Pope donates 10 thousand dollars for Yemeni migrants in Jeju

The arrival of about 500 asylum seekers on the South Korean island has split civil society. The local bishop, Msgr. Pietro Kang U-il, at the forefront to welcome and integrate them. The Nuncio Msgr. Xuereb visits the diocese and brings the solidarity of Francis to the bishop.


Jeju (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has donated 10 thousand dollars to support the Yemeni asylum seekers blocked by the South Korean government on the island of Jeju. The sum was brought to the local bishop, Msgr. Peter Kang U-il, by the Apostolic Nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, Msgr. Alfred Xuereb. 

The Vatican diplomat wanted to meet the refugees, lunch with them, and celebrate mass in the cathedral with the diocesan bishop: "The work of Msgr. Kang is completely in line with the magisterium of the pontiff ".

On the island of Jeju, the migration dispute exploded with the arrival of more than 500 asylum seekers from Yemen, who came through a program to promote tourism that allows them to enter South Korea without a visa. Their arrival raised concerns about safety and possible abuse of the asylum system for economic benefits. 

Since April 30, the South Korean government has prevented the Yemenis from leaving the island and going to other parts of the country. Since 1 June, Yemen has entered the list of 11 countries whose citizens are excluded from entry without a visa.

The local bishop wrote a pastoral letter in which he defines the rejection of migrants "a crime that affects the ultimate responsibility of every human being". According to Msgr. Xuereb, the visit to Jeju has a specific purpose: "To put into practice a wish of Pope Francis, who wants to support Msgr. Kang. The work of this prelate is in perfect harmony with the teachings and with the documents of the pope on refugees ".

Before returning to Seoul, the archbishop - who took office last May in place of Msgr. Padilla, now retired - stopped at the Park of Peace "April 3rd". The site commemorates the victims of the clashes between the military and civilians that took place in the years between 1948 and 1953, the years of the ideological division within Korea newly liberated from the Japanese oppression.