The Holy Father once said, “Empty convents are not useful to the Church if they are turned into hotels and earn money. The empty convents do not belong to you, they are for the flesh of Christ which is what refugees are. The Lord calls us to live with greater courage and generosity, and to accept them in communities, houses and empty convents”.
Information at world level leaves a sense of discouragement. “The International Organization for Migrations (IOM) said that the provisional number of migrants and refugees who died all over the world in 2016 is of about 7.500 people, and in the last three years the victims were about 18.501”.
According to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), among refugees there are many children, adolescents and young people, “who constitute 25% of all arrivals in Greece, Italy and Spain in 2015, and many of them arrived unaccompanied or separated from their families”.
Among the 300.000 refugees and immigrants who arrived on the Greek and Italian coasts from January to September 2016 there were over 11.800 unaccompanied minors.
Salesian NGO “Don Bosco International” declared: “Salesians give a warm welcome to any young person, regardless of their past, gender, creed or education. As Salesian Family we work side by side with the youth and for the youth, because our pedagogical style is based on warmth, cordiality happiness and optimism”.
In South Sudan, the Salesians work in the refugee camp of “Bidi Bidi”, which hosts an average of 200.000 people. In Germany, the refugees of Munich of Bavaria and Nuremberg are assisted by the “BNP Paribas Foundation” and by the Salesians, who take care of about 500 young refugees. In Ethiopia since 2006 the Salesians provide for staple needs and for the education of the young in the refugee camp of Pugnido, the oldest of the region of, that hosts about 60.000 people. In Mexico, as a response to the emergency shelters that are packed because of the numerical growth of Haitian immigrants, the Salesians provided an extraordinary welcome at the “Padre Chava” refectory of Tijuana. And this also happens in many parts of the world.
“Continue to walk with courage at their side, accompany them and also let yourselves be guided by them: refugees know the paths that lead to peace because they know the acrid scent of war”, Pope Francis said.