By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
The Holy See’s has called for the protection of the rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), with a particular focus on the vulnerabilities that people with disabilities face in the context of forced displacement.
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the Holy’s See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations and other organizations made this call on Thursday, during a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“Just like migrants and refugees, IDPs are not mere numbers or statistics: they are human persons, with their personal stories, suffering and aspirations,” Archbishop Jurkovič said. “Unfortunately, IDPs have increasingly become victims of the ‘globalization of indifference’ which Pope Francis repeatedly denounced.”
The situation of IDPs
Recalling Pope Francis’s message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Archbishop Jurkovič reiterated the Pope’s concern that the situation of displaced persons has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.
He pointed out that IDPs with disabilities, in particular, encounter “additional burdens and barriers to accessing specific displacement-related information and humanitarian assistance." This results in “inequalities and heightened protection risks.”
For this reason, “it is important to consider the diverse needs of IDPs, including those with disabilities so that they may access protection and durable solutions to be fully integrated into society,” the Archbishop said.
Pastoral orientation for IDPs
Archbishop Jurkovič informed the UN of a recent document prepared by the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development entitled “Pastoral Orientations on Internally Displaced People."
He pointed out that this document, among other things, advocates for States to “offer specialized measures and protection for IDPs with disabilities. At the same time, it also offers suggestions and guidance for action based on four principles: welcome, protect, promote and integrate."
Appeal for cooperation
In light of this concern, Archbishop Jurkovič underscored the importance of “genuine cooperation” between states to “design a clearer system of responsibility for IDPs to ensure effective protection, to achieve durable solutions and, ultimately to save lives.”
In this regard, the Archbishop proposed partnerships with religious organizations and faith communities as they are “often on the frontlines of assisting the forcibly displaced.”
This approach, Jurkovič insisted, “requires a combination of safety, respect for human dignity and human rights, early warning and prevention.” It should also be founded on the principles that all people, regardless of their migratory status, “should be allowed to remain in their home in peace and security without the threat of being forcibly displaced.”
Concluding, Archbishop Jurkovič stressed that international mechanisms and frameworks will only be effective “when we overcome the prejudices of a culture that continues to produce inequalities and leaves many people behind.”