum Chamber. Before the Tribunal stage and not including legal costs, one person making an application for 30 months’ leave is required to pay an application fee of £811, the NHS surcharge of £500 and a biometric fee of £19.20. That’s £1,330.20. But then other likely costs include a passport, photos for the application, having birth certificates translated or obtaining medical reports from abroad. Where an application is made for a family the same fees are payable per person: There is no distinction for children. A family of four would therefore pay £5,320.80 to make an application for 30 months’ leave, not including legal fees. There is a fee waiver system for those classed as destitute, but in practice the Cardinal Hume Centre has found that
the Home Office request an unfeasible “evidential burden” which makes meeting the criteria for ‘destitute’ nigh impossible. There is also evidence that some are denied Home Office fee waivers despite showing that they meet the necessary criteria. The Cardinal Hume Centre has examples of people being incorrectly denied the visa application fee waiver, including one man who was sleeping rough. The Home Office acknowledge that 84 per cent of fee waiver applications are refused. In desperation, those who are destitute may then raise the Home Office fee in any way they can. In many cases this will mean taking on impossible debts. If they do this and are then refused, they would be faced with having to raise more money to make an appeal. This hike in fees represents a huge challenge to those who have to pay them. Most immigration work is outside the current scope of legal aid. Free services are very limited. Sourcing money to pay for legal representation already leads to people taking desperate measures. In my opinion, this in itself is unjustifiable. In the face of such evidence, how can increasing fees to cover ‘full costs’ be morally acceptable? Having invested so much in the initial application for leave to remain, is it fair to ask people to pay for an appeal on the decision which may well be incorrect? This is a system in which the Government both sets the fees and has a bureaucratic monopoly, with no obvious accountability to those who are now being asked to pay for the full service costs, and in what is for many applicants an alien legal system. Furthermore, the service to appellants has not improved since the introduction of the first round of fees – indeed, according to the Cardinal Hume Centre, appeal cases are still taking more than one year to complete.
We recognise the Government’s aim of deterring vexatious claims, as in a similar intervention with the fees for employment tribunals introduced in July 2013. It is clear the Home Office is stretched and dealing with a lot of cases, which may explain what many advisers see as the low quality of decision making. This is why there is a need for a fair and accessible safeguard in the form of the appeal system. Introducing fees in an effort to reduce the “misuse of the system” is unjustifiable, given the deficiencies of the system. The appeals system is delivering justice, which is why a barrier to appeal is a true barrier to justice. While at the mention of immigration appeals asylum seekers spring to mind, the reality is a wide range of people use this court: Students, those extending their leave to remain in this country as they have begun to build a life here, those applying for entry clearance for their family members. These people have a valid reason for their application and their case should be treated accordingly. The Cardinal Hume Centre had a client recently who wanted to bring his two children here. He did two jobs to meet the financial requirements. He was refused, but was successful on appeal. With the introduction of these fees, he is the kind of person who would have to pay higher appeal fees with money he does not have. As Robert Neill, a Conservative MP, commented on the fee increases in July (emphasis is mine): “The idea is to have full cost recovery. The problem is that we are dealing with people who are by their nature — particularly those in the asylum system, but also those in the immigration system — very unlikely ever to have any means to recover even a decent percentage of the cost against, let alone the full cost. … They are setting themselves an objective to raise money that they have no hope of raising because the people they are trying to get it from do not have the means — it is getting blood out of a stone.” It seems to immigration advisers that the Home Office often fails to apply its own rules and guidance, leading to what should be unnecessary appeals, a large waste in costs and time for both the Home Office and the individual concerned. Appeals are now only allowed where Human Rights are involved (for example the Right to Family Life, or Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment), so by definition appeals raise issues of fundamental importance.
The Cardinal Hume Centre is challenging fees. Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org A recent example is a family who came to this country 13 years ago with one child. The mother came as a student, and the father could work as the dependent of a student. While the mother was still completing her studies, the rules around student visas changed drastically, in 2009. She wanted to complete her studies, and sought to regularise the family’s immigration status. However, unable to work or claim benefits, they found themselves in limbo as they could not afford the application fees or lawyers. Having spent a long time searching for a charity to help them forward, they came to the Cardinal Hume Centre in 2011, and a visa application was lodged in early 2012. By this point, a second child had been born in this country, and the first had spent the majority of his childhood here. They had put down roots and had been contributing to society – they had built a life here and had a valid case to stay. Their visa application was refused – after one year – and they were not granted the Right to Appeal. What followed was a drawn out struggle for the family’s case to be heard before an appeal judge. As they were not granted the Right to Appeal, they had to pay for the application to be brought for judicial review in 2014, on the advice of the Cardinal Hume Centre. The Home Office agreed to reconsider the application, but then refused again. By now it was 2015. The Home Office had, however, granted Right of Appeal with the second refusal. The family were therefore able to bring their case – paying the tribunal fee which the Government is hoping to increase – before an appeals tribunal. The tribunal sent the application back to the Home Office, in the expectation that, upon reflection, the family
would be granted leave to remain. The Home Office, however, refused again, but granted Right to Appeal. It was now 2016. Finally, paying the tribunal fees again in order to appeal, the family’s case was brought before a judge in mid-August of 2016. It was an open-and-shut case, over in less than five minutes, and the Home Office did not bother to send a representative. The family were granted leave to remain, after seven years of wasted time and unnecessary costs to both themselves and the Home Office – unnecessary because the Government’s own rules about who can and cannot stay here could have be applied with the first application. The Government’s aims of reducing costs to the taxpayer and deterring vexatious claims are reasonable, but to burden the users of the system with these aims when the current system does not seem to be seeking to reduce costs and wasted time through efficiency and fairness is unjustifiable. I believe people need free and simple access to the appeal system to ensure they are granted the decision their case deserves. The justice system is not a paid service. It is open to all. To exclude certain individuals from the system because they do not have a certain amount of money is the wrong way of looking at justice, and goes against the social teaching of the Catholic Church. The inherent value of each human, by virtue of being created in the image and likeness of God, entitles them to be treated with dignity and respect. To achieve the Common Good, the Church teaches that everyone needs sufficient access to the goods and resources of society – and social justice is undoubtedly one of these goods. JM Faith Anderson works for CSAN JUSTICE MAGAZINE 23
Tara Finglas reports on a prison ministry. Photos by Lar Boland
Redemption behind bars EACH DAY OFFERS all of us a chance to change, to put right the wrongs that we have done. But just how easy is it to turn your life around when you are facing years, decades, life or even death row behind bars? The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Africa started the Franciscan Prison Ministry 24 years ago to reach out to inmates and former inmates of Kampala’s prisons in Uganda. “For the eight years I have spent in prison, I have lived a desperate life,” says one inmate, “however, spiritual seminars and prayer meetings allowed me to access counselling. Positive thinking and good leadership have helped me to change my behaviour.” “I learnt to accept the situation I am in, and I hope to live a better life in the future. The spiritual outreach empow-
ered me with leadership skills that were identified by the prison administration who appointed me as a member of the inmate management disciplinary committee in charge of general duties. Every inmate benefits from this programme as it curbs stress, and confusion.” For more than two decades, the Prison Ministry has been running programmes in the maximum security prison in Luzira in Kampala, and the overcrowded prison in Kigo near Entebbe. Both of these prisons are notorious with Luzira housing an estimated 20,000 inmates with 500 of them on death row, and 95 per cent of Kigo’s inmates, estimated between 1,000—3,000, are capital offenders. Convictions range from petty theft, armed robbery, kidnapping, murder, and rape. Inmates in Luzira are a rainbow >>>50
The prison ministry in Luzira prison. A joint initiative between the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa, and the Secular Franciscan Order, the prison ministry advocates for communities to live positive lives by promoting social rehabilitation, and assisting with the reintegration of former inmates into communities 24 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
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of colour. Inmates on remand and those serving less than 20 years wear pale yellow overalls. Inmates wearing a more intense yellow are serving more than 20 years. Inmates who wear a red stripe have tried to escape, and a blue stripe indicates superiority, and entitlement. As a result of staff shortages, some inmates have been designated as regimental police who wear white arm bands, and keep the peace. Inmates on death row live separately from the main prison population, and wear white overalls. In recent years, the Luzira prison has undergone a transformation. Through advocacy and campaigning by other organisations, including the African Prisons Project, access to education ranging 26 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
from basic literacy to secondary school to vocational training to university degrees has been established for inmates. The ethos in Luzira is to keep inmates busy, which makes the prison safer with fewer violent incidents. This in turn has created a low rate of repeat offenders with the level of recidivism at 30 per cent in Ugandan prisons. Despite these advances, there are often more than 40 inmates crammed into bare cells measuring just 8m x 8m. It is widely known that a large number of inmates are innocent, and do not belong in prison. Some inmates have been on remand for years because of the very slow Ugandan justice system.
