Welsh MPs, on behalf of local school children, kicked off 2017 in Westminster by delivering New Year messages urging the Prime Minister to consider the rhetoric used to talk about refugees.
School children made the cards throughout December 2016 to call on Theresa May to ensure the words she uses reflect the proud tradition in the UK of welcoming those in need and to ask that her policies offer hope to those looking for a safe place to call home.
The campaign follows Christian Aid Wales’ 140-mile Bethlehem to Egypt walk across Wales to light the way for refugees, which raised over £31,000 in support of our Christmas Appeal. The handmade cards were collected by the walkers along the route.
The school children learned about the appeal by hearing stories about refugees in the world today and learning about the reality facing people fleeing such violence and persecution.
Schools represented in Westminster included: Ysgol Pennal, Machynlleth; Ysgol O.M. Edwards, Llanuwchllyn; Ysgol Beuno Sant, Bala; Ysgol Carreg Emlyn, Clocaenog a Chyffylliog; Ysgol Blessed Edward Jones, Rhyl; Ysgol Bodfari; Ysgol Sul Eglwys Noddfa, Caernarfon; and Ysgol Foel Gron, Mynytho.
Presenting the cards in Westminster, Anna Jane Evans, Christian Aid’s Area Coordinator for North Wales said: 'The stories told – either in the media or by our politicians – about the current refugee crisis rarely reflect the harsh reality facing our neighbours. Rarely told are the positive contributions that refugees make in our communities, nor of the many communities and churches that are united in welcoming those seeking refuge. These messages from schools call for 2017 to mark a turning point in rhetoric around refugees.'
Thoughts from our MPs
Representing the schools’ constituencies were Hywel Williams MP (Arfon), Liz Saville Roberts MP (Dwyfor Meirionnydd), James Davies MP (Vale of Clwyd) and David Jones MP (Clwyd West).
Hywel Williams MP said: 'The sheer volume of Christmas cards from school children in Wales shows tremendous compassion to help those in need of refuge, and of course these messages are echoed by thousands of others from across the UK. We know that the words used by public figures play a significant role in setting the agenda, and so we hope these messages from Wales’ students will be taken seriously. I would like to thank all the Arfon schools who took part.'
Liz Saville Roberts MP said, 'We have a challenging year ahead and our response to the global refugee crisis continues to be as important and urgent as ever. It is welcome news that all councils in Wales will have housed Syrian refugees by the beginning of 2017, but so much more needs to be done.
'We must continually remind ourselves of the realities faced by people fleeing unimaginable situations of violence and of the role we can to play through offering humanitarian support overseas and a welcome in the UK.'
James Davies MP said, 'Schoolchildren across North Wales have done an amazing job in sharing messages of support for refugees affected by conflict right around the world. I am very proud of them, and pleased to try and amplify their voices. The Government has done a huge amount to support refugees – particularly through its UK Aid budget.
'As the children have said, we all have a common thread of humanity, and it is important that we all treat refugees with dignity and respect, and do all we can to support them.'
The Syrian conflict that has driven millions of ordinary people from their homes, and the resulting refugee crisis has dominated our headlines for many months. But it's not just Syrians who have been forced from their homes. Ongoing violence and instability in Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Somalia, among others, have together resulted in the huge scale movement of desperate people.
Christian Aid is providing essential humanitarian support to those searching for safety today, including people from war-torn nations such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia.
Find out which humanitarian emergencies we are responding to and how you can get involved.