The refugee crisis must not be forgotten in this general election.
When the image of 3 year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on the beach went viral in 2015, there was an outpouring of emotional compassion for the suffering of millions.
That compassion has not manifested itself in tangible policy action as much as it could do. The refugee crisis remains one of the great humanitarian crises of our day, with the United Nations reporting that 65.3 million people are currently displaced, but it has fallen off the priority list as Brexit has begun to dominate the news cycle.
Why should we care as Christians? We have a duty to not forget the most vulnerable in the run up to this general election. Leviticus 19 provides one of many Biblical texts which mandates us to care for the foreigner and the refugee:
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”
In Matthew 25, Jesus says:
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)
There is an unambiguous mandate for Christians to care for refugees and it must be a priority in the upcoming election given the horrific circumstances people are fleeing from, whether that is war-torn Syria or torture in Eritrea.
But what of the threats that refugees potentially pose? Certainly it is vital that refugee welcome does not inadvertently create ghettos which spawn radicalism, but such fears are vastly overstated. Refugees are people fleeing violence, they are not its natural instigators. Radicalism is more likely to prosper if they are left to languish in suffering than if we embrace a more welcoming policy.
Archbishop Welby was right when he said, “Refugees, like all people, are treasured human beings made in the image of God who deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish.”
When we get to the ballot box, let’s not forget their plight.