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Pope calls for international community to act on ‘humanitarian emergency’ of child migrants

Migrants from Guatemala deported from the US arrive at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City (CNS)

Pope Francis has described the situation of child migrants streaming out Central America in search of safety and family reunification in the United States as a “humanitarian emergency” and called for the international community to act

Meanwhile, the Vatican’s secretary of state has pledged full support for efforts being made to address the issue. Speaking at the Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretariat yesterday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin repeated a recent call made by bishops from five countries for Catholics and society at large to lend a helping hand for the thousands of young migrants traveling through Mexico and often arriving unaccompanied in the United States.

“Given these migratory facts, we urgently need to overcome primitive misgivings and again propose common strategies at the subregional, regional and world levels that include all sectors of society,” Cardinal Parolin said in a speech attended by clergy and the foreign ministers of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

“Their numbers grow daily exponentially,” he said of the Central Americans abandoning their countries. “Whether they travel for reasons of poverty, violence or the hope of uniting with families on the other side of the border, it is urgent to protect and assist them, because their frailty is greater and they’re defenceless, they’re at the mercy of any abuse or misfortune.”

The cardinal traveled to Mexico at a time when countries in the region are facing an increase in the number of Central American migrants not seen in decades — and an influx so unexpected and large that US officials have had difficulties properly processing those arriving at their border.

The plight of the child migrants has the full attention of Pope Francis, who sent a message in advance of the forum, jointly sponsored by Mexico and the Vatican.

“I wish to also call attention to the tens of thousands of children that emigrate alone, unaccompanied to escape violence and poverty,” Pope Francis said in the message, dated July 11 and read by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to Mexico.

“This is the category of migrants from Central America and Mexico itself that cross the United States’ border under extreme conditions and pursuing a hope that, for the majority, will be in vain. This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.

“Many people forced to emigrate suffer and often die tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.”

The Pope also called for information campaigns on the risks of migrating and a commitment to developing the poor countries of Central America.