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When human lives
are in danger

· ​The call of the World Council of Churches ·

 Geneva, 15. “All members of the international community have a moral and legal duty to save the lives of those in jeopardy at sea or in transit, regardless of their origin and status”. The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), thus expressed strong concern for the many migrants in numerous regions around the globe and especially for those who are “driven to undertake journeys of desperate risk and danger”. This is the case for Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants and the peoples from North Africa who are moving en masse towards the coast of Europe. This statement was published by the executive committee of the ecumenical council following a visit last week to Echmiadzin, Armenia, the see of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The purpose of their visit was to pay tribute to the victims of Metz Yeghém, the “Great Evil” which was carried out in Armenia. The meeting was also an occasion — the WCC communiqué reads — to examine several pressing problems, urgent to the Church and the world. Among these was the issue of immigration which is “an escalating global problem, with different expressions and responses in different contexts”.

The statement, which meaningfully opens with a passage from the Gospel about the final judgement (cf. Mt, 25:35) expresses “deep concern for the lives of the increasing numbers of people globally who, fleeing from situations of violence, oppression, occupation or economic deprivation, are driven to undertake journeys of desperate risk and danger”. The situation is not new, however, today it is increasingly troublesome and is exemplified by the “deaths of unprecedented numbers of migrants and refugees seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe” and “of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants on the Andaman Sea”. Concerning also are the “recent killings of Ethiopian Christian migrant workers by the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in Libya, and the xenophobic violence against migrants in South Africa”. All of these situations involve vulnerable people who are forced to leave their home country in the pursuit of safety and a better life for themselves and their families.

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