In Morocco, the church is reaching out to refugees and migrants through the Diocese in Europe
St Andrew’s Church, Tangier
Bishop David Hamid, of the Diocese in Europe, writes:
Because of its proximity to Spain – in places just 12 miles across a treacherous and busy stretch of water – Tangier, in Morocco, has become a magnet for thousands of young Africans seeking a better life.
With memories of civil wars, drought, poverty, persecution and Ebola fresh in their minds, these young people – mostly men, many of them illiterate – are making dangerous journeys up the west coast of Africa, or trekking across deserts, to reach Morocco. The majority have no papers and little money, but they are propelled by their hope for a better life and the belief they will be able to finance their families back home.
As well as trying to swim across dangerous waters, some try to buy passage on overcrowded, often deadly, boats.
Whatever their route, many end up being mistreated by the authorities, exploited by smugglers, robbed and even raped – but their dream of the ‘Promised Land of Europe’ proves to be irresistible.
Canon Simon Stephens, in Tangier, is working with Catholic colleagues to co-ordinate relief and provide spiritual support for these young men.
The Church of St John the Evangelist, Casablanca
The Rt Revd David Hamid, Suffragan Bishop for the Diocese in Europe, writes:
The Church of St John the Evangelist is a thriving English-speaking church in the heart of downtown Casablanca. It is one of the few official places of Christian worship in the city.
Half of the regular 200 attendees hail from Europe, Asia and the Americas.
The other half come from sub-Saharan African countries, such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia and Senegal. Many are refugees who escaped war or the ravages of Ebola. Some are simply trying to escape misery and poverty in their homelands, now exacerbated by the effects of global warming, with arable land and water resources becoming increasingly scarce.
St John’s current facilities are inadequate to deal with the many needs of the refugees, who require medical attention, treatment for malnutrition, necessities such as blankets, and so on. Indeed, aside from the church building, our only facilities are a makeshift tent and an old shipping container.
We therefore have an ambitious project to build a community centre, with classrooms for vocational training, counselling rooms, a meeting space, and other facilities. USPG is kindly helping to support this initiative.