Focus on people on the move on International Migrants Day

Migrants on the US-Mexico border refused entry into the States

Yesterday, the world marked International Migrants Day proclaimed by the United Nations. According to UN statistics, this year, 3,400 migrants and refugees lost their lives, worldwide. This year’s theme for the occasion is “Migration with Dignity”.

As the world marked the United Nations International Migrants Day, Pope Francis urged host communities to open their hearts and homes to those arriving in their lands.  “Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed. May our hearts not be closed as were the houses in Bethlehem,” wrote the Pope on his Twitter account.

The issue of migrants and refugees is a major thrust in the Catholic Church’s pastoral action, with its own annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees celebrated for the past 104 years on a different day from that of the UN.  In 2019, it will be celebrated on September 29.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a message for the occasion, inviting the world community to take up the  path indicated by the recently agreed-upon Global Compact in Marrakech, Morocco, to make migration benefit all.

Guterres argued that migration is a powerful driver of economic growth, dynamism and understanding, allowing millions of people to seek new opportunities, benefiting communities of origin and destination alike. But when poorly regulated, migration can intensify divisions within and between societies, expose people to exploitation and abuse, and undermine faith in government.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration or simply Global Compact, was reached at a crucial intergovernmental conference in Marrakech, Morocco, a few days ago.  With an overwhelming backing from UN member states, the “landmark step” will “help us to address the real challenges of migration while reaping its many benefits,” the UN chief said.

“The Compact is people-centred and rooted in human rights,” he stressed, adding “it points the way toward more legal opportunities for migration and stronger action to crack down on human trafficking.”

In a separate message, Caritas Europa, a member of Caritas Internationalis, the global federation of Catholic charities, also called for making migration work for everyone, saying the adoption of the Global Compact which received overwhelming support is “a step forward to addressing one of the most relevant global concerns today in a humane way.”

Caritas Europa welcomed the agreement as an “important instrument that proves that nationalism, populism and xenophobia will not triumph over cooperation and dialogue.”

The President of Caritas Europa, Msgr. Luc Van Looy said the agreement highlights the benefits of migration and decreases the potential fears and challenges associated with it.  Aware that no state can act alone in the field of migration, he said, “we believe The Compact strikes a good balance between the respect of migrants’ rights and the interests of receiving communities.