On April 17, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, C.S., permanent observer to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, delivered a talk during an international conference called by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees to consider the humanitarian needs of refugees and internally displaced persons within Iraq and neighboring States.
In his English-language talk, the text of which was made public today, Archbishop Tomasi pointed out that there are around two million internally-displaced Iraqis, while "two million others have already fled the country and between 40,000 and 50,000 are fleeing their homes each month."
"Where war and violence have destroyed the social tissue and the unity of Iraq, judicious political choices and a non-discriminatory humanitarian engagement would be the first step to re-establish a pluralistic unity."
"Displaced women, elderly and children bear the brunt of the tragedy," said the nuncio. "With the experience of daily violence and, even more tragically, with the killing of family members before their eyes, many children are traumatized and remain without professional care."
The countries hosting displaced Iraqis cannot be ignored by the international community and must receive tangible and prompt solidarity. In fact, without this solidarity, the victims escaping violence are at risk of new forms of exploitation and of being deprived of health and education services, housing and employment possibilities."
"While the first humanitarian need is peace, equally vital is a coordinated response that raises awareness of the immense crisis we face. Such a response must involve actors from States, civil society and the United Nations. In order to ameliorate the plight of all displaced people inside and outside the country, this response must enjoy a responsible participation of all Iraqis.
"All humanitarian workers who have been delivering active assistance, notwithstanding risk and sacrifice," he added, "deserve appreciation from the global human family as well as adequate resources to carry out their mission. They serve as effective instruments, as shown, for example, by the tens of thousand of people of all backgrounds and convictions being helped daily by the Catholic charitable network in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt," as well as by local NGOs and other organizations.
Archbishop Tomasi concluded his remarks be expression the Holy See's conviction that, "at this juncture of the Middle East crisis, vigorous leadership is demanded of the international community. Surely, the greatest challenge is to find a way for reconciliation, to reconstruct the will to dialogue, and to hope again so that peace may win. Generous, timely and coordinated humanitarian help for all the victims of such horrific violence will achieve justice for them and will begin the indispensable process of healing their tragic condition."