Defending refugees and migrants an ‘international duty’: Pope Francis

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VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis warned yesterday against a resurgence of nationalist and populist movements and termed it an ‘international duty’ to defend refugees and migrants.  He also criticised countries that try to solve the migration crisis with unilateral or isolationist actions. The pope, speaking to diplomats in an annual speech known informally as his “state of the world” address, suggested such movements and closed-door policies were turning the clock back 100 years to the dangerous period between the world wars.

Relationships within the international community “are experiencing a period of difficulty, with the resurgence of nationalistic tendencies,” he said, making dialogue between countries and hurting the most vulnerable members of society, including migrants.

While migration has led to diffidence and unilateral actions by governments, particularly in Europe and North America, the international community has a duty to defend refugees and migrants, he said. “I do not believe that partial solutions can exist for so universal an issue,” he said.

Francis praised the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration, which set objectives for how the movement of people can be managed. The United States, Italy, Hungary and Poland are among nations that boycotted the meeting in Morocco last year.

In his hour-long speech, Francis several times mentioned the League of Nations, which was set up after World War One to promote peace but failed to stop the nationalist and populist movements that helped lead to World War Two.

“The reappearance of these impulses today is progressively weakening the multilateral system,” he told envoys from 183 countries in the speech, which touched on the situation in many countries. —Agencies

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