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WCC and UN call for coordinated response to migrant crisis

The World Council of Churches and three UN agencies call for coordinated action on Europe's migrant crisis - REUTERS

The World Council of Churches and three UN agencies call for coordinated action on Europe's migrant crisis - REUTERS

22/01/2016 16:52

(Vatican Radio) Migration, as well as monetary matters, has been dominating discussions at the World Economic Forum taking place this week in Davos, Switzerland. The annual three-day event, which concludes on Saturday, brings together politicians, business leaders and opinion makers to share analysis of global financial trends, as well as key challenges facing the world today.

In a message to the meeting, Pope Francis urged the world leaders to heed the cry of the poor, saying that the present moment offers an opportunity “to build inclusive societies based on respect for human dignity, tolerance, compassion and mercy”.

Among the faith leaders attending the summit is the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Norwegian pastor Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. He talked to Philippa Hitchen about the focus of this year’s forum and about a meeting on the migration crisis that the WCC convened with several UN agencies earlier in the week….

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The WCC leader says the Davos meeting is focused on the 4th industrial or technological revolution, which he believes is an opportunity to discuss how such technology and cooperation between different sectors can be used in a new way for the common good.

Asked whether he believes the Davos participants are listening to the voices of faith leaders, he says they too live in a world of crises and conflict, where inequality is a problem for whole societies and not only for the poor. Inequality, he insists, “is destabilizing, it leads to terror, it leads to violence, it leads to refugees”. The majority of business leaders, he believes, understand that they need the stabilizing contribution of civil society if they are to be successful and sustainable.

Regarding the statement "Europe’s Response to the Refuge Crisis, From Origin to Transit, Reception and Refuge, A Call for Shared Responsibility and Coordinated Action”, released at the end of the January 18th to 19th meeting in Geneva, Dr Fykse Tveit notes it is a unique statement by the World Council of Churches and three UN organisations (UNICEF, UNFPA and UNHCR). He says it also calls in a unique way for a shared effort by all sectors of society. The migration crisis in Europe, he says, cannot be solved “by closing borders and ignoring the human rights” of refugees to seek safety and protection.

Many churches in many countries, the WCC leader says, are providing a lot of advocacy and practical support for migrants, especially women and children. He describes the crisis as a “struggle for the soul of Christianity and the soul of Europe”. Noting the “strong tendency” to exclude Muslim migrants on nationalistic or religious grounds, he asks, “Do we really stand for the humanitarian values of caring for the most vulnerable” at the heart of our Christian faith?

Noting that this meeting was held as the start of the annual week of prayer for Christian Unity week, he says ecumenical cooperation around the migrant crisis “is stronger than we have seen for years”. Stressing that there are many examples of common prayer leading to common collaboration for the needy, he mentions especially the Protestant community in Italy working with the Catholic St Egidio community to ensure safe passage for migrants fleeing from North Africa and the Middle East. 

22/01/2016 16:52