Cédric Mouzou, SJ – Vatican City
Mali, a country at crossroads
In Mali, the phenomenon of trafficking in human beings comes in many forms, including forced marriages and child soldiers. The dignity of the human person is flouted in many areas. This is a very complicated situation that has however inspired Caritas Mali to find a way of restoring the dignity of trafficked persons, migrants, internally displaced persons and victims of community conflicts.
Since 2012, Mali has faced the invasion of Jihadist groups that are spreading terror in the north of the country. This phenomenon has now extended to the southern parts of the country. Mali is also the scene of community conflicts that plunge it into total insecurity.
Caritas Centres – home to returned migrants
The Malian desert has become one of the crossroads for displaced people. On leaving or being turned away, they find refuge in the Caritas Mali centres, whose role is to try to give back to men and women their dignity as human beings. In Gao, Caritas Mali has created a health centre and engages in social activities.
“Our action is to give all migrants a home so they can rest,” said Antoine Sagara, Caritas Mali’s program officer. This work consists of giving food, shelter and clothes to the migrants.
There is a strong cultural significance to this hospitality. For example, “giving clothes to a girl who has been expelled and returned, been raped or abused is to give her a new dignity. A dignity that has been torn from her in the journey of migration, ” said Antoine.
Breaking the silence of human trafficking
In addition to its centres of hospitality, Caritas Mali is also engaged in advocacy with the competent authorities to ensure that the causes of trafficking are dealt with.
“We do a lot of other things like health care for migrants. The House of Migrants is responsible for assisting migrants who have lost their documents en-route. We work with authorities for migrants to get new documents and we also work towards the reintegration of migrants into society. We also make migrants who want to continue the journey to Europe know about the potential dangers that await them,” said Antoine Sagara.