(ANS – New York) – The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale. At the UN Summit on 19 September, world leaders elaborated on how each country will implement these commitments. Refugees, migrants, those who assist them, and their host countries and communities will all benefit if these commitments are met.
Salesians are in the frontline with regard to migrants/refugees, with special regard to young people and unaccompanied minors, as we are present in more than 130 countries around the world and we are in direct contact with the most vulnerable. Our concrete contribution besides being in those countries next to the people in need, is also to contribute in the elaboration of policies that can be effective and which can help in building up a more just and equitable world for all. As this is today one of the major issues tightly linked to poverty and conflicts, as also highlighted in the Agenda 2030 and in the SDGs, we consider it one of the arenas in which the Salesian charism can contribute, also in response to the words of Pope Francis inviting all to join efforts for fighting the unbalance of the present world.
Among the burning issues within migration, Child detention is one of our major concerns. It has been an issue fiercely debated during the summit resulting in a commitment from all States to work towards ending child immigration detention. Although this positive result, we are still concerned that the Best interest of the child can be infringed, as – in paragraph 33 of the New York Declaration – it is stated that detention for children can be used as a measure of last resort.
As Salesians, we try to be present in the major events, which will influence at global level such as the United Nations General Assembly. Father Thomas Pallithanam from India-Hyderabad, is presently attending representing both the Salesian NGO People’s Action For Rural Awakening and, as national representative, of CIVICUS led Action 4 Sustainable Development. Wada Na To Abhiyan the largest NGO Coalition for governance accountability, advocacy lobbying is also the GCAP India.
Father Thomas highlights the importance and reasons for participating in such UN high-level event:
“As regards migrants we are strongly concerned with internal migration where the poor particularly, Adivasi and tribals, are forced out of their traditional homeland in the name of the development of the nation. It is always the poor who have to make sacrifices for the development of any nation and in the context of Sustainable Development. This needs to be addressed urgently.
In India, we have selected an additional goal “Goal 18” to make the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 known to everyone! From September 16, 2016, regional workshops have been planned to follow this up.
We Salesians, in India, will be playing a consistent role in this effort, through our Youth at Risk centres – the human rights education endeavour of the provinces of Bangalore and Hyderabad.”
Besides the Salesian presence at the High Level UN appointment, various experts within our Salesian Family and various NGOs are currently working to elaborate proposals and concrete actions with particular attention to the issue of migrants and refugees, especially focused on youth and unaccompanied minors.
But also a strong effort is being put into elaborating and reflecting around the challenge launched by the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda for 2030. In this direction, a position paper is being drafted to be soon shared offering elements for our engagement with particular attention to SDG 4 related to education.