Fleeing like Jesus: Commemorating World Refugee Day
The United Nations annually commemorates World Refugee Day on the 20th of June. This year we are called to focus on knowing the people who undertake dangerous journeys, fleeing their homes in search of safety. In “To Know in Order to Understand,” a joint statement from Faith-Based Organizations (FBO’s) across the world, Mercy International Association-Mercy Global Action joins the voices of many others advocating for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, FBOs at the UN choose to respond to Pope Francis’ call to “know in order to understand.” We must come to know the people who have become displaced within their own countries (IDPs) as well as refugees who crossed international borders to reach safety. An already perilous journey became even more difficult and dangerous during the pandemic as it forced people to travel and live in camps or detention centers despite the need to quarantine, wear personal protective equipment, and access sanitation. The ongoing refugee crisis is now less visible to the world as individuals and States focus on the health and economic impact of COVID-19.
In response to the invisible reality IDPs and Refugees face, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs called on States to honor the protections named in the Guiding Principles presented to the Commission of Human Rights in 1998. The statement from FBOs at the UN further calls for renewing international attention to the situation of IDPs and refugees, to whom we have become blind during the competing concerns of the global pandemic.
To that end, Pope Francis calls for the transformation of our hearts by opening our eyes and seeing, contemplating, and sharing the lives of people experiencing displacement. In a video message (see right), the Pope reminds us that refugees and IDPs are fleeing their homes just as Jesus and his family did. As faith-filled followers, we must look beyond statistics and reports to see the real faces of people asking for our help. Like Catherine, we can see the face of Jesus in everyone we minister to or meet.
To commemorate World Refugee Day, get to know the stories of refugees and IDPs through the articles offered below, or by meeting refugees living in your own community. See the face of Jesus in the faces of people who, like Jesus, had to flee to save their lives:
Join the conversation from home: https://www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/wrd2020-events/
 “New Pope Video towards WDMR2020: “To know in order to understand.” Migrants and Refugees, The Vatican. May 15, 2020. https://migrants-refugees.va/2020/05/15/new-pope-video-towards-wdmr2020/
Messages to: Amanda Carrier rsm - MGA Intern