NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Faith-based organizations and religious leaders must be included in efforts to address the challenges of human trafficking and forced migration, said representatives of international organizations, governments and civil society meeting on 23 September on the sidelines of the landmark UN summit on refugees and migrants and the Leaders' Summit on Refugees.
Speakers at the consultation "Bearing Witness: Combating Human Trafficking and Forced Migration" included Ignacio Ybáñez, Secretary of State of External Affairs of Spain, Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations on the Prevention of Genocide; Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, Representative to the United Nations in New York at World Council of Churches, Faisal Bin Muaammar, Secretary General of the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), and Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Board Member of the Vienna-based International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID).
The consultation was organized by the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, on behalf of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), in cooperation with the Governments of Italy and Spain, the Institute for Strategic Studies and Democracy (ISSD) of Malta and the Partnership for Religion and Development (PaRD). Participants discussed policies in place to address human trafficking and forced migration, and the role of faith-based organizations and interreligious dialogue in responding to these issues, and heard moving personal testimonies from witnesses from origin, transition and host countries of refugees.
Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis explained how the Greek people, along with the State and the Church, responded with great generosity to the arrival of over 1 million people fleeing war and conflict in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The Orthodox Church, he said, had a very active role in the crisis. He called for more synergy and cooperation between religions and international organizations and proposed interreligious training for the people who welcome the migrants. Examples of responses of faith based organisations to the refugee flows in Italy or to the work with minorities in Iraq were also shared.
"Religious leaders know their communities. They have access to the people. They are trusted and respected by their communities are already working to save and improve lives where they are most needed. Through their example and their guidance, their communities combat prejudice, support integration and build peace," said Faisal Bin Muaammar, Secretary General of the International Dialogue Centre which advocates for interreligious dialogue as a means to peace and reconciliation. "Millions of people suffering today can benefit from their motivation, commitment and experiences. Their insight and wisdom is a unique asset".
KAICIID was also represented by Deputy Secretary General for External Relations, Amb. Alvaro Albacete, who moderated the first panel; and Senior Adviser Prof. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, as a respondent to the last panel, emphasizing the complimentary role of religious leaders and faith based organisations with policy makers and human rights advocates.