The Holy See
back up

 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 104, August 2007






Rev. Fr.  Frans THOOLEN, SMA

Official of the Pontifical Council for

the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People


Theme: The role of the Church, Government, and the International Community in relation to the plight of the Refugees, Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) as they relate to the MDG’s.                                               

1. Introduction

Hundreds of victims have lost their lives the last months and thousands more last year in their desperate search for a more secure and decent existence. This is one of the signs that in our globalized world the international community is failing to uphold its goals of solidarity and protection. Around the world, from Somalia to Yemen, from North Africa to Malta, Italy or Spain, across the desert of towards North America, from Zimbabwe to Southern African countries, people struggle to escape from war, from violation of their human rights, from famine or simply to have a decent human life. Motives and flows are mixed. The valid distinction between migrants, asylum seekers and refugees has become more difficult.

However, this are also signs of a world where people cannot cope with their reality and decide to move by any means to construct a life for themselves and /or support their family. We are talking about individual persons, men, women and children and how they leave in order to survive. In fact, it is a description of reality at grassroots, it is a challenge for us and the origin of the Millennium Goals.

As Pope John Paul II wrote in his 2000 Peace Message: “the one issue which most challenges our human and Christian consciences is the poverty of countless millions of men and women. This situation becomes all the more tragic when we realize that the major economic problems of our time do not depend on a lack of resources but on the fact that present economic, social and cultural structures are ill-equipped to meet the demands of genuine development”1

2. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

The Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 stressed in its Resolution2 values like human dignity, equality and equity at the global level. Heads of States and Governments wanted to establish a just and lasting peace all over the world and ensure that globalization became a positive force for all the worlds’ people. They were dedicated to making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire race from want. This was translated in the so-called Millennium Development Goals, but other proposals were also developed and followed up, like strengthening the United Nations. The Resolution reads like a blueprint for a new society. It was a commitment of rich and poor countries alike. They accepted their responsibility to reach these goals, which are oriented on people. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) did not remain abstract ideas but are concrete and should be reached by 2015. They cover eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender quality, reducing child mortality, improving material health, combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development. In short they have become the indicators of development.

The previous speaker has explained in detail what this all means. I just want to make two observations:

1. In the adopted Declaration special attention was given to the specific needs of Africa. We are almost halfway point and the question has to be raised whether the targets will be achieved. The United Nations website for the MDG Indicators presents in its 2006 Progress Chart3 a bleak future. According to this publication, none of the goals will be reached in sub-Saharan Africa. Behind all goals for that region is written: “No progress, or a deterioration or reversal”; and “target is not expected to be met by 2015, if prevailing trends persist”. A similar sobering conclusion has been drawn in one of the latest reports of the Economic Commission on Africa4.

As the Holy See stated: “The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the repeated promises of world leaders to support them have offered the prospect of alleviating such intolerable conditions, but implementation has been lacking. Not all goals will be achieved, just as other important agreements have not always been implemented. .....But the failures, though painful and distressing, cannot weaken our common will to pursue the high road to peace. We are all aware of this: the present lack of progress in the fields of development aid and trade reform threatens everyone’s security and well-being”5.

2. The relation to migration. One reference concerns the human rights of migrants and the elimination of discrimination. Another one asks for international cooperation and burden sharing for the challenges posed by refugees and internally displaced persons6. However, they were never concretized and are no longer visible in the Millennium Goals. Quite a number of later published studies and evaluations also do no longer refer to migrants and refugees. Though not explicitly mentioned, there are more than sufficient indicators valid for refugees and internal displaced persons, which I want to develop in the third part. In any case I limit the development of my intervention to refugees. 

