Caritas works to better protect the lives of migrants, especially women and children. Credit Elodie Perriot/SC

Caritas works to better protect the lives of migrants, especially women and children. Credit Elodie Perriot/SC

Sr Laurence Huard of Caritas Algeria reflects on International Day of Migrants

In Algiers, the sun is shining. It’s a beautiful day. It’s International Day of Migrants on 18 December.

Last year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his message, “When migration policies are developed without attention to vulnerability, marginalization and discrimination, millions of migrants become cheap, disposable labour, the scapegoats for failed economic and social policies, and even casualties in a ill-defined war against illegal migration”.

UNHCR is the United Nations refugee agency. At a UNHCR participatory meeting in early December, its staff met with the Algerian government and civil society organisations working with asylum seekers and refugees.

This listening exercise revealed the difficulties faced by migrants seeking asylum. They struggle to find suitable housing, education for their children, work and are faced with verbal and physical abuse.

Walking between the tables of  the basement of the Caritas Algeria Centre was a pleasure. 54 children between the age of 6 to 17 years were engaged in colouring Japanese comic books. A good introduction to yet another culture! Pencils and erasers are everywhere. they sit side by side: from Algeria, Guinea, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Cameroon.

They stop to admire each other’s work. It’s a rainbow coalition of nations. It reminds us of Madiba and how Nelson Mandela gave us a hope of living together as one.