World Council of Churches associate general secretary, Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, has been interrogated and refused entry to Israel. She was on her way to attend consultations with church leaders in Jerusalem, on the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).
programme brings people from around the world to the West Bank and East
Jerusalem to serve for three months as human rights monitors, known as
Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs).
They bring eyewitness accounts to the
world's attention, engage with local Palestinians and Israelis pursuing a
just peace, and work to change the international community's
involvement with the conflict, urging them to act against injustice in
More than 70 churches, ecumenical bodies and
specialised ministries in 22 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, North
America and Latin America actively participate in the programme. The
British and Irish section is administered by Quakers in Britain.
The World Council of Churches has made this statement: "In
an unprecedented move against the leadership of the World Council of
Churches (WCC) and the ecumenical movement, the WCC associate general
secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri was yesterday apprehended,
interrogated and deported from Ben Gurion International Airport.
Phiri, a respected African woman theologian from Malawi, is a senior
official of the World Council of Churches whose 348 member churches
represent over 550 million Christians in 110 countries around the world.
She was travelling to attend consultations with church leaders in
Jerusalem on the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and
Israel (EAPPI), one of the many programmes and activities supported by
the WCC globally.
"The reason given for Isabel Phiri's
deportation was 'Prevention of illegal immigration considerations'. She
resides in Geneva, Switzerland, where she has served as associate
general secretary with responsibility for Public Witness and Diakonia at
the offices of the WCC since August 2012. She was the only African
member of a WCC staff delegation currently visiting Jerusalem. All four
other members were allowed entry.
"The WCC has instructed its
legal representatives to lodge an appeal against this patently unjust
and discriminatory action against Isabel Phiri immediately.
accusations made against the WCC and the EAPPI programme in the
interrogation of Dr Phiri and published in the media today are
completely false,' said WCC general secretary, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse
Tveit. 'I am very surprised and dismayed that the Israeli Ministry of
Interior is apparently basing its decisions on incorrect and unreliable
"The WCC deeply regrets the Israeli antagonism against
the WCC's initiatives for peace with justice for both Palestinians and
Signed by the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary, World Council of Churches, Jerusalem, 6 December 2016
Read the full statement here: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/statements/statement-on-detention-and-deportation-of-wcc-associate-general-secretary/