Since 2010, support from Irish charity Misean Cara has totalled â‚Ź100,000, and has been the saving grace of many inmatesâ€™ redemption. A joint initiative between the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa, and the Secular Franciscan Order, the Prison Ministry, advocates communities to live positive lives by promoting social rehabilitation, and assisting with the reintegration of former inmates into communities. The ministry operates under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Prison Chaplaincy of the Kampala Archdiocese, and reintegration is underpinned by the goal of developing better, community-focused, citizens. JM
Peace requires interfaith solidarity, suggests Marcus Mescher
Why we must make room for the other ON SEPTEMBER 20, Pope Francis joined thousands of pilgrims in Assisi for the World Day of Prayer for Peace. This event commemorated the 30th anniversary of the gathering that brought together pilgrims from all over the globe and invited the world’s religions to join their hearts, minds, and hands in becoming peacemakers. At that gathering in 1986, Pope John Paul II highlighted the “common nature, a common origin and a common destiny” of all people and called for collaboration between individuals and nations to forge common ground in a shared aspiration for peace. John Paul II urged that this work be undertaken through prayer, humility, and “a commitment to serve all.” He also acknowledged that Christians are required to complete acts of penance for the sins of omission and commission that have kept them from answering the call to be peacemakers in the world. Pope Francis echoed these sentiments and spoke of the need “to bring about encounters through dialogue, and to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism”. In what seems to be a denunciation of the ideology of ISIS, Francis continued by stating: “We recognise the need to pray constantly for peace, because prayer 28 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
protects the world and enlightens it. “God’s name is peace. The one who calls upon God’s name to justify terrorism, violence and war does not follow God’s path. War in the name of religion becomes a war against religion itself. With firm resolve, therefore, let us reiterate that violence and terrorism are opposed to an authentic religious spirit.” Francis emphasised the need for “a greater commitment to eradicating the underlying causes of conflicts: Poverty, injustice and inequality, the exploitation of and contempt for human life”. Despite these large-scale problems, the pope called on each and all to take up the practices of praying for peace, encountering others with respect, and joining in dialogue. “Everyone,” Francis insisted, “can be an artisan of peace.” This call to be peacemakers resonates through Scripture, from the Beatitudes (Mt 5:9) to the apostle Paul’s description of what it means to be Christian as being “ambassadors of Christ,” charged with “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:17-21). Discipleship pivots on the work of peace-making—healing wounds, restoring right-relationship, and forging unity across diversity—continuing to heed the Jewish teaching (in the Mishnah) that holds followers of Yahweh accountable for the work of tikkun olam, “to repair the world”.
Britain’s Chief Rabbi Eprahim Mirvis. Photo: Mazur/ catholicchurch.org.uk
This is a vision for love-as-solidarity: An inclusive love that transcends the interpersonal sphere to cultivate social integration and social cohesion by overcoming differences of age and ability, sex and gender, race and ethnicity, class and creed. It is a call to realise the kinship of our shared humanity, not just in the sense of “common denominators” but the reality of our interdependence. As Mother Teresa observed long ago: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” This sense of belonging needs to overcome impulses to fear the other and create distance between various groups. This is especially true for Christians in their view of Muslims, as evidenced by the distrust and even disdain that has been growing for the followers of Islam in Europe and the United States. Data from the Pew Research Center in Washington DC shows that Islamophobia is on the rise: Between 65-72 per cent respondents in countries like Greece, Poland, Italy, and Hungary reported an unfavourable view of Muslims. In more tolerant places — like the UK — unfavourable views of Muslims have climbed by nine percentage points (and by eight points in Spain). In the US, a recent poll conducted by Georgetown University found only 14 per cent of Catholics hold a favourable
view of Muslims and that 45 per cent of Catholics believe Islam encourages violence more than other religions. Not too long ago, it was reported that a quarter of Americans wouldn’t want a Muslim living next door. Certainly these views are being shaped by horrific acts of terror in places like Paris, Brussels, Beirut, and New York (with many more taking place with greater frequency in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Turkey). While it is true that Christians are being persecuted and even killed by Muslims in a number of contexts, from Africa to the Middle East to India, it is both ignorant and unjust to conflate the actions of a select few clinging to a demented interpretation of the Quran with all followers of Islam. In the case of ISIS, its 100,000 members represent a tiny fraction (0.00625 per cent) of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslim population. Muslim leaders have been vociferous in condemning violence in the name of their religion. In fact, 70,000 Muslim clerics denounced ISIS specifically and terrorism in general at a gathering in India in December 2015. In countries with large Muslim populations, views of ISIS are “overwhelmingly negative” according to the Pew Research Center: In Lebanon 100 per cent of respondents reported an unfavourable view of ISIS, a position shared by 94 per cent in Jordan, 79 per cent in Indonesia, and 73 per cent in Turkey. To be clear, ISIS’ ideology cannot be justified by the Quran, which clearly denounces killing (5:2, 6:151) and rebukes those who would use force to spread Islam (10:99, 3:159). These facts have done little to calm the widespread fears of Muslims and refugees from the Middle East. Instead, fear is being fueled by the nativist ideology of some political figures in Europe and the US. A few months ago, MP Michael Gove claimed that migrants “pose a direct economic cost to us all”. Presidential candidate Donald Trump hasn’t softened much from his endorsement of a “total and complete ban on Muslims entering the United States” last December. Not enough has been done to debunk and denounce such views. To paint a picture of all Muslims (or migrants) as dangerous is the height of myopia. It denies the dignity of these individuals, the sanctity of their conscience, and the credibility of their faith. The Muslim faith, it must be noted, hinges on the same Abrahamic tradition of Judaism and Christianity. Islam teaches that God is a God of peace, mercy, and compassion. The Quran depicts Jesus as
a pious, obedient, and a favoured servant of God. Mary, Jesus’ mother, is the only woman named in the Quran and in a hadith (traditional saying), Mary is listed as one of the four spiritually perfected women of the world. Christians are called “nearest among them in love to the [Muslim] believers” (5:82). Jews and Christians are promised an eternal reward in paradise (2:62, 5:69). Theologically, it is imperative to state this outright: The God of Christianity is the God of Judaism who is also the God of Islam. We are brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the Most Holy Mystery we call God, Yahweh, or Allah. This is the very point of “A Common Word,” a 2008 document that demonstrates the shared heritage of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faith (through the command to love God and neighbour, for example). “A Common Word” is also a living document in that it serves as an ongoing commitment to ecumenism through the practice of shared prayer, dialogue, and relationship-building (to learn more, visit www.acommonword.com). “A Common Word” was originally supported by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis has continued to make Christian-Muslim relations a priority,
Theologically, it is imperative to state this outright: The God of Christianity is the God of Judaism who is also the God of Islam
as shown by his visit to pray in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul in November 2014. As the opening lines of “A Common Word” state: “Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.” This plea for shared prayer and joint dialogue in a spirit of solidarity cannot remain at the theoretical level. And even with all the energy and hope generated by the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, this work cannot be restricted to summits for religious leaders or zealous pilgrims. We have to take seriously Pope Francis’ claim that “Everyone can be an
