Migrants Need Their Families, Affirms Holy See

Says Humane Conditions Are Prerequisite for Development

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MANILA, Philippines, NOV. 3, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Migrants can only contribute to genuine development if their situation is humane, which implies the right to family reunification, the Holy See is affirming.

This call for the respect of migrants’ human rights was made Wednesday by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers. He was speaking in Manila at the Global Forum on Migration. The Monday-Thursday conference focused on «Empowering Migrants for Development.»

The prelate affirmed that «all migrants, regardless of their status, are entitled to enjoy human rights» and said that «special attention must be given to avoid discrimination and to protect vulnerable migrants such as women, unaccompanied minors, elderly and disabled persons.»

«How can migrants, men or women, possibly contribute their best to genuine development if their situation is not humane?» he asked.

«In this regard,» Archbishop Marchetto continued, «I would like to recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI in the address he delivered to the United Nations on April 18 of this year. He said: ‘the future will be built on human rights.’ We are speaking of a fundamental nucleus of values, hence of rights, but also of duties and responsibilities, including the need to promote human dignity and justice without imposing either cultural relativism or cultural imperialism, and with full acceptance of the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity.»

The Holy See representative affirmed that «any form of temporary and circular migration should never be taken as a pretext for avoiding full respect of migrants’ rights, and specifically their right to family reunification, their right to the recognition of their contribution to development both by their work and by means of their savings sent home. Failings in this area would point to a lack of integration and cooperation policies in host countries, as well as of national development policies in the countries of origin.»

The archbishop urged governments to continue working to «create conditions where migration will never be the only option left to persons in order to find a job and a safe and dignified life.»

In this context, he urged more opportunities for work, particularly so that families are not torn apart. «In this situation those who suffer most are children who often grow up without parents and are obliged to take upon themselves heavy responsibilities,» the archbishop lamented.

Family reunification also brings positive consequences to host countries, he affirmed, saying it «is the best way to promote the integration of immigrants and to eliminate many problems, especially those related to security and public order.»

Finally, the prelate recalled that migration is not just a problem, but a gift for societies.

Migrants «help us in our work, oblige us to open our minds, economies and policies and stimulate us in the search for new models,» he said. «Only together we can win this challenge and open our present world to the future which we all wish to enjoy.»

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