South America: Bridges Of Solidarity

It is an integrated Pastoral Plan to Assist Venezuelan Migrants in South America

Responding to Pope Francis’s call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees, eight Bishops Conferences in South America have joined forces to find common solutions to the challenges posed by the massive flows of Venezuelans, who have decided to move to another South American country in recent years.

With the assistance of the Migrant & Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, the Offices responsible of the Migrant Ministry of the Bishops Conferences of Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentine have developed a pastoral plan that aims at promoting the integral human development of the Venezuelan migrants in any phase of their trajectory.

Through coordinated action, their holistic plan sets out a wide range of activities and services that address Venezuelans, other vulnerable migrants and the local communities who host them. Examples of such activities are centres and shelters for vulnerable migrants; assistance in housing, job seeking and social inclusion; facilitation of access to education and health services; advocacy and legal assistance; professional training of pastoral agents; awareness campaigns and sensitisation of local communities.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in the last 2 years hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to neighbouring countries due to the political and economic crisis and in this period there have been many initiatives of the particular Churches in their defence and help.

“It is a situation that pushes many Venezuelans to find ways to alleviate their suffering by going to another country”, said Fr. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus. “This is why this project of the 8 Episcopal Conferences is a very important gesture of solidarity. At the moment the Venezuelans need help and this is a way to contribute, see the suffering of people and try to find ways to support them”.

Fr. Sosa continued “The plan will have an initial duration of two years, it will also address the most vulnerable people already present in each of the eight host countries and it is hoped that it will serve as a model for other countries experiencing similar migration problems”.

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