artisan of peace.” Peace requires more than tolerance. To merely tolerate the existence of another person or group is insufficient for the demands of right-relationship and the common good. Ninety years ago, the philosopher John Dewey criticised the “live and let live” ethos that enervates social responsibility and leads to the “eclipse of the public.” What is to stop “live and let live” from becoming “live and let die”? Peace is not just avoiding conflict. Peace is the fullness of life in right-relationships, expressed in freedom so that all can flourish. Christians have a responsibility to protect freedom — and not just their own freedom. The very foundation of Catholic social teaching rests on the belief that every human person, made in the “image and likeness of God,” possesses innate dignity, and this dignity translates to certain rights and responsibilities. The most basic right is freedom. Freedom comes with rights of non-interference (freedom from constraints) but cannot be realised without it being used to participate in shared life. Freedom implies more than autonomy; it leads to collaboration in mutual responsibility. Freedom requires that no individual or group be marginalised or denied full access to participation in shared life; it invites engagement with others through dialogue and cooperation. Freedom is betrayed by prejudiced attitudes and exclusionary practices that perpetuate unjust inequalities and social divisions. Freedom will not be realised by merely “tolerating” the existence of others; it demands that we stand up for those whose dignity and rights are being ignored or denied. Freedom is a call to practice ever-more-inclusive solidarity. Freedom is the first step to peace. In this moment, that first step means looking for ways that Christians and Muslims can come together in mutual respect and responsibility to commit to the kind of freedom that leads to the flourishing of all. As “artisans of peace” this means working on the individual and interpersonal levels to overcome bigotry and fear, dismantling barriers that marginalise and exclude, and embracing opportunities for dialogue and cooperation. It means taking up the practice of hospitality — making room for the other — in a way that follows Jesus’ own inclusive example to bring people together across social barriers to share fellowship with outsiders and the outcast (e.g., Mt 9:1013, Lk 5:30, and Lk 14:12-14). To share freedom and peace is to share and extend God’s welcome to all. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 29
A cornerstone of the community 30 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Jade Till looks at the work of Cornerstone, a homeless charity in Manchester now celebrating 25 years
Cornerstone staff team with Sr Lucy
We had a small counter where we served hot drinks and gave out sandwiches. They could have two each. About 100 people came to see us each day
OUTSIDE OF LONDON, Manchester has the highest number of rough sleepers and homeless people within England. For the past 25 years, Cornerstone has been providing valuable services to adults in the city who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. Cornerstone is run by a small team of staff, lovingly led by Sr Lucy and Angela Shannon. It also has a large team of dedicated volunteers who are crucial to the running of the centre. The Cornerstone Family has been a supportive and loving family for a quarter of a century. Sr Lucy warmly said: “Once people are here for a few minutes they feel at home.” Cornerstone is based in the community, giving friendly support and a hand up rather than a hand out, to the homeless. The lifeline of Cornerstone has always been, and remains to be, the dedication of its staff and volunteers. In 1991, parish priest Fr Kevin O’Connor founded Cornerstone in response to the increase in homelessness in the area surrounding St Augustine’s Church. Sr Pauline Gaughan, of the Daughters of Charity, dedicated her life to supporting and helping the homeless. Fr O’Connor quickly elicited the assistance of Daughters of Charity, and together with Sr Pauline decided to set up a café at the back of St Augustine’s Church; to give people a drink, sandwich and conversation. A small Portakabin was donated by St Bede’s to allow the project to expand. When the structure was delivered, it was lifted over the roof of St Augustine’s church and into the backyard by crane. Ann Wilson volunteered at Cornerstone when the project was still in its infancy. “I was there with Sr Pauline, when I was pregnant with my son James. I helped by making sandwiches in the Portakabin. The Portakabin was open every week day. Even though it seemed a bit chaotic, everyone was fed. It was mainly middle aged men who came to use the service. They would help Sr Pauline by cleaning the church.” Shortly after this, the student chaplaincy on Oxford Road began to open a room, twice a week, where homeless
people could get clean clothes. Sr Pauline would give clients a message to take with them to Holy Name church, where they would go to the Rhoda room to receive clean clothes. For 21 years, Ann Mitchell, has been an incredible volunteer at Cornerstone. She has recently joined the staff team as a support worker and is always willing to help out, constantly going the extra mile. “When we were in the Portakabin behind St Augustine’s, we had a small counter where we served hot drinks and gave out sandwiches. They could have two each. About 100 people came to see us each day,” she said. For 10 years Cornerstone continued to provide sandwiches and hot drinks from the Portakabins at St Augustine’s Church. At the turn of the millennium, it was discovered that proper planning permission for the Portakabins had never been filed. The project was expanding and changing, the needs of the beneficiaries were also changing. Recognising the project was in danger of being closed, Tony Murray approached the diocese to ask for a new location. Cornerstone needed more space to respond to the changing needs of its clients. A diocese property became available. This property was Cornerstone, where, 15 years later, the project is still run from. In 2001, Sr Lucy and Angela Shannon opened the doors of Cornerstone at Denmark Road. The two of them, along with dedicated volunteers, transformed Cornerstone into a facility able to offer life skills while still providing meals. The change in location and expansion of the project was only possible because of the generosity of an anonymous benefactor. When Cornerstone moved to Denmark Road, Sr Pauline went to London to continue her work with the homeless. Since 2001, Sr Lucy has cared for the people that come to Cornerstone. Tony Murray, a trustee of Cornerstone, said: “Sr Lucy manages something amazing every working day. Lots of people travelled from all across >>>33 JUSTICE MAGAZINE 31
The Cornerstone team in 2016, above, and volunteers are pictured at work, right
From humble beginnings of serving hot drinks and sandwiches at the back of St Augustineâ€™s Church, Cornerstone has now become a thrilling hub within the community and a support to those in need
32 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Manchester as Sr Lucy provided a cooked lunch. Cornerstone launched really quickly. We feed hundreds everyday.” We currently feed approximately 200 people a day, with a budget of around 40p per person. In an earlier interview, Sr Lucy said: “We make rice every day and sometimes pasta and there’s always a vegetarian option. A lot of the clients are living in hostels or are homeless. We also get people who are lonely and live on their own, who have addictions and have lost their families. “Being able to have a chat over a cup of tea at the day care centre is a vital element of the service Cornerstone provides to the community,” says Sr Lucy. “Given the number of visitors that we have each day, our yearly milk bill totals £4,000.” Schools and parishes have been supporting Cornerstone throughout the years by volunteering and fundraising. Students at St Peter’s High School presented Cornerstone with a cheque for more than £1,000. They carried out a variety of activities in order to raise the funds. Year 11 students even dressed up like elves. Billy, who worked at Cornerstone, spoke to the students. Billy was homeless for a number of years. He told the students his story about drug addiction and homelessness. Cornerstone turned his life around. Sefa was living in Iran. He achieved a degree in computer technology, and then began to work in his father’s business. Sefa converted to Christianity but quickly realised he would not be able to follow his faith in his home country. Sefa’s father paid for him to travel to England in the back of a refrigerator wagon and start a new life. On arrival he discussed his situation with government officials and was granted asylum. With little understanding about life in England, and no family or friends to turn to, he chose to live in Manchester. Having no where to go, he slept on the streets. Sefa found his way to Cornerstone, where he was offered support. He was helped to prepare a CV and to enrol in an English class at college. After weeks of diligently applying for positions of work, Sefa was finally successful in securing full-time work. Sefa frequently returns to Cornerstone and is very grateful for all the support given to him. He looks forward to a future where he can follow his faith and independence without restrictions.
Sr Lucy with a client Cornerstone provides valuable support, a real lifeline, to hundreds of people everyday. Its projects would not be possible without the help of its volunteers and fundraisers. The first annual Big Sleep Out took place in 2015. These two events have raised almost £100,000. More than 150 people attended each Big Sleep Out, including the Bishop of Salford John Arnold, who said: “It was an important gesture, and an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for the homeless. It showed the depth of concern about the challenge of providing adequate housing and the unacceptable plight of the homeless.” As a positive result of the Big Sleep Out, the Safe Haven project was launched. Safe Haven, begun in November 2015, has been developed by a committed team of staff and volunteers with the aim of providing emergency accommodation to rough sleepers. As a pilot scheme, the project was a great success and provided a lifeline to beneficiaries. The emergency accommodation has become a crucial stepping stone to securing more permanent accommodation. Currently Cornerstone has five Safe Havens, with five more on the way. In the near future it hopes to be able to provide emergency temporary accommodation to more than 30 people. Angela Shannon said there is a desperate need for more accommodation. “The Big Sleep Out was a great event and the money raised will make all the difference,” she said. “We get up to 200 people at the centre on a daily basis; around 15 per cent of those are sleeping rough.
