Church leaders join appeal for desperate Rohingya refugees

Britain's faith leaders have urged Christians, Muslims and people of all faiths to support the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal for people fleeing Myanmar.

Around half a million Rohingya people have fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and crossed the border into Bangladesh, where they are living in squalid conditions in overflowing, makeshift camps and settlements. Exhausted and traumatised, they are in urgent need of shelter, medical care, water and food.

ReutersRohingya refugees shelter from the rain in a camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

Faith-based charities CAFOD, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, Tearfund and World Vision UK, which are among the 13 leading UK aid charity members of the DEC, are calling on local churches, mosques and faith communities to support its Emergency Appeal for people fleeing Myanmar, which launched on Wednesday, October 4.

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said: 'These people have fled Myanmar over the past few weeks with little more than the clothes on their backs. Thousands of young children are suffering from malnutrition.

'As people of faith, we are called to help those who are poor and in desperate need. Please be generous and support the DEC Emergency Appeal so that the aid agencies on the ground can provide the shelter, sanitation, care and assistance these people need so urgently.'

Around £7 million has been raised so far, according to the DEC. 

Steve Collins, Head of Asia at Tearfund, said: 'We want to thank the UK church and our supporters for responding to this crisis and urge people to continue to give and pray for the hundreds of thousands of people – mostly Rohingya women and children – whose lives are being brutally torn apart.'

Chine McDonald, Head of Christian Influence and Engagement at World Vision UK, said: 'As Christians, we believe that each person is made in God's image and worthy of dignity and respect. This is why we're urging other Christians across the UK to stand with us to ensure that 'no stranger should spend the night in the street', and to bring hope to those vulnerable children caught up in this fast-growing humanitarian crisis.'

Charity supporters are being asked to fundraise, organise collections and to pray for the hundreds of thousands of people in need of food, shelter, clean water and medical care. The money raised will help all 13 DEC member charities responding to the crisis to reach more people in dire need with food and medical supplies.

To make a donation to the DEC Emergency Appeal visit, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 610, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.

The UK Government will match pound for pound the first £3 million donated by the public to the DEC Emergency Appeal.