The World Council of Churches' Global Ecumenical Network on Migration has welcomed a year-long campaign by European churches aimed at granting long-term resident permits to foreigners after five years of legal stay.
The 'Year of European Churches Responding to Migration 2010' will aim to improve the situation of migrants in Europe, mainly through joint advocacy efforts for migrants' and refugees' right to a long-term residence status after five years of legal stay, irrespective of the grounds of the stay.
"This is a courageous and very much needed initiative by the churches in Europe, which could be a model for churches in other regions on the 'receiving end' of migration flows", said Sydia Nduna, WCC programme executive for Migration and Social Justice, speaking on behalf of the Global Ecumenical Network on Migration.
"Welcoming the stranger is not optional, but central to Christian identity", she added.
The year-long campaign was launched at the end of November 2009 in Budapest, Hungary, by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME).
Another goal of the initiative is to increase the visibility of the churches' work with and for migrants, refugees and ethnic minorities.
"Thanks to the presence of the GEM, our deliberations gained a sense of urgency", said Torsten Moritz, from the CCME.
He added: "Hearing from the Pacific about the effects of climate change and displacement of people in their region and about the humanitarian crisis in Colombia underlined that migration is becoming more globalised, so needs to be the churches' response."
More on the Year of European Churches Responding to Migration 2010 http://www.migration2010.eu
Global Ecumenical Network on Migration http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=3414