The Franciscan Network for Migrants (RFM) and Franciscans International, the NGO of the Franciscan Family before the United Nations, concluded on October 29, the first part of the Training: “Migration and Human Rights 2021”.

In the three-month training, RFM members from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, the U.S., and Costa Rica, who are implementing or serving in projects such as centers for migrants, shelters, parishes, and individual migrant services, had the opportunity to attend six modules of training, to strengthen their skills and achieve best practices and approaches in their coordinated efforts in their work with migrants, refugees, and people in need of international protection. 

The Migration and Human Rights Training offered RFM members a solid formation from the roots of Franciscan spirituality and from a human rights perspective. Among the facilitators of the training, we had the privilege of having United Nations officials based in Geneva and International Organizations specialized in migration matters. Such as, for example, Felipe Gonzales, the Special Rapporteur on Migration and Human Rights; Carolina Hernández, the Migration and Human Rights Advisor for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Pablo Ceriani, former and future member of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the Director of Advocacy at Franciscans International (FI), Sandra-Epal Ratjen, among other experts in the field who addressed issues such as human rights at international borders, militarization, detention and expulsion of migrants, the criminalization of migration and defenders, among others.

Participants thanked the Franciscan Network for Migrants and FI for the opportunity provided by offering them these training tools that will help to perform their task more effectively while they are working on the ground with people in situations of mobility. In addition to the members of the RFM, there was also the participation of some members of the CLAMOR Network and the Jesuit Network with Migrants.

Nydia Díaz, from the RFM – Colombia, mentioned that: “The course was a meeting place to talk about the exodus of human mobility in different latitudes of the American continent, inspired by Franciscan spirituality and its articulation with the defense of human rights. We had the opportunity to discuss experiences, readings, strategies, and possibilities of making more visible the problems of our migrants, refugees and/or internally displaced people, with members of the Franciscan Network for Migrants, Franciscans International, Latin American and Caribbean Ecclesial Network on Migration, Displacement, Refugee and Trafficking in Persons (CLAMOR), Jesuit Network with Migrants, academics and United Nations agents. This allowed us not only to think about possibilities of action but also to connect and influence and to favor the re-construction of the social fabric and the bonds of fraternity.”

Likewise, Brenda Peralta, member of RFM in Guatemala said: “I think the training process we have started is fundamental. We must know widely all the aspects involved in the phenomenon of migration with attention from the beginning, during transit and arrival; to the structural causes that force people to migrate, leaving their countries behind when it is preferable for them to risk everything on the way to a new destination than to stay to die slowly in their country of origin. In this process it is very important to understand how the migration policies of the different countries works, the obligations they have acquired and the rights of migrants, to be able to carry out our work in a more efficient way.”

The Network’s activities will continue to focus on the mutual empowerment of local teams, coordinated advocacy, exchange of information, coordinated and personalized accompaniment to migrants, refugees and displaced persons; and therefore, it will conclude with the second part of the training on Migration and Human Rights, in a face-to-face format from Honduras.

Massiel Gómez Fernández
Advocacy Intern
Franciscans International