Gallup poll says world becoming less tolerant of migrants

Protesting refugees and migrants gather as riot police guard a refugee camp in the village of Diavata, west of Thessaloniki in northern Greece [Giannis Papanikos/AP]
Protesting refugees and migrants gather as riot police guard a refugee camp in the village of Diavata, west of Thessaloniki in northern Greece [Giannis Papanikos/AP]

The world is becoming less tolerant of migrants, according to a poll released on Wednesday as Europe prepared to unveil a new asylum plan in the wake of a blaze at an overcrowded camp in Greece that left thousands without shelter.

Seven European countries, led by North Macedonia, Hungary, Serbia and Croatia, topped the Gallup index of the world’s least-accepting countries.

But the sharpest changes in attitude were in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, which have seen an influx of Venezuelans fleeing turmoil at home.

Canada was the most welcoming country, followed by Iceland and New Zealand, according to the index based on more than 140,000 interviews in 145 countries and regions.

The poll asked people their views about having migrants living in their country, becoming their neighbours and marrying into their families.

Index scores ranged from 1.49 in North Macedonia to 8.46 in Canada, just below the maximum possible score of 9.

Gallup migration expert Julie Ray said the slight global fall in acceptance – 5.21 in 2019 down from 5.34 in 2016 – was driven by marked changes in Latin American countries.

Peru’s score tumbled to 3.61 from 6.33 in 2016, while the number of Colombians who said migrants living in their country was a good thing dropped to 29 percent from 61 percent.

The first Gallup Migrant Acceptance Index was conducted amid the backlash following the 2015 crisis in Europe when more than a million people headed to the continent fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.

EU countries have long been at loggerheads over how to handle the influx of migrants, many of whom arrive in Mediterranean countries after perilous boat journeys.

The bloc’s executive will unveil a plan on Wednesday that will legally oblige all members to host their share of refugees – something rejected by Poland and Hungary, among others.

The proposal has been brought forward because of a fire on the Greek island of Lesbos a fortnight ago which destroyed a camp holding more than 12,000 refugees and migrants – four times the number it was supposed to.

Among European countries, only Sweden and Ireland made the Gallup top 10 of most-accepting countries.

Ray said some people would be surprised by the positive attitudes in the United States, where President Donald Trump has made curbing immigration a cornerstone of his policy.

“Despite the fact that immigration is such a hot topic in the US, Americans are mostly very accepting of migrants,” she said.

The US ranked sixth in the index, just behind Sierra Leone. Ray said Trump supporters were far more accepting of migrants than the global average, scoring 7.10.

Worldwide, the index showed acceptance of migrants was greater among younger generations, people with higher levels of education and those living in urban rather than rural areas.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/9/23/gallup-poll-says-world-becoming-less-tolerant-of-migrants

Rugby saves school girls from child marriage in rural Zimbabwe

Sahumani Secondary rugby team coach Patricia-Mukunike-Chakanya is throwing the ball at Cathrine Muranganwa lifted by Trish Kandemiri and Velme Nyarumwe during a line-out at Sahumani Secondary, Honde Valley, September 11 2020, Thomson Reuters Foundation/Farai Shawn Matiashe

HAUNA, Zimbabwe, – When the girls at Sahumani Secondary School in eastern Zimbabwe started playing rugby, they had to make do with the soccer pitch and the oversized football shirts used by the boys.

Five years on, several have represented their country in the sport, and many more credit it with saving them from becoming child brides in a nation where early marriage remains common despite being outlawed in 2016.

“I used to hate rugby. At the time I believed the sport was only for the elite and for men, not girls like me,” said Catherine Muranganwa, 20, who has played for Zimbabwe’s Under-18 and Under-20 women’s national rugby teams.

Muranganwa, whose two sisters were married before they turned 18 – the legal marriage age in Zimbabwe – said the game had awakened her to different possibilities.

“When I travel for rugby I meet amazing women and I have realised that getting married early is not the right choice,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in her village in the Honde Valley, about 90 km (55 miles) from the city of Mutare.

Rugby is now compulsory for all the girls at Muranganwa’s school.

“When the Form 1s enrol with us we introduce them to rugby. There is a positive improvement regarding early marriages,” said headteacher Mwaradzika Makazouya, adding that the school’s long lockdown closure had raised the risk of girls being married off.

As of 2019, 32.6% of a representative sample of some 8,000 women aged 20 to 49 years had been married before 18, according to the Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2019.

While there has been progress in the fight against early marriage in the southern African nation since it was banned, poverty and religious practices hamper efforts to stamp it out.

Education is a key factor in determining the risk, and with schools mostly still shut due to the coronavirus pandemic, campaigners are warning there could be an increase in the practice.

Around the world, an estimated 500,000 more girls are at risk of being forced into child marriage in 2020 as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, a report by Save the Children showed on Thursday.

That would mark a 4% year-on-year increase, reversing progress to reduce early marriage over the last 25 years, the charity said.

James Maiden, a chief of communication at the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said low levels of education and socio-economic status raised the risk of being married off early in Zimbabwe.

“Women aged 20 to 49 with pre-primary or no education were 13 times more likely to (have been) married by age 18 compared to those with higher education,” he said.

Girls from poor households were nearly four times more likely to be married compared before the legal marriage age than those from wealthy households, he added.

‘TOO LATE FOR MARRIAGE’

Muranganwa’s father, who was a polygamist with four wives, died when she was 12 and life has not been easy for her mother, a peasant farmer, and the rest of her family.

He was a member of a church known for polygamy and marrying off girls before they reach the legal age of marriage.

Muranganwa, who walks 10 km (six miles) to get to Sahumani Secondary School each day, said most girls who attend her church are married before they finish their primary education.

