During these months running up to the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) World Cup games taking place this summer in South Africa, the Justice and Peace Office of the South African Catholic Bishops Conference is organizing an innovative and creative project that will focus on achieving full human rights for migrants worldwide and assistance to integrate them into the country of their destination. The project aims to alert people of the world to the issue of migration in a continent where internal and external migration has taken on historical proportions. This is the first time the World Cup is being played in an African Country and may be an opportune moment to tie the sense of world solidarity witnessed at the World Cup with the need for a more humane look at migration and xenophobia in many places in our world.

The South African Catholic Justice and Peace office hopes to use all the attention of these World Cup games to encourage more governments around the world to promote positive attitudes towards migrants and propose more compassionate migration policies.

The Justice and Peace Office plans to partner with worldwide organizations particularly from countries that are seen as leading countries of destination for migrants: United States of America, France, South Africa, Thailand and Australia. They will be invited to collaborate in drawing up a report on the state of migration policies in their respective countries, identifying the positive migration policies that exist and that counter xenophobia, indicating the challenges remaining, and offering recommendations for making these policies more compassionate. All this data will be folded into one global report on migration. High profile soccer players, other sports personalities, politicians and religious leaders will be invited to endorse this report.

Immediately before the start of the FIFA World Cup in June, a widely publicized press conference will be held, featuring some of the high profile personalities who have endorsed the final report, at which time a clear call for more compassionate migration policies and for an active counter-xenophobia strategy is made to governments and citizens throughout the world and especially to those subscribing to the objective of the promotion of international solidarity inherent in the organization of the World Cup.

From June 11 to July 11 (the duration of the World Cup), diocesan Justice and Peace groups in South Africa and other partners throughout the world will engage in high profile actions within their dioceses, such as public awareness meetings, street theatre and church services, to highlight the plight of migrants and victims of human trafficking. The goal is to encourage public solidarity with them and to counter xenophobic attitudes towards them.

AFJN has committed itself to promote this creative initiative. Do follow its development on our web and hopefully in the news media.

By Rocco Puopolo, s.x., Executive Director