Last week, at Eurodiaconia we hosted a study visit from our member the Church of Sweden. During the two-day visit, a group of humanitarian aid workers and volunteers from our member had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge on humanitarian response at EU level in South Sudan and in the Middle East. Although the topic was quite distant from our main policy areas, the visit gave all of us some interesting outputs.

In particular, the participants had interesting conversations with the Counsellor of the Embassy of South Sudan, as well as some officers from the European Commission working on Humanitarian Aid Operations and International Cooperation and Development in South Sudan and Iraq. In this latter country, the EU is supporting the post-Isis stabilisation with projects aimed at rebuilding civil society by involving neighbourhood groups and ensuring education for young people and women. “In a destroyed city people understand more the importance of coming together”, said one of the officers.

This process of social reconstruction also highlights the key-role that Churches and Christian organisations can play. In Iraq, for instance, the religious groups are among the most active ones in supporting the re-building of civil society. And even in the humanitarian disaster of South Sudan, some of the few reliable actors able to bring people together are the Christian organisations, which are now trying to foster the peace-process through ecumenical dialogue.

Instead of being a source of hate and division, it is now time for religious actors to stand out as unifying factors, putting the ideals of peace and dialogue, on which they are based, into practice. It is a great opportunity for Christian-based organisations to lead this process.

This is also the approach that is driving some of our members to run several extremely valuable projects in developing and post-conflict areas all over the world. Even in addressing humanitarian issues such as refugees, famine crisis, human trafficking and sectorial violence, they never forget their role as Christian organisations. Showing us all how Christian identity represents an added value in rebuilding not only destroyed cities but above all people’s lives.

Have a nice weekend,