World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Update
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

17 May 1999


cf. WCC Press Update of 16 April 1999
cf. WCC Press Release of 3 May 1999
cf. WCC Press Release of 12 May 1999

An ecumenical delegation is visiting Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 18-25 May. The objective of the visit, which is jointly planned by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC), in cooperation with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), is "to observe the humanitarian situation, to demonstrate solidarity with the churches, and to support their ministry to refugees", explains Elizabeth Ferris, WCC International Relations. "This visit is taking place in the context of widespread international concern about the tragic events taking place in Kosovo and the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."

"Reports from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and from Albania indicate that serious violations of humanitarian principles are taking place", says Ferris. "In particular, families have been separated, military recruitment is taking place in some refugee camps and questions have been raised about the involvement of NATO forces in the delivery of humanitarian assistance." Although Action by Churches Together (ACT) has a major humanitarian relief programme through the churches in the region, there is, according to Ferris, "a growing ecumenical concern about the longer-term consequences of this difficult humanitarian situation".

The visit is a response to an invitation of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania and the Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation, both of which have been providing humanitarian relief to the refugees.

In mid-April an ecumenical delegation with representatives of WCC, CEC and LWF visited the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to discuss the causes and the consequences of the crisis with the member churches and to express solidarity with the churches.

The visit to Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is a further element of the ecumenical response to the crisis in the Balkans.

The members of the delegation are:
- Dr. Antonios Papantoniou, Church of Greece;
- Wilhelm Nausner, Representative of the United Methodist Church, based in Linz, Austria;
- Sylvia Raulo, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland;
- Elizabeth Ferris, WCC International Relations

Two representatives of the Federation of the Protestant Churches in Italy will join the delegation in Albania.

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, 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.