Pastoral coordinators reflect on migration challenges in South Africa

Pastoral coordinators reflect on migration challenges in South Africa

The Migrants and Refugees Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) held a three-day conference for pastoral coordinators from Botswana, Swaziland, and South Africa. This was also the occasion to announce the union of the Migrants and Refugees Office and the Human Trafficking Office under one umbrella and to welcome Sr. Neide Lamperti, mscs as the new SACBC coordinator for this new office.

The purpose of the conference was to share reports on the response to the migration situation in their respective dioceses and to familiarize themselves with South African White Paper on citizenship, Immigration and refugee protection.

The "White Paper" aims to introduce a single legislative act with several chapters on the "Law on Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees" with which the Government regulates the process for foreigners to apply for and obtain residence and citizenship in South Africa, as well as dealing with asylum seekers and refugees requests.

In an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation, the South African government asked SACBC to provide input to the White Paper. The conference then heard presentations from some of the Catholic organizations that submitted responses to the proposed amendments to the South African White Paper on Immigration. Among them, the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa provided some recommendations, which were accepted by the government.

Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito of Aliwal North Diocese, emphasised that the Church focuses on the value of humanity, on human dignity. “So, we wanted to see how we can bring the Gospel values and theology, the church teachings into the White Paper, which will cover many migrants and refugees,” he added.

23 April 2024