World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Update
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E-mail: media

28 September 2000

Network says churches should become more effective advocates for uprooted people

cf. WCC Press Release, PR-00-27, of 22 September 2000

Mobilizing churches to become more effective advocates for uprooted people, and trafficking of people have been identified by the World Council of Churches' (WCC) Global Ecumenical Network for Uprooted People as priority issues for common global advocacy in the coming year. The Global Ecumenical Network - which brings together representatives of regional working groups on uprooted people - met at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, Switzerland, 24-26 September 2000.

Network members stressed that the numbers of uprooted people are increasing, that governmental policies towards them are becoming harsher, and that racism and xenophobia are growing. As a consequence, "The small, poorly-resourced ecumenical organizations working with uprooted people can't do it alone," Elizabeth Ferris of the WCC team on International Relations noted. "The churches - from leaders to grassroots members - are the only hope for change."

Meeting participants also highlighted that trafficking of people is becoming a huge issue in all regions, with implications for everything from the growth of organized crime to implementation of human rights standards, and that "trafficking increases as legal avenues for migration diminish". The Network will concentrate on increasing awareness and networking on this issue.

The Network also

  • endorsed a campaign by non-governmental organizations to urge the UN General Assembly to declare 18 December as International Migrants Day. December 18 is the tenth anniversary of the passage of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;
  • expressed concern about UNHCR funding shortfalls, budget cuts, and reduction of regional offices and staff which often affect the most vulnerable, such as refugee children, and place a heavier burden on NGOs, including churches;
  • encouraged WCC's work on racism and xenophobia, both in preparation for the UN World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and in a WCC
  • called for further reflection on the relationship between globalization and migration ; and
  • called for intensified support for peace and conflict-resolution as fundamental to addressing the causes which uproot people.

    A discussion paper from the WCC will be available for circulation in a few weeks.

    Members of the Global Ecumenical Network are participating in UNHCR consultations with nongovernmental organizations which began yesterday in Geneva. Issues of protection and the role of the military in humanitarian assistance will be addressed in presentations by WCC staff during these meetings.

    A report of the Global Ecumenical Network for Uprooted People meeting will be available soon.

    For more information contact:
    the Media Relations Office
    tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
    e-mail: media
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    The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.