Vatican wants wealthy nations to welcome refugees
    The Holy See has called for international efforts to help the world's refugee population, now estimated at 23 million.
    The Vatican's permanent observer at the United Nations, Archbishop Renato Martino, called the refugee problem one of the most critical faced by the world. He made his appeal Monday in an address to a committee of the General Assembly.
    Acknowledging the 'steady success' of the work of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the archbishop noted 'there continue to be situations where people are forced from their homes'. He said that the refugee situation remains one of the 'great tragedies of our times'.
    He quoted data from a UNHCR Report on refugees, saying their number has increased worldwide to 22.3 million, of whom 11.6 million are refugees and 4 million are internally displaced people. He said that from 50% to 70% are children, and "some of them have lived their entire life in a refugee camp."
    Archbishop Martino said that the Vatican "encourages the development of a clearer system of responsibility for internally displaced persons and welcomes the work of the upcoming World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance."
    He pointed out the critical need to support the unity of refugee families, as "experience has shown that the family unit has a better chance of reintegrating in their home or integrating in a new country than do individual refugees."