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Pope Francis to celebrate World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday

On Sunday, Pope Francis will preside for the first time over Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

In his message for the day, the pope asked governments and society to keep four things in mind – migrants and refugees need to be welcomed, protected, integrated and have their development promoted

MSGR. FABIO BAGGIO
Under-Secretary, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
“When (the pope) has spoken about welcoming, he's also spoken about doing it responsibly, which is doing it in a way that respects the dignity of all and allows everyone to feel committed to this welcoming.”

The International Organization for Migration estimates at least 5,000 migrants and refugees died in 2017, although the true figure is impossible to determine given that thousands of them perish during dangerous journeys. 

Three thousand of these deaths occurred in the Mediterranean. This is one of the crisis' major danger zones. Since 2014, more than 14,000 people have lost their lives here. Another area is northern and central Africa, which recorded nearly 900 deaths in the last year. 

According to the UN, since the year 2000, the total number of migrants has ballooned 49 percent. In total, there are an estimated 258 million of them throughout the world.

In fact, 2018 will be an important year. The UN wants to achieve a world agreement on migration. The goal is to establish a legal framework for protecting those who have been forced to abandon their homes, wherever they may be. 

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees was introduced in 1914 by Benedict XV, the pope who launched a plan for peace during World War I that went unheeded.