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International Migrants Day: Caritas Internationalis calls for immediate action to protect migrants and ensure their access to basic services

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On the occasion of International Migrants Day, which occurs on 18 December, Caritas Internationalis raises concern about the situation of hundreds of thousands of migrants in precarious conditions.

International migration is on the rise, with millions of people taking the path of migration to seek means of survival or a decent life. Extreme poverty, economic marginalisation, conflict, environmental degradation and racial, political and religious tensions are the drivers of migration today, forcing people to leave their homes. They often end up in highly vulnerable and complex situations. Nowadays, even though the pandemic has slowed the pace of migration, CI Confederation has witnessing a rise in push back of migrants and asylum seekers at country borders and millions of people still choose to migrate to find better living conditions.

Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 162 member organisations, is particularly concerned about those migrants who are forced to risk their lives and those of their families to reach their destination. Some have given their lives on the way to their desired destination.

All throughout its 70 years of history, the Caritas Confederation has committed to migrants and their families with many programs involving them as key agents of change. Their work, skills and values have undoubtedly accelerated development and social cohesion processes in the host countries, and their remittances have contributed to strengthening local communities’ resilience in their countries of origin. Whereas those remittances were drastically reduced due to COVID 19 and lockdowns.

Echoing CI Share the Journey Campaign, Caritas is strongly committed to accompanying migrants in empathy and solidarity with the primary objective of respecting their human dignity and rights. Many of them do not have access to basic rights and decent working conditions under various international conventions. The dramatic situation at the border between Poland and Belarus, where thousands of migrants are stranded in highly precarious and vulnerable conditions, is just one appalling example.

Caritas encourages decision-makers and governments to care first and foremost about finding solutions to the existential challenges migrants face. There is an urgent need for promoting international cooperation in a spirit of profound solidarity and compassion with the broad adoption of policies and rules, by implementing the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration (GCM) that aim at protecting the migrants who are in a situation of distress and high vulnerability.

“As Caritas Confederation we will not only continue to welcome, encounter and accompany the migrants, we will also mobilise all our efforts to address the root causes of migration through our development projects. It is a question of justice and dignity of the human person,” says Aloysius John, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis. Welcoming, protecting, facilitating integration and promoting a dignified life for migrants, in line with Pope Francis’ call, will be the driving force for Caritas in its encounter with the migrants.

On this Migrants Day, Caritas Internationalis calls on political leaders and decision-makers to:

– Ensure the safety and protection of migrants in highly vulnerable living conditions, giving them access to humanitarian assistance and other basic needs and services.

– Take the necessary measures, notably in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that migrants, especially those in irregular situations, have access to vaccines and health care and services.

– Demonstrate greater solidarity with people on the move.