On World Refugee Day today, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) calls on its member churches and all people of goodwill to “extend the hand of welcome to refugees and displaced people.”

As the number of people forced to move away from their homes and regions around the world reach 65 million, LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa and General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge, urge the communion’s churches to also support governments’ obligations “to uphold their international obligations to protect refugees and offer hospitality, and to refrain from building walls of isolation and fear.”

Musa and Junge note that LWF’s vocation and core commitment is rooted in Christian faith, which calls believers to welcome the stranger and to protect those seeking refuge.

They recall the communion’s work with refugees since its founding in 1947, and the empathy with the situation at the end of World War II when “one out of every six Lutherans in the world was a refugee,” and the majority of those displaced received due protection.

The LWF leaders express profound gratitude “for all the individuals, congregations, churches and communities who have welcomed refugees and displaced persons” fleeing violent conflict, oppression, climate change and natural disasters.

Addressing the root causes of displacement is imperative, the president and general secretary emphasize. They call for “effective multilateral approaches to resolve the protracted conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other places.”

Musa and Junge urge governments to support implementation of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement in order to avoid climate change related displacement, and ask the wealthier countries to meet the standard of devoting 0.7 percent of their gross national income for official development assistance.

The LWF is a communion of 145 Lutheran churches in 98 countries worldwide, representing 74 million Lutherans. Its humanitarian and development arm, is the fifth largest implementing partner of UNHCR. In 2015, LWF World Service served 2.3 million people, mostly  refugees or people internally displaced by conflict.

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