By Vin Totton, a member of the Holy Name congregation

Like everyone I have spoken to about the unfolding nightmare in Ukraine, I have been so upset at the events which have already led to many armed personnel as well as too many civilians including children already being killed. It is truly lamentable.

I cannot imagine what drives someone to decide that they must have a fight with a near neighbour at this level, so I will not try. I will hope and pray that these events take a turn for the better and thank God that it is not me in this position.

But for many, the decision to leave their homes and travel to a place of safety is such a hard thing to do. This is equally true when loved ones are left behind and not knowing when, or if, you will see them again.

This, in microcosm, is the essence of a refugee crisis: being forced to flee your home and try to secure your own circumstances and hope that it will be safe to return – soon.

It is so encouraging that people, and their governments, in Europe have been quick to respond to the developing situation on its own doorstep. It is important that they do and to offer sanctuary in this way allows other opportunities to be explored. What opportunities for peace and how quickly? What opportunities to secure a route back? What opportunities to provide security for a time when everything else is upside down? What better time to show our heart and the true Christian beliefs in helping those more affected by troubles?

What we have learned is that some countries are saying you can come in, others that the doors are open for 3 years without a formal application to seek long term sanctuary.

What we are also seeing is a UK Government stuck in their own dogmatic headlights, unable to move and shake away from their pre-determined positions. Families take many forms – grandparents, parents and siblings as well as immediate family members. It appears that already this Government is following its pre-invasion position where parents of people with leave to stay in the UK are not being allowed in. Others can be considered under the right to work scheme – so are you prepared to pick fruit in the field (in February!) If so sign here. Oh, and by the way, can you sustain yourself in work …etc….etc. This is also truly lamentable.

Have the signs been there to see this? Well, the answer is ‘yes they have’. The notorious Nationality and Borders Bill currently going through Parliament has at its heart a way of restricting access to the UK or to be able to take away citizenship. It is not a vehicle to support crises, create an opportunity for people seeking refuge.

If you also look at the ARAP scheme and how we moved some people from Afghanistan when the withdrawal was put into effect. These Aghans were supporting our efforts but put themselves in danger. When they arrived here they were shut up in hotels and the like and left, forgotten. The efforts of the Home Office and the other Government Departments have been truly awful. Six months have passed and there is still no plan about how to manage this.

Bear in mind that many thousands of people had been dispersed as part of the initial asylum dispersal policy across the country in half of this time.

There are no excuses. This Government is good on rhetoric but it does not do anything to alleviate the suffering of many people who need it. And we allow it. We do not challenge anywhere near enough or hard enough. The MSM are not effective in their interrogation and simply take the words offered. How can you challenge when you only allow 5 minutes for an interview?

All of these things happen and people suffer: physically, emotionally, mentally.

I want us to do more. I want us to challenge more. I also want us to embrace our Christian and other upbringings and love the neighbour who has been wronged, who is suffering, who needs us for this moment. That is how you manage a refugee crisis.

Also I do not want this government presenting this position as one which represents me. I want this to change – now.

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