Holy See Urges Consideration for Refugee Rights

Says It's Best Way to Aid Displaced Peoples

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GENEVA, OCT. 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).-Rethinking the central place of human rights for refugees is an approach that opens new commitment and leads to practical measures, the Holy See told a meeting of the United Nations.



Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, said this to the 58th session of the executive committee of the agency Oct. 2.

"Forcibly displaced people continue to be subjected to human rights violations," Archbishop Tomasi explained. "Regrettably, the number of refugees has increased again to some 10 million persons and internally displaced people to well over 24 million.

"Millions of normal, ordinary human beings are thrust into situations of incredible humiliation and suffering.

"An approach that opens to new commitments and that leads to practical measures of assistance and protection is based on rethinking the central place that human dignity and human rights should hold in refugee and asylum policies."

"The respect of the rights of all displaced persons leads to a comprehensive response and protection so that a globalization of protection results from a globalization of rights," the Italian apostolic nuncio said.

Twofold approach

The archbishop explained: "The perspective of human rights emanating from the dignity of every person offers a twofold advantage.

"First, a human rights approach means that the duty to protect reaches beyond the narrow national interest of single states and beyond the fear that it may be a disguised form of domination.

"Second, the human right to protection means that governments and other social groups have a duty not to drive people from their homes by denying them the possibility to survive there but to respond instead to the challenges of protection in a timely and effective way."

"A comprehensive human rights perspective can indicate appropriate criteria and means that would apply from the moment a person is forced to leave home and to apply for asylum to the moment a durable solution is reached," affirmed the 66-year-old prelate.

"The prevention of conflicts, which always are a source of human rights violations and of massive forced displacement, must become the main road in the efforts of the international community to eradicate the tragedy of forced displacement," he added.

Human solidarity

Archbishop Tomasi explained: "[W]elcoming refugees and giving them hospitality is, for every one, a vital gesture of human solidarity in order to help them feel less isolated by intolerance and disinterest.

"Benedict XVI constantly appeals that these our brothers and sisters, so badly tested by suffering, should be guaranteed asylum and the recognition of their rights, and that public authorities should offer them protection in such delicate situations of need."

"In conclusion," Archbishop Tomasi said, "addressing the problem of uprooted people from their own perspective, and that of their dignity and rights, will lead the international community to search for more comprehensive and humane solutions and to find the motivation for undertaking bold steps for their implementation."