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Church News

Bishop rejects claim sending asylum seekers to Rwanda is "almost an Easter story of redemption"

by Glyn Jones

The Bishop of Chelmsford has rejected a claim, that proposals to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda is "almost an Easter story of redemption."

The statement came from Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The Roman Catholic cabinet minister was defending the new asylum policy, after it was criticised by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Easter Sunday sermon. 

The Brexit Minister argued the government's plans will deter people smugglers and inject much-needed money into Rwanda's economy.

But the Right Rev Guli Francis-Dehqan says the "Paying £120 million to Rwanda ... may be in itself a good thing to do, but doesn't make the policy right."

In a letter to the Home Secretary, the bishop has described the idea of sending refugees to Rwanda as "cruel and inhumane".

She told Premier "The least we owe them, is whilst their cases are being processed, to treat them with the dignity, that every human being deserves.

"This policy of simply putting some of them on a plane to travel 4,000 miles to somewhere else doesn't do that."

The Right Rev Francis-Dehqan said her personal experiences, have shaped her views on the issue.

In the 1980s she fled from Iran and applied for asylum in the UK.

"My story is slightly different. It was a different time and I had a relatively soft landing. 

"However, it's given me a great sympathy for the plight of the many, many hundreds of thousands of refugees that we see these days."

The bishop is clear that the Church of England, needs to continue to speak out on public policy issues, while never getting involved in party politics. 

"For me, faith is not something that just floats around without connecting to people's real lives and real lived experiences."

She concluded "And if that's politics with a big "P" then so be it." 

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