4 September 2015 - Christian Aid today welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge that the UK will increase the number of Syrian refugees it allows in, but said the numbers must be ambitious.
It also added its voice to a call for all EU states to put in place a fair and mandatory sharing of responsibility for refugees arriving in Europe, and an increase in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
Mr Cameron announced in Lisbon that the UK had already taken some 5,000 Syrians and would now accept 'thousands more' of those regarded 'at particular risk' from refugee camps in the Middle East.
Christian Aid’s Head of Middle East, Frances Guy, said: "Countries in the region are hosting an overwhelming number of refugees, and our partners in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are working to provide succour and support to those fleeing conflict and persecution.
“We commend the Prime Minister’s change of heart regarding resettlement, but urge him to be ambitious. The UN refugee agency recommends that the UK resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees and we regard this as a minimum. A truly generous response proportionate to the human need would be to accept many more.
“The UK has already contributed generously to help the displaced in the region but that does not exempt us from welcoming those in particular need to these shores.
“Resettlement, however, is only one part of the solution. We call on all Governments to work together for peace in Syria. That should be the priority. Without peace the ongoing displacement in and around Syria will have repercussions for decades to come.”
The call for a fair and mandatory EU wide sharing of responsibility for refugees, and extra search and rescue operations, was made today by the Act Alliance EU, a group of European development and humanitarian aid organisations, including Christian Aid, which work closely together with the World Council of Churches.
Other measures it called for from the EU to relieve the human cost of the crisis include:
• Improving reception conditions especially for the safety and protection of unaccompanied children.
• Offering more opportunities for family reunification, recognising that family life is of utmost importance for the wellbeing of refugees, especially children.
• An urgent increase in funding for major humanitarian operations supporting refugees, which are at present badly under resourced.
• Greater co-operation with civil society organisations, churches and other faith groups who are on the front line of providing for the basic needs refugees.
In Europe, Christian Aid works with partners in the ACT Alliance to support practical and political action to help those fleeing, particularly in Greece, Hungary and Serbia.
In Greece, the organisation International Orthodox Christian Charities is providing food and non-food items, and improving conditions at reception centres, as well as undertaking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities on the islands of Chios, Samos, and Kos. Between August 1 - 24, 300 refugees arrived on Chios each day; 500 refugees arrived on Samos each day and 1,300 refugees arrived on Lesvos each day.
In Hungary, Hungarian Interchurch Aid is providing refugees on the border with non-food items, and has to date helped more than 5,500 people.
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. It is helping an estimated 1,000 refugees a day.
Those wishing to support the work of our Act Alliance partners can donate via Christian Aid.
Those wishing to support Christian Aid’s emergency appeal to help our partners in Lebanon, Iraq, and within Syria itself, to respond to the immediate and long-term needs of those affected by the conflict can do so at this link: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies/current/syria-crisis-appeal/
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