The two bishops and other delegates and speakers from the Diocese in Europe have been hearing first-hand about the challenges and opportunities for action by churches across the continent at a conference jointly organised with the Anglican Alliance and USPG at the Kardinal Schulte Haus in Cologne, Germany.

In addition to Anglicans from the Diocese in Europe, the consultation (on Wednesday 12 October 2016) heard from members of the US-based Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales, the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East’s Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, and the Church of England’s Diocese of Canterbury. Other participants include representatives from the Roman Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Lutheran World Federation, the Swiss Evangelical Alliance, the UNHCR, and the Church Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME).

While most of the participants are from, or work in, Europe, they were left in no doubt that the world is facing a global refugee crisis. “This is not a European refugee crisis,” the CCME general secretary, Doris Peschke, said. “Everyone talks about the European refugee crisis, but this is a global refugee crisis. We have 65 million displaced persons. It is the biggest number since this has been counted.

“It is a huge number of displaced persons who can no longer go to the place that they used to belong and where they had lived for many years. Out of these, some 21 million – one-third, approximately – are international refugees. Two-thirds are inside their countries.

“That means inside Syria, inside Iraq, inside Afghanistan, inside Ukraine – a country we don’t talk about so much because most of the Ukrainians outside the country are not considered [to be] refugees yet.”

She said that while governments around the world had increased funding to the UNHCR, they had not done so to the amount necessary to deal with the crisis.

Information from Gavin Drake, Anglican Communion News Service.

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