The European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL), which brings together senior Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Zoroastrian religious leaders, met in Zurich 19-20 October 2015. The Executive Committee, hosted by the Reformed Church of Zurich, discussed the ongoing refugee crisis currently unfolding in Europe.

The Moderator of ECRL, Thomas Wipf, said “We express grave concerns about the escalating fighting in Syria and neighboring countries. Everyday, thousands of refugees are risking their lives by undertaking perilous journeys to reach safety. Sadly, many continue to lose their lives at sea.”

The Chief Rabbi of Geneva, Dr. Izhak Dayan said: “We appreciate deeply the compassionate welcome of refugees by some European governments and call on all others to do the same and more.”

ECRL calls on the Balkan states to cooperate in this European effort and facilitate the safe passage of refugees without hindrance or delay to countries that have agreed to receive them.

Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra said: “We salute European citizens, and especially religious and political leaders, who have campaigned for the welcoming of refugees and for holding peaceful rallies in support of them. We call on all Europeans to help integrate refugees so that they can enjoy the security of democratic and pluralist countries. We call on the United Nations and the international community to work seriously towards finding a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the crises in the Middle East.”

ECRL in cooperation with Religions for Peace International (RfPI) pledge to facilitate the closer collaboration of religious communities in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

“We seek to build community resilience, protect those forced to leave their homeland, as well as those left behind, and build the capacity and expertise of those receiving refugees. We encourage communities to organize events to publicly demonstrate solidarity and support towards refugees. We encourage both communities of hosts and refugees to learn about each other to build mutual understanding,” emphasized ECRL General Secretary Jehangir Sarosh.

ECRL hopes that an initial joint meeting of European and MENA regional representatives can be held soon to plan further action.

The ECRL continues to collaborate with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODHIR) and had discussions with Dr. Kishan Manocha, their Senior Advisor on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

The European Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace (ECRL) brings together senior religious leaders from Europe’s historical religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam together with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians.ECRL has participatory status with the Council of Europe. ECRL is one of five regional Interreligious Councils with the Religions for Peace network. Religions for Peace – accredited to the United Nations – is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970.