Church leaders in Wales have written a joint letter to newspaper editors in which they speak out against the dramatic rise in race hate crime since the EU Referendum and warn that the dominance of these stories has stalled political action.
Over the past few weeks and months we have witnessed an unprecedented polarisation of attitudes on immigration and refugees, culminating in a dramatic and repugnant rise in race hate crime since the referendum. These stories have dominated our media, and stalled political action to host refugees and to ensure their rights.
But as Church leaders in Wales, these stories of hate do not chime with the generous response we see in our communities, nor do we accept the demonization of refugees by certain elements of the media and political establishment …
It is vital that we remember that the Wales has a rich history of supporting people forced from their homes by violence and conflict. As far back as WW1, Welsh communities opened their arms to host Belgian refugees fleeing the devastation. Modern Wales is home to an incredible variety of people who have sought refuge here – from Eritrea, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and many more – who have enriched our communities and made us a place of cultural diversity.
Today, communities all over Wales are responding positively to the current refugee crisis – by collecting clothes for those in need close to our shores in Calais, by giving generously to emergency appeals to reach those in need in Iraq, Lebanon, the Western Balkans and Greece, and by preparing a local welcome for Syrian refugees arriving here. These stories of hope and kindness must be heard.
Sent as part of Christian Aid’s Change The Story campaign, in their letter the twelve leaders call on the UK government to take action ahead of the UN High Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants in September and agree to:
- host 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; and
- act on its responsibilities to relocate refugees already in the EU.