Church in Africa Needs to Create Awareness on Migration: Catholic Bishop in South Africa

Credit: SACBC

There is need for the Church in Africa to raise migration awareness and educate the people of God on the continent about the reality of leaving a native country in search of better opportunities elsewhere. 

In an interview with ACI Africa, the Liaison Bishop for Migrants and Refugees department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) called for the introduction of “migration awareness campaigns throughout all Church structures” in view of preventing young people from leaving their native countries in pursuit of greener pastures abroad.

“Just like we did with HIV and AIDS, and with COVID-19, Africa needs to come up with similar campaigns at schools and all Church structures to sensitize young people about migration,” Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito said in the Monday, August 1 interview.

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Aliwal in South Africa added, “We need such awareness campaigns, to talk to people before they even think of going away.”

Bishop Kizito said the campaigns are important because people contemplating to leave their respective native countries need to know about the realities of migration, including the dangers they might face during their journey. 


Potential migrants could be asked questions such as: “Where are you going? What are the benefits? What are the risks? What about your family? Your future?” the Ugandan-born Bishop who has been at the helm of Aliwal Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in February 2020 said.

He further said that migration awareness campaigns should also include testimonies of “people who have returned back to their home countries”.

“People who have returned to their native countries should also be engaged to tell their story, their true story. They should be given platforms to talk about what they went through, what challenges they experienced,” said Bishop Kizito.

In the August 1 interview, Bishop Kizito said that migration is a human right, that it has a biblical basis, and that it is a normal social phenomenon that is linked to the history of humankind.

Asked about what he would be reporting back to the August 1-5 SACBC second Plenary Asembly in Mariannhill Diocese, Bishop Kizito said he will reiterate the call for the establishment of migrants and refugees’ offices at Parish level.

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“Every Parish council should have somebody who's in charge of this ministry, just like we have people in charge of the different ministries such as proclaimers, catechism, Eucharist … every Parish ought to have trained people heading the migrants and refugees’ office”, he emphasized.

In the interview that followed the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) held in Ghana under the theme, “Ownership of SECAM: Security and Migration in Africa and its Islands”, Bishop Kizito said it is unfortunate that “most countries in Africa don’t have such awareness campaigns to prevent people from moving from their home countries.”

In their communiqué at the end of their Plenary Assembly in Accra, Catholic Bishops who came from the eight regional associations of SECAM called upon Christian communities “to develop an active pastoral care for migration, summarized in four actions: welcome, protect, promote and integrate.”

The pastoral care for migrants is to be developed “in a manner that is administratively acceptable and with full knowledge of the challenges that await them,” Catholic Bishops in Africa and Madagascar said.

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.