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Responsibility and solution sharing

On Monday, September 19, 2016, from 11:30 to 1 pm in Conference Room 11 of the United Nations Headquarters, The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, together with the International Catholic Migration Commission and Caritas Internationalis, is sponsoring a  High-Level Side Event entitled “Responsibility and Solution Sharing: The Role of Religious Organizations in Responding to Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.


Concept Note

Purpose and Outcome:

In the search for “do-able” solutions in response to large movements of migrants and refugees, the international community would do well to note the key role of religious leaders and faith-based organizations engaged in the mobilization of local communities to serve as first responders, and to shape welcoming, just, and inclusive responses at the local, national, and regional levels. In resettlement programs, faith-inspired groups accompany, orient, and provide a range of fundamental health-related, social, economic, and pastoral support.  Yet the religious sector often is not present at the tables of policy- and other decision-making. Their inclusion could open new and urgently needed doors to move beyond “burden sharing” to “responsibility sharing” and finally to “solution sharing”. In this event, we will present what religious leaders and faith-based organizations already are doing in response to massive movements of migrants and refugees and what the international community can learn for these efficient and effective initiatives.

Rationale for the Session:

Long before the international community engaged itself in such matters, religious leaders and organizations developed expertise in, the search for comprehensive, integral, and long-term solutions for refugees and host communities. Such organizations continue to provide professional, transparent, and accountable programmes that aim toward effective and just solutions, including assistance with determining refugee status, developing

and managing temporary shelter, providing nutritional support, education, employment skills training, and legal and psycho-social services in both camps and urban settings, facilitating safe voluntary return and follow-up services, promoting integration into the host community, and implementing refugee resettlement when no other alternative is possible. In addition, these organizations are engaged in the promotion of peace and reconciliation in conflict zones; such efforts may create more favorable conditions to the return of involuntary migrants to their places of origin.

These religious organizations range from small programmes with one part-time or full-time staff and volunteers to large complex structures, which are counted as significant stakeholders, within the world of humanitarian and refugee assistance. These organizations recognize that, while “professional competence is a primary, fundamental requirement, it is not of itself sufficient when dealing with human beings, and human beings always need something more than technically proper care. They need humanity. They need heartfelt concern.”[1] In this sense, the services “aim at the progressive integration and self-sufficiency of the immigrant through family unification, education of children, housing, work, associations, promotion of civil rights.”[2] They also respect and encourage various ways in which migrants participate in their host society and “… make efforts to involve immigrants themselves in their structures.”[3] Such services are provided to all in need without any distinction on the basis of racial, ethnic, cultural, socio-economic, or religious origin. They conform to the Principles promoted by many international humanitarian networks, including equality, transparency, responsibility, and complementary.

Agenda for the Session:

Moderator: His Excellency Archbishop Bernardito AUZA, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of  the Holy See to the United Nations: Welcome and Introduction of Speakers
(8 minutes)

Keynote Speaker: His Eminence Pietro Cardinal PAROLIN, Secretary of State to His Holiness Pope Francis, “Leaving no one behind: translating words into compassionate and prophetic actions”  (15 minutes)


Sir Peter SUTHERLAND, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary- General (SRSG) for International Migration, “A Call for Global Responsibility Sharing in the face of large movements of migrants and refugees: the role of religious leaders and organizations”
(8 Minutes)

Ms. Karen ABUZAYD, UN Special Adviser on the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants:  “A Call for Global Responsibility Sharing in the face of large movements of migrants and refugees: the role of governments and other key stakeholders”
(8 Minutes)

(7 minutes each)

Fr. Flor María RIGONI, C.S., Albergue Belen in Tapachula, Mexico, “Holistic accompaniment of Central American migrants in Mexico”

Sr. Donna MARKHAM, O.P., PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, “Welcoming newcomers: The Role of Catholic Church-inspired social service and advocacy agencies to accompany and provide a human face for migrants, especially of unaccompanied minors arriving in the USA”

Ms. Petra HUECK, Director, ICMC Europe, “Changing Hearts and Minds in Europe, the vital role of religious organizations and churches in welcoming and assisting refugees”

Mr. Omar AL-MUQDAD, Journalist and Syrian Refugee –“The Church as a sign of hope and solidarity at all stages of my journey”

Questions and Discussion
(15 minutes)


Rev. Msgr. Robert J. VITILLO, Secretary General,  International Catholic Migration Commission
(5 minutes)

[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est , 2005, #31, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html
[2] Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi, op. cit., #43.
[3] Ibid.