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Friday, 15 January 2016

Diocese in Europe at WCC/UN High Level Conference on the refugee crisis in Europe

Photo: Paul Jeffery, WCC
Next Monday and Tuesday in Geneva, some 80 leaders of governments, UN agencies, faith-related as well as non-religious civil society organizations from countries affected by the current refugee crisis in Europe, Middle East, and Africa will meet at a conference hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)  to discern how they can proactively influence and shape coordinated collective practical responses.

I was invited to participate in this event, but due to previous commitments in Tangier, I am unable to attend. The General Secretary of the WCC, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, encouraged me to send a representative. I am pleased to say that our diocese will be represented by Mr Max McClellan, who has been seconded by our partner mission agency Us (formerly USPG) to work with our church in Greece, serving the coordination of ecumenical and inter-agency response to the refugee situation in that country. Besides being on the front line of our own diocese's work in this area, Max brings a wealth of expertise in the field of international refugee, human rights and resettlement.

The opening keynote address next week will be delivered by the German Minister of the Interior, Dr Thomas de Maizière, with responses by  UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk, Greek Ambassador to the UN, HE Mr Alexandros Alexandris, and Archbishop Dr Antje Jackelén of the Church of Sweden.

The agenda also features contributions by the leaders of the WCC, UNFPA, UNICEF Central and Eastern Europe Region, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Lutheran World Federation, the Middle East Council of Churches and its Ecumenical Relief Services, the (Roman Catholic) Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, the Evangelical Church in Germany and the German Protestant aid agency Bread for the World, among others.

The overall goals of the meeting are to:

  • Develop clear commitments to coordinated responses in all areas, from the implementation of migration and integration policies to the creation of adequate mechanisms for orderly and safe refugee movements across Europe.
  • Address the whole trajectory of the population movements, from points of origin (root causes), to points of transit, and ultimate destination.
  • Prioritise the integration of migrants into civil society, religious communities and socio-cultural institutions - people fleeing or driven from their homes should be able to find belonging and build a sense of home at point of reception

We pray for Max and for all the participants at this important meeting, that they will discern common actions needed to address the refugee crisis and build enhanced cooperation among churches and agencies working in this field.

Max McClellan
A live stream of the conference will be made available by following this link:  

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