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Holy See at UN: Education Is Vital in Addressing Migration Phenomenon

Today we urgently need to engage all the members of society in building ‘a culture which privileges dialogue as a form of encounter’

In a statement from Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, the Holy See officials recalled that education is one of the primary tools for confronting the phenomenon of migration.

Education, the Holy See delegation affirmed, not only is an instrument to overcome the negative causes of migration, but also key for remedying the “suspicion, indifference and prejudices  experienced  by many migrants.”

Here is the statement from Archbishop Jurkovič at the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council.

Item 3 – Special Rapporteur on Migrants.

Mr. President,

The  Delegation  of  the  Holy  See  follows  migration  issues  with  particular  attention  and wishes to congratulate the Special Rapporteur on his Report.  Migration  is  a  global  phenomenon  and  in  2015  the  number  of  migrants  surpassed  244 million persons,  a 41 percent increase compared to 2000.

These movements are often  the consequence of social and economic inequalities, violent conflicts, natural disasters and  also religious persecutions. The vast majority of migrants in the world are migrant workers,  in search of a possibility to improve their economic and social condition. We are all aware  of the  recent economic  crisis and of its consequences that, at times, result in the loss of a  “human perspective” in the midst of upheavals.

While  understanding  the  need  for  national  policies  to  address  large  flows  of  migrants  and  refugees,  my  Delegation  wishes  to  note  the repeated  appeals  addressed  by  Pope Francis to world leaders on behalf of so many brothers and sisters who are  forced to  flee in search of a safe and decent life. These persons should not be treated solely as a threat  to national stability and thus left to the exploitation of  unscrupulous  people  or treated as  mere commodities or products, without any real concern for their rights and aspirations. Sustainable  Development  Goal  16  of  the  2030  Development  Agenda  aims  to  “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, to provide access to  justice for all and to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” This  objective  can  be  achieved  mainly  through  dialogue  and  mutual  understanding.

Furthermore,  the  considerable  and  positive  contribution  of  migrants  to  the  receiving  countries  must  be  recognized  and  affirmed.  Their  work  represents  a  solution  for  the  demographic  problem  of  ageing  host  populations.  They  contribute  by  building  bridges  among  cultures  and  fostering  the  well-being  and  the  development  of  their  countries  of  origin through the remittances they send back to their families and  through  the new skills  that they acquire.  Their positive contribution is  most evident  when they become fully integrated into their  new  host  society  and thus  become  aware that a better future may be built together.  For  this  reason,  dialogue  and  mutual  acceptance  represent  indispensable  elements  for  successful integration. Through the adoption of a human rights based approach, migrants  become  agents  of  cultural  and  economic  development.  Moreover,  the  acceptance  of  fundamental human rights is necessary for the development of mutual enrichment.

Consistent  policies are essential to ensuring  safe and orderly migration and respect for  the  rights  of  migrants.  Irregular  migration,  trafficking  in  persons,  and  detention  of  unaccompanied  minors  are  some  of  the  most  common  problems  related  to  present-day migration  trends.  Moreover,  too  many  migrants  continue  to  work  and  live  in  precarious,  dangerous,  and  indecent  conditions.  They  are  often  marginalized  and  subject  to  discrimination and negative stereotyping, and are not allowed  access to social, educational and health care services.

It  is  important  to  overcome  the  negative  “push”  factors  of  migration  and  to  implement  and  execute  policies  and  projects  which  aim  to  limit  the  adverse  impacts  of  migration and to give special protection to the most vulnerable categories: children, women  and  elderly  persons.  People  should  not  be  forced  to  emigrate  but  rather  be  free  to  do  so under planned and voluntary conditions.  States and International Organizations, together  with  civil  society,  have  the  responsibility  to  elaborate  and  implement  migration  policies,  strategies  and  agreements  to  make  the  experience  of  migration  more  humane  and  to  guarantee that the phenomenon has positive consequences for all.

Education remains one of the most effective  instruments to overcome the negative  causes of migration and to  remedy  the  suspicion, indifference and prejudices  experienced  by many migrants. There is an  urgent need for more knowledge-sharing to ensure cultural  and social integration. Education  can play a vital role in this process and in the production  of national and international policies  that  promote a sense of responsibility and solidarity  on which each society should be based. Furthermore, migrants are the  resourceful agents  within  the  migration  process:  they  must  understand  their  rights,  and  be  empowered  to  make conscious decisions in this regard.

Mr. President,

I would like to conclude by citing Pope Francis: “We are called to promote a culture  of dialogue by every possible means and thus to rebuild the fabric of society. The culture of  dialogue  entails  a  true  apprenticeship  and  a  discipline  that  enables  us  to  view  others  as  valid dialogue partners, to respect the foreigner, the immigrant and people from different  cultures as worthy of being listened to. Today we urgently need to engage all  the  members  of society in building ‘a culture which privileges  dialogue as a form of encounter’  and  to create  ‘a  means  for  building  consensus  and  agreement  while  seeking  the  goal  of  a  just,  responsive and inclusive society’ (Evangelium Gaudium, 239).”

Thank you Mr. President.

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