This week, the UK government announced that it would be ending its commitment to take in up to 3,000 child refugees under the 'Dubs' scheme, after taking in only 350 children.
Meanwhile, across the pond, President Trump recently signed an executive order known as the 'Muslim ban', to bar travellers to the US from seven Middle Eastern countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The order even included Syrian refugees, who were to be barred indefinitely.
In both cases, human beings have been reduced to numbers on a page, a political problem to be dealt with. Instead of being seen as human people, they are seen as a mass of the ‘other’ – those who speak the ‘wrong’ language, were born in the ‘wrong’ country, whose skin is the ‘wrong’ colour, and are a threat to ‘our’ way of life. Is this how God sees people?
Hearteningly, people are rising up to resist these policies of excluding the stranger and to affirm our common humanity. Thousands of Americans assembled at airports across the US to protest the travel ban, and lawyers and judges were quick to take legal action. As of today, the travel ban has now been overturned by the US courts.
And here in the UK, people are already speaking out against the decision not to accept any more child refugees – including many of our Christian leaders:
As well as praying against these worrying trends and the spirit of disunity and suspicion, we can also advocate for those who don’t have a voice. Why not write to your MP to ask them to speak up and support allowing more child refugees into the UK, and/or sign the UNICEF petition?
Now more than ever, we must remember Jesus’ words – that we should welcome the vulnerable, the poor and the stranger as though we were welcoming Jesus himself.
How can we respond?
- Pray for world leaders such as Donald Trump and Theresa May, that they would have ears to hear their people, and show compassion for refugees.
- Thank God for those who are speaking up for justice on behalf of the people of the Middle East, like our Christian leaders, the US court, and thousands of ordinary people. Pray that we, like them, would have the courage to challenge injustice and stand up for the marginalised.
- Thank God that the ban has been stayed and that people from Middle Eastern countries are now being allowed in to the US again.
- Pray for the refugee children who are waiting to hear if they will be allowed into the UK – that the decision would be made quickly to let them in, and that God’s peace would be with them in the meantime. Pray also for their safety, as they are currently extremely vulnerable to human trafficking and sexual violence.
- Ask your MP to join the government debate on reuniting refugee children with their families. Click here to email your MP via the Unicef website – it only takes a few seconds!
- You can also sign Unicef's petition to ask the government to speed up the process for child refugees trying to join their families in the UK - click here to find out more.