Holy See: Migrants are not just numbers

Addressing the 50th Session of the Human Rights Council, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu expresses the Holy See’s concern over growing pushback practices in several countries.

By Lisa Zengarini

The Holy See has once again reiterated that the basic human rights and dignity of migrants must be protected “beyond any political considerations”, condemning pushback practices carried out by several countries.

Speaking on Friday at the Human Rights Council, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the UN in Geneva, remarked that “such practices often ignore even a basic consideration of the human person, failing to ensure the safety and dignity of migrants.

“We should never forget that migrants are not just numbers, but our sisters and brothers who cannot be left behind.”

To welcome, protect, promote and integrate

The Vatican Observer recalled the four key verbs suggested by Pope Francis to address the challenges posed by contemporary migration: “welcome, protect, promote and integrate”.

In this regard, he acknowledged that integration is a two-way process.

“Migrants have the responsibility to respect the values, traditions and laws of the community which takes them in,” he said, “and host communities are called to acknowledge the beneficial contribution which each immigrant can make to the whole community.”

Archbishop Nwachukwu emphasized “the importance of expanding the number and range of alternative pathways for safe, regular, and voluntary migration and resettlement, in full respect for the principle of non-refoulement."

“The ultimate goal of international efforts in the context of migration should be to ensure that migration is safe, legal and orderly.”

Externalizing asylum procedures

The Archbishop referred specifically to the recent “unsettling” practice of externalization of asylum procedures and of delegating, by proxy, the responsibility to receive newly-arriving migrants.

He concluded his statement recalling Pope Francis’ recent appeal to “stop passing off the issue of migration to others, as if it mattered to no one and was only a pointless burden to be shouldered by somebody else.”

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25 June 2022, 14:09