Ecumenical accompaniers in Israel and Palestine: working to reduce violence, improve people's lives
A new group of 12 "ecumenical accompaniers" last week joined four others staying on in Israel and Palestine from previous groups within the framework of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The new arrivals bringthe total number of ecumenical accompaniers now on the ground to 16.
The seven women and five men in the new group range in age from 23 to 75. Five Danes head the list, including three participants who are medical students, followed by three accompaniers from the United States, two from Germany, one from Norway, and one from Switzerland. The Americans are all ordained ministers: one from the United Church of Christ, another from the Presbyterian Church, and the third from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Ecumenical accompaniers, who serve a minimum of three months, work in various capacities with local churches, Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, as well as Palestinian communities to try to reduce the brutality of the Occupation and improve the daily lives of both peoples. Accompaniers will continue to be placed in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jayyous, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Tulkarem and Yanoun.
One accompanier with journalism skills will be working with the Alternative Information Center (AIC), a joint Palestinian-Israeli initiative. The three medical students will be working with the Ramallah-based Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC). Part of their work will include accompanying mobile health clinics which bring medical attention to people who can’t get to hospitals or health care facilities due to the restrictions on freedom of movement.
Since the programme was launched in August 2002, 180 ecumenical accompaniers have participated from more than 30 churches and ecumenical partners in 12 countries: Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Aotearoa-New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
For more information on the EAPPI:
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) was launched in August 2002. Ecumenical accompaniers monitor and report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, support acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, offer protection through non-violent presence, engage in public policy advocacy, and stand in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation. The programme is co-ordinated by the World Council of Churches.