The 20th June 2016 is a very special Monday. It is the United Nations World Refugee Day when the focus is on refugees’ plight and the ordinary human beings who find themselves in this distressing and often dangerous situation.
Ordinary people leaving ordinary lives
“Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again. “ says Ban Ki-moon “On World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.”
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recognises that refugees are among the most vulnerable people in the world. The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are designed to help protect them. The Convention contains a number of rights and also highlights the obligations of refugees towards their host country.
In addition to rights to work, housing, education, freedom of religion there is the right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of a contracting State and to be issued identity and travel documents.
A path forward: humanitarian corridors in Italy
With freedom of movement being one of the most controversial and complex issues of our time, diminishing entry points into Europe and a resulting increasing trade in the transport and trafficking of refugees, a pilot project in Italy offers a possible way forward and will open humanitarian corridors guaranteeing safe passage into Italy.
Once there, the 1,000 refugees from Syria, Morocco and Ethiopia will be offered integration into Italian communities, the learning of the Italian language and the education of children and young people. A copy of the Italian Constitution will be provided in the refugees’ own language.
Humanitarian corridors are the result of an ecumenical collaboration between Catholics and Protestants. The initiative is being self-funded by the organisations involved, independent of state funding. It is hoped the initiative will be replicated by members of the Schengen Area.
The Irish Jesuit Missions supports a variety of refugee and displaced people’s projects and is very grateful for your assistance in the continuing and expansion of refugees’ and displaced peoples’ programmes.
Images by courtesy of Jesuit Refugee Services from the series ” Stories of Hope”.
Article written by Irish Jesuit Missions Communications, 16th June 2016