Magazine article Forced Migration Review

Religious Space, Humanitarian Space

Magazine article Forced Migration Review

Religious Space, Humanitarian Space

Article excerpt

The official Protestant church in Morocco, the Église Évangélique au Maroc or EEAM, has churches in several cities in Morocco. After a post-independence decline, in the 1990s the EEAM churches experienced an enormous increase in membership from the arrival of students from Sub-Saharan Africa but also a new challenge: the appearance of irregular migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, usually aiming to pass through Morocco on their way to Europe but who inevitably end up in a semi-permanent settled state in the country. Faced with this, in 2003 EEAM began working with refugees and migrants in Morocco through its social arm, the Comité d'Entraide Internationale (CEI).

One of the CEI's main activities is an assistance and emergency aid programme, consisting of food and medical aid, clothing and blanket donations, and spiritual accompaniment for Christians who ask for it. This direct aid is usually given during regular 'drop-in' sessions in EEAM churches in several cities across Morocco. However, the reorientation of this arm of the church towards irregular Sub-Saharan African migrants in Morocco has not happened without some challenges. There is a continual tension that the CEI navigates between being a church organisation, with its emphasis on personalised and pastoral care, and being more like a non-governmental organisation, with an emphasis on efficiency and professionalism.

There is a fundamental ambiguity within the CEI between its evangelism and its humanitarianism that affects its mission, objectives and organisational decisions, it is not a case of either/or but rather an unresolvable ambiguity intrinsic to the organisation and its history. …

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