Church efforts key to migration

By on April 1, 2006

Porto Alegre, Brazil
As issues around migration, both voluntary and forced, become more complex, the efforts of churches are becoming increasingly critical to the survival of refugees worldwide, participants at a global church gathering have heard.

“We know the long-term solution is peace and stability, so that people can be taken care of in their own homelands,” said Rev. George Mourad of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. He was speaking to a panel of migration experts at a meeting connected to the ninth assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) here.  

And displacement brought on not by wars and famines, traditionally thought of as the main causes of migration, but by the economic effects of globalization and the political effects of the “war on terror” has created a whole new international phenomenon: detention.

The numbers cited are staggering. More than 10 million in the Middle East, several million more in Africa, and on any given day in the United States, said Jennifer Riggs of the U.S.-based aid and development group Church World Service, more than 20,000 non-criminals who are asylum-seekers are in detention.

Because in many places churches have the most ready access to detained migrants, their advocacy for more humane treatment and immigration policy reform is the best hope for change, panelists agreed.

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