International Catholic Migration Commission
|International Catholic Migration Commission|
|Type||International non-governmental organization|
|Official languages||English, French and Spanish|
|Secretary General||Johan Ketelers|
The International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) is an international organization that serves and protects the needs of uprooted people, refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants, with operations in 30 countries of the world, including Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey.
ICMC advocates for durable solutions and rights-based policies directly and through a worldwide network of 172 (as of 2006) member organizations.
ICMC's expertise and core programming consists of refugee resettlement, return and reintegration, local integration, work with extremely vulnerable individuals, counter-trafficking and rescue, NGO capacity-building, technical cooperation and government institution-building, emergency response and advocacy.
How ICMC began
The founding of ICMC followed the end of the Second World War and the great displacement of peoples, particularly in Europe, caused by that international conflict. By 1949, in eastern Europe thousands more were forced to flee their homes.
The Catholic Church worked among these displaced people in various ways and places but, by 1951, it was clear to a group of lay Catholic people and the Holy See in Rome that a more systematic effort was needed on the part of Catholic organizations to respond to the needs of forced migrants.
In 1951, German, Italian, and American laity and clergy, as well as Secretary of State, Archbishop Montini (the future Pope Paul VI), and Cardinal Joseph Frings of Germany, initiated the creation of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). The following year, Pope Pius XII, in his papal letter (known as an Apostolic Constitution), Exsul Familia, focused the attention of Catholics on the needs of migrants and refugees, and formally introduced ICMC to the world. The first president of ICMC was Mr James Norris from the United States of America. He served as president for 23 years and retired in 1976.
In its early years, the work of ICMC focused on the administration of migrant travel loan funds. This was, by far, the most pressing need at the time.
How ICMC developed
By the early 1970s, the migration phenomenon had become more complex and international. People were forced to migrate from an increasing number of countries because of war and poverty.
The end of the war in Vietnam, the attempted genocide in Cambodia and violent events elsewhere caused a forced migration that had not been witnessed for a generation. ICMC continued to assist European refugees resettle in new countries. It also began resettlement work with the new refugee groups from South and Southeast Asia, the Near East, Africa and Latin America.
In recent years, ICMC has expanded its work and is providing rehabilitative services for victims of torture. Preventive and rehabilitative work for trafficked victims and survivors of gender based violence is a major area of ICMC's current work and expertise. Helping with the new legislation on counter trafficking in Indonesia has been a very successful ICMC endeavour. Another area of expertise ICMC has is in emergency mental health and psychosocial services; ICMC and has been very much involved as a Task Force Member to formulate guidelines on mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies.
On Friday July 11, 2008, ICMC has been officially granted new public juridical status by the Holy See, in better accordance with its present identity and activities. This new juridical personality underlines the importance of the strengthened relationship between the Secretariat of State of the Vatican, the Episcopal Conferences and ICMC in their shared concern for the well-being of migrants.
On 11 March 2011, the Swiss chair of the Global Forum on Development and Migration officially requested the assistance of the ICMC in planning the Civil Society portion of the Forum. The ICMC accepted this position, becoming the first non-governmental organization to fill this role since the inception of the GFDM in 2006. Being an NGO, the ICMC has considerably more breadth to make the Civil Society portion more independent of the States Programme.
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