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Cardinal Nichols renews call to welcome refugees to the UK

Cardinal Vincent Nichols (AP)

On the eve of the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Cardinal Nichols has urged the government to do more to assist the most vulnerable refugees from the Middle East.

The Caridinal’s spokesmann said: “It is important that the government continues to push for peace in the region and once peace is secured, assistance is provided for the necessary rebuilding can take place.

“In the meantime all refugees should be offered assistance. It is clearly arbitrary to make a distinction between people fleeing from the fighting in Syria and people fleeing the fighting in Iraq, particularly as the UK government has recognised this is effectively the same conflict.

“The current approach means that many of the most vulnerable people, including Yezidi women and girls who have escaped from being held in sexual slavery by Daesh and cannot access appropriate support in the region, are excluded from this opportunity for resettlement abroad on the basis of their nationality.”

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has been in regular contact with the government about the on going refugee crisis since Cardinal Nichols met with Christian and Yazidi refugees during a pastoral visit to Iraq in 2015.

The Cardinal praised the generosity of British Catholics over the part they’ve played in helping refugees be resettled in the UK.

Last year, the first Syrian family to come to the UK under the community sponsorship scheme was welcomed in Salford Diocese. More families are expected to be welcomed in parishes across the country in 2017.

The cardinal’s spokesman said the Church will continue to work with the government in order to help improve the lives of those seeking refuge.