Archbishop of Canterbury calls for voice of refugees to be heard in Syrian peace negotiations

On 26th February 2015, Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty’s Government what measures they and the host states are planning to prevent Syrian refugees becoming permanent residents in those states. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, asked a supplementary question: 
Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, given that, as the Minister will be aware, peace agreements in this area have been done to the people, from Sykes-Picot nearly 100 years ago onwards, what contacts are the Government making with those who are in the camps and need to have a voice in the peace settlement, and in particular with women’s groups?

Baroness Northover: The most reverend Primate is right to highlight this. There is constant contact with those in the camps, to try to engage them in moving things forward. With regard to support for women and girls, we are acutely aware of how vulnerable they are, and we have a number of programmes to help support them. As he will probably know, we are very concerned about early marriage and so on, and those who are particularly vulnerable to that. We are trying to ensure that we link up to support those girls so that that does not happen, and seeking out leaders to help protect girls and women more widely.


Bishop of St Albans calls for pan-European strategy on immigration and asylum seekers

On 30th October 2014, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, Lord Bates, repeated a Government statement concerning search and rescue for migrants and refugees. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is clear that we are all deeply worried about this terrible situation. Just last weekend, a family drowned off our own coasts and the horror was felt right across our country. There were serious discussions about whether we needed more people on duty to look after them. There is a deep sense of worry where people put themselves in such danger. I do not think that any of us believe that people are putting their families at risk—sometimes, they are huge, extended families; one was reported earlier this week on television—thinking, “Oh, well, it does not matter if we are likely to drown because we might be saved”. That would seem to me incredible. Surely we need a much more coherent, pan-European strategy underlying the whole question of immigrants and asylum seekers, and we should try to get some agreement on how we can address it. However, I would lament us withdrawing from anything that would help people in such dire circumstances.

Lord Bates: I understand the right reverend Prelate’s point. I should make the point again for the benefit of the House that we are not withdrawing from anything; this was something for which the Italian Government had responsibility, and they have decided to phase it out. The right reverend Prelate is absolutely right that more needs to be done to establish a co-ordinated approach, which was indeed the purpose of the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on this specific issue held on 9 and 10 October. One of the outcomes of that meeting was Operation Triton, which we have pledged resources to, in addition to all the other things that we are trying to do to help in the countries from which these people are fleeing for their lives.


Bishop of Coventry asks Government about humanitarian support for Iraq and Syria

On 13th October 2014 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth received answers to written questions on Iraq and Syria. The Bishop asked Government about the UK’s involvement in offering humanitarian aid, peacebuilding and support for displaced persons.

13.10 Bishop of Coventry

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Refugees from ISIS, Iraq, Syria – Questions From Bishop of Coventry

 On 22nd September 2014 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, received written answers to two questions of Government – about UK resettlement for Iraqis displaced by ISIS and about Syrian refugees. The answers are below. The other questions tabled at the same time by the Bishop on similar issues can be viewed here.
13.10 Bishop of Coventry

 Home Office – Asylum: Iraq (HL1591)

Asked by the Lord Bishop of Coventry on 28 July 2014:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to resettling in the United Kingdom a proportion of those displaced from ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq.

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Bishop of Coventry receives answer to written question on Syria

On 11th December 2013, the Bishop of Coventry received an answer to a written question on Syria.

13.10 Bishop of CoventryThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to participate in the resettlement programme for Syrian refugees administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government shares the deep concerns regarding the continuing humanitarian crisis in Syria. However, the Government has no current plans to resettle Syrian refugees either as part of, or in addition to, its annual resettlement quota. We continue to believe that the priority should be to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced people in partnership with neighbouring countries and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The UK has now increased its pledge for the Syrian relief effort to £500 million. This represents the UK’s largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis.


Bishop of Birmingham raises concerns about community instability in Lebanon

On 23rd July 2013, Lord Risby asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current social and economic situation in Lebanon. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, asked a supplementary question on what is being done to ease tensions between communities affected by the movement of refugees:

01.04.14 Bishop of BirminghamThe Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, Lebanese communities have shown incredible generosity in coping with refugees but the flow is reaching breaking point. Will the Minister accept that, in addition to providing support for refugees, more work should be done to alleviate tension between communities and to strengthen the resilience of host families?

Baroness Warsi: I completely agree with the right reverend Prelate that there has been a huge show of generosity and a real welcome from the Lebanese people. Noble Lords may be aware that the population of Lebanon is about 4 million. The number of registered refugees is 600,000 but it is estimated that the real number could be a lot higher—somewhere around 1 million. That is the equivalent of the whole of the Romanian population arriving on British shores over a very short period. A huge amount of pressure has been put on local resources, which has of course caused tensions. It is for that reason that we are supporting not just the refugee communities but the host communities as well.