September 21, 2018

Open letter from faith leaders to leaders of member governments of the United Nations

We, leaders of faith and religious organisations, groups and communities, including those supporting the Charter for Faith-Based Humanitarian Action, are compelled by our faiths to come together to speak out for those most marginalised. All faiths and religions actively encourage the recognition and support of those most in need and are uniquely placed to respond. Many of us live near, or are part of, populations affected by crisis, and enjoy special relationships of trust with as well as insights into and access to our communities beyond those of non-faith actors. We are present before crises occur and are key providers of assistance and protection both during them and afterwards.

We can no longer stand by as the number of people forced from their homes but who have not crossed a border continues to rise in the wake of protracted crises and climate change. Currently there are more than 65 million people displaced due to conflict and violence, and 40.5 million of these remain in their countries of origin. It would take more than a year to read all their names. Millions more are displaced due to climate-related events and disasters. We call on you to do more to ensure that the needs and rights of internally displaced people are addressed and upheld.

We stand in solidarity with people who have fled their homes but not crossed borders; many of them are the poorest and most vulnerable in their communities, including women, children, elderly and disabled people, yet so often they receive none of the support and protection to which refugees are entitled. Displaced on average for 15 years, often repeatedly, most exist without access to basic services such as health and education, are often subjected to abuse, torture and harassment and face despair. Our faiths compel us to speak out against the disregard of their human rights, their marginalisation, and the stripping of their dignity. We are united in calling on you to work with UN agencies, INGOs, civil society and faith communities to prevent displacement in the first place, to protect those who are displaced, and to work with people forced to flee to find durable solutions.

In this 20th anniversary year of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement it is time to lay the ground for bold action in support of a FAIR deal (Funded, Ambitious, Inclusive and which Respects international law) for people forced to flee within their country of origin.

The Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration, to be signed this year, regrettably provide scant attention to the ignored millions, forced out of their homes but still within their countries of origin. If we are to realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure we Leave No One Behind, then the international community must ensure that internally displaced people receive the protection and support that they so desperately need.

We therefore encourage you, leaders of national governments, together with local partners, civil society, faith communities and the private sector as well as humanitarian and development actors, to join the GP20 Plan of Action to prevent further forcible displacement of people, strengthen the protection of those who are displaced, and seek long-lasting and durable solutions with them. We call on you to consider your commitments to the SDGs and those made at the World Humanitarian Summit to ensure that nobody is left behind but that everyone, including the millions of internally displaced people so often overlooked, have access to adequate protection and assistance in line with their inherent dignity and worth.

Signed:

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, General Secretary ACT Alliance
Dr Bright Mawudor, Deputy General Secretary All Africa Conference of Churches
Reverend Dr Andre Karamaga, General Secretary (outgoing) All Africa Conference of Churches
Reverend Dr Fidon Mwombeki, General Secretary (incoming) All Africa Conference of Churches
Reverend Rachel Carnegie, Co-Executive Director Anglican Alliance
The Most Reverend Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General Anglican Communion
Reverend Alan Donaldson, General Director Baptist Union of Scotland
Reverend Denzil John Baptist Union of Wales
Reverend Judith Morris, General Secretary Baptist Union of Wales
Benjamin Laniado, CEO Cadena
The Most Reverend John D E Davies Archbishop of Wales & Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, Church in Wales
The Right Reverend Andrew John Bishop of Bangor, Church in Wales
The Right Reverend June Osborne Bishop of Llandaff, Church in Wales
The Right Reverend Gregory Cameron Bishop of St Asaph, Church in Wales
Graham Gordon, Head of Public Policy CAFOD
Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, Chief Executive Christian Aid
The Right Reverend Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham Church of England
The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury Church of England
The Right Reverend Susan Brown, Moderator Church of Scotland
Christine Elliott, Director of International Programmes Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Patrick Coyle, Chair Cytun/Churches Together in Wales Board
Canon Grace Kaiso, General Secretary Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa
The Right Reverend Jonathan Clark, Chair CTBI Churches Refugee Network
Reverend Aled Edwards OBE, Chief Executive Cytûn/Churches Together in Wales Board
David Smith, Country Director Nepal and Bangladesh DanChurchAid
Nozmul Hussain, Chief Executive Officer East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre
Ecumenical Centre for Advice and Service (CREAS, Latin America)
Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil
Archbishop Justin Badi, Primate Episcopal Church South Sudan
Fundación Protestante Hora de Obrar
Dr Hany ElBanna, President The Humanitarian Forum
Alfredo Abad Iglesia Evangélica Española
Rev. Carola Tron, Moderadora Iglesia Evangélica Valdense del Río de la Plata
Father Alberto Franco Giraldo, Director Interchurch Commission on Justice & Peace, Colombia
Gamal Serour, Director International Islamic Center for Population Studies and Research
Naser Haghamed, Chief Executive Islamic Relief Worldwide
Father Jean Robert Dery, Coordinator Jesuits Mission in Haiti
Jean Duff, Coordinator Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities
Prof. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Senior Advisor KAICIID Dialogue Centre
Bala Gnanapragasam, Vice-President of Conference 018/19 Methodist Church
Reverend Michaela Youngson, President of Conference 2018/19 Methodist Church
Reverend Nigel Cowgill, Chair Methodist Church (London District)
Pasteur Joseph Clement, Director Mission Sociale des Eglises d’Haiti
Harun Khan, Secretary General Muslim Council of Britain
National Council of Christian Churches Brazil
Reverend Nicta Lubaale, Secretary General Organisation of African Instituted Churches
Reverend Meirion Morris, General Secretary Presbyterian Church of Wales
Reverend Brian Matthews, Moderator Presbyterian Church of Wales
Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement – Sri Lanka
Paul Subrata Malakar, Director Shalom, Church of Bangladesh
Reverend Dyfrig Rees, General Secretary Union of Welsh Independents
Ambassador Marie-Thérèse Pictet-Althann, Permanent Observer to the United Nations Geneva Sovereign Order of Malta
John P Cross, Moderator United Free Church of Scotland
Wissam Al-Saliby World Evangelical Alliance
Paul Anticoni, Chief Executive World Jewish Relief
Rafi Cooper, Director of Communications World Jewish Relief
Esther Lehmann-Sow, Global Director – Faith & Development World Vision International