More than 100 faith leaders urge UK PM to offer sanctuary to refugees

Representatives from different religions called on Boris Johnson to make a lasting commitment to helping migrants

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson speaks during an address at the Foreign Office in London,  Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (Victoria Jones/Pool Photo via AP)
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More than 100 religious leaders in Britain have written to Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, to ask him to commit his government to offering refugees sanctuary in the UK.

Among the signatories of the open letter include more than 20 Church of England bishops, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, 33 rabbis, the director of the Hindu Council, the founder of City Sikhs, the archbishop of Wales, the most senior bishop at the Scottish Episcopal church, and leaders from the Quakers, Methodists, United Reformed church, the Salvation Army, Buddhists and Zoroastrians.

The letter is also supported by the British Red Cross, the Refugee Council and Safe Passage.

On June 17, Britain’s then home secretary Sajid Javid said the UK will welcome up to 5,000 refugees in 2020-2021, following the expiration of the current resettlement programmes.

The letter said that this “was a welcome development” and effective programmes for the resettlement of migrants can be “life-saving” as it can deter them from being handled by smugglers or traffickers.

“This country should be proud to give people a route to safety that stops them risking their lives in overcrowded dinghies, or in wheel arches, or in refrigerated lorries,” the letter added.

The letter urged Mr Johnson to ensure the June 17 announcement was a lasting commitment, rather than “a one-off”.

The Refugee Council and British Red Cross recently called for resettlement to be expanded to at least 10,000 refugees each year. Safe Passage International has been campaigning for the UK to welcome at least 1,000 children annually from Europe and conflict zones, and has secured pledges from local authorities for nearly 1,300 extra places for minors if the government makes a commitment to child refugees.

“10,000 people a year, including at least 1,000 vulnerable and unaccompanied children from conflict zones and Europe. As one of the world’s richest countries, seeking to build and demonstrate global cooperation and goodwill, this is a small ask of the UK,” the statement said.