New archbishop: Government's asylum policy 'inhuman'

New archbishop: Government's asylum policy 'inhuman'

By staff writers
1 Dec 2005

New archbishop: Government's asylum policy 'inhuman'

-01/12/05

The newly inaugurated Archbishop of York has lost no time in getting stuck into his new role, launching a stinging attack on the Government's asylum policies

Along with other church leaders, Dr John Sentamu he has put his name to a statement which calls the Government's position on asylum 'inhuman' and 'unacceptable'.

Sentamu was himself forced to flee Uganda after criticising former dictator Idi Amin.

The outspoken statement signed by church leaders across most of the main denominations is organised by Church Action on Poverty. It suggests that it is "unacceptable that some asylum seekers are left homeless and destitute by government policiesî.

They continue: ìAs a society we have international moral and legal responsibilities to welcome those fleeing adversity from other parts of the world and provide social security... All those within our borders - including asylum seekers - should have the opportunity to help themselves and society through paid employment.î

This week - which is the first week of Advent in the Western Christian calendar - supporters across the country have taken up the Endurance Challenge of trying to live as destitute asylum seekers - on a basic food parcel and £5 for one week.

The church leaders' statement is being backed up by the tens of thousands Action Cards to the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke.

Next spring a delegation of church leaders will take all the campaign cards to a meeting with the Home Office.

The full Statement to end the destitution of people seeking asylum is as follows:

ìDo not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing itî Hebrews 13:2

We believe that it is inhuman and unacceptable that some people seeking asylum are left homeless and destitute by government policies. Every city has people destitute or living on food parcels because they have no means of support. We support Church Action on Poverty's call to change the policies that make refused asylum seekers destitute.

As a society we have international moral and legal responsibilities to welcome those fleeing adversity from other parts of the world and provide social security. But the threat of destitution is being used as a way of pressuring refused asylum seekers to leave the country.

There are many people seeking asylum who have their cases refused but have no safe route to return or whose travel documents cause logistical problems for removal. There are also many cases where people are unjustly refused asylum.

All those within our borders - including people seeking asylum - should have the opportunity to help themselves and society through paid employment. Where this is not possible people seeking asylum, whatever their status, should be given the necessary rights to ìfood, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social servicesî (UN Declaration of Human Rights).

Refused asylum seekers are still human, and deserve to be treated the same, as we would expect if we had to flee to another country. We should offer the respect to our neighbours that we expect ourselves. This is at the heart of the Christian faith, and of many other religions.

We therefore call on the Government to allow people seeking asylum to sustain themselves and contribute to wider society through paid work, and where this is not possible, to re-instate 'refused' asylum seekers' entitlement to benefits until such time as they may be removed.

Signed

Church of England
Rt Rev Dr John Sentamu
Archbishop of York

Rt Rev Peter Selby
Bishop of Worcester

Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster
Bishop of Chester

Rt Rev John Packer
Bishop of Ripon and Leeds

Rt Rev Jack Nicholls
Bishop of Sheffield

Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali
Bishop of Rochester

Rt Rev John Saxbee
Bishop of Lincoln

Rt Rev David Hawtin
Bishop of Repton

Rt Rev Dr John Inge
Bishop of Huntingdon

Rt Rev George Cassidy
Bishop of Southwell

Rt Rev John Pritchard
Bishop of Jarrow

Rt Rev David Rossdale
Bishop of Grimsby

Rt Rev Stephen Venner
Bishop of Dover in Canterbury

Rt Rev Michael Bourke
Bishop of Wolverhampton

Rt Rev Lindsay Urwin
Bishop of Horsham

Rt Rev Laurie Green
Bishop of Bradwell

Rt Rev Nigel Stock
Bishop of Stockport

Rt Rev Paul Butler
Bishop of Southampton

Rt Rev Stephen Oliver
Bishop of Stepney

Rev Canon Adrian B Slade
Bishop of Gloucesterís advisor

Church in Wales
Most Rev Barry Morgan
Archbishop of Wales

Rt Revd C Cooper
Bishop of St Davidís

Rt Rev Anthony Crockett
Bishop of Bangor

Baptist Union
Dr Patricia Margaret Took
Team Leader London Baptist Association

Ernie Whalley & Graham Brownlee
Regional Ministers, Yorkshire Baptist Association

Methodist Church
Rev Alison Tomlin
Chair, Oxford & Leicester District

Rev David Emison
Chair, Cumbria District

Rev Peter F Curry
Chair, Wolverhampton & Shrewsbury District

Rev Leo Osborn
Chair, Newcastle District

Roman Catholic Bishops
Rt Rev Patrick OíDonoghue
Bishop of Lancaster

Most Rev Patrick Kelly
Archbishop of Liverpool

Rt Rev Christopher Budd
Bishop of Plymouth

Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith
Bishop of Shrewsbury

Rt Rev John Crowley
Bishop of Middlesbrough

Rt Rev Edwin Regan
Bishop of Wrexham

Most Rev Mario Conti
Archdiocese of Glasgow

United Reformed Church

Revd Elizabeth Welch
Moderator West Midlands Synod

Rev Terry Oakley
Moderator East Midlands Synod

Rev Roberta Rominger
Moderator Thames North Synod

Wendy Cooper
Church & Society United Reformed Church

Scottish Episcopal Church

Most Rev Bruce Cameron
Bishop Of Aberdeen and Orkney

Racial justice/ Refugee agencies

Revd Myra Blyth
Moderator, Churches Commission on Racial Justice

Rev Robert Wiggs
Brentwood Diocese Refugee Project

The newly inaugurated Archbishop of York has lost no time in getting stuck into his new role, launching a stinging attack on the Government's asylum policies

Along with other church leaders, Dr John Sentamu he has put his name to a statement which calls the Government's position on asylum 'inhuman' and 'unacceptable'.

