British churches urged to 'step up' response to refugee crisis

The UK is being urged to more than double its intake of refugees as churches have again been called on to take a lead.

Senior UN official Volker Turk, the assistant commissioner at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, called on Britain to 'step up' and play its part to solve the migrant crisis by taking in 10,000 refugees a year.

The government has committed to taking in 20,000 people by 2020 – an average of 5,000 per year – meaning the rate would have to double to meet Turk's demands.

ReutersSyrian refugees trying to cross into Turkey, which currently hosts more refugees than any other country in the world.

'It would be a step change, it would not just be related to Syria,' he said after meeting ministers in London on Thursday according to the Times. 'It would look at where the urgent situations are, to have a certain flexibility in responding to them. I think we have to be very honest about the need for countries to contribute and to step up.'

Turk went on to praise British communities who have welcomed in Syrian families in response to the crisis while criticising 'irresponsible' rhetoric from politicians.

'I'm so amazed when I hear about rural areas in Britain that actually they are so happy that people come to them and it almost revives parts of Britain,' he said.

He added: 'You have the impression that some of the negativity is amplified but we forget about all the positive things that are happening.'

It comes as UK congregations were urged to play their part in housing resettled families.

Speaking at New Wine, a major evangelical festival in Somerset, Roz Holland, chief executive of the Boaz Trust, said  church should consider hosting a Syrian family.

A spokeswoman for Church Response For Refugees, another charity overseeing church involvement with resettling refugees, told pastors it was 'incumbent' on them to step up.

'Quite simply the church has an opportunity to play a part in solving one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time,' she said.