World Refugee Day: Salesians Highlight Initiatives in Support of Refugees, IDPs in Africa

Don Bosco Gumbo camp for internally displaced persons in South Sudan currently hosts 10,000 people. Credit: Salesian Missions

On the occasion of the annual World Refugee Day (WRD) marked on June 20 since 2001, the leadership of the U.S-based development arm of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), Salesian Missions, has highlighted initiatives aimed at supporting refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across the globe, including Africa.

In a Tuesday, June 20 report, the interim Director of  Salesian Missions, Fr. Timothy Ploch, is quoted as saying, “Salesian missionaries live among the communities they work in and are on the front lines of the refugee crisis.”

“They provide support and services for refugees and internally displaced persons whose lives have been affected by war, persecution, famine, and natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and earthquakes,” Fr. Ploch says.

He adds, “Salesian programs provide much-needed education and technical skills training, workforce development, health care and nutrition.”

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the June 20 Salesian Missions report indicates, “While the province of North Kivu faces ongoing clashes that have been displacing thousands of people, Salesian missionaries continue with their work.”


“The medical center at Don Bosco Ngangi in Goma just delivered triplets for Dorcas Ndibungo, who had a boy and two girls,” SDB officials report, and add, “The medical center has been transformed into an emergency hospital for thousands who have been displaced.”

They continue, “The medical team includes a doctor, a laboratory technician, a physiotherapist, a clinical psychologist, two hygienists and five nurses. The team is providing both preventive and medical care for those who have been injured and have emergencies.”

In Egypt, Don Bosco Zeitoun, located in the country’s capital city, Cairo, provides education and support to Sudanese refugees in the North African nation. 

“Work with refugees began in 2000 when several arrived at the Salesian organization hoping to celebrate Catholic Mass,” SDB officials say in the June 20 report.

They say the Salesian Oratory in Cairo organizes activities for “refugees three days a week” due to limited space with an average of “250 children attending the oratory, and mothers have their own meetings.”

More in Africa

In the East-Central African nation of South Sudan, Salesian missionaries at St. Vincent de Paul Parish of Juba Archdiocese are operating the Don Bosco Gumbo camp for IDPs.

In the June 20 Salesian Missions report, SDB officials say that the Don Bosco Gumbo IDP camp that was “established in January 2014 after the outbreak of the civil war in December 2013, currently hosts 10,000 people, most of whom are women, children and the elderly.” 

“Salesians provide shelter, food, education, medical care and other basic needs,” the report indicates in refence to the South Sudan’s Salesian initiative that sees SDB members also provide education for more than 4,000 children and older youth in their learning institutions.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.