The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) wants to send a ship to the Mediterranean Sea for the rescue of refugees. After a thorough examination, it was decided to implement a corresponding resolution of the Protestant Kirchentag, said the EKD Council President Heinrich Bedford-Strohm on Thursday in Berlin. For this purpose, in association with other organizations, an association is being set up to buy a ship.
The rescue ship should not be run by the church itself, but by a supporting association in which several organizations are represented - large and small institutions, sports clubs, aid organizations, church congregations, schools and also theaters would participate, said Bedford-Strohm. The foundation should be prepared in the coming weeks. Purchase and the usually necessary conversion of the ship would take several months. The Evangelical Church expects costs in the high six-digit or low seven-digit range. To fund the project, a fundraising campaign is also conceivable.
Bedford-Strohm emphasized that the church is not just about symbolism: "People are being saved in concrete terms." At the same time, he called for urgent political solutions to the distribution of refugees rescued from distress within Europe.
Also called for political solution
The Catholic German Bishops' Conference welcomed the commitment of the Protestant church. "Already, the churches are supporting the rescue operation in many ways," said a spokesman. Also on the catholic side there will be further activities in this field.
In the Mediterranean several relief organizations are always using their own rescue ships in action. Italy and Malta as the closest riparian states regularly refuse entry to their ports. The rescued people therefore usually have to wait days on the ships until enough European states declare their willingness to accept them. A permanent solution has been discussed for a long time.
Bedford-Strohm therefore emphasized that the church is simultaneously advocating a political solution. What is needed is a distribution mechanism for refugees rescued in the Mediterranean, so that each time the "Geschachere" does not begin their distribution. In addition, the EKD Council Chairman called for the criminalization of distressed seafarers to be ended. "Who saves people from drowning, must not be criminalized." He also demanded that the state rescue service be resumed in the Mediterranean.