On June 20, we celebrated World Refugee Day 2023. This is an annual date, sanctioned by the United Nations General Assembly, to raise awareness of the importance of ensuring the right to protection for every person forced to escape conflict, persecution, violence and the damage caused by the climate crisis.
This anniversary shows on a dramatic situation. The numbers speak for themselves: according to UNHCR’s Global Trends 2022 report,
108.4 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, and events that seriously disrupt public order.
The tragedies that are unfolding in the Mediterranean clearly point to the state of the current situation. The latest is the dramatic Pylos shipwreck, one of the worst that has occurred in this sea.
It is with great sadness and much sorrow that I think of the victims of the very serious shipwreck that occurred in recent days off the coast of Greece. And it seems that the sea was calm. I renew my prayers for those who lost their lives and implore that always everything possible be done to prevent such tragedies.
Pope Francis, Angelus, June 18, 2023
The 109th World Migrant and Refugee Day will be celebrated on Sunday, September 24, 2023. The Holy Father has chosen as the title for his traditional Message “Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay”, with the intention of promoting renewed reflection on a right that has not yet been codified at the international level: the right not to have to migrate, that is – in other words – the right to be able to remain in one’s own land.
These dates serve as a reminder that we cannot turn a blind eye. The refugee crisis is a global problem that requires a collective approach and international collaboration.
Sister Paola Giolo, a Sister of Charity of St. Joan Antida Thouret, was interviewed for the UbiCasT podcast.
Sister Paola lives on the front lines of the emergency, a daily witness to the dramatic conditions in which people land on Lampedusa, escaping to hope for a better fate.
There, together with two other sisters from other congregations, she carries out on the island the International Union of Superiors General’s project “Fare Ponte tra i lampedusani e i migranti”, (“Making a Bridge between Lampedusians and Migrants”),
From Sister Paola’s account, the situation that is experienced on Lampedusa clearly emerges: the presence of a hotspot; the identification center, which is always overcrowded; networking with institutions and NGOs; and the responsibility of being sentinels in a place where respect for the person must always and in any case be safeguarded.
You can listen to her testimony below: