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World Day
for Migrants and Refugees

[Updated: 14.11.2006]


 


The Pontiff’s Messages
for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees (1)

 

Year

Theme

Message

72

1986

Ecclesial Integration of Immigrants as an Exercise of the Right to Freedom

 
73

1987

Emigrated Family

 
74

1988

Catholic Lay Faithful and Migration

 
75

1989

Mary in the Event of Migrants

 
76

1990

Migration and Expansion of the Kingdom of God

 
77

1991

Migration and Religious Proselytism

 
78

1992

Migration: Meeting of Peoples

 
79

1993

Migration and Development

 
80

1994

The Family and Emigration

 
81

1995

Women and Emigration

 
82

1996

Irregular Migrants

25.07.1995
[English]
[French]
[German]
[Italian]
[Portuguese]
[Spanish]
83

1997

Migration and the Faith which operates through Charity (during the first year in preparation of the Great Jubilee)

26.08.1996
[English]
[French]
[German]
[Italian]
[Portuguese]
[Spanish]
84

1998

Welcoming Migrants according to the example of Scalabrini/Migration and the Holy Spirit (during the second year in preparation of the Jubilee, dedicated to the Holy Spirit)

09.11.1997
[English]
[French]
[German]
[Italian]
[Portuguese]
[Spanish]
85

1999

Migration and the Virtue of Charity (during the third year in preparation of the Jubilee)

22.02.1999
[English]
[French]
[German]
[Italian]
[Portuguese]
[Spanish]
86

2000

Migration and the Great Jubilee 2000

21.11.1999
[English]
[French]
[German]
[Italian]
[Portuguese]
[Spanish]
87

2001

Pastoral Care for Migrants, the Way to fulfilling the Mission of the Church Today

13.02.2001
[English]
[French]
[German]
[Italian]
[Portuguese]
[Spanish]
88

2002

Migration and Interreligious Dialogue

18.10.2001
[English]
[French]
[German]
[Italian]
[Portuguese]
[Spanish]
89

2003

For a commitment to overcome all racism, xenophobia
and exaggerated nationalism
02.12.2002
[English]
[French]
[German]
[Italian]
[Portuguese]
[Spanish]
90 2004 Migration with a view to peace 15.12.2003
[
English]
[
French]
[
German]
[
Italian]
[
Portuguese]
[
Spanish]
91 2005 Intercultural integration 24.11.2004
[
English]
[
French]
[
German]
[
Italian]
[
Portuguese]
[
Spanish
]
92 2006 Migrations: a sign of times 18.10.2005
[
English]
[
French]
[
German]
[
Italian]
[
Portuguese][Spanish]
93 2007 The migrant family 18.10.2006
[English]
[
French]
[
German]
[
Italian]
[
Portuguese]
[
Spanish]

Note
(1) Messages for the previous World Days have been sent by the Cardinal Secretary of State to the President at that time of the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism.

Displaced people and refugees

One of the aspects of migration, often presenting dramatic implications and determining the long-term life conditions of entire populations, consists in the forced exdosus caused by famines, natural disaster, wars and ethnic conflicts. At present, it is estimated that almost one of fifth of all international migration is due to such causes.

Today, it is extremely difficult to make a precise estimate of the number of the world refugees, also due to the fact that the international UN Agencies operating in this field do not have competence on all the populations obliged to leave their own countries.

For instance, at present the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), is responsible for the situation of about 22 million people all over the world; the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), operates for about 3 million Palestinians.

According to some estimates, there are about 20 million refugees who are not assisted by the international Agencies. Assuming this statics correspond to the real situation, there is a total number of 50 million world refugees who are given hospitalities in countries which are not their countries of origin.

The refugees who are the victims of internal exoduses due to wars or disasters, or who have to move due to implementation of huge infrastructural projects, have to be added to the above indicated number. According to the existing, very, innacurate estimates, about 30 million people are in such condition.

The various phases of the Kosovo crisis made the world public understand how important this phenomena can be. From March 24 to April 30 1999, about 600,000 Kosovars werw obliged to leave their region, seekeng refuge in a foreign country: 371,000 went to Albania. 154,00 to Macedonia, 63,000 to Montenegro, 15,000 to Bosnia- Herzegovina.About 24,000 people fled Kosovo to reach other contries (10,000 of them went to Germany and 5,000 to Turkey). 300,000 of them had already abandoned their homes over the previous year.

