Prime Minister urged to be ‘generous’ in response to refugees
THE PRIME Minister, David Cameron, is being urged to be ambitious in his pledge to increase the number of Syrian refugees being admitted to the UK.
Christian Aid’s Head of Middle East, Guy Frances, is urging the PM that ‘a truly generous response’ would be to resettle at least 10,000 immediately. “We regard this as a minimum”, he said.
Christian Aid, which works with European development aid organisations in the Act Alliance EU, is calling for improved reception conditions for the safety of unaccompanied children, more opportunities for family reunification, increased funding for humanitarian operations and greater co-operation with civil society organisations such as churches.
The charity launched an appeal to support partner agencies in Europe, and is asking people to send an e-mail to David Cameron asking that the UK play its part in a “permanent, balanced and mandatory EU relocation scheme”.
The charity is also urging the Government to ensure aid reaches people in besieged areas in Syria, and to achieve a political settlement within the region.
Christians on the Left said that the Government announcement to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK over five years is a ‘small step’.
Their director, Andy Flannagan, said that they ‘especially call on the Prime Minister to recover a vocabulary of sanctuary and a tone of welcome.’
The Labour group is urging Christians to donate to NGOs providing practical, humanitarian assistance and pray for UK and EU leaders to respond ‘compassionately and decisively’ to the crisis.
Southwark diocese reminded people of all faiths and none to be mindful of Matthew 25:35-41.
The diocese has applauded the UK Government’s financial contribution to the refugees but say the ‘present situation demands’ more.
The Diocese said it is willing to work with both Christians and non-Christian and nonfaith alike to resettle refugees in Diocesan properties.
Southwark Cathedral has sent £2,500 given ‘spontaneously’ by the congregation, to support the Anglican Church in Athens with refugees as well as supplying Bibles to St Michael’s — the ‘Jungle Camp’ in Calais.
The Dean, the Very Rev Andrew Nunn, challenged the congregation in his sermon: “Never forget the boy on the beach, never forget the man on the cross – God has not forgotten them, for both of them are God’s sons,” he said.
Anglicans are being asked to support the Diocese in Europe as it works on the refugee frontline. Donations made to the ‘ Rapid Response Fund’ will be put towards shelter, pastoral care for refugees and medical support.
Bishop in Europe David Hamid said: “We have an efficient process agreed that will help
our partners working on the ground.” The Rev Dr Frank Heged , priest in charge of St Margaret’s in Budapest, where volunteers are giving packages to refugees at Keleti International Train Station, commented: “The refugees appeared well dressed and groomed, though also obviously exhausted from their journey.
“The language barrier was sadly formidable, but there was absolutely no sign of violence or disturbance.”
A joint statement released by the Catholic Bishop of Nottingham, and the Anglican Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham said their churches ‘will play their full part in calling upon the Government and local authorities to do as much as possible to welcome refugees to this country.’
“For some, that will mean following Pope Francis’ suggestion of welcoming refugees to their homes. For others, it will mean responding positively to appeals, at a national, regional and local level, for money and clothing to give to those who have nothing.
“We hope that people will be creative in working together across the whole community,” they said.
Bishop of Baths and Wells, Peter Hancock has sent a pastoral letter to clergy saying: “It feels as if there has been a breakdown in the human race’s ability to care for its weakest members.”
The Bishop added: “Some people have already expressed their desire to open their home to a refugee family, offering rooms or meals. The time is not yet right for this to happen – we will have to wait for the Government’s relocation scheme to be worked out.
“When refugees arrive, churches will be in the forefront of those offering assistance, and we will need to do this well. It will not be an easy task. There will be issues of language, dealing with vulnerable and traumatised people, finding suitable schools, and so on.”