RECALLING the destruction of their city in the Second World War, spiritual and political leaders in Coventry have issued a statement of solidarity with the people of Syria and Iraq who are suffering because of war.
It has been signed by the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth; the Dean, the Very Revd John Witcombe; the Lord Mayor, Lindsley Harvard; and the chairman of the city’s Muslim Forum, Dr Abdullah Shehu.
It notes that both Armistice Day and the 76th anniversary of the worst night of bombing in Coventry are approaching, and asks people in Britain to pray for peace and sing songs of lament in solidarity with the people of Iraq and Syria.
"To the leaders of the nations and groups that are caught up in the violence of Syria and Iraq, we plead with you to find ways to solve the crisis,” they say.
Speaking directly to the people of Syria and Iraq, while “little consolation” can be offered, the signatories state that in their city “hope rose again from the ashes of despair and we walked the long road to reconstruction and reconciliation.”
It is an honour for Coventry to receive many refugees, particularly from Syria itself, the statement concludes.
Meanwhile, an Anglican delegation in Beirut has heard how one third of the population of Lebanon are refugees. The group was attending the annual meeting of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission (AOOIC), and used the opportunity to investigate the refugee crisis.
"The Anglican members of AOOIC have touched the edges of two refugee crises on this visit to Lebanon — the Armenian crisis of 100 years ago, and the Syrian crisis of today,” the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, a member of the delegation, told the Anglican Communion News Service.
"On both occasions, Lebanon has opened its heart to those who sought her shelter. Can we [in the UK], so wealthy in comparative terms, continue to do so little in the face of so much need?”
The delegation also heard how Christian refugees from Syria or Iraq often eschewed UN camps, fearing discrimination, and so were rarely part of the formal legal pathways into the UK. Many Western governments, including that of Britain, do not allow support to be targeted at particular groups such as Christians, but instead rely on the UN to pick refugees for resettlement from its camps.