“We found that towards the end of last year there was no provision for people who needed somewhere to live because of the cuts. People started getting ready to go to sleep in the day centre. I was coming in at 8am and found people were still lying there, it was awful. It has been the worst year for homelessness. We can’t allow this to happen anymore.” Angela and Sr Lucy continue to work with the same passion as they always have. They are the motivational strength for all those they meet. Cornerstone exists today because of the kindness and support of so many. It considers itself blessed to have more than 120 volunteers who put their hearts and energy into helping others each day. From humble beginnings of serving hot drinks and sandwiches at the back of St Augustine’s Church, Cornerstone has now become a thrilling hub within the community and a support to those in need. The fundamental nature of Cornerstone has remained the same, it feeds the homeless everyday. Throughout its lifetime it has been able to add services and hosts weekly prayer meetings. It also has a computer room where clients can apply for positions of work and write CVs. Clients can learn valuable work skills, gain access to emergency accommodation and visit a hairdressing salon. Tony Murray said: “No statistics can capture the depth and quality of the work undertaken. The weight of the ‘everyday’ is carried out magnificently by our volunteers and helpers.” As St Teresa of Calcutta once said: “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 33
Miranda Litchfield reports on Carmelites in East Timor who are recording the 15th anniversary of their mission
A time to celebrate TIMOR-LESTE (the Democratic Republic of East Timor) comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Occusse, an exclave on the northwest side of the island surrounded by Indonesian West Timor. East Timor was a Portuguese colony until 1975 when the Portuguese withdrew and Indonesia claimed the territory for itself, ruthlessly suppressing the independence movement. After a period of devastating conflict, where people suffered some of the worst atrocities of modern times, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory in 1999 and on May 20, 2002, East Timor finally achieved independence and became the first new nation of the twenty-first century. There has been a Carmelite presence in East Timor for many years. The Hermanas de la Virgen Maria del Monte Carmelo from Orihuela in Spain established a foundation when the country was still a protectorate of Portugal and remained during the Indonesian occupation. When some young men expressed an interest in the Carmelite charism and spirituality, they went to the sisters in Fatuhada, Dili to find out more, and, with the agreement of the Indonesian Carmelite province, the sisters looked after them as pre-postulants whilst they discerned their vocations. In 1999 the Indonesian Carmelites sent two friars to look after these candidates and to minister in Dili. In 2001, the Carmelite Australian province accepted responsibility for the Carmelite presence in Timor Leste and for the parish of Zumalai mission in the south-west coast of the country. On August 15, 2016, the province now known as ‘The Carmelites of Australia and Timor-Leste’ celebrated 15 years of this mission. An Australian Lay Carmelite who visited the region just after independence wrote: “I knew very little about the atrocities they had endured and was unprepared for that first visit – for the 34 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
overwhelming emotions I experienced – seeing the destruction and hearing the stories of persecution, carnage and terror they had faced. “The stories and locations of the violence began in Dili, but as we were guided and transported by the Carmelite friars over the mountainous terrain for a six hour journey to Zumalai, I began to feel their pain. I witnessed the destruction in each of the districts we passed through. Their country had been occupied for more than 300 years – the disempowerment, created by hunger,
The two-year pre-Novitiate is an introduction to Carmelite life and formation
poverty and death of thousands of their people, was a testament to their courage and endurance ….. Names and news items we had all seen on television became a reality as our group stopped at various places of massacre and terror following the majority vote to claim independence in 1999 …. As Australians, a sense of shame and guilt was developing in each of us as we gazed on their sad, stricken and traumatised faces and we wondered how we could have allowed our neighbour to suffer in this way, only 686 km from our own shores”. This distance represents a one hour flight to the capital of East Timor, Dili, from Darwin, in Australia. Communities in Dili
In Fatuhada Dili, the Mission Centre and Pre-Novitiate house (Blessed Titus Brandsma House) also provides accommodation for six male high school students from Zumalai as well as the pre-novices. There are few secondary schools in East Timor, and this accommodation enables at least some students to complete
a secondary education. The house, which was opened in July 2005, also serves as the main administration centre for the Carmelites in the country and as a “transit house” for Carmelites and other visitors travelling on to Zumalai. The two-year pre-Novitiate is an introduction to Carmelite life and formation. In addition to their studies in English, Portuguese, and an introduction to scripture and theology, the young men in the Pre-Novitiate undertake ministries within the community. These are many and varied: For example, leading the liturgy in the local parish once a month, offering pastoral care to those in prison or hospital, establishing and supporting a youth outreach programme “Children in Carmel” which offers reading skills, English lessons, music and sport. The Santo Elias Novitiate in Hera was built in 2007 with 20 rooms for novices and five rooms for professed Carmelites. There is also a classroom, a library and a chapel large enough for the local community to attend Mass on Sunday and Feast Days. During their Novitiate, the Novices learn more about the Carmelite Order and its charism and try to grow in a life of prayerful union with God. Prior to 2008, the young men from East Timor wishing to study for the priesthood attended a seminary in Flores, Indonesia. Although Portuguese had always been the official language of the country, at this point it also became the language of education. It was therefore important for those training for the priesthood to undertake studies in their own country and they now study at the Diocesan seminary in Fatumeta. The Australian Province therefore undertook to build accommodation for the Carmelite seminarians next to the Novitiate house in order to save on costs. The Saint Nuno student house, pro-
Carmelites have been in Timor-Leste for 15 years viding accommodation for 12 men and two rooms for formators, was blessed and opened in May 2010 by the Prior General Fr Fernando Millan Romeral. Additional funding for the project came from the US, Irish and British provinces as well as the Society of the Little Flower. In 2015, two more young men were ordained, bringing the total to eight ordained East Timorese Carmelites. Fr Roque Solares Da Cruz and Fr Carlito Da Silva were ordained in Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Dili on January 30. Following their ordinations, they travelled home to celebrate Mass in their own villages, Letefoho and Besilau respectively. Both wore the traditional dress of their villages and were escorted by a large procession of villagers, Carmelites, family and friends. Fr Roque is now stationed in Hera, helping with Masses in the community, neighbouring convents and rural parishes as well as teaching the novices Lectio Divina. Fr Carlito is assistant formator for the Pre-Novitiate House in Fatuhada. Covering the costs of the Carmelite Formation Programme across two countries is a costly venture for the Carmelites of Australia and East Timor. Funds are raised via donations from individual donors, a major gifts programme, soliciting community groups and applying to trusts and foundations. Even with all of these measures in place there is a large deficit as this is the most costly of all the programme areas. Zumalai Sub-district
The main compound in Zumalai town now comprises the parish church, houses for the Carmelites, Zumalai primary school and high school with 220 students and a boarding house for boys accommodating 13 students. There is also a second primary school in Raimea, with 250 students in another
• East Timor is the poorest country in south east Asia • Population: 1.2 million (of whom about 95 per cent are Catholic) • Life expectancy is 67 years (only 3.6 per cent of the population are 65+) • One in seven children die before the age of 5 • 80 per cent of people are unemployed • Only 15 per cent of people have access to clean water • About 46 per cent of people have never had any schooling • The mortality rate is 200 times higher than in Australia small village in the Zumalai region. The Carmelites see education as a growing need for teenagers and young adults in Zumalai, who desperately want to continue their education beyond high school. Without a good education, their dreams of contributing to their community would never be realised, as their families have little money or ways to help. The Education = Freedom & Student Scholarships programmes help these young people to break the cycle of poverty by not only teaching them to read and write, but more importantly by giving them a gateway to their dreams of becoming something. Today there are 24 students in Zumalai and Hera who, through the scholarship programme, are able to go to school, lean a trade or attend university. They are well on their way to fulfilling their dreams and realising their potential through the gift of an education. Fundraising efforts in Australia have resulted in the funding of these programmes through the generosity of
