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Church On Youth Migration

Aug 26, 2009, 6:39 AM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

The Association of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa over the weekend ended their last meeting in the capital of The Gambia taking stringent decisions as they all join RECOWA.

The Plenary Assembly and workshop of AECAWA belonging to English speaking West African Bishops who gathered from the 4th to 8th August 2009 discussed on the topic "Youth and Migration in West Africa."

About 46 Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals and over eighty priests from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia were in attendance with some religious and lay people.

The host Bishop, Robert Patrick Ellison CSSp, welcomed the gathering and thanked president Jammeh for his moral and financial support towards the assembly over the two weeks. He says, "We thank you for choosing The Gambia for the demise and burial of AECAWA." He said they had 1.7 Million inhabitants with about 42, 000 Catholics, with an excellent relationship between Christians and Muslims.

The Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev. George Antonysamy said they were gathered on a final meeting of AECAWA as it changes to RECOWA to embrace the French and Portuguese speaking West Africans. He read out the message from Pope Benedict XV1th.

Workshop papers were presented by Gambian representative on illegal migration, the country's Vice president gave speech, different commissions presented papers, standing committees met and they gave way to the new regional grouping, the RECOWA. They have been urged to learn French and English from both sides. They agreed to cub out illegal migration.

The Plenary section addressed youth on illegal migration as the religious heads came up with a communiqué.

Roman Catholic Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals addressed West African youth on illegal migration at a press conference at the close of their AECAWA meeting at Kairaba Hotel

Over eighty priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, priests and some lay people at the end of the 12th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa (AECAWA) recently, addressed youth on illegal migration pointing out some reasons why they often flee.

His Eminence Peter Cardinal Turkson, Archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana and president of AECAWA said, "The economic situation of poverty has a particular negative impact on the young. They embark on adult life with very little enthusiasm for the present riddled with frustration and they look with still less hope to the future, which to them seems sad and sombre. That is why they tend to flee the neglected rural areas and gather in cities, which in fact do not have much more to offer them. Many of them go to foreign countries where, as if in exile, they live a precarious existence as economic refugees."

Cardinal Turkson said the youth's pastors consider it a duty to plead their cause. He says "It is urgently necessary to find a solution to youth's eagerness to take part in the life of the nation and of the Church, at the same time appeal to you to take in hand the development of your countries. And also to love the culture of your people and to work for its renewal with fidelity to your cultural heritage through a sharpening of your scientific and technical expertise and above all through the witness of your Christian faith."

The bishops advised youths to obtain genuine documents when they have to travel outside their countries and not to use unlawful and dangerous means such as stowing away. They said they should avoid using clandestine routes across the Sahara Desert, etc. "Before going to improve your education, you should be sure you have the requisite qualification for admission into an educational institution and the means to look after yourself. After your studies you return home. Never go for the wrong reasons, such as drug peddling, prostitution, joining criminal gangs to steal or money laundering."

The Bishops observed that there was need for employment generation, good governance and conflict resolution, unemployment and other social ills and to take stock of existing laws. The Church appreciates human mobility and stressed the formation of youth and a need for public education and advocacy in the local Churches.

Pope Benedict XV1th. added his voice to the Plenary Assembly of AECAWA and assures them of his blessings through the Most Rev. George Antonysamy, Apostolic Nuncio to The Gambia in Monrovia. The letter states, "The Holy Father was pleased to be informed of the forthcoming Plenary Assembly of AECAWA and he assures you of his prayers and good wishes. As you come together to reflect on your chosen theme of "Youth and Migration in West Africa," His Holiness prays that you will be inspired to offer courageous leadership in the struggle against the injustices so often suffered by young people who are forced to leave their families in search of employment or to flee their homes in situations of conflict. Fidelity to the Gospel of Christ requires a firm witness to the fact that "every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone in every circumstance" (Caritas in Veritate, 62.) Commending all of you and the people of West Africa to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing.

Many a young man in West Africa would have the intention of migrating to a safer place. The Church is not silent about the migration. The different countries have put concrete institutions in place to enable youth gain from. Jesus became a migrant and many would say that calling migrants in African countries "FOREIGNERS" is uncalled for and outrageous. Particularly those who share the same faith with the so-called citizens. The dangerous and perilous way to migrate has shown a lot of negative consequences, by now those who think of going the same way should think twice and go in dignity.