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Pope calls for global approach to refugees and migration

31 August 20170 comments

Pope Francis has called on national governments to put the personal safety and dignity of refugees ahead of national security.

In issuing a 20-point action plan to governments on refugees and migrants, the Pope is attempting to galvanise an international response to what the Vatican considers one of the biggest global challenges of the 21st century.

The Pope’s statement is being seen as support for the drafting and acceptance of two global compacts on refugees and migration, which are expected to be adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018.

“While massive numbers of people have been forced to leave their homes due to persecution, violence, natural disasters and the scourge of poverty, migration should nevertheless be recognised, not as a new phenomenon, but rather as a natural human response to crisis and a testament to the innate desire of every human being for happiness and a better life,” the action plan says.

“This reality, with its important cultural and spiritual dimensions, is having a significant impact on attitudes and reactions all over the world,” it says.

The document says that distinguishing between migrants and refugees, as the UN does in its separate compacts, is problematic.

“Empirical evidence shows that migration is more and more mixed. This makes it difficult to maintain a clear-cut distinction between migrants and refugees. Often their needs are very similar if not identical,” it says.

The document titled, ‘Responding to Refugees and Migrants: Twenty Action Points’, says the world is facing “the largest movement of displaced people in recent memory”.

The document’s 20 points are grouped in four calls to action: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.

The “ultimate goal is the building of an inclusive and sustainable common home for all”, the document says.

Among the action points outlined are the creation of legal pathways for safe and voluntary migration and resettlement, and a ban on arbitrary and collective expulsions.

It suggests states make wider use of humanitarian, student and family reunification visas.

The document says greater support should be available for countries that have borne the brunt of migration: more than half the world’s displaced people are in Africa and the Middle East, with 17 per cent in Europe, according to the United Nations.

In his message, Pope Francis said “for the sake of the fundamental dignity of every human person, we must strive to find alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorisation”.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist