Nigerian cardinal urges Europeans to stop encouraging Africans to migrate

86-year-old Cardinal Arinze says 'people are better off in their home countries'

Thursday 01 August — Cardinal Francis Arinze has urged Europeans to cease encouraging Africans to migrate to Europe, insisting that people are better off in their home countries.

In an interview with the Catholic Herald last week, the 86-year-old Cardinal Arinze, once considered a top candidate for the papacy, said that when countries lose their young people to migration, they lose the people who can best build their nation’s future.

'So the countries in Europe and America can sometimes help best, not by encouraging the young people to come to Europe as if they looked on Europe as heaven – a place where money grows on trees – but to help the countries from which they come,' he said.

'It is best for a person to stay in that person’s own land – country, town, area – and work there,' he said, while acknowledging that at times that is not possible. He also said that government leaders of countries with high rates of emigration should examine their consciences to determine why it is that so many people are leaving.

And 'in general, we cannot deny a human person the right to look for another area where you will have more peace, or even more study, culture or economic opportunity,' he said.

The cardinal speaks from personal experience, having been appointed Archbishop of Onitsha in 1967, a week before the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war. At that time, he was effectively a refugee, the Catholic Herald notes, 'fleeing from one area to another as the theatre of war changed, while organising aid for the many displaced people.'

In his statements on mass migration, Cardinal Arinze joined a growing chorus of African prelates who oppose Europe’s encouragement of migrant flows from Africa to Europe.

In May of this year, Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the archbishop of Abuja, said that mass migration out of his country is a sure sign that political leadership has failed.

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