Migration is one of the defining global issues of the early twenty-first century. More and more people are on the move today than at any other point in human history.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, Asia is the largest source of temporary contractual migrant workers in the world. It also has very large intra-regional flows of migrant workers, particularly in China and India. The migrant population in Asia and Oceania in 2010 was 67.3 million.
Within the territory of the Conference are some of the world’s top suppliers of migrants − China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia. Also within the Conference are some of the world’s top 25 in terms of immigration rates − Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
Our experience working with migrants shows that the most vulnerable migrants are those from rural backgrounds, those who work alone in isolated settings such as domestic workers, and those who do not work within a legitimate corporate structure and whose employers are thus less accountable such as illegal migrants and undocumented persons.
Jesuits and collaborators, including the Jesuit Refugee Service, already serve vulnerable migrants at the local level. However, the ever increasing rate of migration means more and more migrants vulnerable and at risk, and hence more support needed to ensure justice for them.
In August 2010, the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific laid out a strategy to increase our support to the groups we have identified as the most vulnerable − migrant workers (both foreign and internal), foreign brides, undocumented migrants including victims of trafficking and smuggling, and people in immigration detention centres.
At the Conference level, we will focus on improving and strengthening collaboration and coordination between sending and receiving countries, and encouraging, supporting and animating all Jesuit ministries to engage in the common project on migration. We will also develop ways to communicate more effectively and advocate for changes in policies and practices affecting vulnerable migrants.