Undeniably, the Vatican, headed by Pope Francis, is doing its share in helping those in need—the sick, the poor, and all others who are facing trials in their lives. The Holy See is donating to organizations and setting up commissions to address issues, among others. Now, they are also spreading awareness on the situation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Internally displaced persons are those who are forced to evacuate their homes because of conflict, disease, or calamity, but remain inside the borders of their country. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in 2018, there were over 41.3 million IDPs in the world due to armed conflict, violence, and human rights violations.
IDPs are forced to stay in shelter camps which are only temporary solutions, and may cause problems between the IDPs and the host communities. To help address the problems faced by these people, the Migrants and Refugee Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development of the Holy See released a new booklet “Pastoral Orientations on Internally Displaced Persons.”
The booklet emphasizes four verbs: Welcome, Protect, Promote, and Integrate. These four words are how people, especially the Church, should react to IDPs.
The booklet notes that sometimes communities are wary when it comes to internally displaced people. Because of this, they call on the Church to raise awareness on the issue and complicated situation of IDPs.
“IDPs are often displaced for the same reasons as refugees and have similar protection needs,” it says in the booklet. They do not necessarily have the same rights as refugees, but they need the same level of emotional and mental support, especially if they have gone through traumatizing experiences.
The booklet says that the Church must always be willing to welcome and admit displaced persons into their communities because it isn’t all the time that people are willing to accommodate these people.
In temporary shelters, medical care and physiological needs like food and water are normally provided for displaced persons. But the booklet says that spiritual needs can sometimes be neglected or forgotten, which is where the Church comes in. They told bishops that they must provide spiritual assistance to these people.
Lastly, the Migrants and Refugees Section asks the host communities to integrate the IDPs into their community. Integration of these two groups may be difficult which is why the Church must help them settle their differences and issues in order to provide a healthy environment for both the host and displaced communities.
The Dicastery also emphasized that cooperation among everyone working with the IDPs and host communities. They also said that building a fair and more inclusive society is a more permanent solution to this issue.
If you would like to read more of the booklet, you may click here.