Final declaration Board meeting in April 2024 - Cotonou (Benin)

Final declaration Board meeting in April 2024 - Cotonou (Benin)

We, the elected representatives of Emmaus International from 20 countries around the world, held our most recent Board meeting in Benin, a country marked by its syncretism and the richness of its culture, but also by its colonial past. As we walked along the slave route in Ouidah and other high points in the country’s political history, we realised how important it is to maintain our actions at the service of exploited and persecuted populations, whether in the context of colonisation, exploitation of resources, armed conflicts or violence perpetrated against minorities and indigenous peoples.

This political legacy and its impact on the most excluded populations have left their mark on the struggles that the Emmaus groups in Benin have chosen to wage. By raising the awareness of new generations, teaching children to read and write, empowering women economically and seeking out environmentally friendly agricultural alternatives, the groups strive every day to combat injustice and guarantee effective access to fundamental human rights.

We also visited Lake Nokoué, where the Emmaus Movement has been working collectively for some fifteen years as part of the citizens’ access to water and sanitation programme. From the testimonies of the people involved locally, we were able to see that the situation has deteriorated since the state handed over control of the infrastructure to the private sector. Despite the battles we have lost, we have a collective responsibility to continue to help the poorest populations to get organised, and to demand a commitment from the State to fight poverty and inequality.

Our analysis of the socio-political context of the four regions alerted us to the persistence and multiplication of wars and genocides, some of which never appear in the media. In Burkina Faso, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Ukraine, the first victims are always the most vulnerable populations. This is the case in Gaza, where the conflict has killed more children in four months than in four years of conflicts around the world. Once again, our Board strongly condemns the Israeli government’s murderous policy. The Emmaus Movement must put its fight for peace into practice by calling on states to fulfil their responsibilities and implement international resolutions aimed at peace and the safety of civilian populations. We invite all the Emmaus groups to play their role as a counterforce by demanding transparency in the arms trade and export industry and by denouncing all interests that run counter to peace.

At our last World Assembly, we reaffirmed our commitment to migration, education and social and climate justice. We are convinced that by working together on these issues, the Movement can help to create a fairer and more sustainable world. Let’s remain united and confident in the legitimacy of our struggles and the work carried out by all the Emmaus groups around the world. We look forward to seeing you at the World Forum of Alternatives in September, where together we can reflect, strengthen, and build our actions to serve the most excluded populations.

Together, let’s turn our outrage into action!