4 August 2009


In a statement to a meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council in Geneva the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi asked for a greater international commitment to respect humanitarian rights, both for victims of natural or human disasters and for the aid workers who endeavor to assist them.

He emphasized that despite a decrease last year in the worldwide number of refugees, "more than 10 million men, women and children still live in refugee camps and more than 26 million continue displaced because of past or recent conflicts, lack of security and persecution." which in turn cause "immeasurable physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain and wound the social fabric, destroying families and communities, endangering reconciliation and threatening the lives of thousands of innocent civilians."

Archbishop Tomasi emphasized the need "for all sectors to recognize their particular responsibility in protecting the lives of civilians in areas under their jurisdiction or their control, and to fulfill and fully respect the norms and principles of international human rights, including those regarding the protection of humanitarian personnel and that of not impeding access to those in need."

He went on to say that states "should commit themselves to promote and permit access to resources destined to saving lives, without using them for political control."

"The common good should be the guiding principle and international humanitarian rights should be protected in every circumstance,"
he affirmed.

Archbishop Tomasi also asked for greater efforts to guarantee the rights of prisoners of war and people who are detained in various ways."Detention camps and centers should be temporary solutions and places to which there is open access and the dignity of people is a priority.".

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