In honor of World Refugee Day, the CCME and the CEC shared a call for partner and member churches to remember those who have died on their journey to find a dignified life in Europe. The RCH joins the international initiative.
On June 20, the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. In a letter from Rev. Christian Krieger, President of CEC and Dr. Torsten Moritz, General Secretary of CCME, the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) held in Budapest in July 2013, renewed the call on churches to “commemorate those who have died on their journey to find a dignified life in Europe through an annual day of prayer.”
"Tragedies in the Mediterranean region unfortunately continue -- According to the UNHCR, 2262 persons are recorded to have lost their lives in 2018, and during the first five months of 2019, more than 500 deaths were counted. While total figures have decreased in the last years, the likelihood of dying has increased. New dangerous routes remain largely unmonitored. Since 2000, more than 30 000 people are reported to have lost their lives on their way to Europe, drowning at sea or in rivers, suffocated in containers on trucks or ships." - reads the joint letter of CEC and CCME
In past years, many churches and parishes across Europe have taken up this call and held commemoration services around June 20, World Refugee Day. This year, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) and the CEC recommend holding services of commemoration on June 23, the Sunday after World Refugee Day. The CCME has published Day of intercession in memory of those who have lost their lives at the borders of the EU, which can be used for worship or intercessions during a service.
"Due to the high number of casualties, much of the world is currently focused on the situation in Italy. However, the situation at the Greek and Spanish borders, as well as Europe’s Eastern borders also requires attention. Search and rescue operations have recently been systematically sabotaged and criminalized by EU member states. The few search and rescue operations which were successful have often resulted in prolonged odysseys of the crew and those rescued as EU member states refuse to meet international and European obligations regarding safe embarkation and reception. Churches in Europe have responded to the ongoing loss of life in the Mediterranean by offering practical solidarity, as well as advocating for safe and legal ways for refugees and migrants to enter Europe." - reads joint letter of CEC and CCME
On World Refugee Day, several events will take place in Budapest. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Budapest hosted an exhibition at the UNCHR regional representative headquarters for Central Europe. The exhibition held paintings by an asylum seeker from Afghanistan held at the Röszke Transit Zone.
An ecumenical vigil of prayer will be held later this evening in Budapest for “those who died on the journey of hope,” while fleeing from war, terroism, oppression and misery in pursuit of a new life in Europe. Everyone is invited to join in prayer, bearing witness to the suffering and hope of those fleeing their home countries to start a new life in Hungary.
The Reformed Church in Hungary hears the call of the CCME and the CEC and commemorates those who have died on the journey for a new life in Europe, praying for new life in justice and peace for all.
Source: Letter from the Conference of European Churches and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe