The Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), a social wing of the World Council of Churches, opened its second year of operations by welcoming 25 new volunteers – the largest group since the project began in August 2002.
The EAPPI was launched by the WCC to “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.” Since its inception, some 153 Christians from 12 countries served as volunteers, or “accompaniers,” to the program.
According to the WCC’s report on Sept 21, 2004, the new EAPPI group will include a bishop for the first time; Bishop Lunga ka Siboto of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church will be one of four accompaniers from South Africa joining a countrywoman who is staying on for an additional term.
In addition to Siboto, there will be 15 women and 9 men serving as accompaniers. The volunteers, whose age ranges from 26 to 69, come from seven countries: Denmark, Germany, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Ecumenical Accompaniers serve a minimum of three months and work in various capacities with local churches, Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, as well as Palestinian communities. Accompaniers will also be working with various organizations including the YMCA in both Beit Sahour and Tulkarem; the Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC) in Beit Hanina on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem near where the "separation wall" is being constructed; the Alternative Information Centre (AIC), a joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative; and the Palestinian Working Women's Society for Development (PWWSD) in Ramallah.