Pope Francis meeting with refugees at the Reception and Identification Center in Mytilene, Greece Pope Francis meeting with refugees at the Reception and Identification Center in Mytilene, Greece 

Holy See urges joint efforts in care and protection of refugees

Cardinal Michael Czerny calls for collaborative efforts toward providing protection and support for refugees and displaced persons, highlighting that durable solutions to refugee situations require equitable responsibility sharing among host countries.

By Vatican News staff writer

Speaking at the High-Level Officials Meeting of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Wednesday, Cardinal Michael Czerny, the Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, restated the Holy See’s support for the vision and ambition of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and highlighted the importance of joint efforts to provide care for displaced persons.

The Cardinal, who headed the Holy See’s delegation to the meeting, noted that two years after the first Global Refugee Forum, it is legitimate to ask if it has improved access to protection for refugees, durable solutions and equitable responsibility sharing among host states; and how the pandemic has affected the achievement of the objectives of the Global Compact.

Covid-19: a crisis and an opportunity

The Covid-19 pandemic, the Cardinal notes, “has become a crisis of protection and delayed the achievement of durable solutions.” At the same time, it has helped to call attention to parts of the international protection system that are in need of reinforcement and reform.

However, even with these opportunities before us, he warns against the danger of becoming indifferent to the suffering of refugees and countless “others” who are forcibly displaced, forgetting that they are “human persons and families in search of safety and peace.”

Rather, in the face of the new and persistent conflicts and injustices behind the mass exoduses, the Cardinal encourages a “deeper reflection of their root causes.”

All in the same boat

Cardinal Czerny went on to reiterate Pope Francis’s words at the Reception and Identification Center in Mytilene, Greece, during his recently-concluded Apostolic Journey. He emphasized that the global impact of the pandemic has made us realize that we are all on the same boat and have experienced what it means to have identical fears. Thus, we have come to understand that “the great issues must be faced together, since in today’s world piecemeal solutions are inadequate.”

The Cardinal then cautioned against building walls, which “will not bring us any closer to real, sustainable solutions” and the strategy of externalization, which, he says, will eventually fail and will leave us with a crisis that is even more difficult to manage.

“This means that we cannot look the other way, deny our common humanity or disregard those who are suffering,” the Cardinal urged, insisting that we must rather shake ourselves from the individualism that excludes others and awaken hearts that are deaf to the needs of our neighbours.

Joint efforts needed

Cardinal Czerny then seized the opportunity of the meeting to re-echo the Pope’s call to “stop this shipwreck of civilization,” calling on the collaboration of host countries, civil society, faith-based organizations, religious communities and local churches.

He also expressed the gratitude of the Holy See to the Countries that have made concrete, particularly pledges to increase resettlement quotas and ensure education for young refugees.

“Prevention, protection and durable solutions are inevitably interlinked. If one fails, the others cannot deliver,” he said, expressing hope that the meeting will help translate burden and responsibility sharing into concrete shared solutions.


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16 December 2021, 12:18