INTERVENTION OF THE HOLY SEE TO THE
U.N. IN GENEVA
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 65th SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF UNHCR
STATEMENT BY H.E.
ARCHBISHOP SILVANO M. TOMASI
Wednesday, 1st October 2014
Today, we have reached the highest number of forcibly displaced persons
since World War II. It is not merely an increase in quantity but there is
also a concomitant increase of complexity due to non-state actors in current
conflicts and unpredictable massive displacement as a consequence.
The common goal of protection is an ever-growing challenge. This is due
in large part to the unprecedented number of persons on the move; the lack
of financial resources as a result of donor fatigue; ever-more restrictive
measures limiting access for asylum seekers; the reality of tensions which
tend to arise between local populations and newly arrived; and additionally,
the phenomenon of unaccompanied minors, that is increasingly visible in the
Americas, and also in Europe.
The practical preparedness of States to accommodate this increasing
number of asylum seekers and refugees appears to be decreasing. But the
generosity shown so far by the International Community is a sign of hope,
and it should continue by expressing solidarity to the victims of armed
conflicts and situations of constant violation of fundamental human rights.
Such a state of affairs should help all of us who form the International
Community to reflect upon and urgently to devise preventive measures so that
people are not forced to leave their homes in order to survive. This
phenomenon creates a tremendous burden upon the host States, who must invest
an exceptional amount of their resources, and thus places an obligation of
solidarity by the wider community.
The necessary change of policy from focusing on assistance to prevention
implies an important cultural shift, in which the human person, with his
inviolable dignity and inalienable human rights, is the center of attention,
rather than being a mere instrument for economic and political decisions.
Such a perspective requires of the International Community a reformulation
of methods and structures of prevention, humanitarian assistance, and
The Delegation of the Holy See encourages the continued extraordinary
generosity of many donor countries and of those hosting societies that have
welcomed, often at a great sacrifice, millions of forcibly displaced people.
We also support the development of an increased global partnership, based
more upon human solidarity and less upon selfish interests, to answer the
plight of the current massive number of asylum seekers and refugees. Indeed,
this solidarity is not simply an abstract idea, but a concrete moral
imperative derived from the fact that together we form one human family.
This is the first step to realizing reconciliation and restarting a
As Pope Francis emphasizes: "It is necessary to respond to the
globalization of migration with the globalization of charity and
cooperation, in such a way as to make the conditions of migrants more
humane. Solidarity with migrants and refugees must be accompanied by the
courage and creativity necessary to develop, on a world-wide level, a more
just and equitable financial and economic order, as well as an increasing
commitment to peace, the indispensable condition for all authentic
In conclusion, the continued, long-term stay of populations in camps and
the increasing number of persons in overcrowded urban areas are in
themselves a clear manifestation that violence can only destroy and fragment
society. The present situation in the world is an appeal to the
International Community that the only positive way forward is to pursue the
path of dialogue toward "peaceful coexistence".
1) Pope Francis, "Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees." 23