The Vatican held a two-day meeting on the refugee crisis where 80 mayors of European cities released a statement Saturday calling for the creation of a “Network of Mayors” to tackle the humanitarian issues being faced by the continent.
The mayors met at the Vatican’s Casina Pio IV — the headquarters of the Pontifical Academies for Science and Social Science — on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 for a summit looking at “Europe: Refugees Are Our Brothers and Sisters.”
“When dealing with our obligations towards refugees, we must remember the ways in which we organized ourselves in cities first and subsequently as nations during the course of history,” the statement read. “The great cities of Europe – as well as those of the Americas and Asia – which now face the worst crisis of displacement since World War II, must continue to collaborate in good faith, trust, hope, friendship, harmony and justice, to embrace humanity, integration and solidarity.”
According to the latest data, 2016 has been the worst year for refugees in the Mediterranean with over 3,800 refugees having lost their lives as of November. Pope Francis has repeatedly called for a more humane integration of those fleeing their own countries because of the ongoing unrest. Syria’s civil war has led to the displacement of millions who have left their homes to escape a constant state of war, coupled with a desire for a better life.
The mayors criticized the passiveness with which some European countries and the international community have attempted to deal with this crisis, while acknowledging the importance of humanitarian corridors. As some of the towns representing at the summit have existed even before the inception of the nation-state, the participants called for the creation of a network of mayors capable of “conceiving welcoming cities.”
“This new network must be centred on human encounter and based on a progressive vision of interculturality, with the active participation of civil society – including the third sector – and of the religious traditions, where the defence and promotion of human dignity, freedom, justice, integration and peace must prevail over the debates of our prejudices,” the statement read.
Mayors of Rome, Milan, Barcelona and Paris were among those who emphasized the need for dealing with the refugee crisis in a sustainable manner, pushing for integral development.