European churches want access to safety in Europe for Syrian refugees

(Photo: REUTERS / Stringer)Syrian refugees cook outside a tent at a refugee camp in Qushtapa at the outskirts of the city of Arbil, in Iraq's Kurdistan region, November 30, 2013.

The Conference of European Churches has appealed to European governments and people to act now and to provide protection for refugees fleeing Syria.

"We call on European States to make concrete commitments towards assisting and protecting those who have managed to escape the devastating conflict in Syria," the CEC Board said in a statement on Monday.

The CEC Board met at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva from November 26-29 under its President Anglican Bishop Christopher Hill where it approved the statement.

(Photo: Ecumenical News / Peter Kenny)Conference of European Churches President Anglican Bishop Christopher Hill in the Ecumenical Center Chapel in Geneva on November 26, 2013.

The Geneva-based conference groups 115 Anglican, Old Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant from all European countries, along with 40 organizations that it works in partnership with including Roman Catholic agencies.

Some of the churches in the CEC are from the Middle East.

The churches' statement says, "More than two years into the Syrian conflict, an overwhelming regional humanitarian crisis is unfolding as refugees struggle on a daily basis to access the most basic services including shelter, health, water, sanitation and primary education."

It noted that Syria's neighbours such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Armenia receive and host large numbers of people and their resources are at breaking point.

As of October 2013, around 6 million persons have been displaced internally or have fled to neighbouring countries in search of protection.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says the crisis has driven more than 2.2 million Syrian refugees into neighboring countries with thousands more pouring across Syrian borders every single day into nearby countries and also North Africa.

Around 50 per cent of these refugees are children.

"It is in this dire and complex situation that European countries need to urgently, decisively and effectively respond to help protect refugees fleeing Syria

"Failing to do so could lead to already-strained neighbouring host countries turning away refugees and imposing unacceptable conditions and restrictions on those already present in these countries."

CEC said that together with the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe, it will participate in the campaign calling for Access to Europe for Syrian Refugees and requests its member churches to support these activities.

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