JENA agenda on Migration in Africa

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JENA held the International Strategic Conference in Nairobi-Kenya from 20th up to the 22nd of January 2020. It had launched its strategic plan 2019-2023 last year as it kicked off efforts to reorganize and optimize its migration and refugee’s ministry and other aspects while escalating its efforts in the promotion of peace.

On March 3rd, 2019, the Migration Working Group met in Nairobi for the first time. A first mapping of the Jesuit migration work in Africa was prepared by Angola Jesuit and migration expert, Avelino Chico, SJ (ACE). Resolutions for a second meeting were included in the summary of notes. The second meeting was a strategy one whereby JENA engaged European partners as key representative of the JRS among them regional director Tom Smolich were present. Jesuits and collaborators from institutions in Africa involved in refugee and migrants’ ministries also turned up whereas three young people from the Lead Magis Africa Youth Network and a representative of the AU Youth envoy were not to be left out.

The objectives of the second meeting were; to complete the mapping exercise of the Jesuit ministry of refugees in Africa, develop strategies for the coordination of Migrants and Refugees ministries in Africa, develop common change goals for the Euro-Africa Jesuit Migration and Refugees ministries, and develop strategies for international institutional collaboration among the Jesuit ministries in Africa and in Europe. Over three days; a statement of mission was drafted and adopted, and four clusters identified for collaboration; social centers (Jesuit NGOs), Academics, Jesuit Refugee Service Cluster the European.

Statistics were scrutinized as an analysis of the migration crisis was made as frameworks set out by international bodies such as; AU, EU, UNHCR and IOM to guide response remained top of mind. The flow of IDPS and refugees in Africa were also explored as a mapping of the society of Jesus in Africa was done to ensure sober approach in response to the migration crisis.  Biting poverty, historical injustices, inequalities, unemployment, the increasing challenge of climate change, illegal finance flows and corruption are challenges which prove that disarmament is not the only solution.

The following is the mission statement crafted after reflection and discernment at the conference.

We, Jesuits and collaborators in Africa, inspired by the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus and Pope Francis’ call, commit ourselves to welcome, protect, promote and seek the integration of vulnerable migrants.

Our call to serve vulnerable migrants includes forcibly displaced people – internally displaced, refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons-, survivors of human trafficking, people in transit and those forcibly returned.

In serving vulnerable migrants collaboratively, we will be especially attentive to those suffering discrimination because of gender, age and disability.