It manifested the international dimension of the Teresian Association (TA), the value of being a member recognized by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), the strengthening of the paths it took in synergy with other entities of the Civil Society and the Church, thus expressing the perspectives of its mission carried out in the 30 countries in which it is present.
The Seminar (see the program here) began with the greetings addressed to the participants by Paola Palagi, director of the Italian sector of the TA, underlining the importance and urgency of the chosen theme to deepen it from different points of view: from the sociological to the ethical, from the anthropological and psychological perspective up to the political approach. She recalled that “we live in times of transformations to communicate in a world characterized by the strongest contradictions: a reality of unification (of economies, transport, information flow) and at the same time marked by profound processes of social disintegration, with increasing dramatic inequalities. Therefore, it is important to take a serious approach to the complexity of today's migration phenomenon in order to identify and implement correct strategies and solidarity, to build a more human world together. This urgency is felt with special force in Italy, at a time when the culture of acceptance and integration is not only strongly questioned in the public and private debate, but even put under accusation. Attitudes of intolerance and racism are spreading, and the most recent legislation creates situations of deprivation and exclusion, as never seen in the past (see Security Decree, Law 132 of 2018). The Teresian Association, promoter of this Seminar on Migration, is particularly sensitive to these issues because it deals, from its origin, with the dialogue between faith and cultures, the promotion of the rights of the persons, respect for their dignity, and the Gospel announcement that has as its first recipients the poor and the least.”
Change narrative about migration
Next, Emma Melgarejo, as coordinator of the international TA team at ECOSOC, presented the TA collaborative work in the drafting process of the Global Agreement on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration, which started in New York in 2016. The TA has joined the call of the UN and civil societies to change the narrative of migration so that, the phenomenon understood as a set of problems, may be understood as one of the opportunities for inclusion and dialogue, of participation of each person in the construction of the context in which he/she chooses to live.
We must listen to the stories of people forced to abandon their lands due to growing inequality, to flee from situations that endanger their lives, to seek a better future for their children, only to find themselves without identity in new lands where they are not accepted. They become invisible "legally non-existent", not covered by any legal system or protection of inalienable fundamental rights. From these stories, the TA joined the request for change for a new narrative of migration, highlighting 9 points of the final document of the Global Compact.
Then she presented the work that TA is doing in the world of migration, in Taiwan and in Amman and in several European cities. Through the international association EDIW (Education for an Interdependent World), the projects aim to sensitize other people about the complexity of the migratory phenomenon as a situation to which special attention should be paid. Young people have worked to promote the integration of other young migrants in their local realities. In New York they had the opportunity to give an oral presentation in front of the Member States, as a voice of "young dreamers and builders of an interdependent world" that presupposes a welcoming and hopeful dialogue; the same in Geneva.
Presentation of the two Global impacts
The documents are two paradigms of common commitment for the signatory countries of the UN in order to guarantee: the first Document a safe, orderly and regular migration; the second, the rights of applicants for international protection, migrants and refugees, and the human dignity of those who, for various reasons, must leave their country.
They should guide the willingness of governments to face the challenges posed by the phenomenon of migration, to find synergistic solutions that may combine the common right to migrate with the right of nations to protect their borders and formulate their own migration policy, in full respect of the international Conventions. The objective is to achieve an equitable distribution of responsibilities among the different States of the UN.
The two Global Pacts, established with precise objectives, include a series of principles, commitments and measures in all their dimensions and present a framework of global cooperation on migrants and human mobility with the intention of regulating transnational migratory flows. Anna Maria Donnarumma, in presenting them, underlined the series of inaccurate and misleading interpretations of the two texts that take place in a conflictive and controversial political debate. The Global Pacts, although they are non-binding for the Nations at the legal level, should constitute a point of reference for governing migration effectively through international cooperation, far from isolationist positions that do not take into account multilateral areas in which the nations, today, relate to each other at an interdependent level. They are the expression of common reflections and confrontations that push nations to confront each other on issues that are considered, unfortunately, only of national competence. The international component predominates in the formulation of migration policies that regulate transnational flows. Regrettably, Italy abstained at the time of its signature in December 2018.
Interventions of speakers
After the presentation of the documents, the thematic contributions of the different reporters are intertwined, discussing the proposed topic.
