The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge is calling Lutherans worldwide to prayer, support and advocacy concerning the humanitarian crisis developing from the swift political changes in North Africa.
In a March 3, 2011 letter to LWF member churches, Junge urges the churches’ prayers for people in North Africa and the Middle East so “that violence and repression will stop,” that people would “be treated with dignity and respect” and that leaders “will be chosen who are honest and accountable.”
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson added her voice to General Secretary Junge’s call for prayers. "We pray for peace that is so desperately needed in North Africa. We deplore the choice to use violence, and pray for people of courage and good will to emerge as leaders, so that people’s core human need for dignity, rights, safety and self-determination will be respected."
In December a popular uprising began in Tunisia, forcing the Tunisian president to flee the country in January. Similar protests in Egypt in January forced the country’s president to step aside in February. Protests that began peacefully in Libya in February are resulting in a huge humanitarian crisis as the country’s leader fights to keep his hold on power.
Junge deplored the loss of life and expressed hope that those fleeing would be able to return home safely and that the refugees will find refuge. He expressed particular concern for Libya where the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, “is trying to cling to power in the most cruel way, ordering his security forces to shoot and kill his own people. The death toll may already be in the thousands.” Most of those fleeing the country are foreign workers, predominantly from Egypt but also from other countries including Bangladesh and Nepal.
The general secretary welcomed the United Nations’ actions against Libya. The Security Council in February imposed sanctions against Libya. On March 1, 2011 the General Assembly suspended Libya from the Human Rights Council.
“The international community is unanimously condemning the indiscriminate use of violence and the violations of human rights,” Junge noted.
In view of the large-scale humanitarian crisis unfolding from Libya, Junge pointed out that an LWF-led humanitarian assessment team will arrive in neighboring Tunisia this weekend. The LWF-ACT Alliance rapid assessment team will elaborate a preliminary appeal and coordinate the shipment and distribution of immediate relief goods as well as the establishment of water supply infrastructure in close coordination with UN organizations on-site.
The LWF is a founding member of ACT Alliance, a global network of church-related organizations collaborating in humanitarian assistance and development.
Junge asked the churches for continued financial support as the LWF responds to the humanitarian crisis.
He urged Lutherans in Europe to advocate with their governments to show compassion toward those fleeing North Africa. “While the struggling countries bordering Libya are generously keeping their borders open, the European discussions seem to focus more on how to protect their borders” in a humanitarian situation that calls for a different approach, Junge added.
The general secretary expressed his hope that the political changes in North Africa would “pave the way for political governance that is accountable to the very people it represents.”
He added, “People want to have their dignity respected. People want to be treated fairly and honestly – they reject injustice and corruption.”
(Files from Lutheran World Information.)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 152,500 baptized members in 607 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
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