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WEA Mourns the Loss of Hundreds Dying in Migrant Boat Sinking off the Coast of Italy

October 5, 2013

New York, NY - October 5, 2013

“Our hearts are heavy and our prayers are with those touched by the unspeakable tragedy of the sinking of the migrant boat less than a mile off of the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa on Friday,” says Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General of the WEA. “It is impossible to imagine the horror of sinking in a burning boat with the coastline of Europe in sight.”

Most of the women, children and men who lost their lives were desperate victims of the violence and chaos of the failed state of Somalia and of the oppression and persecution of the heavy handed regime of Eritrea. Crossing the Sahara and then the Mediterranean Sea, they risked everything in search of the safety and peace that many of us take for granted.

“We mourn the loss of each precious and unique life and call on the Church worldwide to pray for those who grieve, including the 155 migrants that were rescued at sea,” Dr. Tunnicliffe continued. “We also pray for the valiant men and women who worked to rescue those they could. May God also comfort the people of Lampedusa.”

Thomas Albinson, WEA Ambassador for Refugees, Displaced and Stateless People, commented on the recent tragedy: “I find it inadmissible that people in need of refuge can find no place in the world where they have opportunity to reestablish their lives.”

In theory, the world offers refugees three long-term solutions.

  1. They can return to their homelands. But this necessitates the prerequisite that the causes of their forced displacement have abated and that they no longer have reason to fear living within the borders of their own country. The protracted nature of the causes behind most involuntary migration affords this option to only a tiny fraction of the world’s refugees.
  2. They can integrate into the country in which they have sought refuge. But 80% of the world’s forcibly displaced people are hosted by developing nations. With few exceptions, the economic, social and political burden of extending the opportunity to assimilate is too great for them, rendering this expectation unrealistic.
  3. They can be resettled from their country of refuge to another country and begin their lives again. But this is a highly elusive option as few industrialized nations offer to resettle refugees. In any given year less than 1% of the global refugee population is resettled.

“It should not surprise us that thousands of displaced people pursue a fourth option – that of risking everything to make their own way to a country in which they hope to find compassion and understanding and the opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety and peace,” Albinson noted. “The children, women and men who died at sea on Friday were such people.”

He added: “We resonate with recent statements from António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who said:

“What really makes me feel deeply frustrated is the fact that we have no real instruments that allow those who are in need of protection to find ways to access territories where that protection can be granted to them without having to use, in many circumstances, the channels of smuggling, of trafficking, of submitting themselves to terrible violations of human rights.”

“There is something fundamentally wrong in a world where people in need of protection have to resort to these perilous journeys.”1


1Source: http://www.unhcr.org/524e9b9f9.html


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MEDIA CONTACT: Timothy K. Goropevsek, timothyg@worldea.org, +1 212.233.3046


Over two billion Christians in the world today are represented by three world church bodies. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is one of those, serving and representing more than 600 million evangelicals. Launched in 1846 to unite evangelicals worldwide, the WEA continues to be a dynamic movement with 7 regional and 129 national Evangelical Alliances, and over 150 member organizations. WEA's mission is to speak as a trusted voice, to equip members and leaders for global impact and to connect its members and others for common action in the furtherance of God’s reign. For more info e-mail at wea@worldea.org or go to Worldea.org.