10 September 2015 - Christian Aid today launches an appeal to support partner agencies in Europe working to alleviate suffering in the present refugee crisis, and organisations in the Middle East providing emergency relief to those forced from their homes by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
In recognition that the crisis needs a political solution, it is also asking supporters to email Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May, pressing the Government to take a courageous stand at EU talks next week to ensure the UK plays a full part in a “permanent, balanced and mandatory EU relocation scheme”. This must include the UK welcoming those seeking sanctuary in Europe.
In addition, the email urges the Government to do more both to ensure aid reaches people in besieged areas in Syria, and to achieve a political settlement there to help bring the day closer when Syrians can return home safely.
Christian Aid is also supporting cathedrals and churches to hold vigils to pray for an end to the conflict and the hardship and suffering it has caused.
Christian Aid’s Policy Director Christine Allen said today: “Christian Aid was founded 70 years ago in response to the millions of people displaced after the Second World War. Today the world is witnessing a human crisis of similar proportions.
“The plight of those seeking sanctuary in Europe demands visionary leadership from European governments to face this crisis together. We call on the UK to join other countries in welcoming refugees within Europe with open arms. The Prime Minister and Home Secretary must act with courage to rise to this great challenge of our times.”
On the situation in Syria and neighbouring countries, Christian Aid’s Head of Middle East, Frances Guy, said: “Countries in the region are hosting an overwhelming number of refugees. Providing succour and support in Iraq and Lebanon is a massive challenge for our partners.
“It is the plight of those still trapped in besieged communities in Syria, however, which is the most worrying. In his latest report the UN Secretary-General expressed specific concern about over 422,000 people living in such places. Water and food have become tools of the conflict.
“Many of those with money and resources will have fled. It is the poorest that are enduring the worst of what is happening.
“A further major worry, both in Europe and the Middle East, is that winter is coming which means cold and illness for those without adequate protection.”
In Europe, Christian Aid’s partners in the Act Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, are providing emergency relief in Greece, Serbia and Hungary.
In Greece, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is providing food and other essential supplies, improving conditions at reception centres and carrying out water, sanitation and hygiene activities on the islands of Chios, Samos, and Kos which in August saw 300 refugees arrive each day.
In Hungary, Hungarian Interchurch Aid is providing refugees on the border with essential supplies and in Serbia, Philanthropy, the charitable foundation of the Serbian Orthodox Church, is providing food, hygiene and baby kits, shelter and sanitary containers, plus winterisation supplies (firewood, clothes and boots), and psychosocial support.
Christian Aid has funded organisations working in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon with refugees and the displaced for several years providing communities with food, bedding, hygiene kits and health services. In Lebanon and Iraq our partners are also working to provide psycho-social support to children and women in need.
Donate link: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies/refugee-crisis
Details of prayer vigils are on the Christian Aid website at: www.christianaid.org.uk/prayers-and-vigils
If you would like further information please contact 24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950
Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk