European Churches have urged the new EU authorities to “exercise solidarity, share responsibility and show leadership” on the migrants and asylum seeker issue.

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In a letter December 6, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) invited leaders in Brussels to put in place “a comprehensive, protection and human rights oriented EU asylum and migration policy”.

The Churches’ letter was addressed to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, Charles Michel, President of the European Council and David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament.

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“We hold dearly the inviolable dignity of every human being created in the image of God and are deeply committed to the concepts of the common good, global solidarity and a society welcoming strangers”, the CEC president Rev. Christian Krieger and CCME General Secretary Dr Torsten Moritz wrote in their letter.

“Our call is for the exercise of solidarity, sharing of responsibility, and courageous leadership”.

The CEC and CCME outlined a series of measures for the EU institutions to take up “at a time when the situation of many of the most vulnerable asylum seekers, refugees and migrants is becoming more and more alarming, both within the EU and at its external borders”.

Those measures included “a comprehensive, preferably long-term, legally sound mechanism for Search and Rescue at the EU’s southern border”, as well as “a system of relocation of those rescued at sea”.

They also included “an EU wide system of evacuating those refugees and migrants stuck in Libya under conditions violating their human rights”, such as via the model of nationally operated Humanitarian Corridors which should provide a solution “for at least 50,000 persons of concern”.

Why it matters

Other priorities for the CEC and CCME included an EU commitment to resettle 30,000 migrants and refugees annually, and an undertaking to reform the “dysfunctional” Dublin Regulation of asylum seeker applications.

“Without safe and legal migration routes to Europe and without a human rights-based refugee and migration policy, people will continue to take dangerous routes and risk their lives to reach Europe”, the Church organisations warned.

Even despite the growth in xenophobia in Europe, the CEC and CCME called their demands to the EU “entirely manageable” for a community of 446 million inhabitants “in one of the richest regions of the world”.

“What we ask of you is leadership in addressing both myths and moods in the EU on migration and bringing evidence back into the debate”, the Church leaders said in their letter.

“The widespread practice of presenting migration as an unsolvable problem, with Europe as the location of the crisis, and the promise to be “tough” on migration is a useless attempt to address fears in society”.

For the record

The CEC President and CCME General Secretary concluded their letter recalling that “migration is and will be a feature of life in Europe in an increasing number of member states and can, if well organised, contribute to wealth and social harmony in the EU”.

“This however requires policies, which aim at overall cohesion and inclusion in society, so that citizens and newly arrived do not need to fear insurmountable challenges in areas such as employment, housing or access to social services”, Krieger and Moritz warned.

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.