On Tuesday, April 20, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle shed light on the important issues surrounding refugees and migrants across the world.
Speaking at a virtual event for the presentation of the 2020 annual report by Centro Astalli (the Italian branch of the Jesuit Refugee Service or JRS), the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said that refugees and migrants are often blamed for problems in host societies.
“Migrants are often accused of causing problems in society, but the testimony of the Centro Astalli offers instead a different picture, they are capable of forming communities that care and share,” he said. (Read: 5 Catholic Saints Who Were Migrants Back in the Days)
Communities That Share, Care
In his address, Cardinal Tagle commended the JRS and Centro Astalli for actively showing the world that refugees and migrants are also capable of forming caring and sharing communities.
“For me, the document presented today by the Centro Astalli is more of a testimony of humanity, active love, and compassion rather than a simple report of activities,” Cardinal Tagle said in his remarks. (Read: Pope Francis Appoints Tagle as Member of Vatican ‘Central Bank’)
He noted that the Centro Astalli has been serving as a guiding light to those in need— especially in this time of a pandemic wherein most refugees and migrants are confronted with new burdens, uncertainties, rejection, and manipulation.
“The pandemic has exacerbated their situation, but thanks to the welcome, respect, and accompaniment provided by the Centro Astalli, their dark journey has been bathed in light,” said Cardinal Tagle.
Jesuit Refugee Service
Established in 1980, the JRS aims to accompany, serve, defend, and advocate the rights of refugees and displaced people across the globe. In 2020 alone, its Italian branch, Centro Astalli, has assisted over 17,000 refugees and asylum seekers through its eight centers across the country.
In their annual report, Centro Astalli provided figures that outlined the main difficulties that refugees and asylum seekers encountered in the year 2020 (the 40th year of JRS). (Read: Tagle Holds Baptism of Filipinos in Rome to Celebrate the Jubilee Year)
Besides Cardinal Tagle, others who spoke at the presentation of the Centro Astalli Annual Report 2020 were David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament; a migrant woman from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Father Camillo Ripamonti, president of Centro Astalli.
Rise of Migrants, Refugees
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHR) estimates some 80 million people have been forced to flee violence, dictatorship, and harsh social and economic hardships at home. About half of them are under the age of 18.
The Centro Astalli also noted that despite the restrictions of COVID-19, there has been a surge in arrivals by sea in 2020. From the 23,000 people who arrived in Italy in 2018 and 11,000 in 2019, the figure jumped to 34,000 in 2020.