On Sunday, April 2, Bishop Mykola Bychok, Eparch of Melbourne, and Deacon Michael Zylan, Chancellor of the Eparchy, took part in a Walk for Justice for Refugees in Australia. Palm Sunday (according to the Gregorian calendar) in Australia is declared the National Day of Action for Refugee Rights, therefore such a march takes place every year and in every state of Australia. This event is supported by more than 100 organizations, including religious communities, trade unions, and other public organizations.

The Walk for Justice for Refugees began at the State Library at 2:00 p.m. Bishop Mykola Bychok also spoke there. Speakers from other faith communities included Adel Salman, President of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Emeritus Rabbi Fred Morgan of the Union of Progressive Judaism, as well as Dr. Monique Ryan, Member of Parliament, and Sanmati Verma, Managing Lawyer with the Human Rights Law Centre.

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Bishop Mykola addressed the audience with the following words: “Today for me it is a great honour to be with you, to support you and to share with you the pain of my native country Ukraine. Ukrainians are well aware of the fate of emigrants and refugees. For more than 130 years, a large number of our people have emigrated to Brazil and Argentina, then to Canada and the USA, and after the Second World War to Australia and the countries of Western Europe. 

Today’s migration of Ukrainians is the genocide of our nation. In just one year of the terrible war, 16 million people left their homes: 8 million internally displaced persons and 8 million displaced around the world. We all know that the fate of a refugee or emigrant is not easy, but on the contrary, it is very difficult and tragic. Saving their lives, they are looking for a better fate for themselves, but they find humiliation, helplessness and sometimes the end of their lives outside their native land. A similar fate is common to many peoples, not only Ukrainian. It is frightening to think, but the Mediterranean Sea becomes a cemetery for about 10,000 refugees from poor African countries every year.”

In conclusion, the Eparch of Melbourne asked for prayer and support for Ukraine and other countries that have faced difficult trials: “Let us pray and support the nation of Ukraine, as well as Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria and Ethiopia, who left their homes due to war or political persecution. Let us remember that the first refugee was Jesus Christ, who was persecuted by King Herod. His parents, the Holy Mother of God and St. Joseph, fled from Bethlehem to Egypt to save his life. May the same Lord bless and help all refugees in Australia and around the world!”

After the speeches, all participants of the Walk walked through the city to the Parliament Gardens. During the march, the crowd chanted slogans and held up placards calling for justice for refugees. Afterward, the second part of the action took place near the Parliament Gardens, where speakers from various public organizations spoke and music played.

By the way, this Walk for Justice calls for permanent visas for all refugees. After all, people with temporary visas cannot study, or have any social security system, and some are even denied the right to work. Many people cannot have a permanent job to support their families, so the people, through one or another action, seek to obtain from the government the full provision of their rights and needs. In the end, such actions give results because the Australian government is open to helping immigrants and gradually implements laws that help them stay on the territory of the state.