SIHMA trip to the Ivory Coast
During the week of 29 March to 7 April, the director of SIHMA, Fr Filippo Ferraro, visited Abidjan in the Ivory Coast for meetings with various institutions and organisations.
In the framework of the collaboration with the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Holy See, there was a meeting with Fr Emmanuel Wohi Nin, Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of Côte d'Ivoire, and some of his collaborators. There was a fruitful exchange of contacts and information about the various actors involved in the field of human mobility in the country. In the days following, Fr Filippo had meetings with the national Caritas, represented by the national manager Fr Jean Paul Tiemele and his collaborators Daniel Say and Clément Kouakou, who explained all the various initiatives underway for the reception, assistance and integration of refugees, and especially Ivorian migrants returning from countries such as Tunisia. In fact, Caritas Tunis is collaborating on an important project to assist migrants who are forced to return home. The meeting was also attended by Fr Emanuel Aka Amon, who since last year has been the secretary and coordinator for the Bishops' Conference of the various areas of human mobility: pastoral care of migrants, refugees and the diaspora, pastoral care of the port (Stella Maris), pastoral care of the street, pastoral care of the airport.
In this regard, the meeting we had late Sunday morning with all the various delegates who are part of this commission of the pastoral care of human mobility was very interesting. They exchange information on their respective activities and joint initiatives, such as the Mass of the Diaspora with all the different nationalities and ethnic groups present in Abidjan. This group represents a virtuous example of unified management of the pastoral care of migrants. Fr. Aka carries out his ministry as Chaplain of Stella Maris at the parish of St. Anthony of the Port, in the Port City. We were also able to visit the Seaman Club, which welcomes sailors and port workers, offering accommodation, services, and recreational space.
We also met in person with members of LEISAD; an NGO founded by a group of returning migrants, many of whom are victims of human trafficking. Our collaboration began last year when we were asked for support for their awareness-raising action against the dangers of irregular migration. SIHMA offered them an online training, thanks to the precious collaboration with the Communication Office of the Scalabrinian Region Europe and Africa, which through Fr. Gabriele Beltrami accompanied the members of the organisation to learn how to manage messages and images on the web and in social networks for effective and correct information. SIHMA, meanwhile, has prepared a website for LEISAD and completed it with information about the organisation, its members, activities, and collaborations it is carrying out, and these days it is steadily being managed independently by LEISAD.
Fr Filippo led an intensive training day on the basic elements of human mobility: types of migration, subjects and terminology, interpretative criteria, international and continental legislative framework, some significant points related to the peculiar situation of Côte d'Ivoire. All members actively participated, showing interest, and understanding the importance of knowing these elements to make LEISAD's action in favour of migrants and protecting possible victims of trafficking more effective and qualified.
Another very important stage was the visit to the Centre for Research and Action for Peace (CERAP), a Jesuit university that offers many interesting courses on the management of social conflicts and other social issues. Fr Brice Arsene, with whom we had already collaborated in some initiatives with ICMC, introduced us to the various activities carried out by the Centre and together we talked about possible research collaborations in the field of human mobility, on which he is an expert, having edited several publications. Director Hyacinthe Loua also welcomed us warmly and we laid the foundations for a fruitful exchange of knowledge and skills.
Overall the trip resulted in a dense network of relationships and collaborations that will allow SIHMA to expand its range of actions and research to collect data and valuable information on human mobility in this geographical area, as well as interacting with organisations working in the field that provide training and support to their activities in favour of migrants, refugees, and seafarers.
Check out our gallery for more pictures of the training day with LEISAD ONG.