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Migrants cross channel after rwanda bill approved reuters.JPG
World News

Migrants ‘unjustly maligned’: Church leaders speak out as Rwanda Bill passed

by Heather Preston

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have joined the Bishop of Southwark and other church leaders in expressing their “deep misgivings” about the Safety of Rwanda Bill, which was passed in Parliament on Monday evening, following weeks of pushback.

The much-debated legislation will see some asylum seekers deported to the African country within a matter of weeks.

In a joint statement, leaders of the Church of England, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Churches raised concerns over the “unjust maligning” of those who are fleeing war, persecution and violence for the sake of “political reasons.”

The church leaders state that the bill “sets a precedent at home and for other countries in how we respond to the most vulnerable,” including victims of modern slavery.

“We note with sadness and concern the rise in hostility towards those who come to these islands seeking refuge and the way in which the treatment of the refugee and asylum seeker has been used as a political football,” the statement reads.

“We are disappointed that the kindness and support offered by churches and charities to the people at the heart of this debate - those fleeing war, persecution and violence trying to find a place of safety - has been unjustly maligned by some for political reasons.”

UK churches have come under scrutiny in recent months following accusations from the former Home Secretary Suella Braverman that they “facilitated false asylum claims.”

The comments came after Abdul Shokoor Ezedi, who was granted asylum in the UK following his conversion to Christianity, was accused of assaulting a mother and her children with a corrosive chemical in January.

A Baptist church supported Ezedi in his claim for asylum. Baptists Together stated that it did not corporately support or sponsor Abdul Ezedi’s asylum application and reiterated that it is the role of the Home Office and court tribunals to make the decision on asylum applications.

The United Nations has urged the UK government to reconsider the controversial asylum and immigration bill, after five people including a child died while crossing the English Channel in a small boat within hours of it receiving parliamentary approval.

Another 47 were rescued, while 50 are understood to have tried to continue their journey.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak says criminal gangs are exploiting the vulnerable and "packing more and more people into these unseaworthy dinghies".

He added that the tragedy "underscores why a deterrent is needed."


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