British Prime Minister Theresa May is being criticized by more than 200 religious leaders for her government’s lack of concern for refugees.
Former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is set to lead a speech on Monday urging the British government to do more to help refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and other war zones. Leaders of Britain's major faiths said the government's response to the refugee crisis is "too slow, too low and too narrow".
Williams said in an interview with The Guardian, “the sheer scale of the refugee crisis has the capacity to paralyze us”. Allowing relatives of refugees already in Britain to join them would offer “a practical route for responding to the pressure of the human suffering we see."
Faith leaders have signed an open letter to May calling for urgent changes to the government’s refugee policy, particularly to allow families to be reunited.
The letter said: "In the face of the unfolding human catastrophe, there are immediate and viable steps that the government can take to offer sanctuary to more refugees. We call on you to create safe, legal routes of travel, for example by adopting fair and humane family reunion policies for refugees.”
Signatories to the letter are leaders from Britain’s major faiths: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Zoroastrian.
“All our faiths teach us to alleviate suffering and share with those in need; many of our members and congregants are already active in helping refugees. We call on the Government to do more.”
This comes as the government announced last week it had secured enough local authority places to meet its pledge to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK over the next four years.
The British government also recently announced to tighten anti-refugee measures in Calais, France. On Wednesday, May’s Immigration Minister confirmed plans to build a 13 feet (3.9 meters) wall to prevent refugees getting aboard trucks to go to England.
May was infamous for her anti-refugee policies as home secretary. Under her predecessor, David Cameron, May aimed “to create a hostile environment” for illegal migrants and rolled out controversial “Go Home” vans.