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Cardinal backs Pope’s call for protection of refugees



Vatican City, 09 July 2013: Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, President of Caritas Internationalis, in a statement released on Monday backed Pope Francis’ call for greater protection for refugees.

On Monday 8 July, Pope Francis visited the Sicilian Island of Lampedusa, the landing point of tens of thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe in hope of a better future.

“The Pope’s visit to Lampedusa reminded us of the plight of millions of refugees around the world. Religious leaders and faith based organizations have a key role to play in making sure those refugees are treated with dignity and compassion. We must welcome all refugees as our brothers and sisters” added the statement.

There are more than 40 million refugees, internally displaced and stateless people in the world today.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has joined the UN refugee agency and representatives of other faith-based organisations to call for greater protection for refugees.

The declaration, known as an Affirmation of Welcome, is the first to involve UNHCR and a spectrum of faith-based organisations.

The Affirmation of Welcome sets out principles to guide faith leaders in providing welcoming environments for refugees and displaced people, and those without citizenship, including through promoting community understanding and tolerance, and combating xenophobia.

The text draws upon principles and values of welcome shared by religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

In November of this year, the declaration will be launched formally at the King Abdullah International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna, in a conference organised by Religions for Peace bringing together over 400 faith leaders from around the world.

Other organisations that have been involved include the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Jesuit Refugee Service, the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, the University of Vienna Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology, the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance and World Vision International.

"Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders" is available in Arabic, English, French, Hebrew, Russian and Spanish via www.unhcr.org/51b6de419.html.

More information on the "Faith and Protection" session of the UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs is also available at www.unhcr.org/pages/501a39ce6.html.Source: VR Sedoc




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