By Robin Gomes
Stressing that “refugees are victims of our unjust system”, the global confederation of Catholic charities is appealing to the world’s political leaders to accept refugees in a dignified and safe way, ensuring their basic needs are met and providing them with safe living conditions, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Responsibility of political leaders
“We call on our political leaders to take courageous decisions to safeguard the refugees, in particular those who are victims of every kind of abuses in many places,” says an appeal from Caritas Internationalis, the global confederation of 165 national Catholic relief and development agencies of the bishops’ conferences worldwide.
In a message released in view of World Refugee Day, June 20, the Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis, Aloysius John says refugees “are human persons, with dignity, values and rights and it is the duty of all of us to receive them with open arms and ensure they live in dignity”.
“As Caritas Internationalis, our main focus is to nurture brotherhood through the expression of care and love for the most vulnerable, and the refugees are among them,” says Aloysius John in his message.
“Victims of violence, fear, and above all victims of an unjust system,” Caritas notes, refugees “have been forced to leave their homes to leap into the unknown destiny where they will have to face hardships, pain, anguish and trauma”.
Refugees have a face and story
“Women, children and the elderly are the worst affected” Aloysius John points out, noting that last year 33.4 million people “were forced into the harsh road of exile across 145 countries”.
He laments the international community’s indifference and silence regarding the suffering of refugees and the displaced, saying, “for many around the world, these people don't have a face nor a story”, they are “only numbers or news to look at briefly in the newspaper”. “For many around the world, these people don't have a face nor a story.”
Need for empathy, solidarity
Noting that Covid-19 has galvanized “global solidarity to fight against anything that affects humanity,” the Caritas secretary-general insists that 2020 “must lead us to a new way of responding to the refugees and their plight”.
He says “there is an urgent need to receive the refugees with empathy and solidarity and address the root causes of the phenomenon and develop a just economic system that guarantees them equal opportunities”.
In this regard, he mentions the case of the Rohingya people, who despite the hospitality of the Bangladeshi government, are exposed to highly vulnerable conditions, including the Covid-19 pandemic.