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Liturgy of the Sunday

The Everyday Prayer



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September 8 2015 09:30 | Congress Palace

Speech of Carolyn Y. Woo

Carolyn Y. Woo

President and CEO of “Catholic Relief Service”, USA

Dear distinguished guests all gathered here as people of faith,

Allow me first to express my deepest gratitude and admiration for the Community of Sant Egidio and the spirit of peace and community it has created for this congress. It is my first encounter and I know it will not be my last.

For my ten minutes, I would like to focus on two major topics:
(A) the magnitude of the crisis, and
(B) needed responses in our different capacities as individuals of faith, citizens of our countries, leaders of our institutions and brothers and sisters of those in need.

(A) The magnitude of the crisis:

1. In 2014, by the UNHCR report, 59.1 million people have been forced to leave their homes (vs 37.5 million in 2013) . This is the highest number since WWII. If you count this as a country, it would be the 24th largest in the world.

2. This number includes 19.5M refugees, 38.2M IDPs (Internally displaced People) and 1.8M asylum seekers. The highest growth is with IDPs which has grown 5- fold in 10 years.

3. Approximately 14 million people were newly displaced. This equates to 42,000 people per day ( compared with 11,000 in 2010). In contrast the number of refugees who returned home were 126,000, the lowest number in 20 years.

4. Of the total number of displaced people, 51% are children defined as less than 18 years of age.

5. Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia represent 52% of the total.  The other countries which round out  the top ten include Sudan, S. Sudan, DRC (Democratic republic of Congo), CAR ( Central Africa Republic), Iraq, Eritrea and Myanmar.

6. High  IDP countries are most of the above plus Ukraine, Pakistan and Colombia.

7. In total, there are 15 conflicts over the last 5 years: 8 in Africa, 3 in the Middle East, 3 in Asia and I in Europe.

(B) needed Responses

1. Our faith narrative that supports the refugees/ migrants abs upholds their dignity.

2. Need for Protection and Anti-trafficking measures ( staff training, community training, engagement of government authority,  identification of  vulnerable segments, integration into all programming)

3. Provision of immediate needs:
--Food and nutrition,
--supplies: non-food items,
--sanitation facilities,
--medical care/medicines,
--prayer needs

4. Provision of accurate information, translation, statements on their rights as refugees, other legal information

5. Education and psychology-social support for children ( Sesame Street created muppets)

6. Capacity strengthening of :
--government receiving agencies and border police
--civil society including faith-based organizations, social service agencies, schools to assist in resettlement
--ability to collaborate across partner organizations

7.  Assistance to host countries

8. Advocacy:
--to host governments for policies that support migrants
--to host governments and multilateral institutions for diplomatic resolution of crisis
--to community in order to foster acceptance, hospitality and when needed, integration
--media for visibility of the issues and positive framing; to challenge anti-immigrant rhetoric

9. To  put emphasis on funding:
According to the UN, in general humanitarian crisis are funded at the level of 15-35% of requested amounts.  Promises made by donor countries are not honored.  This has led to the termination of food rations ( for example to 1.3 million Syrian refugees and food allowance for the neediest in Lebanon is set at $13 / month. 184 clinics are closed in 10 0f 18 districts in Iraq leaving 3 million people without access to health care).

10. To work on the "push" or root causes:
--conflict, oppression, violence
--poverty, injustice
--lack of access to employment and basic needs (education, healthcare, food, proper shelter)
--environmental crisis




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