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Our Bishops join Safe Passage plea

by Michael Ford last modified 19 Jun, 2020 10:31 PM

Our Bishops have added their signatures to the Safe Passage open letters that call upon the Prime Minister to offer sanctuary to unaccompanied children stranded in Europe.

The letters sent by Safe Passage in Wiltshire, signed by Bishop Nicholas and Bishop Andrew - and Safe Passage in Dorset, signed by Bishop Karen - explain more than 1,600 unaccompanied children remain stuck on the Greek islands:

"They have escaped war, persecution, and poverty only to find themselves now trapped in desperate conditions, with little or no access to the most basic necessities. Water, shelter, food, and toilets are in scarce supply and with many children already unwell, they are also at heightened risk of Covid-19 infection.

"These children are at a severe risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation, and violence, and are surviving in circumstances that no child should experience. Heartbreakingly, an increasing number of these children are attempting suicide and self-harm."

The letters, that mirror ones sent from across the country, tell the Prime Minister that "inaction in the face of such deprivation and suffering is not an option. Now, more than ever, the UK must step in and offer sanctuary to children in urgent need.

"As a signatory to the Global Compact on Refugees and one of the world’s richest countries, seeking to build and demonstrate global cooperation and goodwill, we have a moral duty to act. Up and down the country, communities are ready to help - a campaign led by Lord Alf Dubs and the charity Safe Passage has secured pledges from UK councils for over 1,400 places for child refugees.

"If you agree to give these children a safe route by extending the Global Resettlement Scheme to Europe, councils are ready to welcome them.

"Right now, we face an unprecedented and difficult time in the UK – but we believe it is precisely during these dark times that we must show our global solidarity and leadership to others in need.

"All the faiths we represent embrace solidarity with those who are suffering and advocate a profound responsibility to alleviate that suffering. We call on the government to embrace that humanitarian spirit and as our Prime Minister, we urge you to act now and offer child refugees safe passage.

"We call upon you to firstly meet with Safe Passage and faith representatives to discuss the urgent need to relocate vulnerable children from the Greek islands and to ensure an ongoing safe route for unaccompanied children without family in the UK, and secondly to ensure child refugees can continue to reunite with their family members in the UK after the end of the transition agreement."

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