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Monday, 20 April 2015

Churches unite in call for action to prevent further tragedy on the Mediterranean

Once again our Mediterranean Sea has become a grave for hundreds of migrants who drowned as they desperately sought a better life in Europe. We continue to pray:
Lord Jesus, help us by your grace to remember the plight of migrants, for they are all children of God. Strengthen all efforts to protect and keep safe those who flee poverty, violence, war and persecution. Hold those who have drowned in your loving heart and comfort their families. May our leaders work together to build a world of peace with justice and prosperity, so no one need risk their lives on the seas to seek a better life. Amen.
Below is a press release issued today, 20th April, by the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) following this latest tragedy.
Churches mourn loss of life on Mediterranean, call for preventative action

Together the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), the Conference of European Churches, and the World Council of Churches grieve the drowning of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean. As many as 700 people are feared dead following the capsizing of their vessel just outside Libyan waters.  Rescue efforts are underway and so far 28 survivors have been found.

We remember in prayer those who have died and express our deepest sympathies to their families. “We deplore this loss of life,” remarked CEC General Secretary Revd Dr Guy Liagre, “and are deeply saddened by this tragedy on Europe’s doorstep.” We pray also for those involved in the demanding rescue and recovery mission.

This catastrophe reminds us of near daily instances across the Mediterranean in which Italian, Maltese, and Greek coast guards are largely left alone in rescue efforts. Reacting to this latest tragedy, and following so many others, WCC General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit called for “renewed solidarity and action, and for a resumption and strengthening of a collective European response.” We ask for meaningful European search and rescue efforts and call on EU Member States to contribute substantially and speedily to such efforts in order to prevent future loss of life among people driven to this desperate crossing.

Tveit added “These tragedies are strong calls for strengthening the efforts to address the root causes for poverty, social insecurity and conflicts in the countries from where the migrants are coming."

“Only legal and safe pathways into Europe would help to prevent these tragedies from happening. This includes increased refugee resettlement and lifting of visa requirements for people arriving from countries in conflict, like Syria and Eritrea. We need safe passages,” said Doris Peschke General Secretary CCME.

The (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches in Europe, including the Church of England. The CCME is the ecumenical agency on migration and integration, asylum and refugees, and against racism and discrimination in Europe. Members are Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant Churches and Councils of Churches.

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