groups and individuals across Australia. Some funds have been used to cover scholarships costs such as tuition, computers, books, pens and uniforms as well as travel to and from school. The scholarships enable young people to complete secondary education or become qualified in teaching, health care, technology and mechanics. Other funds have assisted with building of additional classrooms in the school(s), building the boarding house and providing resources for the students and purchasing teaching supplies, but so much more still needs to be achieved. Continued support in this area will mean that more children and young adults can receive the gift of an education. Strong links with parishes and schools in Australia have assisted the work of the Carmelites in East Timor to go from strength to strength. Students at Whitefriars College in Melbourne have fundraised since 2003 for a variety of projects including the water and electricity projects. A number of the students have also visited the Carmelites in Dili and Zumalai, through a school immersion programme, assisting with teaching in the school or helping the postulants and novices with their English. In 2015 for example, Kate Swinfield from the Faversham parish in England, volunteered to teach English to the Carmelite students in Hera as well as spending time with the pre-novices in Fatuhada. JM For more information about the great range of work undertaken by the Carmelites in East Timor please go to www.carmelites.org.au or see the Society of the Little Flower website www.littleflower.eu for other projects around the world. JUSTICE MAGAZINE 35
Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice, looks at the danger of the trade deals threatening democracy
Corporate power grab IT’S INTERESTING HOW little was said during the EU referendum campaign about the real threats to our sovereignty and our democracy – namely the overwhelming power of corporations. Corporate power is at the heart of global problems like inequality, climate change and even conflict and war. In the EU, so-called ‘free trade deals’ have been used as a way for corporations to seize even more power. These deals have very little to do with trade, and are much more about giving big business a raft of frightening new powers to influence new legislation and intimidate governments into backing down on policies that might harm corporate profits. The two most high profile of these trade deals are TTIP (between the EU and the USA) and CETA (between the EU and Canada), and the referendum result has altered our relationship with both of them. The US-EU deal TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is the best known of these so-called “new generation” trade deals and has inspired a movement. More than three million people signed Europe’s biggest petition to oppose TTIP, while 250,000 Germans took to the streets of Berlin last autumn to try to bring this deal down. TTIP would create a grossly undemocratic “corporate court” system, which allows foreign business to sue governments in secret courts for taking action which threatens their profits. But it doesn’t stop there. There’s also the threat of seemingly innocuous “regulatory cooperation”. This involves an ongoing trade-off, where legal standards are modified so that EU and US reg36 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
ulation are as similar to each other as possible. The EU and US having similar standards may not seem to be such a bad thing. Who cares about the precise colour of car indicator lights? Theoretically they might even lead to higher protection in both continents. Except they won’t. That’s because this whole area of “regulatory cooperation” will, if our negotiators have their way, be overseen by a new council with an open door to big business. Big business lobby
groups have been working for years on a model which allows them to “co-write” (their term) regulation with policy makers. And that’s what they have proposed under TTIP. TTIP is currently way behind schedule in terms of negotiation. The plan was to agree the text in 2016 and start the detailed ‘legal scrubbing’ of the text while Barack Obama was still in the White House.
Any claim that this is still possible is plainly ridiculous. So the likelihood is that the UK will leave the EU before TTIP is up for ratification. Many commentators have claimed that the uncertainty caused by the UK leaving the EU has dealt a body blow to an already beleaguered trade deal. If TTIP does eventually fall apart, as many suspect it will, there will be vested interests blaming its demise on the UK referendum, but in reality this will have been a deal that was defeated by a coordinated campaign across Europe of trade unions, activists, consumer groups, NGOs and progressive politicians who recognised this trade deal for what it represented – an attempted corporate coup. But TTIP is not alone. Its smaller sister deal between the EU and Canada is called CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). CETA is just as dangerous as TTIP; indeed it’s in the vanguard of TTIP-style deals, because it’s already been signed by the European Commission and the Canadian government. It now awaits ratification over the next 12 months. As CETA is so close to being implemented, it is highly likely that the UK will be subject to it, despite the fact that we are leaving the EU. If CETA comes into full force before the UK leaves the EU, we could be subject to many of the provisions for up to 20 years. The one positive thing about CETA is that it has already been signed and that means that we’re allowed to see it. Its 1,500 pages show us that it’s a threat to not only our food standards, but also the battle against climate change, our ability to regulate big banks to prevent another crash and our power to renationalise industries.
Protestors against TTIP in London Like the US deal, CETA contains a new court system, open only to foreign corporations and investors. Should the UK government make a decision, say, to outlaw dangerous chemicals, improve food safety or put cigarettes in plain packaging, a Canadian company can sue the British government for “indirect expropriation” or a failure to grant them “fair and equal treatment”. In plain English, this simply means they can’t make as much profit as they expected. These “trials” would be held in a special tribunal, that will override the judgements of national courts. Many US corporations now operate in Canada because the two economies have been heavily integrated since the signing of another big trade deal 20 years ago, NAFTA. So if CETA comes into effect, hundreds of US-based corporations will be able to sue the UK, which would effectively mean we’d be getting the same harmful impacts of TTIP through the backdoor. Like TTIP, the main purpose of CETA is to reduce regulation on business, the idea being that it will make it easier to export. But it will do far more than that. Through the pleasant-sounding “regulatory cooperation”, standards would be reduced across the board on the basis that they are “obstacles to trade”. That could include food safety, workers’ rights and environmental regulation. For instance Canada is the third largest producer of genetically modified products in the world.
WHAT THE CHURCH SAYS...
The new realities that are having such a powerful impact on the productive process, such as the globalisation of finance, economics, trade and labour, must never violate the dignity and centrality of the human person, nor the freedom and democracy of peoples. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
They’ve just invented a genetically modified salmon, which wouldn’t require any special labelling under CETA. They also have terrible animal welfare conditions. On financial regulation, the ability of governments to control banks and financial markets would be further impaired. Limiting the growth of banks that have become “too big to fail” could land a government in a tribunal and be sued for billions of pounds. Indeed the onslaught has already started. Tar sands oil is one of the most environmentally destructive fossil fuels in the world, and the majority of this oil is extracted in Alberta, Canada. Tar sands imports to the EU are currently very limited, but that’s changing. When the EU proposed prohibitive new regulations to effectively stop tar sands flowing into Europe, Canada used CETA as a bargaining chip to block the proposal. If CETA passes, that decision will be locked in – a disaster for climate change.
Finally, through something called a “ratchet clause”, current levels of privatisation would be “locked in” on any services not specifically exempted. If Canadian or EU governments want to bring certain services back into public ownership, they could be breaking the terms of the agreement. We’ve already had some success with CETA – the EU has had to admit that the agreement is ‘mixed’, which means it has to go to national parliaments like Westminster. But the British government is desperately trying to ensure CETA is passed into law before this parliamentary vote. That means it could be applied as early as next spring. In coming months, we will need to work hard to thwart CETA in the European Parliament and embarrass our government into ensuring a Westminster vote takes place before CETA becomes law. But this is only the first step, because in the coming years our government will try to sign many trade deals. Free market think tanks are already trying to mobilise for trade deals which look like TTIP on steroids. We need to work to combat the failed ideology these deals are based on, but also propose our own alternative vision for trade. We will try to build as big a coalition as possible for trade policies which genuinely put people and the planet first. JM Find out how you can join the campaign against CETA at globaljustice.org.uk/ CETA JUSTICE MAGAZINE 37
More than two years after Daesh (ISIS) seized the Nineveh Plains, driving out its inhabitants including Christians and members of other religious minorities, Fr Andrew Halemba, who has frequently visited northern Iraq over the last few years, gives his assessment. John Newton and Oliver Maksan report.
