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US Assistant Secretary Noyes: global collaboration is needed to help migrants, refugees

migrants in greecemigrants in greeceJulieta Valls Noyes, US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, says both governments and religious organizations must come together to respond to the growing needs of migrants and refugees uprooted by war and conflict.

By Sophie Peeters

“We have reached a grim milestone: there are today more than 100 million displaced people – the highest number in recorded history.”

Julieta Valls Noyes, US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, said in a round-table discussion with media that today more than ever countries need to work together to help migrants and refugees find the material, moral, and spiritual support they so desperately need.

The US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) works with international partners to “provide protection, ease suffering, and resolve the plight of persecuted and uprooted people around the world.”

The position of Pope Francis, the Vatican, and Faith-Based Organizations in providing moral and material support to migrants and refugees suffering around the world, Ms. Noyes said, remains crucial in having a holistic and international approach to this growing problem.

Ukraine’s right to defend itself

Commenting on the current situation in Ukraine, Ms. Noyes said the right to self-defense for the country is “indisputable.”

The “unprovoked aggression” by the Russian army, which has caused a vast amount of suffering and devastation, is a substantive reason for the US to provide weapons and humanitarian aid to the country, she continued.

“Countries have the right to defend themselves,” Ms. Noyes said, especially in response to the “unprovoked aggression” through the use of force.

In response to Pope Francis’ recent statement at a meeting with the press on the papal plane following his pastoral visit to Kazakstan, Ms. Noyes said the United States “welcomed” his statements about “Ukraine having a right to self-defense.”

Role of the Vatican and Faith-Based Organizations in helping vulnerable populations

As a global institution, the Vatican has an important role as a “moral megaphone,” able to amplify knowledge of situations of populations who are persecuted around the world.

In addition, Ms. Noyes continued, the Vatican helps raise support for these people, “urging countries to respond appropriately.”

Ms. Noyes said she was personally touched by the work of the Vatican-affiliated Jesuit Refugee Service, particularly for their work in Uganda providing psycho-social support for people who have suffered greatly while fleeing as refugees.

“I get emotional talking about it because that is the type of hands-on direct support provided by Faith-Based Organizations that is life-changing.”

Finding holistic solutions to the immigration crisis

Pope Francis plays a key part in voicing the great need of the numerous requirements needed of vulnerable people around the world: a “very necessary moral voice,” Ms. Noyes noted.

Communities that work together can provide lasting solutions and religious communities remain one “of the central supports of resettlement,” Ms. Noyes continued.

In order to provide solutions to the “big question” of immigration and resettlement, countries, governments, private sectors, and faith-based organizations must work together in order to have a “holistic approach to this issue.”

Working with countries of origin is also necessary, she concluded, to make sure refugees receive the services they so desperately need and have the “opportunity to get legal statutes, dignity to work” and to try and seek to promote better conditions in order to provide integration for refugees.