By ZENIT Staff

World Refugee Day, first celebrated in 2000 is observed in the United States and around the world on June 20. The observance was created two decades ago to increase awareness about the situation of refugees around the world. Currently, the world faces the biggest forced migration crisis since World War II, with more than 70 million people forcibly displaced, which includes 25 million refugees. . . around the world, including 13 million refugee children.

The Presidential Determination for determining the number of refugees resettled in the United States was set at an all-time low for the third consecutive year with a total of 18,000 refugees for 2020. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the related shutdown of the refugee program at this time, very few refugees will be able to access protection in the United States this year. On the 20th anniversary of World Refugee Day, in response to the growing number of refugees globally, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration issued the following statement:

“Now, more than ever we need to protect and accompany our refugee brothers and sisters. There are too many vulnerable people currently unable to flee persecution who are living in dire circumstances, exacerbated no doubt by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Pope Francis reminds us. . . , ‘we cannot remain insensitive, our hearts deadened, before the misery of so many innocent people. We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond.’

“Of particular concern are the most vulnerable of refugees: women, children, the elderly, the infirm, and individuals with special needs. Refugees fleeing religious persecution also continue to face violence, and in some cases, death for practicing their faith. We recognize refugees’ and our own human fragility, and as such, urge a more humane and compassionate embrace of those seeking refuge in our communities, in our country, and in our world.”

More information on World Refugee Day, please visit Justice for Immigrants.

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