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Press Conference in Croatia for the World Day of Consecrated Life, 2 February 2016

 

Photo 1In honour of the World Day for Consecrated Life, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Croatia, held a Press Conference where the continuing refugee crisis and the importance of pastoral care of the Roma people was discussed.
Inspired by the evangelical values of Community Spirit; Acceptance and Solidarity, the JRS has been involved in providing help to asylum seekers, displaced people, migrants and refugees on the transit routes through Europe.
To date, more than 700,000 refugees have journeyed through Croatia since 2015.
Ms Jelena Firić, responsible for the JRS Legal affairs, delivered a presentation on the significant role and contributions of the JRS, which range from advocacy in public debates, the provision of legal assistance through to all forms of direct support in the camps and reception and detention centres for refugees and asylum seekers. The provision of several square metres of space specifically for the JRS within the camps has been especially helpful in providing a tranquil space in the midst of the chaos of the camps.
Photo 2Mrs Martina Prokl Predragović, JRS Communications Person, read two powerful testimonies from male and female refugees, who spoke about their exile, concerns and hope for better life in the future. Mrs. Predragović stressed the importance of social media giving adequate space to these issues. This would greatly assist in awareness-raising and the finding of humane solutions to the crisis, in direct contrast to the repression of the situation which is occurring in the Near East.
Sr. Stanka Oršolić, volunteer with the JRS, spoke about her experiences volunteering in the refugee camps. She explained the connection between the refugee crisis and human trafficking, citing the shocking fact of the disappearance of 10,000 children along the migrant routes. As has been evident at bus and train stations in Italy, Budapest and elsewhere, many minors have been left alone, having lost family or friends along the routes. These minors are particularly vulnerable to human traffickers and smugglers. Sr. Stanka highlighted the problem of the vulnerability of migrants and refugees to human smugglers, who have vast networks amongst themselves and exact enormous amounts of money from the migrants and refugees. Furthermore, Sr. Stanka explained the challenges faced by the relevant institutions in trying to identify the victims. It becomes more difficult because of the transitory nature of the migrants and refugees, who are retained only briefly in any camp.
Photo 3Sr. Karolina Miljak also spoke of her 40 years’ experience working with the Roma population in Croatia, who too are marginalised. She provides pastoral care and assists in their integration into Croatian society.
Sr. Miroslava Bradica, Vice President of the Croatian Conference of the Major Male and Female Religious Superiors, spoke about the activities of the female and male religious in Croatia during the Year of Consecrated Life.
Sr. Bradica concluded the conference by expressing her gratitude and support to the speakers for all their work. She thanked the journalists and all those who attended the conference.
Sr. Stanka Oršolić
 
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person