Quakers in Refugee Week

Friends mark Refugee Week despite Covid-19 restrictions

As the World Health Organisation highlighted refugees as ‘some of the world’s most vulnerable people’ in the face of a globally accelerating Covid-19 pandemic, Friends marked Refugee Week despite the restrictions. Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network (QARN) members took part in a busy programme of activities in Oxford from 15-22 June, including a screening of the film Feeding the Darkness, originally commissioned by Quaker Concern for the Abolition of Torture. The film was shown by the Oxford Freedom from Torture group.

Quakers were also among more than 250 faith leaders who wrote an open letter to the prime minister, asking him to commit to offering child refugees a safe route to asylum in the UK.

Paul Parker, the recording clerk for Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM), signed the letter, saying: ‘Unaccompanied child refugees are among the most vulnerable people in our world.  If anyone deserves our compassion, they do. We are called to welcome the stranger, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. It is time those words meant offering safety to this desperate group. Let us try what love can do.’

Diana Strauss signed the letter for Canterbury Meeting; Clare Henry for Exeter Quakers; and Sheila Mosley for QARN.

The letter says: ‘These children are at a severe risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation, and violence, and are surviving in circumstances that no child should experience.’

The charity Safe Passage organised the letter after it was announced that the 480 places available to child refugees under the ‘Dubs Scheme’ had been filled. BYM also took the opportunity to highlight a proposed law that ‘would bring an end to the scandal of indefinite immigration detention in the UK’. Sharing a link to a Detention Action campaign on the Quakers in Britain Facebook page, BYM urged Friends to ask their MPs to support the proposed amendments to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2019-2021, which it said would: make sure that no one is detained for longer than twenty-eight days; give greater judicial oversight; and protect vulnerable people like torture and trafficking survivors from longer detention.

Meanwhile, Leicester Meeting will host a talk via Zoom on 28 June by Emma McNamara, a local primary school teacher who has volunteered in refugee camps in Greece.

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