martedì 29 settembre 2009

H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva at the 60th Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Geneva, 29 September 2009 Mr. Chairman, 1. The delegation of the Holy See extends its congratulations and thanks to you, to the High Commissioner and his staff for the leadership you are providing to assure protection and assistance to refugees and forcibly displaced populations, and for the excellent preparation of the reports and documents being examined. 2. The evidence provided shows that large numbers of people are still subjected to involuntary displacement and under threat of physical harm, emotional harassment, and even death itself. Around the globe, we observe that the tragic plight of forcibly uprooted people continues to weigh on the conscience of the human family. To a great degree, the international community seems to lack the will or the ability to effectively address the suffering and vulnerability of such persons. But: “how can we fail to take charge of… refugees and displaced people,” asked Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of the 95th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, “who… are de facto the weakest and most defenseless, marked by precariousness and insecurity, marginalized and often excluded by society?” 3. Mr. Chairman, my delegation believes that in order to achieve a correct analysis and, even more importantly, effective prevention of forced displacement, the global community must set the stage for a wider framework to understand the root causes of such migration. Among these causes, are included violent political and cultural conflicts, random acts of violence and destruction in the absence of competent and responsible governmental authorities, systematic violation of universally recognized human rights, and failure to respect the life and dignity of the human person. In addition to these long-standing causes, we now must add the deep human impact of climate-related emergencies and of the global economic crisis. These and other “push” factors causing involuntary displacement demand a concerted and coherent response on the part of the entire international community. Indeed a realistic framework to prevent the root causes of additional involuntary movements of people is urgently needed. 4. A more specific concern regards recent trends, in Europe and in other parts of the world, that point to a deterioration of adherence to the principle of non-refoulement. The global community must not allow xenophobia or self-interest to deprive victims of violence and persecution from an opportunity to establish a credible claim of asylum and to articulate a legitimate demand for protection. International collaboration and co-responsibility are to be fostered in order to deal with asylum requests with fairness. It is also necessary to ensure unhindered, attentive, and law-abiding examination and processing of asylum claims by responsible authorities in countries that have committed themselves to internationally agreed-upon policies and practices in this regard. 5. My delegation wishes to raise another urgent appeal – that is, for greater sensitivity to the needs of refugee families who deserve every opportunity, consistent with ethical legal provisions and practices, to remain united and to unhindered enjoyment of family bonds and relationships. In anticipation of the twentieth Anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we cannot help but call attention to the increasing number of refugee and internally displaced children, accompanied as well as unaccompanied, caught up in such precarious situations as: • being lost or otherwise separated from relatives as they start the search for asylum or along the way; • enduring physical beatings, being maimed, or even dying by suffocation when concealed in compartments or containers of trucks, trains, or boats; • falling into the hands of unscrupulous human traffickers; • being placed into detention, without recourse to other reasonable and compassionate alternatives. 6. Mr. Chairman, my delegation commends the High Commissioner for his ongoing implementation of The 10 Point Plan of Action for Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration, and for the increasing engagement of States, of international organisations and of civil society in such measures as are specified in the Plan. This strategic document emphasizes a “needs-first“approach to men, women and children arriving in mixed migration flows and outlines ,a process by which the legal rights to various types of protection could be discerned, including that needed by refugees and asylum seekers, by their children, as well as by victims of human trafficking. 7. We further commend the High Commissioner for the recent formulation of the new “Policy on Refugee Protection and Solutions in Urban Areas”. Since approximately one-half of the world’s 10.5 million refugees now live in cities and towns, as compared to the one-third who live in camps, such attention truly is warranted. Too often, urban refugees and displaced persons remain anonymous and under-served in large conglomerates, forced to live in unspeakable conditions, without any access to legal assistance, with no opportunity to register the births of their children, and deprived of education, opportunities to gain livelihoods, health care, or other basic services. Moreover, such refugees face a wide range of protection risks that are difficult to contain or alleviate. The community-based approach promoted by UNHCR, as articulated in this new policy, is especially welcome, since it will help to mobilize and build capacity among the refugee populations and will promote their dignity, self-esteem, and potential, and will help to preserve family unity within such groups. 8. My delegation urges the Executive Committee to undertake a more comprehensive study of the relationship between forced migration and development. For the most part, such an analysis has been absent from other relevant international fora, including that of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which, to date, has focused its attention mainly on the economic aspects of voluntary migration and on the prevention of irregular migration. Since a significant percentage of the world’s uprooted people did not freely choose to leave their home territories, such refugees and internally displaced persons urgently need access to opportunities affording integral human development. Despite the gravity of their circumstances, forcibly displaced people possess valuable potential, in terms of skills, capacities, and knowledge, that could be transformed into economic and other developmental benefits for their families, host communities, as well as for their countries and areas of origin. They, however, face obstacles in access to training and education and to decent work opportunities in their host communities. While they are placed on “hold”, often at significant expense to host and donor countries, opportunities for further development among such uprooted communities are seriously lacking. By investing in the development potential of internally displaced persons and refugees, host and donor countries can contribute toward the alleviation of the negative conditions that caused these and other populations to move in the first place. With such opportunities, forcibly displaced people could contribute not only to their host region but also could carry back their newly-acquired knowledge, skills and work experience to their place of origin, once conditions there have improved to the point of allowing safe voluntary return. 9. Mr. Chairman, the Holy See joins other delegations in expressing sincere sympathy to the High Commissioner and his staff on the tragic deaths, during the past year, of their colleagues and of staff of implementing partners, as a result of deteriorating security conditions in countries in which they served, Our solidarity also is directed to their grieving families and loved ones. Unfortunately such tragedies confirm the shrinking of humanitarian space available to international and local agencies, including faith-based organizations, that are dedicated to emergency responses in the face of war, conflict, and other humanitarian crises. In this regard, we might recall the address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the United Nations General Assembly, when he urged that every State fulfill its “primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or man-made,” and pointed out that “[if] States are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments.” 10. In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we all share in the heavy responsibility to assure adequate protection for forcibly displaced persons. States, regional and global political structures need to adhere to their international commitments to such vulnerable people, particularly by maintaining respect for and implementation of existing legal frameworks and international policies related to humanitarian emergencies, forced displacement flows, and asylum-seeking and by formulating new and equitable development and conflict-prevention frameworks that can effectively do away with involuntary uprooting of people in the future.

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