3. Refugees and Millennium Goals

3.1. Protection of refugees

Do we realize that the names have changed? However, the ideas remained more or less the same or have been adapted to the present conditions and times. Looking in the past I note that the first High Commissioner Van Heuven Goedhart already in 1952 could quote a resolution of the General Assembly promoting a long term-planning for the economic reconstruction and rehabilitation of refugees. “Recommends all States directly affected by the refugee problem, as well as the appropriate specialized agencies and other intergovernmental agencies concerned, to pay special attention to this problem when drawing up and executing programmes of economic reconstruction and development; and requests the High Commissioner to contribute to the promotion of activities in this field….7

In 1966 this has been concretized in “integration and zonal development projects of benefit both to refugees and to the local population”, set up in co-operation with ILO and UNDP. The motivation was, as the High Commissioner Aga Khan explained: “in all the efforts which are promoted both multilaterally and bilaterally for development, refugees should not be forgotten, should indeed be a part of what is being done in the field of development, because we have always felt that refugees are not only a burden to the countries that receive them, as many people think they are, but indeed can contribute to the development of the countries that receive them”8. A few years later UNHCR tried to get the issue of refugees integrated in UN initiatives. The High Commissioner expressed it in 1969 in this way: “...if the development decade if aimed as it is at overcoming poverty, distress and under-development then surely the refugees should not be forgotten”9.

That same concern has resulted in new programmes to share burdens and responsibilities with the hosting States. It is adapted and translated to present day policies and trends over the last years. They are known to us as Development through Local Integration (DLI), the 4 Rs (repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction), and DAR (Development Assistance to Refugees)10. In order to be more efficient UNHCR also joined in 2003 the OECD/DAC Network on Conflict, Peace and Development Co-operation and in 2004 the UN Development Group (UNDG). By such initiatives UNHCR has been trying to promote the sake of refugees and get their needs been introduced and translated in the latest initiative: the Millennium Goals.

From its very beginning UNHCR has been actively involved in promoting protection for refugees and finding solutions to their problems. That’s why the three durable solutions were developed: voluntary repatriation, reintegration and resettlement. Moreover, certain civil and socioeconomic rights for refugees were legally formulated, and included in the 1951 Convention. One of the differences with the Millennium Goals is that the latter are explicit in what should be achieved and by which time. However, they also touch the daily life of refugees and internally displaced persons.       

3.2. Rights of refugees and development

Pope John Paul II appealed in 2004 in this way: "Every person needs a safe environment in which to live. Refugees aspire to this but unfortunately, millions in various countries of the world are still living in refugee camps or prevented for long periods from fully exercising their rights"11.                    

Indeed, the rights recognized to the refugees, like in the 1951 Convention and the 1969 OAU Convention - the right to earn a livelihood, freedom of movement, due process, and education12 - too often remain mere words. In many countries, for example, refugees are not allowed to work, or their movements are limited to the immediate surroundings of the camps, often located in remote regions. Refugees have become dependent on food supplies, many times insufficient or for budgetary reasons reduced, while at the same time the food basket is not sufficiently varied. Moreover, while other necessities for existence with a minimum of dignity are scarcely distributed, like soap, toilet paper and sanitary napkins. The present situation has led to malnutrion in camps which for years are administrated by the United Nations. It influences the total range of life and has a severe impact on the values of the people and is a primary factor leading to sexual exploitation13, as already indicated in 2002.

The different Directors of the Regions announced during the 38th UNHCR Standing Committee of March 2007 that basic services to refugees, which were already sometimes below minimum standards, were further reduced. This resulted that in several operations minimum standards in the water and education sectors are not met; investment in refugee camps to repair shelters or to maintain sanitation systems often had to be postponed;  rehabilitation programmes in returnee areas particularly were affected, malnutrition in camps was widely registered with rates of 22 percent in Kenya (administered by the UN since 1990), Ethiopia 14 percent, Chad 12 percent, Sudan 16 percent14. During that same meeting Morocco, on behalf of the African group, indicated its concern about the situation of decreasing resources, which are far from  meeting the needs identified so that the minimum standards of health can no longer be guaranteed.

This is the actual situation of millions of refugees, for which no durable solution is available.

The High Commissioner for Refugees Mr. Lubbers declared: “The abominably low levels of assistance being provided by the richest countries to the most marginalised and vulnerable people in the world cannot be allowed to continue. .... I believe that we, in the international community, must ask ourselves whether or not we are violating the human rights of refugees and other vulnerable people by not providing them with enough assistance for them to live with a minimum of dignity”15.    

