in memory of those who have lost their lives at the borders of the EU
Information, Intercessions and Ideas
In July 2009 the Conference of European Churches declared in Lyon: “As churches in Europe we commit ourselves to commemorate those who have died on their journey to find a dignified life in Europe through an annual day of prayer.” This call was renewed by the CEC Assembly in Budapest 2013. Around 20 June, World Refugee Day, churches and human rights groups in different European countries will point to the lethal consequences of sealing off the external borders of the EU. Such sealing off takes place through technically sophisticated systems of border protection, through the extension of border protection measures to neighbouring and transit states of the EU, and through readmission agreements with neighbouring and transit states, even when they violate human rights. Churches and human rights groups in the United States of America, at whose border with Mexico countless migrants meet their deaths, are also taking part. Thus the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) agreed in July 2010 to join this initiative of the European churches.
Churches will remember in prayer the nameless dead who frequently disappear without trace in the sea or in the desert. Their lament, which went unheard by human beings, will be brought before God. What takes place at the borders – far from public scrutiny and control – will be brought to public awareness. Background reports will provide information about the situation of human rights at the borders. Politicians will be reminded of their responsibility finally to take effective measures at protect human beings and human rights.
The synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) in November 2010 called for the protection of human rights at the external borders to be further improved.
This means working towards, in particular:
- “the creation of mandatory guidelines for the operations of FRONTEX (the EU external borders agency),
- the identification of refugees and their access to international protection being part of the training of border officials,
- civil society organizations becoming more effectively consulted and involved in the development and implementation of training measures,
- the setting up of an independent monitoring system to monitor FRONTEX activities, in order to provide regular reports for the EU institutions about compliance with European and international law, particularly with fundamental and human rights.”
In the most fundamentally Christian way, we will remember in acts of worship those who have died fleeing across the Mediterranean.
As a date we suggest each year a Sunday around 20 June, World Refugee Day (in 2014: Sunday 22 June). There are also other regular opportunities: during the intercultural week in Germany, which includes Refugee Day; on the International Human Rights Day, 10 December; during Lent; or in November, when many churches hold peace weeks, and the church year offers a particular occasion to remember those who have died.
Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME)
German Ecumenical Committee on Church Asylum