08 Stand # With Refugees - Fr. Cedrick Prakash SJ

posted Jun 14, 2018, 8:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 14, 2018, 8:42 AM ]
In 2016, just before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) launched a massive global campaign and petition #With Refugees. The primary aim of this initiative was to show world leaders that the global public stands #With Refugees, and that concrete solutions need to be found to address the global refugee crisis. The campaign focuses on

• ensuring every refugee child gets an education
• ensuring every refugee family has somewhere safe to live
• ensuring every refugee can work or learn new skills to support their families.

This campaign continues until a Global Compact for refugees is adopted at the next UNGA in September 2018. On September 19, 2016, at the conclusion of a ‘United Nations Summit on Refugees and Migrants’, in New York, world leaders finally produced a significant declaration to deal with the refugee crisis. To implement the lofty ideals encompassed in the Declaration, they committed themselves to drafting and approving, by the end of 2018, two Global Compacts: one regarding refugees and the second, for safe, orderly, regular and responsible migration. Both these Compacts are meant to comprehensively protect, promote the rights and integrate migrants and refugees into the mainstream.

With less than six months to go, some work has been put in, with ‘zero’ draft documents on both the Compacts already in place. However, the recent past has not been easy for refugees and others displaced all over the world. Last December, the United States announced that it was withdrawing from the two Global Compacts. There is an ‘official’ atmosphere of hostility towards refugees and other migrants in the US today, despite visible and vocal protests from the Church and civil society there.

India, on the other hand, has literally shut its doors on the Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar. On September 11, 2017, in his opening statement to the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said, “I deplore current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country. Some 40,000 Rohingyas have settled in India, and 16,000 of them have received refugee documentation. The Minister of State for Home Affairs has reportedly said that because India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, the country can dispense with international law on the matter, together with basic human compassion. >>>