Exiles in their own land “NATURALLY IT WAS an appalling situation. In the first days, the people slept on the bare ground. The temperatures in Iraq in August were merciless. Around 50 degrees.” Fr Andrew Halemba, Aid to the Church in Need’s project coordinator for the Middle East, was in Iraq shortly after families were forced out of their homes in Mosul and other settlements throughout the Nineveh Plains in summer 2014. As they flooded into the Kurdish capital Erbil, and Dohuk, about an hour’s drive from the Turkish border, they sought shelter wherever they could, in shopping centres, under bridges, even filling up Erbil’s public parks. Fr Halemba said: “The people were also very aggressive and traumatised. There was the added fact that they felt betrayed, and not only by their Muslim neighbours who collaborated with Daesh (ISIS) and looted their homes. “They had trusted that the Kurdish Peshmerga troops would defend their villages.” The Peshmerga is the official military force for the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. “But when the Peshmerga withdrew, surprisingly and contrary to all assurances, they were left without protection and were forced to flee, sometimes in dramatic circumstances. One could read this in their faces.” During the advance of the extremist forces, the Peshmerga had initially tried to protect a number of towns on the Nineveh Plains including Qaraqosh, the last Christian majority town in Iraq. But finding their troops overstretched, 38 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
When the Peshmerga withdrew, surprisingly and contrary to all assurances, they were left without protection and were forced to flee
they fell back to protect the borders of the Kurdish region, leaving Qaraqosh and other settlements at the mercy of Daesh. But there are now signs that the defeat of Daesh could be in sight. On August 7, the Peshmerga took control of 12 villages being held by Daesh near Mosul. Their aim was to take Gwer, 25 miles south of Mosul, and rebuild the bridge across the Zab river. This would open the way for an assault on Mosul itself. But Fr Halemba does not think that the liberation of Mosul will automatically solve the internal refugees’ problems. He said: “This could lead to new difficulties. One must bear in mind that Mosul is a city with a million inhabitants. If an assault were launched, hundreds of thousands would flee from the fighting. “And where would they go? Probably to Kurdistan, which is already bursting at the seams. But it is also likely that many Sunnis from Mosul and its surroundings would enter the empty Christian villages and seek shelter there. This could create new and unforeseen difficulties – would they be prepared to leave the villages again? >>>40
A Christian man in a refugee centre located in a sports centre in Ankawa with pre-fab units from ACN. Photo: Aid to the Church in Need/Anton Fric
Children praying at the grotto of the Virgin Mary in the Church of St Joseph, Ankawa. Photo: ACN “Right now, this is still only a possibility. But this scenario causes the bishops in Iraq real concern. The Christians have already suffered many bad experiences with land occupation.” When Mosul originally fell to Daesh in summer 2014, the Chaldean Church – one of the Eastern Churches in full communion with Rome – was holding its synod, and it quickly turned its attention to the care of the internal refugees. Working closely with the other Christian Churches – including the Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic and Assyrian Church – they set up an ecumenical emergency committee to care for the displaced. Fr Halemba said: “At that time it was a question of emergency humanitarian aid for as many as more than 120,000 Christians alone. Initially the local Church was totally overburdened. But with the help of international donors and organisations like ACN, the situation stabilised relatively quickly.” The Churches’ emergency committee 40 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
has provided monthly food packages, received by the bishops’ emergency and shelter, medical aid, and education committee has come from faith-based wherever it is needed. Now more than organisations. It has not received regular two years on, food packages still need to help from international aid groups. be provided. Since summer 2014, ACN has provided Chaldean Bishop Warda of Erbil, who more than US$ 21 million in aid for Iraq oversees the emergency committee, told – and has been the biggest single backer ACN: “A total of 13,500 IDP families, Christian and Yazidis, received monthly food packages worth of US$58.50. Each package contained rice, groats, tomato pasta, lattice, spaghetti, sugar, chicken luncheon, beans, tea, milk, mushrooms, green peas, lentils, sun-flower oil, soap and detergent.” All the ongoing Food packages distributed by Aid to the Church in Need at a small Yazidi camp. Photo: ACN support being
A Christian woman prays at a refugee centre located in a sports centre in Ankawa with pre-fab units from ACN. Photo: Aid to the Church in Need/Anton Fric
of the emergency committee. With some charities having had to pull out due to lack of funds, ACN has committed to providing additional support, and will have increased its total aid to Iraq to around US$ 23.5 million by the end of 2016. Alongside emergency help, it is also supporting the Church’s pastoral mission. Fr Halemba said: “The Church is doing a great deal for them, both spiritually and psychologically. The priests, and especially the sisters, are close to the people. The people are living with the situation. I am not saying that they want to live with it permanently. Of course not. But they have seen that they are not abandoned.” Fr Halemba stressed the importance of helping people to stay for the midterm through projects like the schools which have been set up for displaced children. He said: “The aim is to prevent a lost generation from growing up here, like in Syria. “Furthermore, most people are no
The Church is doing a great deal for them, both spiritually and psychologically
longer living in tents or caravans but in rented apartments and houses. This has restored their dignity and the feeling of having a home again. Our subsidies for food and their own labour ensure that they are provided with the basic necessities. But naturally it cannot go on like this forever. The longer this exile lasts, the more people will leave. And many Christians have already left Iraq.” The declining number of Christians in Iraq could spell the end of the historic presence of the faith in the country. Before the fall of Saddam Hussein there were more than a million Christians in Iraq, but conflict and persecution means that today there are probably fewer than a quarter of a million left in the whole of the country.
Fr Halemba said that there were no exact figures for the numbers of Christians that had departed following Daesh’s seizure of the Nineveh Plains “but of the approximately 120,000 Christians who originally fled, many have left. At the beginning we helped some 13,500 families. Today there are some 4 to 5,000 families fewer. They have gone. That is painful. But without aid it would have been even more. I am impressed over and again by the great inner strength of the people.” JM John Newton works in ACN (UK)’s Press and Information Department. He has travelled to the Middle East to report on the charity’s projects and recently authored the pamphlet Religious Freedom Today: The Catholic View for CTS. Oliver Maksan is editor-in-chief of the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost, and has reported extensively on the situation in Syria and Iraq. JUSTICE MAGAZINE 41
Niall O’Keeffe journeys into Damascus
An abandoned people
AS WE APPROACH Damascus, we see a sprawling city covered in a haze from the sun and 40 degrees heat. Ten kilometres from the city we are moving slowly through a security checkpoint. The checkpoint gives a sense of security and a belief that at least explosive materials are not being smuggled into the war torn city. As we get nearer the checkpoint, however, we see the driver of a van hand the military official a bottle of ice water and being waved through without a check. We re-think our sense of security. On the surface, there is a normality about Damascus. There is traffic on the streets, people go to work, and restaurants serve traditional Syrian dishes. In the evening, our hosts proudly show us around historical sites such as the Straight Street, referenced in the Bible, and the Umayyad Mosque with a tomb that purportedly holds the remains of John the Baptist. But as we walk around, our hosts point to what looks like a repaired pothole and explains that a bomb fell there. A damaged building is pointed out – glass in the front of the building is shattered and some of the structure is destroyed. And our hosts tell of other buildings which have been hit by bombing and some have been repaired. “It’s good to repair things if possible, it makes things look normal,” our hosts tell us. We hear bombing in the distance. “The first time a bomb fell, we all stayed in doors for a day or two,” we are told, “but the last time one fell, we were back on the street in 20 minutes. We have become used to it over the years.” Syria has seven million people who have moved to another area of the country for safety reasons and Damascus 42 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
is one of the safest areas. In the southern suburb of Jaramana, project staff say that the suburb’s population has swelled from 500,000 pre-conflict to an estimated 1,500,000 now. It’s a dusty area, visibly poorer than the city centre with block after block of apartments. Families who have moved to areas like this have often gradually sold off their things in the hope of outdoing the conflict. Eventually, a displaced family usually has no belongings, no assets, nothing and simply seeks a safe place. For families who have nothing, Jaramana is one of the most affordable options.
A damaged building is pointed out – glass in the front of the building is shattered and some of the structure is destroyed
The Hai Hamdi family moved to Damascus in February 2016. They are from rural Kobani in northern Syria, near to the border with Turkey. They were farmers and while they weren’t well off, they made a living from their land. Conflict had hit their village on and off over the past few years and they had previously come to Damascus for safety, but found it difficult to survive and had returned home. They travelled to Damascus again in February and this time found a room and decided to stay. The conflict had destroyed their home in Kobani and they were no longer safe, but leaving had its own problems and involved making payments for smuggling – going to Tur-
key was more expensive than travelling to Damascus, and the journey with its various stops and negotiations took a month. Their new home in Jaramana is a shell of a one-room apartment, unfinished and with no windows installed. They pay SP10,000 per month (less than €20). Their room is no protection from the elements – temperatures frequently reach over 40 degrees in summer and less than zero in winter – but it is safe and secure, relative to Kobani. The children are attending school locally and Shawakh Hai Hamdi has got labour work in the market which covers the rent and some of their food needs. But they continue to be dependent on support from others to cover some basic needs and particularly for ‘additional’ items such school copy books, clothes and medical needs. As we talked to the Hai Hamdi family, I hear more bombing which seems a bit closer than others I have heard. I look out the window, but nobody else takes any notice of it. Two days before our visit, the town of Darayya nearly 20kms to the south of Damascus, was heavily bombed shortly after receiving humanitarian aid. The Government of Syria was responsible for the bombing. One day before our visit, there were two explosions in the southern suburb of Set Zaynab. IS claimed responsibility. We ask people if these two sets of attacks mark a shift in the conflict in the areas around Damascus, or an advance in one direction or another. But no, each attack was simply making a statement – ‘we are here and look at what we can do’. As a visitor in a war torn country, unsure of your territory, you don’t discuss
politics. So we discuss what people’s hopes are for the future. “I’ve no choice but to stay” is a regular response and we learn if the choice is because of a lack of means or stubborn desire to stay in their home country.
