„Misery, suffering and despair do not have a nationality“/ Bedford-Strohm and Leoluca Orlando renew Palermo Appeal. EKD Council chair appointed honorary citizen of Palermo

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„Misery, suffering and despair do not have a
nationality. And faith, hope and love do not have a nationality.“
Four months after their joint Palermo Appeal, Leoluca Orland, mayor
of Palermo, and Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the Council
of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), have again launched an
urgent appeal to the European Commission and to the governments and
parliaments of European Union member states. The appeal calls for the
release of all confiscated search and rescue ships.

„The criminalisation and prevention of civil search and rescue
operations must stop,“ Orlando and Bedford-Strohm declare in the
document published today in Palermo. At the same time they call for
the resumption of government search and rescue operations in the
Mediterranean. „Saving lives at sea is a public responsibility that
must be assumed by European governments.“ The EU governments have so
far no clear vision of a solution of the humanitarian disaster that
has been playing out for years now in the Mediterranean.

The renewed appeal underlines the Palermo Appeal of June this
year, in which Palermo–s mayor and the EKD Council chair called for a
European distribution mechanism for boat refugees. The appeal drew
support from many mayors of cities and municipalities, along with
representatives of churches and civil society all over Europe.

The appeal was published today parallel to the event at which EKD
Council Chair Bedford-Strohm was awarded the honorary citizenship of
the City of Palermo. At the ceremony in the town hall, Mayor Leoluca
stated: „I got the idea of awarding honorary citizenship to Bishop
Heinrich Bedford-Strohm because we share many ideas relating to
immigration policy, a culture of welcome, asylum law and rescue from
distress at sea.“ Like Palermo, the mayor added, the Evangelical
Church in Germany and the bishop, in particular, were committed to
finding a solution to an epoch-making phenomenon, in order to assist
people fleeing from war, terror and persecution in search of a better
life.

Bedford-Strohm replied: „I thank the people of Palermo and its
mayor Leoluca Orlando for showing that politics with a human face is
possible. That a city of openness and solidarity is a better place
for everyone – for those who have been at home here for a long time
and for those who are just beginning to be at home here. (…) I can
proudly say today that I am a Palermitan.“

The bishop added that he was also glad of the appreciation shown
to the countless volunteers in churches and in civil society
organisations who were associated with this award.

„I accept this honour in their place: those who care for people in
need – be it through the integration of refugees, be it through
rescuing people from the sea, or supporting development projects or
disaster relief – they all make an invaluable contribution to a world
in which one day, every human being can live in dignity.“

The Palermo declaration reads as follows: „The new European
Parliament has begun its work. The new European Commission will most
probably do the same on 1 November. Yet in Europe there are still
strong tensions, populist and extremist tendencies, intolerance and
racism. And the European governments continue to have no clear vision
of a solution to the humanitarian disaster that has been playing out
for years in the Mediterranean.

People are still trying to cross first the desert and then the
Mediterranean to flee war, terror and persecution and seek a more
dignified life in Europe. And that although the southern external
border of our continent is still the deadliest border in the world:
at least 994 people have drowned in the Mediterranean so far in 2019
and the unknown figures of victims is estimated at many times more.
Meeting in Malta in September, the interior ministers of several
European states expressed the wish to find a sustainable political
solution for the rescue and distribution of boat refugees. We hope
that this will rapidly lead to a broader coalition of European states
showing solidarity and assuming the responsibility for those people
rescued in the Mediterranean. In addition, a long-term, Europe-wide
solution is required for the humane reception of refugees and
agreement on reforms to the Common European Asylum System.

Together with mayors of cities and municipalities, churches and
civil society all over Europe, we therefore direct our renewed appeal
to the governments, parliaments and the Commission of the European
Union:

– Make the right to life and saving lives at sea a moral and legal
obligation! Saving lives at sea is a public responsibility that must
be assumed by European governments. We therefore call for the
immediate resumption of government search and rescue operations in
the Mediterranean.

– End the criminalisation and prevention of civil search and
rescue operations! In view of the urgency of saving human lives at
sea we call for the release of all confiscated or detained rescue
vessels.

– Continue to take effective steps towards creating a functioning
and humane asylum system with high reception standards at the
European level, including a fair sharing of responsibility. Refugees
need security, protection and a perspective for the future. Hence we
hope for a policy that will respect the human dignity and human
rights of refugees and migrants instead of relying on deterrence and
closed borders.“

Hanover/Palermo, 4 October 2019

EKD Press Office

Carsten Splitt

Pressekontakt:
Carsten Splitt
Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland
Pressestelle
Stabsstelle Kommunikation
Herrenhäuser Strasse 12
D-30419 Hannover
Telefon: 0511 – 2796 – 269
E-Mail: presse@ekd.de

Original-Content von: EKD Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, übermittelt durch news aktuell

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