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European Council: appeal from European Churches (CEC), “Europe can and must do more”

Letter from European Christian Churches and five ecumenical organisations to political leaders“Europe can and must do more in this global refugee crisis” to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. This is the appeal made by the European Christian Churches and five ecumenical organisations to the political leaders who are taking part in the European Council starting today in Brussels, whose agenda will focus on the migrant crisis in Europe. The letter – released today – is signed by the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME); the Conference of European Churches (CEC); Eurodiaconia; EU-CORD; and ACT Alliance EU. It calls on “European governments to fulfil their promises and comply with their international obligations”. The letter exhorts the EU to “increase the efforts for search and rescue operations” in the Mediterranean, to “open up more safe and legal ways for refugees to travel to Europe” as well as to provide them with “adequate” services after they arrive in Europe. The “safe passage” of refugees into Europe – the Churches continue – should include integration and “family reunification” programmes. “This is the only way to prevent refugees from risking their lives” and falling prey to traffickers. “The refugee crisis is a challenge for the EU and its neighbours and calls for greater cooperation and collaboration with countries outside the EU borders”. The letter from the European Churches expresses concern about the “EU-Turkey proposal”, particularly the so-called “one in-one out” deal, which would cover Syrian refugees only, excluding “refugees from other countries, e.g. Afghanistan or Eritrea”. “European countries – CCME General Secretary Doris Peschke remarked – must share the responsibility to protect refugees with the countries most affected by the crisis such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey”. The letter also commends the EU participation in peacekeeping missions, and calls for more “efforts to end the conflict in Syria”.

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