VATICAN - "Forced like Jesus Christ to flee": living with dignity as refugees in the time of the coronavirus

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Victims of violence, fear and above all of an unfair system, in 2019, 33.4 million people in 145 countries were forced to leave their homes in addition to the hundreds of millions of refugees already present all over the world. In order not to forget this serious tragedy, the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated today, 20 June. 'Forced like Jesus Christ to flee' is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for this Day which will focus on the pastoral care of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
"This day commemorates the role and responsibility we have towards our neighbor who has been uprooted from his home, his culture, his family and his environment and is experiencing a tragic as well as painful situation", says the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, Aloysius John. "For many around the world, these people do not have a face or a story - reads the note sent to Agenzia Fides. Refugees are just numbers or news to look briefly in the newspaper. We rarely worry about them or know the stories of unspeakable suffering, of immense and persistent pain and above all of dehumanization".
In his statement Aloysius recalls, among others, the many Rohingya refugees who left their homes in Myanmar and have moved to neighboring Bangladesh where, despite the willingness of the local government to receive them, they are extremely vulnerable, today even to the contagion of COVID 19 .
"The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us an important lesson: the need for global solidarity to combat any problem affecting humanity - he continues. This year, 2020, must lead us to a new way of responding to the refugee drama. As an international community, humanity has been able to organize itself against the pandemic. In the same way, there is an urgent need to welcome refugees with empathy and solidarity, face the root causes of the migratory phenomenon and develop a fair economic system that guarantees them equal opportunities".
"Our main objective - concludes the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis - is to cultivate brotherhood through the expression of care and love for the most vulnerable, and the refugees are among them. We ask our political leaders to make courageous decisions to protect refugees, in particular those who are victims of all kinds of abuse and violence in many places around the world today. They are humans, with values and rights, and it is the duty of all of us to receive them with open arms and make sure they live with dignity".
According to the UNHCR report in 2019, 70.8 million people worldwide were forced to flee their country. It is an unprecedented number of people fleeing conflicts, persecutions, dramatic climate change, natural disasters. Of these, about 25.9 million are refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18. Every two seconds a person is forced to leave their home due to conflict or persecution. To these are added millions of stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to fundamental rights such as education, health, work and freedom of movement. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 20/6/2020)