Texas Knights of Columbus work with Mexican Knights to aid migrants

Charity
Members of the Knights of Columbus help to deliver supplies to the Casa del Migrante in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Credit: Knights of Columbus.

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, (CNA).- Following an August announcement from the Knights of Columbus that the group would commit at least $250,000 to aid migrants at the US-Mexico border, the fraternal organization’s Texas leaders are announcing a joint effort with a Mexican council to aid migrants south of the border.

A caravan of Knights of Columbus from both Texas and Mexico arrived Oct. 5 at Casa del Migrante, an aid facility in Ciudad Juarez, delivering a truckload of supplies valued at $61,000, according to Terry Simonton, the Knights’ Supreme Director for Texas.

The supplies for the Juarez diocese-run facility included medicine, food, water, diapers, and shoes, he said. The over 40 Knight-volunteers were joined by Bishop José Guadalupe Torres-Campos of Ciudad Juarez and Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso.

The Knights in El Paso were already providing supplies, cooking meals, and paying for a rented shower for migrants in the city. In May, the Knights’ Diocesan Deputy for El Paso sent a request for additional funds which made its way to Simonton, who talked it over and realized that the Supreme Council in Connecticut would have to help.

“[The El Paso Knights] were renting the showers and they were getting donations to cover that expense— and renting those showers was $1,500 a day,” Simonton, a former state deputy in Texas, explained to CNA.

“It was the kind of shower that sits on a trailer, and it was $1,500 a day. So the more we looked into it, it said they were asking for $9,000 to purchase their own portable heated showers. And that would accommodate probably 60 showers per day…it just made sense to purchase the showers.”
Simonton asked the Supreme Council to cover half the cost.

“They liked the idea, but when it got to the table, and the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, said ‘Yes we need to help, but we must do more.’ And that’s when Carl Anderson started the initiative to help out Southern border. Without his vision, this would have never happened.”

He said a number of parishes and virtually all the Knight of Columbus councils in El Paso have been busy, especially since January, raising funds for border relief. Council 11926 and Council 2592 in El Paso had raised about $10,000 on their own to help migrants in the city, he said.

“Between the councils and the parishes, they’d already spent $54,000,” Simonton said.

“All the councils were involved in this in El Paso. But their funds were being depleted, so that’s why they came to us for help. And just out of that simple, $9,000 request, has come this tremendous initiative.”

There were about 75 migrants present at the Casa del Migrante Oct. 5— out of an estimated 20,000 migrants currently waiting in Ciudad Juarez.

“To be able to see the little kids, they were so happy to be there at that center. Because we don’t know what they faced two or three days before then, before they got to the center. So it’s sad, but at the same time they;’re happy, they’re all smiles, because soon hopefully they’ll be able to continue their journey with their families.”

To watch the Knights of Columbus from both the Mexico and the United States work together was a “tremendous blessing,” he said.

Possibly as soon as late October, Simonton said the Knights plan to go and provide similar aid at the border city of Laredo, which is across the fence from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, as well as Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico.

The Knights also recently made gifts for humanitarian aid of $100,000 to the Diocese of El Paso and $50,000 to the Diocese of Laredo.

“Let me be clear: this is not a political statement,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in August. “This is a statement of principle. This is about helping people who need our help right now. And it is a natural and necessary extension of our support for refugees across the world.”

Bishop Seitz, along with Catholic leaders of the Dioceses of Las Cruces, San Jose, Victoria, and Ciudad Juarez toured the Casa del Migrante in late September as well as a Ciudad Juarez parish that has been providing aid to migrants.

The Department of Homeland Security announced new Migrant Protection Protocols in January, providing that migrants arriving illegally or without proper documentation “may be returned to Mexico and wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings, where Mexico will provide them with all appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay.”

These policies have meant the flow of migrants into El Paso has largely dried up, as thousands of migrants remain in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed.

The migrants in Mexico are mostly from Central America, but also from other places including Africa, Haiti, Cuba, and some from South America and Europe, the Knights said.

