Faiths’ appeal to Redbridge Council to resettle Iraq and Syrian refugees

The start of the Jewish Festival of Succot.
Fr Brian McGrath from St Thomas Woodford Green, Flutra

The start of the Jewish Festival of Succot. Fr Brian McGrath from St Thomas Woodford Green, Flutra Shega, rom the Shpresa Programme, and Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism. - Credit: Archant

Rabbis, bishops and imams came together this week to call for local authorities to offer sanctuary to refugees who have fled their homes in the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

Rabbi David Hulbert, of Bet Tikvah Synagogue.

Rabbi David Hulbert, of Bet Tikvah Synagogue. - Credit: Archant

The event on Wednesday, which coincided with the Jewish festival of Succot, saw a number of faith leaders and Redbridge Council leader, Jas Athwal, attend Bet Tikvah Synagogue, Perrymans Farm Road, in Newbury Park, to issue a plea for councils to resettle refugees from the war zones.

This country has resettled 48 Syrians from the ongoing conflict this year.

Rabbi David Hulbert, of Bet Tikvah Synagogue, said: “It is a political issue - I think it is just a question of this country accepting it is a national obligation to help these refugees.

“Some countries have already taken on some refugees whether it is temporarily or not, I do not know.


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“I think it is our duty to help them for humanitarian reasons for these people have had everything in their lives taken away.

“Redbridge has a number of refugees and asylum seekers already but that responsibilty needs to be shared around the country.”

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The campaign hopes to persuade 15 local authorities to offer sanctuary to 50 people annually.

According to organisers Citizens UK, those councils which agree will receive financial support from a UN refugee resettlement scheme funded by the UK government and the EU.

Succot, held from October 8-15, Jewish communities are encouraged to remember when they were refugees during the Israelites’ 40 years wandering in the desert without permanent or safe homes.

Cllr Athwal said he attended the event at the request of the organisers and was looking into whether it was feasible to resettle 15 refugees a year.

He said: “I have asked council officers what the procedures are because leader of the council I have that power which you do not have as leader of the opposition.”

Cllr Athwal added he believed resettling 15 refugees would at come at “no cost” to the borough.

“It is the responsibility of any decent society to make sure we look after genuine refugees who are caught up in trouble which is not of their making,” he said.

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