Sentamu was himself forced to flee Uganda after criticising former dictator Idi Amin.

The outspoken statement signed by church leaders across most of the main denominations is organised by Church Action on Poverty. It suggests that it is "unacceptable that some asylum seekers are left homeless and destitute by government policies'.

They continue: 'As a society we have international moral and legal responsibilities to welcome those fleeing adversity from other parts of the world and provide social security... All those within our borders - including asylum seekers - should have the opportunity to help themselves and society through paid employment.'

This week - which is the first week of Advent in the Western Christian calendar - supporters across the country have taken up the Endurance Challenge of trying to live as destitute asylum seekers - on a basic food parcel and £5 for one week.

The church leaders' statement is being backed up by the tens of thousands Action Cards to the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke.

Next spring a delegation of church leaders will take all the campaign cards to a meeting with the Home Office.

The full Statement to end the destitution of people seeking asylum is as follows:

'Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it' Hebrews 13:2

We believe that it is inhuman and unacceptable that some people seeking asylum are left homeless and destitute by government policies. Every city has people destitute or living on food parcels because they have no means of support. We support Church Action on Poverty's call to change the policies that make refused asylum seekers destitute.

As a society we have international moral and legal responsibilities to welcome those fleeing adversity from other parts of the world and provide social security. But the threat of destitution is being used as a way of pressuring refused asylum seekers to leave the country.

There are many people seeking asylum who have their cases refused but have no safe route to return or whose travel documents cause logistical problems for removal. There are also many cases where people are unjustly refused asylum.

All those within our borders - including people seeking asylum - should have the opportunity to help themselves and society through paid employment. Where this is not possible people seeking asylum, whatever their status, should be given the necessary rights to 'food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services' (UN Declaration of Human Rights).

Refused asylum seekers are still human, and deserve to be treated the same, as we would expect if we had to flee to another country. We should offer the respect to our neighbours that we expect ourselves. This is at the heart of the Christian faith, and of many other religions.

We therefore call on the Government to allow people seeking asylum to sustain themselves and contribute to wider society through paid work, and where this is not possible, to re-instate 'refused' asylum seekers' entitlement to benefits until such time as they may be removed.

Signed

Church of England
Rt Rev Dr John Sentamu
Archbishop of York

Rt Rev Peter Selby
Bishop of Worcester

Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster
Bishop of Chester

Rt Rev John Packer
Bishop of Ripon and Leeds

Rt Rev Jack Nicholls
Bishop of Sheffield

Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali
Bishop of Rochester

Rt Rev John Saxbee
Bishop of Lincoln

Rt Rev David Hawtin
Bishop of Repton

Rt Rev Dr John Inge
Bishop of Huntingdon

Rt Rev George Cassidy
Bishop of Southwell

Rt Rev John Pritchard
Bishop of Jarrow

Rt Rev David Rossdale
Bishop of Grimsby

Rt Rev Stephen Venner
Bishop of Dover in Canterbury

Rt Rev Michael Bourke
Bishop of Wolverhampton

Rt Rev Lindsay Urwin
Bishop of Horsham

Rt Rev Laurie Green
Bishop of Bradwell

Rt Rev Nigel Stock
Bishop of Stockport

Rt Rev Paul Butler
Bishop of Southampton

Rt Rev Stephen Oliver
Bishop of Stepney

Rev Canon Adrian B Slade
Bishop of Gloucester's advisor

Church in Wales
Most Rev Barry Morgan
Archbishop of Wales

Rt Revd C Cooper
Bishop of St David's

Rt Rev Anthony Crockett
Bishop of Bangor

Baptist Union
Dr Patricia Margaret Took
Team Leader London Baptist Association

Ernie Whalley & Graham Brownlee
Regional Ministers, Yorkshire Baptist Association

Methodist Church
Rev Alison Tomlin
Chair, Oxford & Leicester District

Rev David Emison
Chair, Cumbria District

Rev Peter F Curry
Chair, Wolverhampton & Shrewsbury District

Rev Leo Osborn
Chair, Newcastle District

Roman Catholic Bishops
Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue
Bishop of Lancaster

Most Rev Patrick Kelly
Archbishop of Liverpool

Rt Rev Christopher Budd
Bishop of Plymouth

Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith
Bishop of Shrewsbury

Rt Rev John Crowley
Bishop of Middlesbrough

Rt Rev Edwin Regan
Bishop of Wrexham

Most Rev Mario Conti
Archdiocese of Glasgow

United Reformed Church

Revd Elizabeth Welch
Moderator West Midlands Synod

Rev Terry Oakley
Moderator East Midlands Synod

Rev Roberta Rominger
Moderator Thames North Synod

Wendy Cooper
Church & Society United Reformed Church

Scottish Episcopal Church

Most Rev Bruce Cameron
Bishop Of Aberdeen and Orkney

Racial justice/ Refugee agencies

Revd Myra Blyth
Moderator, Churches Commission on Racial Justice

Rev Robert Wiggs
Brentwood Diocese Refugee Project

Keywords: alison tomlin
Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License. Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.