Keeping pace with increased capacity to resettle refugees in the United States, ICMC will increase the number of people supported to start afresh in new countries five-fold in 2023.
During the most recent meeting of the International Catholic Migration Commission’s Governing Committee, which took place in Rome on 20-21 June 2023, Secretary General Monsignor Robert J. Vitillo announced that by the end of July, the organization will have already more than doubled annual refugee departures toward safe third countries.
During the last six months, Msgr. Vitillo noted, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program supported increased capacity in Istanbul, Turkey, where ICMC operates the Resettlement Support Center (RSC), by funding an additional building dedicated to processing resettlement applications, and by increasing support for additional ICMC staff, both in Istanbul and in Beirut, Lebanon, where ICMC maintains another RSC office. With such additional funding, these ICMC offices are expected to meet targets of 7,700 refugee departures from Turkey and 1,100 from Lebanon during 2023. Currently, 3,300 people have been scheduled to depart through July, which is already a doubling of departures to the United States, as compared with 2022 statistics. Departures hit a record low in 2018, with just 206 people resettled to the United States that year.
In fact, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called for an overhaul of the country’s immigration system to address such weaknesses in the system.
In addition, ICMC supports the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) Resettlement Support Facility in Turkey, supporting departures to third countries in the European Union, including assistance in pre-departure orientation and medical assessments. ICMC also currently supports UNHCR and UNICEF through the Global Deployment Scheme, with some 60 legal and protection experts deployed to support their operations worldwide. Another ICMC office in Malaysia supports nearly 1,000 Rohingya and other communities from Myanmar, by addressing and combating gender and sexually-based violence against women and girls.
Msgr. Vitillo noted that the recent round of Regional Meetings with ICMC national Bishops Conference member organizations, held in April and May, demonstrated high levels of engagement and enthusiasm among members to work together, by strengthening partnerships and networking to enhance ICMC and its members’ shared mission.
Related to advocacy, which forms another of ICMC’s strategic directions, activities focused heavily on preparations for the Global Forum on Migration and Development’s 14th Summit in Geneva in early 2024. The “The Future of Work: Labour after Laudato Sì” project, which collaborates closely with the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and with the International Labor Organization (ILO), entered into a second phase, advocating for social justice, decent and dignified work, and fair wages. ICMC’s President, Ms. Christine Nathan, also attended the annual International Labor Conference, which functions as the highest governing body of the ILO. There, Ms. Nathan pressed for more active involvement of ICMC on migration, labor, and social justice issues.
Msgr. Vitillo also announced that there had been steady and continuous growth in ICMC’s small grants program, supported by the Raskob and GHR Foundations, both based in the United States, as well as private donors. In addition to Ukraine, where ICMC has been integral to targeted emergency responses and support of mental health and psychosocial assistance, especially in smaller dioceses that often find it difficult to access funding from other sources. Such small projects are now active in: Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, India, Papua New Guinea and Paraguay.
*Communications Officer, ICMC
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