(Source: CD/Robin Gomes, Vatican News)
Caritas Internationalis, the global confederation of Catholic charities, has appealed to the world’s political leaders to accept refugees in a dignified and safe way, ensuring their basic needs are met and providing them with safe living conditions especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responsibility of political leaders
“We call on our political leaders to take courageous decisions to safeguard the refugees, in particular those who are victims of every kind of abuse in many places”, Caritas, which brings together 165 national Catholic relief and development agencies worldwide, said in an appeal for World Refugee Day last June 20.
The secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, Aloysius John, said that refugees “are human persons, with dignity, values and rights and it is the duty of all of us to receive them with open arms and ensure they live in dignity”.
“As Caritas Internationalis, our main focus is to nurture brotherhood through the expression of care and love for the most vulnerable, and the refugees are among them”, John said in his message.
“Victims of violence, fear, and above all victims of an unjust system”, Caritas noted, refugees “have been forced to leave their homes to leap into the unknown destiny where they will have to face hardships, pain, anguish and trauma”.
Refugees have a face and story
“Women, children and the elderly are the worst affected”, Aloysius John pointed out, noting that last year 33.4 million people “were forced into the harsh road of exile across 145 countries”.
The Caritas secretary-general lamented the international community’s indifference and silence regarding the suffering of refugees and the displaced, saying, “for many around the world, these people don’t have a face nor a story”, they are “only numbers or news to look at briefly in the newspaper”.
Need for empathy, solidarity
Noting that COVID-19 has galvanised “global solidarity to fight against anything that affects humanity”, the Caritas secretary-general insisted that 2020 “must lead us to a new way of responding to the refugees and their plight”.
He said “there is an urgent need to receive the refugees with empathy and solidarity and address the root causes of the phenomenon and develop a just economic system that guarantees them equal opportunities”.
In this regard, he mentioned the case of the Rohingya people, who despite the hospitality of the Bangladeshi government are exposed to highly vulnerable conditions, including the COVID-19 pandemic.