AMERICA/COLOMBIA - After the opening of the borders: Bishops of Venezuela and Colombia discuss migration and warn of a humanitarian crisis

Friday, 14 October 2022 emigration   human rights   episcopal conferences  


Caracas (Agenzia Fides) - The Episcopal Conferences of Venezuela and Colombia have been in constant contact for many years to exchange ideas, proposals and work plans for the benefit of the ecclesial communities of both countries. During their last meeting on October 10th and 11th in the Venezuelan Diocese of San Cristóbal, which is celebrating its centenary, one of the items on the agenda was the recent reopening of the border between the two countries (see Fides, 29/9/2022). The bishops also discussed various aspects of the migration phenomenon.
The opening of the borders is seen "with satisfaction", the bishops write in the concluding communiqué, but it also obliges the Church at the service of the people to "intensify pastoral work in the community, especially in the vast area of the Colombian-Venezuelan border axis, from Guajira to the Amazon.
With this we want to show, once again, that the Church is the mother of all, without borders".
With a view to the common commitment to peace and justice, reconciliation is also advocated, "in accordance with the service through which we protect life, fraternal coexistence, solidarity and justice".
The bishops give "particular attention" to the marginalized and the needy, "according to the demands of the brotherly love that distinguishes us as disciples of the Lord Jesus". There will therefore also be signs and gestures "that express the bishops' concern for all their brothers and sisters".
While the two Bishops' Conferences reaffirmed their concrete commitment to migrants, Bishop Hugo Alberto Torres Marín of Apartadó in Colombia warned of a "humanitarian crisis" in Urabá and Darién due to the exponential increase in migrants in transit to Central America.
Between 1,800 and 2,100 people are on the move every day in the municipality of Necoclí, and there are increasing cases of these people begging, committing theft or being subjected to sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
The bishop also notes that the efforts and actions of the government and state organizations to support the refugee population and the civilian population are not sufficient and therefore calls for an emergency plan. "We need to activate a community contingency plan and, for example, adjust ticket prices according to age, provide shelter for people in vulnerable situations, set up a room with minimum guarantees, intensify deliveries of hot meals and nutritional supplements for children and pregnant women, Provide assistance to unaccompanied children and track down and prosecute those who exploit migrants."
Faced with this difficult reality, the diocese has already launched an appeal for donations and an information campaign. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 14/10/2022)