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62nd Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR

Holy See calls for the protection of refugees and the safeguard of their human dignity

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Church and migration
62nd Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR

GENEVA, 13 October 2011—Speaking at the 62nd Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR on 4 October, the Holy See points out areas of concern with regard to the protection of victims of forced displacement and the safeguard of their human dignity.

Mr. Chairman,

1. In the past 60 years since the enactment of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the UNHCR, other relevant UN agencies, hosting States, faith-based and other organizations of civil society have undertaken tremendous efforts to ensure protection of refugees, to safeguard their human dignity and to provide for them a new start in life. In fact, the Convention has been receptive to new emergencies and has included in its protection new victims of persecution by non-State actors and of other forms of violence. The civilizing effect of a treaty giving rights to refugees, asylum seekers and other forcibly displaced persons, some 43 million of them, cannot be overestimated. However, there are still important gaps highlighted by recent dramatic events like the “people’s revolutions” in some parts of North Africa and the drought and conflict in the Horn of Africa that have sparked large refugee flows as well as by protracted refugee situations in the Middle East and elsewhere. Perhaps the most tragic evidence of an unfinished protection task comes from the more than 1,500 people who died while trying to cross the Mediterranean, others who drowned crossing the Gulf of Aden and the uncalculated numbers who have died walking out of Somalia in search for safety this year alone.

2. In its Preamble, the 1951 Refugee Convention sets as its purpose “to assure refugees the widest possible exercise of their fundamental rights and freedoms.” But today in many regions of the world millions of refugees are yet unable to enjoy these rights. The noble goal set by the Convention at the end of the devastating experience of World War II has lately been eroded. My Delegation would like to point out just a few areas of concern.

 

To read the full statement of Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, please see the pdf file below.