13/02/2012

Anglican Refugee and Migrant Network

A press release from the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) intrigued me because of the work I do. I've not heard of the Anglican Refugee and Migrant Network and so I did a bit of ferreting round the Anglican communion site to find out more - necessary because there is no link to it in the 'Networks' section of the site, and the website's own search engine is very selective. 

The history:
The network was first set up in 1984 at ACC6. The previous year the Primates' Meeting had called for greater attention to refugee issues across the Communion. Provinces were asked to set up contact people, to promote education, a Day of Observance, and involve dioceses and parishes. It would also 'determine and eliminate root causes' of forced migration. It seems not to have achieved much though a consultation was held in Zimbabwe in 1985.

In May 1992, meeting in Amman, Jordan, the Anglican Refugee and Migrant Network called on Anglican Churches throughout the world to use their influence with their respective national governments to eradicate conditions creating refugees. At the subsequent ACC9 meeting this formed part of the background to a resolution concerning Palestinian deportees:
Resolved, that this Joint Meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Consultative Council calls on the Israeli Government to comply immediately with United Nations Resolution 799, returning Palestinian deportees to their homes in the West Bank and Gaza;
In 1998, at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the network was re-established by the Archbishop of South Australia, Ian George. It then aimed to be
... a forum for the exchange of information, ideas and encouragement to Anglicans around the world who are supporting refugees and advocating for their better treatment. (ACNS  2527)
The principle of non-refoulment
ACC12 (2002) received a report from the network which, while thankful that most provinces had a contact person, also noted that it had not met since 1992.


In 2009 ACC14 welcomed its re-establishment (again) and that the Province of Hong Kong hosted it. (Proposal, .pdf, from which some of this history is taken.)

In March 2011 the notes of the Standing Committee of the ACC included the paragraph,
The Anglican Refugee and Migrant Network has a new co-ordinator the Revd Catherine Graham who will be located in Hong Kong, the Province that is a significant supporter of the network. Canon Kearon said he believed that networks that had such support from a Province were often the ones that were most active and productive. “I think that’s the model for the way forward, Provinces adopting networks,” he said.
Process, not product, was clearly the most important thing to note. However, now, in February 2012 under the odd description of Anglicanism's 'newest network', ACNS 5035 reports
A letter sent to nearly 800 diocesan bishops by the Revd Terrie Robinson, in her role as Anglican Communion’s Networks’ Co-ordinator, introduced ARMN’s new co-ordinator, the Revd Catherine Graham, and asked them to share with her insights and information from their dioceses about issues of refugees or migration.
Revd Robinson is looking for statistics, which could be overwhelming if a large number reply and not much use if only a small number do. UNHCR Global Trends (.pdf) is probably a better source.

She is also looking for 
any information you are able to give concerning the church’s mission and ministry among, or on behalf of migrants, internally displaced people and refugees. This work might cover a broad range, for example, helping congregations to become aware of global situations giving rise to the displacement of people and the gospel imperative to respond to those in need; providing pastoral care and opportunities for worship for new arrivals; offering practical support.
which I reckon is excellent. Anything gets my vote that might help people see migrants as real people who are worthy of assistance and who, in my experience, are often very capable themselves but facing adverse circumstances created by the host country. 
The Network’s objectives are:
  • To share information, ideas and experience, and to provide affirmation and mutual support for front-line programme-workers and programme-managers working with refugees and migrants on behalf of the Anglican Church through the creation of an active informal network.
  • To provide, when appropriate, practice-based information and briefing to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates, other Anglican Church leaders, and the Anglican Observer to the UN, to inform and strengthen their prophetic, advocacy and pastoral work on behalf of refugees and migrants;
  • To promote awareness, concern and commitment to action within dioceses and parishes, to the benefit of local refugees and migrants;
  • To encourage and collaborate with the wider ecumenical family and other faiths in promoting active ministry to refugees and migrants;
  • To help tackle the root causes contributing to the creation of refugees and migrants through advocacy;
  • To network with other institutions working on behalf of refugees and migrants; and,
  • To develop and share theological reflection on the causes, issues and consequences relating to refugees and migrants.
Tackling root causes is a big task. But for a thought provoking reflection on a world without borders by Bridget Anderson, Senior Research Fellow at COMPAS at the University of Oxford, I recommend:

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