Along with 82 other Church of England Bishops, Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath and Wells and Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton have called on the Government to increase the number of Syrian refugees being resettled to this country “to a minimum of 50,000” over the next five years.
The call was issued in a private letter originally sent in early September. It was made public at the weekend, reflecting the Church’s increased frustration at what the Bishop of Durham describes as an “increasingly inadequate” response from Government and the fact that no substantive reply to the original letter has been received.
Referring to the situation in Syria as “one of the largest refugee crises ever recorded” the Bishops write that “a moral crisis of this magnitude calls each and all of us to play our parts.”
Calling directly on the Prime Minister to increase his current offer to accept 20,000 refugees over the next 5 years to 50,000 the Bishops write:
“We believe such is this country’s great tradition of sanctuary and generosity of spirit that we could feasibly resettle at least 10,000 people a year for the next two years, rising to a minimum of 50,000 in total over the five year period you foresaw in your announcement. Such a number would bring us into line with comparable commitments made by other countries. It would be a meaningful and substantial response to the scale of human suffering we see daily.”
In addition to “recognising and applauding” the announcements made by the Prime Minister the Bishops offer help from the Church of England in encouraging their churches to provide welcome, housing and foster care to refugees as well as to support the Government in its ongoing efforts.
In their letter the Bishops also called for the creation of a National Welcome and Resettlement Board, mirroring the successful work of such boards created by Government in response to past refugee crises in the 1950s and 1970s. Since the writing of the letter the board has been created with the Bishop of Durham serving as co-chair of the board.