Tuesday, 10 June 2008

AFRICA: Congress Sees Need for Pastoral Care of Migrants NAIROBI,

June 6, 2008 (CISA) -A declaration is being prepared calling on the Catholic Church in Africa to lay greater emphasis on providing adequate pastoral care to refugees and migrants.Closing a pan-African congress in the Kenyan capital on Thursday, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said the declaration will summarize the reflections, findings and recommendations of the congress.The document, dubbed ‘The Nairobi Appeal’, will seek concerted international and national efforts among the Church hierarchy and lay faithful. Pastoral care of refugees and migrants should include healing and counseling for those who suffer due to displacement.There are 26 million migrants in the world, a third of them from Africa. Sudan leads with more than 5 million.A major problem limiting the Church’s response to the plight of migrants is lack of funds, said the archbishop, who also suggested frequent meetings to find ways and means to address the issue.Archbishop Marchetto also urged African bishops to seek international help in on behalf of displaced people.Some of the participants at the congress visited a camp for the Internally Displaced Persons at Waithaka near Nairobi, led by the Archbishop Boniface Lele, Chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference Commission for the Refugees, Migrants and Seafarers.Waithaka District Officer Cornelius Wamalwa told the congress participants that there were 350 IDPs at the camp and that other people displaced from the Rift Valley region now lived in the area. Wamalwa said that the IDPs were thrown out of their houses and efforts to return them have failed.“We are going to request the Prime Minister Raila Odinga to address the issue,” Wamalwa said. He said the government was planning to evict those that grabbed property and houses owned by displaced people. Archbishop Lele said the Catholic Church will follow up the matter with the government.

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