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Bishop writes to PM and President Obama
23/04/16
A recent painting given by Syrian refugees who have been welcomed to Coventry under the UK government's Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme

Bishop Christopher is among 28 UK and US faith leaders who have written an open letter to the Prime Minister and President Obama. The letter urges them to address the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Syria, and to use the 'special relationship' relationship between our two countries as a global force for good.

The letter says:

"Dear Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama,

As faith leaders, we write to urge you to use what could be your final meeting in the UK as heads of your governments to urgently address the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Syria. This is an opportunity to define the special relationship as a global force for good.

The 'special relationship' between the United Kingdom and the United States was forged in the wake of the Second World War. We now see the largest forced displacement of people since those dark days, and the long-awaited peace talks and ceasefire are on the brink of collapse. Millions have fled their homes in Syria to escape the horrors of a war that has claimed the lives of almost half a million men, women and children. Entire communities remain under siege, on the verge of starvation.

Our respective faith traditions teach that compassion, mercy, love and hospitality are for everyone: the native born and the foreign born, the member of our own community and the newcomer. We hear the pleas of the mothers of Daraya forced to resort to feeding their children grass in a desperate attempt to survive. We hear the cries of anguish as families are torn apart. As heads of two of the most generous humanitarian donors, you have done a great deal to answer these calls. As leaders of two of the world’s most powerful nations, together you can do more. And you have a moral duty to do so.

You have both led the world in mobilising support for Syria’s neighbours that are sheltering the vast majority of those who’ve fled the country. Alongside this, we urge you to set out the steps to ensure more Syrian refugees can find sanctuary outside the region. Welcoming the stranger sometimes takes courage, but the joys and the hopes of doing so outweigh the challenges. As faith leaders we will encourage our respective communities to work together to support Syrian refugees in the UK and USA.

Secondly, we call on you to agree how you will engage personally in the diplomatic efforts needed to secure sustained access to humanitarian support for the millions who need it inside Syria, and to work harder towards a lasting peace.

Extend the hand of compassion to people caught up in war, be true to the best our special relationship can be, and your meeting today will be historic for the difference it will make to millions of lives."

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