By Robin Gomes
The Holy See has underscored the importance of faith-based organizations in providing protection and integration to migrants. Their efforts, alongside those of other key stakeholders, are essential in helping implement the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the first intergovernmental agreement coordinated by the United Nations that will cover all dimensions of international migration.
The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Bernadito Auza, made the point in an address on June 4 at a side event organized by the diplomatic missions of Guatemala and the Holy See to the UN together with the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN).
“Well-established footprint across the world”
The Holy See’s Permanent Observer pointed out that faith-based organizations are best equipped to deal with the migrants because of their “reach and presence at all points of the migratory journey, often filling gaps in services to migrants that governments and other civil society actors are unable or unwilling to fill on their own.”
“They are on the front lines in protecting migrants’ human rights and dignity, and in providing food, shelter, education, medical and psychological support.”
This, Archbishop Auza said, is because faith-based institutions have a well-established footprint across the world, merging local programmes with international support, providing highly qualified staff, great local know-how and resources.
“They have the wherewithal and readiness to mobilize what’s needed to fill in the gaps, often in countries of origin, transit and destination.”
Defending human dignity
Besides, migrants particularly trust institutions of their or other faiths, who affirm and defend the human dignity of all people without any political or economic interest. Even governments and other stakeholders trust faith-based groups.
Archbishop Auza recalled four ways that Pope Francis suggested in responding to migrants and refugee, namely, welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating. The archbisop said faith-based organizations in general not only strive to achieve but actually deliver on all four.