The Word on the Week

Refugees in Ireland

The fate of refugees in Ireland is not a happy one. Given the trauma they have experienced in getting here a bit more of the famed 100,000 welcomes would not come amiss!

Globally the refugee crisis is increasing by the minute as highlighted in a United Nations report published this week. It showed the rich nations escape much of the burden while the poor and middle-income countries are home to 84% of those displaced.
Ireland would be in the 16% with its policy of ‘Direct Provision’. This consists of 34 Direct Provision Centres which are forms of social housing that separate asylum seekers from mainstream society and making difficult their long term integration.

At present there are around 4,300 refugees of whom one third are children.
They are allocated €19.10 per week (kids get less). They live in challenging conditions, where families with children often have to share small rooms. The management cooks their food, explain where they can go and handle the domestic arrangements. They have their medical needs attended to by the State.
The longest have been waiting for 8 years to have their plea for asylum fully considered with the average duration being 3 years 8 months. The education needs are met up to second level. It has been difficult to go further but this may change.
One refugee, a mother of 3, did well this week when she won a scholarship to the University of Limerick. Hopefully this achievement will show what can be done and lead to a more constructive approach to higher education.
There is further good news in that Government has passed an easement of the “no working” rule this week which will make a big difference to the well-being of those in direct provision.

In the Bible the people of God have always been a pilgrim people in search of an earthly home. They disobeyed God in the garden of Eden and became refugees (Genesis Chapter 3 verse 24). Later a home was found for them in the Promised Land, a type of Eden, where God’s presence was with them there in the Tabernacle (Genesis Chapters 2 verses 10- 14 & 15 verse 18 & Jos. 18 verse 1). Through further acts of disobedience, they end up in captivity in Babylon “away from their land” (2 Kings Chapter 25 verse 21). After the prophesied 70 years God put it in the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia, to restore the Temple and Jerusalem and return the people of God to the land (Ezra Chapter 1 verses 1 to 4).

With the death and resurrection of Jesus the people of God were still a pilgrim people (Hebrews chapter 11 verses 13 to 16) only the land has expanded to “all the world” and the promised presence continues now by the Holy Spirit in the individual believer “I am with you always to the end of the age” (St Matthew Chapter 28 verse 20). We are still refugees!
For those who have put their trust in Christ the words of the old song ring true: –
“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through; My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue, the angels beckon me from heavens open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”