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Archbishop Eamon Martin calls for political unity over Syrian refugees

Published 25/10/2015

Archbishop Eamon Martin urged governments on both sides of the border to act
Archbishop Eamon Martin urged governments on both sides of the border to act

Governments on both sides of the Irish border must do more to protect the human rights of refugees, a Catholic archbishop has said.

Archbishop Eamon Martin said he had been "deeply moved" by the testimony of displaced families fleeing war and persecution in places like Syria and Iraq.

In a pastoral letter, the Archbishop of Armagh said there was an urgent need for strategic action.

Archbishop Martin said: " Although the resettlement of refugees is a complex issue, the governments in both parts of Ireland must do more to protect the human rights of refugees.

"We are being confronted with a human tragedy that requires a generous political and church partnership to help meet the needs of these vulnerable people.

"We have not always handled refugees with the respect that they deserve and lessons need to be learned from the mistakes we have made in the past. There is a pressing need for prompt strategic action that weds together a cohesive plan for welcome, integration and provision of sustainable resources for the refugees. I ask you to stress this to all political figures local, national and international."

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the UK could take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years.

It is expected that around 2,000 people would be accommodated in Northern Ireland under the Syrian vulnerable persons relocation scheme.

The first tranche of around 100 people is expected to arrive in the region by December.

The Irish government has also announced plans to accept around 4,000 people fleeing conflict.

President Michael D Higgins has urged the country to share the responsibility of the unfolding human tragedy in the Middle East.

Rallies supporting the re-settlement of refugees have been held in towns and cities across Ireland.

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