CCME PRESS RELEASE
27 June 2014
Ecumenical European meeting on “Crossing borders – at what price?”
The 19th General Assembly of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) started on 26 June at the Sigtuna Foundation. The Church of Sweden and the Christian Council of Sweden, the two Swedish member organisations in CCME, are hosting the event in Sigtuna. One of the issues discussed on the opening day is how the churches can influence European countries to take greater responsibility for the refugee crises in our vicinity.
Some 80 delegates from CCME’s member organisations gathered from all over Europe, as well as a few representatives of partner organisations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The opening plenary “Crossing borders – at what price?” about the EU’s external borders included experts from civil society from various EU Member States. A hundred years after national borders were installed it is more difficult than ever to enter Europe, especially for those seeking to escape persecution and war. Swedish-Eritrean journalist Meron Estefanos and Swedish journalist and author David Qviström were two of the speakers.
“Migration is of course not a new phenomenon; it has existed throughout the history of humankind,” said Doris Peschke, General Secretary of CCME. “In recent history however, crossing borders from outside the European Union has become rather difficult and risky, while inside the EU citizens and long-term residents have the right to move to another EU country. Thus we see both, progress and setbacks with regard to migration in Europe”.
The speakers at the General Assembly included Victoria Kamondji, moderator of CCME; Åke Bonnier, Bishop of Skara Diocese; Karin Wiborn, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Sweden; Alf Linderman, Director of Sigtunastiftelsen; Reverend Håkan Sandvik; Seta Hadeshian, Diakonia and Social Justice Unit Director at the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and Tabitha Kentaro Sabiiti, Policy and Advocacy Officer: Liaison Office to the African Union, the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC).
During worship on the theme “Beyond borders” held at the Maria Church participants prayed especially for those who lost their lives on their way to seek safety. Reverend Karin Wiborn said in her sermon; “We use a ship to illustrate the ecumenical work with a boat, the Greek word oikumene means the household or all humanity. Being a part of humanity in an ecumenical way, it could have been me, it is me, suffering. It is me crossing the boarders in Europe. It is me needing.”
Facts about CCME:
The General Assembly will take place at Sigtunastiftelsen (the Sigtuna Foundation) on 26–28 June. Organisational issues such as how closer cooperation with the Conference of European Churches (CEC) could be formed will also be discussed during the days in Sigtuna.
CCME was founded in 1964 by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and today cooperates closely with the Conference of European Churches (CEC). CCME has five areas of work on its agenda: Europe’s responsibility for the protection of refugees, human dignity for migrant workers, work to prevent human trafficking, uniting in diversity and strong ecumenism between domestic and migrant-led churches, and the churches’ work on integration and inclusion.
For more information about CCME, visit: www.ccme.be
Kristina Hellqvist, advisor on refugee and integration issues in the Church of Sweden, member of the Christian Council of Sweden’s migration working group and vice moderator of CCME.
Tel. +46 18 16 95 86
Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe – Commission des Églises auprès des Migrants en Europe – Kommission der Kirchen für Migranten in Europa
Rue Joseph II 174 – BE–1000 Brussels – Belgium Tel. +32 2 234 68 00 – Fax +32 2 231 14 13 – E-mail:email@example.com – www.ccme.be