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Holy See to UNHCR: Refugees and migrants need nations to share solutions

Addressing the 73rd Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner's Programme for Refugees in Geneva, the Holy See renews the Church's commitment to assist migrants and displaced persons.

By Francesca Merlo

Addressing the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner's Programme for Refugees in Geneva, Dr Francesca Di Giovanni noted that the meeting came at a time "when violence, persecutions and conflict fracture our sense of fraternity and the unity of our human family."

Dr Di Giovanni is the Undersecretary for the Multilateral Sector, Section for Relations with States, and International Organizations and Head of Delegation of the Holy See in Geneva.

In her address on Monday, she stressed that just last month Pope Francis expressed concern for the proliferation of conflict around the world.

"After two tragic world wars, it seemed that the world had learned to move progressively towards respect for human rights, international law and various forms of cooperation," he said, referring in particular to the armed conflicts going on in the world, saying "unfortunately, history shows signs of regression."

Global crisis of solidarity

Dr Di Giovanni continued by stressing that in this dramatic historical moment the world is witnessing record-numbers of displaced people, which are far outpacing durable solutions and available humanitarian aid.

“While our gaze is inevitably directed towards Ukraine, we should never forget the scope of the global crisis of solidarity and humanity we face.”

As it follows the consequences of the war in Ukraine with great apprehension, "the Holy See calls on all States to do everything possible to bring an end to the war and to recommit themselves to authentic dialogue for lasting peace."

Dr Di Giovanni then emphasised the increased impact of climate change and natural disasters on forced displacement - an impact, she said, which "requires deeper reflection and concrete action." It is of the utmost importance, she added, to identify alternative pathways for timely, permanent solutions.

She reiterated Pope Francis' affirmation that "building the future with migrants and refugees also means recognizing and valuing their contributions, growing in our common humanity and building together an ever-greater sense of togetherness."

Helping host communities

In this regard, continued Dr Di Giovanni, "the Holy See recognizes that the solidarity shown by some States, in particular, deserves special recognition. However, neither solidarity nor generosity are inexhaustible resources and we cannot let geographical proximity be the sole factor in determining our shared responsibility for protection or level of humanitarian assistance."

Bearing this in mind, Dr Di Giovanni reiterated the concern that certain countries have "increased the burden of host-communities through an unsustainable strategy of externalization, avoiding direct responsibility for large, mixed flows through agreements that stop them at strategic points along their journey."

Bringing her statement to a close, Dr Francesca Di Giovanni said the Holy See has witnessed "an increasing fragmentation of solutions, which only fuels further tensions and divisions."

The Holy See, she concluded, "wishes to propose a deeper collective reflection on the root causes of forced displacement. This includes making every effort to ensure the necessary conditions for people to live in peace, security and dignity in their countries of origin. It also requires parallel efforts to promote and facilitate reconciliation."

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10 October 2022, 16:39