A Representative of the Holy See called it “a fourth de facto, albeit unofficial, solution: warehousing of millions of people in camps in subhuman conditions, without a future and without the possibility of contributing their creativity. Camps must remain what they were intended to be: an emergency and therefore a temporary solution. Protracted refugee situations – 7 of 12 million refugees worldwide have been refugees for 10 years of more – seem a growing phenomenon with the consequence of masses of people without hope and generations of children becoming adults with a lost childhood16.”

The perspectives for the future are not optimistic. UNHCR remains a chronically underfunded organisation. The 2007 budget is an austerity budget, resource driven and not based on the needs of the population of concern to UNHCR. These needs are three times that much as the funds received17. Naturally, this has consequences and certainly not in a positive way to reach the Millennium Goals, despite the dedicated efforts of the UNHCR staff working sometimes in difficult circumstances.

It would make all the difference if the existing rights of refugees would be guaranteed, with additional greater economic and financial investments, and especially political will. Then refugees will become ‘agents of development’ even in their host country and not just recipients of aid or merely tolerated guests.

3.3. Conditions of Voluntary Repatriation as a solution

Sustainable repatriation is a sign that the situation has improved so that refugees can return home. The reasons for fleeing have been removed. It also means that certain conditions are in place as the Ministerial Meeting on Voluntary Repatriation and Sustainable Reintegration in Africa of 2004 stated: “There should be good prospects for the refugees to have access to productive activities, to good and appropriate education and to basic social and health services within a wider framework that also considers the genuine need and aspirations of the refugee-affected communities”18. Humanitarian agencies must receive adequate resources to assist in the return home of refugees and IDP in safety and dignity which also requires that the social and economic aspects of post-conflict reconstruction will be taken up19.

The questions raised during this meeting who would finance these ideas could then not be answered. Participants were however during this Conference reminded they were facing similar challenges as expressed in April 198120.

This concept of sustainable repatriation is beautiful and worthwhile to be supported. Reality and experience compel to tell that they are hardly practised in a number of return operations. People are heading back to their homes, or what remained of them and are arriving in situations where hardly infrastructures exist. There is a severe lack of shelter and basic services in key areas of return. Food supplies, as well as health and education facilities are many times lacking. The provided standard repatriation package is limited and includes not sufficient food assistance to carry returnees through at least one full agricultural cycle - as advised by earlier reports from the Evaluation and Policy Unit of UNHCR itself on similar operations21.  Instead, standardized food packets of three or four months are provided. Many times, it has to be noted that  the repatriation is not sustainable nor voluntary22. It turns out that financial considerations define the quality of return. This was confirmed in 200423 when UNHCR officials stated that it is not possible to provide food for one agricultural period for people returning in Liberia nor to provide them with provisions against malaria, since the resources were lacking.

Who will then be responsible for the returnees, if the funds are lacking or not sufficiently to support the process, or when refugees become internally displaced persons in their own country? These are not imaginary scenes, but happen too often. In July 2004 already the World Food Programme had to cut food rations by 50 percent  for people who returned to Angola. Similar signs were visible elsewhere (Burundi, Congo and Liberia).

The present High Commissioner for Refugees described it vividly: “A cooking pot and a few seeds do not go far when a family returns home to rebuild its life in the midst of widespread devastation”24.

Also the Representative of the Holy See stated that “Voluntary repatriation does not mean just going back. Otherwise there is the risk that people are moved from one difficult situation to a life of misery in their own country. Of course, these plans demand guaranteed possibilities of assistance with sufficient funding by international partners over a longer period to make implementation real. But that is the way of laying the foundation for a dignified return aimed at reintegration with reconstruction and reconciliation25

It turns out that the return seemingly has become more important than the standards set by UNHCR itself or the caution26 expressed in papers of UNHCR.

3.4. Post Conflict reconstruction

Societies are severely affected by conflicts. Basic infra-structures have been damaged and/or are hardly in existence. The UNHCR developed the 4 Rs concept (repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction) for post-conflict situations, bringing together humanitarian and development actors and funds to reduce poverty and to realize durable solutions. Sufficient financial assistance is needed to guarantee a sustainable development and a process of reconstruction. The follow-up is done by other UN organisations. This can take years and a real possibility exists that in the mean time the country relapses in conflict. A study of 2004 on the Democratic Republic of Congo indicates the gravity27 of the situation.

