Work more with migrants and refugees, European church leader says

By on September 1, 2009

European churches are urged to prioritize response to migration issues, and to give migrant workers a defined status after living in Europe for five years.

Lyon, France
Christians in Europe should mark 2010 as the year they create more secure societies by strengthening their work with migrants, refugees and ethnic minorities, a European church leader has said.

“In terms of migration, Europe should not believe that it lives without the rest of the world,” Rev. Jean-Arnold de Clermont, president of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), told journalists at the assembly here.

“Above all, it is a question of giving a dignified welcome to those who have been compelled to flee impossible situations in their own countries,” said Mr. de Clermont, a French Reformed church pastor.

Three hundred delegates from CEC’s 120-member churches-principally Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant-plus 500 other participants, attended the July assembly which takes place once every six years.

Mr. de Clermont said migration raises human rights’ issues such as individual liberty and freedom of movement, and urged the CEC assembly to make “European churches responding to migration” a priority.

The 2010 project follows a decision to integrate CEC and another European ecumenical body, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME). In recent years, CCME has focused on issues such as asylum, human trafficking, racism and xenophobia.

Within the new structure, CCME will promote policy at European and national levels for migrants, refugees and minority groups. CCME general secretary Doris Peshke said she hoped integration will make it possible for the concerns of her commission to become part of a wider “ecumenical witness” in Europe. Giving migrants “a clear and defined status when they have lived in Europe for five years,” would be one of several goals, she said.

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