Economic Crisis Increases Suffering of Refugees

The global economic crisis is having a doubly negative effect on migrants and refugees, as low-wage jobs disappear and resentment of foreigners grows, says the head of Caritas Internationalis. "As the world sinks deeper into economic recession, borders are closing, jobs are disappearing and life is becoming harder for refugees and migrants everywhere," said Lesley-Anne Knight, secretary-general of the umbrella organization of Catholic charities. Knight and Jesuit Father Peter Balleis, international director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, spoke in Rome on May 20 at the opening of an exhibition of photographs of refugees titled "Respecting Strangers: Replacing Fear With Welcome."

Migrants and refugees tend to be the first to lose their jobs, "not only because their status is called into question, but also because they are employed in sectors particularly affected by the economic crisis," she said. Compounding their economic difficulties, migrants face great social difficulties as well because incidents of discrimination, including violent attacks, tend to increase when people are struggling financially or are out of work, Knight said.

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