Most probably similar gravity is present in other war-torn African countries. The reconstruction process in post-conflict situations in fact requires sufficient and solid political will to continue to support over years the reconstruction process of a country. 

4. The role of the Church as far as the MDGs is concerned

...“Achieving the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by the year 2015 is one of the most important tasks in today’s world..   ...such an objective is indissolubly linked to world peace and security”28.  This is a quotation from a letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Angela Merkel. One example how the Church promotes her teachings.

The Church appreciates greatly the fight against poverty, to realize the millennium goals with an approach that focuses on the poor. The Church wants to stimulate the conscience of the humankind. She does this by her social teachings and she is guided in her efforts by a fundamental ethical principle of the social teaching, namely the universal purpose of created goods. A clear expression of this principle has been proposed by Pope Paul VI, in his Encyclical Letter on the ‘Development of Peoples’: «"God intended the earth and everything in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should flow fairly to all”.(Church in the World of Today, no. 69). All other rights, whatever they may be, including the rights of property and free trade, are to be subordinated to this principle. They should in no way hinder it; in fact, they should actively facilitate its implementation. Redirecting these rights back to their original purpose must be regarded as an important and urgent social duty”29». It means that human persons are put in the centre of our attention and guide our decisions. Every person has the same right of access to the indispensable minimum to live on and should be able to reach his or her full potential. It requires the creation of an environment centered upon respect for humanity, and embodying the rights of each person and group. This leads to dramatic changes in the relations between the nations, the rule of trade as well as adaptation on the individual level to reach and build a world where everybody can live a fully human life30.

Against this background, it should not be a surprise to note that the teaching of the Church, also during interventions at the United Nations, cover the whole range of live and actively address the inequalities within and between societies. Everybody person should receive sufficient for the necessities of life. This requires that poverty eradication policies are introduced. The Holy See stresses in relation to the Millennium Goals among others:

-           The concentration of policies on the poor as persons of equal worth which promote their empowerment31.

-           The increase of official development assistance focussing on the poor and honouring of the commitments of 0,7% made32.

-           The cancellation of debt of the Heavily Indebted Countries and the Least Developed Countries with provisions that they do not end up in debt again33.

-           A financial and trade reform to make markets work in favour of developing countries34.

-           Good governance and combating corruption35.

-           The decrease of military spending, which is at the expense of the Millennium Goals36.

-           The development of further research and availability of medicines against AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other tropical diseases37.

These points have been high lightened by Pope Benedict XVI  in a letter to Chancellor Merkel recently published38.

As earlier already noted, the voice of the Holy See is also heard during the meetings of the High Commissioner for Refugees. As a member of the Executive Committee she advocated for higher rather than lower standards and advancing the development of refugee law in positive directions.

Moreover, each year the Holy Father issues a World Message on Migrants and Refugees. This year Pope Benedict wrote for the occasion that “the Church encouraged the ratification of the International Convention for the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families and, through its various Institutions and Associations, offers its advocacy that is becoming more and more necessary”39.

5. Concluding.

What is most fundamental is the courage not to turn away from the eyes of the poor but to allow them to break our heart and shatter our world. To let them share with us how their children fear and suffer under acts of violence, how it feels to live together for years in a crowded refugee camp under a plastic sheet without hope for a decent life, how it hurts to be dehumanized and not to be seen as a human being, but as a number or a ‘vulnerable’. What does it require to offer them perspective for the future?  In concrete ways the Church in many countries tries to answer this. Your efforts and activities are illustrations of this. Pope Benedict XVI inspires, motivates and questions us when he said: “Anyone nourished with the faith of Christ at the Eucharistic Table assimilates his same style of life, which is the style of service especially attentive to the weakest and most underprivileged persons. In fact, practical charity is a criterion that proves the authenticity of our liturgical celebrations”40.



L’intervention présente les Objectifs de Développement pour le Millénaire et leurs conséquences pour les réfugiés. Ils devraient être atteints d’ici 2015.

