Papal charity Caritas hosts migrants and refugees

Papal charity Caritas hosted a lunch in Rome with migrants and refugees on Tuesday.

Caritas Rome hosts the city’s main soup kitchen and caters for tens of thousands of poor people.

In hosting Tuesday’s lunch, Caritas hoped to foster a “culture of encounter” as this week is set aside as Caritas’s Global Action Week. It is also internationally marked as Refugee Week.

Global Action Week is part of Caritas’s two-year Share the Journey initiative.

Francis launched the initiative last September.

Besides aiming to encourage a “culture of encounter”, the initiative seeks to encourage people to warmly welcome immigrants and refugees.

It also aims to help enlighten people about the challenges and effects of migration at every stage of refugees’ and migrants’ journeys.

By enhancing people’s understanding, Caritas hopes there will be a “shift in thinking” on the issue.

One of the emigrants from the Ivory Coast, now living in Italy, spoke at the lunch in Rome about the prejudice migrants face in their new homes.

He said he is not a bad person, but was forced to leave his home country and search for a better life elsewhere due to war.

“Many people think that Africans are bad, that they steal, that they do things that are illegal,” Diallo told journalists.

“I came here I think to have a good life and to have work,” he said.

He travelled to Italy from Libya by boat. He had been told the boat ride would only last five hours, but he ended up spending a week stranded at sea with other migrants before being rescued in Italian waters.

He initially sought asylum in Sardinia and from there made his way to Rome where he was put in touch with Caritas.

He says he was “surprised” by the welcome he received and has gone on to accomplish things he did not think would be possible, thanks the support he was given from the beginning of his arrival.

Caritas’s refugee and migrant lunch in Rome will be repeated throughout the world this week. Events aimed at raising awareness and prompting interaction with refugees have also been arranged.

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