Trump withdraws from UN migration talks despite Papal plea

By agency reporter
December 6, 2017

Donald Trump has withdrawn the US from a process to reach a global agreement on migration, despite a plea from Pope Francis for world leaders to work together on the issue.

The Trump administration announced that it would not participate in negotiations on the agreement – known as the ‘Global Compact’ – which are due to culminate at the UN General Assembly next autumn.

The withdrawal leaves the US as the only country to refuse to take part in the discussions, a year after all 193 UN member states agreed to the negotiations.  

Pope Francis has made care for refugees and migrants a priority of his papacy, visiting the island of Lampedusa – where thousands of migrants have drowned – on his first trip outside Rome as Pope, and meeting Rohingya refugees last week on a visit to Bangladesh. In 2016, he set up a Vatican department to oversee the Church’s work on displaced people and issued a call this summer for governments to better care for people on the move.

Chris Bain, Director of Catholic aid agency CAFOD, said, “Donald Trump’s refusal to work with the rest of the world on this issue is another example of the President abdicating responsibility towards our most vulnerable sisters and brothers.

“This move should serve as a catalyst for others to step into a leadership role, just as politicians worldwide sought to do by redoubling efforts on climate change following Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

“Governments would do well to look to the real leadership example set by the Holy Father, who has made clear that the unprecedented movement of people we are seeing across the world is a global phenomenon. As such, it requires a global response; not a renunciation of responsibility.”

Negotiations on the Global Compact are seeking to create a joined-up response from states to help people who are displaced by conflict, persecution or poverty. The Vatican published guidance for governments this summer with specific proposals for the Compact, including creating safe ways for people to flee conflict areas and enabling refugees to find work and education in their place of arrival.

The US withdrawal comes as countries begin work on the Global Compact, with representatives from the Holy See participating in a conference in Mexico this week. The Vatican has made clear that it hopes to influence the process in the same way that the Pope’s encyclical on climate change and the environment, Laudato Si’, was credited with creating momentum for the negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Chris Bain said, “The Pope has stated that our response to the plight faced by displaced people is ‘a test of our humanity’. We must pray that it’s a test that other leaders do not fail.”



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