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Friday, 2 September 2016

We have got the means. Have we got the will? Fr Malcolm at Greenbelt on refugees

Fr Malcolm at Greenbelt. Photo: Leah Gordon, USPG
It was a year ago today that the photos of three year old Alan Kurdi, dead on a Turkish beach, triggered a grass roots wave of conscience that moved governments and international agencies to take action on the refugee crisis. The refugee crossings from Turkey to Greece have reduced considerably this year due to the EU-Turkey migration deal. (However, that the numbers risking their lives to cross from North Africa to Italy and Malta are not reduced). But now over 57,000 asylum seekers are trapped in Greece, held in squalid conditions, despairing of their future. Only about 5,000 refugees in Greece have been relocated to other EU countries, out of a total of over 66,000 promised such resettlement.

Our Anglican Church in Greece, headed by Senior Chaplain, the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw MBE, has been active in motivating ecumenical partners and agencies to coordinate activities and share resources to address the complex changing situation in the country. The Anglican Mission Agency, USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), has been supporting our diocesan efforts and continues to support Fr Malcolm and our Church in Greece in reaching out to the refugees now stuck in camps and detention centres.

USPG invited Fr Malcolm to speak at the Greenbelt Christian Festival last weekend about this work with refugees in Greece. The challenges have changed from a year ago, but the efforts are as intensive as ever. "In the camps", says Fr Malcolm, "a huge diversity of cultural groups live side by side crating a tinderbox that can flare up at any time. People are in despair having fled their warring homelands to find new homes in Europe and now find themselves long-term residents in camps, struggling to feed their families and obtain the basic necessities for survival. In these desperate circumstances, when a person from one cultural group is finally entered into the asylum process, this can trigger a violent reaction from another group who has not received this status".

This is the focus presently for the Anglican Church and USPG: reaching out to refugees in the camps with medical support, nutritious meals, legal advice and support for vulnerable children.

Here is a very moving clip from Fr Malcolm's presentation at Greenbelt:

Father Malcolm Bradshaw at Greenbelt from USPG on Vimeo.

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