The first two, Dr. Luca di Sciullo, president of the Center for Research and Studies, and Don Giovanni De Robertis, General Director of the Migrant Foundation of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), based on the data from the XXVII Caritas-Migrants Immigration Report 2018, emphasized the importance of talking about immigration with a new language that adheres to reality.
They point out that, regrettably, the perception of Italians about this phenomenon has changed erroneously and does not correspond to the obvious data, which often is altered and, therefore, not real and true. They showed a video with correct statistics, which unfortunately the media in general do not provide, preventing a valid knowledge for a coherent work. In addition, the immigration policies recently adopted by several countries, the illegal rejections, the separation of families, the slowness of procedures, and the abuse against migrants seem to indicate the birth of a new group of marginalized people, present all over the world.
One cannot think that the migratory phenomenon is an indiscriminate and unregulated process, but walls of indifference or fear should not be erected and, for their part, the migrants themselves should not neglect the task of knowing and respecting the culture and traditions of the nation of arrival and reception.
Di Sciullo said that the facts show that the EU is not prepared to address the issue of migration. In Italy, the lack of approval by the Parliament of the principle of ius soli tempered for the right to citizenship of foreign citizens, only a few years ago, has denied many people the opportunity to regularize their presence as residents in its territory. Today Italy is oriented towards a ius culturae, also to overcome the identity conflict in young people born in Italian territory of foreign parents.
De Robertis, stressed how people are forced to choose migration, but the real emergency is precisely that of young Italians who have to emigrate to find work in accordance with their professional qualifications. And he insisted that the emergency is precisely the flight of the young people from Italy. Faced with the many forms of precariousness and vulnerability that many people suffer for various reasons, the message that reports in order to understand the attitude of acceptance, and that is the need to know well Roman people in order to understand them... Aroused feelings of emotion among the participants.
He then recalled that the Section for Migrants and Refugees of the Vatican Dicastery for the Integral Human Development Service was appointed by Pope Francis to draft a document that contributes to the Reflection on the Global Compacts, from the perspective of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
The document, entitled 20 Action Points for Global Compacts, describes, in fact, a series of effective measures in response to the challenges of the migration phenomenon and represents a response of the Church to the needs of migrants and refugees. It is articulated according to four verbs: Accept, Protect, Promote and Integrate, with which the Pope wanted to underline the urgency of coordinated and effective actions to face the complex reality of contemporary migrations.
Father Alessandro Manaresi S.J., deputy director of the Astalli Center, presented his activities in an eloquent way using narrations and images, statistics and direct testimonies. He examined the characteristics of so many people who come to Italy to ask for protection, to flee from wars and persecutions in their countries of origin, demonstrating how difficult it is to guarantee for everyone the fundamental human rights such as food, bed, medical care, a house or a job.
He focused his speech on the motivations and profile of the volunteers, who often ask to collaborate in the daily services offered by the structure of the Astalli Center. In them there are many riches at stake because they approach the other in a personal and unselfish way, available to intervene when necessary and offering the necessary help so that a person can rebuild his/her life in a foreign country. In the volunteers there is an existential change that allows acceptance to be experienced as proximity to the other in diversity and to see our history in the eyes of the refugee/migrant.
The interventions demonstrated a well-informed audience that asked specific questions on various topics, such as those related to the work of migrants with the recognition of trade union rights and social security requirements; the support that should be given to caregivers or domestic helpers who cannot carry out a regularization process due to lack of documents or because there are no amnesties that favor the processes of obtaining residence permits; to the collection of pensions, which becomes a problematic issue because migrants cannot receive them in the countries of origin upon their return, due to the lack of agreements between the governments of the two countries; to the evaluation of the professional qualifications that the migrants possess, and to the potential of foreign investors who generate significant income benefiting also our national economy and not only for the sending of remittances that support the members of their families in the countries of origin .
In the afternoon, the work resumed with a brief presentation of the document prepared by the Forum of the Catholic-inspired NGOs (ICNGOs) “Towards a more inclusive society: a summary of the thematic groups of the Rome Forum”.
Professor Augusto Reggiani, of the ABCD Foundation for social promotion and cooperation for development, explained the reasons that have motivated the various Catholic-inspired organizations to discuss issues that guarantee cultural and socioeconomic conditions in favor of the inclusion of people, especially the most vulnerable, such as those related to: human rights, development, medical care, education, family, youth, and migration. The document expresses guidance values, criteria and objectives of the work carried out by the different associations that belong to them. He refers to the methodologies used by them with a horizontal and non-hierarchical approach, academic analysis and research, thematic convergence, impact and social cohesion, aggregation and work in and of Network. Their actions are encouraged and supported by a conviction that goes beyond the individual and that continually explores the value of transcendence and change of times, which also includes an important moral dimension.
