UN Summit: reaction from Caritas International and JRS

Caritas International Belgium UN Summit: reaction from Caritas International and JRS

Caritas Internationalis

Caritas Internationalis


The reaction of Caritas Internationalis and JRS to the outcomes and resolutions made at the UN Summit on the Management of Mass Displacement of Refugees and Migrants.

The reaction of Caritas Internationalis and JRS to the outcomes and resolutions made at the UN Summit on the Management of Mass Displacement of Refugees and Migrants.

Our organizations welcome the final resolution that will be adopted on 19 September 2016 and is an important step forward in the global governance in regards to migration and development. We have long called for a more humane, people-centered, human rights, and dignity-based approach to internal and international migrants and refugees. We welcome the emphasis on respecting the rights of migrants and sharing responsibility for the reception of refugees.

However, we are concerned about the gap between such statements and the policies and practices currently being implemented in the field. We insist that the Summit lead to real change for the benefit of migrants and refugees, guaranteeing their protection, security, and dignity.

This also means that a need exists for practical change within the United Nations to ensure that the response to the needs of refugees and migrants is in line with the reality of these displacements. We seek to respond in an integrated and long-term manner to the needs of those who live primarily outside the camps. They need support to ensure their livelihoods, including social services, vocational training, as well as the end goal of employment. We are looking for specific measures that maximize the effectiveness of the United Nations, such as the division of roles between the United Nations as the coordinator, and civil society as the lead implementing agency, as well as for the transparency of financing practices.

The Summit is taking place at a time when the approach of many governments to the management of large-scale displacement of refugees and migrants is of concern. The main priority must be to meet the basic protection requirements and to ensure, whatever the measures adopted, full respect for international refugee and human rights law; it is not by building walls, closing borders, and violating human rights as well as the right of asylum through which this will be achieved.
Pope Francis affirms that all those seeking asylum are welcome and should be welcomed. Borders have been created by governments to provide countries with a certain level of control and management of migration models and this should not prevent anyone from crossing borders. We have a responsibility to welcome all those in need, without exception and without criminalization.

On 19 September, the international community must send a strong signal that the human rights of refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants cannot be called into question. People fleeing conflict, persecution, natural disasters, development failures, and the effects of climate change are entitled to exercise fully the human rights that accrue to them.

The right to not emigrate

At a time when the basic human rights of refugees and migrants have been eroded and violated at an alarming rate, it is urgent that all UN member states meeting in New York proclaim their full commitment In favor of the protection and safeguarding of these rights. These commitments should quickly result in the implementation of significant policies.

In order to safeguard the right of every person to live with dignity, it is crucial that everyone should have the right not to emigrate. There is a need to address root causes of migration and forced displacement in order to make migration safe and voluntary.

In this regard, we wish to underline our call for a firm commitment to achieve peace in Syria, where the ongoing conflict is the root of many massive displacements.

Sharing the responsibility

We urge the developed nations not to use official development assistance to cover the cost of the presence of refugees in their countries. In some countries, these costs account for more than 20% of their development aid budget. We call upon all countries to cease making this aid dependent on the donor country’s migration priorities.

We oppose deportations and forced re-escorts to the border as well as the reformulation or reinterpretation of humanitarian law and international refugee law with the aim of preventing asylum seekers from seeking or facilitating their expulsion as people have been turned back to so-called “safe” countries such as South Sudan or Afghanistan. It was necessary to avoid that other countries which, Political or other reasons, are “at risk” should be added to this list. Some countries currently bear a disproportionate share of responsibility associated with the massive displacement of refugees and migrants. We urge the international community to share responsibility for the protection of those who are forced to flee. It is integral that the Global Compact on Refugees offers both local and legal solutions for admission to other countries, however, there is no longer any reference to shared responsibility, which we consider to be an important element of joint responsibility for managing the mass influx of refugees. It is regrettable that a commitment to move the resettlement quota of all refugees to 10 per cent has been omitted. It is crucial to ensure good reception conditions by avoiding setting up camps and providing adequate and affordable services upon arrival. These should include reliable information, health care, including psychological support, and housing. Reception conditions must also take into account the specific situation of vulnerable groups and ensure their protection. Migrant children and refugees should not be detained and should be treated in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We urge countries to address human trafficking and sexual exploitation, particularly of women and children, which are crimes against humanity. Furthermore, there is also a need for urgent commitment to develop a Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Organized Migration with a clear process, timetable, and indicators. There is a need for sufficient space for civil society, including faith-based organizations, to develop policies and implement them


The best way of combating racism and xenophobia is to put in place policies for the integration of migrants and refugees involving the participation of host communities and such policies should facilitate access to the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status. Diversity must be recognized as an opportunity, not a risk; we need strong policies to combat racism and all peoples must strengthen their solidarity with the “other”. We urge the international community to support the United Nations Secretary-General’s initiative to launch a global campaign to combat racism.

The member organizations of Caritas Internationalis and the Jesuit Refugee Service are working on human mobility and forced migration. They are at work in the countries of origin, transit and destination including the provision of shelter and education, health care, counseling, housing, vocational training, integration with host communities, sustainable return of migrants, care of human trafficking, and engagement with policy makers.

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