Les Objectifs de Développement pour le Millénaire, introduits en 2000, mettent l’accent sur  la dignité humaine, l’égalité et l’équité au niveau mondial, et indiquent ce qui devrait être atteint. Malheureusement, bien que nobles dans leur formulation, ces objectifs ne seront pas atteints en Afrique. De plus, la coopération internationale et le partage des tâches  afin de répondre aux défis représentés par les réfugiés et les personnes déplacées à l’intérieur de leur pays, tel que cela a été demandé dans la Résolution adoptée, n’ont jamais été réalisés de façon concrète. 

La protection des réfugiés et la solution à leurs problèmes a été activement défendue par le HCNUR dès le début, et a conduit à un programme à long terme en vue de la reconstruction économique et de la réhabilitation des réfugiés, tandis que leurs droits civils et socio-économiques ont été formulés de façon juridique. Le HCNUR a constamment réadapté ses formulations au cours des cinquante dernières années. Toutefois, trop souvent, les mesures de protection ne sont restées que de simples mots, conduisant à des millions de réfugiés, pour lesquels aucune solution durable n’existe. Le Saint-Siège a défini cette situation « entasser des millions de personnes dans des camps dans des conditions inhumaines, sans avenir et sans possibilité de contribuer par leur créativité ». Un immense progrès serait accompli si les  gouvernements honoraient les droits déjà existants des réfugiés, que ce soit le droit à travailler pour vivre et la liberté de mouvement, ou le rapatriement volontaire de façon durable. Ce n’est qu’à ces conditions que les réfugiés deviendront les « agents de leur propre développement ».

L’Eglise affirme que l’élimination de la pauvreté extrême d’ici 2015 représente l’une des tâches les plus importantes dans le monde d’aujourd’hui et apprécie beaucoup les efforts en vue d’y répondre, qui placent la personne humaine au centre de l‘attention et des décisions directes. L’Eglise elle-même est guidée dans ses efforts par la doctrine sociale, qui embrasse toute les formes de vie et  se préoccupe activement des inégalités dans  et entre les sociétés. Chacun devrait  accéder aux conditions nécessaires pour vivre.


La conferenza annuale regionale di IMBISA sul rifugiato 

Il simposio spiega gli scopi dello sviluppo millenario e le sue conseguenze sui rifugiati. Essi dovrebbero essere raggiunti entro l’anno 2015.

Gli obiettivi del millennio per lo sviluppo, presentati nel 2000 pongono l’accento sulla dignità umana, l’uguaglianza e l’èquità a livello globale ed indicano quello che dovrebbe essere realizzato. Sfortunatamente, sebbene ben formulati, questi traguardi non verranno raggiunti in Africa. Inoltre la collaborazione internazionale ed il fardello di responsabilità per indirizzare le sfide presentate dai rifugiati e all’interno dai profughi, così come richiesti nella Risoluzione adottata, non sono mai stati resi concreti.

La protezione dei rifugiati e la soluzione dei loro problemi è stata attivamente promossa dall’Alto Commissariato delle Nazioni Unite fin dai suoi esordi ed ha condotto ad un programma a lungo termine per la ricostruzione economica e la riabilitazione dei rifugiati mentre i diritti civili e socio-economici sono stati formulati come previsto dalla legge. L’Alto Commissariato delle Nazioni Unite ha modificato le sue formulazioni più volte negli ultimi cinquanta anni. Comunque troppo spesso le misure protettive rimangono lettera morta, conducendo a situazioni di milioni di rifugiati, per cui non esiste una soluzione duratura. La Santa Sede ha denunciato con fermezza le condizioni inumane in cui vivono ammucchiati milioni di rifugiati nei campi profughi, senza un futuro, senza la possibilità di esprimere le loro capacità creative. Un grande passo in avanti si potrebbe avere se i governi onorassero le leggi esistenti sui diritti dei rifugiati, quale è il diritto di guadagnarsi il sostentamento e la libertà di movimento, o quello al rimpatrio volontario in un modo sostenibile. Legati a tale tipo di condizioni i rifugiati soli diverrebbero ‘agenti dello sviluppo’.

La Chiesa ritiene che lo sradicamento della povertà estrema prevista entro l’anno 2015 sia uno dei più importanti compiti del mondo d’oggi ed apprezza molto gli sforzi avviati, per cui ritiene che le decisioni dovrebbero mirare a porre la persona al centro di ogni attività. La stessa Chiesa è guidata nei suoi sforzi dall’insegnamento sociale che copre l’intera gamma della vita ed attivamente denuncia le ineguaglianze nella società. Tutti dovrebbero ricevere in sufficienza o il necessario per vivere.


