Ecumenical News International

EKD Military bishop: States must put a stop to people smuggling

July 15, 2015

Berlin (epd). Sigurd Rink (54), the military bishop of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), has called on the United Nations to take action against people smugglers North Africa. In an interview with the Protestant news agency epd, Rink stated: "The international community must strive to stop the game of these criminals - if possible with an appropriate UN resolution." He supports the idea of international policing of the region.

"The international community must see how it can quash the activities of these criminal gangs of smugglers," the military bishop declared. He recalled that autumn storms would probably give rise to further victims. So it was all the more urgent to mount an international offensive against the smugglers, in his view. However, Rink did not advise any mission by the German armed forces. "There is no cause for military engagement of the kind we have seen in Iraq or Afghanistan."
EKD bishop on board navy ship off the Libyan coast

Several ships from the German navy are currently stationed off the coast of Libya to rescue shipwrecked migrants or those in distress for lack of food and water. "The soldiers are confronted with great suffering," Rink explained. For that reason, EKD chaplains are on board to give spiritual support to the crews.

15 July marks the first anniversary of Rink's appointment as EKD military bishop. The first pastor to hold this office full-time, Rink is responsible for coordinating the work of Protestant military chaplains. During this first year he has already visited many locations of the German armed forces at home and abroad.

During the interview Rink reported on current thinking about changing the status of the German armed forces and removing the obligation to gain parliamentary approval for every mission to foreign parts. "Politics is time-consuming in a democracy," he noted. "But it is better to give controversial matters another spin rather than one too few." The close link with parliament is beneficial, in his view. "Even though it seems exhausting and complicated at first sight, I would not depart from this system without it being absolutely necessary," Rink declared.



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