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ADRA President: “Faith communities can change the dialogue from hate and ignorance to peace, love and acceptance.

ADRA President: “Faith communities can change the dialogue from hate and ignorance to peace, love and acceptance.

[Photo Credit: International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty]

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During a recent summit held in Geneva, Switzerland, Jonathan Duffy, president for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) joined hundreds of interfaith world leaders to discuss fostering inclusivity and countering hate speech to enhance the protection of religious minorities, refugees, and migrants. 

Duffy served on a panel of esteemed lawyers and executive directors, organized by the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty. He shared what the global trends in migration are and highlighted what drives migration.  

In his opening statement, Duffy highlighted four “C’s” that drive migration: concentration, corruption, conflict, and climate change. 

“The concentration I speak of is a concentration of jobs, wealth, and knowledge, both individually and geographically,” Duffy says. “Knowledge and economy with its associated emphasis with technology is concentrating wealth and power, and with it, jobs. This is leading toward a migration to the cities.” 

Duffy highlighted the second “C”, which was corruption. “It’s arguably the biggest drag on economic development,” he adds. He quoted from former World Bank president, Jim Young Kim, who likened corruption to that of a dollar put into the pocket of a corrupt official or business person that is a dollar stolen from those who need it most.  

Conflict was another “C” that Duffy addressed was a driving factor of migration. He spoke about ongoing war-torn countries like Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Myanmar and Afghanistan, and envisioned a world where conflicts like in those countries were reduced. 

“We can hope and pray that all these conflicts are resolved and at least managed,” says Duffy. “But who would be optimistic to imagine that would happen? Indeed, as the world is turning increasingly to authoritarian leaders, we rely on existential threats to justify their oppression; conflicts appear more likely than not.” 

Duffy shared the final “C”, which he said was climate change. He referenced how current temperatures are more extreme, and that essential resources for land and fresh water are becoming more scare. 

“Some low-lying coastal areas like Bangladesh are densely populated. Inevitably, this will result in migration that is likely to exhilarate in pace and scale,” Duffy says. “I recognize what I’ve painted is a very bleak picture, but I do not see a reduction in these migration trends in the foreseeable future.” 

Brazil, according to Duffy who shared reports on current government infrastructures, withdrew from the UN compact agreement this year, which encourages businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies. Duffy added that Thailand has had an anti-immigrant “crack down amid fear of immigrants stealing their jobs.” Additionally, in Africa, Duffy highlighted that there is a high anti-immigrant feeling already spreading in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. 

“South Africa has been rocked by violent attacks on immigrants who they claim is taking their jobs,” says Duffy. 

Amidst the dismal information, Duffy voiced why we as a people should not see immigrants as our enemies. “Many have made valuable contributions to our society,” he says. “Google was started by a Russian immigrant; the genius behind Apple, Steve Jobs, was the son of a Syrian immigrant, and they are not the exception.” 

Duffy shared one last “C” that needed to be added and was most important: compassion. 

“Who is speaking up for justice for all?” asks Duffy. “Who is having compassion for the less privileged and the marginalized? If not us, then who? If we use our combined voice it is a force that cannot be ignored. We also have a role to play in our own faith communities, to change the dialogue of hate and ignorance to peace, love, and acceptance.” 

ADRA will be highlighting services around its networks to honor Refugee Sabbath, officially designated by the Adventist Church for June 15. The United Nations also sanctioned June 20 as World Refugee Day honoring families who are forced to leave their homes at no fault of their own. 

Learn more about how ADRA is working to help refugees at ADRA.org