War, inequality, poverty, climate change and persecution have driven more people from their homes than at any other time since the founding of the UN. Worldwide, there are over 65 million forcibly displaced persons. There are over 21 million refugees, three million asylum-seekers and over 40 million internally displaced persons. Forced migration is one of the major challenges of our lifetimes. Many people are exploited and more and more forms of exploitation exist.
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Caritas Internationalis and Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) are calling for concrete change at the United Nations to ensure migrants and refugees are better protected. The global Catholic aid organisations say there needs to be a shared commitment by all states and public and private stakeholders. Ahead of the first ever UN summit on migrants and refugees in New York, the priority must be given to those fleeing harm, particularly women and children. There must be full respect for international refugee and human rights law in responding to migrants’ and refugees’ needs.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Michel Roy said, “The challenge of the solidarity crisis in responding to large movements of migrants and refugees is massive. The international community is struggling to find a long-term solution. This challenge presents a unique opportunity to review the humanitarian system as it stands. We need to re-imagine a blueprint for a more effective international response.”
All UN member states must express a clear commitment to protect and safeguard the rights of the displaced and these nations must act on these commitments swiftly through implementation of national policies. Safe and responsible migration policies, agreed as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), must ensure migration as a choice, not a necessity.
UN must change say Caritas and JRS to better serve refugees and migrants
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Governments need to meet the long-term needs of migrants and refugees living primarily outside of camps by supporting sustained livelihoods through vocational training and employment, as well as meeting basic needs through the provision of social services. At local and international level, the fight against trafficking in human beings is a priority in emergency programs as in long term action.
Caritas and JRS urge the UN to review their current structures, assess comparative advantages of all actors, and more clearly delineate the role of the UN as coordinator and civil society as implementers. We also call for transparency of funding practices.
Developed nations must not use overseas development aid to pay for the costs of refugees at home. We ask all countries to stop making such aid conditional on migration priorities of the donor country.
Caritas and JRS denounce deportations and forced returns of people, and the reformulation or reinterpretation of international refugee and humanitarian law to prevent people from seeking refuge or to facilitate their return.
We call on the international community to share the responsibility of providing protection to those fleeing from their homes to avoid some countries shouldering the bulk of the responsibility on their own.
The UN summit on migrants and refugees on 19 September is considered a historic opportunity to strengthen the international migration response and to create a system capable of protecting the rights and responding to the needs of large movements of refugees and migrants.
Also on the 19th September Caritas will co-host a side-event on migrants and refugees with ICMC and the Holy See to discuss the role of faith organisations. Download poster.
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