Pope at launch of Share the Journey
More than 160 countries have agreed the UN Global Compact on Migration at a conference in Morocco following calls from CAFOD supporters and thousands of Catholics worldwide.
The migration pact follows the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees by the United Nations General Assembly earlier in 2018. The two agreements set out how governments will work together to help people on the move, particularly those who have been forced from their homes by persecution or poverty.
Catholics around the world have campaigned for governments to agree the compacts as part of a ‘Share the Journey’ campaign launched by Pope Francis in 2017, with CAFOD supporters in England and Wales walking more than 100,000 miles in solidarity with displaced people.
What are the global compacts?
The global compacts on migrants and refugees are the result of negotiations which started following a UN agreement in 2016 called the ‘New York Declaration’. This set out a process for countries to cooperate in dealing with the unprecedented number of people globally who were migrating because of war, the changing climate or in search of a better life.
Both agreements are seen as a step forward because they recognise that many migrants and refugees face common challenges and vulnerabilities.
The migration compact sets out how to assist people at all the stages of their journey – ensuring they can leave their homes without unnecessary danger, reducing the risk of exploitation and trafficking, and helping them to access basic services such as healthcare and education when they arrive in new countries.
The refugee compact seeks to make sure that countries which receive the largest number of refugees are given support. This is something the Holy Father has called for, as the majority of displaced people are living in countries which suffer from high levels of poverty themselves.
The agreement states the need to tackle the reasons why people are forced from their homes, including disasters resulting from climate change and damage to the environment.
The compact also notes that faith groups have an important role to play in helping refugees, including the role that the Church and other religious organisations play in preventing conflict and helping to build peace.
Global Compacts are a ‘testament to Pope’s leadership’
Graham Gordon, Head of Policy at CAFOD, said that the adoption of the agreements showed that “governments have responded to calls from their citizens” to support displaced people, noting that “tens of thousands of Catholics have walked over 100,000 miles in solidarity with people on the move.”
“Pope Francis has said that our response to the needs of migrants will be a ‘test of our humanity’, so the fact that the vast majority of states are joining the Global Compact is a positive sign.
“It’s in everyone’s interests that countries work together to support at every stage of their journey those who have left their homes in search of a better life. This is especially important if we are to prevent people from falling into the hands of traffickers and criminal gangs.”
The Holy See, under the Pope’s supervision, published guidance for governments ahead of the talks which led to the global compacts. These ‘action points’ were based on the support the Catholic Church is giving to refugees and migrants worldwide, including in countries such as Colombia, Nigeria and Lebanon.
Graham Gordon said: “The Global Compact and its sister document on refugees have been a testament to the leadership shown by the Pope and the Church during negotiations. Now we need to ensure that governments put their words into action and implement their provisions.”