The Syria conflict has generated one of the largest refugee crises since the Second World War. There are 4.1 million Syrian refugees outside the country, as well as 7.6 million people displaced inside Syria. More than 200,000 people have lost their lives in this conflict.
Syrians are among many nationalities seeking refuge across the globe, this is not a new story. Refugees from countries including Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Sudan and Afghanistan are driven to find protection in European countries. We have refugees and asylum seekers already in London who equally need the compassionate embrace of the church. This is an international tragedy that requires an international response. This is a human tragedy that has already provoked a compassionate response from people across London and the UK. A tragedy into which we must respond;
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
Since 2016, Capital Mass has worked with churches and individuals in the Diocese to support them in their desire to respond to the needs of refugees and migrants in their communities.
Churches across the Diocese respond in a range of ways, including;
- Offering places of welcome for destitute migrants with a meal, friendship and practical support
- ESOL classes
- Support for individuals as they journey through the asylum process
- Clergy hosting destitute migrants www.clergyhosting.org.uk
- Working with local councils to resettle refugee families via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS)
- Becoming Refugee Community Sponsors.
- Involvement in advocacy and campaigning for the rights of migrants and refugees.
- Supporting work with refugees and migrants in Northern France, including the work of Brother Johannes Maertens and the Maria Skobtsova House.
Capital Mass runs events to raise awareness of migrant issues and learning communities to enable learning from shared experience. Individuals and churches also meet one to one with our Refugee and Migrant Response co ordinator to explore what the issues are that they could respond to in the context of what is already happening in their area. They are then connected with other agencies, churches and individuals that will help them to form their ideas and response.
It’s exciting to see how churches respond to the need of refugees and migrants in ways that suit their church, the resources they have and the needs they see.
Angela Afzal Refugee and Migrant Response Coordinator
Angela has devoted her time and energy to working with refugees and asylum seekers in London over the past 13 years. This includes being an ESOL teacher, running a day centre and 5 years as an Immigration lawyer.
Angela’s will focus on 4 main areas: