Bishops in West Africa Concerned about Tragedy of “illegal immigration,” Call for Action

Members of the Joint Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape-Verde, and Guinea-Bissau (CESMCVGB).
Credit: Public Domain

Catholic Bishops of the four-nation Conference in West Africa have, in a collective statement issued at the end of their Annual Ordinary session, expressed concerns about “illegal immigration” involving the youth, calling on their respective governments to provide concrete solutions to the challenges young people face.

In their Wednesday, November 18 message, members of the Joint Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape-Verde, and Guinea-Bissau (CESMCVGB) express their solidarity with families that have lost their loved ones in recent weeks.

“We are deeply concerned about the resurgence of the phenomenon of illegal immigration in some of our countries especially by young people,” the members of CESMCVGB say.

They add, “With many victims of illegal immigration recorded in recent weeks, we sympathize with the sorrow of the grieving families. We pray for the deceased and for their loved ones.”

Last month, at least 140 people died after their boat sank off the Senegalese coast, Euronews reported.

On October 26-27, the leadership of neighboring Mauritania said it saved 295 Senegalese migrants heading for the Canary Islands. 

On October 30, Senegalese President Macky Sall announced a series of strict instructions to reinforce boat controls and coastal surveillance in order to tackle the recent increase in illegal immigration, the Senegalese presidency announced in a press release.

“We call for unity between governments, partners and the international community to dismantle trafficking and smuggling networks that take advantage of desperate youth,” the International Organization for Migration (IOM) chief of mission in Senegal, Bakary Doumbia said October 30.

In their November 18 collective statement, CESMCVGB members express concerns about the seeming lack of “proper care of African youth,” lamenting that “despite the efforts made here and there to improve their social and economic condition, the situation remains very critical for many young people.”

“We invite our respective governments to pursue initiatives that will provide satisfactory solutions to problems faced by young people,” they further say in their collective statement at the end of their weeklong gathering that concluded November 15.

During the four-nation Bishops’ meeting that took place in Mauritania’s Diocese of Nouakchott, CESMCVGB members addressed the security situation in their respective countries.

“There is a progressive increase in multiform violence, sometimes due to ideologies that advocate exclusion and intolerance based on religion, origin, culture, ethnicity or political affiliation,” the Prelates lament in their November 18 collective message.

They call on the citizens of their respective nations to be “more open, tolerant and accept dialogue.”

“We invite the authorities to be vigilant and to promote justice, equity, peace, and social cohesion,” the Bishops further say following their meeting that was held under the theme, “The Mission of the Apostles and their Successors.”

They also addressed the challenge of COVID-19 pandemic, inviting the people of God in their respective countries to be “prudent and perseverant while respecting the preventive measures decreed by the competent authorities.” 

The Bishops give thanks to God “for the perseverance in the faith of our faithful during these difficult moments of the pandemic.”

“We call on the authorities to do everything possible to protect the health and life of the population. At the same time, we urge our respective Caritas organizations to continue the remarkable work carried out, with the support of their partners, to assist the most vulnerable populations,” the members of CESMCVGB say.

The Church leaders “invoke divine blessings and graces on Mauritania, Senegal, Cape Verde, and Guinea-Bissau, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Mauritania, and Saint Joseph her most chaste husband.”


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