OXFORD, England (CNS) — Catholic bishops from Europe and Africa urged an upcoming intercontinental summit to launch a “human dignity initiative” to help migrants and refugees and shelter young people against “conflict, corruption and climate change.”

In a joint statement issued before the Nov. 29-30 EU-Africa summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, the bishops noted that migration “will not go away. … It is the responsibility of the political leadership to make sure migrants are treated with dignity and protected against criminal exploitation.”

“Africa and Europe share common roots, which originate in the earliest days of human history — a genuine long-term partnership, which induces the correction of economic and social imbalances,” said the statement from the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.


It said the “human dignity initiative” should aim at “promoting the global common good” through education and training, job creation and communication and technology.

“We should bring to light different forms of disillusionment, especially among the youth,” said the statement. “Coherent answers must be provided for them as they face new, wayward ideologies regarding culture, the sanctity of human life, marriage and the family, and loss of spirituality in a world where a materialistic culture is dominant.”

A European Council communique said 2017 had been a “defining year” for EU-Africa ties, amid continuing crisis over the mass movement of refugees and migrants, adding that the Abidjan summit, grouping at least 60 EU and African heads of government, would strengthen political and economic ties and focus on “investing in youth.”

The church leaders said they would press for “justice and equity” in the trade of goods and services and extraction of Africa’s natural resources, as well as for programs to foster local industries and combat human trafficking.

“Africa and Europe are destined for a common future,” the bishops said.

“Conflicts, corruption and climate change are challenges for people living north and south of the Mediterranean Sea. We therefore affirm that peace, justice and care of creation are the guiding principles for long-term policies and strategies.”

The European Council communique said the EU’s 28 member-states are currently the “No. 1 contributor to development, stability and peace in Africa,” with 21 billion euros ($24.7 billion) provided in aid during 2016 and 32 billion Euros invested annually by EU companies in Africa.

During a Nov. 22 European Parliament debate, politicians from various countries also called for a new mass aid program for Africa, whose population, 60 percent currently under 25, is forecast to double to 2.5 billion by 2050.