Each year on June 20, governments, humanitarian organizations, faith communities and individuals around the world pause to recognize the plight of the many millions of people who have been driven from their homes, and often their homelands, by war, disease, natural disaster, persecution or violence.
Today, as we mark World Refugee Day, the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs stands in solidarity with the 70.8 million persons forcibly displaced around the world, including more than 25 million refugees, half of whom are children. These are unprecedented figures — the largest in recorded history. Many of these people lack access to basic needs such as food, clean water, health care, education and freedom of movement.
Identifying and promoting solutions to this global migration and refugee crisis is a paramount focus of the Keough School as it launches a new chapter of scholarship and engagement in international policy issues. This new initiative engages distinguished policymakers and diplomats at the forefront of national and global migration debates. Our students are tracking the implementation of the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration and conducting comparative field research on migration policies and practices on the U.S.-Mexico border and in Europe. Keough School faculty are undertaking research in African refugee camps and the Humanitarian Corridor in Italy, and partnering with academics and other thought leaders in Central America to understand more fully the causes of northern migration.
As a Catholic research university, we are guided by a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, and by the scriptural imperative to lavish special care upon the stranger. The Keough School’s mission of advancing the integral human development of all people, drawn from Catholic social teaching, drives the research conducted by our faculty and students. So, too, does the conviction that the dignity of each person is the fundamental point of reference for any migration-related discourse.
Addressing a human crisis of this magnitude will require the sustained collaboration of institutions of higher education, government and nongovernmental organizations, and policy leaders at local as well as national and international levels. Notre Dame’s Keough School seeks and welcomes such partnerships, in order to stand in solidarity with our migrant brothers and sisters across the globe. We must each do our part to solve this unprecedented tragedy unfolding before us.