THE PROVINCE OF PORTUGAL TO THE MEETING OF JPIC, by Fr. Antonio Carlos Simoes
1. AFRICA – EUROPE FAITH AND JUSTICE NETWORK
It is a network founded in 1988 by various religious and missionary institutes. It comprises 48 institutes that work in Africa and Europe and want to promote justice in the relations between the two continents. It has got an executive committee and an international secretariat with its headquarters in Brussels and national antennas in 11 European countries. The network draws its inspiration from the social doctrine of the Church and has as its objective to gather and disseminate amongst the social and political European and African groupings information about the most relevant issues pertaining to the relationship between Africa and Europe.
In Portugal, the Combonis are part of the secretariat.
Last year, it organized the Campaign for Africa ( two letters were written and sent to the minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Prime Minister about the “Economic Partnership Agreements” and organized sessions about the “Economic Parterniships”). It supported the campaign For Darfur, and the Petition of National Justice and Peace Commission to the National Assembly requesting the MPs to declare poverty a violation of the human rights. It also joined the worldwide campaign in October last year for the eradication of poverty in the world.
2. TRAFFICKING OF HUMAN BEINGS
The Conference of Religious Institutes set up a Committee of Support to the Victims of Trafficking of People with the aim of raising the awareness of the Religious Congregations to open up to this emerging problem. They have organized three sessions on that issue. I took part in one in which the High Commissioner for Immigration and Cultural Dialogue presented the National Plan Against the Trafficking of People. He commended the work the religious congregations are already doing in this field. In fact, there are some female religious institutes giving support to the victims of trafficking.
3. CAMPAING FOR DARFUR
The Combonis launched a campaign in favour of Darfur coinciding the summit
Africa – Europe which took place in Lisbon at the beginning of December. The aim was to exert pressure on the African and European leaders to consider the issue of Darfur a priority in the agenda of the summit and that the EU would achieve a peace agreement for Sudan. As a matter of fact, the issue was raised during the summit.
Several organizations joined and constituted the «Platform for Darfur». We had a young layman who was fully in charge on our behalf. The «Platform» organized several initiatives of awareness of the public, the most relevant one being the launching of a CD of 28 songs recorded by Portuguese musicians in solidarity with the victims of Darfur. The profits of the sales went for a school in Nyale where works a Comboni Missionary, Fr. Feliz da Costa.