Assembly to Respond to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

JOAN COOK reflects on the background to an important motion, passed at the GA meetings concerning the Syrian Refugee crisis, and encourages us to give generously. 

Joan is pictured seconding the motion requesting that proposals be prepared for the General Assembly to become a charitable incorporated organisation.

One of our motions at our recent meetings included one from Golders Green Unitarians calling on all members of the general Assembly to respond to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. This motion was passed unanimously.

There are millions of people who have become victims of this conflict. Over 250,000 people have lost their lives, and many more have suffered serious injury. Ten million people have been displaced. Four million people have become refugees, seeking help and safety for themselves and their families far from the conflict. Many of these people would be considered vulnerable even in the most stable of environments, the elderly, the sick, disabled, children. As well as their physical problems many of the refugees are suffering from the psychological impact of years of living in an environment of conflict and constant violence. Right now millions of people are in urgent need of food, water, shelter and healthcare.

The motion appealed for Unitarians to respond with compassion and generosity to this appeal. So how can we help? Obviously there are difficulties. We are far away; we do not have the medical expertise required; we do not have stocks of mass catering equipment, or tents. But what we can do is to support those on the ground; those who do have the necessary equipment, to enable them to get it where it is needed; to support those who have the medical expertise, enabling them to deliver it.

There are local and national charities which have established connections with those in refugee, and displacement, camps or centres, who would welcome our support. Some charities concentrate on co-ordinating the work of various agencies, some send in their own relief teams, some work with local agents, and the Red Cross supplies both teams of relief experts, as well as co-ordinating and working with local agencies, including the Red Crescent Movement. Their reputation for neutrality means they are able to deliver aid, where other agencies cannot.

Some time ago a Unitarian fund was established to enable Unitarians to donate the money which is so necessary for these charities to carry out their aid programmes, the Clara Barton Fund. I would encourage as many who are able to contribute to the essential work by sending what they can to:

THE CLARA BARTON SYRIA INTERFAITH APPEAL,
BRITISH RED CROSS,
44 MOORFIELDS,
LONDON EC2Y 9AL

Please mark the envelope FAO LAURA DEACON, ADMINIS-TRATOR, THE CLARA BARTON DISASTERS EMERGENCY APPEAL. Cheques may be made payable to THE BRITISH RED CROSS. Following the GA motion, various collections were made, which together raised the sum of £1270!

I am very proud that in the past, St. Mark’s has responded to such crises with exceptional generosity, and I hope we can continue to give what help we can to those affected by this humanitarian crisis which shows no sign of ending.