Due to COVID-19 restrictions, over 400,000 seafarers have been left trapped on ships long after their original contract has expired. Many suffer from trauma and health issues. A coalition of Catholic organizations, including ICMC, is asking governments to address this humanitarian crisis at sea.
In this radio interview in French, ICMC Director of Policy Stéphane Jaquemet discusses today's most pressing issues in the era of COVID-19, such as access to the vaccine for migrants and refugees. He also explains how ICMC protects migrants and refugees through direct action and advocacy work.
ICMC’s Urban Cohesion Hub was inaugurated on 15 February near Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. The new facility offers integrated services, including health, education, skill training, legal support, and recreational activities, to over 30,000 Afghan refugees.
As refugees in Jordan are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis, ICMC is adapting its services. This article by Vatican News, available in French and Italian, describes how ICMC Jordan’s child protection, education, livelihood, and gender equality projects help Syrian refugees during these challenging times. Italian version here. French version here.
ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo has applauded the possibility of the U.S. becoming again a country that welcomes refugees. With the recent presidential election, “some rays of light are shining on the horizon,” he says in an opinion piece published in German in Switzerland. He also explains why refugees are a great asset to any country.
The COVID-19 pandemic puts us at a crossroads; we can’t go back to the “old normal.” What we need is a change of policies, practices, and behavior at all levels. Big business and government must change their values and focus more on persons than on money or power — says ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, in this interview with Vatican News.
In this interview (in German), ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo explains what Pope Francis’ encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” means to him. He describes what it means to adopt a Catholic welcoming culture inclusive of migrants and refugees. He explains why he believes that migrants and refugees who stand up for others are modern-day good Samaritans.
Every day, thousands of families are forced to flee their homes. That’s why ICMC marked the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a webinar on how forced displacement affects families on the move, explains ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo. “Although many people are forced to flee alone, many come in the whole family.”
“We should refrain from discussing ‘burden-sharing’ to receive migrants and refugees but recognize the ‘resource sharing’ that is provided by their arrival … into many of our aging and tired communities,” says ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, in this interview that focuses on migration from Africa to Europe and America.
In this interview (in German), ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo shares his family’s migration story from Italy to the United States and compares their journey to the hardships that many migrants and refugees face today. He also discusses how COVID-19 affects migrants and refugees and explains how ICMC supports them throughout the crisis.
Across the world, aid groups warn that human trafficking and slavery are continuing and perhaps even growing under COVID-19 lockdown. In Malaysia, ICMC's Refugee Protection Corps provides assistance to survivors of gender-based violence and is releasing awareness-raising videos to reach survivors in their homes during the lockdown.
Human trafficking goes on in many forms all over the world, points out ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo in this interview. The issue, which Pope Francis has linked “to the whole culture of waste where people think that they can use other people,” needs to be talked about more and then “find the way we can take action to stop it,” he adds.
“First, Save Lives,” says the Action Committee, a network of church and civil organizations co-convened by ICMC, in a statement on the effects of COVID-19 on migrants. The statement calls on governments to protect migrants and refugees during the pandemic. Many essential service workers are migrants, but they are often vulnerable to the disease because of their legal status and lack of access to services.
ICMC and many other Christian, Jewish, and Muslim aid agencies warn that the COVID-19 crisis adds an enormous burden to already strenuous humanitarian situations. NGOs call upon the European Union to relocate asylum-seekers in Greek island camps and urge its Member States to continue taking in asylum seekers in order to avoid a pandemic disaster.
As tensions grow at the border separating Turkey and Greece, ICMC urges European leaders to protect refugees fleeing violence and conflict. It asks them not to let the health crisis eclipse the need for solidarity and mutual care towards displaced people. The Catholic and Lutheran bishops of Scandinavia also urge countries to act in solidarity with refugees.