African Interfaith Leaders Call for Collaboration to Address Regional Migration, Peacebuilding and Environmental Challenges
MAPUTO, 30 AUGUST 2019 – The elected representatives of Africa’s religious communities, meeting in Maputo, Mozambique on 28-29 August 2019, called for stronger collaboration between policy-makers, religious leaders and interfaith organizations to achieve the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Noting the “rich resource faith represents in Africa,” they recommended more cross-sector engagement to respond to regional challenges including migration, reconciliation and the protection of the environment.
The statement was signed by representatives of a dozen countries who make up the Steering Committee of the African Union’s Interfaith Dialogue Forum (AU-IFDF), a regional platform supported by the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) since 2013.
The Steering Committee highlighted the positive impact of religious leaders and the Council of Religions of Mozambique in the recently signed Peace and National Reconciliation Agreement, pledging to end years of violence following a bloody civil war. At a regional level, they also commended the work of religious communities across the continent to bring peace, understanding and social cohesion to their countries.
“Some countries in Africa still suffer internal conflicts and the misuse of religion to divide and sow hate. Education, sermons and public campaigns can remind people of the loving message of religion and call for respect for human dignity, peaceful coexistence and harmony. Whether in emerging states, in which minorities need to feel protected and included, or during elections when tensions are high, religious leaders and policy makers must work together to call for calm, restraint and reconciliation,” the statement says.
The statement also calls on faith communities “to reach out to one another in trust, mutual respect and friendship to achieve goals which serve all humanity and Mother Earth.” It encourages multireligious advocacy for the protection of the environment based on the argument that “all religions teach appreciation for the works of the Creator”.
The Steering Committee met with H.E. Younusse Amad, Second Vice President of the Parliament of Mozambique and Yassine Mohamad Da Costa Ali, Member of the Assembly. The Vice President spoke about the importance of collaboration between communities and religious leaders, “a relationship that all politicians strive to achieve.”
They were also received by Vitoria Dias Dogo, Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Security in Mozambique, who highlighted “the importance of faith as a healing force” and expressed her country’s full support for the group’s work.
The meeting in Maputo took place only a week before His Holiness Pope Francis’ trip to Mozambique to encourage peace, hope and reconciliation in the region.
During the two-day programme, newly elected members had the opportunity to learn about the AU-IFDF and explore ways to implement the six-year strategy adopted in Chad in November 2018.
The Committee will also intensify the promotion of an interfaith perspective in the African Union and other governmental institutions, and support initiatives such as environmental protection, peacebuilding, and the empowerment of women and youth.
The group will convene again in the fall for capacity-building trainings organized by KAICIID and the African Union.
Read the full statement here