10/04/2006, 00.00
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Spend some defence money to help refugees, says Vatican

Holy See's permanent observer to the UN in Geneva calls for more money and political will to be spent on those who are forced to flee their homeland.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – States should allocate more money to protect refugees in a globalised world and be politically and culturally more open to their plight. "If international solidarity would add to its budget on aid to refugees a small proportion of the increase in arms expenses—from 1996 to 2005 military expenditure increased by 34 per cent to US$ 1.118 billion in current dollars—then a major step forward would be taken toward an adequate response to the pains of uprooted humanity," this according to Mgr Silvano M. Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, who addressed the 57th session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

"The hundreds of victims whose lives have been lost in recent weeks and months in their desperate search for a more secure and decent existence is a red light of alarm that in our globalised world the international community is failing to uphold its goals of solidarity and protection," the Vatican envoy said.

People who "[a]round the world, through seas and deserts, [. . .] struggle to escape from war, from violation of their human rights, from famine" are clearly in need for protection.

The apostolic nuncio noted that the distinction between migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, which has been blurred over time, must be clearly made so as to make sure that asylum seekers, who are a small proportion in these movements, are not sent back. Instead an effort should be made to alleviate the plight of asylum seekers like those fleeing war in Iraq and the Middle East.

In order to cope with refugee crises and flows of asylum seekers, money is "a necessary but not sufficient requirement." It is necessary to have the political will to inspire a sense of responsibility to protect others.

A favourable attitude to this must be generated in public opinion. In this sense, as expressions of civil society, non governmental as well as faith-based organisations can offer "competent help," Mgr Tomasi said.

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See also
Holy See: international solidarity for Iraqi refugees
Pope talks about the Middle East, the Holy Land and the food crisis with Bush
Mgr Tomasi: no to intensification in Syria, yes to political dialogue
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