On the 24th and 25th April, nine representatives from our Swedish member Svenska Kyrkan came to Brussels for a two-day intensive study visit. The group was composed of volunteers and humanitarian aid workers and the visit’s program was focused on “Providing Humanitarian Aid: Food and water security in South Sudan and the Middle East.”

The participants were given a presentation on the work and identity of Eurodiaconia, followed by a presentation on Advocating for migrants’ rights at EU level by our Policy Assistant Stefan Kitzmann. Later, the group had the opportunity to meet the Director of ACT Alliance, Mr Floris Faber, who presented them the work of ACTAlliance on humanitarian aid in the Middle East, with a specific focus on projects in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as on migration and refugees.

In the afternoon, the participants had the opportunity to meet a diplomatic representative at the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan to the EU, with whom they had an interesting discussion on the humanitarian issues in the country and on the need of a peace agreement and new development projects. Then the group attended two meetings with officers from the European Commission: Mr Julien Desmedt from the Directorate General European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) who presented them their humanitarian work in South Sudan and then Ms Agustina Flores and Ms Kalina Nikolaeva from the Directorate General International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), who explained the EU development work in Iraq and Yemen.

On the second day of their visit, the delegation from Svenska Kyrkan met the Vicar of the Church of Sweden in Brussels Mr Andrew Holm and visited the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the European Union, where they heard about cooperation and diplomatic activities in the Balkans and Ukraine, as well as in the Middle East. Before leaving Brussels, the participants had the opportunity to visit the European Parliament and to meet MEP Marita Ulvskog, who explained them her work and the activities of the Delegation for relations with Palestine, of which she is a member.