Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, made the following statement yesterday to the Belfast Telegraph on the Syrian refugee crisis.
The growing intensity of the refugee crisis and its human cost becomes more and more distressing each day. No–one, especially those who have or have had the care of children, could fail to be utterly moved by the harrowing images which have emerged from Turkey, alongside the constant stream of media images of suffering families and individuals. This is a heart–rending situation involving real people not statistics.
While it is vital to ensure that leaders work strategically to resolve political problems at their source – in the countries where people are fleeing from, and while recognising how extraordinarily difficult that may be – we need to look for both political and humanitarian solutions. One way forward in the humanitarian sphere would be to look to the goodwill of local communities to take in and embrace manageable numbers of refugee families in their towns and cities, as others have done. If people across this island, for example, could welcome refugee families into their communities in this way this could make a real difference to those who have left their homeland far behind in such desperate circumstances.
We pray for wisdom and compassion for those who must make political decisions that so affect the lives of vulnerable and distressed peoples.