British government must ‘go further’ in helping vulnerable Afghans, say bishops

(Photo: BBC News)

Catholic and Anglican bishops have written jointly of their fears for vulnerable Afghans as the military airlift starts to wind down ahead of the 31 August deadline. 

In a letter published in the Guardian, the bishops said it was “disturbing” that the window for evaculations is closing, and that as time runs out, governments should be asking themselves about the “moral response” to the crisis.

They suggested that numbers should not be a consideration and that the British government’s actions should be guided instead by the needs of the most vulnerable.

“We urge the British government to go further in helping at-risk Afghans, human rights defenders and women activists, and create safe passages so that people can find sanctuary without resorting to dangerous journeys,” they said.

“We have seen in our parishes the warm response to refugees from Afghanistan and other parts of the world. As a nation, we should not be led by a quota, but by the need and pain before us.”

The letter was signed by Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Catholic Church’s lead bishop for migrants and refugees, the Anglican Bishop of Bradwell John Perumbalath, the Anglican Bishop of Southwark Christopher Chessun, and the Anglican Bishop of Durham Paul Butler. 

They added, “Our aid budget is essential to assist those still in Afghanistan, as well as the vast majority of refugees who are still in the region. At the same time, extending our welcome to those seeking sanctuary must be part of the UK’s response.

“This is a challenging and difficult situation, but we must put the most vulnerable people at the heart of our thinking and actions.” 

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