Asylum-seekers are seen outside of tents at an encampment in Matamoros, Mexico, April 9, 2020. (CNS photo/Daniel Becerril, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A network of church and civil organizations called on world leaders to make sure migrants and refugees were cared for during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement released in early April, the Civil Society Action Committee said that many essential service workers in health care, sanitation and transportation are migrants.

However, despite their work, many find themselves in precarious situations due to their legal status and that jeopardizes not only their lives but also their families, the committee said.

"A fully inclusive, whole-of-society approach is essential to an effective response to this pandemic," the organization said. "As leaders and organizations of civil society around the world -- many of us ourselves migrants and refugees or their children and grandchildren -- we urgently call on states and government authorities at all levels to protect migrants and refugees in this crisis."

The committee includes many Catholic organizations, such as the International Catholic Migration Commission and Caritas Internationalis, as well as organizations like the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Guided by the overarching principle "First, save lives," the Civil Society Action Committee offered several suggestions to help countries combat the spread of the virus among migrant and refugee communities.

"Without discrimination, migrants and refugees have a right to the highest attainable standard of health and should be entitled to protection for themselves and their families, including having access to testing and early detection for COVID-19, and the possibility to apply physical distancing, self-isolation and other appropriate health measures," the organization said.

The coronavirus makes no distinction of one's citizenship, so government officials must "take the lead in respecting nondiscrimination and ensuring equal treatment for all, regardless of migration status."

"Exclusionary public policies, especially based on migration status, make migrants and refugees more vulnerable," the statement said, "and health professionals agree that such policies and responses undermine public health efforts to protect everyone."

Governments and public officials should instead partner directly with migrant and refugee communities to better inform, engage and respond to the needs of those within those groups who are most vulnerable, including women, unaccompanied children, the elderly and the disabled.

Other strategies include alleviating crowding in refugee camps or migrant settlements where physical distancing is limited, the immediate release of migrants and asylum-seekers who are detained for immigration-related reasons and the protection of labor rights and the health and safety of migrant workers and their families.

"Because this pandemic affects everyone, we have the possibility, all of us -- including migrants and refugees -- to achieve these solutions together, in a new solidarity. So, let us meet this moment together: with solutions and solidarity," the Civil Society Action Committee said.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

 Father Paul Hill (Hamish Linklater) as Father Paul Hill in ‘Midnight Mass’ (photo: IMDB)
“Midnight Mass” feels like a throwback to the world that received “The Exorcist” in 1973.
Nick Ripatrazone September 27, 2021
A young woman takes part in a rally in Toronto June 6, 2021, after the remains of 215 children were on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in May. For years Indigenous people in Canada have wanted an apology from the pope for the church's role in abuse at Catholic-run residential schools. (CNS photo/Chris Helgren, Reuters)
The discoveries of unmarked burials have left many wondering what motivated Catholics to participate in a colonial system that would be responsible for the loss and violation of thousands of Indigenous children.
Dean DettloffSeptember 27, 2021
Cardinal Raymond Burke, a vaccine skeptic who was placed on a ventilator after contracting Covid-19, has left the hospital but is still struggling to recover from the disease.
The bishops’ apology is the latest expression of remorse from the Canadian arms of the Catholic Church but still falls short of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call for the pope himself to apologize in Canada.
The Associated PressSeptember 27, 2021