* Maseru, Lesotho, 13 - 19th May 2007

1 Message of Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2000, "Peace on Earth to Those Whom God Loves!" N. 14:

2 Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 55/2. United Nations Millennium Declaration, 8 September 2000.


4 United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Economic Report on Africa 2007: Accelerating Africa’s Development through Diversification, Addis Ababa, 2007, p. 2, However, for most African countries, real growth rates have remained low relative to their development goals. With only four countries recording an average real GDP growth rate of 7 per cent or more during 1998-2006, few African countries are positioned to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

5 Intervention by the Holy See at the General Debate of the 61st Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, New York, 27 September 2006:

6 Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 55/2. United Nations Millennium Declaration, N. 25-26, 8 September 2000:

25. ...To take measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of migrants, migrant workers and their families, to eliminate the increasing acts of racism and xenophobia in many societies and to promote greater harmony and tolerance in all societies.

26. ...To strengthen international cooperation, including burden sharing in, and the coordination of humanitarian assistance to, countries hosting refugees and to help all refugees and displaced persons to return voluntarily to their homes, in safety and dignity and to be smoothly reintegrated into their societies.

7 Dr. G. J. Van Heuven Goedhart, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. An Address to the Annual Meeting of the United Service for New Americans, New York City, 19 January 1952.

8 Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, High Commissioner for Refugees, Global Meeting of Resident Representatives at Turin, April 1966.

9 High Commissioner’s Speech to 47th Session of ECOSOC, 28 July 1969.

10 Core Group on Durable Solutions, Framework for Durable Solutions for Refugees and Persons of Concern, UNHCR, Geneva, May 2003

With regards to cases where local integration of refugees in countries of asylum is a viable option, the High Commissioner has proposed a strategy called “Development through Local Integration (DLI)”. In situations where the State opts to provide opportunities for gradual integration of refugees, DLI would solicit additional development assistance with the aim of attaining a durable solution in terms of local integration of refugees as an option and not an obligation.

In post-conflict situations in countries of origin, the High Commissioner proposed an integrated approach known as “Repatriation, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (4Rs)”. This approach brings together humanitarian and development actors and funds. The aim is that greater resources should be allocated to create a conducive environment inside the countries of origin so as to, not only prevent the recurrence of mass outflows, but also facilitate sustainable repatriation.

The basic criterion for a good programme is self-reliance. In protracted refugee situations however, refugees - sometimes for decades - remain dependent on humanitarian assistance. One essential key to solving such situations is political; but, in the meantime, a facilitating element of any durable solution is development. The engagement of the relevant actors to address a situation invariably marked by lack of interest can be attributed to three factors: firstly, refugees are not part of the host government's political constituency and are thus not included in national development plans; secondly, refugees are often located in remote areas, which are not a regional priority for the host government; and thirdly, they are not part of activities undertaken by development actors, as development actors will normally follow the priorities of the recipient government. Thus refugees and their hosting population remain an excluded and marginalized group. “Development Assistance for Refugees (DAR)” aims to address this in an integrated manner

11 Pope John Paul II, Angelus, 20 June 2004.

12 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Art. 17 Wage-earning employment, Art.18 Self-employment, Art. 22 Public education, Art. 26 Freedom of Movement. OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, 1969, Preamble, 9. Recognizing that the United Nations Convention of 28 July 1951, as modified by the Protocol of 31 January 1967, constitutes the basic and universal instrument relating to the status of refugees and reflects the deep concern of States for refugees and their desire to establish common standards for their treatment.

13 UNHCR - Save the Children, Sexual Violence and Exploitation: the Experience of Refugee Children in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, January 2002, p. 54

14 Bureau for Africa, Regional Strategic Presentation Summary to 38th Standing Committee Meeting (6-9 March 2007). p. 2

15 Address by Mr. Ruud Lubbers, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to the 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Geneva, 20 March 2002

16 Intervention by the Representative of the Holy See at the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, 4 October 2004

17 High Commissioner, UNHCR’s ANNUAL PROGRAMME BUDGET 2007, Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme, A/AC.96/1026, September 2006, p. 20, p. 57. In preparing this budget proposal, UNHCR undertook a global needs assessment for each of its operations, in close cooperation with all key partners – host governments, operational partners, implementing partners and beneficiaries – with a view to estimating refugee needs that are still unmet by the international community. This process helped country teams to identify overall beneficiary needs which are expected to amount to some $3 billion in 2007. ....

