Turkey and European Union Plan to Address Syrian Refugee Crisis
This past Monday, Turkey’s Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, proposed a plan to address the Syrian refugee crisis. It is a “one-for-one” proposal: resettling one Syrian refugee in Europe for every Syrian returned to Turkey from the Greek islands. This plan intends to decrease human smuggling, make the resettlement process more efficient, and strengthen relations between Turkey and the EU. Amnesty International (AI) has called the deal “worth exploring” but has deep concerns about Syrian migrants being sent to Turkey because of its past human rights abuses. AI also criticizes Turkey’s lack of rights for refugees as “exceedingly problematic.” At this point, European officials are investigating whether a “one-for-one” resettlement program is legal under international law and is feasible.
God, we pray for wisdom as this plan is explored and debated. May unintended consequences be avoided, may the dignity of all people be protected, and may the violence and poverty that are driving so many to find refuge end soon.
Greece-Macedonia Migrant Crisis
Macedonia has announced it will no longer allow migrants to pass through its border with Greece, essentially cutting off access to the Balkan route that a majority of migrants take to resettle in northern Europe. This decision comes after Slovenia prohibited entry of migrants passing through the country; other nations in the region are also leaning in that direction. Before Monday’s announcement, there were about 13,000 migrants waiting at the Greece-Macedonia border. Many of these migrants have been waiting at the Idomeni refugee camp and have already endured extreme hardships such as cold weather (and widespread respiratory infections among children) and poor sanitation. The UN and Doctors Without Borders raise major concerns that food distribution and sanitation provisions are running dangerously low. A majority of these migrants hoped to seek asylum in Germany, but now that the border has been closed, there is little hope.
Lord, we lift in prayer the migrants who are losing hope of finding new life in a safe place. We pray for officials and many others who are attempting to meet the many needs of these thousands of people. We pray for countries that are bearing the burden of this crisis. We pray that world leaders may work together to find creative, sustainable, and humane policies.
Global Food Security Act Moves Forward in Senate
This morning, the Global Food Security Act unanimously passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. If passed in the general Senate, the Global Food Security Act would make permanent the program called Feed the Future, which has helped more than 7 million small farmers increase crop production and, in 2013 alone, provided nutritious foods to more than 12.5 million children. The act intends to aid nations around the world to develop smart, long-term, country-specific agriculture policies and to ensure that these nations can independently empower their people to meet their own nutrition needs. It especially aims to benefit women and children, most notably during the critical 1,000-day window from pregnancy until the child’s second birthday. These nutrition interventions aim to reduce stunting, lifelong poor health, impaired cognitive and physical development, and diminished productivity.
God, we lift up hungry people to you. We long to see these goals — thriving agriculture, healthy mothers and babies, lifelong flourishing — achieved all over the world. As U.S. leaders consider this legislation, we pray, grant them wisdom.
Trudeau and Obama to Meet Over Climate Concern
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and U.S. President Barack Obama will meet today at the White House to discuss a joint strategy to mitigate Arctic climate change. Concerns over Arctic ice melting at unusual rates, rising sea levels, and eroding coastlines that are harming indigenous villages have prompted this gathering. The environmental degradation has been attributed to the soot produced from diesel-burning electrical generators. The two nations’ leaders are expected to announce bilateral measures that will replace diesel-burning generators with solar and wind power in remote communities dependent on diesel, measures that also aim to protect certain marine areas, among other outcomes. Some are skeptical that this agreement will be implemented as the U.S. President’s time in office draws to a close.
For Trudeau and Obama we pray, Lord. May they use their power to work for justice. May they keep the needs of the people who are most vulnerable at the forefront of their thinking. May these national leaders make strides for the U.S. and Canada to become close collaborators on critical issues such as climate change.