Forced displacements as a result of armed conflict, violence, natural causes, persecution or when basic human rights are at stake, can be incredibly taxing for any person seeking refuge. According to The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) there were approximately 82.4 million people forcibly displaced worldwide as of the end of 2020. Children are noted to account for almost half (42%) of all forcibly displaced people. This number is likely to continue to escalate, rather quickly, in light of recent world events.
Migrants, refugees, and other forcibly displaced people represent vulnerable populations that are highly susceptible to human rights violations, abuses, and crimes such as human trafficking. Women and children remain one of the most vulnerable groups worldwide. Lack of family, friends, community support, knowledge of local customs, language, laws, or viable work options further places these individuals at high-risk. Their vulnerability is further compounded by cultural challenges such as discriminatory beliefs and behaviors in society often leaving them further isolated.
Individuals are forced to flee from their home of origin for a myriad of underlining reasons in order to survive, seeking safe refuge, protect their freedom and basic right to live. Understanding the individuality of each person’s story is standing on the principle of solidarity with fellow human beings along their journey and overcoming discriminatory assumptions and judgements. The Catholic Catechism reminds us to “welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin.” Upholding the dignity of every individual, regardless of migration status or nationality, should be at the forefront of all of our humanity.
Monthly column written for St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tampa, FL