Archbishop Tomasi Addresses UN High Commission for Refugees

Vatican Representative to the UN Calls for Protection of Those in the Midst of Conflict

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By Pietro Gennarini

GENEVA, Switzerland, OCT. 10, 2012 ( Archbishop Silvano S. Tomasi, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, delivered a speech for the 63rd Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Archbishop Tomasi spoke of the «futility of violence as a method for resolving disputes» while emphasizing how this is evident from the «price in suffering that hundreds of thousands of persons, mostly women and children, are paying as a consequence of political decisions that disregard their human impact.»

The archbishop also stressed how the «Holy See Delegation takes note and is grateful for those countries which have kept their borders and their hearts open to receive refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring States.”

The Vatican’s Permanent Observer addressed the recent economic crisis and of how the Holy See realized the difficulties implied in it. «Food prices are volatile and foodstuff is excessively used for biofuels. Thus food for refugee camps costs more and risks [being] inadequate» he said. The prelate also noted though, that «it would be an additional tragedy if food speculation were to aggravate the delivery of humanitarian assistance.»

Recalling a statement by Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Tomasi spoke of the indispensable active involvement of international partners in the aid of less fortunate countries. This, he said, «is a grave and unconditional moral responsibility, founded on the unity of the human race, and on the common dignity and shared destiny of rich and poor alike, who are drawn ever closer by the process of globalization.»

Education and Formation of Children

Archbishop Tomasi suggested that the «concept of citizenship as an equalizing basic right instead of ethnic or religious affiliation for the population of a country could serve as a good example of a new understanding of social cohesion that helps to prevent conflicts.» The Holy See representative hoped for the «commitment to formation of a reconciliation attitude instead of approving and teaching hatred and revenge to children.» This attitude of reconciliation, he stressed, is key to preventing children with forceful uprooting turn to violence.

«Like all children they need hope for their future and an opportunity to develop into productive adults. Education is a key factor in this development.» Archbishop Tomasi also stated that «the Holy See calls on States hosting refugee populations to remove all barriers to further education for these children, barriers such as study permits and lack of access to government sponsored scholarships.»

Underlining the current rise in armed clashes and uprooted refugees seeking survival in the midst of great suffering, Archbishop Tomasi concluded his statement calling for «more creative and concrete forms of solidarity and protection.»

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