06/20/2018, 18.16
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For Fr Cedric Prakash, refugees are people “like us'

Pope Francis chose “welcome, protect, promote and integrate” migrants as the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day. Currently, there are 68.5 million refugees worldwide. The Jesuit Refugee Service launches the "4 words to open the world" campaign.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Today is World Refugee Day. In marking this day, Fr Cedric Prakash, the current Regional Advocacy and Communication Advisor of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), said that refugees are people “like us”; they are “our brothers and sisters”.

Given this situation, “They must be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated."  Indeed, those who have been displaced “have no choice of their own.” Hence, “It is important to commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of families forced to flee their homes”

According to the latest report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), released yesterday, the number of displaced persons worldwide now stands at 68.5 million.

This figure includes almost 25.4 million refugees, half of whom are under the age of 18, but also stateless people, those who have been denied a nationality, estimated to be around 10 million, a status that deprives them of access to basic rights such as education, health care and freedom of movement.

Fr Prakash shares the concerns expressed many times by Pope Francis on the " lamentable situation of many migrants and refugees fleeing from war, persecution, natural disasters and poverty."

The Holy Father reiterated such concerns in last Sunday’s Angelus, when he stressed the importance of "a global pact on refugees to be adopted within the year like the one on a safe, orderly and regular migration".

This runs parallel to the global campaign promoted by the United Nations in a petition on social media using the hashtag #WithRefugees.

Faced with this emergency, the JRS has launched a campaign, dubbed the "4 words to open the world", which are the same four verbs Pope Francis used in his message for World Refugee Day, namely "welcome, protect, promote and integrate».

This campaign, which includes a new website, focuses particularly on primary education for children. “Education,” the Fr Prakash says, “is essential for displaced children to develop the tools necessary to fulfil their potential and contribute to the growth and stability of their communities.”

Sadly, "Only 50 per cent of refugee children have access to primary school compared to 91 per cent of children around the world. There is an urgent need to increase refugee children’s access to schooling."

The JRS is active in a number of “hot” spots, including the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey).

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