The Inter Faith Working Group, one of the working groups of the Church of Ireland’s Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, has today highlighted the need for ‘safe, humane and dignified treatment of refugees and those seeking asylum.’
The group seeks to engage with and to be sensitive to a variety of faith groups present on the island of Ireland, listening to their needs and concerns, their hopes and their fears.
It is both a learning group, and a listening group, sensitive to the voices of faith communities that seek good relationships with their Christian neighbours and friends.
The group says that in recent weeks, it has received ‘A call for safe, humane and dignified treatment of refugees and those seeking asylum,’ issued by the Faith Communities Forum of the Inter Faith Network for the UK.
With the support of the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, the group seeks to draw this statement to the attention of all sections of the Church of Ireland and the wider Church on the island of Ireland, in the prayerful hope that the voices of those concerned with the present plight of refugees in these islands will be heard prayerfully and in the hope of compassionate responses.
This Faith Communities Forum statement on response to refugees and asylum seekers, is as follows:
‘[Our globe is increasingly criss-crossed by journeys of people in often desperate pursuit of safety and sanctuary: adults and children in flight from war, tyranny, persecution and other evils or seeking a life free from extreme poverty, hunger and deprivation.
‘In a context where the UK and a number of other countries are looking at tightening borders and immigration laws, we call attention to the importance of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol and to observance of this. There will be differing views on particular policies and their implementation and the factors that have to be taken into account. In all cases, however, the response should aim to reflect the best of our humanity.
‘It is, at this time, for example, a matter of deep concern to us that a policy of ‘push back’ of boats in the Channel has been adopted. Regardless of care taken in exercise of the policy, there would be significant dangers both to those “pushed back” and to the Border Force personnel called upon to implement it. We call upon the Government to seek alternative approaches to deal with the crossings.
‘The Inter Faith Network for the UK has, since its inception, worked to promote good inter faith relations, including through raising awareness of the common ground of the different faith communities, such as fundamental values that are shared. Among these values are those such as justice and compassion and the fundamental principle of treating others as we would ourselves be treated: the “golden rule”.
‘Drawing on the common values at the heart of our different and distinct faith traditions we call for safe, humane and dignified treatment of refugees and those seeking asylum.’