Diocesan press releases

Refugee crisis: focus on people not numbers – Archbishop

“Focus on the people, not the numbers” – the Archbishop of Wales has urged on the refugee crisis.

Attitudes towards refugees have been derogatory and de-humanising, Dr Barry Morgan said at a conference at the weekend.Archbishop Barry LDC copy

The Archbishop blamed some sections of the press for focusing on the growing numbers of refugees, rather than the conflict from which they were escaping. He urged churches to offer practical help and support to those fleeing their countries and vowed to match fund donations congregations made to a Christian Aid appeal.

The Archbishop was speaking at the Llandaff Diocesan Conference at St John Baptist Church in Wales High School on Saturday.

He said, “The trouble is some parts of the press have focussed on growing numbers rather than the conflict, injustice and oppression from which many are escaping. What do you do when you are bombed out of your home?

“Their attitude has been far from sympathetic and at times been derogatory and de-humanising. Our world faces a refugee crisis such as it has never seen before as millions of people globally are forced to flee their homes.

“The issues of refugees and poverty are our problems for we share a common humanity with people of all races and cultures for we are all made in the image of God.”

The Archbishop also highlighted poverty in Wales and the “iniquitous” benefits cuts made by the UK government. He said, “We cannot of course compare what is happening in Wales to the terrible atrocities, poverty and refugee crisis faced by many countries. Yet we cannot ignore the fact either that according to The Joseph Rowntree Foundation young people and working families in Wales are at greater risk of poverty now than they have ever been. 25% of the population of Wales lives in poverty because of low pay and unemployment.

“Add to all this a cut in tax credits for many families, the bedroom tax and benefit cuts and the financial burdens for those who cannot survive on what they get or earn will only increase.

“It is iniquitous that the government forces social tenants to pay money they do not have or downsize to properties that do not exist. People suffering with mental health issues are getting their welfare benefits sanctioned at a much faster rate in Wales than in Britain as a whole. All that has to happen is for you to turn up five minutes late for whatever reason to claim benefit and you lose the benefit for weeks on end until you appeal the decision. The effect on families can be devastating.”

Churches and chapels across Wales have been invited to sponsor cyclist Jo Davies £70 each for her massive challenge of pedalling the length of Wales in a day to mark the 70th anniversary of Christian Aid. The Archbishop promised to match fund each £70 donation from churches in Llandaff Diocese with money from his Mission and General Fund. Jo Davies, who completed the ride on Saturday, is the wife of the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, who chairs Christian Aid Wales.

For more on the conference visit here