Suffolk bishops in call for UK to take 30,000 extra Syrian refugees

Ipswich Bishop Martin Seeley

Ipswich Bishop Martin Seeley - Credit: Gregg Brown

Church of England bishops from Suffolk and Essex are among 84 across the country calling for the Government to increase the number of Syrian refugees being resettled in the UK to a minimum of 50,000 by 2020.

Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, and Bishop of Colchester, the Rt Rev Roger Morris, have signed a letter which was sent to Prime Minister David Cameron asking for him to make a “meaningful and substantial response” to the scale of human suffering being seen on a daily basis.

In the letter, which was sent early in September but was only published yesterday, the bishops refer to the situation in Syria as “one of the largest refugee crises ever recorded”.

They have asked the Prime Minister to increase Britain’s current offer to accept 20,000 refugees over the next five years by 30,000, which they believe would bring the UK into line with commitments made by other countries.

Last night Bishop Martin said the refugee crisis, to which the Syrian situation is a major contributor, was already “huge and mounting”.

He said: “I suggested in my column in September that 20,000 over five years was an insufficient number for this country to take in. This would represent just 2% of the total net migration to the UK in 2014.

“The Government is contributing funds to support refugees in Syria and surrounding countries, but as we have seen in the press, so many are fleeing the appalling dangers they face that we need to respond substantially now to save lives, taking in those fleeing as well as those in the camps.”

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Bishop Martin said the lack of response to the bishops’ letter suggested the Government was treating the crisis as a political issue and not an “urgent moral one”.

He added: “The bishops are joining with those up and down the country who want to see real humanitarian action.

“The Church and other groups in Suffolk have been liaising with the county council and Ipswich Borough Council to be ready to take our share of refugees, but so far there has been no indication of any being brought in.

“I hope the bishops’ letter will add to the pressure to move quickly and appropriately.”

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