No atheists in migrations

Philippine statement delivered by Ambassador Teddy Locsin Jr. on June 4, 2018 at the Fifth Round of Negotiations: Side Event on “The Protection and Integration of Migrants in Vulnerable Situations: The Case of Faith-Based Organizations” at UN Headquarters, New York.

BEFORE I begin, allow me to extend my country’s deepest condolences to Guatemala for the lives lost to the Fuego Volcano’s eruption on Sunday. The death toll is still rising.

I am honored to be here to support the Permanent Missions of Guatemala and the Holy See, and the Scalabrini International Migration Network, in this side event, which highlights the primary relevance of a sustaining faith in the migrant condition—a condition that universally characterizes every life’s journey when you think of it. It highlights the critical importance of faith-based organizations in the protection and integration of migrants in their vulnerable situations.

It is no secret that faith-based organizations play a very significant role in my country—not just when it comes to protecting migrants in vulnerable situations, but in championing the rights of all of those in situations of vulnerability. They are the indispensable if rarely acknowledged partners of the government, especially in far-flung areas where they have more influence of the kind that counts, and a bigger presence in the manner that touches people most deeply. This is significant because many of our migrant
workers—most of them women—come from these areas.   

In this light, we welcome the recognition by the REV2 of the Global Compact on Migration of faith-based organizations as partners in the implementation of the GCM.1

Faith-based organizations have the unique feature of being present in both sending and destination countries. For the migrant, this provides a comforting sense of familiarity, of emotional security and of community in a new environment, among strangers who view migrants as the quintessential strangers. As highlighted by our panelists, they provide frontline care and assistance, a range of health-related, social, economic and cultural support, and, most important, a sense of safety for one’s basic faith-based identity. There are no atheists in migrations anymore than in foxholes.

In addition, faith-based organizations are critical in promoting evidence-based public discourse rather than evidently baseless and biased views in shaping perceptions of migration and of migrants. This is Objective 17 of the GCM. Countering xenophobia and related intolerance against all migrants goes beyond the enactment of legislation, for it touches on the strongest feeling of fear, which is the motor of cruelty. And, as Ms. Portillo and Ms. Giron detailed, shocking brutality, unimaginable inhumanity and, most painfully, complete indifference to, at times, even glee at the sufferings of others.

In the current atmosphere of a negative societal narrative on migrants, faith-based organizations become more necessary, as they conduct focused awareness-raising campaigns and education to foster a culture of tolerance and acceptance.

From the first round of negotiations, the main principle of the Philippine engagement with the GCM is that the Global Compact should be firmly anchored in human rights. Our message has been simple: all migrants must be treated with decency and with the commensurate dignity of all human beings, regardless of their migration status. For we are all migrants in life. We are profoundly grateful to faith-based organizations for partnering with us in this vital advocacy.

His Holiness Pope Francis said in his message to the 2018 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ,” and in that regard, “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, /to promote and to integrate.” I prefer to say “to embrace,” because all humankind are kin, and the Earth is all our home. The shortfall of the United Nations is best filled by the world religion united—on migration. Thank you.

143. We will implement the Global Compact in cooperation and partnership with migrants, civil society, migrant and diaspora organizations, faith-based organizations, cities and local communities, the private sector, trade unions, parliamentarians, National Human Rights Institutions, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, academia, the media and other relevant stakeholders.



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