by Mauro Armanino
Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - On September 24, 2023, the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated. World Migrant and Refugee Day was established by the Catholic Church in 1914 and takes place every year on the last Sunday in September. This year, Pope Francis has given his message the theme: "Free to choose to emigrate or to stay", which he dedicates to the freedom "that should always characterize the decision to leave one's own country". On this occasion, Father Mauro Armanino, a priest of the Society of African Missions working in Niamey, shares his personal reflections on this topic: "'Never again'. That was the title of the report on the "desaparecidos" of the "dirty" war in Argentina in the 1970s. This report documented the names of the victims, the organized system of detention and the method of torture of "dissidents" of the military regime that had taken power in the country. Thousands of people 'missing' from home, work, the streets, school or university were echoed in the aforementioned report. The title 'Never Again (Nunca màs)' was intended to solemnly declare that what had happened would not be repeated in the future. Unfortunately, the missing continue to fill the lists at the borders, where human mobility appears to be incompatible with advancing globalization. Money, goods, football players, diplomats, tourists and traders can travel and move around freely and happily. Those born "on the wrong side," as Jean Jacques Goldman says in an old song, are officially destined to disappear, and if possible, without leaving any traces. For years we have witnessed the daily disappearance of migrants in the sandy desert and the vastness of the sea. There is no solution in between, because the real desert lies at the heart of the system itself, which was created to exclude those who were not born "on the right side" of the world. A kind of complicity has emerged between the processes at the European borders and the politics of the Maghreb countries. Border controls, expulsions and deportations in the middle of the desert towards neighboring countries have increased in recent years, also thanks to the common policy of "cooperation" in migration management. The disappeared sometimes return and tell what happened in the gap between Algeria and Morocco in Oujda and in the wire networks in Ceuta and Melilla, the Spanish "enclaves" in Morocco, and above all about the daily forms of social death that the migrants suffer from countries south of the Sahara. We learn their names and stories first hand, only when they find us with a look and a listening ear that "humanizes" what was systematically revealed on the journey. 'Never again' are written in the sand by those who have suffered and are suffering because of who they are and what they are looking for. The system seems incapable of understanding what human mobility brings with it as a radical newness of life and thought. The migrants come out of the desert with their bare hands, their hearts full of expectations and hopes for another world. They do everything not to disappear in the midst of the financial aid entrusted to the large non-governmental organizations to finance development projects that should tackle the root causes of migration, or in the face of the civil recovery mission EUCAP Niger (a body of the European Union) to learn how to better control borders, documents and border trade. Then there are the policies of the authorities of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia without forgetting the Libyan hell (financed to exist and reproduce) who take migrants as hostages to negotiate contracts, geopolitics and above all financial support.
The “emigrants” and adventurers of this other world, which is fighting for the birth of the new, will write in the sand ‘never again’. Sadamata arrives with her one-year-old baby Fatima. She was born in Sierra Leone and brought with them to Algeria. They lived and worked there for six months until the child's father was killed and the mother was deported to the border. She stayed with the local transport company Rimbo in Niamey for a few days, then slept outside on the street with a suitcase and a bag in which she kept memories of her escape from her home country. With a gentle gaze, she waits for a door to open so that she can finally enter the future where her daughter, as beautiful as she is, can draw the profile of a humanity worthy of the name. 'Never again' was the title of the report on the disappearances in Argentina. 'Never again,' whispered little Fatima in her mother's arms". (Agenzia Fides, 20/9/2023)