In our discussions, there is some mention of hope, but it is a dream, an abstract with no clear pathway
Others talk about waiting and seeing if the situation improves – they survived the heavy attacks in central Damascus
last year so maybe things will improve. They have jobs and can sustain themselves and their families. But there is little certainty and no optimistic discussion of new plans to be achieved. While visiting one of the project centres, a colleague of theirs from Aleppo turned up at the door – she had gone from being a staff member providing support to vulnerable people in Aleppo to now being displaced and looking for support. In our discussions, there is some mention of hope, but it is a dream, an abstract with no clear pathway. Back in Lebanon and talking to Syrians, they feel angry and cheated that they had to leave their country. Why should anyone be put in a situation like those we spoke to in Damascus?
Being a refugee might offer safety, but it too offers little hope. Syrians in Lebanon hope to return home someday, but can’t see any clear pathway to that goal either. I ask their opinions of the Syria peace process (facilitated by the UN). They don’t describe the international community and the UN as poor facilitators of the peace process – they angrily describe them as abandoning the Syrian people and being motivated only by self interest. The international community needs to significantly increase efforts and find a solution to this senseless conflict. JM Niall O’Keeffe is head of Trócaire’s Middle East Programme JUSTICE MAGAZINE 43
Tony Magliano reflects on the occasion he was introduced to Mother Teresa
St Teresa of Calcutta. Photo: Dennis Jarvis
When I met a saint
LLOW ME TO share with you one of the highpoints of my life – a short, yet deeply enriching encounter with a saint. Nearly 30 years ago, I worked at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington’s emergency food warehouse. Missionaries of Charity sisters caring for HIV/AIDS patients at their Gift of Peace House in Washington, DC used to regularly stop by for food assistance. Since I helped with food distribution, I got to know the sisters. One day while picking up food, one of the sisters said to me, “Mother is coming.” I said: “Do you mean Mother Teresa?” She said: “Yes.” I excitedly replied: “May I come?” And she said: “Yes.” A few days later, standing in front of the Gift of Peace House with about 20 other guests, I saw Mother Teresa get out of a car and walk towards the house. Immediately the sisters affectionately ran to greet her. Then, as we stood in a circle, Mother Teresa began to walk to each guest silently placing a Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Mother in each of our hands. I remember she seemed to keep her head humbly bowed as she approached each of us. “But when she reached me, I said to her “Namaste” – which is the normal greeting in Hindi. Lifting up her head, and looking at me somewhat surprised, she greeted me back saying “Namaste.” Then I said to her in Hindi, “Kaise hain?” Inquiring, how are you? And she replied, “Theek” which means OK. Having exhausted my Hindi vocabulary, my brief encounter with Mother Teresa of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) had ended. But the personal experience of conversing with a living saint continues to spiritually enrich my life to this day. 44 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
On September 4, Pope Francis canonised Mother Teresa – which officially designated her as one of the saints of the Catholic Church. Imperfect like all of us, yet holier than the vast majority of us, Mother Teresa truly exemplified what it means to pick up one’s cross and follow Jesus. And what a heavy cross she carried. Leaving the comfort of her convent, she ventured out into the slums of Calcutta with practically nothing, to care for the poorest of the poor – the unloved, the starving, the homeless, the stigmatised victims of leprosy, the abandoned and forgotten, the dying and the unborn. In her 1979 Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Mother Teresa said: “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing … if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you kill me – there is nothing between.” She went on to speak about a man she and her sisters picked up from the gutter. With worms eating away at him, they brought him back to their home and cared for him. He said: “I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die like an angel, loved and cared for.” There is an excellent new DVD titled “The Letters: The Untold Story of Mother Teresa” (visit http://bit.ly/2bv2mpM). This movie should inspire us all to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of those who suffer, and for the health of our own souls. Consider the power of this reflection from St Mother Teresa: “I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” JM Tony Magliano is an internationallysyndicated social justice and peace columnist.
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Kim Pozniak presents two reports on countering extreme climate conditions
Resilience in the Ethiopian drought LIKE FARMERS EVERYWHERE, farmers in eastern Ethiopia’s Oromia Region look to the sky for the two elements they need most: Sun and water. Ethiopia gets a lot of sun, but has not had much rain this year. In fact, some areas have not seen rain for two years. Isike Abdukerim, a farmer in the eastern part of Ethiopia, has learned new farming and irrigation practices that have helped him to grow crops even when there’s drought. And, since 85 per cent of Ethiopians depend on rain-fed agriculture, rain is everything — the key to life. A poor harvest locks farmers into a vicious cycle. Without crops — one of two main sources of income — there is no food on the table. “The biggest problem is the lack of rain,” says Isike Abdukerim, who farms a small plot of land and used to have a small herd of livestock.
Vast grazing areas look deceptively fertile with a soft green veil stretched over the land. But the grass yields no nutrition
Animals are the other most valuable asset for families here. If sold in good condition, they can yield enough money to feed a family for some time. “Because of this drought, we don’t have any feed for our cattle so I had to sell the animals,” says Isike. Vast grazing areas look deceptively fertile with a soft green veil stretched over the land. But the grass yields no nutrition, too short for emaciated animals to grip. Instead, their hooves kick up red 46 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
dust plumes with every step they take. Ethiopia is in the midst of the worst drought in half a century. Two failed rainy seasons in 2015, and poor rains in early 2016, have led to severely reduced harvests. The cause: A combination of climate change and an El Nino current in the Pacific Ocean. The result: Food is running dangerously short. “This drought makes it difficult [to respond] because the entire country is experiencing it,” says Haileyesus Lemlan, who coordinates the programmes of American aid agency Catholic Relief Services in Oromia. “People are able to cope differently from area to area, but everyone’s affected to a certain degree. “You can find the truth of drought inside people’s homes.” Inside Isike’s home, you’ll find a large white sack of grain and a tin of cooking oil. Both came as emergency assistance from the US government, which is currently providing for 2.8 million Ethiopians through the Joint Emergency Operation Programme. Through CRS projects, Isike and his family learned how to cultivate vegetables year-round. He also works as a weather forecaster to alert his community to changes so they can adapt their farming practices. “The food aid helps my family better withstand the drought,” Isike says, but adds: “It’s not enough.” His thin body is visible beneath a worn leather jacket. His hollow cheeks are a sign that the drought has spared no one. A major emergency response is under way — by CRS and its partners, and in collaboration with the Ethiopian government —to help people survive. Along with lifesaving food aid, CRS is taking the long view, addressing the hardships Ethiopians face this year and
into a future when the impact of climate change will be felt time and again. To help farmers like Isike build their resilience so they can withstand more frequent, prolonged droughts, hotter temperatures and environmental degradation, CRS has begun training communities to take matters into their own hands. Through REAP, a three-year project funded by the US government through the US Agency for International Development, CRS helps people adapt new practices and technologies to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change. The project addresses natural resource management, health and nutrition, farming practices and early warning weather forecasts. It also provides opportunities for people to earn an income.
