Presentation of the Guidelines for the Pastoral Care
of Migrants and Refugees for the South African dioceses
Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "The need for Guidelines for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees in the SACBC (Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference) arises from the reflection of how the Church can speak to the needs of Migrants and Refugees living in our Dioceses", says Sister Maria de Lurdes Lodi Rissini, a Scalabrinian missionary, Coordinator of the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees of the SACBC, in presenting the training guideline for the pastoral care of migrants for the South African dioceses. "We are all conscious of the challenges that are faced every day and the need to work together on the socio-pastoral issues in our Church. Our approach, therefore, must be an integrated one that respects both the needs of the displaced persons and those of the hosting community", explains the nun. "These guidelines are suggestions that can help us to work together in the light of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating the migrant and refugee communities in the local church.
They are based upon the teaching of Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church, with principles and characteristics rooted in the field of migration within Southern Africa.
According to the 2011 census in South Africa there were 4.2 million people "born abroad. In the 2016 community survey, it found that the number of foreign-born people in South Africa had shrunk to 1.6 million, or 2.8% of the population. Preliminary results from the census carried out in 2021 estimate that 3.95 million people resident in South Africa are now born abroad.
As for asylum seekers and refugees, the most recent statistics indicate the total number of applications registered with the Department of Internal Affairs is around 270,000. Of these 188,296 are asylum seekers and 80,758 are refugees. The top 10 countries of origin of asylum seekers are: Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Congo Brazzaville, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Eritrea, Rwanda, Uganda, Cameroon. Several other refugees also come from non-African states: Afghanistan, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, China, East Timor, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Palestine, Russia, Serbia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Yemen, Zambia and others.