The next monthly prayer vigil at the Home Office, Marsham Street, SW1, calling for Safe Passage for refugees and mourning those who have died trying to reach a place of safety, will take place on Monday, 17 January from 12.30-1.30pm.
In a leaflet for passers-by, the organisers, Westminster Justice and Peace and London Catholic Worker, say:
‘We hold this prayer vigil every month in memory of all the men, women and children who have died in their attempt to reach Europe and the UK, as they fled from war, poverty and persecution. We are here because we believe in the human dignity and freedom of movement of all people and God’s commandment to love and welcome our brothers and sisters. We respect refugees as fellow children of God, not as aliens.
‘According to UNHCR there are currently 60 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, including 20 million who are refugees in other countries. The majority are hosted in neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and Ethiopia. Developing countries host 86% of the world’s refugee population.
‘Even though the UK is one of the world’s richest countries and its foreign interventions are arms trade help perpetuate the wars from which so many people are trying to escape, our government is refusing to welcome refugees. Instead, increasingly severe border controls are forcing refugees trying to reach Europe or the UK to take dangerous routes via the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas and the English Channel, thus causing their deaths.
‘Meanwhile, in the UK, refugees fleeing violence and persecution are frequently detained in inhuman conditions, and more recently, housed in substandard accommodation such as decommissioned barracks. The process of claiming asylum can be highly arduous and frustrating and little support is provided, leaving people even more vulnerable and alienated. Many refugees and migrants living in the UK have no recourse to public funds, and are completely destitute.
‘We call on the UK government to create safe passage for refugees in recognition of their human dignity and the fact that asylum should be extended to them. We prayer that more and more people across Europe will stand up in solidarity with refugees and migrants. We pray for an end to the arms trade, militarism, and neo-colonialism that cause the conditions of poverty and conflict forcing millions of people to flee their homes.’
For more information or to join the group please contact Barbara Kentish, Migrant and Refugee Lead for Westminster Justice & Peace Commission: firstname.lastname@example.org