Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Humanitarian Crisis

Should I repeat myself? Well you say, you do it all the time David! I have written about the tragedy of desperate migrants, asylum seekers, who flee from the Middle East and Africa in over-crowded, unsafe vessels. A high percentage are true refugees in the sense that they are escaping danger in their homelands. Others are seeking a better life, and hope that European countries will give them opportunity for economic advancement.

For several years now, the numbers of these migrants crossing the Mediterranean has been on the rise and so has the death toll. Italy has received a staggering number of these destitute people, and combed the waters for those who have perished. According to the Guardian Online "about 200,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the start of 2014, with more than 10,000 in the past week alone. This year’s death toll has already reached 909 according to some estimates, compared with about 50 deaths in the same period in 2014..."

Since this was written the death toll has climbed above 1700. Pope Francis has commended the Italian government for their rescue efforts and called upon the international community to provide support. I agree with the pope that other countries including Canada must respond in compassionate and practical ways. And perhaps it's time for a new "boat people" movement amongst churches. The United Church was very involved with the Vietnamese Boat People in the 70's and congregations of different denominations worked together to sponsor families. We have a strong history of support for migrants and refugees. Can we do this again?  http://www.united-church.ca/humanrights/refugees/migrants

We prayed on Sunday for those affected by this humanitarian crisis. I hope our prayers will issue in action.


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