, 24 January, 2020 / 2:37 AM
At the conclusion of a three-day conference in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, participants, mainly Jesuits ministering in Africa and Madagascar and their collaborators, resolved to show hospitality to migrants, refugees and the internally displaced within the African continent, welcoming, protecting, promoting and seeking their integration in society.
“We, Jesuits and collaborators in Africa, inspired by the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) of the Society of Jesus and Pope Francis’ call, commit ourselves to welcome, protect, promote and seek the integration of vulnerable migrants,” reads part of a statement from the Director of the Jesuits Justice Ecology Network Africa (JENA), Fr. Charles Chilufya to ACI Africa Thursday, January 23.
In February 2019, the Jesuits promulgated UAPs as a point of reference for the Society’s missionary work. One of the four areas underscored in the UAPs is “walking with the excluded” people in the society.
The January 20-22 conference, which was organised by JENA and brought together Jesuits and their partners from different parts of the world aimed to “develop strategies for the coordination of the Jesuit Migrants and Refugees ministries in Africa and to develop strategies for international institutional collaboration among the Jesuit ministries in Africa and Europe.” Fr. Chilufya noted in his statement to ACI Africa.
The conference was a follow-up of a similar one held in March 2019, focusing on the completion of “a mapping of the Jesuit ministry to vulnerable migrants in Africa.”
In the statement, the Jesuit cleric further stated that their services to migrants extends to “forcibly displaced people – internally displaced, refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons, survivors of human trafficking, people in transit and those forcibly returned.”
“In serving vulnerable migrants collaboratively, we will be especially attentive to those suffering discrimination because of gender, age and disability,” the statement reads.
Fr. Chilufya recounted some of the activities during the conference saying, “During the first half of the conference, presenters took the stage to highlight the big political, social and economic challenges faced by vulnerable migrants in different regions of Africa.”
“The sessions that followed included a mapping exercise among the participants followed by group discussions that brought participants to a space of collaboration. The conference identified six clusters of collaboration, as well as defined a simple network structure for tracking the results of the conference,” the Jesuit cleric added.
According to the Migrant Ministry in Africa 2017 Report, by the Dicastery for Integral Human Development in the Vatican, there are more than 40 million migrants in Africa.
The Dicastery credits the movements to war, ethnic struggle, hunger and ecological disaster, people are forced to leave their homes for hunting, exchange of goods and work.
Meanwhile, during his weekly general address, Pope Francis spoke of the need to show hospitality to migrants and other strangers because it is an opportunity for uniting and sharing Christ’s love.
The Nairobi conference brought together social centers, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), universities, Lead Magis (youth network), Church institutions and partners in the mission from Europe.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa