Refugees plight “alarming”, says bishops’ group

The plight of migrants fleeing war in northern Mozambique and the economic crisis in Zimbabwe is “alarming”, according to The Interregional Meeting of Bishops in Southern Africa (Imbisa).

Imbisa is a regional bishops’ conference drawing its membership from Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Sao Tome Principe and South Africa.

“…We regard the misery of our people crossing the border into Malawi because of military operations in northern Mozambique or Zimbabweans crossing the Limpopo into South Africa or entering Botswana as economic refugees as alarming,” said Imbisa in a letter to the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Renamo last year pulled out of an inclusive government with Frelimo and has been reported to be engaged in sporadic battles with the army, displacing some communities.

In Zimbabwe, the economy is on a downslide, with companies closing down and unemployment rising sharply.

The bishops’ conference urged SADC member states to “get together and tackle this enormous human problem” as the migrations were a transnational issue caused by economic crises and armed conflict.

Added Imbisa: “The countries that send migrants and the countries that receive them must talk to each other”. It said governments must prioritise human life.

It urged the warring Mozambican parties to engage in dialogue and end violence and encouraged the Zimbabwean government to adopt a new economic model that would reverse the current crisis.

“Impoverished refugees can only be stopped if they are given a chance in a restored economy to rebuild their lives at home,” said Imbisa, which offered to help in dialogue with rival parties in Mozambique.

Post published in: Africa News

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