Representatives of the World Council of Churches (WCC) visited Greece from 14 to 18 October to strengthen efforts in support of refugees in Europe and the Middle East.
Despite the weather, refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece continue to climb, says the WCC, with Greece remaining by far the largest single entry point for new arrivals with the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year now standing close to the 530,000 mark.
WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, stated, ‘It was good to see how the residents and volunteers there met people, affirming their human dignity in such a situation. I was even more struck by how the refugees keep their human qualities of care, dignity, and hope. This is a lesson for us all, including the churches in Europe.
‘This is a critical moment for the churches and their societies. I see a strong witness of Christians in Greece. We are proud to see how churches have responded with love and solidarity. We must continue to be faithful to our mission and values. Let’s stay together, as one fellowship.’
The WCC says that the UNHCR is concerned that the lack of reception capacity in Greece could seriously jeopardise the relocation programme agreed upon by the European Council, as eligible refugees have nowhere to stay while awaiting relocation. If this is not immediately addressed, secondary movements to neighbouring countries are likely to continue.
The WCC visit was hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of Greece.
For more details see the WCC website.