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 Central American migrants at a shelter in Mexico. Central American migrants at a shelter in Mexico.   (AFP or licensors)

Pope, UN, Caritas focus on people on the move on International Migrants Day

While Pope Francis posted a tweet on International Migrants Day, the UN and Caritas Europa called for making migration work for all.

By Robin Gomes

As the world marked the United Nations International Migrants Day on Tuesday, Pope Francis urged host communities to open their hearts and homes to those arriving in their lands.  “Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed. May our hearts not be closed as were the houses in Bethlehem,” wrote the Pope on his Twitter account @Pontifex

The issue of migrants and refugees is a major thrust in the Catholic Church’s pastoral action, with its own annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees celebrated for the past 104 years.  In 2019, it will be celebrated on September 29.

According to the UN, nearly 3,400 migrants and refugees lost their lives worldwide in 2018.  “Migration with Dignity” is the theme of 2018’s International Migrants Day.

United Nations

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a message for the Dec. 18 International Migrants Day, inviting the world community to take up the path indicated by the recently agreed-upon Global Compact in Marrakech, Morocco, to make migration benefit all.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on International Migrants Day

Guterres argued that migration is a powerful driver of economic growth, dynamism and understanding, allowing millions of people to seek new opportunities, benefiting communities of origin and destination alike.

But when poorly regulated, he warned, migration can intensify divisions within and between societies, expose people to exploitation and abuse, and undermine faith in government.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, GCM or simply Global Compact, was reached at a crucial intergovernmental conference in Marrakech, Morocco, December 10 and 11. 

With an overwhelming backing from UN member states, the “landmark step”  will “help us to address the real challenges of migration while reaping its many benefits,” the UN chief said. 

“The Compact is people-centered and rooted in human rights,” he stressed, adding “it points the way toward more legal opportunities for migration and stronger action to crack down on human trafficking.”

Caritas Europa

In a separate message, Caritas Europa, a member of Caritas Internationalis, the global federation of Catholic charities, also called for making migration work for everyone, saying the adoption of the Global Compact which received overwhelming support is “a step forward to addressing one of the most relevant global concerns today in a humane way.” 

Caritas Europa welcomed the agreement as an “important instrument that proves that nationalism, populism and xenophobia will not triumph over cooperation and dialogue.” 

It said the Global Compact provides a comprehensive structure for countries to approach migration collaboratively with respect to human rights and to tackle urgent issues such as safe and legal migration pathways, the contribution of migrants to development and the fight against human trafficking and labour exploitation.

The president of Caritas Europa, Msgr. Luc Van Looy said the agreement highlights the benefits of migration and decreases the potential fears and challenges associated with it.  Awareness that no state can act alone in the field of migration, he said, “we believe it strikes a good balance between the respect of migrants’ rights and the interests of receiving communities.

In dealing with the phenomenon of migration, Caritas Europa recalled the four-verb approach of Pope Francis: “to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”, saying it rings true across the Caritas global confederation.

18 December 2018, 13:25