Bishop Urges Compassion on World Refugee Day

First observed 20 years ago, World Refugee Day is celebrated around the world on June 20. According to a recent news release from U.S. Catholic Bishops, the world is currently facing the biggest forced migration crisis since World War II.

Due to the current pandemic, very few refugees will be able to access protection in the United States this year. In a recent article he wrote for Our Sunday Visitor, Bishop Felipe Estévez said refugees need our help now more than ever.

“As we celebrate World Refugee Day on June 20, I urge my fellow Catholics and others of goodwill to come together during this difficult time to support refugees, who are some of the most vulnerable among us,” he said.

COVID-19 is causing even more harm to refugees’ difficult plight. They live in settlement camps or squalid, crowded apartments. They sometimes have limited access to clean water and soap, which makes it hard to stay safe from the virus. What’s more, most refugees have little to no social safety net, and their access to emergency services is often limited and sporadic. Not to mention that the lockdowns have restricted their access to food.

The United Nations estimates worldwide emergency food insecurity and hunger could nearly double this year as a result of the pandemic.

The Catholic Relief Service’s Lead the Way on Migration campaign offers opportunities to learn, pray and take action. Click here to learn how you can help.

“As a country, we cannot wait to act to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in refugee settlements around the world. We must heed the Holy Father’s warning not to narrow our hearts, even when they are full of anguish,” said Bishop Estévez.

To read Bishop Estevez’s full article, click here.

PHOTO: Venezuelan migrants carrying their belongings walk along a highway leading out of Bogota, Colombia, in early April, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The migrants had no money for bus fare and were making a 400-mile trek toward the Venezuelan border. (CNS photo/Manuel Rueda)