In submitting its programme budget to address the needs of refugees in various countries and regions, UNHCR is well aware that it is only addressing part of the overall picture. Even in relation to the refugees it proposes to assist, programmes fall considerably short of the required international standards of protection and assistance.

18 Mr. Poul Nielson, Keynote Address, Dialogue on Voluntary Repatriation and Sustainable Reintegration in Africa, Geneva, 8 March 2004.

19 cfr. Opening Statement by Mr. Ruud Lubbers, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at the Dialogue on Voluntary Repatriation and Sustainable Reintegration in Africa, Geneva, 8 March 2004. “Given the enormous potential in Africa for resolving long-standing conflicts, consolidating peace and putting an end to protracted refugee and IDP situations, I believe now is the time for the international community to unite in lending its full support to this process. Many challenges lie ahead: peace processes must be strongly supported at all levels; efforts must be made to ensure the effectiveness of programmes aimed at the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation of former combatants, including youths; comprehensive strategies should be developed to support peace-building and reconciliation efforts from the grassroots level right up to the highest political level; humanitarian agencies must be given adequate resources to help refugees and IDPs return home in safety and dignity; and the social and economic aspects of post-conflict reconstruction must be addressed in a timely and coordinated way (e.g. programmes to enhance self-reliance, to improve education, health and other basic services, to counter discrimination and to promote gender equality)”.

20 cfr. Julia Taft, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Keynote Address, Dialogue on Voluntary Repatriation and Sustainable Reintegration in Africa, March 2004. “Twenty-three years ago UNHCR hosted the first International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa in April 1981. Special attention was given to the plight of refugees and the impact on countries of asylum or resettlement and to assist affected countries to strengthen social and economic infrastructures to return. The development nature of aid was highlightened (not just basic needs) and gave attention to local community impact. Here we are in a new millennium twenty-three years later with similar challenges. Let us build on our new sense of direction and collaboration to get it right: for the refugees, the host communities; and the countries that need to embrace the talents and energy of all their citizens. We in UNDP look forward to taking this journey with you, together”.

21 Brett Ballard. Reintegration programmes for refugees in South-East Asia. Lessons learned from UNHCR’s experience. UNHCR Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit and Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. April 2002. p. 71. Lesson 5 - In rural areas, returnees require sufficient food rations to carry them through at least one full agricultural cycle. In some situations (e.g. poor initial harvests), returnees may require additional food rations. Cash grants for food procurement may also be cost-efficient mechanisms for promoting food security under certain circumstances.

22 UNHCR. Note on International Protection. EC/55/SC/CRP.12.  June 2005. P. 2, The voluntariness of repatriation was threatened through refugees no longer being able to meet their minimum survival needs in camps.  Mr. António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Opening Statement, High Commissioner’s Forum, Geneva, 17 November 2005: “ Let me be frank: many of the voluntary repatriations we are carrying out today in various parts of the world may not be durable. Nobody can be sure they will last. Yes, we are doing our best to bring home people in dignity and security, giving them the bare essentials to begin their live over. But our hearts are divided. We know at the same time that peace is fragile, jobs are scarce, education and health care limited, and infrastructure often just a theory”.

23 Briefing (Answers from the head and the adjoined-director of the Africa Bureau) on Voluntary Repatriation to Liberia, Geneva, 8 October 2004.

24 High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, General Assembly United Nations Session 7 November 2006.

25 Intervention by the Representative of the Holy See at the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, 4 October 2004.

26 Dialogue on Voluntary Repatriation and Sustainable Reintegration in Africa, Voluntary Repatriation in Africa, (Discussion Paper No 1), 8 March 2004. Nevertheless, it is important for UNHCR and States to exercise caution in the timing of organized return movements. Whilst the voluntary nature of repatriation remains a primary protection criterion, ensuring that returns are carried out in safety and dignity (for example, with due regard to the possible presence of landmines in areas of return) is vital. Equally important in planning any voluntary repatriation operation is the need for adequate safeguards in terms of rights and sustainability, including access to justice, restitution of property and improved human rights conditions.

