Global migration identified as a major issue for the churches

By staff writers
June 6, 2007

The impact of migration on the church and its wider setting - including the most vulnerable - is the theme of a 6-8 June 2007 conference in Nairobi, Kenya, organized by the Global Ecumenical Network on Migration (GEM).

To be opened today by Kenya's minister for immigration, and hosted by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), the conference will be attended by representatives of churches, church-related organizations and ecumenical bodies in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East, North America and the Pacific.

For the World Council of Churches (WCC), migration in today's globalized world raises questions about inter-faith relations, identity, justice, racism, advocacy and diakonia and, inevitably, affects the contexts in which churches live.

The GEM network was formed by the WCC to engage and challenge churches in their work with migrants and, more generally, to understand global migration in order to equip churches and the WCC to bring their perspectives to bear and carry weight in global policy discussions.

Panel presentations on 6 June, the first day of the conference, will address migrants' rights in Kenya, African Union/European Union agreements on migration, the effect of migration on women and children, and strategic planning and communication work with migrants carried out by AACC member churches.

After reports from regional representatives on the impact of migration on their continents, conference participants - including AACC vice president the Rev Gertrude Kapuma and WCC president Rev. Dr Simon Dossou from Benin - will compare notes, learn from each others' experiences, develop a global analysis and set advocacy priorities together.

Participants will also take time to visit two refugee groups living in Nairobi: a women's group for refugees from Congo, Burundi and Rwanda and a group of Somali Christian refugees, as well as an outpatient medical clinic for refugees.

Other subjects to be discussed include the scope and work of the WCC's Migration and Social Justice Programme, the role of GEM members, and two events planned for later this year: a 9-11 July 2007 Global Forum on Migration and Development in Brussels, and a public hearing on the impact of migration in the Middle East.

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