In a statement for World Humanitarian Day (19 August 2021), Caritas Internationalis, the confederation of 165 national Caritas organisations of which CSAN is a member, urged politicians and decision makers to ensure the safety of the Afghan population. In England and Wales, Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs, asked Catholics to pray for the people of Afghanistan, while pointing to the work of humanitarian organisations, and efforts to welcome refugees, as signs of hope:
‘As Christians, we are called to be people of hope, even when a situation may appear hopeless. Today our hope can be placed in those who are working tirelessly for dialogue, justice, and peace in their country. Our hope can be placed in the humanitarian organisations that are continuing to offer their assistance, and the efforts to welcome and protect refugees fleeing their homes. Above all we place our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom we pray in the knowledge that he will never abandon the people of Afghanistan.’
Earlier in 2021, before the rapid change of Government in Afghanistan, the UK Government established a dedicated scheme for Afghan resettlement to the UK. Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK, a CSAN member charity that already accompanies a number of Afghans in the UK, called on the UK Government to enhance protection solutions for Afghans currently in the UK and their families, and for those who will be obliged to seek sanctuary in the coming weeks and months.
CSAN remains particularly concerned that the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, currently before Parliament, narrows the UK’s intentions to fulfil international humanitarian obligations on states and citizens, to permit entry, safe passage and an adequate standard of living to the relatively small number of people seeking asylum in this country.
CSAN is coordinating a detailed Catholic institutional response to the Bill.
Picture: The Hospitality of Abraham – Mosaic by Fr Marko Rupnik SJ in the main chapel of the National Shrine of Pope St John Paul II in Washington DC. Credit: Fr Lawrence Lew (source).