27 IMF Working Paper /04/114 Sources of Growth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: A Cointegration Approach. July 2004.

The actual situation is characterised by massive unemployment (60%) due to the destruction of the economy; 60% of the food production has been destroyed and the infrastructure is severely damaged. The population is highly impoverished with 50% of the population living below the poverty line. Forty-five percent of the Congolese population is younger than 15 years. New social phenomena have appeared: street children and orphans, ex-combatants, war victims and young child-mothers. With an economic increase of 5 percent of the Gross domestic product annually, and a grow of the population of 3 percent annually, it would take 70 years to reach the same level of living of 1960, and the 1990 level could be reached in 45 years. Most probably similar conclusions can be drawn for other war-torn African countries.

28 Letter of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Angela Merkel, about the next Summit of the G8 and the Answer of the Chancellor to the Holy Father, 23 April 2007:

29 Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, N. 22, 1967

30 cfr. Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, N. 14, 32,47,49,54,58

31 cfr. Intervention of the Representative of the Holy See at the 59th General Assembly of the United Nations on: "Informal Consultations on the Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and on the United Nations Millennium Project 2005 Report", 21 February 2005.

32 cfr. Intervention by the Representative of the Holy See at the 59th General Assembly of the United Nations On: "Informal Consultations on the Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and on the United Nations Millennium Project 2005 Report", 21 February 2005.

33 Card. Renato Raffaele Martino, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, International Seminar On: "Poverty and Globalisation: Financing for Development, Including the Millennium Development Goals", 9 July 2004.


34 cfr. Intervention by the Representative of the Holy See at the 58th General Assembly of the United Nations on the Millennium Summit, 9 October 2003.

cfr. also Intervention by the Representative of the Holy See At the Ecosoc High Level Segment, New York, 1 July 2005.

cfr. Intervention by the Representative of the Holy See at the "High-level Meeting on the midterm Comprehensive Global Review of the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010", New York, 18 September 2006:

35 cfr. Intervention by the Representative of the Holy See At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August - 4 September), 2 September 2002:

36 cfr. Intervention by the Representative of the Holy See at the First Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations on General and Complete Disarmament (Item 67), 7 October 2004:

37 cfr. Intervention by H.E. Msgr Giovanni Lajolo, Secretary for Relations with States at the General Debate of the 59th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York, 29 September 2004:

38 Letter of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Angela Merkel, about the next Summit of the G8 and the Answer of the Chancellor to the Holy Father, 23.04.2007:

“The Holy See has repeatedly insisted that, while the Governments of poorer countries have a responsibility with regard to good governance and the elimination of poverty, the active involvement of international partners is indispensable. This should not be seen as an "extra" or as a concession which could be postponed in the face of pressing national concerns. It is a grave and unconditional moral responsibility, founded on the unity of the human race, and on the common dignity and shared destiny of rich and poor alike, who are being drawn ever closer by the process of globalization.

Trade conditions favourable to poor countries, including, above all, broad and unconditional access to markets, should be made available and guaranteed in lasting and reliable ways.

Provision must also be made for the rapid, total and unconditional cancellation of the external debt of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Measures should also be adopted to ensure that these countries do not fall once again into situations of unsustainable debt.

Developed countries must also recognize and implement fully the commitments they have made with regard to external aid.

Moreover, a substantial investment of resources for research and for the development of medicines to treat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other tropical diseases is needed. In this regard, the first and foremost scientific challenge facing developed countries is the discovery of a vaccine against malaria. There is also a need to make available medical and pharmaceutical technology and health care expertise without imposing legal or economic conditions.

Finally, the international community must continue to work for the substantial reduction of both the legal and the illegal arms trade, the illegal trade of precious raw materials, and the flight of capital from poor countries, as well as for the elimination of the practices of money-laundering and corruption of officials of poor countries”.

39 Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees,  (2007), The migrant family, 18 October 2006:

Cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi, No. 6. Vatican City, May 2004

40 Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, 19 June 2005: