Bishops call on British PM to take more Syria refugees

AFP , Sunday 18 Oct 2015

British PM David Cameron (Photo:Reuters)

A group of 84 bishops have written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to allow more Syrian refugees to settle in Britain, a letter published Saturday showed.

The call comes days after 300 senior lawyers, former law lords and retired judges described Cameron's offer to take 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years as "too low, too slow and too narrow".

The Church of England bishops called on Cameron to accept 50,000 over five years, in a letter initially sent privately in September but made public following a "disheartening" lack of response from Cameron.

"As the fighting intensifies, as the sheer scale of human misery becomes greater, the government's response seems increasingly inadequate to meet the scale and severity of the problem," said Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, speaking on behalf of the bishops.

"It is disheartening that we have not received any substantive reply despite an assurance from the prime minister that one would be received."

Anglican leader Justin Welby, who has offered to host one or two refugee families on the grounds of his London residence, was not among the signatories.

In their letter, the bishops said they would work with their congregations to welcome and house refugees, and proposed a National Welcome and Resettlement Board to manage the effort.

Resettling 50,000 refugees "would bring us into line with comparable commitments made by other countries," they added.

Cameron says Britain is already the second-largest aid donor to victims of the Syrian conflict, and his Conservative government is under pressure to stem immigration.

Tensions over Europe's migrant crisis are mounting, as thousands of refugees continue to embark on desperate journeys to the continent while leaders bicker over who should accept them.

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