The briefing examines the history and consequences of the current humanitarian crisis, includes biblical reflection, and highlights four specific areas that churches can engage with and campaign on.
The Joint Public Issues Team combines the expertise of the Baptist Union, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church in the area of public issues. JPIT member Bill Topping said:
“As Christians, we have a key role to play in the upcoming months and years, highlighting the ongoing plight of refugees and displaced people. We must affirm the case for a human response to the crisis, which recognises that we are all made for goodness, and that the human dignity of refugees is intimately connected to our own.”
The report notes that the refugee crisis is not new and puts the situation into context.
The vast majority of refugees live in some of the world’s poorest countries. The UK has been generous in providing financial aid, but accepting a fair and proportionate share of people is equally necessary.
The briefing suggests that while refugees have historically and currently made positive contributions to the UK economy, culture and services, people seeking asylum in the UK face a hostile system and many end up destitute.
As Christians we are called to stand in solidarity with the displaced and dispossessed. There has never been a greater need for Churches to highlight the plight of refugees and support those already resident within our communities.
- Introduce a system of humanitarian visas – the UK and countries within the European Union need to introduce a system of humanitarian visas to help people fleeing violence and persecution to travel safely and legally to a country which will give them sanctuary.
- Enable family reunion for refugees – the UK should make it easier for refugees living in the UK to bring older children, dependent parents and siblings with no other family to join them. United families are stronger and more able to build independent lives and contribute to society.
- Provide care for more unaccompanied children – the UK should be striving to offer a home to at least 3,000 of the 88,000 unaccompanied refugee children in Europe, who are amongst the most vulnerable of those seeking sanctuary.
- Reform the UK asylum system – people who claim asylum in the UK should be treated with dignity. No-one should be deliberately made destitute.