Prime Min­is­ter urged to be ‘gen­er­ous’ in re­sponse to refugees

The Church of England - - FRONT PAGE -

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.”

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