Throughout Europe, thousands of migrants are deprived of their basic needs and denied their fundamental human rights. They have little or no access to education, social welfare, housing, healthcare and employment. They are left destitute as a consequence of state laws and policies. Their exclusion from society leads to new, invisible, borders that divide local communities, regions and countries.
For the last six years JRS has investigated the lives of destitute migrants in Europe, and the state policies that heave led to their situation. Its 2010 report, Living in Limbo, presents the reality of destitution in 13 countries.
Destitution affects many groups of migrants living in Europe, particularly individuals who have had their refugee application refused, or persons with an irregular legal status, but for valid reasons are unable to return to their country of origin. But destitution also affects those who already have a right to stay: persons in the process of applying for asylum, and person show have been officially recognised as refugees.
- Affected persons
Immigration control must not deny access to basic rights (2011)
JRS Europe's policy position on destitute forced migrants in Europe. Focuses on the need for EU states to grant forced migrants basic human rights such as access to food and shelter, education, health care and employment.
The Invisible Borders: The destitution of migrants in Europe (2011)
A report from the major conference held by JRS Europe in Brussels on 29th March 2011. Contains summaries and conclusions of workshops, keynote speeches and panel presentations. The event was attended by approximately 100 people from civil society and government from around Europe.
The Invisible Borders (2011)
A media briefing produced for a major conference on destitution organised by JRS Europe in March 2011. Lists case examples and major recommendations for EU policymakers and member state governments.
Living in Limbo (2010)
Investigates how forced migrants become destitute in several EU countries. The inability to access basic needs such as food and shelter, employment, education and health care are commonly experienced by destitute forced migrants. These are a result of a state policies that purposefully exclude migrants from enjoying basic human rights.
Who is affected by destitution?
What does JRS Europe recommend?
1. Fair and adequate living conditions
4. Guarantees to Health Care
Letting refugees come where we are
Hospitality is a core JRS value. It is at the heart of our work. But it is also a challenge. Hospitality is not just about going where refugees are, to be with them and to help them there. It is, first and foremost, about letting refugees come to where we are.
According to Michael Schöpf SJ, JRS Europe's Regional Director, hospitality means letting refugees "come to a place where we have made a home for ourselves, where we are safe, can rest and where we can be ourselves. It is about welcoming a stranger to the place that we have made for the people we love."
In our work, we try to live out the value of hospitality in two ways: by being hospitable to others, and by showing other people how to be hospitable themselves. Hospitality is not just an individual practice, but a community-based practice as well. It is a challenge for entire socities as it is for individual people.
Migrant and refugee destitution is the antithesis of hospitality. It is a consequence of society's establishment of invisible borders that separates 'us' from 'them'. By refocusing ourselves on the value of hospitality, we come to understand that there is only 'us': that we, together with migrants and refugees, form one community where we all seek to live in dignity and mutual respect.
HOSPITALITY IN ACTION
JRS offices throughout Europe endeavour to turn hospitality from concept to action. This is done through projects that bring people together in respectful and dignified environments, where people get the chance to learn about each other and to simply be together.
The 'Welcome' project by JRS France addresses asylum seeker homelessness in France. French families volunteer to welcome an asylum seeker into their homes for one to three months at a time. Families offer much more than just a bed, roof and a warm meal: they offer asylum seekers the chance to come to know how French families live in their own homes. A service is provided, but more importantly doors are opened. By "welcoming a stranger" into their home, families do their small part to break down the invisible borders erected by society at large. It is not about us and the refugees -- but just us. Read more about the 'Welcome' project here.
JRS Portugal recruits migrants to volunteer their time at a botanical garden in the city of Lisbon. There migrants work together with locals on a shared community space. Local Portuguese citizens also volunteer to be a 'buddy' with a migrant. As a buddy, citizens spend their time with migrants, talk with them about local life and customs, teach them Portuguese and welcome migrants into their daily lives.
Every Thursday, JRS UK opens their doors to refugees who are living destitute in London. At the Thursday 'drop-in day', refugees can simply take a rest with tea and biscuits and meet with friends, or they can meet with JRS staff to receive various kinds of support. Nearly one hundred refugees visit JRS UK every Thursday. They know it as a place of safety, respite and quiet, and where they can be themselves without any fear.