VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers is decrying the plight of young immigrants who often carry the burden of supporting their families, without aid for themselves.
Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglió stated this today at a press conference to present Benedict XVI's message for the 2010 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
The world day, which will be observed Jan. 17, focuses on the theme, "Minor Migrants and Refugees."
In the press conference, the prelate lamented the plight of young migrants, especially those who are alone and end up being repatriated to their countries.
"It is known, in fact, that an unaccompanied minor cannot be repatriated, but unfortunately that right, as with many others, is not always respected," he said.
"If immigrants in general are vulnerable because they find themselves in a country that is not their own and in which protection might not be guaranteed, much more so are minor immigrants, above all if they are not accompanied and, therefore, deprived of legal representatives or tutors," the archbishop added.
He underlined the fact that children have the same rights as adults, and pointed out that the reasons why they leave their land are similar to those of adults: armed ethnic or religious conflicts, economic or social crises, and a lack of prospects for the future in their countries of origin.
Archbishop Veglió added other reasons that minors may find themselves seeking refuge, such as cases in which they are unable to reach "the desired country of destiny."
He noted that in many cases, "the parents, sometimes the entire family, put all their hope in the success of the minor who emigrates, which becomes a heavy psychological burden for the child, who does not want to disappoint them."
For some immigrant children, the prelate affirmed, such as those who are accompanied by their families, they become "part of two cultures," as the Pope pointed out in his message.
Regarding this "richness of the meeting between different cultural traditions" of which the message speaks, Archbishop Veglió indicated that this process could one day "form societies and cultures, making them increasingly a reflection of the many gifts of God to men."
The prelate cited some of the words from Pope John Paul II's message for the 2005 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which spoke about the immigrant's responsibilities.
The migrant, he said, "is committed to take the necessary steps for social insertion, such as learning the national language and his own adaptation to the laws and to the exigencies of work, to avoid the creation of an exasperated difference."
Then, referring back to the 2010 message, the archbishop underlined the responsibilities of the host societies, to provide schooling and support for minors.
The prelate gave some statistics on minors of immigrant families in eight countries, taken from a UNICEF report of last August.
According to the study, children born from at least one immigrant parent constitute a significant part of all the children that live in those countries.
For example, in Switzerland, they represent 39%, in Australia 33%, in Germany 26%, in the United States 22% and in Italy 10%.
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On ZENIT's Web page:
Benedict XVI's message for 2010 World Day of Migrants and Refugees: http://zenit.org/article-27678?l=english