We are leaders from Britain’s major faiths: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian. All our faiths compel us to affirm the dignity of all human beings and to offer help to anyone in need. As people of faith, we call on your Government urgently to revise its policy towards refugees. The best of this country is represented by the generosity, kindness, solidarity and decency that Britain has at many times shown those fleeing persecution, even at times of far greater deprivation and difficulty than the present day. We rejoice in the mosaic of different faiths and British communities that we now represent. We are proud that in May 2016, in a survey by Amnesty International, 83% of Britons said they would welcome refugees into their neighbourhoods and households.
In the face of the unfolding human catastrophe, there are immediate and viable steps that the Government can take to offer sanctuary to more refugees. We call on you to create safe, legal routes of travel, for example by adopting fair and humane family reunion policies for refugees. Under the present immigration rules, a British doctor of Syrian origin could not bring her parents from a refugee camp in Lebanon – even though they were refugees and she could support and house them. A Syrian child who arrived alone in the UK could not bring his parents from a refugee camp in Jordan – even if the child were recognised a refugee and even though his parents were themselves refugees. Families in these situations can currently be reunited only by resorting to desperately unsafe irregular journeys, sometimes ending in avoidable tragedies.
We urge you to do more to welcome refugees and to ensure that your Government adheres to four refugee principles. These principles have already been endorsed by over three hundred and fifty judges and lawyers; by the main humanitarian aid and refugee agencies; and by over a hundred and twenty-five economists. These four principles were the ‘charter’ of a demonstration last September 2015 attended by 90,000 people. On 17 September, these four refugee principles will underpin another major demonstration in London in support of refugees:
All our faiths teach us to alleviate suffering and share with those in need; many of our members and congregants are already active in helping refugees. We call on the Government to do more.
Institutional affiliations are provided for identification purposes only.