Bishop Seitz told CNA in September that the diocese opened a shelter in Oct. 2018 at the pastoral center, a “purely volunteer response,” to deal with the large number of people passing through the city. The temporary shelter has since closed due to a drop in the number of migrants passing through.

“Right now, we’ve seen a huge drop off in the number of people coming because of enforcement actions in Mexico,” Seitz noted.

“So what’s happening is there’s kind of a bottleneck in Ciudad Juarez, and we estimate that there are up to 20,000 people that are pretty much stuck there. They’re afraid to go home, because that’s where they’re fleeing from…they’re afraid to stay in Mexico, because most of them have faced violence there.”

Robberies and kidnappings among the migrants waiting in Mexico are common, he said.

The HOPE Border Institute, along with the Diocese of El Paso, in July initiated a Border Refugee Assistance Fund to send money to organizations working with migrants and refugees in Juarez.

 

 

 
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/texas-knights-of-columbus-work-with-mexican-knights-to-aid-migrants-72482

Mining Resources in Africa: Curse and Opportunity

AEFJN 1

Mining operations and global consumption of natural resources continue to increase annually[1]. However, while developed countries and regions such as the European Union protect their natural resources with sustainable development policies and high social and labor standards to protect the environment, the economies of developing countries are increasingly becoming dependent on export of its natural resources. The developed countries import and transform these natural resources for the benefit of their increasingly digital and clean (green) societies; the developing countries see their wealth plundered with the destruction and contamination of their environments.[2]

Africa has found in the boom of mining and the exploitation of natural resources an economic model that provides great benefits without an investment effort of its own. The majority of the mining companies installed in Africa are foreign investments to which the local governments demand only a small share in the profits that varies according to the countries. Despite national mining codes and United Nations guidelines on business and human rights, these companies systematically breach their obligations of established international standards. In addition, government officials have a lax attitude towards the behavior of these companies in their territories.

The European Union, together with other economically powerful countries, have taken advantage of these circumstances to access mining resources in Africa without an environmental and social cost to their member states. EU citizens live in digital societies and we are not worried about the origin of these natural resources we consume that are present in our daily life, such as car batteries, mobile phones, computers, tablets, microwaves, glass-ceramics, aircrafts, phosphates, etc. Most of these electronic devices need an endless number of minerals that, because of their scarcity or because of the high social and environmental cost, are not produced in the European Union. The need to have access to these minerals triggered the campaigns of the European Union of public private investment in which the companies of the Member States struggle to monopolize the extraction of natural resources in Africa.[3]

This model of development would be legitimate under certain premises that are currently not met, such as respect for human rights (workers’ social and labor rights, child exploitation, social protection, health, etc.), care for the environment, payment of fair taxes by companies, the restoration of damage caused to the environment and fair compensation to the affected local communities that are the legitimate owners of the land.[4]

By contrast, countries in Africa rich in minerals suffer the so-called curse of natural resources.[5] Lack of arable land in Senegal, hairless children with respiratory diseases in Zambia, contaminated water wells in South Africa, child exploitation in DRC, human rights violations in Madagascar, environmental pollution in Nigeria, financing of armed groups in Rwanda … the list it is innumerable and in many cases those violations of international treaties are simultaneous in the countries of Africa with the implicit consent of the new colonizers.[6]

Mineral wealth in African countries should be an opportunity to create job opportunities, increase revenues, promote sustainable development and fight against extreme poverty. But this requires firmness on the part of the African governments in the respect to the law, the prevention of corruption as well as the ethical commitment of the companies, preventing illegal financial outflows through the tax evasion of profits by companies and their managers.

AEFJN calls on governments both in Africa and Europe to ensure that extractive companies respect human rights and the environment in their operations, meet standards of transparency and are held to account when they do not respect National and international legislations. The responsibility and supervision of the extractive industries necessarily falls on their governments, but we, the citizens of those countries, also have the responsibility to make rational use of the consumables that promote mining operations.

