Conference on International Migration and it’s impact on Southern Africa Harare, Zimbabwe, 27 – 28 February, 2018 “We have a duty toward our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland: a duty of justice, of civility and of solidarity.”
Pope Francis, Sixth International Forum on Migration and Peace.
Challenged by the plight of those who have been forced to leave their homeland, we, participants at this conference on migration organized by the Catholic University of Zimbabwe, came together in Harare, Zimbabwe, to reflect on this phenomenon in order to find ways to carry out our duty of justice, civility and solidarity to our brothers and sisters on the move.
We recognize that migration is a natural process that has taken place throughout human history in every part of the world. All creatures, human and animal alike, will travel away from their home base to obtain sustenance, security and survival. We acknowledge that Migration is a necessary process in our ecosystem. We acknowledge the potential benefits of migration for both sending and receiving countries if managed humanely and fairly.
Migration can enhance development and the sharing of skills, enabling refugees to contribute positively to their adopted countries. We are aware of the historical and specific nature of migration on the African continent that experienced the slave trade, displacement by colonial powers, internal conflicts and power struggles as well as forced labour across borders. We acknowledge the displacement in recent times caused by conflict, human rights abuses, poor governance, corruption, misuse of local resources and climate change. We also recognize the link between migration and human trafficking, which takes advantage of poverty, unemployment, lack of education and opportunities for advancement to lure men and women into various forms of servitude or slavery. We understand that women and men experience migration differently and that women are at greater risk of exploitation than men when they journey
outside their homeland. On the other hand, women may gain greater confidence and new skills as they share with their husbands the responsibility of providing income for the family. Conscious of the tension between the need to earn income to send home
(remittances) and the disruption that migration often causes to family life and culture as well as the loss of human capital (brain drain) it represents, we do not expect to find easy answers to this complex reality. We appreciate the response by faith based communities and organisations such as Caritas and Jesuit Refugee Service to provide pastoral and humanitarian aid to migrants. We affirm the role of international organisations such as UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to provide humanitarian support and to assist governments to formulate humane and just policies to facilitate the protection and integration of migrants and refugees in their new countries of residence. We acknowledge the need for all stakeholders to continue to engage in order to facilitate migration for the common good. We are encouraged by the Government of Zimbabwe’s intention to develop more open and welcoming immigration and labour policies that will
contribute to building a healthy and vibrant society. We have learnt the importance of developing educational programs to
meet the changing needs of society and to develop an economy that creates opportunities for youth that ensure exposure and growth leading to empowerment of the youth including employment and further education. We question the concept of the nation-state that divides people and creates barriers to movement. We also question an economy that puts profits before people.
Motivated by our Christian faith to welcome the stranger (Mt 25:35) and challenged by the prophetic tradition that promotes inclusivity, we understand that we have a duty to counter negative and xenophobic response to migrants and refugees.
Furthermore, the social teachings of the church offer us a vision of the common good that promotes growth in all its dimensions and provides a moral and ethical framework for responding to the “other” in our midst. Cardinal Turkson highlighted to us the need to understand and embrace the church’s recommended response to migrants, to Welcome, Protect,
Promote and Integrate and with that to Discern the circumstances (WPPID). The outstanding moral leadership and courage of Pope Francis on this issue prompts us to take bold action with respect to welcoming migrants and refugees in our society. We have developed a better understanding of the fact that we are after all, all of us migrants and journeying. Inspired by the message of Cardinal Peter Turkson and the vision that he presented of cultures of encounter and solidarity across borders, we
- To use “The 20 Pastoral Action Points” in the Church’s dioceses, parishes and religious congregations and to share this document with other organisations with which we cooperate.
- To share the message of inclusion in our schools, parishes, places of work and in our homes;
- To encourage the Catholic University of Zimbabwe to introduce diploma and degree courses in migration studies in its curriculum;
- To promote good governance and job creation within Zimbabwe to enable youth to contribute their skills and creativity to building up this country;
- To advocate the relevant government ministries to adopt immigration policies that are just and fair and to respond positively to the Global Compact on Refugees;
- To support initiatives to prevent human trafficking such as the AFCAST Working Group to Combat Human Trafficking and the ZCBC initiative for child protection.
- To collaborate with the National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation in order to heal the wounds of violence and
discrimination in Zimbabwe and to prevent conflicts in the future.
- To become advocates in the public domain to help overcome fear of the stranger and to counter the negative and xenophobic responses that refugees and migrants often encounter.
- To follow the example of Pope Francis in welcoming the stranger in our midst and treating refugees and migrants with respect and compassion
In conclusion, we leave this conference more aware of the migrant situation in Southern Africa and its relationship to development. We share the conviction that we are all migrants and return to our homes, dioceses
and places of work invigorated and inspired by the vision of a world where we live together in peace and harmony as brothers and sisters, promoting the fullness of life for all. “The duty of solidarity is to counter the throwaway culture and give greater attention to those who are weakest, poorest and most vulnerable.” Pope Francis, Sixth International Forum on Migration and Peace.