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Bishops to meet refugees during Holy Land visit

Nine-year-old Syrian refugees at a camp in Jordan (AP)

Bishops from around the world are set to visit Christian communities in Gaza, Bethlehem and refugees in Jordan as part of the annual meeting for the Holy Land Coordination.

Bishop of Clifton Declan Lang will lead the delegation of bishops including those from Europe, South Africa and North America on the trip to the Holy Land from January 7 to 14.

The group returns to the Holy Land for the third consecutive year, during which time more than 2,000 Gazans have died since the conflict of 2014.

In Bethlehem, the group will visit the Christian community in Beit Jala, which lost land and their livelihood following the annexation of their property and the building of a separation wall in the Cremisan Valley.

The bishops will also meet refugees in Jordan where one million people have been forced to leave their homes due to the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

The number of refugees currently in Jordan stands at just over one million people, according to the United Nations.

Bishop Declan said he felt it is important that the bishops “stand with those Christians, who believe they have been forgotten.”

He added: “We need to hear peoples’ stories so we can be advocated for them in our home countries on our return.”

The Holy Land Coordination was set up at the invitation of the Holy See at the end of the last century to offer support to the local Christian communities in the Holy Land.

For the last 15 years the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has organised the visit.