Experiences of welcome and social inclusion
Dr. Zervino María Lía, General President of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations UMOFC/WUCWO and Dr. Barbara Terenzi of VIS and Missions Don Bosco and Don Bosco 2000, contributed to the presentation of Good Practices on gender issues and protection of the rights of migrant women, in the horizon of light and shadow about women in the world at large and to put an end to the serious phenomenon of trafficking.
Both interventions highlighted the need to recover the dimension of human rights, based on the objective recognition of the dignity of each person, regardless of the conditions of their state, and their identity characteristics. Transgressing this dimension and exercising forms of violence, particularly on women, leads to being substantially alien to others and favors the globalization of indifference born of selfishness, the fruit of a conception of the person incapable of accepting the truth and living an authentic social dimension.
The examples provided by the speakers tried to show how in the context of free societies and in the dynamics of interdependent, fair and inclusive relations, equality and equity differ substantially, since equity is a concept that goes beyond an equitable distribution of benefits and requires the creation of equal opportunities. Participatory equity, emancipation and genuine empowerment must become components of the development process necessary to counteract injustice and inequality, so that no one is left behind. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the deep causes of these inequalities and the lack of responsibility not assumed to move towards new expressions of international solidarity.
An interesting proposal was that of a Circular Migration that foresees the return of the migrant, prepared and accompanied to the country of origin, to be able to have personal documents that allow him/her to return to Italy on a regular basis.
Professor Augusto Reggiani intervened again to present an experience in the light of the topic “Economic globalization and migration”. As a member of the National Coordination on barriers to trade of Italian resources/goods in third countries and assistance to associations representing companies, he was able to experience how, by activating productivity/production conditions in areas of third countries, it is possible to generate profitable jobs. This keeps the people in their native place, because it guarantees real forms of profit and not just survival. In Burkina Faso, for example, the preparation of lands suitable for the cultivation of green beans has allowed a transnational purchase-sale agreement between local social enterprises and the Italian company Findus. And the result is that there are no immigrants from this country in the world.
In the mechanism of redistribution of productive opportunities, respecting also climatic characteristics, the speaker stressed, subsidiarity is a dynamic that promotes solidarity and fraternity; it becomes a tool to achieve social cohesion and contribute to inclusion and social justice. Thus, a social enterprise, a new way of seeing the relationship between worker and work, the promotion of intergenerational values, are all ways to achieve a better distribution of economic wealth that is respectful of all peoples.
Unfortunately and quite often, governments and private First World agencies exploit the resources of the developing world, which exacerbate the problems in those countries: underdevelopment, migration, lack of medical care and educational opportunities, division of families whose youth leave their homes with the hope of sending remittances home. Therefore, a broader inclusion of all human beings must be guaranteed. Solutions must be sought globally, problems are solved through negotiation and understanding of the other's point of view, not only by power. Therefore, the multilateral efforts must be binding, with an active sharing of responsibilities among all parties.
Finally, the participants in the Seminar expressed reasons and feelings of real appreciation for the thematic/operative interventions of the presenters. Many also expressed their support for this experience of thematic exchange with the deep conviction that this experience of networking projects among associations, some belonging to the ICNGOs Forum, is the most appropriate strategy to follow and to guarantee the goals of change that we all want and for which we work every day, both to overcome the growing inequalities at the socio-cultural-economic level and to meet the expectations of equity and social justice for all people, including migrants, in our contexts.
Remembering the prayer of Pope Francis for Fr. Giovanni De Robertis made a great impact, underlining that migrations are today the space in which God builds our history... The light of the Gospel is a guide for anyone who puts himself/herself at the service of the civilization of love, where the Beatitudes have a social resonance, where there is a real inclusion of the most little ones.
We hope to continue the path undertaken, activating synergistic and complementary forces, in order to strengthen international relations on the basis of fundamentally different and innovative concepts, and together guarantee the achievement of the desired social change.
Text: Anna Maria Donnarumma, Roma.
Translation: C. Zabalegui and R. Cameron.