Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy issues appeal for solidarity with migrants

Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy issues appeal for solidarity with migrants

Mediterranean Hope advisor, Dr. Paolo Naso, shares a letter from the Federation President, Prof. Daniele Garrone, appealing for solidarity in light of the new Italian government’s “illegal and immoral policy to manage disembarkation of refugees from the various NGO boats involved in search and rescue operations.”  Dr. Naso comments that “This policy has been challenging and sad, and is unsustainable” and that “we are deeply worried and concerned about possible negative policy developments.”

Prof. Garrone’s Nov. 10 letter follows:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I am writing to you from Italy where, once again, we are supporting the disembarkation of thousands of migrants rescued by NGOs engaged in search and rescue missions at sea. As people of faith, we recognize those at sea as our neighbors, wounded on the roadside as we encounter them along the journey “that goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho” (Luke 10:30). We often fail to respond to these women, men and children who knock on our door.

I am writing to ask for the support of your churches in a joint call to action, urging your governments to take responsibility for their designated quota of refugee arrivals to Italy and other Mediterranean countries. We now have no more excuses: we are well aware of the human rights violations and acts of violence from which people are forced to flee to reach our shores.

Our Christian mandate compels us to respond, as does the European Union’s commitment to protect human rights. We raise our collective voice in dissent against the illegal, immoral and unacceptable mechanisms acting as “walls of protection” to defend a “European fortress”. We object to the systems of deterrence, naval blockades, pushbacks, and obstacles imposed against refugees seeking rescue at sea. The countries of Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta are each faced with the pressures to respond to migration flows, witnessing especially high numbers of arrivals during particular times of the year. At our end, we are committed to reception and welcome and we appeal to our government for it to operate within European laws and practices in accordance with the long humanitarian tradition upheld by our country. However, Italy and the other countries of direct response cannot be left to manage alone. The issues revolving around migration concern Europe as a whole, not just Italy or Spain, and we repeat ourselves in saying yet again that Europe – our Europe – begins in Lampedusa. For this reason we ask today for your commitment and solidarity.

In the same breath, dear sisters and brothers, we ask yet again for a joint call to action, to promote humanitarian corridors which have provided safety to thousands of human lives in recent years. These corridors are in perfect alignment with the European commitment to open and expand complementary pathways, and to increase safe and legal passage for refugees to reach countries where they are able to seek asylum.

United in faith, prayer and public witness to the Lord who loves and saves humanity, we reaffirm our support for each of the sister churches and ecumenical agencies participating in the work of service with migrants. In this spirit of Christian unity, it is my hope that we would work together.

Yours in Christ,
Daniele Garrone