Archive for September 2012

Resident Evil: Migration and Human Trafficking

September 19, 2012

Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag throws the spotlight on one of the most pressing issues in contemporary Europe

Despite the abolition of the slave trade centuries ago, people are still bought and sold in Europe. The European Commission estimates that 120,000 women and children are trafficked into Western Europe every year. Ninety percent will be sexually exploited. The problem of human trafficking in Europe is immediate, immense, and profoundly evil.

In this darkness, the light of Christ is shining.  Christians across the continent are working to bring hope and help to those vulnerable to and victimized by human trafficking.

Since Moldova’s independence, nearly one in ten Moldovans has emigrated to find work in the West (some statistics indicate than one in four ‘economically active’ Moldovans is working abroad).  As many as two thirds of households in Moldova fall below poverty level, and 500,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in the past ten years in hopes of finding a way to provide for their families.

With limited options for legal migration, the most motivated seek other ‘opportunities’ to travel west, including risky transactions with smugglers and traffickers.  For those most desperate, the situation is different:  they are the hunted.  Young women in difficult circumstances may be “referred” to a trafficker for a percentage of the sale.  Hardship and lack of opportunity blinds others to the risks of a questionable job offer.

Moldovan Christians offer examples of divine creativity in their response to the issue in their country.  In addition to their prevention work in schools across the country and safe house in the capital, Beginnings of Life (BoL), a faith-based NGO, recently sponsored a national day of mourning for Moldova’s lost daughters.

The organization drew the attention of both government and the media to the plight of those trafficked from their country by setting up a “Wailing Wall” in the square in front of Parliament.  Inviting parents, friends, and neighbors of the missing to the Wall, Beginnings of Life worked with the International Organization for Migration to register information about missing sisters, daughters, and friends.  They also offered to pray with the grieving families.

The problem of human trafficking takes a different shape in Western Europe.  It is here that women, children, and men are purchased for exploitation.  The Evangelical Alliance of Spain has taken a lead in response to trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (prostitution). Their work is yielding amazing results.

Aware that Spanish newspapers carry ads for sexual services, they engaged local Christians in a boycott.  Two national newspapers have stopped publishing the ads; further, those papers now regularly contact the Alliance for comment on issues impacting the country.  Spanish Christians have also campaigned against the use of slaves in chocolate production, in conjunction with Stop the Traffik, an international NGO.  As a result, Nestlé has changed to free trade cacao for the Spanish market.

The European Freedom Network exists to help the body of Christ in Europe – including partners like Beginning of Life and the Spanish Evangelical Alliance – work together effectively to prevent and combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and to seek the restoration of its victims.

EFN connects national Evangelical Alliances with active and emerging ministries and other stakeholders in their context, and serves those networks by providing the tools they need for effective cooperation and action. EFN works with Alliances to encourage and empower local churches and to build national and regional networks capable of addressing the issues of human trafficking and the needs of its victims.

The European Freedom Network currently consists of over 100 partners working together in 28 countries to build a bridge to freedom across Europe.

Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag

You can read more about migration and integration in Europe in Issue 10 of Vista

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Measuring Integration

September 11, 2012

What efforts are being made to measure and facilitate the integration of migrants to Europe?

EU policy efforts towards encouraging migrant integration rely upon four major areas of social policy. The European Council of Ministers meeting in Zaragoza, Spain, 14th-15th April 2010, declared: ‘Employment is a vital part of the integration process, and efforts in education are essential in helping immigrants to become successful and more active participants in society. Not only access to the labour market is important but also entry into society more generally, which makes social inclusion an important area. The participation of immigrants in the democratic process as active citizens supports their integration and enhances their sense of belonging.

European Union Treaties and Migration Issues (adapted from Wikipedia)

European Union Treaties and Migration Issues (adapted from Wikipedia)

Monitoring progress in the following four areas is seen as key to measuring the impact of efforts to promote integration:
social inclusion
active citizenship

Eurostat, the statistical service of the European Union, has identified the need to collect information measuring integration in a coherent and consistent way across the EU. It has begun comparing measures in these four areas, comparing their rates among migrant and host populations. Measures being monitored by Eurostat include employment and unemployment, levels of educational attainment, rates of early departure from education, net income, poverty levels, home ownership, health status, acquisition of citizenship and residency, and rates of civic participation in elected office. Eurostat released its pilot findings in these areas in mid 2011 and demonstrated that foreign-born European residents are more likely to be unemployed, slightly less likely to be self-employed, and more likely to be over-qualified for the jobs that they are doing. Despite this, there is a higher proportion of poorly educated individuals among migrant populations than there are among the indigenous populations.

NGOs had been pressing for the adoption of such measures prior to 2010 and gave a cautious welcome to the 2010 Zaragoza Declaration. The Migrant Integration Policy Index was developed by an NGO and used a six point measure of integration (Brussels, 2007). The highest scoring country in terms of labour market access was Sweden. Sweden also scored highly in terms of policies that facilitated family reunion. Countries with the strictest penalties for discrimination on grounds of ethnicity and nationality (among others) included the UK, Portugal, Finland, and Sweden. Citizenship to children of resident migrants was most readily extended by Belgium, France, Ireland, Portugal and the UK. Generally, the least restrictions for migrants were found in the areas of access to employment, perhaps a reflection of the economic argument often presented by the more politically and economically liberal-minded individuals and organisations of Europe. Migrants generally have lower disposable incomes, live closer to the poverty level, and have lower levels of private home ownership, making them particularly vulnerable to unscrupulous private landlords.

The Christian churches of Europe offer an important laboratory for social participation, inclusion, and leadership. These occur at a number of levels, from the local congregation or parish, through denominational level, and including several national Alliances and Councils of Churches. The Evangelical Alliance in Ireland deliberately chose the name EA Ireland rather than The Irish EA, because they wanted the Alliance to include Africans, Romanians, and Ukrainians, for example. Exactly the same concerns shaped the naming of EA Russia and several other national Alliances. The EA Kazakhstan and EA Turkey were among those who argued most strongly and successfully that the European Evangelical Alliance’s ‘Measures of Health’ for national Alliances should include strong commitments to ethnic diversity.

You can read more about migration and integration in Europe in Issue 10 of Vista

Subscribe to receive news about Vista and mission in Europe