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Churches call on Government to support the stateless

CHANGE: This week Inter marks Faith Week (12-19 November) which seeks to build on the good relationships and partnerships between people of very diverse faiths and beliefs

A NEW initiative calling for improved rights and better support for ‘stateless’ people has been backed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and Rabbi Hershel Gluck OBE, chairman of the Arab-Jewish Forum.

The pair have joined 110 religious and faith leaders in signing a statement urging the UK Government to do more to welcome those who no longer have a country to call their home.

The move comes during Inter Faith Week (12-19 November) which seeks to build on the good relationships and partnerships between people of very diverse faiths and beliefs.

All have a shared commitment to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity. The statement is calling for action on the part of the UK Government to review its policies towards stateless people as many end up in prolonged and pointless detention while the Home Office tries to remove them from the UK.

‘Stateless’ people without legal status cannot leave the UK because no country will accept them. But without status, they don’t have permission to work in the UK and remain vulnerable to destitution, exploitation and detention. Worldwide there are around 10 million ‘stateless’ people. Signatories are calling for alternatives to detention and better support for access to rights and advice and help with integration.

The move is part of the #LockedInLimbo campaign which is led by the European Network on Statelessness and seeks to end the detention of people who end up locked in limbo simply because they have no country that they can return to.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said: “This is a significant statement, showing inter faith support for global efforts to contribute to ending statelessness and the arbitrary detention associated with it.

"Faith groups have an important role in calling for policy-makers to prioritise the welfare of people who face marginalisation and exclusion. It is good to see so many faith and religious leaders addressing this deeply concerning issue that affects millions of people worldwide.”

Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim representatives have supported the statement. Signatories include Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Bharti Tailor, Vice-President of Religions for Peace UK, the Rev Loraine Mellor, President of the Methodist Conference and Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Chair of the Liberal Judaism Rabbinic Conference.

Read the statement and full list of religious leaders who are signatories can be found here

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