Pope pleads for humanitarian corridors for refugees
The pope proposes to "welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees." This is the title of his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees and also his plan of action when facing the tragic situation of 65 million people fleeing their homes, the highest number of refugees since the end of World War II. The pope recalls that "every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ."
Pope Francis says that it is necessary to “offer broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally." He calls for sponsorship programs, visas to help reunite families and, above all, the opening of "humanitarian corridors for particularly vulnerable refugees."
He remembers that collective expulsions of refugees are not the best solution, especially if these people are returned to countries where human rights and safety are not guaranteed.
The pope asks for protection for refugees from the beginning with the journey in their own country. First, he says that immigrants should be well-informed of their options in their own homeland before leaving the country. He calls for this protection to focus particularly on minors and children, who "must be guaranteed regular access to primary and secondary education."
Pope Francis invites the host countries to empower migrants and refugees "to achieve their potential as human beings, in all the dimensions which constitute the humanity intended by the Creator." He encourages the countries to promote their inclusion in the work force and to promote family reunification, without subjecting them to additional economic requirements.
In the message, the pope recalls the intercultural enrichment by the presence of migrants and refugees. He said integrating is not "an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity." However, the pope is also aware that integration is a long process. He thus emphasizes the need to favor "the culture of the encounter" and to spread successful models and "best practices."
The pope invites all Christians to concretely act in alignment with these four verbs while keeping the next World Day of Migrants and Refugees in mind, which will be held on January 14, 2018.