By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Pope Francis said on Sunday that World Refugee Day, promoted by the UN is meant “to call attention to the anxiety and suffering lived by those who are forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution”.
“We stand for a Europe that provides durable solutions for people in need of protection”, Caritas Europa wrote in a statement released for World Refugee Day (20 June). They also call for “global responsibility” in reaching this goal so the burden on the shoulders of “countries already hosting the majority of refugees worldwide” can be shared.
Understanding the situation of refugees
85% of the world’s 22.5 million migrants find refuge in developing countries, Caritas Europa reports. Turkey is the largest host-country with 2.8 million refugees. Ethiopia hosts 3.3% of the world’s refugees and in Lebanon refugees represent 16.6% of the country’s population. In 2017 alone, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that only 5% of refugees found permanent legal protection of the 1.2 million people in need of it.
Reality of refugees
The Caritas Europa statement continues saying that many refugees have been forced to flee their countries, and therefore, cannot return to them because of ongoing “conflict, wars and persecution”. In addition, many cannot integrate within the country in which they first seek asylum because of “political instability, poverty and lack of appropriate structures”. Since “safe and legal pathways” for asylum seekers are “cruelly lacking”, they often “risk their lives and embark on irregular journeys to access protection”.
What refugees need
In view of the ongoing negotiations toward a Global Compact on Refugees which should conclude with approval at the UN General Assembly in September 2018, Caritas Europa calls for an increase of places where refugees can find permanent residence through “credible safe and legal pathways”, as well as protection, and the “means to successfully rebuild their lives and start anew”. Secondly, the negotiations should provide an opportunity for States to demonstrate their “solidarity with first countries of asylum and contribute to the development of a global system of responsibility sharing".