Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees


By Rosa Lewis

The theme for this year’s 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees is ‘Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees’. This theme implies not only work and effort, but a sense of hope as well. The message this year does not focus so much on causes or symptoms of migration, but rather the imperative to foster friendship and creativity in the here and now. 

2022 has challenged us all, with our self-understanding and capacity tested by the events that have come our way. This is a time of tumult. We can say confidently that the tumult that we are experiencing is both a result of inequality, and impacts some people much more profoundly than others. This is a double-bind whereby those experiencing inequality as a result of systemic injustice are the most impacted by the negative outcomes of those systems with few viable options to change these circumstances.  

We see this double-bind in action, for instance, in internal displacement and forced migration as a result of climate change. Take the recent floods in Pakistan as an example. A country which contributes little to emissions causing climate-change is catastrophically affected by climate-change related flooding. Furthermore, people forced to flee because of environmental factors are not currently recognised as refugees under international law; Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner has referred to this as a ‘legal void’.  

In his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the Holy Father says: 

God’s plan is essentially inclusive and gives priority to those living on the existential peripheries. Among them are many migrants and refugees, displaced persons, and victims of trafficking. The Kingdom of God is to be built with them, for without them it would not be the Kingdom that God wants.   

In building together with people who are so acutely affected by structural inequalities, we come to a point where we can reassess – and in some cases reaffirm – the foundations that we are building upon. By excluding these voices from our vision of the future we not only bury our heads in the sand but run the danger of compounding the very issues we are seeking to resolve.  

For Refugee Week in June this year, Caritas Westminster, alongside the Anglican Dioceses of London and Southwark, undertook to share ‘Stories of Welcome’ from Church communities across London. A common theme drawn out from these stories of hospitality is that when walking alongside people seeking sanctuary the benefits are reciprocal. Whilst we don’t serve others to gain benefits ourselves, it does enhance our own lives and this can be  acknowledged and celebrated.  

The Holy Father’s message contains subtopics, principles of sorts, which build upon each other and provide points of reflection. They are: A future to build together, a future for all, growing together as a society, growing together as humanity, growing together as a Church and finally the future is today. Taken together we get a sense of how we are to cultivate the Kingdom of God and what the fruits of this are. 


Rosa Lewis is the Caritas Westminster lead on Migration and Refugees, and the Development Worker for North London

We would love to hear about your own stories of welcome and work together in creating them. Please get in touch via  

These videos were recorded at the “Stories of Welcome” refugee event in June 2022



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