SPAIN: Salesian missionaries provide education and social programs for more than 25,000 migrants and refugees through 40 projects
(MissionNewswire) Salesian centers across Spain serve more than 25,000 migrants and refugees through 40 projects and with the help of 60 professionals and 200 volunteers. Salesian missionaries and their network of programs across Europe are assisting European countries with the ongoing refugee crisis. Salesian programs provide humanitarian and educational assistance to refugees by helping them become fully-integrated and independent within their new countries and homes.
“We provide cultural and language learning projects, support for the regularization of personal documents and other legal and judicial aspects, work placement, shelters for unaccompanied foreign minors and families, psychological support, promotion of non-discrimination, promotion of participation of migrant women, promoting healthy habits and positive parenting projects,” explains a Salesian missionary working in Spain.
Europe has been experiencing a refugee crisis of historic proportions, according to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. In 2015, more than 1 million refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea to come to Europe. There are currently 65.3 million people worldwide, the highest level on record, that are refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people who have been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict and human rights violations.
In 2014, European Union countries hosted a relatively small share of refugees. At the end of 2014, the world’s top refugee host was Turkey followed by Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia and Jordan. Lebanon hosted by far the largest number of refugees by population. By the first six months of 2015, 137,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe by sea under profoundly difficult and unsafe conditions as compared to the 75,000 that arrived during the same time period the previous year. An estimated 362,000 refugees and migrants risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2016, with 181,400 people arriving in Italy and 173,450 in Greece. In the first half of 2017, over 105,000 refugees and migrants entered Europe.
In 2018, Salesian missionaries across Spain will once again work to welcome refugees and migrants into Salesian houses. Currently, Salesian schools in Spain welcome more than 4,000 children and older youth from foreign countries.
“In Spain, Salesian missionaries operate several projects and facilities for young refugees who have sought asylum and arrived in the country without their family,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The goal is to help these youth with their daily lives and assist with finding them a home and employment, and integrating them into their new communities.”
In Madrid, Salesian missionaries have developed specific programs to assist Syrian refugees and young migrants seeking services. Missionaries are working with local governments and other social programs to respond to the crisis. Salesian missionaries who have previous experience working with young migrants have started additional Salesian programs that will address the needs of today’s youth. Many of the new programs focus on meeting the immediate needs of newly-arrived migrants and go on to address the need for education and employment.
Salesian programs are also working with young refugees in the cities within Galicia, an autonomous community of Spain located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, and in Cartagena. These programs aim to educate young refugees and migrants to ensure they have the qualifications for employment to enable them to fit into the industrial and socio-cultural fabric of their environment and see an adequate quality of life.
UNHCR – Europe