Fleeing violence in Sudan refugees flee to South Sudan Fleeing violence in Sudan refugees flee to South Sudan  (ANSA)

Holy See highlights plight of refugees and need for solidarity

In a statement at the 74th Executive Committee of the UNHCR, the Holy See emphasises the urgent need for global solidarity in addressing the plight of forcibly displaced people, stressing human dignity, fraternity, and the duty to protect lives.

By Francesca Merlo

Addressing the 74th Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner's Programme for Refugees (UNHCR), on 10 October, Msgr. Daniel Pacho, Undersecretary for the Multilateral Sector of the Section for Relations with States and International Organizations at the Vatican Secretariat of State, Head of Delegation of the Holy See, highlighted the plight of forcibly displaced people and the urgent need for global solidarity.

Names and not numbers

Msgr. Pacho began by emphasizing the distressing reality that more than 108 million people around the world are forcibly displaced. He stressed that these are not just numbers, but human beings with faces, each representing a unique story and struggle.

Conflict, violence, persecution, and the impacts of climate change continue to drive mass displacement, a situation Pope Francis has described as a "third world war, being fought piecemeal."

The Holy See, through Msgr. Pacho, expressed concern about ongoing conflicts, particularly the situation in Ukraine, and the tragic consequences they entail, including loss of life, injuries, displacement, and immense socio-economic damage. Such conflicts, Msgr. Pacho stressed, highlight the tragic absurdity of war.

Human dignity

Central to the Holy See's position on the matter is the recognition of human dignity as the foundation for addressing the refugee crisis.

Refugees are not mere recipients of assistance but holders of rights and responsibilities, said Msgr. Pacho, underscoring the importance of not returning individuals to countries where they face human rights violations or life-threatening conditions. He also echoed Pope Francis's call that "the future cannot lie in refugee camps."

Long-term solutions

Msgr. Pacho went on to highlight the need to move beyond temporary solutions in emergency situations and work toward durable and long-term solutions.

These solutions include accelerating resettlement to third countries, issuing humanitarian visas, establishing individual and community sponsorship programs, opening humanitarian corridors for the most vulnerable, and ensuring family reunification.

The Holy See also stressed the right to seek asylum as an extension of human dignity and fraternity, aligning with Pope Francis's call to "avoid turning the Mediterranean from the cradle of civilisation into the graveyard of dignity", said Msgr. Pacho.

He said the Holy See firmly supports the rescue of those at risk of drowning in perilous sea crossings, considering it a duty of humanity and civilisation.

In this regard, Msgr. Pacho decried the tragedies of lives lost on land and at sea, emphasising the urgency of protecting and saving people making sea crossings. He noted that shifting responsibilities or treating refugees as bargaining chips are clear signs of the need for concerted action.

In conclusion, the Holy See renewed its call for a global sense of fraternity, emphasising that without it, fairer societies and lasting peace are impossible. 

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10 October 2023, 11:57