Help Us Change the Story5 Jul 2016 By Sam Setchell
Christian Aid is launching a new campaign around supporting refugees.
The stories we hear and the stories we tell are important. They help us shape our thoughts, form our opinions and set the agenda. The UK has a proud history of supporting refugees. In the 1930s the Kindertransport saved the lives of Jewish children from Germany. In the 1970s the UK welcomed Ugandan Asians fleeing Idi Amin’s regime, and in the 1990s we opened our doors to Kosovan refugees.
Today, more than 65 million people are displaced globally. Forced from their homes by violence, fear, desperation, or poverty, each person is made in God’s image, and is deserving of safety, freedom and hope. In a society divided over immigration, our message of shared humanity is more important than ever.
Yet, refugees are often portrayed negatively in the media. We are told that they are drain on our economy and that we should be fearful about the impact of immigration on our communities. We hear far less about the positive contributions that refugees make, how historically refugees have enhanced our society, and about the willingness of local people to make refugees welcome.
Here in the UK, faith communities are at the heart of a different story, galvanising local support to find homes for people forced from their countries by violence and conflict and now languishing in desperate situations.
As one of the world’s richest countries, the UK has a legal and moral responsibility to protect those fleeing from violence. But so far, the response of our government has not matched the scale of the crisis, nor the compassion of those who have already opened their homes to refugees. Instead, poor countries - like Lebanon and Iraq - are hosting 86% of the world’s refugees.
We believe that everybody deserves a safe place to call home, and we stand for a UK that refuses to turn a blind eye to the suffering of people seeking sanctuary.
We are urging that the UK government must commit to host at least double the number of refugees it has currently promised, and do more to ensure safe and legal passage for those escaping violence to travel to and through Europe.
On 19 September 2016 President Obama will host a high-level meeting to address large movements of refugees and migrants, with the aim of bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach.
Before then, we need to change the story.
Find out more at www.christianaid.org.uk/changethestory and urge your local newspaper to Change The Story about refugees.