The VI Entreculturas Encounter, focuses on migration

. To help focus on this matter were Luis Magriñá, S.J. International Jesuit Refugee Service Director; Elías López, S.J., JRS Europe Director, and Chepe Ñuñez S.J. National Director for JRS-JMS Dominican Republic. We were also able to listen to the testimonies of Abdelmajid Haddoun and Claudia Leal, representatives of cultural associations.


Luis Magriñá helped us to get close to the migration phenomenon from the basic concepts point of view.  He explained definitions often confused such as refugee, internally displaced, asylum applicant etc. and he stressed on the idea that according to the Church Social Doctrine, which is the guideline for the JRS, every person who is forced to abandon his or her home due to poverty or lack of basic resources, a so called "immigrant", should be accepted with all the rights as a refugee, a term which is only used for those who have left their countries due to political or conflict reasons.

Magriñá also spoke on the origin of the JRS, following Father Arrupe's experience in the Hong Kong beach in 1980 and also with the occasion of the 25 anniversary he gave an overall view of the organization's work mainly in Africa and Asia.

He also presented the challenge of working with migrants, referring to the new causes that are originating new migrant situations which are necessary to handle and which the JRS should adapt to. He mentioned as an example the situation of human rights violation suffered by millions of refugees in Bangkok that due to the uncontrollable number of asylum applicants are held in detention centres by the authorities, with no charges and in abandon conditions until the entrance papers are initiated.

Elías Lopez illustrated the daily problems behind the migration phenomenon. He spoke to us about his experience in the Rwandese refugee camps, where one sick woman whom he visited daily, made him realize how the most urgent thing for a dying human being is not his faith but simply some food.

To end the morning, Chepe Nuñez explained in a personal way some examples of the work carried out by the JRS and the JMS in the border between Dominican Republic and Haiti. (Currently there are between 500.000 and 800.000 Haitian refugees in Dominican Republic.) With the aid of photographs, Chepe explained how forced repatriations among Haitians are carried out and how the JMS fights for the rights of these people through political and media advocacy. He also pointed out the importance of education, basic towards peace between Haitians and Dominicans by encouraging dialogue and mutual understanding.

During the afternoon these matters were addressed in workshops.

To close the encounter we were very lucky to have with us two people giving us their testimonies on how they have lived personally the migration experience since they have been forced to flee their country for lack of food and political asylum reasons. The Colombian Claudia Leal and the Moroccan Abdelmajid Haddoun told us in detail about the integration difficulties they had met in our country: social barriers, prejudice, homesickness etc. It was an end to the encounter that helped us to think and return home with a new perspective.