World Refugee Day is celebrated on June 20 every year. The Malindza Camp does it on the nearest Saturday. This year was no exception and with the present of national (the minister of Home Affairs, Her Royal Highness Princess Tsandzile), members of Parliament, local authorities (Chief Ndlondlo) and representatives of UNICEF and UNHCR we all gathered at midday at Malindza.
The program lasted a couple of hours and the refugees gave us a taste not only of their music and dances but also of their local food (at the end).
I was present as president of Caritas Swaziland who is implementing partner of the UNHCR. In the midst of the tragedy of a situation that has affected more than 50 million people in the world in invited everyone to celebrate "the courage, determination and faith of the millions of refugees worldwide who have been forced to take the difficult decision of abandoning their land and families in search of a better tomorrow in a foreign and sometimes hostile land." together with "the spirit of the Swazi people who open their hearts and welcome them."
Then, in the name of Caritas Swaziland, I renewed our commitment to continue with this service:
"I wish to conclude Honorable Minister, by pledging the commitment of the Roman Catholic Church through its social development arm, Caritas Swaziland, whose President I am, that we shall continually strive to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers gain access to quality education, health-care and indeed are assisted to generate income aimed at improving their lives such that a certain measure of their dignity is restored to them."
The Minister of Home Affairs invited us all to celebrate and appreciate the lives of those who have been displaced, to reflect on the progress made in this area and the challenges still present together with a commitment to find lasting and durable solutions. She also underlined an element we might miss: "refugees bring their experience and hope... they enrich our country".
One thing that remained clear in my heart is that the service done by Caritas Swaziland at Malindza is done silently like many other services done by the church in the country.