Pope: Migrants are not statistics but real people whose lives are at stake

In a video message to mark the 70th anniversary of the International Organisation for Migration, Francis asks, “How can suffering and despair be exploited to advance or defend political agendas? How can political considerations prevail when it is the dignity of the human person that is at stake? The basic lack of human respect at national borders diminishes all of us in our 'humanity'.”

Nov 30, 2021


VATICAN:
Pope Francis issued a video message on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the International Organisation for Migration.

In it, the pontiff slams selfish behaviour and lack of respect for migrants, calling instead for a proper global management of migration, based on positive understanding of its causes, with a focus on integral human development.

Sadly, migrants are “increasingly being used as bargaining chips, as pawns on a chessboard, victims of political rivalries”. Even when they are deemed “essential” workers, they are “not granted the benefits of the COVID-19 economic aid programmes or even access to basic health care and immunization.

In the message (in Spanish), read by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, Francis asks, “How can suffering and despair be exploited to advance or defend political agendas? How can political considerations prevail when it is the dignity of the human person that is at stake? The basic lack of human respect at national borders diminishes all of us in our 'humanity'.”

Faced with the reality of those who have taken what "is undoubtedly one of the most difficult decisions in life", i.e., leaving their homeland, most often because they are forced to, Francis makes four points:

“1. There is an urgent need to find dignified ways out of irregular situations. Desperation and hope always prevail over restrictive policies. The more legal routes exist, the less likely it is that migrants will be drawn into the criminal networks of people smugglers or into exploitation and abuse while in contravention of the law.

“2. Migrants render visible the bond that unites the whole human family, the richness of cultures and the resource for development exchanges and trade networks that diaspora communities represent. In this sense, the issue of integration is fundamental; integration implies a two-way process, based on mutual knowledge, mutual openness, respect for the laws and culture of the host countries with a true spirit of encounter and mutual enrichment.

“3. The migrant family is an essential component of communities in our globalized world, but in too many countries migrant workers are denied the benefits and stability of family life as a result of legal impediments.”

“4. The international community must urgently address the conditions that give rise to irregular migration, thus making migration a well-informed choice and not a desperate necessity. To ensure that most people who can live with dignity in their countries of origin do not feel compelled to migrate irregularly, efforts are urgently needed to “create better economic and social conditions [...] so that emigration will not be the only option left for those who seek peace, justice, security and full respect of their human dignity.”

“Ultimately, migration is not only a story of migrants but of inequalities, despair, environmental degradation, climate change, but also of dreams, courage, study abroad, family reunification, new opportunities, safety and security, and hard but dignified work.

“In conclusion, achieving adequate global management of migratory movements, a positive understanding of them and an effective focus on integral human development may seem like far-reaching goals. However, we must never forget that these are not statistics, but real people whose lives are at stake.”--Asia News

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