07/23/2013, 00.00
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Migrants: agreement between Canberra and Port Moresby. Church anger: 'Manus island another Lampedusa

The island of Manus will become a temporary shelter for all asylum seekers in Australia, who will them be spread out among the islands. The Church condemns the agreement reached between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Fr. McDonough, of the Congregation of the Passionists, appeals to the Episcopal Conferences of their respective countries: "Call both governments to that sense of justice on which our societies and our nations are founded."

Port Moresby (AsiaNews) - An agreement signed between Australia and Papua New Guinea for the absorption of refugees, has sparked the anger and dismay of Fr. Phillip Gibbs a long time missionary in Papuan land, who has recalled the 'globalization of indifference' condemned by Pope Francis on his recent trip to Lampedusa. " Our Holy Father Pope Francis recently thanked the people of Lampedusa for taking in refugees and setting an example of solidarity to a selfish society sliding into "the globalization of indifference -  he writes in his capacity as Secretary of the Commission for Social Issues at the Bishops' Conference -  call the Church and the people to insist for a humane solution. "

Friday, July 19, Kevin Rudd and Peter O'Neill - Prime Ministers of Australia and Papua New Guinea - agreed that all refugees who land on Australian shores will be shipped to the Papuan island of Manus. The asylum-seeker processing centre on the island of Manus, after having studied all the individual asylum applications, will then distribute suitable cases between Papua and other Pacific islands. The measure, which Canberra has justified as a "preventive measure against clandestine smuggling and continuous ship wrecks from attempted landings in Australia," has also garnered criticism High Commission for Refugees at the United Nations, which warns of a social destabilization of the same island of Manus.

Fr. John Glynn, of the Papuan Episcopal Conference, was one of the first Irish missionaries to help street children in Port Moresby and is well aware of the social and economic problems that plague the island.  He now asks "how it is possible to think that Papua can absorb such a flow of refugees, when the same country is in need of jobs, health care and education for its own citizens". Papua New Guinea is the poorest among the islands that are located off the coast of Australia, but many agree that, in the region, it can boast one of the most advanced constitutions in terms of migration policies. However, as raised by Fr. Glynn, considering the backwardness of the economic and social structures, it is impossible to claim that the nation has the means to accommodate thousands of refugees each year (15 thousand in just the past 12 months).

"Refugees have made an enormous contribution to Australia and could do the same here. - adds Fr. Gibbs, who criticized the agreement between the two countries as the more powerful neighbour enslaving the weaker nation - but an agreement that aims to bring a person within a nations borders against his or her own will, is offensive to the country itself and will seriously damage its international image".

On July 8, Pope Francis travelled to the island of Lampedusa, where every year tens of thousands of migrants land, to "raise awareness" and express his closeness to those who braved the sea and those who welcome them . On that occasion, celebrating mass close to the 'cemetery of the boats', the Holy Father condemned the 'globalization of indifference', which has deprived us of the "ability to cry" and "our fraternal sense of responsibility."




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