Church in Eswatini in Right Direction on “pastoral care for migrants, refugees”: Jesuit

Fr. Rampe Hlobo. Credit: ACI Africa

Initiatives the Catholic Church in Eswatini is taking to reach out to migrants and refugees in the one-Diocese Southern African nation are steps in the right direction, a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of the three-day workshop on migration in Eswatini’s Manzini Diocese, Fr. Rampe Hlobo acknowledged with appreciation the steps leadership of the lone Catholic Diocese is taking to establish an office for migrants and refugees in the Diocese and in Parishes.

“I think Eswatini is moving in the right direction; the Catholic Church in Eswatini is moving in the right direction with regards to pastoral care for migrants and refugees; it's a positive start of this project here in the church in Eswatini, and we wish them well,” Fr. Hlobo who was among the workshop facilitators said during the May 1 interview.

The Social Apostolate and Migration Delegate for Southern African Province of Jesuits said that applying the social teaching of the Church, structures behind poverty are challenged.

He said, “The idea of the Catholic Church social teachings is to challenge the structures that cause people to be poor, to be vulnerable.”


In his presentation during the three-day migration workshop for members of the Eswatini Council of Catholic Women that concluded May 1, the Jesuit Priest ministering in his native country of South Africa addressed the concepts of migration, human rights, protection, and legal frameworks for migrants and refugees.

During the workshop, delegates from the four regions of Eswatini representing the 16 Catholic Parishes of Manzini Diocese identified accommodation, employment, and acquiring the necessary documentation as some of the key challenges facing migrants and refugees in Eswatini.

Making reference to the challenges cited by delegates during the workshop aimed at building the capacity of Coordinators of the office of migrants and refugees at Diocesan and Parish levels, Fr. Hlobo told ACI Africa that it is important to network and collaborate with other existing entities when dealing with issues concerning migrants and refugees.

“Migration is a very complex issue, and it's becoming a sophisticated phenomenon. It needs collaboration, it needs networking”, Fr. Hlobo said on the sidelines of the workshop that was organized by the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) under the title, “Migrants and Refugees: A Coordinated and Sustainable Response”.

He added, “The challenges that we had them talking about this morning, are reflective of what we've been talking about. And it emphasizes the point that they need to develop networks; they need to work with other entities.”

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He recalled the sharing among workshop participants saying, “I heard one of them saying that the Church is rich, in the sense that we have so many skills, or skilled people in the church. They need to rope in those skilled people to help them to help the church respond to the needs of migrants and refugees in Eswatini.”

“We talked about accommodation, we talked about the legal challenges, documentation and all that stuff,” the Jesuit Priest further recalled, and explained, “it means you don't work alone as the Church, but you also go out to other agencies or nongovernmental organizations, or international organizations, and try to work together to respond to the needs of refugees and migrants in Eswatini.”

The Local Ordinary of Manzini Diocese had requested that the three-day workshop fosters an understanding of the reality of human mobility in Eswatini, and the organization of pastoral care for migrants and refugees at Diocesan and Parish levels.

Other objectives Bishop Jose Ponce de Leon directed included supporting the development of a coordinated network at diocesan, national and international level, and implementing the resolutions of the SACBC 2019 plenary meeting on migration.

In the interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Hlobo encouraged Coordinators of migrants and refugees office in Eswatini to ensure that they work in collaboration with the leadership of the Church in their respective communities.


The Jesuit Priest said in reference to the Coordinators, “It’s very important to work in collaboration with their Parish Priests and Religious for the project to be successful.”

The Jesuit Cleric serving in his native country, South Africa, was one of the facilitators at a three-day workshop on migration in Manzini Diocese, Eswatini from Friday, April 29 to Sunday, May 1.

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.