Holy See Addresses U.N. on Defense of Refugees
"Gray Areas Call for Creativity and Commitment of International Community"
GENEVA, OCT. 12, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is the statement that Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva, delivered Oct. 5 before the Executive Committee of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
* * *
Mr. Chairman, allow me to congratulate you on your election as chairman and to take this opportunity to welcome and to wish well to High Commissioner Antonio Guterres whose opening statement has been very much appreciated by the delegation of the Holy See.
1. The increase in the number of persons of concern to the UNHCR, while the number of refugees has been decreasing, raises some challenging questions about protection that remains the heart of the UNHCR's mandate. While protection extends with appropriate modalities to convention refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons (IDP), its definition should reasonably evolve and become more inclusive in direct relation to a more adequate understanding of security. In recent debates dealing with the various elements that in combination afford a more comprehensive security to people, other requirements have been added to the absence of physical persecution, of threats to life, of violent conflicts. These include sufficient and safe food and minimal conditions of personal freedom and well-being that are necessary to safeguard the human dignity of every person.
In this concerted and important development, however, gray areas exist that call for the creativity and the commitment of the international community to find better solutions. The delegation of the Holy See would like to highlight a couple of these areas that directly affect people who are refugees and in refugeelike situations, namely the provision of food in camps and the policy of increasing detention of asylum-seekers as a routine measure of deterrence.
2. The precarious condition of uprooted people living in camps often confines them away from agricultural pursuits to produce their own food and from income generating activities through which they can support themselves. In such circumstances, they must depend on the international community. But budgetary resources have been inadequate for some years forcing food rationing that provoke dangerous coping mechanisms for survival. The solidarity of the international community provides food to the refugees and it recognizes access to food as a fundamental right. When, however, there is a breakdown in the food pipeline, the ensuing crisis leads to well-documented unfortunate consequences: children stunted in their growth; the risk of trading sex for food; forced repatriation to a still unsafe environment.
This delegation joins in support for the option of local integration when possible, for the continued excellent collaboration between the World Food Program and the UNHCR, for an integrated development strategy inclusive of both local population and refugees settled in the same region. Such a comprehensive approach becomes a common responsibility of the international community and of non-governmental organizations. In this way, food security turns out to be the first step toward a return to a normal existence for people already traumatized by their forced exile and who should not be made more vulnerable by the uncertainty of their daily sustenance.
3. The widening sense of protection cannot overlook or underestimate the mushrooming of detention centers for asylum-seekers. Hundreds of these centers dot the map of Europe and of other continents as well. The danger of stigmatizing asylum seekers and refugees as "irregular migrants" and "queue jumpers" and even "criminals," and there certainly are such members in these categories, can lead to a dehumanizing, emotional and not disinterested simplification of the asylum and migration nexus.
This policy of detention raises questions of a humanitarian, of human rights and also of juridical and legal nature. There are real concerns about its becoming a systematic policy to which many countries resort to, more as a rule than as an exception that is prompted by national order and security. In this complex question, weighing the consequences of deprivation of liberty and of inadequate standards and quality of treatment on the persons involved, especially on vulnerable groups like children and women, should be a must.
Of course, states have a right to manage the movement of people across their borders. But confronted with the current pressure of people forced to move, as the UNHCR did in the past, taking into account the different conclusions on detention of this committee and also the UNHCR guidelines on detention, a renewed open and participatory reflection on the ethics of detention may be in order with greater focus on possible alternatives.
The consequences of a generalized policy of detention indicate the timeliness of a coordinated effort. In fact, the average conditions of detention show, in different degrees and places, staff inadequately trained, a mixing up of children and adults, elderly persons and women, and at times asylum seekers and common criminals. Lack of access to basic services and to education has equally a negative impact on the physical and mental health of the persons detained. There is as well a question of perception.
In the public eye, the distinction is not easily made between detention, arbitrary detention, and administrative detention so that asylum seekers and irregular migrants are associated with criminals, an image that feeds racist and xenophobic behavior and is a deterrent to integration. Long detention in particular leaves scars on individuals who have already suffered hardship and abuse prior to arriving in countries where they are detained; scars that complicate their reintegration in society and in not a few cases lead them to take their own lives.
If national security demands that in exceptional cases asylum seekers should be detained, it should be under well-defined criteria and for the shortest possible time, with the possibility of having access to legal aid, doctors, members of their family, pastoral care, and the outside world. While regional collaboration actively involving countries where asylum seekers come from and countries of transit and intended destination aims at preventing tragedies at sea and in desert crossing, care needs to be taken that protection is really provided and in conformity with international standards. Stated objectives and implementation are too often widely apart.
4. The search for alternatives and for constructive solutions cannot weaken the right to seek asylum. History shows that a policy of only control heightens the vulnerability of asylum seekers and their risk of exploitation. The present challenge consists in reducing the gap in the quality of life between developed and developing countries. A more comprehensive understanding of security can provide the will to address the root causes, both political and economic, that push large numbers of people crisscrossing the globe looking for protection, survival and a decent life.
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Refugees, UN, Communit, Tomasi
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Daily Reading for Saturday, July 29th, 2017 HD Video
- Cardinal Pell faces court for the first time in Australia
- Can the Church foster peace in the Holy Land?
- Daily Readings for Friday, July 28, 2017
- St. Innocent I: Saint of the Day for Friday, July 28, 2017
- What can you expect when you die? Science provides an answer HD Video
- Doctors test CRISPR technique on babies, then abort them
- Daily Reading for Friday, July 28th, 2017 HD
- Archaeologists discover Tabernacle that held the Ark HD
- Shut off? What happened to the Vatican water supply! HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, July 27th, 2017 HD