Rabbis among 120 faith leaders urging Boris Johnson to allow more child refugees
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Rabbis among 120 faith leaders urging Boris Johnson to allow more child refugees

Jewish figures from across denominations join other faith leaders in calling for Boris Johnson to 'offer a lifeline to unaccompanied children'

Lord Alf Dubs, Rabbi Gluck and representatives from the Jewish Council for Racial Equality at a demo in support of child refugee resettlement Credit: Dinendra Haria
Lord Alf Dubs, Rabbi Gluck and representatives from the Jewish Council for Racial Equality at a demo in support of child refugee resettlement Credit: Dinendra Haria

Dozens of Jewish representatives have added their names to an open letter from the country’s most influential faith leaders calling for Boris Johnson to allow more child refugees into the UK at the start of his premiership.

The letter, significant for the seniority and breadth of its signatories, urges the Government to double its commitment to “offer a lifeline to unaccompanied children currently surviving in camps and on the streets in Europe”.

Among the signatories to the letter were 33 rabbis including the heads of Liberal, Reform and Masorti Judaism, as well as Rabbi David Mason, an executive member of the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue, and Rabbi Hershchel Gluck, from the strictly Orthodox community in Stamford Hill.

Christian signatories include the former Archbishop of Canterbury, The Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, as well as the Archbishop of Wales, The Most Revd John D E Davies, plus 27 other bishops and some of the most senior Methodist, Baptist, Quaker, Catholic and Church of Scotland representatives.

The letter was also signed by Rajnish Kashyap, director of the Hindu Council UK, Jasvir Singh, founding chair of City Sikhs, and Harun Rashid Khan, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Last month, then Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the UK would welcome up to 5,000 refugees in 2020-21, following the expiration of the current resettlement programmes. Javid is now Chancellor in Boris Johnson’s new government.

The signatories, including Elizabeth Harris-Sawczenko, Director of the Council of Christians and Jews, as well as Zoroastrians and Buddhists, said the UK “should be proud to give people a route to safety that stops them risking their lives in overcrowded dinghies, or in wheel arches, or in refrigerated lorries”.

They said the UK “can and must” resettle more refugees, adding: “As one of the world’s richest countries, seeking to build and demonstrate global cooperation and goodwill, this is a small ask of the UK.”

Hundreds of thousands of people, including unaccompanied children, now survive in carparks and on the side of motorways in Europe, having fled conflict zones. The children are easy prey for people traffickers and paedophiles.

Lord Alf Dubs, a peer who came to the UK on the Kindertransport, has led efforts to encourage the Government to admit more unaccompanied children, and last year he took part in a demonstration, together with Rabbi Gluck and representatives from the Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE).

Eleanor Harrison, chief executive of Safe Passage, said: “The Dubs scheme offered a lifeline to unaccompanied children in Europe but by capping it at 480 places, the Government has denied safe passage to thousands of children surviving in camps and carparks.”

Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich said: “Jewish experience and the history of Britain have demonstrated that the compassionate welcome of vulnerable children is obviously good for the rescued and positive for the host community.”

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