The Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) has begun its second year of operations with 19 ecumenical accompaniers, the largest group of volunteers since the programme began one year ago. The accompaniers began their service during the recent escalation of violence in the conflict.
EAPPI works with Palestinians and Israelis who are seeking an end to the occupation through non-violent means and a just solution to the long conflict. Ecumenical accompaniers (EAs) work with local churches, Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, and Palestinian communities in a variety of capacities to try and reduce the brutality of the occupation and improve the daily lives of both peoples.
The current corps of volunteers comes from six countries: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. The ten men and nine women range in age from 22 to 72 years. Some EAs will be serving for three months, while others have committed to staying in the area for up to a year.
In keeping with the EAPPI's tradition of combining solidarity with advocacy, the EAs have been assigned different tasks in diverse settings. Seven accompaniers will be working in the Palestinian villages of Jayyous and Yanoun in the West Bank. Four medical students will be working in Ramallah, Jenin and Jerusalem in hospitals and mobile clinics. One will be working in Hebron accompanying children going to school and monitoring the human rights situation. Four accompaniers are working in media and communication centres in Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jerusalem. One accompanier is teaching music at a school in Bethlehem. Two volunteers are serving in Gaza. One accompanier is working with Israeli peace organizations throughout Israel.
Since the programme was launched in August 2002, 59 ecumenical accompaniers - from more than 30 churches and ecumenical partners in eight different countries: Canada, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States - have participated.