A NEW European umbrella sea-rescue action alliance, United4Rescue — Rescue Together, was founded in Hamburg on Tuesday in the presence of the Mayor of Palermo, in Sicily, and the chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm.
“The alliance supports the civil sea-rescue organisations that do not simply do nothing to watch people drown while fleeing in the Mediterranean, but act in a humanitarian way and save lives where state sea rescue is absent,” they said in a statement. They will be sending a rescue ship to the Mediterranean in 2020.
Dr Bedford-Strohm said: “If people are in danger of their lives, then they must be helped. The Church and diaconia are sending this signal with their wide-ranging commitment wherever people are in need. This commitment to compassion and mercy is continued by the United4Rescue alliance founded today. It will hold those responsible in Europe to account to end the dying in the Mediterranean and at the same time it wants to make its own contribution to saving people.”
The Mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, underlined the European dimension. He said: “Humanity in the sense of human rights is the theme of our time, of our continent, and in particular of the EU: politically, religiously, and socially. It is diametrically opposed to right-wing extremism and populism, and is its sole antidote. We cannot stand by and watch people drown in the sea on the border of this Union of ours. We should not only be watching as populists create networks — we must create a network for all those who want to save human lives.”
SWNSFor better oar: Members of the Ilfracombe RNLI crew form a guard of honour at Emmanuel Church on Saturday at the wedding of one of their members, Neil Daubney, to his fiance Izzy. Their number was depleted: several crew members left during the service to aid a paddle-boarder reported to be in difficulties. “Neil wasn’t on duty — although we did offer him the chance to come with us,” the coxswain, Leigh Hanks, said
A resolution was passed in June this year at the bi-annual Kirchentag in Dortmund that had called on the EKD and its member churches to “Send a ship yourself!” More than 40,000 people have since signed the online call.
The EKD has now set up an independent supporting organisation, United4Rescue, after a decision taken by the EKD Synod and Council in November to support civil sea-rescue organisations in the Mediterranean by forming a broad alliance that will include churches, civil and aid organisations, companies, cultural institutions, and political initiatives.
Symbolically, the announcement was made in the Flussschifferkirche, a church on a former barge moored in Hamburg harbour, which was consecrated in 1952 as a floating church for worship on the water.
“I should have been in Palermo by now,” Mr Orlando said, “but I am honoured to be in the same boat with this new Human Rights Alliance today.”
A first Alliance project envisages sending an additional sea-rescue vessel to the Mediterranean next year. The EKD has called for donations during Advent under the hashtag #wirschickeneinschiff (we are sending a ship).
“Through the fund-raising campaign #wirschickeneinschiff, everyone now has the opportunity to support these goals. We will not stand idly by while people drown in the Mediterranean, ” Dr Bedford-Strohm said.