The Conference of European Churches (CEC) and Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) have endorsed again the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” One of the central concerns of churches is the sanctity of life and inviolable dignity of every human being created in the image of God.
In an event at the European Parliament held in Brussels on 10 December by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) and the Community of Sant’ Egidio, churches have supported expansion of the successful Humanitarian Corridors program. They stressed that expanding safe and legal channels for accessing protection is urgently needed.
FCEI and the Community of Sant’ Egidio developed pioneer humanitarian corridors from Lebanon to Italy in 2015. At the European Parliament event they launched the proposal that further humanitarian corridors be opened for 50,000 from in and around Libya over a period of two years.
“On a day when we are celebrating human rights, an ecumenical coalition is presenting a proposal to EU Institutions to open humanitarian corridors from Libya and neighboring countries in crisis, analogous to those, which already exist in Italy and a handful of other EU countries,” said Rev. Luca Maria Negro, president of FCEI.
“Human rights should not simply be a matter of words but a matter of action. Humanitarian corridors are exactly that and this is the right time for the EU to take this forward,” he added.
Speaking at the event, Dr Torsten Moritz, CCME General Secretary, commented, “With crisis situations getting worse around Europe, our continent needs to contribute more to protection of the most vulnerable.” He went on to say that “European humanitarian corridors will be an important part of doing that with safety and dignity for those we want to protect.”
Rev. Christian Krieger, CEC President, said, “The humanitarian crisis faced by the migrants, whose human rights are violated every day, calls us as Christians to be in witness and offer hospitality.”
“We, therefore, strongly support the call from CCME and other Christian organizations demanding safe and legal passages. On this Human Rights Day, we affirm once again our commitment to work together for the protection of human life,” he added.
CCME together with other Christian organizations have suggested a “toolbox” of safe and legal pathways into the European Union.
CEC and CCME have been vocal in promoting the sanctity of life and need for safe passage for migrants and refugees over many years. CEC’s 4th Summer School on Human Rights, which took place in Palermo in 2017, highlighted the importance of making human rights central to migration and refugee policy. This message remains pertinent as churches note with sorrow the many who have died on their way to Europe.