The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) 2019 Christmas Statement

“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”

– Pope Francis, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2014 [I]

This Christmas, the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) calls for the Government of Australia to provide adequate medical care for the refugees and people seeking asylum Australia placed in Nauru and PNG, and to finally put an end to the intolerable situation endured by refugees and people seeking asylum offshore whose plight continues to be our responsibility as a nation and a society.

A Catholic delegation coordinated by CAPSA recently visited men in Port Moresby, PNG, to gain a first-hand understanding of the situation for refugees and people seeking asylum. The delegation visited men in hospital and in hotels around Port Moresby and also met with people who had been inside prisons or detention centres. This visit affirmed the importance of the previously legislated Medevac process as well as the need for humanitarian solutions, resettlement or complementary pathways to third-countries for this group of people who are demonstrably unsafe and without a secure future where they are.

With the recent repeal of Medevac, CAPSA has grave concern that the urgent medical needs of these women and men will not be met. Respect for their lives and human dignity requires the provision of adequate medical care.

CAPSA calls upon the Government to ensure that these people are given access to humanitarian solutions and complementary pathways so that they have an opportunity to rebuild their lives, and the lives of their families, in safety and peace in a new country. Six years in limbo has been too long and too inhumane, resulting in many tragic deaths, horrific rates of ill-health and an uncertain future.

CAPSA affirms the continued assertive welcome for people seeking asylum and refugees that is present across the Australian Catholic community — from Catholic schools, hospitals, organisations, parishes and individuals.

Fr Andy Hamilton SJ writes that ‘Advent is a time for waiting through old and tired ways of living and for pondering new possibilities’. Christmas is a time for renewal, peace and hope. Christmas is the time for giving these men and women new possibilities.

Enough is enough. Let’s offer a future and hope for these men and women this Christmas season.

Find out more about CAPSA here. Join the CAPSA network by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.