Church of Scotland Moderator calls for humanitarian action on migrant crisis

By agency reporter
April 22, 2015

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has urged the UK Government to take meaningful humanitarian action to help solve the migrant crisis.

The Rt Rev John Chalmers says the Government must give its support to European Council proposals to tackle the unfolding tragedy in the Mediterranean. As well as more effective action to combat the people smugglers, the Moderator wants to see the Government commit to humanitarian assistance including participation in the proposed resettlement initiative to offer sanctuary to refugees in need of protection.

Mr Chalmers says "Like many people I have been devastated by the news of the hundreds of deaths of refugees seeking peace during the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean from Africa into Europe. The decision by EU Governments, including the UK Government, last year to cut back the humanitarian search and rescue mission was roundly criticised at the time. It saddens me greatly that the unheeded warnings about the consequences of not helping those in desperate need have been proven right."

The Moderator says migrants seeking to reach Europe from Africa and the Middle East are fleeing from man-made disasters including war, desperate poverty and persecution and deserve our help. "These innocents are seeking sanctuary. As human beings, made in God's image, they have equal value as you or I, and so we must do all we can to offer love and practical support."

The Moderator is calling on the UK Government to work with partners in:

- Providing unconditional humanitarian aid to refugees
- Developing a long-term strategy to combat the criminal gangs who are smuggling people
- Actively building peace and safety throughout Africa and the Middle East

He said: "For too long we've wilfully ignored the cries of those in the world who are at the very bottom. It is a tragedy that it takes deaths on such a scale to get us to realise what is going on. May it also give us hope that there is a possibility that something can be done. I urge the Government to contribute to meaningful action when the European Council meets on Thursday."

The Church of Scotland's St Andrew's Scots Kirk in Valetta in Malta runs a project supporting migrants who reach the island. The Church of Scotland Guild has been supporting the 'Out of Africa…Into Malta' project since September 2012. Over the past two and half years the Guild has raised £107,000 to help fund its work.

* Church of Scotland http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/home

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