Vincentian Family NGO representatives to the United Nations wish you a warm and blessed Christmas and abundant peace in the New Year!
The placement of International Migrants Day a week before Christmas is fitting. There are many parallels between the Holy Family and families who are on the move today. One thinks of the Holy Family leaving home, making an arduous journey, finding no welcome, Mary giving birth in a rudimentary environment, and the family fleeing from a king with sinister intentions. Today, we see families escaping violence, conflict, poverty, environmental disasters and climate change. In many cases they, too, make perilous journeys and find closed doors.
I like the image presented by the three kings, or wise men, in terms of welcoming the Holy Family. The song, “We Three Kings” would intimate they traveled far to find the Christ child. Matthew Chapter 2 tells us the Magi sought Him out, came into the house where the Holy Family was staying, opened their treasures for the Christ child, and presented Him with gifts. One imagines them delighting in Jesus, perhaps speaking of the child’s promising future, exchanging conversation with Mary and Joseph, discussing with the Holy Family their respective cultures, and rejoicing in making new friends. Would that some of today’s immigrant children had been so warmly welcomed rather than being separated from their parents.
INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS DAY
International Migrants Day takes place tomorrow, December 18. According to the UN, today there are more than 272 million migrants globally, 51 million more than in 2010. In this unusual pandemic year, migrants face new challenges. International Migrants Day is a time to raise awareness of issues facing migrants and to advocate for resources to address migrants’ concerns.
Migrants are more vulnerable this year for a variety of reason. Closed borders and travel restrictions mean many cannot reach employment locations while some are stranded overseas. Remittances may be lower if migrants cannot get to work or work sites are closed. Forced returns have increased. Overcrowded housing and work environments, as well as poverty, raise the risk of migrants contracting COVID-19. Migrants also are prominent in many jobs most affected by the virus, such as the hospitality field. Immigrant children might lack learning equipment or internet connection, which is needed for distance education during school closures. And health care can be difficult to access.
SECRETARY GENERAL CALLS FOR INCREASED EFFORTS TO IMPLEMENT GLOBAL COMPACT FOR MIGRATION
Two years ago, the United Nations launched the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM). The Compact can be accessed by clicking here. On December 1, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, asked Member States to intensify efforts to implement the Compact and to safeguard migrants’ human rights in the midst of COVID-19. The report is entitled, “From Promise to Action: The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” and can be accessed by clicking here.
The Secretary General, in his December 1 message, mentioned challenges faced by migrants. But he also notes some positives from responses to COVID-19. For example, some member states have cancelled forced returns. Others are ensuring people returned home receive support. Still other countries have extended migrants’ work permits.
The Secretary General recommended collaboration in addressing migration issues, recognizing the bravery of front line workers, ensuring fair and ethical recruitment and decent work, and ensuring access to health care and social protection without discrimination. He further recommended reducing the cost of remittances, reducing discrimination, and fostering the inclusion of migrants.
“Migrants should not be stigmatized or denied access to medical treatment and other public services. We must strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate,” The Secretary General said.
At the regional level, States and all partners will continue to review what has been achieved as well as what remains to be done to deliver on the collective ambition of the Global Compact on Migration. These regional conversations will set the basis for a global review of the GCM’s implementation in 2022.
Thank you to all our Vincentian Family members who serve migrants and refugees. May we continue to be like the welcoming Magi.