Refugees are the invisible people of our time

According to Fr Mauro Armanino, an Italian member of the Society of African Missions (SMA), “refugees are the invisible people of our time.” Fr Mauro, formerly a missionary in Ivory Coast and Liberia and now working in Niamey, Niger was speaking to FIDES, a Vatican News Agency. He was speaking as the world celebrates World Refugee Day on 20 June.

“There is much talk about them at the moment. They become visible as the result of a crisis and are put into camps which are set up not too far from the borders. But, if they are in a town, they often become invisible, invisible as the poor”, he says.

“Refugees have a history which is too heavy to carry and too complicated to tell: words fail to do so. They experience displacement and marginalization in solitude.

Theirs is often an experience of abandonment and sometimes rejection. But in some cases they do experience some sense of solidarity, in small ways. For refugees, it is above all a renewed sense of faith in God that is perceived as their only comfort in life.”

Fr. Armanino believes that “the definition of a refugee is clear but it should be updated in the light of what is happening in our globalized world. It is now difficult – he explains – to establish the difference between a refugee who has no choice but to escape from his Country to save his own life and those who leave for climatic or economic reasons.”

But beyond these differences what matters, concludes the missionary is “to ensure that what is hidden becomes visible and recognized. Sharing this experience is an important sign of civilization and openness. We can humanize ourselves only by remaining together.”

[With thanks to an Agenzia Fides article, 20/6/2013]