Pope Francis wake up call on 40 million forgotten displaced people

By agency reporter
August 22, 2017

Christian Aid has welcomed Pope Francis’ call for more to be done for the massive numbers of people who have been forced to leave their homes due to persecution, violence, natural disasters and the scourge of poverty. But the charity said it was telling that Governments have so far ignored the Pope’s call to include the largest group of people forced to flee – the forgotten 40 million people displaced within their own countries, who make up the majority the 65 million people fleeing their homes.

Christian Aid’s Head of Advocacy, Laura Taylor said: “Pope Francis has time and again demonstrated his commitment to those otherwise left behind by the rich and powerful. Today he reminds us that the world can and must do more for all people who have been forced to flee their homes.

“But the forgotten crisis is the 40 million people internally displaced people who need refuge within their own borders. This equates to two thirds of people who are forced from their home and yet they remain outside of our consciousness and the world’s interest.

“At a time when the news is dominated by politics that is seemingly determined to divide us, faith leaders have a unique ability to speak across borders and remind us of our common humanity.”

The Pope has called upon all world leaders to ensure there is adequate respect for the dignity, right and freedoms of over 40 million internally displaced people, seeing the forthcoming UN Compacts on refugees and migrants as “a unique opportunity to respond together through international cooperation and shared responsibility” that encompasses all people on the move, especially those displaced within their own countries.

Internally displaced people outnumber refugees two to one, yet they are largely forgotten by the international community. Churches and faith communities are often at the front line of responding where governments and refugee agencies are failing. The Pope’s comments come ahead of the UN General Assembly in September, and a year before the international body has promised to finalise two new agreements on migration and refugees.  

It is an opportunity that must be seized by world leaders but the draft agreements so far fail to comprehensively address the issue because they neglect the biggest population of internally displaced people.

Christian Aid partner organisations in Northern Nigeria are currently supporting some of the two million people who have been displaced by violence and hunger and whose future remains uncertain. Poor communities are offering shelter, despite having little themselves. In the Democratic Republic of Congo so far this year there have been 997,000 people have fled their homes due to violence and conflict with a total of 3.7 million internally displaced people.

* Christian Aid https://mediacentre.christianaid.org.uk/

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