Refugees are people uprooted from their own country and often deprived of their identities, sometimes having an uncertain administrative status. Most of refugees are the weakest individuals of the social and family structure: elderly people, women and children. Their physical, hygienic, social and psychological conditions are often so dramatic thet they are the real "damned on earth".

In our civil society, the problem of refugees evokes the notion of solidarity and the organized management of humanitarian aid. This theme has a great political importance. Being the concrete expression of the humanitarian spirit of society, which is one of the main themes the Conference intends to evaluate and discuss.

 

The distribution of immigrants
in the various World regions

As it is shown in the following table, the distribution of immigrants in the main world regions is not homogeneous. In particular, it is evidente that as of 1990, the last year for wich official statistics are available on the distribution in the different areas, the regions where the percentage of immigrants is higher in relation to the resident population are North America, Western Europe and Oceania, that is, the traditional destinations of world migratior.

Immigrants in the world by regions as of 1990

Region

Overall regional population

Absolute value of immigrants

% in relation to the resident population

Source: based on UN statistics  (1). Values in millions.

Africa

642

15,6

2,5

Asia

3.113

43,0

1,4

Latin America and Caribbean

448

7,6

1,7

North America 

276

23,9

8,6

Western Europe

381

22,9

6,1

Former URSS and Eastern Europe

406

2,2

0,8

Oceania

26

4,8

18,4

Total

5.292

120,0

2,3

Most of the immigrants are concentrated in Asia (35.9% of the total world immigrants), due to the relevant internal migration flows of this area. 20.1% of the immigrants are in North America and 19% in Europe.

 

International migration
Quantification of the  phenomenon at an international level

As has already been explained, the quantitative description of migrations is extremely difficult.Moreover, a quantitative description of the migration phenomenon can hardly exhaustively illustrate the problem of the social and economic impact of migrations on developed societies, which is one of the main themes of the Conference.

Quantitative data must be evaluated considering the territory size, the degree of economic development, the labor market structure as well as the capacity of the various societies to promote social integration and manage multicultural environments.

Taking said considerations into account, it is important to define the magnitude of this phenomenon and its dynamics. According to the most reliable sources, in the 1997 the world regular migrants were about 130 million people.

Said figure represents 2.3% of the world population. 55% of migrants are concentrated in developing countries, while the remaining 45% are located in higly developed ones.

There are no reliable statistics about the world illegal immigration, while there exist some estimates relating to single countries.

The number of migrants has reached the present level after a constant increase rate over the last decades.As it is shown in thw following table, in 1965 the number of immigrants amounted to 75 million people, with yearly average increase of 1.9% (an average of 1.7 million more people every year).

In the periods considered in the international statistics (1965-19751975-1985;1985-1990) the increase has not been homogeneous: in fact, it was particularly modest (1.2%) over the decade 1965-1975 and faster during the decade from 1975 to 1985 (2.2%).

From 1965 to 1975, migration flows almost exclusively concerned higly developed countries. The growth rate considerable increase over the years 1975 to 1985, depends on the increase in migration flows involving developing countries.

From 1985 to 1990, there was a 2.6% increase rate. Given the lack of official statistics about the present situation, soem estimates habve been made according to which, as indicated above, in 1997 there was a total of 130 millon immigtrants.(2).

Immigrants in the World from 1965 to 1997

1965

1990

1997*

Source: based on UN data ONU (3). Values expressed  in millions. * = estimated values.

Developed countries

30

55

59*

Developing countries

45

65

71*

Total

75

120

130*

Women represent a relevant percentage of the overall immigrants, amounting to 47% of the total number. Over the various decades considered by the above- mentioned international statistical sources, said percentage has always been stable.

Notes
(1) United Nations, World Population Monitoring 1997.
(2) Caritas di Roma, Immigrazione - Dossier statistico ’98, Anterem, Roma, 1997.
(3) ONU, United Nations, World Population Monitoring 1997.  International Migration and Development, New York, 1998.

 


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