SACBC World Day Of Migrants And Refugees Webinar Focuses on Internally Displaced
By Sheila Pires – The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) Migrants and Refugees Office held a webinar on Thursday 1st October to look at Migration, Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees.
Amongst the fifty-five participants were Bishop Jan de Groef of Bethlehem Diocese, Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David of Cape Town Archdiocese, SACBC Associate Secretary General Sr Tshifhiwa Munzhedzi OP, Migrants & Refugees Section – Integral Human Development Africa Coordinator Fr Avelino Chico SJ, IMBISA director Fr Dumisani Vilakati, Caritas South Africa Chairperson Fr Patrick Rakeketsi CSS who facilitated the webinar, including Archdiocesan representatives of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees, Caritas South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini and Namibia.
The webinar entitled 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees focused on Internally Displace People (IDPs), promoting the rights of forcibly displaced people, human dignity, and Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si as the season of creation comes to an end on October 4th. The theme of this year is “Forced like Jesus to Flee”.
Special guest speaker at the webinar Fr Avelino Chico SJ Africa coordinator of the Migrants & Refugees Section at the Holy See, gave an in-depth analysis about IDPs worldwide.
Fr Chico SJ also highlighted some of the common factors that cause Africans to forcibly move, such as natural disasters, conflicts, development programmes (constructions), Ethnic barriers and access to land/land ownership.
Another speaker at the webinar was Fr Rampe Hlobo SJ who gave a “General overview of Catholic Social Teaching (Understanding the Pope’s Message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees)”. Fr Hlobo SJ reminded participants to consider the four verbs: Welcome, Protect, Promote and Integrate as well as the Catholic Social Teachings.
Also present at the webinar were representatives from the Society of Jesus South Africa, SACBC Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO), Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA), The Scalabrinian Sisters from Bienvenu Shelter and Lebombo Border, Three2Six Project and JRS.
During the webinar Diocesan representatives voiced concerns about the increase of stateless children due to undocumented parents leading children to miss out on education, hostility from locals towards migrants and refugees, high number of unemployed people due to the Covid-19 lockdown impact on the economy.
Most migrant children were unable to register for the next academic year due to Covid-19 lockdown.
Despite the challenges, most dioceses were able to assist both locals and migrant and refugees with basic necessities during the Covid-19 lockdown.
According to Fr Avelino Chico SJ, the Holy See in collaboration with the Chairperson of the SACBC Bishop Sithembele Sipuka and the SACBC liaison Bishop for Migrants and Refugees Office Archbishop Buti Thlagale and other African prelates, will hold an online Consultation Meeting on the 19th of October about the new Pastoral Guidelines on Climate Crisis and Displacement which will be published in 2021.
The SACBC will observe the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday 04th October.