Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move
N° 104, August 2007
Vatican Radio interview with Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, ON THE 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees*
1) We ask Archbishop Marchetto to recall briefly the Pope’s Message for this occasion.
The theme of the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees is The migrant family. At the time of our presentation, this aroused substantial interest among the press and media, because the issue it deals with is highly topical. Indeed, after drawing attention to the difficulties currently faced by the institution of the family, the Pope reiterated the Church’s commitment to defending it and asked everyone to safeguard and promote the family, especially in the context of migration and refugee camps, and also regarding the fragile and sometimes needy situation of foreign students. The figures add up to almost 200 million economic migrants, around 9 million refugees and around 2 million foreign students. In addition, there are displaced people, victims of trafficking, etc.
2) What specific suggestions does the Message contain?
The Pope explicitly refers to the International Convention for the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, which lays down a framework for extensive protection, including that of families. The Holy Father encourages its ratification. However, this framework needs to be complemented with specific legislative, legal and administrative safeguards, above all via a network of services, associations, and centres where migrants are listened to and given socio-pastoral assistance, as referred to in the Message.
3) Therefore, it is a question of targeted initiatives. What grounds are they based on?
Indeed, the activities we are called on to carry out are not ends in themselves, but rather focus on the human person. Only recognition of the human dignity of migrants, on the one hand, and recognition by migrants themselves of the values the society that offers them welcome, on the other, enable just integration of families within the social, economic and political systems of host countries. The religious dimension should also be taken into account here. Therefore, balanced management of migratory flows and human mobility in general, can bring benefits to the whole human family, within the framework of a new world order. Such management should start with concrete measures that promote legal emigration and reuniting of families, above all with the protection of women and minors. In any case, here too human rights are the foundation of peace and the integral development of persons and peoples.
4) The Holy Father wished to draw attention to the difficult conditions of refugees’ families. Would you like to comment on that, your Excellency?
There is a current trend to protect order and wellbeing from the threat that many people perceive in the continual arrival of foreigners, comprising a mix of migrants and refugees. Therefore, even regarding the latter, who are seeking protection from violence and life-threatening dangers, a negative vision is spreading, nourished by political and social tensions, which goes against international legislation and is not taken into account by the media. This also jeopardises the reuniting of families. Likewise, inadequate funding of humanitarian assistance also worsens conditions in reception camps, especially for women and children, increasing the danger of appalling abuses.
* 11 January 2007.