SIHMA | Scalabrini Institute For Human Mobility In Africa

107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Human mobility is as old as human existence, with people moving from one place to the other for a myriad of reasons premised on the push and pull factors of mobility. While some move voluntarily from one country to another, others are forced to flee their home country to escape violence and persecution. With changes in world politics, ever-increasing political tensions, climate change, diseases, and globalization together with advances in communication and transportation, the world is experiencing an ever-increasing number of migrants and refugees. By 2020, the total international migration stock worldwide stood at about 281 million people (about 3,6% of the total population worldwide) [1]. It is, therefore, relevant for national governments all over the world to take cognizance of these increasing numbers of migrants and refugees and initiate policies/programs that will continuously create an environment for inclusivity.

The Catholic Church has over the years been very vocal in promoting an inclusive society for all those who live in it. The Church has been celebrating the World Day of Migrants and Refugees since 1914. Each year, the Churches around the world joins with the Pope to mark World Migrants and Refugees Day. It is a moment to express concern for the millions of vulnerable people on the move. It is a moment when we detach ourselves from the negative constructs against migrants most especially refugees, and start to reflect on the positive changes which they bring with them in their newfound communities.  The theme of this year's celebration, as espoused by the message of His Holiness Pope Francis is titled “Towards an ever wider “We”. According to JRS (2021), the Pope’s message is grounded on 4 pillars: “A we as wide as humanity”, “One Church, One home, One family” “A church that reaches out” and “learning to live together”.

These values, as expressed by the Church are grounded in the African concept of “Ubuntu” through its emphasis on humanity, social responsibilities – “I am because we are” creating a wider “we”. This philosophy grounded in social collective solidarity has the potential of reducing conflict between individuals as we see ourselves primarily in relation to others. One humanness is seen by recognising the same with others and on that basis establishes human relations with them characterised by equality, reciprocity, and solidarity reflecting the idea that “one human being is deemed to be the same thing, namely, being in relation to another human being” (Gädeke, 2019:271).

As His Holiness Pope Francis said in his message for the 2021 World Day of Migrants and Refugees: ‘the highest price is being paid by those who most easily become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries. The truth however is that we are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single “we”, encompassing all of humanity. Thus I would like to use this World Day to address a twofold appeal, first to the Catholic faithful and then all the men and women of our world, to advance together towards an ever wider “we”.’ [4]

The 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, presents an appropriate platform through which we can all reflect on the humanity in us - doing unto others what we will want others to do unto us, and together we can make the world a better place for all who live in it.


James Chapman           and           Muluh Momasoh

SIHMA                                            SIHMA
Project Manager                            Junior Researcher         



  1. Migration Data Portal. (2021). International Migration Stock. Retrieved from:
  2. JRS. (2021). World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Retrieved from:
  3. Gädeke, D. (2019). Relational Normative Thought in Ubuntu and Neo-Republicanism. In G. Hull (Ed.), Debating African Philosophy: Perspectives on Identity, Decolonial Ethics and Comparative Philosophy (pp. 269-288). Routledge.
  4. Vatican Migrants and Refugees Section -    


Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash 


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