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General Synod speeches

 

The Migrant Crisis (GS2009) - 25 November 2015

Bishop Christopher spoke during the debate in General Synod on the Migrant Crisis:

I am glad to support the Motion before us as amended helpfully by Canon Giles Goddard.  The crisis which erupted suddenly, if the media is to be believed, was in fact over many years in the making and will require a response lasting years and decades.  The people of Syria are still at the mercy of the Regime’s barrel bombs, still forced to watch beheadings and crucifixions of family members and kinsfolk at the hands of ISIS, still forced to pay the extortionate jizya tax as humiliated minorities, still in increasing numbers experiencing the deadening existence in refugee camps.

Bishop Angaelos has spoken movingly about all we are doing and all we can do together as the Church in England and the Archbishop of Canterbury is right in reminding us that we need to help to make it possible for Christians to stay in their historic Middle East homelands.

Her Majesty’s Government, which is to be commended for its financial commitment, second only to that of the United States, is nevertheless, as the Motion recognises, lagging behind many of our European partners, rather lamentably so, in opening our borders to those in very evident peril. There is of course the enormous diplomatic challenge to encourage other countries to meet their aid obligations. No amount of resettlement will mitigate the continued failure to address the refugee crisis at source. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has calculated that, for what was needed in the way of humanitarian aid, the amount raised fell—from 71% in 2013 to a mere 37% by October this year.  The consequences for the refugee camps in terms of food rations, education, health and other facilities will be drastic, unless this trend is reversed significantly and rapidly. I will be visiting camps in Jordan during Epiphanytide along with Roman Catholic bishops from the Vatican Coordination Group and Irbil with other Anglican bishops in March.

The merit of this motion is that firstly it recognises the long term nature of the migrant crisis for which there are no easy fixes.  Mass displacement and dispersion will present us with issues and challenges for years and decades to come.

Secondly, in each of our Dioceses, my own is no exception, there is great eagerness to extend hospitality, to provide shelter and safe lodging,  to work in partnership with the Government, Local Authorities and leading Agencies. 

Thirdly and lastly, the Church has an important role in modelling a generosity of spirit that will, pray God, have a compelling and converting effect on others.