Chataway was 'a champion of refugees', says church agency

By agency reporter
January 20, 2014

UK-based churches' global development agency Christian Aid has paid tribute to former athlete and parliamentarian Christopher Chataway, who has died aged 82.

He was a "good friend" who championed refugees, campaigning tirelessly for their rights, the aid agency said.

In 1958, Chataway and a small group of other young politicians were concerned not only about the plight of 200,000 European refugees who had yet to be resettled after World War Two, but also refugees in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Korea and North Africa.

Calling for a World Refugee Year, they persuaded the government of the day to support the initiative, encouraged the United Nations to sponsor it, and involved voluntary organisations like Christian Aid in its planning.

World Refugee Year was held in 1959 and raised more than £30 million across the globe for refugee work. Christian Aid was a member of the UK organising committee, raising some £1.23 million through its member churches.

Christian Aid policy director, Christine Allen, said today (20 January): "We are saddened by the loss of Chris, who as well as being a sporting hero – he ran in two Olympics Games – was also a man of great compassion, and a good friend to this organisation.

"World Refugee Year not only raised funds for resettlement work and meeting basic human needs, but also raised awareness of the plight of refugees generally.

"The campaign not only encouraged many more countries to open their doors to refugees, but also had the effect of challenging negative attitudes towards them.

"It is a stance that we all would do well to remember today," she added.

In later years, Chataway received the Nansen Medal from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for his vision and campaigning energy and became the chair of the charity Action Aid.


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