Archbishop Paul Gallagher, whose formal title is Vatican secretary for relations with states, spoke with Vatican News June 19, the eve of the U.N.’s World Refugee Day.
While the Vatican obviously respects the sovereignty of individual nations to determine how best to respond to the needs of migrants and refugees, the archbishop said, “the numbers are what they are, and we must face that and we must help.”
In connection with World Refugee Day, the U.N. Refugee Agency released its annual report on “forced displacement” around the world.
At the end of 2018, it said, there were 70.8 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, and 25.9 million of those people were officially recognized as refugees, which means they were found to have fled their homelands because of persecution, war or violence and they have a “well-founded fear of persecution” if they return home. At year’s end, another 3.5 million people were asylum seekers in the process of applying for protected status.
Children under the age of 18 make up one half of the world’s refugee population, the report said. And, in what the U.N. said was surely an “underestimate,” it counted 27,600 unaccompanied and separated children, who sought asylum on their own, and another 111,000 unaccompanied and separated children, who had refugee status.
More than two-thirds (67%) of all refugees were from five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.
The five countries hosting the most refugees, the U.N. said, were: Turkey with 3.7 million refugees; Pakistan with 1.4 million; Uganda with 1.2 million; Sudan with 1.1 million and Germany with 1.1 million.
Archbishop Gallagher told Vatican News, “It’s obvious that conflicts in the world, difficulties with the environment and extreme poverty are elements that will not change from one day to the next, so we must continue — probably for many years — to act in solidarity and with fraternal love for these people.”
While the situation is dire for the migrants and refugees, the archbishop said that people in wealthier nations must acknowledge the contributions of newcomers, and not just in terms of cultural enrichment, but also in offsetting the declining birthrate in many European countries and the need in many nations for factory and farmworkers.
“So, it is necessary to have a balanced approach, but also try to humanize ourselves,” he said. “In fact, if one treats others badly, we are the ones who are diminished.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Cardinal calls for withdrawal of Hong Kong’s divisive extradition bill
NEXT: Catholic aid group raises millions for persecuted Christians
Share this story