On 18 June, Dutch Eurodiaconia member ‘Kerk in Actie’ organised a conference on safe passages for refugees in Utrecht, just two days ahead of the 2015 World Refugee Day. The central message was clear: Europe should come up with real solutions to the tragedies which continue to unfold across the Mediterranean by changing its visa regulations and providing better educational and employment opportunities.

In this context, Kerk in Actie launched a written declaration which calls on churches, citizens and policitians to better consider the human dignity of refugees and to develop solutions which are in line with refugee treaties, whilst representatives from CCME, the Red Cross and Amnesty International presented the current situation of refugees within the EU.

The declaration calls on local (church) communities to be visible as communities which show solidarity with refugees and allow them a place in their midst, and to underline the human dignity of refugees in the public debate.

It calls on political decision makers to ensure that safer passages are developed to Europe, so that asylum seekers are no longer required to rely on traffickers or perilous routes to reach a safer destination; to address the refugee issue in a more balanced manner, rather than capitalising on existing fears and insecurities and spreading false messages which do not correspond to reality; to review their restrictive immigration policies; and to address the issue ‘both here and there’ (in the refugees’  countries of origin).

The full text of the declaration can be accessed (in Dutch) here.