Hundreds of faith leaders call on Prime Minister to grant child refugees sanctuary in the UK

Migrants stay in a queue after arriving at the Austrian-German border in Wegscheid near Passau, Germany, on Oct. 27, 2015.Reuters

Hundreds of faith leaders have written to the Prime Minister urging him to grant sanctuary in the UK to child refugees. 

The open letter has been organised by the Safe Passage campaign and has been signed by 250 faith leaders, including several Church of England bishops and church leaders from the Salvation Army, Scottish Episcopal Church, Methodist Church and Baptist Union. 

According to UNICEF, there are over 1,600 unaccompanied child refugees stranded in Europe. The faith leaders are calling on Boris Johnson to open Britain's doors to them, warning that they are "at a severe risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation, and violence, and are surviving in circumstances that no child should experience". 

"Heartbreakingly, an increasing number of these children are attempting suicide and self-harm," the letter reads.

The call follows a collaboration between the UK and Greek Governments to reunite 47 refugees in Greece with their loved ones here. 

"We are writing to you today to ask if you will build on that humanitarian spirit, by offering sanctuary to unaccompanied children stranded in Europe," the faith leaders say. 

They continue: "Inaction in the face of such deprivation and suffering is not an option. Now, more than ever, the UK must step in and offer sanctuary to children in urgent need." 

They go on to say that the UK has a "moral duty to act", and that communities up and down the country stand ready to help, with the Safe Passage campaign saying it has received pledges from UK councils to take in over 1,400 child refugees. 

"If you agree to give these children a safe route by extending the Global Resettlement Scheme to Europe, councils are ready to welcome them," they said. 

"Right now, we face an unprecedented and difficult time in the UK – but we believe it is precisely during these dark times that we must show our global solidarity and leadership to others in need.

"All the faiths we represent embrace solidarity with those who are suffering and advocate a profound responsibility to alleviate that suffering. We call on the government to embrace that humanitarian spirit and as our Prime Minister, we urge you to act now and offer child refugees safe passage."