VISIT TO THE IDOMENI REFUGEE CAMP: EUROPE MUST NOT ACCEPT THESE CONDITIONS!
Idomeni. In view of the catastrophic situation of people in the Idomeni refugee camp on the Greek-Macedonian border, a group of high-level Evangelical Church representatives have called for a European solution to the problem. Präses Manfred Rekowski, Church President Dr Volker Jung and Moderator Martin Engels were visibly shaken by the conditions in the camp during their visit to Idomeni.
"I very much hope that Europe will not just get accustomed to this situation and that we will not accept it" said Manfred Rekowski, Präses of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, in a statement late afternoon yesterday (6 April 2016) during a visit to the temporary camp, in which around 13,000 people are surviving in appalling conditions. Dr Volker Jung, President of the Evangelical Church of Hessen and Nassau also called for a common solution: "The situation cannot be resolved by Greece alone. This is a case of Europe needing to look at this jointly and to find common solutions for a reasonable and orderly way of organising a system of reception and registration." Above all, this needs to cover those who wish to lodge a claim for asylum. "At the moment it is the case that they are being deprived of this human right."
"I am utterly speechless at what I have experienced here", said Martin Engels, Moderator of the Reformed Alliance, speaking at the Idomeni refugee camp. "40 per cent of the people living here are under 14 years old." The camp is far below the expectations for humanitarian standards. "At the same time I have encountered UNHCR staff and volunteer workers from the Greek Protestant Church who are working well beyond their capacities. The interaction of our churches with the refugees is not purely a question of politics, but the whole question of how we deal with people who are in extreme need is an expression of our Christian faith."
Shock at the catastrophic living conditions in the Camp
"Here we are in the middle of Europe, but when you look at the living conditions of the people here I am deeply shocked and moved by this, and indeed horrified " said Präses Rekowski commenting on his impressions. Normally in refugee camps there should be one toilet for 20 people. In the tented town in Idomeni a single toilet has to be shared by 150 people. Long queues at the food distribution points are an everyday experience for people whose future on the border between Greece and Macedonia is currently extremely uncertain.
In the context of their solidarity visit to Greece, Rekowski, Jung and Engels are meeting today with representatives of the churches and church organisations which are offering aid and support to the refugees. In addition a meeting is planned with the German-speaking church in Thessaloniki. The Präses of the Rhineland, the Church President of Hessen-Nassau and the Moderator of the Reformed Alliance are being accompanied by Doris Peschke (General Secretary of the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe, CCME) and the Secretary for Intercultural Affairs of the Evangelical Church in Hessen and Nassau, Revd Andreas Lipsch.
Collections and donations for refugees in Greece
In the light of the needs of refugees in Greece and above all those stranded at the Greek-Macedonian border, Präses Rekowski had already issued a call in the middle of March urging church congregations in the Rhineland to have special collections at church services and to make donations. As a result over 60,000 Euros has already been brought in. Donations are invited to be sent to the special donations bank account: IBAN DE56 3506 0191 0000 0241 20; BIC GENODED1DKD designated use: refugee aid Greece. An online donation is also possible at: www.ekir.de/url/efb.
A video with the impressions of Präses Manfred Rekowski can be found at: www.ekir.de/url/5cb
A video in which an aid worker from the Greek Protestant Church talks about his involvement at the camp and the actual situation there can be found at : www.ekir.de/url/yFA
Photos of the visit to the Idomeni camp are available to download and use for free (with copyright acknowledgement (c) Marcel Kuß /ekir.de): www.ekir.de/url/hM9
We are also happy to provide sound recordings of Präses Rekowski, Church President Dr Jung and Moderator Martin Engels as audiofiles upon application to: firstname.lastname@example.org
EKiR Pressestelle / 07.04.2016
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