Now more than ever churches in the UK have an important role to play in presenting and realising a vision of a future where every person is treated with inherent dignity and infinite worth, the development agency Christian Aid has said.
Launching “Change the Story”, a campaign to challenge and change the way refugees are portrayed, Loretta Minghella, Chief Executive of Christian Aid, 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. Recently our public debate around refugees has focused more on our differences than the common humanity we share, and the language used to depict refugees has too often been dehumanising, demeaning and divisive. Now, more than ever, we have to work together to change that story.”
Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon and Chair of 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.
“As well as needing our help, refugees enrich our social fabric, helping to make the UK a place of cultural diversity, which we ought to be proud to celebrate.”
The campaign launched this week by Christian Aid calls on its supporters and others who want to get involved to write to their newspapers to share positive stories of welcome – and to call on the UK government to be bolder in its ambition to respond to the refugee crisis.
Ahead of the UN High Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants in September, Christian Aid is urging the UK government to host far higher numbers of refugees through:
- Resettling higher numbers of refugees, broaden the nationalities it resettles and significantly accelerate the resettlement in the UK of the 20,000 Syrians it has already agreed to accept;
- Introduce a system of humanitarian visas to the UK, including via third countries;
- Strengthen and implement adequate measures for family reunification;
- Act on its responsibilities to relocate refugees already in the EU.
Christian Aid is currently working in Greece and Serbia through ACT Alliance. Our partners are providing essential humanitarian support such as beds, mattresses and hygiene kits, to refugees in Serbia and the Greek Islands, as well as legal protection services to unaccompanied children on the mainland in Athens, and housing support to some of the most vulnerable refugees. Christian Aid and our partners continue to provide support to refugees and displaced people in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, South Sudan, and many other countries throughout the world.
For more information on the launch of Change the Story, and to take the campaign action, visit www.christianaid.org.uk/changethestory.