Church leaders pledge to help refugees fleeing Afghanistan

Bishop of Chelmsford Guli Francis-Dehqani

Bishop of Chelmsford Guli Francis-Dehqani. - Credit: Paul Starr

Church leaders have pledged to do all they can to help refugees in the face of the crisis in Afghanistan.

The Diocese of Chelmsford - which includes Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham and Redbridge - has resettled almost 200 refugees since 2015.

It says that most have escaped conflict in Syria, but some have been Afghan interpreters and their families fleeing the Taliban.

Bishop of Chelmsford Guli Francis-Dehqani and diocesan refugee coordinator Revd Canon Gareth Jones issued a statement on Friday, August 20.

It says: "As pictures of the catastrophic impact of the crisis in Afghanistan fill our TV screens, the human cost in lives devastated seems too much to comprehend, and many of us are left wondering what we can do to help in the face of such great tragedy.

"As a diocese committed to serving Christ in the downtrodden, persecuted and oppressed, and to witnessing to the transforming presence of Christ in the midst of the seemingly impossible, we continue to stand ready to do all that we can to serve and support refugees in our parishes across east London and Essex."

The pledge follows Dominic Raab defending the government's handling of the Afghanistan crisis, saying the "rapidly deteriorating situation" in the country prevented a call being made to Afghan ministers while he was on holiday.

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The foreign secretary has come under increasing pressure to resign after it was reported he was on the Greek island of Crete as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

But Mr Raab said ministers have been "working tirelessly" over the last week to evacuate British nationals and Afghans with the priority being to keep Kabul airport open.

Father Gareth Jones

Revd Canon Gareth Jones - Credit: Paul Bennett

Bishop Guli and Fr Jones's statement adds that as the government programme for Afghan resettlement becomes clearer, the diocesan programme will be widened and reshaped.

"Please join us in praying for the people of Afghanistan, together with all those engaged in efforts to bring peace, security and support for those in need", the faith leaders urge.

For further information contact Fr Jones on refugeecoordinator@chelmsford.anglican.org or call 020 8478 0546.

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