Thousands of Venezuelans are leaving their homeland fearing for their lives or just seeking food and a more dignified way of life. This mass exodus has created the largest migration crises in Latin American history and overwhelmed Venezuela’s bordering nations some of whom are absorbing the fleeing refugees. In some instances, armed soldiers are turning away refugees seeking asylum in nearby countries.
In response to this humanitarian crisis, and at Pope Francis’ urging, the Bishop Conferences of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru have developed a joint migration plan entitled “Bridges of Solidarity.” A Vatican Press release on May 7, 2018, announced the two-year pastoral program. According to the Vatican, the program’s mission is to find “common solutions to the challenges posed by the massive flow of Venezuelans, who have decided to move to another South American country in recent years.”
In developing the joint migration plan, the Bishops Conferences were assisted by the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. Their response is also in keeping with Pope Francis’ call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees.” During his Easter Blessing Urbi et Orbi, the Holy Father included prayers for the people of Venezuela.
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