Anglicans from Latin America call for united action to tackle migrant injustices

29 November 2019

Delegates at the Latin American gathering on migration in Panama November 2019. Photo credit: Anglican Alliance

Solidarity among those supporting migrants across Latin America is vital to help tackle injustices, according to a gathering of Anglicans from five different provinces who met this month in Panama.

The special event, organised by the US Episcopal Church’s Global Partnerships Office along with the Anglican Alliance, drew delegates from Peru, El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil to discuss a coordinated response to the worsening migration situation in the Western Hemisphere.

Advocacy Officer and Head of the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations in New York, Jillian Abballe, who attended the event said: “The meeting was a space to map existing initiatives, identify gaps in providing assistance and support, and identify the ways in which collaboration can be expanded.”

Delegates, who represented many individuals and teams working across Christian denominations and religious bodies, emphasised the importance of solidarity among all those supporting migrants and seeking to transform the unjust systems that cause them to migrate.

The Anglican Alliance Facilitator for Latin America, Paulo Ueti, said: “It was critical for them to feel as if they were not alone in their struggle to find the best ways to support migrants in their communities and churches.”

Discussions included factors around why migration is occurring in an increasingly irregular and insecure fashion. The group also looked at the diverse reasons for people leaving their homes – from violence, impoverishment and the search for a better standard of living to the desire to join family members that have already migrated. Other factors included civil and political unrest, socio-economic instability, or the impact of climate-related natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.

The forum identified the main areas of work for strengthening and collaboration, which included advocacy and awareness raising, research and information gathering on the migration context, communications and partnerships, strengthening existing programmes and sharing best practices.

Ms. Coromoto from the Episcopal Church of Venezuela (TEC-IX Province), said: “It was an excellent opportunity to see and understand the causes of the migration phenomenon, especially in Latin America. It also highlighted the consequences and impacts into the polity, economic and social areas of the affected countries. For me, it is important to highlight the role of the churches and faith based organisations in responding to the situation of migratory crisis in the region.”

An informal working group will aim to bring together the work done by clergy and lay leaders across the region who are actively seeking to address the migration crisis. They also noted the need to develop a theology of mission and migration to inspire future theological education and leadership capacity building activities.

Participants at the three day event spanned five Provinces of the Communion and included representatives from the Diocese of Peru (Anglican Church of South America), Dioceses of Panama and El Salvador (IARCA), Diocese of Northern Mexico of the Mexican Episcopal Church, the Dioceses of Colombia and Venezuela (The Episcopal Church), and the Diocese of the Amazon of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. Representatives from the Anglican Office at the United Nations, the US-based Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, the Anglican Alliance and Episcopal Relief & Development also attended.

[Article by Rachel Farmer ACNS, based on original by Paulo Ueti and Jillian Abballe.]