The next European elections are once again an opportunity to choose our leaders and those sustainable policies that are in solidarity with the developing countries and respectful of the environment. To be interested in its political programs of political parties, to raise questions to MEPs candidates about their initiatives and to know the intentions of political parties to search for a new Cotonou agreement that will truly benefit the two continents should be the criteria to be taken into account when casting our vote.[7]

 

 

 

http://aefjn.org/en/mining-resources-in-africa-curse-and-opportunity/

Mining in Africa, an Object of Desire

AEFJN

Among all the natural resources that Africa possesses, minerals are the most coveted by developed countries including the European Union (EU). In fact, in 2017 the European Commission published a Communication[1] updating the list of certain minerals that are essential for maintaining economic growth in Europe. The number of critical raw materials has been growing over the years and the EU has been rewriting the list of these minerals in the last decade. The criteria for considering minerals as critical are economic importance and scarcity. These minerals include rare earths, magnesium, tungsten, antimony, gallium and germanium.

The Communication of the European Union including the list of critical raw materials is part of The Raw Materials Initiative of 2008 in which the EU established a strategy to access those minerals that are essential for both the industry and jobs.[2]

Europe needs Africa and its minerals, but Africa also needs Europe as an investor for its economic development. This relationship between Africa and the European Union is established in the Cotonou Agreement, which is based on three negotiation pillars: Development cooperation, Political cooperation and Economic and trade cooperation. This Agreement is in the process of renewal without having reached any agreement so far despite the new rhetoric (equals, neighbours, partners) to old concepts (Economic Partnership Agreements-EPAs, migration control and critical raw materials) employed by the new President-elect of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen.[3]

The difficulty of access to minerals to the EU is of threefold. Firstly, many of the minerals found in Africa are not found in Europe. Ensuring access to these natural resources is therefore crucial for an EU that is dependent on imports of these minerals. These coveted minerals are essential for the development of sectors such as construction, chemicals, automotive, aerospace, machinery and equipment. The second lies in the competitiveness of the minerals market itself. Extraction costs, low taxes and the price of labour make Africa an attractive place for mining companies. They squeeze out the continent’s subsoil at low prices, move the minerals for processing in third countries and take advantage of the supply chain to locate their headquarters in tax havens. In addition, the royalties paid by extractive companies to African governments barely exceed 10% at best as set out in the new Democratic Republic of Congo mining code.[4] [5]

The third drive for sourcing minerals outside the shores of the EU is the stringent environmental regulation that exists in Europe. While in Africa there is a certain passivity in the face of environmental crimes, in Europe they are highly prosecuted. This is why mining companies use countries with looser environmental protection standards to process minerals. Taking advantage of Africa’s weak democratic institutions makes mining profitable despite the transport costs along the entire production chain.

Mining is an important source of income for countries in the African continent. However, Africa does not take advantage of the potential of these minerals as engine of economic development despite the importance of these minerals in technological development at global level. Most of the minerals extracted from the subsoil of the African continent are exported immediately outside their borders to be transformed in other countries such as China as an intermediate step in the production chain. Perhaps this is why Africa’s technological and business development is seen as a threat to developed countries as it would increase the economic value of these minerals if they are transformed in Africa and become more expensive for Europe.

Dependence on minerals has become a double threat to Africa, but also to Europe. Many countries in Africa are economically dependent on the profits from these mineral extractions, as well as on oil as is the case in Nigeria. Raw material crises directly affect the economic well-being of those countries that lack the investment needed for a first transformation. Moreover, dependence on critical natural resources extends to Europe, which needs to secure the import of these minerals at a reasonable price. In addition, Europe’s dependence has been increased under the pressure of climate change that forces the EU to access minerals that allow the transition to a low-carbon economy.[6]

 

 

 

 

 

http://aefjn.org/en/mining-in-africa-an-object-of-desire/

Pope Francis prays for ‘daring prudence’ during Amazon synod

2290676D-041B-4E20-8AF6-735872F8FF8FPope Francis at the opening Mass for the Amazon synod Oct. 6, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

.- At the opening Mass for the Amazon synod Sunday, Pope Francis prayed that the Holy Spirit would give the bishops prudence, wisdom, and discernment to help the Church in the Pan-Amazonian region be renewed by the fire of faith.

