refugees

Rethinking the Safe Third Country Agreement

Madalene Arias is part of a Student Christian Movement committee protesting the Safe Third Country Agreement. (Photo courtesy of Madalene Arias)

Peter Haresnape is the general secretary of the Student Christian Movement of Canada. (Photo courtesy of Peter Haresnape)

Petition e-1755 calls upon the House of Commons to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement. (Courtesy of petitions.ourcommons.ca)

Did you know that Canada is a signatory to the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States? It is an agreement based on the idea that both countries are equally safe places to seek asylum, something clearly disproven by recent world events.

Seeking a safe home

It is June 20, World Refugee Day. Near the Mexico-U.S. border, thousands of people are waiting. Fleeing conflict and violence in their own countries, they are seeking safety. Reports emerge of refugee children being detained and separated from their parents, who are also locked up. These families are torn apart by a policy of “zero tolerance” for so-called “illegal immigrants.”

Supporting uprooted people around the world

Mushiya Christine, left, Kayaya Lulula Clementine and Veronique Lumba Misenga take part in a support group for refugee seniors in Durban, South Africa. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

A camp for refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photo courtesy of World Renew)

Jean Pierre Mpiana and Yabu Miadi carry a sack of corn flour, oil and beans they received during a distribution by the Evangelical Mennonite Church in Congo, an MCC partner. They were among 180 households of displaced people who received a three-month supply of food. (MCC photo by Mulanda Jimmy Juma)

Reverend Riad Jarjour, president of the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, holds some of the contents of monthly food packages for Syrian families. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

Wanda Waldner, left, Najwa Hussein Al Mohamad, Elaine Hofer, Reyad Alhamoud, Paul Waldner and one-year-old Lee Waldner meet together at Green Acres Colony. (Photo by Ava Waldner)

There are more than 65 million displaced people worldwide—nearly double the population of Canada. The United Nations says this number is unprecedented and the need for humanitarian assistance is only growing. 

MCC U.S. boosts its immigration work with churches

MCC holds regular tours of the border between Arizona and Mexico to raise awareness of increasing migrant deaths, militarization, environmental degradation and effects on habitat and sister communities across the border. In this 2015 photo, a Borderlands Learning Tour saw three Romanian migrant women and a baby processed as asylum seekers. (MCC photo by Jorge Vielman)

Cindy Cumberbatch, an attorney from College Hill Mennonite Church in Tampa, Florida, works part time with the church, providing legal advice to immigrants in the area. (MCC photo by Andrew Bodden)

These cards and pen distributed by MCC immigration staff are practical resources that help immigrants know their rights. (MCC photo by Brenda Burkholder)

Immigration professionals Luz Rueda, Deborah Lewis, Quinita McKinney, Helen Stolinas and Gerardo Castillo Jimenez consult with MCC's Immigration Legal Training presenter Ayodele Gansallo, senior staff attorney with Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in Philadelphia. (MCC photo by Brenda Burkholder)

As the U.S. government increases immigration enforcement, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. has been expanding its legal training, resources and educational opportunities for immigrants and advocates.

Sponsors provide a welcome into their community

The private sponsorship group welcomes Christian and Esperance Manwengwe to Calgary last December. (Photo courtesy of Daria Soltysiak)

Danny and Anna Manwengwe make pizza at their home in Calgary. They arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo by way of Kenya last December. (Photo courtesy of Daria Soltysiak)

There are 23 million refugees around the world, with 1.2 million in need of resettlement outside of their home country or region.

In 2017, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) helped groups resettle 442 people through the Blended Visa Officer Referred (BVOR) program. That was about one-third of all people who arrived in Canada in that category.

Bridging Borders in the ‘City of Bridges’

As depicted in Wavelength Entertainment’s series, Bridging Borders, a group of friends from Saskatoon’s Nutana neighbourhood sponsors a family from Sudan. Sponsors and newcomers quickly become friends. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)

In the third episode of Bridging Borders, Dana Krushel, left, MCC Saskatchewan’s migration and resettlement coordinator, connects a Syrian woman with a sponsorship group who help her family come to Canada. Kushel and the woman laugh together at the airport as they await the arrival of the woman’s family. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)

In each episode of Bridging Borders, Dana Krushel, left, MCC Saskatchewan’s migration and resettlement coordinator, welcomes sponsored families and tells them they are no longer refugees but permanent residents of Canada. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)

A new television documentary series featuring the work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan is currently airing on City-Saskatchewan TV.

What if you were ‘forced to flee’?

A Forced to Flee game card presents players the same options refugees face on a daily basis, with the goal of creating empathy and countering the idea of ‘illegal’ border crossings. (Photo by Amanda Thorsteinsson)

People in your country are angry at the government. They gather to protest peacefully, and the government responds by opening fire on the protesters. The occasional bomb goes off and people are fighting in the streets. Soon, it’s not safe for you to leave the house and go to work. When food is available, it’s very expensive. You have the option to pay smugglers to get you out of the country.

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