German Evangelical Church to Send Migrant Rescue Boat to Mediterranean

This handout picture taken and released by the Italian Red Cross on October 22, 2016 shows migrants landing in Vibo Marina, after a rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea. Nine people drowned, ten were missing and nearly 1000 migrants were rescued off the Libyan coast on October 22, with over …
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Germany’s Evangelical Church (EKD) said it intends to found a migrant-rescue organization and send a ship to the Mediterranean Sea to bring African migrants to Europe.

“We want to send a ship,” said Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chairman of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany. The church council “decided at its recent meeting to found an association in which churches, institutions, and volunteers want to bring another ship together as quickly as possible into the rescue operation.”

“As long as people seeking protection in the Mediterranean drown and government action fails, we will do our utmost to support civilian rescue services,” the bishop stated, citing an “appalling record” of failure to rescue migrants at sea.

The EKD is a federation encompassing twenty Lutheran, Reformed, and United Protestant churches and denominations in Germany, comprising the vast majority of Protestants in the country

The idea of sending their own ship was discussed last June at the Kirchentag meeting of Protestant churches in Dortmund, the largest annual gathering of German Protestants. Last week’s EKD resolution is intended to make that discussion a reality.

“We are sending the clear message,” said Bedford-Strohm, adding that the ship is part of the diaconal, social mission of the church.

No matter why people are in mortal danger, there is a duty to help, said Bedford-Strohm. “Need has no nationality. The church is not a political actor but a diaconal actor.”

In announcing the EKD decision, the World Council of Churches cited Tareq Alaows, representative of the George Soros-funded SEEBRÜCKE movement, who has called for a massive commitment to safe migratory routes.

“All people must have the right to move freely and to come to Europe safely and legally,” Alaows said. “Rescued people must all be taken to a safe harbor immediately. In Germany alone, there are more than 90 municipalities willing to accept additional refugees.”

The EKD and other groups have called on the federal government and all political leaders in Europe to set up a Europe-wide distribution mechanism for European Union-rescued migrants.

“Libya’s people have no choice but to flee across the Mediterranean to reach safety,” said Barbara Held, head of operations of the Sea-Eye NGO. “On overcrowded boats they find themselves in an extremely dangerous situation, but the hope of surviving this danger is greater than the prospect of never escaping the trap of the Libyan internment camps.”

The participating organizations have insisted there must be no repatriation to Libya, but that all migrants should be brought to Europe.

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