Ensuring Migrants, Refugees in Angola are Documented Remains a Priority: Catholic Entity

Logo of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (CEPAMI). Credit: CEPAMI

The promotion of human rights for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Angola, as well as ensuring that people on the move are documented, remains a priority for the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (CEPAMI) in the Southern African nation, the entity’s Executive Secretary has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Neide Lamperti spoke broadly on the events of the just ended conference of the Angolan Network for Migrants and Refugees on migration and asylum rights that was organized under the theme, “Building the future with migrants and refugees”.

Sr. Lampeti said, “The problem of documentation was one of the issues most touched upon, as it is important that migrants, refugees and those seeking asylum in Angola are documented.”

“It is also a call for the government to see people on the move as humans who come to help build a country and not to destroy or to harm the country. The more undocumented people in the country, the worse it is for the country and its security,” she said during the October 8 interview.

The member of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo (Scalabrinians – MSCS) went on to say, “Legalizing the status of migrants and refugees is beneficial to the country because among the refugees we have people who are doctors, who are nurses, who are teachers, who are psychologists, and could help serve their own refugee community or other communities.”


Founded in 2016 by CEPAMI, the Angolan Network for the Protection of Migrants and Refugees seeks “to address the plight of people on the move in Angola and has enriched the work in the country with regards to migrants and refugees,” said Sr. Lamperti.

“This is the fifth edition of this conference, which happens every year and usually in the month of October, in the very first days of October to coincide with the celebrations of the Migrant and Refugee Week”, she added in relation to the October 5 conference that was held at the Catholic University of Angola in the country’s capital city, Luanda.

The Angolan Network for the Protection of Migrants and Refugees works in collaboration with other civil and religious organizations, namely, Caritas Angola, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), the Law Research Center OMUNGA, the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, Volunteers International for Development (VIS), Salesians of Don Bosco, MSCS, Divine Word Missionaries (SVD).

Others are the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Radio Ecclesia and the Episcopal Commission for Social Communication of the Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST).

Among the guest speakers at the October 5 conference was Feliciano Sumba, the Migration Inspector of the Migration and Foreigners Service, an agency of the Angolan Ministry of Interior, who said that the institution “remains focused on the completion of the allocation of documentation to refugees.”

More in Africa

Data from the Angolan Network for the Protection of Migrants and Refugees indicates that the Southern African nation is home to more than 56,000 refugees and more than 200,000 foreigners of various nationalities.

“We have approximately 18 communities, some larger, some smaller, and the largest one is the Congolese community. Then we have the Rwandan community. We have the Liberian community. We also have the French-speaking community made up of communities from different nationalities. There are several other migrant communities, including the Nigerian community, and the Filipino community,” Sr. Lamperti told ACI Africa during the October 8 interview.

The Brazilian-born Catholic Nun said that during her missionary work of 11 years in Angola, CEPAMI has held regular meetings with migrant and refugee communities, to see how best they can be of “assistance to the communities”.

“We usually have two or three meetings a year with all the migrant and refugee leaders; together we see how best we can be of assistance… We work with all communities, but our bigger service is with the refugee community, where besides the formation that we give to them, we work with the leaders, but also with groups of women and men; they also always participate in our formation courses”, said the Executive Secretary of CEPAMI.

She added, “We have monthly training; sometimes they are biweekly – it also depends on the availability of our schedule. It's our job. It is in the human area, because for the most part, they are not Catholic, they are Muslim, they are Pentecostal. And they all ask and want our training.”


Through CEPAMI, migrant and refugee communities are encouraged to integrate into host communities, the Catholic Nun said, and added that the commission also offers vocational courses for women, as well as human, social and entrepreneurship training, assistance, and advocacy for the relevant needs of refugees.

During the October 8 interview, Sr. Lamperti told ACI Africa that as of January 2023, undocumented children will have access to school.

“We already have the project approved for next year. We will also work with literacy classes and school reinforcement for approximately 400 children,” she said, adding, “Many of these children don’t have access to education due to various factors.”

Sr. Lamperti noted that some of the children do not attend school because of lack of documents, and lack of space in the schools.

Sometimes, she said, the children fail to attend schools because they are far away from the locality, and they do not have conditions to pay for transportation. 

(Story continues below)

“So far, we have built nine classes of students; the aim is to reach approximately 400 children, where besides paying teachers to give the classes, the tutoring, we are also going to give them the materials and we are also going to improve conditions at the refugee center, with tables and chairs, so that they can attend these classes,” the Scalabrinian Nun told ACI Africa October 8.

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.