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The World Council of Churches (WCC) founded EAPPI in response to a call by church leaders in the Holy Land. When violence swept through Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory following the outbreak of the Second (Al Aqsa) Intifada in 2000, Heads of Churches in Jerusalem appealed to the world for support in their efforts for a just peace and reconciliation.

The WCC, whose member churches represent about 550 million Christians worldwide, answered the call. In a meeting with the WCCs Executive Committee, local Christians proposed “an accompaniment programme (including) an international ecumenical presence…closely linked to the local churches.”

Earlier in 2002, residents of the small village of Yanoun were driven out of their homes by high levels of settler violence. Israeli and international peace activists took action and decided to live in the village of Yanoun, hoping that the village residents would find it safe to come back. Due to the protective presence provided by these activists, the residents of Yanoun were able to return.

This success served as inspiration and in 2002 the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) was born. WCC member churches have since recruited over 1,400 Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) from 25 countries to serve 3-month terms in placements around the West Bank. Working closely with local communities, Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, and international agencies, EAPPI has maintained a constant presence in the region ever since.

In 2012, EAPPI commemorated its 10th anniversary. On this occasion, EAPPI International Coordinator Manuel Quintero expressed: “When the programme began in 2002, we hoped that the occupation would not last another decade. However, with human rights abuses such as settler violence, house demolitions and restrictions on freedom of movement still continuing in 2012, the reality is that EAPPI is needed as much as ever.”

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