10/29/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES – UNITED NATIONS
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Migrants, a resource for the global economy according to the United Nations

by Santosh Digal
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon insists on this point in Manila where the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development is currently underway. For the Catholic Church migrants’ rights and dignity must be respected; joint plans must be developed to help “migrants and their families.”
Manila (AsiaNews) – At a time of a global recession migrants should not be seen as a threat but rather as a resource against the crisis, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told delegates to the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). The summit is currently underway in Manila (from 27 to 30 October) with the participation of 800 representatives from 163 countries.

In the Philippines a coalition of 241 groups, including the Catholic Church, has signed a so-called “People's Global Action”, which they will jointly present to Filipino Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Esteban Conejos Jr.

This statement describes a global action plan for migrants that was developed over two days. It calls on governments to promote “the human rights of migrants” and use the forum to lay down the rules that protect them through the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other UN agencies.

Although the plan is not binding on either governments or the United Nations, for these groups it provides useful indications as to how the issue can be tackled.

“If the forum promotes the rights of the migrants, this is also because of the action undertaken by the Church which has always been directly involved in protecting migrants’ rights, which are essential to their own development,” said Fr Edwin D. Corros, executive secretary of the Commission for Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (ECMI-CBCP).

In highlighting the importance of the Forum for the “mission of the Church in Asia,” Father Corros noted that “the problem of immigration is a global phenomenon” within the Asian continent as well.

In fact due to the disparity of economic and financial resources and the different political situations in Asia, Asians are moving from one country to another and for this reason it is necessary to promote policies that can help them and protect their dignity.

Although the Forum itself is not likely to come up with much, Father Corros reiterated that the actions promoted by the Church can move people and lead to joint solutions in the interest of humanity, especially of migrants and their families.

The meeting on Monday between Benedict XVI and the new Filipino Ambassador to the Holy See, Ms Cristina Castañer-Ponce Enrile, who presented her letters of credence, also centred on the issue of migrant workers

As far as the social good is concerned the Holy Father referred to the concern of the Filipino government for its own migrants, stressing how immigration is a “resource for development”.

“Government leaders,” he said, “face numerous challenges as they strive to ensure that immigrants are integrated into society in a way that acknowledges their human dignity and affords them the opportunity to earn a decent living, with adequate time for rest and a due provision for worship.”

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