#Aquarius. Italian Protestant churches (FCEI) affirm support for NGOs operating legally in the Med

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Rome (NEV), 15 June 2018 – “We continue to support the NGOs operating transparently and courageously in accordance with humanitarian and maritime law.  We do this because, as carriers of the Gospel, we feel we have a duty to live out the Bible message which requires us to open our doors to those who knock and to rescue those who risk their lives.”  So affirms Paolo Naso, co-ordinator of Mediterranean Hope (MH) – the Refugee and Migrant Programme of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy(FCEI), announcing that “in the coming weeks Mediterranean Hope operatives will be working with Proactiva Open Arms, the Spanish NGO which in recent months has saved around 60,000 people ship-wrecked in the central Mediterranean Sea.  The determined and bitter campaign to discredit and blame NGOs who have accepted and respected ministerial protocols on sea rescue concerns us, whether it be criminalising those who show solidarity, or whether it be distracting attention from the real enemy of everyone, NGOs and governments alike: human trafficking and human rights violations in countries destabilised by war and political violence.  To tackle the challenge of worldwide migration, we need more solidarity, more human rights and more co-operation in relation to development.  Impeding the work of NGOs is morally and rationally misguided,” concludes the MH co-ordinator – because when you are faced with an earthquake you don’t put the rescue teams on trial.”

During the course of 12 June the Waldensian Diaconate issued a communique  expressing solidarity and kinship with the hundreds on board the Aquarius, forced to spend days at sea without a port awaiting the outcome of a stand-off between Italy and other European member states.  The Diaconate characterised those aboard as “hostages of an absurd odyssey created only to bolster the dangerous narrative of fear, rancour and hatred.  We are convinced that this course of action will lead only to further conflict and mutual incomprehension”.