Help integrate migrants, protect their dignity, says Vatican official

A child looks on as migrants wait at the Slovenia border in Trnovec, Croatia, Oct. 19. A Vatican official has stressed the importance of migrant integration and human dignity. (CNS photo/Antonio Bronic, Reuters)

Vatican City — The international community must help protect the human rights and dignity of migrants regardless of their legal status, said a Vatican official.

"The dignity of the human person always takes precedence over partisan interests and economic considerations" regardless of the challenges the influx of migrants may pose on the societies that accept them, said Fr. Gabriele Bentoglio, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers. He spoke at the Eighth Global Forum on Migration and Development in Istanbul, Turkey Oct. 15. The Vatican released a copy of his talk Oct. 17.

A clear sign that the international community has worked to come together as a family of nations can be seen in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development -- the recently adopted plan to free the human race from poverty, Bentoglio said in his talk.

However, the increasing number of migrants, he said, is evidence of the unjust distribution of the Earth's resources, "which are meant to be equitably shared by all."

Migrants move in hope of ensuring a decent life for their families, taking a leap of faith many times at great personal cost, he said.

Countries of origin and countries that host migrants both need assistance, he said.

One way to help young people who wish to move to developed countries, he said, is by "increasing the investment in scholarships for students to go to wealthier nations to acquire scientific knowledge or professional training."

Young and educated professionals, in particular women, are forced to accept low-skilled work in developed countries in order to be able to migrate. They therefore neglect their talents and efforts invested in their education, he said.

Bentoglio suggested the creation of more legal channels and opportunities, such as temporary work exchange programs, in order to prevent people from falling victim to unethical recruitment practices, trafficking, or smuggling.

"Migration cannot be reduced to its political and legislative aspects or economic implications," Bentoglio said.

"It is important to view migrants not only on the basis of their status as regular or irregular, but above all as people whose dignity is to be protected and who are capable of contributing to progress and the general welfare," he said.

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