Foster Inclusivity for Integration of Migrants in Host Communities: Bishop in South Africa

Ugandan-born Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito of Aliwal Diocese in South Africa. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop overseeing the Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) is calling on the people of God in Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa to give special attention to values that foster inclusivity to achieve integration of migrants and refugees in host communities. 

In his Monday, September 12 statement ahead of the 108th World Day for Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) 2022 to be marked on September 25, Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito says, “Inclusive virtues of hospitality, generosity, kindness, and of welcoming” are essential to realize an “integrated community”.

“The best way to grow a better integrated community is to give opportunities to migrants and refugees together with the host community to put into practice their rights and obligations as a society”, Bishop Kizito adds in his message ahead of the WDMR 2022 whose theme Pope Francis chose to be, “Building the future with migrants and refugees”.

The Local Ordinary of South Africa’s Aliwal Diocese says the theme for WDMR 2022 “highlights the commitment that we are all called to include the migrants and refugees in different programs in our communities to better build the future with God’s plan.”

“Building the future with migrants and refugees also means recognizing and giving value to the contribution of each of them who contributed to the building of our homes and cities,” the Ugandan-born Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Aliwal Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in February 2020 says.


He explains, “If we observe, in many of the buildings surrounding ourselves, these were built by migrants and refugees living in our country.”

In his message shared with ACI Africa, Bishop Kizito underscores the need for members of the host communities to foster inclusivity, saying in reference to migrants and refugees, “We are concerned about their wellbeing and implore the host countries to be inclusive in responding to the socio-economic needs, especially to the vulnerable people.”

“The context in which we are living right now in Southern Africa should be a call to pray for unity, reconciliation, and strength. Our mission is to build together a better place to live in harmony and respect as human creatures of God,” he says. 

Bishop Kizito calls on the human family "to exercise the four verbs of Welcoming, Protecting, Promoting, and Integrating them into our communities.”

Over the last couple of months, South Africa has reportedly seen an increase in anti-foreigner rhetoric from vigilante groups and certain political parties, resulting in xenophobic sentiments towards foreign nationals from mainly African countries.

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In his September 12 statement, Bishop Kizito, an advocate for the integration of the people on the move into host communities goes on to say, “Migrants and Refugees have families too. Host countries should not make it difficult for families to join their members who are already burdened with the challenges of migration. This imposes a biblical and moral obligation on us all to be an inclusive society.” 

“We should learn from each other and to put into practices the qualities given by the Holy Spirit to each human person,” he says, and adds, “The World Day of Migrants and Refugees should humbly recall that all human beings have been made in the image of God and that we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper.”

In 1914, Pope Pius X, touched by the drama of millions of Italians who had migrated abroad since the beginning of the 20th century, called on Christians to pray for migrants. In the same year, his successor, Pope Benedict XV, instituted the Day of the Migrants and Refugees. 

Marked on the last Sunday of September annually, WDMR is used to express concern for people on the move, highlighting their vulnerability, praying for them amid challenges, and making known migration opportunities.

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.