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Evangelical Church EKD buys ship for refugees rescue

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The Evangelical Church of Germany(EKD) intensifies its commitment to rescue the refugees. The Council of the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD) decided to buy a ship to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean, as the chairman Heinrich Bedford-Strohm announced in Berlin on Thursday. Together with representatives of rescue and aid organizations, municipalities and the pier movement, he urgently called for a pan-European distribution mechanism for people rescued in the Mediterranean.

“As long as protection seekers in the Mediterranean drown and government action fails, we will do our utmost to support civilian rescue”, Bedford-Strohm said. According to Bedford-Strohm, the EKD Council decided to implement this project by establishing an association to purchase a ship.

“The emergency has no nationality, and no matter what the reasons are people in need, we have a duty to support them and help them”, said Bedford-Strohm at the joint press conference with representatives of Doctors Without Borders, the organization Sea-Eye, the pier and the Lord Mayor of Potsdam, Mike Schubert

Barbara Held, doctor and chief of operations of the organization Sea-Eye, demanded: “The cheating for human life must stop, refugees to keep trapped on rescue ships under awkward circumstances for weeks is inhuman. Responsibility lies not only with Italy and Malta, but with the whole of Europe”, Barbara said.

Christoph Hey, who worked for MSF in a detention center in Libya, described the situation in the camps as “horrific and sometimes inhuman”. The diet is poor, the hygienic conditions unbearable. The people, including minors, are “literally crammed together and often can not go out for days”. MSF calls for the dissolution of all internment camps and an end to EU support for the Libyan Coast Guard, which would bring fleeing people back to Libya in violation of international law.

The mayor of Potsdam, Schubert said, more than 90 municipalities in the network Cities of Safe Harbors, which have agreed to accept refugees. It is a sign of humanity to get involved.

In addition to a much-needed distribution mechanism of more receptive EU Member States, the organizations called for a stop to repatriations to Libya. Refugees are exposed to the risk of “systematic torture, enslavement and violence”. Any support and training of the Libyan Coast Guard must be stopped.

Read also: Donations to restore Notre Dame Cathedral reaches 700 million euros

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