Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move -
90, December 2002, p.
Intervention by H.E. Msgr.
Renato R. Martino
at the Third Committee of the 57th General Assembly
the United Nations on Refugees
Once again, the Holy See welcomes the Report
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and adds its voice to
those who commend the office of the High Commissioner for its fine work in
promoting and protecting the rights and well being of the some of the
world’s most vulnerable persons.
Delegation is pleased to note that, in the words of the High Commissioner,
"Slight reduction from 21.1 million in 2000 to 19.8 million at the end of
2001", of persons of concern to the High Commissioner. With all that the
people of the world have witnessed in the past twelve months, any decrease in
the number of persons separated from home and family is a welcome sign of the
unbreakable spirit which binds all people into one family.
the same time, my Delegation is distressed that the Report states that some
people found borders that were closed to many or suffered violence, xenophobia
and the denial of fundamental rights. Once again, the Holy See realizes that
the world has gone through many changes in the past year. At the same time,
however, it is those very changes and the situations that have risen that
should focus on the reasons for the existence of the Office of the High
Commissioner for Refugees.
December 2000, the United Nations celebrated the Fiftieth Anniversary of the
Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. As
it has done for more than these fifty years, since before the formal
establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner, the Holy See continues
to lend its support and take its place, within the world community to provide
care and protection to those who have been forced from their homes, no matter
what the reason.
The Holy See assures that currently, the Catholic
Church, through a variety of agencies, most particularly the Pontifical
Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, The
Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Caritas
Internationalis and its national offices, Catholic Relief Services, and the Jesuit Refugee Service, operates centers throughout the world,
serving the needs of many thousands of people.
2001, Church agencies in the United States alone aided 319,541 refugees and
immigrants, who received help with settlement, family reunification,
education, legal and employment services, and language classes.
All these agencies and institutions continue to ‘put a
human face’ on the refugee and migrant, not dealing with quotas or numbers
but reaching out to help people in need.
A discussion on the protection of refugees cannot be
complete without also adding a word of support for all those governments and
states that continue to struggle to meet the needs of incoming refugees and
Satisfying the basic needs of life can not be seen as a
burden but as a necessity even as those same governments find it difficult to
provide for their own citizens. The family of nations should commend and
continue to aid in those efforts.
Finally, Mr. Chairman,
My Delegation realizes that the Report of the Secretary
General deals with only those "persons of concern to the High
Commissioner". However, I wish to add a few words about the other group
of people who need special attention.
According to the statistics compiled by the United
Nations, there are as many as fifty million internally displaced persons
throughout the world.
Just as it continues to support the efforts of countries
receiving refugees and migrants, the Holy See calls upon governments to
recognize their responsibilities toward providing security and access to basic
social services to all those displaced persons within their borders.
The recently concluded World Summit on Sustainable
Development has taught a valuable lesson. The result of that meeting was more
than the very important Political Declaration and outcome document. People
came together and discussed problems and ways to find solutions. My Delegation
hopes that the same spirit of changing words into actions will continue to
help all people who have been separated from their homes or their land or
their families to find a place to live that recognizes their human dignity and
their right to security, peace and happiness.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thursday, 7 November