“Prudence is not indecision; it is not a defensive attitude,” he said in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 6. “It is the virtue of the pastor who, in order to serve with wisdom, is able to discern, to be receptive to the newness of the Spirit.”

“Fidelity to the newness of the Spirit is a grace that we must ask for in prayer. May the Spirit, who makes all things new, give us his own daring prudence; may he inspire our Synod to renew the paths of the Church in Amazonia, so that the fire of mission will continue to burn.”

The Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian region is taking place at the Vatican Oct. 6-27. Bishops, priests, lay experts, and religious men and women, will meet to discuss issues of importance to the Church in the Amazon, including a lack of priestly vocations, ecological challenges, and obstacles to evangelization.

Present at the Mass Oct. 6 were the synod fathers and the 13 cardinals created in a consistory Oct. 5.

In his homily, Pope Francis pointed to the Old Testament episode of the burning bush to show that “God’s fire burns, yet does not consume.”

“It is the fire of love that illumines, warms and gives life, not a fire that blazes up and devours. When peoples and cultures are devoured without love and without respect, it is not God’s fire but that of the world,” he said, condemning the times people have colonized others instead of evangelizing them.

“May God preserve us from the greed of new forms of colonialism,” he continued. “The fire set by interests that destroy, like the fire that recently devastated Amazonia, is not the fire of the Gospel. The fire of God is warmth that attracts and gathers into unity.”

Francis reflected on St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, in which the apostle says: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.”

Addressing bishops, the pope said they are not bureaucrats and their episcopal ordination is not an employment contract, but “a gift of God.”

This gift, he explained, is for service of others, not for personal gain. “We received a gift so that we might become a gift.”

“To be faithful to our calling, our mission, Saint Paul reminds us that our gift has to be rekindled,” the pope stated, adding that the status quo smothers the missionary fire.

There is also, he said, a kind of destructive “fire” that wants everything and everyone to be the same. It “blazes up when people want to promote only their own ideas, for their own group, wipe out differences…””

Instead, “the fire that rekindles the gift is the Holy Spirit, the giver of gifts.”

He quoted St. Paul again, who says, “do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, but take your share of suffering for the Gospel in the power of God.”

“Paul asks Timothy to bear witness to the Gospel, to suffer for the Gospel, in a word, to live for the Gospel,” he said. “To preach the Gospel is to live as an offering, to bear witness to the end, to become all things to all people (cf. 1 Cor 9:22), to love even to the point of martyrdom.”

Praising especially those martyrs who died in the Amazon, he said, “for them, and with them, let us journey together.”

After Mass, Pope Francis led a traditional Marian prayer, the Angelus, from a window in the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

He reflected on the day’s Gospel passage, which contains the apostles’ request to Jesus to “increase our faith.”

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-prays-for-daring-prudence-during-amazon-synod-44018

Migrant death toll in Mediterranean tops 1,000 for 6th year

Screenshot_2019-10-01 Migrant death toll in Mediterranean tops 1,000 for 6th year
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Syrian and Afghan refugees fall into the sea after their dinghy deflated some 100m away before reaching the Greek island of Lesbos, September 13, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

GENEVA, (Reuters) – More than 1,000 migrants and refugees have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year, the sixth year in a row that this “bleak milestone” has been reached, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR called for European Union (EU) member states to reactivate search and rescue operations and acknowledge the crucial role of aid groups’ vessels in saving lives at sea.

“The tragedy of the Mediterranean cannot be allowed to continue,” Charlie Yaxley, spokesman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in a statement.

The bodies of five migrants were found on Morocco’s Atlantic coast near Casablanca on Monday, bringing to 12 the number killed when their boat capsized on Saturday, the state news agency reported.

The EU struck a deal with Ankara in 2016 to cut off refugee and migrant flows to Greece from Turkey. Departures, now also diverted largely via Libya and other parts of North Africa, have fallen sharply from a peak of more than 1 million in 2015 to some 78,000 so far this year, UNHCR figures show.

