“Building Bridges: Protecting Migrants by Empowering Students”
International Movement of Catholic Students – Pax Romana
“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).
From 28 August to 3 September 2017, the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS – Pax Romana) organised a study session in Foligno, Italy under the theme “Building Bridges: Protecting Migrants by Empowering Students”. The purpose of the session was to provide participants with a better understanding of the global migration phenomenon, and the challenges and implications associated with it. Participants were equipped with the relevant knowledge and capacity to provide just solutions to issues facing migrants and refugees in their local communities. Forty young Catholic students participated in the session. These young people came from across the world, and represented Catholic student movements in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America.
Building on the reflections of the participants, not only on core Catholic Social Teaching (CST) perspectives, but also on the challenges expressed by those working with and for migrants and refugees, as well as migrants themselves, this statement is the expression of the will of IMCS – Pax Romana to contribute to the common good and justice for migrants and refugees throughout the world.
The Global Situation
People affected by natural disasters, war, and other realities that oblige them to move from their countries of origin to another are facing challenges to their rights and dignity. Although the mobility of people has been a central feature of the growth and development of human civilisation, societies have been unable to provide just solutions to migration in accordance with human rights and international commitments. Migration, in some contexts, is unfortunately considered a problem, with little attention given to the sacred life of the people. Often migrants and refugees are treated as though they have less dignity than others. Moreover, the lack of a global legal framework around the situation of migrants adds to the inability of the international community to deal with the migration
Within the international legal system, there is far greater protection for refugees, migrants fleeing a situation of persecution in their country of origin, thanks to the relief provided by the Geneva Conventions. Still, even with these mechanisms in place, refugees still suffer terrible injustices, discrimination, and even violence as they endure the often complex and drawn out legal process of their particular asylum case.
There is no doubt that much more must be done to properly deal with the global migration phenomenon and uphold the human rights of those who leave their countries in search of a better life. Those who are leaving their countries, those who are in need of welcoming arms, they are our brothers and sisters. We can not view them as simply a statistic.
IMCS – Pax Romana, as a youth-led organisation rooted in CST, commits itself to respond to the call to live as Christ did. We encourage our national movements to facilitate grassroots action in order to welcome migrants into in our communities. We commit to empower our members and all young people to advocate on behalf of refugees and migrants in our countries and regions across the world. We will mobilise our networks through all platforms in which we are engaged to advocate for the rights of migrants and refugees, as well as raise awareness around the issues.
The International Movement of Catholic Students calls upon all governments, local authorities, and other political entities to :
- Respect and recognise the human rights of all migrants searching for a better life away from their countries of origin;
- Do everything possible to welcome political refugees into your society and ensure that while their asylum hearing is ongoing, their human rights are protected and they are given the right to work and support themselves as to guarantee good quality of life;
- Engage all stakeholders in communities where refugees have settled to foster understanding and prevent discrimination and xenophobia;
- Recognise the unique circumstances of economic migrants, both voluntary and involuntary, and work with all stakeholders to protect migrants’ human rights;
- Ensure the adoption and implementation of national and local policies that provide for the needs of economic migrants;
- Realise the call of the Holy Father Pope Francis in his address on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary To Welcome, To Protect, To Promote, and To Integrate migrants and refugees into their host societies;
- Work towards bringing about a just solution to the conflicts and crises that plague multiple countries in the world through diplomacy and mediation, while avoiding any actions that may exacerbate the severity of these conflicts;
- Implement fully the commitments made under the Paris Agreement and work with all stakeholders to combat climate change as to help prevent the impending climate refugee crisis;
- Implement fully the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fulfill the internationally agreed obligation to leave no one behind, particularly refugees and migrants;
- Participate meaningfully in the intergovernmental negotiations around the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Migration and help ensure the adoption of a more just global policy framework to better handle this phenomenon;
- Engage meaningfully with the major groups and other stakeholders (MGoS) that participate in the intergovernmental negotiations of the two compacts, in particular the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY), and ensure that their positions and priorities are reflected in the outcomes;
- Take strides to make meaningful financial and other commitments around the UN Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Migration.
IMCS – Pax Romana calls upon the leaders of its national movements and regional coordinations, the Catholic Church, its dioceses and Parishes, as well as individual Catholics across the world, to embrace the example of Christ, feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick. IMCS – Pax Romana calls upon all Catholics to :
- Welcome migrants and refugees into Parishes and Catholic communities, recognising each one of them as an equal human person, with full dignity and identity, to strive toward a shared experience in faith, bringing one another closer to Christ, through our actions and our prayers;
- Engage with members of other faiths and Christian denominations to combat xenophobia and foster an enabling environment for the integration of migrants into society.