Civil society plays a crucial role in European refugee situation

Civil society plays a crucial role in European refugee situation

EBF press service - October 19, 2017

The European Refugee situation is settling down. There are no more masses arriving, many procedures are in place and quarrels over the quota are given to the European Court of Justice to solve. Is the crisis over?

This was one of the questions asked at the annual meeting of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) that took place in Tallinn, Estonia from 16 to 18 October 2017.

Over 150 participants, including refugee advocates, NGOs, Estonian Government and UNHCR from more than 40 countries, discussed the key issues related to the refugee situation in today’s Europe. European Baptist Federation was represented by Helle Liht, the EBF Assistant General Secretary and a member of the EBF refugee working group.

So is the refugee crisis over?

Catherine Woollard, the Secretary General of ECRE said in her opening address that in a political sense the refugee crisis is declining but in terms of refugees’ rights and integration into our societies the crisis is still there. The political focus is on creating and funding negative measures (e.g. border control, deportations etc.) while there is a crucial need to find, fund and implement positive measures for protection and integration of refugees.

Pascale Moreau, Director of UNHCR Europe Bureau pointed out that one of the most important tasks for Europe is to mobilise civil society to alleviate this crisis. She emphasised that it is the people who can change the negative narrative of migration and make the positive narrative sound louder. Integration of refugees is after all beneficial for all not just for the refugees.

EBF conference on local churches being involved in the
integration of refugees into local communities

Many churches of EBF member Unions and Conventions are indeed actively involved in helping refugees to integrate into their communities and stand for their rights where needed. This is their call from God and their vision for God’s kingdom. In order to share these experiences and learn from each other, the EBF together with Interact Sweden will hold in April 2018 a conference on the role of local churches integrating refugees into local communities.

For more information about the EBF conference CLICK HERE.

Photos: Annela Samuel