RTCYPP News: February 2020

RTCYPP News: February 2020

Religious Leaders of Cyprus meet with the Representative of UNHCR Cyprus and discuss the status of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants

During their first RTCYPP High Level Meeting of the year, the Religious Leaders of Cyprus welcomed a detailed briefing by Ms Katja Saha, Representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) – Cyprus and listened to the current challenges.

Together with the UNHCR Representative, the religious leaders discussed the situation of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Cyprus.  They listened to the challenges faced and reflected together on the role of religious leaders to meet the spiritual and religious needs of the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers; to raise awareness about the plight of refugees, and ensure that they are welcomed by members of the respective faith communities by educating against xenophobia and assist in their integration into society.

“Welcoming the stranger, honoring the dignity of every person regardless of their faith and treating them with respect are values common to major religions and religious traditions. Religious leaders in Cyprus can play an important role in promoting acceptance and respect and empowering refugees to become part of an inclusive society” stated Ms Saha.

Religious Leaders thanked UNHCR Cyprus for all its efforts for the uprooted and reiterated their joint commitment to advocate for inclusion, understanding and support for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers as they had jointly stated on World Refugee Day 2018

The High Level meeting and briefing session were hosted by Ambassador Hagelberg and moderated by Sweden’s Special Envoy on Religion, Peace-building & Conflict, Peter Weiderud.  It took place at the Swedish Residence in Nicosia and was organized and facilitated by the Office of RTCYPP.

Joint Communique by the Religious Leaders of Cyprus on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the RTCYPP

Joint Communique by the Religious Leaders of Cyprus on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the RTCYPP

On 14 February 2020, the five Religious Leaders of Cyprus came together and adopted the Joint Communique on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden. The Religious Leaders commit themselves to continue to build a culture of peace and trust, always defending and promoting human dignity and reiterate their conviction to work together to uphold and advance the fundamental freedom of religion for all.

"Ten years ago, after decades of separation, we, the religious leaders of Cyprus, came together for the first time in the history of Cyprus.  We started to listen to one another, to work together and to support each other to improve the situation for freedom of religion or belief in Cyprus and together contribute to healing and reconciliation of our communities.

We are convinced that if we want to go far, we need to walk the long road ahead of us together as people of faith and as religious leaders.

We give thanks to the Government of Sweden for its steadfast support to the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) and the Embassy of Sweden in Cyprus for its Auspices.

We reiterate our strong conviction to continue to work together to uphold and advance the fundamental freedom of religion for all. We know full well that only with real courage we will be able to stay together to seek truth, purify memories and restore basic human rights. In particular we will continue to advocate and work together for our right to access, administer, protect and restore our own religious monuments in Cyprus and stand up for the right to worship, which has been denied, controlled or violated for far too long.

With God’s grace and blessing we will continue to support each other and stand united to contribute to building trust between our communities, restore broken relationships, heal the wounds of the past and sow the seeds of reconciliation in Cyprus.

To mark the tenth anniversary of our peacebuilding efforts, we call on:

All Cypriots to join us in our efforts to protect the religious heritage of Cyprus and advance freedom of religion for all;

The political leadership of Cyprus to have the courage to increase their support to our unprecedented joint gesture for peace, as well as our common request to ensure unhindered freedom of worship, religion and belief in Cyprus; and

The international community to support our joint messages for human rights and continue to acknowledge the role of the religious leaders of Cyprus in peacebuilding.

We, the Religious Leaders will continue to pray for Cyprus and for each other. We invite our respective communities to join us in prayer to strengthen our faith in God the Almighty and commit ourselves to building a culture of peace and trust, always defending and promoting human dignity."