Joining hands with refugees and migrants for social cohesion

To mark Word Refugee Day on 20 June 2022, We Will Speak Out SA (WWSO SA) joined key KZN partners that co-hosted a Community Dialogue on Social Cohesion and Human Rights. Partners in this Social Cohesion Collective include the Institute for Healing of Memories, YMCA, the Diakonia Council of Churches, Lawyers for Human Rights and Asonet.

The dialogue began with a background to the challenges faced by non-nationals and how this had to be understood in order for social cohesion to manifest. This was followed with presentations by WWSO SA’s partner organisations, workshops, breakout sessions and report-backs. This approach enabled knowledge-sharing and the unpacking of diverse thoughts as participants came from wide-ranging backgrounds, including the ordinary citizenry, entrepreneurship, faith spaces, the arts, CBOs, law and policy making, legal services, activism and government, including local, provincial and national.

Co-ordinator of WWSO SA, Daniela Gennrich, reflected that: “There simply cannot be a disconnect between refugees and migrants and how sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) affects them. Rather, all our efforts at curbing the scourge of SGBV must incorporate both South African nationals and non-nationals. It is with this mindset that refugee and migrant women and children – and men – will be incorporated into the programmes of WWSOSA. We will leave no one behind.”

WWSOSA was represented by board member, Vedhan Singh, owing to his Pan-African outlook and long experience working with and in non-national communities in South Africa and throughout Africa through the Africa Unite organisation and the African Union.

Singh said that as South Africans we must learn to aspire to and mark these and other important days like Africa Day, which he believes ordinary South Africans must celebrate and commemorate.

“Against the backdrop of dissentious and disingenuous groupings like Operation Dudula, we must stand with Africa and Her One People to reject those who debilitate Pan-Africanism. The most affected people in all of this are women and girls, children and sexual and gender minorities. Their rights and well-being must receive maximal protection and that is where we come in as WWSOSA:  to mobilise faith communities to use their soft-power of religion to prevent and counter sexual and gender-based violence,” he said.