Tag: refugees

Give us hearts of love and compassion

A woman hugs a girl as refugees from Ukraine wait for a transport at the Moldova-Ukrainian
border’s checkpoint near the town of Palanca.  Nikolay Doychinov/AFP via Getty Images

Once again Refugees seeking safety and asylum in Britain are in the news.
Ms Patel, the Home Secretary, is heading up a plan to send unwanted refugees to Rwanda. This is without consultation with those involved – the refugees who are vulnerable and who have already suffered so much.

Senior Bishops of the Church of England, led by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York recently had a joint letter published in the Times newspaper.
In case you haven’t seen or just heard snippets and adverse media comment, here is what they said.

Bishops’ letter to The Times on the Rwanda asylum policy

14/06/2022

All of the current Lords Spiritual have signed a letter to The Times voicing alarm about the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.
They wrote:

Sir,

Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation. Rwanda is a brave country recovering from catastrophic genocide. The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries. Those to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal, or reunite with family in Britain. They have had no consideration of their asylum claim, recognition of their medical or other needs, or any attempt to understand their predicament.

Many are desperate people fleeing unspeakable horrors. Many are Iranians, Eritreans and Sudanese citizens, who have an asylum grant rate of at least 88 per cent. These are people Jesus had in mind as he said when we offer hospitality to a stranger, we do it for him. They are the vulnerable that the Old Testament calls us to value. We cannot offer asylum to everyone, but we must not outsource our ethical responsibilities, or discard international law — which protects the right to claim asylum.

We must end the evil trafficking; many churches are involved in fighting this evil. This needs global co-operation across every level of society. To reduce dangerous journeys to the UK we need safe routes: the church will continue to advocate for them. But deportations — and the potential forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries — are not the way. This immoral policy shames Britain. 


The Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury; the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York; the Right Rev Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London; the Right Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham; the Right Rev David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham; the Right Rev John Inge, Bishop of Worcester; the Right Rev Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry; the Right Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford; the Right Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle; the Right Rev Alan Smith,  Bishop of St Albans; the Right Rev Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough; the Right Rev Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely; the Right Rev Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark;  the Right Rev Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds; the Right Rev Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester; the Right Rev Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester; the Right Rev Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol; the Right Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby; the Right Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn; the Right Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester; the Right Rev Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford; the Right Rev Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter; the Right Rev Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford; the Right Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich; the Right Rev Paul Williams, Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham

[Source: Church of England official website]
 

A PRAYER for Refugees

Give Us Hearts

God of love and compassion: may we always recognize your spirit:

  • in the refugee family, seeking safety from violence;
  • in the migrant worker, bringing food to our tables;
  • in the asylum-seekers, seeking justice for their families;
  • in the unaccompanied child, travelling in a dangerous world.

Give us hearts that break open whenever our brothers and sisters turn to us.
Give us hearts that no longer turn deaf to their voices in times of need;

Give us eyes to recognize a moment for grace instead of a threat.
Give us voices that fail to remain silent but which decide instead to advocate prophetically.
Give us hands that reach out in welcome, but also in work, for a world of justice until all homelands are safe and secure.
Bless us, O Lord…

– Fr. Dan Hartnett S.J.

They came to you in hope

And the Lord said to us:
‘Come and I will separate you and judge you
for how much or how little you have loved’.

I put before you the suffering ones, the desperate ones.
the hungry; the thirsty; the homeless ones.
Some cast from their homes when despots, shadows of men,
ruthless power-seekers moved against their own people:
those they had pledged to care for.
Instead they sucked the life from their souls,
souls that belong to me.

You left them ruined, afraid, unwanted, empty –
but you could not take away their dignity.
You tried to rob them of the one gift that I gave them
which you cannot touch:
their humanity –  
made in my image.
An image that dazzles ever brighter,
the more you try to stamp it out.

Despairing bodies shuffle, clutching rags and children
and anxiously walk the Indo-European Way
– that trek which your ancestors made long ago.

They come to you in hope.
They come as refugees and seekers of shelter.
You utter your political platitudes.
You blame it on the traffickers.
But you fail to look in a mirror.

For these people are your test.
How much do you love?
How much do you care?
Do you see them for the glorious humanity they are?

They come to you simply, humbly, hopefully;
Looking for baptism into a new life through your love.

And you, what do you do?
You allow them to drown in the deep, chill waters of death.
Where others have failed,
you succeed in taking their lives after all.

You must leave me now.
There is little room for you in God’s heart.

[Mr G]

Artin – the long short journey

Artin Iran Nezhad
Photo from The Guardian | Bruno Libbrecht/Allemaal Mensen/via Reuters

For Artin
a prose poem

Born in poverty
but to much love,
your country did not want you.
Kurds not welcome’ was the sign
in the window of your life.

Your family took the long, nomadic way
travelled by millions in the Indo-European migration,
that highway of common humanity.
All you sought was a home where life could blossom
and safety enfold.

So you came to Calais –
gateway to promise, rarely fulfilled.
Fifteen short months of life prepared you so little
for what was destined to be the end of life’s journey.

Rasul and Shiva, lovers, dreamers,
protectors of your life, hoped against hope
led on by dark promises, empty blackened hearts,
quick fixes taking all they had.
A terrible night of boiling sea led the flimsy coracle
into violent water.  Ahead,
a country that would not welcome you.
Would not want to know you
or see your humanity crying out to theirs.
It never had the chance to reject you, though it would have
– the country where new tanks that do not work come
before people.

In that sea you clung to life,
remembering perhaps your joy in the camp when,
befriended by one who cared, you played and splashed
in the water fountain.  Water which lightened your life.
Now no longer fun –
the instrument of death.

No one cared.  None mourned.  Those who loved you
poured out their dreams, their hopes, and visions
into the icy destructive sea.
You were not found as they were.

Till now –  
washed up in another country that did not know you.
Yet one where they cared enough to return you to what was left
of your people. 
They saw in that waterlogged body you, Artin,
for what you have always been.   A child.
A child of God.

You are ‘home now’.
 All that your parents wished and longed for you
is yours and much, much more.
A bigger, more generous, more loving family
hold you now.
Your short, long journey is over.

In God, in Allah, in Jesus Christ you are watched over
as you play and laugh.

And we, who did not know you?
Humanity, no longer living in common love?

We are diminished.

Geoffrey Connor
9 June 2021

Artin Iran Nezhad, a 15 month old Kurdish Iranian refugee drowned with his parents Rasul and Shiva and Anita and Amin, his sister and brother when the smuggler’s boat they were crossing the English Channel in capsized on 27 October 2020.  His body washed up in Norway on 1 January 2021, but it took the Norwegian authorities 5 months to identify him. 
This is for him and for all refugees wandering the world simply seeking safety and a chance in life.

Photo | The Guardian

Lord, we place before you Artin’s story:
a story of dashed hopes and lives cut short.
We pray for him and for his family
and for those who mourn them.

And we hold up to you those seeking refuge throughout the world.
People fleeing danger, oppression and a denial of their humanity.
People looking for safety and freedom for their families.
People treated as less than human, trafficked, swindled.

Help us to recognise our shared humanity,
our shared desires for refuge, home and opportunities.

And help those in authority with power to make a change
to have the vision and generosity of spirit
to stop this needless waste of life.

In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen.