CHRISTIAN AID is challenging churches, communities, and individuals to help change the negative perception of refugees in the UK media and abroad.
In its latest campaign, “Change the Story”, the Christian charity is calling on supporters to write to newspapers with positive stories of welcome, and to share their experiences on social media. It is also encouraging better treatment of refugees who are entering the UK, while recognising the “inherent dignity and infinite worth” of all human beings.
The chief executive of Christian Aid, Loretta Minghella, said: “Refugees are people fleeing violence, war, and oppression. They are our sisters and brothers, each one of them made in the image of God. They have a legal right to seek sanctuary and to find safety, wherever they are from. But that principle has too often been lost.”
She criticised the public debate around refugees, in particular during the referendum campaign, which, she said, had used language that had “too often been dehumanising, demeaning, and divisive”.
The Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, who chairs the Churches Refugee Network, said: “Churches and congregations all over the UK are welcoming refugees into their homes and communities, and are helping to build communities where every person is treated with inherent dignity and infinite worth. Yet this is rarely a story that is heard or celebrated, and we want to change that.”
The challenge comes as the campaign group Citizens UK, and the children’s charity UNICEF UK, backed an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill giving reassurances for child refugees, which was debated in the House of Lords on Monday.
The chairman of Citizens UK, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, said: “Although we rejoiced when the Government agreed to step up and resettle unaccompanied child refugees from Europe, we are disappointed that their words are not being put into action. This generous offer of sanctuary to unaccompanied children must not be allowed to fail due to bureaucracy and cuts.”
It emerged on Sunday that no unaccompanied child refugees have been brought into the UK from Europe by the Government, or identified, in the two months since the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, promised to offer sanctuary to vulnerable minors.
Mr Cameron told MPs that he was “going to do more” for child refugees under the terms of an amendment to the immigration Bill, made by Lord Dubs, to accept 3000 children, and which was passed in May.
Calls for delay in demolition of Calais camp DEMOLITION of part of the camp in Calais that shelters refugees must be delayed until unaccompanied refugee children in Calais have been reunited with their families, Citizens UK said this week, writes Madeleine Davies.
They estimate that half of the 600 lone refugee children living in the northern part of the Calais camp could be eligible for sanctuary in the UK.
The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, speaking on behalf of Citizens UK, said: “We plead with the authorities to delay the demolition of the camp until the children have been processed and reunited with their families. Evicting the children will only force them into the hands of traffickers or onto the train tracks.”
Citizens UK had been working with lawyers to reunite unaccompanied refugee children in Calais with their families in the UK. About 40 refugee children from Calais have been reunited with their families in the UK since March this year. At the current rate of reunification, the organisation estimates that it will take until next year to bring all the children to the UK, meaning that some could face another winter in Calais. To date, no children have been brought to the UK under Lord Dubs’s recent amendment to the Immigration Bill (News, 6 May).
The co-founder of Help Refugees, Josie Naughton, has warned that hundreds of children went missing the last time the French police moved in to evict the camp.