The world is today witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Conflict, civil war and persecution have forced nearly 60 million people to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere.
The last year alone saw an increase of more than 8 million refugees worldwide, the biggest yearly increase in recorded history. Over half of the world’s refugees are children.
International Day of Peace is celebrated on 21 September every year. The theme for this year is ‘Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All’.
The humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean has highlighted the need for global cooperation in order to achieve a humane and sustainable solution. European states have so far struggled to find a way to respond to the influx of refugees crossing the Mediterranean, leaving countries like Turkey and Lebanon overburdened with the majority of Syrian refugees.
This year’s theme recognises every person’s right to live with dignity. For asylum seekers living in Australia’s immigration detention centres, their dignity is threatened by mistreatment, abuse and violence taking place behind heavily fortified walls. Last Friday, an Iranian asylum seeker claimed that he was detained for more than 30 hours in a cell while guards urinated through the bars.
The synod’s Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit is encouraging Uniting Church members to join the growing chorus of voices calling for the closure of Nauru detention centre. You can sign their petition to Minister of Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton here.
Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, detaining a child on the basis of their migration status is a violation of their rights. The JIM unit is asking supporters to participate in a global campaign to end children in detention.
Peace is central to the Uniting Church’s mission. The 2003 National Assembly adopted the Uniting For Peace statement, which affirmed that “God calls all Christians to be peacemakers”. The Assembly also reiterated the Church’s commitment to being a “peacebuilding body”.
UnitingJustice has prepared an International Day of Peace resource pack to inspire Uniting Church members to be peacemakers in their everyday lives.
It offers examples of peacebuilding in local and international communities as well as reflections on seeking justice through nonviolence.
One of the reflections on nonviolent action is written by Rev Dr Avril Hannah-Jones, minister of Williamstown Uniting Church.
“I am inspired by all the Christians through the ages who have broken the law in the cause of God’s justice and peace,” Dr Hannah-Jones writes.
“Acting out of anger is always much easier for me than acting out of love. By being part of #LoveMakesAWay I am learning to act out of love.”
The resource pack also contains worship resources and suggestions on how your congregation can celebrate International Day of Peace. You can download the resource pack here.
Image from End Child Detention via Twitter.
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