As you may remember, International Teams has missional teams working with refugees across Europe and around the world: from Minneapolis to Rome, from Sydney to Sudan! I love learning from the stories and experiences of our co-workers around the globe. One such team is the staff at “The Oasis,” a refugee ministry center outside of Vienna, Austria. Check out the Oasis blog. A recent post reminded me of (1) our shared frustrations with the current European asylum system, and more importantly, (2) the very real sense of rejection that seems to follow refugees wherever they’re found.
In 2010: 10,118 people applied for asylum in Austria, which was 30% less then 2009.
In 2010: 80,6% of people applying for asylum received a negative [response to] their asylum case.
Most of these negatives [were] not because of fake asylum claims. But [because]… the refugee had passed through [another] European country before arriving in Austria (i.e. a Chechen must pass through Poland before getting to Austria, an Afghan passes through Greece or Hungary before arriving in Austria). By international laws, Austria [without compassion] is allowed to return them to the first country [they’ve entered in Europe].
Last year 3,715 people were returned to another EU country under this rule.
David has just come back from a Refugee Highway Partnership conference in Rome., where he got to meet people from Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, Malta and Italy who are working amongst refugees who come seeking asylum in their countries. All told similar stories of the treatment of refugees in their country, the large numbers of negative asylum claims, and the conditions that the refugees must live through, from [boats] making a border crossing to Malta to the police telling refugees without shelter in Denmark to keep walking around the streets at night, because if you don’t you will freeze to death.
Listening to the country reports at the conference… a refugee really is an unwanted person.
In this world, refugees are often unwanted people; but in God’s Kingdom, they are the deeply loved by God, who went so far as to send His Son in order to adopt them into His family as Sons and Daughters. Please pray that refugees (whether in Athens or Austria) would know that in God’s economy they are truly and inexpressibly valuable!