Agenzia Fides – Dakar, Senegal
According to statistics of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), within the African continent a migratory phenomenon that is severely testing the capacity of Africa as a continent. In 2017, globally, 258 million people left their countries to seek better living conditions elsewhere, but of this, Only 35 % travelled south to north, that is, from countries of the south to those of the north. In Africa, 19.4 million Africans emigrated from their homeland to another country on the continent.
"The phenomenon of migration inside the African continent is little known," explains Fabrizio Cavalletti of Caritas Italy - Africa Desk. "It (migration within Africa) is a complex phenomenon in which we find people fleeing their countries for political reasons, wars, violence, but also because they seek greater economic security, without forgetting that, now, we are also witnessing a flow of Africans who, after failing to seek fortune in Europe and failing to integrate, return to rebuild their lives in their own country or in a neighbouring country,” said Cavalleti.
The Archdiocese of Dakar and Caritas Senegal initiated the Point d'Accueil pour Réfugiés et Immigrés (Pari)
To respond to the needs of refugees, the Archdiocese of Dakar and Caritas Senegal started in 1995 the Point d'Accueil pour Réfugiés et Immigrés (Pari), an Orientation Centre for migrants already on Senegalese territory. Over the years, the project has found the support of some European Caritas organisations, including the Italian one.
This Senegalese initiative, explains Fabrizio Cavalletti, was not initiated by the universal Catholic Church or European institutions but was instead born as an initiative of the local Church, to respond to a challenge that was increasingly felt and present in Senegal. Cavalleti emphasises that it should be remembered that West Africa is the destination of 79% of African migrants on the move within the continent.
Pari is a hub of networks
The Orientation Centre in Dakar, "Pari," is a hub of complex networks. Migrants are welcomed by national and international volunteers who listen to their stories and then according to their needs, direct them to other centres run by the state or international organisations. It is at these centres that they find food, clothing and medical care.
Cavalletti says that in the 23 years of Pari, thousands of migrants have been assisted. Among these, most originated from 35 African countries and were under 30 years of age. The number includes many children and girls.
At Pari each person has a different history and physical condition. There are those who pass through Senegal to go to Europe and those who move from one neighbouring African country to another.
There are also many Senegalese who come from the countryside to seek work in the city.