At this Spiritual Deepening session participants shared thoughts on migration as well as reactions to the Quaker Statement on Migration (8/12/2020) issued by a number of Quaker organizations.
This note outlines some of the main issues arising, which included thoughts on how GMM might undertake action on the issue.
Reactions to the Quaker Statement on Migration
- Good in showing how Quaker values apply to the issue, and drawing attention to migration justice and injustice as well as violence associated with the latter
- Could have better clarified the difference between refugees (who are escaping fear of persecution or violence) and migrants
- Somewhat general without many specific policy recommendations
In the discussion, most people spoke of direct contact with and stories of being alongside migrants/refugees, including in their own or family context. GMM Ffriends have considerable work experience in the area. While recognizing the sacred in everyone is an important starting point for Quakers, issues around refugees and migrants are complex with many historical, social, economic and political factors meaning simple soundbites are usually inadequate and often unhelpfully polemical.
Can GMM do more?
GMM has often discussed refugee/migrant issues, with support to organizations through collections as well as individuals supporting initiatives, but those present at the session did not have the memory of GMM as a whole being involved in a collective effort. GMM Social Concerns Committee were sent this note and invited to consider the possibility of moving forward on this.
The session suggested focus and possibly long-term engagement would be better, finding a relevant gap while noting that there are limits to the type and extent of support GMM and individuals can provide. In summary, it would be good to find something SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound.
It may be helpful to approach other Quaker Meetings to see what they are doing. Additionally there may be value in tapping into current GMM plans to develop a vision for the Meeting.
Other links and suggestions provided at SD session:
Quakers and Migration, a Quaker change maker event: https://youtu.be/c6ypZH8h7Rc
God with us, worship resources on the theme of refugees, migration and sanctuary https://ctbi.org.uk/god-with-us/
Solidatrité Tattes statement last week on deportation to Ethiopia: https://solidaritetattes.ch/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Stop-renvois-Ethiopie_24.2.21_Solidarite-Tattes.pdf
The Quaker Kate McNally, Brussels, has worked in the area
 e.g. Bridget Dommen who supports Bellevue Accueille. She wrote that this “was formed some years by a group of Bellevistes (including me) to try and help integrate into the commune the refugees (several young male Afghans, and several families from Syria and elsewhere) who were housed in a large villa here, belonging to the Etat. Now the situation has completely changed: the previous lot have all been settled in private accommodation elsewhere, and the house is now full of homeless social cases and migrants refused refugee status waiting to be sent back. Our association is in the throws of trying to find out if we have a role to play, all completely vague at the moment. In general there are fewer demandeurs d’asile now than before.”
 One example suggested was providing English lessons.