Faith-based groups, non-government organizations and grassroots migrants and their organizations moved forward with their cooperation in providing and systematizing services to migrants and refugees. This programmatic direction was stressed at the ninth international consultation of Churches Witnessing With Migrants (CWWM) held in Marrakesh, Morocco on December 6 to 8.
The CWWM consultation was held a few days prior to the United Nations intergovernmental conference in Marrakesh that adopted the “Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”, otherwise called the Marrakesh Compact on Migration.
The Marrakesh consultation was attended by forty-five (45) participants including migrants and representatives from faith-based organizations, service providers, and migrant groups from twenty-two (22) countries. They agreed to map and produce an inventory of various types of facilities and services that can be made available for migrants and refugees along the migration route, starting with those owned or run by faith-based groups.
Consultation participants met with migrants and refugees in Morocco coming from various African countries in an immersion program facilitated by the consultation hosts, the Evangelical Protestant Church in Morocco (Eglise Evangélique au Maroc). The conversations with the migrants and refugees richly informed the consultation about the situation of forced movement and displacement in the region. As a continuing CWWM feature, migrants from different regions told their stories of hurdles and triumphs.
A variety of topics were presented and discussed in Marrakesh, including a presentation by human rights lawyer Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, the current UN special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons. Focus was also given on migration policies within the European Union, including concerns about increasing racism, xenophobia and intolerance affecting the welfare and human rights of migrants and refugees, in a presentation by Dr. Rosa Maria Martinez de Codes of Cumpletense University in Madrid, and formerly a Vice Director of Religious Affairs at the Ministry of Justice of Spain. (For a complete list of presentations, see program schedule here.)
Recognizing the necessary transnationality needed to address problems encountered by migrants and refugees (in countries of origin, transit and destination), the map will provide needed information to migrants and refugees in crisis, and realize cooperation among service providers and faith-based groups that have services or other types of programs for migrants and refugees.
With the theme “Building infrastructures of welcome, hospitality, advocacy and solidarity”, the Marrakesh consultation built on previous exchanges and unities reached in past meetings including critical position on current global migration, especially forced migration. This also included concerns on neoliberal policies that have exacerbated the exploitation of migrants and their labor, and the need for churches to perform their prophetic mission and social justice ministry to address the continued marginalization, vulnerability and impoverization of migrants and refugees.
The Marrakesh meeting heard reports and updates on CWWM work in Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Philippines. Some participants from North America expressed intention to explore how CWWM might work in the region.
As a continuing advocacy, the CWWM consultation agreed to engage actively with the next annual Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) set to be held in Quito, Ecuador in November of 2019. The Vice Minister for Human Mobility at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, H.E. Santiago Chavez, addressed the consultation and shared about Ecuador’s plans and hopes for a successful presidency of GFMD in 2019.