Support for Refugee Programs Seen Declining

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 20, 2001 ( International support for refugee relief is declining at an alarming rate, says a new report by the Jesuit Refugee Service.

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The report, published today on the occasion of World Refugee Day, said that next year´s budget of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees is $130 million less than at the start of 2001.

John Paul II observed the day by greeting representatives of the Jesuit Refugee Service, which works in more than 40 countries.

«Your presence reminds us of the 50 million refugees and fugitives concentrated in some of the poorest regions of the world,» the Holy Father said at the end of the general audience.

«I ardently hope that those responsible for nations will know how to seek solicitous and effective solutions to the problems caused by all those great sufferings, guaranteeing the necessary help so that people in exile will have conditions of life worthy of human beings,» the Pontiff stressed.

Funding cutbacks such as those at the U.N. agency will «severely affect» JRS´ work and that of other organizations, said Father Luis Magrina, JRS director.

Citing the JRS report, he warned that 80% of refugees are women and children, «exposed to exploitation and human traffic.»

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