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Vatican seeks international effort for homeless

The Vatican made a call at last week's Habitat+5 UN Special Session on Human Settlements for appropriate housing for all the world's poor.

The purpose of the three-day New York meeting, which included representatives from 170 countries, was to reflect upon and revitalise commitments made five years ago by the international community at the Habitat Conference held in Istanbul, Turkey.

Addressing the assembly, Vatican delegation head Monsignor Francis Assisi Chullikatt explained that the Holy See welcomes the adoption of the "Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium."

"In this declaration," he said, "representatives will reaffirm their commitment to recognize the important role of the family, as the basic unit of society, to eradicate poverty, safeguard the environment, respect human dignity, and promote and protect human rights."

In his address on Friday, Chullikatt stressed that the "success of this Special Session cannot overshadow the fact that so many people remain homeless or, as victims of armed conflict, natural disaster, or economic turmoil, have been forced from their homes, their livelihoods and, in many cases, separated from their families."

Monsignor Chullikatt said the Vatican was speaking on behalf of millions of people who live in "absolute poverty and without access to basic social services, such as clean water, safe sanitation, education, health care, and adequate nutrition, those things that are necessary for life and the realization of human potential."