“Of course the number of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean are much lower. So, that points to the fact that the journeys themselves are much more dangerous,” UNHCR spokeswoman Liz Throssell told Reuters Television.

“It is also worth highlighting that 70 percent of the deaths actually occur on the central Mediterranean, namely people attempting to get from Libya across to Italy or Malta.”

More than 18,000 people have lost their lives in Mediterranean crossings since 2014, according to figures from both the UNHCR and the website of the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration (IOM).

 

 

 

 

http://news.trust.org/item/20191001084633-w941m/

In the shadow of strict protest laws, young Russians build a climate movement

Screenshot_2019-10-01 In the shadow of strict protest laws, young Russians build a climate movement(1)
Activists attend an environmental demonstration, part of the Global Climate Strike, in Saint Petersburg, Russia September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

MOSCOW, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – At 15 years old, Margarita Naumenko is one of the youngest participants in Russia’s Fridays for Future climate protest movement.

Each week, she stands in downtown Moscow with other young activists chanting, brandishing posters and demanding the government take action on worsening climate change threats.

Her parents support her decision to protest, Naumenko said, but they are less convinced about the urgency of slowing the climate change.

“I tried talking to them and changing their opinion,” she said. “But that is not easy.”

Led largely by young people, Russia’s nascent climate protest movement has taken on the challenge of changing minds in a country where, not long ago, both the public and politicians were sceptical about the need to act quickly on climate change.

The protests may be having some effect. Earlier this month, Russia announced it would join the 2015 Paris Agreement to fight climate change – one of the last countries in the world to do so.

The country is the world’s fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases and was the biggest emitter not to have agreed to the landmark global climate deal.

Before the announcement, activists in Moscow held about 50 individual protests, after previously having been denied a permit to demonstrate as part of a large-scale global climate strike last week.

On Friday, as young climate campaigners again marched around the globe, about 85 protesters in Moscow held up red and white fabric to spell out the words “Act Now” in front of Russia’s main government building.

Naumenko joined the movement five months ago, inspired after attending a lecture on improving sustainability in the education system and after seeing Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old figurehead of the youth climate movement, speak on television.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t I take any action?,'” Naumenko told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We have just one planet. If we do not care about it, who else will?”

GROWING PROTESTS

Since the first mass eco-protest in Moscow’s Sokolniki Park in March – a day students around the world walked out of their classes to call for action on climate change – other Russian cities such as St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Irkutsk, have joined the climate campaign.

For Arshak Makichyan, it was the March protest in Moscow that sparked his involvement in climate activism.

Since then, the 25-year-old violinist has become one of the faces of Russia’s youth protest movement, demonstrating every week, often on his own.

He also acts as one of the coordinators of the movement, and part of his job is to apply for official permission to protest, which can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

New rules adopted after mass protests in Moscow that followed President Vladimir Putin’s 2012 election made it a criminal offence to stage some forms of non-violent protests without a permit.

Single-person protests, on the other hand, do not require a permit, Makichyan explained. But they do have restrictions – for example, in Moscow, protesters must not stand closer than 50 metres (160 feet) from each other.

Makichyan said that, so far, Russia’s climate activists have succeeded in getting permits for two large-scale environmental protests.

And the crowds at protests have been getting bigger over the past few months, he added. These days, an organised climate demonstration in Moscow attracts between 20 and 40 participants.

The number may be small compared to the thousands who come out for protests in other cities around the globe, but it is a big increase from when Russia’s activists first started, Makichyan said.

“The numbers have been growing,” he said. “Ten weeks ago, I was very often protesting on my own. Now every week we get more participants and new cities join in.”

Russia’s government has a history of cracking down on protests that it has declared illegal.

In a case in July that triggered global condemnation, police in Moscow detained more than 1,000 people for taking part in a protest calling for opposition members to be allowed to run in a local election.

Makichyan, who took part in that protest and was detained for three hours, said so far there have been no arrests during any of the climate protests.

 

 

 

 

http://news.trust.org//item/20190927111020-yhl2b/