A Sunday morning message to church groups and community organisations from Nia Griffith MP
To members of church congregations, other faith groups and community organisations in the Llanelli area.
Dear Friends, re: Refugee crisis.
Many of you, will, like me, have been shocked, long before the events of this last week, at the appalling tragedy of refugees dying on the shores of Europe and very disturbed at the negative attitude of some politicians and some sectors of the press.
I know that many people like you in the UK would want to offer a welcome to refugees after the unimaginable hardship they have suffered, and will already have contributed through organisations like Christian Aid and Oxfam to the work that they are doing, both in the countries neighbouring the areas of conflict, and on the shores of Southern Europe.
It was encouraging that the press on Friday printed Christian Aid’s call for the UK to take more refugees.
I am writing to you to ask if you would be able to join in the UK-wide campaign for churches and local organisations to show their support this weekend and over the coming weeks by displaying banners and signs on their buildings, as well as on social media with the simple logo #refugeeswelcome.
You can also post pictures of yourselves holding a sign saying #refugeeswelcome.
This is a particularly opportune time, as we return to Parliament this week, and this will help to put pressure on government ministers, and show the refugees themselves that we do want to help, and want the UK to do more.
I will be attending a cross-party vigil in Westminster Hall tomorrow morning and I can assure you that I will be using my time in Parliament this week to urge government ministers to make sure that the UK lives up to its long tradition of offering help and support to refugees, and that we take a much more positive lead on the refugee crisis and the world stage.
We hope also to be able to organise a non-partisan public event locally in the near future – which will be publicised once details have been confirmed with civic and community leaders.
Some of you have asked my views, so , in brief, we should be showing leadership on this issue, firstly as MPs here, and then together with our EU partners.
As I am sure you know, in the case of Syria, Turkey has taken in two million refugees, Lebanon has one million (in a country with only four million people) and Jordan hundreds of thousands likewise.
We should be working out there and taking our share of refugees directly, and thus avoiding people falling prey to the most dreadful exploitation and journeys, often ending in tragedy.
We also need to help more in Southern Europe.
We have raised the issue repeatedly in parliament, but the Government has repeatedly refused even to let the UK take its UN allocation of refugees from Syria... which makes me feel very ashamed, particularly when you look at what much poorer countries have done.
Working together with the other 27 EU countries, we could organise similar help on the borders of the handful of other countries where people are fleeing violence (where again it is the neighbouring countries - often very poor ones with enough of their own problems - taking in the majority of refugees and desperately in need of help).
I can assure you that I will continue to raise this issue in Parliament.
NIA GRIFFITH Member of Parliament for Llanelli Aelod Seneddol dros Lanelli