UN can make history for refugees and migrants

“Our house was destroyed in an air raid. We had to walk 3 hours through the snow to get to Turkey from Syria, my husband and I carrying the boys. I was pregnant, but lost the baby.” Yusra has four children, two of which are severely physically disabled and can’t walk. At one point as a refugee, she and her family ended up living in a cowshed.

The United Nations will discuss a plan for helping Yusra’s family next week.  It’s not just about Yusra’s family, but about the 65 million people who’ve been uprooted by war, inequality, poverty, climate change around the world.

Yusra told Caritas about raising children who need specialist care in dire and freezing conditions. She told us about having to leave them to work a 12-hour day picking vegetables with other refugees.

Yusra and her boys. They recieve winterisation and food aid from caritas in Hatay. Credit: Patrick Nicholson/Caritas

Yusra and her three of her boys. They recieve winterisation and food aid from Caritas in Hatay. Credit: Patrick Nicholson/Caritas

The UN summit is seen as “a historic opportunity to come up with a blueprint for a better international response”. Caritas hopes that this means that people like Yusra will be protected from effects of war, that they will be able to enjoy safety and that they will be able to have a dignified life, where they live in good conditions and have jobs and the support of society.

[Tweet “There needs to be real change in practices for benefit of #refugees #migrants. #UN4RefugeesMigrants “]

We hope and pray that when Heads of State gather at the UN next week, they won’t just see 65 million people and an unsolvable problem. Instead they will see names and faces and people with hopes and dreams.  We hope that they take seriously their ability to change the system in a way that means migrants and refugees are embraced by societies rather than pushed away.

“We must seem like a hopeless bunch. No country, no health, no money. I go to sleep and dream that when I wake up I will be able to walk. I will be able to help my mother.” Feraz, Yusra’s 19-year-old son.

Joint statement by the Caritas network and Jesuit Refugee Services on the occasion of the summit in English, French, Spanish and Italian.

Caritas Internationalis

President: Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle
Secretary General: Michel Roy

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