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World News

London Church Leaders call on UK government to accept refugees from Ukraine as quickly as possible.

by Donna Birrell

Church leaders in London are calling on the government to allow refugees from Ukraine, to be able to enter the UK as quickly as possible. 

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Bishop of Southwark Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, are among the signatories to the letter which urges 'sponsorship criteria be expanded to include all Ukrainian refugees on humanitarian grounds.'

The leaders say they are the children and grandchildren of those who experienced the horror of the Second World War and as such, said the UK has a 'moral obligation to provide protection and hospitality to those who are undergoing the same horrors today.'

Calling on the government to act quickly, Cardinal Nichols said: 'Times of war require swift action and flexibility, the easing of normal procedures and the removal of complex bureaucratic obstacles that can easily turn hope into despair and resignation.'

The letter was written, following a meeting of London Church Leaders on the 9th of March, at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Homily Family. 

The Faith Minister Kemi Badenoch was also present at the meeting. 

The letter reads: "We London Church Leaders met today at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family to pray with Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski and his people and to share our concerns at the greatest humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War now unfolding in Europe. 

"We are encouraged by the government's family sponsorship programme and welcome the intention to establish a pathway to humanitarian sponsorship.

"As the number of Ukrainian citizens seeking shelter outside the borders of Ukraine is estimated to reach close to two million, we cannot but emphasise the urgency to act swiftly and without delay.

"As the children and grandchildren of those who experienced the horror of war seven decades ago, it is our moral obligation to provide protection and hospitality to those who are undergoing the same horrors today, unthinkable as that may seem in the 21st century.

"Just as so many British children were sent to the countryside, far from harm's way during the bombing of London, so today tens of thousands are hoping to find refuge far from Russia's relentless, unconscionable, and indiscriminate attacks on homes, hospitals and schools throughout their homeland. 

"Surely, we feel compassion today for Ukrainian mothers with young children, the elderly and those with disabilities, who have undertaken dangerous and arduous travel, and look to the United Kingdom with hope and are now reaching out to us in Ukraine's greatest hour of need.

"How can mothers with young children, the elderly and the disabled, who have travelled a thousand miles, be expected to complete online application forms in a language foreign to them? 

"Times of war require swift action and flexibility, the easing of normal procedures and the removal of complex bureaucratic obstacles, that can easily turn hope into despair and resignation.

"We would ask that sponsorship not be limited to those with family members in the UK, but that sponsorship criteria can be expanded to include all Ukrainian refugees on humanitarian grounds, allowing them to enter the UK as quickly as possible."

Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Co-Chair London Church Leaders 

Archbishop Nikitas, Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain
Bishop Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark 
Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of London
Rev Phil Barnard, Team Leader London Baptist Association
Rev Dr Jongikaya Zihle, Methodist Conference
Revd George Watt, Moderator URC Thames North
Lt Colonel David Shakespeare, Salvation Army
Les Isaac OBE, President of the Ascension Trust
Andy Frost, Moderator of Free Churches Group Jesus International
Bishop Lynne Cullens, Bishop of Barking 
Rev Msgr Kevin Hale, Vicar General Diocese of Brentwood
Ven Elwin Crockett, Archdeacon of West Ham
The Ven Luke Miller, Archdeacon  of London  

The Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities says it has launched a new sponsorship scheme to make sure Ukrainians forced to flee their homes due to the conflict have a route to safety.

 It says the 'scheme will match charities, businesses and individuals to those who do not have family ties to the UK, allowing them to come here for an initial 12 months, with the ability to work and access public services.

 'This is alongside the extended family route and changes to visas for people already in the UK which have been brought in following extensive engagement with Ukrainian partners on what support is needed now, which will allow tens of thousands of people to be reunited with their families and stay here safely.'

 

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