‘Most refugees flee out of necessity, not choice’, says Bishop

September 20, 2015

Refugees - Gemes Sandor

SEEKING REFUGE: These African and Middle Eastern refugees take a rest on the Hungarian/Serbian border before starting on the next stage of their journey. Picture by Gémes Sándor.


HG Bishop Angaelos

PRAGMATIC APPROACH: Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptiic Orthodox Church in the UK, that represents some of the Christian communities in Iraq and Syria has thanked people in Dorset and Somerset for their generosity so far.


A NATIONAL religious leader has asked communities across Dorset and Somerset to come together to provide help for refugees and migrants.

Collection points have been set up in communities in towns and villages across the South West and Christian Aid are at the forefront of raising money for the Kurds, Hazidis, Christians and other Shia and Sunni Muslim migrants fleeing the oppression of ISIS in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

Speaking for many in the church to the Dorset Echo, the Rev Dominic Doble, the Anglican vicar of Watercombe, said: “This crisis is on a scale we can barely imagine and one that has profoundly disturbed the consciences of people across Dorset.

“I am deeply encouraged by the outpouring of compassion and generosity which we have seen across our region and our country.”

His Grace Bishop Angaelos is the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK. The Coptic church in Egypt is said to have been founded by Mark the Apostle in 55AD and is the largest Christian denomination in the Middle East.

The Church represents somes Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac communities in Iraq and Syria who are being experiencing unimaginable oppression at the hands of Daesh (also know as the Islamic State).

In a statement, Bishop Angealos said: “The images we have now become too accustomed to seeing may have desensitised some, but the horrific reality of the situation remains; thousands of people continue to risk all, even their lives, to seek the safety that we are thankfully free to live on a daily basis.

“We must now realise that the solution to this crisis is greater than for individual Churches, religions, communities, or even states to address alone, and so a more universal, integrated and collaborative approach to make the best of limited human and material resources, must be sought.

“As a Church with its roots in the Middle East we are very aware of the struggles faced by people in the region, Christians and others.

“It is essential that the plight of these refugees is not belittled or ignored, as they face very real challenges in their homelands, living with a daily threat to their livelihood and even existence.

“At a time of increasing economic pressure in Europe and a greater fear of importing radical elements seeking to destabilise our communities, it is understandable that caution must be exercised.

The Bishop challenged the perception of some that the vast majority fleeing are not genuine refugees but actually are fleeing not out of choice or preference, but out of sheer necessity.

“What is concerning is abrasive rhetoric in the media and public sphere, leading to the constant dehumanisation of people who are undoubtedly victims of this conflict, to the extent that many now see them simply as an impending risk to their communities, putting aside their basic rights and needs.

“It is encouraging, that over the past few days there has been a greater intention and appetite for a pragmatic and compassionate response to this increasing refugee crisis in seeking practical solutions whatever they may be.”


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