Holy See Points to Gap in Protection for Displaced

Says Millions Uprooted by Causes Besides Violence, Labor

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GENEVA, OCT. 13, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See’s permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva is warning that there are millions of displaced persons uprooted by causes that are not covered by international protection agreements.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi made this observation when he addressed the U.N. refugee agency’s annual Executive Committee meeting, which ended Friday.

«The international community has managed to enact clear and courageous instruments to protect refugees from violence and persecution through the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, and through additional regional agreements,» he noted. «Existing refugee instruments constitute the start of a continuum, at the opposite end of which we could place the conventions and agreements enacted by the United Nations and by the International Labor Organization in order to protect labor migrants and their families.»

Nevertheless, Archbishop Tomasi said that «between these two policy ‘poles,’ are situated millions of other persons forcibly uprooted by desertification, famine, climate change, generalized oppression and abuse of their human rights.»

«Many of these people remain within their own country without receiving the protection they need, and many cross the borders of neighboring countries in search of relief,» he noted.

And, the Holy See representative affirmed, the «international community cannot ignore their plight nor can it deny the ethical obligation to extend protection to them, as difficult as this task can be.»

Making a plan

Archbishop Tomasi affirmed that «we are linked with all displaced people by our common humanity and by the realization that the globalization of justice and solidarity is the best guarantee for peace and a common future.»

Thus, he continued, «The question then to be addressed is of how to start a process to formalize ways and means for the protection of the millions of persons at the center of the continuum: the responsibility to protect them; providing assistance for immediate survival; criteria for their acceptance in other places; the structures of coordination.»

Finally, the archbishop said that «the continued effort to safeguard the human rights of all forcibly displaced people is in line with a consistent ethic of life and with an ever more complete implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose 60th anniversary we mark this year. Displacement is not a phenomenon isolated from other social realities.

«It is the result of political decisions, of neglect and lack of preventive action, and also of unforeseen natural events. It falls within the responsibility of the state and the international community. An adequate response, therefore, is not possible without coherence in the action of agencies and actors involved and mandated to work for the best solutions.

«The creative alertness required for such solutions should move the international community to undertake new steps in protection. While juridical instruments are necessary, ultimately a culture of solidarity and the elimination of the root causes of displacement will sustain the protection system.»

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