By Martina Liebsch, Caritas Internationalis advocacy coordinator for migration, trafficking and gender
Caritas has it’s role to play!
One of the issues which came up during the session on migration at the Caritas in Africa Partnership Forum in Nairobi was the worry that there are different Catholic actors active in the field of migration, the Bishops Conferences of the different countries and ICMC more specifically. There was a worry that work would be duplicated. But people agreed there is a lot of work for everybody and that we should seek at complementing each other. It was emphasized that Caritas has its role to play, because Caritas is close to people’s needs.
Coordination and networking seem to be the key words to use and share the rich experience and knowledge in the region. There was an agreement that there is a need for focal points and reference persons within the region and that they should come together in a working group to facilitate the exchange within the region, but also link up with the advocacy work at a Caritas Internationals level!
How to pin down the vast field of migration into concrete common action?
It was clear that for Caritas the mission is to serve and protect the rights of those who are forced to migrate, refugees, IDP’s, but also those who are forced to leave their home due to hunger as a consequence of climate change or those who are exploited and abused during their journey!
But this is certainly just the start and the work needs to be made more concrete. It is a plant which was just put into the ground and now needs to be cared of by the region, but also by my work. Possibly the work around feminisation of migration could be a starting point and I hope very much that the region would take up the challenge to host an international forum on this topic.
At the end of the day I was really thankful to the colleagues of the Caritas in Africa, who with their contributions on migration contributed to the forward thinking on the issue.
The partnership forum was an experiment, but it turned out to be a very good setting with open discussions and exchange even on contentious issues.
I can’t end my blog without mentioning that again some wonderful and dedicated women were at the heart of the Forum.
It was my second time working with African Caritas members and I definitely feel this is a place where I feel at home and I’m looking forward to working together! A person working at the Kolping House where the meeting took place told me that he had been working with Germans and that he said that they are his brothers and sisters. I can only agree with that!