Isike Abdukerim. Photo: Petterik Wiggers for CRS
Isike was trained to be his district’s early warning coordinator, its central forecaster. He regularly receives and collects local weather data, then shares it via his mobile phone to a select group of people, who in turn share it widely with their networks in emergency meetings and through word of mouth. The system allows farmers in extremely remote areas without electricity or telecommunications to make decisions based on real-time weather information. “Current predictions, in part also based on our indigenous knowledge about things like wind direction, suggest there won’t be any rain in the coming months,” Isike says. So Isike, along with others in his community, got the tools, seeds and training needed to make a keyhole garden, an
elevated plot where he can grow vegetables. Using locally available materials — different layers of soil, rock and sand, and only small amounts of water — this type of raised-bed garden can provide year-round crops. “With only a little water, I can harvest vegetables all year,” he says, standing next to one of his two gardens, which looks lush against the grey, rocky backdrop. “The main advantage of the gardens is the ability to grow vegetables even during drought,” he says, which helps him as a father of nine children. “Having vegetables has a good benefit for my family. Vegetables prevent diseases and malnutrition, and provide a more balanced diet.” CRS’ focus on nutrition and im-
proved health — especially for pregnant women, mothers and children under the age of five — is part of an integrated approach. In addition to providing the seeds, tools and training to cultivate different crops, community leaders learn the importance of nutrition and how to prepare nutritious meals. “Before the keyhole gardens, making vegetables a part of our diet was not known in this area,” Isike says. Today, there are 102 keyhole gardens in his community of 10 small villages. While rain will remain critical for these farmers — whose lives hinge on the bounty of the next harvest — food aid combined with the more nutritious vegetables will at least carry them through the lean season of April to August and take an important step toward adapting to climate change. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 47
We’ve seen climate change harm our lives time and time again. Drought has been getting more and more serious over the last 20 years
Fatuma Ali. Photo: Petterik Wiggers for CRS
Withstanding a crisis WHEN FATUMA ALI Sali talks, the words come out as if they are spilling down a waterfall. It’s hard to keep up. With a mischievous smile, she acknowledges she’s talking too much, not leaving time for anyone to ask questions. Fatuma is one of the millions of Ethiopians severely affected by the worst drought in 50 years. Thanks to a CRS programme helping families reduce their vulnerability, she can now better withstand such crises and even buy enough food for her family. “I’m so happy. I’m laughing and feeling happy,” she says. “I’ve learned how to protect my family from climate change.” Fatuma is one of nearly half a million people participating in a Catholic Relief Services project on resiliency and adaptation. The three-year project will help 48 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
people use new practices and technologies to mitigate the devastating effects of hotter temperatures, prolonged droughts and soil erosion. A mother of eight living in a remote area of Ethiopia’s eastern Oromia Region, Fatuma sits on one of the small rocks in her one-room mud house. An occasional bleat comes from three small goats and a young calf, chained to the wall next to her. Livestock is one of the most valuable assets a family can have here, so sharing her small home with them is like parking a car in a garage. While she is joyful today, just a year ago, Fatuma didn’t know if her family would be able to survive. Speaking to her in April 2015, she said: “We’ve seen climate change harm our lives time and time again. Drought has been getting
more and more serious over the last 20 years.” At the time, her family’s only income came from selling crops at the local market. Without a harvest to sell, her husband found work ploughing their neighbour’s fields — all by hand, because he had no ox. Their only animal was a donkey barely strong enough to carry water. Now, Fatuma and the animals in her home tell a different story. “Even though this is not a good year, we’re trying to improve our livelihoods,” she says. “And we’re learning about climate change adaptation.” “Not a good year” is putting it mildly. Ethiopia is suffering through the worst drought in 50 years. Millions of people live on the brink of disaster as a strong
El Nino current intensified the latest of the country’s recurring droughts. Climate change has caused longer, more severe dry periods. If another harvest fails, up to 20 million people could face life-threatening food shortages unless they receive immediate aid. Fatuma is better able to cope with drought thanks to a CRS project that includes, among other things, microfinance and natural resources management components. CRS’ resilience project is meant to break this cycle by taking a grassroots approach to finding responses to climate change. Communities receive training
in a number of different areas and then take matters into their own hands. Project participants have built resilience by: Improving their families’ financial health through saving groups, using loans to start small businesses. Rehabilitating their environment through natural resource management, like building hillside terraces to prevent erosion or diverting streams to improve irrigation. Using early warning mechanisms to communicate weather forecasts so farmers can adapt and better plan their activities. Since early 2015, CRS has helped thousands of people — from farmers to
animal herders — become more resilient by adapting through new behaviours, approaches and technologies. The El Nino crisis means changes are only incremental, but they are a beginning. “There’s been an improvement,” says Fatuma, with a nod to the animals she was able to buy with a loan from her savings group.Joining the group has given her financial independence, a life-changing form of resilience. She’s also had a small harvest thanks to drought-resistant seeds and training on how to cultivate vegetables. “Last year, I said I was open to this project,” she says. “When I joined, I got a lot of information on the immediate risks of drought. Now I’m well-adapted to the situation.” Fatuma has come a long way since last year, when she was afraid of losing her home. “I have much more confidence,” she says, with a little sparkle in her eye. “If it wasn’t for the programme, we would have migrated to look for wages.” Instead, she can sit in her house and hear the reassuring sounds of her goats and calf. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 49
Tony Magliano speaks to a Jerusalem bishop about his insights on peacemaking in the Holy Land
Apply pressure to win peace RECENTLY I EMAILED questions to the auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Bishop William Shomali, asking him to share his first-hand insights regarding the many injustices and violent environment in the land of the Prince of Peace. He graciously sent back a recorded audio response upon which this column is based. Bishop Shomali said one of the most pressing problems facing Palestinians is Israeli imposed restrictions on movement. For example, he said Palestinians living in Bethlehem or Ramallah need to obtain a permit to go just six miles to Jerusalem. And permits are only given during principle feasts. He said the ongoing illegal building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the Occupied Territories is an extremely serious roadblock to a peaceful solution. To correct these and other injustices, Israel needs to participate in good-faith negotiations toward the two-state solution: The establishment of an independent viable Palestinian nation coexisting peacefully with a fully recognized state of Israel. He emphasised the two-state solution continues to be firmly supported by the Holy See. “Negotiations could be successful if there is good will. Some settlements can be given to Palestinians and Israelis can keep some of the settlements close to Israel. Other land exchange agreements can be reached as well,” said Bishop Shomali. “But unconditional US support for Israel negatively affects the situation,” he said. A two-state solution could be agreed upon by the UN Security Council, but the US continues to block a UN binding 50 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Occupied territory in Palestine. Photo: Montecruz Foto resolution that would set a timetable for the establishment of the nation of Palestine, said Shomali. He added: “The US continues to keep telling Palestinians that statehood should come through negotiations. But negotiations with Israel continually fail. We then seek statehood through the UN Security Council, and America blocks our way. We go back to negotiations with Israel and they fail again.” Bishop Shomali lamented: “We live in a vicious circle.” And to get out of this circle, the American government should not veto or otherwise block a UN approved resolution establishing a viably independent Palestine. In terms of justice and peace the US should be impartial. Bishop Shomali stressed the paramount importance of prayer. But added that prayers alone are not enough, there must also be a serious effort to reach a peace accord. He praised the generosity of Catholics throughout the world in assisting parishes, schools and many humanitarian projects in the Holy Land. But added
that so much more help is desperately needed. The US gives Israel approximately $3 billion each year. Far more than it gives any other nation. Thus the American government has the ability to exert tremendous pressure upon the Israeli government to negotiate in good faith a fair and just two-state solution. But sadly, it does not have the political courage and moral integrity to do so. Therefore, it is up to us to pressure the US administration to do the right thing. Please contact President Obama (go to www.whitehouse.gov/contact) urging him to leave a jewel in his presidential legacy by using every diplomatic tool at his disposal to set the stage for all Arab nations to recognise Israel’s right to exist, and for Israel to fully cooperate in the establishment of a totally independent and viable Palestinian nation. JM Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.
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brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected
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Forced out by war, poverty or persecution, millions of people live uncertain lives as migrants and refugees. But each of us, moved by faith, can act in welcome, respect and love.
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Published on Nov 1, 2016
Published on Nov 1, 2016
Justice Magazine - The Catholic Social Justice Quarterly. Issue 15. Includes articles on: Ethiopia; Migration; Colombia; World Social Forum;...