“Young girls are usually married off to older polygamous men at an annual church gathering,” she said, adding that her mother has supported her in rejecting a string of marriage proposals despite pressure from other relatives.

Velme Nyarumwe, 20, one of Muranganwa’s fellow players on the Zimbabwe Under-20 Women’s rugby team, said her four sisters were all wed before their 18th birthdays.

“To my family, at 20 I’m already too late for marriage. They pile on pressure daily,” she said.

Many of the rugby-playing girls are the first in their families to reach Form 4, the final year of Ordinary level education in Zimbabwe, said school rugby coach Patricia Makunike-Chakanya.

Sahumani starting teaching girls rugby in 2015 in an initiative spearheaded by teachers who had also trained as coaches under the banner of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union.

Makunike-Chakanya, herself a victim of gender-based violence, got interested in the game in the 1980s, when it was only played by men. She later trained as a coach, hoping to make the sport popular with girls too.

Besides honing their drop kicks, she spends time talking to the girls, listening to their worries and giving them advice.

“Staying with some of the girls at the school gives me an opportunity to counsel them and to protect them from predatory men in the village,” Makunike-Chakanya said.

Most parents have rallied behind the girls’ rugby team, called the “The Valley Giants”, and they no longer have to wear old soccer jerseys thanks to a sponsorship deal with a local seed company.

“We realised that by not supporting them they would give up on sport and get into the community where they become vulnerable to all sorts of abuse,” said Ivan Craig, a director responsible for sales and marketing at Agriseeds.

Muranganwa now dreams of making a career in rugby so she can help support her family, while also seeing the world.

“Marriage is not my priority now,” she said.

“I wish to play for independent clubs in Botswana and South Africa as well as in Europe. I know with rugby I’m going to change my family’s life.”

https://news.trust.org/item/20201001123338-3uccx/

Saint’s feast day reminds us to care for creation, those on the periphery

An image of St. Francis greets visitors to the hillside cloister where he prayed outside of Assisi, Italy. (Barbara Fraser)
An image of St. Francis greets visitors to the hillside cloister where he prayed outside of Assisi, Italy. (Barbara Fraser)

As summer turns to autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, and winter to spring south of the Equator, we have celebrated the transitional month of September as the Season of Creation. It has been a time to take stock of our relationship with all of our fellow travelers on this planet, human and non-human alike, and renew our commitment to healing and renewing the Earth.

The Season of Creation ends, appropriately, on Sunday, which is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. In answer to this week’s Burning Question, EarthBeat staff writer Brian Roewe explains who Francis was and how he became the patron saint of ecology.

In his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis notes that the saint from whom he took his papal name is beloved by Christians and non-Christians alike. “He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself,” the pope writes. “He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”

St. Francis has been an inspiration for countless environmental activists, especially in the decades since Earth Day in 1970 launched the modern environmental movement. This weekend is a good time to bring to mind the people who are ecological saints for our times.

How many do you know? If you gather with a faith community on the feast of St. Francis, perhaps you can take some time to share their stories, whether they are famous environmentalists or ordinary people who take extraordinary care of God’s creation. This is also a time to remember the martyrs, the people around the world who have died defending their land from those who would despoil it.

One of the best known in recent times is Notre Dame de Namur Sr. Dorothy Stang, a missionary who was murdered in Brazil in 2005. The state of Pará, where she worked, remains dangerous for those who stand up to land speculators, ranchers and loggers. Photographer Paul Jeffrey recalled the commitment of Stang and others like her in his Lens on Creation series. Today’s final reflection, appropriately, is sparked by a duck that appears to share St. Francis’ joy in the world the Creator has given us.

Thirty days after St. Francis’ feast day, U.S. voters will go to the polls to choose the president and legislators who will guide us through the turbulent months ahead, in which the coronavirus pandemic is likely to combine with the impacts of severe storms and wildfires exacerbated by global warming.

This week, EarthBeat’s Roewe and biologist and science policy expert Thomas Lovejoy joined us for an NCR Facebook Live conversation about the election and environmental issues. Lovejoy, who has been studying a forested area near Manaus, Brazil, since the 1960s, has seen a cascade of factors, including road building and a warming climate, push the Amazon forest closer and closer to what he calls a “tipping point,” at which it could change from forest to grassland, with disastrous impacts on rainfall around South America.

But it’s not too late to act, Lovejoy told us, even if President Donald Trump should win a second term. “There is always hope,” he said, “because we can use our imagination to figure out other ways to make a difference.” Many cities and states are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, despite foot-dragging by the federal government, “and that’s where I would concentrate efforts,” he said.

As for individuals, there are plenty of things we can do. Voting is one, of course. Advocacy with state and local governments and even utility companies is another. And a suggestion from Lovejoy, in time for St. Francis’ feast day — we can help restore what humans have destroyed.

“Every time we plant a tree or restore a wetland, get involved in a reforestation project or improve some degraded agricultural land so the soil is accumulating carbon and getting more fertile, we are making a contribution,” he said. “That becomes something that every individual can do.”

So this weekend, as the Season of Creation draws to a close, we can take one more opportunity to praise the Creator along with Sir Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Water, Brother Fire and our Sister Mother Earth, as St. Francis wrote.

And we can plant a tree, like the little boy who is working with this family to create a mangrove swamp in the Sept. 30 Lens on Creation reflection. In doing so, we are reminded that we endlessly nurture and are nurtured by all of the other human and non-human creatures in this great web of life.

https://www.ncronline.org/news/earthbeat/earthbeat-weekly-following-st-francis-footsteps-season-creation-ends