UN High Commissioner for Refugees thanks the Pope for defending the rights of refugees

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'Thank you for what you do.'

'Thank you for having me. Thank you for what you say and what you do. Without you we also would not be able to do our work.' 

Filippo Grandi is the head of the UN Refugee Agency. He often works in countries experiencing a migration crisis. 

During his visit to the Vatican he offered his praise to Pope Francis and his defense of the dignity of refugees. 

The UN Refugee Agency is in constant communication with the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Holy See, established by the Pope. 

Grandi held a number of meetings in Rome with Italian authorities to discuss the current migration crisis. Italy is one of the main gateways to Europe for thousands of refugees from the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Libya.

In Rome, he defended the work of NGOs that save refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, which some European officials accuse of promoting immigration.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees
'I completely disagree with any attempt to penalize NGOs for what they are doing, which is important and vital work. And I will say it again, because I still hear it said that saving people at sea increases immigration. There is no statistical demonstration between these two aspects of the phenomenon. There were periods when there were fewer rescues at sea and the flow of refugees continued and vice versa.'

He also recalled that no refugee should be detained, or even punished for seeking a new life. In particular he regrets the episodes of violence that some refugees have suffered in Europe. 

UN High Commissioner for Refugees
'We are very concerned about the rejections. I have already said it many times, the rejections at the borders of Europe. In Greece, Cyprus, Croatia and other countries. It is unacceptable because some of these ways of rejections have been done in a brutal way. Refugees have seen physical violence.'

The UN Refugee Agency estimates there are some 80 million refugees worldwide, the largest number recorded since data has been collected on the subject.

Caravans of migrants and refugees continue to flow into the Americas....

And into Europe...

Not to mention the hundreds of conflicts in Africa that create waves of displaced people...

Or the persecutions suffered by minorities, such as Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

The Pope has repeatedly denounced these problems and supported refugees and persecuted people throughout the world. 

In February 2016 he visited the border between Mexico and the United States. In April of that same year he traveled to a refugee camp in Greece and brought several of its residents to Italy. He then met with a group of Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh in 2017.

Javier Romero


-TRANS: Justin McLellan

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