A call for safe, humane and dignified treatment of refugees and those seeking asylum

“Our globe is increasingly criss-crossed by journeys of people in often desperate pursuit of safety and sanctuary: adults and children in flight from war, tyranny, persecution and other evils or seeking a life free from extreme poverty, hunger and deprivation.

In a context where the UK and a number of other countries are looking at tightening borders and immigration laws, we call attention to the importance of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol and to observance of this. There will be differing views on particular policies and their implementation and the factors that have to be taken into account. In all cases, however, the response should aim to reflect the best of our humanity.

It is, at this time, for example, a matter of deep concern to us that a policy of ‘push back’ of boats in the channel has been adopted. Regardless of care taken in exercise of the policy, there would be significant dangers both to those ‘pushed back’ and to the Border Force personnel called upon to implement it. We call upon the Government to seek alternative approaches to deal with the crossings.

The Inter Faith Network for the UK has, since its inception, worked to promote good inter faith relations, including through raising awareness of the common ground of the different faith communities, such as fundamental values that are shared. Among these values are those such as justice and compassion and the fundamental principle of treating others as we would ourselves be treated: the ‘golden rule’.

Drawing on the common values at the heart of our different and distinct faith traditions we call for safe, humane and dignified treatment of refugees and those seeking asylum.”

THE FAITH COMMUNITIES FORUM
OF THE INTER FAITH NETWORK FOR THE UK
11 October 2021

NOTES
1. Media queries to the Inter Faith Network: email ifnet@interfaith.org.uk.
2. This statement can be found at http://interfaith.org.uk/resources/statements-and-messages and a copy of IFN’s statement making policy at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/uploads/Policy_on_making_of_statements.pdf.
3. The Inter Faith Network for the UK www.interfaith.org.uk was founded in 1987 to advance public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in Britain and to promote good relations between people of different faiths in this country. It works with its member bodies and others to carry out these aims.
4. Member bodies of the Inter Faith Network include: national faith community representative bodies; national, regional and local inter faith bodies; and academic institutions and educational bodies concerned with inter faith issues. A list of member bodies can be found at www.interfaith.org.uk/members.
5. IFN member National Faith Community Representative Bodies meet together as the Faith Communities Forum of IFN. More information can be found at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/about/faith-communities-forum.
6. The Act of Commitment, developed by the UK’s faith communities with IFN at the time of the Millennium, is one expression of key values held in common: https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/act-of-commitment.
7. Information about the 1951 UN Convention and its 1967 Protocol can be found at https://www.unhcr.org/uk/1951-refugee-convention.html.
8. The definition of a ‘refugee’ according to The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is: “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
9. In 2020 there were 29,815 applications for asylum in the UK (not including dependants). In the UK, a person becomes a refugee when government agrees that an individual who has applied for asylum meets the definition in the Refugee Convention.

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