Rabbi Janet Darley
10 May 2017
For all those of us, in Liberal Judaism and far beyond, who care about the resettlement of refugees in the UK, the upcoming election can feel threatening.
In 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron made a promise to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees and 3,000 vulnerable children directly from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other countries. The timescale was that they would arrive by the end of Parliament.
We all thought that would mean their arrival by 2020, but actually Parliament has now been dissolved and a general election called. There is only the goodwill of the current Government keeping the UK participating in these programmes.
We have not yet seen the party manifestos and perhaps they will say something on this issue, but perhaps not. Regardless, ignoring the potential threat – the possibility that the promises previously made will be abandoned – is a danger to those vulnerable persons relying on our help to be safe from war and from the distress and hunger of refugee camps.
It is also a risk to our nation’s claim to humanitarian ideals, and to our own Jewish obligation, recently reaffirmed at Pesach, to care for the stranger for we know the heart of the stranger.
We need to work now to build relationships with those standing as MPs to ensure these promises are not abandoned. We can invite them to see the work so many of us are doing with welcome refugee groups, with drop-ins or other activities.
It has been my privilege to work with people resettled in the Borough of Lambeth. It is fantastic to see them settle in, learn English, make friends and rebuild their lives.
You can see what it means to one young person in this YouTube clip.
It is up to all of us with these experiences to share them, to ensure that everyone hears the success stories.
We need to let our elected representatives at all levels know that we will work with them to ensure proper resettlement and integration, whether through the government resettlement schemes or even perhaps by sponsoring a family through a community sponsorship.
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