Bishops mark World Refugee Day amid ‘biggest migratory crisis since WWII’

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2019 / 03:35 pm (CNA).- Today, on World Refugee Day, the world marks the highest number of forcibly displaced people in nearly 70 years. In their statement marking the day, the U.S. bishops said “the world is embroiled in the biggest migratory crisis since World War II with more than 25 million refugees around the world.”

A new report from the United Nations refugee agency found that more than 70 million people were displaced from their homes worldwide in the year 2018.

The UN counts in this number anyone who was displaced from their home “as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations” at the end of 2018. The numbers included 13.6 million people who were newly displaced this year, which amounts to about 37,000 people who are displaced from their homes every day, the report notes. The other 67 million had been displaced in other years, and are still living as displaced persons.

“We have seen the images of the refugee crisis, and World Refugee Day calls attention to the critical need to assist our refugee brothers and sisters and make them feel a sense of welcome,”  Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, said in a statement.

“It is imperative for us to highlight the contributions refugees make in our communities,” he added.

Refugees are people displaced from their homes who are living in a different country, after an application process. Asylum seekers are those who are still seeking official placement in another country. Of the 70 million displaced people in 2018, about 25 million were refugees, while 2.5 million were asylum seekers. More than half – about 41 million – were internally displaced within their own countries.

The report found that a majority of the world’s refugees were escaping violent conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, or Somalia. Four in five refugees now live in a country bordering their former home.

Since the year 2000, the world has marked the celebration of World Refugee Day, created by the United Nations to raise awareness about the plight of refugees around the world.

In their statement, the bishops noted that in the United States, “the Presidential Determination for refugee resettlement was set at an all-time low of 30,000 refugees for the current fiscal year. This comes only one year after half of the 45,000 refugees set forth by the Administration’s determination were resettled in the United States.”

According to the UN report, 16% of refugees are hosted by developed nations, while another one-third of them were hosted by “Least Developed Countries.”

In their statement, the bishops noted that a representative of the U.S. bishop’s Migration and Refugee Services, as well as a member of Catholic Charities USA, would be part of a briefing before Congress on Thursday about the root causes of forced displacement, and the impact of refugee resettlement in the U.S.

The Catholic Church has a long history of helping resettle refugees in the United States, having helped nearly one-third of all refugees received by the United States since 1980.

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