Jonathan Clark, the Bishop of Croydon, has this week joined a call from nearly 50 religious leaders calling for the British Government to “honour the legacy” of the Kindertransport, which rescued thousands of Jewish and other children from the Nazis, and to provide a safe route to Europe for today’s refugees.
The Bishop signed a letter, together with Lord Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and senior figures from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions, which was published in the Sunday Times on the third anniversary of the death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose family was fleeing the war in Syria. The child drowned in the Mediterranean for want of a safe harbour.
The picture of the toddler’s still body on the beach has come to symbolise the suffering of this latest refugee crisis.
The letter is backed by an organisation called Safe Passage, which is linked to a charitable fund founded in the name of Lord Dubs, the former Battersea MP Alf Dubs, who himself was rescued from Prague in 1938, when just six years old, and brought to England by the Kindertransport organised by Sir Nicholas Winton.
“Through a combination of operational delivery, litigation, and political advocacy, Safe Passage helps unaccompanied children, as well as vulnerable adults, access safe legal routes to asylum. We believe that no one who has a legitimate claim to asylum should risk their lives trying to reach safety,” Safe Passage says.
The letter published by the newspaper reads:
Three years ago today, Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Kurdish refugee, drowned because he had no safe route to sanctuary in Europe. The lives of more than 9,000 people fleeing war and persecution have been lost in the Mediterranean since that little boy’s death.
This autumn Britain will mark a more hopeful anniversary. Eighty years ago, the Kindertransport was launched, a rescue operation that saved 10,000 Jewish and other refugee children from Nazi persecution.
Now it is our turn to honour that legacy by helping more child refugees to find safety here. On this anniversary we call on the government to match the efforts of the Kindertransport and establish a lasting route to protection in the UK for 10,000 child refugees in future years.
The list of signatories in full:
Commissioner Anthony Cotterill, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army UK with Ireland
Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism
Harun Rashid Khan, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain
Rabbi Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi & Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism
Lord Dr. Rowan Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth
Imam Fuad Abdou, Director And Imam Al-Ansar Islamic Education Centre
Rabbi Charley Baginsky, South Bucks Jewish Community
Rabbi Rebecca Birk, The Finchley Progressive Synagogue
Cantor Rebecca Blumenfeld, Oxford Masorti Group
Rabbi Dr. Barbara Borts, Darlington Hebrew Congregation
Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham
Rabbi Douglas Charing, Director, Jewish Education Bureau (Leeds)
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark
Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon
Rev David Downing, Maidenhead and Marlow United Reformed Churches
Rabbi Warren Elf, Faith Network for Manchester
Revd Dr. Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Loughborough
Rabbi Paul Freedman, Senior Rabbi, Radlett Reform Synagogue
Rabbi Naomi Goldman, Kol Chai Hatch End Reform Jewish Community
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Chair, Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors
Revd Jeremy Harris, Vicar of All Saints, Boyne Hill, Maidenhead
Rt Revd David Hamid, Suffragan Bishop, Diocese of Europe
Rt Revd Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking
Rabbi Dr. Michael Hilton, Reform Judaism
Rabbi Harry Jacobi MBE, Vice President of Liberal Judaism
Rabbi Dr. Margaret Jacobi, Birmingham Progressive Synagogue
Rabbi Richard Jacobi, East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue
Rabbi Oliver Spike Joseph, New North London Synagogue and Havurah
Rt Revd Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney
Rabbi Baroness Neuberger DBE
Rt Revd Dr. John Perumbalath, Bishop of Bradwell
Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, Reform Judaism
Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky, Rabbi of Menorah Synagogue, Manchester
Rabbi Sybil Sheridan, West London Synagogue
Abdurahman Syed, Chief Executive Officer, Almanaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre Trust
Rabbi Dr. Jackie Tabick, Reform Judaism
Rabbi Roni Tabick, Rabbi of Stoke Newington Shul
Rt Revd Dr. David Walker, Bishop of Manchester
Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism
Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers, Community Educator, Reform Judaism
And for anyone unfamiliar with the story of Sir Nicholas Winton and the Kindertransport, this brief video from 30 years ago offers a catch-up:
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