World Day of Migrants and Refugees Date in the current year: September 25, 2022

World Day of Migrants and Refugees The World Day of Migrants and Refugees is observed on the last Sunday of September every year. It was established by the Catholic Church in 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the refugee crisis during the first months of World War I, when millions of people were forced to leave their homes.

The history of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is closely tied to the history of the First World War. Although Italy was a member of Triple Alliance with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany, it decided to remain neutral when the war stated in July 1914. For thousands of Italians living in Austria, Germany and France, the outbreak of the war meant fleeing to their home country through Switzerland. In the months that followed, neutral Italy also became a destination for non-Italian refugees from other countries.

After being moved by the outcry of thousands of Italian refugees and migrants, Pope Pius X called on everyone to pray for them. Following his death on August 20, 1914, Pius X was succeeded by Benedict XV, who took a more practical approach to the refugee crisis. In December 1914, the Consistorial Congregation asked to establish an annual awareness day that focuses on the support of Italian migrants.

The first Day of the Migrant was observed on February 21, 1915 (the first Sunday of Lent). It focused on raising money for the pastoral care of Italian immigrants. In 1928, the date of the observance was moved to the first Sunday of Advent. In 1952, the observance was expanded to celebrate immigrants of all nationalities.

In 1962, the Day of the Migrant became global, and in 2004, it was renamed the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The Holy See also changed the date of the observance several times before settling on the last Sunday of September. Each World Day of Migrants and Refugees since 1968 has had a specific theme; for example, the 2022 theme was “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees”.

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees is about expressing concern for vulnerable people who have been forced to leave their homes, praying for them to overcome the many challenges they face, and increasing awareness about the opportunities that migration offers.

Events held on the occasion of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees are curated by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, which was under the direct guidance of the Pope as of 2022. Their primary mission is to raise awareness of the plight of those who are compelled to migrate with a special focus on people fleeing humanitarian emergencies, conflicts, persecution or extreme poverty, exploited migrant workers, victims of human trafficking, and vulnerable categories of migrants (women, children and youth).

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees established by the Catholic Church should not be confused with two United Nations observances it shares a theme with: World Refugee Day, observed on June 20, and International Migrants Day, which falls on December 18 every year.

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International Observances

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World Day of Migrants and Refugees, international observances, Catholic Church, refugee crisis, migrants and refugees