Faith leaders in fresh call for solidarity with refugees

Refugees
Refugee children.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland the Right Rev Dr Russell Barr and the convener of the Church and Society Council the Rev Dr Richard Frazer have signed a joint statement calling for refugees seeking sanctuary in this country to be warmly welcomed.

They have joined a group of faith leaders to call for a major show of solidarity with people fleeing oppression and danger to mark International Refugee Day on Monday.

The statement reads:

As representatives of faith traditions and organisations assisting faith communities in the struggle against poverty in Scotland, we share an imperative to offer compassion and justice to those who are afraid and oppressed.

We are saddened that there are those who would tear down bridges in place of strengthening human relationships and we pray for the healing of the scars which trouble the world.

We believe in the importance of citizens playing an active and constructive role in society, contributing to the common good, and in the name of our common humanity we believe in the obligation on those who have the power and ability to help those in desperate need.

On International Refugee Day 2016 we offer our solidarity to those seeking sanctuary, and we encourage and commend faith communities who work with refugees to provide hospitality and to seek to build mutual understanding.

We urge the UK Government to adopt and develop its refugee and asylum policies based on hope and protection for the most vulnerable.

We further call on the UK to take a fairer proportion of refugees wherever there is human need, and to develop safe and legal routes to the UK for those fleeing terror and war.

We ask the Scottish Government and local authorities to continue to do everything in their power to offer protection to as many refugees as possible, providing support to help them integrate, and empowering local communities to welcome their new neighbours.

The mass displacement of people is the reality of the world today, and will continue for many years to come

As faith communities, aware of our own histories and grateful to live in relative safety and prosperity, our concern and generosity should be demonstrated through both prayer and action, so that we build on the work already happening in many parts of Scotland in order to make a real difference, and where we partner with all people of good will who have expressed their concern and generosity over recent months.

Signatories

Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland

Rev Prof David Atkinson, convener of the Church in Society Committee of the Scottish Episcopal Church

Ephraim Borowski, director of Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

David Bradwell, co-ordinator of the Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees

Ian Buchanan, convener of the Church and Society Committee of the United Free Church of Scotland

Martin Burnell, clerk: General Meeting for Scotland Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the board - Faith in Community Scotland

Honor Hania, chair of the National Justice and Peace Commission Scottish Catholic Bishops' Conference

Dr Maureen Sier, director Interfaith Scotland

Salah Beltagui, director Muslim Council of Scotland

Support and celebration

Refugee Festival Scotland is currently taking place across the country (June 14-26), co-ordinated by the Scottish Refugee Council.

On Tuesday Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees is hosting a conference in Edinburgh which will explore some practical steps that faith communities can make.

David Bradwell of Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees said: "The International Day and the Refugee Festival give us a chance to remind ourselves of the situation facing many millions of people across the world.

"It will give us a time where we can focus our support as well as acknowledge and celebrate the contribution that asylum seekers and refugees make to our society, through culture, spirituality and fellowship."